God

between our dreams and God's timing

I couldn't help but laugh at the irony of listening to our 6.5-month-old cry while reading the story of Elizabeth and Zachariah in Luke 1.  Here our son was, crying for breakfast because to him it felt he was waiting for an eternity and breakfast might never come!  But I knew that I would feed him in exactly 13 more minutes. See, I was almost finished with my quiet time with God this morning (which is sporadic at best these days as we are still transitioning out of night time wake ups and my sleep is as sacred as time with the Lord, God said so...literally...if you've ever encountered me on little sleep, you'd know why...I'm the 8-9 hours of sleep a night kind of person...) but to Aaron it felt like an eternity before I would be done...

when we let God 'pick our nose'

The thing with newborn noses is that you can't just stick your adult-sized finger up it and get their booger out for them, nor can you just ask them to blow their nose and get it out. No, you have to use one of these newborn sized nose suckers to get the things out. If you've ever spent time around newborns (or people in general for that matter), having something new introduced to them in order to make their lives better is not as easy as you would think...

the best meal we'll ever have = God

We can find blessings at the end of our ropes, when we're content with content with just who we are, and Jesus said, "You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat." (Matthew 5:6) I don't know about you, but I love food. Like LOVE food, especially good food (call me a foodie if you want). During the summers growing up, my family would take a driving trip for two weeks to somewhere around the country and I bet I can remember more about what I ate than about what we saw. When my husband and I plan our trips, the first thing I look into is where we should go to eat, every meal. I just enjoy so much of what God has created, and the brilliant creativity of others, through my taste buds. :) I was spoiled this past birthday by getting to go to not one, but two amazing restaurants with top chefs in the North Loop area of Minneapolis. It's said that you can tell a person's priorities when you look at their credit card statements... Though my husband and I have had to go to a much tighter budget these days with me not working and back at school, we have yet to give up our "eating out" budget...now we just have to prioritize where much more so than before. ;)

If I were honest, I'd have to admit that the top two priorities in my day are thinking about what I'll eat (I wake up doing this) and what/when my workout will be; everything else gets fit into the spaces in between. I've been told that this may change when our baby is born (T-11 weeks)...

So when Jesus said that we're blessed when we work up a good appetite for God (or as the NIV version puts it 'when we hunger and thirst for righteousness'), I can relate. For those of you who have ever trained for a marathon, or an ironman, or ever been pregnant, my hunch is you can relate too because the physical hunger pangs during those seasons are real. We're talking wake up in the middle of the night needing to eat N O W kind of hunger.

My hunch is each of us has those one or two things that we start thinking about the minute we wake up in the morning, the things we are passionate about, that set the trajectory for our day, the things that get us excited (or that we're worried about for that matter). What would it look like if we intentionally gave the same amount of energy towards pursuing the things of God? What if we spent the same amount of resources and time on love, mercy, compassion, grace, justice, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth...? Jesus said that when we do this, our experience of God will be the best food and drink we've ever had... To be more fulfilled than that pork chop from Spoon and Stable left me the other night or the aerated chocolate dessert from Tullibee, wow, I can't wait to experience that!

when we're at the end of our rope

Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I come across something that God said and I think, "seriously God, You've got to be kidding!?"

Jesus said, "You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." (Matthew 5:3)

Reading Jesus' words, I have to pause and work through it. I don't know about you, but usually, when I'm literally at the end of my rope, I am quite frankly, in deep deep despair. The last thing I'm thinking about is how "blessed" I am.

Sometimes I'm at the end of my rope because of a decision(s) I made. But other times, it's because of circumstances around me that are completely out of my control. A few years ago, there was a week-and-a-half period when three unrelated events kept knocking me to my knees to the point where the final one left me reeling so hard that I remember telling my parents, "I can't pray anymore. I'm so tired of all this pain and heartache. i. just. can't. pray."

When we find ourselves at the end of our ropes, we've done all that we can do. We have nothing left of ourselves to give. We've either created some mess that we're in and don't have anything left to give. Or we find ourselves in circumstances created by the evil and chaos of this world and we find there is nothing that we can do or say that can make things better. Either way, it feels like our lives are over. There's no hope left. We're drowning in a pit of despair. Things can't possibly get any better. This must be the end...

But then God. When we've got nothing left, the only thing that remains is God. What if we could believe that when all else is gone, God is big enough that He is actually enough? When we literally have nothing else, we're at the end of our rope, what if God is there? What if God gently wants us to trust that His plans for us, and everyone around us, to experience an abundant life, still remain?

It never feels like a place of blessing when there is nothing left of ourselves. But we can trust that somehow, someway, God still has a plan. And His desire has always been, and will always, be to love us and bless us. It's at the end of our ropes that we experience the fullness of this love, grace, mercy, comfort, peace, goodness, faithfulness. When all else is lost, it's here that we find the fullness of God's blessings.

when a dream coming true is terrifying

Have you ever found yourself in that place where, what 'should' be super exciting, is instead filling you with fear and anxiety? When you find yourself in the midst of something you had thought about forever and the experience is suddenly terrifying instead of enjoyable? On Monday afternoon, my husband and I had our level 2 ultrasound to find out if baby G was a boy or a girl and whether there were any health concerns we should be aware of. I so badly wanted to be excited, but instead was overwhelmed by all the unknowns and quite frankly terrified to find out. You might not be in the midst of a pregnancy, but I have a hunch you might be able to see yourself in my story. We aren't one of those couples who tried forever to get pregnant, we weren't actually trying yet, and we did. Yes, we're one of those couples... However, I have thought about having children since I was 6 or 7 years old. It wasn't a dream that I pursued relentlessly (I didn't get married until I was 36), but it was a strong dream of "God, I really hope that someday..." Not getting married until what is considered "later in life," I wasn't sure if having kids would still be an option for us.  Yes, I know medical technology has come a long way and adoption and fostering children is a huge need in our country, but those are still not things you can bank on for certain. It was one of those dreams I had long ago let go of, having fully accepted that it would be okay if it was never a reality, all the while it was still burning deep within my heart. I'm guessing you can relate...

So here I was, on what should have been an incredibly exciting day, just wanting the appointment to be over with so we could face whatever news there was to face. Sometimes I find that I am just waiting for the other proverbial shoe to fall, especially when it comes to things that matter the most.  I want to hold them loosely and not get too attached. What if it doesn't actually happen? What if...? What if...? What if...I get hurt? I know, I know, there are so many things wrong with this kind of approach to life. My hunch is, I'm not the only one who doesn't head full on into their dreams with reckless abandon...

At the core of my fear, I found myself in this tension of wanting to hold back my love, my passion, my excitement, my hope. As I talked to God about all of this Monday morning, God reminded me of what unconditional love says, "We don't hold back our love based on unknown outcomes, we give until we give all of ourselves, everything we have and love beyond the shadows of the unknown. We love no matter what."

And then God asked me, "Do you think I've held back any of My love even though I've known full well what the outcomes would be? Not even once. Never. Not for a second. If I can, you can through Me. And when you can't and your love ends, I have more than enough to love completely. Yes, to love like Me can mean getting hurt, but it can also be the most amazing, freeing, generous thing you've ever done. And you can't know which it will be until you do it. And even when I've been hurt by those whom I love, do you think I have ever regretted it? Not once."

If God can love unhindered when He knows the outcome, we can when we don't. So here's to living and loving beyond calculated risks.