Finding Hope when Helpless Holds You Hostage

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you. the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you with gladness.  With his love He will calm all of your fears.”

TGH stent pt 2

I gazed out of the hospital waiting room window, comforted that the ocean was my companion that day in the hours of not knowing.  It was peaceful to watch the birds dance among the crosswinds and dive into the water.  As I leaned into the window to capture more of the outside’s warmth, I watched with intent as a nearby boat stirred up the currents.

I knew if I turned my gaze too far away from the water, the lump in my throat and the hot tears that I had desperately been fighting to hold back would spill and I wouldn’t be able to stop them. I was determined to keep it together because after all, this was a standard procedure done all the time, by a respected doctor and it wasn’t an emergency situation this time. I told myself all of the reasons logically why I shouldn’t be afraid and yet I grappled with fear that I would be left to navigate this world alone without my best friend and the love of my life. A heavy sigh escaped me as once again, I felt so incredibly helpless.

Have you ever faced a situation that left you feeling powerless?

When life is humming along, we may not be as aware of His ever-presence.

It’s easy to have faith when you know how your bills will be paid next month.

It’s easy to trust God when you are feeling well and healthy.

It’s easy to praise God when your marriage is humming along, and your kids are making you proud.

And then comes the phone call or the knock at the door, the pink slip, the diagnosis, the thing you never saw coming… and it flips your world upside down.

Life can come at you fast and take some hard turns and it doesn’t matter how seasoned you are at dodging dropping shoes, things can get messy. WE can get messy and it’s often in the messy that we are forced to reckon with the fact that we aren’t in as much control as we thought.

So How Can We Take Back Control?

Awareness

John 10:10 tells us that the enemy is here to steal, kill and destroy, and 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

The deceiver of this world, Satan, is a liar and thief and he is out to take us down any chance he can get. He preys on our insecurities, he weasels his way into our weak spots and whispers deceptions about our circumstances and he delights in our demise.

As I continued to fix my gaze outside, fighting the internal struggle to keep my focus on the one who held my love in His capable hands, a doctor came out to speak with a distraught man and by the looks of the conversation, it was not good news.  In that moment, I felt like Peter who had stepped out onto the water and had taken his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink.  I begged God – Please, please, Lord, please, don’t take him from me, help me to trust you.  I was frozen with fear that I would be the next person to get the bad news. That I would go home alone. I had almost lost him once before and the memories came flooding back with acute clarity and a weight that tapped every root of anguish that, I now realize, I had allowed to follow me for the last many years.

Scripture warns us that there will be trouble in this world (John 16:20-33) and the enemy has no qualms about messing with every part of your life. He will take every shot he can at stealing your joy and your peace, every chance he gets, BUT

and this is a big BUT, he isn’t going to win because Jesus has already defeated him on the cross.

That bears repeating, JESUS HAS ALREADY DEFEATED SATAN. HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD!

FOCUS

And yet….our flesh is weak and we can waver in our seas of unknown, which is why it so important for us to keep our eyes fixed on Him.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

  He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
  indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 121:1-4

Our loving Father is so faithful at meeting us right where we are.

I was listening to praise and worship music to help keep my focus on Him and in the moments between the enemy bombs of uncertainty and before I had even finished my prayer, a song came on that was like His gentle and patient hand reaching down to lift me up and once again, pull me out of the rising waters. The lyrics resonated in my head,

” Seas that are shaken and stirred can be calmed and broken for my regard…

And far be it from me to not believe even when my eyes can’t see…

So, let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and the wind still know His name…and it is well with my soul.”

TRUST

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I felt His calming embrace rise up through me and then a series of questions in my head as clear as day….

“Do you trust me?

Will you release your love to me?

Completely?

If I take your love home today, will you trust me?

Will you trust me to take what matters to your heart the most?

Will you give him to me?”

Was God really asking me to be okay if my husband didn’t survive the surgery?

Philippians 4:7 reminds us that, “God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your minds and hearts safe in union with Christ Jesus.”

It was an unexplainable feeling but somehow amid this painfully difficult internal conversation, I was enveloped with His calm. Even though I was still so scared, my sense of helplessness supernaturally shifted to feeling helped and held.

And I knew that I had to let go all the way and let God.

All the way.

He was asking me to accept that I might go home alone.

