Posts tagged ‘Lessons’

A lesson in contentment

“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” Philippians 4:1

Are you content with the circumstances of your life?

Being content when things are going your way is easy, but being content in the midst of hardship or suffering is beyond difficult as I have learned. Thankfully, I have also learned that a relationship with Christ which allows for the right perspective makes it possible to be content in all things, even after losing your child, your father, and discovering a new life and purpose in the aftermath.

I’ve mentioned it before that I have learned to be content with what happened to Hailey and my family. This post is more about me learning to be content with how I am using my time and understanding who I am now and what my purpose is.

It’s about answering those questions that have been haunting me; the ones I hated people asking me only days after losing Hailey… you know the ones: what are you going to do now? are you going to teach again? and so on. I almost have let those questions eat away at me. As if what I was doing wasn’t good enough. They made me feel guilty at times for not running out and finding a job right away after my hopes of being a stay at home mom were taken from me and I buried my daughter.

I know some of those questions and related comments came out of genuine concern for me as some people didn’t want me just sitting at home all day being lonely and depressed, but not all of them came from that type of heart. Unfortunately I know too many people, family and friends, who frown upon stay at home moms and housewives in general. If you don’t have a full time career, they see you as less then them or something. They won’t admit openly that they think those things, but they do. I know it from their gossip and side comments about others.

Not only did the idea of what others thought of me for not working bother me, but so did several other related things. For instance, adjusting to a new way of life where I had more time than I knew what to do with was strange and hard. It was something that was foreign to me, and sometimes I let it bother me that I had nothing to do. At times I felt like I was living the life that I only thought possible when I’d be retired – doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted – and that made me feel guilty. As mentioned in earlier posts, I have been so used to being busy every second of the day and involved in too many things that suddenly I found myself not busy and not involved in much of anything. Even I defined who I was by my job title. Two years ago I was a teacher. A year ago I was going to be a stay at home mom. What was I now then? A housewife? Was that enough?

But yes it is enough. If that’s what God wants. And so I learned to be content being a housewife and taking care of our dog. But only because that’s what God wanted. My struggle in ‘doing nothing’ in the eyes of some isn’t because I’m disobeying or going against God’s plans for my life, it’s because I more with what others thought and not being good enough in there eyes. Too often I have based my contentment on what others think, not what God thinks.

My prayer since Hailey died has always been for God to use me according to His purposes for my life. If he wanted me to become a full time teacher again, I would. If he wanted me to find a part time job somewhere, I would. If he wanted me to volunteer somewhere, I would. But if God was telling me he wanted me to relax and enjoy life, for some reason I wouldn’t because society tells me that’s wrong. But it’s not and I’m finally realizing that God wanted me to do ‘nothing’ essentially for these past few months.

I needed the time for healing and to make it to the place where I am today – and God knew it. So I have learned to be content in taking time to heal instead of working. Those first few months were almost like a sabbatical for me that I’m only now realizing I took. It was a time of rest, healing, recovery… a time of drawing close to God, doing some soul searching, etc.

Then came the day in April when God put something new on my heart. When He told me it was time for something special for me to get involved in. When He put it on my heart to start a local project in memory of Hailey through Project Sweet Peas. I prayed for God to use my life according to His purposes, and this was the answer. He knew I was ready, and I needed it.

I’ve taken on Hailey’s Hope almost like it’s a full time job from home. But still, even after God continues to answer my prayers and use me, I battle with being discontent with my circumstances. Here I am, using my time wisely, serving others, doing something I really enjoy, yet I’m still discontent. Why? Because my mind constantly goes to my career path: teaching English full time.  And I think to myself, “What does donating gift bags have to do with teaching? shouldn’t I only be doing things that I can put on my resume for when I apply for a teaching position?” And here comes the struggle with trying to define myself and my life.

But couldn’t it be that God has plans other than teaching for me? And what about my ‘resume’ for God? After all, with Hailey’s Hope I’m still using my time, my skills, and my resources to serve Him and His kingdom. God  has blessed me with more than the ability to teach, so isn’t it possible that just maybe God doesn’t want me to teach right now?  That He has given me this new ‘task’ and opportunity for me to shine and serve? After all, my goal behind teaching is the same as my goal behind becoming involved with Project Sweet Peas: to use my time and talents to serve God and others. So isn’t it just possible that God has this in mind for me right now? Why is that so hard for me to accept?

