Easter According to Lydia

Our family had a wonderful day celebrating Easter this weekend.  In fact, we had such a nice day, I didn’t even think to take pictures.  Sorry!

But, I do have something to share with you all today.  🙂

A couple of years ago, I used a picture book to teach Lydia about Easter.  We looked at it every day for about a week and in the end, Lydia was able to use the book to tell me about Easter.  Well, since Abby is now two and I thought it would be a good tradition to keep, we pulled out the same book and learned Easter again this year.  I was hoping to capture Abby’s version, but it turns out she isn’t quite as eager to be videotaped or to share anything on demand.  So instead, I have for you all, four-year-old Lydia’s version of Easter.  And, just for fun, I’m posting her two-year-old version here too.  Her voice was so high and cute!

Happy belated Easter everyone.  He is risen!

Lydia’s Top Twelve

A few years ago, my Grandpa sent out an email to his grandchildren including his version of the 12 most important verses in the Bible. Of course, all verses are important, but based on the ones that have influenced him the most, he made this list. Since Lydia has been working through memorizing Bible verses over the past couple of years, I decided to work out way through my Grandpa’s “top twelve”. As of last week, she has memorized them all. I share this post and encourage you to watch the videos for three reasons.

1. To celebrate Lydia’s Bible memory accomplishments.

2. To be encouraged by the verses themselves and inspired to read and memorize Scripture on your own.

3. Abby makes an appearance in several of these videos. It’s cute.

(Some of these verses actually include more than just one verse to maintain the context of the passage. The Bible didn’t even have verses or chapters when it was written, so don’t let this bother you).

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

John 1:1-2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

Romans 8:28-29

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

How Trials Have Changed Me

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During the four years that Dan and I have been married, we have gone through more trials than I ever would have imagined. I used to look up to people who went through hard times, thinking that the hard times would somehow instantly make them into patient, gentle, and incredibly godly people. I also used to rank “trials” by my understanding of their difficulty. I’ve learned, in the past years, that everyone goes through trials, and all trials are hard. It’s not up to me (or anyone else) to rank someone’s level of trials, but rather, to encourage and pray each other through them. And just because you are going through something hard doesn’t instantly make you a more godly person, although God can and often does use trials to sanctify us.

This past year has been especially full of various trials for us. As we have made our way through them I have often been discouraged by how ungodly my response has been. Patient? Gentle? Try angry and frustrated. I would desperately pray that God would use the situations for some good, because I certainly couldn’t see the good happening in my life.

I have been sick with about three viruses back-to-back during the past few weeks and have often found myself lying helplessly in bed while others take care of the dishes, laundry, and my girls. During one of those helpless moments, I started to reflect on how I have changed during the past six months, and I was blessed to see that God was indeed using the trials to teach me some good things, and to change me in some good ways.

I’m sure there are some out there reading this who are going through their own difficulties. I hope that you may be encouraged by my sharing some of the ways God has used trials to change me this year.

I have been humbled.

Before Dan and I got married I was convinced that I was better. I was a better wife. I was a better mom. All of these moms that were overwhelmed or frustrated, I would not be one of those. After Lydia was born I started a schedule. I kept things clean and got things done. And I stubbornly held on to my expectation that I would always be in control.

Once Abby was born, all of that fell apart. I have learned that I don’t need to be the best. In fact, it is far better to be humbled because then you can ask others for help, encouragement, advice, and prayer. This summer I have gone to moms asking their advice or just asking for prayer (or a hug!) more often then ever before. There is no reward for those who have it together. Those who are broken and humble will be blessed.

I am at a point now where I try, but know I can’t do it all. I can’t be a perfect wife or mom. I can’t do everything I want to do. I have to sacrifice and prioritize and ask God and Dan what things to let go. Then I have to be ok with messes, ok with unfinished projects, and ok if I never learn to do all the things I want to. And I am at a point where I have no idea how other moms do it with more than two kids! But I’m also at a point where I am open to learn willing to make mistakes as long as I am doing my best to fulfill God’s calling on my life.

I have cried out to God.

I have cried out to God many times in my life, but never quite like I have in the past year. I specifically remember one evening when Abby was still in the hospital. It was dark and raining and we were riding in the car. No one was talking. I was crying, feeling completely hopeless. All I could pray was, “God, help me.” over and over again. I didn’t even know what I needed or how God could help, and I didn’t have the strength to think of anything else to pray. And it seemed like no answer came.

