Personal Challenges

God IS Good

When we announced that our house had conditionally sold and that we had then bought a house conditionally, based on our house selling, we were overwhelmed with how good God is. Many people said to me “Wow, God is good.”

Today the deal on our house fell through. Something unexpected to do with their finances, which then in turn impacts us buying our new house. Tomorrow we go back to the routine of showings, open houses and uncertainty. I was so thankful to be done with having to find things for Caleb and I to do, while managing to keep the house spotless.

One the disappointment calmed down and reality set in, I had many thoughts in my mind.

“Well this is embarrassing, everyone said God was so good to us and now it’s all fallen through!”

Yikes, did my thoughts just imply that the Lord’s goodness isn’t at work anymore? 

There are many factors that come into play here, and we don’t know what the outcome will be. I do know that God in his divine goodness holds what is going on. He knows when we need to be moved, he knows the house we need to live in, and he knows how much we need to make off our house.

The bible speaks freely about God’s soveignty and goodness. Psalm 31:19 says

How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.

This verse brings great peace to me heart. We daily come to the Lord for protection, and I believe that we are walking in his will. His goodness will come forth, as a testimony to the watching world.

I just am not sure what this testimony is going to look like yet. But I know that somehow God is going to get glory, and I am going to learn to delare the goodness of the Lord regardless of circumstance.

If our house sells, God is good. If another deal falls through, God is good. If I am healthy, God is good. If I am sick, God is still good. If I live in the house that I want, God is good. If I live in my second, third, or fourth choice house, God is good.

I am so thankful for an unchanging, constant, permanent, unmoving, never sleeping God in the midst of my somewhat liquid life!

 

Prayers regarding our house would be appreciated. GOD IS GOOD!!!

 

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Personal Challenges

Becoming a Dad and Being a Dad Are Different Things

Today is a very special “Fatherhood Friday”. I want to thank my guest blogger Josh Chalmers for his vulnerability, openness and honesty. I know that you will be blessed by his words, and I encourage you to check out his blog:  http://joshchalmers.wordpress.com

Blessings,

 

 

 

Becoming a Dad and Being a Dad Are Different Things

 

When your wife gets pregnant, it starts a new season in your life—a season of anticipation. If you are like me, you likely don’t have the same kind of burning desire your wife does to have a kid. After all, most people don’t make parenting out to be a very appealing prospect. Think about the last time you heard new parents talk about their experience, what always seems to stand out are sleepless nights and bleary-eyed days, endless crying, and diapers full of strange colored poop. So when I am fully honest, I can’t say I was especially pumped when I found out Laura was pregnant.

 

My lack of excitement about this new season lasted quite a while; which is why I’m grateful babies don’t arrive instantly via a stork, but take a while to arrive.  I remember thinking, at least I have a full nine months to get used to the idea of my life radically changing. This was good but faulty logic. As soon as the announcement of your pregnancy is made public, everyone conspires to keep the immanent arrival of your baby in your face with helpful comments like: “If you don’t like babies now, you will when its your own!” or, “You are going to be sooo tired…” or the most helpful, “Enjoy your freedom right now, because you’re not going to have any for 18 years!!!”

 

When did my attitude change? It wasn’t when the doctor said, “It’s a girl!” or the so called magical moment when I got to hold her. Under normal circumstances, these moments might have flipped some kind of happiness or awe switch inside me, but our daughter was whisked away to NICU because of a birth defect in her esophagus. The day following her birth she had to have surgery, and she stayed in the hospital for 2 full weeks. It was so surreal, especially since we weren’t allowed to hold her for the first week. This experience didn’t make things any easier. When we finally brought her home I felt so relieved, but not excited.

 

When we got home the anticipation was over; it was time to try to enjoy this new season. I can’t say it suddenly got any easier; in fact, all the pre-game mental warmups I had performed did nothing to prepare me for the changes to our lifestyle. Some of the things people said about sleep were accurate, but I was never a walking zombie watching myself from outside my own body like other new fathers describe. My wife found it easier to have our daughter in bed with her for nursing, so she gave me the freedom to sleep downstairs, explaining that I was the one who had to work in the morning. When I talk to other new fathers most have expressed surprise at this arrangement, which makes me very grateful for my wife’s sacrifice—they do say misery loves company. Nevertheless, I did my share by staying up with our daughter until midnight or 1:00 AM when she couldn’t sleep at night; which was quite frequent in the first three months. This period was the hardest for me, because I felt like I should be so excited, and so in love with my little girl, but I just wasn’t.

 

It was even harder when I compared my emotions to my wife’s. She seemed to find it easy to express love for our daughter, whereas it always felt forced for me. I mostly kept these kinds of thoughts to myself, but my excitement started to grow not as a result of interacting with my daughter—at least not at first. My excitement to be a father sparked when my wife would make comments like, “I love watching how gentle you are with our baby,” or she would ask “Aren’t you so excited to take your daughter out for dates when she is older?” These moments were great because they built my confidence, and affirmed that my wife was seeing me as a capable and trustworthy father.

