Worrying

14.31 hours in a week. 744 hours in a year. 45, 243 hours in a lifetime. 1,885 days in a lifetime. 5.2 years in a lifetime. In my lifetime. In your lifetime. Worrying.

And that’s just the average.

I confess that I spend too much time worrying. Probably more than average. And yet — the more I tell myself NOT to worry — the more I find myself worrying. It’s a chronic, crushing, consuming cycle.

14.31 hours in a week. 744 hours in a year. 45, 243 hours in a lifetime. 1,885 days in a lifetime. 5.2 years in a lifetime. In my lifetime. In your lifetime. Worrying.

Here’s an invitation for your heart & mine — to spend that time much more wisely. By trusting in the One who has promised to bring beauty from ashes & joy in the mourning, the One who transforms our worry to worship, our tears of lament to songs of praise.

There are difficulties, diseases, hardships, heartbreaks, trials, tragedies, roads marked with long-suffering — when we can not see — how God will work all things together for good — for God to do abundantly, exceedingly, immeasurably more than we ask, think or even imagine.

The root of worrying is found in these few words — when we can not see.

When we can not see.

But my friends — THIS is the very definition of faith — faith is the promise of what is hoped for — what is yet unseen — Faith is trusting when we can not see.

So we have to make a choice. To trust, to rest, yes even to rejoice in God’s faithful promises — the One who has promised to bring beauty from ashes & joy in the mourning, the One who transforms our worry to worship, our tears of lament to songs of praise.

Through the years I have learned — through my own journey on the road marked with long-suffering & worrying in the waiting — God is faithful to be present as I wrestle with doubt — God is faithful even when my faith is fading — God is faithful to give strength in the waiting — when I can not see.

God has been faithful to meet me. In the mourning, in the waiting, in my wilderness wanderings, in the drought & the darkest valleys, in my laments.

God has been found faithful.

And yet I am found worrying.

Yes, I worry when I can not see how God will work all things together for my good.

And yet I remember how God has worked all things together for my good.

I recently wrote these words to a dear friend. A dear friend wrought with worry —

“God does give us more than we can handle. But God also gives us His presence IN the midst of what we can’t handle.

So I’m preaching Gospel to myself, and my restless heart is called to rejoice…

“Rejoice always — pray continually — give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I give thanks not for every circumstance, but for God’s faithful promise to be with me, before me, behind me, beside me IN every circumstance!”

When you are wrestling with worry.

When you are wrought with worry.

Even so — you do not need to be afraid.

For when the waters rise — when the storms rage — when faith is fading — you must lift up your eyes to the One who is faithful to remain before you, behind you, beside you, lifting you up — in the darkest valleys facing your deepest fears, in the deserts of doubt, in the wilderness wandering —

God will strengthen your heart, your hope, your faith, your songs of praise — even if it remains a weary Hallelujah, a lament through tears with white-knuckled clenched fists barely holding on.

14.31 hours in a week. 744 hours in a year. 45, 243 hours in a lifetime. 1,885 days in a lifetime. 5.2 years in a lifetime. In my lifetime. In your lifetime. Worrying. ***

Here’s an invitation for your heart & mine — let us choose to spend that time much more wisely.

By trusting in the One who has promised to bring beauty from ashes & joy in the mourning, the One who transforms our worry to worship, our tears of lament to songs of praise.

May it be said of me. Hallelujah & Amen.

*** See further study summary at http://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2013/02/top-30-biggest-worries/

God Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle

She sat across the table at my favorite café nervously running her fingers around the mug of freshly brewed coffee trying ever-so-bravely to find the courage to speak the words she oh-so-desperately needed to say. Fighting back tears, she whispered the words like a confession — filled with guilt & anger, fearing judgement. “If it’s true that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle — why did God allow this? I certainSly can’t handle THIS! Am a failing as a Mama AND failing in my faith?”

She continued to share her story.

The words she spoke were filled with heartbreak & anguish — devastating, despairing words — for there is no pain on earth like watching your child suffer. I could feel her brokenness, her helplessness, her hopelessness.

And you know the words I *didn’t* speak to her today? “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” I cringe every time I hear these words spoken. Let’s just state it simply, plainly — these words are not in the Bible. These words are not the truth.

