Overwhelmed

We are only half way through 2020 and yet so much has happened. It’s been overwhelming at times. So as I sit here processing, I realize that the Lord has been reminding me of three things: Scriptures I can stand on, what He is asking of me, and most importantly who He is. May these bring you guidance and comfort as well.

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

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:21-24

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting for the one who doubts is like a wave of the se that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6

Always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:15b-22

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass I will be with you; and through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43:1-3a

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Nahum 1:7

Treading Water

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I have three typical responses right now when people ask me how work is going.

  • I’m treading water and my nose is out of the water.
  • I have more irons in the fire than normal. I regularly run to the fire to see which iron is getting too hot, pull it out (work on that problem for a bit) and then replace it and pull out the next iron to let it cool down.
  • I’m not burning the candle on both ends…I’m a puddle of wax trying to be functional with no end in sight.

The last one has gotten the most laughs, especially from my coworkers who are in the trenches with me. Even amidst the laughter, it’s genuinely how I’m feeling. I’m exhausted.

My conversation with the Lord has been asking for His wisdom in prioritizing tasks, asking Him for rest, and asking that He meet me in all of this chaos. I don’t want to be overwhelmed and miss Him. I’ve felt His presence and comfort throughout the last two months, but He clearly spoke through Psalm 69 the other night.

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting on my God.

Psalm 69:1-3

I laughed out loud as I read this. It is as if David is sharing my very thoughts and heart cry!

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close it’s mouth over me. Answer me, Oh Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.

Psalm 69:13-16

The Lord is reminding me of several things.

  • I am to seek after Him
  • His timing is perfect
  • He is steadfast, loving, and faithful
  • He is good and merciful

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord…you who seek the Lord, let your hearts revive…let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.

Psalm 69:30-34

May my thoughts, actions, and words bring praise to Him regardless of my circumstances. He is big. He is loving. He will sustain me.

A changed way of life

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I don’t think I can write a blog right now and not include something about COVID-19. This has been an interesting season. Hard. Different. Lonely. Fearful. Trusting. Joyful. Slow. And many more adjectives.

Working on a college campus has meant that a lot of things in my every day life have changed. Students are no longer on campus as they are home learning remotely. I thrive on interactions with students and making their living on campus good. That’s gone. Plus, I’m working remotely at the moment, so my kitchen table has become my new work station.

Living by myself means that my personal life hasn’t changed that much though. My evenings are roughly the same. I still call and skype friends. I attend my normal Bible Study (via Zoom now). Take care of my house, watch TV, and read.

The biggest change I’ve experienced is the one in my head and heart. I’ve always been fearful of being left alone. I love my alone time, but don’t ultimately want to not have people. I normally see my family once a week. It’s now been three weeks since I’ve been home and I’m ok. One of my top love languages is physical touch and it’s been three weeks since I’ve had a hug and I’m ok. I’ve realized that in this new “normal” the Lord has allowed me to face some fears and pointed out that I’m ok. He is sustaining me.

“But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Restoration

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Rarely do I have a word for the year. This year is a little different. I was reading a book last month, and the word RESTORATION jumped out at me. It resonated deeply with with me. So I decided to do a little processing.

Why this word? – I started looking at Scripture verses. The Holy Spirit quickly highlighted 1 Peter 5:10.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

I love so much about this verse! It starts with suffering and ends with the joy of restoration! Directly in the middle, not to be overlooked, is God’s grace and strength that sustains us through the journey from suffering to restoration. I wrote the verse out and am using it as a book mark so that I get to see it every day!

Why now? – Why does the Lord want me to focus on restoration now? I don’t fully have that one figured out, but I do have a few thoughts. Maybe it’s because it’s 2020 and a new decade is dawning. Or maybe it’s that I’m turning 35 this year. Or that I have been single for the last 7 years. Or it might just be that the Lord decided now was a good time, or this is a first step in something greater for His glory.

What does He want to restore? – A few weeks after the discover of my “word,” the Lord highlighted two things that He had already restored this year.

January brought restoration of a relationship. I have been desiring healing in this relationship for years. I honestly never thought it would happen. I can’t explain this restoration other than by the grace of God. I’m so thankful for this healing that has been coming the last 10 years!

