Coffee, please.

Picture this: I am on my way to Western Pennsylvania with the whole family to go to some water park for our vacation, when suddenly the happy chatter of my five month old wakes me up. Out of a deep, dream-filled sleep. After already waking me up at 12:45 and 4:45 to nurse during the night.* I stumble out of bed, get the baby, and go downstairs where my wonderful saint of a husband is making coffee.

Aaahhhhhh. I get the beautiful steaming mug of happiness, lean over to smile at our beautiful son, and pour hot coffee all over my leg. Life. Is. Awesome. I manage to drink the rest of the coffee, and slowly the fog lifts and I feel human again.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, during my sophomore year of college I stopped drinking caffeine and diet soda after discovering that aspartame was the trigger for my migraines. For the past 12 years my caffeine has been hot showers and ice water, with the occasional cup of decaf coffee or full strength tea (which still has way less caffeine than coffee) when I felt like enjoying a cup. I did not require coffee to live.

But I get it now. I relate in a new way to the shirt that says “All I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus”. Yes. Amen. I need that shirt. Having one kid has turned me into a full-blown coffee drinker. Hot showers are still great, but there are days when coffee is just essential. By kid #3 or 4, I will probably have a coffee maker installed next to my bed.

Anybody else become a coffee drinker after having a baby, or is this just me??

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*Henry had heart surgery a few weeks ago, and one of the side effects that the doctors forgot to tell me about is how babies who stay in the hospital forget how to sleep and are hungry all the time. It’s just so much fun! He was a great sleeper before the surgery, and we are hoping that returns soon….er than later.

In This Season

Have you ever desired something so deeply, and then doubted that God desired to answer your prayer?

I grew up with an older brother, and loved every minute of it. Loved being the “baby girl” of the family, loved having a protective brother who was big and strong and incredibly annoying sometimes, one I would boss around as if I were in charge, only to be put firmly in my place with a good noogie or a kidnapped baby doll being held for ransom, followed by a hug and adventure in the backyard. It was the life I was given, and it was the best. Even as a young girl I knew that someday, when I had my own kids, I wanted to have a boy first, a big brother for all of the other siblings who would follow. And so I prayed for that, for years and years and years, always hoping that a boy would come first.

Fast forward to June 24th, 2016, as I am sitting in my bathroom at 3am staring at a surprisingly positive pregnancy test (an unplanned, but very much wanted surprise). As I sat there taking in the full meaning of those two pink lines, my immediate fear was that this baby would be a girl. Not because I have anything against girls (I am one, after all, and quite enjoy it. Girls are amazing.), but because the dream of a boy first was rooted so deeply in my soul and I feared the Lord would choose to teach me contentment and surrender through giving us a daughter first.

Over the next few weeks as I processed my fear and worked through it with the Lord, I realized that at the core my trouble was a disbelief that God wanted to answer my prayer. I had fallen into the lie of thinking that in every situation of my life God wanted me to struggle, to grow me in faith through giving me the exact opposite of what my heart desired, surrendering my own will to His and finding contentment in Him.

The truth is, God does often choose to work in that way, and He has many times in my own life over the past decade or so. There are times and seasons when we grow more fully by learning to trust God’s goodness and character in His “no” responses – surrendering our own heart’s desires to His. The problem lies in beginning to think that is the only way He works, which is what I had begun to do. A father who only says no is not a good father, and neither is one who only says yes.

For all of July, August and September, I consciously worked to give up my desire for a little boy first, convinced that because having a boy first meant so much to me, it would of course be a girl, still doubting the Lord’s desire to answer my prayer. Although I still wanted a boy, I convinced myself it was a girl so I would not be disappointed when the gender was revealed. So, when September 21st came and I laid on the table with the ultrasound wand on my womb, I fully expected and was prepared to hear “It’s a Girl!!”.

I was not in any way expecting to see clearly with my own eyes – no words spoken – that this baby is most definitely a BOY. 100% a boy, not even a question. My immediate response was shock, disbelieving it could be true. I wanted a boy so deeply, how could it not be a girl??

Oh, me of little faith.

Over this past month I have been reminded that God is a Good Father, who desires to give good gifts to His children. Just like with any earthly father, sometimes “good” is in saying no, knowing that it is for the best of the child. Other times, “good” is in a joyful yes, delighting to watch as a heart’s desire is fulfilled.

I am realizing that this season of life for me is one in which the Lord is choosing to grow me through answering many, many prayers with a joyful and resounding YES. I am also realizing that having walked through seasons of experiencing God’s goodness through his “no” answers is making this season richer, more beautiful and special than if I had only experienced his yeses. 

We are not meant to live in a world where we get everything we want. A gentle and loving “no” is a precious gift, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. What a loving and generous God we serve, a good Father and faithful Friend in every season of life. Although Christian and I would have rejoiced and been thankful had our baby been a girl, we rejoice and are thankful and humbled for this boy, our son.

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Weights

The beautiful, beloved beach
Though the waves may rise….

