The Power of No

We just wrapped up Spring baseball. Concession stands and bleachers. Baseball bats and dirty pants. We had a lot of fun, but we also saw some disappointment. We made it to the county tournament but then lost the first tournament game. As the coach gathered the team together,  I watched and listened. I saw the boy’s long faces, heard the parent’s angst, and then the coach began to speak. He said great things: “Yes, they worked hard; Yes, they improved”, but what I remember most are the No’s: “No, we did not win, No, I do not have trophies for you.”

He said No a lot this season. “No, you can no longer play third base because you weren’t focused. No, you cannot goof off when I am speaking because I have important things to say. No I am not your friend, I am your coach.” He seemed a little harsh at first, but then I grew to respect his method.

Through Spring ball, I realized, my boy needs a little more No in his life. Maybe I do too…

I am also watching and listening to the adolescents in my counseling practice. They  are struggling with their No’s. Many of these kids have mostly been told Yes all their life. Now that No has shown up, they are in my office and they cannot cope. They do not know how to struggle well, how to even handle a No.

They are hearing: “No, I will not be your friend, No, I will no longer date you, No, you did not pass the test, No you did not make the team. No, you did not get the job, No, we are not staying married”…and they are lost.

They are overwhelmed, overindulged and underprepared… No and struggle scare them to death, literally. Suicide and self harm have become coping skills for these kids.  

I am watching and listening…and I am wondering…what can I offer my kids and my clients? I am watching and listening and I am trying to learn. Why don’t these kids know how to struggle, to handle the No? How well do I handle No?

No has purpose.

Struggle is a part of life, scripture promises its arrival. So why do we avoid it like the plague and keep our kids from experiencing it? Why is the No so hard? Even the seasons have a winter and it comes every year. The day leaves us for night, darkness is around the corner consistently.

What if we grew through the struggle? Spring growth comes after winter, and morning is always there after the dark hours. What if the No, the struggle, the dark, the winter,  served a great purpose for us, for our kids? What if we stopped trying so hard to keep them from the struggle, and let it serve it’s lesson?

No prepares us.

I think this starts with me. I cannot take them further than I’ve gone myself. It can start with letting my kids see me struggle and honor God in the midst of it, letting them see me handle a No well, letting them see No draw me closer to Jesus.

After all, I am raising them up to send them out.

The older they get the more No will hit them, the more struggle sneaks in. And I want them strong enough to handle it, to grow from it, to be prepared for what’s ahead.

No protects us.

As a mom, what does this No look like? Am I honoring God with my schedule, my finances, my relationships? Are there enough Nos in these areas? Have I said Yes to too much? Have I set good boundaries with others, with my kids? Am I allowing No to protect my family? Do they know when or how to say No?

No has power.

I don’t always like it. I wish it was endless summer, I wish it was always Yes, but that isn’t how the world works and that isn’t how God works. So why would I make my kids think that is so?

They are also watching and listening…and learning. They learn about struggle from us. They learn how to walk the tough road by watching us limp and bleed and then hold their hand when they are limping and bleeding. Good and hard can go together.

No can teach us things and struggle leads to surrender and surrender leads to life, which is what Christ modeled for us. He said No to his kingdom, No to his wealth, No to temptation and Yes to death.  He limped and He bled, and the world was watching and listening. His No led to the power that raised Him from the dead, the same power that we have access to. He embraced No so that he could say Yes to us.

2  Cor. 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Psalm 119:71 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”

Romans 5:3 “We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.”

 

 

Table Talk

Our kitchen table… Chris and I bought it around 18 years ago, soon after we married. We really couldn’t afford it, but Chris really wanted this expensive, Ethan Allen kitchen table… so, the two broke newlyweds bought it with the tax return check that had not yet come in the mail. Well, the check never came, in fact we owed tax money. So we sat, even more broke, at that fancy table and ate PB&Js until we paid it off.

We still sit at this table. We have added the leaf extension, added some chairs, added some kids. The paint is peeling, there are spaghetti and play-do stains that I cannot remove. There are sticky spots and dents. I refuse to replace it until the boys are older…what’s the point in spending money on another table that they will destroy? We have had lots of meals at this table, with family, with friends, lots of good conversations, laughs, some tears.

Research shows that tables are good for us, it’s good for our hearts and our heads to sit together, to carve out some moments to look at other faces, eat good food and commune.