Sometimes in moments like that, things have felt so dark, God has felt so far away, that I haven’t wanted to tell anyone about it. It felt like God was failing. It felt like I had to make God look better than I thought He really was.

Sometimes people have commented on God’s faithfulness or answered prayers with Abby in the hospital and I have smiled and nodded and thought, “I don’t see it.” I would pray, “God, people are watching. Show Yourself strong!”, but He wouldn’t answer, wouldn’t show up in any way that I could see.

So why do I share all of this now? It turns out that I’m not the first person in history to struggle in times of trial. (Read Psalms) By faith, I know that God heard my prayers and was even carrying us along, though I couldn’t see it at the time. But, through it all, through the darkest moments, I have cried out to God. Even when I thought it was hopeless and He wasn’t listening, I cried out to Him because He was all I had to cling to.

And when all hope did seem lost and I felt I was just getting depressed and angry, I would pray, “God, keep me close to You whatever it takes. Even if You have to drag me kicking and screaming, keep me close to You. And make me more like Jesus.”

And do you know what? Through it all, He has.

I have learned to cling to scripture.

There have been plenty of times when doubts and lies have filled my mind.

“I’m suffering and no good is coming from it.”

“This is all ruining our family and making me a worse person.”

During those times I have stubbornly read and re-read various verses and clung to them desperately.

“tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I would cling to those scriptures and others and declare to myself, “It’s true. It says that. It must be true!” And I would declare to God, “You said it God, I’m going to believe it!”

I long for heaven.

A month or so ago I memorized Revelation 21. When I was stuck in bed sick I would find my mind wandering to heaven. I would imagine the wedding banquet. I would imagine a heavenly choir welcoming the saints in with celestial music. I would imagine what the holy city would really look like. I would think about eating the fruit from the tree of life while walking on the new earth and talking to Jesus face-to-face. I know my imagination falls far short of the glory and reality of heaven, but the point is, I actually think about it now.

I actually look forward to heaven. I look forward to an end to sin and suffering. I look forward to when God will wipe away every tear. There will be no more death, no more mourning, no more crying and no more pain.

(And as a small bonus, there will be no more night. This can only lead a sleepy mommy to assume that there will be no more tiredness because there will be no more need for sleep.)

What is coming next?

Sometimes there is a cynical part of me that wonders, “What’s next?”. We are planning to close on our new house in six days and move in shortly after. Then what? What trials will God bring next? I try to correct myself and remember that God works things together for good. He’s not out to get us and make our lives miserable. And even when trial after trial comes our way, God still offers joy for His children. He is good, isn’t He?

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure!
Come, disaster, scorn, and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure;
With Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee Abba, Father!
I have stayed my heart on Thee.
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
All must work for good to me.

Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Christ will bring me sweeter rest.
O ’tis not in grief to harm me,
While Thy love is left to me;
O ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

(From the hymn: Jesus I My Cross Have Taken)

“We Got To Love One Another”

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During lunch the other day Lydia and I were discussing Easter.

We learned that Good Friday is when we remember “Jesus died” (imagine an adorable two-year-old voice saying that part). Easter is when we remember “Jesus alive!”. I went on to inform Lydia that on Sunday a lot of people will be saying “He is risen” and the proper response would be “He is risen indeed!”. Suddenly Lydia beamed a smile and said, “Plam bracks!”.

“Plam bracks!”…

“Plum bracks!”…

“Plan tree?”…

She was so excited but I didn’t know what she was talking about. We puzzled together for a few moments before I figured it out: “Palm branches!”.

“Yes, we got to wave palm branches on Sunday because it was Palm Sunday.”

I have always enjoyed the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. I set aside my current Bible reading to slowly read through the last week of Jesus’ life in Luke, starting with Palm Sunday. It’s a time to remember, reflect, and be thankful.

I have always enjoyed the Good Friday service. When I lived in Arkansas for two years I was disappointed to learn that the churches in the area didn’t do anything for Good Friday. Here in Michigan I enjoy Good Friday: the hymns, the communion, the story of the cross, and the quiet way everyone leaves knowing that the next time we see each other will be in joyful celebration.

This year I’m remembering and celebrating Good Friday and Easter with a new joy: the joy of teaching the wonderful story to Lydia. We picked up The Very First Easter from the library on Saturday and each day I read a couple of pages to Lydia. There’s a lot of writing for a two-year-old, so we’re spreading the book out to last until Easter Sunday. After our two-pages, we look at the rest of the pictures in the book and I tell her the story.

