One 2011 Word Wrap Up

Last December, still reeling from the news that we were going to have a 4th baby, it was easy to recognize I was not in any state of mind to set new year’s resolutions that would be kept.  It was then that my eyes read Luke 2:14 with a fresh perspective and I decided to join the One Word 2011 community with the word “Peace.”

What started out as a desperate desire for peace led me to the realization that I already had Peace, but needed to choose to walk in the confidence of something God had already granted through His Son Jesus.  Never did I imagine the peaks and valleys He would take me through to see, feel, touch and experience Peace on a whole new level.

It began immediately when the women from Pt. Loma First Church of the Nazarene invited me to come speak at their retreat.  When I asked what theme they were thinking of, my new friend Chavonne replied, “For some reason, God keeps bringing the word “peace” to mind.”  Imagine that.

Right around that same time that I was coming to a place of peace with the baby growing in my belly –until we were told he may possibility have genetic abnormalities.  Peace led me as I wrestled with whether I believe for myself the same things I say to other people. Do I practice what I preach?  Do I believe God and take Him at His word?

Our son’s impending birth brought peace to our home when the second week of January, we broke ceiling and began to turn the attic into a boys loft.  The generosity and kindness of my parent-in-laws and good friends will never be forgotten as many hands spent valuable time giving to our family.  Peace was found through provision immeasurably more than we asked or imagined.

In May, peace was brought to a test when my dad suffered a massive heart attack and remained on life support for two weeks while I was being told to make plans to remove him with no hope of survival.  Every time I came to the end of my rope, a friend showed up with lunch, a latte, a care package or a hug as we sat and waited for things to change.  The Peace of God filled the room in the ICU every time we would pray and God saw fit to revive his heart and is now slowly turning it from a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Through pregnancy, a healthy and some-what smooth birth, a remodel, sickness, job loss, financial struggle and then provision in the most unlikely ways, God has remained faithful as always, pointing out His Peace and favor truly rests here.

Am I convinced of this?  Yes.  Do I now walk in it? Not always.

I remain needy and dependent upon His grace and have been reminded of the need to speak and live the gospel to myself and others every day.  We approach 2012 with anticipation, hopefulness and slight trepidation.  Still in a state of transition.  Facing new illness in our family. Our oldest entering middle school.  My pastor/boss/friend reminds us every year:

We don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

This one word, focusing on this one facet of God’s magnificence has blessed me, filled me, carried me and given me joy, hope and peace in one of the most difficult years of my life thus far.  Next week, I’ll tell you what I’m choosing for 2012.

Want to join us?

{Thank you Alece}

Adventish – The Second Candle

I’ve decided to call it “Advent-ish” because let’s face it… I’m not following the rules. I know, big surprise. Haven’t you ever heard of the difference between “The spirit of the law and the letter of the law?”

Lest you judge me for my less than traditional advent wreath {I’m using my wooden bowl Brian and Shianti brought me from Haiti} and my red candles {purple doesn’t go well with my decor}, let me share with you how this second week of Advent is preparing me for Christmas.

The second candle is the candle of Peace.

Today I had the honor of giving the message at a women’s Bible Study for The River Church on… yup… peace. To be quite honest, I wasn’t feeling any peace about what I had prepared {6 different versions}. It wasn’t until I got there and saw their beautiful faces and talked to a few of the women when the Peace of God came through for me.

Peace is something we look for this time of year and it often eludes us. While we talk about Christmas NOT being about the stuff and focusing on the real meaning {Jesus} we still have a tendency to get lost in the noise clanging in our heads and the distractions all around us. Peace at Christmas is coming to the realization of what those Angels in Luke 2 told the Shepherds:

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”

We light candles, we take baths, we get manicures and pedicures, we go for walks… all things I’m down for… in an attempt to find peace or to feel peaceful. But here’s the thing: If you call yourself a follower of Christ, His peace rests on you. You don’t have to look for it in order to receive it because you already have it. But you do have to look for it in order to walk in it.

Mary, in her unexpected, teenage, outside of marriage pregnancy raised a boy and watched Him change the world until the day He took His last breath on the cross. And as it was told to her, a sword pierced her soul as she watched Him suffer the wrath that you and I deserve. No mother could possibly bear to watch this unfold and yet I have to believe through it all, she had peace.

The very peace of God that surpasses all understanding is what kept her at His feet and led her to the upper room with the disciples. It is what kept her right in the middle of the movement of God, even after He was gone from this earth.

Peace is what made shepherds drop everything in the middle of the night and run to a barn in the middle of town to see a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths.

Peace is what caused 3 mystics from the east to follow a star, go around an angry king and risk their lives to bow down and worship the One who was promised.

Peace is what drew a widow to the temple every single day until she was 84 years old to tarry for the One she longed would come and bring redemption to her people.

Peace is what kept an old man alive until he could hold that baby in his arms and see Who would responsible for the falling and rising of many.

