Sweet Surrender...

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Baby boy has been fighting sleep.  It’s super frustrating to be his mama and know he needs sleep so badly, and to feel his little body wiggling and fighting it, wanting to get up and move and explore, even though he can barely keep his eyes open.

He is into everything.  All the time.  He has one mode:  GO!  So, nap-time is the only respite, and as most moms I know would agree, “the nap” is sacred time, holy ground, to be guarded with one’s life.  (Too dramatic?  I don’t think so. J) So, when it doesn’t happen, it’s easy for me to come just a bit undone.

Since my word this year is “encounter” I am seeking to notice how God is moving, speaking and providing for me throughout the every day moments of my life.  My desire is to encounter the life-giving presence of Jesus through it all.  The main way I am spending my time in this season is with this precious little laughter-love, who is seriously giving me a run for my money. 

So as I welcome Jesus into these moments of frustration, when Isaac simply refuses to surrender to sleep, I realize that he reminds me a little bit of me. Fighting what I need most for something that seems like it might be better.  Fighting surrender for *FOMO.

God was pretty clear in communicating to me that my work in this season is to care for my kids and to listen for His voice.  However, my mode, like Isaac’s, is GO!  Surrendering to God’s timing, His plans, His ways…this sometimes does not come easily to me, because frankly, I like to make things happen myself.  Thank you very much.

Most of us have heard the story in the gospels of Peter getting out of the boat to join Jesus who was walking on the water…the exhortation so often is to be like Peter, to move in faith, not in fear…to walk out onto the water with Jesus, keeping our eyes fixed on him so we won’t sink.  But my problem isn’t typically getting out of the boat.  It’s staying put when Jesus hasn’t said it’s time to move yet.  It’s surrendering to the current season without being so quick to move into what might be “next.”

So as I rock my restless baby to sleep and pray he surrenders, I whisper, “yes” to Jesus once again. Yes to right now.  Yes to this moment.  Yes to His timing, His plans, His surprises. 

I say Yes to the story He is crafting through my life, because He is the Author and there is no better Writer than Him.

What is God inviting you into during this season of your life?  What is the “yes” He is asking you to trust Him in? 

May we be people who say yes, no matter what!

Love,
Christy

* fear of missing out

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Encountering Jesus...through it ALL! (a word for 2018)

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Encounter-to come upon face to face;  to come upon or experience, especially unexpectedly.  (Source:  Merriam-webster.com)

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Exodus 33:11

Have you ever found yourself looking at your own life in shock?  That was me in 2017.  A memory from a day in March sums it up pretty well.  While preparing for the arrival of our new (very unexpected) baby boy, I stood in the Diaper Genie aisle at Target, trying to decide if I’d invest in one this time around, later googling “tummy time” for a refresher on mothering a six month old baby. While at Target, my daughter, Grace, and our foster daughter at the time (also a senior) Face-Timed me from a dressing room across town, asking me for my thoughts on dresses for Senior Prom.  That same evening, I found myself online, making a deposit for Grace’s college dorm.  Throw in a the 4th Grade California Mission Project that had ruled our lives all week and you pretty much get a picture of what life looked like for me in 2017…mothering four different children in profoundly different seasons of their lives while transitioning out of a job where I’d found most of my own personal value and identity. It was slightly challenging.

This was a year of transition, and the word God gave me to shape the year, “enough,” was a way the Spirit gently reminded me of His presence throughout the chraos (that’s what I’m calling it).  I was reminded again and again, through that word, that He would give me just what I needed, moment by moment, to live into the calling He has on my life.

So I’ve been talking with Jesus about what a word for 2018 might be…one that will shape the way I view life, a lens from which to perceive my little world. 

This year I desire to encounter Jesus in places I might be unlikely to notice Him.  One of the things that struck me again as I soaked in Advent throughout the month of December, was remembering how Jesus comes in such unexpected ways.  He rarely comes in the time or in the manner in which we think He will.  And this is how He came to me in 2017, through unexpected whispers and invitations, through a little boy I never thought I’d actually have!