Who was I to question God?

I didn’t want to let go of my husband but God was asking me in that very moment to have the faith of a mustard seed, to let go of my false sense of control that the enemy would have me stay enslaved to.

I conceded and laid my husband at the altar of God’s will.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” 

Psalm 143:8

A short time later the doctor came out to talk to me.

As he approached, my stomach churned, and my heart skipped a beat, but I also felt the unmistakable peace of God rush over me again.

“We’re all done. He is recovering well, and we have cleared the blockage.”

Praise the Lord!! My heart welled and I felt in my heart the Lord rejoicing with me.

When we are faced with what may feel like an insurmountable situation and we get caught up in feeling out of control, remember; the One who knows every page of our story is walking alongside us NO MATTER WHAT!

He will not leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) and when we keeps our eyes on Him,  He will bless us in the messiness of the unknown and empower us to experience a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and he will rescue us from our hopeless helplessness.

The question is, will you let Him?

How has God helped you break free from helplessness?

Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!

Find your Peace: Relationship

Photo by Sam Barber on Unsplash

Looking around at the world today, peace seems ever so distant as a worldwide pandemic marches through a second year, political unrest and atrocities are escalating at a terrifying rate, natural disasters are at every corner and the mental health of a weary world languishes.

Relationships and families are strained, bank accounts are empty, careers are up in the air, front line workers are exhausted and the idea of “normal” seems to be evading our reach.

So how exactly are we to find our peace when the world is falling apart around us?

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-33)

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get caught up in trying to understand what a bible verse is trying to tell me and I get stumped by the verbiage. When this happens, I will look over other translations to further glean understanding. In this case, I got tripped up over what “yolk” meant. ( TLDR yolk can mean bondage, burden or influence. More here).

And then I settled on the The Message version of this verse to help me break it down more easily.

Jesus asks, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Who wants to live Freely and Lightly?

Ummm, yes please! Sign me up. I want to live freely and lightly! I don’t want to be tired, worn out and burned out on religion. So how do we get there?

Jesus unpacks his invitation in this verse with a great road map.

Come to Me

It starts with an invitation to approach God. Plain and simple. He gives us free will in this world. We choose whether we want Him in our lives or not. But He REALLY wants to be a part of our lives and makes a point of reminding us throughout scripture how intimately he knows us, how important we are to Him, and how very much He loves us. He created us. He knows our every thought and every tear. He wants to have an up close and personal relationship with us and James 4:8 tells us that IF we draw near to God, God will draw near to us.

WHOA! So, the God of the universe, will meet lil ol me if I come to Him?

Not only that, but He tells us that that He will REWARD us for seeking Him with diligence.

I think it’s safe to say that God came up with the first (and BEST) rewards program!

Walk with Me

Not only is God going to meet me if I go to him, but He is going to walk with me?

You bet your bottom dollar! (what does that even mean?)

“For the LORD your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4)

In walking with me, He is going to fight for me!

Now, I admit, I’m a bit of a nerd and when I read this I might have envisioned God in a Marvel type costume, taking names and kicking butt and it got me super excited because who doesn’t love it when good crushes evil?

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

And He is going to comfort me.

The same God who is my ultimate Super Hero, is also right there with me when I can’t get out of bed with depression or in a hospital waiting room, not knowing if a loved one will live.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)

He is going to protect me!

Now, this is the promise that I think we are really clueless about because, well, we don’t know the whole story and the author of creation, who was and is and is to come (Revelation 4:8) is the only one who can truly keep tabs on our rescues. That all being said, I have a feeling I make a cat with 9 lives look like nothing and and am grateful that He has my six.

Work With Me

Relationships take work and there is no exception to our heavenly relationships. However, the work of the relationship with our heavenly Father is WAY different than any other. If we hand him the keys to our car that we call life, he will do a much better astronomically better job of taking the wheel and leading us to our destination without us turning our lives into a demolition crash derby…IF we let Him.

When we COME to Him and WALK with him then we come to recognize His voice more clearly and when we hear Him more clearly,

“…your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. “(Isaiah 30:21)

And then our WORK with Him becomes a concert of love, trust and faith that sets us closer to the work He promised to finish within us.

“You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33)

Watch Me

 “Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence. Psalm 105:4)”

Time and again, especially in the last several years, God has been so faithful in showing me His presence when I’ve kept my heart and eyes open for His confirmation of plans that we have prayed over.

