That is about the only thing that got me through this past weekend. I was asked to speak at Sugar Grove Church of Christ’s women’s retreat. There were 3 women who gave their testimonies this weekend and I was honored to be among them.
While preparing, I learned that my story, my circumstances have been my way to glorify God. I learned that it was not just my story, but ultimately a story of God’s providence for His children. Thank you to those who have spoken out and who let me know that our actions have really made a difference, back then and today. I had full confidence going into the day that God was preparing me to speak for him, that He would give me the words and calm my spirit; and He did.
So… you want to hear it?
Listen to the mp3: Julie Whaley, Choosing Trust (16mb)
I had never heard of Fall Break before moving here. Apparently, kids need a little time off after only 2 months of school, so Alyssa had Thursday and Fri off last week and no soccer game. Ethan thought it would be fun for us to take one last trip before Audrey comes so we went to Atlanta. It is about 4 hours from us and we enjoyed the Aquarium, Coca Cola Museum, the Zoo and Botanical Gardens. We also ate at The Varsity. The Downtown Atlanta location is on more than two acres and can accommodate 600 cars and over 800 people inside. On days when the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets are playing a home game, over 30,000 people visit The Varsity. It was worth the experience, but of course I felt so rushed and intimidated ordering that I had to get my hamburger fully loaded, so I didn’t quite enjoy it as much. Megan was a bit cranky after a full day and Alyssa was just climbing all over the window. However, Ethan quite enjoyed his “dirty” dog and made sure this experience was mentioned in the blog. It was a good “last” trip. Pics
So, the other really cool thing about Atlanta was church. I am no expert on North Point, but it is a large church community in the area. The main campus has 2 auditoriums that can accommodate 5,000 worshipers at one time. About 5 years later, they opened an additional campus called Buckhead Church down the street from our hotel. The idea was “Atlanta does not need another church. What Atlanta does need is a safe environment where the unchurched can come and hear the life-changing truth that Jesus Christ cares for them and died for their sin.” Since Ethan and Ben work on church systems (video, audio, gear, lighting, etc…), he has been more interested in visiting different places. And there was a time in my life, when I just wasn’t interested in this. I like my church, I like my acapella music, I like my semi-conservative beliefs, I don’t want to go anywhere else – even to visit. I don’t know where that mindset came from, I will try not to blame my upbringing, but if you have not experienced God in any other place than your home church, you are missing out. I am amazed at how God can work. At how differently he can work in different areas, in different people. How church can adapt to bring others to know Christ and still be church. We have been to some rather large churches and not all of them move me. Like the one that served popcorn because the series was about God in the movies or something. And they literally watched long clips of Return to Neverland then discussed it. Great if that works for you, but that is not what I need to feel a connection with God. But this morning, I felt that conncection. Far away from home, even farther away from what I would consider a church I am comfortable with. It had nothing to do with watching others. It was about the setting, the words, the songs this morning. And for the first time in my 32 years, my arm (just one) left my side and raised to heaven in glory to God. I felt the tears roll down my face as I humbled myself before God and just let his power run through me. I just can’t describe it. I just want to encourage you that when you have the chance to go to church somewhere different, and I mean different, not the Church of Christ on the other corner, GO. Let God show you how he works. Experience Him in a different way.
It is rare that I don’t know how to start a post. Usually, I am classifying events by blog worthy or not. I am thinking of what I will actually say before I even sit down. This past week has been different. While I wanted to post this last week, something held me back. But today, I am here to share. Last Wednesday, I received a call from my doctor that revealed some disappointing news about my recent quad-screen test. In simplest terms, I had a 1 in 30 chance of carrying a baby with Down Syndrome. I didn’t know exactly how they come to that number, but that didn’t matter. The fact was that my hope in a healthy baby was shattered. And it didn’t matter what happened in the days to come, everything had changed. You can only walk the naive path that your baby is healthy for so long. We were scheduled for an ultrasound that was to get a better look at the baby and give a better idea of what we were facing. That ultrasound was today. We had 5 days to struggle with the unknown. 5 days to wonder “why?” 5 days to question God. 5 days to be mad. 5 days to worry. And we also had 5 days to cast our burdens to the Lord. 5 days to share the fears with friends and family. 5 days to trust. 5 days to hope.
I went into the appointment today believing this: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. ” – Romans 5: 3-5
The more I read this, the more I truly believed it. My sufferings, past and present, have produced hope. Therefore, I guess they produced perseverance and character along the way. All that was keeping us going this weekend was hope that this baby would be healthy. And if we received news that the opposite was true, we would have hope that God could heal. And if God chose to not heal, we would have hope that we would cope and we would survive. Hope does not disappoint.
After sharing our sufferings of last week, I can now share the joy of the Lord. I can shout it as best as possible through the internet that God is good. That God hears the cries of his children. The ultrasound today revealed only good news. It showed a healthy baby girl that measures right on track and shows no sign of Down Syndrome. That’s right a girl! The doctor reduced our risks to 1 in 90, but in his 25 years experience thinks that is still too high. We are scheduled for ultrasounds every three weeks to check her progress and make sure nothing appears in the future, but we are satisfied tonight. We feel the peace of God resting on our shoulders — holding our hands, saying, “I will take care of you.”
Have you been moved by the spirit lately? For the past several Sunday mornings, I have been moved. When we began looking for a church home in Nashville we were very disappointed with our findings. We left a great, healthy, loving church, and subconsciously we were looking for what we knew. What was familiar to us. But we both knew we could not duplicate that church. Within the last few weeks, we have both come to find that God will give you more than you ask or imagine. Because what I asked and imagined was a church like FC. A church that carried the same traditions. A church that worshiped the same. A church that even prayed the same. But God has shown us that there are many different ways to worship. And we are moved by the spirit at this new church near us. Moved to tears as we enjoy the music, moved by the spirit to get involved, to give money to worthy causes, and especially moved as we see others moved by the Spirit. There is something powerful that makes people stand up and raise their hands to God while the rest of the congregation sits. There is something powerful that makes the singers tap their legs, shake their heads back and forth to the beat and just sing with all their heart. God is alive and working in this church and we are happy to say we have felt it.