“Mom,” my younger daughter asked, “can you read these directions to me?”
No, don’t think it’s cute. Kid can read. It’s not cute anymore …now, it’s laziness.
“You know how to read them,” I point out, “you just don’t feel like it.”
I heard the compliant seat-settling from the other end of the house, and a mumbling sound of directions being read. She’s right on the fringe of being a super grown up kid …and she’s not quite sure how she feels about it. She still wants to need me, sometimes.
Today’s verse states how powerful and magnificent God is. Job is wrestled, knowing God could have ended His suffering in a heartbeat if it would have been s in His omnipotent will, too. Which he also wrestles with …why it was in God’s will for Him to suffer? Why was he allowed to suffer unjustly?
“Why won’t you just read me the directions, mom?!” came an entitled bark from a tiny desk chair.
“Because I believe you can, and it’s time you do.” I simply state.
There are times throughout Job’s massive wrestle with suffering that He was on the fringe of something …
“If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay hi hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would fritter me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9: 33-35
On the fringe.
But we know this side of the Gospel what Job was not privy to in Old Testament life.
How many times has God answered my “can’t you just do this” prayer with “I believe you can get through it, and it’s time you do.”
Father, Praise You for being here, and planting the hope of Jesus throughout the entire Old Testament …and our lives. Thank You for the way Your word weaves in and out of our lives like the perfect song …with us every chord. Forgive us for turning a blind ear to your wisdom, and being lazily disobedient with tasks You charge us to. Bless us and heal us and equip us with godly confidence, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace!
He will straighten our stride, in His time, when we lace up our “yes” shoes.
I’m convinced my daughter thinks that her shoes will magically jump onto her feet if she stares at them long enough. When they don’t, her shoes fly over the foyer in frustration. And, oh …the agony …when a pair that normally slip right on no longer fit.
“Lo, stand up so I can zip them up,” I stammered in frustration.
“I AM,” she yelled and convulsed, convinced my help was overkill.
“Push your foot down harder,” I ordered. Her boots were swimmingly large mere “mommy” moments ago, but now needed to be pushed on.
“OK, let’s do the other one…”
Expanding feet shift goals. They also outgrow shoes.
Growth is predictably unpredictable, and keeping goals in stride with a shifting destination is hard. Has your finish line ever moved as you were about to break the ribbon? Here’s what I learned from my missed marathon and mommy moments.
Shoes too small.
A complete year off running didn’t yield a healed heal. And if I could go back, I’d risk a snapped Achilles and line up at the start of my first full marathon. God swapped my shoes regardless of my readiness to understand why.
“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated with soon disappear.” Hebrews 8:13 (NIV)
I ran through snow and wind and ice …in shoes that were a complete size too small. Something that the runners at the running shoe store would have told me had I went there to be fitted for the right shoes before logging hundreds of miles.
Sometimes, we pray into God-sized goals. He wants us to dream big, and will bless our ambition to pursue, for His glory, the passions He laid in us.
Properly prepared with the right pair of shoes, the impact is absorbed efficiently and the weight is distributed properly. Experienced runners know that injury arises from a misaligned stride, often corrected by a shoe fit to guide feet as they strike the ground.
God does this for us. Through Christ, we capture the key to a corrected stride. God’s love is giant. He found a way to fit us for freedom. Jesus absorbs the impact and distributes the weight. To run straight, stick by His side.
In addition to personal conversation in prayer with God, He seeks to speak specifically through His Word. Dig in beyond devos, follow side-trails, and chase after characters. The pull to know why and the curiosity to question fit our feet for training.
Shoes that didn’t fit “in.”
Hebrews 8:13 (above) speaks to us about outdated goals. About Old Testament customs and traditions that are no longer applicable or necessary. Jesus filled the gap those things attempted to bridge.
Google defines the effect of “obsolete” as “replacing it with something new.” And, anyone that lived through the 80’s can define “outdated.” Remnants of style may return redefined, but are fit for the “now.”