I often encounter Jesus through the Bible, as the Spirit illuminates a new insight on something I’ve read countless times, or as I discover a phrase or concept I have never even noticed before and experience inspiration or hope or comfort or conviction.

I encounter God in nature as I see the beauty that immediately makes my soul take flight, soaring with worship as His creation seems to be filled with expressions of His love, His goodness, His peace, His wild, His power.

I encounter Him through the words of my favorite preacher, Jonathan Martin, as he prophetically challenges me by the power of the Spirit’s anointing on his words. 

I encounter God in the transcendent moments with my children, when He seems closer than ever through these miracles He’s entrusted to me.

I encounter God through reading the insights of fellow travelers on life’s journey, and experience the presence of God often while reading books or blogs.

I encounter God through the encouraging words of my husband, my soul-friends, and my beloved mother and father.

And I want more of that…more of these delightful encounters with my Delight-Filled God.

But….

This year, I believe the Spirit is inviting me to encounter Him more deeply through the hard things.  We know that some of our deepest time of connection with God can be in our most difficult seasons of life, but often it’s after the circumstances are OVER and we can see what God DID…how He delivered us or how he was with us through it all and redeemed it for our good and His glory.

But what about encountering God in the places that are still hard and may be hard for a lifetime?

This does not come naturally for me. But…what about becoming aware of God’s presence in the daily disappointments, the mundane magic-less moments of life that aren’t what we’d hoped for or expected…Can we encounter God there too?

Life the definition above, encountering God here, would be quite surprising .

I read a book called Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown in December, and God used it to shift my thinking.  I was struck by these words:  “Remember…the things that annoy, irritate and disappoint us have just as much power to reveal the truth about ourselves as anything else.  Learn to linger with what provokes you.  You may just find the Spirit of God moving there…”  (emphasis mine)

I have found that my goal has always been to move as quickly through the hard things as possible…the idea of “lingering there” has not been one of my strategies for spiritual development.  I mean, I will “go there” and look at it, but my goal is always to move through it as quickly as possible to get to the good stuff. 

But I wonder if I might have been missing some of the best stuff that God has to offer! What might God have for me in these hard places that include frustration, disappointment, unmet expectations?

“Don’t worry about trying to rid yourself of you fears.  Instead, let your fears do the hard work of revealing deep truths about yourself.  Our fears can be windows into the raw and unvarnished truth of our lives.  We don’t cling to them or feed them, but we do listen prayerfully to what they teach us.  We ask God what the fear is revealing about who we are and what we lack.  We bring our fears in the light of God’s healing love, offering them up to God as an expression of our weakness and our need for him.  Even our fears become opportunities for encountering Jesus, if we let them draw us close the Lord.”   Sensible Shoes, Sharon Garlough Brown.

This quote struck me with a sense of powerful freedom.  I was also drawn to replace the word ‘fear’ with other challenges or difficult emotions.

Even our disappointments become opportunities for encountering Jesus.

Even our frustrations become opportunities for encountering Jesus.

Even our toughest relationships become opportunities for encountering Jesus.

Even our broken dreams become opportunities for encountering Jesus.

How would you fill in that blank?

My life is overflowing with good gifts from God.  Sometimes it takes my breath away.  Other times I am completely overwhelmed.  In every season, every change…in every good gift, every unmet expectation…in every life-giving relationship and in every disappointing one (most are a combination of both!)---my desire is to encounter Jesus.

Like Moses, I want to see Him, speak with Him, face to face, through it all.

Happy New Year

Love, Christy

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The Ocean, Snorkeling and Adoption

Kayla at the ocean.

Kayla at the ocean.

To me, the ocean feels like paradox.  It is beauty and it is terror.  It excites me and causes me intense anxiety simultaneously.  It beckons me to come and it warns me to stay away.

My husband Doug, on the other hand, has a love affair with the ocean.  Once, when he came home from a day of body-surfing in the Pacific, he told me he had felt that he had been in the womb of God.  Perhaps it excites and terrifies him too, but he seems more comfortable with mystery than I am.

