CHRISTMASTIDE Day 12: Suit up, Show up

God has never asked for my advice. Not once. This is so surprising because I’m so eager to give it to him. ( wink). I bet if you’re honest – you are too.

I have thoughts on the places I’d like my adult children to live. I have ideas on who should be elected to public office. I have suggestions for the timing of the challenges in my life. I’m not opposed to them – I just need them to come when I’m good and ready and they won’t make me too uncomfortable. Oh my.

It’s our last day of Christmastide – the 12th day of Christmas. My goal in this season was to wrap up one year and move boldly into the next finding reasons to rejoice. Each day God showed me that there is plenty to celebrate if I stop long enough to really see. He is so good to show us so much.

Today – today may feel a bit harsh. It’s the day when I’ll share some marching orders, some God direction for our next steps. Tough love of sorts – still love but tough. You know – the love that hurts so good. The love motivated by a genuine concern for whats best for us, desiring that we don’t just coast through life but boldly move in the direction of God’s calling. The direction that causes us and many to say “Who me?”

You know…

Like Moses at the burning bush.

Like Abraham and Sarah at the news they would be parents in their old age.

Like Gideon when asked to lead an army of 300 against an army of thousands.

Like the woman at the well.

Like the woman caught in adltry.

“Who me?”

All through scripture God calls the unequipped and equips them.

All through scripture God invites the least of these to some of the greatest acts of faith ever recorded. And today, my friend, he’s calling you.

I believe 2020 was a training ground. It was a daily workout plan for which we did not willingly enroll. I truly believe it was preparation for what is to come. We are stronger, braver, more resilient, flexible, ready for the reality that our hope can never rest in worldly idols, ever again. It’s time for us to Show up and Suit up. God has plans for you and for me.

Proverbs is a book of the bible you don’t want to flip to lightly. The words are tough and many times hit too close to home. For example:

Proverbs 6:6-11 The Message

You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely, let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food, at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to lay around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back , take it easy – do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt poor life, poverty your permanent house guest.

OUCH.

FRIENDS – It’s time to Suit up and Show up.

This last Saturday I participated in a 6 hour workshop ….

on ZOOM.

Like the rest of the world, a conference that I had attended for 17 years in person, with hundreds of others, moved to the only option we have right now… virtual. No one would see me that day except my family and my cat and my dog. My plan was to shower, put on some yoga pants and snuggle in for the day. And then I heard a whisper – “Suit up and Show up.”

In my world, the woman in leadership have a uniform. It is a beautiful suit designed specifically for the top 2% of the company that are responsible for leading the sales force. I love it. I look forward to the arrival of a new one each spring. I love shopping for new shoes and accessories. I love my suit. When I put it on it feels like superman in the telephone booth. Stay at home mom during the day – super woman leader of many by night. I realized Saturday that the 2020 suit that was set to launch in July of 2020 was hanging patiently in my closet – well at least the skirt was. For the last 8 months I’ve half showed up – physically that is. I’ve donned the top part of my suit for ZOOM events but not the bottom ( No one can see me from the waist down – so why bother?) But Saturday, the day of a 6 hour Zoom, I heard Suit up, Show up, ALL OF YOU.

Even they nylons?

Yes – even they nylons.

Sigh.

So I did. I moved into prep mode. Showered, applied my make up and curled my hair. I picked out my jewelry and even wrestled on my nylons buried deep in my sock drawer. And as I did the craziest thing happened. I felt myself waking up. I felt my excitement for the day growing. I felt my mind shift from being kind of “In” to all the way. I hadn’t felt that way in a very long time. The practice of Suiting up and Showing up was powerful. I spoke a message to myself that I would no longer allow the pandemic of 2020 to lower my bar of excellence. I would take the lessons learned in the yoga pants of 2020 to fully embrace the stage of 2021. Like an athlete that moves from practice gear to game day uniform. Like a dancer that moves from rehearsal clothes to opening night costume and full make up – I’m ready to show up and suit up for this next season. I believe you are too.

