The Ebb and Flow

My life consists–as I am sure many lives do–of an emotional ebb and flow. For me, a lot of my ebb and flow surrounds my feelings regarding my circumstances. And one circumstance in particular that I often allow to dictate my feelings is in regard to my inability to conceive. (You can read more about that here.) Thankfully I am currently experiencing the “flow.” I noticed this when we recently had friends visit with their new baby. I enjoyed him immensely. Sometimes it is just purely painful for me to be around babies. I am better at hiding that pain than I used to be, but my heart still feels like it is being stabbed in those times of “ebbing.” I am thankful for the “flows;” for the days and weeks it hurts less and is not the glaring sore that it is in those other times. The emotional ebbs and flows tend to catch me by surprise. Many times I am not even sure myself whether it is an ebb or a flow sort of day or moment. Shortly before their arrival, I was a little anxious about how I might inwardly respond to being around their little one. But I truly enjoyed snuggling his squishy body and petting his silky hair. Why is it that we like to pet the hair of babies?! Maybe it is just me. But it is sooooo silky smooth and soft!

I am thankful for the “flow” moments and days. I am especially thankful that as I grow in this area of struggle that there is more flowing than ebbing. Either I am growing in my pain tolerance; time is allowing my wound to heal; or I am better understanding God’s character and growing in trusting His plan even when I don’t like it or understand it. Maybe it is a little bit of each of those.

I seriously need to break up with a few of my very favorite “friends.” Lately I have just been hanging out with them way too much and it is beginning to take a toll on me personally and affect others who also like to spend time with me. But breaking up IS hard to do–especially when you have such fun together! But it has to be done. So, I think I need to say good-bye for a while to a few of my favorites: sugar, soda, and other various starches. Those close to me that live in my closet have been getting especially jealous and clinging much more tightly to me than usual. I think they are angry I have been putting my favorite friends ahead of them. So, sugar, soda and starch–as much as I truly love you, we must simply take a bit of a break for a while. If I anger my closet friends much more they may end up strangling me.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom is OLD today. Well, at least older than she was yesterday. Her age is easy to track because it is exactly 30 years more than mine. (Or 30 years more than what I will be by the end of this year.) Of course, this was easier to just know off the cuff when I could actually remember my own age. Hmph…must be a sign of aging. Or maybe brilliance. Yeah, let’s go with the latter. 🙂

My mom is pretty great. She even willingly made a special trip north to help us pack up and move. And it’s a good thing, because somebody had to get something done around there. And it clearly wasn’t going to be me.

Hope you have a great “21st” birthday, Mom. Uh…yeah. She *thinks* she turns 21 every summer. She doesn’t. She’s been 21 a LOT. 🙂

Okay, so it’s been a while. I was out of town a bit and have been settling (slowly) back into a routine of sorts. My plate is growing continually more full of responsibilities as we continue to settle into to our home and church. But so far I think I have been doing well at evaluating whether or not the things I am considering are God’s plan for me or not, no matter how good they are. That is always a challenge for me. But I recently said “no” to a request and I knew it would disappoint, but I am confident it was the right answer, even if hard to deliver. If only I could please everyone all the time….

In case you have felt forgotten by my absence, know that you are not! And know that God has not forgotten you either! I frequently need to be reminded of that. Just the other day I was sharing some of my story with a new friend and mentioned that it is easy to believe that God has forgotten me–or at least the desires of my heart. But He hasn’t. And He won’t. A long-time friend told me that in an email several years ago and I kept it to remind me. And now I also listen frequently to a relatively-new-to-me favorite song of encouragement.

It is a song that I have grown to LOVE and that frequently ministers to my heart. I have yet to find it available for purchase (so if you know where I can buy it, tell me!) so I go to YouTube and listen to it there. I especially love this version, sung by the Watoto Children’s Choir. I had the privilege of seeing them perform last year and it was fabulous! You can learn more about them here.

Happy listening!

Blessings in Disguise

Sometimes the things we think we want, are not really what we want. And the things we believe will not work for us, are actually perfect for us. Take my cat for example. Now, I always wanted a cat. But when we got Pheobe, I really wanted a kitten. Our apartment wouldn’t allow kittens, so we had to choose an older cat. But once I found her, I knew she was just right for me! This cat is a beautiful muted calico and very lovey. She has the personality of a dog but the low-maintenance of a cat. Perfection! A cat who wants to be with people and loved on like a dog, yet still a cat! (Can you tell I am more a cat person than a dog person?:))

I have felt much the same way about other things in my life, but most recently this holds true for the house we live in. I did not start out loving the house God provided for us. I didn’t even start out liking it. But as we have lived here for a little while now, I have grown to not just tolerate it, but actually really like it. I think it is a great fit for us! I really love the convenience of the location and the layout has turned out to be a great one for us. Who knew?!

God did!

I find this is often true in my life. Those things that I want to cry upon seeing–like the house we would be “stuck” living in because there were simply no other affordable, viable options at the time–turn out to be a sweet blessing from the Lord. Now, I don’t cry at every blessing He bestows upon me–mostly just the ones I do not initially see as blessings. I am not sure how long we will live in this home, but so far I truly love it! There is a fun tree swing in the backyard, a plethora of storage space, a very well lit and open home-office work space, room to run and play, a super-laid-back landlord who even let me paint a wall a rather bold color, the opportunity to get a kitten (which will happen very soon if all goes as planned) and room to grow our family. And it is almost ideal for entertaining. I mean, who needs a dining room anyway?!

Truly, we are blessed.

