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Baby Jasper_-4

When you change that diaper, you are changing the world.

When you are a round-the-clock nurse for three sick little ones, you are changing the world.

When you wake up at 5am to shower and get ready for work so that you can be ready and available to your family as they prepare for school and work, you are changing the world.

When you meet that friend at the coffee shop and listen and encourage and pray for her as she struggles through the darkest season of her life, you are changing the world.

When you stay up late and process all of life’s heartaches with your teenager, you are changing the world.

When you finally sit down for that cup of coffee and the baby wakes up, so you go and care for him because he needs you, you are changing the world.

When you wrap that gift for an orphan you may never meet, you are changing the world.

When you write that note to that person that God has placed on your heart, and you’re really not sure why, you are changing the world.

In your sweats or in your power suit; whether at home with a gaggle of babies all around you or hopping on a plane for the remotest part of Africa; whether you are mentoring a small group of young women or preaching to thousands…when you do what God has called you to do today, and when you walk in obedience to where he has you today, let me be very clear…you are changing the world. You are not “just a…stay-at-home mom, office manager, Sunday school teacher, nursery volunteer, dog walker, nurse, wife, soccer mom, student…anything”.

You are a world changer!

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:10

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losing streak

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Last night we cheered on Brooklyn and her team while they lost another basketball game in a long succession of losses this season. We have five more games to go, and we are hopeful to bring, at least, one win home this year. Some games have been so close that I am convinced my heart is going to stop beating, while other games have been awash from the start of the first quarter.

Losing is the worst. In fact, even admitting that my daughter’s basketball team is on a losing streak is really quite humbling. We love winners. And we love being winners. Nobody loves losing.

But losing is a part of life. I wish that weren’t true. I wish there was a way to bypass losing altogether, but no matter how we try to create nonsensical awards and convince our kids that “everyone’s a winner”, losing still happens. And it’s hard.

In spite of this losing streak, there are some things that I am learning as I help Brooklyn navigate through the emotions and disappointments that come with losing. In life we are not guaranteed that everything we set our hands to do is going to be successful. There will be times when we are on the winning team, and times when it seems we can’t pull a win out to save our lives. I really hate those seasons of failure, but those seasons are usually the ones that have taught me the most about myself, the value of team, and how to keep pressing on without giving up hope.

Here are five lessons that we are learning through this losing streak:

1. Sloppy passing will lose the game. As I have watched Brooklyn and her teammates tackle some pretty tough competitors one thing I have noticed is the sheer panic that washes over them as the game intensifies. With this panic comes an inability to think straight, and when they are not thinking straight, they throw the ball away. Passing gets sloppy. Instead of thinking it through they try to get rid of the ball as quickly as they can, and typically pass it to the opposing team.

I get it. When I played basketball in high school I felt like it was more of a game of hot potato. Nobody wanted the ball because we were terrified of what to do once we had the ball. So instead of making calculated passes, we threw it and hoped someone from our team would catch it.

I see this play out in so many areas of life besides the court. When things aren’t going well, or we start seeing more losses than wins, passing becomes sloppy. We don’t want want to hold the project for too long because we aren’t quite sure what to do with it, or we’re afraid that we’ll get stuck with the hot potato and bear the weight of the loss. So we throw it out there hoping someone will catch it and take it to the basket. But most of the time, we lose the ball altogether.

Which leads to the second lesson in losing…

2. Tunnel vision dribbling isolates us from our team. From my little spot on the sidelines I try my best, without embarrassing Brooklyn in the process, to encourage (scream loudly) the girls to keep their eyes up when they are dribbling the ball. (Just by typing that sentence I can feel my blood pressure rising…PLEASE keep your eyes up when dribbling the ball!) While they are improving each game and are growing in their confidence, they continue to struggle to keep their heads up when they have the ball.

