Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Lesson in Waiting

I want to be upfront here - I hate waiting. I have never been good at it.  Well, not entirely true.  I don't mind waiting at the doctor's office, in line, in traffic, or on the phone.  Probably because I have my phone with a million and one books downloaded onto it and a decent data package...but besides that, I don't wait well. So, what has the Lord done for me lately?  Why, bless His heart! He's given me opportunity after opportunity after opportunity (because just one wasn't enough) to learn how to wait.

Truth be told, I'm an ugly waiter-er; it's sort of along the lines of ugly crying (we all know how that looks). But instead of streams of tears and booger-snotting everywhere, ugly waiting has things like short tempers, frazzled nerves, and a general dislike for life.  In other words, it is just as messy.  Instead of leaving a mess on someone's shoulder you tend to leave a mess, in general.  Granted, not intentionally - at least in my case - but a mess none-the-less.

You see, waiting requires something of you that you don't want to give. It requires, oftentimes, the most important thing you have.  No, I am not talking about time. Time has a way of working itself out.  The main thing waiting requires is control.  It requires ownership. It requires faith. Waiting asks you to step aside and let go. It asks you to live in acceptance and understanding while it feeds you knowledge and experience. Waiting then offers you copious opportunities to grow - personally, spiritually, relationally, and emotionally.  Waiting is your friend and your foe.  People, for lack of better terms, waiting just stinks.

I heard a message years ago. I can't nail down the scripture reference or even the entirety of the sermon, but I can remember the just of it.  We live in a time where we can get, literally everything, with the click of a button or a trip through a drive-through.  We, as a whole, don't have to wait for a thing. We fly through life at a beat neck pace to get on to the next thing that needs our time and attention. We have this idea that the 80-some years (give or take) we have on this earth need to be filled completely full of activity to have meaning. That in order to become - we have to do. But God isn't as concerned with all of that as we are.  Instead of a microwave lifestyle, He wants a crockpot existence.

I love my crockpot.  It makes some of the best meals, but I usually only use it on the weekends. Why?  Because anything that needs to be made in the crockpot needs a lot of time.  You don't put the meal in and have it done in 10 minutes  You put it together and then - wait. And wait.  The house fills with wonderful aromas, mouths water hours before they can actually taste the food, and appetites grow - exponentially.  All those things then mix together to have a gaggle of natives begging every five minutes for something to eat.  It is precious and fun. It is the best thing a mom could want.  (There may be a certain level of sarcasm there, too.)

I think that is the way with the Lord, too, especially when it comes to life.  However, we are the crockpot.  He is adding things to us day after day to help us become exactly who he designed us to be.   We are given circumstances beyond our control, mixed with those that are, to develop the person we get to spend eternity being. And it is hard. It is so very, very hard. Like the seasoning added to a good roast to change it, we go through seasons of life that change us. Some of our life seasons are quick - a major career change, a marriage, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one.  While others are long and painful and drawn-out for what seems like an eternity - a divorce, a relationship gone awry, financial hardship, major illness.

I have weathered many seasons and yet God isn't done with me yet.  He is still perfecting the person He created me to be. And so, here I am in another waiting period. I've shared over these past 14 months bits and pieces of the season we are in.  Of the trials, we have faced, of the choices we have had to make, of the ways the enemy has worked double-time to fight us. The wait has been less than desirable. It has been painful.  I have ugly cried.  I have poured my heart out to the Lord, my husband, my church, my best friends.  I have lamented and worried.  I have been anxious and lost copious amounts of sleep. I have worked tirelessly to mitigate the pain and hardship. I have done everything but let it go. In this waiting, I have still fought to have control.

This season may be small potatoes (pardon the pun) for some, but it has been exceptionally huge to me, to us. But I need to let you know - it's changed me. This season has brought about growth in so many ways.  It has taught me that the best way to stand tall is to do so on bended knee.  It has shown me that God is ever-present and knows me more than I know myself. It has shown me how to fight for what I believe in and for those whom I've been entrusted. It has shown me that there may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.  It has shown me that God is who He says He is and that He is not finished with me yet.

I still admit I don't like waiting, but I am also truly excited about who He's making me in to. I am filled, beyond words, with eager expectation of where He is leading me. Why? Because this season is a part of my story, and without a shadow of a doubt His glory is and will be evident - for no other reason than He is who He says He is. He is my Lord, my Savior and I am His child, and He who began a good work in me will continue on until it is complete (Phil 1:6).

Here's to waiting, may I continue to grow in His time.

How has God been growing you?