 

But after my baby started smiling at me something happened inside my heart—real joy at being a father sprouted. Once your baby is able to return your love, and celebrates your presence, you can’t help but get excited to see them. The first smile happens around three months, and the first laugh happens around six months! Now its hard to remember not being excited about being a father. The first few months might feel long, but trust me, it doesn’t take long for things to seem normal.

 

Now there are so many bright moments I could never go back. My favorite time of day is when I come home from work and my daughter is so excited that she practically hyperventilates with joy. Other great moments include playing during bath times, when she falls asleep on my chest (especially if my wife wasn’t able to calm her down), memorizing books like Moo, Baa, La La La together with my wife, seeing the grandparents loving on my daughter is more fun than I could have ever expected, reading my wife’s blog, and watching her develop in her giftings and enjoying being at home as a mother. Although becoming a father wasn’t easy for me, being a father is awesome!

 

If you are struggling with becoming a father, the following book resonated with my experience and helped me cope with my emotions (and lack thereof): David Jacobsen’s Rookie Dad: Thoughts on First-Time Fatherhood – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310279216/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=jochmyraraanr-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0310279216  (please use this link on your blog, because if anyone buys this book, I will get a percentage of the sale).

 

Check out Josh’s blog at: http://joshchalmers.wordpress.com

Personal Challenges

Remembering

It’s funny how you can long for a season of your life to pass by for so long, only to realize later how quickly it went by. Tonight I went for a walk with my sister and cousin through my hometown. I spent so many hours in my high school or at my part-time jobs, worrying about pleasing people I never see anymore. In the moment it was such a big deal. Their approval meant so much.

I walked past my school and all that remained for me was memories.  I wished I would have been more open about my faith and more passionate about sharing my salvation story. Jesus had done so much for me, what was scaring me?

It’s too late to worry now.  All I can do is move forward.

Time is such a funny thing. One moment drags on and on and the next zooms by so quick you don’t have time to breathe. In reality though life keeps moving on at the same speed.

One day this stage of life will simply be a memory that I look fondly back on. I heard one older mom say that she had no idea how brief a period of time babies actually would be. All the things that worried and overwhelmed her are now just cares of the past. A past which holds some regrets and many joys.

I need to stay present. I need to remember to enjoy this whole stage. It will soon be over before I know it. I’ll drive by our current house and long to hold my babies again, remember our first five years of marriage and feel a flood of emotions from this time.

Don’t be drunk on the future, be engaged with the present.

Personal Challenges

An Unknown Outcome

Before my husband and I started dating, there was a lot of confusion around what was going to happen. I know heard that he liked me, and I definitely liked him. Ok “like” seems like such a ridiculous word, he completely consumed my life.

I had been praying about it for a while, asking God to confirm whether Andrew was the right one for me.

It was hard, we were friends and friends with the same people, so we all hung out, led worship together, went to camp, etc. After finishing the school year there was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t have a chance to see him. And if there was a chance that I might not see him, working at our church held many opportunities for making up excuses for why needed to stop by my office!

As we moved into a season of praying with our mentors about moving forward into a relationship, I was filled with anxiety surrounding the whole situation.  I had a prophetic dream where the Lord told me loud and clear that Andrew was the one that I was to marry. Somehow it didn’t fully quiet my spirit. I was so worried that the Lord wouldn’t speak the same thing to Andrew! I felt like my life was in the hands of this guy, and that didn’t make me feel very secure.

On one of the nights when we were leading worship out at a camp, I was particularly struggling with what the outcome of all this was going to be and God spoke these life changing verses to me.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; 
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; 
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Psalm 112:6-8

The key part for me was that I do not need to fear bad news, because my heart is steadfast and secure in the Lord, not in anyone else. 

I put this verse in my phone and set it to remind me of the verse each time I knew I was going to be around Andrew! I meditated on these verses day and night, and they really did take root in my heart. Before I found out that Andrew did receive confirmation from God about our relationship, I had complete peace that my destiny was not bound up in the hands of a man, but that my heart and life was firmly rooted in Jesus Christ.

Whatever your struggle is, whether it’s a relationship, a job or an illness, if you know Jesus Christ you do not have the fear any bad news that might come your way. His love for you is so great, and his plans and purposes for you are good. Our lives are not held in the hands of men, but in the hands of God. Those hands are much stronger and safer.

I hope I can be as confident as Paul when he said,

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. (Philippians 1:21)

 

In Christ alone our hope is found!