Why is that such a big deal? When we have our heads down we are only focussed on our position, the ball being in our hands, our pathway to the hoop, and we lose sight of our team. We start to think that everything begins and ends with me. We can’t see what is going on around us. When our eyes are down we miss opportunities to pass the ball to our open teammates. When our eyes are down the the chance of turning over the ball increases 100%. When our eyes are down we forget that we are part of a team and not a one-man show.

In life, as in basketball, when we’re dribbling down the court we need to keep our eyes up. We need to look for our teammates, and be visually aware of our opponent. And then we need to make smart passes.

3. It not only takes skill, but wisdom, when taking an outside shot. Brooklyn and her team have grown tremendously in the area of shooting since their first game. Kind of along the same vein as my first point, early in the season I could see panic rise up as the clock was ticking and we were heading for another loss. The girls started tossing the ball from the three point line, fingers crossed, hopeful it would swish right in. Unfortunately, none of those shots made it, and once again we would lose the ball. Even some of the more skilled shooters would see the scoreboard instead of the team around her, and take the shot only to watch it bounce off the rim.

While I am not encouraging anyone to never take risks, because sometimes the best wins come from some risky plays, what I am trying to say is that the “it’s all up to me” attitude in basketball, and in life, will only lead to more loss. When we see our team, our organization, our family, or our friends circle struggling it can feel out of control. Nobody likes to feel out of control. It’s a horrible feeling. But the fastest way to kill the team is to take the game into our own hands and completely dismiss our teammates.

While risky shooting can be exciting, and even beneficial if the shot makes it in the basket, it oftentimes alienates the rest of the team, and is not a guarantee of a win. When we’re doing life with people there may be times when our teammate has a better chance of making the shot, and we need to pass the ball. Even if we feel super confident in our own skills, if our teammate is open and under the basket, then we need to pass…and make it a good pass. This doesn’t necessarily mean our teammate will make the shot, but we have definitely upped the odds for a win.

4. The fastest way to kill a team is by playing the blame game. Gratefully, Brooklyn’s team excels at positive reinforcement. I give all the credit to her fantastic and gifted coaches. They have instilled in these girls a value that will serve them well for the rest of their lives: lift each other up, don’t tear each other down.

When we’re losing it becomes so easy to start pointing fingers. I think the root of that is insecurity. “If that other person had done a better job then we wouldn’t be in this position.” And in one statement the team dies.

When we win, we ALL win. And when we lose, we ALL lose. Losing in a team sport in not the fault of any one player, but a reflection of the entire team.

And finally…

5. It’s okay to fail. I said it earlier, and I’ll say it again, everyone loves a winner. Nobody wants to lose. But the greatest lessons in my life actually came out of failure. I gained more wisdom in one mistake than I could ever achieve in a record breaking streak of winning. Life is going to hand us all some really tough competitors, and if we get knocked down for a season, there is nothing that says we can’t get back up and try again the next time around. To assume that we only have one chance, one opportunity, one “golden moment” in life is preposterous. When we fail we learn, we grow, we see our weaknesses, we recalibrate and then we try again.

If you’re on a losing streak right now, don’t assume this is the end of the game. Or the end of your career. There is always another season coming. There is always another game to play. Don’t give up. The Bible is filled with people who failed their first time out on the court. And yet, God didn’t bench them for the rest of the season. He put them back in the game. He knew they would finish well…and they did.

Remember your team. You’re not playing this game alone. Watch your passes, keep your eyes up, utilize the gifts of your teammates, you’re not alone when you lose and you’re not alone when you win, and don’t be discouraged when failure comes.

Trust me…a win is coming.

let’s start at the end

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“There is a time for departure, even when there’s no certain place to go.” – Tennessee Williams

I wrote a little bit about transition last week. Mostly, it was a word of encouragement to cling to the anchor, God, when the seas of change and transition get rough.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Hebrews 6:19

I don’t know if it is because our family has come through a massive transition with adding another baby to the mix, or if it is because I am surrounded by friends and family members all experiencing some type of life change, but this topic of transition – and how to walk through it successfully – continues to weigh on my heart. If we could sit at a table together, pour the coffee, tea (whatever your preference), I would share a glimpse of what I have learned, and continue to learn, from my own seasons of transition. Since not all of us can sit face to face, I thought I would jot down a few thoughts I have on these seasons of change.

