Do Your Work

Third time is the charm came true for me this weekend when I had the opportunity to hear Bob Goff speak. Twice before Bob had stopped by Louisville, but a small person prevented my attendance. Bob wrote the book, Love Does, and if you have not had a chance to read it open another browser window and go buy it on Amazon!

Bob has so many amazing stories and as I walked hurriedly to my car in the frigid weather after the event, I began to think about what makes his life such an awesome adventure. Bob’s main message that evening was to do your work. Commit to where God has brought you, faithfully move forward, and in time God will begin to reveal his purpose. I had the honor to work for a veteran, lawyer and historian who put it this way,

“We have to get out of the way and let God be God.” – Colonel Ronald D. Ray

Regardless of what Bob has encountered in life from arranging meeting with Sultans on Twitter to contracting Malaria, his joy is made complete by following after God wholeheartedly. Bob has made his life about seeking out those that society pushes away and never saying no to opportunity. If this life is only a speck in the span of eternity, then what do we have to lose?

Bob ended his message with a dare to walk on the edge of our comfort zones. God uses desperation to draw us closer to Him. Examine your current situation, seek to understand the work God has called you to here and now and step out on the edge. Make 2017 about wholeheartedly jumping into God and go do your work.

2017 Aspirations

I gave up on trying to make and keep New Year resolutions long ago. Instead I like to think of New Year aspirations. Each year I have a few hot topics that make the top of my aspiration list. Adventure and travel are always on the list. Hiking Red River Gorge and enjoying some country music, chocolate crepes, BBQ and pizza in a trip Nashville, TN are on the horizon.

Reading more is something I aspire to accomplish. After college I was so burnt out on books that I can probably name the books I’ve read cover to cover since. Inspiration is always a good way to start out a year, so I’ve picked Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and Quiet by Susan Cain as my first two hurdles.

On my mind at present is my one year old walking. Each day she becomes more daring and ventures into the great unknown with tiny, wobbly steps. She also loves to climb everything and I can only imagine all the things that she is going to get into, but also all the things and places we will be able to go when she is confident on two feet.

After what seems like a decade (but is really more like a couple of years), I anxiously await my husband’s graduation and the precious time together that we will no longer have to give up. The last few months before graduation are going to be an intense challenge, but that will make receiving his diploma all the more victorious. I am also faithfully praying and seeking out the ability to quickly overcome school loans, to help keep my family as debt free as possible.

One of the best parts of marriage is having someone close to me to share big dreams with and work towards those dreams together. Proverbs 16:3 is a verse I was inspired to pray over my family this year,

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

I pray that the Lord will move in His way and that we will be able to accomplish mighty things.

Happy New Year and may you aspire to do great things in 2017.

I Survived My Calendar…Barely

The title of this blog post is how I feel about 2016 as we approach its closure. I did get to travel some, but the majority of my time was spent helping my husband progress through his degree while I maintained life and relationships. There have been plenty of days where I’ve been frustrated. Yet, as I watch my little girl grow, I am deeply reminded of how quickly time passes even when it feels like I’m moving through a week at the speed of molasses.

Some days I find myself staring in the mirror and thinking how I strived to achieve this place in life, but it is definitely not how I envisioned it. Outside influences effect every aspect of our lives, which make it easy to doubt our purpose, direction and choices. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who guides my heart and mind in these moments of self analysis. It’s easy to let discouragement creep in and cause feelings of doubt and regret, but it is important to remember that the best things in life often require the most work.

Romans 8 is a wonderful reminder of the Spirit at work within us. I encourage you to read the whole chapter. Here is a little excerpt,

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:24-28

I so often read Romans 8:28 and think about how things will work out according to my definition of good. They mostly don’t, but I am ok with that because God has a way of things working out so much better. It is mostly little things that I see coming together after the worst of the storm has passed. As I am clinging tight to my life raft, the clouds begin to clear and I can see shore, a check comes in the mail from an escrow overage that covers the new tires for the car or a friend drops by with an unexpected gift that is a reminder of how much my friendship is appreciated.

There are no doubt plenty of challenges ahead in 2017, but it is also a year of possibility. “For who hopes for what he sees?” May you have hope and patience in the year to come.

Embrace Opportunity

It’s easy to want to be super mom when you combine holidays, family and children. Doing all the activities, attending all the events, making everyone happy. Even with super human powers, I don’t think it would be possible to do it all. Learning to find the balance between a positive amount of activity and a negative amount of attitude due to expectation is a challenge.

As an introvert it is naturally easier to want to satisfy everyone by saying yes while secretly dying on the inside with the thought of adding one more thing to the calendar. It’s important to learn to say no, which definitely gets easier with kids. Between my dog and my very curious one year old, no gets uttered in a variety of iterations throughout the day. However, it’s also important to not worry so much about the perfect and embrace opportunity. Like when you find your child contentedly eating mini chocolate chips that they have just dumped all over the floor. Sometimes you just have to sit down and appreciate that smiling chocolate covered face.

Tomorrow we take time to remember an imperfect situation. A baby, in a feeding trough, surrounded by the stench of animal stalls and who knows what kind of dirt, pests and insects. I don’t know about you, but as a mom with a newborn that would have freaked me out a bit. Yet, I have a feeling Mary embraced opportunity and chose to treasure the moment by enjoying that little, perfect face.

In the quiet and the chaos, be thankful for the moments and the one who gave us the chance to embrace opportunity.

