2017: Year in Review

2017: Year in Review
There’s this exercise I do towards the end of every year…

I write down my thoughts about the year gone by, and reflect on it.

Some years, I have a lot of positive events to be report… while others leave me feeling disillusioned. But I’ve realized there’s always something to be thankful for!

This annual exercise helps me in several ways:

  • I realize that every year has its own ups and downs.
  • I see evidence of the faithfulness of God through the months.
  • It shows me how far I’ve come since the beginning of the year.
  • It points out areas where I need to get my act together in the coming year.
  • It reminds me to thank God for His goodness and favor over my life.

I posted my annual review on the blog in 2014, and thought I should do it again this year…

If you’d like to review the past year as well, here are some questions to guide you.

1. What made you happy in 2017?

  • Our first ever family vacation! It took us 10 years and we needed to leave the country to do it, but Europe was a blast.
  • My husband rejoined our family in India after a year abroad.
  • The knowledge that God plans situations and events that work out for good, even if it didn’t look good at first.

2. What made you sad?

  • My dear father-in-law went to be with the Lord a couple of months back. The loss is tangible but his legacy lives on.
  • Although I made a bit of progress, I didn’t quite reach my Bible reading goals this year.
  • A few personal battles have left me feeling quite frustrated with myself.

3. What are you proud to have accomplished in 2017?

  • I started blogging again, albeit sporadically.
  • Freedom over crippling fear. It was a huge struggle but God helped me through.
  • The little seeds of faith we’ve been sowing into our sons’ lives have started bearing fruit.

2017 has been a roller-coaster year. Each quarter was a different season that came with its own conflicting emotions.

January – March: Holding down the fort while my husband was away, and getting our travel documents in place.
April – June: Packing and traveling as a family of 5.
July – September: Getting back into our regular routines and catching up with school/work.
October – December: Grief, sickness, and Christmas.

I had chosen the word “Remain” for this year, and it was the only way we could make it through… by remaining in the Lord and resting in His promises over us.

In a nutshell, we experienced God’s…

  • Protection over our family while my husband was away.
  • Guidance as we faced hurdles before we had to travel.
  • Wisdom as we readjusted to life after an intermission.
  • Comfort in the midst of our loss.
  • Peace in the midst of turmoil.
  • Strength through sickness and stress.
  • Grace on a daily basis.

Through a year of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, gain and loss, I’m learning never to take another day for granted.

God is teaching me to:

– Love hard.
– Learn just enough.
– Laugh often.
– Live well.

And that’s something I’ll be taking into 2018 as well…

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. – John 15:9

How was your 2017?

Photo Credit: Geran de Klerk on Unsplash

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Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Tomorrow, our sons turn 10 years old.

My memories of the 50 days they spent in the NICU still bring tears to my eyes – but you already know that story!

There’s one other story I haven’t shared much, but it prepared us for the birth of our triplets and the days that followed…

It was the night before their birth – December 9th, 2007.

We had rushed to the hospital in the morning, knowing the time was nearing. I was hooked on to monitors and IV fluids.

The nurses would visit every hour to check the triplets’ heartbeats… and every time they did, they’d say they couldn’t find one of their heartbeats!

The doctors were hoping they could put off surgery for at least a few more days. However, late in the evening, my doctor popped in to say hello and casually remarked that I would be having surgery the following morning at 7AM.

My husband texted our pastors and a few friends, while my mother contacted everyone she knew who could support us in prayer.

Between the nurses’ constant prodding, my mother’s tensed countenance and the never ending sounds of the labor ward, all I wanted was peace. But it was difficult to even think clearly with all the pain and the constant turmoil around me.

Would all my babies survive?

Would we be able to afford the NICU charges?

Would I survive?

When I realized my thoughts were getting out of hand, I asked my husband to sit by my side and read from the Bible.

He read from Psalm 91:

2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust…
11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways…
12They shall bear thee up in their hands…
14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him…
15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

…and from Isaiah 54:

10For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
13And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

… and from Isaiah 41:

10Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
13For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
14Fear not… I will help thee, saith the LORD…

These were passages that had ministered to us during my pregnancy. And they kept us both calm that night in the hospital room.

While there was turmoil all around us and we were physically exhausted, my husband and I felt a deep peace in our hearts. We knew the unusual calm we experienced was the presence of our Prince of Peace.

The night was stormy.

The nurses were constantly in and out of the room, and my surgery prep started way too early in the morning. I was in pain and none of us got any sleep.

We didn’t know how many babies would make it out alive the following day. We had do clue how we’d raise triplets.

But we knew, beyond any doubt, that God was in control! The peace we felt in the midst of the storm that night was incredible.

I realize this blog post may be 10 years late, but it had to be written.