Here are some common transitions that I have experienced, and those around me are experiencing:

1. Going from a family of two to a family of three (or three to four, etc.).

2. A new job.

3. A move (whether that be from one part of the city to another, or one part of the country to another).

4. Organizational changes.

5. Loss of a loved one.

I am sure there are more. In fact, if you are experiencing one that I have not mentioned, please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section.

While some of these changes are welcomed into our lives, the period of transition – and the psychological adjustment to the breadth and width of these changes – oftentimes takes us by surprise. We know that this change is necessary, but we struggle with the weight of emotions that come with the change.

That is why, in order to successfully transition, we must start at the end.

In his book, Managing Transitions, William Bridges writes this:

Before you can begin something new, you have to end what used to be. Before you can learn a new way of doing things, you have to unlearn the old way. Before you can become a different kind of person, you must let go of your old identity. Beginnings depend on endings. The problem is, people don’t like endings. Yet change and endings go hand in hand: change causes transition, and transition starts with an ending.

Endings are hard. Saying goodbye to a person, a way of life, an identity, is hard. However, in order to move forward, we have to pause and allow ourselves to grieve, to let go, to remember and to release what used to be.

The beginning starts at the end.

And every person is different in how long, or simply in how they let go. Nobody is better than anyone else in the middle of transition. However, the letting go must happen. The recognition that the previous way of doing things is gone must take place.

Again in his book, Managing Transitions, William Bridges talks about the three phases of transition: 1. The ending; 2. The neutral zone; 3. The new beginning.

As time marches on, and as we let go, we can find ourselves in a season of “in between”. We haven’t quite wrapped our minds, our hands, our hearts, around the new thing in our life, but we’re not holding on with a death grip to the old. We are in neutral.

Neutral is challenging because, if you are like me, if I’m not holding on to the past then I need to be holding on to something. But sometimes that new something isn’t quite set in concrete, and I start to feel unsteady. This is when that anchor becomes our best friend. The temptation is to turn around and run back to the old. We start to romanticize the past, “It really wasn’t that bad,” or “Maybe we made a mistake,” or “I don’t think there is any hope for any good to come…the past was as good as it gets.” All normal feelings. Our challenge is to keep moving forward, just like the hands on a clock. Remember the past, and cherish it with warmth and affection, but don’t let the unsteadiness of the neutral zone keep you from moving ahead.

Eventually the new beginning begins. The new identity is formed. The new family is set in place, and each person knows their place. The new job is familiar, and focus is regained. Life begins to pick up speed once again, and the ground beneath our feet feels secure and good.

Each phase in the transition process is necessary. We can’t rush any one of these steps along. If you feel like you are struggling in the letting go, or flustered in the neutral, or if you are walking with someone through a time of transition, please be patient. Be patient with yourself, be patient with that person. All of this takes time.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.”

Ecclesiastes 3

Slater Family | Fall 2017-53

We are promised that all things work for our good. The letting go process sometimes doesn’t feel good. Sometimes it doesn’t even make any sense. This is when we hold tightly to the hope that God is in control, and that all things are in his hands. The season for mourning and grieving is just as necessary as the season of beginning. I think that is why the new must start with the end. This harsh goodbye is only a moment in time, whereas our hope for what is new, what has been ordained by God, will last far beyond our present pain.

Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

*Thoughts and insights on the phases of transition come from the book, “Managing Transitions – Making the Most of Change” by William Bridges, PhD.

steady

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In seasons of change and transition, whether that be adding a new baby to the family, moving across the country, a job change, or even just coming off of the holidays, life can feel out of control. While I don’t mind change – the necessary, needed and healthy changes that either happen on their own, or we implement for our good and the good of those around us – I will be honest with you…I do not like transition.

Transition is hard.

Transition can be painful.

Transition makes me feel like I’m losing my mind, my footing, my sense of equilibrium, my safety and security.

