Month: May 2020

  • With Every Breath

    It’s amazing how quickly things can change. In a short period of time (although, some days it feels like forever), life for everyone has been greatly simplified. The things that once were normal—everyday things—are not anymore. We are now more than ever appreciating the simple things that we once took for granted: a hug from a loved one, getting to visit with friends, worshiping together as the body of Christ, going to work, or sitting at a restaurant. I know I never thought that toilet paper and going to the grocery store would play such a primary role in my life! We have all had to give up many things and we now miss what was once normal.

    Recently, I experienced a new level of appreciation for the simple, everyday things. At the beginning of April, I became sick with COVID-19. I had really intense symptoms like a fever that wouldn’t go away and persistent coughing. I would get short of breath just moving about my house and had this heavy, burning sensation in my chest. This lasted for 3 weeks! Because of the infection in my lungs, things I took for granted such as talking, walking down the street, taking the laundry out of the dryer, or even laying down to rest, I struggled to do.

    I remember one Sunday, my family and I were streaming worship service online and the worship team began leading us in song. Singing worship music is one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world, yet I found myself unable to sing without pain. I felt so discouraged, I just wanted to cry! I had felt like I had given up so much already with “stay-at-home-life” and now I couldn’t even sing or chat with a friend on the phone, take a walk to get some fresh air, bake a batch of cookies or even lay down to sleep and rest well.

    I gained a whole new appreciation for just being able to breathe. Breathing is kind of a big deal and not being able to breathe at full capacity can be a very scary thing. Of course, I had heard all the terrible stories of people getting sick and ending up in the hospital or worse. I tried not to focus on what could happen and just tried to focus on the here-and-now, but I must admit that my struggle with fear was a very real thing for me. Fear of not getting better, fear of dying and leaving my family behind, fear of my kids or husband getting sick–-so much goes through your mind when you have nothing but time on your hands.

    One morning, as I sat in my cozy “time with God” chair, I was pouring my heart out to God. I felt so afraid of what my body was going through, wondering if I would ever feel normal again, wondering if I could ever sing praises to the Lord again. As I prayed, I slowly began to surrender all these fears over to God.

    In the background, words from one of my favorite worship songs came to my ears. The words from the song started to pour into my prayer…”I give You everything, to You I belong. Every beat of my heart, the breath in my lungs. All I am is Yours, all I am is Yours. I lift my hands up. God I surrender, all that I am for Your glory, your honor, your praise.”

    As I mouthed these words to the Lord, I was reminded that every beat of my heart and every breath in my lungs is from Him. I was filled with such gratitude. I remembered that He is God and He is trustworthy. He’s in control and I don’t need to be afraid. My fears slowly melted away as I surrendered my all to the Lord. I told the Lord that no matter what was ahead for me, I would use every breath He gave me to praise Him.

    There is such freedom and peace that comes from surrendering all to God, especially in times when we are afraid. Fear makes us feel helpless and powerless. But we are set free from fear when we choose to trust God and surrender to Him all that we have and all that we are.

    From that moment on, instead of focusing on the things I no longer had, I chose to give God what I did still have. We may surrender out of a place of desperation, but as we choose to trust in the God who holds the world in His hands, the God who breathed the stars into existence, we can find a peace for our souls like no other.

    It still took several more weeks to gain full recovery, but God walked me through it. Every time I was tempted to slip back into fear or discouragement that I wasn’t healing fast enough, I chose to remember that my God is mighty, and that He has me firmly in His loving hand.

    As I was driving in my car from the store yesterday, singing from my favorite playlist, I was filled with gratitude once again at how great our God is and how faithful He is to restore us.

    If you have been feeling fearful or desperate in spirit too, hopefully my story and this song that is my hearts’ cry, will encourage and empower you as you surrender all to the Lord.

    “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” – Psalm 150:6

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  • A Blessing in the Waiting

    We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22

    The days all seem to run together lately. While there are so many things to be thankful for, I’m also feeling a bit like a caged animal, wearing a track in my carpet from walking the same path day in and day out. It can be hard to hang on to optimism when it feels like there’s no true end in sight. I long for open roads to bustling cities where I can pop into a local cafe, and nestle into a window-seat with my lavender latte and write and work and visit with people. The things I took for granted like health and safety and community are now rare and precious commodities, locked away for another day.