Friends – hear my heart. 2020 was hard and the flip to 2021 has not quick fixed the questions and challenges that still linger. Today I await the MRI results for a family member which will disclose the severity of a recent breast cancer diagnosis. Hard indeed. There are days that simply getting out of bed is a victory – and I applaud each of us as we continue to do the best with what we have. BUT I can’t deny the nudge I got last weekend – the one I believe was from my God that called me higher. He knows full well what we are in and he also reminds us that we are part of, the only plan for sharing His truths with the world. This is no small task. Sharing light in the darkness is growing increasingly more difficult. It is not for the faint of heart but hearts are fainting from a lack of knowing the true source or our peace and power – The Love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God needs us to Suit up and Show up – all of us – head to toe. Today. Right this minute. Now.

I don’t know what suiting up and showing up means in your world but I’m pretty sure you do. Like the ant, if we’re honest, we can admit it’s not from a lack of knowing what to do, it is from a lack of believing the God who promises to equip the called. He isn’t coming asking us for ideas or opinions on the plan for our lives but he is asking us to Show up to suit up. It’s a humbling honor to recognize that he is eagerly waiting for each of us to present ourselves to Him ready for duty.

My Suit is on. I’m Showing up today. I’m expectant and ready to walk this New Year out in God confidence. I’d love to have you join me. The world is waiting. Our God is waiting….

and for this I rejoice.

Suited up and ready for. 6 hour virtual event.

CHRISTMASTIDE Day 11: Take It

Arms feeling a little lighter today? Mind, Soul, Emotions feeling the freedom that comes when you drop some junk? If not – go back a read yesterdays post – “Leave it.” You may, like me, need to be reminded of the Day 10 message throughout this year. It’s hard to leave toxic habits and thought processes behind – but its so worth it. Why? Because today, today we get to do some shopping – and we need hands wide open – possibly lifted up, eager to receive.

I’ve read quite a few articles and listened to numerous podcasts where the speaker encourages people to look at the gifts of 2020. What new skills did we learn as a result of needing to pivot in our businesses? What were we able to do as families because of the increased time we all had together? What new hobbies did we acquire – can you say sourdough? It is a healthy practice and one that can remind us of the power of growth that only happens in hard times. We have much we can take with us into the New Year. I believe if you look hard enough you will notice a full shopping cart overflowing with blessings. Today I want you to imagine though that you can only take one new gift into 2021. You try to click the purchase button and an error message pops up on your screen – ” Too many items – please remove.”

I love how 2020 evened the playing field. Not one person, in any field of business, medicine, education, government knew what to do. Not one. Me included. For those of us in leadership positions we were scrambling to know what to tell our people. I personally am responsible for coaching 150 entrepreneurs around the country. I felt overwhelmed with the task of guiding this crew through these muddy waters. It became very clear, very quickly that I was going to need to prove what I’ve said I believe all along “Seek God first, trust his wisdom, he will never leave me or forsake me.” I had to answer the question – What do I really BELIEVE about God and his ability to give me what I need – NOW? I didn’t need assurance of my eternal salvation – I needed a God of Moses in the Desert – leading with a cloud by day and fire by night. I needed a God that would give me daily direction on very specific questions relating to my business and those I’ve been called to lead. When I looked to my right and to my left I saw confusion – the only place to look – the only place I found real peace and answers was UP. The gift, the greatest, given to me, proven to me daily – was the gift of BELIEF. Not in me, or my peers, or any earthy leader. 2020 reminded me of the power of Believing God. Not IN God – but believing HIM.

Believing God.

Believing He is who he says he is.

Believing He can do what he says he can do.

Believing I am who he says I am.

Each day I woke up waving a white flag of surrender as I was faced with new rules, changes, questions. My belief that I could plan and goal set through the pandemic was washed away. My belief that I could google search my way to the answers I needed – nope. My shopping cart of solutions – empty- except one,

Belief. Specifically,

Believe God.

What if we woke each day of 2021 with the words “I believe you God” on our hearts and lips.

What if in the middle of the cancer battle we professed, “I believe you God”

What if at the end of an exhausting day of homeschooling, while working and running a house hold we cried, “I believe you God.”

What if in the labor and delivery room, the wedding celebration, the graduations, the job promotions we shouted “I believe you God.”

What if …. fill in the blank of the joys and challenges of your life… you chose to Believe God.

The truth is … it’s the most important work you’ll do and the one thing God asks of us

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29

I’m standing in the checkout lane of 2020, cart filled with the one most important item the greatest gift, belief. Don’t worry though, there is plenty left. Go check your 2020 – look for the places God showed up in very real and practical ways. Look for the times he proved you could believe Him. Ask him to show you. Write them down, create your own belief track record. He offers the gift of faith to all that ask and believe and to this I say “I’ll Take it”

and for this I Rejoice.

