Category: the root word of relevant

just for a second

It was a beautiful moment, joy mixed with welcome, nostalgia mixed hope, love mixed with… more love.

I held a new life in my arms after a deep anticipation to do that very thing, to look into that tiny face, to behold that new-life smell, to breathe in the promise that a living being, still so pure, holds for us all.

And I almost let it get ruined by my own doubt, my own insecurity, my own need to feel needed.

For reasons that don’t really matter, some time shortly after that moment, I was crying to my husband. “Why am I never quite good enough? Why am I always second choice?”

He did what any good husband does, one who knows his wife better than anyone else, one which buttons are necessary, correct, or ok to push at any given time.

He laughed at me.

He said something like, “You are exactly where you want to be right now. Quit worrying.”

But I didn’t stop worrying.

~

Yesterday I sat in a Bible study based on the book The Search for Significance. I admit, when I first started reading the book, I was rolling my eyes a little, thinking, “I am already past this.” I worked through a lot of self-worth kind of junk in my early twenties, and then early in my marriage, and then again a few years ago. How many times do we need to rehash the same challenge? How much do you have to work through until it is finished?

My answer came when our Bible study leader asked us each a question based on being a perfectionist~

Does it keep you from trying or does it cause you to try harder?

I wasn’t sure how to answer this until the words began to come out of my mouth. Of course my perfectionism causes me to try. Trying is all I do. Some time in this very space I wrote about kicking down walls and building new ones and the exhaustion of doing that when it isn’t even necessary. Anyone who looks at my life can see that I am always trying to GO BIG OR GO HOME, for better or worse.

But what they don’t always see is how this affects the details of my life… how my attempts to make every detail and occasion and relationship “perfect” can be seemingly thwarted by the smallest words or actions or lack thereof, sending me into a tailspin of doubt, making me question whether my husband really thinks I’m all that, whether my kids will still love me when they don’t need me to pour their milk and turn on their movies, whether the work and passion I put into things the past few years was ever really noticed or if it was actually worth anything, whether it matters to anyone that I moved away, and whether there will ever be anyone here who wants my friendship as much as I want hers.

It sounds ridiculous. I know that. But it is where I’ve trained my mind to go.

Second born, second wife, second choice. I can make it all make sense in my head. I can focus so myopically on what I was not chosen for, when I am not a priority, that I push aside all the instances in which I am first. I am first to my husband, who would pretty much choose to live on a deserted but fully equipped island with me if given his choice (sorry kids :) But more importantly, God does not look at me as a second place at all:

God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! – Romans 8:16, The Message

If the God of the Universe thinks I am all that, what does it matter if I am chosen last for the softball team in fifth grade gym class or any thousand grown-up versions of the same thing?

It shouldn’t. It still does to me, but it shouldn’t. And I am working on that.

If you continue reading on in Romans 8, one of my very favorite passages of the Bible, there are a lot of promised to God’s kids. But there are a lot of responsibilities given to us as well~

We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! – Romans 8:17, The Message

We have to take our licks. We have to lose sometimes. We can’t get everything we want. We cannot achieve perfection. But this promise says we get to go through all of it – good and bad – with God. WITH Him. Just for a second, this second-born-syndrome girl is going to dwell on that. And I’m going to keep praying it gets etched in my heart and mind. I’m nothing but first place to my Father, and neither are you.

a new life Verse

For, oh, 16 years now, “my” verse has been:

“Behold, I will do a new thing. Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19

My youth pastor read this to me when I was 19, almost 20, and floundering in every aspect of my life. For years, it stayed with me…as I discovered newness in myself, the newness of God’s grace, and actual new life. It was a license plate on my car, read at our wedding, a theme for our children’s births, and of course, perfectly fitting for our move to South Carolina.

But last week, quite unexpectedly, a friend gave me a verse that won’t leave my psyche. There is so much good stuff in God’s word, but for some reason, this Word seems not only to fit where I am now but what I want to take forward with me out of this (disastrous? desolate? confusing? all the above and also necessary) season.

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-9

When I spoke to my friend, I was coming toward the end of a low week. I lamented to her in big honesty that one of the things bugging me right now is that I don’t have the capacity to give that I used to have, planned to have, want to have. Another thing is that quite in contrast, people are giving to me. I’m not ungrateful, but I am uncomfortable.

D ministered to me in the way she has…with her personal experience, her knowledge of God’s word, and her deep desire to help families focus on Christ and Biblical principals. She spoke simple truths to me, such as No matter whether your bills are paid because of a paycheck or because of a gift, God is your provider.