- M

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 - A Look Back

I woke up to an empty house this morning.  The Mr. had to work - a special shout out to all the public service personnel who don't get holidays off, you are revered more than you know - at least in our household. All of our Littles spent New Year's Eve with their other parents, I'm sure they are all going to be joyously sleep deprived when they get home this afternoon.  That leaves me and the dog chilling on the couch, surrounded by the beautiful silence that comes from a still home. I thoroughly enjoy these hours, the ones where I can have time in the Word and then time in reflection and thought. (I try to wake up early each morning for this reason alone.)

I'm reading in Psalms right now.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I love where I am in the Bible.  It is like each word is speaking directly to my heart and current situation.  One of the things I do when I read is write in the margins what I am praying about, what I hear the Lord speaking to me on, and my gratitude to Him for being exactly who He repeatedly tells me He is.  In all ways He is constant; He is faithful; and He is mine.  Though I change, He never does.  And that is the basis for this post.  I came across one of the things I penned in the margin of my Bible.  I cannot tell you what day/year (sometime between my birthday in 2013 - when I got the Bible I currently read out of regularly - and today) I wrote it, but I can tell by the words what I was feeling when I did.

The blessing, however, is that I can say 2017 was not wrought with that single pain or affliction.  Not one day.  Because it was an answered prayer. It was a victory only the Holy Spirit could have brought because there was no way, not an ounce of energy enough in me that could have allowed me to do it on my own.  So, what did I do today?  Well I added into that margin (with today's date of course) the outcome of that prayer.  1 year and 64 days sober. Not a drop. And no desire for one. But that got me thinking, despite all the heartache and hard lessons 2017 did bring, what other benefits did it bring?   What other ways did God show up?  Because He did - He always shows up.

Below is a list of ways last year was a good year. There is no particular order and if there was to be a weighted scale, I'd have to say they are all perfectly equal.

  • The diagnosis and subsequent surgery on my knee was better than I had hoped for and after 6 months my knee is as strong as I ever remember it being (now I have to get back to running!)
  • I celebrated one year at my current job - after nearly 20 years with my previous employer and it being a dynamically different industry this was a painful year of growth, but God answered my daily prayers.  He didn't let me down.  I have had the best months of my professional career, to date.
  • I applied for, interviewed a couple times with various ranking individuals, and have been offered an opportunity to present a teaching demonstration to the Regional Dean of a local Christian University.  It has been a tediously long process and we have still to work out a time that works for us both, but I believe God will put it before me again when the time is right.  He got me this far.
  • I have written ~ 12,000 words in my book. I'm still a far cry from a completed first draft, but when the Lord puts the idea and words on my heart, the fingers they go a-flyin'!  I've no doubt He's still teaching me a few things that will need entered into text.  (I know a lot of it has to do with Him getting me away from all the feelings - to carve out the truth and fact - hehehe! It is a nonfiction book, BTW.)
  • We got to take a family weekend trip to Indy - The Children's Museum and The Museum of Art.  It was a weekend full of laughter and love.  I truly enjoy the family God gave me.
  • My Mr. and I celebrated year #2 of marriage.  I cannot put into words enough how thankful I am the Lord brought him into my life.  He was an answer to prayer and is my best friend.  Although I am sure there are some days he'd prefer I didn't tell him everything! HA! In case you didn't know, I'm a talker....
  • God revealed to me the truth of church and His Church - then my role within it. He did this in a painful personal growth process, but I get it.  It was one of those complete aha moments that took me by surprise and one that I really wish I had learnt earlier in my walk, but I don't believe anything is on accident - timing wise.  
  • We have been at our new home church for almost two years.  These people are our friends, our sisters and brothers in Christ.  These people are who we (I) gladly worship next to - because where two or three gather, there He is.  And, oh, He is so there!
  • I got the opportunity to get creative (we both did, actually) with creating margin and making ends meet.  Better yet, we got to do so with jobs that expressed the little things we enjoy most.  This opportunity provided beyond what we thought it would in the beginning.  Not just the financial resources, but the lessons we got to teach our Littles on being good and wise stewards and being mindful of how you manage your resources.
  • I started a financial blog.  I've been a bit lax with it as of late, posting wise, but have quite a bit in my notebook. Perhaps I'll give it a more serious push this year.
  • God has grown relationships - shown where personalities can be unique and still be compatible.  He has answered, abundantly, the prayer to make peace and friendship the center, because simply being related doesn't make it so.
  • We had an unimaginably wonderful Christmas due to the kindness and thoughtfulness of a friend.  Her love and big heart did something for our Littles I could not even begin to know how to pay back.  She opened the door for God's people and their love to shine through and rain love on them.  It may be a small gesture to some, but it was infinitely huge to us.  I truly believe it will be a Christmas they always remember.
  • The Mr. and I got the opportunity to give a portion of our testimony at church. We recorded an hour-long session with the pastor, and the tech guy worked some amazing magic to pare it down to 15 or so minutes.  Shortened yes, but on point, it was!   Just 10 days ago (a couple months after it was shown to the church) we where informed of the outcome of that testimony.  You guys - God.  And only Him.  That is all I can say.  
  • My Littles.  All five of these beautiful little souls I have the honor of growing. They have so much thrown at them in this world of ours, that it makes the little bit of time I (we) get that much more important.  I know I don't have all the answers, but I know what I know.  God made me, me and them, them and He gave us to each other for a reason.  It was a year of growth in many, many ways and it was never one sided.
  • Last, but not least, I have been a student.  Not in a formal sense, but of life in general.  I have been given the lesson of having no control and not even an iota of understanding on how to work the outcome.  I believe I can say I have come to the end of myself.  It may sound cliche, but when I did, I found God was already there - waiting. I have no clue what this coming year will hold, but I do know He holds it.  I know that all I want, more than anything, is for Him to search me then fix/grow me and to lead me where He wants me to go.  I know that while I may not get what I want, I will always get what I need.  And where all of that comes together, I hope I get the opportunity to use it to teach another of His goodness and glory.

