What’s Next?

Last week, eating lunch in my quiet classroom, I stared at the paper in front of me, blank except for the heading “Summer 2015”.  I had already made a couple lists for summer but I was mulling over some bigger, more long term things.  Things that were uncertain… hopes and questions and possibilities… and I was trying to somehow wrestle them onto the page so they made more sense.

Finally I just leaned back and sighed.  You can’t plan your whole life, I told myself.  I put the paper away and tried to follow my own advice.

Unfortunately, that’s really hard for me.  I love to plan.  I love to have something on the horizon that I’m looking forward to.  I like to consider different scenarios, play them out in my mind, and try to prepare for what might be coming.

I don’t think planning is a bad thing.  But sometimes it becomes too much of a focus for me and I start grasping for a hold over things I can’t control.  It’s in those times that I need to remind myself that God is in control.  Sometimes I need to simply wait, trust, and pray for patience.

Have you ever felt like everything was falling into place perfectly, only to have it change in the end?  That happened to me, in a huge and incredibly difficult way, when Faith died.  It happened again, in a significantly smaller way, yesterday.

There was a job opportunity that I was really excited about and, to be totally honest, was also pretty confident would work out.  It seemed to make sense in so many ways.  It seemed like everything was lined up just right.

But it didn’t happen.

I’m disappointed.  I’m frustrated and unsure of what’s next.  Truthfully I can just keep going as I have been for the past few years, nothing really has to change.  From the outside that probably makes sense.

But on the inside I feel like this could be the start of something else.

One of my initial reactions, after hearing the news, was to start considering different plans, to start setting up those imaginary scenarios in my head.  That always seems to be my natural response!

But the truth is I don’t know what my plans should look like and I don’t want to try to make them on my own.  I want to trust God.  I want to be open to His leading.  I want to be patient and take it one step at a time.

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I sang Rich Mullins’ wonderful song – Sometimes by Step (live version here) – to Natalie while I pushed her in the swing this morning.  This is my prayer as I seek God’s plan and purpose for me, “step by step You’ll lead me and I will follow You all of my days.”

I have already seen His hand work mightily in the biggest of challenges, I know He is here working in the smaller ones as well.  “I may falter in my steps, but never beyond Your reach”.

What’s next?  I will wait, and pray, and see.

 

 

 

How Many Kings?

Christmas is tomorrow.  Our tree is sparkling in the front window with presents wrapped beneath it, a special dinner is waiting to be cooked for our Christmas Eve celebration, our advent wreath is ready to be lit, Christmas music is playing as I sit here typing…

.. and, in the dining room, a little nativity scene is on display.

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How often do you stop and really think about what that nativity represents?  I wonder if we’ve become so familiar with it that we forget how incredible it truly is.

God came to earth.  God, the Creator and sovereign King of the world, as a baby.  Humbled and helpless.  Incarnate deity.

This isn’t just a tradition to me.  It isn’t some story that we read out of habit or a desire to feel “religious” at Christmas.  This is the truth.  This is the foundation of my life.  This is the reason we celebrate, the reason I have hope and joy and a future.

A baby in a manger who was God’s own Son.  Jesus, the long awaited Savior who would later die and rise again to pay the ransom for my sins because He loves me… because He loves you.

The words of the song How Many Kings (Downhere) are so powerful to me.  I hope you’ll read the chorus below and truly reflect on what these lyrics mean.  This is the truth of Christmas – God’s love for our world, for each and every one of us.  May His love surround and fill you today and always.  Merry Christmas!

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Only one did that for me.

Don’t Blink

I was driving home last night and a song came on the radio that I hadn’t heard in quite a while.  A memory flashed through my mind.

In an instant I could see myself, back in my little bedroom of the apartment I shared with 3 other girls during my senior year of college.  I was sitting at my desk, listening to the words as my eyes filled with tears.

Don’t blink
Cause just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap
And you wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
Or you just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your better half
Of fifty years is there in bed and you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don’t blink

As I sat there that day I was on the edge of a turning point in my life.  I had so much to look forward to.  I would be graduating soon, getting married, moving into our first home as husband and wife, starting my first full-time job.  I was beyond excited about all that was ahead.

But I knew it would be hard to say goodbye to what I was leaving behind.  To finish my 4 years of college and know I could never return to that same place in that same way.  I loved my time there – the experiences I had, the things I learned, the friends I made – and as much as I anticipated the next stage, I knew I would miss those days.

My tears weren’t out of sadness.  Rather it was the realization, as I took in those lyrics, of how fast life really does go.  Of how fleeting each moment is.

To grasp the thought that living means change, and that change is bittersweet.

