Saturday, November 5

wherein which i resurrect the blog to talk about the flu vaccine.

So this past week, I posted this article with the following message:
"Hey friends! Because this year's flu strain has started earlier and is reportedly stronger, we are asking anyone who plans on visiting us to get their flu shot as soon as possible. We recognize that not everyone is on board with the flu shot, nor does it protect against all strains of the flu, but with a baby under one year old, we are asking that if you choose not to get the flu shot that you either a) nor visit our household or b) wear a mask throughout the duration of your visit."
I honestly didn't even really think much about it afterwards. Until I started getting messages from multiple friends asking me if I was really making the flu shot mandatory in order for friends and family to visit. So, this post is an address to said friends. This isn't a passive aggressive response. It is not an ultimatum.  If you, dear friends, choose not to get the flu shot, you will still be more than welcome in our home (albeit, likely with a mask on, and a request to not touch or hold our child..). But so many of you have mentioned the same excuses for not getting the shot, so  i thought I would address these in one fell swoop.

Listen, I'm not a germaphobe. In our marriage, I'm not even really the 'clean' one. I don't walk around with a bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse, and even during the times that I have had a bottle of hand sanitizer, I've by and large purchased it because it smelled nice. I am not prone to health phobias of any kind and I wouldn't say I have a penchant towards hypochondria. I consider myself a fairly well-read person, and I don't just read click-bait; I often read legitimate journal articles and make well-educated decisions based on science and research that is up to date. And, to toot my own horn, this past week alone, two doctors, both specialists that my daughter was seeing, asked me if I work in the medical field.

So look, I didn't make the decision to ask my friends and family to get the flu shot because I jumped on the cavalcade of paranoia after forjudeforeveryone became viral.

I made the decision because I became educated after having a child. I too used to think, "what's the point? I am healthy and rarely get the flu, if ever." I also used to think that the flu shot was for the frail or for the germaphobe, and that it was most likely a hoax. It was not worth the 20-30 minutes out of my day to go get one, not to mention the sore arm, for something that wouldn't be of benefit to me.

But now, I have a child; to most people, I probably look like an anxious, irrational mother, who has gone "soft" because of the doe-eyed baby that has won my heart.

Let me tell you. I have not become soft. I have not become a mom who is always only about her baby and does not care about anyone else. I am not the mom who doesn't like her child to get remotely close to dirt; in fact, I believe that some dirt is good for said child, and she may or may not have worn pants all week that have had food chunks stuck to them.

Yes, I have become a mom who has a great deal more compassion for those around me. Yes, I have become a mom who weeps when she reads an internet story about a child dying of the flu. Heck, I now weep at kleenex commercials and Budwiser puppy commercials.

But I can guarantee you, my emotions are not what drove me to make the decision to ask our friends and family to get the flu vaccine.

I know that the flu vaccine does not prevent the flu. I understand that at best, when it matches the same strain, it hovers around a 60% efficacy rate. I understand that compared to other vaccines, it is not as effective. I understand that there are multiple strains of the flu, and that even if you and I and my child get vaccinated, we all could still catch the flu. When you read things like this (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25340911) it might seem like the vaccination isn't worth it. I mean, almost 25% of vaccinated people caught the flu. Until you read something like this (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0050228#s3) and realize that umm... 25% is waaay better than 80%. (Source: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/why-get-a-flu-shot/). Let me refer you to this document for answers to some of the most popular misconceptions: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm

But at the end of the day, statistics aside, this IS a personal matter.

Because I have a child.

I have a child who is on day 16 of diarrhea between 6-10 times per day. Whose immune system is already taxed.

And if I'm asking you to get the flu shot, it's because I believe in herd immunity (http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050211), and I am begging and pleading with you to love my child enough to try anything to keep her safe.

