Tag Archives: Patience

The Christmas Wait

tykf4

I’m very excited about Christmas this year. Unnaturally excited. Weirdly excited. I’m not even sure why. Typically, I give the Grinch a run for his money. This year, I was the annoying girl who was humming Christmas carols half-way through November.

As I’ve written before, 2016 has been a disappointing year. Furthermore, I spent all of October and November working weekends (as in 12hrs a day) and I missed my sweet hubby even more than I expected to. So, the approach of year’s end and some much needed hubby-time had me tapping my foot impatiently at November, telling it to get a move on.

But impatient foot-tapping isn’t new for me; it’s sorta my M.O. I’m like a Geico commercial: “If you’re Leah Ness, you wait impatiently. It’s what you do.”

So here’s the really weird thing: I’m super excited for Christmas, but I don’t really want it to get here. Not just yet. My sweet hubby is so eager to give me my presents that he bemoans the distance between now and the 25th on a daily basis. Me? I’m reveling in the anticipation.

How I wish that could be the case in other areas of my life.

I’ve been waiting for motherhood for about 14yrs now. It was all I really wanted to do with my life, the end goal of all my decisions since the age of about 16. After 2yrs of infertility and a failed foster application, I’ve had it up to here with waiting.

And I have to wonder, what would it be like if I could have the certainty that my dreams were safe? Christmas morning will be here before I know it, I have experience in that. Whether I wait patiently or impatiently, the 25th will get here all on its own. I really don’t have to worry or rush it.

If only I had that same assurance with the desires of my heart.

If only I had as much faith in Christ coming through as I do in Christmas.  

I don’t know what God’s plans for me are. He could have a baby in mind for us. Hey, He might even be planning twins (*hint, hint Lord*). But even if His plans for me do not include ever hearing a little one call me mommy, I know those plans are still good.

I serve a great, kind, faithful God. His plans for me – His thoughts on me – are far greater and more beautiful than I could ever imagine. And far more important than I may ever understand here on earth. And I can trust Him that they are good. I can trust Him to be good.

With that truth in mind, I should be able to sit back, relax, and revel in the anticipation. The operative word being ‘should.’

I wonder what my life would look like if every morning, instead of checking the calendar to see how long I’ve waiting and wonder how much time is still left, I just trusted God to get me where I’m going when I’m ready to be there.

What would my days look like if I trusted the Lord so much that I wasn’t in a hurry for my dreams to come true?

How would my relationship with my Father change if I enjoyed the act of walking with Him more than the idea of getting to my destination as soon as possible?

What if I slowed down and took every day as the blessing it is and just enjoyed His presence, safe in the knowledge that wherever we’re going, He’ll be with me?

His presence is the real prize. And in the end, I get heaven.

I know Christmas will be wonderful because I know that my husband loves me and that I get to spend the day with him. And I know that the gifts he’s gotten me will be wonderful because he loves me and cares about me and knows me better than anyone. He’s chosen my gifts with care and is eager for me to enjoy them. So I’m going to rest in the expectation of Dec. 25th.

I know heaven will be wonderful because I know that my Jesus loves me and that I get to spend eternity with Him. And I know that the gifts He’s planning for me will be wonderful because He loves me and cares about me and knows me better than I know myself. He’s planned my future with care and is eager for me to enjoy it. So I’m going to rest in the expectation of eternity.


The Other Side of the Wait

04-18-11_light_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel

I had to wait twenty-four years for my first boyfriend, my first kiss, and my first romantic ‘I love you.’ But on the other side of that wait, God had prepared a man who was exceedingly abundantly above all I could ask or think. One of the many, many ways my Hubby blows me away is by writing me a poem every month on the 30th, in honor of our first date, 6/30/12. This is the one he wrote me at the end of last month:

We’ve been through fire, you and I,

And our love still remains;

We grow closer when we’re tried,

Love coursing through our veins.

We’ve had a famine, you and I,

Yet our faith grows stronger;

Lack shows us that we can get by,

Waiting just a little longer.

We’ve been waiting, you and I,

For purpose and guidance;

Heaving many heavy sighs

As we prayed for subsidence.

He’s been there with you and I,

Each day seeing us through;

I’m thankful for lessons applied,

But e’er more grateful for you.

Hubby wrote this on the other side of another wait; after a nearly five month long job search, he starts his new job on Monday.

Once again, I’m left awestruck in the face of God’s unfathomable grace and faithfulness!


