Unraveling

Day 7 –

I am terrible at waiting. Seriously. It’s not the grocery store-long line waiting. It’s the “I have little control over something and I have to wait for someone else to follow through” kind of waiting. A college course in “Relinquishing Control 101” is a definite requirement.

There was a situation on Saturday, Day 4 of my anxiety/honesty blog, I began to unravel over having to wait. I have no control over this particular situation. And it’s Saturday. And it’s someone else’s job to fix it, to find it or to respond to it. I went from fine to my heart rate increases, my Apple Watch reminds me to breath and my movements become frantic within a minute. No one needs to see me panic so I do this as quietly as I can. Five minutes later I find out what I was waiting for had happened but I didn’t see the response. It was in a different email folder. Heaven, come closer. I’m a mess.

Since I am keenly aware I am reporting my anxiousness on my blog, I must be truthful. This was just one example of the several cluttered moments which can set-off my anxiety. After this issue was resolved for the moment, I moved on my business ToDo list. My head became busy processing and reviewing everything I needed to do. I haven’t decided if it will help to write down everything I need to do or not. The jury is still out on that one. Having lists in the past has made me stressed. On the other hand I can become overwhelmed when I start a project and then remember I have five other things I was hoping to get done.

My normal around my ToDo list.

The thing is, it always gets done. Just like being pregnant, it comes to an end eventually. You can’t keep the baby inside forever. The list to todos, which seem urgent in the moment, won’t be there forever. It will all get done or it wasn’t important in the first place.

The funny thing is, when I am in a my professions settings, I’m not like this. I’m not anxious, I’m not overwhelmed. I have learned the art of focusing on what’s important and letting the rest fall by the way side. I can pick up the pieces later, but the main thing gets my attention. It’s just at home. Hummmm, food for thought. I will need to processes this one.

“Somebody said a long time again if the Devil can’t make you sin, he will make you busy, because either way your soul will shrivel” said John Ortberg, Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You. 

Goodness, but this is true for me. “Busy” tends to distract me from keeping my soul centered and in the practice of decluttering my life and releases me to panic over a long list or an uncontrolled experience. John Ortberg poses the question in the same book as above, “If we cease to be busy, do we matter?” I don’t really want to answer that one out loud. 

I know the answer, but being “busy” is often my go-to. Sadly, this is what I’m often known for. Busy isn’t necessarily bad until it wastes our precious time and we are distracted from the experience of an unhurried life. A life in which we will learn “the unforced rhythms of grace” as Jesus says in Matthew 11:29 (MSG). 

The first step to growth is awareness and I can say with confidence, I am aware of my tendency to have my soul and my life cluttered. Good stuff, or not so good, easily takes over. I am starting to see my need and Lord, teach me what the “unforced rhythms of grace” truly are. 

Hurry Reduction: be keenly aware when my anxiousness comes from busyness.   

-ST

Day 4 – The Slowness of Traditions

Today I was thinking about how quickly the winter holidays fly by. Before we know it our check lists are complete, one or two whirlwind days have come and gone and off we go running to the next thing. Traditions are sure to be a part of our checklists. They are for me. I asked my oldest what traditions she wanted to make sure to do this year. We had less time due to my job and business schedules. I wanted to make sure she wasn’t disappointed.  Her list was much shorter than mine and I gladly catered to her desired traditions. They were simple and they were important.

In theory, I think traditions are meant to make sure we don’t miss anything about the holidays. But, more importantly, I think they help us slow down. It’s like the plot of a Hallmark movie. It’s consistent and it’s expected. It’s safe and rarely surprises us. I think by the end of the year, especially, this is what we want. Something consistent and expected in our holiday plans.

Side note: I told my Mags if a boy tells her he loves her after three days, look around, she will probably be in a Hallmark movie.

My favorite tradition is three generations old, if not more. A few days before Christmas I carve out a whole morning or an afternoon to make my grandma’s cinnamon rolls. On Christmas after the gifts are opened we gather around these luscious homemade rolls. The roll eating takes seconds unless you pause to savor the process. The roll making is what takes the time.

