When life hands you lemons

It's okay not to make lemonade. Or lemon squares. Or lemon meringue pie. Or any other mouth puckering, sweet dessert that you would serve with a lipsticked smile and an apron. Sometimes it's okay just to look questioningly at the sky and yell, "what's with the lemons??!?!", and then to crumple on the floor in a sour, sticky heap.

But it's not okay to stay there. At some point, you have to muster the strength, the "cojones", as my favorite Alaskan ex-governor would say, to pull yourself up and try to get some perspective. And the perspective from the floor is pretty bleak, I must say. Even when I did get off the floor, I left my lemons in the fruit bowl until they were shriveled and fuzzy with age and decay.

Yesterday, I was offered a job. As a nurse. Many, many prayers answered in one short phone call with a virtual stranger. I was unemployed for fifteen months after graduation and still have a month to go until my start date. A "tough year" is putting it lightly. The difficulties of being newly married with one partner in grad school and the other unemployed are myriad, but they go beyond the bank account to the heart of the matter. My heart.

You see, being unemployed isn't just "having no money", it has a lot of feelings involved, too--ones that I think our society unfairly places on us and says, if you're not gainfully employed, if you don't have a title that tells me who you are, then what, exactly is your point here on this earth?? Well, I was reminded of my "point" here, every day for the last year or so, and sometimes it was with a whisper and sometimes it was with a shout, and sometimes it was with a baseball bat to the occiput. Jesus has reminded me who I am and who I am meant to be--set apart from my career and my finances, my plans, my future. Not that he doesn't care about those things, but he cares about my character much more than he cares about my comfort.

6 So be truly glad.[b] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7

The "joy ahead", though, is not necessarily getting what you want, it's looking back and realizing that you are forever changed. That the Lord's loving discipline has surgically removed the cirrhosed, calcified, gangrenous parts of my heart and he has started the growth of new, healthy, pink, viable tissue. To quote a preacher that was recently in the headlines for making it to the other side of a terrible scandal, "going through something like this makes you become the person you thought you were; the person you always hoped to be."

In no way am I saying that God is done with me. I'm quite sure he's just gotten started, actually. And I didn't do everything right. When setbacks and disappointments came, I cried--bitterly. I pitched fits. I reacted childishly, selfishly, short-sightedly. But eventually I also learned to concede to the Holy Spirit. To yield to heavenly discipline and press into the Father instead of pulling away in anger. That is what has made all the difference in the world. When I was stripped of what I thought was my identity He declared to me who I truly am. When I was anxious and sleepless He whispered His faithfulness to me. When I was frustrated and weary He imparted His patience and perseverance. And so much, much more.

3 Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-4

Hope does not disappoint. Hope involves trust and confidence and expectation. Trust that He knows what He's doing. Confidence that He's done it before and expectation that He'll do it again.

So, when life hands you lemons and confection is not an option you'd like to pursue, remember that 1) Jesus loves you. He really, really, really, really, really, really, loves you! And 2) He probably has things in mind for you that don't involve baking, but things that will leave you much more satisfied, whole, confident, joyful, and hopeful. "Trite" and true, but tried and true.

And in closing, I leave you this:


An unending thank you to my family and friends for your prayers and encouragement. Don't stop now. ;)


  1. love it and you! so happy for you guys!!

  2. Absolutely amazing MG...it's amazing the lessons God teaches us when we least expect it and how well He can teach through all circumstances!

  3. Great encouragement for the rest of us! Thanks MG...

  4. Adding your light to a room full of light adds to the glow - talking your light into a darkened world makes all the difference. Let your little light shine.

  5. You are a gym. Always have been, always will be. Nyle

  6. I meant gem. Sometimes as a little girl you just smelled like a gym Peace