Month: February 2019

  • Hide Me Away, O Lord

    It snowed today in my town, not a lot, but enough that school was cancelled for my kids.

    When my kids hear “snow day”, they hear music and singing, birds chirping and the rejoicing of the local youth celebrating across the neighborhood. When I hear “snow day” I hear a snarky voice inside my head saying, “Good luck getting anything done today.”

    I love my children dearly, but I have one day each week where everyone in my house leaves for their respective jobs and schooling, and I have the house all to myself. It’s my my one day to make a dent in the never-ending to-do list, run errands and then pick up the kids and the next shift of my day starts. But in the morning, in those first few moments after I kiss them goodbye and send them off, it’s quiet and peaceful. I can curl up on my couch in my fuzzy socks, wrapped my fluffy blanket and quietly sip my coffee while the dog turns a circle and gently plops down next to me with a contented sigh. I take my journal off of the new, cute and trendy side table I just got for Christmas, and settle in to read God’s Word and jot down my thoughts and prayers. As I lean against the sofa pillows, I imagine I am leaning against the very throne of God, safe, secure and at peace.

    At least that’s how it goes in my head. I have had that experience a few times, but most of the time I find myself chasing it, frantically packing up the kids and then walking the dog so she doesn’t spend all morning barking at her own reflection. In reality, my cute trendy side-table has been commandeered by my youngest child as “his corner for playing Minecraft” and my fuzzy blanket is usually occupied by the dog after Bark-fest 2019 wraps up. Heaven help us if the mailman comes. And just beyond my cute little corner of the living room, are piles of laundry waiting to be folded and a bathroom that needs deliverance (AKA deep cleaning).

    These moments with God are often my anchor to sanity. Especially when I have a crazy-busy week or my reserves are already tapped. Spending time with God resets my perspective and gives me the insight and stamina to not just survive the day, but live it to His glory. But I’ll admit, it is hard to feel that peace when nothing lines up the way I planned, and the day threatens to overwhelm me. Today was one of those days.

    As I was aimlessly wandering around the house trying to figure out my next steps, a song I haven’t thought of in years came to mind and put words to the longing in my heart. It is a simple song with a melody sort of like a lullaby:

    Hide me away O Lord,
    Hide me away O Lord,
    In the day of trouble, ‘neath the shadow of your wing,
    Hide me away O Lord.

    Give me your peace, O Lord,
    Give me your peace, O Lord, ,
    In the day of trouble, ‘neath the shadow of your wing,
    Give me your peace, O Lord.

    In a house that felt busy, with stir-crazy kids and a noisy dog, I wanted to hide away. I wanted to sneak back into my bedroom and stay there, wrapped up in my blankets and just let the day roll past. The day felt troublesome and I began to long for peace. I hadn’t planned on the kids being home. I didn’t have a game plan for when the novelty of the snow wore off and the cabin-fever bickering  would begin. I desperately needed a place where I could meet God, connect and get my mind right.

    So I went to the one place I figured I could hide for a little bit. I went back to my bedroom and got under the covers. Not for the rest of the day, but to pause for just a few minutes. I knew that if I could just be still and let go of my expectations for the day, that I would be able to hear God, comforting me and guiding me. I trusted that if I allowed God to quiet my mind, that he would give me the strength and clarity I needed for the rest of the day.

    While I was hiding out, I found the verse of the day on my Bible phone app. As I lay there, I read these words, from Psalm 91:1-2,4-5

    “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

    I asked God to shelter me in His wings, to hide me away for a moment and restore me. I asked Him to shield me from the chaos and anxiety that kept trying to creep into my mind and let me rest in His shadow. I asked God to help me do the things. All the things. Because frankly I did not want to get back up and head back into the living room.

    I lay there complaining to the Lord for a few more minutes and, as He always does, He gently began to change my heart and mind. Somehow, I got dressed (like in real clothes, not sweats) and took my kids to get hot chocolate and run a quick errand. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was good.

    When we got back, I realized that the kids weren’t chaotic, my mind was. They had actually been pretty great. I was so focused on meeting God on my terms, in my “perfect” setting, that I forgot I serve a God who is omnipresent! He can meet me anywhere. In fact, He was already steps ahead of me, providing for my every need and care. I can hide away under the shelter of His wing and find refuge, in any circumstance. He would shield me and care for me whether the day brought discontentment or actual real trouble.

    By the end of the day, I experienced peace. I got the kids fed, my husband came home from work and I got back into my fuzzy sweatpants & slippers to wind down the day. It is amazing the power our minds have to alter our perception of a day. I’m pretty sure that nothing changed today except me. The weather stayed gloomy and cold, my kids did their thing, even the dog stuck to her routine. But I was changed, I found peace, under the shelter of God’s gentle but mighty wing. Even in what feels like chaos, whether everything you planned for the day worked out or not, He is there. You can trust that God will meet you right in the middle of your day , be your refuge and strength and bring you peace.

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  • Encouragement for the Soul

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

    We live in a world with increasing lack of personal interaction with others. Sure, we may speak to others via text or on social media, but we have fewer and fewer opportunities to truly be encouraged by the presence and words of another.

    I’ve recently been studying the power of words and have found that words have more power than we sometimes realize. As kids, we learn to quote the common phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” While this may be a witty defense, it simply is not true. Words are powerful. They have the ability to inspire someone toward greatness, to spur someone on to take action, or to completely crush us.

