Thursday, June 8, 2017

Why Don't I Get A Baby?


I wrote a post for my stroke blog last night, What About Me?, concerning illness, physical healing, and miracles. I've thought a ton since then about how I want to expand on these principles specifically for my infertility audience. This post is intended to supplement that one, not to stand alone, so you will want to read that first. This is bonus content specifically concerning the topic of barrenness.


Perhaps I'm not the obvious choice to address this topic? I have THREE living children now! Shouldn't an "empty arms" post be authored by someone with empty arms?

I did spend a decade where you are, my friend. I write today both as hope that my story may encourage you to know that God does still work miracles and may yet have plans to bring you to the other side of barrenness, and to offer perspective on what those miracles may look like.


First, let me acknowledge what a treacherous, double-edged thing hope can be! I get it. Not allowing your heart to hope, is a self defense mechanism against being hurt. AGAIN! Being tender-hearted hurts when hopes are dashed time after time. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. Decade after decade. Why set myself up to be shredded another time or ten? Once was brutal enough. We are talking thousands of fatal blows to the heart by now.

No. Thank. You!


Psalm 126 has been a theme passage in my life. (In fact, it is the key verse for my next book.) I can totally relate to weeping, planting in tears!

The part that intrigues me is the harvest of those tears, joy and singing. God doesn't say IF, but talks in absolutes.


So where does this leave me when there is no hope of a baby? I mean NO CHANCE. Like I've had a hysterectomy or my ovaries shut down at 24 and I'm 57 now - N.O. C.H.A.N.C.E. lady!

I could take the "easy" answers (that actually end up being true in many cases, but would likely offer you more discouragement than hope today), like reminding you that Sara (later Sarah, mother of Israel, wife of Abram/Abraham) was 90 years old when she conceived, long "dried up," outright laughed when her husband was told she would have a baby within the next year. Or Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) was also past expectation of motherhood when God allowed her to conceive. Or Mary, mother of Jesus, who got pregnant WHILE STILL A VIRGIN! Yeah, miracles really do happen, as I know with each and every one of my living children who each has their own amazing miracle story of why they should medically not exist, including the last who was God-sent three years after the latest I was to have had my hysterectomy!

The reason I won't default to those pat answers is because you would give me the same arguments I've given others countless times. All those miracle conceptions in the Bible were leading up to the one Child of Promise, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My Messiah has already come. I can't expect a miracle like that because He has already been born! I get that, and while miracle births still happen sometimes, why set my hopes on an obscure improbability???


I could tell you to "just adopt" (like it is that simple anyway?) and promise you that as long as you have a child to fill you arms, the ache in your heart will end. I'm sure my suggestion would be a totally new concept to you today, right? Because, dear infertile sister, you have NEVER considered, nor had adoption suggested to you, ever before, have you? (OK, sarcasm over now!) Adoption is WONDERFUL, and honestly should be prayerfully considered by anyone and everyone capable of parenting a child, fertile or not, but it is not the "cure" for infertility. Yes, it can transform a childless person into a parent, but adoption is a costly (emotionally, and often financially) process in and of itself and should not be entered into lightly or with the idea that it will put an end to infertility emotions. It might. For many it will bring much healing. Adoption is about both the child and the parent(s). It may or may not be the direction God leads you.

The same goes for foster-parenting, or step-parenting. God actually may have one of these avenues in your future. If He does, the rewards and comfort may be profound. The challenges and grief may also be beyond measure. I would encourage you neither to discount the possibilities, or to set your hopes too firmly on a plan God has not yet revealed. If that is the path He has for you, He will provide every resource you need to walk that path when He calls you to it.


What I would like to look at today is the idea that God's plans, while very possibly unfolding in the end to be one of those more common answers already mentioned, sometimes turn out very different, yet even more amazing, than anything we could ever dream up for ourselves.

Please consider two of my dear friends, beautiful women of God, to whom God answered "no" concerning children in the tradition sense, and yet their stories continue to wow me! Each story is different and yours might not be the same as these, but I wanted to share them just to remind you today that God's not done writing your story.


