A Wholehearted Offering

I originally thought that Liam had drawn the letter “E” for ear, albeit backwards for the ear on the right of this picture,  and I was so impressed with him. But then he informed me that it was not the letter “E” at all. It was supposed to be earwax! 😆

“I have a surprise for you!” Liam exclaimed in a sing-song sort of voice on the way home from school a few days ago. He then proceeded to rummage through his backpack from the back seat, insisting I take his surprise from him once he found it, despite the fact that I was driving us home.

Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of practice twisting my arm behind the driver seat to give and take things from him over the years, so this was no different. I even managed to get a good look at his creation as we came to a stop at a light—a picture of a person he had drawn during art class that day.

“You drew this for me?” I asked him in pleasant surprise.

“Yes,” he answered sweetly. It’s not the first time that he has given me little gifts like this, but for some reason, my heart felt especially touched by this piece of art. Perhaps it was knowing that he had been thinking about me throughout the day. Or maybe it was because Liam had poured his little heart into this picture that resembled a monster to me out of love for me, confidently knowing I would gladly accept it from him.

No matter the exact reason, Liam left me with a lot to think about that afternoon in light of this surprise.

Something I love about the stage of life that I find Liam in is that he is not self-conscious of his developing abilities. He doesn’t compare his work to the more advanced artwork that I have been working on for nearly a year (more on that in a later post), nor does he compare his abilities to the other children he knows, becoming insecure by those who are more advanced in their artistic abilities than he is. He is pretty unaware of this idea of comparison as of now (unless it comes to who has the bigger dessert! Lol!), and I’m grateful for that. What compels him to draw is his love for the activity and his desire to shower love on friends and acquaintances alike through sharing his little masterpieces with them.

I wish I were more like Liam in that respect. I wish the world were more like him in that respect. I have a feeling that we would see a lot more acts of kindness and many more displays of beauty in this world if we could shed our own fears and insecurities when it comes to our own abilities. And imagine how much more God’s glory would fill this earth if we, as believers, would offer our talents, abilities, and gifts up to God wholeheartedly for His good pleasure as He used them to bless others!

 As Liam and I continued our short drive home that afternoon, the passage from Luke 21 about the widow’s offering came to mind.

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1-4 ESV

Although this story speaks of generous financial giving, it’s a story that God used in my life years ago to convict me of other areas in my life where I was failing to be generous toward God. He specifically used it to convict me of my desire to keep certain talents hidden due to insecurities and my own self-perception that I didn’t measure up to others when it came to those specific abilities. The truth is, I felt like I had so little to offer when it came to certain aptitudes that I felt God was nudging me to use. So many others could give substantially more than I could in those areas.

But then God reminded me of this widow. It didn’t matter if all I could give was much less than others as long as it was my all. After all, He knew how much talent I had and to what extent my abilities would develop and grow, because He had given me those abilities and caused them to grow in the first place. All He was asking is that I not hide the gifts that He had given me. All He wanted was for me to focus on pleasing Him with my talents and abilities, because pleasing Him was all that mattered in the end anyway, and in offering my gifts, abilities, and talents back to Him in worship, I knew He could ultimately use them to bless others also.

I can’t say I don’t struggle with this topic anymore. It continues to be an issue that I must continue to surrender to the Lord. But when I think of Liam and all the people that he’s made smile through his rough sketches of faces generally sporting mustaches and beards, I can’t help but think what God might do when I wholeheartedly offer my abilities back to Him. After all, if He could feed 5,000 from one boy’s two fish and fives loaves of bread (John 6), then what might He do through us if we give our all to Him?

Recognition

The plant my mom gave me recently in honor of the baby I lost.

My birthday is quickly drawing near, and with it comes the recognition that the first-year anniversary of my loss is approaching too.

Last year, as I was losing my unborn baby, I was doubly upset to be experiencing this loss on my birthday, of all days. What should have been a day of celebration was marred by death and sorrow.

This year, I’m not so bothered that the two share a date. Oddly, it makes me feel closer to my child, and the day has also become a symbol of what our lifetimes inevitably entail—joy and sorrow that intermingle with ceaseless cycles of life and death.

