Saturday, January 17, 2015

When Hope and Heartbreak Move in Together

She was stronger than I expected her to be, given the circumstances.

Her father was living in his last days. It was cancer. One year earlier, her family received the diagnosis no family wants to receive. It was terminal. This man who was dear to so many. A son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, pastor. He was one who made countless house-calls and hospital room visits, counseled, led, and loved. This man knew how to live compassion.

Now it was his time to receive compassion, his time to be loved.



We sat on my couch, tears pooling and falling down our faces. "After a lifetime of memories with my dad, I'm afraid these memories of seeing him so sick will be what I remember most." This is heartbreak.

"It's so hard to see him hurting. I'm not ready to let him go, but I'm ready for him to be whole and out of pain." This is hope.

In the same conversation.

This reminds me that it's possible (and okay) to be heartbroken and hopeful at the same time. So often we think we have to be "over it" and completely moved on from a painful experience before we can hope again.

Hope is possible whenever we decide to let it move in. I'm reminding myself today that sadness has a way of lingering, but it doesn't mean we can't hope.


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Thursday, January 1, 2015

hello, New Year. a time for releasing and embracing.

Well, here we are. 2015! I don't know if I've ever been so happy to see a brand-new year arrive. Is anyone else with me? 2014 was a year for the books. Last year brought the highest of highs. Some of the most tangible overwhelming God-is-SO-real-and-personal moments happened last year. But there were also the lowest of lows. The lowest of my life.

But you know? I wouldn't trade the lessons learned or the grace received for anything. But still, I'm ready for something new.

Of course nothing has really changed, it's just a figurative change as we hang new calendars and the dial rolls to 2015. We're all still walking through our days one after the other in a grand succession, but it just feels different rolling into January, doesn't it?

How about we share a bit about what we're looking forward to embracing in 2015, and what we're looking forward to leaving behind in 2014? I'll go first. Please share anything you're willing to share with the rest of us in the comments.




In Ephesians 4:22, Paul encourages, "put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life ...". Each moment of every day breeds opportunity to put off our old self, but we seem to be most aware of our need for change this time of year. And that's okay. No matter what time of year we choose to purge old behaviors, habits, or ways of life -- it's always a good time. As believers we should always be growing. And usually growing means changing. So what is it we're needing to release this year, so the good kinds of change can take place? I can think of a few things for myself. By God's grace, I will be able to:
  • Charge my phone and iPad in the kitchen overnight. I've gotten in a unhealthy routine of reaching for a device in the morning before getting out of bed instead of reaching out in prayer or for my Bible. For me, this has to stop. I want to make sure I'm connecting with God before I'm connecting any part of me with anyone else.
  • Lose the obsession with others' opinions of me. Even though I'm strong in my beliefs and fully dedicated to the work God has set before me, sometimes I struggle with how I'm perceived by other women. Even though I only want to be living for an audience of one. This is something I'm carrying over from a work that was started in my heart in back in 2013.
  • Rather than grab for a device out of boredom or avoidance, do something intentional instead. I can think of several things and most importantly people who are needing my attention. Or if a breather is what I really need, I'll look to do that in a way that feeds my soul. To help, I've removed the Facebook app from my devices as well. Out with the old!
  • Lose the obsession with self. I love how author Tim Keller puts in my favorite little book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, "The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less." This year, I seek to think of myself less.
 If we were to continue in Ephesians 4, right after the putting off the old part, we run right into the good part in verses 23-24: "to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." This sounds much more fun. But the other stuff is necessary so we can truly embrace the new. So what do you sense God is asking you to embrace this year? Here's my list. By God's grace, I will be able to:
  • Thrive and just breathe in the midst of a big change in our schooling ways. As I mentioned in this post over at The Masterpiece Mom a few weeks ago, our family has been facing some major change in the way we educate our kids. Starting next week, all three of our elementary-aged kids will be attending the same small charter school. The middle school-aged boys will remain at home, along with our three preschoolers. This is a huge stretch for us in our tenth year of homeschooling. But it's the right move for us, for right now. We've gotten that message loud and clear from the Lord. So no matter how bumpy or unsettling at times, I'm going to embrace the gift that it truly is.
  • Live fearlessly. No matter what God calls me to, I want to follow by faith. His ways are so high, and His plans SO good. I've learned He can be trusted with absolutely any and every area of my life. It's so freeing. You should try it.
  • Write in a journal. I write stuff down all the time. I'm a big fan of to-do lists and filling in squares on a fresh calendar page. And since I'm a writer, I spend a lot of time tapping out words on my laptop.  But the one sort of writing I'm really missing in my life is the kind that isn't for a purpose or an audience. It's more for the purpose of emptying this fast-moving, jump-around-y brain of mine. 
  • Read more books. See bullet point number three in the releasing section up above. Rather than reaching for a device, I'll seek to reach for a paperback. I have several going at all times. I'd really love to finish a few.
  • Be unashamedly me. For years I've sort of hidden parts of me from my friends and other people in my life that I thought were too different or strange. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to be fully me, walking into the calling God has placed on my life. With every passing year, I'm getting closer and closer to the place He's been leading me to all along. May 2015 be no different.
  • Soak up God's Word. Have I ever told you I've become obsessed with studying the Bible? For my birthday back in July, I requested this ginormous Bible commentary that I absolutely love. I'm so happy to get to spend the rest of my life at this pursuit, and then turn around and teach what I've absorbed to women wherever the Lord may lead.
Happy New Year to you. I truly mean that. I'll be praying for us as we purge the old and welcome the new. There truly is no better feeling.

So what sort of things will you be releasing and embracing as you walk into 2015?
 

 
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