The table grounds us, draws us all in. We remember, we rejoice at the table.

There has been a lot of table language, table talk, floating around in Christian culture recently. Have you heard it? Books, songs, signs… “all are welcome at the table, come to the table, you have a seat here”….Psalm 23 and Luke 14 discuss table talk…Jesus has prepared a table for us, and all are invited, a banqueting table, a table with a feast.

However, this morning, the lyrics of this song sat with me…the lyrics discussed another table…the table where Jesus sat with his men, and explained the sacrifice he was about to make. 

In Mark 14:12-16 Jesus’s disciples ask him where they should consume the Passover meal. Jesus instructs them to find a certain man who “will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal. They went and found everything just as Jesus had said.”

This upper room, where Christ’s last meal on earth would take place did not even belong to him. It was a borrowed room with a borrowed table from a Jerusalem man. It was beside this borrowed table that Jesus washed feet. It was at this borrowed table that He sat in the presence of his enemy, Judas. It was at this borrowed table that he told of the sacrifice he would make, explained the cup, his blood, and the bread, his body.

The blood was the covenant between God and his people, poured out as a sacrifice for many (Mark 14: 24) the bread, his broken body, given up for us.

Here is where the lyrics got me:

“There’s a table that you’ve prepared for me in the presence of my enemies.

It’s your body and the blood you shed for me.

This is how I fight my battles…”

These lyrics are about  the Passover table, the borrowed table. The last thing Jesus did with his gathered men was to prepare them for their battles.

The table was prepared ahead for them, and he offered his body and his blood. This sacrifice forever defeated death and allows us to fight our battles…

He’s prepared us for the fight…whatever you are battling, he’s gone ahead of you…

He’s goes before us, just as he did these men. The table is ready, all we have to do is show up. His body and blood have been spilled, in the presence of our enemy… and this is how we fight our battles…with the weapons of his sacrifice.

This was a Passover table, a Passover meal, to remember the sacrifice, and he was the ultimate sacrifice.

There is a banquet table in heaven waiting for us, where we rejoice when we see our King again.

But there is a Passover table here, for now, as we battle, as we wait, as we use the power of his death and resurrection to defeat the enemy.

Tables are good for us, it’s good for our hearts and our heads to sit before Him, to carve out some moments to look at His face, eat of His word and commune with Him.

His table grounds us, draws us all in. We remember, we rejoice at His table….

This is how we fight our battles…because of what he offered at the table, his body, his blood, because of what he offered on the cross…

Light from the Darkness

Currently, I am counseling a very depressed client. She has had no significant trauma, she is not in crisis. She has a loving, supportive family with money to provide for all her needs. She has friends and is smart. There is really no definitive answer for why she is depressed, nothing to point to on the outside. But on the inside she is drowning. Drowning in self doubt, self hate, lies, confusion. She is searching for truth, not able to recognize it when it stares her in the face or when I point it out to her…she cannot see it…she cannot hear it. Despite all my efforts, she is not moving forward in therapy. I am finding myself frustrated with her, with her inability to change, to see, to hear, with her choices to believe lies, just frustrated with her being stuck.

But then I remembered…

I remembered when I was depressed, so stuck…stuck deep down in the dark. There was no trauma, I was not in crisis. I had a loving, supportive family and husband that provided for me, I had friends, I was smart. There was no answer on the outside to the cause of my depression. And just like her, on the inside I was drowning, drowning in self doubt, self hate, lies and confusion.

I knew the truth but just couldn’t believe it…for almost two decades…

Until I did…until my ears were finally tuned to hear and my heart was fertile soil to receive…

And then… slowly…it was a waking up, a coming out, coming up for air, color, breathing deep, smiling big, laughing loud and hard and being surprised. That’s what coming out of the darkness feels like.

I guess I forgot. Sitting in my chair, facing this stuck client, I forgot my stuckness, my sickness…I forgot I was down deep, in the deep, dark pit. In the darkness where no one knows, no one but Him, no one sees the thoughts, the ones that scare you, that shame you, that steal who you are and try to replace you.

But there is one who does not forget, who sees you there, who is with you there, who speaks to you there. One  who also is acquainted with pain and darkness…

“Jesus saw him, and knew how long he had been sick.” John 5:6

“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now.” Psalm 40:17

He knows, He knows you and he sees you. He is with you right now in the pain and knows how long and how deep your sick is.

