We Can Do Hard Things

You never know what you can do until you have to do it.

12038515_10208120059425782_2205531781384824545_nI used to never really consider myself strong.  I use to doubt my endurance for hard things.  I would think of certain scenarios and think there was no way I could ever endure something like that!  I was young and life had not been truly hard.

Have you ever thought like this?  It’s possible I’m a lone bird on this one.  I get stuck in my head quite a bit.  But, on the off chance you have ever wondered how you’re going to make it, or do THAT, or what if, then maybe this is for you.

One of my very favorite sayings floating around lately is a hefty reminder.  And, you better hang on for it!

“We can do hard things.” 

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I’m not really sure how this fits into today’s culture.  For the most part, we are busy entertaining and indulging ourselves and avoiding uncomfortableness at all costs.  I try to avoid stress and anxiety.  I know my margins and am pretty good at trying hard to not cross them.

So, in today’s “first world problem” culture, the hard, ugly, messy, costly, inconvenient and uncomfortable are usually avoided like the .  If it is out of the carefully crafted comfort zone we have so strategically arranged, it must not be for me.  Check.  Not going there.

But, what about the gift of inconvenience?  What about the gift of hard?

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I’ve had the privilege of knowing women who have done hard.  My mom did hard for over 10 years as she was the primary caregiver for my sweet father as he slowly withered away.  I’ve watched my mothers-in-law take care of grandchildren as their own and nurse a dying bitter man with grace and patience. I’ve seen women pick up family and home and move across the world and endure hardship in order to rescue children and women from slavery.  There are all kinds of hard.

We can do hard things.

In fact, life is more rewarding and satisfying if we do hard.  Perpetually taking the easy road and always choosing the easy leads to comatose living.  If that is even considered living.

Sometimes, we really have no choice.  The hard is shoved at us with the force of a tsunami, and we have to swallow it and keep afloat.  Our world is shoved into another realm and we must adjust our course or be obliterated.  Sometimes, it seems we have had more than our fair share of hard and inconvenient.  It appears all we do is hard.  I’ve been there.

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We can do hard things.

I have a beautiful passage of Scripture you need to hear!  Psalm 16:5-6 goes like this:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 

You may be wondering how I’m going to take this verse and make it work to convince you that, yes, you can do hard things.  Well, here it is.  I have had a very long season…years even…of doing very hard things.  In fact, it came like the waves of the ocean.  I often felt as if I was going to drown from the unrelenting surge of hard.  Life looked bleak and it was breaking me.  The years of pounding had me convinced this would never end.  This seemingly had become the course of my life.  I was constantly looking over my shoulder waiting for the next wave.  Not a hope-filled, joyful journey by any stretch.  I anticipated lack instead of abundance.  I waited for darkness more than light.  I expected drought instead of blessing.

Now, on the other side of the hard, I realize I have learned some valuable lessons.

1. I am stronger than I ever thought I was.

2. The hard doesn’t last forever.

3. I can’t do it on my own, but with Christ and friends, I can do anything.

4. Christ sees it all, and……now, look back at Psalm 16:5-6.

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

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The beauty and grace I never thought I would ever see again, has indeed, come.  He never left me.  And, in fact, He holds my inheritance and the borders of my life are stretched to beautiful places.  Life isn’t perfect.  Not everything works right all the time.  Not everything has been fully restored.  But, I anticipate in due time, all things will be made right.

There is something about going through hard and inconvenient, instead of caving and crumbling.   There are lessons we learn and strength we gain.  Strength begets strength.  By not choosing the easiest, or bypassing the hard,  a rock hard strength develops within you.  One. Choice. At. A. Time.

Every time we choose to do hard, we choose strength.  Each time we don’t give up, we choose spiritual fortitude.  And, it is just amazing to see where we are taken in Christ through the journey.  As we come out through the suffocating, restricting and confining alleyways of the hard, we come upon the wide open vistas of grace and hope that stretch out before us.  We see it is both beautiful and breathtaking!  Oh, the light and stunning grace!  He knows us and gives us beauty for ashes.  Yes, we may lose much, but the inheritance promises to be worth the journey!

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Disappointment

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Disappointment.

Who isn’t familiar with it?  It’s a part of life.

Walking through disappointment with kids will wrench your gut and wring you out.  As a mom, I know life happens.  There is no way to protect them from disappointment and do them justice.  In those hard moments, there is so much wisdom to be poured into these sensitive hearts.

I really love those moments of teaching our young ones to process pain and disappointment in a healthy way.  I certainly don’t love the circumstances that bring the pain, though.  But, what shallow and weak human beings they will be if I don’t shepherd them through their difficulties.