I have heard compassionate & kind, tender-hearted & well-meaning people offer these words as an attempt at comforting those who are fighting terminal illness, literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death — those whose children are living under the shadow of unbearable suffering — those who are in marriages wrought with abuse — those who have lost loved ones to devastating, wasting diseases — those who are wrestling with doubt & fear — those who pour out their gut-wrenching, heart-breaking stories with tears of lament.

God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

Can you imagine for even a moment how piercing, how wounding these words sound to those who are already at their darkest, weakest points?

Perhaps you don’t need to imagine how piercing, how wounding these words sound because they have been said to you — in your darkest, weakest point.

My friend, today I am speaking words that are true. God does give us more than we can handle. Yes, there it is. I said it.

God does give us more than we can handle.

God does give us more than we can handle. But God also gives us His presence IN the midst of what we can’t handle.

My heart is reminded of these words I wrote recently to a friend —
“So I give thanks *not for every circumstance,* but for God’s faithful promise to be with me, before me, behind me, beside me *IN every circumstance!*”

God has given me more than I can handle. Repeatedly. In my journey of faith. On the road I have traveled marked with long-suffering & grief. God has given me more than I can handle.

And yet — when my faith is fading — God is faithful. When I’m ever-so-desperately holding onto hope — I have found that the LORD is Hope holding onto me.

When my song is a weary hallelujah — even when my faith is fading, even when my faith falters & fails — when there seems to be no joy in the mourning — no strength in the waiting — no hope in my wilderness wanderings, in the drought & in the darkest valleys — even when I raise my clenched-fists toward heaven through tears & lament, “How long, oh LORD?”

God has been faithful to meet me. In the mourning, in the waiting, in my wilderness wanderings, in the drought & the darkest valleys, yes even in my laments.

God has given me more than I can handle. But God has also given me His presence IN the midst of what I can’t handle.

God has been faithful.

Every. Single. Time.

To come quiet my restless heart with love, to strengthen my faith & my song…

THIS is how to give thanks in the desert places of wilderness wandering. THIS is how to sing praises when faith is fading. THIS is how to pray when God does give you more than we can handle —

When I am consumed by darkness & despair — there is no darkness that can overcome the light of Your love. There is no depth of despair beyond the reach of Your whispers of hope.

When I am on the road marked with grief, mourning, long-suffering — there is no end to Your comfort for You are well-acquainted with the darkest valley of shadows & suffering.

When I am wrestling with doubt —
there is no end to how You delight to quiet my restless heart with your love that knows no end.

When I can not see how You are working all things together for my good — there is no end to Your promise to strengthen my faith to hope in what I can not yet see.

God, when You give me more than I can handle — You also give me Your presence. You are faithful — Hallelujah & Amen.

Yes, it’s true. God does give us more than we can handle. (Perhaps we should say, “God *** allows more than we can handle.”)

But even so — we do not need to be afraid. For when the waters rise — when the storms rage —when faith is fading — and you lift up your eyes to the One who is faithful to remain before you, behind you, beside you, lifting you up — in the darkest valleys facing your deepest fears, in the deserts of doubt, in the wilderness wandering —

When you realize that God is still faithful forevermore & always — in ALL circumstances  — God will strengthen your heart, your hope, your faith, your songs of praise — even if it remains a weary Hallelujah, a lament through tears with white-knuckled clenched fists barely holding on.

God does give us more than we can handle.

If that’s you today. Lift up your voice, reach out your hands to the LORD — and you will find the LORD is already holding onto you — for He is strong & mighty to save! He delights to come & quiet your restless heart with His love — He desires that you rest & rejoice in His promises to be faithful. Always. Forevermore. Even when you can not yet see how He will work it all together for good.

God does give us more than we can handle. But God also gives us His presence IN the midst of what we can’t handle.

“So I’m preaching Gospel to myself, and my restless heart is called to rejoice…

“Rejoice always — pray continually — give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I give thanks *not for every circumstance,* but for God’s faithful promise to be with me, before me, behind me, beside me *IN every circumstance!*

THIS is how to give thanks in the desert places of wilderness wandering. The LORD is faithful to be with me in the wilderness! THIS is how to sing praises when faith is fading. The LORD is my strength & my song! THIS is how to pray when hope seems lost. The LORD is Hope holding onto me as an anchor for my soul! So I will choose to sing “even so it is well with my soul!” The LORD has filled my heart with laughter & songs of praise!