    We all need the life-giving power of encouraging words in our life. They lift us up when we are feeling discouraged, they keep us going when we want to give up, they touch our heart and renew our spirits.

    “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

    Proverbs 12:25

    My junior year in college, there was a time that I was completely overwhelmed by my course load and just life in general. I was dealing with a recent heartbreak, way behind on several projects, and my grades were in free fall. I was so anxious I couldn’t sleep and I started feeling depressed and defeated. When I realized I would likely fail that term of classes, I went to my dad for help. He took a look at my syllabi, and I braced for the bad news that there was no redeeming my situation. He looked me in the eye, smiled and said, “This is very doable. All we need is a plan. We’ll plan to work, and work the plan.” Tears filled my eyes and suddenly I felt hopeful again. My mind felt clearer and my heart lighter just hearing those simple words of encouragement. With my dad’s help, I was able to successfully complete the term with passing grades and gained a new perspective and tool for when life gets overwhelming, “This is doable. Plan to work and work the plan”. It’s an encouragement that I now share with my kids when they feel overwhelmed.

    Even in our day to day lives we can get discouraged: when a project at work is overwhelming, or you are going on the 6th day without sleep because you have a sick kid at home, or you begin to question your ability as a parent when your teen slams the door once more. It’s in these moments, that we are at risk of listening to the lies of discouragement that creep in and try to keep us down.

    Because of this, it is important to be connected to a community of people who will cheer you on and support you and be a source of encouragement for you. We need to surround ourselves with people who will be a source of encouragement for us–who will speak life and truth into our soul, who will remind us of God’s grace and truth when we forget.

    Author John Maxwell is known for saying, “Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul, and everyone needs it.”

    This week, consider bringing an encouraging word to the people you encounter. Even the smallest compliment or encouraging word, or simple smile could mean the world to someone. And don’t forget to encourage yourself. Speak God’s truth and grace to your own soul when you are feeling hard on yourself. Speak to yourself like you would a cherished friend, one who is beloved by God.

    And remember our ultimate encourager, the one who is our greatest champion and number one fan…our Heavenly Father. Through His Spirit and His word, we can be reminded of His great love for us and that we are His beautiful masterpiece!

    “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

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  • Blessed Assurance

    “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story– those he redeemed from the hand of the foe.” Psalm 107:2 

    Valentine’s Day is today, and while Netflix is teeming with rom-coms and happily-ever-afters, real life isn’t quite as formulaic as my favorite chick flick. There is no soft filter smoothing the fine lines on my face from where I smile, and no theme song playing in the background. I don’t have a trendy assistant/best friend that brings me my coffee while we banter about our latest shenanigans. And I don’t wear Gucci or Prada.

    My story is a little less shiny. There are seasons of joy and sorrow, faith and doubt. There are times of courage and times of fear. I’ve experienced love, romance and marriage, with flowers and all the feels and mushy stuff. There have also been hard days, when we honestly didn’t know how we were going to work things out.

    My husband and I know the joy and challenges of having two awesome kids.

    We know the pain of grief and the hope of heaven as we wait to meet loved ones again someday.

    There have been detours and windy roads, ambiguous places where it wasn’t clear what to do. Whole chapters of my life story are all about waiting, and then waiting some more. And every now and then there’s a lightning bolt of clarity and direction, launching me into a new and exciting adventure.

    But as I look back over my 39 years, I see another story as well. The story of Jesus, at work in my life, laughing when I’m goofy, crying with me when I weep, redeeming my pain for purpose and standing by me triumphantly in victory. His presence has been constant, even when I wasn’t looking for him.

    God has written my story into His bigger story of love. He has gone to the greatest lengths to make sure that we can be with Him, secure and loved. His love is true and perfect. God’s love drives out fear. It’s patient and kind, and keeps no record of the wrong we do. It endures all things. In fact, the theme of the entire Bible is the story of God’s unfailing love for us!

    This is the firm foundation upon which our identity is grounded. Who we are at our very core is “beloved by God”. On days like Valentine’s Day, it can be tempting to let the world’s expectations, or even our own, creep in and stir up comparison and disappointment. But regardless of our relationship status, how many friends reach out on Facebook to wish us a Happy Day, or how pampered we feel, we can know, without a doubt that we are loved by God.

    There’s a hymn I grew up singing in church and it is one of my very favorites. I think it perfectly captures the peace of being so beloved by our Lord.

    Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
    O what a foretaste of glory divine
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God
    Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

    Perfect submission, all is at rest
    I in my Savior am happy and blessed
    Watching and waiting, looking above
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

    This is my story, this is my song
    Praising my Savior all the day long
    This is my story, this is my song
    Praising my Savior all the day long

    Our life may not be perfect, but we can have the perfect love of Jesus. He never abandons us, he pursues us and protects us. We get to experience that perfect submission and rest that the song speaks of. We are filled with God’s goodness and can get lost in His love.

    What’s more, when we embrace our belovedness to God, we begin to see the belovedness of others. It changes how we interact with the world around us and gives us a heavenly perspective. We feel more loved by others because God is first and foremost filling us with His perfect love. We can in turn, show love to others who need it, and live a life with our minds free from comparison and insecurity.

    Let this be your story and song too! Rest in knowledge that the God who created the universe and all things in it, thought the world needed one of you too. You have value and worth, and are deeply, and profoundly loved.

    Happy Valentine’s Day friend!

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