Saturday, December 31, 2011

With Love

With a warm cup of coffee in my hand, I glanced at our December calendar and took a deep breath. Then, I decided that today was going to require something more than caffeine. This evening, alone, I have to be in three places nearly all at once. It seems that most days this time of year look the same.


"How did I let it get away from me again?" I think to myself.

Don't get me wrong. It's all good stuff. Still, every year, in the midst of the Christmas crazies, I begin to feel a bit unraveled. And every year, right about now, I begin to reassess how Christmas is going to look for our family. Clearly, I can't do it all. And, if I choose to chase after the insignificant this Christmas season, I will miss the most important thing of all...Christ, himself.

So I am taking a close look at our family calendar and I am desperately trying to scale back our "have to's" in order that we might spend more time celebrating our Savior. The world is fighting back. Hard. Commercials, marketing gifts I can't afford, bombard me and my children throughout the afternoon. Images of the "perfect" Christmas mock me as holiday movies replay on my television. And then there is the decorating. So. Much. Decorating. Still, I am holding my ground. I simply refuse to let Christ be lost in the middle of the chaos.

Over the years, I have placed some simple anchors in place to keep our family grounded in the real reason for the season. Our Nativity, a treasure from my childhood, sits in its usual place in the hallway, so that it might greet us as we walk through the door. Each evening, our family gathers together, if only for a few moments, and we read a Christmas devotional and countdown to the "big day". And every Sunday, we sit at our dining table and light a candle on our family Advent wreath. Still, I long for more. This time of year, my heart desires to look upon Christ and worship him for all that he is and all that he has done.

When I read the Christmas story quietly and simply ponder the beauty of that silent night over 2,000 years ago, I am reminded that Christmas is about just one thing. Big love. Jesus humbly left his throne in Heaven. He came as a baby and was born of a teenage Virgin. Christ, fully man yet also divine, led a sinless life and then offered that life as a sacrifice for me. He took my sin and my place on a Cross, so that I might be reconciled to God. By his sacrifice alone, I have eternal life in the presence of the LORD. It's a free gift from my Savior to me. And he did all of this for love.

So, this Christmas, I will follow the example of my Savior. In the middle of the busyness, I choose to "do everything in love". (1 Corinthians 16:14) As I hustle through the obligations that will not go away, I will take my Jesus with me. This Christmas season, in all I do, with everyone I meet, I choose to show the love of Christ. And while I hope to conquer the items on my "to do" list, I aspire to greater things as well. There is still time to trim the list and make a little more room for my Savior. After all, it is HIS birthday for which we are preparing.

Perhaps, you have a calendar that looks like mine. Maybe you have a list in your head of what you feel "must" be done to make this a "merry Christmas". This year, I challenge you to prayerfully sift through the distractions. You can't do it all. The best part is, you don't have to. This is one Christmas party where you are free to just come and be. For, Christ has already prepared everything that really matters. And he did it, for you, with love.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wait For It

One of my favorite characters is from a television show called "How I Met Your Mother". The character is a smarmy guy named Barney Stinson and his favorite one liner is "Wait for it..." Those words are especially relevant to me today.

Just when I thought the paperwork phase of our adoption was behind us, we had a few minor setbacks this week. First, we learned that our biological children will require a tuberculosis screening before we can schedule our home study. Dutifully, I contacted our family doctor and scheduled the tests for early next week.

Then, I learned today that I have to fill out an extensive health history form on...wait for it...each child. Browsing through the details required on these forms, I took a deep breath and felt like I was going to cry. It seems that so much about adoption is "hurry up and wait". I have never been good at waiting. Not for my birthday. Not for Christmas Eve. And not for our baby. Now, our home study which was tentatively scheduled for next week will have to be delayed. "It's God's timing," I whisper to myself, though I felt like screaming.

An hour or so later, Jack walked through the door and heaved a heavy sigh. He had been waiting all day to learn his part in the UIL spring play at his middle school. Earlier in the week, he had finished two auditions for one of the lead roles. The results were suppose to be posted right after school. To his dismay, a delay has caused him to wait for two more weeks.

As I listened to him share his disappointment and sensed his frustration, I searched for words of encouragement. "Jack, waiting is hard," I said gently. "Whether you are waiting for your birthday, for Christmas, or for a baby...waiting stinks! Still, sometimes, we are called to wait. Never forget, son, that God has already placed you in the part that will bring him glory. Waiting won't change that." Suddenly, I felt as though I was talking to myself.

The hard truth is, sometimes we must wait. And it's hard. However, during a season of waiting, it is important that we remember that God is still in control. Even in our waiting.

For, "those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

His timing is perfect and "he has made everything beautiful in his time".(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

So, "wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD" (Psalm 27:14)

Long ago, the world, covered in darkness, was waiting for a Savior. We are told that "when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman." (Galatians 4:4) Jesus Christ was born in order to fulfill God's plan of salvation. It was true then. And it is true today. In His time, the LORD will see his plans through to their completion.

Perhaps you are like me and my son. Maybe you have a need or a desire in your heart that simply cannot arrive fast enough. Remember to fix your eyes on Heaven and know you are not forgotten. Remain patient, steadfast, and strong. Sometimes we must wait for it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hide And Seek

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite games was "hide and seek". The best games happened on warm summer evenings in my grandpa's backyard. For hours, my brother, my cousins, and I searched for covert hiding places as we tried to avoid being found by whomever was "it". Patiently, we waited for the best moment to run "home" and be "safe". It was big fun!