No one wants to go there, to the mirey pit, but you learn things in the sickness, in the stuckness, in the dark. Those things have purpose and are meant to be spoken in the light, meant to be spoken over other dark souls. I learned lessons there that couldn’t be learned any other way. Lessons that can be spoken over my sweet client. Instead of being frustrated, in my light I can speak to her what I learned in my dark.

There is purpose in the pain. Are you in pain or stuck or sick? Are you in the dark? Listen, listen for Him, look for the meaning, wait for the word, the words over you in the dark that can be spoken in your light. It’s coming. Just don’t forget there is purpose in your pain. He’s not abandoned you.

He’s not just in the glory, he’s on the ground, even below the ground, in the deep, dark pit…He’s there. He sits with you. Sometimes he sits with you awhile there, because the lessons take time, but it’s sacred, on-purpose time. He waste nothing.

We want to rush and  hurry the darkness away, but know there is work, a new work being done in the night that prepares you for the day, for your day…your day to come out, to come up for air, to see color again, to breathe deeply, smile big and laugh loud. Loud enough for someone else to hear and catch their breath…to hear in the light what you learned in the dark.

David instructs us in Psalm 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the muck and the mire.

He has given me a new song to sing,

Many will see what he has done and be astonished

I have not kept this good news hidden in my heart;

I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.

The Broken Places

David, a man after God’s heart…David, a man capable of great sin and acquainted with the broken places…David, a man whose devotion and passion for God are evident in the Psalms. He loved God so much that he wanted to build a beautiful Temple to honor Him: “It must be a magnificent structure, famous and glorious throughout the world” (1 Chron. 22: 5).

In 2 Samuel, we see that David, Israel’s leader, sins and the nation of Israel is punished. As a result, 70,000 people die at the hand of a death angel. Crazy, right? The angel is prepared to take more lives, but God relents and we see a strange verse:

“The angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor.” (1 Chron. 21:15)

Then David, in a posture of great repentance, exhaustion and brokenness declares:

“this will be the location for the Temple of the Lord…” 1 Chronicles 21:22

Why would scripture point out where the angel was standing? Why is this detail important? Why does it matter that he was standing on a threshing floor?

Threshing floors were flat areas where the grain would be pounded and stomped and torn apart from its stalk so that it could be used for food. It was broken so it could be used.

Are you catching this? That’s right, the most magnificent and holy structure ever built was constructed on ground of great repentance, exhaustion, and brokenness. The Temple of God was built next to where the angel of death was standing, the angel that was summoned because of David’s sin.  The Temple of God was built on a threshing floor, land that was used to beat and separate the grain from its husk to make it useful! Land where David repented for his sins and was broken over what he had done.

And there’s more:

God told David his son, Solomon, would be the one to build the Temple. In 2 Samuel 12, we see that Solomon was conceived out of David and Bathsheba’s grief over their sin and the death of their first child. This child died because David slept with Bathsheba when she was married, and then David murdered her husband, Uriah.  “Then David comforted Bathsheba and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and David named him Solomon.”

Solomon came into this world during a time of his parent’s repentance, exhaustion and brokenness. This child, born out of the broken place, went on to the build the temple built on the broken land.

The symbolism here is incredible. As Christians, we are now called the Temple of God. And we are only made into His temple when we come to a place of great repentance, exhaustion and brokenness. When our sin overwhelms us and we can’t take the death and destruction anymore, we cry out and God gives grace  and we become His temple.

Oh, I can think of so many messy places in my life where I repented, and was exhausted and he just stepped in and built something beautiful on that broken place. 

God is so good to us. He is working on our behalf, fighting for us even in the midst of our sin and hurt and broken places. He was working on our behalf thousands of years ago, when he chose a broken man and broken land and a son born out of brokenness to build his Temple.

He is the Healer of all broken things.

Are you in an exhausted, broken place? Are there unhealed spots in your life that need his care? He will come and he will build something more magnificent than you can imagine on that land that seems barren and useless.