I am not slow when it comes to most things, thus this year long adventure to reduce anxiety and to decrease hurry in my life. These rolls are the opposite of hurried. They are nothing but slow. A rushed roll is a dense roll. Not awesome.

Here is an overview of the process: take warm water, just the right temperature, and add yeast. Let it sit. Once the yeast is ready, you make the dough, kneed it and let it rise to double its size. This can take quite a while on a winter’s day unless the house is nice and toasty. (Unless the oven is on to warm-up the kitchen.) Once you roll out the dough, butter it, spread the cinnamon sugar mixture, roll the dough and cut it into appropriate size rolls. Once in pans, let them rise again. Bake them once they are large enough and don’t forget the entire reason for the rolls – the frostings/glaze.

There are definitely quicker ways to make cinnamon rolls. For me the joy is the process. This year I took even more time to linger with it. The first two rolls were shared around a cup of coffee with a friend. I allowed myself to go slowly and not rush the rising. Sure, the rolls were amazing and the tradition upheld, but my soul was content after this lovely morning. I was satisfied being a bit less hurried.

So this brings me to my first intervention in my hurried life. This tradition does not have to be for Christmas alone. The rolls, maybe, need to stay special, but if the process of the rolls was so healthy, why not emulate it more often?

First exercise in hurry reduction: find a slow recipe, carve out the time each month and put it in pen on the calendar. Make the recipe and linger over the making and the result. Share it with someone who will appreciate the process. 

Traditions can also create a sense of normalcy and gratitude when our anxiety gets the best of us. Being grateful for those in my life or those who have passed down a tradition helps me to refocus. I allow myself to rest in the safe and consistent place instead of worry. 

Here is to traditions and the Hallmark movie you find yourself watching over and over!

-ST

Year-Long Adventure…Day 1

Anxiety Reduction Project: Day 1

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” -Dallas Willard

Happy New Year! Wow, it’s 2020! I have hit a jackpot. Through a few authors I have been following this past year I was introduced to the teaching and perspectives of Dallas Willard. John Ortberg was mentored by him and John Mark Comer talks about the mentoring he receives by John Ortberg. Both these men of Jesus talk at length about the teachings of Willard. 

This past year I have been immersed in learning about peace, anxiety, hurry, ambition and rest from these authors I mentioned as well as others. Rest and peace are not easy for me to come by. Not only am I a Type A person, but I also hurry around in my life so the anxiety of slowing down doesn’t catch up.

Several years ago I remember sitting in my counselor’s office. I offered an eye opening proclamation. “I’ve decided I struggle with anxiety”. She without hesitation to help me feel reassured said “yes, you do.” Seriously, couldn’t she have thought about it a little longer?

The truth was out and I started on the journey to figure out how to curb it. Like everything else in my life, I could conquer this as well. It has never been debilitating, but the more I take a step back to think this thru I realize anxious thoughts is intimate with almost everything I do and think. I excel as a nurse because I’m always prepared. I’m less anxious if I’m prepared. I manage my time well, (at least on the outside where everyone can see) so I keep up my pace. I worry about finances so I work hard and work more. When life isn’t fulfilling, I search until I figure out what will make it so. As my grandad says “I was born with a suitcase packed”. 

In the last few months I have done a few exercises to work on my anxiety. I have changed a bit of how I think and the messages I tell myself. This year, however, I am ready to figure out what “ruthlessly eliminating hurry” from my life could look like. Hurry and anxiety go hand in hand for me. The minute I start slowing down my mind panics. What do I need to do to captivate my mind into new thinking and into rest?

In 2020 I am moving into new territories of less scheduled work, fewer miles in the car a week and a year long experience of anxiety reduction. My goal is to share my ups and downs, my ideas for relieving hurry in my own life and the simple retraining of my mind I might find helpful. I may not be at a clinical intervention level of anxiety, but the average anxiety I experience I believe is apparent in most of our busy lives. Hope you find encouragement in this. Hopefully there will be need for some bloopers, too.