Believing God as I step onto the path marked “2021”

CHRISTMASTIDE Day 10: Leave it

Philippians 3:13-14

“Brothers and Sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Her most open time for conversation is when she is walking her dog. Her energetic, must have a walk to get out his energy or he’ll destroy the house, dog. This pup is sweet, loyal, loving and a bit insane. I get a glimpse into the neurosis of this animal each time I talk to my sister, when she his walking him, and we are on the phone. She lives in Seattle, is a busy working mom of 2 teenagers. There is a 2 hour time difference in our worlds so the windows of time when we can actually have a conversation feel small. This dog walking time seems to work best.

One of the fascinating traits of Toby, the crazy dog, is that his memory is short. Hmm… his memory is short or his ability to discern what is really bad for him, could actually kill him, is non existent. let me explan.

As my sister is walking her tornado on a leash pup ( I know, I’ve walked him) she is regularly repeating one simple phrase,

“Toby, leave it.”

TOBY.. leave it.

TOBY.

LEAVE.

IT.

This dog eats everything.

Every. dang. thing.

If she didn’t stop him from inhaling every loose item on their walk through their Seattle neighbor hood I believe he would wind up on the side of the road , stomach bloated from too much of too many bad things. He just cannot control himself. The first time I walked him my sister said – ” Don’t be afraid to be firm – he needs it.”

Sometimes I feel like Toby. I totally disregard the lack necessity of something in my life and just dive right in. I jump into traffic jams of life when I didn’t even need to be in my car in the first place. I continue habits and thought processes that do not line up with the plans and thoughts God has for and about me. As I charge into 2021 there are some things I really need to leave behind. I made a list – are you surprised?

Here are just a few that I’m willing to share:

Striving

Control ( of everything!)

Bitterness

Fear

Jealousy

Each of these have stories connected to them that don’t need to be shared here but between me and my God that is asking me to Leave them. He is the one that brought them to my attention and he is the one that regularly commands me to drop them – now. He knows what 2021 will bring and he knows what will not serve me well on the path he has marked out for my life.

What do you need to leave? What habit or thought needs to be dropped like a disgusting piece of garbage my sisters dog has found on the side of the road? The beautiful thing about leaving things, dropping them out of our arms and our lives…. is that it creates room to pick up what is really good, beautiful and powerful. More on that tomorrow.

Today I made my list of things I’ll drop as I re-enter 2021. There is room on the pile for yours…

and for this I rejoice.

Vacationing with my sisters family in South Carolina – no dogs allowed!

CHRISTMASTIDE: Day 9 Dance

A DAVID PSALM, AFTER HE WAS CONFRONTED BY NATHAN ABOUT THE AFFAIR WITH BATHSHEBA

PSALM 51: 4-8 The Message

“God – You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then, conceive a new, true life. Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to…..

DANCING.”

Game playing. Hiking. Traveling. Going out to Eat. Watching movies. Dancing. These are a few of the things our family enjoys doing together. It really isn’t a surprise. When I look back on my offsprings childhood I realize we raised them on these things. All the things on our FUN list have been a part of their world from conception on – including Dancing. Interestingly – our son – who has a particular interest in Swing dancing was newly forming in the womb when Tom and I took Swing dance lessons. He was born to dance. One of my favorite family pictures is from a wedding when my children were little – on the dance floor. It hangs above my desk and reminds me of the Joy we share when we are together and we are dancing.

This last weekend the wedding of my niece provided an opportunity to enjoy some dance time together. There we were, Tom and I, our three children and my son in law – all in a circle on the dance floor. I took a quick video to document the moment where all worries seem to be forgotten, freedom from opinions gone ( we were one of two families on the dance floor and nobody seemed to care) and Joy was the overriding emotion. Everyone had their own moves and interpretation of the music. When one song ended we eagerly awaited the next in hopes it would be another “foot – tapper” as David refers to good music in the Psalm referenced above.

A Christmas Wedding

As I was reading through this Psalm today you can imagine how thrilled I was to see David use the term dancing. He was crying out to the Lord for forgiveness for adultery and murder. Kind of big deal sins. Once confronted with the severity of his actions by his friend Nathan he immediately moves to repentance. He confesses the reality that he has been sinful since birth and that he was deserving of whatever punishment God saw fit. But then he boldly asks for more…. his belief in his all powerful and all loving God leads him to ask for total freedom from his guilt and shame. He wants to walk, actually DANCE in the knowledge that despite his sin he is totally loved, totally forgiven and totally empowered to move forward in that victory.

