Tuesday, February 27, 2018

He's in the Waiting

“Take courage, my heart. Stay steadfast, my soul. He’s in the waiting.”

What a powerful chorus. This song—"Take Courage" by Kristene Di Marco—stays on repeat in my house, in my car.

We’re in a season of waiting. Still.

Seven years and counting. That's how long we’ve been eagerly seeking Him for children, for the greatest desire of our heart. In almost ten years of marriage, 70% of that time has passed with hope deferred. 80 months of delayed answers, of no, not this time, not yet.

The Lord’s word to me this year is Anticipation.

Wait. Hope. Expect. Anticipate.

I’m reminded of the verse He gave me a long time ago: “Those who wait/hope/trust/expect in the Lord will not be disappointed.”

If ever I feel disappointed, my trust has moved to something else, a false hope, a wrong expectation.

“But those who wait on the Lord…”

“He is actively working on behalf of those who wait on Him.”

I feel like I’m in a holding pattern, suspended but on the brink of a new season. I can feel it. I anticipate it.

Holding my breath, as I wait…

For doors to open,
For dreams to happen,
For promises to be answered.

In the last seven years, what I’ve found is captured so well in this song. When I want to forget, when I doubt, when it feels too long, too impossible: He’s in the waiting.

The song says, “Take Courage,” the very words Jesus spoke to His disciples in Matthew 14 when the storm came, and they feared for their lives.

A little while earlier, Jesus had sent them ahead of himself. And now, maybe they feel abandoned. John 6 says, “It was near dark, and Jesus had not yet come.”

Ever feel that way?

But then, there He is. Walking on the water.

Take courage, He says.

Because He knew. He always knows the outcome.

In this moment, the disciples have the opportunity to witness a miracle, a glimpse of His power.

In this moment, Peter has the chance to go deeper in His faith.

All the events culminate to the here, the now.

Yes, there’s a storm. Yes, Jesus had not yet come, and now they feel abandoned.

But it’s like He says, Take courage. Here I am. And I’m giving you something rare and powerful, an experience, an encounter you won’t forget.

Though we face unknowns, though our hearts are full of anticipation, I sense it even now:

He’s here. He knows. He’s got a spectacular story for us. 

For you.

I don't know what your heart longs for, my friend. I don't know how long you've been waiting. But I do know this, our God is a good Father, our Jesus is never delayed, and our Holy Spirit is present, full of power and comfort and grace. 

“Take courage, my heart. Stay steadfast, my soul. He’s in the waiting.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Five Ways to Connect

Okay, married folks. Last week was Valentine’s Day. Did you enjoy it? Survive it? Fight about it?

I know most people think it’s a silly holiday created by creating card companies and the restaurant industry to make women feel insecure about their love relationships, but you know what?

I happen to love February 14—and not so I can set up big expectations of grand gestures. But why not take advantage of a designated day to show your love for someone? Why not take advantage of every day? 

Redeeming the time. That’s what Ephesians 5:15-16 says. How can we make the most of each day? More importantly, how can we make the most out of every relationship? Every day is a gift, and I get to walk through life with the greatest gift God gave me - my husband. 

Howell is the most incredible husband to me. Our marriage is a rare gift, and I know God has shown us favor, despite our imperfections. Few husbands load the dishwasher and remember to unload it a few hours later. Few husbands never grumble about taking out the trash, putting up the laundry, or going to the grocery store. And few husbands are both as strong and as tender as Howell is. 

He really is amazing, and our love really is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of loves.

Whether you had a good Valentine’s Day or not, I want to encourage you to redeem the time you have with your spouse. Not sure how?

Here are FIVE meaningful ways you can connect this week: 

1. Write a note or a letter. Whether you consider yourself a writer, whether you think you can be sentimental or romantic—it doesn’t matter. If you can’t think of anything to say, start with “I love you because…” or “I love when…” 

2. Make a special dinner. Dinner is especially special when you’re not the one who usually cooks. You don’t have to go out for a fancy meal to switch things up a little. Fire up the grill. Look up a recipe online. And if all else fails—get take out. 