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She read to me from 2 Corinthians 9. And I have to reiterate how much verse 9 is stuck on me:
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Whether it is a season of abundance, a season of getting by, a season of lack, may I always, always, always believe that I will have enough for my family and enough to share. The “what” we have enough of might change. It might be resources. It might be space. It might be the bulk beef in the freezer. It might be encouragement. It might be love. But if He is continually giving to our need, it is ours to share.

Dear God, let me receive and share out of my faith in YOUR HAND. Amen.

I’m NOT just saying…

In our little world, our little piece of the big world, our business is enough ‘out there’ that we get feedback on it. Sometimes it’s solicited, sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes, we put ourselves out there, giving opinions, encouragement, admonishment over topics about which we feel passionately.

If I don’t feel passionately about something, I keep my mouth shut. And I have learned, mostly the hard way, that even if I do feel strongly about something, most of the time, I should keep my mouth shut.

I am an arguer. I like to have the last world. And I often feel the need to explain. So it is HARD for me to be silent, especially when someone has the wrong idea, has misinterpreted something, or if I feel their words or actions have offended or hurt my family.

But just because I think I am right does not give me a PURPOSE for my words.

And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. – Matthew 12:36

There were times in my life, not that long ago, when I would purposely ignore this scripture because I wanted to speak my mind. You get what I’m saying? Even though it would bring judgment on me, I choose to set someone straight. What pride! What foolishness!

This struggle is not over for me, but it has gotten easier. Since I like to write, I always have a private outlet for venting my thoughts. I also have a husband and some close friends who are good, discrete listeners. oh yeah…and God never shares what I tell Him in private.

So, I pose this to you: (as I pose to myself throughout each day…)
– just because you have something to say doesn’t mean there is anyone who needs to hear it.
– if anyone wanted your simplified, partially-informed opinion on a difficult or complicated subject, he would ask
-unless you are Mikael Blomkvist saving victims from government corruption, don’t try to fix something that isn’t yours to fix… most things can’t be fixed with words anyway
– if you have to say or type “just sayin'” after something, chances are, you just shouldn’t say it! (on the other hand, if you believe in something strongly enough to say it, then actually just say it, no disclaimer needed…)

I am trying so hard to live my life with intention this year. While I have not made ‘resolutions,’ my personal goal is to be STEADY. I don’t want to flap in the breeze. I don’t want my emotions (which tend to be nearly manic) to sway my faith, my actions, or my decisions. I want to take the wisdom, peace, and discernment that I prayed for and was given the last few years and build upon them to be a stronger person and a more steadfast woman of Christian faith.

So you won’t see me “just sayin.'” And if you do, feel free to call me on it. I’ve said enough idle words to last several lifetimes.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalms 19:14

Stop, drop, and listen

My girls are learning so many amazing things in school. This time last year, I was just beginning to teach letters to Miranda and getting so frustrated. Now, I can spell things out loud to her and she writes them down. KK looks for words based on their beginning sound. And both of them come out with sound bites such as “If there’s a fire, stop, drop, and roll.” I know these are things the typical child learns fairly early in life, but hearing them from my babies makes them seem like amazing skills!

They aren’t the only ones learning lately, though. In this time of stillness and waiting, I’ve been schooled a bit myself. Today, while catching up with some road friends we hadn’t seen since July, I found myself explaining a lesson I hadn’t totally grasped until I said it out loud.

I’m learning to stop my busy-ness for the sake of being busy…

Part of this has been forced on me. This year, I resigned a position as a magazine editor, which took untold hours every month, usually after my kids were in bed at night or in between other things during the day. Because of our move, I no longer have a leadership position such as the one I had in Moms and More, and I haven’t had any positions of service in church. And because I don’t know nearly as many people in town as I am used to knowing, there aren’t a lot of obligations, pleasant or not, to attend to, to fit in. Some days, the combinations of these factors make me feel, not bored like I’d have expected, but lonely, purposeless, or worst of all, useless. And I know that is wrong. I know God loves me not because of what I do, but because of who I am in His eyes. And furthermore, I know this time is a gift from Him. Why should I complain about it? There will be plenty more things to keep me busy in the next season.

I’m learning to drop…the things that are unnecessary

…because for some reason, I’d become convinced that my value as a person is directly related to how many things I had going on. For some reason, in America, many of us have convinced ourselves that if we aren’t hurried, worn out, and running late, we aren’t doing enough. And I have been guilty, The last 5 years at least have been filled with “YES” and “WHAT NEXT?” and as a result, I had become a person who was more forgetful and less thoughtful. Example: I was stressing out, for a moment, over whether to have some sort of kids’ Christmas party this year. Last year, we did a ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ party that was sweet and memorable. A few weeks ago, I read about a ‘North Pole Party’ idea that was absolutely enchanting. And my wheels started to spin. And when I realized it wasn’t a good fit for us this year, my feeling of failure was immediate. But seriously? What part of Advent, of Christ’s birth, of peace on earth, is contingent on throwing a party? On checking off obligatory quantities of gifts? On whether or not we were able to decorate the outside of the house like we wanted to? Seriously, do I have to answer?