I am trusting you to care for my child because you are a close enough friend that you would come over to my house on a frequent basis. Listen. If you get the flu, you might stay home for a few days and recover. But children and the elderly have a harder time dealing with the flu and experience more complications than the average adult. They are at more risk for hospitalization and death. And lest you think this is fear mongering, children dying of the flu is a reality.(http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/10/23/peds.2013-1493)

So I am asking you, a healthy adult, a dear friend, a maternal or paternal influence to my child, to get the flu shot. Because twenty minutes of inconvenience, or even the potential for your own sickness (although getting the flu from the flu shot has largely been disproven) is still better than my child getting the flu.

And let me say this, even if the flu shot is a hoax; even if I am just an irrational mother; even if I am a hypochondriac in denial; even if I'm just plain selfish for asking you to do this, do this for me because you are my friend and you trust me.

I want you to be able to come over and hold my child and play with her. Motherhood is lonely enough and filled with enough stressors. I don't want you to stay away. And I don't want to have to make a choice between our friendship and the health of my child. Is it excessive for me to ask you to do this for me? Perhaps. Is it selfish? Probably a little. But if a dear friend asked me to stand in a store, stub my toe, clap my hands, turn around and touch my toes, and even perhaps catch a mild sickness for the sake of their child, even if I thought they were crazy, I just might do it, because sacrifice is something I am willing to do for the sake of someone in need.

My life is built around the premise that Someone else sacrificed for the sick and broken, to protect them, and to drag them out of harm's way. I would do that for you and I am asking you, and beseeching you to at least consider doing the same for me.

Tuesday, August 2

Day 1 without the Phone


Just a brief check-in on how day 1 went.

It was hard and easy at the same time. It was hard to not reflexively turn to my phone for every little thing. I am an information junkie, and every time I had a question, I wanted to ask Google for the answer. It was hard not to want to respond to texts right away...and (confession!!) I did hop to the bathroom a few times (...sigh) to answer some texts.

But, I also finished reading 3/4s of a non-fiction book that I've been meaning to read for a long time, had time to read the first few chapters of a fiction book I've been meaning to read, actually WATCHED my daughter laugh and play with her toys. And even when she took a 2 hour nap (!!) in the day, spent most of that time reading (although I did enjoy texting and reading some NY Times on my phone!).

But the most marvellous part of the day was breastfeeding Elliette before bed. Without a light on, it wasn't possible for me to read, so I was able to spend some intentional time in prayer. Praying for friends, praying for Elliette, praying for Sam and I, thanking Jesus for what He has done in my life... Ahh.. that was good. 

Most of the time, I complain that being a new mom has robbed me of time to spend with Jesus. But the reality is that my phone is robbing me of that time. 

And now, it's time for bed. I have a feeling tomorrow will be more difficult, since Sam will be gone from 10:30am until around 8:30pm. Less distraction means more temptation. Sigh. My name is Lydia and I am an addict.

On Why I'm Reducing my Smartphone usage for the month of August.

It started a few years ago. We were at a Chinese restaurant, and I spotted a family of four sitting around a table. They were waiting for their food to arrive. The dad was reading something on his iPad, holding it close to his face. The mom was scrolling on her Blackberry. The older daughter was taking selfies and texting her friends on her iPhone, and her younger brother was playing some game on his Nintendo DS. There was no interaction there whatsoever. Sometimes the kids would look up and ask their parents a question, and their parents would mindlessly answer with a monosyllable and a wave of their hands. I remember thinking, "Wow..this is so...sad. If I have a family someday, I hope we aren't like that."

Then, last year, when I was two months pregnant, I read this article detailing the potentially damaging psychological effects on children who are over-exposed to electronic media. I thought about many of the university students with whom I work; some who are fluent digital natives, who have no trouble with a conversation via text, but who have trouble looking me in the eye and holding down a face-to-face conversation.

I determined back then that if I wanted my child to grow up with the ability to have deep conversations and meaningful relationships, I would have to be intentional about creating that environment at home.

Since giving birth, I've been putting it off for a few months. Let's be honest. I love my child, but I am not a "kid-person." Newborn babies are hardly riveting. I survived that first month by watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix three times in English and once in French. When Elliette was up every hour in those first few hazy weeks, youtube and Netflix were my BFFs. And even now that she is sleeping through the night, my phone is my constant companion during those long stretches of breastfeeding.