Joy DeKok. What an awesome example to me! Her Letter From My Heart To Women Like Me - Infertility HURTS, is powerful and profound. Some of my favorite lines read:
...We longed to fill our arms and home with red-headed and blond children. I had a secret dream of 13 children and at least as many animals. We’d live in a huge restored home, or barn, or a mill house. We’d need a big yard, an orchard, lots of bedrooms, a huge kitchen, and a big table with lots of chairs... 
Months became years. We begged God for babies, and He said no. His voice was quiet, firm, and love-filled. We had to trust Him because rebelling only made the pain worse.
Accepting His will for us meant facing the death of our dream.
As if that wasn’t enough, we endured cruel comments. These weren’t the ignorant kind spoken in an attempt to comfort us. They were mean and cut us deep. We didn’t know how to fight back and didn’t have the energy.
For years I carried those words on my heart as if they’d been branded there... 
... I did my best to remember every sin I could and re-confessed. All the way back to the day when I was four and sassed my dad. It was a really long prayer, over and over I begged Him to remove the guilt and shame from me. Even as I prayed I knew I was asking Him to forgive things He already had. But I had to be sure... 
...For reasons you and I cannot fathom this side of heaven, infertility is part of God’s plan for us. For many of you, He will say yes and children will be born from your bodies.  He will lead some of you to parent a child or children He birthed through another woman or other women. For a few of us, His will is clear: we’re to love the children in our lives already – nieces, nephews, and the kids of our friends. With God as your guide, you get to decide...  
...Still, you may be tired of baby showers, pregnancy/birth war stories, and although you love your friends dearly, their complaints about being moms scratch at your soul. And when they announce pregnancies, you’re happy for them, but their news stabs. Not because you’re jealous, you don’t want their babies – you want yours, and it’s not happening. You’re also exhausted when every month your hope is destroyed. And afraid of more disappointment when you pick your heart back up and in spite of the pain, you start hoping for next month. Your grief is deep and constant and most of the time solitary.
In all of these things and more. . .you are normal. And God understands... 
...Please don’t believe that I’m “over” my infertility. Nah. . .in fact, it’s the circumstance that keeps nagging at my soul even now. Because we were led by God to love the kids already in our lives, and those still to come, we are not parents and we are not grandparents. I celebrate each grand baby announcement, let it sting, and take more children born to others into my arms, and fall in love again. . .and again. . .and again.
Because that is part of His plan for me too. And He understands. And that is more than enough. If we let it be... 

In God Write the Best Love Stories, Holley Gerth Shares:
I watched as a single line spread across yet another pregnancy test. In that moment of silence and disappointment, that pink line felt more like a billboard with neon flashing lights declaring: “No! No! No!”
“No, you can’t be a mother.”
“No, your dreams can’t come true.”
“No, you don’t get to end this waiting game that is slowly shredding your heart.”
...As time went by, God began healing my heart and showing me that my idea of motherhood had been limited. He led me to Genesis where Eve is called “the mother of all living.”
I came to see all women are mothers because we all bring life to the world in some way.
After that realization, several different people prayed over me on different occasions and said God would bring life through my words. I began to get the picture: I was a word mama. I settled into birthing books and felt a new fullness deep within.
But one night... [Read How Our Daughter Adopted Us in Her 20s for the rest of this amazing story.]

Please come visit me on my new official author page on Facebook. I'm gearing up to publish my next book and would love your support at www.facebook.com/HarvestingHope/. Please help me show potential publishers I'm serious about this book writing thing. They need to see numbers of likes well into the thousands while I'm only in the low hundreds, so far.

Check out my book Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart In The Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss on Amazon for more support.