As I continue my reflection of 2020 and set my sights on 2021 I’m asking for some Nathan wisdom. I’m looking for revelation about actions in my life, heart and mind that I need to lay at the foot of the cross. I want my eyes opened, like David, to the places I may have completely overlooked and missed the severity of my choices. I want to receive all that God has to offer because of the life and death of his Son Jesus. I want the freedom to live boldly, I want to not just limp into to 2021… I want to DANCE.

Even if dancing isn’t your jam. Even if you prefer to enjoy your drink and watch the rest of us parade around the dance floor. Even if…. I’m guessing there may be some things that you’d like to leave behind. I’m guessing there may be some stuff that is weighing you down, that you’d like to slough off, that you’d like to walk with a lighter step and a more peaceful spirit. Maybe this is the day to drop it. Maybe this is the day to open your heart to Jesus- the author, perfecter, redeemer and comforter. He has total freedom waiting for you and this reality may just make you want…….

to dance.

And for this I rejoice.

First wedding with all 3 kiddos – 2004 ish

CHRISTMASTIDE Day 8: A New Thing – Part 2

It sounds like the wind is going to knock right through our walls. The rain/ice/snow mix is pelting so hard against our window panes its causing out little dog to actually lift his head from his cozy slumber on the soft blanket next to me on the couch. It takes a lot to get this little guy to shift his comfort. 2021 is coming in like a Lion – indeed. Its perfect weather to snuggle in, grab a cup of your favorite drink and make a few lists.

Yesterday I shared the words from Isaiah 43:16,18-19 along with some instruction – make two lists.

The ” What God has done and will do list.”

The “My responsibility list.”

My thought was to find your answers from the multiple translations I wrote out for you in the blog. Today I want to share what I found and offer one more piece of homework as you head into this new year.

GOD LIST:

Builds Road through the ocean, build paths through pounding waves, doing something new, Build a road in the desert, rivers in the badlands, doing that new thing NOW, making a way in the wilderness, making streams in the wasteland, a road through strong currents, Opened a way through the waters and making a path right through the sea, and my favorite… I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to GO HOME.

MY LIST:

Forget the past – don’t remember or ponder what happened in earlier times

Be Alert

Be Present

Listen carefully

My questions for you and for me today –

What wilderness are you choosing to go through alone? What ocean waves are you attempting to plow through with only YOUR strength, wisdom and attempt at peace? How much time have you spent questioning your past so that you miss God’s promises and plans for your present and future? What promises have you seen God abundantly display in both the big and little challenges of your life?

Before we charge anywhere in 2021 we may want to assess our lists and clarify our lanes. Before you set your goals and create that vision board check your posture – is it one of alertness, presence and openness to God’s word and wisdom for your life? He is ready and eager to answer, to guide, to provide for every single question we have. Let’s make 2021 the year where we remind ourselves of the work that God is so capable of doing – the heavy lifting, the way making, the promise keeping. Let’s make 2021 the year where our first to do is to sit at his feet seeking the gifts he is so eager to give……

let’s do this together…..

and let’s Rejoice.

Welcome 2021

CHRISTMASTIDE: Day 7: A New Thing – Part 1

I won’t make it to midnight….

without a nap….

from about 9:30 p.m. to 11:59 when Tom will wake me up to see the ball drop.

New Years Eve. It’s just not my favorite. I love the idea of it because I love a good party. I love the gathering of friends and family. I love the snacks and drinks. I love it all… I just need it to end around 8:30 p.m. Can I get an Amen?

Despite my inability or desire to actually ring in the New Year there is something I enjoy about the next two days. I find the built in opportunity to look back on what I learned in the prior year and plan for the next to be not only enjoyable but important. A couple of years ago my daughters and I used the earlier hours of New Years eve to create dream boards for the next year. We cut pictures out of magazines and glued them to a piece of card stock. The symbols and words we discovered were a reflection of what we were committed to working towards in the new year.

