Celebrating in all seasons

So this weekend wasn’t just Mother’s Day, an opportunity to remember and honor all the various mother’s in our lives.  For my family it was an opportunity to celebrate my daughter who was born on Mother’s Day 7 years ago.  My wife, in typical fashion, planned out an amazing night for her and her friends.  I think she saw the blank look on my face and took mercy, laying out how she saw the schedule playing out.  It was nothing short of masterful.  Then the guests arrived.
The perfectly laid plans quickly developed into a *wing-it* and *divide and conquer* situation.  The intensity of the first two hours was ramped up because we were inside a neighborhood business, certainly not one set up to have a flotilla of kids running through their space.  Navigating it all took immense patience and love, un-Earthly amounts in fact.  After those first 2 hours we went to our home for an ice cream extravaganza that allowed each girl to order the sundae she wanted.  My wife and I cheerfully made them, as the toys and the changing of clothes added to the chaos before they began playing with a pair of hamsters (one ours and one the class pet).  I couldn’t pray for it, but God was there and doled out patience and love in levels that can’t be measured right when it was needed most.  Once the movie started, the gift for me (I’ll speak only for me) arrived in the form of all these beautiful-bright faces singing along with the movie.  I looked at my wife and said, *why couldn’t we have just started here?*
But that’s the point.  That moment was made sweet because of what we went through to get there.  It allowed me to cherish a moment that I may not have taken the time to appreciate if it wasn’t for everything that happened before.  In fact I’d go so far as to say that I would have missed it.  I’m broken.  I’m selfish.  I’m loved.  I’m forgiven.
So many of us, or our loved ones, have had to endure pain and agony I only wish I could take away.  I pray for you all that God can remove it, or at least bring you His peace because I’m not capable of such a feat.  The question *why me?* or *why now?* is asked a lot.  I think that because of what we learn in those moments that we’re prepared for those moments in the future that we might otherwise miss.  We’re being prepared for more.  We’re all instruments of God’s mercy, God’s love and God’s grace, and we’re all in the process of being groomed to live that out.
Living a sober life has given me access to a perspective I couldn’t have before.  It’s given me a relationship with a loving Father who teaches me every day what it means to be a good husband, father, brother, son, employee, Christian.  Nowhere in scripture is there a promise of an easy life, there are nearly a hundred references to suffer/suffering however.  We have a Father, a redeemer who is there with us every step of the way even though we may feel alone.    
Romans 5:1-5  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
I know how painful it is to glory in our sufferings.  When it seems like even stepping outside is too great a burden.  I also know that I’m loved, forgiven and cherished by a Father that is walking with me in every season.  He’s not just there when I need Him, and He isn’t absent when I can’t feel Him.  Just because He’s not showing up in ways I want, I pray for and yes even feel like I deserve doesn’t mean I’m alone.  If I’m believing that, then I’m believing a lie that I’m creating, and putting my trust in myself.  He>i  That’s my old way of doing life, and it led me far away from relationships that matter and down a path of destruction. So today, I welcome challenges and will do what I can to take joy in them.  I’ll also surrender myself, knowing full-well that I don’t have the answers.
Proverbs 3: 5-7  Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
      in all your ways submit to him,
        and he will make your paths straight.
   Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
Grace and peace

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