Happy New Year and here’s to 2020.

-ST

2019 Evaluation

This past year I embarked on two new things. The first one was to plan out our generosity. What a joy it has been to remind ourselves to let our finances live with purpose. Planning has helped me give without strings attached, instead of hoping to receive a reward for giving. Because, why do we give? If we give much, don’t we think we will be entrusted with much in return? If I’m not careful, when we entrust God with our giving, we expect God will return the blessings with more finances. If we live a big life in our culture’s standard, we should have more to give for our charities as well, right? “If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity?” Luke 6:34.

The second thing I did was to start a new job. After ten years in one place I thought a new job would bring grand new/easy challenges. I was at the top of my game at my old position so this would only elevate my abilities. I could coast to retirement in this simple job. Not so much. What was I thinking? This year as been more refining and more defining for me as a person. Just before the “live generously” verse in Luke 6, it talks about allowing others, who want your shirt, to give your best coat gift wrapped instead. So many times this year I feel as if I had to wrap up my best talent and humbly hand the gift over to someone who didn’t understand the sacrifice. 

As I process these two adventures I realize they go hand in hand. The giving of oneself, whether financially or personally, requires a strong dose of humility. I needed some fire refining which hasn’t necessarily left me more purified, just smaller. I have seen what true generosity of spirit can produce by learning to give without expecting a return. I have seen real gratitude because if it and it only fuels the desire to live more generously. I have been knocked down to size and am so grateful for the view from down here. We are rich. We are most likely all in the top 3% of the world’s wealth if you are reading this on a computer and have internet. But we are also rich in spirit as the Holy Spirit lives in us, convicting us and bring us to a better understanding of who God is.

There is one thing I am left with at the end of this year and that is this: life isn’t about the things or the position we find ourselves in. It isn’t about how many “likes” we have or how many posts get the most views on social media. It’s not about what we achieve or how much we fail. Life is the progression of learning to “live out a God-created identity”. (Luke 6:35) Sometimes it’s face-in-the-mud refining. Sometimes it’s a quiet movement of generosity. And sometimes it’s just learning to sit still in the glory of God as we trust him for another day. 

I’m eager for another year to start. Not because I need a new start, but because I like how actively God is working on me. I am grateful for the challenges God has allowed me to walk into. Because of this I am more defined in my God-created identity. I’m still exhausted from this year, but I am also excited for what God has for me next.

I hope you are expectant in your own life for 2020! I am planning to embark on a journey to find peace over anxiety and find ways to greatly reduce hurry from my life. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Blessings!

-ST

Marriage in the Midst of Loss

Two little birds and two mini stockings hang on our Christmas tree. My two little girls decorated the tree with me this year. Their quick hands clasp around my two glass bird ornaments and before I knew it, the birds were headed for low branches. “No, Girls,” I said. “These birds go up high. They are special. These birds remind us of the babies daddy and I lost before we were given you.”

My 7-year-old daughter is not immune to these types of comments as we learn to be open with each other about hard things. Her eyes grew wide as she stared at the now elevated ornaments outside of her reach.

The rate of miscarriage is high, yet I feel our culture still wants us to be quiet about them. I don’t believe we grieve well as a society about any loss. I also don’t believe we acknowledge loss in ways which foster openness and promotes healing. We fumble for words to say to anyone in the midst of their loss, no matter the age. We worry how our own sadness will come out, so we just look at the person with sad eyes and a pouty face. Okay, maybe I’m just describing myself. We send flowers and bring a meal, which are all good, but then we often just stop talking about it.

Our miscarriages were back to back. They were early on in both pregnancies. Friends and family showed up to love on us which was wonderful, but Matt and I didn’t really say anything to each other. We didn’t grieve together as long as we needed to. We didn’t process together in a way which could have been helpful for both of us. We experienced elation and devastation, twice, and just went back to life. I talked about it with my girlfriends and grieved over my physical bleeding. Matt found hope in his own things and we moved on..

