White As Snow

We woke up to a snow-covered world this morning. Honestly, the first words out of my mouth were, “What the what?!” (I claim no responsibility for any words that come out of my mouth before coffee.) But then I started thinking about it.

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Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. We go to bed on Good Friday with the heartbreaking knowledge that Jesus loved us so much that He would rather die in our place than spend eternity without us. That is a depth of love and sacrifice that we can hardly fathom, much less repay.

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow. We wake up the next morning, and our world is literally covered in white. What a beautiful visual reminder of what He did for us! Just as He covered the ugliness of our sins and made us clean through His death on the cross, He covered all of the early spring ugliness with a clean, white blanket of snow.

So I am embracing the snow today. Thank you, Jesus, for this beautiful reminder of what You have done for us.

Blessings on your Easter weekend, everyone!

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Clinging to the Immovable

Once upon a time, not too many years ago, I served on the worship team of a small country church. They had a need for both vocalists and accompanists – I happened to have experience in both. It seemed like a heaven-ordained opportunity to serve, except for one small thing: I was in the midst of dealing with severe anxiety.

My anxiety would manifest itself in the form of shortness of breath and, more often, spells of vertigo. The vertigo would come upon me unexpectedly and at inopportune times, but was more likely to happen while under stress. Just being in front of a group of people was stressful, much less singing or playing piano. It was a prime situation for vertigo to strike.

I was determined that my anxiety would not prevent me from serving, and so I developed a coping mechanism: the piano. Heavy, solid, and virtually immovable, that piano wasn’t going anywhere. I, on the other hand, was not nearly as stable. So, I would position myself in a spot where I could cling to the piano the entire time I was on stage, knowing that no matter how I felt, I had a firm object that would help me stand strong.

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And you know what? It worked. I spent many a Sunday morning desperately clinging to that piano with sweaty palms, trusting that the strength and solidness of the piano would help me remain upright.

Do you ever feel like that? Like daily life is a precarious thing, and at any given moment a situation might set you reeling? I know I sure do. Life is unpredictable, and there isn’t always a piano available for me to hang on to!

Here’s the thing, though: we have something even better than a piano. Always with us, never forsaking us, is our solid, unchanging Father in heaven. Matthew 28:20 tells us that He is “with us always, to the very end of the age” (NIV). In Joshua 1:9, He promises that that “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (NLT). And in Malachi 3:6, He flat out states, “I am the Lord, and I do not change” (NLT).

What promises! What hope those words bring to an unstable, ever changing world!

These days, I only find myself on stage occasionally. When I can feel the anxiety starting to build within me, rather than leaning on a piano for strength and assurance, I choose to lean into the words of the worship songs. Rather than fearing an episode of vertigo, I choose to trust in the promises of God, that He is present in the moment and that He will carry me through.

The Quiet Work of Healing

Things have been pretty quiet on the site this week, not because I haven’t been working on posts, but because the one I’ve been working on has been so. very. hard.

This week (February 26-March 4, 2018) is National Eating Disorders Awareness week. I don’t talk about it very often, but some of you know that I was diagnosed and struggled with anorexia nervosa during my college years. Therefore, this week is particularly near and dear to me.

I fully planned to share my story this week. In fact, I have the draft for part one saved in my files. I came very close to publishing it, except for the still, small voice that kept saying, “Not yet.” It wasn’t the voice of fear; while it has been very challenging to revisit that time of my life, I have no fear in sharing my experience. Rather, it is a sense that I should hold off, as if the story isn’t quite finished yet. I don’t know exactly how it will all play out, but I DO know that when I sense that still, small voice, I believe it belongs to the King of Kings and you bet I listen!

In the meantime, this week has been good for me. I’ve visited hard places and revisited memories that I’ve kept locked away for 20 years. It’s been exhausting and painful and awful and healing. I’m so very thankful for where God has me today.