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Today was such a day.  Another disappointing report crushed a young heart.  I could see it–a beautiful face fighting hard to hold back the tears.  A heart full of dreams and faith.  Lots of believing and praying childlike prayers.  It was in that moment I had to close my mouth and say a prayer.  I prayed for the right words to ignite a fire of faith.  My first thought was, “Lord, what do I say to another disappointing report?  What are you going to do about this?”

I know all too well these times come.  We don’t hear the answer we want to hear, we are passed by for what we deserve, people don’t live up to our expectations and wound us, or there is another delay in our answer.  And, we ask, “What am I supposed to do about this?  Where are you, God?”

Here are 3 thoughts to help us through these moments:

  • God sees and knows.
  • He never leaves us or forsakes us.
  • God works all things out for our good.

I absolutely believe God sees and knows all that is going on in our lives.  I know He never leaves us or forsakes us.  I know for a fact He works all things out for our good.  I know these three things to be true in my life.

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We have walked through some incredibly severe and trying situations as a family and I remember sensing God speak to me that He had seen it all and knows it all.  What a comfort that was to me!  Just hearing that affirmation of love still brings hope to my heart.  You know what that means?  He had never left me and He truly understands my pain like no other.  He would vindicate and heal the wounds in His good time.

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I told my disappointed one yesterday that God does not always answer in the fashion in which we envision in our minds.  Our small box of plans can’t even begin to hold the answer He has for our situations.  And further, if our disappointment and need hasn’t been answered just yet and we’re still breathing, then the answer is still on the way!

Big lessons for a young one.  Better to learn and solidify your faith at a young age and know for yourself this great big God of the universe than have to wait until your older and have no clue who He is!  Yes, I would love for this life to be smoother sailing, with more positive reports, but, I know He is with us even in those moments.

He is walking through it all with us.

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By the way, lots of love and hugs help, too!  God isn’t shocked or offended by our pain and questions.  Take some time to grieve and process the loss or disappointment.  Talk it out and then move forward.  By the end, a little ice cream hit the spot!  There are no callous “stop crying and suck it up” talks in this house.  But, we are learning to not wallow in our pain.  Eventually, we were able to laugh a little and hug it out!

So, what disappointment have you swallowed lately?  It is sure to come.  But, you can stand strong when you remember this:  He sees and knows; He certainly hasn’t left me;  And, I know good is on the way—it may not look exactly how I planned, but His perfect plan is at work in my life.

Hey….maybe you should even have a little mint chocolate chip ice cream to top it off!

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Would you like to read more about this wonderful journey through this one beautiful life?  Sign up to receive a post delivered straight to your inbox each week.  I would love to have you join me on this journey of hope!  Here’s to a great week!

Where Is Your Life?

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It’s been a really great summer.  Sleeping in (my favorite!), road tripping around the area, reconnecting with friends, reading, watching my boy play ball, and playing taxi.  Pretty much loving life and feeling grateful.  We enjoyed a great day for our anniversary.  We kept it simple and relaxing.  And I am so thankful.  My kids are pursuing their passions, living life and having a good time doing it.  God is blessing their lives and you can see His love for us.

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In the last few years, I haven’t always been able to say that.  Maybe that’s you, too.  We’ve experienced financial reversal, faced rejection, suffered at the hands of people and felt like we were going through hell.  I realize that isn’t the warm and fuzzy thing to say.  Suffering depression, anxiety and PTSD was never on the order list we sent up.  When 4 out of 5 in your family have to be medicated just to handle daily life, I’m telling you, that’s not what you order up.  Who does?

But, it happens.  Life happens.  I remember a couple of years ago, living life with a teenager and   just being thankful we were dealing with normal teenager stuff.  We had come a long way.  Moving from constant crisis mode to dealing with everyday issues was such a relief.  I even found some much needed humor in that.

A few years ago, I was walking the neighborhood, thinking life would never get back to normal.  I just wanted it to so desperately.  Whatever that was supposed to be.  What I thought was normal life, happened to be a private hell for someone most dear to me.  That was an eye opening thought.  A paradigm shift.

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Life changes—often on a dime.  We had more stuff going wrong and our lives turned upside than I had ever thought possible.  But, following dreams and doing big things, often stirs up the waters.  We weren’t living the status quo; life threw not-status-quo stuff back at us.

But, here we are a few years out and life has smoothed out just fine.  In the heat of it, when your neck is being scorched by the fire and heat, life looks pretty much like it is never again going to smooth out.  That seems like a very distant memory.  I got you on that one.  We are looking eyeball to eyeball, and I say, I know it.  It hurts.  It really hurts.

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I was reading some Scripture today and wanted to share it with you.  My heart skipped a beat when I read it.  Yes!  I felt it!  I knew it!  Psalm 16 is a great chapter.  Take a look at it with me.

Keep me safe, my God,

for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

apart from you I have no good thing.”

I say of the holy people who are in the land,

“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.

I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods

or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;

you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;

even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.

With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

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because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.

