Welcome Everyone! For those who do not know I am leading a Bible study for women with chronic illnesses, and each week we read a chapter, answer chapter questions, and do a live stream on instagram about the book Cultivate by Lara Casey. For more details on the study and how to join click here Please note that this blog post is essentially the written version of the live stream that took place yesterday and will also be available tomorrow on IGTV.
LIE: Waiting is not good or productive
TRUTH: Waiting is a time of ripening
Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 99). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
After losing a baby and going through months of grief and waiting, our hearts had become reserved. We hadn’t planned on telling anyone his name until he was born… We had kept this baby close to our hearts and the journey between us and God. After grieving a miscarriage, we knew that God could take our son at any moment, if it was His will. So we took it day by day. But somehow, by speaking his name for the first time to someone other than each other, Ari and I felt deeper faith that we were going to hold our son one day.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 117). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
For months I prayed for purpose. After losing my career (for the second time in 5 short years) I felt so lost. I remember my therapist even saying that I needed to find purpose… yet here I was waiting- and not patiently I should add. I was so scared to jump into anything because I felt like God would just allow it to be taken away from me as soon as I got comfortable. But God doesn’t call us to live comfortably. For years I felt called to write a book. I knew exactly what I was going to write but couldn’t seem to start writing. A few months ago, when I was having my quiet time with God I asked Him that He would reveal what He wants me to do in this season. Within two days I had the entire book outline done. I didn’t tell anyone at the time that I had started writing and outlining a book because then it would become real. I was opening myself up to failure. I had failed so many things, well my body failed me in so many ways, that I couldn’t bear the thought of more loss. When I started to dive deeper into my thoughts, I started wondering why keeping it a secret was so important to me. I realized that I didn’t know exactly how God wanted to use me, and I wanted this to evolve into whatever He wants. Maybe it will be a book, maybe it will be a lengthy blog series or video series, or maybe He will do something I can’t even imagine with it! But once I started telling people about it, there was a clear goal and for the first time in my life I didn’t want the big picture. I just wanted to be using my time purposefully for what He wants me to do. That’s how this bible study came about.
My worry grew. Maybe God brought us this far to take it all away again. Maybe we were stepping into something impossibly hard.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 118). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Oh how often I fall into this path of worry. There have been many nights where I have pleaded with God to try to understand why He keeps giving me opportunities just to take them away. It seems like every area we start to figure out in regards to my illness, another area falls apart. It is impossibly hard and has made me quite skeptical at times.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;Psalm 103:1-2 NLT
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
I read Psalm 103 over and over. The Psalm begins and ends with the same words: “”let all that I am praise the Lord.” I wanted to trust in His goodness and praise Him, no matter what He had ahead. OI thought about the times that I had waited on Him before. In the wait- waiting for my orchid to come back to life, waiting for our marriage to be changed, waiting on God to transform the soil of our soils, and waiting through the grief of loss- I drew closer to Him, and that was His plan. Waiting a couple weeks for a baby to come was so small in the big picture. But God uses not only big things but seemingly small experiences to remind us of His faithfulness. To remind us to trust in what we can’t yet see. I am not in control even one tiny bit, but God is. God was always there. Even when I couldn’t see it or feel it, He was there. I began to feel an all-consuming peace as I turned my worries over to Him and replaced them with His words.
Q Do you feel like you are waiting on something? Maybe you are waiting to find a job that uses your gifts and talents well or waiting for an answer to prayer, such as a way through the pain of loss or infertility, to be healed of sickness, for a relationship to be mended, or learning to flourish in singleness. Describe what feels undone or unanswered in your lifeCasey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 119). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
A Right now as I prepare this study I am waiting for home care to become an option for me. Going into the hospital and losing one day a week is so so hard. God is starting to show me that His promise to take care of me is coming to light, even though I don’t see the full picture I can see little glimpses and that is so encouraging! And now as of Feb 6, 2019- I have home care! Our God is so faithful!
Growing means waiting. But times of waiting can feel like a punishment, can’t they? We humans are creatures of habit. We thrive on familiarity and certainty. We like predictability and known outcomes. Our brains seek out patterns and habits because they require less brain activity. So the uncertain feels uncomfortable. Waiting in uncertainty feels like a lot of work, because it is more work for our brains- and hearts. It’s hard to be patient and trust in the unknown, but you can always trust an unknown future to a known and never-changing God. In the wait we are refined. Changed. Readied for whatever He has ahead for us. Times of waiting are times of ripening.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 120). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Wow. I want us to read over this one part again: “In the wait we are refined. Changed. Readied for whatever He has ahead for us. Times of waiting are times of ripening.” Lara hits my heart so hard here. I always think of a diamond and how much work it has to go through before you see it’s beauty. When you have a chronic illness you are used to waiting, waiting on your body, other people, your doctors, appointments, test results, procedures, healing- pretty much EVERYTHING!