Merry Christmas

 

Brown Paper Packages

I love buying gifts for people. It’s one way that I express love. I enjoy getting to know someone and then thinking about the kind of item that would hold great meaning, evoke a laugh, cause their eyes to light up or even muster a few tears. I also very much enjoy wrapping presents. As Maria von Trapp sings, “brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things!” Though I usually expand my horizons past brown paper wrapping on most occasions.

Having a one year old who loves tissue paper has made this Christmas a wrapping adventure. I finally succeed in completing my present wrapping this week and now each item sits beautifully under the tree. I usually like to get my wrapping done with a few weeks to spare so that I can sit and admire all the festive colors and ribbons. As my eyes move from one present to the next, I think about the treasure inside and what the person’s reaction might be. Sometimes the reaction is quite amusing and very unanticipated. Then my mind travels to the memories that I have shared with that person and I eagerly await the opportunity to share time together again.

As someone who is not very open or transparent, gifts are my way of connecting and expressing. This is an area I hope to grow in, as I learn to get outside of my comfort zone. Gifts are a great relationship building tool, but they don’t always need to be tangible. The gifts of service, encouraging words and time, often mean more than a gift in pretty wrapping.

I was reminded today by someone’s wise words that one of the best gifts of Christmas is family and being grateful for the time we get to spend with them. Enjoy all the crazy, happy, messy moments this weekend as you celebrate and say a little prayer of thanks to our Heavenly Father for an opportunity to his sons and daughters.

You Almost Died!

I love how kids get right to the point, there is no beating around the bush. During one of my niece’s visits, she came through the door with great emotion and announced that she heard the story of how I almost died! Makes my life sound so epic.

This visit came to my mind as I spent time reading loving comments written about a young father who passed away unexpectedly from an infection. I didn’t know him or his family, but I can only imagine the pain. God never told us that life would be fair or easy, but that doesn’t make the unfair moments any easier.

James, Chapter 1 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It has so much truth and encouragement packed into one chapter, especially when navigating the tough times.

James 1:2-4 (HCSB) Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

As the end of the year approaches and we face stresses and challenges, remember that life is a work. We rise and we overcome – we grow. In order to grow we must face the risks, the pain and the obstacles. I have described cancer as staring death in the face and walking away. When I get to celebrate my growth and smile at the impact of my story, I am thankful for the work being done in me.

Being More

I know that raising a child from a newborn is only a small part of life as a parent but the year long struggle of interrupted sleep, constant feeding and complete lack of privacy or personal independence, it’s exhausting.

As parents, the comment that children are a gift from God and a bundle of joy is dependent on the timing that said comment is uttered. Actually, children are a test of patience, perseverance and logic that continues indefinitely and begins when you leave the hospital. Sure they are cute, wrinkly but they are also helpless and demanding.

Keeping a small human alive and well is not so much difficult as draining. Parenthood pushes you to the brink of what you can handle, but surprisingly you can handle more than you think. You may not be coherent some days, but you will survive and adapt. Each season in life teaches us something. Maybe parenthood is also about pushing yourself to do more and be more than you ever thought possible. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you.

In the Quiet

As much as I love my husband and my baby, I am often running on fumes. The thought of sleeping through the night without baby or my mind keeping me up seems as luxurious as a weekend at a 4 star hotel. If the ability to pause time was something I could buy on Amazon I would be ordering an extra large dose so that I could sleep, clean, sleep more and then sit and stare into nothingness with a caramel macchiato.

Every season in life has its challenges and glories that no other point in life will be able to replicate. All too often I find myself comparing this season to other people in my sphere and must remind myself that every journey is unique. No one experiences the same challenges or triumphs exactly as I do, it is the Krista expedition. A special pact between me and God with a few, key supporting characters and a lot of other people that I get to encounter along the way.

In the moments where my temper flairs, my feelings are pulverized, my attitude is a sack of rotten potatoes and the desire to keep moving forward is buried deep in a bowl of Haagen-Dazs double chocolate ice cream, its that still, small voice that gets me back up.

1 Kings 19:11-13 tells a story of the great prophet Elijah.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Other translations end verse 13 with, what are you doing here? In the midst of life’s chaos, what are you doing here Krista? It takes faith and commitment to survive life’s chaos. I am comforted knowing that God is there through it all, but especially in the quite. He gently directs my heart and confirms that it is all worth it.

Living Beyond Myself

Monday’s have changed so much for me in the past year. No longer do I have a ritual of setting my alarm, picking out clothes and packing my lunch on Sunday night. I don’t burn my retina as I flip on the light in the dark, early hours of Monday. Instead, I get a kiss on the forehead and a whisper telling me to go back to sleep. My day usually begins after the sun comes up, with a cry or a chorus of “da da da”. My attire has gone from smart casual to washable and pocketed. After feeding the dog, changing the baby and scarfing down something for breakfast I begin the juggling act of house work, work work and child preservation.

It’s been my vision for a number of years to reach this exact place in life – married, house, dog, child. There are things that I love about it and those that I do not. I am glad to be out of the dating game, especially during the holidays. I’m relieved to have a home and not a temporary space. Yet, I miss the freedom to travel and explore new cities. My dwelling space is rarely ever organized or completely clean, but it is never lonely either. I get considerable less sleep (and sometimes less bed), but I never have trouble dosing off at night. I have little time to myself or to pursue my interests, but I am developing a legacy.

For every one thing I feel like I am giving up, I am gaining something else. Some days are really hard and feel never ending. My house teeters back and forth from a sanctuary to a chaotic prison. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the opportunities in my life at present. I have the opportunity to love and be loved, to nurture and teach and to grow in patience and positive attitude. All these things push me to live outside my comfort zone, but they also push me to examine God at work in my life.