Jesus

You are Shining: Hope in Weakness

I was talking with another mom the other day about how pregnancy has a way of exposing idols that you didn’t even know you had. Idols of the heart in regards to appearance, comfort, expectation, the list goes on and from my understanding it never ends as you enter into the refining realm of childrearing.

This process of refining, in marriage, in friendships, in community, in raising babies is all designed for our good: that our hearts would be stripped of any cruches until our hope is in only Jesus. Peace for my heart and hope for my soul can’t be found in anything apart from him. All of these changes, all of these struggles only make that truth more and more real to my needy heart.

And I am so in need.

This morning I read about how in the beginning Jesus, fully God, was there and all things were made through him. In him was LIFE and this life was LIGHT for us. John writes, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” This text fills me with so much hope. Not only does Jesus breathe hope and light into the darkness and depravity of my soul, saving me from what I deserve but he brings life even into the “little” dark parts of my day-to-day growing.

Hope springs up from seeing that light shines in my life and my own darkness can’t overcome it.
I can’t snuff it out.
Not my selfishness, not my anxiety, not my pride, nothing is so dark that this light keeps from shining the message of LIFE.

Remembering this is such an encouragement when it feels like the growing-pains of refinement are happening in every area of my life right now. I can trust that God will address the darkness (no matter how big or small it seems) with light. He won’t leave me to sort through my sin and the hurt it brings on my own but he’ll lead me; teaching me, growing me and restoring me.

As I write this I’m reminded of how someone once told me, “God isn’t worried about you. He isn’t concerned that you’re not going to make it; that you’re not going to learn.” Isn’t that true? God, Sovereign God, isn’t wringing his hands up in heaven just hoping that someday the scales will fall off my eyes, just waiting to see how everything turns out. No, he sovereignly ordained each and every spot of darkness for our good and his glory.

This I know that God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

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An Eternal Perspective in Birth & Death

[Note: I started writing an introductory paragraph for a post on Spinning Babies & Hypnobabies as I prepare for the birth of our little boy but then I got completely derailed by my own thought processes and taken on a sobering mini-journey reminding me of life, death & HOPE in GOD.] 

I can’t believe that this Sunday will be the start of my 7th month of baby-growing! Wasn’t it just Christmas time when we were sharing the news with our family & friends?

You grow up and people tell you to “enjoy the journey because it’ll go by so fast”. They talk about how you’ll blink and next thing you know your babies are getting married and having their own but that notion, that time would go by so quickly, seems so distant when you’re young with your “whole life ahead of you”. But then we talk about death and the brevity of life, how we’re strangers in this land, sojourners, just like all of the generations before us (1 Chronicles 29:15). Our life is just a shadow, a vapor that disappears as quickly as it came and we’re left cherishing the moments that remain. Because who knows, maybe you’ll die tomorrow. Maybe your whole life isn’t ahead of you.

There’s no guarantee that I’ll live to see my little baby boy grow up, that I’ll celebrate my 40th wedding anniversary or that I’ll even make it to dinner tonight. Every moment that we have really is a gift that God has allowed us to experience. Sure, we hope that our children outlive us and that we’ll die peacefully after 50-something years of marriage, holding the hand of our spouse but that isn’t always the case. Too often people are taken from this earth “too early” and suddenly, leaving us standing there seemingly unprepared and shocked.

But don’t you remember? We’re just sojourners passing through. This life isn’t our home. You dont know what what tomorrow holds. Your life is just a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

So we count the days and plan ahead with hope and surrender. Let this realization cause us not to cling to the things of this life too tightly lest we build up idols that crumble and disappoint. This truth should ignite a child-like trust that is dependent on our Maker for every moment, every need, every next step as we plan and anticipate our days here.

I’ve been reminded of this truth my whole pregnancy as I fight the anxious thoughts of pregnancy complications (my mind runs wild), as we dream as a family and wait for God’s provision and direction in this season. For those that trust in Jesus to pay their debts and cover all of their inadequacies that disqualify them from living eternally, life AND death are beautiful things. We struggle here now for just a little while with heartache and disappointment but we look with hope to enter into our real life in a real city whose builder and maker is God.

So even in the joy of feeling my baby move, seeing prayers answered and planning ahead for a gloriously bright future, I remind my heart that this joy is just a whisper of what’s to come for the people who belong to Jesus when we will live where there is FULLNESS of joy and pleasures forevermore. Imagine that!

Oh, that my joy in this (temporary) season of anticipation and desire for my little baby wouldn’t outweigh my joy in God and my desire for Him alone.

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Sweet Sunday: Our First Morning at CrossView

Yesterday was so sweet.

It was our first Sunday since we moved so we got to be a part of the “Sunday morning routine”. No planes to catch later that day, no worrying about packing, no rushing out of church as soon as it was done, just the sweet Sunday morning.

My brother pastors a church in LA but every time we’ve visited, I fly out on Sunday to be back at work on Monday, so I miss the chance to attend. Usually Eric gets to stay but then that means he’s on the redeye home later that night. I was so excited because this was the first week that we really got to go!

The church family meets in a little room at a local rec center. The sound of God’s people singing gladly fills the room and echoes out into neighborhood. That moment was beautiful enough to leave you breathless. My heart was so full and thankful to finally be in a local church that I knew we would be calling home.

Joining Bethlehem Baptist during the transition of newlywed, post-graduation, pre-move life made it difficult to feel like I could really settle into my own niche in the church. I ached for intimate community, small group and serving in our community but the combination of our hectic work schedules, trying to find (never found) our own routine and knowing that we would soon be leaving made it hard to put down roots and be a part of our local church like I desired. Like I needed.

Sunday morning was just like a breath of fresh air! My heart was filled with hope as I imagined what the Lord would do with us there, now and Lord willing, in the years to come. It’s exciting to be a part of the “small beginnings” and to not just meet on Sunday but to “do life” with people who treasure truth, are purposeful about loving each other and growing together.

I so value all that I’m learning about biblical church membership and what that looks like as we start the process of becoming members. I’m challenged by the level of accountability, transparency and faithfulness that we’re called to as we pray for and build up each other in the faith.

What a sweet Sunday it was! I am so thankful to the Lord for supplying all of my heart’s needs and filling me with HOPE.

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Christmas 2012

Christmas didn’t really feel like “Christmas” this year.

We celebrated the gift of Jesus humbling himself, coming to earth as a real baby, living a real life and dying so that we could truly live.

For some people, the greatest joy they’ll ever know will be what they experience here on Earth in this life.

This is it.
This is as good as it gets…

For those of us who hope in what we haven’t (yet) seen our joy we experience is just a glimpse of what’s to come.
The best day, the happiest moment, the greatest joy you’ll ever experience here on Earth in this life is just the beginning.

We were mindful of that this Christmas.
In the tension of joy and grief through suffering, the eternal perspective was the glimmer of hope in the dark season. It wasn’t unlike the star, in a giant, dark galaxy, shining over a manger holding newly birthed hope.

As far as the traditional Christmas celebrations go, everything seemed to just be off. It could’ve been because it was our first Christmas (Eric’s first Christmas away from home and without Danika) or it could’ve been because it was my first “Holiday” managing a store (and consequently not decorating my home) but I think it was mostly a combination of returning from California and realizing, in a storm of our retail jobs, that Christmas was just around the corner.

I did almost all of my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve and came home to make (my tradition) Christmas Eve Fettuccine.

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We opened presents in the morning and spent the day at my parents’ house with my best friend, Tara.

It was quite the season this year. Very eventful but in all things we’ve seen God’s grace on our lives and the way he’s growing us.