Also, please visit my review of the eTeacherBiblical Hebrew course I'm taking this year and enter the give away for a free class for yourself. Entries are low so your chances of winning are great, but you can't win if you don't enter!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Happy Birthday Paperless Post


A really fun aspect of writing blogs is that random companies fairly regularly contact me and ask me to try their products. I am very selective about what offers I'll except. The products have to really fit my niches of Christian living (companies like Dayspring, or books I want to read, or the online college Biblical languages program I told you about this week), or things specific to stroke therapy or adaptation.

I say "no," to more offers than I accept, then even if I accept, you won't find the item posted here unless I have some real positives to share. When I feel it is a product I want to share with my readers, you get my honest opinion, the good and the bad.

When Paperless Post contacted me earlier this month, I was intrigued. I don't easily send postal cards because the addressing, stamping, and mailing process takes a lot of organizational skill that I'm still working to recover since the strokes. With Paperless Post, email addresses are collected once, then the entire process is automated so that I can send out graduation party announcements (my first living baby will graduate high school in less than a week!), birthday cards, shower invites, wedding invitations, Christmas cards, invitations, or general "brighten your day" messages on a whim.

This is the actual "envelope" I selected, "paid" upgrade coins for. I just now realized that the plain one posted below is what actually got sent. This was visible when people clicked on their plain envelope and visited the Paperless Post website. The customer service is fantastic, and had I not waited until posting deadline to write this blog post, I'm sure I would have been happy with the assistance they offered in this area. Perhaps it is as simple as the need for email recipients to come directly to Paperless Post to access all the benefits of this service?

There are email options, both basic free ones and more elaborate paid ones, and even paper items to be ordered. I was credited "coins" to go in and play around with some of the fancy options to establish my opinions and receive feedback from my guinea pigs friends I tested cards on. I picked a handful on people I know well, some that I regularly interact with via email, and others I rarely exchange emails with at all. I sent them a message of, "I am trying out the Paperless Post service to review it on my InfertilityMom.blogspot.com blog. Fun! I picked a few friends to try it out with and when I saw this card was an option, it seemed perfect for you, my friend. :) If you can let me know what you think of this service, that will help me write my review. " All but my mom (who spent many years being "computer illiterate and proud of it" and has been dragged into the technological age kicking and screaming) opened their messages. (Love the tracking feature built in, so I know if anyone needs follow ups!)

Outside Envelope That Appears In Initial Email

I upgraded envelope "liners" (paperless, mind you) to butterflies and had fun with card messages, backgrounds, "postmarks", and more. This is what I came up with:

Card Front
One third of my test subjects had initial trouble opening/reading everything I had sent on their cards. As one friend said, "It was OK, but all I could see was my name." Once I replied to their questions, they all immediately figured it out and appreciated what I had sent. The replies I sent read like this,"Click on the button in the original post that says, "View The Card". That will take you to a website where you can see the card along with the front of the envelope by clicking on the image on the right and the opened envelope lining by clicking over to the left. If the card flips over too fast to read all of it, click directly on the card and it will flip back over."

Personalized Card Back I Created
Since this message sent directly via email, along with the simple outer envelope picture, this is where I would include my instructions for new users in the future.

Another friend took a while to reply, then said, "Cute card. I couldn't figure out how to respond at first--no box, just one line to write on."

Inside of Envelope With Upgraded Butterfly Liner :)

My favorite reply nearly wrote my review for me, though I unfortunately filed her message in "trash" instead of "blog." *sigh* The point is she LOVED this service and simply GUSHED over it. Now that I've learned a few tricks, what I did right and what I will do differently next time. I will certainly be using this service again! My advice is to initially try Paperless Post out with a very small test group, find out how things work, practice and reine, then use it for serious contacts!

Happy 8th birthday to this innovative company that is going to make one area of my life simpler. :)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Why I No Longer Practice Full Time Head Covering


Remember when I posted about headcovering a month ago?

There is still much I agree with in that post, all of my core points in fact.

There is also much I have changed my views on. Details about personal implementation. 

Nearly forty intensive hours of counseling, all packed into one week, can do that to a person, dramatically change some perspectives!