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You make known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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Verses 5 and 6 really lit up for me.  Go ahead! Check those out again!  Many of the first years of living in Virginia were beyond hard.  It has been a challenge testing everything we were made of and then some!  But, we’ve come out on the other side.  We’ve fought hard and won!  We trusted in Him and depended on Him to get us through.  We took refuge in Christ.  We kept our eyes on Christ.  I really don’t know where we would have ended up if we hadn’t had Christ.  People will disappoint you;  people will betray and reject you.  Christ is forever the one where our hearts find peace.

So, back to the present.  Life is good.  Life is beautiful.  When you taste the bitter, the sweet is so much sweeter!  When you walk through the darkness, the light is that much brighter!  When you lose things precious, the blessings are that much more treasured.  You have to experience the sad to appreciate the joy.

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Such is life.  My life boundaries are falling in pleasant places.  That makes me happy.  We are doing life.  It’s not perfect, but what is?  But, it sure is beautiful!

Do I Have To?

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I have experience.

Lots of it.  Some of it has come with kicking and screaming, but I have experience, nonetheless.  “What experience?” you may ask.

Well, it is …..

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Yeah.  It’s not as beautiful as it sounds.  Trust me.  Everyone has one of two tendencies.  That is to fight or flee.  And, actually, I am by nature a flee-er.  Many times the option of “flight” seems pretty alright to me.  So, honestly, I don’t come by this naturally.

But, I am married to….you guessed it!  A fighter.

No, not a fighter, as in, he can’t get along with people and stirs up conflict.  He is the kind that won’t run from a battle.  He knows what is needed and will fight to see it happen.  He’s not a quitter.  His philosophy is, “I may not be smarter or more talented than others, but I can certainly outlast anybody!”  Um, clearly, this has made for some great fun over the years.

I like comfort.  I don’t like to go through the stretching and retching part of life.  I like for everyone to like me.  I want no hardships and certainly no sacrificing.  I want dreams and projects to flow smoothly.  I really don’t want conflict, hate it in fact.  I certainly don’t want to be judged or misjudged.  I like for the tasks I set my hand to to flow without hiccups or roadblocks of any sort.  I want everyone to agree with me and my opinions. And, I certainly do NOT need or want rejection.

It hurts. The hard stuff hurts.

Life tends to bring along those moments when we must choose.

There isn’t any way around it.  Someone or something intrudes into your dream or boundaries.  Something important is at stake.  The life or death of it depends on whether you stay and fight or run and flee.  Maybe it’s your family, a child, a dream, or a way of life. Maybe it’s your calling or vocation.  Perhaps it is fighting injustice or standing up for what or who is right.  Whatever it is, you will have to choose.

Either way, everything hangs in the balance.

I’ll give you 3 examples from my life.  Perhaps you can relate.

First of all, my husband and I started a new church back in 1994.  We were young.  We were inexperienced and truthfully didn’t have a clue as to what we had joined up for.  We were still trying to figure out who we were at the tender age of 24.  We had seen great success stories and figured we could pull off something just like those.  It took 7 years to reach the goal of 100 people.  It took even longer to acquire our own facility.  We worked hard.  It certainly wasn’t for a lack of hard work and sacrifice.  We barely survived on the meager salary.

About the third or fourth year in, I was done.  We had faced apparent failure on many levels.  I wanted to quit so badly!  My husband?  Oh, yes, I know he did.  But, we didn’t leave that congregation until 2008.  He would pacify me by telling me to just give him until May.  If things didn’t turn around by May, we would think about going somewhere else.  Well, he knew that once winter was over in Iowa, things always look better at some level, come May.  I figured him out, finally, about the third year of being told that.  I’m slow.

Second story.  In 2008, our family moved to Virginia to our second congregation.  This seemed as if our dreams were answered in one fell swoop.  Not long after moving here,  it seemed as if we had stepped into a nightmare.  This was a very different hard than our Iowa challenge.  We faced intense obstacles, setbacks, reversals, personal attacks, rejection, strife, and twisted plots.  The personal and professional price has been high. This church was in deep crisis and they weren’t in the mood to be helped.  So many times I could have been packing boxes on a moment’s notice.  All my husband needed to do was give me the word.  I was more than done!

Final story.  The first three years in Virginia seemed like they were from hell.  We took a huge financial hit when the real estate bubble burst and we needed to sell our house and move to Virginia.  Then, my son came to us and told us he had been sexually abused for three years by an authority figure.  Then, my other child was diagnosed with a serious medical condition after months of intense, unexplained pain and slow debilitation. Then, my father passed away after battling Alzheimers for 13 years.  This all happened within the first three years after moving to Virginia.  There were moments during those very difficult years I began to question the presence of God in my life.  I wasn’t so sure He could be trusted.

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Here’s the deal.

