This Too? This Too.

My wife has been having some health struggles lately. Serious struggles.

This is on top of a life that’s above average on the crazy difficult scale of late.  Work has been harder than it’s ever been, and I’m not wearing the stress very well (at least until my recent vacation).  And even when I was in school, I was able to make it through because Theresa kept things running at home when I wasn’t able to find the attention span.

And when life is at a pace where I’m tempted to give up and say “I can’t take it anymore” God has added this to the pile too.  When I’m saying “no more” God says “actually, this too.”

1Thessalonians 5:18:

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

If you look up the word “all” in your concordance the Greek word there mean (wait for it) “all.”  Give thanks in ALL circumstances for this is God’s will for your life.  This one too?  Yup.  Give thanks for everything.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard or that you can handle it.  There’s another all to remember in 1Peter 5:

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Cast all your cares on Him.  There’s not a single one you should try to carry on your own.

If you’re anything like me you forget that.  Pretty much every day.  I try to handle it on my own.  And God’s the One who handles it.  And you’re thinking, again if you’re like me, do I cast this anxiety or care onto Jesus too?  And what does He answer?  Yes…this too.

His burden is light, and yours is hard.  And He wants to trade.

And this is why you can give thanks in all things:  because every hard thing He sends your way is a reminder that He’s got this and that He wants to take it off your back.  So let Him.  Walk in His grace, giving thanks for the hardest of the hard, and He’s got this.  This too.

 

Merry Christmas, Youtube! (Christmas post the third)

It’s Christmas day, and as I mentioned yesterday it’s the day when the first of the TWELVE videos my children are putting together come out.  Actually there are two today, the regular Friday edition of Good Morning Youtube (this one with me as a guest) and the first of the 12 Skits of Christmas, a teaser starring our puppy, Nik.

So Merry Christmas, again, and enjoy these two great videos from my kids.  Consider it the first installment in a 12 part video Christmas card:

 

Memories, Traditions, Swedish Christmas Eve Dinner, and Jesus (Christmas Post the First)

My friend Seth and I go way back.  I’ve known him and his family longer than any of the spouses of the siblings.  His dad used to be my pastor, and it’s partly my fault that he lives here in Illinois now.  We’re really not just friends anymore, the Ben-Ezras and Lansberrys are family and have shared traditions together, including Christmas Eve dinner from Seth’s mom’s family traditions.

For the first few years we were married, we didn’t celebrate Christmas, and now it’s hard for me to graciously remember the young, persnickety man who refused celebrate the incarnation in a beautiful way.  I can’t blame him (me)…he lacked the wisdom that came later.

Seth posted last night a commemoration of Kaldolmar (the most labor intensive part of the dinner we’ll eat tomorrow) making over the years.  It was long, disjointed and sentimental.  But it was beautiful.  You should read it and consider your family history, traditions, and the love that God has showered upon us by sending His Son to reconcile sinners like you and me to himself.  Here’s a snippet and the link (and a picture of Kaldolmar when finished):

No, rather, I wanted to commemorate some of those who have gone before me, who trod the pathway of faith even when it grew dark, who honored their God even in dire straits. And it’s in traditions like this that they still speak.

They remind me that I am part of something larger than myself, a lineage of faith handed down, one generation at a time.They remind me that our Father is honest and trustworthy, and that His revelation is sure.

They remind me that what I have been handed is worth preserving and protecting.

They remind me of the core of the faith that was handed down to us: our Lord Jesus Christ, come into this world to save sinners like me.

They remind me that there’s further to go, but that, if I’m faithful to Jesus, He will be faithful in return.

Source: Kaldolmar night | A Dark and Quiet Room

A Year

One year ago yesterday I graduated from college. I got all As this time around and it was a 16 month(ish) EMBA program and timehop yesterday reminded me of the event. More accurately I opened up the Timehop app so that I could see what I’d posted that day. My parents came out for it and we had a great time celebrating finally, at age 45, getting a college degree.

I had big plans for the year that we’re completing. A few of them got done, but mostly I’ve been figuring out what comes next more slowly than I’d like. I had ambitious dreams of what I could do when I wasn’t going to school, and came up horribly short on them.

It has been a good year. I’ve gotten two nice getaways with my wife: one to San Francisco and another recently to Mexico. Our kids threw us a surprise party for our 20th anniversary. I’ve started working with a team of leaders at work on bringing their skills to another level. I’ve implemented almost 25% of the ideas I thought I’d get done, which seems awful, but I probably was overambitious.

It’s been a hard year, too. Our old house is still not ready to rent. That weighs on me, but we’re not financially destitute, so we muddle through. We’ve had some rough health issues at home. Some projects have languished and needed more attention that I’m just getting around to giving them now.