He will say to that place “This will be the location for the Temple of the Lord…”

Will you let him? Are you willing to lay on a threshing floor and cry out and let that barren place be used for his glory? Oh, it hurts and it’s vulnerable but He’s good and He’s kind and he always trades beauty for ashes.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

There is always pie…

My friend, Anita, makes these amazing apple pies. No one really knows how she does it, but they really are the best. I’m not sure she exactly knows how it happens because it’s just magic in her kitchen. She combines several recipes to achieve the apple perfection. Her husband gets one every birthday, and Chris has snuck in a few requests on his birthday over the years. One Christmas, she brought her pie for a gift swap and it got ugly really quick! Adults fighting over pie!

A while back, I was a little stuck in life and really just feeling sorry for myself. Self pity is not a good look.  God reminded me of Anita’s pie: How she puts in the best ingredients, takes pleasure in the process and is so generous to offer her apple heaven to her friends and family.  I think God is a really good pie maker too. While lost in pie thoughts, I realized I was living like the pie was going to run out! Apparently, I believed that God had this heavenly pie in the sky with limited pieces, and I had better make sure I got a slice! 

Ugh, when you live like this, like the pie is running out, you live scared. You live frustrated and bitter, but mostly scared. Scared you will blow it, always watching others slices, worried about the security of your slice or afraid you may get no slice at all.

A friend once prayed for me and told me I was struggling with an “orphan spirit.” What the heck did that mean? Well, it meant that I was living like the pie was going to run out. Like I had to race and scramble for my seat at the table and then fight for my slice. She was right and all these years living like an orphan had taken its toll. It wears you thin, and makes you tired, and anxious.

God has been showing me lately that I don’t really trust him or his word. Gut punch! Like really believe it deep down, way into my bones, like know that it’s true, always true, and it’s for me. Because if I really, truly, deeply trusted Him and believed his word, I would know his pie never runs out. After all these years of following him, it’s painful to admit that I missed this. That I missed the truth that there is always a seat for me at the table, and the offerings are plentiful and beautiful and custom designed just for me. And for you! You might not even like apple pie. That’s okay, because he’s got your favorite chocolate cake at your seat!

Today I was reading in John 14 and these three verses struck me:

Vs 1 – Do not be troubled. You trust God, now trust me.

Vs 2 -There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home.  

Vs 31- Get up. Let’s go. It’s time to leave here.

God has been ministering to me all morning from these verses. He is saying, “So, Kimberly, do you trust me? Do you trust my word is true? That there is plenty of room for you? That there is more than enough for you and all my children? That the pie won’t run out? Get up, sweet girl, let’s go and leave this orphan state! You are a child of the king and it’s time to leave here! We have things to do!”

Oh, friends, these are good words from the Father! They bring such rest! He has pie for us all!  We don’t have to live as orphans, we can run knowing he is good and has more than enough for his precious children!

“No, I will not abandon you as orphans-I will come to you!” John 14:18

Laundry

There’s something I love about laundry (and Costco granola) but anyway, laundry, yes…I don’t enjoy putting it away, but the process of making the dirty clothes clean just feels right to me. As my friends and loved ones know, I am not one to clean, in fact, I hate cleaning. It is NO fun to me, and I only do it out of necessity (aka, when Chris looses it and I have to). I like things to be clean; however, the process of cleaning, is well, just awful. But laundry, I love! It’s very predictable: things go in dirty and they come out clean. Laundry is measurable and feels so productive: 10 pieces go in, 10 pieces come out. (except for those socks that always go missing) and I can get a lot done in a small amount of time.

With laundry, things go in smelly and wet and dirty and come out fresh and warm and soft. It’s just wonderful! And then there is the folding. The clothes are sorted and smoothed out and stacked and then everyone gets their clean clothes. For me, it is a very satisfying thing I do for my family. Weird, I know. Again, I am not a chore lover, but laundry makes me feel productive because it’s predictable.

If only life was like this, right? Productive and predictable, alot accomplished in a small amount of time, sorted, smoothed and stacked and done! If only, but I am in an unpredictable state these days. I have entered the workforce after 8 years at home, my days have changed and my schedule is a little unruly. Speaking of unruly, I have 3 boys that are anything but predictable or productive. They are all over the place, making noises and smells, running in the house, refusing to do homework, doing cartwheels in the living room, tracking in mud. And every day is different. Nothing is the same.

Unlike my lovely laundry, sometimes the smelly, wet, dirty things of life don’t always come out fresh, warm and soft. Sometimes they stay smelly, wet and dirty for way too long. 10 goes in and sometimes only 2 come out. Life is unpredictable and can seem unproductive. And God is teaching me to embrace it all.

