Saturday, July 5, 2014

"This too shall pass" & True Hope

"This too shall pass." I cannot list the number of times this phrase brought comfort to my weary soul- As I sat on our blue yoga ball, bouncing little Annie at 1 AM while singing "Hush Little Baby" because it was the only thing that would soothe her cries. When I was awoken once more from a deep sleep because she needed to be fed. When I felt like I could not hold my eyelids open because of the sleepless nights yet for some reason was unable to fall asleep for a nap. When I could not get her to sleep in her crib for even twenty minutes of a nap. (Yes, I tried everything from swaddling to not swaddling, from putting my shirt in her crib with her to actually sitting in the crib with her myself, from putting her in asleep to putting her in drowsy to putting her in awake, from nursing her to sleep, to rocking her to sleep, from giving her a binky to not giving her a binky. And all to none avail those first few months of her little life.) Telling myself that this would all soon be over- that she would outgrow the night feedings, that she would be learn to soothe herself back to sleep soon- brought me hope those weary nights and days. Matt and I used to joke that we would not be bouncing her on the ball and holding her to sleep when she was six. The sleepless nights and weary days would soon pass.

But recently, I was convicted by this phrase and the comfort it brought me. In essence, when I told myself, "This too shall pass," I was setting my hope on what I pictured would be "easier" times ahead, or, in other words, in my "difficult" circumstances passing. Yet, I know that this is not true! Though I may be able to convince myself that the potty-training years might be easier than the newborn phase, I am quite certain that I will soon be scrubbing toddler pee from the newly cleaned floor, telling myself, "This too shall pass."

I have been convicted to search my heart and ask Where is my hope? Is it looking to the days when Annie will sleep five hours without waking up? or to when she is done teething? or when she learns to put her binky in her mouth herself so that she can soothe herself more easily? ... If it is in these future circumstances, then I will always be disappointed. I will always have to be looking towards the next thing- to get past the potty-training, past the long homeschooling days, past the emotional middle school phase, past the drama-filled teenage years. I will constantly be telling myself "This too shall pass" but never reaching true and lasting hope and joy.

So, instead of looking to the next and seemingly "better" phase, Jesus is teaching me that I can have hope right now, in the middle of the night-waking and teething phase. I can have hope because of His promises, specifically His promise that He is using everything in my life (from the piles of dirty laundry to the encouragement of our Gospel community group) to sanctify me, making me look more and more like Him.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together hfor good,8 for ithose who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he jforeknew he also kpredestined lto be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be mthe firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also njustified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

 And I am sure of this, that he who began ha good work in you iwill bring it to completion atjthe day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6)


It is true, and it can bring encouragement that these tough phases as a mom will pass, but I have to be careful that this is not where my hope is set, for it will continually change. But Jesus and His Word are eternal. And only He can be my eternal Hope.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 
When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
(Col. 3:1-4)

God's Sovereignty Over Airplanes & Babies

Who knew Pringle cans and water bottles could make the most entertaining baby toys? This was just one thing I discovered on my flight to New York to visit my family last week.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 7 AM, which meant we needed to be at the airport no later than 5:30 AM, which meant we needed to leave the house at 5:15, which further meant that we needed to wake up at 5 AM. Poor little Annie was completely confused when Daddy picked her up from her bassinet and unswaddled her. Usually we were trying everything we could think of to try to get her to sleep. And this time we were waking her up at the time of night when she is in her deepest sleep. Her eyes were wide as we carried her out to the car and strapped her in the carseat. Not even a whimper escaped from her lips. She was all curiosity and alertness. But I dreaded what cries the next few hours might hold. Thankfully, we were scheduled to arrive in NY by 11 AM, and our flights were short with an even shorter layover.

