Better Than Dipping My Toes

I have never liked January (if this is your birthday month, sorry!), and I am not sure exactly why. I don’t like January probably in the same way I don’t like Mondays and that I am not a morning person. And probably why I love Thursdays and my favorite time of day is dusk.

To me January feels like dipping my feet in the ocean, testing out the temperature to see if I want to get in. But unlike deciding whether I want to get in or not, I can’t really decide whether I get into the New Year. And so I usually just “get into” it, dreading that I have no choice but go in.

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Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Maybe it is just another way that perfectionism has trickled into my life. I would much rather finish something than start it.  This dislike may also be another way of looking inward – of figuring out whether I have what it takes to do something and do it well.

This year, especially this first quarter, feels more like an ending than a new beginning. We are moving from this country in May, which means we have about 4 months left here. We need to plan our move to another country, as well as our summer back in the US. We long to care for our family and love others well as we do this.

We are exhausted (“Aylín is barely making it” my husband wrote to a friend this week) ‘cause baby. ‘Cause sickness. ‘Cause post partum hormones. ‘Cause church planting. ‘Cause we have 3 littles. ‘Cause we have been culture-shocking and in transition for about 2.5 years and about to go through another round of it.

If I look inward I already know I don’t have what it takes to get into this year. But still the year begins. We have change ahead with lots of unknowns. And lots of goodbyes. Then transition to new beginnings and a new way of life.

Fresh start is not exactly what comes to mind when I think about January. Fresh strength, however, does come to mind because it is what we need, not what we have.

In desperately obsessing about my need for rest and fresh strength earlier this week the Lord took me to Isaiah 40: 31: “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.” I had read this verse before. But this time it took me by surprise: that the way to fresh strength is waiting? I personally want to do something about it. “Where can we go to rest? What plans do we need to make it happen?” That’s what I kept wondering this week.

Waiting can also be draining. And yet the Lord calls the one who is fainting and weary to wait. Wait for Him. Reading the whole chapter helped me to understand the logic of God in that verse.

Behold the One You’re Waiting For

Isaiah 40 is God’s comfort to His people who are in exile. He comforts them by setting their gaze and their hope in their God and in the cosmic display of His glory. The Lord would come as a mighty King, a generous Rewarder and as a gentle Shepherd. All flesh would see Him.

He can’t be compared to anything they could think of. His power, His understanding, His wisdom are unsearchable. They might feel as if God had forgotten them, could not see them. But Isaiah reassured them their way was not hidden from their God. He is the everlasting God, He created even the ends of the earth, hidden to everyone but Him. He had all the power to deliver them because He doesn’t faint or grow weary.

He is completely trustworthy. He shows up at just the right time. He is an endurance-producing God. The way to fresh strength is waiting for this God.

From this side of the Cross, I know that the cosmic display of the glory of the Lord was revealed at the Cross, when Christ, the Servant of the Lord was lifted up. The Mighty King used His might to die and to atone for our sins; the Rewarder received God’s punishment in our place. The Gentle Shepherd became the Lamb of God, silent before its shearers. And praise God, his death was not the end of His life. He saw the offspring He fathered through his death. His days were prolonged (Isaiah 53: 10).  He rose to everlasting life.

Behold your Champion

Christian courage is active faith in the strength of Another. While perfectionism would have me look inward for strength (leading me to feel faint), the Lord has me find strength by beholding the Lamb of God.

I see Him seated at the right hand of God, governing History (including my little life) with all authority to accomplish His purposes. He is there, praying for me. He will never grow weary of completing the good work He started in me and in the world.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a FIFA Club World Cup match here in our city. The teams, Mexico against Brazil, were competing for second place. The stadium was vibrant as the fans cheered the players on, especially awesome loud Brazilians with their drums and chants. (It was the closest I have felt to my country and the most alive I have felt in a very long time). I was struck by how invested they were in every play. Their energy was contagious. The players were on the field and the spectators were at the edge of their seats, excitedly watching their every move. It occurred to me that this is how the witnesses of Hebrews 12 must be.