Right before Covid took off, we were desperate to find a more affordable place to live. We had been looking to no avail for 8 months, with several doors closing in our faces. We were feeling desperate, defeated and frustrated.

Then, in God’s “keep us on our toes and amaze us” fashion, He swept in and in a matter of 2 weeks, we found a place, won the bid of approval over several others that had looked before us AND the landlord insisted on moving us in early with no rent due for the extra weeks.

To make it even sweeter and reassure us that we were in His good and perfect plan, we got this wonderful welcome over our new house the day we moved in.

By the way, I’ve not seen any skywriting again since in our neighborhood.

“Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers, and remember to be thankful when they come. ” (Colossians 4:2)

Boy, howdy! I can’t tell you how thankful I am that God opened the doors wide for us to move at exactly the right time. Had we stayed at the previous house, we may very well have ended up homeless, as we lost my income right about the time we moved and little did I know, it would be that way for some time.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

Worry is the weakness of the flesh that keeps me in chains when I take my eyes off of my peacemaker.

Yup, worry is a sin and I dance with the temptation pretty much every time I read the news (hmmmm, maybe I need to rethink my news reading habits more seriously).

That’s when it’s imperative to tap into that yolk business! Easy and light is a tool He has handed us that makes life much easier to navigate.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

Learn from Me

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

There is a LOT of drama in the bible!

From a literary standpoint, it covers all the bases and then some. There are compelling characters and countless stories with layers of intent that can suck you right in! Every word was scripted with purpose and ultimately, hope. It demonstrates that anything is possible when God is involved!

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)

And if you’re not sure about what you are supposed to do in any given situation, it circles right back to our first clue on the roadmap, COME to Him and ask!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)

Spend time with Me

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation3:20)

God wants to go to breakfast with you, or walk on the beach with you. He wants to hear about you day, your dreams, your thoughts.

Yeah, yeah, I know, He’s omnipotent. He already know all the all the hairs on your head, so why bother sharing all of that with Him, and why would He want to take time out of His busy schedule to have waffles?

BECAUSE HE LOVE YOU!

And because living in this fallen, broken world, He knows that a close communion with Him will help us find that “free and lightly” that He promises when we keep our eyes on Him.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:33)

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

When we come to Jesus, we get to know Him better and as we walk with Jesus, we find protection, comfort, direction, and love.

And as we watch and learn from our Father, at least in my own experience, I desire to spend more time with Him and find I can hear His voice and leading more clearly.

When I choose to keep my eyes on Him, I find myself tasting the sweet elixir of the unforced rhythms of grace that scripture describes,

I find peace.

Are you ready to find your peace?

I encourage you to put this verse to the test and see how you too, can find you peace!

Not sure where to start? Try spending 5 minutes at the start or end of your day reading the bible. A great starting place is Psalms or Proverbs. Talk to God! Not sure what to say? That’s okay, He’s just happy to have waffles with you!

Questions? Comments? Leave a note below!

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You are beautiful, No, really, YOU are beautiful!

I don’t like my thighs, my skin is too pale, I wish I could get rid of the belly, I don’t feel pretty……

Sound familiar?

Do you spend time looking around at the others and wishing for their tan or their height,or their straight teeth?

Do you look in the mirror and focus on your flaws? Is that all you see?

Do you feel inadequate because you don’t look like you think you should?

The world would have you think that you MUST look a certain way to be successful, to be accepted, to be worthy, but listen my sister (or brother)

That is the lie of the enemy and you better believe that he is going to take as much advantage of your self image issues as he can and he is going to run with it and use it against you.

The bible tells us that we are God’s workmanship ( Ephesians 2:10)

If you look at the synonyms for workmanship, you will find words like, artistry, expertise, skill and know-how.

Another version of the bible uses the word masterpiece, which invokes other words such as jewel, treasure, prize and perfection.

So, another way of reading this verse is, we are His artistic creation that is made perfectly as he intended, with great skill.

It’s sometimes hard to remember this when we are popping pimples, or struggling with our weight, or losing our hair to chemo or when we feel our bodies(or minds) don’t measure up in any number of ways.

But we MUST STOP the negative narratives we are having about ourselves.

