How to Grab Onto Grace During Times of Transition

Growing up, I used to approach the new school year with differing levels of apprehension and terror.

What if the teacher didn’t like me?

What if I forgot everything I’d learned the previous year? (I actually remember trying to practice some Math worksheets a few days before starting fifth grade.)

Before my wedding, I remember worrying that I wouldn’t figure out how to shop, plan, and cook meals each night.

Before Isaiah was born, I feared I wouldn’t know how to care for a baby, since I’d only had experience babysitting older kids, (which had been years earlier).


As I anticipate the birth of our daughter in a few weeks, it’s easy to try to picture what life will be like and to wonder how I’ll possibly have the strength and energy to care for a toddler and an infant.

When my free thoughts aren’t being attacked by those worries, my brain and/or hormones have wanted to convince me that this is the last chance to ever experience uninterrupted sleep, extended devotional times, and mental energy to write.

That I’d better enjoy it while I can, and pack as much into these last weeks of “freedom” as I’m able.

But the reality of transition is that it often doesn’t look like we imagined it would, no matter how much thinking or planning we do.

There are sacrifices that can be expected, but even those changes can be discouraging when we forget Who will be in the future with us, just as He is in the present.

Here are a few ideas that have been helpful, when I’ve needed something to replace stressful thoughts of anticipation:

  1. Reflect on the past.

It’s easy to be so focused on my current circumstances or the unknowns of the future that I don’t take time to remember God’s faithfulness in past experiences. This isn’t the first transition I’ve gone through, and it won’t be the last, until I reach my final home with Jesus on the New Earth.

As we read God’s Word, tracing His redemption plan over the course of history, we can see a God who is unchanging in His goodness and sovereign care for His children.

We can also follow the pattern of our own history within that plan, how God drew us to Himself and has led us ever since.

Sometimes we can even see how He’s made us more like Himself through past difficulties. I’ve been able to look back on years of physical pain enhanced by unhealthy thought patterns (that led into depression), and see God’s gracious hand leading me into His freedom.

I love the quote by Martin Luther King Jr.

“I may not be the man I want to be; I may not be the man I ought to be; I may not be the man I could be; I may not be the man I truly can be; but praise God, I’m not the man I once was.”


2. Embrace the unknowns.

Living by faith brings us to a place of rest in the Father. The people of Israel were offered a way of life and fellowship with God, but didn’t combine their head knowledge with faith. (Hebrews 4:3)

Do I really believe that Jesus is the only One who can satisfy my deepest needs?

Faith also involves living in submission to the way God wants us to reflect Him. It opens our eyes to see the good works (and roles) He’s prepared for us, and allows us to trust in His strength and presence to guide us through each change. (Ephesians 2:10).

Faith gives us the ability to ask Jesus what He wants for us next while still being engaged in the life we have now.

And because He’s the One leading us, we are free to keep enjoying Him no matter how many minutes (or seconds) we get to spend in focused prayer and Bible reading before a little voice starts calling for milk.

3. Remember the stages.

My mentor Natalie recently reminded me, “One of the biggest discouragements in life is feeling like something will never end.”

After those first newborn weeks of interrupted rest, it felt like Isaiah would never sleep through the night, and that he’d only ever be able to communicate with me through crying.

Sometimes, I’ve needed someone to let me acknowledge the discomfort of the situation while pointing me ahead to the next stage. Remembering that I won’t have a newborn and a toddler forever gives me hope for a future time when I’ll be able to just grab my keys and leave the house.

And as I’ve thought about the limitations another baby will bring, I was embarrassed to realize I was spending more weeks worrying about caring for a newborn than the newborn stage would actually last.


Sometimes it feels like a change has been anticipated for so long that it will never come.

Like I will never be able to see my feet again or flip over in bed without executing a three-point turn.

But once again, these feelings can be a reminder of the patient character of God. As Melissa Kruger said in her Biblestudy on motherhood, “We can only bear the fruit of patience when we have something to be patient about.” (p.164)

When we look at the creation, fall, redemption, and restoration aspects of God’s rescue plan, spanning Genesis to Revelation, we can see that God is not in a hurry.

In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter says that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

When we anticipate a transition, we have the chance to be a part of reflecting that grace-filled redemptive patience as we wait with hope.


Will you surrender your worries to the One who would like nothing more than to take them from you?

Will you trust God “to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” in your current stage of life? (Philippians 2:13)

Is there a transition you’re anticipating? I’d love to hear and pray for you.

Why Women in the Church Can’t Be Cheerleaders on the Sidelines

Why Women in the Church Can't Be Cheerleaders on the SidelinesDid you know that during World War I, more American women died in childbirth than American men died on the battlefield?

Women’s healthcare improved dramatically the next year once women we able to vote, but the pain of Eve’s curse hasn’t gone away.

Every day I am reminded of my physical weakness as I go about my daily tasks. I tire easily. I can’t open jars. When extra things are jammed into my daily toddler-filled schedule, I can barely keep up.

Sometimes I wonder. . .

Why did God make us physically weaker than men?

Why would he want to use us in our hormone-charged limitations when there’s another gender out there that doesn’t ride out their emotions on a 28 day cycle?

Fight Like a Girl
I recently listened to a talk by Bible teacher Jen Wilkin, who explored biblically what it means to “fight like a girl,” (referring to the female empowerment campaign that ran during the Superbowl).

