Wednesday, April 27, 2011

delayed gratification

I posted this online this morning:

"It's almost May. So many things are wrong with this picture."

My sweet sister-in-law responded, saying “Spring is definitely an exercise in delayed gratification for you up north, isn’t it?”

Boy was she right on.  Spring in the Chicagoland is not for the faint of heart.

She got me thinking about delayed gratification and how absolutely terrible I can be at it. I’m waiting on a lot of things right now, and Spring is the least of them. You're probably waiting too.  Waiting for things like the right words, answers to lingering questions, fulfillment of dreams, truth to be revealed beyond falsehoods, justice, healing… the list goes on.

We’re all waiting. But this morning, I was reminded that even when our questions give way to nothing but the bare branches of delay, there is hope. There is peace to be found while we wait in the drenching, saturating rain... The rain that leaks into the depths of our being and somehow makes all things new... The rain that will eventually dissipate under the glow of the warm and shining sun.

"And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
James 1:4 ESV 

. . .

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Galatians 6:9 NIV 

. . .

"Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act..."
Psalm 37:7 NLV

. . .

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

thoughts from the student driver

The other day I was driving behind one of those vehicles with the big yellow ‘pyramid’ on top that says “Student Driver.” I feel really sorry for the people in that car. I’m pretty certain they could be suffering from whiplash today. The student looked to be a teenage male, obviously embarrassed by the huge pyramid on the car that outed him as a student, though seemingly getting a kick out of abruptly slamming the car to a stop at each red light.

As the paranoid driver behind them, and eventually next to, and in front of them, I watched with each screeching halt as the student nervously giggled and sneaked a peek in the rear-view mirror, discretely glancing to be sure his chuckling buddies in the backseat thought he was cool, and not inept.

I thought quite a bit about this student driver over the weekend. Something about him stuck with me. Something about him made me sad.

Maybe it’s just teenage antics, but it was sad to me that this boy was seeking a good time and peer approval by his obviously intentional and dangerous actions.

But IS it just teenage antics?

Probably not. Unless we’re all teenagers. Haven’t we ALL been guilty of some measure of this?

Have you ever focused more on what will grab the attention of others, than on living the life you were meant to live? Trying to get approval, acceptance- or maybe even love- from places you weren’t meant to find it? We can so easily lose track of who we were created to be, and instead wander aimlessly in a desperate attempt to be what our emotions or someone else tells us we should be… sometimes, even if it means stripping ourselves of our very moral backing. Excuses are made, judgment is thrown to the wayside, and we cast our pearls before swine, all for a chance to strip ourselves of a label we despise, and “belong” in the eyes of another.

But there is only one place you need to belong. And you already do.

You were thought through, perfectly created, fiber by precious fiber, for something special and unique.  God has showered you with purpose, and the person you were created to be is just enough.  There is no need to keep looking in the rear-view mirror for the approval of someone else.  Embrace and live, instead, the days that were ordained for you from the depths of time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

the journey… 3 years in

Humidity hung in the air like a wet towel, heavy and drenched and draped over the clothesline of a sparkling jewel-blue August sky. It was the kind of day that makes your skin long for cool water and a swift breeze. An entire afternoon of blazing sunshine belonged to just me and my sweetheart, and we were on a quest to "get away."

We decided to take a walk and do a little exploring in unfamiliar territory. The sign read "state park" in the dead of summer, but the parking area and adjoining paths were bare as bones.

As we walked, the solid, cool path beneath our feet became lopsided sand, while our sweet conversation and casual gazing at the blanket of shading trees overhead gave way to silent and determined focus. Not only had our firm trail become shifting sand, it had become steep, difficult to traverse, and fully exposed to the heat of the noonday sun.

For quite some time, we hiked. With the heat threatening to smother our desperate lungs and sand plastered to our moist skin, we hiked. And suddenly, as we came over a particularly treacherous hill, we caught an unforeseen glimpse of total and complete heaven.

We had no idea of the beauty that our laborious path was leading us to. All at once we were re-energized and couldn’t move fast enough towards that water. And after a few more dune climbs...

…we were there.

It was glorious.

I could have stayed there for eons. And the heat and unexpected sweat of the journey there made it all the more sweet.

... ... ... ...

Today, I celebrate three years of marriage to my best friend.

