As I was beating eggs, mixing in sugar and folding in pecans yesterday I couldn't help but think upon the blessings that have come our way in the past year. While recounting my blessings my mind wandered and I couldn't help but remember. I couldn't help but remember that while I give thanks there is a world of people who are suffering.
The truth is, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a season where we give thanks and praise for all that God has done, but there are people everywhere who are begging for something to be thankful for this year.
The father who lost his job and doesn't know how much longer the savings account will carry them through.
The mother who lost a child.
The woman who has tried for years to conceive and still waits to rejoice in God's provision.
The dreamer whose dreams have been shattered and doesn't even know where to start life again.
The couple whose marriage has been torn apart, who are caught between love and hate yet only want peace.
The college student who is suddenly searching for life's direction.
The elderly man who can't remember his own child's name.
The refugee from a war torn land that struggles with starting life in a culture vastly different from their own.
So many people, so much loss. Our world is full of people who have known heartache far worse than I will ever experience, people who have every reason to rebel this week and not feel thankful. Someone is missing at the table, dreams have been lost, reality has changed for many and they just don't feel thankful at all. I simply cannot blame them. But I also can't just leave them sitting there in their loss.
Friends, my challenge to you this holiday season, is to remember. Remember those who are hurting, and love them in their hurt. Stand beside those who grieve and allow them to grieve. Be the reason they can have hope and be thankful. Be with them in their loss and walk the road toward healing beside them. Give them a piece of your joy, give them a reason to give thanks.
Thursday, October 02, 2014
It happened fairly naturally. We had a baby and I stumbled upon some pretty incredible relationships with other women at our church. We got together for "play dates" for our boys who could barely hold a toy at the time, and would glean any parenting insight we could from one another about sleeping, eating, poop consistency or frequency, you name it. The tiny little humans were throwing us mommas for a loop and we needed each other. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I survived the first 2.5 years of parenting in large part because of these women.
What I'm realizing now is that these women are not only instrumental in my life but they are vital in the lives of my children as well.These women impact my kids in numerous ways.
1. My children are learning that other people can love and care for them by the example set forth by these women. There have been many occasions where one of these women has hugged or kiss a boo boo for my child and he's learned that other people can comfort his pain. They've prepared allergy friendly foods for my kids and embraced them as they would their own.
2. While our discipline styles may be different from each other I love the fact that my son is learning to listen to and respect other adults and other ways of parenting. These women love my kids fiercely enough to redirect poor behavior on my kids part. I do the same for their kids and we have a mutual respect for each other when doing so.
3. My parenting and the pressures I put on myself (and my kids) are directly impacted by my other mom friends, in a good way. They inspire me to live out grace and patience. They challenge me to love fiercely even when it's hard. They've got my back if I'm carrying a screaming kid out to the car and as I drive off give me that look, the one that says, "you're going to survive this tantrum, I know, cause it was my kid yesterday."
The list goes on, really. I could go on about how these women help me keep my sanity, the mass quantity of texts and emails that go back and forth giving me encouragement to press onward, how I sleep better at night because of their words and support, how they remind me that God listens when we pray and that if I seek Jesus with all that I've got he will be found in the midst of the chaos of two babes. When I learned I was pregnant a little over 3 years ago I didn't expect that I'd gain the gift of such life altering friendships, for me, or my children. You see, as much as I need these women in my life, my kids need them too. We wouldn't be where we are without them.
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
I'm a four seasons kind of gal. Not the hotel variety, but the kind you experience when living in northern climates...Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. I love the hope and the changes that come with each new season, even the ones that accompany my least favorite season: Winter. Each season has its glory. Springtime has the green grass, the rain that renews and the flowers that remind us that the cold, drearyness of winter cannot stop new life. Summer has the warm weather, the summer thunderstorms, and flip flops. Fall brings about soups that simmer all day, football, crisp mornings and cool evenings on the porch, while winter brings that fresh blanket of snow that so vividly reminds us of how Gods mercies are new every morning. While I create my lists of the gifts that come with each new season I'm reminded of the "gifts" we would rather not have. For example, Sringtime can bring floods, Summer heat waves can steal the joy of the gift of warm weather, the drearyness of Fall can linger and let's face it, Winter can become downright miserable when a snowfall leads to months on end of brown slush on our streets. Growing up in the Midwest I learned that sometimes the best way to make it through a season is to simply embrace it. Bemoaning the snow won't stop it from coming, neither will complaining about the heatwave that shows up every August. Survival simply came with preparing, acknowledging mad embracing each season as it came. And I'm realizing that this is the same with the seasons of life that God puts in front of me. I've lived a variety of seasons from working with homeless youth, doing street outreach and searching abandoned buildings in the middle of the night to walking slums in east Africa learning kiswahili and making friends with women as I learned their way of life. No matter what I did I seemed to land the job of a lifetime and claimed yet again to do so as I packed up and moved to North Carolina (which doesn't have the harsh fourth season of winter I might add) to serve as a Missions Pastor, then Care Pastor. In each season I experienced grand moments of Gods faithfulness, His presence, His provision and joy. I'd be lying if I said there weren't also those dreary days or those times when those seasons were hard. Fast forward to 2014... my last season came unexpectedly like that hurricane that arrives before the noted "hurricane season." It caught me by surprise and if there was ever a time when God was trying to instill in me the task of embracing the season I'm in it is now. My job these days does not require me to have performance evaluations (although that might be nice) or report to someone in leadership above me. It doesn't have me traveling to distant lands, except in storybooks and make believe. My charges are 2 babies 18 months apart who have their own whims and desires. They have their own idea of adventure and my job is to love them, lead them and help them grow into world changing adults. I won't lie, this has been one of the hardest seasons to settle into. This season that has moments of full hilarity and full chaos all in a two second time lapse has been a tough one for my adventurous, independent and sometimes selfish spirit to submit to. But like other seasons, I'm learning the blessings of embracing it for what it is. As my passport collects dust, for the first time ever, I'm learning that God has prepared me for this, he has called me into this, and that it is, much like my other career moves, likely just a season. My babies won't have health issues that require my presence quite so regularly forever. My son will one day walk into school and not look back. My daughter will use those big brown eyes to speak straight to my heart without words and one day they will look into the eyes of another while she says "I do." This season we are in is chock full of joy. It overflows with laughter and good times and it is also speckled (or slathered depending on the day) with moments of challenge, heartache and frustration. But it's a season. One that God has put us in. And one thing true about every season, is that He is very present in the middle of it. He still speaks to me like He did in the plains of Africa. He pulls at my heartstrings much like He did in those days talking with kids living under bridges in Indianapolis. He has his arms wrapped around me as I navigat this season of parenting two babies who need their momma. We have choices in the advent of a new season. We can moan, complain, strategically think of ways out of it or around it or we can embrace it and seek to learn and experience all tha God has for us in the season we are in. I think I'll choose the latter. I may be forgetting Kiswahili, but I'm becoming quite an expert at translating 2 year old gibberish. It's a season worth embracing. It's the season He has me in.