Profound movement of God, like I just experienced in the healing of my deafness, can make a girl re-evaluate opinions too.



So, I reiterate this point from my last post, "For those who already believe Jesus died and rose for you personally, have accepted Him as your Savior, I in no way wish you to feel I’m adding the weight of legalism. Christ died for your sins. No works are needed to finish His saving grace in your life! Jesus is enough!!! Just like neither baptism nor communion are requirements for salvation, rather God’s desired observances for his people who already know and love Him, I absolutely do not feel head covering to be a requirement for a Christian woman when it comes to the soundness of her faith in Jesus Christ as her saving and forgiving God of grace!"

I stand by my statement that, "I believe that Christian women [who] in the church [where] are called to cover [what] for prayer and prophesy [why]."

Where my views take a sharp turn away from my prior post concerns the how section of my prior post. Actually, all five of my thoughts listed under "how," other than my thoughts on staying fully covered at my children's school (a small part of point 5), are still valid. It is in personal application of those points that my view has radically changed.



Tonight. Outside my front door with an uncovered head!

I no longer feel compelled to practice full time head covering. Friends who have never seen my hair before are seeing it for the first time. This change in my practice of head covering in no way reflects abandonment of faith. In fact, my relationship with Jesus Christ is firmer than it has ever been!


On January 1, 2016, I posted this picture, saying, "My hair has grown a LOT, but [2015] was also the year, mid-year, when I decided that in addition to headcovering for spiritual reasons, I would also adopt the purely personal/cultural choice of no longer wearing my hair loose in public, saving it for my husband's viewing. Nothing to do with my faith, just a personal gift from me to him, so this as as "down" as you see it now:"

Sadly, as the months past, my personal "gift" did get totally entangled with my faith and views of head covering!
It is fascinating that I ended my last article with the statement, "I would simply caution against legalism. Whatever covering you are wearing should not become a source of piety, religious pride, a meaningless ritual, or covering for the sake of covering tradition rather than as a reflection of a heart seeking submission to God’s order of authority. Once the issue of if to cover gets settled in my spirit, my attitude behind the act of covering needs to be regularly taken before God in order to assure that my motives stay glorifying to Him!"

A legalistic attitude is exactly what I was developing. It took just a few questions from my counselor and another two questions from my husband, for me to realize I had developed a pharisaical spirit. I knew what I believed to be true, yet I had imposed further restrictions upon myself than God had ever asked of me. I was practicing false humility, feeling that if I concealed my glory (hair) full time, I was somehow bringing more glory to God.

This week.
I (butterfly top, to the right) am wearing a headband just because it is pretty (butterfly lace!) and wearing my hair down for the very first time these long time friends have ever seen it.

I was stunned to re-read my the bolded portion of my second "how" point/tip after I started thinking on the questions that were posed to me concerning motive. I wrote the words, but still wasn't getting the idea! "I don’t think God objects to cute or stylish head coverings, but simple would want us to be mindful of not detracting from Him, not trying to draw undo attention to ourselves. He loves us. He created us. He created beauty. He gave us hair for our glory. He isn’t trying to take anything from us, make us feel frumpy or self-conscious! It often takes some practice, time to explore our options, but if there’s a head-wear style that makes you feel beautiful but still focuses eyes (our own as well as the eyes of those around us) on Christ, when we find something we can wear with comfort and confidence in Jesus, that’s what we are looking for."


I feel I've been set free from a weighty burden. I still believe in and practice head covering for corporate worship, but that is joyful. When I stopped trying to add my extras to a simple instruction, my heart became so much lighter.

Want to read the story behind the story? Core Deep Lies will give you further background on this decision!

GIVEAWAY - Let's Start At The Very Beginning


Admit it. Strains of Do-Ray-Me from The Sound of Music are filling your mind right now. "When you read you begin with a, b, c..."

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
www.eTeacherGroup.com

I'm not quite sure what I expected when I attended my first The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies (Formerly eTeacherBiblical.com, an eTeacher Group Virtual School) Biblical Hebrew course, but what I discovered left me humming this tune. 


