Longing Unfulfilled

ContemplativeIf only… Oh, the things I could do; the joy I’d have; the love I’d display! We’ve all had those days, times where we look at our hurdles, raise our eyes to heaven, and remind God of how different things could be if only He’d do X or Y.

Like we need–or even have the right–to tell Him anything. True, He could do X and Y and A through Z, but many times, He chooses not to. And we are left with two options: grow bitter or draw closer.

Really, it comes down to surrender.

Just this morning I had such chat with God, then I began working on today’s post. And remembered last week’s. I believe God might be trying to tell me something. Maybe He’s telling you the same thing.

Today Elizabeth Maddrey, author of Hope Deferred, shares a deeply painful longing she prayed God would fulfill, and what she learned–how she grew–from the experience.

ElizabethMaddreyHeadshotFor all those women struggling to conceive, I won’t even pretend to know what you’re feeling. But God knows. He sees every tear, hears every desperate cry. And He cares, intimately and passionately.

When Our Longing’s Remain Unmet by Elizabeth Maddrey

I never expected to struggle with infertility. I don’t think many people do. When my husband and I realized something was wrong, it was a punch in the gut. This wasn’t something I’d planned on. Nor was it anything I thought I could handle. The years that followed were some of the darkest of my life. I questioned everything—from God’s goodness to the purpose for my life. Everything became a struggle.

Gradually, as option after option failed to help us conceive, I felt God’s peace. It wasn’t an instantaneous thing, but a slow, subtle and almost sneaky deliverance from the constant questioning and heartache—even though I still had no answers.

Shortly after this, I began to run into people here and there and they’d mention infertility in one way or another. I’d compassionnever been particularly open about our struggles – my family knew and maybe one close friend. So to have these conversations occur felt random. And yet, as they shared their own struggles and questions, I was able to share with them my experiences from a little further down the path than they were. Though the pain was still raw, it helped me to see God using my experiences to encourage others.

Now, many years later, opportunities to share my journey have once again been cropping up. And I’m finding that I’m able to look back and clearly see God shaping and molding me through these trials. I don’t think we always get to see those results—we just have to trust that they’re there. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to see the results of Him working in me and that He’s seeing fit to use my journey to help others. But I’m also grateful because it’s a reminder that even when we don’t see His hand clearly, He’s still there and He still has a plan to use me if I’ll get out of the way and let Him.

HopeDeferredFrontHope Deferred:

Can pursuit of a blessing become a curse?

June and July and their husbands have spent the last year trying to start a family and now they’re desperate for answers. As one couple works with specialists to see how medicine can help them conceive, the other must fight to save their marriage.

Will their deferred hope leave them heart-sick, or start them on the path to the fulfillment of their dreams?

Buy it here!

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddreyTwitter: @elizabethmaddre, Pinterest:  and Google Plus

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. We all have times where our prayers appear to go unanswered and our struggles appear to mount. We all, daily, have to choose between self-centeredness (focusing on our trails, struggles, worries, longings, and concerns) and surrender (giving all we are to our Christ to be used by Him for His glory). One leaves us empty, the other brings joy and peace.

What will you choose?

On a lighter note, I have fun news to share. Yesterday I signed my third contract with New Hope Publishers. Here’s the unedited, preliminary back cover blurb:

Intertwined (working title that will likely change):

Abandoned by her husband, an organ procurement coordinator fighting to keep her job and her sanity encounters an old flame facing an unthinkable tragedy.

For Tammy Kuhn, being an organ procurement coordinator is more than a job. It’s a ministry. But when her husband of sixteen years leaves her for another woman, struggles with childcare, her absentee ex-husband, and an altercation with a doctor threaten her job. Embittered and overwhelmed, she fights to maintain her sanity when a late night encounter with an old flame stirs emotions long since buried but the ICU is no place for romance.

Much thanks to Ami Carr Koelliker for inspiring me to write this novel and for all the help she offered along the way! You rock, girl!

And as long as I’m naming books, I can’t remember if I mentioned my second book, When Dawn Breaks, which releases in 2015. In case not…

When Dawn Breaks: (I should be able to reveal the cover soon. 🙂 )

Jacqueline wants purpose and restitution, but must she relinquish her chance of love to find it?

A hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate. Looking to begin again—and reconnect with her embittered daughter—Jacqueline heads north. Reconciliation is hard, but she has a handsome new friend to lean on. Most importantly, she knows God is standing beside her.

When her daughter rejects her, three children abandoned by their mother open their hearts. But can God use a woman who dashed the hopes of her own child to bring hope to someone else’s?