God does give us more than we can handle. But God is always faithful to give us His presence IN the midst of what we can’t handle. And THAT is good news. Good news indeed. Hallelujah & Amen.

This Father’s Day 

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I see the look in your eyes when she greets you with her smiling eyes & sweet “da-da-da-da” — reaching for you the very second you walk in the door exhausted after another long day at work — how she ever-so-eagerly, oh-so-desperately longs to be held in your arms, safe in your hands. 

And I know how she feels. 

I see the mischievous glean in your eyes when your silly & sweet, rough-n-tumble, wildly-affectionate sons wrestle with you — stretching the very limits of their strength as they grow from little boys into young men — yet still held in your arms, safe in your hands.

And I know how they feel. 

They want to be held tightly, safe, secure in the strength of your kindness, your tender-hearted patience, your constant, unwavering affection & words of love.  As a carpenter you build strong houses. Here you build a strong family, strong home, strong hearts.

I see you. And this Father’s Day that is the most important thing I want to say —- I see you!

I see your hand in mine. And I remember our wedding — how we held onto each other’s hands — as we lovingly gazed into each other’s eyes with such affection & promise — as we exchanged our vows to honor, to love, to cherish. I remember how we hoped together,  dreamed together, imagined together how we would be parents together someday.  And today I am quite certain that parenting our four children together has been far more than we ever could have imagined. And yet brought us love far greater than we ever could have imagined. From their very first breath & forevermore.

I see your hand in mine. And I remember how I held onto your hands so tightly during labor & delivery — how you welcomed our four children into the world, into our family, into your heart with such joy & delight as you held their tiny fingers in your hands.

I see your hand in mine. And I see how you daily reach for our children — to hold them in your arms, safe in your hands — to hold them with love that is patient, love that is kind, love that is not easily angered, love that does not keep a record of wrongs, love that comes beside our children in the midst of the mess to cheer on & encourage, to celebrate & rejoice in the growing, learning, trying but not yet quite succeeding — to lift them up when they fall, when they fail!

You are the reason our sons have such brave & courageous hearts that see no limit to all they can achieve. You are the reason our daughter already knows she is loved with unwavering affection when she gazes into your face and sees the twinkle in your eyes when she says “da-da-da-da.”

I see your hand in mine. I feel the rough edges, the callouses, the bruises, the tender-places as the evidence of your tender-heart, your labor of love as you work to provide for us — hour-after-hour, day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year — you continue giving of yourself, and giving all of your love — sacrificially, selflessly.

I see your hand in mine. And I know our days have gotten louder & crazier 8-years & 4-kids later. And I know my words often mean something different now.

When will you be home?”

These days — all-too-often that question is no longer filled with the loving anticipation of reuniting with you after a long day — but the anticipation of much-needed hands to help in the task of raising our children.

These days — we dream of a quiet night in & goodnight’s sleep rather than a romantic date night out.

Because these days as a Mama “in-the-trenches” are exhausting & fatiguing — feeling like I have everything to prove yet nothing to show — unless this shirt lovingly “decorated” with snot, drool & baby food somehow counts as a medal or trophy. I’d wave a white flag of surrender, but it’s buried beneath the mountain of dirty laundry — filled with “torn-in-the-knees” jeans, superhero undies & countless pairs of mismatched socks.

And I’m always in a hurry yet always behind with so much still left undone. And there are times I haven’t showered in a few days — when my hair & my heart are frazzled — and as I begin listing all I’ve accomplished trying ever-so-desperately to prove my worth to you in all that I’ve managed to achieve — you take my hand in yours — you draw me close into the strength of your kindness & whisper words of affection in my ear.

I see your hand in mine. And I am so exceedingly grateful for those moments in the midst of our ordinary days when I still catch you looking at me with that look — like when we first met — that makes my soul come alive — in the warmth of your smile.

8-years & 4-kids later — I’m still over-the-moon, crazy-in-love with you! The strength of your kindness, tender-heart & affection is a gift! Our love makes today & every day sweeter!

Happy Father’s Day to you — the one who shares my joys & sorrows, laughter & tears, trials & triumphs — my beloved & closest friend — the one I Iean on, the one I love — I’m so grateful to share all of life’s & love’s adventures with you! The LORD has filled my heart with laughter & songs of praise!