This year I’ve decided to make two lists and this is where I invite you in to a little New Years Eve homework assignment. I’ve actually done a bit of the work for you but the best results will come when you take some moments to reflect on the following words I’ll share. And to be clear – these instructions are not from me – but our God who promises to give all wisdom in all situations – including the next year of life he will bring to each of us.

If you followed my blog during Lent 2020 you know that each Sunday I provided one verse in several different translations. I encouraged you to read through each one, possibly even write them out on paper so as to slow your mind down for deeper reflection. This is what I will do for you today. As I look back on 2020 and plan for 2021 – I’m using this verse to understand two things – that will grow my two lists.

  1. What has God done and will do?
  2. What is my responsibility?

It’s when these two lists start to mingle that I start to feel overwhelmed. When I start to think I’m God of the Universe things get messy. So here you go…. Isaiah 43:16,18-19 in several translations. As you read through the words make your own lists. The God List and the YOU list. I believe that this is the most important place to start when making any sort of New Years Resolution or Goal Poster. If our direction doesn’t start with God , it is likely it may not be the best idea. We all learned from 2020 that our best laid plans can all fall to pieces with one phone call, one diagnosis, one crazy virus that sneaks into our country. May this time of reflection move us to a place of HOPE in our God that will never change even when everything about us does. Grab a pen, journal, scratch paper…. lets get to list making.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19. NIV

This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea- a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things, do not dwell in the past. See I am doing a new thing! NOW it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19 AMP

This is what the Lord says, He who makes a way through the sea, and a path through the mighty waters, Do Not Remember the former things or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing. NOW it will spring forth , will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 16, 18-19 ERV

The Lord is making roads through the sea. He is making a path for his people, even through rough waters. So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert and rivers will flow through that dry land.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19 GW

The Lord makes a path through the sea and a road through the strong currents. Forget what happened in the past and do not dwell on events from long ago. I am going to do something new. It is already happening. Don’t you recognize it? I will clear a way in the desert. I will make rivers on dry land.

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19. TLB

I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a path right through the sea. But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand new thing. See I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home and create rivers for them in the desert!

Isaiah 43:16,18-19 The Message

This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, Forget about what’s happened, don’t keep going over old history. Be alert. Be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.

See you back here tomorrow… with your lists. God’s word can give us such clear direction and peace…

And for this… I rejoice.

Try writing the words – they will come to life!

CHRISTMASTIDE: Day 6: Now

I knew she would be awake prepping for another day of online teaching. The high school where she has worked for several years had moved to an online format through the end of the year due to COVID. Her story is one of many educators across our country. I am thankful for she and all the other teachers that have sacrificed so much to continue some sort of learning opportunities for their students. On this particular day I was thankful for something else this new format had provided….

She was home.

My friend lives about a block away. I can see her back deck from my front porch. There are a gazillion things I love about our home. The proximity to some of the most kind, generous neighbors and friends is one of them. Today her physical presence was one I needed but did not anticipate enjoying when I sent my text, my prayer request hours before the sunrise last week.

It wasn’t long after I shared some disturbing news via text with Jodi that she sent me a response with beautiful words of encouragement, hope and perspective. I shed a few tears , sent a quick “thank you for being amazing” reply and prepped to hop on my exercise bike. I hoped that riding a few miles and sweating through an old T-shirt would relieve some of the stress I felt in my shoulders. As I was about the begin my ride – I heard my dog whimpering by the front door. When I looked down the hallway he turned, wagged his tail and then looked back again at the door as if to say, “A friend is here- you need to see her.”

My little dog – he was so right.

My friend had made a decision. She did not ask for permission or request a time when we could both be showered and prepped for the day to connect. She followed her gut that said, ” Go see Beth…. NOW.” And she did. She walked right on over and said these simple words…

“I just needed to see if you were OK.”

She hugged me and I cried real tears. We stood in the entry way of my home and talked for, at most, 15 minutes. She didn’t give any answers that fixed the problem….

But she gave her presence……

that brought real peace.

It was what I needed to move through my day. Her response to her NOW nudge enabled me to plow through my year end business to-do list as well as prepping for the Christmas celebration that was right around the corner. This isn’t the first time she has shared this gift with me. She has taught me the power of the pivot when that NOW nudge comes.