Sometimes, life feels a bit like a game of "hide and seek". Unfortunately, it isn't as much fun these days, as the stakes are so much higher. As we stumble in this dark world and attempt to find our way through life's trials, we sometimes get overwhelmed and discouraged.

So what are we to do when our greatest desires seem to be hiding in the dark? First, we must cling to hope. Even in our hardships, God is at work behind the scenes, preparing us for promises yet to be revealed. Despite the appearance of our circumstances, we must choose to fix our eyes on the LORD and faithfully follow His lead. Indeed, these troubles are temporary. They shall pass away and a new day shall arrive. Ultimately, God is in control.

God never hides His will from his children. We are directed to "seek and you shall find". (Matthew 7:7 NIV) When life gets messy, as it often does, we must hide in God's word and seek after Him. Scripture tells us that our "light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) Even as we encounter darkness, the LORD is doing more than we can see or imagine. As we wait for His plans to unfold, we must choose to look with faith filled eyes.

In our darkest night, we can find comfort in the knowledge that God knows right where we are. For nothing is hidden from God.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Calm In The Storm

If you haven't guessed it yet, the road of adoption is exciting and terrifying all at once.

It had been a long day. An emotional day. Our interview with our adoption agency had taken most of the afternoon. The questions were personal. The answers required raw honesty. And I was left exhausted. So after a hot bath, I went to bed. Early. And I expected to remain asleep until the cruel alarm demanded that I wake and get the kids ready for school.

But just two hours after I had fallen into a deep sleep, I suddenly woke with my mind racing. It was as if the enemy was right up in my face whispering every vile lie about who I am to discourage me from proceeding any further with our adoption. Every insecurity, every doubt, every fear about the road we are on seemed to grip my heart in this moment, and sleep was off the table.

So, I prayed and I trembled with God as I confessed every thought...

"What if I am too old to be the mother of an infant?"
"What if I won't be a good mother to this baby?"
"What if the baby never accepts me as his mother?"
"What if the changes a baby brings to our family turns our home upside down?"
"What if they decide that my past mistakes disqualify me for adoption?"
"What if the the social worker decides to reject us?"
"What if this dream becomes a nightmare?"

What if, what if, what if...

I felt myself dripping in sweat as I crawled out of bed and attempted to clear my head. I went to the solace of my laptop and began writing. Even my favorite hobby couldn't quiet my fears. I wrote down every doubt, every fear, every worry. A blog update and a couple of hours later, I was still awake. I wondered if I would sleep at all this night. I imagined how tired I would feel in the morning and I asked God to help me find some peace. Then, I went to submit an article and noticed an early morning devotional had already arrived in my inbox.

I clicked the link.

I scrolled down.

And I read...

“He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” Matthew 8:26 (NIV)

Tonight, the waves are more than I can handle. And I am reminded that I don't have to be afraid because God's "got this". The Lord is bigger than me. He is bigger than my fears. And he is big enough to handle the waves of fear that are crashing around me right now.
He rebukes my insecurities.
He quiets my fears.
He commands that my peace be restored.
He assures me that all is well.

How grateful I am that Christ never leaves me alone in the boat. Jesus is my calm in the storm.

The Boy Inside The Man-Child

Today, I saw the little boy hiding within my man child. This morning, Jack had his 13year well check up at the pediatrician's office. Yes, I am aware that he is closer to fourteen than thirteen. Yes, we got the certifiable look of disapproval from our doctor. In any case, today, before school, Jack and I headed off to his appointment.

Jack and I have been at this doctor's office many times over the years. Our pediatrician has been Jack's doctor since we moved to McKinney. Jack was just 2 years old the first time he visited this office. Through the years, our pediatrician has treated Jack for everything from ear infections to asthma flare ups. He has seen Jack through every cold and every well visit. This particular check up was not extraordinary in any way. In fact, in nearly every way, it was identical to countless other visits we have made to our doctor since Jack was a little boy. Still, somehow today seemed different.

Maybe it was because it was the first time we have walked down the halls of that office where my son was actually taller than me. Perhaps it is because, lately, it seems that my Jack is more "man" than "child". Most days, I am reminded by his deep voice and huge appetite that Jack is growing up. But today, I saw a glimpse of the boy hiding within my son. And it made my heart smile.

There, in the office, as Jack laid back on the examination table, Jack became ticklish and started to giggle. In that moment, I was transported back to another time, when we visited this office for the first time. Jack was just 2 years old and he was extremely ticklish. I smiled to myself as I recalled the faded memories of my blond curly haired boy who couldn't stop wiggling or giggling on that day so long ago. Quietly, I sat there, smiling to myself, remembering my little guy and missing him just a little.

There is no denying that my son is growing up. High school is closing in on us as he just had his "rising freshman" meeting at school. Lately, our discussions have been about his "four year plan", and his goals for the future. Gone are the days when he would build cities with Legos, save the day with his Rescue Hero action figures, or pretend to be his favorite super hero. These days, it's not often that I see my little boy. But, today, for a moment, he was in the pediatrician's office with me.

As I took in the familiar sound of Jack's laugh today, I was reminded, that "sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3) Certainly, Jack's growth curve has changed, but his giggle is the same now as it was when he was small. How I treasure every precious moment God has given me with my son. I am proud to be Jack's mom. I have loved him since before I laid eyes on him. Being his mom is one of the greatest joys of my life. I can't wait to see the plans God has for him as Jack steps into manhood.

In this new season of life, I pray God gives me wisdom to be the mother Jack needs. I pray that with each new challenge, God will equip me to prepare my son for the world that beckons. But, today, I offer thanks for the glimpse of the boy within my man-child.