Sunday, June 24, 2018

Today, I turned 40

I've purposely not blogged this month for several reasons. (Yesterday's post was actually written a month ago; I had simply forgotten to click "publish".)  In years past I have spent days leading up to this date in an anxiety/depression fog. I've lamented over June in many posts and have, in no uncertain terms, coined it a horrible month - perhaps for the only reason, it contains today's date.

There are times in a person's life when they experience certain rights of passage. We can look back on those times - turning double digits, becoming a teenager, getting to drive, graduating high school, graduating college, making it on your own, getting married, starting a family, turning thirty (without a ton of gray), and like me, today, turning forty (with a ton of gray!).

I admit I pushed this into the recesses of my mind. I didn't want to think about it. I wanted to ignore its inevitability, but alas, this too came to pass. Over the course of the past several months, I've watched old classmates and friends alike celebrate this new decade of life with large parties and much fanfare. I've seen how they embraced the transition and had a tribe of people to welcome it in with.

I won't go on about how this looked for me in that regard, or how I had hoped it would. I won't share the unmet expectations I had set for this day which drew me into a horrifyingly deep sadness over the past week were I admit I was less than lovable.  And I most certainly won't share how I wish, just once, that I felt like this day was actually special for someone like me.

Instead, I want to tell you about what I love most about this day. First, I love that God picked this day, out of all the others, for me to come into the world. Not because of who I am, but because of who He is and I happen to believe He knew I would draw this connection at some point in my life.  You see, someone pretty special was born on this day, well over 2000 years ago. This person was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth; his name was John. As in THE John the Baptist.

John was more than wanted by his parents, he was personally selected by God.  Luke 1:14-17 tells us, "He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” You see, this man who came to be on June 24th, came to pave the way for his cousin, Jesus, who was born six months later. Totally epic, right?!?!

I share that to say this, I am choosing today to celebrate the awesomeness of the person who I happen to share this day with. While my life is a lot less extraordinary, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I was no less wanted by God, and I am most certainly no less selected by Him for such a time as this.

While I may not be paving the way for a super epic family member, I do have children who I get the honor of raising, and a husband I have the honor of sharing life with, who undoubtedly need me to emulate all the goodness and love that is the life of a Christian.  More importantly, I do have the love of a God who died for me, who seeks me daily, who will not rest until I am molded into the exact version of me He designed, and who loves me more than I will ever have the human comprehension to understand. (How's that for the best birthday present in the history of, like, ever?!)

Here's to the 40th year of my life. To become more like my Lord and Savior. To become the woman He designed me to be, and in the process of knowing one day, I will get to stand before Him and tell Him, thank you for this day.

In His name, 
-M 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Yes and Amen

We sing this song in church. It is a simple song, which at first I admit I didn't fully understand its connotation. You can listen to it here.  I woke up this morning around 4 am, as I am apt to do lately, and this song was on my mind. Not softly, but blaring in my eardrums.

...faithful, you are...faithful forever you will be...

I had to force myself back to sleep - it was much too early. I woke up less than two hours later and the song was still playing in my head.

...faithful, you are...all your promises are yes and amen...

I know I have written several times about God's faithfulness and how I know, without a shadow of a doubt, He is who He says He is. But something struck me this morning. I don't think I have really, truly, looked at how His promises have been answered in my life.

To be honest, in some regards, I equate his promises to answered prayers. I know! How completely selfish of me.  His promises have nothing to do with my prayers; rather they have everything to do with His glory and goodness. Let's look at a few.

I'm going to start with my personal favorite, and likely the one I take for granted most times.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." - He will never leave me!  YES! - The Lord, my God goes with me! AMEN!

I cannot even tell you how many times I have felt alone and afraid in this world, in my daily goings-on, in my walk with Him. Yet, this verse tells me otherwise.

Exodus 14:14 says, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." - He will fight for me! YES!  I need to be still. AMEN!

I learned the truth of this verse the hard way over the past year and a half. I shared some of our fight on this blog. However, there was much I didn't share. I'm a fighter.  It's in my blood. I'm an even bigger fighter when my family and those I love are threatened. Yet, in all of that fighting, God had to wear me out. He had to get me to the complete end of myself - that point where I had no choice but to rest. I admit it was difficult, but sometimes giving the fight over to the right person is all it takes. He wins mighty battles that are fought on the ground we have no strength to walk. He conquers where we fall. He truly does fight for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - He has plans for me! YES! Plans to prosper, not to harm and plans to give hope and a future. AMEN!

