Thank You for Lifting

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It is hard to believe that only a month ago, we brought our first baby girl into the world. It has been a wonderful journey and we've enjoyed every coo, smile and snuggle. Looking back on my birthing experience, so much is a blur. The one thing I knew when going to the hospital that early Saturday morning, was to expect the unexpected. Experienced moms had advised me that each birthing story was unique and mine was no exception.

I will never forget one moment in particular where Ella's heart rate dropped very low. Half a dozen nurses rushed to my side with worried expressions on their faces. They explained to me, quite hurriedly, that I had to be repositioned to reduce the stress on my baby. Due to an epidural I was completely unable to assist them in their efforts. With tears in my eyes, I prayed as they lifted and flipped me from side to side. After what felt like an eternity, my baby's heart rate rose and I saw the caregivers surrounding me, breathe a sigh of relief.

When the room returned to a state of peace and the nurses seemed content, I had a moment to reflect. I thought to myself, 'That must be what it felt like for the lame man mentioned in the Bible at the pool of Bethesda.'

When Jesus saw him lying there... He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up...

NKJV John 5:6-7

In that crucial moment of labor, I needed desperately to be moved, yet had no strength in my legs to reposition myself into a place of healing. My heart felt overwhelmed with gratitude for those six women who literally stepped in to be the hands and feet of Jesus. They lifted me when I could no longer lift myself.

How many fellow moms and friends do we know that are likewise numb from an injection of life's pain and disappointments? How many of our gal-pals need to find themselves in the healing waters of God's Presence, but no longer have enough strength to walk there alone?

My prayer today is to be the legs for those who have none. Maybe with an encouraging note or even a small smile, I can be a force of movement in someone else's motionless situation. Perhaps just by offering a humble prayer on my sister's behalf, I can be a lifter.

We can help to reposition our co-workers, church family and neighbors into a position of promise. Let us start each morning by asking God to open our eyes to "lifting opportunities." If we walk in this hope, it could be that one day someone will look to us with a heart full of gratitude and say, "Thank you for lifting."

Zoom In

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I have always wondered if it would be better to excel in one specific activity or to be mediocre at several. This is the conundrum of a creative soul that enjoys an array of pastimes. I love event planning. I am passionate about music. (Even have a degree in it!) I spend hours practicing hand-lettering and calligraphy. I enjoy fashion. I am decent at graphic design and social media management. But what do all of these innate talents amount to?

I've often been distracted by the possibilities. Should I start up my own local event planning company? Should I run a music studio? Should I create an Etsy shop and sell my hand-lettered artwork? Should I facilitate a fashion blog?

Just because you can, does not mean you should.

I feel I finally got my answer. To borrow from one of my favorite books, "The Best Yes," by Lysa TerKeurst, life is about reserving your time and energy to say YES to the best possible situations. I have come to the realization that HOBBIES are not always simultaneously CALLINGS. While I enjoy all of the diversions mentioned, I had to take a good look at myself and ask some hard questions. At the end of the day, what has God called me to? If I can uncover this truth, then the venture worth throwing myself into is revealed. Everything else is a fun distraction, but not meant to be my life's work.

Once I have this clarity, I can pursue. I can stay up all hours of the night and press towards that mark. I can pour my finances and resources into that field. I can zoom in.

When taking a photo, if you fail to focus your lens on the subject on hand, the entire picture is blurry. Suddenly your main object has lost its definition and potency. I have to give myself direction and learn to "focus in" on my passion... my calling. If I try to capture it all, surely it all will become a blur.

So during one of the busiest seasons of the year, I have a newfound commitment to focus. Yes, I am about to give birth to our first child in January. Yes there is a nursery to complete and presents to wrap for Christmas. Yes, there are parties to throw and a new year to consider. But my challenge to you and to myself, is to zoom in. Finish 2018 with a fresh mind. Consider 2019 now instead of later.

What is God calling you to? Maybe it is to start a new project or simply to refocus on an old, neglected one. Whatever it may be, let us both experience the power that comes from a focussed, zoomed-in mind. We can do it!

The Tiny, Big Gift

We were little girls with the big dream of owning our very own "Toys R Us" Pioneer Barbie doll. At the time, our parents were home missionaries and could not afford to buy my little sister and I the toys. Instead, they suggested we take our allowance of 25 cents a week and save up for them. So we did just that.

Each week we would fill empty Gerber baby food jars with our coins. Soon enough we had quite a collection of change, and the promise of those coveted toys was within our reach.

However, one Wednesday evening our church had a visit from missionaries to Honduras. I remember hearing the burden of that family and being pricked in my heart as a little child, sensitive to God's spirit. When the plea for financial support went across the pulpit, my little sister and I turned our wide eyes towards mom. We wanted to give all of the change we had saved up, to those missionaries.

During the offering, our little feet ran to the church parsonage we called home. Minutes later, the lids from those petite glass jars were twisted off and the sound of clinking pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters was heard as they slid into the offering plate. My mother wept.

How could two tiny girls with such a tiny offering, give so much? We went home that night with no chance of getting our toys.

But God has a way of rewarding the innocent heart. The following Sunday, it was service as usual. My father studied in his office and then locked the door on his way out. When service had been dismissed, my entire family convened to his study as was our custom. Dad took out his keys and turned the big door knob. As we walked in, our eyes all shifted to see two white envelopes lying on his desk. With a bewildered look on his face, Dad reached out his hand and opened one of the mysterious letters.

Inside? Two "Toys R Us" giftcards in the exact amount we needed to purchase those Pioneer Barbie Dolls. To this day, we do not know who did such a loving act for two, small girls. My parents had not told a single soul about the incident. I still believe it was an angel.

Years later, I now realize what God was teaching us in that destiny moment. It is not that God wants to strip you of your dreams. It is simply that in the process of fulfilling them, He wants to know if you trust Him enough to put your little jar of coins in His hands... He wants to take us on a faith journey.

2 Corinthians 1:20 - For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

So what is the "Barbie" in your life? Is it the dream of a happy marriage? An illustrious career? A ministry opportunity? Whatever your hope may be, I want to encourage you to place it in God's hands. It does not mean it will never happen. Quite the contrary, my sweet friend. It just means that one day, not only will your dreams come to pass... but you will have a beautiful faith story to share in addition.