Transition feels like being tossed around in a raging sea like a lifeless rag doll.

Why is that?

Because once change happens, it is the season of transition, and the psychological impact that accompanies it, that brings uncertainty, unpredictability and internal instability. And, as difficult as it may be to believe, change is not the bad guy, and change should not be avoided on a account that the process of transitioning from one stage of life to the next takes us through some pretty rough waters for a period of time.

There are a couple of things we can count on as we wrestle the waves of transition: 1. It will not last forever and 2. Jesus is that anchor that will keep us from going under.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Hebrews 6:19

This hope that we cling to is not wishful thinking, it is not a pie in the sky idea that weak people believe in because they just can’t muster the inner fortitude to handle all of life’s challenges. Rather, this hope is rooted in the absolute assurance that God has made a promise, and that promise is trustworthy and true because God can not lie.

Just as an anchor sinks deep in the the bottom of the sea, holding a ship steady and secure, so the anchor that we hold onto reaches high into God’s very presence, keeping us firmly in his grasp – steady…secure.

Our hope is that we can be anchored in God himself.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Life will never give us a guarantee of smooth sailing. Life will forever keep us on our toes as we navigate the changes and transitions all around us. And while we can’t control the next thing that is going to happen in our lives, we can live with the precious assurance that the very throne of God can be accessed with confidence. We can hold tight to the anchor that will bring us security, peace and steady our weary hearts and souls. And we know, with certainty, that in the midst of the storm, the raging seas of transition and uncertainty, we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

If you feel unsteady today, reach out to the anchor. He will steady you.

the mini-resolution

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Confession is good for the soul. That said, I have a confession to make.

I am not a New Year’s resolution maker.

(Gasp!) Is the world still standing?

First, and I say this in the kindest way, most of the time I see people (myself included) set all kinds of well intentioned resolutions on January first, and then plummet into a pit of defeat less than a month later because they just couldn’t quite keep it all together. Real life caves in and smashes the hopes and dreams of the resolution.

Secondly, there is so much pressure and expectation placed on ourselves to achieve and succeed at our goals that we either become a slave to our resolutions, or we simply quit.

Now, before you jump to conclusions and assume that I am a complete slacker, let me add a little clarity.

I’m not anti-goal setting. And I’m not really anti-resolution making. In fact, I tend to set goals for myself throughout the year, as needed. For instance, before the beginning of the school year I usually set a few personal goals for myself, as well as for my family. If something in my life feels out of whack at any point in the year, I try to address it and make the proper changes. While I don’t typically make any type of formal January first commitment, I’m not entirely without purpose.

But this year I decided to try something different, and here is why: There are things that I would really like to implement into my life (disciplines, habits, new challenges), but when I looked at the list as a whole I suddenly became paralyzed. I can’t conquer it all at once. Then my sister gave me a brilliant suggestion of setting a goal for each month – the mini-resolution. Instead of trying to cut out sugar, exercise everyday, journal everyday, go vegan, cut out meat etc., etc. all at once, the goal is to choose one thing to work on each month.

And here’s the long-term benefit of the mini-resolution…what we resolve to do in January, we will be more likely to continue doing in February, March, April…all year long. It takes doing something 20 times (or 20 days) to create a new habit. After having mastered one goal over the course of one month, the hope is that this will have become a new way of living. Achievable goals. It’s really about taking that big list of New Year’s resolutions and breaking them up into 12 bite size resolutions, with the hope and expectation that these new habits will be a new way of living.

Here we are, approximately mid-way through January. If you are like me, and not a hard core resolution maker, it is not too late to set some mini-resolutions. They don’t even have to be earth shattering. Trust me. Every season of life brings on its share of limitations and possibilities. If it makes you feel better, one of my goals for 2017 was to fold and put the laundry away the same day I actually did the laundry. Believe me, this was a necessary and challenging goal.

As you make your monthly resolutions, remember to take it one day at a time. Maybe start with asking God for guidance. Seek him first, and then set your plans. We can do this!