Lately I have been thinking of how unknown my baby was to others (and even to me), but he* is fully known by God, and now he knows God. And although he is largely unnamed to most people here on earth, God already had a named reserved for him that can never be renounced or taken away. Furthermore, although he was never able to claim a physical address here in this world, he has a permanent home beyond this earthly existence that can never be destroyed.

Thinking about these things brings fresh tears to my eyes and washes over me like a soothing balm that brings further healing to my soul. My baby is not forgotten. His life mattered. It still does.

So, on my birthday, I’ll do something special to remember him, if nothing else to make a silent statement to myself that his life mattered. It left an imprint on my heart that will last my lifetime, and I hope that the ways in which I am changing as a result of his brief life help me to influence others for the better, leaving a ripple effect of impact for eternity on his behalf.

*I lost my baby before discovering its gender, so it may have been a girl. I’ll only know once I reach heaven myself.

Puzzle Pieces and Personal Plans

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

Liam and I worked on a number of puzzles in the spring. He has been given several over the years that are age appropriate for him (3-5 years old), so I have especially enjoyed working on these simple puzzles with him. He has enjoyed them too, although I cannot say that they have necessarily been easy for him.

In April, as we tried to put each puzzle together, I would often find him trying to pound two pieces together, using his tiny fist as a hammer. In his little mind, he had found two puzzle pieces that were meant to be together, so he would force them together, no matter the effort. Then, when I would point out to him that the pieces were not intended to fit together and tried to take them apart, he would become upset with me and try to keep the puzzle pieces out of my grasp. He had worked hard to put them together, so that is how they would stay!

I became discreet in taking the puzzle pieces apart over time, and eventually we would create the image that the puzzle was intended to be. It just took lots of time and patience.

Today, Liam doesn’t struggle as much with his puzzles. He seems to understand the color schemes more and how the pieces work together. He is also starting to grasp the idea of a bigger picture, and he has done these puzzles enough to know what that bigger picture should be. It doesn’t mean he has mastered piecing puzzles together entirely. They are still a bit of a challenge to him. Nonetheless, he is able to hold onto each puzzle piece a little more loosely as he seeks out the perfect fit for each piece.

Although we don’t work on puzzles too much anymore due to time constraints, the image of Liam pounding puzzle pieces together has come to my mind over the last few months, because I realize with a sense of conviction that I am not much different than Liam was last spring when it comes to doing puzzles.

 I think I have been doing puzzles in my mind for most of my life. I hold different pieces in my hands at different times—puzzle pieces representing my desires, dreams, goals, expectations, etc. The problem is, the puzzle pieces strewn out in front of me, most commonly known as reality, don’t always fit together with the ones I grasp onto ever so tightly in my hands. And because of that, I am left with the desire to try to pound all of them together anyway in a desperate attempt to create what I believe to be the perfect picture of puzzle pieces for my life. But just like Liam has had to learn that there is a specific color scheme and pattern which each puzzle piece is meant to be part of, I sense God asking me to trust that all of my puzzle pieces are meant to be part of a specific color scheme and pattern as well. A God-ordained one. And just like Liam has learned that each properly placed puzzle piece will eventually form a perfect picture, I sense God inviting me to trust that He is intricately and intentionally piecing my puzzle pieces together to form a picture that is far more perfect than I could ever make it out to be—a picture that is even greater than my own story and that will far outlast my lifetime, all for His glory.

As we enter this new year, I am very aware of all the new puzzle pieces I bring into it with me. I have new goals, new dreams, and things that I eagerly anticipate about this year and that I pray will come to pass. But I am also aware of my need to hold onto each puzzle piece loosely—to hold my hands open in worship to God with each piece surrendered to Him. Because in the long run, I can’t be certain of how each of my puzzle pieces will fit together or if I will even like where each one goes. But I can be certain of this—the end result will be worth it. The final picture will be splendid and glorious and more magnificent than I could ever fathom. And in the end, I’ll be glad that I surrendered each puzzle piece to God and that He chose me to be a part of this beautifully exquisite puzzle in the making.

The 2022 List

Lists from years past

I finally got around to writing my “Best of” list for this year. It’s the list that I generally write over Thanksgiving weekend to remember all the good things that took place throughout the year.

