Thursday, February 26, 2015

Time

So the other night I was sitting in the auditorium at Maine Endwell high school watching the Pops concert. Some of you just rolled your eyes. I used to do that too, until we moved to this school district. They don't just take football seriously, but the music program is excellent too.

We were amazed at how many students are involved - over 250 - and this is one of the smallest districts in our area. Many of these musicians overlapped into several groups - Mixed Chorus, Women's Chorus, Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band and more. Yes, I said more. They go hard.

Because we go to many school events, we know many of these kids are involved in multiple other activities at school. The crossover is worth noting. Some play an instrument, sing in chorus and participate in several sports too - year round. Not to mention taking a heavy academic load that requires much homework.  Did I mention travel teams, dance lessons, karate? The list goes on and on. Do they ever get tired?

I wondered when they have down time or if they ever take a season off to do...well nothing.

There has been much talk and many books published these days about margin, slowing down, and simplifying our lives. About not being too busy. I think when we hear it, we let out a loud exhale and think, "that would be nice", but how many actually put it into practice?

When our kids were younger I always knew we had become too busy when the moment we were home for more than one consecutive evening someone would ask, "What are we doing today? What are we doing tonight? What are we doing tomorrow? How about tomorrow night?".

My answer was often, "We are going to stay home and enjoy being together. And play with the toys you wanted for Christmas that you never have time to play with. We may even read books." They would smile and exclaim, "Thank you, Mother!" Right. In my dreams.

As the kids got older and were tempted to overload their free time full of social activities, I knew it was time to ask ourselves some hard questions. Would they become busy adults who fill every available minute and end up with no time to rest? Or God forbid, no time to hang out with their parents? What are we teaching them about how best to spend time? About what's important? Kids do tend to follow in their parents' footsteps.

The music kids reminded me about the well-intentioned notion that most parents have heard and some believe. Do you remember it - that kids need to be "well-rounded" a.k.a. good at everything, to get into college or be successful? Me too. Consequently, we move mountains to give them every available opportunity to succeed at many things.

But let's get real. How much time does it take to master so many things? Pretty much all of it, I think. Hence the addiction to busyness and endless activity. Running daily from event to event with little downtime at home can be a real family buster.

We are as guilty as our kids I think. As we are busy with many activities ourselves we might eventually find we've become a jack of all trades but master of none. At some point we should consider how much time is left over for the things that really matter. Like relationships. Like enjoying margin - room for the spontaneous. Like being preoccupied or just available to meet someone else's needs.

Are our kids watching us operate a break neck speed, saying yes to everything? What will they remember about their time living in our homes, the pace we kept and subjected them to?

Recently, a friend who I may or may not mention my upcoming empty nest (which is 4 short months away if you've lost track) to every time I see her gave me a book to read called "Just 18 Summers". Yeah, I know.

I still haven't gotten past the title. We have 18 summers with our kids. Me? I have none left. Kind of puts things in perspective though, doesn't it?

The time goes so fast. My head is spinning as I write. One day Scott and I decided we wanted to start a family and in a few months the in-our-home-everyday part of parenting will end and it will just be the two of us again.

May I give you younger parents some advice?

Guard your family time. Quality time does not trump quantity time. Every child needs both. Extracurricular activities have some benefit, but kids will learn even more about life, God and themselves from spending time with mom and dad.

Just because your kids want to do everything, doesn't mean that's what is best for them. Feel free to say no to some things without guilt. You get to decide that because you are the grownups. You see the big picture and you are for them.

Limit the time they are influenced by their friends. Make sure you are pouring more into them than the world is.

If you're too tired, stressed or busy to go to church on Sunday, give something up.

When they are teenagers, make youth group a priority. This will be easier if you lay the foundation of loving church when they are younger.

Don't let the culture (what everyone else is doing) dictate your family goals and priorities.

Eat more dinners together at the table each week than you don't.

Watch less tv and play more games.

Talk about everything. Ask millions of questions. Know their world.

