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Enough is Enough

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It is a strange upbringing to hear each week that you fall short and are not enough. But it is the upbringing that many experience.

The difficult part is that it’s what we hear as we sit in pews and sing songs about love and hear sermons about love and proclaim that Jesus loves me.

How can He when I am not enough? I am a sinner. I will always be a sinner. I will never be good enough.

Without necessarily meaning to, how many people have fallen victim to this truth? We humans are fragile beings. We desire to be better and do better. We work hard to be the best at what we decide to put our hand to. We add immeasurable pressure to ourselves to be enough. . .

Be enough for our spouses.

Be enough for our jobs.

Be enough for our kids.

Be enough for our extended family, our neighbors, ourselves.

And grapple with the idea that we’re not enough, ever, no matter how hard we try for salvation.

Understandably, this can be crippling in so many areas. Not just faith, but in our every day lives. Doubt and questions arise. What is it all for if I’m never going to be enough? I’m aware that this realization impacts individuals differently. There are those who will try harder. There are those who will quit trying at all. And there are those who will be brave enough to start peeling layers and truly struggling with what being enough means in all aspects of their lives.

And those brave souls deserve more than trite cliches and platitudes that are offered–read your Bible more, attend church, pray harder, do devotions. The complexities of faith cannot fit into these tiny plastic phrases, and it’s a disservice to offer them to people who have the tremendous courage to battle fears and questions.

I have battled the formidable foe of enough. I have faced the why bother mentality and the try harder mentality. Neither of them brought me peace and both of them meant poor decisions that could impact my health negatively and wreck my emotional stability.

But an amazing thing happened on this journey. I somehow managed to surround myself with people who think I am enough. Just as I am. With all my insecurities and flaws and fears and questions. They love me. They encourage me. They tell me I am enough with whatever I have to bring that day.

It is liberating. And it is an eye opening blessing.

I am coming to terms with God’s plan for me isn’t because I’m enough.

It’s because I’m loved.

And that is enough.

Faith

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Between finding out we were pregnant on January 27, 2020 and our first ultrasound on February 11, 2020, I bought this pattern.

We had never had a positive ultrasound experience.

February 18, 2021, one day shy of five months old.

God’s Gift: Evidence

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Day 24 of Advent and God’s Gift.

Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38

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Annunciation scene from Jesus of Nazareth, Franco Zeffirelli, 1977.

Mary, mother of Jesus.

But in these verses, she’s just a girl.  A troubled girl at that. She heard a proclamation that seems impossible; it goes against everything she understands about the world.

But Gabriel provides evidence that nothing is impossible in God’s hands. . .that this is not to be understood by the world’s standards.

Mary claims her servanthood to the Lord.  She claims her part in a plan much bigger than herself despite the earthly ramifications she is sure to face.

She puts her faith in God.

Thoughts for today:

Can you recall a time when God provided you with evidence to ease your heart?

How does the gift of evidence prove that God understands our human-ness?

God created us.  He understands our needs better than we do. He knows when we need reassurance.  In your time of waiting, don’t be hesitant to ask God for that evidence. He wants to give us all that He has.

God’s Gift: His Plan

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Day 9 of Advent and God’s Gift

Bible Reading: Genesis 37:31-33; 50:15-20

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Image: Public domain

Joseph’s brothers get caught up in their human-ness.  Jealousy. Greed. And their actions are evil. How can this possibly be something that God can redeem?

But He does. Joseph’s story doesn’t end with the evil actions of his brothers.  God put him in a position that would redeem not only his story, but also his brothers’. Joseph reassures the terrified brothers when it’s time.  He helps them see that without their actions, God could not have saved them all. Joseph continuously clings to the gifts of promise, provision, and protection to live out the gift of the plan.

Thoughts for today:

Do you wonder how your hurt can be useful?

Are you experiencing a time when it’s difficult to cling to promise?

What gift helps you remain confident in God’s plan?

