Nothing Missing Nothing Lacking

It’s kinda cute when you watch those videos on YouTube of kids talking about what they want to be when they grow up. If you would have asked a five-year-old me, my profession of choice ranged from doctor to princess (married to Princes William or Harry of course). But our ambitions soon evolve from cute dreams to real-life goals. We figure out our strengths and weaknesses. I struggled with science in school and after confusing the word feces and fetus I finally realized my medical ambitions were over! We make career goals, which ebb and flow with our personal goals. We want to find our soul mate, whilst having financial stability and a fulfilling career. Maybe add a nice house, a good car, some little kiddos, and a strong community around us.

But many of us struggle to keep up with the timeline of our dreams. By the time we hit our late twenties and then into our thirties and forties, some are stuck in dead end jobs, some are longing for marriage, and others are dealing with bankruptcy. It’s so easy to feel like we are in lack and that our lives look nothing like what we had hoped or imagined.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes about the concept of “scarcity”. She describes how we live in a culture of “never enough”. From the moment we wake up in the morning, we immediately tell ourselves that we did not get enough sleep, which soon slips into believing that we do not have enough time to get things done. “Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyperaware of lack. Everything from safety and love to money and resources feels restricted or lacking.” (Page 26)

Brene is right – scarcity is so embedded into our thinking that it is a discipline to consider that we are actually living in success and plenty.

2 Peter 1:3 says that God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” The Bible is not saying that we are in lack, but in fact God has given us everything we need for life (money, skills, resources, housing, food, toys for the kids etc.) and godliness (the spiritual stuff so we can actually have a relationship with God and grow as spiritual beings). Everything. Nothing missing. Nothing lacking. We have everything we need.

And please note, the Bible is not saying that God has given us all we need to keep up with the Jones’, or even our projected life-plan. Yes, the Jones’ seem to have their life on track with their dreams; they have the money, the career, and the seemingly well-behaved kids, but maybe it’s time to let go of the expectations we have put on ourselves? For the sake of our sanity, maybe we need to let go of the time-sensitive agenda and be content with our little houses, or our frugal budgets that mean we can’t always buy organic produce? Maybe it’s time to surrender the dreams of annual family vacations and be happy with taking day trips to the beach or the mountains, and packing homemade sandwiches?

And as we shift our perspective, may we see that a lack of money, relationships, or career doesn’t mean we have failed or that we are inferior to others. Sometimes the seasons of tight finances, tough work environments, or pressured family relationships are about us recalibrating our hearts. It’s not that we deny the lack, but we surrender the shortfalls and choose to believe that our story is not over. We have been given everything we need to get through today and the next season is not too far away

So today, my prayer for us all surrender scarcity and embrace contentment. Our current situations are not forever. As we press forward, our lives will look oh so different in one year, five years, and ten years. Let us not look at what others are doing, let us not compare. Let us forgo our own expectations of our lives and let us look at the good, cherish the gifts, and let go of the pressure to have more. Let’s be a people who engage our hearts in the present rather than self-medicate on fantasies of what the future could bring. 

May we see that God has given us all we need for life and godliness! But may we also have the grace to accept that it might not be enough to keep up with the Jones’, or even our own expectations.

Good Friday - It is not the end

Good Friday is an awkward day in the Christian calendar. Typically, Holidays are times of celebration, freedom, and joy. But not Good Friday. It’s a day to remember that disappointment, grief, and pain are all a part of faith. We remember that Jesus wept so hard he sweated blood. We remember that He begged in prayer, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” And yet He yielded His heart to God’s plan and He surrendered Himself over to the authorities. (Matt 26:39). We remember that the disciples were utterly confused as to what was going on. We remember that Peter cut off one of the soldiers ears, and promised to never deny Jesus only to deny Him hours later. We remember that this band of misfits who loved and followed Jesus watched him die a torturous criminal’s death.