I will admit, this verse is a wee bit harder to see the yes and amen. After all, as a human, I tend to equate rough times, bad situations, unfortunate news, etc., with well, everything BUT what the verse we just read says.  And that there is why God is God and I am not. As a dear friend and I were discussing this morning; yes, things happen for a reason, but not everything that happens is because of God's reason.  Work with me.  Think of Job. God didn't cause a single thing in his life. Not a one.  Yet, in God's goodness, he allowed all those things to happen. The heartache, the pain, the sadness, the catastrophe, all. of. it!  God did allow Job to prosper, and never once did God harm him. God gave Job hope and in that hope, he never wavered in his love for God. That gave Job a future.

I beg you to use that perspective. I know, it is a bit ridiculous isn't it?!  Trust me, it was hard for me to do too. But in the last couple of months, I've begun to really focus on that perspective alone. We live in a broken world. And God has told us we are not home yet!  Which means all that we experience this side of eternity is merely one more lesson and opportunity to become who he designed us to be.

I don't know about you, but that sounds like an amazing yes and amen!

In His name, 
- M

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. As I sit here and reflect on the day I couldn't help but be drawn to youthful wishes and the way God answered prayer.

I couldn't have been a young woman more than twenty years old when I cried out to the Lord for the first time. I wanted, more than anything, to be a mom. Sure, at that age I wasn't wholly prepared for what the role entailed but I was, none-the-less, hopeful for what it would bring. You see, I fully trusted and believed that having a child of my own would mean I would always have unconditional love.

The kind of love I could give another and the love I would receive from another. Not because I was raised with that level of understanding, but because I wanted, more than anything, someone to prove my love to and someone I felt would do the same in return.  After all, don't mommies always love their babies and do for them everything they can?  Well, at least, I was going to be that mommy.

God didn't answer my prayer at that age. No, I think He still had quite a few things to teach me. I look back and thank Him for knowing me and what I needed better than I thought I did. However, I cannot lie, I prayed that same prayer constantly for a few years - sometimes to the point of making myself sick.

Then one day, my prayer was answered. This time not when I had wanted it, but God surely knew when I needed it. My first precious little one was given to me at a time in my life when I was seeking in all the wrong ways, but God knew. While I may not have honored the steps of the process of becoming a mom (marriage first), God still blessed me and in the spring of '02, He gave me little #1.

Her perfect little face, sweet soft voice, blue eyes, and tiny little - everything - had me at first glance. She was mine. My gift. My blessing. My answer to prayer. Then, 20 months later little #2 came. And just like that, this small, feisty brunette wiggled her way into this momma's heart and squeezed it so tight it still overflows with love. 

I won't sit here and tell you all the years have been rainbows and unicorns. They haven't. Becoming a momma is just as much a learning curve as it is a teaching opportunity. In fact, in spring of '08, God gave me one more little girl, one who is the perfect mix of her two older siblings. She came to fill and complete the family He would honor me with giving birth to.

I was then a momma to three of the world's most beautiful girls. They were all that I could have dreamt of and more. I know I haven't been the perfect mom.  I haven't been the most patient, always giving, always kind, always servant-minded, but I have always loved them.  I have always sought to be better - for them.

In fact, there is no greater honor than being a mommy.  None. To hold them when they are sad. To listen to them talk about their day.  To laugh with them when they are being silly. To play games with them when they are bored. To run my fingers through their hair and scratch their backs where they can't reach. To encourage them when they are scared. To help them with homework and projects. To take them to their favorite store for the perfect pair of shoes. To guide them through class selections and first job applications. To help them narrow down a college for the day they start their next big adventure. All of these.  These are my answered prayers. Prayers, I didn't even know I was asking for when I prayed the very first one.

And that is how God works. He loves so big. He takes the smallest of requests, and when it aligns to His will, He gives and He gives and He gives. But my momma story doesn't end there. No, not even close. Because a few years ago He had another adventure for me. Another opportunity to grow and teach more littles.  This time they came in the form of two little boys on a spring day in '15. That day he made me a step-momma.

Looking back 20 years ago, on those prayers, I petitioned my heart before the Lord for, I never would have imaged this would be how He'd answer them. But He did.  And He did it in the only way a loving, caring, faithful God can. He answered big. He answered perfect.

As you celebrate this Mother's Day I encourage you to reflect on all the ways God answered your prayers.

(Please understand that I have only shared the highlights in this post. For life is often filled with pain and sorrow, and many opportunities to cast your eyes on Him.)

Wishing you a day filled with sloppy kisses, sticky hands, messy kitchens, and noise beyond belief. May you hug each memory close to your heart and remember the time you had and have.

You were made for such a time as this. Love them fiercely.  Grow them gracefully.

Love, M