When You Need His Truth

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I can still see my brother-in-law sitting beside my sister-in-law’s bed in the Intensive Care Unit last May–his head was resting on her beside as he held his iphone, which played the song, “Here’s My Heart, Lord.”  As I stood in the doorway of the room, gripped with sadness and fear, the words of the song permeated the atmosphere. “Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true.”

In the days that followed, God did indeed speak to each of our hearts in different ways and at different times, but it was always truth.  He used His Word, His Holy Spirit, and His precious people to speak truth to our family as we sat in the ICU waiting room. We claimed the truth that God is a healer, that He is in control, that He wasn’t surprised, and that He is good. My sister-in-law, walked out of that hospital weeks after the doctors, essentially, told us to say our goodbyes. Hallelujah to the God of miracles.

As many of you know, we are expecting to add a fourth arrow to our quiver at the beginning of May. After a second ultrasound, our doctor reported to us that I have a condition called placenta accreta.  I will spare you a blog full of medical jargon and explanation.  Here are the facts that matter for this post–our sweet son is beautiful, perfect, and will continue developing wonderfully (he is also already working on his chubby cheeks as he’s measuring 2 weeks ahead by way of size); the risk factors with this condition really only come into play during delivery–it’s riskier for me (not for our boy), and he will need to be delivered by 36 weeks. (If you want more information on the condition, just Google it).

As we walked out of our OB’s office, thoughts were moving quickly and in fragments through my mind–I might be asleep for Ryker’s first hours of life, I need to call my mom, I don’t have diapers for him yet; should I? No, not yet.  I’d been talking with God about my fears since getting the phone call that we’d need a second ultrasound to determine whether I did indeed have this condition. I had walked into the appointment with a confident peace that regardless of the doctor’s report, God is working good, but the enemy is so good at poking holes in our peace.

After all the facts and information, and all the, we aren’t quite sures the heaviness of it all began to settle in on my heart as did the old fear and lies of the enemy.  And, once again, as I did in May, needed to cry out to God for Him to speak truth to my heart.  The kind of truth He spoke to us when my sister was in ICU–a truth that surpasses human understanding and medical reports.

And, mommas, our God faithfully began speaking to my heart–I could feel Him lifting me up out of fears, as if He gently placed his hands under my chin and pulled my gaze to meet His own.  And, I could hear the truth that I’ve found in this song so many times since May.

‘Cause I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free.

I don’t know what makes your thoughts feel fragmented today–medical situations, broken relationships, grief, financial strain, a rebellious child, feeling like a failure as a wife or mom–whatever it is, let your Father lift your eyes to meet His and let Him speak truth to your heart. Hearing His truth changes everything. 

A New Year or a New Day?

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A brand new planner, all different colors of Sharpie pens that I got in my Christmas stocking, a stack of books I’m itching to read–all of these things stir up some tiny butterflies in my stomach for the beginning of a new year.

In the past, I have set a list of goals to accomplish in the new year.  Sometimes the goals were far too lofty, sometimes they were measurable and attainable, but I neglected to plan the steps to accomplish the goal. This year, rather than setting goals for the year (which I still think is a wonderful practice when it is done with prayer and planning), I have set some goals for the next eight weeks as part of an accountability group I am leading. I am not asserting that this kind of goal setting is by nature superior to year’s worth of goals.  However, as I have prepared for this 8-week period, it has made me realize that if I had to choose between a new day and a new year, I would choose a new day.

Bill Gates is often quoted for saying, ““Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

While I believe this is absolutely true, I am absolutely convinced that most of us also underestimate what we can do in one day. I am guilty of writing off a day before it has begun– a sick husband, a terrible night of sleep because one of my kids was up coughing during the night, or even a to-do list that is just too long can make me call the day a loss before I even eat breakfast. Or, I do imagine that I can knock out my to-do list for a day, but underestimate, then, my ability to be patient and gracious by the time evening rolls around.

I know our days are full, mommas, and they can be incredibly unpredictable.  The direction of your day can change dramatically simply because your easy-going two year old has molars coming in that no longer make him easy-going. But, I have a few steps to help us stop underestimating our days.

  1. Measure correctly: if you’re like me, you may be underestimating what can be accomplished in your day because you’re measuring your to-do list against your strength rather than His.  Zechariah 4:6 tells us, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Be sure you have the correct measuring tape.
  2. Plan Prayerfully: take a few minutes in the evening, if you can, or when you wake up in the morning to prayerfully make some plans for the day–let the Holy Spirit guide you.  Sometimes, our plans fall to pieces because they are our plans and we’re asking God to equip us for something He didn’t call us to today.
  3. Accept Small Steps: this is so difficult for me–accept that something is still something and is, indeed, better than nothing. R. Collier said, “Success is made up of the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.”  Small efforts, don’t knock them!

Here we go, mommas — by His strength, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will make small steps of progress and stop underestimating what God might do through us today.

Your Merry Little Christmas is Over & Your Troubles Are Not out of Sight

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“Have yourself a merry little Christmas. May your heart be light. From now on our troubles will be out of sight…”

I am a Christmas tree goes up the second weekend of November kind of girl; a Michael Buble holiday station on Pandora before Thanksgiving, a giddy to go Black Friday shopping and come home to wrap gifts and watch White Christmas kind of girl. Like so many, Christmas is my favorite time of year–preparing for it is joyful and I still feel the butterflies in my stomach when we go to bed on Christmas Eve.  Though, now the excitement is more about the gifts I will be able to give more than those I will receive (though, Mark knocks it out of the park).

We adore being with both sides of our family; we happily anticipate or family gatherings which are always full of laughter, board games, gifts, and stuff-yourself-good food. Always.

Except for this year–this year, through our own family’s journey with Shannon’s leukemia, my eyes were opened to see that for  so many Christmas is not an entirely merry time. This year, both of Mark’s sisters and his parents spent Christmas miles away from us in Texas. This year, as I sang along to Christmas tunes on the radio, I would be suddenly struck with a wave of sadness when a song carried my memory into the home of my in-laws full of twinkle lights and the smell of mom’s sticky buns. This year, while packed tightly into a pew at our Christmas Eve service, a helplessness came upon me as tears streamed down the cheeks of my man.

This year, you may not be only miles apart from someone you love, but perhaps that someone is on the other side of eternity. This year, you might be sitting next to someone you love, in a pew, but he doesn’t love you anymore–or at least it doesn’t feel like he does.  Perhaps, you are so lost in depression that you cannot enjoy the precious people who surrounded you this year. I don’t know what may have tinted the merriness of your Christmas this year.  But, I know we are not the only family feeling both joy and pain.

I also know this–

“For the wounded, for the hurting
For the lost, and for the lonely
You came, Jesus you came…

For the outcast, the defeated
For the weary, for the weakest
You came, Jesus you came…” (Elevation Worship, Let Us Adore, emphasis added)

Sweet friend, Jesus came as a little baby, lived a holy life, and died the kind of death you owed because He knew.  He knew every Christmas wouldn’t be merry and bright–He knew some years you’d come into December feeling wounded and lonely and walk into the New Year defeated and weary.  He came for you–as you are today–merry or not.

As we look forward to the New Year–the time when we all hope for fresh starts, new goals attained, and right relationships, run to the one who came for you. Know that He came to give you life abundantly even when especially when your troubles are not out of sight. Know that He has already overcome this world, and He is within you which means, through His power, you can withstand any outside pain or pressure.

I stand with you in prayer as we wrap up Christmas parties and move on to New Year’s football games and sparkling grape juice.  For you, He came.