Thanksgiving Eve

When you have two little kids, ages 3 and almost 1 year, packing can take a long time. As in, I’ve spent the last 3 days working on it. We’re headed to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving weekend tomorrow.

When I was a kid, I always felt like the holiday season lasted so long, taking up a third of the year. In reality, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, it all lasts about a month and a half. It’s a whirlwind of shopping, wrapping gifts, preparing food, visiting family, and if you’re traveling…packing.

As we enter the 2015 holiday season, it (like each holiday season) means a lot of things to me…

It’s a time to enjoy special food when maybe the whole year has been a rush of bolting a meal and moving to the next task. It’s a time to recall the best memories of the year. It’s a time to share photos and savor the best parts of the year. It’s a time to reflect. It’s a time to let go of the hurts, betrayals and disappointments of the year. It’s a time to give thanks. It’s a time to celebrate friends and family. And best of all, it’s a time to thank God from the bottom of my heart that this life isn’t it. It’s not the end. It’s just a glimmer of eternity.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Fruit in Season

I don’t know about you, but one of my great joys as an adult is to enjoy fruit and vegetables that are in season. Juicy red watermelon and bright berries for the summer. Creamy squash and crisp apples for the fall. Bright red pomegranates and oranges for the winter. Crunchy carrots and tender strawberries in the spring. Oh yes, these are a few of my favorite things.

Some seasonal pumpkins. Oh, and my girls.

Some seasonal pumpkins. Oh, and my girls.

The Bible talks a lot about how if we are rooted in Christ, we will bear good fruit. I read this verse in Psalms today.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” -Psalm 1:3

 

This verse struck me a little differently today. Not just fruit, but fruit “in its season.” I think there has been a general shift in our culture that emphasizes a very full, busy life. Applied to Christians, there is a lot of pressure to be constantly being productive in Christ’s name–productiveness measured by how many people we invited to church, how many we witnessed to, how many people we served, etc.

We don’t call an apple tree a failure just because it doesn’t produce fruit all year. Now if it never produced fruit, that would be a different story.

Taking a look at the life of Jesus, it’s interesting to note that He didn’t start His ministry until He was 30 years old, and even then it only lasted 3 1/2 years. One might say that wasn’t a very productive use of his life–I mean seriously, what was He doing throughout his 20s??

Jesus bore fruit in season. His “season” was his 3 1/2 year ministry before He was crucified. I think we can take comfort in that rather than worrying that we aren’t doing enough for Jesus.  So if you’re feeling a little dry or perhaps even useless, wondering if you should jump into a different ministry or why your current efforts with a friend don’t seem to be productive, perhaps it just isn’t your season right now. His Spirit provides the opportunities and the seasons, and as long as we remain deeply rooted in Christ’s love, we will bear fruit when the time is right.

Special Protection

As a new mom, I’ve found it hard to write any blog posts that aren’t just pictures. It’s not that I don’t have a ton of thoughts running through my mind, it’s more that I’ve been too angry/hurt/confused to share them. The birth of my daughter was a very traumatic event for me. A stalled out labor led to a homebirth transferring to the hospital and ended in a c-section.

Since Abrielle’s arrival about 10 weeks ago, I’ve experienced a kaleidoscope of emotions which I finally realized has been a process of grieving. I am so thrilled to have a healthy daughter, but was so incredibly disappointed with my birth experience. I have felt robbed, betrayed, hurt, angry, and guilty. You name it.

I find myself feeling angry with God. A c-section has always been my worst fear. I have wondered why God didn’t shield me from it. Why didn’t He protect me from a really awful chain of events? In my heart, I want to find someone to blame. Was it my fault? Was it human error? Was it God’s fault? Am I being punished? I hear a scream in my head asking God, “How was this ‘your best for me’ ??!!” I question the verse in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Yesterday I realized something. I am not omnipotent. Big shocker, I know. I am imagining that I know how things would have gone if just a couple things in early labor had been different. I am imagining that God has harmed me, that the incredibly painful back labor and the c-section were some kind of punishment inflicted on me.

I realized yesterday that the chain of events was divinely orchestrated and may very well have been God’s special protection for me and Abrielle.  I want to blame Him for what I consider a very negative experience, but perhaps this was His special protection to save mine and Abrielle’s life. I can’t know and will never know in this life.

Romans 9:20, “ No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?’ “

Changing Lives

Today I wrote the last letter to my Compassion “child.” I have sponsored Kidist through Compassion International for the last seven years, and she graduated the program recently.

While writing this last letter, I found myself reflecting on what life has passed since I first signed on to sponsor Kidist. Seven years ago, I had just started college and planned on going to law school. In the seven years that have transpired, I switched majors, finished college, got married, moved to another state, and now I’m about to have a baby. That’s the short version.

My Compassion “child” was just a few years younger than me when I first started getting to know her. Her letters and pictures gave me a brief glimpse into another world, her world in Ethiopia. I can only try to imagine the trepidation she must be feeling as she sets off to go to college. Her world has been full of what must seem like insurmountable obstacles. I pray that she never loses hope.

In about two months, I will be embarking on the journey of motherhood. I am both excited and terrified. There will be both unimaginable joy and wrenching heartache. To think I can have one without the other would be naïve. I need for myself the same things I pray for Kidist—courage and perseverance. Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Losing Control

I really like being in control of my life. Or at least, thinking that I’m in control of my life. I make schedules. I make lists. I keep a very good calendar. I dejunk frequently. The illusion of control was a lot easier to maintain before I got pregnant. We were living on two incomes, and I knew I could always put in a few more hours if I wanted. Although I had frequent migraines, they could be managed (to some degree) with medication.

Being pregnant has definitely been one of the more humbling experiences in my life. I have always prided myself on not being a picky eater, yet suddenly I find myself with a plethora of food aversions. Italian food: out. Alfredo sauce: out. Greasy food: out. I don’t have control over what I could eat on any given day, or what might cause me to throw up. On top of food aversions, I’ve lost control of my ability to push through exhaustion and do all my house cleaning in one day. I am lucky to get the dishes washed on a daily basis.

Those things aside, pregnancy has made me realize how dependent I am. Fairly early on, I had to cut back my hours at work. I cannot financially take care of myself without my wonderful husband working so hard to pay all our bills. It’s scary to not even feel like I have good earning ability. My hours at work continue to dwindle as my pregnancy progresses. And then—I am carrying a little person, a little girl, who for the time being is safe inside me. But come July, she will enter the world, and I will only be able to control so many factors in her life. I will be dependent on the fact that God loves her even more than I do.

Who knows what this little girl will bring? It’s out of my control. Will she have ADHD or ADD? Will she have food allergies? Will she be an easy child or need extra care and attention? My fear of giving up control (because I obviously had control to begin with….right??) has caused me to emotionally pull away from God. A part of me is holding back. Can I trust you with my child, God? What a silly question! The real question is: can God trust me with His child?

Our pastor is preaching a timely sermon series called “Marriage and Children and Debts-O MY!” One of the first “lessons for parents” he preached about was this: Our children are not our property, they are our primary ministry privilege. God has given me the privilege of being Abrielle’s mother for however many years He has allocated to her and me. I may be her biological mother, but first and foremost, she is God’s child.