But a few experiences this past month made me think now is the time to make a change in my life.

The first experience was the release of Pokemon Go. Let me be frank. I think Pokemon Go is dumb. I have no interest in playing it, but a large amount of my friend network has started playing it. I watched as a dear friend (lol..you know who you are!!) came to visit me from more than an hour away, but instead of deep and meaningful conversations, for much of the day, she walked slightly (or sometimes very far) behind me whilst catching Pokemon and even ran into me with her stroller. We still had fun, but a part of me felt sad at the missed opportunity. Then, I watched as I sat in a park with friends having a picnic; half the group went off to catch Pokemon. The rest of us engaged with each other in a conversation about our lives. I'm not saying that people can't engage while playing Pokemon Go, but as psychology has shown, multitasking really isn't actually multitasking; multitasking is actually serial tasking. You can do anything for the glory of God (even play Pokemon Go!), but at different times and different places, some things may or may not be more meaningful than augmented reality.

The second experience was when my daughter, aged 6 months, started reaching for my phone. She's becoming less and less blob-like and is starting to notice things. I wondered what she noticed about me. And I realized that the first thing my daughter would ever notice about me is not my love for Jesus or His People, but my love for my phone. I go everywhere with that thing. It's with me when I breastfeed her, it's with me when she's playing on the floor. It's my constant companion day and night.  I don't want her to know how to swipe to unlock before she knows how to speak and to engage with the people around her.

With those experiences in mind, I decided that I needed to limit my smartphone usage. So, a few weeks ago I decided that starting August 1, for a month (because I'm a wuss and noncommittal like that..), I would restrict my smartphone usage to the times when Elliette is sleeping and evenings. This means that between the hours of 11am-7pm each day, I will only be using my phone to respond to texts and check social media when Elliette is napping. I will respond to phone calls at any time. Elliette goes to bed each day at 10:30pm, so there is a 3-4 hour period where she is awake and where I also have the freedom to use my phone. I don't want her growing up in a vacuum where smartphones don't exist; I want her to see me using my smartphone responsibly.

When friends come over, we have a little smart phone coop in which we are requesting that they put their phone. We want Elliette to see us engaging in meaningful and deep conversations with our peers without serial tasking. We want her to see that face-to-face relationships are prioritized above social media and augmented reality.

This isn't a legalistic thing. It isn't an opportunity for me to judge how others spend their time or what they do with their phones. But it IS an opportunity for me to relinquish a subtle idol that is robbing me of meaningful relationships with my family, friends and Jesus.

John Piper said it well:

"One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time."

Amen to that.


Friday, January 8

efficiency, productivity and perfection

I haven't written here in a long time. To be honest, a part of it has been out of fear; we all know those women who can only talk about pregnancy once they're pregnant (blegh!), and I've been quite fearful of becoming one of those women. But I also haven't written here because...mind over matter, right? And I've tried to really grin and bear things out without becoming a complainey-complainer. After having a miscarriage, I am very aware at how much of a gift this pregnancy is, and the last thing I want is to sound ungrateful.

But the truth is, this pregnancy hasn't been the easiest. It started off with being so congested that it led to what the doctor told me was Patulous Eustachian Tube. Basically, because of surging hormones, I became so congested that I started hearing echoing in my ears. Every sound I heard would reverberate around my head. It was like wearing a permanent metal bucket over my head, and I was pretty sure I would go cray cray.

 

Thankfully, it only lasted 4 weeks.

But then came morning sickness, which, AHEM, is more like all-day sickness. It usually dissipates around 9-13 weeks, but I'm almost at 36 weeks and still throwing up every.single.day.

A few months ago, I dislocated one SI joint, which means extreme back pain whenever I move. Then, I dislocated the other SI joint. Turns out, the same hypermobility which means I have a good squat at the gym means that, when pregnant, all hell breaks loose in my body and things move out of place really easily. YAY.