I can’t help but think about how our hiking adventure that day so closely resembles how it feels to journey through life with the most incredible man in the world. Many days, the path is less stable and remarkably steeper than we expected, but in God’s goodness, we come over each precipice to see His hand at work in our lives: our son; our calling; God’s always-timely provision. And for a moment, we are propelled forward, catching glimpses of the purpose before us, stealing us away into our dreams for the future.

I love loving you, Jason.

I could stay here for eons. And the heat and unexpected sweat of our journey makes it all the more sweet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

teething and prayer

You’d think I’d have the wailing figured out by now. It’s been, what? 8 months already? And he’s been teething for, like, 12 of them. So why is it that I *freak out* every time Jackson is teething? Perhaps it’s because I can’t see what’s going on, and I’m just certain that the discomfort is more than teething and we need to rush him to the urgent care center in case he has some triple-top-secret ailment we aren’t able to see but just KNOW is there behind the flooding tears and wracking sleeplessness.

And then… *POP*


…Inevitably followed by, "Oooooooooh. So THAAAAAT’s why you were shrieking your head off and wouldn’t eat or sleep or chill out for the last three days."

Jackson got teeth #s 5 and 6 this week, and the night before they appeared, you would have thought his brain was exploding. It was unbelievable, the crying. (And Jackson was pretty upset too. Kidding.)

This first time mommy thing has me all jacked up. I HATE not knowing what’s going on. I hate not being able to solve a problem, and I hate not having an answer. I spend so much energy trying to figure out what the issue is and how to fix it, and lo and behold, *pop* goes a tooth, or the diaper was dirty, or the bottle was too cold, or nap time came early- whatever. Something simple. It’s always something simple.

It’s really exposed my tendency to panic and find my own answers. I do that in my spiritual life, too, sometimes. Something rattles me, so I start problem solving, because I can’t see the outcome and I need peace. And then I pray. But in those moments, I’ve got it backwards. Doing what I can do, and THEN talking to God about it is all wrong. Don’t worry- logically, I know that. But there are times that I do it anyway. It’s that "I have to find an answer" thing.

I like plans. I like answers and clear skies ahead of me. I have been known to read the spoilers to my favorite TV shows, or read the last page of a mysterious book first, (I know. I know!) simply because I can’t stand the anxiety of uncertainty. So when uncertainty beyond my control swells into my world like an invisible tooth erupting & screaming under the surface, I panic. I determine every logical solution for every logical (and illogical) scenario, and I start crafting a plan.

I’m not very good at teething.

I’m determined to give up on this "I have to find an answer" thing, and to focus more on finding God in the process- in the middle of the unknown, in the crying, and the discomfort. Heck, I might even stop reading TV spoilers and the end of books first. Logic is good. But prayer is so much better.

So, am I the only one who freaks out with uncertainty?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I love the book of Hosea. Love it. It reminds me that I’m human, that God is God, and that because of those realities, He is just and merciful, and will never stop pursuing me. I’ve spent most of my life in church (second pew, piano side at that). I went to Sunday School, I went to Youth Group, and I even went to a Christian college. But really, it’s nothing to brag about.

I didn’t really learn who God was until I was blocked.

I’m not talking “annoying person on Facebook” kind of blocked. But stuck behind a wall of thornbushes and completely unable to find my way blocked (like in Hosea 2:6).

On the outside, all was well. I was 24 and I was going to get married and move across the country and go to graduate school and get my Ph.D. And then, it happened. I ran headfirst into a sharp, piercing thicket that would capture my lofty plans in one tangled swoop and penetrate my soul and threaten to leave me scarred for eternity.

By the time I made it out of that thicket, my plans were gone. And so was my desire for them. Things had changed drastically, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a plan. I was waiting. I’m not the best at waiting… (Remember how worked up I get when waiting messes up my plans?)

This was kind of my wilderness, I suppose. I had been tied up in the thicket, and then led out into the wilderness to have a heart to heart with Jesus (Hosea 2:14). We had a few things to iron out, and the first was that He loves me, always. No matter what. The second was that He has a great plan for my life, and that plan is irrevocable (Romans 11:29). And then He told me to wait. And it was in that waiting that I started to really understand who God was. It was in the waiting that I came to see hope in my “valley of trouble” (Hosea 2:15), and where my relationship with God shifted, matured (v. 16).

So if you’re blocked, tied up in a nasty thicket, consider where it was you were headed that God might be sparing you from. Go ahead and follow Him into the wilderness and have a heart to heart… and wait.


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