February brought restoration of some financial struggles. I’d been stressing about how to make some financial decisions wisely, and the Lord unexpectedly provided insights and a change that brought clarity.

Now – I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do the rest of this year! If He brings any more restoration, I’ll try and add a note at the end. May you see and share how God is bringing restoration to your own life!

Or, when placed in our Master’s hands, the Master potter can be entrusted to take that potsherd, shatter it just right, and then use it in the remolding of me to make me stronger and even more beautiful. – Lisa Terkeurst

Smile

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So often my brain gets stuck on the negative. For those of you who know the Enneagram (My Enneagram Coach), I’m a Type 6, the Loyalist. There is a lot that I love and appreciate about how the Lord made me, but if I’m not careful, my brain circles around the “What Ifs” and worst-case scenerios.

The future is my current mental rut. Am I being wise about preparing for the future? How much can I afford to put toward retirement? Should I buy a home? Can I handle owning a home? And the thoughts keep coming…

I was musing this morning about what to write for this blog post. It’s easy to write for about what’s rolling around in my brain, but I don’t want to focus on the unknowns of my life. Especially since I don’t have a solutions or answers.

So instead, what has God been teaching me? It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is this month. What’s made my heart happy and brought a smile to my face lately?

Valentine’s Day is traditionally about celebrating romantic love. I’m going to take it to a different level and say that it’s about celebrating what makes you smile. 🙂 So, here’s a list of things that have made me smile recently.

1. Getting to celebrate my sister’s 29th birthday on Valentine’s Day.

2. Finding an AIP Salsa that is yummy!

3. Going a day without a headache

4. Napping on my couch with a blanket

5. Getting snail-mail

6. Having a heart-to-heart conversation with my friend Bekah

7. Problem solving at work with sweet friends

The Lord always helps me come out of my thought ruts by thinking of the blessings He’s given me.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

What has made you smile lately?

Sacrificial Love

In the church, the phrase sacrificial love can be used a lot. Some might even say it’s “christianese”. I’ve always known that I don’t fully understand sacrificial love. I get it about as much as a child can fully understand John 3:16. It takes faith.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

My lack of understanding came more clearly into focus today. I’m currently sitting in a hospital room with my sister, Carissa. She’s here to deliver a daughter. A beautiful baby girl that she is giving life to. Not only does she get to give this sweet baby life, but she is also getting to bless a wonderful family with the opportunity of loving this little one.

Carissa loves her daughter so much that she wants what is best for her. She is sacrificially loving her by placing her in this new family. I’ve seen Carissa painstakingly and prayerfully seek who will love and raise her daughter. The Lord brought her to a wonderful family who was ready for their own immediate family to grow. There are tears of joy and sadness. But more than tears there is love.

Sometimes God’s loves seems too big for me to understand or wrap my mind around. Who would willingly give up their only Son (John 3:16)? Now I have a more clear picture. It is someone like Carissa who desperately loves her child.

Does God love me the same way? Scripture says yes. I can’t say that I understand sacrificial love more today than I did yesterday, but I do know that I’ve witnessed it this side of heaven in my sister and her daughter, Kenzie Grace.

The Lord’s deep love for my sister and Kenzie has also been very evident as He’s walked them and the rest of our family through the last several months. It is very apparent that Kenzie was meant to be born and that the Lord was crafting the best family for her. One to give her life in love and the other to raise her in love.

I’m humbled by watching my sister’s love for her daughter.

I’m humbled by watching the adoptive family love my sister and my niece.

I’m humbled by watching the Lord’s deep love for Carissa, Kenzie, and her adoptive family.

Thank you Lord for Kenzie Grace.

Memory Lane III

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December 14 was the five-year anniversary of starting this blog. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long! Five years and 60 blog posts later, I love seeing my history and God’s love and grace memorialized in these blogs.

Last year in December, I wrote a blog highlighting some of my favorite blogs over the years. This year I’ve added the ones that I loved from 2019! Enjoy the journey down memory lane and may your Christmas be filled with His presence and joy!

