Thursday, May 29, 2014

Grace for the Humble

I'm not a humble person. In fact, pride is a sin that I daily have to crucify. I hate my pride and its many manifestations in my life. And I want desperately to be humble, to possess humility. Because pride is an affront to the truth of the gospel, God delights in answering prayers that ask for more humility. It is in our humbling that we see our desperate need for Christ. I think that is why Peter reminds his readers, and us, that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).

The Bible talks a lot about pride and humility, from direct commands like 1 Peter 5 to giving us flesh and blood examples like Moses, David, Solomon, Absalom, and others. The most vivid picture of humility is found in our Christ, who Paul says "humbled himself to death" (Phil. 2:8). He embodied humility perfectly. The Bible often talks about our posture before him, which should be none other than utmost humility and fear, and we see consequences for those who do otherwise (2 Chron. 33:23). Jesus tells us that if we humble ourselves we will actually be exalted, but if we act in pride we will be brought low (Matt. 23:13, Luke 14:11). Humility is an often commanded, difficult to make happen, heart condition for the Christian.

But God does not leave us to our own prideful hearts.

Daniel often reminds us of the verse from 1 Peter, that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. In moments of deep humbling it is a mercy to reflect on the fact that God is humbling us because he loves us. To stay in our pride is to be the recipient of his opposition. To be humbled is to receive his grace. So when I am confronted with my sin against my husband or family member, make an embarrassing mistake that many people see, or dealing with a toddler tantrum in a public place, it is helpful to remember that these moments of humbling are not evidences of God's abandonment. They are in fact the exact opposite. They are reminders of his kindness towards me. God will have no spoiled children. He will have no self-sufficient children either. It is only when I'm on my face in humility that I can truly stand in his presence.

I want to be humble. It's a scary prayer to say out loud "Lord, make me humble," because we never know what it will take. I know it takes a lot to humble me, but I want to receive it as a mercy from his loving hand. He wants me humble so he can give me more grace. He wants me humble so I will worship him with an undivided heart. So I pray, Lord, make me humble.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Quiet Month

It's been a quiet month around here. Sorry for that! My book is due June just a few days away. I've been in the thick of editing, chasing around busy 15 month olds, and hanging out with my mom who came for a short visit. But I will be back in June. Thanks for sticking with me in the silence.

To tide you over, here is a picture of the twinsies. They seem the make the silence on this site all the more bearable, right!?!? Maybe I'm a little biased. Back to writing. See you on the other side!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

On Five Years of Marriage

Marriage is one of those things that you think you know all about and then you get blindsided by the reality that what you thought you knew really was nothing at all. At least it was that way for me. Before we got married I thought a lot of things about marriage. I had high expectations. I expected that we would spend endless amounts of time together. We would relax at the end of a long day and watch television and read together. We would explore our city and go out to eat at fun new restaurants. But those things take time and money, none of which we had a lot of as we got married in the middle of Daniel's seminary career. I expected all that we knew about manhood and womanhood and conflict and resolution would somehow just fall into place. But textbook and real life are two very different ballgames. I expected more children, easy pregnancies, and a different career path. None of those things is true of our life together. Earlier this week Daniel and I both read a helpful article on what to do when your twenties aren't what you hoped they would be. We can relate. We got married in our twenties and they weren't what we thought they would be. In some ways they were better and in others much, much harder. But we do know one thing:

We are not the same people today that we were five years ago.

And for that we are grateful.

Marriage has been a good and hard road of unexpected turns and circumstances. I have seen firsthand what it means to be loved in sickness and in health. Daniel has held my hand as I've been wheeled off for one surgery, one C-section, and one D&C. He wept with me through two miscarriages and two years of infertility. He has held my hand through uncertain ultrasounds with a high risk pregnancy and made me dinner when pregnancy hormones made the smell of the oven too much for a queasy stomach to handle. He has loved me through happiness and tears. He has stood with me during multiple middle of the night feedings and daily visits to the NICU. He has loved me fiercely. We have laughed over things that only we think are funny and talked passionately about things that only we can understand. There is no one else I would rather spend my days with, even if they are hard and good and messy and crazy.

But like all marriages, ours is far from perfect. We know what it's like to fight on date night and go to bed frustrated. We know what it's like to feel distant even when you are sitting right next to each other. When we said "I do," five years ago, we felt a rush of emotion and never wanted it to end. We know what it's like for that emotion to wane and then come back with greater intensity than there ever was before.

What I've learned in these short five years is that I have a lot to learn. We are not where we want to be, but are glad we get to walk this road together. We know less today than we did five years ago, but by God's grace are not the same as we were that joyous day either. I've learned that no marriage is perfect. Every marriage has its quirks and blind spots, but the beautiful thing is it is ours. This story is our story. With all of its tears, disagreements, laughter, and silliness, it is ours. God has joined us together and he is making us into a picture of himself.

God knew what I needed when he gave me Daniel Reissig five years ago. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Here's to fifty more, babe.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

For the Sad Mother's Day

Mother's Day is right around the corner. With all of the advertising and social media hype, it's easy to think that Mother's Day is a day where everyone is celebrating with smiles on their faces and children in their arms. But maybe that is not you at all. Maybe the talk about Mother's Day makes you want to crawl into a corner and hide there until Sunday passes. I have a feeling you are not the only one. While many women will be celebrating Mother's Day this coming Sunday with much to be thankful for, the reality is that there are an equal number of (if not more) women walking into the day with nothing more than utter dread.

Perhaps you just lost a child or can't get pregnant at all. Or maybe you recently lost your own mother. Mother's Day just feels to painful for you. It's a glaring reminder of the ache in your soul. Maybe your children aren't rising up to call you blessed, even after all you do for them. Instead they spit their breakfast on your church clothes, tell you they hate you, or disobey when you are trying to take a family picture. Mother's Day makes you feel like a Proverbs 31 failure. Or maybe your husband recently left you or he is prone to forget that Mother's Day is supposed to be a day where you are taken care of, not the other way around. You are again confronted with the prospect that no one is going to recognize your efforts on Mother's Day and it all feels in vain.

Mother's Day, with all its Hallmark celebration, is sometimes a big slap in the face to the brokenhearted mom. And even if you aren't in the midst of grave difficulty right now, Mother's Day isn't always filled with the endless amounts of appreciation we hope for or feel entitled to.

So what are we to do when Mother's Day is less than what we hope for? Or worse, what are we to do when Mother's Day is a dark holiday for us, not a joyous one?

Consider these words from Psalm 34:18-19
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted 
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,  
but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 
Do you hear what God is saying to you this Mother's Day? He is not far off from you. He has not forgotten how you labor and care for your children. He has not forgotten your desperate prayers for an open womb. He has not forgotten the agonizing tears of grief you have cried over a wayward child. He has not forgotten how you work for your family in the midst of trying times. He has not forgotten that you are doing this whole parenting thing all alone. Everyone else may forget to honor you this day, but God sees you. It is not lost on him.

And when your heart breaks over your circumstances, especially as you see the myriad of families celebrating this Mother's Day, remember this, dear sister: God is near to you. When Mother's Day hurts it is easy to draw the conclusion that no one is near to you, especially not the Creator of the universe. But that cannot be further from the truth. Is your spirit crushed this Mother's Day? God's word says he will save you out of the soul crushing grief you are experiencing. Is your heart broken this Mother's Day? God's word says he will draw near to you. Are your afflictions more than you can count? God's words says he will deliver you out of every last one of them.

Dear brokenhearted sister, know that you are not forgotten this Mother's Day.