I also started breaking out in a really severely itchy rash all over my stomach and legs. Turns out, I have PUPPS...which is just a fancy term for: my body hates being pregnant. I don't sleep a lot, mostly because I'm so itchy, but also because my bladder is the size of a peanut.

Then, this past week, my right hand started going numb, making it really hard to do things like...use a FORK. Simple, fine motor skills are becoming increasingly difficult. The OB wasn't surprised at all. Pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome.

Oh, and let's not forget the 55 pounds I've somehow managed to gain in just a few short months.

I'm winning at pregnancy.

This pregnancy has been full of awe and wonder, but toughest thing about this pregnancy has been the drastic change in my body. I am not good in dealing with change. I went into this pregnancy in the best physical shape and I've always been really good at pushing through pain. I'm used to being fast, efficient, effective and doing things with perfection. I ran a 10k in an hour with a fractured foot. When I developed shingles last year, I think I only missed one gym day.

But the past few months have made me slow and lumbering. My mind is slow and my hands are slower. My face is round and my body, rounder. It took me hours last night to start and finish sewing a onesie & hat. Something that would have only taken me a little while earlier on this year. It's been frustrating. We wrote holiday cards last week and I had to take a break every two cards that I wrote. At the gym this week, I had to ask my trainer for help when I couldn't get up from lying down.



It was exactly like that video.

All this frustration has made me realize what I really prize in life: speed, efficiency, effectiveness and perfection.

The thing is, I have a feeling motherhood will be quite like this pregnancy. Full of awe-filled moments, but also full of pain, slowness and moments of pure drudgery, where things feel ineffective and inefficient. As I've sat thinking about this and the monumental change that is going to happen soon, it has also made me think about how God doesn't prize the things that I prize. He isn't at the sidelines filled with awe and wonder at my efficiency and skill. And one day, when my race is over, he won't say "well done, good and faithful servant. I'm impressed by your speed and accuracy."He will say "well done, good and faithful servant" because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross on my behalf.

I'll need a little reminding, but what this means is that it is o.k. to be slow. That it is o.k. to not always be efficient. That it is o.k. to be weak. And even more, that it is o.k. to rest. Because we were created to rest in the finished work of Jesus.

Thursday, September 3

where i've been....

You know when you don't exercise for awhile, and know you should return..but just can't seem to motivate yourself? You think about how hard it will be and how you won't feel the greatest and days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and soon the most exercise you get is moving your pudgy fingers to grasp a hot dog?



Yeah, that's not me. At least, not fully.

A lot of people have asked me where I've been; am I still on #journeyto130? Have I given up? Gone back to my junk food eating ways? If I haven't lapsed back into a life of junk food eating, why haven't I been around?

I've been exercising and remaining fairly healthy, but my blogging fingers probably need a bit of a workout. The longer I've been gone, the harder it has been to come back.

There is an elephant in the room and it's hard to blog without first clearing said elephant.

The truth is, my waistline has been fairly rapidly expanding. One day, I woke up, put on a pair of shorts that fit the night before, and BAM. The button wouldn't close anymore. This isn't due to overeating, but rather because there's a baby inside of me who seems to be overtaking my body. Not gonna lie, said baby has also at times felt like a parasite. There's been a lot of puking and days with no.energy.at.all. But the ultrasound pictures tell me it's not exactly a parasite, and doctors say it's a baby, so I guess they know best.

I've struggled with how to announce this. For a few reasons, I guess.

Firstly, it's been a fairly significant part of my life and health journey, but it hasn't been my whole life. And sometimes it seems that as soon as people know, that's all they want to talk about, as if this is the only thing that is exciting/meaningful about my life. I don't like these conversations; I don't like the conversations where the only thing that is ever talked about is mom stuff. I know that there is so much I can learn from other people about mothering and mom stuff, but before I was a mom, I was a person too, with a myriad of interests and passions. Now, these days, it seems like the only thing people want to talk to me about is mom stuff. This isn't a mom blog, and isn't going to become a mom blog, so it's been hard to know what to say to all of you, my dear readers.