8-years & 4-kids later. I can’t even write that phrase without such joy & laughter filling my heart. Craziness, yes — exhaustion, undeniably yes.

For today I am quite certain that parenting our four children together has been far more than we ever could have imagined. And yet brought us love far greater than we ever could have imagined. From their very first breath & forevermore.

This parenting journey with you has been 100% worth it. Our children are 100% sure of your love — they reach out for you — to be held in your arms, safe in your hands.

And I know how they feel. 

Because 8-years & 4-kids later. Yours is the hand I want holding mine. You are the one I choose to have by my side. Always.

What IS Gospel? The Gospel of Matthew Teaching Series Week 1

What IS Gospel?
The Gospel of Matthew Teaching Series Week 1

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The gospel according to Matthew.
What IS gospel? 

It’s an all-too-often forgotten question.

The very first word of this book inscribed before the lineage, before the story of Jesus’ birth, before the Sermon on the Mount, before the parables regarding the Kingdom of God. Is gospel.

The gospel. The Greek word is
εὐαγγέλιον/
euaggelion/noun/the good news/ the good news of the coming of the Messiah.

First & foremost, when this letter was penned by a scribe centuries ago, today & forevermore. The gospel is good news — the good news is that the Messiah, Jesus, Savior & Immanuel has come to us & remains with us.

We must hear what follows in the book of Matthew as good news — words to give renewed hope & strengthened faith — hearing the parables anew & afresh as we walk in the dust, in the footsteps of Jesus.

What is this good news in Matthew chapter 1?

1) Jesus Was A Jew
Jesus was born a Jew in the line of David. The Gospels go to painstaking lengths, with great detail — through centuries of genealogies — to show Jesus’ heritage, his lineage & legacy of faith — born as a Jew to devout, faithful Jewish parents (see Matthew chapter 1).

As we hear Jesus teach through the Gospel of Matthew we must remember Jesus is Jewish, teaching Jewish disciples, speaking to a primarily Jewish audience. THIS will transform how we hear the parables — hearing Jesus’ words in context, fully immersed in Jewish culture, customs, traditions & Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament).

THIS is good news. For we will hear Jesus’ words with increased clarity & depth. And in so doing — be able to walk closer to Jesus with increased faith & deeper love.

2) Jesus Is Savior & Immanuel
The good news is that the Messiah has come as Savior & Immanuel!

Jesus — is the prophetic promise realized — He is the promised Messiah, Savior & Immanuel. As the angel told Joseph, “He will be called Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.” “He is Immanuel — God with us.”

It remains true that Jesus still speaks good news because Jesus IS the good news. The Word in flesh whose very Name today still reveals the prophetic promise fulfilled. Jesus is Messiah, Jesus is Savior, Jesus is Immanuel!

We must keep this in mind as we walk in the dust, in the footsteps of Jesus — a Jewish Rabbi teaching Jewish disciples. As we seek to understand what is truly means when we pray “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

First & foremost, when this letter was penned by a scribe centuries ago, today & forevermore. The gospel is good news — the good news is that the Messiah, Jesus, Savior & Immanuel has come to us & remains with us. 

Let us walk together in the promise of THIS gospel, THIS good news as we study through The Gospel of Matthew together!

Cap & Gown: On Graduation Day

My Facebook newsfeed has been flooded with celebratory pictures. Graduates faces beaming with joy at the completion of their academic achievements — of their long-sought-after accomplishments. Whether it’s preschool, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, high school, college, or masters graduation ceremony — graduates & their families, their friends, their colleagues, teachers & professors as well — look back on all that was achieved & ahead with hope for even better things yet to come.

Words of inspiration are spoken from countless pulpits & podiums across the country.

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Certificates & diplomas intricately embossed with ornate lettering — proving the completion of all that is required are given with a firm handshake & congratulatory words of affirmation to graduate by name — somehow standing taller it seems wearing the cap & gown for this “rite of passage” into adulthood.