I looked into Sam’s big, blue eyes today with a new perspective. He was reciting his ABC song, and for just a moment, I saw his future. I saw that how I love him, speak to him, and teach him, impacts his future. That it matters. My mom impacted my future. What she poured into me, how she served me, protected me, taught me the gospel and introduced me to Jesus, all of that was for my future: here on earth and for eternity. It mattered to her.

Today I felt a great sense of purpose looking at Sam. For a long time, I have selfishly parented thinking about myself and how frustrating it was that the smelly, wet, and dirty things weren’t getting fresh, warm and soft like my precious laundry. The smelly things of my life, the unpredictable things, were frustrating me and keeping my eyes on me. But as I stared at Sam today, I became a little more okay with the unpredictability. I became okay with just sitting and grinning while he sang the ABC song, because I knew he saw me…he saw me watching and listening…he saw my big grin…and it made his sweet heart feel fresh and warm and soft. And it mattered.

Sometimes laundry has stains, and we have to scrub a little harder or soak a little longer, or call a friend to get stain advice…so that what goes in comes out fresh and warm and soft. That’s it, that’s the productivity and predictability I am looking for in life…especially in this season of parenting…to know that these sometimes smelly, wet and dirty boys will be okay. That the world won’t get to tight of a grip on their hearts and minds and ears and eyes…that all the prayers and words and warnings and hard conversations…that all this stain fighting will work…that they will be washed white as snow by the precious blood of the Savior who my mom introduced me to…that they will meet Him too and come out of this spin cycle of a world all fresh and warm and soft.

This unpredictable life of motherhood wears me out sometimes. But it’s for their future and it matters and I get to steward that. I get to help sort and smooth their stacks and point them towards God’s good plan for them. 

Botox or God?

“The priests could not continue their work because the glorious presence of the Lord filled the temple”. 1 Kings 8:11

Let’s read that again, because it informs this whole post and is informing my whole heart right now.

“The priests could not continue their work because the glorious presence of the Lord filled the temple”. 1 Kings 8:11

Mind racing, restless nights, teeth grinding, morning headaches, tight shoulders, clenched jaw, swollen gums. The Dr. says it’s TMJ and Botox in my jaw muscles will help. But I know these are all physical symptoms of a spiritual problem: hands closed tightly around whatever future and life I think I deserve, what I think is best.

Pride. He’s been my new bff.

Productivity, significance, achievement- all fuel my exhausted brain. Do you hear voices? Sometimes I do. They say, “Let them see, let them know you are something. You deserve to be noticed. It means you have worth and contribute.” All this is exhausting. But what do you do when the clients don’t come and the chair sits empty, the boys are crazy and life moves slower than you thought? What do you do when the door is shut and you know it’s meant to stay closed for now? What if no one ever noticed again? What do you do when The Voice whispers, “Wait, sit still, watch with Me, do you trust Me? Do you want Me more than what you want?” What do you do when patience and waiting and the unknown simply tighten your grip on what you think can control?

What is the lie? What is the stronghold that keeps me clenched up, unable to rest, to release, to rely on the God of the universe? He whispers again, “Kimberly, do you love Me enough to trust me with you?” What would it look like to let go, to open the closed fists, to breathe, to surrender to the unknown, surrender to His pace and to wait patiently for His hand to move instead of mine, to not be able to continue because His presence is so thick.

What does it look like to be overwhelmed by the presence of the almighty God, so much so that you can no longer work, but only worship? Mary knew it, sitting at His feet while Martha stayed busy. Martha missed it: the presence of the living God in her own living room.

What does it require of me to open a door so He can fill the space, invade it even,  and consume it in a way that I am prostrate, and chains are broken and unclean lips are made pure? Do I want that? Will I let Him do that?

In his presence there is fullness of joy and at his right hand, next to his Son, are pleasures forevemore (Psa. 16:11). 

I want to get acquainted with His right hand. If there is pleasure forevermore there, why, why would I look elsewhere, need anything other than Him? “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God  I love. Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” Seal it for what? For Thy courts. It’s for Him, His glory alone, not mine. There’s the lie- that any of this life is about me.

Lord forgive me, that any eye would look on me, other than for your glory. The redemption of me, the marriage I make, the boys I raise, the client chair in my office-is just for You, to make You shine brightly.

