The holiday season is upon us, and it seems like a good time to ponder our readiness to accept the Lord in our lives. Christmas sparks celebration of the coming of the Lord into the world and into our hearts, but in the details of the Christmas story, many people were unprepared for this change: Joseph, Mary, and Herod, to name a few. This was surely not their original plan. Consider Mary’s response to the news of the Lord’s coming.
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
In my experience, opportunities to accept the Lord into my life are a whole lot easier when I’m prepared and looking for them. Here was a promise of something good, all tangled up in uncertainties. Yet Mary gracefully accepted: “let it be to me according to your word.” Joseph stood steadily by her when he could have walked away. The shepherds picked up and hastened to where Jesus lay. The wisemen diligently followed the star that led to Him. They all moved forward toward the call of the Lord without certainty or clarity of vision.
Continue reading But With God, All Things Are Possible
I admit, I’ve been more consumed by the problems of the world lately than by my efforts to live a useful life. That’s how it goes, isn’t it? When the world starts feeling impossible, we want to try to make a difference, or lean into the scary parts, which can lead to hopelessness, distraction, and/or underestimation of the difference we make in our homes and circles and personal relationships with the Lord. At least that’s how it goes for me. Caught up in rationalizations, zeal, and conversations about what to do about various things, at some point the idea of being a child of God landed in my head. With it came a distressing feeling that I had no idea how to see myself that way. I don’t know if this is a common struggle, or if it has to do with the oldest sibling “I can handle it” mindset I’ve had since I was quite small, but feeling so distant from a childlike safety made me weep.
So, in case someone out there needs to feel a little more held, I want to share a vision of being safe in the arms of the Lord. And for the record, I’m not saying that this safety means we needn’t worry about or do anything. We’re still responsible for our choices, and it’s important that we do the work of this life. But now I’ll focus on the protection, love, and mercy we can trust in as we do that.
A certain sense of trust comes naturally to children, but as adults the feeling of needing to be in control runs deep. It’s painfully obvious yet painfully difficult to remember that even the most unexpected, unplanned, unwelcomed things in our lives don’t veer away from the Lord’s Providence. His Providence continues seamlessly and unwaveringly through the seemingly impossible; through any and every state I find myself in. I can trust in what’s beyond my line of vision. That it’s there, and always was. Even before I realized I needed it to be.
Continue reading A Child of God
The other day, out of the blue, one of my preschoolers said something about God. Since my center isn’t church-affiliated, I unfortunately can’t talk about the Lord much with those kids. So when J (4 years old) mentioned God, I was all ears. She told me she has a book about Him. Her eyes were wide with wonder, yet her expression was also sweet and tender – as if she somehow understood the combination of complete power and complete love that is the Lord. She told me with gentle amazement in her voice: “He created the sky, the trees, the flowers…even the snow, and the leaves…the branches…hair. And He even created the people….” She trailed off as if she’d never finish the list. We talked a little more, and I shared how special that was to me too. I could have sat in that moment, acknowledging something bigger than both of us together, forever. I am beyond happy that she knows that the Lord loves her.
One of the things I most like to encourage in children is a sense of wonder – in anything really. The world is so big and amazing to them, and we lose that a little as we grow up and have more of a sense of control. I want to encourage their curiosity, humility, and awe, partly because I think I’m supposed to be relearning those things from them too! I want to encourage them to ask questions that don’t have to be fully answered or understood. We put so much emphasis on knowing. At what point do we know enough that we forget to see things with that childlike wonder? It is good indeed for children to learn, and to grow rational so that they can make their choices in freedom. But I wonder if the innocence and wisdom in their recognition of more
Continue reading A Sense of Wonder
expansive and wonderful things is oftentimes underrated.
Spring always seems to bring feelings of hope – this year perhaps more than ever. There’s an excitement and vulnerability in feeling things start to change, but knowing it won’t always be quick or controllable. Life seems so miraculous in the spring after everything seemed so dead.
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’” Genesis 28:16
It was a hard winter. I kept finding myself bewildered about the time-warp that 2020 felt like. It seemed like it never happened in some ways, yet on the other side I was barely holding it together. I felt unmotivated, unuseful, and not good enough. I was living a just-get-through-one-day-at-a-time life, which is hard for me to give myself permission and forgiveness for. The steps forward were hard to do, and harder still since they seemed so small. I’d never quite struggled with feeling unworthy of the Lord so much, but this winter those thoughts crept in a lot.
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” This quote brings a sense of peace. It usually reminds me that He’s there even when bad things happen. It strikes me more deeply lately.
I’ve noted that a default mindset around my spiritual “success” is sort of in terms of closer or farther from the Lord. When I feel I’ve been slacking in attention to Him, self-betterment, use, etc., I seek the strength and guidance to turn back toward Him again. It seems to me that there’s something really necessary about that way of thinking – about realizing that our choices and motivations are either for or against the Lord, and can’t really be somewhere in the middle. However, though we need to take responsibility for our efforts, the reality is that He is still there no matter how far we feel. No amount of failure will find us without Him.
Continue reading He Is Here