When we undervalue ourselves, when we look at ourselves with disgust, are we not in turn undervaluing our creator Himself? Have you ever stopped to think that when we belittle ourselves we are in turn, saying that the creator of the universe made a mistake?

To take it a step further, the bible teaches us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves ( Matthew 22:29)

Have you ever stopped to think how our negative self image can affect how we love others?

Proverbs 27:19 says that “as water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

I am not saying that it is easy to flip off our nitpicking Nellie ways – there are many complicating factors that come into play such as when others in our lives feed into our negative self image with harsh criticism, abuse and neglect.

Some of us have a bigger hill to climb when it comes to overcoming our self-deprecating ways, but the enemy would have us believe that it is normal and acceptable to see our imperfections and flaws as failures. In his deceptive ways he can lead us to feeling we are unworthy and that self love is unattainable. These feelings of shame and unworthiness can lead us to believe that we are undeserving of love from others and even our own creator.

Listen to me!! That is not the life your heavenly Father has for you and He loves you right where you are, as you are, and He reminds us in Proverbs that (IF we let Him)HE will be our confidence and keep our feet from being ensnared (Proverbs 3:26)

It’s not easy to break those bad habits of sabotaging ourselves, but if we are to allow the Potter to shape the clay that is our lives in the way that He can bless us the most ( because He wants to bless the pants off of us!), we have to start being more aware of the ways the enemy is trying to take us out. He’s never fair about it and he is going to be sneaky about it. How many of us don’t give much thought to when we tear ourselves down? How much of a habit is it for you?

I find that one of my favorite Psalms gives me the stepping off point of reclaiming my self worth the way my Father intended. It is a simple, yet powerful prayer that reaches far in helping us find healing and purpose in embracing all that the Lord wants for us, which definitely includes loving ourselves.

“Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24

When we tear ourselves down, we are offending God because God does not make mistakes!

YOU are not a mistake and YOU are beautiful.

The Ramblings of a sheep

When the path is unclear

and this sheep has found herself wandering around in circles

She apparently finds it more comforting (at this moment) to write in the third person.

It’s the ramblings of a blogger who blogs to no one but herself really

and she finds that she’s ok with that.

It’s putting out there that it’s ok

to not always be ok

And to tell herself that out loud (or in a post anyways)

She, like many in this super weird season,

feels alone

isolated

Not sure of her sense of purpose anymore

Far away from many she loves

And yet gratefully entwined with a love that is only second to God

She has created her garden and loved well her velveteen dog

she has sat at her Father’s feet ( but never enough)

and did her best to try to stay in the moment

and is still trying to stay in the moment

before the cascade of anxiety threatens to topple her fragile heart

She is tired

She is worn down

She has grown weary

But she will remember that she can hide under the wings of her protector

She is beloved

She will always be strongest in her weakest moments because

Her Father will never lose sight of His sheep

And while she may wander in circles for a season and wonder in her sheepy little head her sheepy little ways

He will always be right there with her

And He will bless her

Even when she can’t see it right away

She will

Because she is the daughter of a King

Be the Light

The world is on fire and hearts are breaking plenty

The world is on fire and the heart of man is weary

oh so weary.

The storms are a blowin

And the earth is a groanin

And the mind won’t stop goin

What will happen when she blows

Watching anger rise on the wicked tides of hearts been deceived

Scales thick upon their eyes

Too long the road of hatred and inhumanity

When will they see the evil of their greed?

When will they stop their incessant need

Of power control and debauchery?

When will they stop hatin

When did their hearts freeze

We all bleed the same

It’s the same air we all breathe

What will it take

To open our eyes

The path we are on in hatred

is our own demise

When will we look at each other with love

Not with judgement and vile

We must rise above

We all bleed the same

We all feel the pain

There is nothing good that comes from violence

We can make the change

We can change the tides

you and I

Make it right

Change the Tides

By every choice we make

In the day to day

We can Change the tides

In our kindness

Not in empty words and lies

We can be the difference

Let it be today

We can make the change

We can roll this tidal wave

We are all in this together

The peacemaker cries

We can chose to be the light

We can choose to be kind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perspective

PerspectiveShot

“For the word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double edge sword- it penetrates even dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. “ Hebrews 4:12

That’s intense and incredible and terrifying and encouraging and….life changing.

