Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I may not know the future...

I may not know the future,
but
I’m clinging to the One who does;
the One who is prepared to face what may come.
I’m confident Jesus will not abandon me,
He still works miracles,
and will make sure that I’m cared for.
That’s what I know
.” 
Glynnis Whitwer


Monday, May 30, 2011

Dear Samuel and Lauren

Dear Samuel and Lauren,

Today is Memorial Day 2011. 

Just a few hours ago we piled into our car and drove a short distance to the cemetary near our home.

Your great-grandpa May is buried there and your great-great grandparents. We prayed, read some Scripture and acknowledged a man that was very dear to your daddy.

I watched you both run around smiling, laughing, playing. My heart swells with pride and love - to see you full of life and wonder. You experience freedom every day even though you don't know what freedom is. You enjoy the benefits of being an American even though you're not aware that you live in America. You see the flag and you don't realize the sacrifices made to keep those stars and stripes flying high.

You bellies are full, your bodies are healthy, your minds are clear and growing. My son and my daughter - we are incredibly privileged to live in the Unites States of America. We live in a prosperous land with the freedom to worship, work and live as we please.

We tried to explain to you Samuel what today is about and what it represents. You don't really understand, but that's ok. Someday you will. Today you are filled with childhood innocence and that's exactly as it should be. There will be plenty of tomorrows for you ask questions, ponder freedom, remember those we've loved and lost.

I thank God for the gift of being an American and that I get to raise my family here. And I am thankful for Memorial Day and the opportunity to remember.











Saturday, May 28, 2011

A belated celebration

This week the Census Bureau reported that for the first time, the percentage of American households represented by married couples has fallen to 48%. In 1950 it was 78%. So that means less than half the homes in the U.S. do not have a traditional husband and wife relationship represented. 

Typically I don't care to be a statistic, but today I'm so grateful to be in that 48%. Because I have friends who long for husbands and homes and a family of their own. I have friends who have been served divorce papers when that's the last thing they wanted to receive. And I have a friend who has lost her spouse and would give anything to still be in that 48%.

In the spirit of celebrating marriage, on Thursday Ryan and I packed a suitcase, kissed our kiddos goodbye, boarded a bus and headed 20 minutes away to downtown Minneapolis.

It wasn't far in miles or in minutes, but we enjoyed a sweet time together in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary last March. My sister stayed with our kids (thank you so so much Auntie Sherry) and we used the rest of Ryan's hotel points from his days of frequently traveling for work. I saved some gift cards and movie tickets from the past couple months so that our celebration could be memorable and economical.

We were gone just under 48 hours - 2 nights. But those two nights were a necessary time of refreshment for our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our marriage.

We napped. We strolled. We people-watched. We read (well I mostly read while Ryan watched shows on TBS, TNT and other channels we don't get at home). We ate. We went to a movie. But most of all, we lived clock-free. Meaning, we ate breakfast at 10, lunch at 2 and dinner at 7:30 (and by lunch I mean popcorn and pop at the theater one day and two margaritas and a big bowl of chips and guacamole another day). We slept in. We had no agenda and no time restraints. It was d e l i g h t f u l.

We discussed the past year and what's been hardest about Ryan's unemployment. We talked about core values for our family and came to an agreement on a few of them that are important to both of us. We thought aloud about the future, if we wanted more children and whether we desired more biological children or hoped to adopt again. I shared my fear of not being able to conceive if we tried to get pregnant again one day and my fear of a birth mom not choosing us if we pursued adoption.

We each shared some of our personal highlights during the last 10 years of marriage. I don't think we celebrate milestones enough. I think we get busy and we let birthdays and anniversaries and other celebrations pass by without acknowledging them. But we're trying hard these days to slow down and take time to celebrate or acknowledge important dates, memories and milestones.

And this weekend was a celebration of our marriage.

I almost completed Bittersweet this weekend, and the following quote touched me deeply: "You, my dear friend, will be a bride for one day, but you will, with God's grace and your very own hard work, be a wife to this man every day for the rest of your life. Being a bride is super-fun, but it pales in comparison to the thrill and beauty of being a part of one of the truly greatest partnerships. Make your love story one worth telling. Make it one worth living, every day, as long as you both shall live."

It is because of God's unending grace, along with a heavy dose of forgiveness and an unshakeable foundation of commitment, that we've made it 10 years. We've had our share of tears and our times of laughter and we've chosen to keep our eyes on Jesus through all of it.