Nothing made sense on Good Friday. Years of following Jesus seemed wasted. There was only death. Death of hopes and dreams. Death of a teacher, friend, and savior. Death.

But it wasn’t the end. Guys, we know that only three days later they would discover the tomb was empty. But a couple of millennium ago, they had no idea what the future would hold.

For many of us, we have experienced an anesthetized Christian faith where we have had little permission to feel pain, loss, or anger. There’s almost a guilt attached to negative emotions like we are failing at the Christian faith if we are not joyful at all times. 

But remember Good Friday. Remember the day when the followers of Jesus only knew sorrow and heartache. Remember no matter how far they ran, doubted, or hid, Jesus came through for them. Remember that they didn't have to "get it right", or even understand what was going on, because resurrection was only three days away.

No. Good Friday was not the end. 

I believe in miracles - my first blog

In the words of the 70’s pop sensation, Hot Chocolate, I believe in miracles. The Bible is filled with amazing supernatural stories that stirs my heart to see how big and loving God is. He parted seas, raised the dead, and (my personal favorite) turned water into wine. Knowing that my God has done this and so much more, builds my faith. If He did these things in the past, He will do them again today!

Recently I realized that I was not always walking in faith. I had become what I now call, a spiritual smart a*se. I was living my life believing that as a Christian, God would always come and save me, answer my prayers and do what I asked. And I mean, why not? I pray. I serve others. I worship Him. I try my best to live my life as the Bible shows us to live. Don’t judge. Show mercy. Take care of the lonely and the uncared for. I give money to the church. I do my part, so God will do His.

Now don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t trying to manipulate God. I just thought this was the Christian life. Do what He says and life will be ‘awesome’ or ‘amazing’.

But for the last 12 months, my doctrine has been tested. Last year was tough. Josh and I lost two babies in the first trimester of pregnancy. The first we lost at 9 weeks, which resulted in surgery. And the second miscarriage happened only the next month. It was a difficult time in our lives, but we got through it together.

We both want to start our family, so every month we hoped to conceive. And on July 1st, I peed on a stick and found out we were expecting!

I cut out wine. I started to tell a few of our closest friends. I began my wish-list at Babies R Us. I was choosing the color I wanted Josh to paint the nursery. I was nervous, but I chose to trust a miracle working God and everything would be OK.

We saw the little peanut at 5 weeks. All was well. For the next few weeks I was nauseous, exhausted and totally off all meat. These were all good signs! This baby was growing!!!

But at an 8 week ultrasound, the little one only measured 6 weeks and her heartbeat was weak. My heart sank. “Could this be really happening again??” I thought. But like a good English girl, I kept calm and I carried on.

For the next week, sweet friends would call me or text me trying to encourage me not to give up. Someone I worked with said, “You are in the place where God can give you a miracle”. For a moment, my heart leapt. “Yes!!” I thought. “God is a miracle working God. He can give life to this little one!” So I prayed at many different decibels over my belly. I drank lots of water and dandelion tea to help clean my blood. I prayed more. I worshiped. I kept the faith….

But to no avail. The following week there was no heartbeat. There had been no ‘miracle’ to speak of. No seeming intervention of God. And this miscarriage did not end quickly. I waited 5 weeks to pass the baby, and in the end I had surgery to remove all the tissue. This was far from a miracle. This was a nightmare.

As I have begun to heal, my eyes have been opened. I have experienced love and support in ways I could not have imagined. Sometimes the miracle is not the miracle we expect. The miracle is found when your seamstress won’t charge you for a dress fitting, because she says that no woman should have to pay for a fitting because she lost a baby. The miracle is found when a friend sits with you for 8 hours so you are not alone as you prepare for surgery. The miracle is found when the heavily pregnant friend comes with her active toddler, to your house, just to pray with you and give you dinner. The miracle is found when the busy mum and grandma from church stops everything so they can be there when you wake up after surgery.

These are my miracles. And I really do believe in miracles.