As I rejoice with this year’s graduates & their families — I find myself fondly remembering my graduation ceremony from Princeton Theological Seminary with my MDiv in 2009. Standing in the breathtakingly beautiful chapel with brilliant light streaming through the stained-glass windows & tears of joy streaming down our faces, side-by-side with colleagues & friends — with our voices raised in faith-filled anthems of hope — we rejoiced together in the promise realized — each of us ever-so-delighted to finally be wearing our masters hoods, cap & gown.

Still today — the question remains — why do we wear the cap and gown while completing this milestones? What is the historical significance of the academic regalia seen at preschool, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, high school & college graduation ceremonies. Yes, even graduations from masters & doctoral degree programs?

The story of the robe begins in 12th & 13th century Europe when universities started forming with the primary focus of educating clergy & priests in theology — the “Queen of the sciences.” As most professors were priests, members of clergy & most students studying to become members of the clergy — clerical robes were perfectly fitting, indeed the most logical choice. These robes were worn daily to classes & precepts — historians believe this was largely a pragmatic decision as the church & university halls were drafty, unheated buildings frigid in winter & the robes served to provide warmth.

In 1321 Oxford and Cambridge became the first recognized schools to require graduation attire with everyone wearing long gowns during ceremonies to create unity. In the 1800’s European schools began using different colored robes which served to distinguish scholars & students by their university of study.

The mortarboard caps which pair with standard graduation gowns are believed to have been developed in the 15th century — once again with roots in the regalia of the Church — evolving from hats known as birettas used by Catholic clerics, scholars and professors as early as 1311.

The mortarboard got its name from the flat board used by bricklayers to hold mortar. It represents the mortar board of a master workman — calling the students & professors alike to remain diligent to be the masters of their craft, of their studies.

This original European academic style remained throughout the centuries and was adopted in the colonial times in America. After the Civil War, academic regalia was reserved strictly for graduation which is why the cap and gown symbolizes recognition and achievement. Hoods are no longer used over the head to keep warm but remain as a decorative piece that represents one’s field of study.

Still today — centuries later — the story of the cap & gown continues on.
As we see this year’s graduates proudly wearing their cap & gowns —
May the mortarboard caps call us as students & professors alike to remain diligent to be the masters of our craft, of our studies —
faithfully, painstakingly placing & securing one brick at a time, laying a firm foundation & careful craftsmanship.

May the color of the graduation robes call us to remember our school of study — unity with our colleagues & friends — our educational roots. May we remember the colleagues, teachers & professors as well as the buildings, libraries, classrooms, athletic fields where we learned life’s greatest lessons of perseverance, strength, & hope, of friendship, laughter — that with courage & kindness there is no limit to all we can achieve together.

As we see this year’s graduates — proudly wearing their cap & gowns —
their faces faces beaming with joy at the completion of their academic achievements — of their long-sought-after accomplishments. Whether it’s preschool, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, high school, college, or masters graduation ceremony — graduates & their families, their friends, their colleagues — look back on all that was achieved & ahead with hope for even better things yet to come. The best is yet to come!

Congratulations class of 2015!

The Last Firsts

Today I am sorting through my sweet baby girl’s clothing — the pink, purple, pastel, rose-colored shirts, the butterfly & flowered-covered, polka-dot decorated spring dresses, the sleepers that keep tiny baby feet cozy & warm all through the night. All the 9-month & smaller sizes will be boxed away.image image

This without question has been the fastest year of my life.

Filled with so many milestones to celebrate — these are the “last firsts.”

My daughter’s first breath. Her first smile. Her first belly laugh. Her first foods. Her first words. Her first tooth. Her first-time clapping & waving. Her first-time giving hugs & kisses. Her first-time pulling up to stand. And sooner than I’d like to admit — her first steps. These are the “last firsts.”

She is the fourth & the finale of the family. She makes our family & our lives sweeter. We love her more each day. And we celebrate these milestones as she is growing in love. These are the “last firsts.”

And while my heart is filled with indescribable joy — I find myself ever-so-desperately longing for her to stay little just a bit longer, to grow up just a bit slower, to not be in such a hurry to catch up to those silly & sweet, rough-n-tumble, wildly-affectionate brothers of hers. These are the “last firsts.” I want to celebrate every one of these milestones, to soak up fully every one of these oh-so-fleeting moments.

One of the most beautiful moments after giving birth to each of my four children — was their precious, perfect, tiny fingers wrapping around mine — their little hands instinctively seeking & finding mine — holding onto me with a strength far greater than seemed possible for a baby just minutes new.