I don’t have it on my heart to teach or sub or tutor. But I do have it on my heart to devote everything I have to Hailey’s Hope and helping others find hope during an experience that I have been through. With all of that said, I think I am finally learning to be content with what I’m doing with my life. For now this is where God wants me, and this is what I’m going to do.

So what am I doing now? Am I going back to teaching? I can comfortably and confidently answer those types of questions now:

I am a project leader for Hailey’s Hope with Project Sweet Peas. I am organizing the donation of over 20 bags to be delivered in June to over 20 families who have babies in NICUs so that they can be provided with a touch of comfort and hope during a difficult time. And I will continue to be organizing fundraisers, gathering donations, and delivering donated gift bags to families with babies in the NICUs. I am also happy to be extending my involvement with Project Sweet Peas by managing their blog. And now I do not plan on going back to teaching full time any time soon.

As for where I will be in a few more months, we’ll just have to wait and see where God takes me…could be the same thing, could be working as a part time substitute teacher, could be working on continuing our family… only God knows. And I am okay with that.

May 30, 2010 at 5:17 PM Leave a comment

Trying something new, for a change

Well it’s been a few days since I last wrote. I’ll blame it on my 3 day long dull headache and keeping busy. But I’m back and have some fun things to share in this post.

Yesterday Josh and I drove to the middle of nowhere in Alabama to visit this ‘zoo’ we had been hearing all about. You see, if you’ve ever been to Ft. Rucker, you are aware that there is not much to do in the actual town we live in outside of the post – the surrounding areas are wonderful if you can manage driving a couple of hours – shopping, beaches, museums, etc. But in our town, not much goes on. So we decided to get out of the house, get out of the town, and take a little adventure to McCelland’s Zoo aka “Mike’s Zoo Critters.” First, let me just say that I can’t believe that it took us a year of living here to finally hear about this ‘zoo.’ But I’m so glad we did. We had a blast!  I’m not going to chronicle our trip or describe this place in detail, so if you want to find out more you can visit their website. What I will do is give you some of the highlights of our trip.

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May 23, 2010 at 2:41 PM 1 comment

A Healing Misunderstanding of Mine

Many people wonder how I have such a strong faith and love for the Lord even though I have experienced such a strong season of sorrow in my life…

At Hailey’s memorial service I wrote a note that was shared by a family friend; I wrote:

…today we don’t mourn the loss of a life cut too short nor are we angry with God, we celebrate the life of our amazing daughter and the miraculous 36 days she lived…

At my dad’s memorial service I wrote and read something similar:

While someone may expect me to be bitter or angry about the loss of my daughter and the loss of my dad within such a short period of time, I am not. Instead, I want to tell you all how thankful I am to have such an amazing Heavenly father and how thankful I am that He blessed me with such an amazing earthly father…

Well let me tell you, my faith has even surprised me at times.

Click here to read the rest!

March 16, 2010 at 11:00 AM 1 comment

The Great Sadness, I live in the past and in the future

If you have never read the book, The Shack by William P. Young, I highly recommend that you read it.

I read it for the first time in the summer of 2008, and then passed it on to my dad to read that summer (that fall he was diagnosed with cancer). Currently I am in the process of re-reading it. If you know me you know I love a good book, and I am a classic bookworm. I love ‘getting lost’ in a book. I love books that are encouraging and inspirational and bring me closer to God, and this is such a book. I am such a bookworm that if you were to see me reading it you would find me with a yellow highlighter in hand highlighting away as I read. Just ask Josh. 🙂 Well let me just say that this second reading of the book is so much more meaningful than the first as now I can relate even more to the fictional main character.

I will not spoil any part of the book, but for those of you who have never read it, the book is about a father, the main character named Mack, as he deals with The Great Sadness.  What is The Great Sadness? Well his little daughter (I think she was 6 yrs old) was kidnapped and evidence suggests that she was brutally murdered – don’t worry this isn’t a spoiler -it’s on the back of the book. So The Great Sadness refers to Mack’s grief – the grief of  a parent who lost a child… now you see how I can relate.

The following excerpt explains a little about The Great Sadness and how it feels – this is, I think, an amazing, dare I say beautiful, description of grief and what mine feels like many days:

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March 3, 2010 at 11:02 AM 4 comments

Hailey’s Purpose

To my readers: Finally, I’m taking time to write the post I’ve been longing to write. I hope that as many people read this post as possible – so please share with others if you feel led to. This is a long one. I tried to make it short, but I honestly could probably write an entire book about this post, and I know this post will still not do Hailey’s story justice, but it’s a start. So please take the time to read the entire thing if you can. Oh and you may be wondering why I’m writing in pink – I want to make sure this post stands out. 🙂

On December 4, 2009, when Hailey was three days old, in a NICU at the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL, doctors told us that Hailey had full Trisomy 18, a lethal genetic disorder. On that day, our worst fear was realized, our baby was going to die.

QUESTIONS

There were so many questions I had and that others had and have in these situations. Why did our baby have to be sick? Why did she have to die? Why did this happen to her, a fragile little baby? Why did this happen to us, young, healthy, good people? Why did we have to lose our first child? Why do we have to experience this painful loss as young parents? What does this all mean? What good is there in this terrible situation? Where is God in this?

GOD SPEAKS

I prayed and prayed. I talked to God, a lot. I asked Him so many questions – many of those mentioned above. On December 29, 2009, when Hailey was 4 weeks old, I attempted to soak away my troubles and stress in a hot bath. There, alone in the tub, I broke down into heavy weeping and started a conversation with God that I wrote down in my journal and will never forget for the rest of my life. God will speak to us if we listen. And that night He spoke to me with clarity that I had never experienced before.

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February 18, 2010 at 2:29 PM 5 comments

Letting go of desperately reaching

I really have to say that I appreciated C.S. Lewis’s book A Grief Observed a lot. As I read his journal entries recording his experience with his grief, I found that much of his thoughts and feelings were my own…as his changed, my changed too…I found myself relating to his experience of grief most of the time.

As I mention often in my posts, one of the hardest things about losing Hailey – is the “losing” part. I don’t want to feel like she’s lost. I don’t want to forget her. I fear forgetting her, not being able to remember, and so on. I mentioned something Lewis shared in his book that I have experienced too which is how pictures of our loved ones who have passed away function in our lives. I am so thankful for the pictures and video I have of Hailey – they do help me remember her at times. But at the same time, they are sometimes a “block” to who Hailey really was. A picture cannot capture Hailey as I truly knew her. A video comes close, but it doesn’t capture everything about her, her smell, her touch, etc. Those pictures and videos can actually impede on our memory of the person. Because after all, they are not the person.

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February 9, 2010 at 11:03 PM 1 comment

Random musings…mostly about my guilt-complex

Well since my last post, I have actually had a couple of ‘good’ days in a row. Getting out of bed hasn’t been so hard. I’ve managed to do several things I enjoy and have some fun. Unfortunately, having fun still comes with a guilt-complex for me. I wonder if/ when that will ever go away…

So I’ll share something kind of random. I usually like to keep my toes and finger nails painted. My toes are usually painted 99% of the time – fingers not as often because they chip so much faster. But anyway, I am one who enjoys that part of ‘my look.’ However, I have not had my toes and nails painted since before I was very round with Hailey. While I was pregnant it just wasn’t possible for me to reach my toes. After we had Hailey, it wasn’t really high on my list of things to do – didn’t have much time – and when I did have time to myself I wasn’t interested in painting them. It’s been over a month now since Hailey has passed and since then I have painted my nails once. Pink. For her memorial service. Toes, still nothing. What’s keeping me? Honestly, my guilt-complex. I honestly cannot bring myself to paint my fingers or my toes. Weird right? Probably not a good thing either…

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February 9, 2010 at 2:17 AM 2 comments

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"God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed." ~Job 1:21

In Loving Memory of Hailey Marie

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