365 days ago, I took my running shoes off. I’ve been striding and striving everywhere but the road, tired and frustrated. God grew my feet before my shoes were fit to comprehend the change. The healing I prayed for came laced in lesson. I thought the goal was the marathon. He knew it was time to sit down …and write.
Every time I load the trunk up with bags of shoes that are too small for my kids, I feel ill-equipped to replace them all with the size that fits them. I’m not even sure what size to buy, what they will need, or if they will like them. Clearly, I need help with my own shoe size…
We may have to adjust, grow, and shift …learn new patterns, drift in new waters, pursue new passions, open different doors, and stand on new stages. But Jesus picked us to fit where we fly.
My identity in my daughter’s eyes is still “runner,” and she misses it just as much as I do. Her note is the nudge I’ve been waiting for. Could it be possible, that time spent obeying the development of one passion could be rewarded with the return of another? On this day, number 366 since the last time I laced up my running shoes, I believe His answer is “yes.” Fit in His shoes, the weight of many passions is bearable and possible. Today, I began to run again.
God pauses passions to add in complimenting attributes to the fabric of our stories. Chapters and pages that we might have edited out, or never written, yet essential to who we are in Him.
Whether you’re training for a marathon, building houses, crunching numbers, or digging through a mountain of laundry …ask Jesus to adjust the fit. Children discover their passions by watching us let Him fit us to ours.
Jesus ushered in a new era. Life isn’t a Browns draft failing to produce a quarterback year after year. (As a hometown Clevelander and life-long Browns fan, I’m allowed to say that.) Sit down, and let Him fit your feet.
My long-time friend, Cherie, is the picture of perseverance as I type this, crossing the finish line of her first marathon. She has not just run through pain, but lived through it. A survivor in so many ways, never giving up …and always full of joy. A Mom showing her little boy anything is possible, and a light to everyone that knows her. Thank you for inspiring me with your constant kindness and positivity. Forever thankful to call you “friend.”
“YESSSSSSS YOUUUUUUU DIIIIIIIID-AAAAAAAA,” the other retorted.
“WELL THEN YOU HEARD ME WRRRRROOOONNNGGGG-AAAAAA,” she snapped back.
“Ugh,” I sighed, listening to them pile frustrated syllables on top of simple words, “they’ve BOTH gotten that from me.”
Faces twisted into eccentric versions of craziness, both seethingly glared into the review mirror. Apparently, that was my cue to magically apply logic to what had “actually” been said. Ironic, how they burst into laughter at Siri’s mistakes …or Mom’s …that’s always hysterical. But they take sisterly “corrections” very seriously.
Grown-up or not, we all fall victim to our own stubbornness. Right or wrong, few people have the ability to apologize on the spot for the effect irrelevant to the cause. Except Siri, she’s pretty quick to tell you, “I’m sorry, I did not understand.”
If you join me in the struggle to handle hot-tempered moments of kids quarreling in the backseat, I can offer a couple of tips that have kept me on the road. But don’t judge me if you hear me screaming “SHUT UP!” as I drive around town with the windows down. #trying #inthefield
1. Load up and line up your corrections.
When we rely on the seat of our pants to apply sage wisdom, we conjure a stink full of bad advice.
“Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” Leviticus 20:7-8 (NIV)
Tense moments flare tempers, and words seem to fail us. No matter how many, or at what volume, they spill into the car … mistranslated like a text message surrendered to auto-correct.
God seeks to steer us, and applauds efforts to guide our children through tedious moments. Seek His wisdom. Set aside some space to clear the clutter and read the Bible. Everyday has five free minutes.The time I spend in His Word allows me to relay the motherly messages He always intended for my daughters to hear.
2. Embrace The Correction
Imagine God watching from Heaven while we blow right by misinterpretations and hit “send” anyway …EVEN WHEN He’s waving both hands in front of our face?!?! Instead of ridiculing us for missteps and side-trails, He sent His only Son to die for us. The love demonstrated in sacrifice forever forgives our failed efforts. Through Jesus, God replaces every “fallen short,” with “grace and love.”