When Everything Goes Wrong for the Right Reasons: Part 2

Favim.com-4319

(Originally published 8/22/13)

Here is another interesting take on hard times; it could be that the trials and tribulations in your life are actually answers to prayers.

I was driving to work not too long ago, mulling over how difficult life was and questioning God. ‘Lord, if I’m really walking according to Your will, then why are You making things so difficult for me?’ His answer, ‘Because you asked Me to strengthen your faith.’

It was a very big ‘duh’ moment for me, let me tell you. I have this tendency to think that since things like patience, faith, and character are good things to have, God will be so thrilled I asked that He will just wave a magic wand and zap me with supernatural doses of each. But while God has already given me everything I need to live a Godly life, I still need to practice using these gifts before I become proficient.

The tools God equips us with are like any other tools. The laptop I’m typing on right now is incredibly powerful and it came fully equipped with all the latest technology. But that doesn’t mean I was able to sit down and instantly be able to type 100 words a minute. I have the capacity to do so, as does my computer, but first I have to master the skill. Trusting God and waiting on Him works the same way. We need to exercise our faith muscles and practice the skills necessary to trust Him fully.

This is why patience and grace for ourselves is so crucial. It’s not an overnight fix. A close and intimate walk with God takes work and perseverance, especially when it’s hard and we don’t want to. As my dear husband says, “You can only build character when you don’t want to.”

Furthermore, we do not know God’s plan for us. I frequently watch two little boys and sometimes they are convinced that I am out to make their lives miserable. But the truth of the matter is that I love them and I know that candy at 7am in not healthy for them, so I say no. They may think I’m trying to punish them by not taking them to the park, but in fact their dad is coming over to surprise them and if we leave the house we’ll miss him. I also cruelly take away the scissors when they start running with them. I know a lot of things the 4yr old and the 2yr old don’t, therefore I’m far more capable of making the best choices for them. God knows even more than I do, hard as that may be for me to believe sometimes. He is all knowing and all powerful and everything is happening according to His good pleasure.

I might get upset that He is taking things away or withholding things from me, but really, He knows what He’s doing and He’s doing it because He loves me. Laura Story sings a beautiful song about this called ‘Blessings‘ and if you have a few minutes I highly recommend it.

All this to say, if you are going through a storm in your life, hang in there. The bad things that are happening in your life could be very good signs. It’s not the end of the world – however much to may feel like it – because God is on the throne and He does hold your life in His hands. He is molding you to be more like Him and He is fully planning on giving your beauty from ashes. He DOES have a wonderful plan for your life (Jer. 29:11) and He IS preparing a place for you (John 14:3). Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Cor. 16: 13-14


Thoughts on Raising Kids from Someone who has no Kids

Motherhood-image

(Originally published 8/15/13)

This post is a bit different from what I usually write. I love kids and though I don’t have my own (yet), I’ve worked in childcare in some capacity or other for the last thirteen years. I recently finished reading a book on Irena Sendler and it gave me a thought I wanted to share.

For those of you who have never heard of her, she was a social worker in Warsaw during World War 2. She, together with a network of helpers, rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto and many adults as well. She and her associates smuggled these children out in countless different and ingenious ways, at great personal risk and sacrifice to themselves.

Irena herself was arrested at one point and spent 100 days in a Nazi prison, suffering through brutal interrogations, inhuman living conditions, and constant death threats. She was scheduled to be executed but was released by a guard who had been bribed by Irena’s friends. She was officially reported dead and had to go into hiding. Even then she continued her work.

By the end of the war she had suffered through and born witness to a level of inhumanity that most of us can hardly fathom. Still she did not stop helping. She worked tirelessly to rebuild Warsaw and reestablish the community. And she remained a staunch supporter of Jewish rights, even to the detriment of her health and home life.

With all that, the most memorable quote in the book for me actually came from Ms. Sendler’s father.