Years later we spent the time in marriage counseling working through our losses. We worked through other missed opportunities to work through life’s hard stuff. It was a game changer for us. What if we hadn’t waited for years? What if we had talked about it openly and made it okay to feel and to hurt and to be sad together?

If you know me, I am not shy when it comes to talking about life with anyone once I’ve processed it myself. Bringing to light, I believe, the things which seem better hidden can take the hold it so often has on us and release us from it. Of course we may not all be this comfortable talking about the hardest things we experience, and I do encourage discretion, but in our marriages and in our deep friendships, let’s speak.

The greatest stories we listen to are the ones we tell ourselves. I told myself Matt wouldn’t be able to handle my sadness a second time.. I told myself it was my fault. I told myself Matt wouldn’t want me if I kept loosing babies. I told myself…but, none of these stories were true. None of the stories I made up played out. It did, however, affect our marriage. Matt had his own stories too.

In the past few years when my friends or acquaintances, even in my job as a pediatric nurse, have had a chronically-ill child, miscarriage(s) and not been able to conceive, I ask “how is your marriage”. I know in my own experience the loss of connection in my marriage became my hardest loss of all. I long for others to learn from my experience. I tell them to process together, to be together, to grieve together and to cling to each other even when words don’t make sense.

This year, as we hung our birds and stockings for our babies, I wasn’t as overcome with emotion as I have in years past. Matt and my marriage has grown to a place where we can talk about loss and talk about hard things without giving into the stories we tell ourselves. I don’t feel alone anymore in the loss. And God redeems. Ours looks like two girls who create joy and chaos, sometimes all at once.

My little chaos’ room on a usual basis at nap time.

I have no idea where you might be at in this season: anticipating starting a family, not having the option, having had a miscarriage(s), sleepless nights with an ill-child or endless months of trying. I do not know what your marriage looks like, but would you allow me to tell you this: God sees you. God hears you. God knows your heart. God wants to hold you together. He is not afraid of your grieve. You are never too much for him. He will never give up on you even when you don’t want to keep trying. And, this is good news, too. He loves your spouse as much as he loves you.

And please hear me in this: do not let the stories we tell ourselves get in the way of talking about your grief, your loss, and your sadness with your spouse and the people closest to you. Give light to your experience so what is hidden cannot hold you. Find a way to share your story, whether it’s by hanging a bird on your Christmas tree or by clinging to the one who loves you. Don’t let it stay hidden, don’t let yourself stay hidden.

A reminder to us all: when someone has the courage to speak, listen with the intention to hear. We all experience loss and very few of us want someone to fix it. Just listen; just be present. let’s be less nervous about what we will say and more eager be with the one who is grieving.

Psalm 139: 5 (Message) “I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too–your reassuring presence, coming and going.

Linger at the Table

Oxford defines the word linger as: to stay in a place longer than necessary because of a reluctance to leave.

I have an incredible groups of ladies who like to gather around a table for dinner every month. I wish everyone could experience a table like this. It’s our tradition to serve everything at the table. It’s our hope, in doing this, to encourage an environment of gathering, serving and lingering together for the sake of community. It’s an honest place and a place where laughter and tears are welcome. We do linger, often outstaying a normal welcome, just to share a little longer together.

I often wonder what it would have been like for the disciples of Jesus, the guys who did life with and learned from him, to linger at his table. Would it have been as joyful and as sincere at the table I enjoy with my friends? Would it have been as intimate as it is when the conversation settles on burdens and desires for prayer? Would it be gentle and peaceful, a place we always want to return? The Bible definitely depicts conversations with Jesus and his disciples, and I would image the disciples experienced all these things as well as many more.

I recently was encouraged to linger with Jesus intentionally. I began by getting into the accounts of Jesus a new mindset. I thought about the disciples experiencing a physical Jesus, then their experience of living without him. With fresh eyes, I saw ache and anguish in the loose these men and women felt in his absence.