At least, that was how I had pictured the day ahead. But God's plan ended up being quite different than mine. The day I had planned involved boarding our flights on time and getting to NY on time, all while trying to juggle a carry-on, backpack, and soothe a tired and probably screaming baby. But God had ordained for us to miss our second flight, to spend eight hours in the airport, and to board the last plane to Albany that day, all the while catching glimpses of His grace in my life.

To make a long story short, our first flight was delayed by almost an hour, causing us to miss our next flight by about 5 minutes (despite my efforts of running through the airport rolling my carry-on,  lugging a backpack that was leaking baby wipes and toys as I went, and holding tightly to my very tired crying baby.) Staring at the closed terminal, I felt so alone and scared, surrounding by thousands of people in the Philadelphia airport my first time flying alone. And yes, I started to cry.

But I wasn't alone. God was with me, and, in His sovereign plan, I was "stuck" at the Philadelphia airport for eight hours that day. So many flights had been delayed and cancelled, so many people were on "stand-by" for upcoming flights, so many voices I overheard talking about how they had been unable to get to their destination for hours and for some, even two days! Fear gripped my heart as I imagined spending the night in that airport with a tired baby. But God used that day to remind me of His sovereignty and to deepen my trust in Him as my good and loving heavenly Father. Those eight hours were packed full of little reminders of His kindness, protection, and care...

When I was waiting in the customer service line to rearrange my flight, my eyes brimming with tears, feeling very alone, God brought the kindest couple and their baby girl into the line with me. Without even knowing me, the wife gave me a hug, and we talked about how their flights had been cancelled too and about our baby girls and about babies' teething, sleeping, playing, and nursing. I was so thankful for their smiling faces.
When I needed to get in touch with my mom, and my phone was broken, I was able to get internet (the only place in that airport that it worked for me that day!) in the customer service line, and we were able to use FaceTime to connect.
When the Customer Service representative told me all the flights for that day were full or cancelled, and every other person in line was receiving a "stand-by" ticket, I was miraculously able to get a ticket with an assigned seat. I have no idea how this was even possible aside from God's provision.
When I was unable to get internet any where else in the building, so I had no way of getting in contact with anyone, I prayed that my phone would start working again, and it did! (and has been working ever since!)
When Annie and I were waiting those eight hours for the flight we were scheduled to take, we were surrounded by a group of friendly faces- a older man traveling from a casino who offered to watch my pink carry-on while I walked around with Annie (even though it wasn't quite his "color," he said with a smile), a business man who shared with me about his own daughters and encouraged me to enjoy every moment of little Annie's growing up, two middle-aged women who smiled and cooed at Annie, and the list could go on.
When we finally boarded our plane that night (after two hours of delays and the scare of possible cancellation due to mechanical difficulties), and there was confusion because our seat number had been double-booked, by God's grace, there was one extra seat on that plane, so we were still able to stay on that flight.
And, the most miraculous of all, Annie, despite having been woken at 5AM and only able to get about two short naps until we arrived at 10 PM, was as happy and content as could be. She only cried that one time while I was in the Customer Service line. This was God's special grace to us that day, because, usually, after missing even just one nap, she is arching her back, screaming at the top of her lungs, unable to be consoled by anything. I was reminded that God is sovereign over even the cries of my little girl.

He is sovereign over airplanes and flight schedules. Not one flight is cancelled aside from His perfect and good plan. And our time at the airport that day was not for nothing, but was used to show me His grace in a new way. Without the delays and cancellations, I would not have had the opportunities to see the evidences of His provision and care.

And He is sovereign over each little cry that comes from my baby- whether they be in the middle of the Philadelphia airport terminal or whether they come from her bassinet at 2AM. Each one is in His good and perfect plan and is used to mold me more and more into the image of His Son.

He is sovereign not just over salvation and creation and life and death but also over the shining sun and pouring rain, over the content baby and the cries of a fussy baby, over a successful interview and the missed appointment, over missed planes and new boarding passes- and everything that comes into my life is used by His hand to make me more like Christ. This is His precious promise to those who believe in 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. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:28-32)