Teach them that being bored is not the worst thing. Here we learn to be still and to listen - very important spiritual virtues that we all need in order to hear God and follow Him.

You probably noticed that all those things take time. Yes, they do. I promise it will be the best time you will spend in these child-rearing years. Be all in for all of these 18 years. This kind of parental involvement will produce well-rounded kids. And when the end of your daily influence arrives, you might just have fewer regrets.

Whatever stage you're at in parenting, take some time to evaluate.

Consider that you might be inadvertently teaching that the best life is about them excelling at many things. Things which will make them a better individual for sure, but may leave little if any time to serve others, which is the essence of the Gospel, the way we pass it down.

As Christ-following parents we have been given one main job - passing down God's faithfulness and the Gospel to the next generation - starting with our own kids. It's our responsibility to show our kids that there is nothing more fulfilling. NOTHING.

I like to envision handing each of our kids the baton and saying, "It's your turn now. You're ready. Go get your generation."

You guessed it - it takes time to get them there - we've got 18 years.

Two of my all time favorite go-to parenting verses are Romans 12:1-2

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."

Best advice ever for us - and our kids.

Like God, I want to bring out the best in my kids too. I bet you do too.

Decide what you want your kids to look like when they leave your nest and with God's help, focus your time and energy getting them there.

You can do this!  The next generation will benefit from your effort.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Two Days To Go

So Wednesday is kind of a big deal. Not every Wednesday. But the day after tomorrow, February 18, 2015 is.

Can I ask you a question? What comes to mind when you think of Easter?

Baskets. Bonnets. Egg hunts. Girls in new dresses. Coloring eggs. Flowers springing from their bulbs. The candy (oh the candy! Best you can buy year round in my opinion.) Ham dinner with family. Church (for some the only or second time to attend year round). All good things. It is a wonderful holiday.

But it means so much more to me. Here's a highly rough kind of quote (in other words don't quote me quoting him) from Andy Stanley on why he has given his life to Jesus. "Anyone who can predict His own death and resurrection and then pull it off deserves to be listened to and followed because no one else has."

Since I believe Jesus did all of that and so much more, the actual holiday celebrating this miracle should get some HUGE attention on my calendar (similar to my love for Advent before Christmas). So we start early around here. Forty days early, to be precise. Two days from now.

Last year some friends, maybe you were one of them, and I read all four Gospels.

I benefitted so much that I'm going to do it again this year. Starting Wednesday I'm going to fill my heart and mind daily with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as written in the Bible.

Four books and 85 chapters in 40 days (technically 46 - you get a few days off to catch up if need be). Totally doable.

I think I'll give this a name. How about I call it 40 Days Til Easter? Or 40 Days For Easter? Or 40 Days Of Easter?  YES - The 40 Days of Easter. Pretty creative, huh?

Want to join me? Sure you do! You don't have to pray about it first. God always wants us to be reading His Word with the intent to get to know Him better.

And I can make you a promise - you won't regret it. We don't want to all of sudden find ourselves on Easter Sunday ill-prepared to worship with the gratitude God deserves. How much more awesome will that morning and all those leading up to it be when we've immersed ourselves in imagining where Jesus walked, who He talked to and what He did while He was here.

To ramp it up a little this year, I'm going to follow what one of my favorite authors is leading. Margaret Feinberg has put together a reading plan and adds a few extra fun things to try to make it even more meaningful.
The link you'll need is at the end of the post. After you go check it out and start printing, please let me know you'll be joining me. This kind of thing is always more fun with company.

We start Wednesday. Don't forget.

I can't wait to start!  How about you?

Bible Reading Guide Through The Gospels

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When In Doubt, Ask Permission

Is this you?
Someone hurts you with words.
They name-call.
They accuse.
They judge your motives.
They vomit ugly in your direction.
They shred your confidence.
When they are done ripping you up one side and down the other, they leave you in a heap without turning back.
There's little to no remorse. If they do apologize it sounds something like, "I'm sorry that you.....".
Maybe they are someone you've looked up to or maybe they are just someone who thinks they have the right.