Glory to God.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tornado relief efforts in North Minneapolis

I've blogged about a lot of topics on this blog, but never about tornadoes or relief efforts. 

Today that changes. North Minneapolis suffered massive destruction Sunday afternoon from a tornado and my heart is so heavy for them. I live in Northeast Minneapolis and just a few miles from our home, neighborhoods are completely destroyed.

Tonight I read this observation from someone who toured North
:
This evening I walked through some of the blocks that were hit hardest. Trees were toppled onto houses and cars, many houses had windows broken out, and utility crews were using front end loaders to push trees out of the streets so that emergency vehicles could get through. One three-story apartment building had its roof torn off, and nearly every window was blown out. On the street out front, a family from that apartment huddled around their car, its rear window shattered, with a fallen utility pole and splintered 2x4s blocking the car in. The mother was holding a young baby, trying to keep it calm, while they consoled each and waited to get transportation to the shelter at the Armory in NE Minneapolis.

Ryan and I heard the sirens go off on Sunday, but our home was not affected. Our neighborhood was not destroyed. When I read about a mom holding her infant with no place to care for her baby, my heart is burdened.

Missouri, Oklahoma, Minnesota....pray for the people impacted by these storms. Pray that God would be glorified as people of faith STEP UP and do something.

If you are local, here are a few links offering information on how and where to help serve with the relief efforts:


https://www.facebook.com/urbanhomeworks

http://urbanhomeworks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sanctuarycov

http://www.facebook.com/mplstornado

https://sites.google.com/site/mplstornado/


My friend who works at Sheridan School (where many students from North attend) and where Mill City holds our worship services each week, has been calling and reaching out to the students and families who live in North. She is talking to parents who are telling her that they've lost everything. Their home and all that was in it, is gone.

We say we love Jesus. We say we want to follow in His footsteps. Lets do that friends. Lets teach our kids what it means to serve. Lets talk about the people who lost their homes and what we can do to help: we can pray, we can pass out sandwiches and water bottles, we can pull on our work boots, give up the comfort of a lazy Saturday afternoon or evening at home and go volunteer, we can donate money from our piggy banks, we can bake goodies and hand them out. Cancel plans if you have to. Call a family meeting and talk together about what you can do to help those in need....the ideas are endless.

It's our opportunity to respond.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to purchase a rocking chair

Every child's room needs to have a rocking chair.

I'm not talking about a fancy glider that costs hundreds of dollar. But a big, comfy rocker. Samuel's room has a nice La-Z-Boy rocker/recliner. It's one of the best purchases we've ever made.

Lauren's rocker is from my parent's neighbors. It's an old-style glider, but it's oversized and incredibly comfortable. Someday I'd like to recover it, but for now the navy blue 1980s pattern works just fine.

Our babies are little for a very short time. They are toddlers for longer. I recommend a large comfy rocker that you can spend hours in - because you will!

Know doubt, you'll:
  • rock your son while he pukes over and over and over again
  • rock your daughter when she has a cold and can't hardly breath through her nostrils
  • snuggle and read books and be covered in pillow and blankets while doing all of that
  • sing for hours upon hours holding your precious gifts from God in your arms

I had no idea the amount of time I would spend reading books and rocking while singing. I imagined the rocking and singing would happen a lot the first year. Which it did. But it hasn't stopped. Just last night Samuel had a hard time going to sleep and I rocked him. Teddy and blue satin blanket in hand. Clear instructions on where to place the satin blanket offered by my 2 1/2 year old son. Direction on which songs to sing also given.

Lauren loves when I rock her and sing a song or two before I put her in her crib. She is also particular about which songs I sing. Lately "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" has been the favorite.

I believe the time spent in the rocking chair has strengthened my relationship with my children. I believe comfort has been offered. I believe hymns have been memorized. Samuel now sings the words to Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing along with me. And every time I hear his sweet voice singing tune my heart to sing thy grace, my heart nearly stops because of the joy I feel.

Friends, new parents, parents-to-be, grandparents: when shopping, researching, looking for a rocker....look beyond the brand name, the color, the reviews or how it matches the decor in the nursery. Instead sit down, borrow a toddler to hold in your arms (preferably one you know or are related to) and grab a book. Read for a few minutes while rocking and make sure you have plenty of room to wiggle and giggle and snuggle together.

Rest your head against the back of the chair and make sure you can doze off comfortably. Because you will want to doze at 2 a.m. when your up for the fifth time in a night for no apparent reason. Then turn the borrowed toddler around and hold them in your arms while quietly singing words of praise and truth into their ear.

