Simply Amazing

What can be more precious than the relationships we share with our children? Last year at my workplace, a young father returned to work after the birth of his first child, a daughter. He was heartbroken that he had to leave her mother and her, and be content with just seeing them a few hours a day.

At first glance of a new baby, most parents immediately fall in love with the miracle of a new life. My friend was no exception. We were created for relationships.

That's because relationships are immensely important to God. In Genesis we learn how He created Adam and Eve, married them, told them to be fruitful and multiply, and blessed their togetherness. Martin Luther calls the book of Genesis, "the supreme book of relationships." In it we learn about God to nature, God to man, and man to man.

Then, if God created us for relationships, why are they so hard?

The answer is easy, and sad. Relationships are a reflection of our sinful natures. Since the fall into sin, we are no longer in harmony with God and each other. The Bible is full of the ugliness of broken relationships, hatred, murder, and betrayal. 

The Bible also shows us the remedy and restoration completed through the work of Christ. Jesus bridged the gap between the sinful world and a holy God. He covers our sin with his righteousness. He makes precious relationships with God the Father possible. That's why he came to the earth, died and rose again. Jesus is God's simple answer to our broken world.

No longer is God heartbroken that our sin has separated us from him. Jesus' death on the cross paid for our sin in full. His resurrection proves that he is the God over life and death. Soon he will return and all believers will experience the ultimate relationship we were meant to have from eternity. This is God's eternal plan - to be together in a perfect love relationship!

Your love relationship with your babies is a glimpse of how simply amazing that day will be! 

1.png
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8
 

A Simple Evening

Sitting on my third-floor apartment balcony is one of my favorite things. The other night I bundled up in a blanket, made some coffee, lit a candle, and moved a floor lamp next to my patio chair. I started reading a good book, but was often distracted by how perfect the evening felt. I reveled in God’s nature.

 

The sky was a hazy orange-gray as the sun set. There was a constant low rumbling of thunder in the distance, and flashes of lightning. A storm was moving in.

 

Looking down from my balcony, bunnies chased each other through the wrought iron fence surrounding the pool and across the sidewalk, their white tails bouncing. The ducks floated in little cliques in the pool until the light rain began, and they flew off to find a more sheltered area.

 

 

I was protected from the rain by the roof, so I stayed in my chair and took in all the senses. The smell of the rain, the shift of the wind, how the giant tree kept any rain from getting all the way to the sidewalk directly below, though it poured for a few minutes before the storm moved quickly on. How the big rain drops darken the edge of the concrete of my balcony, and little gusts of wind brought tiny drops inches closer to my chair. How my flower seeds had just begun to sprout, tiny and green above the dirt.

 

I was so content. Alone, but thanking God for a quiet evening, not even in intentional prayer requests or Bible reading, but just experiencing his goodness. I had no words, but knew I didn’t need them. God knows all. It’s a pretty amazing relationship.

 

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go and meet with God?
— Psalm 42:1-2

 

That evening on my balcony in the rain felt so special because I felt God’s presence, but also because, I’ll admit, moments like that are kind of rare in my life. How often do I really sit still? No interruptions, no to-do lists, no expectations, no plans. No novels, and no Netflix or even thinking about what I could be watching on Netflix instead. Look around. What does God want you to slow down and notice?
 

 

There’s beauty in nature, our messy, half-furnished apartments, and in our incredibly blessed lives.
 

 

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
— Psalm 19:1

 

What is waiting just beyond our own bubble or self-created world that is even better than any interior decorator could design? Better than any entertaining distraction?

 

How can we shift our focus to the Creator of all the things and people who matter most? For me, it helps to be in nature or out of my apartment so I can’t look around and see all the things I want to change about my place or make plans for all the things I want to buy. It helps me step away. Pivot to what’s really important.

 

Maybe we just need some bug spray and a camping chair to get us started.
 

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.
— Psalm 42:8

Recipe for Peace

"I'm working on a project for work. I'm going to have to go to France next month," my husband said as we were having dinner one night. Selfishly, my first thought was I'd like to go to France -- I wonder if I can tag along??

"Unfortunately," he continued, "I don't think there is a way for you to come with," just as though he was reading my mind. (He knows me well enough to know that I am always up for a good trip -- especially to a country I've yet to visit.)

I'd be lying if I told you that my heart wasn't envious. Even though I knew he would be working the majority of the time he was traveling, there are days as a stay-at-home mom that the thought of escaping to a glamorous European country sans toddler sounds glorious. I was envious that he would get to eat delicious food, drink extraordinary wine and sleep uninterrupted for an entire week!

After a few days of stewing in my envy, I asked God to give me a new perspective. I genuinely became excited for him and the opportunity this trip presented for his career. I also became more and more excited for my time alone with my son. I had BIG plans filled with lots of fun activities for the two of us. I also began to dream of catching up on unfinished books and new shows on Netflix!

Then my husband left and reality set in. I should have known better than to set expectations for the week -- whenever I set expectations my days NEVER go as planned. Within the first 48 hours of him leaving, my son napped for a whopping 30 minutes, refused to go to bed at night, performed his first public meltdown, had a horrific diaper incident which left both him and me needing a bath before bed (you don't need the details, trust me) and my over decided to stop working. I was exhausted -- mentally and physically.

In all honesty, I was exhausted spiritually, too. My prayer life was saturated in self-pity: always, "Why me, Lord?" I hadn't picked up my Bible at all those first few days. I thought about it often, but always ended up making lots of excuses as to why I didn't have time. I knew in my heart that I needed to make time for the Lord. I knew that even a small amount of time with Him would help put things into perspective and get me through the remainder of the week until my husband returned home. On Day 3, I finally picked up my Bible -- but instead of picking up where I left off in 2 Samuel, I decided to try something I had recently read about. I've been trying to memorize more Scripture so I decided to simplify my Bible reading -- not to minimize my time with the Lord but rather enhance it.

As much as I enjoy reading through chapters of the Bible, I find that sometimes I get in a rut and need to change things up a bit. Summer was off to a rough start and the last thing I wanted was for my time with the Lord to seem like a burden. I opened my Bible and the first passage I read was one of my favorites and a reminder which was exactly what I needed in that moment (I love how God works!):

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks.

Rejoice: My husband has a career that allows me to stay home with my son.

Pray: Lord, this week is off to a rough start. So often I allow the negative to rule my thoughts and fester in my heart. Change my heart. Help me to see these challenges as opportunities to love harder.

Give thanks: Thank you, Lord, for the blessing you have provided our family by allowing me to stay home full-time. Thank you for keeping my husband safe and allowing him to grow personally and professionally through this opportunity. Be with us the remainder of this week. Fill our home and our hearts with peace. Amen.

This was God's will for me; not to be in France with my husband, but to be with my small son who needed his mom to help him through his own difficult week. What started as chaos ended as peacefulness. The remainder of my week certainly had ups and downs, but I continued to remind myself of this passage, reciting it and meditating on it all week long.

My husband returned home and, while it was a welcome relief to have an extra set of hands to help, I now feel much more prepared for the next time he has to leave us.

Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. Repeat.

It really is that simple.