I am so grateful that we have a God who has taken so much care to give us a living guidebook on how to navigate this pilgrimage that we are on.

I am grateful that it has so much power.

I love that as we change and grow the same chapter and verse we may have read or heard a thousand times over can breathe new wisdom into our lives in so many different ways, depending where we are on the trip and how God wants to use it.

So….COVID-19.  What an opportunity to delve into this alive and active word of God.

It’s been over 8 weeks since I last worked, and I have no idea when I will be able to go back or even IF I will be able to go back anytime soon.  It’s a career that has been my passion and a major love in my life for over twenty years.  That’s a hard pill to swallow. I know in my heart, it is clear that I have to walk away – at least for a season. How long will that season last? Only God knows. And what do I do next? Only God knows!

It’s a time in history when all of our lives are being turned upside down in ways we never imagined, the repercussions yet to be fully felt.

We don’t know when this season will pass (but it will – IT WILL)

and it will never be like it was – as all things change.

It is a season where our awareness of the unknown, as a world, is suddenly much more acute and our battle to try and control might have us curled up in a ball paralyzed with fear, or self-medicating to numb the crippling anxiety, or trying not to lose our temper because anger is eating at our insides because we feel so helpless. It has us reaching and searching for how we can get back to normal…whatever that is.

The struggle was never more real. We feel trapped and confused and any array of emotions at any given moment. Some of us are rocking our inner introvert and some of us have never been so lonely. Some of us are ready to get away from the people we live with while some of us are connecting more deeply, and some of us are just feeling… a bit crazy.

But we are all in this together and we all have choices to make. We can choose to let it define us or we can be bold and brave and let God define it for us and through us.

This is a moment in history where we have an opportunity. We have a choice.

Every day.

To be the light in a dark world.

“Because whoever walks in the dark, does not know where they are going” (John 12:35)

and

“So that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

To embrace action in our thoughts, words and deeds.

“For we are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 2:5

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

We have a choice

to be kind

“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

And we have a choice

to be patient

“Be still and wait patiently for the Lord to act.” Psalms 37:7

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. ” Isaiah 40:31

For many of us, our circle of influence may very small right now, maybe even just the people in our homes. You may be saying

“How can I be a light in the world when I haven’t even left my driveway in ______________days?

How are my thoughts, words, and deeds that big of a deal? I live by myself.

How can I possibly be any more patient? This homeschooling is a beast! Or my family is making me nuts!!

Bottom line?

Ministry starts at home! All of that stuff above

Starts.     At.     Home.

I think it can be one of the toughest places for us to reconcile ourselves to God’s calling and yet the ripples of impact can be far reaching in the kingdom.

Is it easy? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  At home, we are with the people that know us at our best and our worst. That is why (especially in this season) it also gives us a chance to REALLY examine and practice loving the way God wants us to love. Look at this as practice for when we are more out in the world again. Are you going to fail? Yup. Probably a lot, but that gives us yet another opportunity to dive into the word of God, seeking out how alive and active it can really be – in grace and forgiveness (that’s another post!).

But how can I be light when I am by myself?

Maybe this is a season that focuses more on what you are putting in your mind which can ultimately affect how you shine into the world.  Is loneliness or depression affecting you? What are you watching? What are you listening to? What are you reading? Who are you talking to?

While I do live with my husband, he works 10 hours a day, so I have had   a fair amount of time alone in this season.  I know for myself, that it’s when I am lost in my own head that the enemy can mess with me the most if I am not careful!

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. “Romans 8:6

So, maybe this is a season about taking inventory of what you are putting in your mind and heart and asking God to

“Search me God, know my heart, test my thoughts and point out in me anything that makes you sad.” Psalms 139:23-24

You’ve heard the saying “you are what you eat” well, the same goes for what you put in your mind.  The thoughts in your head can affect your heart and what’s in your heart can spill out into the world. What are you eating this season? Spiritual fruit or junk food?

And then, there is patience.

Oh patience!!

Where are you?

This is a major struggle point for many of us! Especially right now. Will I ever be able to ___________again?  Is that person ever going to stop________?  There are a lot of fill in the blanks for everyone and not all of us are acting our best while we wait.   We have all heard the term, hurry up and wait – well, nothing like a global pandemic to get up in our kool-aid and force us to get eyeball to eyeball with  our level of patience.