Secondly, the miscarriage made me really aware of how non-flippant this new adventure is. Every day, someone new on my facebook feed seems to be announcing their pregnancy. Baby bump pictures, cute proclamations to the world about a new member of a family. These bring a smile to my face, but I know that for some, constantly being inundated with announcement after announcement isn't easy. It can be a painful reminder of infertility or past miscarriages. Our miscarriage made me realize that pregnancy isn't a flippant thing. It's a joyous, yet somber reality. A friend wrote to me awhile back. She shared with me how she had had one miscarriage and another pregnancy that ended with the removal of one of her fallopian tubes. When one of her friends announced her pregnancy, my friend cried for ages, thinking about the loss they had experienced. Of course she was happy for her friend, but she felt sad, not just by the loss of her babies, but sad because she was jealous of her friend's uninhibited joy. My friend told me that she would always feel more wary now. That the uninhibited joy would be inhibited. I feel the same way. We're joyful, but not giddy like we were during our first pregnancy. We're rejoicing, but the rejoicing is more somber. The frailty of life is not something we take lightly.


***

This new adventure I'm on, it's a new journey, but it's not the only journey I'll ever take. Being a mom is a new 'identity' of sorts, but it's not my only identity, and it is by far not the most important identity in my life. There is only one identity worthy of giving my all and my best, and all the other identities (like wife, mother, friend, daughter), while inextricably linked, fall under the umbrella of this one identity. Bondservant and child of the King.

That's why I've hesitated to announce to the web this new development. Sometimes announcing new life developments on social media make them feel like the ultimate thing. Hundreds and hundreds of 'likes' for announcing a marriage or a pregnancy. But, sometimes, the most important things are the way we live our humdrum, day to day life. The most important things are sometimes those which will never get 100 likes on facebook, but are nonetheless significant and important. This pregnancy is not the only thing going on in my life. It's just one of many things and opportunities that God has given me to make an impact in this world. It is an important thing, but not the utmost thing.

Anyways, all this to say, that I've kept silent for awhile, but my life really hasn't changed all that much. I'm still exercising (even though morning sickness is making me puke my guts out every day), not eating the greatest, but getting better at the whole eating thing, and still living a relatively healthy life. I'll blog about this more in the upcoming days, but I just wanted to clear the elephant from the room first.

And, just to show you that I'm still going strong with the whole "gotta get my steak dinner" thing, here's a little video. It's just 125lbs, but I'm feeling pretty heavy these days with the whole "carrying a sweet potato inside of me" dealio.


video


Monday, May 4

Farts and the Arts.

I've been in ballet classes since I was four years old. Other than my first year of university and my five years in Montreal, I've always taken ballet classes. I currently take advanced adult ballet classes at the NBS on Mondays and Thursdays.

Monday nights are a dream. I take an intermediate/advanced class that is more intermediate than advanced, and quite below my skill level. Not gonna lie. I rock in this class. It's mostly older people, who either started ballet as an adult, or who used to be teachers but have long since retired. They love me. On Monday nights, I. LOVE. ME! Tonight, one lady even told me I was a "vision and a delight to watch."  LOL.

But on Thursday nights, I take an advanced class where everyone is around my age, and it's definitely WAY. OVER. MY. HEAD.  Two of the girls in my class trained professionally in Russia (!) at the Bolshoi (!!!), and two other girls studied at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Now, lest you think I am good at ballet, I am not. I know I am a perfectionist, and a bit of a jack-of-all-trades who usually does better than average in most things (it's the asian way!). But in ballet, I am average. Probably a bit below average. Mediocre at best. When I first started Thursday nights, I tried to switch out of it because I was so constantly and consistently lost. But, the teacher said the challenge would be good for me.

photo credit: giphy

Anyways, this class was really bad.  For those of you who haven't taken ballet, there are many great things about it (obvs, or I wouldn't do it), but it isn't the most grace-filled environment. It is highly disciplined and highly competitive.  I would turn the wrong way; sometimes I would miss a turn or step completely. I once even fell flat on my face after a jump.  The teacher started saying things like, "Lydia, you can go last, so you have time to think about the exercise."

photo credit: giphy

Almost two years ago, I would feel sick to my stomach every time Thursday evenings rolled around. I wanted to stay in the class, because I knew the challenge would be good for me, but I also hated looking dumb for an hour and a half each week.