Regardless, you are hurt and you are on my mind and why I'm writing.

As I listen to specific stories, I am aghast and troubled at the deep pain so many are experiencing and the audacity of the ones dishing it out.
  • A father who speaks harshly to one child (from youth straight through to adulthood) withholding love, but expresses warmth and love lavishly on his others. 
  • A husband who tells his wife she is nothing, that she will never matter to anyone, and if she tries to leave him, she will never see her children again because no judge will award custody to such a terrible mom.
  • An employer who unleashes all manner of accusation, guilt, and character assault to an employee who meekly resigns to follow what he believes God's plan for his life is. An older man leveling the younger.

Did I mention that in every scenario above, each player claims to be a devoted Christ-follower? I know. Makes it so much worse. Our words can crush and destroy the spirit of another.

You might have your own story that would fit in here. I hope you don't.

My husband has been a pastor for a long time. For years he led worship each week in church. He was loved and respected by most if not all until he made two changes (not simultaneously). He stopped wearing a tie every Sunday and decided to present the choir without robes. I mean, you would have thought he sold his soul to the devil and was insisting the congregation follow suit. I'm not exaggerating. It was rough for a while. Comments and insults were made by some without thought of how it might hurt.

Mostly, Scott could shake it off but it rattled him sometimes. It rattled me more.
These weren't playful jabs, people, I'm talking ugly. I remember a few times he was verbally assaulted, his calling even questioned, minutes before taking the platform to lead hundreds of people in worship, his countenance betraying the effect.

When Drew was almost two years old I was pregnant. At 20 weeks I suffered a miscarriage. My wonderful inlaws came to take care of Drew while Scott and I were in the hospital devastated and delivering the baby.

They left a few days later, on a Sunday. Scott had to be at church that night. While I wasn't really ready to face people or questions, a new fear of being alone gripped me so I went with him, rather than staying home. Later that night, Scott was approached by a man in leadership whose highly respected wife pointed out to him that I had worn pants to church and I was to be told that this is unacceptable.

We have a problem in the church.

What really matters? Where's the love? It is hard to understand how a person's spirituality and character could be judged by what he is (or isn't) wearing. Clothing items? For real?

But it doesn't stop there. We judge the heart based on all sorts of outward signs when we know little or nothing of what is underneath. Then it comes out in hurtful words.There must be a better way.

I've lived long enough to experience this pain enough times to shudder at the memories. Sometimes it was directed just at me, other times at my husband. In our marriage, because we are a team, we shoulder it together making it easier to deal with.

But it's a whole different ball game when it happens to someone I love and care for, someone vulnerable. One of my kids, a young friend, an older adult, someone weaker. Maybe it's you today. If so, I want to tell you I'm so sorry you've been hurt.

When I survey the destruction, it makes me sick. The carnage makes me mad. It makes me shake my head in disbelief - particularly when it comes from someone who claims to be a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ.

On our terrible days and when I hear others' stories (like those above), feeling particularly protective and angry, my inner mama bear emerges and I spout, "Did they get the Holy Spirit's permission to say that?"

I know if I'm this upset, how much more is God? You don't have to read too much of the Bible, starting anywhere really, to see that God has an opinion on this subject (but I hope you do read the whole Book). I believe I can say with confidence that God doesn't like it when we are unkind to one another.

I mean, have we really convinced ourselves that God is ok with this? No. He isn't. James confirms: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness...my brothers, this should not be."*

I doubt this is new news to many of you. I think we all basically know this. We've heard many a sermon loaded with verses that speak directly to our speech and our love. They are connected. Like these:

"Don't let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their need, that it may benefit those who listen...Be kind and compassionate to one another." Eph. 4:29, 32

"You must love one another....as I (Jesus) have loved you....by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34,35

My fear is that these verses and countless others have become so familiar to us, we kind of "yeah, yeah" right past them and not really take the directive seriously. As in obeying them. Reminds me of a song we used to sing with and for our kids, "I like the Bible. I like the Bible 'cuz I read it and I do it. I read it and I do it! I like the Bible 'cuz I (slow, loud and triumphant!) READ IT and I DO IT!"