At any given point in my life, I desperately wanted to throw in the towel.  The pain felt greater than the reward.  And, yes, there have been some serious sacrifices made that only God will be able to make right.  But, we didn’t quit.  There were no magic formulas or bribes to hold us steady. The only promise we had to go on was God would see us through.  It might be painful, it might look ugly, but we would make it if we just didn’t quit.  “Those who quit remember the ordeal.  Those who endure remember the adventure.”  That has become a life value of sorts.

There are many giftings we don’t possess.  There are quite a few things we do well; there have been many mistakes along the way, too.  But one thing which doesn’t require talent or gifting is something we do have—“outlast-attude”.  We can outlast just about anything.

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You have to dig deep.  You have to stare your giant in the face and stare it down.  It’s not easy.  But, find the grit and the depth of character to outlast anything life throws your way.  Needless to say, I’m thankful my Honey had enough hutzpah for the both of us!

Your whole life and legacy depend on it.  Everyone who follows after you, depend on it.  It’s not just about you anyway.  It never has been.

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Fits and Starts

 

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Life comes in seasons.

Dreams and their fulfilling often come in fits and starts.

It feels like taking two steps forward and one step backward.

Sometimes, it might even feel as if nothing is happening at all.

Or, maybe it even feels like your dreams are unraveling before your eyes.

I continue to come across this quote,

“Sometimes when things are falling apart they may actually be falling into place.”

I like it.

I’ve often found this to be true in my life.

Maybe the waiting and wanting isn’t the problem.

Maybe that’s all part of the plan.

Sometimes, I get this picture in my mind of God sitting and watching and chuckling.  Maybe He even looks at us and gives a wink. He watches us, you know.  He didn’t just throw us out and leaving us flailing and falling, hoping we would find our wings and catch the wind.  No, He is much more benevolent and kind.  I imagine He must wonder at times why we take so long.  Circling the same mountain over and over and over again.  All the while, He is ready to reveal something super amazing!

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We have to get out of our heads and out of the way.

So, on this, maybe I finally have.

My season of focusing solely on my family is slightly shifting.  Nothing extreme or world shattering. Just a slight shift.  Ever subtle, but it is enough to teach me something.  For a while, I realized I didn’t have any dreams.  Maybe life or crises or anxiety or depression does that.  But, I found myself in that place.  I found it nearly debilitating.  It made me freeze in fear.  How can I not have a dream?

I’m an “all in” kind of person. If I do something, it requires me to be all in. 100% full throttle in.  So, that is how I mother and support my husband.  A husband, three kids and a dog.  Big life changes came with our firstborn stepping into college.  So many things to keep up with and love and do.  Thinking up a dream wasn’t really on the “To Do List”.

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But, all the while I knew God had something for me to do in addition to my love of home.  I kept circling and circling the mountain of purpose.  It just led to discontent and sadness.  It came in cycles and started coming with more and more frequency.  It was just enough to unnerve and unsettle me and knock me from a place of contentment.

It’s cool how these moments force you to make the next step.  It is almost like walking up a staircase…with the constant bumping into the step above you, but never able to rise up to it.  

This is where I had found myself in the last couple of years.

But, life and dreams work slowly.

It isn’t a fast journey.

It takes collecting experiences and learning what is needed.

It is stopping and starting.

It is waiting and walking.

It is leaning in and pushing away.

And, if you are wrapped up in Christ, He is right in the middle of it all.  Right there.

Watching and speaking.

Calling and loving.

Gently coaxing, and calmly pulling us back.

It all feels frustrating at times and even discouraging if we are honest.

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The fits and starts and the collecting of experience—painful and beautiful alike. 

It all serves to bring us to the place we need to be.

Slowly by slowly, the edges soften and light begins to shine through.  Maybe not much at first.  Perhaps, so faint you are afraid it will disappear if you turn away.  But, oh, how journeying through the desert and circling the mountain teaches you so much!

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I’ve learned a good deal about myself in all of this.

I’ve collected memories and thoughts and, most of all, some wisdom along the way.  So, here I am.  Seeing a very faint but distinct shimmer.  I sit and listen quietly, searching and looking for signs and signals, hearing the wind blow and stir.  My heart knows.  New days and paths are leading me to what lies ahead.  My heart knows nothing is wasted or useless.  My heart knows its priority and first love.  Even when circling a mountain I had grown entirely too familiar with, God was watching…and waiting.  He was listening and shaping.

It doesn’t matter how hard you scream for your dream. 

If it isn’t time for the dawning of the dream, it isn’t going to happen.  God knows you.  He knows your dream.  He knows His dream for you.  You are far too important to prematurely birth your dream.  And besides, the birthing in and of itself is a long process.  From the first glimpse of shimmer to full blown reality is often longer still.

But, keep this in mind.  It. Is. Coming.

