The Time Machine: 3 Weeks of Thanks Week 2

The Time Machine series features posts from years past.

This week I’m continuing with 3 Weeks of Thanks. It’s tough when you’re in the middle of raising kids to stop and remember the little things, and that’s why I’m so glad I posted this a few years ago! This is one of my favourite memories of a quiet moment with our oldest daughter, who turns seven this winter. She was nearly three years old at the time.

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pink clouds

Pink clouds one October morning

This morning I got to watch the sunrise with my oldest daughter.

“What’s that pink stuff?”  she asked.

“The clouds.  They sometimes turn pink in the morning,” I explained.

“When’s they come back?”

“Usually when the sun goes down.”

It was a particularly beautiful way to start the day!

3WT Week#2:

Romans 1:20 (NIV)

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

When Things Are Just Too Much

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? – Psalm 13:1

lightning

Late summer lightning

What do you do when the bottom falls out? When things go so completely wrong that it seems impossible that God is still involved in the situation? What do you do when you know He is powerful to stop something from happening, or to clear an obstacle, but He simply does not do either one?

I want to believe that somehow, all my faithfulness to Him will be rewarded with health, long life, stability, finances and human love on this side of eternity. I want to think that if I’m good to Him, He will be good to me in the way that I think is right and good and worth my effort, here and now in this life.

But I know that’s not true. In my heart I know the real rewards are yet to come.

This is one of the hardest things about following Jesus. God is good, yet bad things still happen, and it’s even more difficult when bad things happen to good people. I know that God can intervene and change the outcome of any situation, and yet sometimes He doesn’t. I grieve losses and disappointments and wonder why He doesn’t just make it all go away.

I was thinking about this the other day  when I read something that struck me. It was from Pastor Timothy Keller, who has taught extensively about suffering and the Christian worldview. He said, “The best people often have terrible lives. Job is one example and Jesus—the ultimate ‘Job,’ the only truly innocent sufferer—is another.”

Not very comforting, and yet completely satisfying all at the same time. If even Jesus suffered, why do we think that we will not? We’ve been fed this line that if we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us with material blessings and protection. Maybe a nice house and a car, a good marriage with wonderful kids, a full bank account, our health and a great job that will fill our desire to make an impact – our “calling”, as it were. Kind of like karma – be good and good things will come.

Except that’s not how it works. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble…”

Not that we go looking for it; we don’t have to. In certain seasons of life, it finds us. And it doesn’t make sense. It feels unfair. It hurts.

Earlier this month, we lost an incredible evangelist and passionate teacher. Nabeel Qureshi’s life and books have impacted thousands of people around the world! This guy loved Jesus. He was willing to give up everything for the sake of the cross. Surely he would be healed of his sudden stomach cancer diagnosis! Surely God would do a miracle in his life to show His power and glory! Thousands of people prayed for healing. Thousands of voices lifted morning after morning, night after night – asking Jesus to remove the cancer in this young husband and father and give him a bright future as an author, teacher and speaker.

The answer came on September 16th, 2017 as Nabeel was welcomed into eternal life with Jesus.  We know he is experiencing the incredible joy of seeing the Lord face to face! But we can’t help but ask the question, “why Lord?”

Why do we have to suffer? Why do good guys have to die?

We were watching Bambi with the kids a few weekends ago and our four and a half year old was horrified by the very idea that the storyteller would include the part about Bambi’s mom being shot by a hunter.

Her face was stricken with a mix of confusion and fear as she cried out, “WHY?! WHY DID THEY EVEN PUT THAT IN THERE?!”

I know, right?!  I feel like that every time something nasty comes my way.

We think we’ve got things covered, but when something goes sideways we face the reality that we are not in charge.  That phone call. That doctor’s appointment. That work meeting. The economy. The weather. The timing of a particular moment. In just seconds, we are driven to our knees with shock, grief and fear.

And rightly so. In the moment it is so difficult to understand why or even how something like this would happen.

Here’s the amazing thing. When suffering comes, we are not expected to fold our hands and shrug our shoulders and say, “oh well, it’s God’s will”. We are free to wail and grieve. We are allowed to cry out to the Lord from the depths of our hearts. We can run to Him to be held, comforted, reminded of who He is – the God who redeems and restores our lives for all eternity!

Suffering takes our faith to depths we’ve only heard about in stories and testimonies. Places we will not go on our own. Places that bring us into a closeness with Jesus we’ve never had before, as we share in His sufferings.