For our 10th Anniversary (in 2007), Doug’s parents sent us on a trip to Hawaii with his sister and her husband.  His beautiful sister, Danna, was pregnant with her second baby, and we were getting close to completing the paperwork to adopt our second baby.  We had no idea what was to come that year, but God gave me an incredible experience in the ocean that I feel compelled to share with you today.

In fact, at the time I penned this journal entry, our Kayla Joy was in the womb of her birth mother.  God was at work, knitting her together, even as I pondered when I would have the joy of bringing our long-awaited second child home to my arms, to my heart, where she belonged.

So here it is, taken from my journal in January, 2007:

“I snorkeled today.  I ventured out into that wild ocean, and with Doug’s help and instruction and presence, I was able to experience an incredible view of creation, something I would have missed if I had refused to face my fear.

I saw reef in shades of blue, green, coral.  I saw fish that were bright yellow, deep blue, and black with “glow in the dark” stripes.  Words can’t do it justice.  I felt myself floating on the water, heard my deep mouth breathing.  The water felt warm and soothing.  It was peaceful and clear and absolutely beautiful.  I saw a part of the earth that I’d never seen before and, once again, I am in awe of the works my Creator.

I had gotten a bit overconfident out there in the ocean, and at one point, I decided to head back toward the beach on my own. When I poked my head up out of the water, I had lost my bearings.  I couldn’t see Doug anywhere.  The beach seemed an eternity away.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I started to panic, fearful of how I could make it back.  I cried out for Doug and he seemed to appear instantly to rescue me.  He came to me out of nowhere and gently told me what to do.  “Take deeper breaths–your short, quick ones are making you feel light-headed.  Just relax and breathe.  Rest on the reef.”

As soon as he was there, I was okay again. I felt secure, safe, sane (because for a few moments my mind was playing tricks on me.)

Doug took me back to the beach.  He held my hand, firmly and tenderly, the whole journey back to land.  His words soothed my fears.  His presence dispelled all my panic.  He was there with me, so I knew all would be well.

This was such an intense experiential metaphor of my life with Jesus as He is calling me into the uncharted territory of adoption, waters where I’ve never swam.  It is beautiful and it is terrifying, both of which I wouldn’t experience if I stay “on the beach” where my feet touch the ground.

When I was panicking and didn’t know what to do, Doug’s presence, his voice, his touch felt like the presence of God.  And He was saying, “Christy, you can trust me.  As long as you hold onto my hand and stay close to me, and listen to my voice, you will be able to deal with anything.”

I felt protected.  I was so aware of my need.  It was incredible that God revealed this to me through my husband’s body-his eyes, his touch, his words.  What a gift.  The confidence, the tenderness, the courage, the firm physical hold on me…all ways he was leading me.

And I surrendered. 

I didn’t fight it or suggest another way.  In that moment, I knew better.  I just followed, knowing that I could trust him.

And I know I can trust God.

Sometimes I do feel a sense of panic in my soul when I think about this adoption journey–“Do I really have what it takes?” I wonder.

God answered so tenderly as He spoke to my spirit, “Of course you have what it takes because I am in you.  You have Me and all the limitless resources that are at My fingertips.”

As I look back on this, five years later, with my little five-year old (not ten!) “dream come true” Kayla Joy in our backyard jumping happily on our trampoline, I have one of those “kairos” moments, where chronological time slips away and what matters most is so clear.

Is there something God is calling you to?  You feel terrified and excited, all at the same time?  Is it time to step out in faith, knowing that He is with you?  All the great stuff in life is risky.  You can’t have joy without the possibility of pain.  They are two sides of the same coin.

You are not alone.   God is with you, tenderly and firmly leading you, one breath at a time.  Grab onto him and go where is leads.  You will never regret saying yes to Him.

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!”  Romans 8:15-17, The Message

Love, Christy

Note: I originally wrote and posted this in July of 2012, but wanted to re-post in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month.

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