So, journey around the mountain.  Listen and call.  Watch and seek.  Learn and release.  And, wait.  But, just do something to prepare for your dream.  Waiting doesn’t mean being idle.  Waiting is work.  Wait and seek.  Only He knows the real outcome for your dream.

I’m sure I will circle more mountains on my way.  One dream is maybe not enough for my one, magnificent life.  Here, though, is the lesson I am learning on the way.

I am doing great things with my life…even now.  I may not be notable or noteworthy, but I am doing what I should be doing.  And, as the time comes I will be ready to step into the dreams I am now dreaming.  It’s time for me to dream.  I think I’m getting it…and I think He is chuckling.

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What Are You Looking At?

1-1234699141PRLFI’ve been thinking about today’s blog.

I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to go…until now.  I don’t know, call it writer’s block.  I never really want to write a post without some kind of inspired direction.  I had several seemingly disjointed thoughts rolling through my mind and couldn’t bring them into any cohesive thought, until now.

I’ll let you in on my analytical brain’s journey.

My first thought from the week:

My personality doesn’t do well with conflict.  For the most part, I think most people do not do well with conflict.  However, I do know there are some who seem to enjoy it…get a kick out of it.   But, that’s not me.  It causes me a level of anxiety that sits in the pit of my stomach.  Generally, I deal with conflict by avoiding the person with whom I am having conflict.  Not the best tactic, I know, but that is my default mode.  As I am growing, I am learning not all conflict resolution has to be traumatic and disastrous.  I am making baby steps toward handling conflict that results in positive and life-giving ends.

My second thought from the week: 

I don’t like to complain about being in ministry.  There are many great rewards, opportunities and joy.  However, it’s not easy at times.  In fact, there are unique challenges, disappointments and pain other professionals don’t experience, much less their spouses and families.

I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum.  Christians don’t always act like Christians.  And, honestly, that can be a disappointment.  But, on the flip side, Christians have been living, breathing fleshed-out hands of God in my life.  In some congregations, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  In fact, keeping in mind I don’t do well with conflict, there was a time during a very difficult season, attending church was too painful and I would have to leave the worship service because of severe anxiety.  Sadly, for a while, it didn’t feel like a safe place for me.

I wasn’t even the “personal” target for attacks.  My husband, mainly, and occasionally one of my children were the focus of the attacks.  It seems people forget their responsibility as Christians in a body of believers.  When someone decides to “take on” an issue in the church, they often forget the collateral damage that is done.  When issues are addressed in a toxic way, many hearts lie wounded in their wake.  It’s not just the leader affected, but his wife and children as well.  God reminded me “He sees it all and knows it all.”   He will make right the wrongs.

My third thought from the week: 

This is the greatest of all from the week!!  As I was walking the circle in my neighborhood, I took notice of the beautiful spring blooming around me.  It was such a beautiful day! As I was trying to reign in all my thoughts and see what kind of coherent message I could bring from it all, it hit me straight on.  I realized my rambling thoughts were coming together!

  Nature yells out the very existence and hope of God.  It was screaming out to me a message I needed to be reminded of!   The joy and hope I sensed in that moment caught my attention.  As I was looking at the yellow-flowered weeds in the field near my house, I got it!  I remembered a verse I had come across the day before reading through some journaling I had done last year.  Psalm 27:13, 14.   Yes! It was all clear now.  The seemingly random thoughts were coming together to form one powerful thought!

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Life is messy.  Stuff happens.  People disappoint….some over and over again.  People don’t act as they should and many times we are hurt by others’ selfishness.  But, life is also very beautiful.  Or at least it can be.  It depends, though.  And frankly, it depends on you and me.  I’ve experienced enough toxicity to last me my lifetime.   Life can require responses or decisions from me I feel are unfair at times.

I just choose over and over not to focus my attention on that.

Maybe, right now you see harshness or injustice.  Perhaps you are experiencing a motherload of inconvenience and disappointment.

But, if you quit in this one snapshot of a moment, you will never see the finished portrait.

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If you quit now, you won’t see the would-be, finished, beautiful product. 

Our hope and joy lie in God and our trust in Him.  Such beauty and grace resides in Him.  He promises to show us His goodness in this lifetime.  So, focus your attention on what you WANT to see.  Stop focusing on the unfinished business; focus on the promised beauty.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

What’s In The Cup?

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In a worship service recently, we sang the worship song “Your Presence Is Heaven” by Israel Houghton.  I’m sure you are already familiar with it, but just in case you aren’t, here are the lyrics.