We’re learning a new memory verse this week too:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ lay down His life for us. And we ought to lay down out lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16

I tried to put it to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and it sort of evolved into it’s own song. The only problem is that Lydia sings, “And we got to lay down our lives…”

I don’t know how much she gets just yet. But she can remember that Good Friday is when “Jesus died”, she can remember waving the “plam tree” on Palm Sunday, and she can say with enthusiasm “Jesus alive!”. And she’s learning that “We got to love one another”. It does this Mommy’s heart good to teach my girl some truth and celebrate together.

Happy early Easter. He is risen indeed!

Apple Pie for Breakfast

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We had apple pie for breakfast last week and I don’t even feel bad about it.

You see, we have been trying to help Lydia memorize Bible verses for a while now. She has a great memory, especially when things are put to music. I’m not great at making up my own tunes (I can never remember the tune once I’ve made it up), but I’m not too shabby at taking old tunes and giving them new words.

So our first Bible memory song was Acts 16:31 set to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. It went like so:

Acts sixteen thirty one
They replied, “Believe
in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,
you and your household.

The “you and your household” didn’t fit so we just sort of chant it quickly at the end and Lydia thought that was great.

Well, as awesome as that was, I couldn’t get Lydia to prove to me that she had learned it. I was sure she had because we had sung it so many times I found myself humming it frequently when no one else was even around. But, how to get her to recite for me?

Enter apple pie. I had the bright idea of offering Lydia dessert if she could sing her song for Daddy. Throughout the day, Lydia would ask me and I would remind her that I would make her an apple pie if she could sing the song all by herself in front of Daddy. No sooner did he walk in the door that afternoon and she burst into song.

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That night happened to be terribly busy and I eventually had to apologize to Lydia and tell her the pie wouldn’t be done baking until too late. Instead, we would be having apple pie for breakfast. And the reason I could do so is that this pie wasn’t laden with sugary, buttery goodness. In fact, if you could see the recipe, you might realize that it wasn’t a whole lot different from sliced apples and toast as far as ingredients go.

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And because I think everybody should get to have apple pie for breakfast, here is the recipe for you all to enjoy.

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Breakfast Apple Pie
Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coconut oil
6 to 7 tablespoons cold water
6 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
10 dates
cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, combine flour and salt; mix in coconut oil until mixture is crumbly. Gradually stir in water until a ball forms.
2. Divide dough in half so that one ball is slightly larger than the other. Roll out larger ball on a lightly floured surface to fit your pie plate. Transfer to plate.
3. Grind up dates in a food processor. You’ll end up with small sticky chunks of date mush.
4. Layer pie with half of your apples. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Evenly distribute date mush balls. Cover with the other half of your apples and sprinkle generously with more cinnamon.
5. Roll out second dough ball to fit top of pie. Place over filling. Cut slits in top, and shape extra dough into a pretty heart to put in the center.
6. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 55-60 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

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The date mush balls are yummier than they sound. After enjoying pie for breakfast and more for dessert after dinner, Lydia was given a new Bible verse. She wasn’t too enthused about this one (1 Thessalonians 5:16) until we offered her chocolate banana “ice cream” as a reward. Then she learned it in about two days.

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One Thing Christians Should Keep Saying

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Dan was on the phone with an old friend the other day. After chatting about the long winter and the latest developmental milestones of their children, his friend turned the conversation to work.

“How’s work these days?”

For those of you who don’t know, Dan is trained in math and computer programming. He says the buzz word for his work is “data scientist”, but everyone I’ve ever told that to has never heard of a data scientist. So now I just tell people he sits at a computer all day doing hard math.

Dan answered his friends question,

“I’ve been really burdened. As luck would have it, last year was the most prosperous yet for my company. And it looks like this year I’ll be making even more money.”

The words came out of his mouth without much thought. It was like brushing his teeth in the morning or “Goodnight” after tucking Lydia in to bed.

No, this didn’t really happen. And, no, that is certainly not what Dan would say.

I’ve noticed an article floating around Facebook lately called “The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying”. Now, I don’t make a habit of clicking on every link I see posted on Facebook because I would spend my whole day reading articles of questionable value. But when I see the same link posted over and over by people I know, I tend to skim through it. This particular article was one such example, but as I read through it I started to feel disturbed. As I talked it over with Dan, we both came to agree that the writer, Scott Dannemiller, has missed the point.