2020 has forced us all to change direction on a moments notice. Many of us have acquired a wealth of information and skills as a result of the constant need for learning. The reality of changing NOW has blown in like a cold north wind and does not seem to want to let up anytime soon. Jesus lived his life with a NOW mentality. When he was faced with the sick he would heal physically. He would then use that NOW moment to bring the most important healing – forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. When he was gathering his team of 12 he commanded a NOW response. When he was discovered in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified, he went willingly knowing it was NOW time. When the apostle Paul taught us about seeking Gods presence he instructs us to do so with freedom and confidence – which I translate as NOW.

I will leave 2020 with a new appreciation for NOW. I have learned that when that NOW nudge comes that God is telling me to move, immediately. What is your NOW nudge today? Has something been tugging at your heart? Is there a name you cannot get out of your mind? I pray this message can be the spark that starts your NOW movement. The 15 minutes you take to adjust your life could literally change the course of someone else’s. Put your phone down and go… NOW.

The gift of grace my friend shared as a result of her NOW nudge has made such a difference that it will be the theme of my 2021…

and for this I rejoice.

NOW.

The picture of “Lets go NOW!”

CHRISTMASTIDE: Day 5: Pause

I get it. At least I think I do. I believe I understand the feeling behind the shift in melody, style and rhythm on Day 5. You know, Day 5, of the song the 12 days of Christmas. I know the tune has popped in your head before you read the next sentence. If it hasn’t… here it is.

Fiiive…. GOOOOOOLDEN… RIIIIIINNNGS!!! Deep, audible breath.

and then the song continues.

The writer committed to penning this tune, gets a good start and then by day 5 he thinks – ” what have I gotten myself into – 12 days of lyrics?” What began as a fun way to walk through this season of christmastide now feels a bit of a burden. Thus the long drawn out phrase and deep breath. Friends- thats me today.

We have enjoyed a whirlwind of activity in our family over the last two days. It has been nothing short of wonderful. This morning as I drink my coffee and ponder the words of what to share, all I could think of was…… Pause, deep, audible, cleansing breath. And I knew that was exactly the gift I would rejoice in today. The ability……

to choose….

to stop.

Yesterday in the midst of a kitchen full of family, my great nephew began to show signs of fatigue. He is a little over a year, so you can imagine what that looks like. His wise mother asked if she could lay him down on our bed for a quick nap before they headed to the airport. The little guy needed a pause and it would serve their entire family well if he got one. It was only a matter of moments that he settled in and his mom snapped this picture. It speaks volumes of the power of the pause. The contentment, the relief, the total peace in his face says “this was a really good idea.”

Do you need a pause today, permission to take some moments to reflect, recharge…… sleep? What will that look like? Will it be a stop of the scroll, the pause in the list making and resolution forming? Will it be a decision to take all the questions swirling in your mind and lay them at the feet of our Savior who has asked us to cast all of our anxiety on him?

You have my full support to enjoy your pause. I know I will …

and for this I will rejoice.

The Henry Pause

CHRISTMASTIDE: Day 4: Weddings

“Thank you for raising the woman that we have prayed for our son to marry since the day he was born.”

I love these words. They always make me tear up. They were spoken to us by our sweet son-in-laws parents on the night of the rehearsal dinner in 2019 and I heard them again last night. One of our beloved nieces is getting married today to an amazing, God loving, fun man of integrity. We are so thankful he will be part of our family. Her future father – in- law spoke those words of gratitude to her parents before we enjoyed the pre-wedding meal. What I also know to be true is that the brides parents have also prayed for the man that their daughter would marry – since the day she was born.

To have the privilege of attending an event that has literally been prayed over for almost 30 years – well – thats a gigantic reason to celebrate. 30 years of communicating heart desires to a God that listens. 30 years of trusting the twists and turns of life of ones child in the hands of their maker. As I prepare to take in all the joy that a wedding day brings I can imagine that God and his angels are doing the same. I can picture them pulling up chairs, grabbing some tissue and readying themselves for the reward that comes when humans on earth enjoy the answers to lifetimes of prayer. I imagine God’s gratitude for the parents that prayed and the people that supported them in those prayers. His people have asked and waited and asked and waited some more and asked…. and God was so good to answer. He always is.

As we head into the end of this year and a page turn to the next – I know many of us are in the middle of some deep prayers for people we love. Many of us feel God’s answers were wrong. Many of us believe his timing is off. Many of us are finding it hard to find reasons to celebrate. And to this I say….

Keep on.

Keep Asking.

Keep seeking.

Boldly kneel at the feet of the one who can give understanding to your situation, patience in the timing, and eyes to see the answers that may be right in front of you. He will never grow weary of our requests and longs to hear your heart cries.

“Lord, in my place of weakness and need, I ask again: Will you come and help me? I know I’m always in your thoughts. You are my true Savior and hero, so don’t delay to deliver me now, for you are my God.” Psalm 40:17

When this drops on Monday morning the wedding celebration will be a memory. The weeks of preparation and the years of praying all wrapped up in this single day of joy. The guests will travel home, the decorations packed in boxes, the leftover food stored in ziplock bags in the refrigerators of family that live close. The happy couple will continue their life journey -together. I can guarantee that they both would say- it was worth the wait. I can promise that they are incredibly grateful for parents that never stopped trusting God with their lives and their future spouses lives.

What is your…. “I have prayed for this since……” statement? What are you continuing to wait for God to answer? What answer can you find to celebrate… today? Who in your life needs the reminder that God is faithful and their prayers are still being heard?

Prayer – the invitation to seek God’s presence on any day at any time. This beautiful, important, life changing gift… I remember its power today….

and rejoice.

The bride- her mother and godmother – aka prayer warriors

CHRISTMASTIDE: Day 3 Baby, baby

The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you- news that will make everyone happy. Today YOUR Savior was born in Davids town. He is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 ERV

But the angel reassured them, saying “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for EVERYONE, everywhere. For today in Bethlehem a Rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord, the Messiah. Luke 2:10-11 TPT

“What do we do?”

My husband looked at me with intense eagerness. I’m not sure if he felt I knew the answer to his question but was just hopeful because I was the only other person in the room. I looked at him with an exasperated look in my eye, one that spoke – “Your guess is as good as mine.” We were sunk. We had, what felt like, the biggest challenge of our lives right in from of us, and neither of us knew what to do. Our sweet little first born was just days old. She was such a good baby, AND cried. A lot. I struggle when parents describe their baby as ” Good” if their child doesn’t give them any trouble – take regular naps, sleep through the night the second they are home from the hospital, latch on to breastfeeding right away… You know. You’ve heard it. So our baby was good – AND left us with numerous questions we felt so very unqualified to answer. It felt hard, impossible at times, to our 27 and 28 year old selves.

Years later, the popular comedy, The Office, depicted our situation with a realness with which most new parents connect. Jim and Pam are leaving the hospital with their first baby questioning why in the world the staff is letting them go. Don’t they realize they too did not have the answers to the questions of all the unknowns that come with parenting? As the exited the hospital doors they looked around as if waiting to be arrested for leaving under false pretenses. Who did they think they were taking a baby into the world with no experience? Get back in there until you’re ready! All parents know that if they did – they would never leave.

Babies. They change everything.

Everything.

They change the times you sleep and eat. They change your social life, your travel plans, your checking account. They change the TV shows you watch. They can change the trajectory of your professional life. It is almost hard for me to imagine a life before Tom and I became parents – life feels so different.

I was reminded of the impact of these changes on Christmas morning during out church service. I was sitting behind an adorable baby – being passed between her mother and her grandmothers. They were attempting to keep her happy during the hour long worship service. She was CUTE and a bit distracting – ( in a good way.) These 3 adults that had enjoyed quietly sitting in church before baby – now had one goal – keep this little person happy. It was all hands on deck. Babies – they change everything – and everyone around them. These sweet little creatures – they reveal a love we didn’t know we had. They demand attention to the details of their lives and every one of their needs. They impress on us the importance of learning, listening and understanding – all. the. time. 24-7. No down time. No days off. No sick leave.

So… doesn’t it make so much sense that the One who would Change everything for our good, who would flip the worlds idea of hope, joy, peace and love, would come… as a baby? From the moment Jesus was conceived – he was changing peoples lives. Starting with his teenage mother Mary, to his earthly father Jospeh, to the shepherds, the wiseman, King Herod – changed. Unlike the unknowns that come with human births – His birth left us with an answer, the answer. The solution to biggest question we all face – this problem of sin and separation from our Father. Our Savior – taking the form of a helpless little baby – became the period to our question mark. We now walk through this world of struggle with a peace that comes with knowing. In our day to day, trying to figure it all out, life, we rest in the hope that started with ….

a baby.

the baby. The Christ child…

And for this – I rejoice.

our firstborn – just minutes old.