    Hopefully that day is not far off, but we’re two months in and I’m standing face-to-face with my real self, with my weaknesses and wounds laid bare before me. Ordinarily I’d hop in the car for a long drive, music blaring, pouring my heart out to God, while He helped me reconcile the fact that He knows my weakness and loves me still. But instead, I am surrounded by kids that need my help, in a house that needs twice the maintenance now that we are living in it 24-7, and extra time to be stuck in my own head to stew about it.

    It’s sometimes discouraging to hop on social media and see the moms that seem to be crushing quarantine life like domestic goddesses, cooking Pinterest worthy meals and rocking craft time like they were born for it. Meanwhile I’m heating up corn dogs, loading yet another load of dishes, and praying that my kids will finish their school work before 7:00 pm.

    But here’s the thing: We are each uniquely gifted and equipped for such a time as this. There are talents and traits that I possess that make a difference in my family, my community and in the world around me. Just like my talented “domestic goddess” friends have their own set of skills and gifts that impact the people in their circles. Why should I feel bad about them just because I’m overwhelmed during this season and they are in their sweet spot?

    So shine on, you quarantine-rocking mamas! I know you have your hard days too. And it’s okay that I have mine. You are keeping your head up and inspiring others to do the same. We are all in the same sea, fighting the waves, looking to the skies and praying for a blessing.

    And that’s what I want to give to you now–a blessing. The Biblical definition of a blessing is a gift from God or to ask God’s favor upon a person. So here is a blessing for you, the weary mama, the lonely soul, the weary worker, the contented heart, and the restless one:

    I pray, dear friend, that God himself would draw near to you this very moment. May you turn your face toward the heavenly sunlight of our Lord and Father and feel the radiance of His love fall gently on your cheek like sunbeams on a summer day. With each cool breeze, may He breathe new life into your lungs and whisper comfort, peace and renewal to your heart. May you rest in the strong arms of the Savior and stand tall in the knowledge that He loves you simply because you are who He created you to be, a masterpiece, His beloved, a cherished treasure. May your heart be filled to overflowing with how He delights in you. May this knowledge that is too wonderful to comprehend, begin to settle in your heart until it makes its home there and you can’t help but believe it. May His grace be sufficient for you, filling every empty or wounded place in your heart. As deep cries out to deep, may the love of Christ fill you with joy and peace and confidence as co-heirs with Him and Daughters of the Most High. May you see yourself the way God sees you, radiant and unashamed, made righteous through Jesus’ willing sacrifice. And when you lift your gaze and rise today, may you see God at work in every detail, walking beside you at every moment, proud to call you His.

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  • Looking Ahead with Hope

    There is something both comforting and incredibly humbling knowing that the God who set the universe in motion has included us in His plans and knows our future. Not only that, but He loves us more than we can even imagine and is always at work on our behalf to bring about good in our lives.

    ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'”

    Jeremiah 29:11-13

    When my world begins to shake and the future looks unclear, I can lean into these words from God, and trust that His perfect plans are already in motion. That He knows what lies ahead and goes before me. God promises that when we pray to Him and look for Him with all our hearts, we will find Him and He will direct our steps. Because of that promise, we can have hope and look forward with anticipation to where God will lead. We don’t need to be afraid of what the future may hold, because the God of the universe is directing our steps into his amazing plan for our lives.

    Whatever circumstance you might be facing right now, God gives us hope that our story doesn’t end here. As people who have put our trust in God, our future lies securely with Him. Because of Jesus, we have a wonderful hope that no matter what we face in this life, we are His children and we are safe forever in His Kingdom.

    Father God, in you the possibilities are endless. You have made us a part of your story and in you we have a hope and a future. Even when we cannot see what lies ahead, you do. You know our hearts, our joys and our sorrows. Help us to seek you with our whole heart. You are a God who does not hide from us, but pursues us faithfully. As we look toward the future, help us to keep our eyes fixed on you. Thank you for the hope that you give when we trust in you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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  • The God Who Meets Us

    As crazy as this might sound, I miss commuting to work. I used to drive about an hour to work each way and it was time I often spent in worship, thinking, praying and just being with Jesus. These days, I commute from my hometown of My Bed, to the City of Office, just past Kitchen, not far from the Couch.