This year, I was a little late in writing it. Thanksgiving weekend was pretty busy, and then my son got sick. And in all truthfulness, I just didn’t feel like writing it. The first half of the year was rather depleting to me as we experienced three big M’s as a family—miscarriage, a move, and mass murder within our new community (we live in Uvalde). And this fall wasn’t much better as my son has navigated school for the first time with many challenges and hardships that have weighed heavily on my own heart.

I finally sat down to write my list shortly after Thanksgiving weekend with a sense of dread as I thought of the trials we had faced over these last twelve months. And I listed those hardships, despite the fact that they were not the best of anything, because they felt too important to leave them off of the events of this year. But as I looked through photos to help jog my memory over what I had lived through these last twelve months, I still saw how much beauty and goodness this year held and how extravagantly generous God had been to me and my family. Furthermore, I have seen God’s hand at work in the midst of the hardships. I believe that miscarrying my own baby earlier this year has given me a deeper sense of compassion for others who have lost their children—something I didn’t know I would need several months later as tragedy rocked our community in every crevice and corner. And it has also allowed me to connect with long lost friends who have been through similar storms.

And as far as the events of May 24th are concerned, I have seen how much the gospel has gone forth in this community as a result of that tragedy. Friends and acquaintances of mine were able to share the gospel internationally on news broadcasts as reporters interviewed them in the days to follow. Moreover, there have been a number of ministries that have poured out the love of Christ over this community ever since that day, not to mention the countless of prayers worldwide that God is answering on our behalf as a town.  People are finding life in Christ here.

As for the move, although I still find certain aspects of it difficult (we’ve had to drive an hour and a half to see certain medical specialists throughout the last few months due to a lack of options here), I am truly grateful for the sense of community that my family and I have been able to form as a result of living here. We have found a church family that truly cares for us and deeply loves us, and I know we are very blessed to get to experience that.

The hardships have been great, and I don’t mean to minimize the pain of the losses in light of the good that has been birthed from them, especially for a community that is learning to live with a deep void in their lives. I will say this, however—I am so extremely grateful that the darkness is being defeated. I’m thankful that good wins in the end. And I’m so eternally grateful that something greater is awaiting those of us who have put our faith in Jesus. This life is not the end.

Among other things that I am grateful for this year, I am so thankful that JJ and I got to see our parents and all our siblings this summer, along with several other family members. With all of us living in different places, and one sibling living internationally, getting to have these reunions are rare and so special when they happen.

I’m grateful for all the opportunities that God has been giving JJ as of late to share the gospel. It is wonderful seeing his passion for God and hearing about all the opportunities God is opening up to him, and it motivates me to pray that God would give me opportunities to share too.

I’m grateful for the ways in which Liam is growing and for the spiritual questions that he is asking. It shows me that he is thinking about God and makes me believe that God is already answering my prayers for my son regarding faith.

And lastly (although I really could say much more), I’m grateful for how our family is growing, especially spiritually, and for how these different trials have been causing us to look more to God. He truly does crown each year with goodness. I’m glad I finally wrote the list for this year so that I could see just that.

You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.”

Psalm 65:11

Christmas Eve Cookies (Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies)

As is becoming tradition, I entered the Christmas cookie contest again this year. And as also seems to be tradition, I didn’t win once again! Lol!

I’m never too saddened by this, to be quite honest. Would I love the prize money? Of course! But I always feel torn by the fact that I would not be able to share my cookie creations here on this blog if I won, and I really like sharing these recipes with you all.

Today’s recipe is yet another Abuelita specialty (if you didn’t get a chance to try my Abuelita pumpkin loaf, you can check it out here https://anticipatingadventure.com/2022/10/30/abuelita-chocolate-pumpkin-bread/).

I actually created these cookies by the end of August. I got a little too excited about the upcoming Christmas cookie competition and wanted ample time to come up with a great recipe, and after making these, I was pretty convinced I had a contest-worthy cookie. I was even more confident about my selection when my mom came to visit and sampled them, as she couldn’t seem to get enough of them!

Around that time, I gave some to a friend who, upon biting into one, excitedly exclaimed how much they tasted like Christmas to her. All the nostalgia of childhood flooded her with that one cinnamon-and-spice filled bite.

Due to that specific moment, I decided to name these cookies Christmas Eve Cookies, because the more I eat them, the more I have to agree! These soft, chewy bites of chocolate with hints of cinnamon make this cookie the best cozy, Christmas Eve treat!

