Surrender Every Little Thing. And a super sparkly giveaway
“When we search for significance out side of surrender to God, we create our own version of God’s plan for us, and it rarely measures up.”–Deidra Riggs, Every Little Thing, Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are
It’s been more than eight years since God asked me to give up a life I thought was “significant” and become a vessel of brokenness and suffering. Three years into the journey He told me to take my Isaac, our little Danica, and surrender her completely to Him as well. October, the month of Danica’s birth, and three years later, the month of her big brain decompression and fusion, is and will always be full of gratitude and celebration of miracles and provision tempered with remembered grief and pain. My heart breaks and is healed over and over again on these and other personal anniversaries tattooed forever in my calendar brain. After twenty-one surgeries of my own there is not a safe month or even a week anymore.
I’ve seen the ram in the thicket. In every possible and literal way God has been our “Jehovah-Jireh.” He gave us the miracle healing of Danica. He showed up financially at every turn to give access to the specialized care Danica and I both needed. He gave me a clear diagnosis after years of mental and physical anguish. He moved mountains to get doctors near and far to be willing to take the risk to treat me. He’s surrounded us with the kind of love and support I never believed possible, and it hasn’t stopped.
I’ve been told by beautiful, nose wiping, carpooling, snack bringing, essential oil using moms they are in awe of our “story.” They say God has used it in their own hearts and homes to garner more gratitude for their everyday. I’ve mostly prayed God would use this hard He’s written for me however He deems to bring Himself glory, but on the worst days I feel sad and even a little mad when my nothing like I dreamed of life is a springboard for someone else’s comparative thankfulness. I want goldfish in my car seats and play dates and sleepovers at my house. I want to be cheering my daughter on at her volleyball games and to sit in the front row at her orchestra concert. I want to volunteer as a classroom helper and listen to second graders recite their Scripture verses. I want to go on even one field trip with my girl. I want a drop of frankincense diffused to somehow make me more well. I want to be tired from something other than trying to survive. I want to be tired from living. It’s not because I don’t think this struggle could matter. It’s because this isn’t what I wanted at all. None of it. I squirm at any romanticized version of the pain going on over here. It is brutal. It is one crisis to the next, and I know in my heart the supernatural healing God gave my girl is not what He has written for me at all. Until heaven I will be some measure of broken. Every day I wake up wanting something different and “better” for myself and my family. Every day I find my way back to the foot of the cross and remember even this is Grace. Every day I am called to surrender.
“Surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit and you will come alive. Exhale, and you will live. When you have spent it all and left it on the track, when you are left in silence and someone else runs all the red lights on your behalf, when you are at the end of yourself and you can barely remember the difference between up and down, choose to breathe. It is our direct reminder of the Holy Spirit at work in this world and on our behalf. It is our immediate reminder that God is always reaching toward us and lifting us to himself to breathe life into our long reach for a life that matters for something.
God will meet you there and receive your one, beautiful, miraculous breath as an act of worship and as a surrender of yourself into his purpose for your life.”
Much of my life is now lived in this Jacobean tapestry chair I like to call my “nest.” I am here in the early morning with numb feet, aching head and joints and too tight heart to sip the coffee my husband brings me, shake off my night time meds and snuggle my littlest. I find a Psalm here. I study here. I pray here. I write pen to paper to my family, my friends and even strangers here. I write for you to read and mostly for no one to read in this place. I am here on the computer and phone tending to a territory of people needing encouragement and prayer and light on their own difficult walks. I am sitting here when people come to visit and sink into the comfort and peace of my yellow sofa with a throw. I listen here. I am here juggling a calendar of appointments and treatment and surgeries. I am here when the bill collectors call and call and call again. I am here when I balance our checkbook and always find there is Dayenu, enough. More than enough. I am here when my girls are dropped off from school on days I cannot drive. My legs always wrapped in a blanket and dozens of books and journals and paper and pens stacked around me like a fortress. Beside me is my little dog, Twixie. She is faithfully here. I cry here. I cry a lot. I find myself back here in the dead of night when everyone else is sleeping soundly. My pain brings me to this place I’ve chosen over bed, as if being upright even on the worst days and nights will make me feel less worthless and more productive. I refuse to waste this. I plead with God to not let me waste this. Make this count. Please God. For You. I struggle here. I resist. I think there is no way this is where God could use me best, so I beat His chest and beg for something different. Anything different. I hold my breath here like a temper tantrum toddler. When I am almost unconscious from the display of lack of trust He gently helps me see my here and now, this time, this place, this body, this life, this chair is exactly where I will find my significance. He causes me to surrender EVERY LITTLE THING, and I inhale Grace and exhale praise, and I believe.