In the chapter chronicling her childhood, we learn that her father was a doctor who treated the poor, often receiving no pay and sometimes even giving his patients money for medication. He caught typhus and died after treating people during an epidemic that no other doctors would go near.  Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

“I was a very pampered child. When they visited us and saw just how extraordinarily mollycoddled I was, both my aunts, who were teachers, would say to my father: ‘What are you doing, Stanislaw? What will become of this child?’ My father would then answer: ‘We cannot know what life holds in store for my daughter. She may not have fonder memories than when she was mollycoddled.’ As I often remember how difficult my life has been, I also reflect on how prophetic those words were”

– ‘Irena Sendler: Mother of the Children of the Holocaust,’ by Anna Mieszkowska

Three times a week, I watch two little boys, ages two and four, and I don’t think I could love them much more if they were my own children. I love spending time with them for a number of reasons, not least of which is seeing all the spiritual metaphors between earthly children and spiritual children of God. Both sets of kids make so many of the same mistakes. I believe children need discipline and structure and this belief hasn’t changed. But more and more often, as I try to help these two little guys navigate the turbulent seas of toddler-hood and preschool, I feel God tug at my heart to show grace. This quote has come to mind several times already and melted my heart, filling me with compassion for the sweet little miscreants.

More than anything, I’ve come to realize just how much power we have over the situations in children’s lives and how much responsibility we carry for making them feel safe and loved. We are truly molding them as we contribute to their personalities, habits, beliefs, and memories. I see the importance of discipline and rules on a daily basis, but I also see the importance of loving them as Jesus loves us. What I mean by this is not growing frustrated with them, having a God-given endless supply of patience, praying over them, and most of all, making them feel as loved and secure as we possibly can. Since our heavenly Father’s most shining examples to us are love and grace, shouldn’t that be what we strive to show children above all else?

So I would just like to encourage all of you to give the special little one(s) in your life a hug, because you never know how much it will mean to them later.


Progress Report

download

(Originally published 8/14/13)

As I wrote in my last post, we all need to work on the plank in our own eye. Two of the best ways to do that are through reading the Bible and praying.

Once God is seated on the throne of our hearts, change will manifest itself in the three areas of our life where we sin: our thoughts, our words, and our actions.

Like a river flows from a lake, our words and actions will flow from our thought life. Since so many people only consider sin to be something in the physical realm, they often don’t realize how much we can sin in our minds. But there are many sins that start up in the brain: fear, doubt, worry, lust, envy, malice, discontent, anger, hatred, self-pity, idolatry, pride, and so many others. We need to hold every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5b) and we need to dwell on good things (Phil 4:8).

Reining in our thought lives takes a lot of practice. It can be infuriatingly easy to fall back into bad thought patterns. One that really gets me is worry. When I start to get worried about something, fearful thoughts take over and it’s like I’m on a swirly waterslide, caught in a downward spiral I feel powerless to stop.

That’s when all that time in the Word starts to pay off. Verses like 1 Pet. 5:7 or Phil. 4:4 pop into my mind and I can use them like a sword to beat the sinful thoughts back. I also need prayer because if I’m caught deeply enough in sinful thoughts the only way to even get to the Bible verses is to pray, repent, and ask God for help. Controlling our thought lives is an ongoing process that takes daily dedication.

After we have our thought lives in check, we need to start loving on others by speaking love into their lives (1 Thess. 5:11, Eph. 4:15, James 1:19-20) and we need to keep a tight hold on our tongue (James 1:26, 3:5-6, 9-12). Or, in this day and age, our keyboards. Written words can be every bit as powerful as spoken ones. Sometimes we underestimate the power of our words, but the Bible says in Prov. 18:21 that the tongue has the power of life or death. Your words, to yourself or others, can have great affect, so choose the right ones.

Once our thoughts and words are honoring to God, our actions will be much easier to manage. A pastor once said, “What you do is what you believe, the rest is just talk.” You’re actions will flow from your heart, and if your heart is right with God, your actions will reflect that and be honoring to God.

One of the best ways to tell if positive change is happening in your life it to check yourself against Gal. 5:22-23. If you are starting to show more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in your life then you are most certainly on the right track.

Keep fighting the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith! (2 Tim. 4:7)


Getting Used to Disappointment

Sunrise

 Every since I was a child, I’ve had an unnatural aversion to disappointment. I’ve never handled it very well. Not just my own disappointment, but other peoples’ as well.

I remember reading a story in school about literacy in which one of the characters is disappointed by something. This incident was far from being the crux of the story, but to this day I can’t think about it without feeling near physical sympathy pains.

Well, earlier this week, my husband and I were disappointed. Two very promising job leads failed to yield call backs, even with my husband nailing his interview. I knew when the opportunities first arose that it was either the light at the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train. It turned out to be the later and I didn’t take it too well.

In the midst of my ensuing hissy-fit, I learned a few things about myself. First, I learned that I was angry with God. I moved to Houston, leaving many of my most valuable relationships behind, with the understanding that I would receive compensation. So far, my sacrifice looks like a needless waste.  