CHRISTMAS EVE COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 2 Abuelita hot chocolate tablets (2 whole disks)
  • 2 T half and half
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c oat flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c cinnamon baking chips

Instructions

Microwave the chocolate tablets and half and half together in 30 second increments until melted. Mix together and set aside. Beat together the brown sugar and butter, then beat in the eggs. Gradually mix in the hot chocolate mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, oat flour, baking soda, and salt, then combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until well incorporated. Stir in the chocolate and cinnamon chips, then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. After the dough has chilled, drop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet by the rounded tablespoon, then bake for 10 minutes. Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies.

Blessings in Disguise

I couldn’t help but smile at JJ as we walked out of our son’s bedroom one evening over a month ago. We had just prayed one of the most absurd prayers we probably had ever prayed per Liam’s request, yet we meant it with all our hearts.

What Liam had asked us to pray about had everything to do with school that evening. It is his first year to be in a classroom setting, and  he has been having a hard time following the rules and adjusting in general, so his teacher bought him a set of fake mustaches to reward to him for each day that he behaved, as she soon discovered how much he loves mustaches.

As a result, Liam asked us to pray that he could earn one the next day, and we did. I wholeheartedly asked God to make possible such an amusing request.

Not much later that evening, Liam called to me from his bedroom, so I went to check on him and found him fully awake and trying to hatch up a plan as to how he could obtain a fake mustache. All sorts of ideas went through his head as to how he could get one, so I reminded him of the one true and simple way of earning one, and he started to cry. In his young mind, he already believed that he was not capable of following the rules like he needed to in order to earn his prize.

Seeing him in such a hopeless state left me wanting to cry myself. How could someone so young feel this way?

It quickly became evident to me just how much the enemy was at work in this situation, so I explained to Liam that night that he had an enemy who was lying to him and that he must not listen to him.

“Who?” Liam interrupted me out of genuine curiosity.

“It’s Satan, and he’s a liar, and he wants you to be sad,” I explained in little-kid language as best as I could. I then reiterated to Liam to not listen to those lies that went through his head, and I explained that God loved him and wanted to help him, furthermore adding that he could do all things through Jesus who could strengthen him.

If felt a bit odd to tell Liam that last part since he has not yet put his faith in Jesus and is far from the apostle Paul’s mindset when he penned those words, but I truly believe that God can enable Liam to obey and earn that mustache, and I want him to recognize that he can ask God to help him in the moments when he feels like he is least capable of following the rules.

On the way to school the next day, I reminded Liam of what we had talked about the night before, repeating to him that He could do all things through Jesus who was able to strengthen him and reminding him to ask God to help him when he felt least capable of behaving. And several evenings later, Liam and I had the same conversation that we had had only a few nights earlier as he began to doubt again that he could ever obtain his prize.

This season of life has been exhausting to me in so many ways, and I have felt broken over and over again as I am told of my son’s classroom struggles and feel helpless to fix them from afar. I have desperately prayed for him in this season of life, cried over his battles, and continually sought the prayers and encouragement of godly women whom I trust. It has been an extremely challenging season that I have just wished to have come to an end. But then I think of these moments where I am able to have conversations with my four-year-old about spiritual warfare—conversations that I never would have had with him at such a young age if it had not been for these current hardships. And I like to think that these little talks are the seeds that God is planting into my young son’s heart for a future harvest that will be bountiful. I also choose to believe that these moments are somehow changing the trajectory of my son’s life for the better—that God is preparing a deeply rooted faith in Him for the future because he is learning these vital elements of what it looks like to be engaged in spiritual warfare now.

Fortunately for us, we seem to slowly be entering into a better season now. I pray that is the case, at least. There are still concerns his teacher has, and he still has some work to do to be where he needs to be, but I don’t want to discard the blessings in disguise as we navigate through these current hardships or the struggles of any season. I want to have the spiritual eyes to see the greater things that God is doing in my son, through my family, in me, and all around us in general.

I have to keep believing what we know to be true as believers:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

For those of you who have been praying for my family and me throughout this time, thank you for your continual prayers and for being a part of the good that God is working together in our life. I appreciate you so much.