From Genesis to Revelation God unfolds the story of redemption, how a holy God pursues mankind to create a people of His own. A people He wants to lavish love on desiring their love in return to Him and to others.

So when we enter that relationship through confession and repentance of our sins in exchange for eternal life that Jesus purchased on the cross, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. In us.

If that didn't make you stop for a second and be grateful then go back and read it again. Here comes my question.

If each and every man, woman and child are created in the image of God and the Holy Spirit lives in all believers, shouldn't we pay more attention to how we are speaking to one another, considering we might be hurting that person?

If I'm honest, I've been the bully myself at times. It sickens me now. I hate myself for it and am so sorry, trying not to repeat. The good news is that looking back teaches us and I have learned a few things about tact and love and timing.

What if we took a new approach? When we feel compelled to "get something off my chest" or "confront someone" about an issue, let's consider two things.

1.  "How are my words/attitude going to land? Is this the best time to approach the issue or should I wait until the person is in a position to be able to receive it?" We know from Proverbs that a soft answer turns away wrath. So coming with my guns loaded may not be the best approach.

A mentor of mine who rightly named me a people pleaser when I was younger once set my often troubled heart free. "If someone comes at you with advice or comment that only benefits their cause, you can dismiss it. If they are unkind and mean, they probably don't care too much for you. However, if they come with humility and care about the situation and your well-being in it, armed with a reasonable solution, listen. You only have to take advice from someone who has your best interest at heart. "

Wisdom.

That's not just one sided. Maybe we should ask ourselves the same questions before we speak. "Do I have this person's best interest at heart or is this all about me and what I want, what makes life easier for me?"

2."Do I have permission from the Holy Spirit to speak these words in this way to someone created in God's image?"

Let's duke our entitlement issues out with God first and then ask Him to tell us what to do or not to do because ultimately we want to please Him most. With all of our life. All of our attitude. And all of our words.

You know what happens next? He helps us see things from His perspective. He confronts our motives. He shows wisdom from the Bible to help us respond as a daughter of His should. He turns our heart, softening us if need be and reminds us how He feels about all the parties in the situation, not just us.

You guess it, more of than not, when my initial approach to situations and people begin with these humble questions, I usually speak much less.

I don't want this to sound harsh or scolding or preachy, but I believe we had better not dare approach another of God's children or those yet to join His family without permission from the Holy Spirit for what we say and how we say it.
 
Of course I don't always get this right. None of us do everytime. I know from personal experience that no believer is perfect. We all regularly do and say things we wish we hadn't, we sin against God and man. God knew this about us and addressed that too. (See why we should read the Bible.) "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us..." 1 John 1:9

Still, pushing further, shouldn't we be improving? Committing the same sins over and over again means we are not cooperating with the work God wants to do with us post-confession. In other words, we can't keep hurting others, throwing God a flippant "I'm sorry", and then do it again and again.

One of the great benefits of being a part of God's family is that He never leaves us just as we are, He changes us. It is His desire that we continually take on more of the likeness of His Son, Jesus. Then as outsiders see this, they will taste us to see if God is good.

There's so much more at stake here. Couldn't we start by just being nice to each other? And maybe ask God a few questions before we speak. Think about it, we will probably have so much less to go back and apologize for too. 

I hereby give you permission to call me out if I ever violate you with my words.

*James 3:9-10

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Birthdays Really Are All About The Gifts

Ever since my kids turned one, we've made a big deal about birthdays. Not quite like some in modern American culture do (no limosine rides here), but we give our best effort to make our kids feel loved and special on their day. I think most new parents do.

Over the last twenty two years, we've evolved from family parties with my feeble attempts at creative cake decorating when they were toddlers to McDonald's parties when they were in elementary school (these were the best because no set up or clean up!) to alternating between dinner out with our five at their favorite restaurant one year and parties at our house with teenage friends the next.