They have gone before and are right now cheering us on as we race on to the finish line. They see us facing temptation, difficulty, discouragement and all kind of opposition. And they whistle and shout and carry us on – “You can do it!! Keep going! The end is near! It is so worth it! And Jesus – oh man, Jesus is SO worthy!!”

What blows me away is to see Christ as the main witness in Hebrews. He is at the head of the trail since He blazed it for us as our forerunner. There is a Man in Heaven guaranteeing my victory, because as my Champion, He went there ahead of me (Heb. 6: 20). “You can do it, because I did it for you and in you!”

It is for this tireless, victorious, promise-keeping God that I wait.

So it is another day and I only slept 3 hours…again! I wait for the Lord.

We have weighty decisions ahead of us and we are not sure what is best for our family. We wait for the Lord.

My nursing baby is still feeding multiple times every night which means sleep is short. Interrupted. I wait for the Lord.

We have lots of things to do before we move internationally in 4 months. We wait for the Lord.

My kids are sick. Weren’t they just sick? I wait for the Lord.

I am going through transition feeling weak and vulnerable in more than one way. I wait for the Lord.

We look ahead to the year and we don’t know how we will make it through. We wait for the Lord.

Will we even see the fruit of all this effort and uprooting? We wait for the Lord.

I am not dipping my toes into this  year. My Strength is coming and carrying me into it. And that is infinitely better.

What are you waiting on God for? In what specific ways does His worth encourage your heart?







Joy-sharing, Vol. 2 – My favorite reads in 2017

Full disclosure: This year was the first in a while that I read so consistently.

The first part of the year I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and I felt like I had no capacity to read or process. I watched lots of Hallmark Christmas movies posted on YouTube. But at some point, I don’t remember how, the Lord nudged me to begin reading again. And once I started, I couldn’t quite stop.

I am so thankful for my Kindle (maybe possibly my favorite toy?) for a few reasons:

  1. The built-in light allows me to read at night without bothering my  husband. So when I was awake during those sleepless 3rd trimester nights, and later nursing, I would read.
  2. I can get books either on Amazon or through my library in the States. I don’t feel as limited by the fact that I don’t have as many options available here as I did back home.
  3. I can carry it with me easily and read while I am waiting in different places.

Now on to my picks! If you are my friend and have a kindle, I would be so happy to loan any of these books to you!

First pick – Love that it is written by an Anglican. She has a different framework than mine to think about life. I welcome that. I don’t usually reread books and yet found myself with this one going back to think through some of her insights.
My second pick. And quite honestly could have easily been my first. This book was thought provoking and gave me insights into our homemaking God that I had never considered. Jen melted my heart with beautiful pictures of a servant, homemaking, feast-preparing God.
I really enjoyed reading this book memoir by these two ladies and again – a framework different than mine enriches my perspective.
A writing Memoir – Need I say more?
I really loved how this book is part memoir. But my favorite thing about it is how Anderson kept fixing my gaze on Christ and his humility. I journalled through some of the chapters as it helped me process my life. It is beautifully and honestly written. Probably my 3rd pick 🙂
I really enjoyed reading this book about this traveling family. Now I want to go to New Zealand.
I am not quite done with this book but have been savouring every single chapter. There is no truth that buoys my hope as this one: I am one with Christ. Wilbourne’s writing is compelling, clear and what he shares thrills my heart again and again.

This year I am hoping to double the amount of books I read – sharing this because accountability. I am hoping to do that by trying different things:

  1. Read two books at the same time: non-fiction and fiction.
  2. I deleted a few apps from my phone that I use too much and can distract me from reading.
  3. I am planning to listen to more books on audio – especially fiction books. (Listening to non-fiction doesn’t work as well for me).

What are some books you read in 2017? What do you do to make time for reading?