The dictionary defines patience as this –   the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

I don’t know if you have looked around lately, but there is a heap of angry and upset floating around (often tied in with fear of the unknown). And it is in that vein, as believers, that it is REALLY important for us to set the tone, starting at home.

I know, I know…it is soooo much easier sometimes to bow out and throw a tantrum, be condescending, do it halfway, settle, speak before thinking, rush the process, quit or a myriad of other actions that result from impatience.

Getting uncomfortable yet? I know I am…cause a lot of that list came from a close and personal heart to heart with the Holy Spirit about my own struggles with patience. Ouch!

And I am asking you to practice that at home? During a pandemic? You bet I am!

Developing patience can be such a game changer and the payoff is spectacular.

Just not spectacularly immediate.

Patience boils down to being all about the wait.

And speaking of wait, it has occurred to me that I still have way too much to say about the importance of patience (see what I did there?)

But I will leave you with this sneak peek before we dive into that spectacular payoff I was talking about.

“Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18

In the Hei Hei days

 

Watch this!

Hei Hei was a big  part of my move to Florida. He represented how I think we all feel about life sometimes when it gets overwhelming and upside down and scary. When we are thrown into the unfamiliar, uncomfortable and unexpected.

I mean really, Hei Hei became the poster child for us when we would start to feel the “meltdown freak outs” of ” are we really doing this?”  I even taped a picture of him to my “Moving to Florida” journal.

And would you believe, we still refer to  Hei Hei when referring to change on the horizon?

We were moving from everything we had ever known to someplace where we knew absolutely no one and would be starting over completely.

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It was a leap of faith –  we had felt God call us a full year before it was time to move and we were terrified, but we trusted God . We left without jobs and barely found a place to live before arriving to our new life but just as He has always promised, He was right there with us and gently ( and sometimes not so gently) guiding us along the way.

Fast forward to almost two years later and once again we are in a Hei Hei season. Ha! As a matter of fact, just last night my hubby had exclaimed “Honey, this feels like a Cat 5 Hei Hei!” I am not quite there (truth be told, it depends on the minute) but overwhelmed none-the-less. I have struggled in my thoughts and have had to be mindful of reminding myself to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, that just like when we left everything behind in Texas, Jesus was right there along side of us, keeping us on track, even when it didn’t always feel like it.

2 Corinthians 12:9-11 is a verse I have clung to often in the ups and downs of life, and really sums up a rather poignant way we can grow and bear fruit in our faith.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for POWER is perfected in weakness. ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may  dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

It doesn’t feel good – the weakness, the insults, the distresses, but I have noticed on my own path, that in my focus on my weakness and His strength, it somehow softens the blows that this world can bring – almost like I am in a bubble and it buffers the full sting of whatever may be hitting the fan at the time and yet refines the work that He is doing in me. It still doesn’t feel particularly great, but there is comfort in knowing that you are not in this world alone and that God can use it for your benefit and His glory.

A dear friend of mine recently took to attracting caterpillars and butterflies and giving them a place to turn into their magical selves and I loved living vicariously through her experiences! And to hear the joy of her recalling how they spent the morning watching this amazing creation happen!  It reminded me that we are so much like the caterpillars in this world, being pruned and refined and restored  and changed to be all that God has created us to be….made new.

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The Hei Hei days can really get me down sometimes.  Despite that,  I have noticed that they are also laced with great nuggets of joy that God plants along our path to encourage us and remind us of his Greatness and his perfect, never changing love. I am ever so grateful that I am a daughter of a king that likes to remind me of that! The Hei Hei days keep us more reliant on our Father, and remind us that He has us and our best in mind.  We may not always understand it, or why it happens the way it does but ultimately we can find blessings in our Hei Hei days.

I love that we have a Father that will scoop us up into his arms in our Hei Hei moments, and patiently, gently, remind us that He has us in the palm of His hand and love us and will be with us and that He will bless us – we just gotta keep looking to Him.

On a particularly bad day recently, I followed the breadcrumbs He left me through Facebook of all things, and this song found me. He so often speaks to me in music and this was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Father for putting up with my Hei Hei and using it to bless me despite myself. Your love never ceases to amaze me. Selah

 

 

 

 

He Restores

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“He Restores my soul.” Psalms 23:3

Have you ever refurbished a piece of furniture? I think everyone should do it at least once. It’s not a quick process ( well, at least it wasn’t for me) and takes patience. Especially if it’s an older piece.