What missteps have lent us the opportunity to spread Christ’s love? The story of Jesus naming Peter yields immense hope.
“And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas (which, when translated, is Peter.)” John 1:42 (NIV)
Peter was a fisherman that doubted Jesus at the rooster’s crow. But he was also known for having solid faith in Jesus, and for his leadership in the early church. The NIV Study Biblefurther notes that, although his name is literally translated, “Rock,”
“Peter was anything but a rock; he was impulsive and unstable…Jesus named him not for what he was but for what, by God’s grace, he would become.”
My daughters’ bickering in the backseat brings to light the natural struggle to be right …to be the best …the favorite … independent… No winner emerges from unjust conflict. There’s no reason to put our individual mission on earth to death by comparison. Our kids need us to be who Jesus says we are.
“Peter was best know for his impetuous nature and fierce devotion to Christ.” -NIV Study Bible Text Note
Impetuous means, “acting or done quickly and without thought or care.” (Google.com)It also can mean, “moving forcefully or rapidly.” (Google.com)
Fierce means, “having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.”(Google.com) It can also mean, “(of a feeling, emotion, or action) showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity.”(Google.com)
So by one definition we can choose to see Peter as a flip-flopping doubter with a temper. Or, we can choose to look a little bit deeper into the heart Jesus identified long before Peter knew his name. The “Rock,” who spread the gospel with force and speed throughout the early church, and loved Jesus with heartfelt and powerfully intense faith.
Embrace the correction.
Parents are glaringly aware of faults and annoying attributes, but our love blows any negative ducks out of the water. We’ve embraced the correction before it’s corrected.
“Girls…” I warmed up, as I prayed that a nugget of Spirit-led wisdom would fall out of my mouth, “…it doesn’t matter who started it or who’s fault it is …you both need to apologize and hug it out.”
Insert insane amount of eye-rolling and last ditch efforts to pinch each other…
“Love you,” I added with a smile.
The correction is love.
We don’t have to fight to be fierce. Most of us haven’t even grown into our true “names” yet. When we’re scrunched up and mangled into frustrated faces, Jesus sees our hearts and knows our names. His gift of death in exchange for grace grants us new life …for life …for forever.
Fight with the fierce and ferocious power of the love that conquered it all. And if you let a hot-tempered phrase slip, apologize. It works for Siri …my kids think she’s hilarious when she admits she’s at a complete loss…
When I want to quit, prayer is there to pull me through. I hope you know He’s there for you, too.
“MOM!” I could tell Lo was annoyed before I laid eyes on her “scrunchy-face.”
“Daddy is counting wrong to vacation,” she huffed.
Her daddy might actually be counting right, but it’s not the way I count. Once the day is here, I don’t count it. And, I don’t count the first day of vacation as a day left to wait. Hence, if today is Monday and we leave on Friday …3 days left until vacation. My husband likes to practically add in days, which may make sense to a mathematical mind, but I’m just trying to get through this Ohio winter as fast as I can and make it to Florida to thaw out.
“Yep, Daddy is counting wrong …I know, Lo.” I agree. Well, I’m not going to lie to her. That’s the way I count.
Walking the pier after I dropped scrunchy-face off at school that morning, I was reminded by the dull backdrop how anxious I was to get to the gulf. Before I wrapped up my work to relax, a river full of driftwood ironically pieced together the “driftwood” blog that had been floating in between my ears.
The river isn’t always filled with driftwood, and on this particular day it flowed out towards the lake. I feel like a piece of that wood, bobbing up and down a midst the muck, debris, and litter …but at least I’m floating. At least I’m drifting. At least I’m flowing in with the current. I could be stuck up river muddled into the beaver’s damn …or taken up to the top of the tree to wield the eagles’s nest. Not a bad view from up there, I’d imagine, but it’s not mine. I’m out on the water …drifting…
The clear view of muddy water is telling. It’s not a “pretty blue lake meets the powder blue skyline,” but He’s still here.