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eTeacher Ltd.
8 Oholiav St. Ramat Gan, 52522
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
www.eTeacherGroup.com

Instead of a, b, c, our first lesson exposed us to just 4 letter (6 symbols) and explained how the Hebrew alphabet is comprised only of consonants. The nun (similar to the Latin (English) "n") and mem (sounds much like our "m') each have two symbols to represent their sounds, a regular form that is used anywhere in the beginning or middle of a word, and a sofit, or final, form used if it is the last letter in a word, a tip of the hat to the history of hand transcription without clear spacing, in order to know the definitive ending of words in strings of letters. Fascinating!


2012 (c) All Right Reserved
eTeacher Ltd.
8 Oholiav St. Ramat Gan, 52522
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
www.eTeacherGroup.com

By week three, we were just beginning to learn about the small markings over, under, or next to consonants that act as vowels and direct how consonant sounds are pronounced.. While we started with the very basics, thus felt rather like returning to Kindergarten and my early "Dick and Jane" and "See Spot Run" readers, I felt respected as an intelligent adult, never talked down to.


2012 (c) All Right Reserved
eTeacher Ltd.
8 Oholiav St. Ramat Gan, 52522
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
www.eTeacherGroup.com

When I had to miss a week of live, interactive classroom instruction (from my laptop), I was able to catch up before my next week's class, thanks to the recorded version available to me in my "online locker".  This feature, along with my printed textbook containing all the class slides and homework (not required, but you get out of the class only what you put into it, so worthwhile and helpful!), will come in very handy in catching up with my classmates who seem to be catching onto these concepts much faster than I am. I'm very thankful that I have easy access to reviewing each class session as often as needed!



Technical support, both during registration, and even if technical issues arise right during a class, has been stellar! On the few occasions any student has has sound issues or what have you, during class, the teacher will take 30 second and open a support ticket for technical support for her student, right there in class. The disruption in minimal, while the customer service response is immediate and fellow students quickly rejoin the class in progress. I'm signed up for both text and email reminders when my weekly class is about to start, so I never have to go looking for a class participation link, can log in right from my reminder email!



From  The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies website, "The Israel Institute of Bible Studies has partnered with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the leading academic institute in Israel and one of the leading biblical research institutes in the world with a long and proud history of scholarly excellence and leadership in biblical languages and studies. We aim to share this wealth of knowledge with people around the world through programs developed by our leading biblical scholars and education professionals, and through our many years of experience as the leading online institute of biblical studies. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem fully accredits all of our classical languages courses, so students can take courses for university credits that are acknowledged by universities around the world." College credit folks!



I was blessed to try this 9-month, beginner level course free-of-charge, in exchange for my honest review here on my blog. The only real negative I can say, is that I have not found course pricing readily available on the website. There is a simple form you can fill out to request more information, so that is my best guess on how to obtain pricing information.



However, if you are at all interested, please take a moment to enter this giveaway in which one winner (from all participating blogs) will be selected at the end of the giveaway! 


It is well worth entering since each contestant will receive a follow up email after they enter for $100 off a class, so even if you aren't "the" winner, everyone who enters wins a nice discount!


2012 (c) All Right Reserved
eTeacher Ltd.
8 Oholiav St. Ramat Gan, 52522
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
www.eTeacherGroup.com

I'm not learning as quickly as I had hoped I would, but I'm so excited I took this opportunity to work on training my brain to learn something new. The process is rewarding and enjoyable. The convenience of at home learning at my own pace, and the caliber of education being offered, is unmatched. You'll want to pick a language and give this a try!



Saturday, April 29, 2017

Three-Foot-Tall Adults


Stop laughing, Mom and Dad! No Vicki Caruana did not steal your journals from raising me:
The two most common phrases to come out of the mouths of three-year-olds are "Why?" and "I can do it myself." Questioning authority and making your own decisions are hallmarks of adulthood. But it tends to rattle us when the "young adult" is only three feet tall and stands with her hands on her hips and her lower lip pushed out and, once in a while, stops her feet...