Life is a series of beginnings and endings… and oh, the beginnings and endings I have experienced since then!

My brother left for college today, so it was fitting, I think, that I heard those words again last night.  He’s at a turning point of his own now, a time to say goodbye to one stage of life and hello to the next.

My hope for him is the same as I desire for myself… that through all the changes, through all the endings and beginnings, we live every moment to the fullest.

This is for him today, with lots of love… don’t blink!

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Better is One Day

Early on, after Faith was born, I found comfort in the thought that she would never have to experience the hard things about life here on earth.  No sorrow or illness or fear or any of the struggles we go through.

But I couldn’t help feeling like we were missing out on sharing all the good things about this life together.

I know I will always wish we could have shared in those good things, but recently I realized something… even the very best day here on earth pales in comparison to Heaven!

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside… Psalm 84:10

Faith has had 10 months – 314 days – in the courts of Heaven.  I still miss her every day.  I still long for the chance to watch her grow up, to care for her, to make memories together.  But I rejoice that she is in Heaven, living in perfection and goodness that I cannot grasp, so much better than anything this world can offer.

And someday I will join her, and we will share all the days of eternity together there.

 

Old Words Revisited

It’s a good night to stay inside.

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There was barely any snow when I left for work this morning, now the world outside my window is blanketed in white.  It’s very pretty actually.  That heavy, thick snow that sticks to everything is always the prettiest… when you have no place to go!

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I recently came across an old blog I had written.  I imagine that some (or maybe most) people who read this blog now don’t know that I started off writing on a different blog.  It was actually a requirement for grad school and that’s how it all began.  I switched things over when I graduated in 2011, but a couple days ago I wanted to look back at it for something.  While I was skimming through old posts I found this one… Did You Forget Whose Trip You’re On?

I wrote it over 3 years ago.  I had just started grad school and was also working full time.  I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and found encouragement in lyrics from an old Newsboys song.

It’s funny, the things that felt so difficult then seem so much less significant now. There are bigger challenges to face than trying to balance your time between school and work and home.  There are trials that will make you wonder where in the world your life is headed in a way that a maxed out schedule and sleep deprivation never could.

Then again, as I revisited those words I wrote, I found that the meaning behind them is just as true today as it was then.  God is with me always and His strength is much greater than mine through anything I’m facing, whether trials of faith or simply the busyness of life.

God never changes, even when everything else around us does.  He has been, and will be, with me through every step, no matter how “big” or “small” the trial might be.  I’m so thankful for that.  I’m thankful that He was leading me then and He is leading me now.

I know Whose trip I’m on and “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

We’ve come through wilderness and watched
The cloud by day
The burning sky into dawn
Have you forgotten who you are?
Did you forget whose trip you’re on?

Stay strong
You are not lost
Come on and fix your eyes ahead
There’s a new dawn to light our day, our day
We’ve gotta stay strong
You and I run
For the prize that lies ahead
We’ve come too far to lose our way, our way

Newsboys – Stay Strong

Cold

It’s been cold here.  I know it’s winter and I’m pretty sure it has been cold in many other places too… but can I take one brief moment to whine and say I’m tired of it?!  The past few days have ranged in temperature from 5 to 14 degrees.  Tomorrow we’re predicted to actually get above 20… woohoo!

It’s times like this when I question our decision to live in upstate NY.  Maybe a hut on the beach somewhere near here would have been a better choice…

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Mmmmmm that makes me warm(er) just looking at it!

At the end of this chilly week, I wanted to share something that warmed my heart… the story of a blind sled dog who, with the help of his brother, still finds his joy and purpose in pulling a sled.

Dogs are the best.  After I post this I think some cuddle time with Jackson is in order.  Bonus, he is always warm!  Maybe that is why he actually likes the snow!

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Oh yeah, and I can’t help sharing this one too… just cause it’s hilarious.  If you think I’m being whiny about the cold, don’t go to California!

Happy Friday and stay warm!

Day 27

I’m thankful for my husband.  I’m thankful that he is my best friend.  I’m thankful that he accepts and loves me just as I am.  I thankful for the way he takes care of me.  I’m thankful for his hugs.  I’m thankful for the way he makes me feel like the most special girl in the world.

I’m thankful that he stands beside me and wipes my tears through the hardest times.  I’m thankful that he makes me laugh.  I’m thankful for the memories we have built together and I look forward to the memories we will make in the future.

I couldn’t ask for a better husband… I love you so much Steve!

We are one before our God in Heaven
We are one road when the going gets rough
We are one now and forever
We are one name, one life, one flame

We are one heartbeat in the darkness
We are one lasting answered prayer
We are one unbroken promise
and we are two, true believers

Darius Rucker – True Believers