Tuesday, January 15, 2019

SAVE ME FROM MYSELF

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A month or two ago, I had a disappointing day. No plans were going quite like I hoped (including two cancelled outings with girlfriends), so there I was mopping the dining room at 4 p.m. and trying not to cry. I desperately asked God to help me have a good attitude anyway, and my prayer turned into a cry for help: Jesus, please save me from myself! It's all I could manage to pray. The disappointment was overtaking me and I couldn't fix my angry heart by effort alone. That tearful prayer turned into victory: He really did help me to calm down (i.e. not sulk & not give the silent treatment for the rest of the day) and to end the day in joy.

What I really wanted to pray that day:
save me from this mess
save me from these annoying children
save me from this day
save me from these dirty floors
save me from this list
save me from my life

Isn't that what we sometimes actually mean when we pray: "Jesus, please come and save"? But I don't need saving from all those things because most of them are God-given, actual blessings. He didn't come to save me from my life. Instead, Jesus came to save me from all of the sin inside that fights against living life as He would ask me to live--like a servant and denying myself. Jesus came to save the world: yes, praise the Lord! But He also came as a Savior outside of myself to save me from myself and the sin in my own heart.

. . . you [are in] grave danger, because of the danger you are to yourself. . . . you have no ability whatsoever to escape yourself. You and I simply have no ability to rescue ourselves from the greatest danger in our lives.  Paul David Tripp

And that danger is MYSELF.



"God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I will call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to the Rock that is high above me, for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy. I will dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings" (Psalm 61:1-4).

What if one of my greatest enemy's is myself? After honest introspection, I admit I am stubborn, lazy, hard-hearted, and prideful--in a word: sinful. And what if my heart is without strength to handle myself? It feels like I am the ends-of-the-earth away from the holy life I'm supposed to be living and I have no strength to come back. So I cry out, I pray and I call to Jesus. God, please hear me! I ache to be rescued from me.

So I imagine literally climbing onto the Rock of Jesus that is high above myself. There I find a refuge and a strong tower from the enemy. There is a sheltering, comforting and protecting wing to huddle underneath and I am safe. I want to live with you, Jesus--not with me. Oh, would You please save me from myself!


. . . save me, and I will be saved . . . Jeremiah 17:14


. . . I will save you . . .  Judges 7:7







Read more: Don't Trust Your Heart  . . . "My heart is not trustworthy, but I can trust Him. His presence is where I need to stay and where my heart can be at rest."

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

LIFE LATELY

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I thought a bit of a "Jana's life lately" post might be fun. A place to put all of the random bits that are floating around my head this January.



Some years I make a ton of News Years "resolutions" (spreadsheets and everything) and some years I make hardly any at all. This year I just modified my list from last year. Well actually, I first made a "2018 Gratitude & Thanksgiving" list to acknowledge God's hand in so many aspects of the year. Top of the list: Adoption Day! It was helpful to start my looking-forward planning with a time of looking-back in thankfulness for all He did during the past year (and not just jump into beating myself up with all of the goals that did not get accomplished). Then I looked at the 2018 list and just revamped a little for 2019.

Main goals for this year: keep five children alive and thriving. Help one child get healthy. Help two children learn how to read independently & confidently. Spend intentional time with Bryce and get comfortable/creative with having at-home date nights. Read & study the Bible consistently. And that's it, folks. ....Okay, okay, there's a whole host of side projects and reading goals and writing goals and relational goals. But those are strictly "as able to"--they are not allowed to be guilt-inducing.

I had a big realization last week: I need to make goals for who I actually am today, and not who I remember myself being 10 years ago or who I might aspire to be. For example, I used to be a great reader, but if I evaluate myself honestly right now, I do not read like I used to and haven't in years! So, instead of trying to read a million books in a year and failing every time, I have a new goal this year: read 1 (maybe 2) books a month. And that's okay! That's an honest goal I can (hopefully!) accomplish in this season. That's it: honest goals. That's the kind of goals I want to make right now.



About the "one child get healthy" goal above: we found out before Christmas that our middle child, Silas, has Celiac disease. It's not too surprising, since there were mild symptom hints the past few months and it's genetic--my sister also has Celiac. But it has been a bit of a whirlwind to change his diet to completely gluten-free--for the rest of his life--and also lactose-free for right now. He has been so brave about everything and seems to be adjusting pretty well. Mostly I can't wait until he is back to full health & feeling wonderful.



I told Bryce in mid-December: "I haven't looked forward to a Christmas break so much since college 10 years ago!" It was marvelous. I stayed in my PJ pants all day for multiple days, only getting dressed in real clothes when absolutely necessary. I did two 500 piece puzzles. I ate all of the cookies and junk food and tons of coffee. I watched Hallmark Christmas movies. I spent time in Fort Wayne with my sister & parents, and celebrated my brother's engagement! And, don't worry, I was a little productive and did have two school planning days in there.

We are back to school this week, with a bit of a revamped schedule. In the fall, I had a hard time fitting in preschool for the 5-year-old's. So I'm trying something new and working with them first thing in the morning while giving the 1st graders independent work. Hopefully it helps us to be more consistent. The kids are all doing so great. Home schooling is hard and sometimes (or maybe a lot of the time) feels like dying-to-myself-daily but I sure enjoy having them all home during this season and watching them learn is so very rewarding.



