We’re barely into the new year and I already feel a few steps behind. This is partly due to traveling over the holidays and it’s partly due to the elusive rhythm of life that I keep chasing, but never seem to catch.
For some time now, I have felt slightly off kilter. This isn’t necessarily bad. It has caused me to fall on my knees and to admit my inadequacies. But it’s not great either. In many ways, I feel like life is happening to me rather than the intentional living that I desire.
When I first started choosing “One Word” to focus on for the year, “intention” was the word I settled on. Each year since, different words have surfaced and I knew it was where my focus should be. Brave. Dignity. Submission. Light. Some words settled easily on my heart while others have been challenging, but each time, I knew that it was the right word for the right year.
As 2018 ended, I was trying to wrap my head around finishing school so vacation could begin, preparing for Christmas and planning for six people to travel for nine days with sixteen hours of a road trip before reaching our destination. Pondering goals and a focus for 2019 was beyond my reach. I had the thought that perhaps this year, I would not choose a word. But God had other plans for me…
As we crossed the Mississippi River, I turned around to look at my kids and this is what I saw- it’s a just-for-fun tradition to hold our breath when we cross rivers and my teenagers were doing it without any prompts from me. In that moment, I was challenged to keep being faithful to living intentionally, to not give up on the habits that have been meaningful to me in the past.
During my devotional time over our vacation, a word began to surface (as it always seems to do!) and it surprised me, but I knew it was the right one.
It first jumped out to me when I read Ephesians 2:3- “We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.” (CSB) It challenged me to think about that the things that I am naturally inclined to do. I began to consider this question- what is my default? And as my husband would say, “How does my heart roll?”
in·cli·na·tion/ˌinkləˈnāSH(ə)n/nounplural noun: inclinations
1.a person’s natural tendency or urge to act or feel in a particular way; a disposition or propensity.“John was a scientist by training and inclination”
synonyms: tendency, propensity, proclivity, leaning, predisposition, disposition, predilection, desire, wish, impulse, bent, bias;
As I asked these questions and considered the ways that I naturally slip into doing things without even realizing it, I was reminded of the following verses in Ephesians 2- “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!”
I have been made alive in Christ because of the richness of God’s mercy, his great love and his saving grace. I don’t have to be bound by my inclinations! What good news this is!
Upon arriving home, I started praying through scripture using the Pray the Word Journal, an excellent ministry tool available through The MOB Society (a ministry for Mothers of Boys that I have the privilege of working for). One of the challenges in the book is to pick a verse to pray for your family throughout the year (check out www.verseoftheyear.com). I love choosing this verse in conjunction with my one word, so I began looking through scripture for the word “inclinations”, but quickly changed to the active “incline” instead. As a result, I settled on these verses from Proverbs 22:17-19a…
Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord…
Incline, hear and apply that it will be pleasant for you and your trust may be in the Lord.
This year, I will be focusing on uncovering my tendencies, my proclivities, my propensities and my inclinations. As I uncover them, I will seek to yield to God’s mercy, love and grace to change me where I need to be changed, so that my default will move from fleshly desires to spirit-led passions.
It seems like a heavy word, but the truth is that I can already feel weights lifting. I don’t have to be lazy. I don’t have to feel inadequate. I don’t have to please all the people. I don’t have to be unhealthy in my decision making. My default CAN change. I simply need to set my inclinations in the right direction.
Remember no man is a failure who has friends.
~Clarence in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Dear Friends and Family,
As we watched the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” last night, a tradition that always causes me to reminisce about my sweet Daddy who loved this movie, I was struck by how successful my life has been. I am surrounded by friends who have stuck by my side and loved me in spite of difficulty. Since I have also experienced rejection, this gift is even more dear to me.
And so, I wanted to take this time to thank YOU for your friendship, for the impact you have had on my life whether in the past or currently. Friendship is a gift and I recognize that I am a blessed recipient. Thank you!
A few years ago, I stopped sending Christmas cards. I LOVE receiving them and so my decision was fraught with guilt at the time, because I don’t like not reciprocating. However, it was one of the best decisions for the sake of our family to be able to fully enjoy the time leading up to Christmas. In lieu of Christmas cards, I decided to start posting our annual updates in this space and that tradition continues.
Our year started with more doctors appointments and a third surgery for our Ainsley girl for a recurring thyroglossal duct cyst. It was hard to watch her go through this again and the unknowns have been difficult to face, but what we have discovered along the way is the importance of submitting to God’s purpose knowing that His plan for her is good. Ainsley has had a beautiful attitude through it all and as this year closes, we are thrilled to be able to report that her neck is healing and we are continuing to trust God to write His story in her life.
Dave and I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago in February to celebrate twenty years since graduating from Moody Bible Institute. We had a wonderful time with family as my sister and brother-in-law were there for their 25th class reunion and our nephew was a freshman at our alma mater. We also had the pleasure of meeting our niece’s fiance. It was a special and memorable trip!
In March, Lindsay and Ethan had the opportunity to perform in a musical on the book of Acts at a local Christian School. As we watched them thrive in this environment, we were reminded of God’s sweetness in allowing them to be involved as homeschoolers in a school play. It was remarkable!
Over Mother’s Day weekend, we took a vacation to the Outer Banks and Washington D.C. We made countless precious memories on this trip and it was just what our family needed. We had the opportunity to see long time friends and family on the trip as well which was a sweet ending to a wonderful vacation.
Our time away was timely, because soon after, our church began a time of renovation. Much of the building was gutted to reconfigure the sanctuary (enabling us to move back to one service), to enlarge the foyer space and to add more usable classroom space. There have been setbacks along the way resulting in a much longer process than expected, but we are all eager and excited about the completion of the renovation. Here’s a current picture of the new foyer…
This Fall, we began our third year of homeschooling, joining a local cooperation of like minded homeschool families called Gloria Deo Co-op. Lindsay is in 10th grade, Ethan is in 8th grade, Gibson is 4th grade and Ainsley is in Kindergarten. I am teaching a “Great Books” class for 11th and 12th graders and enjoying it immensely. It has been a big jump from teaching preschool last year, but the challenge has been a good one!
Dave and I have been taking any spare moments we can to connect with one another in this busy season of our lives. We were gifted with the opportunity for a little getaway around Thanksgiving and it was a joyous time for us. Now we are gearing up for Christmas and making new memories with our family.
As this year comes to a close, we are focusing on the light that came into the darkness of this world in the person of Jesus Christ. We see this light continuing to shine in dark places and pray that we too would shine with the light of Christ. Our scripture prayer for this year has been from Philippians 2:14-16…
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
We’re still working on the grumbling bit and we are far from blameless and innocent, but we continue to pray that we would hold fast to the word of life and shine as lights in this world. If you ever have any questions about the hope that is available to all of us in Christ, please reach out. I would love to chat with you about this light that shines in the darkness!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!
The Daye Family
Our scripture reading this morning was in Hebrews 13 and as my youngest echoed these words,
Never will I leave you;
Never will I forsake you. ~Hebrews 13:5
I was struck again by the beauty of these words. Every year during Advent, we focus on Emmanuel, God with us. The knowledge that the God of the universe loved humanity so intensely that He would send His only Son to take on human flesh and dwell among us is astounding to me. It never gets old for me.
But this morning, I needed to be reminded that not only did He come THEN, but He comes NOW. His promise was not conditional and it was not meant just for the Shepherds and the Wise Men. It was meant for us too. The timeless God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever looked through history and saw us in our insignificance. And He sent His Son because He loved us.
I’ve experienced loss in my life. Some if it was intentional. Friends have left me and forsaken me. Other times, it was unintentional. Distance and time and life separated us and while those losses make sense, they are still hard for me to bear.
Now I’m watching my children face loss and experience the heartbreak of being forsaken. When you’ve loved and lost, it’s hard not to be fearful and to expect that history will repeat itself. You can feel that at any moment you will lose the friendship that has come to mean so much to you.
I want to tell my children that their friends will never leave them or forsake them, but the truth is that this would be dishonest. They will be left and forsaken. And sometimes they will be do the leaving or forsaking. I wish that I could save them from this. I wish that I could keep them from hurting others through their own immaturity or impetuosity.
But I can’t. And at my best moments, I realize that I shouldn’t try to save them from this. It’s part of their growth and their story. They will learn to love others well only by experiencing the disappointments and the fractures in relationships.
Suffering is part of their story as much as I wish it wasn’t. It has to be. How will they learn to run to Jesus and to fall on their knees before Him if they aren’t able to recognize their need for Him?
And so, these words comfort my soul. When friendships fail around me, when loved ones leave, when I fail and when my children’s sin prevails, my God gently whispers to my heart, I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. There are no conditions to His love.
If you are facing loss of any kind this holiday season, I pray that God’s words to all of us will seep into your soul. His promises offer true hope, inexplicable peace, sustaining joy, and unconditional love.
God has a wonderful plan for your life!
We love to hear these words, to believe in a kind, loving God who has everything under control and is working all things for our good. These things are true and they are biblical, but what happens when our lives don’t go the way we want them to, when we experience suffering and heartbreak and difficulty? If our understanding of God’s sovereignty is limited, we will struggle with trusting God when our plans go awry.
The first time I truly understood the importance of trusting God’s sovereignty was when I was a sophomore in high school. I knew my Dad had been struggling with chest pains for some time, but didn’t realize how dire his situation was until his doctor told him he had to have open heart surgery. Right away. Four of the arteries leading to his heart were blocked by 90% or more. The fifth was 75% blocked.
The next few days were a whirlwind. We watched videos explaining heart surgery and stood by my Dad’s side as he prepared to face his biggest fear. For a decade, he had tried to ignore the pain and the shortness of breath that had increased steadily over that period of time in hopes that he could avoid surgery. But he was now facing the inevitable and while he had known on some level this was coming, my Mom and sisters and I were surprised and in disbelief. My Dad was my hero. I admired the man he was and I loved him fiercely. All of a sudden, I was faced with the possibility of losing the man who was my biggest supporter, the one who understood me better than anyone, and one of my best friends. It hit me in the hospital, while he was in surgery that I didn’t know what I would do if he didn’t survive the surgery.
From my earliest memories, my Dad had been a strong example of trusting in God, of leaning on Him through prayer and of knowing His character through the study of His Word. So my first instinct when confronted with the possibility of losing my father was to pray. There is something profound that happens when we pray with submission to God’s sovereignty. When we are willing to say, “Not my will, but yours be done!”, there is a peace that passes understanding that floods over us. I experienced this peace in the hospital lobby all those years ago. I didn’t hear God speak audibly, but I knew in my spirit that if God chose to take my Daddy to his heavenly home, God would still be enough for me.
God chose to spare my Dad’s life at that time and we were granted the gift of having him officiate our weddings and by God’s grace, he met all of his grandchildren (he died a few months after my youngest was born). But the lesson I learned, the necessity of submitting to God’s sovereignty in order to truly see his sweetness, has continued to impact my life in powerful ways.
When I chose to stick to my commitment of attending Moody Bible Institute instead of following my heart, God blessed in ways I never could have imagined.
When my fiance was rejected from being a resident assistant, my disappointment quickly turned to awe as God blessed my future husband with a part-time youth pastor position that would set the course of our ministry lives.
When I lost my first baby to a miscarriage, my heart was broken, but my faith never wavered and I have been able to comfort others with the same comfort that God has demonstrated to me.
When we faced hardship and rejection in ministry, we knew we could trust God’s plan even when it seemed so unfair, not knowing that God would use every one of our hurts to allow us to love others in God’s strength, not our own.
When my sweet Daddy would start to gradually forget everything and all we could do was love him through the slow losing of him, God had graciously prepared my heart, so that I knew, that I knew, that I knew that when God took his faithful servant home, it truly would be well with my soul.
God DOES have a plan for your life. And it IS good. But it’s not going to be according to your terms. There will be difficulty. There will be suffering. There will be hardship. But in the midst of it all, He will be with you, He will carry you, and He will be your strength. When you trust Him, you will still experience devastation, but there will always be hope. Hope in knowing that God is enough. Hope in knowing that this life is not all that there is. Hope in knowing that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Hope in knowing that God’s justice will prevail. Hope in knowing that His goodness will be evident in our lives.
We tend to shy away from submission in general, but what I have found is that submitting our plans and our perceived control is actually one of the most freeing things we can do. When we hold tightly to how we think things should be, we will be angry when it doesn’t go our way. We will fight circumstances that were never meant to be ours to control. We will feel the need to manipulate people who get in our way or situations that we can’t bear. But when we understand that we need to hold our plans loosely knowing that the good plans of our Heavenly Father are held securely in His hands, we are able to experience peace (that doesn’t make sense!) and joy (when humanly speaking we should be falling apart!) and hope (because we know that this life is not the end of our story!).
I like to think of our lives as a giant labyrinth. There is an overarching plan and God has written that plan into our lives. But our experience of that plan is dependent on our choices. At each stage in our lives, we are met with choices. We might make the “wrong” choice and end up in a dead end. Or we might go the “right” way and experience the joy and blessing of those choices. If we are depending on ourselves to make it through life, our tendency will be to say we trust God when all is going well, but to be angry at God when things seem to be falling apart. But when we understand that God is the one who built the labyrinth and He is above it, seeing where we should go at all times, then we can trust His sovereignty and submit to His leading. This doesn’t mean that we won’t face dead ends and have to turn around (pain, hardship, difficulty). But it does mean that in those difficulties, we know that His plan has not failed, that He will use even our heartaches for our good and His glory.
I can look back on my life and see how God has faithfully led me. My Dad’s open heart surgery was not about me, yet God used that experience to be a pivotal moment in my life. Ultimately, God did take my Daddy home before I would have wanted Him to, but my experience of losing my Daddy was so different than it could have been. I was able to submit to God’s plan for my Daddy to go through dementia, to move from his beloved Pennsylvania, to spend his last year on this earth in a nursing a home and through it all to love the Lord completely and wholeheartedly. Oh, how I saw God’s goodness and faithfulness through it all, but if I had demanded that God not allow anything bad to happen, my experience of all of it would have been exponentially more difficult.
I had learned a valuable lesson.
Submitting to God’s Sovereignty allows us to experience His sweetness!