When I was starting out and got my first apartment, In the search for cheap  vintage furniture for my new space, I found this wonderful thick, oak, rustic coffee table at a second-hand store. It needed some love, but it was meant to be mine. Mind you, the table remained in a state of “needing love” for some time before I brought it back to it’s former glory. I was working full time and going to college, so spare time was a rarity.

I finally had a moment to catch my breathe during Christmas break and since I was living in an apartment, I didn’t exactly have a space to make noise sanding or enough ventilation to strip the many layers of stain, paint and epoxy off of the table, so  I loaded the table in the back of my little Toyota and headed off to my parents place in the country. I set up shop in their little shed, opened the windows wide and went to work. It was cold and snowing and I remember that I would work at it until my hands were so cold they would not cooperate  and then I would go back into the warm house where mom always had a cup of hot tea  waiting for me. When I got to the legs of the table, I had to do a lot of hand sanding- the sander was too big to fit into all of the nooks and crannies of the grooves and I would get impatient and distracted, but I was determined that I would go home with that table finished. It took me the better half of three days to complete my project but I did it and I was proud of my handiwork. The wood had been  smoothed out and restored and I could truly appreciate all of the grooves and markings that made it unique.

Our heavenly Father seeks to do the same for us, to restore us. It was never promised that this world would be easy. John 16:33 tells us that we will have trouble, but  also that He, Jesus, has overcome the world. Our Father loves us so very much and He wants us to know a life abundant. He is a God that knows each and every one of us intimately –  He was there when we were created and knows our every thought, our every tear, our every hope and dream(Psalms 139). Sometimes it is difficult to see that when we are in the midst of losing a job, losing our health, losing a spouse or a child, falling into addiction, becoming immersed in things of the world, that HE….is still there right beside us and that HE can use all things for our good and that HE can restore us completely. Now, once we become aware that he can restore us and we have that hope, we have to remember that what we might envision as restoration might not be what He has in mind.   I know that  for myself, after coming out of a  long, difficult season, that I have had hope for the restoration, but have been guilty of not entirely believing that it was meant for me. For others, yes,  but for me, eh….I just figured  that this was my path and I was resolved to it, but God wants to restore ALL of his children.  Joel 2:25 tells us “I will repay you for the years the swarming locusts have eaten -the great locust and the young locust, the other locust and the locust swarm.”

I liken us to the table that I refurbished… it’s not instant. It was a process and just like me sanding  and wiping away the layers of epoxy, paint and old stain, the Father is doing the same to us. His 3 days might not look like ours and it may take much longer than we anticipate but He is the great physician, our provider, our comforter, our healer and so much more. We can forget that His ways are not our ways and that He sees the big picture and knows how to bless us far more abundantly than we could ever imagine. It is often in the sanding of those hard to reach nooks and crannies, held lovingly in the hands of our Savior, that  the work He has started in us reveals a restoration of ourselves and our circumstances that leaves us revived beyond what words can touch.

Sometimes, His hands reach out to restore us in small ways, in our quiet moments outside when watching a sunset or other times,  in much more significant ways such as when we connect with a loved one that we thought we would never find that kind of connection with again.  And sometimes the restoration is is just outright miraculous. My husband had a heart attack 4 years ago that should have been fatal. There are only 12% of the population that even survive the kind of heart attack he had. Not only did my husband survive, but as of his exam this year, he has been completely healed. The cardiologist even had the actual echo-cardiogram sent to his office because he didn’t believe the report he read. God restored his heart completely!

In whatever season you are in, whether on a mountain, or in a valley, Take heart and remember that you are the daughter/son of a King that loves you as far as the east is from the west and that He is faithful to strengthen you, refresh you, and restore you!

“And the God of all grace, who calls you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”- 1 Peter 5:10

 

 

 

Hodegeo – The greek word meaing to be a guide or a teacher, to give guidance to

I’ve always been a fan/not fan of the “two by four” prayer – the prayer I am afraid to pray yet feel compelled to pray if I am to be sure of what I think God is telling me. I am telling God, PLEASE, hit me right between the eyes – help me to discern what it is that your will is for me. Of course, I am a huge fan of walking in the will of God, not so much a fan of being out of control or dealing with the unknown. Despite not being a fan of the lack of control and fear factors, one of the many jewels that the Lord has planted in my heart is that as a follower of Christ, I should just settle in to being comfortably uncomfortable. If He is to be faithful to me in completing the good works He has started in me, there is going to be refinement. And refinement, well, it is defined as a natural resource that is almost in a usable form, but which is more useful in its pure form.