Then they have the nerve to go to college and begin the new normal of being away from home on their birthdays. Not cool. I think I've whined every year since the first one left that I believe kids should be with their parents on their birthdays. And I do! Yeah well, so much for that. Last year I got lucky because Drew was only an hour away so we could easily be with him. So I could do this.
Now I am resigned to sending gifts to them and hoping they feel special enough without being smothered in affectionate physical love. I wonder if I'll ever get used to it.

Let's not go there.

Tomorrow is my Drew's twenty-third birthday. He is married now and lives in Indiana. Not sure if I've mentioned that before. I prepared his package the other day and insisted Scott mail it even though we were in the middle of a significant snowstorm. He said, "Can't I send it tomorrow?" Can he send it tomorrow? Was he serious? With all the sweetness I could express between my clenched teeth, I replied, "Either he gets this package before or ON the 5th or you can take me to him on Thursday. Your choice." I bet you can guess what happened next. Let's just say I haven't packed a bag.

Because I'm nuts about my kids and gift giving is my love language, I put alot of planning into what I think is the best way to communicate our BIG love for them. During this most recent preoccupation, in my morning quiet time I was reminded of the fact that when I joined God's family, He assumed the role of Father to me.

As I considered how much I love my kids and all the different ways I attempt to express it with various gifts (especially at birthday time!), of course I had to compare it with the way God loves and parents me. Here are two things I know for sure:

1. As a parent, He gives the BEST gifts. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." James 1:17

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:9-11

How much more. What an awesome thought! I understand more.

2. As a parent, He disciplines those He loves. Hmmmm. That doesn't sound like a very warm-and-fuzzy-Jesus-loves-me kind of love. As adults we bristle at the notion of being discplined, don't we? Ok, well I do. To God, though, we are children. His very deeply loved children. Consider what He wants us to know about this:

"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined - and everyone undergoes discipline - you are not legitimate children at all. Moreover, we have all had parents who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Our parents disciplined us for a little while as they thought best. God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:7-11

I feel myself softening. It's kind of beautiful when its put that way. Could be actually be a gift to me (us) perhaps? Similar to God, Scott and I disciplined our children because we love them, because we had the adult end product of each in mind. It has long been our desire to present them to the world as responsible, unselfish, caring adults who love God more than anything or anyone and live according to the principles outlined in the Bible, a blessed life. (And who call their parents and come home often once they move out.)

(Ok, I just added that last part.)

As each of our kids' 2015 birthdays approach, Drew's tomorrow,
then Ally's in March,
Brittany's in May,
and Ben's in June,
I'm fairly confident I will successfully express my love to all of them. I think at the end of their day they will continue to be convinced that Mom and Dad consistently love them abundantly and are their biggest fans. I doubt the memory of past hard discipline days will shadow it in any way.

So what about me? Can I accept and appreciate God's fatherly love for me too - in all its different forms? Even the hard discipline knowing that if I heed it, a harvest of godly character will result? I mean, really lean into it and find comfort there like I always hoped my kids would with us.

Then this prayer stopped me short.

"Father, 'discipline' is not my favorite word. It doesn't sound very tender. But when you discipline it is always for my good. Thank you for treating me, not as a stranger, but as a child in your family. I trust the way you are working in my life."*

Honestly, it took me several read-throughs to pray this without hesitation. I got hung up on your "discipline is always for my good" and "I trust the way you are working in my life." While at first those were a bit difficult to swallow if I'm being honest, my heart soared at the good news, "thank you for treating me...as a child in your family." Light bulb!

Disciplining our kids was not easy either (for them or us) but it was definitely an act of love. As I often say, raising children isn't for wimps and when I see the desired character qualities forming in them, I know it was worth it.

When I finally did pray that prayer enthusiastically, meaning it, relief set in as a whole new Dad-shaped love filled my heart. Accepting and celebrating God's love for me means receiving His parental love in all its many forms, including both the gifts that delight and the discipline that is painful. They are all for my ultimate benefit because He is good and trustworthy. Not just on special days, but every day.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Sounds like a party to me! With or without a birthday attached to it. You and I are invited. And all the gifts are for us.