Life seems to happen in waves. Sometimes the wave is gentle, like floating in an inner tube around a lazy river. Other times life is overwhelming, and you feel as though you are sucked under a wave unexpectedly and have to fight to the surface and get air.  That second example is my life right now. There is a part of me that is still adjusting to being here. Most mornings I wake up and I have to remind myself that this is my actual life. I am not moving to Nepal, or anywhere else overseas. Instead I am living in northern Virginia, and am working in an office again, at a desk with fluorescent lights that give me headaches. (As a side note, someone really needs to develop a better way to light office spaces. Seriously. Fluorescent lights are horrid and should be banned everywhere.)

There is so much good in being here, and I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. But when people ask me if I am so excited about my new job, I cannot honestly say yes. I am thankful for it, and I hope that excitement, or at least enjoyment, will come with time, but the shock of the 180 degree turn in the direction my life was going has not completely worn off yet. I am still processing, still bringing it before the Lord, still taking it one day at a time.

In the midst of so much transition – new job, new home, new people, crazy schedule, new church, new commute, new everything – there also seems to be an increase in the pain and sorrows of the people around me. The Lord has given me a sensitive nature that feels deeply when others are hurting, yet in my weariness those sorrows are settling like weights on my chest. One couple who lost their precious daughter 10 hours after she was born. Friends who are struggling to keep their marriage going. Lies that are believed as truth, and subsequently wreak havoc on a life. One family lost their son at the age of 18 to cancer. More cancer diagnoses. Massive transportation accidents that have claimed the lives of hundreds of people in the past few months. When I think about the situation in Syria, my heart breaks for the parent-less children, the child-less parents, the families forever destroyed, the innocent lives taken.  It is just too much, and I wonder how the Lord is going to bring beauty out of these ashes. I know He will, because He always does, but to me so much of the pain seems unnecessary – as though there should be a better way.

Then I am reminded that we live in the gap, between God’s perfect plan and our present reality. That our world is broken and cracked. That darkness often looks like it is prevailing, even when I know better. And I am reminded that the purpose of the gap is to push us towards our Rock. Towards the One Being in the entire universe who is completely trustworthy.  That on my own, the wave would win and I would come undone. But with Christ, I have an everlasting Rock who will never let me go. In my exhaustion, He is there. When I cannot sleep because my brain refuses to stop whirring, He brings peace. When the wave threatens to engulf me, Jesus tells it to be still. When my heart feels wrung dry, He renews my soul. When decisions must be made and I do not have the energy to focus, the Lord directs each step.

One day at a time, and in every moment choosing to lay these burdens at the foot of the cross. Though the wave grows ever higher, I shall not be moved, for the Lord my God is with me, and He is strong and mighty to save.

3 Months Later

Over the past three months, I have worked through a sea of questions, enjoyed lots of down time, and entered in to the Great Job Hunt. The hard thing about jobs, I’ve found, is that when you find one you think is interesting or you would like to do, they don’t call you back. Even more frustrating are the companies (and I experienced many of them) who give absolutely no communication after you submit a resume.

It is a really good thing, then, that there is Someone else in charge. Someone who has a greater plan.

So, in the midst of no responses, and several “no” responses, there was always peace in knowing that the Lord would provide a job for me in His timing.

And, He has!! So excited that I am staying in the DC area for a while! What a joy to plant myself, develop community and a life here, and see what the Lord has in store. The job is more than I could have ever expected, and I am excited to start full time in a couple weeks!

Also, hopefully now that life is beginning to pick up again, I will have more to blog about. Lots of posts in the works!

26: Fingerprints

To finish off this little 26th birthday weekend series, here are:

 26 Fingerprints of God’s Faithfulness

In the past 26 years He has….

1. woken me up each morning

2. answered my prayer to see the world

3. guided my steps each day and in every decision

4. blessed me with the most amazing family

5. provided for each of my 18 surgeries

6. never given up on me

7. given me rest in weary times

8. placed people in my life who encourage, challenge and bless me in countless ways

9. gave me more than I could have asked or imagined for my first home “on my own” here in Indy

10. designed me with a spirit of adventure and independence, able to handle constant moves and life changes growing up

11. provided solid Bible teaching in almost every place we’ve lived

12. kept every single one of His promises

13. continually provided outlets for me to nurture and serve others with the gifts He gave me

14. taught (and is teaching) me what it means to wait with hope

15. placed people in my life as anchors and role models of who He wants me to become

16. provided for my financial needs in full-time ministry

17. always been enough

18. listened and heard every prayer I’ve uttered

19. designed a special place outdoors (parks, trails, benches, forests, beaches, lakes,  etc) in every place He has sent me, knowing that I best connect with Him when experiencing His creation

20. filled my days with surprises

21. shown me how to love people well

22. given my life purpose

23. planned a path for my life that He knows and will bring to pass

24. loved me enough to discipline me when needed

25. perfect timing, even when I think otherwise

26. promised me a future and a hope, and has more in store for me than I could ever ask or imagine!!

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.”   – Gen 28:15

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken’, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy!”   – Zephaniah 3:17

amen.