Dear January [yet again],

Dear January,

This is my third year of letters to you. You and I haven’t been on good terms for seven years, but I think the truce that we worked out last year is going ok so far, at least until my Facebook newsfeed blows up later in the month. (Facebook has a new thing now where it reminds you of posts that you wrote in years past, so I think I’ll take a hiatus toward the end of the month. I still remember the post that I wrote quickly on Jan. 23, 2009, asking for urgent prayer because something awful had happened to my brother, but I didn’t know what. I really don’t want to relive the posts from the days and weeks that followed that night.)

The 23rd falls on a Saturday this year, and I’m contemplating getting a sitter for the kids and going away for the weekend — just me, myself, and I. A little solitude might be nice.

This year holds a lot of promise, and I’m going to focus on being optimistic about the future. I’ll be finishing my second year as a professor, and I’m loving my job. Two of my kids are in high school now, the middle is in junior high, and this year is our last round of elementary school. When the fall semester begins, I’ll only have to deal with TWO school schedules!

I still imagine sometimes what life would look like if Nathan was here. Most likely, I would still feel stressed about being outnumbered raising three boys and have no clue about how capable I really am. I suppose I have that to be grateful for. Without the trials, I wouldn’t know how strong I could be. I would give anything to have him back, but life manages to go on, and so do I.

January, I feel like I have more confidence facing you this year than I have in several years. You don’t intimidate me like you used to, because I’ve proven to myself that I can make it through, and in just a few weeks, you’ll be gone and February will arrive in your place.

Till next year,

Ang

Jesus Loves Me, This I [Still] Know (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 22, 2015)

Sing along with me: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so …” It’s unfortunate how we sometimes lose sight of the simple truths of God’s word as we become adults. Kids take things at face value, as you can see from the song. The Bible says that Jesus loves us, so he does. It’s as simple as that. Right?

Well then, what happens as we get older to make us question God’s love for us? How do we go from knowing that we know that we know Jesus loves us to doubting our worth in his sight?

The next verse goes: “… little ones to him belong; they are weak but he is strong …” Kids know they are weak, but it doesn’t keep them from dreaming of becoming super-strong when they grow up. One of my nephew-sons is anxious for the day when he can start working out on weights with the big kids so that he can build 17” biceps like his Daddy had. There is absolutely no doubt in his mind that he will grow up to become strong and buff!

Perhaps the problem arises when we grow up and realize that we’re still weak – perhaps not physically anymore, but spiritually, emotionally, relationally, etc. We’re taught from an early age to be strong and independent, so the idea of relying on someone else and entrusting our lives to someone else (even though that someone is God Almighty) requires being weak and letting him be strong for us. That’s a counterintuitive concept in a lot of ways.

The nursery rhyme wraps up with this declaration: “… yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Oh, yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.” The same God who you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt loved you at age 5 still loves you at 25, 45, 65, 85, and into eternity. As Paul recorded in Romans 8:38-39, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Are you convinced of that truth, like Paul was? Don’t ever doubt God’s unconditional love for you. The Bible not only tells us how much Jesus loves us, but he demonstrated it himself on the cross.