Meditating on the Word

I do not know why, but this particular Psalm keeps coming up.
As a child, I knew a song that contained some of the words of this Psalm. I would sing it over and over to myself when I was alone and scared in my room for one reason or another.
Psalm 56 just happened to be next in my Bible reading this morning. I was so refreshed by it, I thought I would share it, along with some recent snaps of our morning outside time on our front steps.

Psalm 56
To the choir master: according to The Dove of Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
     all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
     for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid, 
     I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
     in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
     What can flesh do to me?

All day long they injure my cause;
     all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
     they watch my steps,
     as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
     In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;
     put my tears in your bottle.
     Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
     in the day when I call.
     This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
     in the LORD, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
     What can man do to me?

I must perform my vows to you, O God;
     I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
     yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
     in the light of life.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Relationship-ing

During a pandemic? During a second shut down?

Yes and yes.

Life does not stop because of crisis, or rules, or sickness, or personal issues, or job losses, or stir crazy children, or school closures, or whatever. Life still happens. Importantly, relationships still happen. Most importantly, the calling and commands of God do not change (or completely evaporate) because of circumstances.

I am a wife. I am called and commanded to honor my husband.
Nothing going on has changed that.
I am a mother. I am called and commanded to teach, train, instruct, discipline, love, and encourage my children.
Nothing going on has changed that.
The fact that I am a mother, has also not negated the fact that I am a wife, and that the calling and command to honor my husband came before and trumps that of the calling and commands in regards to my children.

My relationship with my husband is crucial in raising our children, and my relationship with my husband takes precedence over the relationships with my children.

So, I need to take the time to keep investing in my relationship with my husband. I need to keep dating him.

Every couple is different. So finding what works for each couple will look different.
Some couples like to go out, do something different, explore the outdoors, do something service oriented, cuddle with a movie, buy each other sentimentally significant gifts, and so many other things.
For us, its talking. Yes, this pair of introverts loves spending hours together just talking. Talking together it how we date. It’s how we dated (literally, so many hours of college were spent just sitting in the Chick-fil-a parking lot talking, letting our food get cold, and our sodas watery).

So, maybe in a pandemic, or under certain shut-down/stay-at-home orders, formal dates are challenging. We love good food, so that’s been a change for us, not looking forward to that one time every few months to try some yummy food at a restaurant.
But, we have tried making new things at home, and ordered out (thank you Door Dash!) a good bit.
We like to give each other “just because” gifts. We can’t do anything real fancy, but my husband came back from the store last night with cranberry juice, my absolute favorite! So, you know, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be special. ūüôā

I will say that although talking is a favorite for us, communication is not key to every relationship. Communication is essential to any relationship. There are no exceptions here. The more significant and central the relationship, the more important communication is.

No matter what relationship you are in: married, dating, single, child, parent, co-worker, grandparent, grandchild, teacher, student, friend, boss, employee. Keep investing in it, keep pursuing it, keep talking, keep doing that thing that connects you, keep working through those hard things that you butt heads over, keep forgiving, keep saying sorry, keep learning, keep teaching, keep being kind, keep relationship-ing.

Soli Deo Gloria

Keep going

My last post was very emotional, and in many ways I still am in a heightened emotional state.

I had a miscarriage.

Since then, I have:

  • Been on a little family vacation to the mountains – very encouraging and refreshing
  • Watched some new-to-me movies/shows – Knives Out, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and Hamilton. All of which I loved!
  • Had a much needed and long overdue girls night with my sister
  • Finished draft three and began draft four of my book
  • Celebrated the 4th of July with BBQ and fireworks

I’m still a little raw, and sad. Yet, I am so encouraged by my husband, and my children. (See above: my youngest snooping on my coffee and my “phuun-eh”, a.k.a. “phone”)

I think that losing one baby has made me hold everyone in my life a little closer (all my family, not just my kids).

I have had three smooth, healthy pregnancies, and have three beautiful children. I have a wonderful, sweet, lovingly supportive husband. I have a wonderfully caring family. I have dear friends.

As my life, emotions, and mind are comforted and soothed by these precious people, the balm for my soul has been the Scriptures.

In the depths of very strong emotions, the very hardest thing for me is to sit and read. My God knew that, and what has been peppering my heart has been all the passages I have memorized over the decades.

Isaiah 54:10 (my “life verse”, memorized in NIV) – ” ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, but my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who had compassion on you.”

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

Philippians 4:6-7 – “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your¬†minds¬†in¬†Christ¬†Jesus.”