Finally, if you haven’t purchased Beyond I Do but want to, now’s the time as the preorder discount (26% off) won’t last too much longer.

I’ll Fix it Myself!

Independence and perseverance is a great thing … except when it’s not. 😉 So when does an admirable quality lead to a weakness? Read Elizabeth Maddrey’s devotion to find out.

ElizabethMaddreyAuthorI was born into a strong-willed family. Both of my parents are smart, independent, stubborn, and strong-willed. My grandparents were, too. And my sister and I followed suit. Most of the time, I don’t consider it a bad thing. Being this way helped me get through those awkward junior and senior high years as the nerdy, chunky girl who was the brunt of too many jokes. Those same traits helped me get through college and graduate school – you don’t finish a PhD without a larger-than-average helping of stubbornness.

 

But it’s not always smooth sailing. When my boyfriend (now my husband) told his parents he was going to propose, my father-in-law-to-be said, “Are you sure? She’s awfully independent.” Thankfully, that independence is something my husband admires in me.

I’ll admit I have a tendency to think I can fix just about anything by myself.

 

Leaky toilet? Not calling a plumber (or my husband.) I can fix it myself. Button fell off and I’m running late? Find a safety pin. I can fix it myself. Tire goes flat? I can fix it myself. And sure, some of those are good survival skills for any woman to have. If it stops there. I’m not so good at stopping there. That’s where I start to get in trouble.

 

When my heart hurts because of a broken friendship, my first thought isn’t to pray. I think I can fix it myself. When I’m feeling stuck in a spiritual desert, I don’t immediately turn to the Scriptures. I try to fix it myself. When temptation is knocking at my door, I try to fix it myself.

 

It’s probably not a surprise that the heroines in my novels share these traits with me. And they too reap the consequences of their own stubbornness.  In “Wisdom to Know,” Lydia doesn’t wait for God to bring her His choice of a mate; she pursues her own agenda.  When that falls apart, she tries to “fix” the mess by covering it up.  The cover-up nearly destroys her.  In “Courage to Change,” Allison stubbornly refuses to ask her family for help until a stalker turns truly dangerous.

 

Like my heroines, my first inclination to “fix it myself” inevitably makes the problem worse. Then, when I’ve turned the divot into a six foot trench, I remember that it’s not always good to be so self-reliant. We were created for relationship with God – and part of that relationship is leaning on Him and asking Him to fix our broken pieces because we’re simply not able. Now that I have small children, I’ve begun to understand a tiny bit of what God must feel when He sees me struggling to fix what’s beyond my ability, knowing that He’d be happy to do it, if I’d just let go and ask for help.

 

I’m starting to get better about putting the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 into action.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

 

For me, the most convicting words in there are “lean not on your own understanding.” I want to say, “But God gave me a brain!” And He did. But His is so much better. “But He made me smart.” But He’s so much smarter. My understanding is based on a few short years here on this earth. His understanding is based on eternal perspective and the entirety of His plan.

 

Lean not on my own understanding. Because compared to Him, I understand very little.

 ***

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity.

Her debut novel, Wisdom to Know, Book One of the ‘Grant Us Grace’ Series, was released in January, 2013. Courage to Change is the second in that series and continues to the story of characters from the first book. She is also the co-author of A is for Airstrip: A Missionary’s Jungle Adventure, a children’s book based on the work of a Wycliffe missionary.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

9781938708138Courage to Change by Elizabeth Maddrey (Book Two of the ‘Grant Us Grace’ Series):

 

Should you be willing to change for love?

When Phil Reid became a Christian and stopped drinking, his hard-partying wife, Brandi, divorced him. Reeling and betrayed, he becomes convinced Christians should never remarry, and resolves to guard his heart.

Allison Vasak has everything in her life under control, except for one thing. Her heart is irresistibly drawn to fellow attorney and coworker, Phil. Though she knows his history and believes that women should not initiate relationships, she longs to make her feelings known.

As Phil and Allison work closely together to help a pregnant teen, both must re-evaluate their convictions. But when Brandi discovers Phil’s new relationship, she decides that though she doesn’t want him, no one else can have him either. Can Phil and Allison’s love weather the chaos Brandi brings into their lives?

Buy it here!

 

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Is prayer normally your first choice or must you slam into a few brick walls before you slide to your knees? What’s the difference between independence and God-dependence? And how might the latter look lived out?

Share your thoughts here in the comments or on Facebook at Living by   Grace.