"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference."
The definition of serenity is being peaceful, calm and untroubled. Many many people have been encouraged and comforted by the words of this prayer. Asking God to help me accept the things I cannot change is huge! How many things in my life am I unable to change? I cannot change the fact that our new foster baby is blind or has major medical issues. I cannot change my friend's diagnosis of breast cancer. Those things I must leave with God and accept His peace in exchange.
The prayer then reminds us to change the things we can. This is important because we can become very despondent if we get stuck on the things we cannot change. There are so many things we have no control of. Even when leaving it at the foot of the Cross and embracing God's peace, it is peace within sorrow. But if we accept His courage to change the things we can, oh the joy in that place! I cannot change our baby's medical issues, but I can be a tender caregiver and hold and comfort her. I can help her develop to her full potential and embrace the life she has been given. I cannot change my friend's diagnosis of breast cancer, but I can be a shoulder to cry on, a meal maker and a prayer warrior on her behalf.
And, as the prayer says, we need the wisdom to know the difference between the things we can change and the things we can't. This can certainly be a challenge! Sometimes we can get stuck trying to change things we simply cannot change. We tell ourselves that if we try harder or do things differently we can change the outcome. Sometimes, many times, this has to do with the personality or behaviors of another person (parents, spouse, siblings, children), but we cannot change them, they have their own choices to make. We can encourage them, we can even force them to obey, but we cannot force a change of heart.
This is a powerful prayer, but there is more!
"Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
I LOVE the second part of this prayer. I hadn't seen it until just a few months ago. What encouragement. Remembering to live in the present, moment by moment, instead of living in the worlds of "what if" or "if only" is powerful. Encouraging us to do something polar opposite to what the world recommends by accepting hardships as the pathway to peace! We are told over and over that hardships mean we're doing something wrong. We are told that hardships are bad with no benefit or reward. We are challenged to find that mountain top experience and cling to it and to do whatever makes us feel good. But that "feel good" is usually temporary and superficial. If we are willing to accept the hardships then we can more fully embrace the good.
The struggles we face are called hardships on purpose, THEY ARE HARD! We live in a fallen world with fallen people. Life is hard, but God is good!
May the peace of Christ be with you today!!!
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
We had the blessing of adopting our 5th boy two weeks ago, for a total of 8 forever children. The day before the adoption we received a little pink bundle, and I mean little! At two months she weighs in at 7.6 lbs. None of my bio babies were that small outside my body. After each adoption we go for ice cream. There are balloons and gifts and well wishes. But the real moment my adopted children feel like my own is not when we sign the papers in the courtroom.
The Sunday following the adoption we got up extra early. We rarely make it to church on time. Even the days we think we have everything ready to go and we're ahead of the game we forget something vital or lose shoes or have major meltdowns. But this Sunday we HAD to get there on time. Our new son was getting baptized!
Some people don't understand why on earth we would baptize a baby. Many of my Christian friends think we're acting a little prematurely since the wee ones can't profess the faith themselves. There is much written and even more history to support this practice, but the practical side is, we are immersing our "littles" in the fullness of the faith, why would we want to wait? Of course all of our children must choose or reject Christ, just as each of us, baptized or not, must daily choose or reject Him until we breath our last.
When the priest anoints the child with holy oil he says "(name) is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit", to which we all respond, "SEALED!" This tends to be the favorite part of the children because they get to be a little loud in church as we all participate in this sacrament. We respond with "SEALED!" as the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, ears, chest, hands and feet are each anointed with the Holy Chrism. It is a holy moment. It is the moment that the adoption into our family and the adoption into the Church is complete.
After the service, in the fellowship hall, a lovely woman congratulated us and gave our new son the gift of a blanket she had made. It was a cuddly soft yellow fleece. It was perfect! Because our family is so big we color code our children. Each child has their own color so we know at a glance who left their plates on the table or towel on the floor. This son's color happened to be yellow!
Next, this sweet woman pulled out a cozy purple blanket for the new baby, and that's when I burst into tears. Our new baby's color is purple! After I finished crying and dried off her shoulder, she shared that she had a few blankets in her car that morning and had asked God to pick the right ones for her. You see, our God cares even about the small details. He's not somewhere way up there out of touch with His people. He is ever present and fully interested in our lives!
Whatever is going on in our lives, whether the joy of new life or chronic or terminal illnesses, we can trust we have a God who cares, a God who is with us and a God who personally sees to the details.
May we rejoice in the One who has offered mankind adoption through Christ our Lord and may we be thankful for the "blankets" He picks for us ;)