*the photo is the first one we had taken of us after we started dating

 

Personal Challenges

I’m Not Losing My Mind

In case someone else needs to hear this…

Yesterday when Caleb was screaming a lot I felt like I was having a bit of a breakdown. Our house was full of senior high students ready to learn about leadership, and I was stuck in Caleb’s room trying to deal with this frustrating screaming stage. When  Andrew came into the room and I said probably ten times “I think I’m losing my mind, I honestly think I’m going to lose my mind”, of course in between many tears.

No. This is not true. I made an extreme statement out of my hopelessness, feeling trapped in our current phase. Instantly this scripture mash entered my mind:

I have the mind of Christ. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. His joy is my strength. I will wait on the Lord and he will renew my strength. I will soar on wings of eagles. I will run and not get weary.

Today I am tired, just as I’m sure many of you are. Today I’m a bit discouraged, just as some of you might be. But I won’t give territory to the enemy! When this lie about me “losing it” enters my mind, I know exactly what to tell that deceiver.

I have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

His joy is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10

I will wait on the Lord and he will renew my strength. I will soar on wings of eagles. I will run and not get weary. Isaiah 40:31

 

May the Lord increase your strength and multiply your rest today!

 

Personal Challenges

Sunday Night Panic!

Have you ever experienced it? Friday evening comes and excitement is usually filling out household. It’s the weekend! We have a great time, make some family memories and try to just focus on growing closer. Then Sunday afternoon rolls around and I start getting this sinking feeling in my stomach. Tomorrow is…Monday.

Really, my weeks are not bad at all. I love staying home with my babe. I stay busy, sometimes with too many things on the go. I have nothing to complain about. Once the week gets going I find my rhythm again and thrive on accomplishing various things. I just really love having my husband at home, and I guess I like sharing some of my responsibilities it too!

We now make a joke about “Sunday Night Panic”. If one of us starts to get restless about the week starting, we just laugh about how Sunday Night Panic is striking, and we choose to focus on having fun or doing something together. It helps take the edge off the anxiety that could easily start to build.

Isaiah 41:13 offers this encouragement:

 For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’

Whatever each of us faces this week we have the promise that our God is here to help us. Our fears and burdens can be cast at his feet. Monday morning can come with a shout of joy for the opportunity to walk with the Lord for yet another week. Our lives are a gift. Not a day can be wasted.

May this week be filled with fun and adventure as you serve the Lord with all your heart doing whatever you do!

Personal Challenges

Rolling With The Punches

Tears. Screaming. Anxious grunting. Random outbursts of high pitch shouting. That sums up my last couple days with Caleb. Poor little guy is teething and the pain is really getting to him. When you’re stuck in the middle of a stage like this it’s really hard to see beyond in the moment.

One thing I’ve learned over the last seven and a half months is that everything comes in stages. First there is the newborn/no sleep/survival mode stage. Then for us there came a brief of time of peace. Shortly after the “peaceful” stage we entered into torticollis, where Caleb had to go to physiotherapy once or twice a week because his neck wasn’t moving well in one direction and he was developing a large flat spot on one side of his head. I felt like my entire day revolved around his exercises, positioning and carrying in various holds. Then we went through a stage where he wasn’t eating well and began to lose weight. Around the same time we felt like God told us to sell our house and I was dealing with cleaning, staging, showing and preparing our house for a move in the midst of all the other issues. And now we’re in a stage of severe teething pain combined with him discovering the volume of his voice.

There is one thing in common with every single stage I just listed. We made it through each one alive.

I smile already when I think back on each of those times. Each one holds special memories. Some of those times were so hard. I cried so much when we were trying to make the decision about whether we’d go to Calgary for treatment on Caleb’s head (in the end God healed him of that and his head is almost completely back to normal shape)! Seeing my baby not eating made me so frustrated with myself, but deepened my love and passion for Caleb. Selling our house was a big test, and in the end God told us last-minute when someone was interested in buying it, that he was testing our obedience. I was so thankful to not have to pack up our home!

Tonight as I somewhat dread what tomorrow might hold in terms of the screaming, crying and fussiness, I remind myself that it’s just a stage. We’ll get through this and one day fondly recount when Caleb’s first tooth poked through. I’ll hear his grown up voice and become emotional inside as I think of the tiny baby voice he once had that cried out for my attention.

Some stages seem longer, like staying home in the evenings because Caleb’s bedtime is firmly established (and detrimental to his sleeping pattern if it gets interrupted), but I choose to celebrate the fact that my baby sleeps well. He may need to go to bed at 7 p.m. but he sleep all the way through the night and I am in a wonderful stage of getting much-needed rest again.

The Lord is good. Psalm 145:8-9 reminds me of this.

The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.

May Jesus be your strength and portion through every difficult stage or trial that you face. May you feel him showering compassion upon you and may you find rest in his mercy.