Q What do you think God is trying to ripen in you in the wait?Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 120). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
A Right now for me God is trying to ripen my faithfulness. I tend to be quick to hand things over to God, but quick to take things back into my hands. When I have to wait I think God is trying to help me practice contentment, and by waiting I have to wait. It’s as simple as that. His promises being fulfilled wouldn’t be as amazing if we could easily fulfill the promises ourselves.
We knew that He could take this adoption away from us at any moment, too, and that His plan would be good no matter what.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 121). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
“And if not He is still good.” That phase has been on my heart a lot this past year. Faith is easy when God keeps opening doors, but faith is a lot harder when you think God is about to make His big move and then doesn’t. I have had appointments that I felt held such promise, that end up being a waste of my time and heart space. As hard as it is, I have to remember that God will hold every failure and every victory.
As Lara continues she tells us about what other people thought about her adoption, it could have consumed them but it didn’t.
Because God didn’t call us to comfort. He called us to follow Him. And every time we followed Him before, He grew our faith.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 122). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q Have you ever had an experience when God called you to follow Him, even when it wasn’t comfortable or didn’t make sense?
A When Jared and I got engaged we were determined that by the end of the following four months we were going to get married, because my medical team knew that I wasn’t physically in the best place. Our immediate family jumped on board and were ready to help us with whatever we needed. People thought we were crazy though. Could we pull this off? Well we couldn’t but God could. We knew this was His timing and embraced it. We had a venue within 18 days of our engagement booked and then the next morning I went in for surgery.
In the wait of those ten weeks, we prayed hard in hopes that God would grow something good as we stepped forward in fear filled faith. On our knees, something did grow: our marriage and our trust in God’s plan.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 123). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q Do you have times of fear filled faIth?
A I know I do. I have had many times. Especially before a surgery or procedure. I have to trust that we were lead to the right doctors to make the best decision for my body possible. I have to know that God is in control and like all plants, when we fix our eyes on the sun- we grow.
Can I step this close? What if my heart breaks, Lord? I prayed. And you know what He said? Love her anyway. Even if I take her away, Lara, love her right now with all you have.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 124). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
When a new opportunity comes about, especially opportunities that have left my heart broken before. After the summer where I worked with a dancer who had diabetes my heart was so filled. I ended up being asked to train her in Florida for 2 weeks to prepare her for the YAGP (an international ballet competition.) As the date got closer, I started having some more significant health problems and I was worried. Did I get too close? Is my heart going to be broken again? These were questions that I asked God myself, yet He simply asked me to trust Him and know that He is still good- even if I end up not being able to go. And guess what? I went! Even though that was the last time I would work with another dancer for a long time, He gave me time to heal my heart in a place that had been broken, and learn that even if it didn’t work out He would still be good.
Certainty is easier, but it turns out that God leading us into the unknown was the most certain path we could take. We didn’t need to know all the details; we just needed Him.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 126). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I don’t know where this particular paragraph finds you. I don’t know your heart today or what is weighing on you. What I do know is this: if you are in a season of doubt or fear or worry or feeling lost, lean in. God is growing you, even when you can’t see it- and especially when your circumstances don’t feel comfortable or familiar.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 127). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
“Forget the former things;Isaiah 43:18-19
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
This verse is extremely close to my heart, there are so many things I could choose to dwell on whether it is failed careers or broken relationships, YET He has called me to focus on what He is doing right here, right now, in this very moment in time.
Q What things of the past are you dwelling on that you need to let go of in order for Him to help you see the new door He is opening for you?
In every season He is at work. He is with you. Waiting on the harvest will be worth it. In the wait, cultivate.Casey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 127). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Cultivators ripen in the WAITCasey, Lara. Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (p. 131). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
SEEDS OF GRACE AND TRUTH
-Waiting is a time of ripening
-We will always be “in progress”- always in a state of growth
-Growing means waiting. It means embracing imperfect, grace-filled progress and tending to things over time. It means sitting in the tension and waiting for blooms to come.
-God doesn’t call us to comfort; He calls us to follow Him
-I can always trust an unknown future to a known and never-changing God
-In the wait, cultivate
God gives us new life through His transforming grace so that we, too, will spread His good news far and wide, helping good things to grow and become fruitful.