Abuelita Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

It’s no secret that fall is my favorite time of year. I don’t know if I could necessarily say this while growing up in Colorado, where the seasons were much more distinct. But here in Texas, where we have a little bit of cold weather and a whole lot of heat, I get excited about the fall and the promise of cooler weather on its way.

From what I’ve experienced of Texan life these past twelve years, it really doesn’t begin to cool down until this time of year, when the season is nearly halfway over. Still, I put up fall décor, burn seasonal candles, and bake, as if all these activities will help to usher in the crisp, autumn air.

I especially enjoy baking. My mom always baked this time of year when I was a child, so it brings back good memories. Fall just isn’t fall without the baked goods. This weekend, I thought to make a chocolate pumpkin loaf that my mom included in a recipe book that she gave me years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite the right ingredients, and it was going to be a bit difficult to halve this recipe that would otherwise make three loaves, so I decided to improvise and came up with this delectable, sweet bread instead!

Although it may not completely feel like fall here yet with our afternoons as warm as they are, it certainly smelled like fall in our house Saturday morning as this bread baked! Pumpkin and chocolate wafted through the air with sweet hints of cinnamon. This bread is the perfect combination of the three with rich chocolate chips to add sweetness and additional texture to each delicious, moist bite.

The “secret” ingredient for this bread is not so secret since I included it in the name for this recipe—the Abuelita chocolate, which is a Mexican type of hot chocolate that can be found in the Latino section of your local Walmart if you live Stateside.

This decadent hot chocolate, along with the pumpkin and fall spices, truly adds the right blend to make it feel like fall, wherever you might live and whatever season you are in. So, whip yourself up some of this bread today and come enjoy this season with me!

As always, let me know if you give this recipe a try and what you think about it. And if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’m going to grab myself another slice…

ABUELITA CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN BREAD

Ingredients

  • 1 tablet Abuelita hot chocolate (the entire disk)
  • 1 T half and half
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • ½ c unsweetened apple sauce
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 T pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 c chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside. Heat the Abuelita chocolate disk and the half and half together in the microwave in 30-second increments until melted. Mix thoroughly and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine together the pumpkin, apple sauce, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together, then stir in the Abuelita chocolate mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just enough to combine. Gently mix in the chocolate chips, then spread the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 60-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in several center pieces comes out clean. Let cool in the pan, then remove, slice, and enjoy! Makes 1 loaf, roughly 10-12 slices.

Making Coffee

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

Years ago, I read a story online about a girl that complained to her mom about all her problems. As the mom listened intently, she put three pots of water on the stove to boil, and then she put a carrot in one, an egg in another, and ground coffee in the third.

After twenty minutes or so, as the daughter was still venting to her mom, the mother presented her daughter with a plate of the cooked carrot and egg in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, asking her daughter to tell her what she could observe of each item.

The daughter immediately noticed how the once-hard carrot was now soft and that the egg that had once been liquid was now hard. But the coffee, in her opinion, had gone through the best transformation of all. She couldn’t help but smile as she breathed in its rich aroma while taking a sip.

The mom went on to explain that hardships in life are like the boiling water. We will never be able to escape them in this life. We can, however, determine what type of person we will become as a result of going through them. Will we allow our trials to weaken us like the carrot or harden us like the egg? Or will we be like the ground coffee, becoming transformed through the “boiling water” into something better?*

A few months ago, I asked my sister-in-law Kim about the process of making coffee in light of this story. The topic is pertinent to a book that I am ever so slowly writing regarding the spiritual lessons that she and our entire family learned when my younger brother Quinn (her husband) was hospitalized for nearly five months back in 2011. What I am really discovering, however, is that the topic is especially pertinent to my life in this moment. It is something I keep coming back to as I think of the trials my family and I are facing right now.

Something I admire about my younger brother and his wife is how calmly and graciously they have faced their own hardships over the years. They have never truly been able to step out of the boiling water from my point of view. Fortunately, they know how to make a good cup of coffee, both figuratively and literally. Kim is the co-owner of a local coffee shop where they currently reside, and she has been roasting coffee as part of her responsibilities there and even before the coffee shop came to exist.