Here's to this year and all the opportunities it holds to do what I love to do - write and teach others.

Happy New Year!

- M

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Season For Every Activity Under Heaven

I need to be honest here, I haven't had the passion to write lately.  I feel like all of my words have been stolen from me, that while I've had many things to share and reflect upon, the ability to pen them has been out of my reach.  Why?  We are in a season.  I am in a season.  This season started in October of last year, but we didn't feel the full force of it until spring of this year. Since then it has been one opportunity after another to learn more of God's grace and goodness.  People, He is so very good, and He is faithful.  For that, I am confident that He is still creating a good work in me (Philippians 1:6.

Despite that, we haven't been relieved of the lessons this season is teaching us.  In fact, the most recent couple of months have brought even more trials our way. And with those, so much more heartache and pain. However, I am finding peace. I have no idea where it is coming from.  None.  Oh, that is not true at all.  God is the source of this.  He alone has had the power to bring me comfort during this time in my life.

And perhaps that is it.  Perhaps that is why the words have eluded me.  I have been so focused on how to put into words the issues we are facing, that I've negected what is tuly at work here.  God is at work, people.  He is always at work. We don't have the answers yet.  No, they are still being worked out, but we are, I am, praying God's goodness and truth shine through.  I am praying for open eyes and full disclosure. I am praying for lives to not be destroyed by the choices another is making.  And for that other person, I am praying for them, too.  I am praying they find just how much they are loved by a Savior who died for them.  That He alone can provide what they are looking for - not the route they are chosing.

But I can't leave it at that.  This is not about them.  This is about me.  And it is about what the Lord is trying to teach me.  What He is trying to show me and work in me.  Like this week.  This week I have barely slept, yet I have been able to rest. I swear each day has lasted an eternity as more information came our way, but am blessed the weekend arrived so quickly becasue I'm eagerly anticipating church tomorrow. Church, where I can worship, with my church family, the one who's given me a family to love and care for and the passion to fight for it. Because right now - our season - it is all about fighting for our/my family.  And while I have no idea what He's going to do, I do know He fights for me. For us. To be completely honest, I am full of eager anticipation for what God's going to do.

I know He is going to do something.  He always does.  I don't know what it is, but it will be good because He is good.  And likely, it will be different from what we/I could imagine for and I am actually thankful for that.  It is comforting to know I don't have to stress the details, I just have to trust Him to take care of them. Sure we have requirments and are doing our part in the process, but we are holding firm in Him. On that note, I have one more thing that I want share.  These past couple days there has been a few song lyrics I can't get out of my mind. They popped in randomly and have taken over so completely I have turned them into my prayer, my petition to the Lord.

Father, break my heart for what breaks yours.  With that, show me how I can be your hands and feet.  Show me how I can serve others, and you, through this.  Show me how to use this to help others.  Show me how I can be the woman, the teacher, you want me to be.  Because, Father, this breaks my heart.  The issues we are working through - that many families are working through - break your heart. Broken families, Lord, break your heart.  Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.  

While that is all I can share in this post due to the nature of the issue, know that God knows each detail intimately.  And even more than that, know He is in control. I fully believe this because He says in His word, He fights for me, for us ; I, we need only be still (Exodus 14:14).

To listen to the song referenced above, click here.

Hoping you have a blessed week and hold your Littles and love on your family a little more.  


Together we make a Family