God’s plan is difficult, often, for us to wrap our heads around.  Much like Joseph’s story, we can see no redemption in the actions that we commit (like the brothers) or have done to us (like Joseph). The waiting is hard, o Lord. Ask God to help you cling to the gifts He bestows.

God’s Gift: Presence

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Day 5 of Advent and God’s Gift

Bible Reading: Genesis 12:1-7

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Image from public domain

How does Abram’s unfaltering obedience to God mirror our walk toward Christ’s coming?

Without question, Abram picks up his entire household and leaves all he has ever known, moving forward in faith trusting God’s plan, even when he may not understand what it was all about. 

Abram acknowledges God’s presence and sovereignty in a land, Canaan, that denied Him. He carries His belief in the one God into an area that may not have had knowledge of Him or just denied Him because it was what they found easiest.  It matters not what the Canaan reason is; it matters only that Abram said He is here, whether you think so or not. And in that belief, he builds the altar at Shechem and makes it impossible to deny God’s presence.

Thoughts for today:

What areas of your life have you been trying to deny God’s presence?

How could you acknowledge God’s sovereignty in situations where He feels absent to you?

Praying today may be difficult for you because you feel abandoned or alone or confused by what you feel God has asked of you.  Remember that putting one foot in front of the other, while tough, is all it takes. Remember that God is all around. Thank Him for His presence.  Ask Him to make Himself tangible to you and to give you the wisdom to recognize His presence.

Expectant Waiting

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empty-manger1_origAdvent starts tomorrow for the Christian calendar. Since being properly introduced to the concept of advent {I’m not counting the chocolate calendars our uncle gifted us each year at Thanksgiving when we were children} I’ve associated it with waiting.

There’s a lot of waiting in Christianity.  Maybe that’s not quite the right word.  There’s a lot of walking towards something in Christianity.  We walk towards the manger in Advent. We walk towards understanding who He is during Epiphany.  We walk towards the cross during Lent.

And we do it each year. . .practicing our walk.

And we do it with expectation. Anticipation. The idea of anticipation is filled with hope.  It’s knowing that something is going to happen.

In the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating the three qualities Paul describes to the Corinthians: faith, hope, and love.  Paul says the greatest of these is love.  I don’t disagree with him.  And James says faith is what motivates us to do. I don’t disagree with him either.

Faith is what changes us. Faith leads us to love. Love leads us to do.

But hope. I have grown quite fond of hope.  It is hope that girds my soul. Hope that keeps me filled with expectant waiting.  Anticipation. It is with hope that I walk towards the manger to see the savior of the world.  It is with hope that I pray that those around me will experience the epiphany of who He is.  It is with hope that I carry my cross towards Golgotha.

It is with hope that I wait expectantly each month with faith in my Father and love for what He has done in my life.

In the last year, I wrote an advent devotional, which I plan to share each day here.  It follows the coming of Christ from the Old Testament.  I wrote it to help me focus on how good God is during grief over the loss of our children.  It has helped me remember His many gifts.  May you find something of our great God in it as well.

Crotts in Nigeria

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As a teacher of twenty years, I have a unique position of witnessing former students doing amazing things.  I am humbled by the fact that I crossed paths with these outstanding individuals.

Today, I have permission to share one of their stories with you.

When Caleb was in high school his plan was to become a medical doctor.  He would have been an amazing physician.

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Caleb’s senior year. He’s second row, first guy from the left. Picture from personal files.

However, God tugged his heart in a new direction and shortly before his college freshman year would have begun, he started a different journey.  One that lead to meeting his wife, Mandolyn. And now, at the tender age of 25 (I think I have my math right), they are serving God together in Nigeria.

They are teachers at Grace Garden in Jos, Nigeria.  I want the video to tell most of their story to you because it does it so well, and it shows you their hearts in a way that I could never do justice. {link at the bottom of this post}

What I do want to say is that their story burdens my heart with an urgency I’m not sure I’ve encountered before. I have no way of adding explanation to that statement.  I just know I’m supposed to do more somehow.