Rock quickly. Rock slowly. Hold. Sing. Read. Tickle. Snuggle.

That's how you purchase a rocker for your child's room.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The changing face of childhood

A couple weeks ago I read an interesting USA Today article about how childhood is changing for kids today. It's part of a larger series about how many aspects of childhood are changing for kids.

The quote that caught my attention in this article was, "In only a generation, kids have stopped spending most of their playtime outdoors. It's one of the most profound changes in the history of childhood..."

Along with, "We very quickly realized that outside was where they were happiest."

As a child I recall spending hours outdoors - riding bike throughout my neighborhood, playing with friends, getting sweaty and dirty and enjoying endless hours of fun.

My kiddos are still very young and of course, can't be left to play outside by themselves.....but they love love love to play outside. Swinging, running, taking walks, going to the park, riding toys in our driveway, playing with water, sliding, climbing, blowing bubbles, coloring with chalk, raking, digging in the dirt, climbing hills, and playing with trucks and cars in the sweet green grass that's part of God's gorgeous creation. The options are endless outdoors.

Last week we ate two of our three meals outside in our backyard. It was glorious.

It makes me sad to think that my kids might not experience the joy of the outdoors the way I did. We live in the city. I worry about safety. Things are just different these days. Television, movies, video games and electronics of all sorts draw our children in and keep them from even desiring to go outside. 

My kiddos watch shows/movies, but the joy of the outdoors is way more attractive to them - as it should be!

The outdoors is where creativity and imagination and play happens. Of course it happens indoors as well, but there is just something about the fresh air and enjoying God's creation as we smell the lilacs, touch the worms and inspect every fly, bird and creature that crosses our paths.

And my kids truly are happiest when they are outdoors.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Was I in your tummy?

A conversation took place between Samuel and I yesterday that I hadn't anticipated happening for awhile. Years maybe. Certainly not at the age of 2 1/2. I worry from time to time about how Samuel will learn about his adoption and when he will start asking questions and what our conversations will look like.

There is no need to worry. The Lord is providing small, sweet opportunities to talk with Samuel.

Our recent conversation went something like this:

Samuel: "When I was one day old I was in the hospital." (No idea where this thought came from)
Mom: "Yes, you were in the hospital."
Samuel: "Lauren was in your tummy when she was a baby."
"Mom: "Yes, Lauren was in my tummy before she was born."
Samuel: "When I was one day old.....was I in your tummy?"

Heart. In. Throat.

Oh Lord please help me talk to my son about this the right way....

Mom: "No you weren't in my tummy Samuel. You were at the hospital. Daddy and I came to visit you at the hospital where we got to meet you for the very first time."
Samuel: "Why?" (this word is part of nearly every conversation Samuel has with anyone)
Mom: "Because God picked you out for us and chose you to be part of our family."
Samuel: "Yeah!!!!" (clapping and yelling loudly)

As I think about that conversation I wonder if I said the right thing. I wonder why Samuel is thinking about when he was a baby. I wonder if God gives him special insight or understanding to ask questions far beyond his years. I wonder if it will hurt him some day when he truly realizes that he wasn't in mommy's tummy like his sister.

I wasn't sure how to answer Samuel's questions or if I even should answer them. But this is how we roll. We are honest. We are transparent. We don't hide. We don't run from tough conversations.

Secrets are usually not good things. They are kept hidden, in the dark. Samuel's adoption is not a secret and we will not keep it hidden. We will not unveil Samuel's adoption to him one day when he is older. It is part of his life and part of his story. We will answer questions as they come...one at a time.

We might have the right words, we might not. I will pray every day that God would give us the right words to tell Samuel the amazing, miraculous story of how he came to be part of our family.

No you didn't grow in my tummy Samuel. You grew in my heart and you have filled it to overflowing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't wait

Yesterday I started cleaning and organizing some piles in my bedroom. It's gotten bad over the last six months....books, papers, folders, cards, more books, crafting supplies, etc. It's beginning to feel like the clutter is taking over, so I decided it was time to start going through the mess.

Ryan and I watched a movie while I went through each piece of paper to determine if it went in the keep or toss pile.