You can check it out yourself, it’s not very long. The thesis of the article is that we need to stop referring to our material prosperity as a blessing from God.

He makes the following points:

– When our businesses prosper, we shouldn’t announce to others that our year was blessed.
– When “material windfalls” come our way, we shouldn’t automatically credit them to God.
– God doesn’t give us material things as a reward or incentive for our faith.
– Calling ourselves blessed for our “stuff” can offend poor Christians and promote the “theology of prosperity”.
– The beattitudes (
Matthew 5:1-12) and claims that Jesus is defining the word, “blessing” by his list (the poor in spirit, meek, pure in heart). – – In fact, those who do prosper in this life aren’t blessed at all, states Dannemiller, they’re burdened.
– Our ultimate blessing comes from knowing God, not having stuff.

There are certainly some important points brought up in this article. God does not guarantee material prosperity or a comfortable life to His followers. (Second Timothy 3:12 says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.) And we are to find our ultimate joy and satisfaction in God, not money or stuff.

But nowhere in the Bible does God tell His followers to seek poverty, discomfort, or persecution. God wants to give his children good things, and, yes, those things can be material. God rewards Job’s faithfulness with an abundance of material possessions. Joseph suffers throughout his life and God brings him to a place of authority and prosperity. Solomon, when he pleases God by asking for wisdom, is promised wealth and honor in addition to wisdom.

And, while the Bible doesn’t teach a prosperity Gospel, there is often an earthly blessing in following Godly wisdom and principles. The Proverbs offer advice on acquiring wealth (work hard, practice generosity, and don’t cosign on loans). Nations that repent and turn to God are protected. Nations that turn against God suffer judgement, including pain, suffering, and famine.

The thing Christians need to remember is that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, and giving or taking, He is to be thanked and praised. When our country prospers economically, we should thank God and give Him credit. When crops do well, the weather cooperates, milk and honey abound, and businesses prosper, we need to give Him thanks. These things are not “material windfalls”. They are not mystical or random. God is sovereign over all things, and He is not happy when people forget that all good things come from Him.

As for the beatitudes…I would argue that Jesus is not defining the word blessing. Blessing means happiness. Jesus doesn’t need to say, “blessed are the rich” because nobody needs to tell them that. They have their blessing already and they know it. He’s challenging our thoughts and encouraging His followers. God is sovereign in all situations, plenty or want, sickness or health.

Psalm 107:8-9
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Romans 1:21
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Deuteronomy 8:10
And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

Jeremiah 5:24-25
They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’ Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you.

So, no, don’t expect to prosper just because you are a Christian. Don’t promise new believers an easy life. But, yes, give thanks to God for the material prosperity that He gives. Call it a blessing from God when you can afford good food for your family and a soft pillow to sleep on. Yes, give God thanks when life is happy and easy and comfortable. And continue to thank Him when things get hard, you lose your job, or babies are born two months early. Be responsible and generous with your abundance. But don’t forget where all good gifts come from, who they come from.

Woodchips and Flowers

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Our house is surrounded by beautiful flowers and landscaping. The landlord does a lot of it, and hires other people to do the rest, but regardless of who is taking care of it all, we have been enjoying it tremendously. There’s a little bench out back where Dan and I like to sit in the evenings and talk while we watch Lydia wander around on the brick pathways. There’s a tiny wooden bridge that Lydia (and Dan and I) use to cross through the pine trees to reach a sidewalk leading to a nearby playground. There are tomato and pepper plants growing healthily all around the house and our landlord generously shares their fruit with us.

But my favorite part of it all is the flowers. Every week there are new flowers blooming, some that I know and love, some that I’ve never seen before. I will probably never have another opportunity to live in a place so surrounded by beautiful flowers.

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When Lydia and I go for walks, though, Lydia runs ahead, passing all of the pretty flowers. She turns the corner where brick changes to sidewalk and makes her way beyond the begonias. She is, of course, headed to the playground. If you try to stop her she’ll object by either saying “Slide?” or “SWING!” . And yet, despite her excitement, she often stops at the woodchips. Yes, Lydia loves to play with the woodchips, or just chips, as she likes to call them.  She picks them up and piles them on a big rock.  She transfers them from one part of the garden to another.  She throws them. She gathers them up and hands them to me. Woodchips hold her attention longer than most of her toys.

