It's pouring rain again outside, LC is down for her nap, and DW has gone for the afternoon to do some community service stuff with his men's group. Here I am with time - glorious time - on my hands. I've poured myself an extra cup of coffee and sat down here in front of our large front window, just myself and my thoughts. Truly, it feels so good to have these quiet moments for myself.
Yesterday we had LC's Hoot Party and I truly couldn't feel more blessed. We had a lot of family and our closest friends show up to love on her and celebrate her life...and it truly brought my heart joy in an unexplainable way. Today, now that all the people are gone and the fuss is over and the cleanup has been done, I find myself just feeling a sense of gratefulness to God for what He has done in our lives in the past year. 2012 has been a big, crazy, wonderful, emotional year for the Walker family. So much has changed this year. Even my walk with God has changed.
I look at Him so differently now that I can view the long, hard journey through infertility in somewhat of a rear view mirror. I mean, sure, I've never been pregnant and so that would mean, in a physical sense, I'm still struggling with infertility. But in an emotional sense, I feel healed. Not to say that I've forgotten how painful infertility was...I cried for a friend at a baby shower recently who I knew had to have been struggling with a broken heart on the inside while the smile on the outside said, "I'm fine." My eyes teared up on Thanksgiving as I looked at LC because I know what it is to be immensely thankful but I also know the incredible longing that the holidays seem to usher in.
As the leaves on the trees began to turn colors and fall off and the crisp cool hung in the air...all of it, while beautiful, felt strangely symbolic for me. Trees barren of their leaves and color and fruit...seemingly barren of life. That cold in the air that makes your fingers and toes goes numb...well, the holidays could somehow make my Spirit feel frozen and numb, too. The holidays should be spelled f-a-m-i-l-y. And when it's what you want and you don't have it...many times I wanted to spell holiday like t-o-r-t-u-r-e.
I think its stating the obvious to say that things feel different this year. When I was decorating for Christmas and pulled out our stocking hangers...it felt so strange and wonderful to pull the letters J-O-Y out of the individual boxes and arrange them on the edge of the mantle. As I hung up a third stocking right in between DW and I's, a lump caught in my throat. I couldn't help but think: How perfect that this word is what I chose to buy however many years ago. Its such a sharp contrast to what I really felt before. But its exactly what I feel now.
The most earnest "gifts" that I've been petitioning God for over the last decade were answered in 2012. There were times over the years where I thought so many things...
...He's not listening...
...maybe the answer is NO and I'm just not getting it...
...surely He is tired of me...
...does He even care?...
...Is He really even there?...
We live in a world where, if we are hungry, we can go to a restaurant or grocery store and immediately get something to eat. If we are cold, we can grab a blanket or crank up the heat. If we are lonely, we can call, text, facebook, instagram, tweet, etc... We live in an immediate gratification world. It's hard not to expect God to operate the same way. We pray...therefore He should answer stat, right? And not just answer, bring the "good stuff" while He's at it. I see in my mind a little girl stomping her foot so hard that her blond curls bounce as she says, "I want what I want and I want it NOW." Not gonna lie and say I haven't approached God with that attitude before many a'time. Because I have.
But in 2012 I've learned something about patience...and I've learned something about His goodness and timing. And I've learned that, He will tell his children "no" and He will tell them "not yet". But I've also learned that He is THE BEST gift-giver ever. I'm taking it back old school right here but did any of you ever watch the episode on Friends where Monica and Chandler were trying to get their engagement pictures taken? Every time Chandler saw a camera come out, he would do this weird, insanely awkward smile. No camera present...smiles fine. Camera present...awkward, lip curl smile.
Well, that's like me with gifts. I'm paranoid about when someone gives me a gift because I'm like the worst expression-hider ever. Let me say this: I always appreciate the thoughtfulness and generosity behind a gift...but it's a paranoia about laying eyes on the gift for the first time. If I hate something I get this deer-in-the-headlights look and it's so obvious!
Anyway...my point is...this gift God has given us...an addition to our family in the form of LC...has been like untying a ribbon, cutting through the tape, slowly peeling back the wrapping paper and pulling off the lid. Inside the box I found this precious gift that I've always wanted but wasn't sure I'd ever have. If I were a kid, I would have set the gift down for a minute, jumped up and down in the air, and run up to my Heavenly Father and thrown my arms around His neck screaming "thank you thank you thank you...this is JUST what I've been wanting!!!"
And my Heavenly Father smiles and says to me, "I know, Baby. Wasn't it worth the extra wait?"
Two areas where I continually have to grow and petition God: wisdom and prayer. My lack of wisdom...self explanatory. I'm a hot mess. And I need more of a kind of wisdom that only God can give. Prayer...that's a tough one for me. I tend to feel all the things I listed about and I've often thought, "Well, if He knows what I want, why do I have to ask? He's already got His plan anyway."
God has been revolutionizing my prayer life and showing me how bad I am at it. Not just how little I might do it or how much I might do it...but the attitude and the intention I do it with. Do I casually cast out the words, "I'll pray for you..." or do I do it? Do I go before God with humility or do I go before Him with entitlement? And just recently, I've been studying James (after an unscheduled and undisciplined break from it)...and today was about wisdom and prayer. Together.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him." James 1:5
What will be given to him who asks? Wisdom. Not necessarily stuff...but wisdom. In the James study I'm doing, Beth Moore wrote: "The King of the Universe want a real, live relationship with us. He's not interested in just being a provider. He's both of those things, but the role He relishes most is Father. He want us - frail and mortal creatures - to connect with Him and communicate with Him as the dearest relationship in human existance. He delights to be our sole and holy source for all things in life."
The ultimate Gift Giver.
As I've been praying through some things recently, I've recently had this "picture" come to mind of God. I see an image a man sitting next to a crackling fire in a cozy living room on a winter night. He has his legs propped up and crossed at the ankles on the leather ottomon in from of him and his glasses propped on his nose as he holds up the paper he's reading. The door to the house opens and in walks this man's daughter.
Hi Dad...she says.
Hi Honey, what's up? he replies to her as she takes off her wool coat and shivers a little.
When she turns toward him, he sees something in her eyes... worry... concern... fatigue... tears... heartache... questions... something. A Daddy knows when something is bothering His daughter. He drops his paper, pats the spot on the couch next to him and tenderly says, "Come over here and sit down...tell me about it."
And she does. She pours out her thoughts, her questions, her situation...and He sits quietly, just listening. After a while, she feels better, just for having been able to say the words to him. To be honest and open, to give a heartfelt expression of herself without fear of judgment. And at the end of all of it, she says, "Now...what do you think?"
She trusts His wisdom. She trusts Him if He says, Act now. She trusts Him if He says, Wait. Sometimes He doesn't say anything at all...He just listens. She even trusts Him if He says something she doesn't want to hear because she knows her Father has her best interests at heart.
Thinking of God this way...makes me want to talk to Him more. Makes me want to open my heart and seek His wisdom more. Thank you, Lord, for your good and loving wisdom. Thank you for giving us your great gifts...most of all...Yourself.