Caruana pin1

I'm quoting from the devotional The Joy of Letting Go, a book about embracing your child's journey to independence. With our first bring-home, after-infertility baby only about a month from high school graduation, I was blessed to review a complimentary advanced copy of this sweet little treasure at a great time in my life. (I was given the book in exchange for this review, however opinions are fully my own!)


About the book: 

With readings of encouragement and inspirational quotes, this devotional helps parents prepare their hearts for their children's independence, whether their kids are just starting kindergarten or graduating from college.

Parents let go of their children every day, even in ways they don't realize. The 52 devotional readings within shine a light on all the times readers have loosened their grip on their children and encourages them to continue to let go in life-giving ways. Written by a parenting and education expert, The Joy of Letting Go will comfort and inspire parents in all seasons of parenting.
Maybe your baby just got his driver's license. Or maybe she slept in through the night in her own crib all through the night. As Vicki points out, our letting go moments start with the cutting of the umbilical cord!

About the author:
Dr. Vicki Caruana is the author of 20 books and the blog Apples & Chalkdust-named after her bestselling book that has touched the lives of a million educators around the world. Caruana is one of four parenting experts on "Starting Points," Focus on the Family's parenting DVD series. Formerly a public school teacher and a homeschooling mom, Vicki is now an assistant professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College in New York. She lives with her station wagon loving husband, Chip, in Newburgh, New York and has two grown sons in Colorado Springs.
Find out more about Vicki at http://vickicaruana.blogspot.com.
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Caruana pin2


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Veiled Glory

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I haven’t written on this topic a lot because Jesus, that He died on the cross in payment for my sins, that He was buried, that He conquered death by raising from the grave, is the main issue!

For those who already believe Jesus died and rose for you personally, have accepted Him as your Savior, I in no way wish you to feel I’m adding the weight of legalism. Christ died for your sins. No works are needed to finish His saving grace in your life! Jesus is enough!!! Just like neither baptism nor communion are requirements for salvation, rather God’s desired observances for his people who already know and love Him, I absolutely do not feel head covering to be a requirement for a Christian woman when it comes to the soundness of her faith in Jesus Christ as her saving and forgiving God of grace!


God is unchanging, but He is also gracious to allow us to digest His Word in steps, His Spirit revealing Truth to us, convicting us gently and gradually, not demanding transformation into the image of His Son in a single moment, but patiently imprinting His will on yielded hearts. The thoughts I am about to explore took me over 30 years of walking with Jesus to even consider. I share them here ONLY for those interested in putting yourself more deeply under the Lordship of our God. If those words don’t sound inviting, please stop reading now. This article is not intended for you!

Back in 2013 (about 2 years after my strokes, thus the typos and rambling thoughts) I wrote on head covering once before. (I spoke on angels and other issues specific to this passage then.) I shared that my thoughts were still developing on the topic, that I had been prayerfully considering and exploring the ramifications of 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16 for the Christian woman in my era and culture, for about a year prior to my strokes (so for about 3 years at the time of that article’s writing, about 6 ½ years now) and had recently become convinced to follow this course of action, in large part because of my experiences directly resulted from my strokes.

This is not my picture but I think it is beautiful!
I found it floating around Facebook. Does anyone know who should receive credit?
Here’s where I now stand:

I believe that Christian women [who] in the church [where] are called to cover [what] for prayer and prophesy [why]. This is true of structured worship services, but also something that should be seriously considered even when only two or three are casually or spontaneously gathered together for the purpose of corporately entering God’s throne room.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=112010173492 is the start of a 3-part radio sermon series that offers sound teaching on the subject, if you wish to explore more. If you are unsure you want to invest three hours into examining these few verses, I would encourage you simple to pray for God to teach you what He desires you to know on the topic, then prayerfully listen to just the first 14 minutes of that first sermon. From there you can decide if this in an area God would have you investigate further, or not. Having been raised in a tradition where women were told head covering was not needed for today, that it was cultural instruction for a specific time and place in early church history, I would have had no interest in listing to sermons like this series, figuring my hair took care of the matter!  There are so many excellent resources to the contrary, such as the Head Covering Movement. I’m so glad I asked God to show me if there was anything He wanted to reveal to me about a subject I considered irrelevant to my life! I was beyond stunned that there was anything He did want to teach me on a matter I felt totally indifferent toward. The results of heeding His call in this area have been dramatic, even life changing!

Personally, I am convicted to cover full time, any time I am not under a roof provided by my husband (our home, a hotel room he has purchased for us, etc.). I do NOT place this conviction on others, and will continue to seek God’s direction for my life in future seasons. Corporate worship is the only issue the Bible seems to be addressing in head covering [when], as far as I understand the context of this passage. I think my full time drive to cover may (or may not) come to a close with the publication of the book I’ve been writing through the entire course of my head covering journey. (Speaking in representation of Jesus is prophecy! I believe any form of public ministry, such as public speaking on topics related to the Bible, should be approached very prayerfully, and falls under this same category of prophecy.)

I also cover in my own home for most personal prayer, again a matter of personal conviction, not something I believe Scripture instructs for all women at all times.

Practically speaking, it has become my habit to wear head covering nearly every waking hour other than showers. Simply, it is easier for me to fix my hair once in the morning and already have my covering in place when I step out the door or sit down to worship the Lord.  I take the action of preparing my head (and heart!) at the start of a new day and this helps put me into a mindset of thinking on Jesus throughout my day. Again, personal preference. Just sharing how it works well for me.


Type of hair covering [how] can become a hot topic. The Bible doesn’t get into much detail on this point. We are told to do, and left with great freedom in how that instruction is implemented! A couple of observations you might want to consider as you pray through God’s specific plan for how you prepare your physical head when you enter His presence are:
1.       A woman’s hair, given to her as A covering, is also referred to as her glory. Since our purpose in prayer is to give glory to God, veiling our created glory He’s given us, allows more focus to be on Him and His glory. (If our hair were THE covering referenced in this passage, how could we put it on, or how would a guy take his off each time he entered a worship service?)

2.       With the veiled glory concept in mind, I don’t think God objects to cute or stylish head coverings, but simple would want us to be mindful of not detracting from Him, not trying to draw undo attention to ourselves. He loves us. He created us. He created beauty. He gave us hair for our glory. He isn’t trying to take anything from us, make us feel frumpy or self-conscious! It often takes some practice, time to explore our options, but if there’s a head-wear style that makes you feel beautiful but still focuses eyes (our own as well as the eyes of those around us) on Christ, when we find something we can wear with comfort and confidence in Jesus, that’s what we are looking for.

3.       Along the same lines, in my first article, I mentioned simply wearing a flower clip in my hair as a possible answer to head covering. I would like to expound on this thought a bit and say that while the emotional and spiritual struggles of beginning head covering can be intense, God faithfully honors any and every effort we take towards obedience of His Word! During my flower wearing months, it mattered that I was striving to obey! I strove for consistency to the point of folks noticing that I was never without something in my hair. (Sometimes I explained why, other times I just silently thanked the Lord for the work He was doing in my heart in this area, then went on with my day). I worked through a lot of questions and fears by keeping doing what I was doing.
However, today I would not feel a flower clip in my hair to suffice as covering for my head, a veiling of my God-given glory to ensure more focus on Jesus. My advice is to focus on head over hair or “how much” hair is to be covered. Keep seeking God’s direction for your life and He will guide you in every detail!


