Recently I reconnected with an old friend. As we started to catch up on each other’s lives, she suddenly became very somber. The last time I saw her she was reeling under the sleepless reality of having four kids under six years old and a husband who traveled a lot. Theirs had been joyful wedding full of promise and hope and no one had any qualms about their marriage. They started to have children right away and seemed to thrive.Continue reading
A couple of months ago I wrote about winding up in the hospital with a ruptured appendix. And I’m not quite ready to move on from there. I realize I run the risk of redundancy, but there’s more to say, since God has done so much as a result of this trial.Continue reading
Last week I went to a women’s conference hosted by Lee Grady at a Russian Pentecostal church in Philadelphia. The women who attended represented several denominations and came from all over the place. The first night about eight women read Galatians 5:1 in their native tongue. We heard it in Swedish, Turkmen, Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Romanian and, of course, English. It reminded me of Pentecost, when 120 believers praised God in different languages.
Passionate women preached about the importance of being set free from various encumbrances so that we can make a difference in our world. There were lots of altar calls and each time, women poured forward to receive prayer. They were released from emotional and spiritual chains and unburdened of years of hurt and brokenness. I arrived sleep deprived and came back home sleep deprived but the excitement of praying for women and seeing them set free buoyed me up and put wind in my sails. There are few things more energizing than seeing the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives.
I also loved hearing people’s stories at mealtimes. One lunchtime I sat at a table with some women from Belarus and Turkmenistan. I asked them to share their testimonies and discovered that they all had heard the Gospel from missionaries in their home countries. They were so grateful to those men and women who took a risk and shared the Good News with them. They had joy in their eyes and a depth to their faith that warmed me. They knew they had found the Pearl of great price and they looked like it.
I’m so glad I went. Yes, it was great to have a break from housework, diapers and kid chaos, but mostly it was great to be reminded of how large, diverse and amazing the Kingdom of God is. It was like being transported for a brief moment to a mountain-top and given a panoramic view of something vast and wonderful. We can become so focused on our little spheres and cares that we lose sight of what God is doing in the bigger picture. We all need, sometimes, to get out, mix with other cultures, sing different songs, pray different prayers and remember that we are part of a vast company of God lovers. Hearing each other’s testimonies encourages us and puts life in perspective.
It’s only March. Try to make it a goal to go somewhere this year that will boost your faith and give you a bigger view of the Kingdom.
I don’t really like winter. I like wearing shorts, taking walks on balmy evenings, eating al fresco and drinking up the summer’s sun. If I had a choice between sipping hot chocolate in a ski lodge or nursing a frosty drink on a Caribbean beach, the beach drink would win hands down. No competition. Nevertheless, not only do we live in the north, but now we have a three year old who LOVES the snow. He rolls in it, slides in it, drives his Tonka trucks in it and eats it. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 degrees or 0 degrees, Isaac begs to go outside, and I usually concede, sighing as I gather the 59 pieces of clothing that we must put on before venturing out (well, maybe not 59, but it sure seems that way).
And you know what? Sometimes I actually enjoy myself. Seeing Isaac have so much fun makes me smile. I can’t wait for a good packing snow so we can build our first snowman together, and I love pulling him up the hill only to whisk him down again on his red sled. The shrieks of delight make the ordeal of getting dressed and out the door all worth it. He is showing me that there are good things about this season, and I find myself wishing it away less and thinking of fun things we can do together during these cold months more.
Truly, there is something good in every season. When I was single, my married friends tried to convey this to me. I remember one friend practically drooling over all the free time I enjoyed. I could go on shopping sprees, sleep in until noon, go on beachy vacations, and hang out with friends for hours on end. She hand several small children and couldn’t remember the last time she felt rested, read a good book or bought something for herself. “Enjoy this time, Nicole, because the day will come when children claim most of your time and money.” I didn’t get it. I thought she was just trying to cheer me up, throw me a bone, pat me on the head. But you know what? She was right. Sometimes I find myself wistfully remembering a missions trip, a vacation with my good friend or a Sunday afternoon hike. I love my husband and sons more than words can say, and my married life is blessed, but my single years were blessed too. They were full and rich and good.
The problem is, I didn’t appreciate those years until they were gone. I think we do that a lot: we don’t see the good in the season we’re in until it’s past. We’re too busy wishing it away because of the painful parts, and we don’t see the good parts at all.
Paul said, “…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Phil 4:11). Part of the secret to being content in any situation is learning to live in the NOW, rather than dreaming about the past or the future. This is very relevant to me again as I often focus too much on the hard parts of raising small children. I can easily concentrate only on the lack of sleep or negligible time to myself, my frustration over behavior, or the ten million things that might go wrong. Indeed, I can become so consumed with the negative that I fail to drink in the coos and smiles of my baby or the curiosity and milestones of my preschooler. I don’t want to look back one day and realize with regret that I didn’t enjoy my kids because of the parts that were hard on my flesh. I know the day will come when cuddles and snuggles are few and far between, so I want to relish them now.
There is sunshine in every season. You may be single, wishing you were married, or married wishing you had children or a mom wishing you had some time to yourself or young wishing you were older or older wishing you were young again. And you spend so much time wishing that you forget to look around and see the blessings that you do have right now. You know what? When you get your heart’s desire, you may not have these blessings anymore. You will enjoy other ones, but don’t shut your eyes to the wealth that surrounds you even now. Learn to find the good in today, rather than assuming that there is good only in tomorrow. I bet you can find some sunshine, even on a snowy day.