As I look back there is so much to be thankful for, and I have been abundantly blessed. I have a wife who stands with me through thick and thin. I’ve realized that rest and relaxation are crucial to being on top of my game, and the phrase “post-vacation dad” has become a regular part of the family liturgy.

This past Friday we had our organization’s annual Christmas party. Most of the evening I spent in shock as I realized how much we’ve grown and how different things are than they were at my first party in 1999. And they’ll be different in huge ways again next year, too. One constant remains: God takes care of us and watches over us and always does what is best for us. And I should neither forget that nor ever cease to be grateful for it.

Rest. Recreation. Relaxation. Peace.

I wrote this a week and a half ago at the start of my vacation:

This won’t post until after I’m back but as of right now I’ve been on vacation for a whole 15 hours.  I don’t sleep well when I have morning flights and I woke up with an allergic sneezing fit about 3:30am and at this point I’m not going to try to get back to sleep. And I realized that gives me something I’d been hoping for…time to do some writing for the blog.

I’m already feeling more relaxed than I have in over a month. It’s funny, but while I love the fast paced, always busy, crazy, crazy life (as you read this I’m in the office for the first time in almost 2 weeks) I neglect the need for rest.

Not just sleep…rest. I can push through the lack of sleep for quite some time but finding a way to unplug from the normal strains of life and pursue peace of mind is something that I just don’t think about doing until I’m nearing frustrated exhaustion.

This morning (a week before Thanksgiving) I’ve slept for only a few hours after getting just 5 the night before and I’m feeling rested. Relaxed. And vacation is just beginning. I had a lovely evening out with the wife of my youth last night and we’re about to travel to Mexico for six days and six nights of beautiful sun and nothing. We chose Baja because there’s nothing we want to see there. Just us, spending time away from the hurried life. Resting, recreating, relaxing.

And that’s enough to make me feel very peaceful today. And as this posts I’m sure I’ll be ready to jump back in with vigor to do what God has called me to do.

Don’t neglect the need to rest, readers. God gives sabbaths for a reason…and they are a gift to you. Enjoy them.

God’s Provisional Surprises

“I didn’t need one more thing to worry about.”

I actually caught myself saying that after our bus broke down in Iowa.

It started Friday night as we were heading out for dinner to celebrate Margary’s birthday. The bus felt like the tire was flat so we pulled over to look at it. Over half the lug nuts had broken off on one of the rear tires (see pic below).

AAA wasn’t going to tow it. Not a standard vehicle they said. I was able to get them to see the light and they sent out a tow truck to take it to a shop that was open on Saturdays to get fixed, which hopefully was going to get us home. We had friends at the same conference who were able to shuttle folks back to the hotel and we got takeout and picked up Margary’s cake and still had a wonderful celebration albeit crammed into a hotel suite.

God was good to us. The wheel could have fallen off before we’d stopped. We could have been hurt. We could have had to rush around finding someone to shuttle people back to the hotel but had friends following us to dinner.

When the bus was fixed on Saturday we made it 30 miles up the road before it was having problems. We pulled off, after driving on the shoulder for a few miles at 10MPH, in Colfax Iowa. I knew I needed to be back in the office and that my family didn’t need to be spending more time in hotels and so we had decisions to make. Thankfully again we were able to get a friend who hadn’t left Des Moines yet to rent a car and bring it to us and another friend take two people home when passing through so the rest of us could fit into the rental. An added expense, but not much more than two more nights in a hotel would be to hope it was fixed Monday.

So we fedexed a key and got the bus towed and then the next phase of this special providence happened: it’ll cost more to fix the bus than it’s worth. So before I left on vacation I mailed the title to the mechanic in Des Moines so that the bus can be hauled off for scrap, and we’re starting over on a vehicle with nothing to show for the previous one. It’s a hard thing to adjust to, but God has been with us every step of the way.

God knows what you and I need better than we do. Like a good coach He pushes us beyond our comfort zones because we need to learn to trust Him more. The oft-repeated lie is that God will never give you more than you can handle. It’s not true. God always gives you more than you can handle on your own. He just doesn’t leave you alone in that…He wants you to depend on Him. And He always knows and does what’s best.

We have a vehicle to borrow indefinitely while we figure out what we’re doing for a new vehicle. We have some savings that gives us better options than if we didn’t. I have a work-provided vehicle so I haven’t had any interruption in the freedom to get to the office and back when needed. All of these details are a part of the plan, too.

So when you’re tempted to say “I don’t need one more ______”, stop. You actually may. God knows that, and He loves you and wants what’s best for you…which means trusting Him in everything.

I’ll let you know what new vehicle we get when we figure it out!

First pic here has the tow truck drivers taking a picture of the bus, the biggest thing they’d ever put on the back of the truck: