Living on the Vine

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Ah, autumn has arrived! Contrary to the popular Christmas tune, I personally feel THIS is the most “wonderful time of the year.” Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas, but what makes my heart skip a beat are the colors of red, yellow and orange lighting the trees, sweet and spicy fragrances permeating the kitchen and breathing in that refreshingly crisp autumn air! Mr. E and I had an incredibly blessed summer filled with family, friends, rest and much growth. However, I’m definitely in my “happy place” as I sit here sipping my warm chai. All I need is for this weather to cool down a bit so I can break out those warm cozy sweaters; that is if they still fit. You see, Mr. E and I have been facing many changes recently. We’re excited to announce that “Tea for 2 Elzingas” is now officially “Tea for 3 Elzingas!” Baby E. is due to arrive in March!

pregannounce

While we’re both thankful to God for the great blessing of a little one, the first trimester has been a challenging season for me. I know I’m not alone. Many women experience the difficult symptoms that come with pregnancy. And I know other precious ladies who pray for the day when they might experience these very same symptoms (as evidence of the miracle of life developing inside their womb). As I share my experience I desire to be sensitive to both sets of ladies. My hope is simply to share my struggles openly and how God has been using them to teach me some much needed lessons over the past couple of months. It is my sincere desire that God’s work of refinement and redemption in my life will bring encouragement to your hearts.

Mr. E and I found out we were expecting on the 18th of July. However, call it “motherly intuition” or something else, it wasn’t a great surprise to us. You see, I had been experiencing pregnancy-like symptoms for a couple of weeks (nausea, headaches, fatigue, etc.), but we had decided to give it some time to see if my body would naturally indicate otherwise. The reason we decided to take a test was because that coming Sunday we were preparing to leave for a Junior High camp with a local church up here in WA. Mr. E and I had the privilege of teaching for the week and I was concerned that an “unknown pregnancy” may serve as a distraction for me. I really wanted to focus on the opportunities we had to share the love of God with the students and staff through the teaching of God’s Word and relationship.

Needless to say, we were both excited to discover that my intuition was correct. However, it all still seemed a little surreal!

Despite the continued pregnancy symptoms (with the addition of vomiting), our week at camp was a blessed one. Mr. E and I learned a lot, and I trust that God was able to use us. We studied and taught on “Faith in the Life of Joseph.” It was amazing how God orchestrated this because faith and trusting Him was the very area God was working out in the two of us. And the journey of God developing our faith and trust in Him continued…

As the weeks continued so did my nausea, frequent vomiting, headaches and fatigue. Early on, it sometimes took all I had to get up, keep my breakfast down and spend some quiet time with Jesus. A “productive day” was when I was able to complete my morning routine with the addition of a walk and a shower.

August was a really difficult month because Mr. E and I did a lot of traveling…and this pregnant lady and long car rides don’t mix well! While it was nice to spend time with family and friends who we rarely get to see, the instability of where we were staying each week and unpredictability of how I would feel each day was difficult. During these weeks I tried every natural remedy I could find…staying hydrated (H2O), crackers, small frequent meals, dried ginger, ginger beer, preggy pop drops, Sea Bands, etc. Since then, things have progressively gotten better. I’m still more tired than usual and have my “good” and “bad” days. But the “bad days” typically only come 2-3 times a week.

Something I’m incredibly thankful for is just how understanding, patient and encouraging Mr. E has been to me through it all! I know that God has blessed me with such an incredible, godly, kind and loving husband. I’d be blind to say our relationship hasn’t changed. But thankfully, we have faced these changes together as a team! In some ways we’re more unified than ever… while in other ways I’m honestly discouraged. I’m discouraged about how I’m unable to serve and love Mr. E in the same ways I was able to before.

So what has God been teaching me through all of this? Well, a lot actually! So much that I plan to share these lessons over a few posts in the coming weeks.

Today I’ll begin with one of the most significant lessons God has been teaching me: “I need Him.” It seems like such a simple lesson…one I thought I had learned long ago. However, this seems to be something I need to be frequently reminded of. Physically I’ve been unable to do some of the things I once did. My days don’t seem to be as productive as they were a few months ago (but loved ones keep reminding me that I’m “growing a baby” and that’s quite the productive task). Instead of helping others, I’m needing to accept and even ask for help (which is quite difficult for this girl). For a girl who is often tempted to find her worth and value in how she “performs” or what she can “accomplish” and “do” it is extremely difficult to just “be.” That’s exactly what God has been calling me to though. He’s calling me to “be,” to “rest” and to “abide.” My ever-weakening physical state has reminded me of need to depend on God to be my everything…physically, mentally and spiritually. While I know that God has called me to and created me for a life of complete dependance on Him, my heart has the tendency to want to prove my love for and please God by “doing” things for Him and others “on my own.” Straight up PRIDE is what that is! It’s ugly to see, but I’m thankful that God has been using my present physical weaknesses to reveal to me my inward brokeness.

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As Jesus teaches in John chapter 15, the only way God is able to make me more like Himself and use me to reflect Christ’s love to others is when I’m living on the vine:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”

(John 15:1-17)

I’m being reminded that living out of my need for Him is the only way I can truly love and please Him. He wants me…not what I can do. He desires for me to live in His love. That is both my sincere desire and a source conflict today. So would you please pray for this broken mama as I continue to learn this beautiful, but difficult lesson?

For now, I’m allowing myself the freedom to let those lunch dishes sit in the sink, the clean laundry remains unfolded in the dryer and we’re having leftovers for dinner. My priorities today are spending time with Jesus and depending on Him to help me love my family well by spending some quality time with Mr. E on our “date day” and giving myself permission to go to bed early if I need to…because He has chosen my womb as the special place to create this precious new life and it can sure tucker a girl out!

Blessings to you all,

Mrs. E

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