3. Do something out of the ordinary. If you never make the bed, if you never do the dishes—go out of your way to be intentional in serving your loved one. It could be as simple as breakfast in bed—or coffee on the nightstand when he or she wakes up. 

4. Give a long kiss or hug. Don’t be too rushed to give a hello or goodbye kiss. Affection is free and priceless. 

5. Buy a meaningful gift. Not everyone’s love language is gifts, so spending the “big bucks” on a gift may not even minister to your loved one’s heart. But if you’re loved one is a gifts person, then buy him or her a gift that means something.

Maybe Valentine’s Day is a silly holiday, but you can take advantage of this season to love the one you're with. Value your time together. Connect to the other person’s love language. Be grateful for the moments you have.

What can you do this week to redeem the time you share with your loved ones? 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

In Plain Sight

I like to think I’m the sort of person who pays attention to small details. If a frame in my house is moved ever so slightly, I will notice it—and adjust it.

But last week, I realized I’m not as observant as I imagine. I take the same route to work and home every day. It’s about a five-minute drive, and I do it four times every day—morning to work, home for lunch, back to work, and home at night.

So every day I pass the same buildings, signs, streets. One of those days, I needed to stop by the ATM to get some cash on my way home from work.

No big deal, right?

I pulled into the turning lane, turned left, and was about to turn into the parking lot of my bank before I realized THE BUILDING WAS GONE. Completely leveled.

When I got home, I asked Howell about it, and he said they’d done that three days ago. THREE DAYS!? I’d driven by this piece of property a dozen times without realizing it was no longer there.

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of hearing Stasi Eldredge speak at our church’s Life Giving Saturday. She talked about spiritual warfare and the enemy we face, who seeks to devour us.

In John 10:10, Jesus says “The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but I came that you might have life abundantly.”

Jesus wants us to have an abundant, full life—but that LIFE is going to be opposed! Sometimes, she said, we get so down on ourselves, believing lies, or we get down because of circumstances without even realizing we’re being opposed by the enemy.

We just accept it as normal, everyday life instead of walking with our armor on, instead of walking in freedom.

The Lord reminded me of that as I laughed at myself for days over the demolished building I’d missed. While I can be so attentive to details sometimes, I can also be blind to the schemes of the enemy.

And it’s usually when I’m not paying attention—when life gets busy or relationships get hard or I get run down—that I forget to battle.

I start believing lies instead of speaking truth. Lies about myself—that I’m not enough or don’t measure up. Or lies about my Heavenly Dad—that He’s not really good or He’s holding out on me.

But the Lord has called us to stand firm and to fight the good fight of faith. Every day. Every hour. Every moment.

How about you, my friends?

Jesus already has our victory. We are more than overcomers! Let’s get our armor on.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Resilient Faith

We often write about what it takes to have a great marriage, how to maintain or strive for it. If you’re reading this, you might be thinking, “That’s great, but we are a long way from a great marriage.” I’m here to encourage you, my friend. No, it’s not easy, and your marriage might feel pretty terrible right now, for whatever reason.  Working on your marriage will be challenging. Anything worth fighting for usually is. Our spouse is the one we love the most but also hurt the most.

It doesn’t happen overnight. Good choices stacked on good choices take time to add up to healing, and God still has the biggest part in it. He is for you, though, and He gave you an incredible tool to keep going: faith. Faith? Really? It seems basic. You hear about it everywhere, and there has to be a more complicated explanation. Let’s dive deeper.

To build toward a happier relationship, it will take time. Tough times require resilience and faith produces resilience. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but we are never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” Feeling despair?  Or crushed? God has faith for that.

Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for. How do we have faith? We trust in Him. When we consciously decide to trust in God for something, He gives us faith. He gives us hope, and He gives us strength. If you’ve ever been hurt, you know trust is not easy. Know this, though: He is good, and He has good things for both of you. Decide to believe it; say it out loud over and over again. Be tenacious. Don’t stop. He will supply you with resilience when you think you can’t do it anymore. He loves both of you more than you can imagine, and He wants to supply the needs of your marriage.