Who is like You Lord in all the earth?
Matchless love and beauty, endless worth
Nothing in this world can satisfy
‘Cause Jesus You’re the cup that won’t run dry

Your presence is heaven to me
Your presence is heaven to me

Treasure of my heart and of my soul
In my weakness you are merciful
Redeemer of my past and present wrongs
Holder of my future days to come

All my days on earth I will await
The moment that I see You face to face
Nothing in this world can satisfy
‘Cause Jesus You’re the cup that won’t run dry

Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus
Your presence is heaven to me
Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus
Your presence is heaven to me

I’ve sung this song before and it always makes an impact on me.  This particular time was no different.  But, this line I have sung so many times, really struck my heart on this particular day.

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‘Cause Jesus you’re the cup that won’t run dry. 

I think I came to understand something in a new way.

Jesus never runs out of the answers, strength, provision, wisdom, help, protection, or love….and the list goes on and on….I desperately need!!

Whatever I need, He is!

There it is, plain and simple.

And He NEVER, EVER stops being what I need!  His supply is endless.  He is endless. It just never runs out!  My supplies and resources always run low or run down.  But, He has everything I need, when I need it.  Furthermore, He knows what I will need before I am even aware I need it.  How amazing is that?

As I stare down a new phase of our story, and feel the full weight of the pain and ugliness, my heart is heavy.

I’m not up for more pain, more hurt, more anxiety, or more injustice by misguided people.

I don’t want to live out the big fear made reality.

I said this to God in worship that day.  Wearied by just the thought.  I’m just not up for it.  This fear and anxiety and always looking over my shoulder.  The fear of your child having to relive the pain or face down the ugly once again.  I have enjoyed my hard won peace.  We have fought for and found our peace.

But, God helped me understand He has everything I need to handle the story with grace and peace.

HE is EVERYTHING I need for this leg of the journey.

We won’t fight this part of the battle with old, decayed supply.  It is brand new supply from here on out.  He has taught me new wisdom and has strengthened me through old battles, which has prepared me for the new battles to come.

Unlike our earthly supply, He won’t grow stale, run down, or run out.

I can rest in Him, without ceasing, and He will NEVER, EVER fail me.

Furthermore, He saw this coming and is fully prepared to lead us all the way home.  What a relief and peace that comes from this knowing.  He knows my future days to come.  He knew this was the future day to come.  He knew the weaknesses I would feel and will be merciful to me.  He is sufficient supply for whatever I am not.

It stirs my heart encountering the personalized experiences God uses to speak big and powerful messages to me.  He knows the grief and the pain that come surging to the surface in a split moment.  One text can change things.  One email can shatter calm.  But, God knows—He isn’t surprised. He is unending.

Life is often unpredictable.

But God is not.  Many times we are left scratching our heads, searching for answers.  But God does not.

I will rest in the knowing.  I will rest in the peace only He gives.  I will not look into an empty cup.  For it does not exist.  He is my cup that NEVER, EVER runs dry.

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I am wondering.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation which requires something you do not possess on your own?

I would love to hear your comments (post below).  We can learn from each other.

Hope is stirred when a heart has found what it needs…sometimes we need to hear from someone else’s point of triumph or learn from their sting of adversity!

Courage, Dear Heart

“I know what I’m doing.  I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

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Why is it that after all I know, I still doubt?

Where do I think He is going to lead me?

What about the time I trusted completely and the wheels came all the way off the bus, landed in the ditch…..and, the bus blew up!?!

Why do I forget who He is and how much He loves me and mine?

My heart screams foul.

Instead of first remembering all the glories and grace, I turn and stare at the cracked and raised scars. I think of what put them there. I remember the pain and the emotion of the broken and disillusioned reality.

  So quick to forget.

What causes this short term memory gap?  Is it fear that causes the impaired vision; or is it the impaired vision that causes the fear?  I know it is a human issue.  It’s not new to me.  Even the wanderers of Israel could never seem to remember the miracles and open hand of God.  Maybe you, too?

It is so easy to rehearse the pain of the past; it is lazy at best and ungrateful at worst.

There.

Sometimes we need to be direct and truthful with ourselves.

Tell ourselves to snap out of it—get back to focusing on the good.  What of this living by the spirit of fear?  How much better would it be to live with power, love and a sound mind?

Interesting how “sound mind” is lumped right in there.  It seems fear has a way of causing us to lose our minds.  Without clarity, we don’t process and interpret life or situations effectively or wisely.  When we don’t work from a sound mind, we lose self-discipline and good judgment.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.  But, for whatever reason, I can pick up and move on over and slide in right next to fear.

What do I think fear is really going to do for me?  It is a harsh taskmaster.  Fear ties a noose around my neck and leads me down dark and unsafe paths.  My judgment is clouded and I am not able to hear clearly what God just might say to me.  Fear is relentless and tiring and leaves me frazzled, lying in a heap.

 

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I have to shake my head.  God did not think highly of the wanderers when they did the same thing.  Oh, He loved them immeasurably!  But He grew tired of their faithlessness and their inability to just remember!  In fact, He saw them as ungrateful and difficult.  I really don’t want God to look at me in the same light.