This week, when I wasn’t busy being busy for busy’s sake, I was able to bake some goodies…not for everyone, but for my 94 year-old Gramma, who I won’t be seeing for Christmas for the first time in my life, and for one of my best friends, who will be giving birth to her 4th child any day now, 1000 miles away. I was able to interrupt my day to pray for a stranger and share her unspeakable situation with other friends, who joined me in faith for her life. And today, I got to catch up with old friends, new friends, and even merge them together a bit, and I have more satisfaction in that than I do in spinning my wheels to tick off a list.

I’m learning to listen.

This is hard for me, and it’s embarrassing to say. I like to write. I like to think of things to say. And I like to talk. I like to exchange short bursts of anecdotes and ideas and conversations. I like to doodle, take notes, read, and multi-task. I’m not good at just listening, even with my own kids. My eyes, my attention, my thoughts all wander. But I think, maybe, somewhere along the way, my inability to focus has caused some of the problems I encountered. I missed clues to people’s personalities, cues in my own relationships, warning signs and opportunities along the way. So now, when I sit around a table of people, mostly I put my phone away. And mostly, I look them in the eye. And mostly, I am not simply sitting on PAUSE until it is my turn to talk. I am listening, processing, watching.

This Christmas season, I have seen and heard many people I love worry about what will and will not get done. Some of them are laughingly irritated at their checklists. Some of them are sincerely worried about new complications in their lives (love you, Bex!) And some of them are truly stressed about circumstances they feel powerless to change. I wish I could hit their pause buttons for them. I wish I could share the burden. I wish I could help. Because the biggest lesson I’ve learned in this season, Christmas and before, is that every season has a purpose –

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 is a Bible verse that is often quoted, sung, used. Look at it. Rest in it. Know that there are all kinds of seasons meant to be experienced in our lives. Know that God is a resource to guide and help you, and will even put people – divine appointments – in your path to encourage you. And if you find yourself unhappy, or overwhelmed, or confused, ask God to show you your season’s purpose. Knowing it will not change your circumstances, but it will help you to accomplish His will in spite of them.

appointed time.

‎”Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” God to Abraham, Genesis 18:13

I once laughed at God, too. When you’re sitting in front of a reproductive specialist after a month of invasive tests and an exploratory surgery, when you’re in your 20s and have tried unsuccessfully for 2 years to get pregnant, and you’re told It ain’t happening, and your strong, faithful husband still believes you’re going to get pregnant without medical intervention because God wants you to have a baby…

Well, you cry a lot. But you also laugh.

And when, 16 months later, after no medical intervention, you find yourself pregnant, you laugh a lot harder. And you should never doubt again.

(I had so much fun being pregnant…)

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I’m not laughing “this time.” I’m not looking for a miracle, necessarily. I’m just looking for some answers. But it’s not time yet. I’ve had to accept that.

And in that, I’ve had to also accept that this time of waiting and uncertainty is not a punishment. It is a gift. It gives us time. We’ve had time to dream and plan and research. We’ve had time to take a break. We’ve had time to fellowship deeply with each other and the ones who hold up our arms. I’ve, obviously, had much more time to write than I’ve had in years. We’ve had time to spend with God, reading, studying, praising, listening.

Just this morning, I read this quote:

God won’t always make the “way” you expect … but He will always make a way!

I admit, a month ago, everything felt kind of bleak to me. While I accepted the notions of ‘God’s ways’ and ‘appointed time,’ all I could really focus on were the deficits in my life, the unexpected challenges that were so much different than the expected challenges I had actually prepared for!

But this past week, for no dramatic reason, I feel the tide changing. I sense the waves rising again and pushing us forward.

When I was hopelessly trying to conceive a baby, there was a breakthrough moment when the latest in a string of friends (looking at you, Mama of my Godson) told me she was pregnant. Though I’d been happy for all my friends/cousins/random acquaintances as they had babies, in that moment, I was free from my own shortcomings and hurts. The happiness and relief I felt for someone else outweighed my own crap. Turns out, my Randa was born 4 months to the day after my godson… Appointed time?

(me, Miranda, and her godbrother Zach).
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Perhaps in finding acceptance and even joy in this time…this standstill, give up control, there’s-nothing-we-can-do-about it time…I’ve had one of those moments again. It feels like maybe God is finally nodding at me and grinning rather than shaking His head and rolling His eyes. So I’m gonna go ahead and let these waves roll on…and I’m gonna laugh with Him, while I wait for the appointed time of life.