Ramblings from the Armstrong house...

Hi friends! It's been awhile...again. I've been a little convicted lately about how much time I spend on the internet, although most of that time is spent blogging and/or catching up on all my friend's blogs! I think that's sort of time well spent? Anyway, I'm trying to limit myself, so my updates have been a little behind.

There aren't too many things happening at the Armstrong house right now. We are in the swing of things at Church and in student ministries...this last weekend was our annual volunteer training retreat. My friend Holly asked me how many retreats I've been on this year and so I decided to count...between Travis and I, this last weekend was #12! Add a week of junior high camp, family camp, and a mission's trip and now you know why I feel like we live out of our suitcases! It's amazing how many retreats our Church has...I think it must be a Minnesota thing? I guess all those lakes and cabins and retreat centers are crying out for weekend trips. It's apparently what we do to make up for our long winters and short summers?? We plan loads of long weekends instead.

Anyway, It's been a little over a month now since our miscarriage, and we're still humbled at all the cards and emails and phone calls that keep coming our way. What a blessing you all are to me and to Travis. I am so thankful for this time and the way the body of Christ has come around us. It really is a privilege to be a believer isn't it? As my mind tries to wrap itself around all these lessons I'm learning and the truths that are standing out among the lies, I can't help but be heartbroken for those who don't know the Lord and for those who don't have the support of other Christians. How do they walk through dark days? I can't tell you how many people have hugged me and loved on me at Church...people I honestly don't really know, but because of our bond in Christ, we have a true connection. I've received cards and emails from people I've never met, and yet their words mean so much to me because I know we share a common hope in Jesus. Isn't that amazing? In no other "organization" is that possible. Only in the Church, only because of Jesus, can we experience true community. Different members doing different things all with the goal of edifying the body. What a beautiful work of the Lord. We're so privileged to be reaping the benefits of that right now...the Lord is so faithful to us.

The most common question I'm getting right now is, "So how are you REALLY doing?" It's a thoughtful question that doesn't seem too perplexing, but nonetheless, one that I'm struggling to answer. I have this gut reaction to just say, "I'm doing very well" but I also have this fear that I'm deceiving myself and that I'm doing a good job of just being distracted. It's still hurts and I still wish I could change it. I still wanted that baby and I still struggle to believe that it happened to me. So, how do I gauge how I'm "doing?" Is by the decreasing number of times I think about it? Is it by the passing of the days and weeks? Is it by my ability to hold back the tears? Is it in my composure when I talk to someone face to face? What if I don't really know how I'm doing? Is that an answer that I'm allowed to give?

I have come to the conclusion that there is no "playbook" for this journey, just like there are no "rules" for the hard times in our lives. Bad things happen to all kinds of people, every single day. In my flesh, I want to cry out for reasons, for an explanation, but I know that even that won't change anything. Yet, I have so many questions, so many "what if's" can get overwhelming if I dwell on it. A good friend, who has walked this road, said to me, "you know, you'll never get over will always stay with you and it will become part of you." At first that freaked me out, like it was going to be this dark cloud that would haunt me until I died, but then I started thinking about that. If I believe that God is Sovereign (in control)and I do, then I have to believe that this miscarriage was not a suprise to Him. It was allowed for me, in this season, for a reason or reasons I may never know. Sometimes God opens our eyes and let's us in on His plan and sometimes He doesn't. Through this latest journey, I am learning to believe God in what I know and trust Him in what I don't. Some days are easy and some days are hard. Sometimes I fail and sometimes I suceed. But it's not about me. It's about the Lord. For every part of me that falls short, He is ready with a sufficient dose of grace and strength for the day. If I step back and let Him lead me, we do well. If I brush past Him and go ahead on my own, I falter and He remains. Will I ever have all the answers? No. Will I ever be able to explain this loss? No. Will I continue to trust Him anyway and let Him show me the things He wants to teach me? Yes. Has He proven Himself faithful to me before? Yes. Will He do the same again? YES, YES, and YES!!

Despite the pain, despite the loss, depsite the heartbreak, He is good and He is worthy of my praise. Even though I don't understand, I will choose to trust Him and I will choose to bless His name and in return, He will love me, and heal me, and delight in me because He has redeemed me and called me to Himself. So if you're wondering how I'm doing, thank you for your sweet concern. I am learning and growing and I'm very thankful...thankful for this trial, thankful for our friends, family, and Church and thankful for God's grace. I have the best husband in the world...I can not imagine living life with anyone else. We are filled with hope and excitement again and we believe that God will answer our prayers for another baby. Life is slowly marching on again in our house and we are emerging as the walking wounded, but we know the great physician and we have 24/7 access to His throne. I am so humbled by how you've all blessed us with your love and concern, but I'm curious tonight about how we can encourage you in return. I'd hate to walk through these days with no more mercy than we started with or no more compassion than we had to begin with. I know a blog is not the face to face connection that we all need, but it's a start. Please, please, please email me or call me if you're hurting. Let me me pray for you or love you as you've loved me. I've got some battle scars to share with you and I'd be honored to walk alongside you. Thank you for walking alongside us through our blog and for letting me ramble and share with you. Have a blessed week and remember to believe God in what you know and trust Him in what you don't!


sheltonfamily said...

Thanks for the enouragement Steph! 12 retreats.. that's crazy including the camps etc... However, Mike just showed me his summer schedule. It could be pretty busy. I'm so glad you are allowing God to help you process all of this and realizing that it is okay to say" I don't know how I'm doing". I think we all feel this way sometimes and in trials I think God just wants us to come to Him. There's a verse that I think of often and it is "God binds up the brokenhearted". Please, pray for my grandma as she is in the hospital in AR and is not doing well. My grandpa is the one who really needs the prayers as he doesn't want to let go after 65 yrs.of marriage. We love you all!

Jesse and Stacie said...

You're a great role model and example. Can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving. Love you! :)

The Martins said...

What rich words and thoughts! Your desire to follow the Lord inspires me!