In those first moments together as Mama & child — whispering words of affection over them by name, cheek-to-cheek, face-to-face, skin-to-skin for the first-time — there is a depth of love that words fail to express — the heart aches — but with joy, with wonder — at this gift — this new life, this new little love — this little hand in mine. From their first breaths I knew I would love them until my last breath & forevermore.

And yet —

Rushed is my default settingI’m always in a hurry yet always behind. My children have just 2-speeds — full-force, full-speed-ahead & sleeping. Which is why I love my morning coffee & espresso ever-so-much. As a Mama one of my mottos to get through the day is “keep caffeinating.”

I’m always in a hurry yet always behind. Hard-pressed on every side — everything seems urgent. All. The. Time. My ever-pressing, never-ending to-do-list is waiting to greet me as I rise to face another day of the same. Tirelessly working morning to night yet all-too-often feeling I’ve accomplished nothing.

It’s exhausting & fatiguing feeling like I have everything to prove yet nothing to show for these admittedly long days as a Mama “in-the-trenches” — unless this shirt lovingly “decorated” with snot, drool & baby food somehow counts as a medal or trophy. I’d wave a white flag of surrender, but it’s buried beneath the mountain of dirty laundry.

I’m always in a hurry yet always behind. Hard-pressed on every side — everything seems urgent. All. The. Time. Still I know that the day will never “go as planned” — because I’ve already been interrupted 10-times in just as many minutes — and there are schedules, routines, appointments, responsibilities.

I’m always in a hurry yet always behind. So I race through the day, drinking my repeatedly reheated coffee telling myself, “Hurry up, get it done, finish the job, there’s so much left to do, hurry up!”

I’m always in a hurry yet always behind.
My admittedly long days as a Mama “in-the-trenches” are filled with managing the messes & mischief of my little loves. My admittedly restless nights are filled with racing thoughts & questions — Because even at the end of the day that ever-pressing, never-ending to-do-list — is a constant reminder of all I have yet failed to do.

Truthfully — more days than I like to admit I feel discouraged, disheartened, defeated — like I’m fighting a loosing battle with only small moments of victory along the way — yet no end in sight.

I’m always in a hurry yet always behind. This tyranny of the urgent. Living this way. A rushed, hurried life. Where the assessment of the day is weighed & measured by the number of items crossed off the to-do-list. Where value & worth is determined by great productivity not great love. It is tragic, life wasted.

When my anxious, hurried, worried heart becomes increasingly preoccupied with chasing after that oh-so-fleeting moment of satisfaction — with triumphantly crossing just one item off that aforementioned ever-pressing, never-ending to-do-list — I increasingly fail at loving my children with love that is patient, love that is kind, love that is not easily angered, love that does not keep a record of wrongs. And I fail to slow down to really see, to fully celebrate these “last firsts.”

So this is my commitment, my creed, for I don’t want to miss these “last firsts.”

— I will not hurry through my life & not slowing down enough to live it!

— I will take my children’s hands in mine as often as they still reach for mine & walk with them — step-by-step.

— I will refuse to incessantly, repeatedly demand myself to “hurry up!”

— I will refuse to become preoccupied with life’s demands. I will instead choose to rest & rejoice in a fully present life — by becoming preoccupied with love!

I will choose to invest not in great productivity but in great love! For to live fully is to love deeply!

— I will embrace the gift of these admittedly very long days when hugs & kisses can heal every one of my children’s boo-boos — when holding their Mama’s hand calms all their fears — for the day is coming, quicker than we like to admit — when they won’t reach for our hands anymore. All-too-soon their childhood days will fade into well-loved, often retold stories of our love & laughter together.

— I will memorize these days, memorize these moments in my heart. I will memorize these “last firsts.”

My friend, I’m inviting you to join me!

Strength In The Waiting

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“All we can do is wait.”

I remember those words as if they were spoken yesterday. He continued to speak kindly, gently, softly as though that it would somehow silence the fear & worry so quickly consuming my thoughts & overwhelming my heart.

Alone in the doctor’s office after reviewing a routinely-scheduled ultrasound.

“Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is rare — effecting a mere 15% of all identical-twin-pregnancies. There is a 60% chance you’ll loose one or both of the twins. We will monitor your pregnancy carefully to continually assess their growth & development. All we can do is wait.”