I got to the very last thing in my pile and when I saw what it was, my heart hurt. A large white cardboard envelope. Inside a Sudoku book, a get well card, a picture of Samuel and an iTunes gift card. It was a 'thinking of you' package that I never sent. I gathered the items inside, bought a card about how pets help people recover for my friends who have a bunch of dogs. Lauren was born in September, our friend was diagnosed with cancer in October and I gathered the items to mail in the winter of 2010.

I got busy. I had a newborn. I was sleep deprived. My two young children get my preoccupied.

I waited to mail it because I wanted to find one more thing to add to the package and because, at times, I forgot about it.

Then I got a call in February that my friend's husband had died that morning.

Just like that. The cancer didn't kill him, but his heart had stopped while he was feeding his dogs.

And I hadn't sent anything. Not a single card in over a year to my friends who were just one year into their marriage and fighting cancer.

Had they lived in my city I would have visited in person, hugged, cried, brought food and listened to the realities of life with chemo. But they lived across the country so I planned to mail them my love and support.

Except I didn't do it. I never got around to it.

And now the package sits in my room and it's a reminder of what I didn't do.

When I see it I have to choose whether to let the guilt eat me up inside, or choose to learn from this and use this lesson to make me wiser and help me to take the actions I want to take in my life.

I hope and pray it will drive me to.....

write that letter

mail that card

send that email

make that phone call

schedule that visit

bring that meal

give that hug

Life is fleeting. We are not guaranteed tomorrow friends. There is no promise for ourselves or others beyond today. 

Don't wait. Whatever it is that's gnawing at you today, don't wait.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lauren singing about our great God

I finally caught on video a short clip of Lauren singing "How Great is Our God." Whenever I ask her what song she wants to sing, she says this one. She'll randomly start singing it from time to time. You'll hear the word 'great' most clearly as she sings the lyrics, "How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God." She also throws in a couple subtle 'hold it'  because she wants to hold the FLIP camera that I am recording her with. Oh I love this girl and my heart is so full as I watch her sing these words. May you always know baby girl how great our God is and may you declare it with confidence all the days of your life.
 


P.S. Samuel was next to me as I posted this and he kept saying, "Hi Lauren and kissing the screen on my laptop." I love that he loves his baby sister.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bittersweet

I wrote last December about Bittersweet

I'm still working my way through it...one chapter at a time. I'm discovering it's like opening a box of decadent chocolates. You can eat them in order, one at a time, in one sitting. You can eat one, put the lid back on and come back again another day for a different piece. Or you can choose a caramel filled one or dark chocolate with almonds or some other flavor depending on how you're feeling that particular day.

Bittersweet has short chapters. Snippets of life penned onto pages that are deeply moving, highly encouraging and utterly transparent. They are best read in order, because it is ultimately the story of the author's life, but I've read a few here or there because I knew I would identify with a particular chapter.

Some of you have mentioned to me that you bought a book because I've written about it here on my blog. There is not a single book I've read that I recommend more than this one. It is full of beauty and heartache and loss and grief and waiting and joy and one woman's journey through the life God is writing for her.

I will say it again: I cannot recommend it enough. However, it may not be for all of you. But for those of you who have waited or are waiting, have experienced the loss of a baby, sibling, child, parent, a broken relationship, struggles in your marriage....the words will touch you deeply.

And if you haven't experienced those things, but love to read words and stories that challenge you in your relationship with God and make you think twice about the relationships in your life, you will take much away from these chapters. Shauna is honest about motherhood to her 3-year-old son Henry, her marriage to her husband,  and her friendships.

I'll leave you with this quote:
"We dilute the beauty of the gospel story when we divorce it from our lives, our worlds, the words and images that God is writing right now on our souls.....There is nothing small or inconsequential about our stories. There is, in fact, nothing bigger. And when we tell the truth about our lives - the broken parts, the secret parts, the beautiful parts - then the gospel comes to life, an actual story about redemption, instead of abstraction and theory and things you learn in Sunday School."

My hope and desire for this blog is exactly what Shauna writes about....telling God's story of our lives. The good. The hard. The waiting. The tender moments that fill our days and remind us it's all worth it. And as Shauna says, pastors and preachers and leaders cannot tell my story. They can reference it and even ask me to share a portion of my story, but only I can tell the story of God's grace and healing and faith in my life.

Bittersweet. We cannot experience the sweet without the bitter. That's the way it works. And that's what makes us courageous and strong and ready to face whatever tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday recap

Here's a recap of my Tuesday as it was lived out on this day in 2011. Just cause. This is the only journal I keep for my kids - or for me for that matter - and some day I might want to know what I did on Tuesday, May 10, 2011.