If these disciples lingered daily in Jesus’ midst for three years, what must I do now, 2000 years later, to learn to linger with Jesus? Five minutes here and there isn’t going to cut it. Raising my hands in worship at church on Sunday mornings isn’t going to affect my life so greatly to where I miss Jesus every other day of the week. Lingering isn’t a loud car ride full of positive music. While all these have their place and perfect purpose, for me lingering is the way I want to learn to crave being with Jesus. It includes listening for him and learning to be still in anticipation and expectation. This lingering can come from conversations with just him or in community. It will come when I hesitate to leave because I don’t want to miss him rather than because I think I have to be with him.

I dread the idea of being still. Friends, I fear slowing down my mind and my heart and it shows by my constant busyness. The challenge, then, is to be simply with Jesus more often and to slow the rhythms of my world just a few minutes longer, in other words, linger.

The deep desire to know Jesus overshadows the panic of structured lingering. The imagery I find to help me understand this desire looks like a table. It is bountiful and simple, elegant and quiet. Etiquette is overshadowed by being present. Weary, busy people come to the table, yet full, calm, hope filled people leave it. Jesus is there and desires us to rest in his presence. No works, however good they may be, can obtain the right to a seat at his table. The chair is pulled out and we are offered his choice food in trade for our time and our attention.

And so, Jesus’ table is the place I will instruct myself to run to. I want to learn the grace of Jesus’ table. I want to learn the art of lingering to know Jesus better and more completely. The table has yet to become old. After years of “belonging” to Jesus, the journey of knowing Jesus has only just begun.

In this season of joy and busyness with friends and family, do you need to find your table with Jesus. Does your soul long to know Jesus, either for the first time or yet again? Carve out the intentional time to sit at his feet in wonder and begin to learn to linger just a few minutes longer.

A lingering Jesus: while I was writing this I realized how Jesus does not force us to linger, yet he is always lingering for us. He is always waiting, staying just a little bit longer than necessary until we find our place at his table. He will continue to linger as long as it takes, so let’s not keep him waiting.

Go Ahead. Yell.

Key Verse: I yell out to my God. I yell with all my might. I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens. Psalm 77: 1 (MSG)

My 18-month-old’s panicked cries reached my ears. As I reached the play room, two fear-struck eyes and little hands thrust out towards me, desperate for help. Immediately, I leapt over an array of toys in my path to reach her. I pulled her out of her wedged position, and felt her arms fling around me. She sealed herself to me like suction cups.

Her cries quickly subsided as I reassured my little blond-haired troublemaker. I lovingly warned her about her choices. Climbing onto the play kitchen and wedging herself into its plastic sink was not the best idea.

Much like my daughter I easily find myself in situations I can climb into but struggle to get out of. Even before the sun rises, I’m beating myself up for already losing my patience. I bite off more than I can chew. I am overwhelmed. I worry about little things yet fail to be present for the big things. In these moments, what we can be doing is yelling out for help.

In Psalm 77, where our key verse comes from, David expresses his gloom. He cannot sleep. He is beyond frustrated.  With everything he has, he cries out. He needs help and his sentiments resonate with me-“I’m over it. I am in trouble. Help.”

Psalm 77: 2a says “I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord.” How reassuring! Being in trouble and looking for God go hand in hand.

No waiting necessary. No need to have it all together. We can call out to God in our trouble.

Once comforted, my little one pushed away from my arms. Putting her down I left the room. A few moments later I peaked in on her. Her little chubby legs and brave heart had helped her climb onto the play kitchen and she was happily wiggling herself back into the sink. I grinned, knowing I would be hearing panicked cries in a few minutes and I would run to the rescue.

God is so gracious to do the same for us. No matter how many times we find ourselves in trouble, no matter how many times we yell out to him, God will always show up to rescue us. -ST

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Be Alert and Arise

 

What would it be like to be alert in an instant, to rise from deep slumber in one quiet, quick move and to hold the gaze of what is before you? Today I met a lioness. My heart beat quicker, my movements slowed and I was in awe.

