And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. Luke 1:45
Blessed is she
The one who paces through the night, pouring out faith and frustrations, believing that, though it seems to have no heartbeat, her marriage will live again
Blessed is she
The one who weeps herself empty over the tattered photo of a child who is wandering far from God and far from home, believing for the day his heart will turn toward hope.
Blessed is she
The one who logs hours in hospital rooms and doctor’s offices, learning the names of conditions and prescriptions she never wanted to know, yet still believing in the One name that is over them all.
Blessed is she
The one who spends money she doesn’t have on people she doesn’t know, believing her drop in the bucket might just create ripples that echo into eternity.
Blessed is she
The one who breathes through the pain and hopes against hope and stands in the storm, not because she’s strong enough, but because she believes He has spoken and she knows in her marrow that He will perform it.
Blessed is she who sees the promise on the other side of the problem clearly enough to put the muscle of her faith into the fight of her life.
Blessed is she.
Well, hello there Monday. Just when I thought the wonderful holiday weekend might last forever, you peeked around the corner of 5:30 a.m., reminding me that time keeps moving and a new week is right here, right now.
I typically love Mondays because I generally love new. This particular Monday, however, came toting a suitcase full of stress with it. In fact, as soon as my first coherent thought formed this morning, I felt my heart rate spike with the reality of the week ahead. A short list of stressors:
- Seven speaking gigs in the next nine days.
- I have been putting off bill-paying for way too long. It’s not that I don’t have the money, it’s that I’ve chosen to sink my energies into other things I like better. Simply put, I procrastinate on the things I should be doing in lieu of the things I like to be doing (decorating a Christmas tree for my home office, for instance.) Now the bills have catapulted themselves from the “Should Do” list to the “MUST do” list. Blech.
- I have a sicky, sicky boy. And while I hate for any kids to be sick, the danger of his flu germs migrating in the direction of his dad makes the whole thing weightier than an ordinary sick day.
So, these are some of the things on my list. I bet you have a list, too. In fact, I just read a few status updates on facebook that put my list to shame – someone lost their home in a fire, someone lost their sweet baby to a mysterious illness, and for every story told in social media, there are a million more that are untold. We live in a difficult, demanding world and giving into the stress of it makes us unhealthy which makes the whole thing even more stressful. Vicious. Cycle.
I turned to my Bible this morning, looking for help and hope and for my word for the week. I’m still going through this advent devotional, and this morning the verse was Matthew 1:23. Get a load of this beautiful thing: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated, “God is with us.”
God is with us.
God is with me.
God is with Bo.
He came to live in this world and in this week. He came to live with me as I balance unruly checkbooks and unwieldy schedules and ubiquitous flu germs. He came here. To us. Because He loves us.
For the umpteenth time today, I’m reminded that Jesus is not afraid of my mess or my stress and in fact, invites me to bring my suitcase to His presence and move right in. To abide in Him. To rest in the fully-finished work of salvation and trust Him with the ongoing work of sanctification. Because Immanuel was not a one-time, short-term, quick-fix visitor to our world; He came to dwell with us.
The word of the week, therefore, is dwell. Our great God led the way, coming to dwell with me and I am longing to dwell with Him – to gather all of my life and dreams and decisions and to-do lists and hoist them onto His big shoulder. If He is strong enough to carry the whole government, He’s certainly strong enough to carry my heart.
Question for you today: what is your word for this first week of Advent?
P.S. This weekend, I’ll be speaking at Westside Church about how God has come to dwell in our suffering. I’d love to see you there, or you can catch the message online here.
Well, the word for this week is gratitude. Because, duh – it has to be. It’s Thanksgiving and our world is awash in thankfulness. Even facebook is thankful, for goodness sake, so that is the word for the week.
But lean in close because I need to whisper this next part: I didn’t really want to choose it. I did not. In fact, I kept avoiding it this morning because I felt it was being foisted upon me by unseen forces led by Abraham Lincoln, whose responsible for this whole situation and it’s hard to say no to honest Abe.
I could list out my laments here, but you’ve already heard most of them. I could explain again that holidays are tricky in the Shadowlands; so tricky, in fact, that it’s always tempting to shush them a little. But, here I sit on Monday morning, choosing a word and the word is: gratitude, darn it. I will choose to be thankful this week and you, dear reader, may hold me to it. In spite of the things going bump in the night of my life, I am hoping to be intentionally thankful for the amazing stuff that I can see with my own two eyes and hold in my own two hands. Because gratitude is powerful. Because it changes my perspective. Because it makes me better to be with (and all my family said “Amen. So be it.”)
Here’s my short list.
- I’m thankful for my health; especially because other people depend on it now, I’m endlessly grateful to have it.
- I’m thankful for my husband. Quite honestly, I didn’t think he’d be here this year and he is very here. Still talking. Still eating. Still very wonderfully Steve.
- I’m thankful for the family who will gather around my table. They are the people who add the color into my life. They are my happy.
- I’m thankful for hope. Sweet and sovereign, hope stretches out in front of us and though I can’t catch it in a bottle or capture it with words, I know it’s there and it gives me the strength to be thankful for the blessings when my heart keeps wanting to veer off towards the disappointments .
I could list food and friends and clean air and a thousand other things, but I fear that if I go too wide I won’t go deep. I really do want to live this word out well in the beautiful and in the battle. That is, after all, the whole point. Thanksgiving was created for recognizing God’s goodness in a battle-weary land. Check out these fierce, fantastic words from President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Declaration:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
Yes. My life – in battle and out - proves the watchful providence of Almighty God. And so my gratitude, while sometimes reluctant, is still very real.
And now unto the One who is able to keep us from falling: endless, eternal thanks,
P.S. What’s YOUR word for the week?
Hey, I don’t want to alarm anyone but did you realize that Thanksgiving 2013 is here in eight little days? I love Thanksgiving. I’ve hosted it at my house for the past dozen years and it’s rich with tradition and memories and all the things that make me feel truly thankful for the life I live and the land I love. But let’s be real: it’s a lot of work. Every year I think I’ve simplified and strategized for a stress-free day, but every year I have a moment in the kitchen (usually right before the meal is served) when chaos breaks lose and I start envisioning a holiday at a resort somewhere tropical. But I always come back for another year.
I posted this recipe last year and I still think it’s one of the most magical situations I have ever found on Pinterest. After I shared it, I received tons of emails from people who had tried it and fallen in love with it, too, so I decided to give it another run for those of you who may have missed it the first time. I give you, Thanksgiving Bread in Minutes:
Want to astound your friends at Thanksgiving with your legendary baking skills? Held back by the fact that you have no such skills? I’m here to help!
I ran into this recipe on Pinterest and was intrigued. However, I tend to live in mysterious intrigue with Pinterest and never actually, you know, make anything that I’ve so cleverly pinned on my boards. So, looking for a good, crusty bread for family dinner, I remembered this recipe and gave her a whirl.
Oh my. So good. So, so good and twice as easy. Four ingredients. No proofing yeast. No kneading dough. Lots of opportunity for fun modifications. Total prep time is less than five minutes (but the dough does need to sit overnight – so plan ahead.)
Here’s the blog where I found the recipe. I’ve made it three times now and the only changes that I’ve made from the original are adding just a pinch more salt and reducing my oven temperature to 425 rather than 450 (I also like a shake of sea salt on top, just before baking.) But let me stress: no matter what your cooking aptitude, you cannot mess this up. However, if you do mess this up, I would love to hear about it so I stop calling this a fail proof recipe.
Here comes turkey day,
UPDATE: This recipe also made great bread bowls for Christmas Eve clam chowder. I just made two loaves out of each recipe instead of one.
Not gonna lie, last week was hard. One ALS death and two dear friends diagnosed with cancer, one of them terminal. At times, it felt like devastation was running amok, waiting to pounce. Have you ever feared your phone ringing or your email inbox? That was last week.
This morning I woke up feeling…wary. A new day. A new week. What will it bring?
As I read some precious words in Matthew, I knew I needed to make a decision about my week. I needed to label it ahead of time instead of fearing what it might become as the pages of days turn. I thought and prayed. I considered my current circumstances and all that might lie ahead in the next seven days and I chose the word: C O U R A G E. And I scribbled this into my journal:
My word for the week ahead is: C O U R A G E. I want to face it with the kind of bighearted bravery that races in to meet the giant rather than skulking around the perimeter of the battlefield or hiding in the coat closet. Life is too short to waste precious energy just staying under the radar.
Just choosing that small-but-oh-so-big word made a mark on my heart. It carved its initials into my outlook, orienting my thinking toward forward motion rather than dodge-and-weave. I like it. I like owning that word for this week. I’m giving myself permission to be extraordinarily brave. Not because I’m strong, but because He is. Not because I’m smart enough to win the battles we face, but because He is.
Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident. Psalm 27:3
Maybe you need a word this week, too. Perhaps you need a beautiful little noun or verb that you could package up and hold close and let it do a little steering, moving you toward God’s best for your days and away from less-worthy thinking. Desperate for rest? For joy, peace, truth, clarity, wisdom, adventure? Why not slap a label on your week ahead of time and see how it tilts your heart toward hope.
If you choose a word, I’d love to hear it (because maybe I’ll need it next week!)
Bring it, Monday! I’m ready for you,