What if the most important act in this moment, in this season, is bringing Him glory? What would that change in us? What does that look like for us?

That’s the question, “What in my life invites your presence and brings you the most glory?” Then let’s do that. Let’s lay it all down, stop the working, the voices-because He is so near, all we can do is worship. Live a life of surrendered worship, whatever that means. Even if it means, the chair stays empty, the door stays shut, and no one sees but Him. Can I do that? Am I willing? 

Somehow, somewhere I stepped on the throne and thought I needed a crown. I seemed to forget the crowns are laid down in his presence and all that can be said is “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Rev. 4:10-11). 

Take a listen: When You walk into the room by Jesus Culture

Slow and Steady

They say “slow and steady” wins the race but what about “scared and stubborn”? What happens to those of us that don’t learn the first time, or the next, or the next? What happens when the same lessons keep showing up and you just can’t learn what is trying to be taught? What happens when letting go of what feels so true and right and comfortable is too difficult and so you just stay stuck?

I was reading back through my journal today, reflecting on what all has happened in 2018, looking for glimpses of  growth, success and movement forward. There were some of those, but what struck me was the repetition of many prayers and verses that kept landing on the pages. From one month to the next, the same requests to God and he continued to give me the same responses. I seemed stuck. 

I saw that I was scared in my prayers and stubborn in what was required of me. Scared to let go, to trust Him in the waiting, in the staying put. And stubborn in not wanting to let go of my way, my plans and my agenda.

So what happens now? Do I just keep writing the same worn-out prayers and having Him respond with the same truth-filled verses? How do I get unstuck, how do I move forward in growth and success?

As I prayed through what felt like grounded feet in really thick mud, I kept landing on the word ‘trust’.

Trust- to place confidence in, to surrender to, to entrust, to give into the hands of, to permit, to allow…

Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the Lord and do good.”

Psalm 37:5 “Commit everything you do to the Lord, Trust him and he will help you.”

Prov. 29:25 “Whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe.”

Psalm 91:4 “I will cover thee with my feathers and under my wings shall thy trust.

Rom. 15:13 “You will have joy and peace as you trust in him.”

There are some messages floating around out there telling us to work harder, that we are the authors of our success, that we can make it happen. And yes, it is important to work hard and stay focused, but it seems God’s economy tells us something different. God adds another beautiful layer to our work. God’s economy tells me to let go, to rest, to surrender the results to Him.

Instead of holding on tight and digging in my heels, I am to open my hands and trust him with the outcome. Instead of taking my dream and making it happen, I am to lay the dream as an offering at his feet, to give it back to him instead of running ahead. Oh how hard that is.

What a paradox, that the hardest thing is to let go and rest.

However, if I operate in complete trust, if I trust He is who He says He is, letting go becomes the easiest thing I can do. The pressure is off. It’s no longer up to me, but up to the Creator of the universe, Abba Father.

What a breath that creates for me, for us! How unstuck I would feel if I functioned in trust.

My word for 2018 was Rest. I have battled and worked so hard to learn rest. (Did you catch that? I have even made the word “rest” about work!) And here, as 2018 is drawing to a close, he is faithfully showing me what it means to rest. It means to trust: to place confidence in, to surrender to, to entrust, to give into the hands of, to permit, to allow…But will I? Will I lay it all down, rest under his wings and trust him for the results?

Slow and steady, with him by my side, I will win this race because “He is my God and I am trusting Him.” Psalm 91:2

In perfect timing today, a sweet friend reminded me of these lyrics from my childhood:

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

 

 

Glory to Glory

5 years ago today. 5 years ago today he left us. 5 years ago today he ran for the first time in a long time. He ran into the arms of the one who loved him more than life itself. 5 years ago today he finally had no pain, he breathed deep and rested, finally rested.

But, 5 years ago today my heart broke, my spirit ached, my faith weakened, my miracle left me. All the prayers for healing, all the mustard seeds I’d offered to God, the mountain I begged to move, left me. That’s a holy, hard thing, to know dad’s miracle began but to be left behind wanting your own.

I’ve been working on that lately, working on my broken faith. I thought I had dealt with it, processed it like a good therapist does, but it’s been creeping up lately. The memories, the things we saw that we shouldn’t have seen. The pain he endured that was so unjust, the way his body was ravaged so unfairly. It’s been creeping up and I can’t quite handle it like I want to. God, in his wisdom, is bringing it to the surface because he is good enough to want me whole.