Incidentally, my family and I have plans this spring to visit the area I lived when I developed my eating disorder. (That’s not the purpose of the trip, thank goodness!) It’s a lovely, quaint area and we are all looking forward to it. I know it is going to bring up more memories, and I’m ready to sit with them and work through them. I am looking forward to seeing places that are part of a painful past, rejoicing in where God has me today, and making new memories with my sweet family.

I encourage you to visit the National Eating Disorders Association’s website and familiarize yourself with the risk factors that may contribute to an eating disorder. And if you suspect that a loved one or yourself may have an eating disorder, please have the courage to seek help for yourself or learn how you can be a support to your loved one.

And someday, I will share my story. When He says it’s time.

 

A Tale of Two Cats

Something wasn’t right. We got home from our weekly AWANA night at church after dark, which wasn’t unusual. However, we were usually greeted by our pair of outdoor cats within 30 seconds of pulling in the driveway.

No cats tonight.

We assured my youngest daughter that they had probably just taken off on an adventure, as cats do. As my husband and my eyes met, though, we both knew that neither one of us believed the reassuring words we were telling our daughter. This had never happened before, and it was very unlike our cats to be far enough away that they couldn’t hear us when we called for them.

After getting our distraught girl settled into bed, my husband went out to search our property for any clues. He came in with the grim news that there were coyotes yipping up a storm on the other side of the creek near our yard.

Things were not looking good.

We spent a restless night in bed, wondering what could have possibly happened to the cats, and how in the world we would break the news to our girl if there were no cats at the door in the morning. My husband got up at 2 a.m., unable to sleep, and by the time I got up at 5 a.m., had already covered most of our small town on foot, searching for those two little kitties who meant the world to our daughter.

As we stood in the kitchen, exhausted and defeated, my husband said, “Let’s pray about it.” I have to admit, in that moment, my thought was, “Really? Pray about something as trivial as two cats?” I tend to feel that God is more of a “big stuff” kind of God. Got cancer? He’s your guy. Broken relationships? Give Him a call. Natural disasters? He’s on it. But cats? Umm…please hold while we transfer you to the next available guardian angel to take your call.

6:30 a.m. rolls around, and the moment we were dreading had arrived. Our tousle-haired redhead came sleepily down the stairs and cuddled into my chair with me. As she inquired about the cats, my husband and my eyes met again. Stay positive, we silently communicated. There’s still a chance, slim as it may be. 

I opened my mouth to gently break the news to her, and as I did, two cats came hurtling across the neighbor’s yard and into ours! Disbelief and relief rushed through us as our cats came tearing into the house, devoured their breakfast and promptly plunked themselves in front of the fire, exhausted from the night’s escapade.

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Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (NLT) God doesn’t put stipulations on what is too big or too small for Him to handle – I am obviously the one doing that. When I do so, I am displaying my own lack of faith in His power and His love for me. He clearly desires us to come to Him with anything and everything. He says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT)

As I was reflecting on the incident the next morning, I was reminded of the words to a hymn from my childhood:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
  All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
  Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
  O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
  Everything to God in prayer!

Lord, help me to remember Your greatness and power, and not to put human restrictions on an almighty and everlasting Father. Help me to carry everything and anything to You, knowing that nothing is beyond Your power and care.

 

Stepping Out With Fear and Trembling

I have a tremendous fear of heights. It is so bad that just thinking about heights can give me sweaty palms (yes, they’re sweating as I type this). Painting the trim around the nine-foot ceilings in our house makes me more high strung than a kite on a windy day.

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This past summer, we put new siding on our house. (Please note that whenever I say “we” in regards to a house-related project, I am mostly referring to my husband. He does the hard work. I make him brownies and tell him he’s doing a good job. It’s a good system.) There came a point in the project where my husband was tackling some particularly long pieces of siding and really could have used my help to get them up. All I had to do was step out on our second story porch, grab one end, lock it in place, and hammer in a few nails. No problem for the average homeowner.

And then there’s me. I approached the door, hands sweating, heart pounding, arm pits pouring rivers to rival the mighty Mississippi. I stepped out to the porch, hands and legs trembling, and staying as far away from the edges as possible while still being somewhat useful, I grabbed a piece, locked and hammered it into place. I took some deep breaths while my husband cut the next piece, and repeated the process over and over. When it was all finished, I stepped back into the house, lightheaded and wobbly, but still standing.