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Isaiah 53:3-4 – “… man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrows…”

Psalm 56:8 – “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

John 11:32-35 – “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.”¬†

The most comforting, mind boggling, wonderful, and amazing-but-true things about having all these passages (and so many others) come to mind is that these passages are all talking about the same God.
The same Jesus who wept over the death of his dear friend, and over the sorrow that death had on his sisters, is the same God who keeps count of my tossings, bottling my tears, is deeply acquainted with all kinds of griefs and sorrows, so much so it is a title of sorts: man of sorrows.
He’s the same God who has good plans of hope for his people, who promises to guard my heart with his perfect peace when I keep my mind on him and not on myself and not on my worries.
He is a faithful, steadfast, loving, patient, merciful, and unfailing even in the face of our broken, fallen, fractured, deadly world.

Because of who God is, what he has done throughout history, and in my life in particular, I can keep going.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Rawness of mourning

12 hours through the worst 24 hours of my life up until now.

My eyes are swollen.

The tears still come.

It’s wrong, it’s painful, it’s not supposed to happen. But it does, and it’s happening to me.

I don’t know why, but I know I loved you already.

No face, no hands, no voice, nothing but a memory.

A sign said yes, a week later became a loud, unmistakable, gut wrenching no.

I never met you, but I loved you already.

I can’t think of the “what ifs”, the “would haves”, the “should haves”. It’s too much, too painful, too many tears.

I’m just sad.

So sad.

I loved you already.

To my angel baby: I’m processing your loss, my loss, your life, your death, your existence, and, now, my emptiness.

If I already loved you so, I know you’re in much safer hands now. More loving hands. Eternal, secure, sovereign hands.

I’m comforted by prayers, and truth that many who loved you are also in His hands. Already, and not yet.

I already loved you, but I have not yet loved you. Not yet held you, not yet seen you, not yet told you.

My angel baby.

I miss you. I’m sad. I weep.

I love you.

Father, I do not understand… “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief”.

Soli Deo Gloria

Patience? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

During this season of mothering littles, I find my number one prayer request being “that I would be more patient with my children”.

Man, I love these kids, and they never stop. I think the constant motion is pretty standard for littles, but it’s exhausting!
My youngest is still in diapers, and doesn’t have all her teeth in yet.
My middle has colossal meltdowns where no one but Daddy can calm her. My oldest is turning five at the end of the summer and will start kindergarten in the fall. I have a whole new set of things to think about! Have I prepared him enough? Does he know enough to be independent at school? Will he be kind to others? Will he listen to and obey his teachers? Will he get teased? Will he get in trouble?

My worries for my oldest, have often turned normal parenting moments into this “do or die” test, to see if he is really ready for school. Many days, my patience is gone before I even wake up, because I’ve lost sleep worrying.

But, God calls me to be patient.
Actually, He calls all believers to be patient, not just the “extra holy ones”. Patience is a characteristic of God we are called to have ourselves as his children. It is one of the many ways we image our heavenly Father to a broken world. This world has no patience.

So what is it? What is biblical patience?

Well first, let me tell you what it is not: patience is the not the same as waiting.

I don’t know why we think just waiting this is “good enough”. When we think about it, the act of waiting cannot be the same as patience, it just doesn’t make sense. I mean, have you ever seen a someone wait impatiently? Therefor, waiting cannot be what patience is.

Biblical patience is this: a Godly attitude towards circumstances and people, which is founded in and completely resting in God.
It’s an attitude of trust.
Why do I struggle with being patient with my kids? Because I am not trusting God. How did I diagnose that? Because I am worried.
More often than not, my attitude of anxiety has replaced the God-trusting attitude of patience.

When I get off, I need more of God, I need his word.
God’s word is our living water, our primary cause for heart change, and our gauge for our lives.
Here are some passages I found to do a quick study on what practicing biblical patience looks like:

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Practicing biblical patience means not worrying about circumstances or even about evil people, but focuses on the LORD, rests in God’s goodness, in God’s good promises. Therefore, we can be still before him, and wait patiently for him.

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Practicing biblical patience shows up in how we love others. See all the “not”s that follow? All three are me-focused. Therefore, a love that is patient and kind is others centered, it is God’s-will centered.

2 Corinthians 1:6
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Practicing biblical patience is playing a long game, an eternal game. It is seeing our world for what it is, temporary, not our true home, knowing that the relatively brief pains now pale in comparison to a joy-filled forever after.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Practicing biblical patience is remembering that those around us have an eternity ahead of them too. Dealing with others with patience infused love, focused on their good, not your own desires, or schedule.

How can we possibly do this? (That’s what I’m thinking, I’m sure at least some of you are thinking the same thing!) I lose my patience with my family all the time.

Here’s the progression: our love is shaped by our attitude of patience, which is caused and motivated by our remembrance of who God is and what he’s done for us. It’s all about perspective, and our perspective needs to stay fixed on God or we will get off track. On our own, we could never do it, but because God was gracious, loving, and patient with us first, and continues to be everyday of our lives, we can refocus our perspective, readjust our attitude, and restart our actions in a way that glorifies him.

Soli Deo Gloria!