Crotts in Nigeria

Agent #4

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I don’t know if I will ever publish this one.

We call it Agent #4 because, well, we never really had time to get past the fact that we were at #4. And then, it was gone.  Snuck in like a secret agent, and just as stealthily, left.

Possibly, we should have never known we were pregnant. I was having a long and weird period.  One of the causes was possible pregnancy. . .fearfully, a possible ectopic pregnancy.  I didn’t want that as I only have the one Fallopian tube, and I’d like to keep it.

So, we did an at-home pregnancy test to rule out that reason.

We were sure it was really just stress. . .end of school year responsibilities, the upcoming change of me being a homemaker, the anniversary of Monkey’s due date, other little things on top of all of this.

Two immediate pink lines.

But I was bleeding. . .not spotting.  BLEEDING. A more pronounced flow in the mornings that tapered off to basically nothing in the afternoons. . .a pattern that had been occurring for 7 days.  I kept thinking my period was going to be over.

On Wednesday, a doctor’s visit with blood tests confirming pregnancy and hormone levels that were consistent with a 4-5 week pregnancy.

On Thursday, the pattern continues.

On Friday, a gush of blood and blood tests confirming that hormone levels had dropped significantly, indicating the end of the pregnancy.

And I’m still bleeding.

Agent #4. A three day mission of undisclosed parameters. Here the same week Monkey should have been.

This is hard.

After the gush of blood on Friday morning, I wrote this:

My God is an awesome God. His power is greater and His ways are higher. He knows all and is all.  He created the universe from nothing. He made blind see and lame walk. He healed my broken heart and covered my sins with His grace. Whatever my story is, He is the Author.

And I believe it with all my heart.

But it doesn’t mean that I don’t think this sucks. Or that I don’t get to be sad. Or that I can’t be angry. Or that I can’t question why.

Because He is an awesome God and He can handle all of that. . .and He is sad with me.

Strength

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It’s been on my mind lately the cliche of “God must think you’re strong to give you all this to deal with.”

God thinks no such thing.  He knows I’m not strong. He knows I’m human.  He knows every little weakness and failure about me.  He even says so in Genesis. . .8:21 “every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.” That’s only one place that he points out my weakness.

My trials are not a test of my strength.  They’re a test of my faithfulness.

It’s not me who is strong.

It’s God.

“My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

How Much More

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Every so often, I like to do a puzzle. But I have to be careful.  I have what I call “Finish the Puzzle-itis”. I can’t leave it undone.  Once I start, I’m slightly obsessed.

So, “puzzling” happens when I know I’m going to have the opportunity to be tunnel visioned.  Like a snow day such as we’ve had this week.

I told Steven yesterday that I just can’t help it.  I get so excited when a piece fits or when I find a piece that connects two sections. There’s a rush of dopamine, I guess, and I have to see if I can do it again and make the picture that much more clear. . .until I have a finished product.

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500 piece Thomas Kincaid: started at noon and finished at 10:30 pm

As I worked yesterday, I thought about how often we hear that God sees our whole puzzle while we only see pieces.

It created an image for me of God sitting at tables with puzzles of His people in front of him.  In my imagination, He grinned as pieces fit into place, creating the picture for us that He designed.  And, then, like me, because it was so exhilarating, He kept at it.

I am not foolish enough to think that I understand the mind of God.  Or how he lays out His plans for us.  But the image of Him doing a puzzle brought joy to my heart.  And while I know He knows where each piece goes, because we have free will, I can see how sometimes we might force a piece into the wrong place–somewhere it doesn’t quite fit.  I imagine His disappointment in our doing that and His pleasure when we remove it to put it somewhere else.

It’s a puzzle we do together.

And if my excitement at completing a picture is so great, how much more must His be when we finish.

It’s nice to think that He’s working on me yet.

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