Double Down

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Five years ago this week, Ryan and I doubled down. Our twins were born on 11-1-11. It wasn’t exactly a gamble on our part, but there was plenty of uncertainty to go around. We had no idea what to expect.

To be honest, if God had approached me before I got pregnant (which He didn’t) and offered me twins, I’m quite sure I would have said, “Oh, wow, that’s so nice of you to offer.” (Gotta be polite, right?!) “But I’m much more comfortable with the idea of three children. We don’t want to have four…never even considered the possibility. So, thanks, God, but no thanks.” To think that in my desire to stick in our comfort zone, I would have actually passed up such an amazing blessing. The real gamble is when we don’t put our trust in God’s plans.

But, still, uncertainty is very uncomfortable isn’t it?!

Being up in the middle of the night with two babies who didn’t sleep at the same time was uncomfortable. Doubling down definitely more than doubled the chaos and tears around our house. I couldn’t have imagined the messes, the exhaustion, or my ability to hit peaks of anger I had never seen in myself before. (And of course, I couldn’t have grasped the joys that lay ahead either.)

Most days, life feels just outside of my control. And that is just the way God wants it to be. Instead of mastering our lives and our days, God asks us to submit to the One and Only Master. EVERY day, I lose my patience. I struggle with yelling at my children. To put it simply, my kids often drive me batshit crazy (sorry).

I am not in control. I misplace my priorities regularly. I make mistakes every day.  Get this…yesterday I washed two mini iPads in the washing machine with the laundry. I kid you not. I cried. Does that sound like a mother who has everything under control?

Control is really just an illusion. For me, control is even an idol. I’m learning, very slowly, that lack of control and a bit of uncertainty in our lives is not bad.

“Our natural inclination is to be so precise– trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next– that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (April 29)

Chambers goes on to explain that the nature of a healthy spiritual life is to be “certain in our uncertainty.” Despite the fact that we are uncertain of what tomorrow may bring, we have peace in our “gracious uncertainty” because we are certain of our God.

If faith is having confidence in what we cannot see, then we must double down in the face of uncertainty. I love how Stefani Gretzinger sings in “Out of Hiding” of God’s promise to be our “lighthouse when we are at sea.” When we lean hard into this faithful God, His love beyond measure brings comfort that no amount of certainty will ever bring.

There will continue to be uncertainty ahead. There will be many dark days in all of our lives. There will be days where any sense of control has simply gone out the window.

Again, I am encouraged by music. Chris Tomlin sings of our “Good Good Father” and reminds us that our God knows what we need before we say a word. He is perfect in all of His ways. And on those hardest of days, I pray that I will listen for His tender whisper and rest in knowing that I am loved by Him. It’s who I am.

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“Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in– but you can be certain that He will come.” Oswald Chambers
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Freedom for my Soul…and a move to Kansas City

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A friend recently told me about a little sign that his mom posted on their fridge when he was younger.

“If you are feeling far from God, guess who moved?!”

Such great truth in this rhetorical question. And a good one to mull over when we are feeling an air of discontentment or facing a transition or trial we haven’t invited God to be a part of.

In John, Chapter 15, God calls us to remain in Him – to seek His presence in all circumstances. God promises us that our joy will be complete when we remain in Him. He doesn’t promise that all of our days will be ‘happy’. But instead, He offers a consistent peace and contentment – a supernatural joy that is not dictated by our circumstances. So, when we are feeling uneasy and distressed, it is fair to ask ourselves if we have moved away from God.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you…Now remain in my love…I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” –John 15:4-11.

Speaking of moving, our life in SoCal has been short-lived, as we are moving to Kansas City this summer. Let me tell you – Southern California is just as dreamy, just as beautiful, just as warm…just as expensive, and just as far (too far) from my family as I have always suspected. My heart will mourn the loss of our amazing Southern California lifestyle. But, my soul is at peace. My trust is in God as He leads us.

Three months ago, I couldn’t stomach the thought of leaving SoCal – starting over, yet again. I dreaded even having to tell people that we are moving, again. Moving is hard….something I never planned on doing much. Our twins will have the unique distinction of having lived in four states before they turn four. Our third grader will start his third elementary school. Yep, that’s four sets of insurance, four sets of doctors, four sets of schools, etc. etc etc. But, it’s also four sets of incredibly unique experiences and four sets of lifelong friends I wouldn’t trade for the world. We hope to settle in nicely in KC and stick around for a while.

I’ve had a hard time striking a balance in my mind of how much God is in control vs. how much we make our own choices. These areas are grey. I do not believe that Ryan and I are robots, having been ordered by God from state to state. We have made our own choices. But I do believe that God has led us. And He has blessed us in each new home and community. I have to trust that God is in control as we pray for His guidance and leading. There is sweet freedom in giving over my sense of control.

We often have to make life decisions and face trials that require putting our full trust in God to lead us. Perhaps like me, you also have to occasionally check yourself to see if you have moved away from God. Where can you turn over a bit more trust and control to God in your life today? How can you pull in just a little bit closer to God? After all, the Creator of the Universe has His loving eye on you. Are you close enough to feel it?

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” -Psalm 32:8

No matter where we live, I am learning that true geographic contentment and complete joy is found in the presence of God. No moves required…God just calls us to remain in Him.  Chris Tomlin’s song,“I Will Follow,” has provided recent inspiration for me:

“Where You go, I’ll go. Where You stay, I’ll stay. When You move, I’ll move. I will follow…I will trust in You alone.”

Later in the song, Tomlin goes on to sing, “In You there’s freedom for my soul.” Amen to that! My prayer is that throughout life’s many trials and transitions, we would all seek to remain in God…to follow Him and feel that unique freedom offered by remaining in God’s love…through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I also love Andy Grammer’s song, “Back Home.”

“La-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah. La-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-doe.
And no matter where we go, we always find our way back home.”

These lyrics might just have to be the McMonagle Family mantra. So, Kansas City…the McMonagle Six is coming ‘home.’ (Can you wear swim trunks to elementary school in Kansas?!)
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“The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.” -Psalm 19:8 (The Message)