And the rest of the story? This is the one home that was available within our price range that also met the majority of our criteria–and that stayed available long enough for us to rent it! There were others, but I would just see them advertised and call and they would have just been rented. No joke. It was a very frustrating process. So, while I was not thrilled at first sight with God’s choice for us, I do believe it IS God’s choice for us. I have said to friends–and believe it is true–that God reserved this home just for us. He knew it would be just what our family needed even though I couldn’t recognize it initially.

How many things do I miss out on because I do not take the time to appreciate the blessing for what it is, I wonder?

And who knew that finding an affordable rental for a small family with a work-from-home mom in small-town, USA could be such a challenge?! Just one of what I am sure will be many small-town life adventures. 🙂

PS For those of you who are left wondering….so far we are enjoying our small town life! Housing adventures and all!

The biggest Christian holiday is upon us: a weekend of remembrance. We attended our first Good Friday service at our new church home last night. It was different than what we have experienced in our previous churches, but just as somber. How could it not be somber when Good Friday is about remembering the death at Calvary? Did you know that Jesus loves YOU that much?

I was struck (again) by that last night. Jesus truly loves us even more than we love our own children—more than we could even think to love our own children and families and closest friends all put together.

So why do we sometimes treat that truly amazing love so flippantly? At least I sometimes do. It is for some reason easy to forget that it was MY wage He paid on that cross. May we continue to remember the reason and brutality of His death even as we prepare to celebrate the greatness of His resurrection. Because unlike those ever-so-popular commercials, the BEST we are offered is far from priceless.

Our privilege to enter into a right relationship with our Holy and Perfect God comes at an enormous price—and it has been paid in full by Jesus Christ, Son of God Himself.

Let’s remember and celebrate for an eternity.

The tomb is empty! He is risen! Jesus IS alive!

Do you ever have those moments where you are pretty darn confident you know the answer, but are somehow scared to think that? Make sense? For me, it is those moments when I am at the edge of a symbolic cliff and KNOW God is asking me to step off. But I do not see how I can possibly make it to the destination I am beckoned to move toward without pummeling head first into the rocky pit below. Yet I KNOW He is God. And I am not. It is His job to tell me when to put my foot forward and take a step. It is my job to trust Him and obey.

In this case, it is not that I don’t want to obey. It is that I am afraid to believe what I cannot yet see. Or maybe I am afraid I can somehow mess up His plan. Ha!

I KNOW He is the God who makes all things possible–especially those which appear impossible.

I wonder why it is so hard to embrace that it’s true and step out to go where He leads. I KNOW it is right, but I am scared to be confident in that. I wonder why that is.

I am restless, and I can’t sleep. If I were a wise woman, I’d take this as a prompting to pray.

I, sadly, am a worrier by nature. Sinful nature, that is. I do believe that worry is a sin. It exhibits a lack of trust in the God who made us and loves us. It demonstrates disbelief in the ability and character of the Keeper of all things. It says to God that not only do I not trust that He can take care of everything I need; it tells him that I don’t believe He will. And, of course, it shows God (and others) that I do not take Him at His word. There are more verses than I will quote that tell us not to worry—to cast our cares on Him (1 Ptr 5:7); to not be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6); that good and perfect gifts come from above (James 1:17). The Bible is full of the ways that God can and does care for us.

So why is it still so easy to fall into the trap of worrying? It’s not even like it is a “fun” sin. (I know…some of you are totally shocked I just indicated that some sin is fun. But isn’t it? Or at least don’t we believe it to be? Isn’t that at least some of the reason we sometimes choose to sin? Maybe that’s just me and I have revealed a bit too much of myself. But I digress…)

Worrying is stressful and exhausting; it makes me feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. It causes me to become haphazard and self-absorbed and blind to all the blessings in my life. And it accomplishes NOTHING positive—nothing at all. It is a waste of time and energy and resources. And it is a major distraction. I don’t even want to know how much time I have wasted, or how many relationships I have wounded worrying about circumstances, or situations, or people, or the future. I am confident it is a shameful amount.

You know, I think that worrying is also a sin because it gives me a false idea that I can be god. Not so much in the literal sense—but doesn’t worrying somehow indicate that I think I can control things? At least for me, so much of my worrying is about control. I want it. I believe I need it. And that is true because I don’t believe rightly about the One who has it. It is absurd, really, that I should think I could do better than God at caring for myself, my family, and my friends. It is absurd that I should believe He wants less for me than the best–HIS best.

Yet, here I am again, waiting at the feet of worry rather than resting in the arms of Jesus. Even just last night, I voiced my (unfounded) concern about our present and our future in light of our past. I struggle to trust that we are right where we need to be; right where God desires us to be; and even right where we truly want to be. I am haunted by my perception of the affect of past situations and circumstances rather than clinging to the God who is true, and unchanging, and who cares more for me than I could ever understand or even fully know. I am stuck in the trap of wanting to direct my steps rather than just make my plans. And I vacillate between boldly stepping out in faith and being paralyzed by fear.

And it boils down to trust. Do I trust Him? Will I trust Him? Will I trust that even if or when the canvas looks bleak to me, that the Master Artist is in the midst of a Great Work? Will I choose to believe that God is good? All the time? And that He is good to me? Even if and when it doesn’t feel like it or seem like it? Will I trust that His definition of good is truly good even when my perception is skewed?

I sure hope so.

God, help me to believe that you are good and trustworthy and true. Transform my mind so that my vision is no longer skewed–so that I can see you for who you truly are, and trust you accordingly.