I turned forty years old last Thursday. An unplanned brain shunt revision in Maryland just a week before left my family and I weary and worn again. Surrender. I had to cancel a week long writing retreat on Lake Michigan I was sure He wanted for me and for Gauntlet. Surrender. I humbled myself to receive help once again from others to make my surgery possible. Surrender. Friday night my dear friend Janet and her husband along with my sister threw me the most fabulous birthday party ever. Janet made a toast and mentioned the illustrious “forty before forty” list I’d made and how many of those things I’d longed to accomplish were left unrealized. She then pointed out the almost forty people gathered together in celebration. They were in fact my true and important life work. I gasped at the beauty of this realization. Most of these relationships have been formed and nurtured and grown from this chair.
I am entering a new year of life and a new decade with a heart humbled. I trust you, God. I do. I know there will be moments and hours and days I will struggle, but I surrender EVERY LITTLE THING to you. I will inhale your Grace and exhale praise. I will believe this life in this chair matters in your kingdom and counts. My Hope remains.
Second only to words gifts are a crazy loud love language of mine. I’m so excited to invite you to join me in celebrating the launch of Deidra’s book with some awesome gifts! The winner will receive a gift set which includes a copy of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are along with an Everlasting Light Shine necklace from DaySpring!
Here’s how to enter:
1. Share this post on social media to give your friends a chance to win this amazing book and super sparkly necklace. Maybe they will turn around and gift it to you!
2. Please leave a comment here about a way God has asked you to surrender your ideas of significance and give in to His greater plan for your life and let me know where you shared.
3. Totally optional but highly recommended is to head over to Deidra’s place and subscribe to her blog Jumping Tandem. I had the honor of meeting her at The High calling retreat last November and have been truly blessed by her writing and her life.
A winner will be randomly chosen from all the entries on Sunday night, November 15th, and announced Monday morning!
EmilyNovember 9, 2015 at 8:35 pm (8 years ago)
Oh Monica! I absolutely love this post of yours… all of it resonates so deeply within me. The part about “your chair” surrounded by books and pens and papers, and how it’s where you sit in the dead of night and during the day. This is me! I feel your pains, and I feel your joys. It’s so hard to feel significant when all we can do is sit at home and do way less than the things we hope and want to do. Slowly I am learning that though His plan for me may not be what I had in mine, it is still significant. Thank you for sharing sweet friend! I will share this on fb for sure. <3
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:41 am (8 years ago)
I pray today is one of those days when you know for sure God is wasting none of this pain. He is making beauty from ashes and redeeming all this hard. I love you. Your light shines on my path, and I am grateful.
Becky LowmasterNovember 10, 2015 at 12:33 am (8 years ago)
thanks so much for sharing your struggles in life. So thankful you are leaning on God in your good and hard moments in life. I was helping a customer at the hardware store I work.I usually work at the register but was on the floor working that day. I was trying to be the best helper and looking for something I wound up not finding. I all of a sudden felt the Lord’s nudge on my bigness in the moment…feeling I was someone I was not to be. I humbled myself and realized I needed to be a bit more humble. We finally found the item in another aisle of the store after a co-worker showed me where it was located. I doubt the customer, who I know, noticed my attitude…but I felt it. I realized it was out of character for me and pulled back and regret within hurt my “heart”. I felt God’s forgiveness and learned a lesson as well.
Praying your surgery and healing.
I already subscribe to Deidra’s blog and am on the launch team.
Will share on facebook.
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:43 am (8 years ago)
Thank you for sharing this story. So many people care for me in my chronic illness. God has been showing me new ways to humble myself and be a servant in this broken body. Your prayers and encouragement bless me. LOVE.
Starla JNovember 10, 2015 at 5:08 pm (8 years ago)
Love this post! I am learning to lean on Him for His guidance, strength and grace to live and acknowledge His will for my life. Although it may not always look “significant” in my eyes or in the eyes of those around me, it is to God!! He and His plan for me is enough.
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:38 am (8 years ago)
Starla, You won! Please message me with your mailing address so Dayspring can send out your beautiful necklace and Deidra’s new book. Monica
Starla JNovember 16, 2015 at 11:42 am (8 years ago)
Wow! I’m so excited! Thank you so much!
Diana TrautweinNovember 10, 2015 at 5:40 pm (8 years ago)
No need to enter my name — I know Dee and wrote a review many weeks ago. I just wanted to thank you for this beautiful, searingly honest post. And to thank you for being real, honest, and true. Whether you’re ‘stuck’ in that chair or not, you have GOOD WORK TO DO and you are doing it so very well. That’s it.
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:39 am (8 years ago)
Thank you for your encouragement. It means so much to know His light is shining from this hard. Always by His strength and for His glory!
Beth K.November 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm (8 years ago)
You can impact just as many lives from your nest, maybe even more, because you have amazing determination and you purpose to be intentional and care for others. I know this as I am one who has been impacted by you and your story!