I’m settling into my silent, “kids at school” days. Though the toddler years were loud, they were quieter. I was much less adrift with the day’s routine …confident in my calling to “stay home.”
Now, I’m drifting in the middle. It’s no coincidence that I’m drifting along in this juncture while a literal river of driftwood flows beside me. God sees my struggle. He picks up on my optimism and He feels my faith. I love how personally funny He is with me and my excessive tendency to drift. Hence, all the driftwood.
Drift, per Google, is: “To be carried away slowly by a current of air or water. Move passively, aimlessly or involuntarily into a certain situation or condition. (Of a person or their attention) digress or stray to another subject. (Especially of snow or leaves) be blown into heaps by the wind.”
Total drifter. Right here. Waving my hand high in the air. In fact, if dogs really do reflect their owners, I’m embarrassed by how easily distracted mine is by leaves.
I love it when people say they are driven to a fault. Really? What’s that like? Am I the only one who has no idea what that feels like? I live exactly how I race …at my own pace. And my pace sucks. I start out fast, die in the middle, and sprint the end. I absolutely cannot pace myself.
I was relieved, when training my puppy, that it was a good thing to stay one step ahead while walking the dog…everyone else complains. I have to be one step ahead. Until race day. Then then I spaz out completely and lose all sense of strategy.
It took me until my thirties to figure out that it was a lot more fun to start at the back of the pack and pass everyone during the race than to sprint out ahead and be passed by everyone.
That’s some learning curve. Not for lack of good influences, either. I’ve had some of the best coaches and inspirational teammates any athlete could ever dream of being around. But I drift. I’m too busy laughing …talking …friend-ing …socializing …drifting …to ever realize my full potential at anything.
Insert hopeless “Aw.”
No, don’t. I’ve got God for that. And He gave me a nifty little acronym I think you’re going to like.
Don’t wReck It For Timmy.
Let’s be real, we all drift a little. Some a lot. Some worthy of a title. When you find yourself drifting on the river, just make sure you’re flowing with the right current.
“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal with all that is in me- body, emotions, mind, and will- every part of who I am praise His Holy Name.” Psalm 103:1
“Don’t” drown, just drift. If I fall into the water and panic, I’ll most certainly start to sink. But, if I calmly curl up into a ball, I eventually float back to the surface. When I catch myself out in the left field of my life, I stop and re-calibrate. Normally, I process life through my gift to run, but I’ve been injured for a year. I had to improvise by blasting my favorite worship songs with a hairbrush microphone and awesome dance moves that only my bathroom mirror knows about …or I just walk the pier and admire the scenery. Find your thing. God’s there. He gave it to you.
“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal; sing a song from a greatly heart; sing and never forget all the good He has done.” Psalm 103:2
“Wreck.” That’s what happens if I choose to speed through a yellow light. Maybe not every time, but it’s a heck of risk I”m taking. The drift is the warning. The chance to regroup before I wreck. God knit a sense of right and wrong into us, but He didn’t choose all of the right answers for us. We have to slow down and pay attention to what we’re doing or we’ll crash. In the pause of the drift, I pray a lot. I slow up and search through His Word for answers and arrows.
“Despite all your many offenses, He forgives and releases you. More than any doctor, He heals your diseases.” Psalm 103:3
“It.” What is “it?”
Are you sick? Hurt? Depressed? Mad? Bitter? Confused? Lost?
Our Savior knows suffering. “It” happened to Him as He died on the cross for all of our “it’s.” He is the reason why we’re still bobbing up and down on the river. He’s hope.
I’ve literally been healed from disease, but cannot recover from tendinitis. Who knows why some pieces of wood drift longer than others. As I spend more time in the current learning more about Him, I rest in knowing His ways are superior to mine.