Brokenness – January 2015

Being Known – February 2015

The Beauty of Change – May 2015

A Change in Prayer – July 2015

Sharing is Caring – October 2015

Unloveable – January 2016

The Elephant in the Room – February 2016

Run Wild – March 2016

Feminine – June 2016

Sometimes We Walk the Road Twice – August 2016

Right Turn…New Season – October 2016

Altar of Sacrifice – February 2017

Greatest Joy – April 2017

Heart of Stone – June 2017

Time and Promises – January 2018

$1.35 – February 2018

Running Towards the Unknown – March 2018

Plan O……BU – July 2018

A Piece of Broken Pottery – August 2018

My Dad – October 2018

Thankful for a Broken Body – February 2019

Fear Robs us of our very Selves – May 2019

Sorrow & Suffering – September 2019

Transformation – November 2019

Transformation

It was late Friday afternoon and I was quickly trying to answer some questions about a book that my staff and I are reading together. I zipped through the first two questions and figured I could get through the remaining five questions in the ten minutes remaining in the work day. Did I mention that a friend of mine wrote these questions? Knowing this wise and godly woman, I should have been prepared that one of her questions would trip me up! 🙂

If transformation is the Lord’s goal for us, what specific transformation does He intend for you in and through your wounding?

Ah! What a loaded question! I knew full well I wasn’t going to be able to answer this one quickly, so I skipped it. 🙂 So now here I sit over 24 hours later, in my comfy clothes after working on projects all day, and I still haven’t answered this question.

I don’t want to think about wounding being transformative. I don’t want to think about wounds. But then I come back to the realization that I live in a broken world where wounds are a very real thing. And my own wounds cannot be ignored.

As I pondered the above question, Ezekiel 36 and Isaiah 61 came to mind.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:26-28

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress in stead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning. The garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61: 1-3

When I’m struggling with my own hurts or brokenness, the Lord often reminds me of these passages. Such heartache and hurt is evident in both of these passages, but also such love and transformation. What gifts are given through the transformation! I can’t become an “Oak of Righteousness” overnight. I can’t have a new heart overnight. But today, I can take one step through the hurt towards the transformation the Lord desires for me.

To Date or Not To Date?

The Lord has brought me a long way in my singleness. My 20’s consisted of me not understanding contentment or how to do singleness well (at least from my perspective). My 30’s have been great! I still desire a committed, God honoring marriage, but greatly love the life He has given me.

I’ve never dated just for the sake of dating. It’s always been with the intention of marriage. I’m thankful for each of the relationships that the Lord has allowed me to walk through. As I entered my mid 30’s, I realized that meeting God honoring single men was becoming more difficult.

Here’s the conundrum I’ve been discussing with my family. Where are the lines between trusting the Lord in His timing, being/appearing desperate, and utilizing the tools and people He’s placed around me? I know…I said conundrum. 🙂

As I sit and evaluate my heart and mind in regards to this, I don’t feel desperate and I think my family would say the same. I fully trust God with His timing and way of introducing my next season of life. He’s proven over and over again that He is wise, loving, and perfect in His timing. So then comes the questions, “What part do I play in all of this?”

Often times I’ll hear people say, “Put yourself out there.” What exactly does that mean? Put myself where? I’m involved at church and on the college campus where I work. I’ve never said no to friends introducing me to someone or even setting up a blind date. I’ve even done Christian Mingle for about a month several years ago (wasn’t my cup of tea back then).

So here’s what I know right now. 1) I live in a small town of about 10,000 people. 2) I regularly get to meet a lot of great people, just very, very few single people around my age. 3) I live about an hour away from a large city, but am not often hanging out there as I have a full life where I’m at. 4) The number of friends introducing me to strong Godly men are few and far between.

So then comes my question of do I utilize people and tools around me to create situations of introduction (Christian Mingle, match-maker, send a message to friends asking them to think of someone to introduce me to, etc.)? Is that a wise use of my resources for the situation I’m in? Or is that me trying to force something? I truly believe that the Lord can introduce me to anyone at anytime. But is He asking me to step out?

In the Old Testament, Rehab had to hang a red cord out her window. Moses, with the help of two friends, had to hold up his arms during battle. David had to fight Goliath.

But then there are verses such as Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Or 1 Samuel 12:16, “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!”

