Broken #optimism

So last Monday I finally changed the name of the blog now that I’m moving on from school.  #Optimism and Irony.

Tuesday I proceeded to break the #optimism mug. One day later.

I told my wife about it and she laughed and told me the blog title was now finally true.  I’ve broken my optimism mug, which is truly ironic.

So this morning I’m conjuring optimism without my Christmas mug.  I’m drinking coffee out of a generic mug that was in the kitchen here at work and trying to remember that my God is bigger than the stuff on my plate that’s weighing me down.  And after today there will be a little less of it, assuming I can take care of a few items before the end of the day.

Time to do the next thing.

Be Still and Know

Last night I was having a rough time with a lot that is going on and feeling overwhelmed, and I was skimming through blog posts in my feedly to see what might be going on and to distract my thinking.  I almost skipped over a post from a friend of mine, a post which consisted mostly of the lyrics to a hymn, when I flipped back and read the words out loud:

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
via Reformed Sermons: Be Still, My Soul.

It was very helpful to my heart to read through all the words…and to remember that God is on my side and has all this under His Providential control…and that He will always be faithful.

 

Finding My Way Home

I’ve been thinking about this song a lot over the last few months:

Even before I started school I wasn’t hitting home-runs as a dad, especially with my older kids.  The travelling I did (and the work I poured myself into) from 2007-2009 took a toll on my family that I didn’t really grasp for a few years after that.

I’ve spent some time rebuilding things and that’s worked with most of my children, especially the youngest, but not all.  This song always makes me cry because I’m not sure I can believe most days that the failures I’ve sown into some of my sons in particular won’t negatively affect their lives for years to come.  My prayer is that, by God’s grace, each one of my children will find a deep and abiding relationship with the Father who doesn’t fail them, and until then Father’s Day will be bittersweet and filled with regret mixed with hope.

There are so many bad habits ingrained into my thinking, my speaking, my living that get in the way of relationships.  So many of the faults I have that pour problems into the people I care most about.  I want to be a man of prayer, a man who loves, a man who dies for others.  I am not that man.

But I know Him.  And I hope that will be enough, and that my current unbelief will turn into more hope.

Andrew Peterson – You’ll Find Your Way – YouTube.

Good Friday and the Cross

My friend Brian posted a fantastic meditation for today (Good Friday) on his blog.  Well worth your time as you consider what this day is about.  Here’s a snippet and a link:

The later Nicene Creed adds a few words to the pattern of the Apostles’ Creed that I think are very important.  It says that Jesus “for us and for our salvation came down from heaven.”  This is absolutely crucial. The “crux” of the matter for us is the answer to the question: What is Jesus doing hanging there on that cross?

via Good Friday and the Cross — Dr. Brian Mattson.

Trouble

Last week started out with an emotional valley.  I can’t completely put my finger on it, but I was feeling down in the dumps for quite a few days.  Discouraged, feeling near hopeless, having trouble getting my mind around all the stuff on my plate.  Monday morning this post appeared in my RSS feed:

If you’re in some trouble today, reread those three facts, believer, and you should be encouraged by them—even if ‘right now you can’t see how God is at work in your problem. Some day—now or in eternity—you may understand fully. But it’s your task at the moment—to believe, and look forward to whatever outcome God may bring from it. In the long run, you may even be privileged to discover (as Paul did) what God was up to—and that you will see that it truly is good!

via Paul (or You) In Prison | Institute for Nouthetic Studies | Blog – Biblical Counseling.

It was helpful to remember that there’s nothing pointless going on in my life.  No matter how hard or easy, God is working the details for my good and the good of those He loves.  I won’t always be able to make sense of it here in time and space, but I can choose to trust the God who only does right.

Looking Forward to Looking Back

Hard does not equal bad.  Especially when one considers life from an eternal perspective.

Yesterday was a hard day.  2013 was a hard year.

It was a good year.  But I don’t want to do it again.

Looking back.  Some of the big rocks from this last year (in no particular order):

  • EJ was born.  On January 22 Ezekiel Jens Lansberry was born amidst an amazing trial.  I should probably post the whole story here at some point (I think you can find it on my Facebook notes) , but I’m not going to today.  Despite the rough beginning and the NICU stay and the major surgery for mama, both EJ and Theresa are today doing great.  We’re looking forward to celebrating his first birthday in a few weeks and he’s developing well for a little one.  Very thankful for the medical science and the great team that brought my wife and son through that very rough time.
  • My sister Cindy died.  In April I took a last minute trip to New Hampshire, and was there when my sister finally gave in to a long battle with cancer.  She was only 48 and left behind a devoted, loving husband and two grown sons.  My younger nephew graduated from high school only a couple of months after Cindy died.   She is missed, but the testimony of grace in her last few years was amazing to witness.  The blessing of going to her funeral and hearing those who were near to her talking about how she handled her illness will not be forgotten.  God used her illness in mighty ways in the lives of others.
  • We put a new roof on our house.  It needed it but I would have preferred to save for another year first, since it wasn’t leaking.  But the home insurer wouldn’t renew us without it and so it was.  Got a great deal and King Construction did a great job.
  • I went back to school.  Nuff said, since this is what the blog is all about right now.
  • Samaritan Ministries had a record year of growth in our membership.  We have over 30,000 households as members representing over 100,000 people.  We’re now in our 20th year of sharing needs (our 20th anniversary is in November).
  • I celebrated 18 years of marriage with my best friend.  I realized yesterday during one of the hard parts that there’s no human person who I value their opinion of me more than Theresa.   We’ll be going out to lunch today at One World (courtesy of my brother!) just because even holiday weeks need dates.  We’re already planning something special for when we hit 20 years after I graduate!
  • I lost a little weight.  I’m only halfway to my goal and have made zero progress since August, but I’m keeping off the 25 pounds I lost.
  • I kept a personal assistant for longer than I’ve ever had.  Most of the previous ones went on to other things (grad school, marriage, the pastorate) but some just didn’t gel well with me.  Bob has been great.  So glad to have him watching my back!

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was hard.  And so was the year.  And so I’m looking forward to looking back at it.  I’m thankful for it, but glad I don’t have to do it again.  On that note, here’s Over the Rhine singing just that:

I had planned to post about the coming year too, but I think that will have to wait for tomorrow’s post!

Happy New Year!