I vaguely recall the pitter patter of little feet walking toward me as I am pulled from dreamland. Then a sweet and adorable "hi" wakes me fully. The voice: Samuel. The time: 4:30 a.m. After a bit of convincing that it is not yet morning, I return Samuel to bed and seek to find dreamland again.

Yesterday my sister-in-law sent me a website/article about maximizing your mornings. The basic premise is that you can get an incredible amount of things accomplished by getting up before your family in the morning. So today I got up at 6:33 a.m. and spent a glorious 45 minutes reading and praying and preparing for my day. I loved every minute of it. Thank you Jesus for helping me get out of bed, because you know I am a night owl and I love my bed. We'll see what tomorrow brings. I wish the article was titled, "Maximize one morning."

The morning hours were filled with a greater-than-average number of tears by both children and a confused mom as to what might be causing the tears. Getting out the door to the park for a mom's group play date was a tall task, but we achieved success and arrived just 6 minutes past the desired time. Once we arrived at the park I quickly realized that in the midst of convincing Samuel that he did, indeed, want to go to the park because he LOVES the park, I forgot shoes for Lauren. Welcome to bare feet Lauren. Playing. Swinging. Sun. Picnic lunch.

Upon returning home we were greeted by three men with large, orange hoses cleaning the carpet on our porch. We have a cat. Enough said. Samuel was infatuated by these men whom we called "carpet cleaners" and by their many machines. House was total chaos and incredibly loud.

Backyard was quiet, peaceful, and breezy. My friend stopped by to visit and drop off some clothes for Lauren. She pushed my children in their swings while wearing 3-inch heels that sunk into the mud due to a lack of grass in our backyard. Bless her. Lemonade and pretzels and running around the yard filled our time until the cleaners were gone and nap time was upon us.

S and L slept beautifully and we woke them both up at 3:45 and 4:00. Love longs naps and well-rested kids. My 'nap time' was filled with dishes, e-mail, and lots of phone conversations about a new part-time freelance writing job I'll be starting soon.

More playing, swinging, sliding, and walking. It was a hot day and a bucket of ice cubes was just the distraction my little people needed. Frozen water provided nearly an hour of entertainment. Go figure. Tortellini was on the agenda for dinner which Ryan made while I stayed outside with the kids. The upside to unemployment: one spouse cooks, the other plays. Eat, bath and I headed out the door for my small group.

Six ladies, a patio overlooking the University of Minnesota and lots of ice cream on this sticky evening made for a delightful way to end this Tuesday. We filled our time with light conversation about such topics as sin, forgiveness and marriage conflict. Tornado warnings drove us from the patio to an inside table, but conversation didn't miss a beat (unless, of course, you count the many calls and texts from family members updating us about the impending storm).

Home at 9:25 p.m. to find a sleeping son, daughter and husband. Quiet house. Time to do my favorite things: read and blog.

Highlights of 5.10.11 include: the 4:30 a.m. visit from my little man because he is so darn sweet, hearing Lauren sing "Praise ye the Lord, hallelujah" while swinging, my husband informing me that he has an interview next week and enjoying my first chocolate banana malt of the season.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Give yourself some grace on Mother's Day

I am not an overly emotional person, and yet at this very moment I am overwhelmed with love for those of you who I am writing to today. My heart is full and nearly bursting with tears. God has given me a deep love for you and these words are on my heart to write to you today. 

I'm writing to those of you who have asked me to pray for you, those of you who haven't asked, but would like prayer, those of you who are dreading this weekend, and to those of you who hurt so badly inside that the ache for a baby is among one of the worst feelings you have ever felt. I have been there and this is what I want to say to you:

Give yourself some grace this weekend.

Acknowledge what this weekend represents: the celebration of motherhood and that celebration is a painful one for you.

Allow yourself to skip church on Sunday and instead play some worship music at home and spend time meeting with the Lord one on one. Then go for a walk, go shopping, see a movie, get some ice cream, get a massage or read a book while taking a bubble bath....whatever would make your heart happy on this difficult day, just do it.

Don't force yourself to hang out with people or in places that will cause you more heartache on an already painful day. If your family won't understand, that ok. If you want to try and explain it to them, go ahead. If you don't, that's fine too. But allow yourself the room and time and space to do your own thing on mother's day.

Celebrate your mom if that's what you want to do. But if that celebration would involve 23 grandkids, 2 pregnant family members and lots of talk about things that you cannot participate in, then be honest with your mom and tell her you'd like to celebrate in a personal, private way another day. Or, visit her for an hour or two if your heart can take it, and then be on your way.....no need to spend 6 hours with family when you're trying to paste a smile on your face and keep from bursting into tears.

Sometimes the dread leading up to a day like this is worse than the actual day. So plan some fun things you can anticipate and get excited about. Talk to your hubby about how you're feeling so that the lines of communication are open. You need his support and his understanding and he needs you to be honest.

Give yourself some grace. God knows. He knows about your heartache, your longing, how it feels as though you get kicked in the gut every time someone else announces their pregnancy. He knows how your heart grieves for the little one you lost or grieves because you've never seen two pink lines or grieves because the birth mother changed her mind.

Some people might not agree with this post and that's ok. They don't need to. I am not writing to them. I'm writing to you. And you know who you are. While the world celebrates mother's on Sunday, God is celebrating you - a fearfully and wonderfully made creation.

I will pray that your day is filled with sweet moments of love and opportunities to see the blessings in your life. Most of all I will pray that the words of Zephaniah will bring you joy this weekend:

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Prayer for Mother's Day?

I enjoy reading Shauna Niequist's blog. She is the author of Bittersweet which I've started, but haven't yet finished. However, it's on my 2011 book list, so I WILL finish it this year!

Shauna has walked the road of miscarriages and waiting for a baby the second time around. This week I read her post about Mother's Day. It sums up much of what I'm feeling - a large amount of joy and gratefulness for the gift of motherhood along with sadness for what this day represents for many others who long to celebrate Mother's Day.

Read her post. It's short, but it's touching. And real. And while she doesn't pretend to have all the answers, she acknowledges the dance between joy and sorrow, and mourning and rejoicing that undoubtedly takes place on Mother's Day each year.

Like Shauna, I have friends who are new moms this Mother's Day. I have friends who are expecting their third baby, and one friend expecting twin girls. 

However, I also know of family friends who just flew to Texas to meet a birth mom for the second time. And for the second time, she changed her mind and they return home empty handed. I think of a friend of a friend who experienced her fifth miscarriage. I think of a friend who has one child and every month hopes to give her daughter a sibling.

As I did last year, I'd like to pray for anyone who finds this coming weekend a difficult one. Whether you've lost a child, miscarried one you never got to meet, desire to be pregnant....or if you're just missing your mom because she's no longer in your life.

Comment below and let me know. I promise to pray. I'll ask God to be extra close and extra real this weekend. Leave your name or not. It doesn't matter. God knows and He tells us to approach the throne of grace confidently. Lets lift each other up - every joy, every sorrow, every heart that is striving to wait well.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Even if

The story takes place in Daniel 3. An arrogant king orders everyone to bow down to a golden idol. If they choose not to, they will be thrown into a fiery furnace. Three courageous men respond to the order this way:
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

There is confidence in these words: the God we serve is ABLE. He is ABLE to deliver us from it.

They believed so desperately in the God they served and His ability to save them. They felt no need to defend their actions nor their beliefs. There faith did not fault when the threat of heat came near. Instead, their faith surrounded them like a shield despite what they might encounter.

Then read the next words: but even if he does not.

Even if He does not deliver them from the fire they will still proclaim God as King.

Even if.

What's your Even If situation? What fiery trial is so close you can smell the smoke and feel the heat?

Even if...

you are not healed. 

your spouse does not return.

the bills keep piling up.

the job does not come.

the prayer goes unanswered.

the loss seems so great.

Even if. Even if He does not deliver you from the trial...will you still proclaim His goodness? Will you still seek first His righteousness? Will you still abide in Him? Will you still trust in His sovereign plan?

Last week was a tough one. One friend got laid off. Another is in the midst of deciding whether or not to close their family business. Another dear friend  is again struggling with incredible pain and a long hospital stay.

Each situation is very different. But yet, I see similarities. I see a fiery furnace. I see the temptation to bow down to bitterness, self-pity, anger, and worry.

I also see a choice. A choice to believe that their God is ABLE. He can choose to deliver them. He may not, but He is ABLE. 

As Ryan and I approach the 12-month mark of unemployment, God has not yet chosen to deliver us from this trial. But we are confident that He is ABLE.

And even if He does not deliver us from it before the money is gone and the wounds are deep, we will not bow down to another. We serve the One who is ABLE and the One who walks through the fire with us.