I recently finished listening to Lisa Bevere enlighten me in her book Lioness Arising and my interest in lionesses has awakened. In her brilliant way of teaching and preaching all in the same sentence, this insightful author described the role and the character of a lioness. Her vision from Numbers 23:24 brought her own interest to the light and she shared her knowledge with diligent research and great application.

In Numbers 23, a man of God, Balaam, was asked by Balak a king greatly threatened by the Israelites to curse them. The Israelites, God’s chosen people, were blessed instead. Balaam recounts that God is with them and no evil would come upon them. Verse 24 declares “The people rise like a lioness.” As I have taken these words to heart in the past few weeks I have seen a change in my determination and my demeanor.

This morning, Camryn and I headed off to the Denver Zoo where I hoped to lay eyes on one, if not more, of the lionesses. When out, they are usually basking in the sunlight enjoying the usual 16 hours plus of sleep per day. After learning about these incredible female creatures, I quickly passed up the lions in search of the lionesses. Tucked in a smaller area was a slightly awake lioness. She was beautiful. She was a few feet from the glass, breathtaking in size and smoothness of fur.

Although there are so many who would prefer to see animals in their natural habitat, and I am no exception, the zoo displays God’s creation a bit closer and gives me a piece of heaven in my home town. Half forgetting my little peanut as she eagerly followed me, I spoke to the lioness. Something caught her eye and she was instantly alert. Thinking it was my little one, I picked Camryn up. Her eye caught mine and as I took a picture on my phone she sat up, then came to a full standing position.

Her eyes became piercing as she looked almost through me, maybe behind me, intently. Tears filled my eyes as I was overwhelmed. No one else was around to see my emotions. A little God moment just for me. I shivered and showed Cammie her big face, catching her glance again.

After working through this book on the role of the lionesses and the parallel to our role as women in the body of Christ followers, I had begun taking a stronger stand in my role at work. Last week I was intensely focused and spoke up for my team. My daughter went off to school, concerned she wasn’t as smart as the other girls. I went into alert mode, instructing her firmly her position in God’s family, our family and in herself. I went to my knees in prayer when I lost courage. By the end of this past week, I was weakened by comment someone meant as a compliment, being unsure if it was a good one. I became emotionally and physically tired and being alert seemed just too hard.

As I have been praying for renewal and discernment this week, the lioness arose. I am a visual learning and the confirmation from my Father in heaven came in the physical character of this lioness. She was just as beautiful, powerful and alert as I had envisioned after listening to Bevere’s book. This lioness’ held gaze connected my heart to the God who created me, the same God who has created her, for such wonderful things: to be beautiful, to be powerful and to be alert.

And so, sisters, be renewed today in your own beauty, your own power in the Spirit and alertness to what God is calling you to be. Whether it is nursing your baby, providing for your family or alerting your heart to a new calling, arise. Be like the lioness, for our Father is the Lion of Judah and we are his.

Best Intentions

It’s the first day of kindergarten and I wanted to be on it. With my alarm set for earlier than my “pre-kinder” life, I planned on making my oldest lunch, brewing coffee and spending a few sweet moments with my Jesus. Three hours before my alarm sounded my youngest made herself known, followed by her sister. When the alarm startled me awake from a rough dream, both girls were asleep, snuggled in on either side of me. Although a practice I am nervous about, today was an exception. We all needed a little mommy time before the morning light shown through our west facing windows. With best intentions gone out the same windows, I hit snooze only to anxiously anticipating the morning’s kindergarten drop off instead of sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Our best intentions often fall to the wayside as reality makes a move on our day, our lives and our relationships. Peter, a guy in Jesus’ crew, comes to mind as a man who had all sorts of best intentions. He made efforts to keep the children from Jesus because he believed Jesus was too busy. He send a crowd to find their own food instead of seeking God’s provision. He walked on water with a great amount of faith until his nerves took over and he sank. He cut off the solder’s servant’s ear in full zeal on the night Jesus was arrested only to deny him three times before the morning dew settled.