Perhaps you are going through a storm in your own life that’s making you weary and exhausted. You feel torn and ravaged, while everyone else seems to be going on with their lives.

Jesus can be the Prince of Peace in your life too.

Let His words calm you mind and wash over your soul.

I have personally experienced the power of scripture when spoken aloud or written down. Maybe you can do the same?

Pick up a few verses from the Bible that speak peace into your situation.

Believe God’s words to you.

Proclaim it out loud.

Write it down in your journal.

God’s Word is powerful and effective.

I believe it will restore your faith, heal your soul and bring you peace.

The same Jesus who calmed the wind and the waves with His words can calm the storm in your heart. Lean into Him and trust Him to carry you through.

Photo Credit: John Towner on Unsplash


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Don’t Sell Your Birthright!

Don’t Sell Your Birthright!

“…like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.” – Hebrews 12:16b

I’ve always been confused with the story of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob.

I mean, this guy was famished…

A humane person would have fed him without expecting anything in return… but Jacob didn’t!

Jacob demanded Esau’s birthright in exchange for a bowl of lentil stew.

That was just such a mean thing to do!

But why was Esau giving up his birthright such a big deal?

And how does it apply to us in the 21st century?

Google tells me the definition of the word “birthright” is, “a particular right of possession or privilege a person has from birth, especially as an eldest son.”

Well, given the customs of ancient Israel, I can understand that the eldest son had special privileges (even if he was born mere seconds before his twin brother).

Did Esau understand the enormity of what he was giving up, just to satiate his momentary pangs of hunger?

(He gave up his inheritance for a measly bowl of sambar?)

Do I understand what I’m giving up, when I choose to give in to negative feelings and temporary pleasures that might displease God?

I admit…

I’ve given up peace of mind by harboring bitterness.

I’ve trod on healthy relationships because of the need to win an argument.

I’ve sold my happiness by giving in to anger.

I’ve jeopardized friendships by the need to have my own way.

I’ve trampled on my identity as a daughter of Christ by giving in to willful sins.

I’m guilty of giving up long-lasting rewards for temporary gratification.

As children of God, born again into His eternal kingdom, we have quite a few birthrights too…

  • Abundant Life – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬)
  • Eternal Peace – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John‬ ‭14:27‬
  • Everlasting Joy – “…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah‬ ‭8:10‬

Are we consciously holding on to our birthright? Or are we giving it up for things that might satisfy us for the time being?

Let’s not sell our birthright to enjoy a single meal… or give up eternal promise for temporary pleasure.

It’s easier to give into the moment, but it’s more rewarding when we hold on to the promises of God and await our inheritance from Him.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

 


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Not By Might

Not by Might - Zechariah 4:6

2017 didn’t start out all that great for our family.

One of our sons had staples on his head (he’d injured his head on Christmas Day)…

All three boys were recovering from respiratory infection and a dose of antibiotics…

One of our car tires burst on the highway, while we were returning from church on New Year’s Day…

My husband was leaving back to Zurich in a week… and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to spending the rest of the year alone with the boys.

I hoped and prayed that 2017 would be a better year for our family.

It was challenging at first, but God reinforced my faith and taught me to remain in Him.

Eventually, things did turn around for us.

The kids and I were permitted to join my husband in Zurich.

His work assignment ended sooner than expected.

We got to take our first real vacation as a family.

Now that we’re back home in India, I look back at the past year and wonder how we made it through. Each of us went through bitter struggles, as our family was separated by distance and time.

I certainly missed my husband. The kids felt the absence of their father. And my husband couldn’t completely savor his overseas assignment without his family beside him.

I could say we made it through by sheer will power, determination, our own strength and abilities… but that would be a lie.

It was the Lord who helped us every single day.

It wasn’t my planing…
I tried to plan our days efficiently, but when you have 3 young sons, things never go according to plan!

It wasn’t my strength…
Many evenings I’ve stood at the kitchen counter with barely enough strength to get dinner on the table.

It wasn’t my will power…
I can be a very determined person, but it all crumbled when we went through continuous seasons of sickness.

It was the Lord who planned our days (though I personally didn’t always like what He allowed).

It was the Lord who strengthened our bodies to endure the strain of everyday life.

It was the Lord who nourished the soul and spirit, so we didn’t buckle under pressure.

It was not by my might, nor by power, but by the Lord’s Spirit that we made it through.

It’s the Lord who bolstered our faith and kept us firm through sifting sands.

It’s the Lord who reunited our family and made the bond between us stronger than before.

It’s the Lord who taught us countless lessons through suffering that we might have never learnt otherwise.

And to Him, we give all the glory…

Thank you, Jesus!

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD.” – Zechariah 4:6


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2017: The Year to Remain

2017: The Year to Remain

We’re 2 months and 10 days into the “new” year. The novelty of a fresh beginning has worn off, and so have many plans, goals and resolutions.

The one thing I wanted for 2017… was that it wouldn’t be a repeat of 2016. (Strange, I know!)

Last year was a roller-coaster ride that I didn’t quite enjoy at all. My husband was deputed overseas, the kids faced numerous health issues, and I honestly struggled on a daily basis.

For months I wrestled with God as desperate prayers remained unanswered. I’m ashamed to admit, at times I felt God was determined to make my life miserable.

But something beautiful did come out of all that brokenness and pain…

I drew closer to God than ever before.

When nobody else could help me, I realized it was God I truly needed.

The words, “Lord, I need you… Help me. I can’t do this without you…” became my constant refrain. Life did not magically become easier. But I did become more aware of God’s presence on a day to day basis, and my prayers transformed into a never ending conversation with Him.

Late last year, when I asked God what He wanted from me in 2017, He gave me the word “Remain”.

I had been busy striving hard, using every physical, emotional and spiritual muscle I possessed… but all God needed from me was to simply remain.

Remain in His presence…

Remain in His will for our family…

Remain in constant communion with Him…

Remain in His Word…

Remain steadfast in faith…

Remain His daughter…

Remain in His unending love for me.

My husband is still away at work, the boys are still a handful, and I still struggle to do it all.

But through it all, God’s been faithful.

His grace is always enough. His love is all we need.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5


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Free to Live

Free to Live

For the past couple of years, I’ve gotten into the habit of picking a word for each year.

My word for last year was Peace.

And the year before that, it was Persevere.

This year, I chose (or rather, God showed me) the word ‘Free’.

And the verse to guide me was:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

I was supposed to blog about this way back in January, but life happened and I let blogging slide :).

What I didn’t expect was the fight I had to put up in order to live free this year!

I always knew that Jesus had set me free. I was no longer bound by the chains that used to hold me. But I realized that I had allowed myself to come under the yoke again.

I was bound by stress, anxiety, fear, other people’s opinions, and so much more…

I spent the past three months, overcoming struggles I thought I had already overcome. I was fighting the same battles all over again.

You see, Jesus had already won the victory for me. Freedom was mine. But I was not walking in the freedom that Christ purchased for me on the cross.

I had to put to death some old habits, and put on some new ones.

I even wrote down some power words in my journal to remind myself of the freedom I had.

I’m sharing some of those words with you here, praying they empower you as well.

You are:

Free from sin.

Free from shame.

Free from guilt.

Free from anger.

Free from other’s opinions.

Free to live.

Free to give.

Free to worship.

Free to serve.

Free to be you.

Along with the freedom, comes responsibility. Christ set us free, so we may live lives that glorify Him. If we aren’t, our freedom serves no purpose.

When we don’t actively live for Christ, we allow old chains to bind us up again.

That isn’t a pleasant feeling, is it?

I hope you’ll join me in living free for God’s glory!


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2014: Year in Review

2014: Year in Review
The last couple of months in 2014 included a whirlwind of activities as is always the case. The kids’ exams, Christmas choir practices and a couple of weddings kept us on our toes. Now that the new year is upon us, I finally have time to reflect on the past year, and pray about what God wants from me in 2015.

If you’d like to review the past year as well, here are some questions to guide you.

1. What made you happy in 2014?

For me, it was seeing a picture of my husband leading the choir at a major conference. I was also simultaneously humbled and proud when one of our sons walked up on stage to collect his award for academic excellence. {I blogged about it here: Imperfect Parents; Perfect God}

2. What made you sad?

I didn’t like how my kids kept falling sick every month for the past 6 months. I also neglected the goals I set for myself and achieved only about 10% of them. {Pretty sad, eh?!}

3. What are you proud to have accomplished in 2014?

I’m glad I finally took the plunge and launched my own website in April. I’ve also made quite a bit of headway in reading through the Bible again.

2014, in review was a mixed bag. There were some important areas I neglected, some unexpected blessings and new ministry opportunities that have kept me clinging on to God with all my strength.

I chose “Peace” as my word for 2014, and boy did I need it! I didn’t always feel at peace when storms rocked my boat… but God kept reminding me that He was there with me, and He was going to carry me through.

As I tuck 2014 back into the recesses of my mind, I am grateful for the Prince of Peace who led our family safely through yet another year on this earth.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.

(Isaiah 26:3)

How was your 2014?

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Let. It. Go.

Let it go

I started this week with a heavy heart.

3 children I knew (one of them, my own) were going through 3 different struggles – physical, emotional and spiritual. My heart was burdened for them, and I did the only thing I possibly could – I prayed.

I went to sleep Sunday night very disturbed about what each of these little ones had to go through. And I woke up Monday morning with an even heavier heart.

The fact that I couldn’t do anything to help them only compounded my anxiety. I continued to pray, but my heart did not become any lighter.

As the day wore on, I was so consumed with thoughts of these children that it became exhausting. And then I heard it…

Let. It. Go.

I don’t always hear something very specifically from God, but there are times when He speaks so firmly into your spirit that you can’t deny it was Him.

This was one of those times.

That afternoon as I was pacing the footpath, waiting for the school bus to bring my boys back home, these 3 words took on a different meaning.

This wasn’t Elsa’s mantra, or a careless attitude. God seriously wanted me to let the kids go.

But why?

God reminded me that I was already praying for them; He held those precious children close to His bosom. He loved them more than I possibly could. He cared for them, and He could do for them what I personally could not.

Yes, I would continue to pray for them until my prayers are answered. But I would no longer worry about them.

I would offer to support them in any way I could, but I would not break my head over what I cannot do.

This whole episode taught me such a valuable lesson!

So often, we pray about situations that bother us but then continue to worry about them as well. Isn’t it sufficient that we’ve already placed our burden in the hands of an Almighty God? Why then do we constantly try to ease His load by holding on to the weight with our petite hands?

If we have truly surrendered our problems into His able hands, we should be able to rest and allow Him to do the impossible.

So, does that mean we do nothing?

Absolutely not!

We continue to pray…

We continue to do what God has asked us to do…

We continue to trust Him to work things out…

But we DO quit worrying!

Is there something burdening your heart today? Leave it in God’s hands, and then take your hands off!

Take a backseat, and let God steer you in the way He wants you to go!

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.”
(Philippians 4:6)

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Remember Who Holds You!

Remember Who Holds You!

My husband is an avid lover of music. When a singer he loves hits a particular note, the expressions on his face are priceless. I often wonder what it would feel like to be so enthralled by music.

Well, just recently I heard a song that did the same to me. No, it wasn’t the music that touched me, although it is quite good. It was the words…

As I heard about the One whose arms held me, and whose voice called out to me, it made me feel loved, protected and truly cherished. I certainly hope it encourages you too, today.

The Arms that Hold the Universe

If you can’t view the video above, click here.

Lyrics:

I know it seems
Like this could be
The darkest day you’ve known
But believe you me
The God of strength
Will never let you go
He will overcome, I know

And the arms that hold the universe
Are holding you tonight
You can rest inside
It’s gonna be alright
And the voice that calmed the raging sea
Is calling you His child
So be still and know He’s in control
He will never let you go

Through many dangers, toils and snares
You have already come
His grace has brought you safe this far
(And) His grace will lead you home

And the arms that hold the universe
Are holding you tonight
You can rest inside
It’s gonna be alright
And the voice that calmed the raging sea
Is calling you His child
So be still and know He’s in control
He will never let you go

You can hope, you can rise, you can stand
He has still got the whole world in His hands
You can hope, you can rise, you can stand
He’s still got the whole world, the whole world in His hands

And the arms that hold the universe
Are holding you tonight
You can rest inside
It’s gonna be alright
And the voice that calmed the raging sea
Is calling you His child
So be still and know He’s in control
He will never let you go

He will never let you go!

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How do you greet God?

How do you greet God?

It was a Sunday night and the boys had just jumped into bed. My husband and I sat down beside them, so we could end the day together in prayer.

As Judah began to pray, we noticed that Jon was still reclining on his pillow. My husband asked him to sit up for prayer, but he was simply not in the mood to comply.

We took a few minutes to explain to Jon (and the others) why their stance during prayer matters. Here’s what we said.

“Imagine Grandma just walked in through the front door. What would you do?”

“We’d jump up, and run to her,” they said.

“Wouldn’t you hug her, and talk to her about everything that’s on your mind?”

“Yes!” they admitted.

“If you would do that for Grandma, won’t you do that for Jesus who loves you, and has done so much more for you?”

… I think they got the point!

And I think I got it too…

When we sit down for time alone with God, our physical stance does not matter as much as the state of our mind.

What is our attitude when we approach God’s throne of grace?

Do we approach the Master of the universe with reverential fear?

Do we run to our Father with overwhelming joy?

Do we get excited over what He’s teaching us from His Word?

Spending time with God everyday is not a mundane ritual, or a non-negotiable duty.

It is life-giving…

Hope-inducing…

Fear-abating…

Joy-filling…

Peace-stilling…

Clarity-producing…

…time alone with our Father, Master, Savior, Creator, Brother, Shepherd, Redeemer, and Friend.

I am blessed to know Jesus, and consider it a privilege to meet Him without any hassles on a daily basis.

I’m learning to greet my God with a cheerful attitude every morning.

How do you greet God?

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