Our scars are left behind as a reminder that God’s grace is sufficient and our strength is made stronger in our weakest moments. 

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God’s grace goes where no human hand can.  The world is a rough and tumble place with countless potential land mines.  Fear points out everything that could possibly go wrong; grace reminds us He never leaves us or forsakes us.

If we are so quick to remember the messes and disasters, why can’t we just as easily remember He has an awesome plan for us—one that is full of blessing, hope and better tomorrows?

Maybe the best place to start is with gratitude.

It seems to always come right back to that.  Doesn’t it?  A daily remembering of all the lovely graces which fill our days from beginning to end.  It takes a purposefulness and strength to look beyond the hard edges.  It takes focusing on the abundance in the simplicity.  Oh my goodness!  The whole of our minds shift and light dazzles the gray.  Why wouldn’t we want this?

Gratitude and grace aren’t gold pavers lining the street and smoothing out bumps and potholes.  They serve to lift our focus from the mess to the savior in the mess.  We see He is for us. This sin of Adam is the problem; not God.  He has never left our side.  And, He can clearly see us all the way home.

So, what do I have to fear?

What do I have to be afraid of?

No scheme of man can ever take me out of His hand!  (And you know some try awfully hard!)  Circumstances or events may not look how we imagined or the horizon may be asking more questions than giving answers.  The answers don’t often come before we strike out on the unfamiliar road.

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When gratitude and grace emerge, you shift your focus to the one who sees clearly and has walked this way before.  

Psalm 32.8 beautifully expresses his heart toward us,

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”

He watches over me with loving care.

He is not flippant with my life.

When I stay close, He gives me good counsel.

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When I stay close, I look at Him, see His heart and know—really know—I need not be afraid for whatever

may come.

Fear has no place.

Fear can’t rule.

This is a huge challenge for me today.  How about you?  What is so easy for you to forget?  What situation needs your radical faith?

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Just try it……the air is cleaner up there.

The Whole Of It

…..May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.  The One who called you is completely dependable.  If he said it, he’ll do it!!

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There is something that calls to me from this Scripture.  You will find it in I Thessalonians 5:23-24.  This world has a way of pulling us into a million pieces.   Start with responsibilities, toss in a few wounds, mix in unmet expectations, throw in some disappointment and there you have it!  I would never say life is all bad.  But, stuff happens, and there ya go!

As a mom, one of the most important things is to see your children whole and happy—living to the fullest.  When you see one of those cubs struggling  to stay afloat, your instincts kicks into gear.  I’m sure you are familiar with “Mother Bear” syndrome.  I’m really familiar with it!

I do believe I lived in Mother Bear mode for about 3 years.  There’s not a thing that can be said to a woman in full-on MB. Those cubs are the treasures and the way I see it, it’s our responsibility (with my honey) to get them from start to adulthood in one relatively good, solid piece.  They need to be someone people can stand to be with and do something good with the space they take up.  They need to pursue their passions and dreams and be all they can be.

So, when life starts getting in the way and you see your treasures fracturing and losing their handhold, MB mode is on high alert!  My prayers for my hurting child were for him to be whole…. nothing missing and nothing broken in his life.  I didn’t want the pain and anguish he experienced at the hand of someone so incredibly selfish to derail and destroy greatness within.  I prayed and prayed for the wholeness which was rightfully his.

I remember God spoke to my heart that “he had seen it all” and my child and family would be healed and whole.  He cared even more than I did.  I wrote it down.  I clung to that promise as my lifeline.  That was over 2 years ago.  I haven’t forgotten.

images-2 But, there have been times I have felt that the progress just was not good enough.  It wasn’t a complete enough healing.  I remember telling God during a particular season this wasn’t going to be good enough.  Next try, please.  I’m not sure what God thought about that. But, I felt I was exercising my faith.  I knew God told me the broken parts would be healed….this wasn’t healed, as I understood healing!  It certainly was a start, but I was believing for wholeness.  There was a pain and hurt so deep that only God could touch it.  But, I believed.  I hid that promise in my heart.

I’ve watched him on this journey.  Huge steps forward and some hiccups along the way.  He wants it just as much as we do for him.  It takes time and is a long journey that is neither easy nor enjoyable.  But the strength of his spirit is inspiring and one of a true fighter; he will not be labeled a victim.  For all of us, we want quick, easy answers and solutions to the pain and loss.  We know such answers won’t come.  But, I haven’t stopped believing!

Now, here we are.  Three years later, great ground has been covered, healing has taken place, much learning and growing has been experienced.  And, I am still watching and listening.  God is answering and doing what he said he would do.