But God is God, and He can do whatever He wants with my life. I’m called to obedience, not for my glorification, but for His. Obedience is in itself the reward. So I have no right whatsoever to hold a grudge against God or behave like He’s holding out on me.

So I repented of those grudges and discussed it with God during my prayer walk the next morning. It was then that He corrected me further. Up until now, I’ve been praying and seeking to be drawn closer to Him and to better imitate Him. But my motivation is all wrong. I’ve been looking at this season of my life as a time where God wants to grow me and teach me. But since it’s not the season I want to be in, I’ve been rushing through the lessons not to learn them but merely to graduate from them.

I’ve been striving for stronger faith so that I can move on to a place where I don’t need to trust Him.

I’ve been trying to learn patience so that I don’t have to wait anymore.

I’ve been drawing nearer to God not to be near Him but because I want the blessings I think are coming if I do.

I was forced to ask myself the question, if all I got out of my ‘sacrifice’ was a strengthened relationship with the Lord, would I consider it well worth it?

Even as I was repenting for the honest fact that I would not, in the back of my head I was thinking, “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is the lesson He wants me to learn that will unlock the blessings.” Oh boy, I’ve got a ways to go.

But what does any of this have to do with disappointment?

For me, disappointment stirs up a bevy of strong emotions. Because those emotions come straight from my heart, they give me a unique look at where my heart is. It’s an attitude check.

If I hadn’t experienced that disappointment, I wouldn’t have realized how far off the mark I’ve strayed.

Disappointment is my strongest indicator, but for you it might be a different trigger. Maybe it’s what makes you angry, or lonely, or even happy. Emotions are incredibly useful instruments for telling our heads what our hearts want. They give us attitude checks that allow us to catch a glimpse of where we are with the Lord.

If I had been seeking Him first, and just for the sake of my love for Him, I wouldn’t have been concerned about how the interview came out. If I hadn’t been harboring grudges against Him, I would have been much better able to trust Him with the outcome.

I still don’t like disappointment and probably never will. But from now on, I’m going to view it as a tool and use it to check that my heart is right before the Lord.


God Answered the Wrong Prayer

walking-on-water

Here we are, several weeks into our new life and I can honestly say that Houston is an answer to prayer… just not the prayer I wanted.

Back when the move was looming in the future, I started to feel nervous about it and began praying for stronger faith.

And since the job search had yet to yield fruit, I began to pray for patience as well.

It was around this time that I hear the song Oceans in Church and thought about how beautiful the lyrics were: “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me.”

That sounded awesome to me. Where my trust is without borders. That line quickly became the cry of my heart. Well, a cry of my heart.

But deep down, I was still that child sitting on the beach, absorbed with building sandcastles. I let my dreams run away with me and I prayed desperately for them to be fulfilled. And, meanwhile, I prayed for some faith and patience too.

But I can’t grow in my walk with the Lord of I’m too busy playing in the sand because that’s the thing about sand, it gets everywhere. It distracts. And it doesn’t fulfill.

I want to seek God. I want to grow closer to Him. I want to walk out on the water to Him. And I prayed for that.

So as the story goes, I got to Houston and I didn’t like it. I became homesick and disillusioned and disappointed. Nothing was working out the way we’d hoped it would, and I wanted to know why.

So I asked God, “What are You doing?” And He told me, “I’m giving you what you wanted.”

It was then that I realized that God had answered my prayer to let me walk upon the waters. He’s answering my prayers to grow my faith and to learn patience by giving me opportunities to trust Him and wait on Him.

I’ve been so worried that I missed something, that I strayed outside of His will because nothing seemed to be going right. And now I realize that this is just what it’s like to walk on water. It’s scary, and uncomfortable. And it’s very difficult to build sandcastles out here on the waves.

But it’s also exhilarating, and freeing, and intimate. Because as soon as I realized I was out on the water, I realized that Jesus was right next to me, holding my hand. And, like Peter, I’ll only sink if I take my eyes off Him.

It is so encouraging to realize that God loves me too much to only answer little prayers. It’s a privilege to think that God has called me, of all people, to walk with Him on the waves. What an honor that my faith, small and weak as it is, moved the heart of the Creator of the universe such that He would answer my prayer to draw nearer to Him, knowing full well that I would complain about this great gift as soon as He gave it to me. How great is that grace!

I am so grateful that God loves me enough to answer the prayers I need Him to, instead of the prayers I want Him to. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to walk with my Savior.

 


%d bloggers like this: