Oh, by the way …

“He believed, hoping against hope …” Romans 4:18
When I think of hope and faith, I find myself bombarded by reality and an inability to trust what I cannot see.  Call me a hopeless pessimist, but my mind tends toward the worst case scenario.  I used to think this was a gift; as though I was blessed with the ability to be one step ahead of disaster; eyes on the back of my head, a nervous mind that would keep me and the ones I love safe at all times, but the longer I live the less I realize I know.  And what comes easily to some, completely evades me on my worst days, and is a mere shadow on my best.

At a Mom’s Conference last month, Sally Clarkson said “It is the glory of a godly woman to push back the darkness.”

That really struck me.  I notice the darkness around me, but often the darkness within is what assails me, and how do you push back the darkness within yourself? How do you bring light, when you sense impending danger? How do you put on the mind of Christ, when you live in a broken world?

But if it is the glory of a godly woman to push back the darkness (and I really believe it is), I must hope against hope first in my thoughts, in order to breathe life and bring light to my home, my family and anyone who crosses my path.  For me, it’s about noticing the little and big moments of blessing that combat my darkness. Blessings I don’t ask for and don’t expect.

Today while rushing around, trying to finish dinner, fighting against my sick and fatigued body that was moving in slow motion, rescuing the food that was already on the table from a very persistent beagle puppy, and attempting to rally a family of six so we could move on with the busy-ness of the day …  Into all the chaos that is my life, Nicholas, my sweet three year old came up to me and said “Oh, by the way …” and saying nothing, he kissed me.

That reminds me of Someone else I know. Someone who knows the rhythm of my life, the height of my highs and the depths of my despair and infuses my natural ebb and flow with cloudbursts of faithfulness, calling me to hope with His “Oh, by the way…”

When I was a kid, I moved so much that change almost comforted me; a chance to start over, reinvent myself if I wanted, a fresh beginning, and yet I longed for deep friendships and an opportunity to be truly known.  This August, I will celebrate the 12 year anniversary of moving to Los Angeles – of being a part of this community four times longer than any other I’ve belonged to.

And as far as being known? I have been blessed with an amazing group of ladies that really know me — even my darkness and love me and pray for me, and trust me to pray for them.  I. Am. Blessed.

The spring that I was a very mature, well aged twenty year old, I just knew that no one would or could ever love me, and decided to choose contentment, and move toward a life of ministry I felt called to. Unlovable? He must have laughed that day, as He prepared to wow me a couple months later, when I met and subsequently fell in love with my Matt, whose ridiculously amazing smile had captured my attention from  across the church earlier that year.


And love has a way of changing us and making us question our instincts, direction, plans. He wanted to be a lawyer (or take over Larry King’s show) and I wanted to be a missionary (though I often wondered if Katie Couric needed a replacement).  I remember discussing with God that I could do a ton of short term mission trips on my lawyer husband’s salary … nothing would really be different. It wasn’t even a year after these monologues that Matt told me he felt called to ministry and was looking into seminaries. Huh.

And that silly little list of thirty – 30 – THIRTY — things that I needed in my future husband? Well, the culmination of all those attributes in one man is not coincidental.
I dreamed of seeing the world, but as a pastor’s kid and now a pastor’s wife never imagined it possible, and yet I’ve been to four provinces, all but a handful of states, and 11 countries. Seriously — I got to celebrate my 29th birthday in London and ring in my thirties in Poland. 

I fought discouragement at the diagnosis of endometriosis, which explained so much pain, but promised difficulty, maybe impossibility when wanting to build a family.  And then there was Lucas and 21 months later, Bethany, and I fell in love with them and started on my journey of becoming a mother.

I accused and blamed and questioned the failing of my body when our third baby was lost before I ever held her.  I hated being broken, and wondered why the one thing I ever did good was absconded. And then there was Nicholas.

And just to make sure I know I’m not broken, He gifted us with a light we never imagined – our Mary Elena.

I’ve mourned the loss of dreams and calling, and then I realize that Los Angeles is more than a little mission field and these children I’m raising are world changers.

I’ve wondered how I’m failing my children and what they’ll be in therapy for in years to come, and He reminds me that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

I’ve wished away or different almost every part of my body, and He reassures “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

And isn’t it just like God to break through the darkness – to reach down into all my mess, and grab my face and kiss me.  “You’re mine,” He says.  “I’ve got you,” He whispers.  “Just wait and see what I can do,” He comforts.

And when I notice the “Oh, by the way” moments He paints across the canvas of my life, I realize that unlike Abraham, I’m not hoping against hope.  I hope because He is forever faithful.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.” 
This is the Lord’s declaration.
“For as heaven is higher than earth, 
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

Join us as we think about HOPE this month. Start at http://bricioledallatavola.blogspot.com/ and follow the links.