Today I had my blog post all planned out but didn’t have any pictures to go along with it, when I remembered the woodchips. I’ve been thinking about perspective over the past 24 hours, and the woodchips fit my thoughts perfectly. You see, I see the pretty flowers and wonder how Lydia can just ignore them to go pick up woodchips. She, in her sweet little mind, probably thinks I’m slow and silly not to share her excitement over the woodchips. We have different perspectives.

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Life is full of woodchips and flowers. Some things we think are beautiful, and other things we just put up with because they come along with the flowers. (Or, if you’re more like Lydia, I guess it’s the other way around) On Friday, I shared some of my more recent woodchips

Woodchip: Our previous condo had mold and made us sick.
Flower: We got to move to this beautiful home
Woodchip: I haven’t gotten to unpack our stuff and really move in
Flower: Packing for the next move won’t be so bad

And the most recent…

Woodchip: On Friday, our bank refused to give us a mortgage
Flower: We have a nice apartment, close to Dan’s work, already reserved

The analogy can go a little deeper. Maybe I am willing to put up with the woodchips because they happen to come along with the flowers, but the woodchips help the flowers grow. In God’s eyes, every woodchip has a purpose and He, like Lydia, can see beauty even in the woodchips.

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Yesterday at church we heard a sermon from Acts Chapter 22. The chapter starts off with the Apostle Paul sharing his testimony of how God brought him from being an active persecutor of Christians, to becoming a Christian himself. At the end of his testimony the crowd is so angry that they want to kill him. Just before receiving a flogging, however, Paul brings up his Roman citizenship, which, in the current situation made the flogging illegal. And so, the chapter ends with Paul narrowly escaping the torture and released to be questioned further the next day.

The very last point of the sermon was that God is in control, even when our lives look chaotic. And, yes, our pastor used the exact word from my Friday post: Chaos. Others could look at Paul’s life and see a lot of chaos, but now when we read the whole story in the Bible, we see God clearly leading and working through each “chaotic” event. What an encouraging reminder to me! Others may look on at our crazy summer of moving and moving and not unpacking and moving some more and think it’s a bit chaotic. I certainly do!  However, Dan and I have been carefully and prayerfully making each decision. That we had to move much more than we had expected doesn’t mean God led us wrong, and it doesn’t even mean that we failed to follow correctly, it simply means that God is leading in a way that looks chaotic to us right now.

God is laying down woodchips so that He can grow flowers.

Midnight Meeting

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During my Junior year of college I lived by myself in a cute little one-bedroom apartment on campus at the University of Michigan. While there are ups and downs to living alone, I enjoyed that transitional year and am grateful for it. I have many priceless memories of spending time there alone with God; sometimes in prayer, singing, or reading the Bible. One of those occasions happened to be about five months after Dan and I had started dating. And, while I enjoyed that time alone with the Lord, I started to panic as I thought about the possibility of getting married and giving that time up. I had heard how busy it is to be a mom, how you’re always tired and the work is unending. I had heard that it becomes impossible to have significant quiet times alone with the Lord. I also knew that just being a wife was, in a way, a sacrifice of the freedom that I had to spend time alone with the Lord so often without interruption. So, by the end of this particular evening, I was seriously questioning whether or not I ever wanted to get married, even to someone as wonderful as Dan. However, after a few weeks of serious prayer, thought, and a helpful book I felt let to read, I decided that this was indeed the direction in which God was leading. So, sacrifices or not, I obeyed.

Fast forward to this past Friday evening. Dan and I were talking, as we often do, about our future. Where would we live? What sort of career will Dan have (long term)? What are we supposed to do about all that right now? And, as is often the case, we weren’t coming to any solid conclusions. This evening, though, I was getting frustrated and impatient. So, as Dan ran into a store, I took the moment to pray through some of my unhappy thoughts. It’s not really ok to be angry at God, despite what our culture (even the Christian culture) tells us. I knew that I was getting angry, but God was gracious enough to offer me some clarity and comfort during those short moments in the car, and I was excited and grateful.

That night, I woke up earlier than usual. (In recent weeks of this pregnancy, I’ve been waking up once a night, around 3:00 AM to get a drink of water and go to the bathroom) I thought that was a bit odd and was soon fast asleep once more. Then, I woke up again. Now that is really unusual. That time, I couldn’t fall back asleep. So after tossing and turning for a while, I decided this was another one of those evenings when God was waking me up to meet with Him. I shuffled out to the living room, made some tea and a snack, and settled down to read my Bible.