I just had an incredible conversation with my boy.  He experienced God in a powerful way during his university’s chapel service a couple of weeks ago.  He isn’t one to share his personal pain on a constant basis and has a list in his heart he knew intimately….hurt and pain he had just assumed would always be there.  He was coping.  God said,  “That’s not good enough.”  God promised…..and he is delivering.  God came in that moment….even when my boy wasn’t looking for it.  He met him there and brought more healing and hope to the hidden and private pain.   He talked of joy like he hadn’t experienced in years.  Oh! How a mama’s heart is healed by hearing such things.

When God promises something, he delivers.  Our timetable is rarely correct.  He doesn’t work on Human Standard Time.  When he promises he will make you whole, putting together body, mind and soul, that is what he intends to do. I haven’t given up.  It comes out of nowhere, looking different than I expect.  But, oh my!

A few days before my son’s extraordinary moment with God, God sent a reminder to me of this very verse.  I took note.  He gently reminded me and turned my head toward him.  I knew.  And then, seemingly out of nowhere, he came and amazed us once again.

He’s just cool like that.

Strong Medicine

I sat on the bed.  Everything I believed was in the middle of a free fall.  This was my parachute.  It deployed and my descent slowed.  So, I sat there and started crying.  Not the gentle tear, but the rolling, sobbing kind.  

 

If you asked me, I would have done away with our current course. There was so much to wade through and sometimes I just wasn’t sure about much.  Trust of everything and most everybody was at a devastating low.

I had picked up a book I had some months earlier stuck in a corner.  I had seen it advertised, it looked interesting, but when it came, it underwhelmed me.  So, there it sat, forgotten, actually.  Until one night in small group, the book came up in discussion.  It rang familiar….I went home, dug it out and started to devour it.   It’s funny how that happens.  Not a coincidence, by any stretch of the imagination.

I had NO idea.  God knew that it would be required reading for the journey I was about to take. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp changed my life forever.

As I was reading, God nudged me and began to un-bandage my wound.  He was always so gentle with me.  His gentleness wooed my worn out soul.  He knew me and the brokenness of my heart.

He was always so full of grace.  And, He began to speak through the words on the page.  What was I going to do with it?

God was there in all the ugly pain.  He was there and heard my child’s desperate cries for help and rescue.  He made a way out.  He was with us in the counseling moments.  The hours upon hours of healing that took place through a dedicated mouthpiece.  The darkness that seemed to hover over the waiting room would take my breath away.  The grief that never seemed to run out.  He was there.

In that moment, I had a choice to make.

I could either trust Him enough to be grateful in spite of the pain and destruction or….not. 

Was I going to continue feeling as if He couldn’t be trusted? Was I going to keep on feeling as if He didn’t know what He as doing and certainly not keeping an eye on my family? He held out the medicine for my soul.  Right there. Within my reach.  Trust and Gratitude.

Gratitude makes my life a sanctuary.

Gratitude invites God into the pain and opens the door to beauty.  Gratitude changes the lens of of our view.  Thanksgiving lifts my head off of the present, shattered mess and on to the One who leads me forward.  I can trust that He will lead me safely on and be right by my side.  I could focus on my desperate thoughts of wishing this had never happened; or wondering where God was on the nights my child had no escape; or the fears of my child never being whole and happy.  At that moment, the view was pretty tragic and desperate.

God knew my life was meant for more than that.  There was nothing I could do to change the circumstances, but I could change my view.  That was entirely up to me!  Gratitude invites grace into the dark and transforms it into light.  The light shines bright and life is breathed back into the dead.

It’s not easy or everyone would do it!

If it came naturally, this world would be transformed beyond recognition.  I’m not saying we have to be grateful for the ugly destruction.  I’m certainly not there yet or sure I ever will be.

But I’m choosing to not focus on it.  It isn’t my daily diet and I am not going to let it eat me alive!  BUT, I am trying daily to focus on the everyday miracles and answered prayers. 

The hand of God moves and reveals Himself in the mundane and in the grand.

Beauty in the sunlight

Chai tea lattes in the morning

Family dinner

Little girls kisses

A Saturday with no commitments

God loves my children even more than I do

Friends who understand

Honest and open conversations

God speaking to my children

A day with lessened pain

Darkness is destroyed

Date night with my love

Libraries!!!

In my brokenness, I can still worship….a sacrifice to the One who is always there

A smile

Love expressed in simply kind ways

Candles on a cold day

Sweet sibling prayers

 

So, here I am….1,122 gratitudes strong….written down.

And it will keep going.

I’m just one woman working to live at peace on this journey I am on.  Unfortunately, at times I’ve bogged down and some days have been very gratitude silent.

But, I don’t want to be that….for what has the Love of my Savior done to be ignored and unrecognized?  He faced darkness head on so that I can have Light in my own darkness.  

 

What gratitude do you need to start voicing?  Where is the mundane or grand that needs acknowledgement in your life? A lack of gratitude will choke the very life out of your heart.  But, thankfulness will keep your eyes off the dark and on the Light!