Friends, as I share my heart and this humble little corner of the internet for the first time today, that’s exactly how I’m feeling. My heart is pounding, my hands are sweating, and I’m scared out of my mind. But I’m stepping out in faith, trusting that the God who planted this seed of a blog in my heart will see me through. He has a plan and it is good!

So…all that to say, welcome! I pray that this will be a place where we can settle in, take a deep breath, and say “me, too” without fear of condemnation. A place where we can grow and be strengthened, but also a place that provides rest for our souls from the everyday busyness of life. I am so glad you are here and hope you will continue on this journey with me!

Letting Go…

Tight shoulders. Seeing floaters. Sugar cravings. Sleepless nights. Headaches. The symptoms crept up, one on top of the other, until my body couldn’t take it anymore and I wound up useless and cranky, completely and utterly depleted.

Stress had, once again, taken over.

Recognizing my symptoms, I suggested my husband and I hop in the car and run an errand or two to talk it out. (Really, we have our best talks in the car. One of my most favorite part about road trips is the conversations that happen on the open road.)

“So, what’s the source of your stress?” he asked. After a pause, I responded, “You know, I think am just. So. Angry.” A situation beyond my control for the past few years has resulted in continual emotional roller coasters, empty promises, and broken relationships.

Years and years of this have left me angry, bitter, stressed out, and exhausted. There are no easy answers to the situation, and despite our pleas and prayers, God has remained silent. No relief. No rescue.

Later that day, this popped up in my Instagram from Lysa TerKeust:

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Pray. Trust. Release. Find peace.

I was doing none of those.

I had given up on praying, having deemed the situation beyond God’s notice and caring.

I hadn’t trusted that He has a plan in the midst of roller coasters and a downward spiral of chaos.

I hadn’t released it to Him; rather, I was bearing a burden that wasn’t mine.

As a result, peace has eluded me for a very, very long time.

Moving forward, I pray that I make this a daily exercise, to trust His plan enough to release the burdens to Him that are not even mine to carry, and find peace in the waiting.

 

 

 

His View: Both Above and Below

Recently, my girls and I braved the cold to do some adventuring on our local park trail. Due to the lack of snow and abundance of cold we have experienced this year, we were treated to the sight of some unusual ice formations. One formation in particular captivated my attention – the surface of the creek had frozen, and yet it was completely dry underneath, so  we could get a rare glimpse at the creek bed itself.

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Later that night, while reviewing the pictures I had taken that afternoon, it struck me how unusual it was to be able to clearly see what happens both above and below the water’s surface. And it made me wonder…is this what God’s view of the world is like?

We are like the living things trapped under the ice’s surface – rushed along by forces beyond our control (in this case, water), we spend our days surrounded by a beautiful but decaying world, trying to fight our way upstream and find shelter and safety from the dangers that surround us. If we try to look up, the ice obscures the image above us, allowing us to see some light, at best.

However, if we could just see beyond the ice, we would be treated to the view of a spectacular, sparkling world, with the sun reflecting off of the snow in a dazzling display of light, and living, growing things as far as the eye can see. Beauty beyond comprehension, in comparison to life under the ice.

And God, in his infinite power, can take in both worlds in one sweeping glance. He can not only see us in our daily struggles under the ice, but also the beauty that awaits us once the ice melts and we can finally get a clear view of that majesty.

That day is coming, my friends. Someday that layer of ice that separates us from the glories of heaven will finally melt, and we will be able to leave behind our weary, watery world for the beauty that awaits. Not only will we be surrounded by a beauty like we have never experienced before, but we will be with the Maker of that beauty.

In the meantime, we can rest in the knowledge that He sees both above and below the surface of the ice. Nothing that happens above or below escapes His notice – He has ordained each molecule of water, each whisper of the wind, and knitted them all together as part of His story…a story that includes you and me.