That’s strange, isn’t it? That God would reveal in me my angst toward Him, my questions, my doubts that He is good? Why would He do that? Why would He expose something that doesn’t honor Him? That’s brave isn’t it? He isn’t worried about his reputation. He could leave all this buried in me, keep it under the covers, but He is a cover lifter, as I have said before. He’s a light shiner, He breaks up darkness, even when it might reveal that we aren’t sure if He is good.

Don’t stop is what I want to tell you. Don’t stop moving towards holiness, wholeness and having your broken places mended. It’s holy, hard work. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it and God can handle the wrestle. We are wrestling now, me and God. I am wrestling with Him on my broken heart, my faith that was chipped at, the miracle I believed for but didn’t receive, the medical trauma dad endured, we all endured. I have doubts and tears and He can handle them. He is so good to not let them consume me. He is so good to bring them to the surface after 5 years because he wants my healing, my own miracle.

He’s kind like that, he moves us from glory to glory. Don’t stop. Dad never stopped. He always found the fight in him to keep going, until he just couldn’t anymore and then he stepped into His glory. Glory to glory. That’s how God works, at least that’s what I am learning.

Sometimes glory doesn’t look like what you think though. Sometimes glory looks like old memories coming back, tears, time in the counseling office, time writing down the words, more tears, hard conversations, bold conversations with God, telling Him your angry and you aren’t sure if you believe Him when you’ve believed him for 32 years. More time with the counselor…And then there’s glory.

Out of the wrestling, there’s glory.

Like when dad finally stepped into glory after all those years. All those years of wrestling with his body, wrestling with fear, wrestling with his maker, he finally stepped into his glory. Glory to glory. Please don’t stop. Don’t stop moving towards the One who can handle it, who can handle you and your wrestle and all your broken places.

Just please don’t stop. 

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Watchtowers and Waiting

This week I have been reading back through my journal from the past year.  It has been a blessing yet also very humbling: A blessing because I can see God’s faithfulness and his hand woven through all my many prayers and circumstances throughout the year. But also humbling because there are still areas of my life that haven’t changed, still places that lack faith, still spots in me that need more pruning, still hurts that need healing. He is not done yet, and I am not done. However, if I want to move forward I MUST press in. I MUST find the time to steal away to be with him, to give him the space to do his holy work.

I was reminded of a Bible story this week and I thought I would share. It is from Habakkuk 1-2. We see in chapter one that Habakkuk is complaining to the Lord.

He says, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen!”

Have you ever felt that way? I did as I read through my journal and saw those prayers that seem to stay on repeat without the answers I want.  

Habakkuk then states in 2:1 “I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint.”

Watchtowers were used during biblical times as places of safety or security during war. They were high and set apart so that guards could keep watch for the oncoming enemy. Habakkuk is bold in his questions to God, then he steals away to a quiet place to watch and wait for God’s response. I love this. I love Habakkuk’s wisdom and confidence. His wisdom to get away from the noise, his confidence to complain and cry out, and his confidence in knowing that God will answer his complaint in his waiting. On Sunday, the pastor said, “Our bold requests stir up the bold responses of God.”  

The Lord does respond to Habakkuk in 2:2 “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time…it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

So, what do we see here? What can we learn?

  1. We must be bold in our asking. There are only a few weeks left of 2018. What’s left to press into? What more do you want God to do in you? Through you? Be bold in your asking and watch for his bold response.
  2. Steal away to a watch tower. Find the place where you are not distracted, where you are protected from the enemy, and ready yourself to hear from God, and wait.
  3. Right down the vision so you and others can then run!  God will honor the time you devote to him and he will respond to you. Posture yourself with ears and hearts to listen. His response will require you to act. I noticed many of my unanswered prayers stayed that way because I did not act on the vision God gave me to write down!
  4. Trust him in the waiting and watch with him.

Steal away, watch what he does, record it, steal away, watch, record. Repeat. What a beautiful rhythm.

I am praying for you friends, praying that you find that sacred space to sit with him, lean in and catch the vision, his vision for you!

P.S. Some of you have asked and here is the link for Regina’s mentoring ministry and the story of how her journaling impacted mine: http://titus2mentoringwomen.com/2017/11/intentional-journaling-the-words-journal/