As I asked Kim about the coffee-making process that summer afternoon, she explained to me that the process begins with farmers separating coffee beans from cherries, which is the name of the fruit found on a coffee tree. Once the beans are plucked out of the cherries, they are then washed and dried naturally or mechanically (depending on the farm), sometimes undergoing other additional processes as well (also depending on the farm).

Finally, the coffee is packed up and shipped out, and it is then ready to be roasted. Kim explained that the beans are placed in a roaster set between 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for around 15 minutes total, and something that she and every roaster must listen for while roasting beans is the first crack, which sounds similar to a popcorn kernel popping. This literal crack is what leaves the line running down the middle of each coffee bean, and each bean must undergo this cracking in order to release its sweetness, heat, and gas. Without this vital step, the coffee beans will not reach their full flavor.

After the beans are roasted, they are then separated from their outer layer—called parchment—which is shed during the roasting process. And then the beans can finally be packaged and sent to the consumer, already ground or, if whole, where individuals must grind the beans themselves.

And then, of course, there is one last process that most coffee beans must endure. Most coffee grounds will be placed in a coffee maker or French press or some other coffee-making contraption where hot water will be poured over them. It is the final step that the newly ground up coffee beans must face in order to produce a good cup of coffee.

I said goodbye to Kim that day and hung up the phone with a better idea of how much the coffee bean must diminish in size in order to bring about a cup of coffee. I also had a much more ample idea of how great the heat process must be in order for coffee beans to be used. But most of all, understanding the process of coffee made me understand the value of each moment we are held to the flame. When we surrender ourselves to God in those moments, allowing Him to increase as we decrease (John 3:30), we face our own “boiling water” like the coffee grounds in the story, and God gives us something of substance to offer the world in return. He gives us more of Him.

Humanity may never willingly go through trials. I know I don’t. Even with all that I know about how God can use these hardships in my life for my good and His glory, I find myself wishing these present problems away.  But when I think of the process that the coffee bean goes through and how much people enjoy the finished product, I want to believe that God is producing something greater in me too, and I choose to believe that this story in the making is something that others will also enjoy—a testimony that will minister to many.

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-10

*https://alltimeshortstories.com/motivational-egg-carrot-coffee-beans/

The Lord Will Fight for You

The sun streamed onto my patio several mornings ago, casting a golden glow over my potted plants, and in that moment, I felt peace. The scene brought a passage from Lamentations to mind.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

I need reminders like this in this season, and I need them often. Life has been so difficult as of late. The storms never seem to really stop. Perhaps I’m offered short respites, but then the gray clouds roll in again, promising to do great harm.

Lately I find myself empty. I have nothing to offer and no solutions for any of my struggles. All I have are tears. I just feel needy. And spent. And exhausted.

But then I’m reminded of the words that a couple of dear friends of mine and I read in our online Bible study earlier this week, and I begin to recognize how much they are intended for me. I see how coming to the end of myself and my own perceived ability to fix things is the perfect place to be for God to do a miracle for me. And I am reminded of the words I myself pointed out to my friends in the text we reviewed that day, that “impossibility is God’s starting point.”1

So, I plead to God that He would work miraculously in this season of my life and that of my family for His glory. And I ask that He would keep showing me how His mercies are new each day. But more than anything, in this tired and weary state, I ask that He would make the words that Moses spoke over the Israelites true for me today:

14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14 NIV

And the thought that He would begins to revive hope within me.

1 Shirer, Priscilla (2020). Zarephath. Elijah, 104.

Remember Uvalde

I took Liam to the library a few days ago and saw the images above enclosed in a glass case on my way out. They are the 21 victims that lost their lives in the school shooting on May 24th in addition to the husband of slain teacher Irma Garcia, who died of a heart attack two days later.

The new school year is approaching, and a deep ache settles over my heart as I think about it. The abundance of school supplies that line the shelves at our local grocery store is just a cruel reminder to some parents that they have one less child to send to school this year. For others, it’s an emotionally-charged time as both children and parents face very real fears.

Would you remember our community in these coming weeks? And as you do, would you pray for us?

I don’t doubt that God is writing a redemptive story for our town that has yet to completely unfold, and although I’m not entirely sure how that will look, I do believe this—that the prayers you pray for this town are a beautiful and meaningful part of it. So, thank you for investing in this community in such a vital way. I and others value it so much.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

James 5:16b