THEN.

One week. The unthinkable happened. We were going across the floor individually doing grand allegro (huge jumps), and my stomach was gurgling. I was ridiculously nervous. But grand allegro tends to be what I am the best at. And then, as I launched myself in the air...

....

A huge fart, that sounded louder than a fog horn, escaped from deep within me. It wasn't one of those polite toots. It was a rumbly, earth shaking, butt-flapper, bazooka bottom, ROAR.

doodle credit: me


I cannot begin to tell you how embarrassing that was.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my teacher's startled face. Her eyes were bigger than those scary Korean girls who get plastic surgery.

Had I been with friends, I would have stopped to make a joke and to acknowledge it, but in ballet, you don't stop half-way through an exercise. So I kept on going. Didn't acknowledge it. Couldn't acknowledge it. But I know everyone had heard it..and I knew they were thinking, "Man, terrible dancer girl will henceforth be known as the girl who farted."

The embarrassment of me farting hung in the air far longer than the stench.

For weeks after that moment, I dreaded going on Thursdays even more. I was already really terrible at it, but now I knew I was also known as farty girl. Friends tried to console me, but really, they would end up agreeing with me. Yup. Mega embarrassing. Nope. No one is going to forget that moment for a long time.

One day, I was reading a verse in Galatians, where Paul writes, "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?"

I know it sounds really dumb, that something as trivial as a fart would crush me so much, but as I read that verse, I was really convicted. Why was I always so nervous to go to ballet class?  Why did it matter so much that I sucked? Why was that laughable, embarrassing moment so crushing for me? Why did it pulverize my soul so much?

It was because I wasn't doing ballet as a way to worship God. All I cared about was the approval of man. God used a seriously funny moment (albeit the MOST embarrassing moment, to date) to point out a huge idol in my life. Tim Keller has this great quotation:

" If you love anything more than God, you will crush that object under the weight of your expectations."

Farting in ballet class made me realize that I cared more about the approval from man than I cared to worship God out of His approval. I often worry greatly about what other people think, even when I already have the approval of the Greatest on my side-- an approval, which thankfully, doesn't hinge on being good at ballet or good at life.

So... why am I telling you about my farts?

In the past few months, I've gotten numerous texts/emails from women reading this blog and saying that the number one thing that prevents them from going to the gym or exercising is looking dumb and looking like they don't know what they are doing when they're at the gym.

The platitudes that are oft given: "Don't worry, no one knows that they're doing!" or "Everyone has to start somewhere! Don't worry if you look dumb!" These are true statements; I often go to the gym and see something like this:


But these things don't address the heart. Because ultimately, the reason why we need not worry if we look dumb, the reason why we don't need to feel embarrassed-- even if we don't know how to use a treadmill-- is because there is someone who already approves of us. Going to the gym and keeping fit is just another way to worship God and enjoy who He is. Sometimes, we do this by laughing at ourselves,  other times we do this by humbling ourselves and asking someone else how to use the machines.

These days, I go to ballet class on Thursdays, and I care a lot less about what people think about me. I'm less focussed on myself and more focussed on allowing even my mediocre movements to be worshipful. It's freed me up a lot. I enjoy the classes more, I've made some friends, and I'm slowly getting better in the class. I'm now only lost about 40% of the time. haha.

At the end of the day, going to the gym (or to a ballet class where I'm probably known as the farty girl) isn't about me. It's not about how I look or how I perform. It's about worshipping the One who loves me assuredly...even when I play the tuba with my butt.

Wednesday, April 22

It has been awhile since I have blogged here. My lack of diligence hasn't been for a lack of exercising or a lack of health. I just haven't had much time, and faced with the choice of staying spiritually and physically healthy, or blogging, the choice has been pretty obvious. Actually, thinking about it, the fact that it is obvious to me, when it hasn't always been so evident, to me is confirmation that there is change going on in my heart! And, not gonna lie, change is S-L-O-W in this stubborn heart of mine.