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3

waiting room 10/19/2017

Quiet moments of waiting

Wondering

Pondering

Praying

Hoping

Believing

Resting

Trusting

Eyes closed

Tired

Weary

Leaning

Clinging

Crying

It’s all going to be okay

Sitting

Alone

In a corner

I turn my head to look out the window

It’s raining

A fall mist encircles the city below

Uncertainty

Seems to be the word of the day

The musing of my heart

I just want to sit here for as long as I can

Sometimes uncertainty feels more secure than certainty

Trusting

What kind of waiting room are you sitting in today?

Are you waiting for a diagnosis?

Psalm 112:6

Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.

He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

His heart is secure, he will have no fear.

Are you waiting for direction, clarity on a decision?

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Psalm 40:1

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

Are you getting tired of sitting in the waiting room?

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Galatians 6:9

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Isaiah 40:31

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Psalm 130:5

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,

and in his word I put my hope.

Are you wrestling with fear and anxiety in your waiting room?

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,

by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Are you struggling to reconcile your season in the waiting room?

Colossians 1:15-17

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,

whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities –

all things were created through him and for him.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

*This waiting room was allowed by God, for God’s purposes, for His glory and for our good…and he holds us together through each and every minute, hour, day and year that he allows us to stay in this waiting room.

God does his best work in us in the waiting room. Lean in to him. Cling to him. Remain steadfast. God hand is upon you. Trust.

I have this hobby called “tweaking” (moving items from one place to another).  I am constantly tweaking the decorations around my home, which I find to be very therapeutic. It’s an outlet for me.  However, recently I found myself not finding any peace or joy in the process of “tweaking”. Instead, I was feeling overwhelmed, insecure and ready to pitch in the towel on decorating altogether.

In this day and age where social media allows us to catch a glimpse into the homes and the lives of anyone and everyone, it has become ever increasingly easy to compare our lives, homes, outfits, extracurricular activities to those of others.  We know this. I know this.  And yet, I still do it.  I see pictures of centerpieces and kitchens and vignettes and living rooms of women across the country, and they all look so incredibly perfect and clean.  From lighting to accents to pillows and throws, nothing is out of place, and not a wrinkle or crinkle can be found.  While I love these snapshots into the homes of others, I have to be honest with you, it has become a source of anxiety for me.  My love for tweaking has turned into a stressful, obsessive compulsive need for my house to be absolutely perfect, and I start panicking when its time to pick my kids up from school because I know that our kitchen island will soon be overtaken by homework and snacks and all the things.  All.The.Things.

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Here’s my reality, folks.  Lots of people live in my house.  And while all of those people appreciate the warm and cozy home I work very hard to create, they are in the business of actually living in this home, rather than just looking and admiring the decorations.  While I’m over here crying, “Why can’t my house look like a magazine cover???”  They’re over there making toast with peanut butter and still leaving a trail of crumbs even after they’ve wiped the counter down.  Our couch is never smooth.  It always has wrinkles in it and the pillows are typically out of order.  This is because people sit on it, relax on it, and put their feet up for a little snooze or cuddle time.  I love the fashionable, still-life picture perfect magazine cover, they love the functional, practical, this is my house where I can rest, relax and recharge from a long day at work/school.

To pull back the layers of this reality a little deeper, I believe at the heart of this obsessive need for the magazine cover home is image control.  I want everyone to think I have it all together.  That’s the bottom line.  But here’s the honest to goodness truth: I don’t have it all together.  Not at all.  For a nanosecond I might actually believe that I’ve got a handle on things, and then I peer into the kitchen and that nanosecond is gone, gone baby.  As much as I try, there is no hiding my realness.

Here is what I’m learning right now.  It is not my job to “have it all together”.  Colossians 1:16, 17 says: “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”  Regardless of what is seen or unseen, my life is His, and He is holding it all together.  I don’t have to have that magazine cover home, and it’s okay if the kitchen looks a little out of sorts.  These do not define my worth.

Guess what…we don’t need to have it all together.