I have been flying through the Gospels lately, and I found myself starting off another one, the Book of John. Different things have been standing out to me from each book, but I haven’t been doing any in-depth studying, just reading. In John 1-4, the thing that stood out very clearly to me was Jesus’ interaction with and care for individuals, one at a time. Andrew. Simon. Philip. Nathaniel. Nicodemus. The Woman at the Well.

Each person, Jesus already knew, before they knew Him. Each person, He told to “follow”. And, for all except Nicodemus, each person went and told others. And in the case of the woman at the well…

“Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’”

As I sat under the cozy light from the lamp perched on a ledge above our couch, I enjoyed this uninterrupted time of Bible reading. No laundry to fold, no dishes to wash, to toys to pick up, no diapers to change…just uninterrupted time to sit back and read. I thought about how my name goes into that list of individuals. Like Philip, I have heard the call, “Follow Me”. Like Nicodemus, I was up during the night to meet with Jesus. Like the woman, I have had moments of discovering my own sinfulness, only to realize that He already knew. Throughout my childhood I heard about Jesus until I too could say, “It is no longer because of what you said that I believe, for I have heard for myself and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

I thought, more specifically, to the Friday night before, and how patient God had been with me and my frustrations. I thought about that night in my apartment alone when I was so afraid that I would never get any special time with the Lord once I was married, and certainly not once I was a mom. But those rumors I heard, about how moms just don’t get to spend any time with the Lord, I have found them to be false.

True, I don’t often have hour-long daily quiet times. True, I can’t just drop everything and sit on the floor and pray when I’m feeling emotional, sad, tired, anxious…and, true, I have a larger number of important priorities now than I did back then. But what is also true is that God gives us the spiritual food that we need, sometimes only one day at a time (or hour, or minute!) and sometimes only in small moments. But He feeds His sheep. We shall not be in want. He makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside still waters.

I have heard an analogy that God feeds us in the same way a baby is fed milk. Some newborns take hours to eat a meal, only to need another meal an hour later. As babies grow, however, they eat faster. Even though their stomachs are bigger, they still get all the food that they need, but in a shorter amount of time. Sometimes our Bible times after dinner are my only “food”. Other times I get a few minutes, or half an hour, to spend with the Lord. But sometimes, God wakes me up in the middle of the night and asks me to spend a little time alone with Him.

So, what’s the take-away from all of this? God gives Christians everything they need. God cares about individuals: me, you. God is gracious, and likes to give us good gifts, and loves to have special alone time with His Beloved. And the peace, and contentment, and hope, and joy that I have in this moment don’t come from a perfect life, or a well-planned future, or a sweet baby girl, or a wonderful husband. They are gifts that God delights to give His children. May you experience those gifts today.

Those Fleeting Moments

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I’m pretty bad at this, but it is one thing I am learning to do: enjoy the fleeting moments. My natural tendency has been to work hard until my to-do list is complete, then I can relax and enjoy the moment. However, I am learning that life doesn’t work well this way because the most precious moments usually come in the middle of something that “has to be done”.

As I mentioned in the last post, we are making our first real attempt at potty training this week. I’ll wait until Friday to give a real update on how that has been going (as I’m not quite sure myself just yet). For now, lets just say that being locked in the bathroom all day, for multiple days, with a toddler (no matter how adorable and sweet that toddler is!) is driving me crazy. In fact, I had a small break-down last night, but after a little bit of fresh air and a lot of encouragement from my husband, things are well again.

In the midst of all of this, there have been a couple sweet and fleeting moments. One evening, Dan was doing some exercises in the living room, push-ups and sit-ups and the like, with Lydia “helping” by sitting on top of him. She was having so much fun, and called me over, so I came and I joined in on the fun with an impromptu photo shoot.
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Then, yesterday morning, Lydia slept late. Dan went to work and I found myself toddler-less with some time to myself. I grabbed some tea, a blanket, and my Bible and settled in to enjoy some quiet time. (I even thought to snap the above picture to capture the moment). I recently decided to go 30 days without reading any books except for the Bible, and I am slowly reading my way through the Gospels. I was savoring the unexpected time alone and I began to read, but didn’t even make it through two chapters before the Munchkin was awake and crying for breakfast. So, the moment was indeed fleeting, but I savored it for all it was worth. And, my hope is that I will continue to learn how to do more of that, savoring those little moments when they come and for as long (or short) as they last.