This past Easter, I was reading the end of the book of John and was SLAIN. Whoa geez. I don't know how I've missed it all these years, because it seems so unmistakeable, but it was definitely something I never noticed. Hopefully, even if you've noticed this before, or, if you're more like me and have glossed over this part a million times, it will encourage your heart today.

By the time the closing chapters of John come around, Peter has already denied Jesus three times (Jn 18). He has remembered Jesus' prediction and has wept bitterly (Lk 22:61-62). He probably has also struggled with Jesus' teaching in Matthew 10, where Jesus says, "...but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven." These words must have clung to Peter's heart and haunted him, leaving him hopeless. Then, Jesus is crucified, dying a gruesome and what must have felt like a hopeless death. When John 21 rolls around, Peter has probably given up hope in His Saviour. In fact, Peter declares that he is going back to his old identity: that of a fisherman. Some other disciples join him.

They fish all night, but catch nothing. Sound familiar?

At the beginning of Luke, on the day when Jesus calls Peter for the first time, Peter has been fishing all night and has caught nothing (Lk 5:5). Enter Jesus, who tells Peter to try casting his net down again. They end up catching so much fish that their nets begin to break. Peter calls his friends over in another boat, and both boats are so full that they begin to sink. Peter is SO moved, so convicted by this that he falls down at Jesus' knees saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man." At the end of the story, Peter and the other fishermen are given new identities. They are now going to be fishers of men. They leave everything and follow Jesus.

So, after the huge mess of denying Jesus and after the crushing blow of seeing Jesus die on the cross, John must have felt hopeless. Hopeless enough to go back to his old identity, to his old job of fishing for regular fish. Also feeling guilty and also ridiculously dumb for believing so much and yet so little in the man of Jesus.

But then. As the day is breaking, Jesus appears on the shores. None of the disciples recognize him, but He tells them to cast their nets over the side of the boat, and there are so many fish that they can't haul their catch in! Their nets are so full, and yet, the net does not tear. It's a total déja vu, and a stark reference back to those first days of Jesus' ministry. It is then that they recognize Jesus.

When they come back to land, they see a charcoal fire where Jesus has prepared food for them. The words charcoal fire only appear one other time in the New Testament... in John 18, when Peter is warming his hands over a fire and ends up denying Jesus.

THIS. This is such a beautiful picture of redemption. Where Peter literally gets to start all over again. Where, after a time of melancholy over his choices, and feeling let down by His Saviour, Jesus shows him that he has an opportunity to begin afresh. I'm sure that as all of this was happening, Peter was reminded of those first days of walking alongside Jesus. Even setting up the charcoal fire, Jesus shows Peter that He knows when and where Peter had spurned Him, that He knows when and where Peter had rejected and denied him. But instead of reciprocating, instead of giving Peter what he deserves, Jesus chooses instead to provide for Peter and the other disciples.

Every day, I make choices. More often than not, I make poor choices. When it comes to eating, I deny my Saviour and eat food that won't satisfy and that disrespects the body that He has gifted me.  When it comes to exercise, I often prize laziness over endurance. But the physical realm isn't only where I make poor choices; I also make poor choices in other areas of my life. Sometimes (I write this with tears in my eyes), I even feel ashamed to speak of Jesus or tell my friends about Him. Romans 7:15-20 is a huge reality in my life. I have a new identity, but I often revert back to acting like my old self.

But Peter's story is our story!  Every day, nay, every moment, is an opportunity for us to reset and come before our Saviour and walk in step with Him. He doesn't offer condemnation. He offers redemption. He doesn't tell us to shape up and try harder in order for Him to offer us salvation. Instead, He offers Himself freely, and provides for us. He provides for our greatest need--to be saved from slavery and death-- and gives us completely new identities.

Peter would fail again (see Gal 2), and so will we. But His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23). That is a Very. Good. Promise. Full of hope for today and tomorrow, and all those times we fail.