So, It was April fools weekend and a  precious, trusted friend had just shared a word with me from the Holy Spirit.  She  didn’t want to tell me at first, but she felt it was persistent on her heart. She told me ” It is time to go, it’s time to put your house on the market and go into a land that I will show you.”   After almost a year of praying and seeking God’s wisdom and clarity about packing up our entire lives and moving half-way across the country, His “wait” had become, “Go.”

Just like that.

I went home and shared her words with my husband, giddy and terrified. We prayed together and asked, Lord, we need another sign, just to be sure. And the next day, another friend (who didn’t know the first friend) told us basically the same thing I had heard the day before. “It’s time to go.” All of a sudden, it was all becoming very real, very fast and again, we asked God, “Lord, just one more word, to be sure we are walking in your will.” And that brings me to this sermon by  Brady Boyd. As we sat in church mere hours after  we had received word from our second friend, we  listened to his words and we felt the unmistakable nudge of the Holy Spirit, telling us, yes, it’s time, and this IS my will for you.  You will never be alone, I will be with you every step of the way. Trust me.

If ever you doubted that God wants to draw near to you, that He wants to be a part of your life and to bless it, just take the next 30 minutes and listen and I challenge you to pray the same three words that Pastor Boyd talks about. You’ll have to watch til the end to find out, but I promise, it’s worth it.

 

Being Still in the Midst of Messy

Being Still.

The Lord keeps taking me back to that lesson. It’s a daily struggle but I have noticed that when I do stop and be still, I hear that still small voice of God so much more clearly, and more importantly, I hear it. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in life. It can be messy, it can be painful, it can be non-stop and sometimes, just plain unbearable.

I have weathered some storms in my life and if I have learned one thing it’s that I can navigate better when I am leaning in and taking and making time to be still in the presence of Jesus.

I know…it may seem impossible but there IS a way – *Psalms 29 tells us how amazingly strong  and powerful our GOD IS. It may only be a 5 minute walk down the street, or it may be a whole day curled up on the couch with ne’er a soul to be found all day, but God will show you opportunities to check in with him to connect.   He loves us and wants the best for us and wants to spend time with us so He can help us navigate our seasons of life with seasoning. I believe that it is the moments we take to sit with Him, especially in the messy, that helps craft our spirits into the salt that we are to be in the world, because “The Lord gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace.”

– Psalms 29:11

And it all goes back to being still. *Elijah, a major prophet, stood in the presence of God way before that ( the presence of God) was a thing on earth and experienced earthquakes, and fires and all kinds of crazy and you know what? When did God speak up?

In a whisper. A good reason to be still.

So…. I have been struggling to stay focused and have been trying to practice the very lesson that the Lord has put on my heart to share here. And today, in my attempts at “being still” time, I heard that whisper, but it was clear. I was praying about how to mange our finances and at the same time keep my working hours to part-time. The Lord had put on my heart earlier this year, that this is a year of restoration. Last year was transition, this year – restoration. A thought flitted through my head that I was on the right path currently.  It was in that moment that I asked God to tell me again, make sure I heard Him right. And technology. That was his avenue today and it was awesome. Not 30 seconds after the thought flit and the prayer, my Pandora started playing the song that was one of our first encouragements from God when He revealed that wanted us to move across the country to a place where we knew no one. AND my meditation app launched with a background of birds singing at the same time, which is also significant for me as birds were a big part of God preparing me for this adventure ( another great God story for another day). There it was –  the whisper.

My heart bursts with joy that we have a God that actively wants to engage and interact with each of us right where we are, when we are, no matter how crazy or broken we may feel, He wants his relationship with us to be personal.

Be still.

*Psalms 29

Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 

2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. 
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. 
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. 
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. 
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. 
7 The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. 
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. 
9 The voice of the LORD twists the oaksand strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. 
11 The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
*1 Kings 19:11-12

11 The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.