“‘For’ God’s sake.” There’s a lot of casual “God” catch phrases. I’m not a fan of any, but swearing isn’t a struggle of mine …as long as there is a glass of red at the end of the day…
“He reaches deep into the pit to deliver you from death. He crowns you with unfailing love and compassion like a king.” Psalm 103:4
Perfect people don’t exist. We all suck at something. I fail big and fall a lot. Quite literally, I fall a lot …over my own shoe lace s…it’s embarrassing…
Recognize the struggle behind the smiles. I put them up all over Facebook. Smiles. Smiles. Smiles. I’m grateful to God for them all. I want the world to know how good God is to me, even though I spend most of my life drifting out in giggly la-la-land. Behind each one of those smiles I post is a struggle. A hard day overcome. A difficult disease healed. A painful loss, but life moving forward. Optimism. Faith. Trust. In God’s flow, perfection isn’t required to be pulled from the pit. He is patient to let us get up and try again.
“Timmy” is slowly becoming one of my favorite characters in the Bible. 2Timothy 1:5tells how Timothy learned his Christian Faith from his mother and grandmother. The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters describes him as “somewhat diffident and lacking in self-confidence, so he needed reassurance and support from mature Christian people.”
#relate. I feel relieved that if Timothy needed encouragement, the talent to motivate exists among us because we aren’t all confident all the time, even if we’re able. Where did his doubt come from? Maybe the lack of religious leadership from his father. He was Greek, and his mother was a Jewish believer. Old school Bible “mixed” family.
Timothy preached with Paul and Silas. Paul, the apostle Paul, wrote him letters to encourage him. I believe the root of faith that his mother and grandmother passed down to him coupled with Paul’s encouraging friendship helped him press on to preach the gospel, despite struggling with his health along the way.
“When our soul is famished and withering, He fills you with good and beautiful things, satisfying you as long as you live. He makes you strong like an eagle, restoring your youth.” Psalm 103:5
Don’t Wreck It For Timmy. Drifters, drift. Just make sure you’re flowing in God’s current. Parents and Grandparents, don’t give up. I feel it, too. My kids bother me a lot. Just keep loving on them. You’re rooting them in faith just like Timothy’s family did. Friends, keep listening …keep encouraging …keep sharpening each other. Be Paul to someone, and let someone be Paul to you.
Even if you’re not prone to drift as much as I am, you’ll be bobbing in the river sometime. Don’t panic. Just stop, float, and re-calibrate. We’re not going to be perfect, but we’re not going to sink to the bottom, either. Not with Christ. We must keep confessing our sin, and trying to get better a little bit at a time, all of the time.
It’s important to see the struggle behind the smiles. Optimism is just that, isn’t it? There’s a struggle going on, a fight. Optimism is a silver lining view. It’s faith. It’s praise, appreciation and trust. Trust in the flow of the river. Trust in God’s flow…His plan.
“Hold still,” I chuckled nervously to my daughter, “I don’t want them to stick on crooked.”
My seven-year-old squinted to catch my expression as the first false eye-lash cemented itself onto her eyelid. We both laughed as I covered up what I’d messed up with black eyeliner. It may seem over-the-top, unless you’ve ever applied mascara to a child before. #dancemomproblems
When Brianne began to dream of pointe shoes and pirouettes, I jumped whole-heartily on board. I knew that her dream would be harder than she or I could ever anticipate, but the journey sounded awfully amazing. As we drove to that first dance competition, fake lashes and bellies full of butterflies, we both had visions of how this dance journey would end …but neither of us knowing how the middle would be filled.
Surrender to sacrifice avoids spoiling our people potential. There are people purposed in the reach of each gift. Even through the joy of those who witness Brianne dance. Don’t listen to the critical voice of impossibility; give in to God’s view of reality.
Pursue The 4P’s:
God challenges us to reach people from where we are at. Brianne may have a lofty dream, but she’s not demanding I accomplish the dream for her. She works. She prepares. She practices. She prays. But she needs a ride to class. She brought her Bible to me one day and wanted to talk about Nehemiah. Her pink and purple princess Bible introduces the book as such:
“God gives us tools to rebuild the broken into something beautiful.”
Nehemiah had a position close to the King, where God placed him in provision for the mission at hand… to rebuild Jerusalem. Nehemiah didn’t need to go back and re-establish Jerusalem, but his compassion for his people there literally moved him. God’s Word motivated him to achieve beyond what he could believe.