She asked, “Are women’s contributions to the church nice but not necessary?”

Why were women created in the first place?

In Genesis 2, God created Eve to be Adam’s helpmate and work together in the beauty of the Garden. It wasn’t good for him to be alone.

So what does it look like for women to be, as Jen puts it, “co-laborers in the fight, and not cheerleaders on the sidelines?”

In Exodus 1-2, the Hebrews living in Egypt had multiplied so much that Pharaoh started to get scared. He told the Hebrew midwives to kill all the baby boys that were born, but that they could keep the girls alive. Since the midwives feared God more than Pharaoh, they told him that the Hebrew women kept giving birth before they had a chance to get there.

How many baby boys were saved because of these women, eventually growing up and guiding their families across the Red Sea to freedom?

Moses’ mother hid him after he was born, and God used him to lead the people out of Egypt.

Pharaoh underestimated these women.

Why Women in the Church Can't Be Cheerleaders on the SidelinesI’m grateful for our culture’s desire to value women.

But the beauty of womanhood is not in our ability to be equal to men.

God has gifted members in the Body of Christ differently, so that He can use us to touch all kinds of people.

Here are five ways God may want to use us because we are women:

1. Women are compassionate.

2. Women can empathize.

3. Women are brave. (Like a shepherdess who guards her sheep against a lion)

4. Women understand powerlessness better than men.

5. Women see needs that men may not see.

Men might unintentionally overlook widows, orphans, single moms and hurting children. They may not perceive when someone is living in fear.

They probably won’t ask:

Who might need to be nurtured?

Who might need someone to listen to their confusing flurry of emotions?

Why Women in the Church Can't Be Cheerleaders on the SidelinesA Parable for the Gospel
Jen Wilkin shared that when a woman gets pregnant, she makes herself weak for a designated period of time, delivers another by the shedding of blood, is restored to her former strength, and lives to intercede for that new life.

Could there be a clearer physical parable for the gospel? (Check out Philippians 2:6-11)

“Women, you are not an afterthought. What you contribute to the mission of the church is not of secondary importance.” (Jen Wilkin)

Are you ready to give Him the chance?

Click here to listen to Jen Wilkin’s 35 minute talk (with more humor and insight than I can usually conjure up).

Jen also has an excellent article on her blog about women and the church entitled, “More Pressing Than Women Preachers.” Click here to check it out.

Being Selfless Through Compromise

Selfless Through Compromise

Why does being selfless have to be so hard?

A couple weeks ago in our women’s Sunday School class, my toddler noticed a little girl carrying around her container of Cheerios and decided he should have some. Moments later, he had her snack and was shoving handfuls of cereal into his mouth. When I reached for the container, he screamed in protest. I took out his cup of Cheerios and offered it to the little girl. My son indicated that he wanted to have both snacks, but I told him to choose which one he wanted. (Of course he wanted hers.) The little girl went to sit on her mom’s lap, munching on his snack as I mouthed an apology to the mom.

It’s not like we’re born selfish, right? Oh wait. . . (see Jeremiah 17:9)

Shouldn’t I Just Give In?
A few days ago, Christopher and I were working through a disagreement, and the subject of selflessness came up.

If we really wanted to be like Christ, we reasoned, shouldn’t we give in to the other person’s wants and desires? After all, in Philippians 2:3-4, it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

The passage goes on to talk about having the attitude of Christ who “made himself nothing” and “became obedient to death.” (vs. 7-8) If we have placed our faith in Jesus, we have His Spirit living inside us, guiding us in making choices that show love to others.

But. . .

We still sin and struggle with sinful tendencies. All of our past, present, and future sins have been paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross, but we will participate in a fallen world until we reach heaven.

We need to confess our sin before God, and ask for His help to turn away from it. According to biblical teacher, Steve Wibberley, in his book, “Knowing Jesus is Enough For Joy, Period!” there are layers to our sin, with pride, unbelief and rebellion at the root of everything.

“Selflessness” vs. Honest Communication
The battle is intense. Satan wants us to keep us from being an active part in God’s kingdom. So what exactly does it mean to be selfless? What could be a pitfall of focusing on it?

Let’s say I disagree with my husband about something, but decide to be “selfless” and silently give in completely to his desires while ignoring my own. Later, if I think about my “selfless” act, I may commit the sin of pride, thinking I am better than him for giving in. If he had given in completely to my preferences without me giving him an opportunity to share his own, I would be selfish.

Deep, rich communication could be lost if I don’t respectfully share my feelings and preferences and instead try to look “selfless.” (which could cause me to be self-righteous or resentful)

If we instead listen to and validate each others’ feelings and preferences, seeking ways to honor and love the other person, that honest communication may end up looking a lot like compromise.


Maybe Philippians 2 isn’t about how to make myself as miserable as possible.

Some questions I’ve asked myself as I’ve reflected on Philippians 2 are:
Could it be selfish to not share my feelings with my husband?
Could it be valuing him above myself when I give him the opportunity to fully express why he feels the way he does? (without interrupting)

If I feel heard, it is so much easier for me to “look to the interests of others.” But even when I don’t feel heard, I can always go to the One who is ever-present, who was tempted as we were, and who sympathizes with our struggles. (see Hebrews 4:15-16) Jesus is worth the fight against sin.

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