And digging even deeper still, the issue you might be wrestling with may be much, much weightier than interior design and decorations.  Your struggle may be sickness, a challenging teen, financial setbacks…it could be anything.  I don’t know what you’re going through right now.  But God does.  He sees the visible and invisible parts of all of our lives.  And he certainly does not expect you to have it all together.  And neither do I.  He’s holding you.  Even when it seems unreal, impossible, and overwhelming.  He is holding it all together.

From messy living spaces to hurting hearts and messy lives, God has got it all.  So, let’s maybe make a little pact today…how about I stop trying to have the magazine cover house/life, pretending that I’ve got it all together, and you do the same.  Can we do that? And can we agree that we don’t need to have it all together anymore?  And even more so, can we let go of our stuff and allow God to hold all the pieces, all the worries and all of the details we’re trying to manage?  And can we extend grace to one-another when there are piles of crumbs on the floor and dishes in the sink?

I think it’s worth the try.

the first six months

For anyone out there who reads this blog (and kudos to you since I haven’t posted one word in over a year), I am going to give you a quick list of the top 10 highlights of the year before I jump into the first six months:

  1. January 2015 – I resigned my position as the Early Childhood Director at our church.
  2. February 2015 – I started compiling a list of all the projects (house and garage), and personal development goals I wanted to start working towards.
  3. April 2015 – SURPRISE! Early spring we found ourselves expecting another Slater, due in December.
  4. April-December 2015 – Morning sickness. Morning sickness.  More morning sickness (add in some heartburn and edema, and VOILA…nine very pregnant months go by).
  5. Dreams placed on the back burner for a while.
  6. July 2015 – Joel started graduate school.
  7. July 2015 – We took our annual trip to North Carolina where I passed out on the beach (oh the drama!), and an OBGYN just happened to be walking by…it’s a whole story…but not for now.
  8. September 2015 – Kids started school – 7th, 5th and 3rd grades.
  9. September 2015 – Joel turned 40
  10. Jasper Sifa Slater was born on December 19, 2015

That about covers it.  There could be much more, but my brain is so foggy.  I can barely remember what we did last week.

The first six months…post-partum…

I thought about blogging something after Jasper was born, but let’s be honest here…for the first two months I sat in the same spot, every. single. day.  And nursed that baby because that was the only thing he wanted to do.  That, and be carried, facing outward, all over the house. He hated the swing.  He hated his car seat.  He hated the swaddle.  He loved to nurse and walk.  Period.

By the time Jasper was three months old we were in full swing with school, sports, and church activities.  And Jasper’s new favorite thing was not sleeping.  Ever.  Naps?  No.  Nighttime?  No.  Thirty minutes here and there?  Yes.  Because that is all a three month old needs, right?  A good thirty minutes of shut-eye and BAM, we’re back in business.  I was a walking zombie by that point, but I wore make-up and did my hair, so I’m pretty sure I hid it well.

I don’t even remember April and May.  I think we were busy.  Sydney turned 13, and I came up with the brilliant idea of throwing her two parties (one for her school friends and one for her church friends) because THIRTEEN.  That’s kind of a big deal.  So I went without sleep (what’s new, right?), baked and cleaned and planned and shopped for the love of my eldest daughter.  And if you are looking for a good definition of insane, I have one for you.  Remember #6 on my list of top ten highlights?  In May Joel graduated with his master’s degree.  Yes.  We are out of our minds.  All the while, Jasper kept nursing (still his favorite) and weighed 19 pounds at his four month check up.  My milk could end world hunger.  I am not kidding.

Here it is, June.  I can’t even.  Where did the past six months go?  I know.  They went with the basketball practices and games, the loading and unloading of a car seat for the daily round trips to and from school, the chorale rehearsals, the weekly ballet practices, the Sunday church services and Wednesday night clubs, a million diaper changes, bath times and family dinners.  The past six months went by with all of the memories and crazy and this-is-our-life-and-it’s-good-so-try-to-enjoy-it-because-time-is-precious-and-fleeting-and-it-never-slows-down.  Whew.