*The Tender Words of God by Ann Spangler

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Don't Stop Believing

Like many of you, I keep a list of prayer requests. It's not just a Type A thing. We should all have one. On it are the requests I bring to God most everyday for other people. Intercessory prayer on behalf of others is such a wonderful gift for everyone involved. I know because I've been on both sides, offering it and receiving it.

As I prayed through my list this morning, I noticed repetition. Most everyone on my list is waiting for something.

  • For a new job opportunity
  • For acceptance into the college of choice
  • For a companion to share life with
  • For a clean bill of health after chemotherapy
  • For an apology to release a deep hurt
  • For a course of action to fight a newly diagnosed disease
  • For a marriage to be healed and healthy again
  • For two families new to each other to blend harmoniously
  • For direction post college graduation

Which makes me think I could add a bunch of you to this list. One friend calls this The Waiting Room. Nobody wants to be in it. Now that I've been in a specific one for a few years now, I understand everyone gets their turn at some point and that it can have extreme value and significance in our lives. I also understand how hard it is to keep your spirit up as time seems to stand still, ignoring you.

Be assured as you wait that God is with you.  Preaching to myself too. He plans to accomplish something in and around you, encourage others through your patience, and reward you for waiting well.

Note that I did not say "there is reward for those who wait perfectly". I don't believe that's possible. I think it's more like waiting without giving up. While we wait, we can strive to be good students and cooperate with what God, believing He's up to something good.
 
If you are in a waiting room of your own today, I'm writing to you first. Sometimes when you are deep within, it's hard to find your own encouragement because all you see is clouds. I totally get that. Sometimes you need someone who can see your situation from the outside to look up those verses you desperately need to cling to and bring them to your attention.

Today is your day. You're about to see that even here He is constantly giving us something (gifts!). So get out some note cards and write these down so you have them handy the next time you find yourself weary in your wait or just print off the whole page.

"But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you.
He's gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right - everything.
Those who wait around for Him are the lucky ones." Isa. 30:18

"Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." Heb. 9:28

"Wait passionately for God, don't leave the path.
He'll give you your place in the sun..." Ps. 37:34

"But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind." Isa. 40:31

"God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times." Lam. 3:25-27

"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked; finally He listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God." Ps. 40:1-3

"With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you. When they see me waiting, expecting your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad." Ps. 119:73

"Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time." James 5:7-8

"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy." Rom. 8:22-25

I wonder at this point in reading you are feeling encouraged? I hope so. I know I am thought I do not at this stage of life wish to imagine myself pregnant or enlarged, but I'll go there with this verse.

I hope you noticed you (we) are not alone. You never need to think you are the only one who has or is going through this hard thing.

Did you also notice that others are watching and will benefit from your wait? I don't say that to add pressure, but rather motivation. That excites me.

If that's not enough action for you, how about one more?

"When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst." Lam. 3:28-30 I can tell you read that too fast. Here it is again.

Go off by yourself.
Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer.
Don't ask questions.
Wait for hope to appear. (because it will)
Don't run from trouble.

And whatever you do, Don't Stop Believing! Who knew Steve Perry was a theologian?

Weary one, take heart! Here is still more great news: "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." Rom. 8:26-28

Yes!! This is truth, my friend. Truth you can count on. Looks like we are doing some Bible study today - woohoo! But again with the pregnant remark, why God? (FYI, I do not consider it a sign or remedy for my soon-to-be-empty-nesting sad heart. So don't suggest it!)
Switching sides - if you're the one who is praying for someone who is waiting, may I say something to you? Don't quit praying for us. Don't get tired of our situation. There is comfort in knowing someone else hasn't wearied of us and that you are willing to pray us all the way. We need to know you believe when we are shaky.

Oh, and remind us frequently. We got these amazing, beautifully strung together words in the mail the other day. These will keep me going for quite a while.

"Our prayers are cluttered constantly with your names. We love you."

Isn't that gorgeous?
Amen.