4.       I love simple, comfortable ball caps myself. They offer a lot of coverage, are culturally quite normal, and are typically no-fuss and non-attention-drawing. One consideration to be aware of is that the etiquette required of a ball cap is the same for a man or a woman. If you are at a ball park, a church or school, a parade, or any other occasion where our national flag is honored by men needing to remove their hats, the same requirement applies to women in ball caps. (Interesting that the removal of a man’s hat was instructed in reverence to God clear back in the early church, yet is still reflected in our culture regarding entering a building or honoring our flag to this day!)
A woman’s “fashion hat” (clearly distinguishable from a traditional man’s hat style such as a ball cap), a headband, or a scarf, is exempt from expected removal. If you don’t mind taking your hat off for our flag, feel free to wear one, just maybe think about the pros and cons of wearing it into a worship setting if there’s a flag present.

5.       If God has unveiled (pun intended) to you the truth that His instruction that Christian women covering our heads in prayer is valid today, ask Him to guide you in exactly how that should be accomplished in your personal circumstances.
I know missionary women who take on traditional Muslim attire in ministry and God blesses them abundantly and strengthens their families and their faith. I also know of women who take on Muslim headscarves in initial desire to fulfil this instruction for Christian women to practice in worship of Jesus, but satan uses that style embraced by another faith as a foothold to start leading these women down a path of spiritual searching that ultimately results in denying Jesus and pledging allegiance to another god.
My kids attend a heavily Muslim influenced school and my conviction to stay covered was confirmed about the time they started there. It has been interesting to watch how being consistently covered has gained the respect of administration and fellow parents who do not offer the same credence to the opinions of uncovered women. While I chose head covering, I intentionally chose styles distinctly distinguishable from Muslim, so there is no question that my loyalty to someone other than allah.
I avoid styles readily identified as “Muslim” (same would be true of other faith practices with distinctive head covering styles) because I attempted a certain head style commonly associated with another faith and, while I had no personal issue with what I saw to be a freedom of expression, I learned my choice was perceived as a “conversion” to another believe system and was a stumbling block to a fellow Christian. That was the last time I tried that specific style!
I know some women who will only wear a certain style of covering, perhaps a certain shade of blue, specific length of veil, a special bonnet, or all white or black. There is nothing wrong with any of those choices. In fact, submission to local church leadership is to be applauded, so if your church instructs a specific style, wonderful! The desire for head covering that doesn’t draw attention away from the Lord is fantastic. (I am often the ONLY woman in my church or other local circles who covers for Christ, so this has not been my issue.)
I would simply caution against legalism. Whatever covering you are wearing should not become a source of piety, religious pride, a meaningless ritual, or covering for the sake of covering tradition rather than as a reflection of a heart seeking submission to God’s order of authority. Once the issue of if to cover gets settled in my spirit, my attitude behind the act of covering needs to be regularly taken before God in order to assure that my motives stay glorifying to Him!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Prayer

Prayer has been a huge issue God has been working on my heart the past few years, especially the past 8 or 9 months. I've been so convinced that the prayer of a righteous man [or woman!] avails much (Proverbs 15:29; James 5:16; 1 Peter 3:12), and yet there is none righteous, no not one (Psalm 143:2; Romans 3:9-10). I'm so thankful that Jesus imparts His righteousness to me (Romans 1:17; Romans 2:13; Romans 3:22; Romans 4:5; Romans 5:19; Romans 10:4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:24; Philippians 1:11; Philippians 3:9; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 3:5; )!

I'm living through a long, dry season of huge "unanswered" prayers. Not only are the things I'm praying about not getting resolved, some situations are getting worse... and Worse... and WORSE! For months on end, even years! Keeping faith gets hard!

How amazing that at Mount Hermon, I had chances to pray with several different people and repeatedly see significant and immediate answers. Also, I had an almost fully pain-free week and had notable lack of many profound stroke deficits during my week there! What refreshing reminders that God is still powerful and active in my life.

I appreciate this article on prayer that begins with the powerful description of a common prayer struggle, "We want to talk to God but can’t. The friction of our desire to pray, combined with our badly damaged prayer antennae, leads to constant frustration. It’s as if we’ve had a stroke." 

It's as if we've had a stroke! For obvious reasons, these words  have profound impact for me!