If you were to ask me what I have gained over the first six months of Jasper’s sweet life I would say this:

  1. I have gained an incredible appreciation for this season of my life.  When they say time goes by fast, they aren’t kidding.  It was only yesterday that Sydney was born, and now she’s thirteen.  How in the world?  Time.  That I get to experience the baby kisses and cuddles, soft skin and milky baby breath, and all the firsts one more time is a gift that I do not take for granted.  I am grateful.  I can honestly say that I appreciate all of this so much more this time around.
  2. And the other thing I have gained?  Sleep deprivation.

And that is all I’m going to say about that.

How am I, are we, doing after the first sixth months?

We are doing grateful.

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it’s all under control

“God never fumbles the ball.  If He turns it over to the other side for a few downs, it’s because He knows a better way to win.”  - John Piper

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I like having a plan.  I especially like the good plans.  The kind that took a lot of time and thought and purpose in making.  And I love the control I feel when I’ve put together one of these good plans.

I don’t like to see my plans fall apart.  I am not particularly fond of unforeseen difficulties that interrupt my good plans.  Neither do I enjoy that bitter moment when control slips through my fingers and I am left feeling that my life is at the mercy of someone, or something, else.  I don’t just not like it.  I hate it.

As much as losing control of life’s steering wheel can knock me off balance, it seems to happen a lot.  I make a plan, and then the plan gets derailed.  I used to get all kinds of worried, anxious and ugly when this happened.  And even still I can have some pretty heated discussions with God over  what I consider the injustice of it all: “Why would you let that happen?”  ”What was so wrong with my plan?  You would have gotten plenty of glory out of it.” “Did you really need to allow that detour?  Was it really necessary?”

Can you relate?

Have you played 20 Questions with God when your plan fell apart?

This morning I was reminded, once again, that no matter what happens (the good, the bad, or the unexpected), there is absolutely nothing that can interfere with God’s purpose for my life.  Nothing.

And the same goes for you.

Proverbs 21:30 says: “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”

God’s plans can not be thwarted.  There is no wisdom higher than his wisdom and no insight deeper than his insight.  As much as I love to control my start to my finish, I will never put together a plan as perfect as God’s.  And while I may wrestle with the interruption, I can rest in the knowledge that no matter what happens, it’s all under control.  His control.  There is something reassuring in knowing that nothing can succeed against the Lord.

While releasing our grip from our plans can cause us to feel vulnerable and uncertain, we can trust the one who has it under control.  There is no greater joy, and there is no peace as perfect as trusting in the plans of the Lord.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

the cross

And then…the cross. All of our ideologies, politics, platforms & preferences must surrender themselves to the work that was done on the cross. We recognize that suffering is a part of Christ’s sacrifice, and so we should not be surprised when life is not always easy or hard things come our way. When we think we are more, or when difficulties & pain are all we see…then the cross. We cannot truly appreciate the resurrection and the hope until we have acknowledged the cross. And we cannot comprehend a perfect love until the cross.

Pause for a moment with me.

Psalms 113-118 are the Passover Psalms.  The first two are sung before the Passover meal, and the last three are sung after.  The Jews call them “The Hallel (Praise)”.  It is quite possible that Jesus sang “The Hallel” following the Passover meal he shared with his disciples before his death.  The “Hallel” is named this because this grouping of Scriptures are Psalms of praise.

Before Christ suffered…Christ praised.

There are no words.  I am speechless.

When I reflect on all of the pain and suffering of this world, and when I watch humanity fight and bicker and tear each other apart, I then find myself frozen at the cross.

The cross.

Praise before, or perhaps for, the sacrifice.

“And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:2-4

He can not hold on to anything when we encounter the cross.  We can only cling to Jesus, and recognize that while this earth is something we can not always understand or control, whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, we too can glory.  We can boast.  We can praise.

As we enter into this Holy moment, let us enter in as Christ did.  With praise.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; he love endures forever.” Psalm 118:29

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