Peace doesn’t mean a bad situation will always turn out well. Peace means that regardless of how bad things get, it is well.

When an unexpected movement of God takes place, we have to remember the words spoken to the Shepherds, to Mary, to Zechariah.

“Do not be afraid.”

God is on the move. He goes before you and works on your behalf. We see the visible, He sees the invisible. And as we wait with hope and walk in peace, we can be sure that in this space between the first and second advents, amidst the already and the not yet, there is not one person or thing outside of the scope of His redemption.

Peace be with you.

Safety is Overrated

Like most mothers, I pray for the safety of my children and husband.  When they go off to school without me.  When I lay him down in his crib at night.  I pray God would keep them well, protected and far from disaster.

I want them not only to be safe but feel safe.

But down the road, I see there will be greater challenges to my peace when it comes to knowing they are safe.  Next year, my oldest will go to middle school.  Several of my friends have taken their children to college in other states for the first time this year.  A couple of friends have sons serving on the mission field in distant countries.  Safety is in question.

But as the prayers for safety leave my heart, the thing I desire more for them is to recognize the voice of God in their life and trust Him wholly.  I pray they would walk in the steps He has put out before them in everything they do.

From my own experience, I know God will allow us and sometimes place us in circumstances and places that will not feel safe.  Our safety and security is often challenged and we are left to question are we placing ourselves in the care of this world or the care of our Father?  Are we trusting that no matter where we go, who we are with and what happens that He is watching over us and will deliver us from harm?

More over, do we trust Him in our hurt,in sickness, in our suffering, as He gives and takes away?

Recently, a team of people from our church went to Haiti for a week.  My friend Phil usually sends emails while he is away telling of what he is seeing in Haiti and how he is further understanding our God and His ways.  Last week, he wrote this:

In church this morning, the pastor challenged everyone with a fairly simple question- do we really believe what is written in the Word? I think the question was posed in the form of whether it is “safe” to come to Haiti. I suppose the answer is, in turn, based on the question of whether God has called someone to come here. If the answer is no, then someone should not come. If the answer is “yes”, the answer should be the “safest” place to be is in the middle of God’s will. But what does that look like? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were in the middle of God’s will, yet they went into the furnace. Daniel was in the middle of God’s will, and 1-2-3, in he was tossed to the den. And we all know what happened to the prophets, and to the Christ himself. “Safety” from God’s perspective seems to be different than from mine. In the end, I think the question is not whether it is safe. For some people it is not  At least for me, the question is whether this is what I have been led to do. For the time being, the answer appears to be “yes.” I will leave the rest up to God.

What I want more than safety is for my family to be in the center of God’s will.  By that standard, safety is over rated.  But the struggle as a mom remains.  And likely… it always will.

Do you struggle with feeling safe?  Or worrying about others not being safe?  If so, how do you surrender it?

Martha and Mary at War

I have about a week left of maternity leave.

While I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things at church, I’m not going to lie… there is a level of anxiety.

The time off has been really refreshing. Time to just be a mom and not worry about anything else.  I’m enjoying Nathan more than I’ve enjoyed any other baby because this time, I know how fast it will go.

Yet there are moments that feel as though there is a war raging inside me.  As if I have two personalities… the Mary who is sitting and soaking up the moment going head-to-head with the Martha, the one who is thinking, planning and anxious to get things done.

The list is growing with deadlines looming, laundry needing to get done, a refrigerator needing to be filled, school supplies waiting to be bought, writing ideas waiting to be penned, an ocean that hasn’t been swam in enough, retreats that need to planned, speaking commitments needing to be fulfilled, ministry plans awaiting fruition… and then it happens.

He cries.  He squirms.  He needs me to be near.  I’m reminded it will pass, quicker than I’d like it to. He will sit up, he will crawl away, he will grow and be content apart from me.  I know this to be true.

So I stop.

There will be time for other things.  I remind myself, that God has given me a grace for this life. What needs to be done, will get done… not in my strength but by His.

Worrying about later will rob me from the peace I have now.

Gotta go, the baby just woke up from his nap.

One Word

For some reason this year, I’ve tried to stay away from creating a list of New Years resolutions.

Maybe it’s because of our church’s goal to go “deeper” rather than “wider,” or maybe it’s just that I’m tired. One thing that has been inspiring are the posts from some bloggers I love, encouraging others to focus on one word for 2011.

While preparing for Christmas, one Scripture popped out at me, a familiar one we’ve all heard before and it’s stayed with me since the middle of November.

“Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace to all men on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Peace.


To all men on whom His favor rests. This peace is some thing the Bible has promised that I have already received. As a believer, His favor rests on me. So this year, I will go forth in peace.

This year, like all years, holds a lot of unknowns.  But I’m choosing peace instead of anxiety. Choosing to trust God rather than worry. Easier said than done… it will require discipline. Being in the Word {for me and not others}, prayer in the tenuous moments, and maybe even some fasting.

What about you? Do you have a word you would like to focus on this year? Have you already look for best gift for boys?