My health journey needed a bit of a reset after the last crazy few months of the adoption whirlwind and Silas' health stuff and holidays (see above junk food comment), so I started Monday with some intentional health self-care. This month I'm doing a modified Whole30, which for me looks like no sugar of any kind, no empty carbs, veggies with every meal, only healthy snacks, and tons of water. I definitely have a sweet tooth--thanks to my Grandma Snyder--so the sugar one is hardest for me but it's so good to take a complete break every once in a while. I also have been way off my exercise game, so my sister and I are keeping each other accountable with a 6-week Moms Into Fitness program. I think it will be a good way to ease myself back in (insert a couple of emojis for I'm-so-out-of-shape and I'm-hurting-from-just-two-days-in).



This is getting long, so just one more thought to share. I've been slowly working my way through the CSB Women's Study Bible and loving it! I was pushing to read through the Bible in a year last year, plus reading every bit of the commentary. But it was just too much and began not to be enjoyable or rewarding. So I slowed way down and relaxed--it's okay if it takes me 2-3 years but I'm going to read & study at a more manageable pace and really enjoy the commentary. Right now, I'm in Jeremiah, two chapters a day + commentary, and also one chapter in the Psalms. Along with daily Bible reading, I have also been using the monthly guided prayer journal from Val Marie Paper and highly recommend! So very helpful to keep all of the things I want to pray for organized in one spot--plus it's pretty. Always a plus. Moral of the story: find the tools & reading rhythm that give you joy and help you connect with Jesus--however it needs to look for your current season.



Well, that's it, friends. I hope you enjoyed this smattering of January thoughts. I've got more posts in mind for house projects (still need to write about the chicken coop & our new windows) and thoughts post-adoption and need to do a kids update soon . . . so much to write about. Thanks for sticking around and reading. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

THE {CROSS-BEARING} WAY TO JOY

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Looking back over the arc of our foster journey, my mind flounders when I try to describe what God has shown me about Himself and what I have learned. But last week, as I was preparing to share our story with a group of women, the phrase who for the joy set before Him endured the cross jumped into my thoughts. And it immediately put all of the pieces into place. Sometimes a verse jumps into my mind and then I have to work backwards to try to find where it's located, but I finally tracked it down.



who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2)

Our foster journey started around seven years ago. Welcomed Mr. Z (used to be "D") three and half years ago. The trials of court and foster care. Living in the already-but-not-yet. Often aware and heavy-laden with it. There were a lot of little deaths that led to this beautiful season of joy. It's really quite amazing to look back and see all of that now.

When I look at Jesus' life, His example points the way: joy comes with cross-enduring. Why should our path not look a lot like His, our Servant-Master? He knew that death was ahead of Him, but He walked resolutely toward it, confident of the joy on the other side. And even the joy in the midst--it's almost as if the cross and joy are intermingled. One comes with the other; they belong to each other.

I must also note that this joy I feel now is not a giddiness or an over-excited happiness. It's not even quite like the gladness accompanying answered prayer or timely provision. It is deep and quiet and peaceful and true. It's the joy of fellowship with God and confidence in His goodness--overflowing gratitude for all He has taught me on this journey.



scorning the cross's shame (Hebrews 12:2)

There can be a certain stigma associated with fostering and adoption--the stares and the you-are-crazy's. Not to mention my own heart questioning and wrestling--the what-if's, if-only's, and it's-not-fair's. To scorn can mean "to reject or dismiss as contemptible or unworthy" (Merriam-Webster). One must come to the place of throwing aside the shame, considering it unworthy of consideration. To Jesus, the cross was worth everything; and so He walked on despite the shame, betrayal and pain.

This shame-scorning highlights Jesus' willingness. Paul David Tripp writes: "One of the dark character qualities of sin that we don't recognize as much as we should is unwillingness. We're often unwilling to do what God says if it doesn't make sense to us. We're often unwilling to inconvenience ourselves for the needs of someone else. . . . [So] a willing Savior is born to rescue unwilling people from themselves because there is no other way. Jesus was willing to leave the splendor of eternity to come to this broken and groaning world." Jesus saw the victory to come--and, even though we can't always see the other side like He can, we can trust that He sees our victory too.



let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . . let us consider Him Who endured SO THAT we will not grow weary and give up (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Friends--we need to be captured by Jesus, our gaze always locked on Him! We will want to give up and lose heart; we will grow weary. We certainly don't serve the least of these neither because it feels good or fulfills us or helps us earn a better spot in eternity nor because it gives us all sorts of warm fuzzies or the children all turn out amazing. No, indeed. Remember something else Jesus said? "Take up your cross daily and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). We walk in the way of the cross because it is an honorable cross; this cross from Jesus is meant to be borne willingly in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is our loving companion in death, faithful to bring joy.



In my mind's eye, I see our foster care path and now here we are at adoption. I marvel at the story God orchestrated. It's a dusty dirt path with many twists and turns. There, do you see it? In the middle of the path is a cross jutting out of the earth. But now from this new vantage point I can see through the cross, and there is the light of joy on the other side.

the way to joy 
sometimes 
looks a lot like dying