I know that it was only thru God’s nudging that I was able to to resign from a very accommodating job and leave behind a good income to stay at home and care for the kids for a season. And then when that time had ended, I also know that He guided my path so I could return to work with the confidence that I would still be significant to my family, even though I worked outside the home.
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm (8 years ago)
Friend, This means so much. I have been so blessed to watch you choose your family over greater work success and recognition or financial gain. This choice shines Jesus. I love you and thank God for your continual presence in my life.
JulieNovember 12, 2015 at 5:36 pm (8 years ago)
Beauty from suffering, dear Monica…that’s the gift given to you in exchange for your surrender. Your words are multiplied in all the ones who read your words. I am learning to embrace obscurity and find God there in the shadows and corners of my life. He is indeed enough. Love you.
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:58 am (8 years ago)
He chooses the weak and small doesn’t He? I want to fade away so only He shines. I love you.
Karen FNovember 12, 2015 at 6:05 pm (8 years ago)
Monica, I have spent several days agonizing over the impasse we’ve arrived at in our marriage. This is probably the lowest I have ever felt about it. I am in despair. There’s no question of the D word but there is no human hope at the moment. I read your blog due to Julie Pizzino’s recommendation and it hit my heart just like it needed to. I’m exhaling and making the choice not to despair. You reminded me that my significanance us in Christ and that He is where I take my dragged down soul for respite by grace. I will be sharing this on FaceBook after I finish here. I have Chronic Lyme Disease so I know a bit about suffering these part 21 years, the last 5 especially. Not equal to yours, but enough for me. I have had to miss the life I wanted, too. We were going to be missionaries in China but Lyme put an end to that just after my husband finished seminary so we could go. Thank you for sharing in this post.
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:46 am (8 years ago)
Since reading your comment here my heart has been drawn back to it several times and the Spirit prompting me to pray in specific ways for you, your health and your marriage. May you know the depth of Christ’s love for you today, and move through each next thing by His strength and for His glory. He is for us and nothing can separate us from Him.
MomNovember 12, 2015 at 8:10 pm (8 years ago)
I love you dearly.
Ruth CNovember 13, 2015 at 1:51 am (8 years ago)
My human idea of significance and greatness would be always being at the top in the highly competitive fields of both medicine and law. God has kindly given me a life so far that has not had to be bent through the trials of suffering. However, I know His will for me is to serve Him in full time ministry overseas. I do so very cheerfully, and would never want to change for another job, but it’s still a battle to surrender my ideas of significance again and again to Him as I follow His will.
I shared on FB 🙂
Thank you for the post and for the giveaway!
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:52 am (8 years ago)
Thank you for sharing. I am particularly blessed to see lives like yours called to choose eternal currency and meaning over the world’s. May you know how much He is for you as you continue to follow Him. LOVE.
Joy HNovember 13, 2015 at 6:30 am (8 years ago)
in The Midst Of Life Change And Surrender Currently With A Big Move So That My Husband Might SuccEed.
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:54 am (8 years ago)
It is particularly hard in a marriage to step back and let the other pursue dreams and shine. I pray you will find the peace and joy that comes from this sacrifice. LOVE.
Rhinda HaydenNovember 15, 2015 at 11:51 pm (8 years ago)
I am learning to surrender my whole story to Him, so that what others see is His story. Most recently, I have been surrendering my children, one who was recently diagnosed with JHS/EDS, and another who was diagnosed 10 years ago with a developmental disorder that they now believe is Chiari/EDS. We have a third showing signs of gastroparesis who is also seeing a specialist. Now I surrender my dreams for them, and I ache watching them surrender their own dreams to share in His suffering . . . and in His comfort. SOOOO hard, but so worth it for all He has done for us! When I mentioned to my hairdresser that I was grieving with having passed this syndrome on to my children, he said, “Rhinda, you gave them life, helped them know God in Christ, and taught them how to walk with Him. Really, what more is there!” I’m so thankful that he was willing to remind me of these truths and the reality of what matters most!
MonicaNovember 16, 2015 at 11:57 am (8 years ago)
Oh how close to my heart this is. Isn’t surrendering our children the hardest thing ever? God brings me back to Psalm 139 over and over again. He knew your children’s frame when they were formed in secret. All their days are written. He can be trusted. May you know this peace as you move through the very hard things He is asking you to do. May you find comfort and strength in His promises and great love for you. He is for us!
ElizabethNovember 25, 2015 at 7:48 pm (8 years ago)
Thank you for this. I am newly diagnosed and found your blog through Kristin Means on Twitter.
I thought I was the only one with a chair.
Tears of bittersweet recognition.
I will print this post and keep it along with my bible next to my chair.