Author Ann Voskamp says, “When we know Christ, we always know how things are going to go — always for our good and always for His glory.”

We don’t have to explain it away, because we have a Saviour who suffered too. A Savior who bore our sin, shame, pain and grief, who died a brutal death, forsaken by all. And He is the very same Savior who came to life again, breaking death’s power for all eternity.

When we see God for who He really is, even in the middle of the darkest of nights, we come to understand that He really is the One who holds it all together. We begin to see that God is working all things for our eternal good – and for His glory. These sufferings are temporary. He is eternal. With our trust placed in Jesus, our future is secure, free from suffering and filled with hope.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

The Time Machine: 3 Weeks of Thanks

The Time Machine series features posts from years past.

Five years ago I started to make Thanksgiving a bit more of a season in our home with something I call “3 Weeks of Thanks”. This was originally posted in September 2015.  Enjoy!

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wildflower bouquet

We grew these in our backyard in the summer of 2015

This is my third year attempting to make Thanksgiving into something of a season in our home.  I call it 3 Weeks of Thanks.

Christmas gets a nice long season with fun festivities.  Easter gets at least a week.

But Thanksgiving?  Usually it’s like, “oh by the way we’re having Thanksgiving dinner in three days from now – what do you want to bring?”

“YIPES!  Cook the potatoes!  Did we get a big enough turkey? Should I mash that can-shaped cranberry sauce or leave it in the shape of the can?  I think we need more stuffing.”

Fun and yummy!  BUT…  it’s more than all that.  Reading the news lately makes me realize that my kids are experiencing a life that most people do not.  The things that are so normal for them are completely out of reach for many kids their age.  My heart aches to think that they will become entitled and take these things for granted.

And yet, I know they probably will.  It’s human nature.  They will look back at my ideas like 3 Weeks of Thanks and think, “boy, my mom was the cheesiest woman on the planet.  Remember when we used to write all those things we were thankful for on those construction paper leaves and tape them to the wall for the Thanksgiving Tree?  No one actually has a thanksgiving tree.  What a ridiculous thing that isn’t a real thing.”

But you know what?  I don’t care.  I want them to understand that everything we have is not because we are awesome and can do it all by ourselves.  I want them to know that God is real.  He is present.  He is WITH us.  He is worthy of our worship.  He is the source of Life.

And when they begin to realize that life is not fair, bad things happen, and even that people do bad things, I want them to know everything is not random and pointless.

Hard to imagine that a construction paper tree is going to make a difference when that time comes.  But God shows up in very ordinary things.  And He uses very ordinary people.
3WT Week#1:

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.  Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

Matthew 19:14 (NLT)

The Big Question in Our Home These Days

I sat down on the floor. Almost immediately, all three girls surrounded me. One climbed into my lap, one tucked herself under my arm and the other nestled into my side. As I pulled a Berenstain Bears book off the shelf and began to read aloud, I could feel their bodies relaxing. Mine was too, which came as a surprise to me. Only moments before, I was about to dive right into Screaming Mama Abyss, moving closer to the edge with each shrill word exchanged between the three of them. Instead, I breathed deep and did the OPPOSITE of what I felt like.

I got real quiet.

I sat.

I read.

I cuddled.

I hugged.

I poured some mama love all over those children.

love

It was exactly what our hearts needed that afternoon. You see, the big question in our house right now is “do you still love me?”. A new baby brings amazing joy into a family but it also brings a wave of change that’s enough to spin-cycle you right out into the middle of the ocean. These sweet girls of mine are desperate to know that their parents still love them more than ever, even with a new cute little brother on the scene. He’s starting to coo and smile and getting a ton of attention, and they really want to know how this is all going to work out for them in the long run.

As with any change, we need amazing grace and the gift of time.  Grace for each other, time to adjust. You simply cannot rush into a “new normal”, whatever that new normal happens to be. It’s enough right now just to know that no matter what the day holds, we’re not walking through it alone!

Welcome!

Welcome to my new site!  I am so excited to share my thoughts, my life and my heart in this space. It has been a long time coming, that’s for sure! Look for reposts of some of my favourites from Finding Gems in the Ordinary and of course, new posts!

Things have changed so much for me since I started blogging eleven years ago. Back then I was a young, single career girl, hurling myself towards burnout. Today, I am a postpartum mom of four (my first son is just two months old!), hurling myself into the arms of Jesus every moment of every day! I’m sharing that journey here on this blog and I hope you’ll share in it with me.