If we are not careful we can judge Peter for being so lousy at follow-through or failing in his attentions. If I judge him, I would be judging myself. My best intentions fail constantly, yet God invites us to experience his new mercies every morning and his grace in the mean time. It’s nothing deserved and nothing warranted by my behavior. It’s just who I am invited to be as a Jesus follower.

Jesus doesn’t stay dead. He came back to life and went to his disciples. Jesus had offered Peter a life as a Jesus follower with no collateral attached. But, I think Peter thought he had blown it just one time too many. So he did what he knew best. He went back to being an average fisherman.

Jesus showed up for breakfast while Peter is fishing. Like I said, Jesus offers new mercies every morning. When Peter realized that Jesus was calling to him from the beach, he rushed (swam fully clothed) to the beach to meet him. Can this remind us that a Jesus follower, like Peter, does not mind being messy in the presence of Jesus. Jesus, right on the beach, offered Peter his mercies once again in the form of fire roasted fish, heavenly smelling bread and a renewed relationship. (See John 21 for all the details.)

And so tomorrow, with a renewed heart and the sweetness of his mercies, I will attempt my best intentions once again. When I sit at Jesus’ feet with my cup of coffee, before my children stir, or fall on my face trying, Jesus will be ready to meet me with new mercies for breakfast and his gentle whispers of best intentions he is bestowing upon me.

Enjoy being at Jesus’ feet with new mercies! Lamentations 3:22-23

-ST

A forever home

I have been in my current position at Children’s Hospital for 8 years in March. I love it and I am constantly growing and changing. I just transitioned to my forth immediate supervisor and I have had two managers. My supervisors have been moving to new positions within the leadership structure and most recently I have moved to working primary during day shift. Work is a constant change, isn’t it?

We are close to moving Maggie and Camryn to yet a new childcare routine. This one being Daddy when Mommy is at work at least until the summer and Matt is preparing to change his work and embark on a new adventure. And so we find more changes for our ever changing lives.

We moved from being a couple, to a family of one, then added a dog, and now we are a family of four with a dog. Currently, we are working on re-homing our dog. With the girls’ allergies (okay, mostly Maggie’s but if her sister is anything like her, Camryn’s cough seems very familiar) it is time for our large hound to find a new home.

This weekend we met another potential family.  I went through yet another afternoon of advertising my dog to them while at the same time interviewing them to see if they could qualify to be the forever home for my dog. It’s a harder process than I thought it would be. It’s an emotional experience. It has caused me to stop and think about what it means when we commit our lives to Jesus and are welcomed into a relationship with God.

When we are in Christ Jesus we are his and he is ours. There is never a moment when he would every say: I’ve had enough; you are too much for me; it’s time to re-home you. Our relationship with God will look different from year to year as we grow, as our lives change and as we experience his grace more and more. But, the minute we choose Jesus, God gives us his forever home.

Let’s go to the Israelites in the dessert. For forty years they are been in the habit of remembering God and forgetting him, of praising God and complaining to him. The new generation had taken over and God was still with them. God had been constant, although threatening to bring his wrath for their disobedience, God turned his ear to hear the cries of Moses and pressed forward with his people. And so, they reach the Jordan River to pass into the promised land, the land promised to Abraham years and generations before. Joshua 1:9 finishes out Joshua’s pep talk about obeying and being strong in leading his people with this: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

That sounds like a God who stays. That sounds like a home that will last. We do not need to worry about being re-homed because our circumstances change. We can settle in. We can be strong and courageous because he will not leave us. It may take a while for us to believe this truth and to experience that he stays, but he will and he does.

Our lives change, our situations change and our dreams vary from day to day sometimes, but when we are God’s and he is ours, we are home for good.

I found this old hymn. I think I sang it as a kid. The first verse is sweetness to the soul. Loved with Everlasting Love by George Wade Robinson (1838-1877), music by James Mountain (1844-1933)

Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so.
Oh, this full and perfect peace!
Oh, this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
I am His, and He is mine.

Blessings and may you rest in the peace of your forever home.

-ST