Enough

When you’re doing the thing you believe God has brought before you to do, it’s rarely a comfortable experience.

I remember sitting on our couch in the living room of our small home about five years ago. I was expecting our third child, preparing myself for the changes that were coming. I knew we’d be outnumbered but I wasn’t worried about that. My tears fell for an entirely different reason. Would we have “enough”? Would our income be able to keep up with another child entering our home?

“I need to know we’re going to have enough!” I heard myself say through the emotion that overwhelmed me.

“What is ‘enough’?” my husband replied. “How much do we really, actually, need?”

That conversation has never left my mind and heart. I see now that at the time I didn’t fully trust God as my provider, not just financially, but in many areas of my life.

The deepening of our faith in Jesus always requires a choice: trust in Him, or trust in me.

Over the past five years, we’ve added another little one to our family, and I have been amazed over and over again at how God has provided just what we need at just the right time. And He continues to do so! Even more than our physical needs, I am seeing that He really is the Bread of Life (John 6:35)!

We have four beautiful children that God has called me to mother. When I had my first baby, I really felt like maybe I just wasn’t good at this mothering thing. It was an uphill climb. But now that our youngest is out of the baby stage, I can see God’s grace carrying me thus far, gently teaching me how to nurture each one of our unique children. I can see Him carefully removing my need to prove myself competent and capable and replacing it with a soft heart for the most vulnerable among us. And I can see that these are the works of His hand in my life, not because I tried harder to be a better mom. I made the choice to trust Him instead of me.

This is not an easy road! But I am relieved that I am not who I once was. And it’s all because of His never-ending, all-encompassing love poured out into my heart for His glory and eternal purposes.

It’s never comfortable to fully immerse yourself in the life that God has called you to live. It requires stepping away from the life that you think you need to embrace the life you truly need.

Matthew 11:28-30 is proving to be true for me every day:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

September is a second new year of sorts. It brings with it many options to fill up our plates with busyness. But maybe what we really need is more space in our schedule to pour ourselves into the very people that are in front of us and more time in our day to rest and recharge in the Word of God.

Maybe what we truly need is not more, but less. Only then will we find that He really is enough.

through the trees

A peaceful place in the trees.

When I’m Feeling Behind

I’ve gotta admit, I’m feeling a little behind on some things this week.

How is it Wednesday already? I’m thinking, okay week, you can stop now so I can catch up! Alas, time marches on, and so we must continue rolling from day into night and back into day again.

Sometimes things just don’t get done the way we were hoping.

When it comes to productivity, I’m a huge fan of lists. Sometimes I even add things to the list after I’ve done them just so I can cross them off! But the most helpful tip I’ve employed so far is the “top three things” method. You pick the top three things that need to happen today and make sure those get done, and then anything over and above that is a bonus.

When I was a mama of a newborn, the top three things often included keeping the baby alive and relatively happy, taking a nap and doing one thing that I enjoyed. Now that my kiddos are all out of the baby stage, the top three things often include keeping the kids alive, making sure my toddler naps, and doing at least one thing I enjoy. (And of course, time with the Lord!)

That last thing, the one where I do something I enjoy? That’s for my sanity.

Maybe that’s why most of my #summergoals may have to wait until next year! I’m still in the thick of raising tiny humans who are slowly becoming medium-sized humans, and I’ll tell you, it’s busy. And it’s tempting to forget what season of life I am in, and try to be in someone else’s season of life along with them.

You know what I’m talking about! The ol’ FOMO (fear of missing out, in case you’re old like me and were about to look that up on the Google) creeps in when you peruse your social media feed and you wonder, “just what in the world am I actually doing with my life?! Am I even making a difference like that person is? What about forging ahead in my personal goals like that friend? And look at all the things this other person has going on. What do I really have going for me anyway?”

I’m learning to close the news feed and instead, open up my camera roll. I often snap photos of things that make me smile or fill my heart with a sense of peace, and I’ve discovered that it is one of the most concrete reminders of this amazing life I already have! As I scroll through the different images of my own life that I am actually living right now, the majority of which will never see the light of social-media-day, I begin to see that God is bringing me wonderful gifts every single day that remind me of His goodness.

Somehow, that gives me perspective for my daily to-do list, for those top three things that need to get done.

And I am grateful.

Suzy Hazelwood to do list

Image: Suzy Hazelwood

Made to Praise

It’s a simple song I learned when I was a child. I’ve sung it countless times as a lullaby to all my babies, and they each know it by heart.

Even my just-barely-two year old. He was singing it to himself in his sweet toddler-speak this morning as he played:

“I love you Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship you, oh my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King in what you hear
May it be a sweet sweet sound in your ear.”

He moved on to another familiar song:

“Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him
How I proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O, for grace to trust Him more.”

It does this mama heart so good to hear the sweet voices of her children lifting up the One who created them.

As that thought occurred to me, another followed closely behind: If I love to hear my children praise the Lord, how much more does our worship bring joy to God the Father’s heart?

Worship is not just song; it’s an entire life centred around Jesus Christ, loving as He loved and serving as He served. And praising Him, out loud and in our hearts, is an essential part of that well-spent life.

When things are going well, it’s easy to give Him praise. But when things are going poorly, it can feel nearly impossible to lift our voices, let alone our hands, to the Maker of heaven and earth.

God is sovereign. And He is all good. When we go through difficulties, it feels like He has forgotten us. But Isaiah talks about how God does not forget His people (Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV):

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me.”

Holding God’s sovereignty and His goodness in tension is crucial, especially when our circumstances are beyond our control. And somehow, an audible declaration of praise serves as the reminder we desperately need!

We’re called to praise the Lord as long as we live. Psalm 146 (NIV) begins like this:

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
 
I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Put it on the mirror in the morning. Write it on a sticky note and snap a photo of it so it’s in your camera roll. “I WILL praise the Lord ALL my life; I WILL sing praise to my God as long as I live.” Choose it, no matter what happens in the day.

Why? Because of what it says in the rest of Psalm 146. The plain-as-day warning that follows always makes me sit up and take notice. No beating around the bush here, just a straightforward message to take to heart.

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.

What a stark image of the reality of human limitations. It pierces my heart! Where am I placing my trust, right now, today, in this moment? Is it in human beings? Am I hanging my hopes on likes and follows, or even opportunities for ministry? What about my job or side projects? Maybe it’s my husband or children. How about my church or my friends?

It’s enough to make me realize where I’ve begun to turn for validation and, essentially, salvation of some kind. And it’s enough to make me return to my first love, the One who loved me first (1 John 4:19 NIV – “We love because He first loved us”).

He is worthy, there is no question. Look at this beautiful picture of God that unfolds before us throughout the remainder of this Psalm.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,

    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

God is the Maker of all. And because He is the Maker of all, He is the one who sustains all life! In Him, we find the justice, satisfaction, freedom, vision, encouragement, love, protection and provision that we will never find anywhere else.

We were – all of us – made to praise the Lord. We were made to bring Him glory. When we put our trust in Him, we can be confident that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He has promised to do.

So I’m choosing it today. I’m writing it on my heart.

I WILL praise the Lord ALL my life. I WILL sing praise to God as long as I live. Only He is worthy!

Morning skies

Late summer morning skies reveal His glory!