Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mercies New Every Morning


I once heard the influence you have on your child is pretty much complete by age five. Who would say such a cruel thing? I remember the torture of forcing my little one to sleep through the night, uninterrupted, cold turkey. I think back on all the times I lost my patience with my toddler. These weren’t polite outbursts of “no.” These were foot-stomping, screaming tirades that I felt compelled to apologize for later. So these last five years, that is what I will hang my parenting hat on forevermore?

If so, I graduated from motherhood today. My little one went to Kindergarten. Five years old and out the door. For a week, we practiced going to bed earlier, setting an alarm and  marking off our school morning to-dos on our homemade checklist. We had everything set out the night before. Textbook parenting stuff, because my parenting influence was coming to an end, right?! At 6:25 this morning I went in to wake her for probably the most important day of her young life so far.

She awoke, sleepy-eyed and her first words to me, “Mom, can we pray?” The closest I’ve come to tears all day. If, in fact, my parenting influence is all wrapped up by age five, I have done well. Our heavenly Father most graciously has covered over my times of blatant imperfection and set up camp in her little heart. She has learned what I still have to remind myself, when I get nervous or scared or worried, pray.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lessons Learned In A Trial


For six years, I went through a trial of sorts. What started out as “When will our house sell” became “What house will we buy” and now is concluding with “When will move into our new house?” Years ago, I asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. He has been my Great Sustainer through these years of unknown and I am compelled to share five lessons He taught me through this time.

1) Trials come in all shapes and sizes. I know on the richter scale of trials, mine doesn’t rank up there with a terrible disease, financial trauma, etc. But it was mine. And trials can last for a short time or for years. Sometimes, the trial doesn’t resolve itself in this lifetime. God calls us to obedience. The first chapter of James talks about trials. God expects us to persevere regardless, knowing it must complete its work (James 1:4). We live in an age when it isn’t that big of a deal for someone to just give up. In MY case, God made it very clear that wasn’t His will.

2) The verse Philippians 4:12 reads, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” and is quoted often for those going through a trial. There is a lot to unpack in that verse, so I have learned to use it with caution. But a book I read recently gave me the most helpful explanation. It doesn’t say we have to be content “with” the circumstances or “because” of them. The secret to contentment doesn’t have much to do with the circumstances at all. It has everything to do with your relationship with God. Get that relationship right, and you CAN learn to be content “whatever” the circumstance.

3) My attitude during this time came down ultimately to this: Do you trust God or not? My life verses are Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” I have walked this Christian walk for a long time. God does allow times in my life where He wants me to trust Him, even with very little answers or direction. Trust Him. 

4)  When you find yourself in the midst of a trial, find a way to serve during it. A popular worship song by John Waller says, “While I’m waiting, I will worship.” I am currently women’s ministry coordinator at my local church. Ministering to these women through events, writing and speaking, leading Bible study, has really ministered to me. Many, many times I have been too busy doing Kingdom work to be concerned about my trial, over which I had little control. Consider your own situation. Who needs you? I promise you will get much more out of helping others than you will focusing on your own needs. And this serving is a wonderful offering of worship to our King.

5) I did not handle this trial with grace. I wish I could tell you I was a superstar who took the high road on every occasion and never whined or pouted. But I can’t. I did learn the importance of being real about your humanness, coveting the prayer of others and having daily time in God’s Word. Isaiah 40:31 states, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” I read a commentary explaining this verse that I fell in love with. When we trust in the Lord and rely on HIS strength, we will move forward in one of these ways... sometimes we will soar high, sometimes we will run and sometimes we will be able to do little more than walk. And any of the above is OK.