Waiting — so much of life is spent waiting.

Waiting. At 39-weeks-pregnant. Waiting with such joy for your baby’s first breath — to hold that child in your arms — her/his tiny, precious, perfect fingers wrapped around yours for the very first-time.

Waiting. 39-years-old & still not pregnant. Waiting with such sorrow — arms empty, heart aching & longing oh-so-desperately for a baby of your own.

Waiting. For that phone call. For those test results. Holding onto hope. Praying for faith greater than your fear.

Waiting. For a job opportunity that will provide for your family’s needs.

Waiting. For a way out of the never-ending, ever-pressing debts you have no way to pay — tirelessly working week-to-week, month-to-month yet hard-pressed just to cover medical bills, groceries, rent, utilities.

Waiting. For your life to resemble anything close to what you expected, what you hoped.

So much of life is spent waiting.
And all-too-often our waiting is spent worrying.

Friends, I confess that there are days I wrestle with doubt & worry in my waiting.

There are days — when I can not see — how God is at work.

There are difficulties, diseases, hardships, heartbreaks, trials, tragedies, long-suffering — when I can not see — how God will work all things together for good — for God to do abundantly, exceedingly, immeasurably more than we ask, think or even imagine.

The root of worrying in the waiting is found in these few words — when I can not see.

When I can not see.

But my friends — THIS is the very definition of faith — faith is the promise of what is hoped for — what is yet unseen —  Faith is trusting when I can not see.

So I have to make a choice. To trust, to rest, yes even to rejoice in God’s faithful promises — for God is faithful to give strength in the waiting —

For the LORD says to me & to you —

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will hold you in my arms” (Isaiah 41:10).

When I can not see — I must trust in the One holding onto me.

When my song is a weary hallelujah — even when my faith falters, when my faith is fading, when there seems to be no joy in the mourning, no strength in the waiting, no hope in my wilderness wanderings, in the drought & in the darkest valleys — even when I raise my clenched-fists toward heaven through tears & lament, “How long, oh LORD?”

When I can not see — I must trust in the One holding onto me.

To come quiet my restless, worrying heart with love —

to strengthen my faith & my song! 

When I can not see — I must trust in the One holding onto me.

Through the years I have learned — through my own journey on the road marked with long-suffering & worrying in the waiting — God is faithful to be present as I wrestle with doubt — God is faithful even when my faith is fading — God is faithful to give strength in the waiting — when I can not see. God has been faithful to meet me. In the mourning, in the waiting, in my wilderness wanderings, in the drought & the darkest valleys, yes even in my laments.

When I can not see — I must trust in the One holding onto me.

And here at the end I return to the beginning. From that moment. From the diagnosis & prognosis for our twins — the sweet boys we already loved so deeply that our hearts physically ached every time we faced the reality that we might loose them — my pregnancy was filled with hope & grief, delight & despair, laughter & tears, faith & doubt — yes worrying while waiting. We chose the names Josiah & Isaiah — both meaning, “The LORD will save.” And today — when I am caught up worrying in the waiting — I trust, rest & rejoice in The LORD’s great gifts, faithful promises — every time I hold those silly & sweet, rough-n-tumble, wildly-affectionate boys of mine in my arms — healthy, strong & 4-years-old.

My heart is reminded of these words I recently wrote to a friend —

So I’m preaching Gospel to myself, and my restless heart is called to rejoice…

“Rejoice always — pray continually — give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I give thanks *not for every circumstance,* but for God’s faithful promise to be with me, before me, behind me, beside me *IN every circumstance*

Because of God’s faithful promise to be with me IN the waiting — I choose not to be found worrying, but worshipping in the waiting! Yes, when I can not see!

When I can not see — I must trust in the One holding onto me.

THIS is how to give thanks in the desert places of wilderness wandering —-> The LORD is faithful to be with me in the wilderness! THIS is how to sing praises when faith is fading —-> The LORD is my strength & my song! THIS is how not to be found worrying but worshipping in the waiting —-> because God is faithful to give strength in the waiting — when I can not see! So I will choose to sing “even so it is well with my soul!” The LORD has filled my heart with laughter & songs of praise!

When I can not see — I must trust in the One holding onto me.