It’s so easy for me to become engrossed with my own plans and responsibilities as I approach the holiday season. Even though this whole season should be focused on sacrifice, I find it so easy to become caught up in all the extra holiday plans, forgetting the humbling gift of the life I’ve been blessed with. I want to live my life (especially through this special season) with a greater sense of God’s humbling grace. I want to purposely focus and look for areas in my everyday life to be humbled by God’s amazing grace, more aware of His plan for me, and His great love for me.
I have to admit, I’m as guilty as the next person to miss the ‘amazing’ in the everyday. Sometimes I just become so busy with what needs to be done, or the demands of having a large family, or just LIFE. It’s so easy for this season to become a crazy time. It seems everything is magnified during the holidays—the fullness of my schedule, emotional family contact, unmet or unrealistic expectations, and even my struggle with a desire for perfection. But God is faithful to remind me of His incredible goodness at the craziest of times .
A Forgotten Privilege
Last night I was bathing the kids after an incredibly long day. You know the kind of day when you are literally counting the minutes until bedtime. It was one of those days. We had been outside in the sun for over 6 hours in a crazy long line, followed by a 2-hour wait inside a building with an enormous crowd of people and not enough air conditioning. Somehow, I thought it would be great fun to take my children to Build a Bear on their ‘Pay Your Age’ day. This was not my best mom moment.
When we arrived at the store, the line was already around the building and they were estimating the wait to be 4 hours. We decided to stay and wait it out. The kids were so full of excitement—I felt obligated to at least give it a try. As the day unfolded I became increasingly proud of my kids. Their behavior was amazing and I was so incredibly proud of them, but the exhaustion from the day had caught up with all of us. I decided to stop for fast food on the way home. I just wanted to get home, get the kids washed up, and get them in bed! As I was rushing through the long line of tubs God gave me a gentle reminder as I was drying and putting lotion on my precious 2-year-old.—‘You GET TO take care of this little one’.
It was something so simple yet it caused me to realize that I was missing the true joy of this sweet moment because I was viewing it as a task to check off my list rather than an opportunity to be present with my child. Sometimes in the midst of the busyness of daily life I forget the honor it is to be able to care for my babies.
A humbling moment
It was such an incredibly simple and humbling moment. This precious child is currently placed with us as a non-relative placement through the state. Her story is long and complicated, but the simple version is that her and her three brothers have been with us off and on for over two years. They have moved in and out of our home 6 times over the past two years and we are now hoping to adopt them. But this journey didn’t start that way for us. We were simply helping a family while they tried to put their lives back together. The situation changed and our plans and responsibilities had to be re-evaluated as we faced the decision to take the children again knowing that it was possible it may turn into a forever situation.
For my husband and me, that meant some changes for our family and it meant the future would look a little different than what we had planned. After praying we decided to move forward, but it sure didn’t make everything easy. We were adding 4 kids to our 8. We were back to adding court dates, extra doctor appointments, counseling, and financial strain. But the hardest adjustment for me was deciding not to move forward with having another biological child that I desperately wanted. For many months I obeyed God outwardly, but in my heart, I was still grieving the loss of ‘my plan’. Because I was grieving that loss I was not fully embracing what God had asked of me
Not According to the plan
I can’t help but think of Mary, especially during this time of year. I can’t imagine what she must have felt when God interrupted her plans. She was probably overwhelmed and maybe even feeling a little inadequate. On one hand, I imagine how humbled she must have felt that God chose her, but she was still human and surely she must have had questions. Her plan was greatly altered. It always encourages me to know that God’s interruptions to our plans bring such amazing blessings. God chose me and my husband to care for these four precious babies. It’s not something WE HAVE to do, it’s something we GET to do.
Sometimes I become so caught up in my plan for my life that I forget I was created to serve. God has a plan for me and that is one of the most humbling feelings in the world. The God of the universe, the One who created it all, the One who made the WHOLE earth, has a plan for me—and for you as well. There are many times that His plan will lead me to places far beyond my own capabilities, places where my dependence on HIM is a must. It sounds so funny to even say that because I depend on God for my very breath, yet I still seem to forget that!
John 15:13 says, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.’(ESV) Most of us will go through life without physically having to lay down our life for anyone. But letting go of my own plans and embracing God’s plan is a deliberate act of laying down my life.
God’s plan is the best plan. He cares about our desires so very much. He created us and we matter to Him.
When God called me and my husband to the task of bringing these four children back into our home we laid aside our own plans to pursue His. It was not easy to do, in fact, it was incredibly painful to lay down the desire of my heart. Our decision to stop pursuing our dream of having another biological baby was due solely to the fact that we knew how full our hearts, hands, and our home would be with the addition of these children. But we chose to step forward, let go of our plan, and trust God with His. What we did not anticipate was that God’s plan did include another biological child—in His timing. We have recently learned that we are expecting. We weren’t trying, we had truly let it go. In fact, just a month prior to finding out, I had prayed, ‘I’m going to choose to be happy and content with what I have. I’m going to trust that you have brought us the kids we need and that need us. I’m simply going to sit in awe of what you are doing in us right here in this season’. But God is so gracious and despite all my previous fit throwing and bad attitudes He still chose to bless us again. The thought of that simply brings me to my knees.
As we head into this holiday season, this special time to remember and celebrate the gift that Jesus is, ask yourself what everyday things might need a new perspective. What do you GET to do and are you finding the joy in those precious moments? Can you see Jesus working in your life, providing you with opportunities to show His love, to serve others, and to love people as He does?
This season of life may not find you where you thought you’d be, or even where you want to be, but that doesn’t mean you’re not where you need to be. I want to encourage you to find the ‘amazing’ in your life and in your journey right where you find yourself this special season. Purpose in your heart to focus on Him, delight in Him, and serve those around you in His name. He is working it all together for your good as you love and serve Him.
‘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 8:28 (ESV)
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