Watching For Him Who Is Enough

The title of this post is the title of a devotion from Ann Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift. This is actually the devotion from a couple of days ago (I’m a little behind), but the Lord knew I needed to read it today! I would like to share a portion of it with you. I know that I am not the only one struggling in my life right now, an I pray that these words bless and encourage you as they have me!

I trembled inside when I heard this;
my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me
and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.
Habakkuk 3:16-19

“Olives fail. People fail. Dreams fail. You feel like you fail. A thousand things mount. Some days it’s hard not to panic. You can feel it – we are driven be fear of failure. For all our frenzied running around, could it be that we are actually fleeing – trying to escape all the fears? All this pain? All this failure? We all live these lives of quiet terror. Of soundless, hidden grief. You could just bow your head in the quiet and weep for all that isn’t. For all that you aren’t.

In the barrenness of winter, Habakkuk offers this gift to always carry close: rejoicing in the Lord happens while we still struggle in the now. Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.

As the cold can move you deeper toward the fire, struggling can move you deeper toward God, who warms you with joy. Struggling can deepen joy. Even though. Even now.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms and though the Christmas tree aches a bit empty, even though there are no grapes on the vine and no struggle-free days, even though the olive crop fails, even though I fail, even though so much fails – even now I will rejoice in the Lord. Even now I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.

Even though, even now – Habakkuk turns the focus. The secret of joy is always a matter of focus: a resolute focusing on the Father, not on the fears. All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends. When does He ever end? When you can’t touch bottom is when you touch the depths of God.”

A good word for me today, and I hope for you too!!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

Living In A World Of Oxymorons And Contradictions

Several weeks ago as I was going through what seemed like endless mounds of paperwork and life insurance policies, I happened upon a strange term: death benefit. I had an immediate dislike for these two words. Really…..death BENEFIT??? It kind of makes me sick at my stomach to think about it. I am benefitting from my husband’s death? Just doesn’t quite express what I’ve been feeling……I feel NO benefit from him being gone. The term really kind of makes me angry…….I feel many emotions on a daily basis, but benefit is NOT one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I am so very thankful for the way Greg provided for our family while he was here, and how he made provision for our future should something ever happen to him. I am thankful that while he was here, he made wise decisions about an unknown future. I am thankful that he loved the kids and I so much, that he made sure that even though he is no longer with us, he is still providing for us. It’s just that this term seems like such a major oxymoron or contradiction to me. The more I think about it though, the more I realize that there is one who is benefitting from Greg’s death….and that is Greg. He is no longer sick or in pain. He no longer has to be poked and prodded and X-rayed. He no longer has to take tons of toxic medication. He now has a new and glorious body. He has finished the race that was set before him and he is in the very presence of his Creator. I’m thinking that is DEFINITELY a benefit!!

As I have thought more about this “contradictory” term over the last week or so, I have begun to realize that right now, my life is full of contradictions. For instance…how can my life be completely changed, yet I still trust in the One who never changes? How can I feel so totally defeated, yet know that I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus my Lord? How can I be living in such tremendous grief and sorrow, yet still have a joy deep in my soul that can never be taken away? How can I feel so totally hopeless, yet still cling to the One who is my Hope? How can I struggle with anxieties, and fears and sleepless nights, yet still have a peace that passes all understanding? And how can I feel so very lonely day after day, yet know that I am truly NEVER alone? The one-word answer to all of these questions is the same….JESUS! Without Him, I truly would be always changing, completely defeated, overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, utterly hopeless, drowning in anxiety and fear, and totally alone.

Which leads me to one more thing that seems to be a contradiction. How can life come from death? And I realize that this is what Christmas is all about. At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Jesus was given life in the form of a child in order that He might grow up and die for us. The whole purpose of His life was death. And the whole purpose of our death is life! For us, as followers of Christ, we have made the decision to die to ourselves and live for Him. And, when this earthly life is over, our life is really just beginning! When we die and enter our heavenly home, we will be more alive than we’ve ever been! I think this is what the Word means when it says, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In this situation, I rejoice in the term “death benefit!”

The days are hard and the nights are long, but in this Christmas season (and always) I am thankful that my children and I are not alone. He is Immanuel……God with us!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

It’s Not About Me……..Or Is It???

IMG_5120

IMG_5125

The past couple of weeks have been hard for me, and I’ve found that my thoughts and emotions have been all over the place. One minute I think I’m doing good and am feeling strong, the next minute I’d rather just stay in bed and sleep it all away. One minute I’m feeling joyful and laughing, the next minute I’m having to fight back tears. I struggle to “turn my brain off” at night so that I can sleep, and I wake up every morning to the reality of my “new” life. And now….Christmas is upon us. And the roller coaster of emotions continues.

I’ve always loved Christmas and spending time preparing for it. This year I’ve found myself dreading it at times. It’s just hard and it makes me really sad to think about celebrating Christmas without Greg here. I just feel so…….empty. It doesn’t seem fair; it doesn’t seem right. Why can’t he be here to go with us to pick out the Christmas tree? Why can’t he be here to put the lights on the tree (and complain about how much he hates doing it!)? Why can’t he be here to put the star on top of the tree? Why can’t he be here to shop for Jake’s Christmas gifts like he always did? Why do me and the kids have to make the decision whether or not to hang Dad’s stocking with all the others this year? Why can’t he be here on Christmas morning when we open our gifts? Why can’t he be here to enjoy time spent with family and friends? Why can’t he be here as we have our traditional Christmas morning breakfast? Why can’t he be here to argue with me about who will take pictures and who will operate the video camera on Christmas morning? Why can’t he be here to hang the wreaths on our windows? Why do we have to celebrate Christmas without him? Why? Why? Why???

And just when I get all wrapped up in having my pity party and feeling sorry for myself, I am reminded that it’s not about me. Christmas is not about me…..it’s about HIM! And just because my life and my circumstances have changed, Christmas has not changed. Christmas is still the day that we celebrate the birth of Christ…that has not changed. It’s not about me; it’s all about HIM! It’s the day that we remember that God sent His only son into this sinful world to be born of a virgin. It’s the day that we remember that through this babe, Jesus, we can have eternal life!

And then, I begin to realize how very selfish I have been. Trying to make this day about me, and not about Him. I am ashamed that I would dare to compare my sufferings to the sufferings that that tiny baby would grow up and endure. The pain and suffering that He would endure for me…so that I could have eternal life! That pain and suffering that He endured is what has made it possible for Greg to be in Heaven complete, and whole, and healed today! This Christmas, Greg will celebrate WITH the very CHRIST of Christmas! How cool is that???

And as I ponder these things, I realize that I have been wrong all along. Christmas really IS about me! And it’s about you! It is because of each of us, that there even is a Christmas. It was because of us and God’s great love for us that He sent his precious, only Son to this earth, knowing full well what was in store for that sweet boy of His. He sent Jesus because He loves ME! He sent Jesus because He loves YOU!! He sent Jesus to be our Savior, to be our Prince of Peace, to be our Lord of Lords and to be our King of Kings! That is some major love!! If it weren’t for us, there would be no need for a Savior, there would be no need for Christmas.

It will still be hard and there will still be tears, but I am thankful that He knows my heart and He understands. But as hard as it will be, I will choose to celebrate Christmas with joy! Because after all, it IS all about me!!!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

%d bloggers like this: