Wednesday, December 17, 2014


But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
You are the God of great wonders!
 You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. 
Psalm 77:11, 14

Do you know that feeling, in December, when the dishwasher repairman comes to your house to let you know that it will be $300 to fix the control board on your old dishwasher?  How about when you work for what seems like hours to track down a person who can fix your hot water heater, only to be told that it would be best to just replace the entire thing? Do you know that feeling of not knowing where the money will come from to pay for broken appliances during this month of gift-buying?

That was me.  That was us.  Our dishwasher broke the weekend after Thanksgiving. No problem--we can hand wash dishes in the sink for a while.  But then our hot water heater went out. We were warming up water on the stove so that we could hand wash dishes in the sink.  I was making arrangements to drive to a friend's house so we could shower and give the boys a bath.  This was not really how I had expected on spending my spare time in December.

I was expecting to be making cookies.  I was expecting to be mailing out Christmas cards.  I was expecting to be listening to music by the light of the Christmas tree.  I was expecting to put the finishing touches on gifts.  I was not expecting to be heating pots of water;  I was not expecting to use my dish drying towels after every meal.

But this Advent season, God had some expectations of what he needed to show me. First, he orchestrated some events so that my parents would be living with us for a while, and it just so happens that they are happy to help out by doing dishes. Second, he worked through an experienced friend at church who came and fixed our hot water heater by simply replacing a part. Third, he aligned circumstances in another family's life that caused them to no longer need the dishwasher they currently use; so they offered their fully-functional dishwasher to us.

Check, check, check.  

God's lavish provision exponentially exceeded whatever unmet expectations I had.

It's at those times when my Love and I just stand humbly before God in disbelief and ask, "Really?!? Now you're just showing off."

Two weeks ago, I believed that I would be disappointed and stressed by not having my Christmas projects finished on time and be $1000 in the hole thanks to new appliances.  That was my expectation.

God took the liberty to shatter those expectations.

Yes, God has some expectations for me this Advent season.  He expected to continue his work of teaching me how to trust in him.  He expected to show me once again how his riches far surpass my imagination.  And he expected to remind me that his gifts do not usually take the form that most people expect.

I was expecting a working dishwasher and hot water from my tap.  Those things were taken from me, and instead I got unexpected surprises and the joy of knowing that the God of the universe has things under his control.

What a perfect time of year to be reminded that God does not come to us in the ways in which we expect.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:10-12

Saturday, December 6, 2014

My Way

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2

A couple of nights ago, the boys and I got to hang up ornaments on our tree.  I LOVE hanging the tree ornaments.  I love making everything look just beautiful on the backdrop of evergreen.  When I was a girl, I would try to talk my dad into setting up the tree earlier and earlier each year... that is, until I moved away to college.  Then I would beg him to wait until I after I got home for the break.  Once I was married, Dave and I would set aside a special night, usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, where we would play our favorite Christmas music and take our time decorating our little tree.

But hanging ornaments with two small boys is very different than hanging ornaments with my dad or with Dave.

Even before the box from the garage was opened, there was energy in the air.  As soon as I gingerly removed the first ornaments from their hibernation, I felt like I had stepped into the Belmont Stakes. Noah was pulling ornaments out of the box faster than we could get them on the tree. Fragile ones, sentimental ones, wooden ones, and plastic ones all piled onto the couch in one giant mess of color and hanging wire. Zeke broke two of them within five minutes. There was no background music, there was no careful placement, there was no appreciation of sentiment or order.  It was chaos. And it was not how it was supposed to be.

In record time, the sprint was over.  The ornaments were out of the box and on the tree (minus the two broken ones).  As I put away the tissue paper and ornament boxes, I secretly was wishing that I could have done it my way. 

If I would have done it my way, none of the ornaments would have been broken. The beautiful ornaments would have had prominent placing and the trinket-y ones would have been gathered toward the rear side.  The bows and glass balls would have been evenly spaced. There would have been soothing music and deliberate movement.

But that would not have been the best way.  The best way was sharing the time together, chaotic as it was.  The best way was teaching my two young boys about gentleness and forgiveness.  The best way was sharing stories and memories. The best way was seeing their outward excitement mirror my inward excitement. The best way was having my way messed up.

Because, more often than not, my way is not the best.  More often than not, my way is focused on the wrong goals. More often than not, my way is too narrow to be aware of anything bigger and better.

God continually challenges me as his child, and as a parent to his children, to give up my way in order to take on his way, which he promises is always the best.  He doesn't let me work my way into his graces; he offers mercy and forgiveness instead. He doesn't let me figure everything out; he shows me my need for him instead. He doesn't let me determine what the day brings; he leads me along his path for me instead. 

He doesn't let me focus on all of the "stuff" of this season; he draws my eyes back to himself -- a baby bringing me salvation in a way that I would have never supposed.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23