    While the coffee here is better than drive-through, I find myself longing for those drives, where I could be still and quiet and pour out my heart to God. I could meet Him there in worship and tell Him what was on my mind, the good, the bad and the ugly. Some days I feel like I’m quarantined from Him too since I no longer have my built in time with Him.

    It’s hard to feel like I can go to meet Him there, when I’m stuck here, elbow deep in homeschooling, housework, packing for a move, and working from home 40+ hours a week. I’m busier at home than I ever was commuting an hour away and it’s tough to get away to meet with God.

    I find myself feeling envious of the surreal moments in the Bible, when God reached down to Moses, Abraham, or to the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah in such tangible and sensational ways. It seems like God stopped all of time and space to get their attention, to speak to them and to direct them. I started wishing that He would reach down into my monotony and speak to me and guide me too.

    But as I read God’s Word, I’m reminded of the truth of His character and the many, many ways He pursues us. There are so many examples of God meeting us in our need, right where we are, reminding us “I am with you, always.”He is not waiting safely from the shore until the storms pass, He walks out on to the water to calm our hearts and still the wind and the waves. We don’t have to travel or drive or even strive to be with God. He is right in front of us, heart wide open, ready to hear whatever is on our hearts.

    I love the story of Mary Magdalene in John 20:11-16. She goes to Jesus’ tomb early Easter morning, just 3 days after His crucifixion, only to find the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body gone. She assumes that He has moved or worse, that His body has been stolen. She finds herself stuck between death and a miracle that she has no idea is coming. An angel appears to ask her why she is crying and she sadly proclaims that someone has taken Jesus away. When she turns around, she finds Jesus is standing right next to her. He too asks her why she is crying, but she is so consumed by grief, that she mistakes him for the gardener…until He says her name. Her eyes were opened and she saw Jesus there before her, risen and alive.

    I love the tenderness and honor Jesus shows her in this moment. He came to her first, before anyone else. She didn’t have to go up on a mountain or travel miles and miles to catch a glimpse of Him. He saw her grief and pain, went to meet her in her need and comforted her.

    Jesus meets us in our need now too. Whether we are doing the dishes, caring for kids, working from home, or wondering how we’ll make ends meet. He sees our pain and our struggles and our weaknesses. Jesus sees it all and stands beside us. He calls us by name and comforts us. You don’t have to go to great lengths to meet with Jesus, because He’s already there with you.

    One of my favorite authors and speakers, Jill Briscoe once said, “Sit on the steps of your soul, in the deep place where nobody goes, and talk with Jesus. You can always go there, anytime, anyplace in the world.” She talked about sitting on the front steps of her childhood home in England and talking with Jesus about whatever was on her heart. It was her place to go and be with Him, and even if she wasn’t physically there on those steps, in her mind she would return to the “steps of her soul, in the deep place where nobody goes, to talk with Jesus.”

    I feel like I live now more than ever, on the “steps of my soul”. In this strange season of isolation, I’m more aware of the quiet corner of my heart where my deepest thoughts and feelings reside. And the miracle of it, is that Jesus is there too.

    I realized that I don’t have to get away to spend time with Him. As much as I love my long drives and unhurried conversations with Jesus, He walks beside me in everything I do. When I close my eyes in a moment of stillness, He is there. When I’m doing my 3rd load of laundry and second load of dishes in a day, He sustains me and gives me a sense of purpose. When I feel stir-crazy and anxious, it’s His hand on my shoulder calming me. When I grieve over our “new normal”, He consoles me. When a harsh word from a loved one stings, He is there to comfort me and build me back up. When the harsh words would be mine, He gives me wisdom to hold my tongue or the courage to humbly apologize.

    When we allow our Savior into our mess, when we meet Him in prayer, suddenly we are not alone. We have a sanctuary in the madness, a quiet place in the midst of chaos, and a friend when we need it the most. Just like Jesus saw Mary in her moment of need at the tomb, He sees us now. We don’t have to fight to get to Him, we just need to listen for His voice and look up. He’s right here, ready to love and comfort us and sustain us.

    I pray that you can carve out a little time to meet Him today. Spend a moment on the “steps of your soul” and just be with Him. Read Psalm 139:1-10 and be reminded of the God who created you, and sees you and loves you. May His peace wash over your heart and His love reach the furthest corners of your mind. May you experience the comfort of His presence, and the joy that comes from knowing Him.

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