Thus back to my conundrum. 🙂 I actually don’t know the answer to this one yet. Just felt the desire to share what’s rolling around in my head today. So feel free to share any insights that you might have. Plus, I’d love you to join me in praying for wisdom. I want to honor the Lord in my waiting or my doing!

Sorrow & Suffering

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Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard is a GREAT book. I read it once as a kid and more recently I’ve read it several times with my staff in the last four years. It’s written as an allegory, so it’s an easy read. Here are a couple excerpts from the preface that always speak to my heart.

The Song of Songs expresses the desire implanted in every human heart, to be reunited with God himself, and to know perfect and unbroken union with him. He has made us for himself, and our hearts can never know rest and perfect satisfaction until they find it in him.

The only way is by learning to accept, day by day, the actual conditions and tests permitted by God, by a continually repeated laying down of our own will and acceptance of his as it is presented to us in the form of the people with whom we have to live and work, and in the things which happen to us. Every acceptance of his will becomes an alter of sacrifice, and every such surrender and abandonment of ourselves to his will is a means of furthering us on the way to the High Places to which he desires to bring every child of his while they are still living on earth.

The lessons of accepting and triumphing over evil, of becoming acquainted with grief, and pain, and ultimately, of finding them transformed into something incomparably precious; of learning through constant glad surrender to know the Lord of Love himself in a new way and to experience unbroken union with him-these are the lessons of the allegory in this book. The High Places and the hinds’ feet do not refer to heavenly places after death, but are meant to be the glorious experiences of God’s children here and now-if they will follow the path he chooses for them.

Within the first 70 pages, the main character, Much-Afraid, starts on her journey to the High Places. The Shepherd provides her with companions to help her along her journey.

“That is why I have most carefully chosen for you two of the very best and strongest guides.” he tells her. “Here are the two guides which I promised,” said the Shepherd quietly. “From now on until you are over the steep and difficult places, they will be your companions and helpers.”…”They are good teachers; indeed, I have few better. As for their names…This,” said he, motioning towards the first of the silent figures, “is named Sorrow. And the other is her twin sister, Suffering.”

What?? I can still remember echoing Much-Afraid’s reaction. Of all the people who he could have chosen as companions for her, he chose Sorrow and Suffering. I’d prefer Happiness and Peace, please!

Much-Afraid, stepped forward, looking at the two [companions], and said with a courage which she had never felt before, “I will go with you. Please lead the way,” for even then she could not bring herself to put out her hands to grasp theirs.

Um, no kidding. The thought of embracing Sorrow and Suffering is not something I would want to do either.

From the very beginning the way up the mountains proved to be steeper than anything Much-Afraid had supposed herself capable of tackling, and it was not very long before she was forced to seek the help of her companions. Each time she shrinkingly took hold of the hand of either Sorrow or Suffering a pang went through her, but once their hands were grasped she found they had amazing strength, and seemed able to pull and even lift her upwards and over places which she would have considered utterly impossible to reach.

As I read this section again, preparing for time with my staff, I was struck with the thought of “who are my companions on my life journey?” If The Shepherd saw fit to provide Much-Afraid with helpful and trusted companions, why would my Father not do the same? Companions that point me to Him, help me through the difficult seasons of life, and ultimately show me His love!

This morning I came across some Scripture verses that I feel like emphasis this.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

1 Peter 5:10 strongly resonated with me! The hope that this verse brings! Regardless of who my companions are, God will get the glory and He will sustain me!

As I sat and pondered who my companions are, the first one came quickly to mind. Loneliness. The second one was a little harder. I’m actually still thinking and praying through it, but it seems to be Joyful Sorrow. Sorrow stuck out to me, but the feeling of joy quickly followed it. Not joy in the sorrow, but rather the joy that came on the other side of the sorrow. Joy was experienced in how I saw my Father show up in the midst of the sorrow and how I am still seeing Him show up.

This seemed to shift my perspective a little. Instead of resisting my companions (Loneliness and Joyful Sorrow), maybe like Much-Afraid, I should embrace them and tightly hold onto their hands. I should allow them to help me traverse the hard seasons and point me to Him. For as 1 Peter 5:10 says, the Lord has promised to “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish” me.

Whose hands do you need to grasp today?