With God’s provision our lives change. They become purposed for purpose.
We are all placed by God with the same great care to detail as Nehemiah. It’s no coincidence that God has entrusted me to be Brianne’s motherly provision …to be there when she can flip across the stage like the dancers she admires, and as she struggles to land a cartwheel right now. I can’t, and won’t choose to (#freewill) do it right all of the time… but I sure will try my best to honor my place in her sweet life.
Faith in God will move you to prepare to do the work to obey God. There’s no room for comparative standards, or worry about whispering, within God’s call for your life. I have an intervention with myself every time I’m drafted to help my kids learn or practice something new. It’s uber frustrating to watch them fail, and beyond my level of patience to channel the whining. They cry and my forehead vein surfaces reality-tv style. During the last episode, I found myself yelping, “KEEP SMILING…” through a grit-toothed, probably crazy looking smile. I think I made her repeat the same ten seconds twenty times. Poor gal. Her dance teacher is definitely called to prepare my child for her dreams in dance. My preparation in helping is sometimes simply to prepare myself to let go …a little.
While the lashes were being peeled off on the car-ride home, Brianne asked if I had noticed her shaking while she danced on stage. I hadn’t, and inquired as to what she attributed her strength from.
“I prayed out loud to God about it last night,” she responded.
After Jerusalem had been rebuilt, the people praised God.
I should often be praising God for the “sacrifices” I’m spoiled with. Dictionary.com defines sacrifice as “the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.”
By learning who God is, I remember who I am. I’m not privy to the middle. Day by day, prayer by prayer, I will eventually look back and know how it was filled in and what people God placed within my reach.
It’s imperative to step out of the bubble of familiarity to face the fear and the whispers. To get up on stage no matter how afraid we are, if that stage is where God put us to be. I’m confident Nehemiah’s motives for leaving the comfort of the castle were whispered about… It’s human nature to criticize what we can’t comprehend.
What’s your stage? Where has God placed you to shine bright in the name of Christ? I would love to hear about it.
Pray to Him out loud in the dark. Step outside of your bubble. Pray. Be brave. Shine.
Do you ever have those moments with your children where you deliver sage advice, and then feel immediately guilty because you fail to receive and apply the same principles to your own life? (I’m raising my own hand.)
Holly Gerth’s gift to sift through the cobwebs of applicable truth catered to the way God created the human psyche is remarkable. In her new, You’re Already Amazing Life Growth Guide, she introduced me to new bits of my own reflection.
This inventory check drifted into a crucial life-stretch. My house is quiet for hours at a time …for the first time …in eight years. My injured Achilles heal put an end to the first item on my “kids in school all day” bucket list marathon, so I shifted over to the second… write a book. I’d rather conquer the pain of marathon training than the doubt of exposing my unqualified thoughts for all to pick a part. Holly reminded me, re-grounded me, and urged me forward into who God created me to be …as if we’d known each other a lifetime. Now that’s a gift.
I feel more equipped with wisdom in my calling, confidence, and conversation. The kind of wisdom James illuminates in James 3:17:
James 3:17 wisdom is not your average type of wisdom. It involves obedience to in order to reach fruition. The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines James 3:17 wisdom as “given by God alone,” and “resulting in right action.”
Each session of the Life Growth Guide reset my thoughts to the right caliber of wisdom. It’s easy to get lost in misdirected thoughts, and reset to worldly statutes when my flesh aches. But James 3:17 wisdom requires a purposeful process of understanding who we are built to become before we rationalize anything to anyone. In order to be called we must be listening to the right voice of wisdom. The One that trumps all achievement here on earth. James 3:17 wisdom requires the right wisdom to fill the space between my ears.
Is there anything more aggravating that when our character is called into question? I feel constantly on guard of attack in episodes of doubt. James 3:17 character is “full of mercy.” The Dictionary of Bible Themes dictates that the James 3:17 believer’s character is “to be merciful.”
A confident calling is no coincidence. God gives us big enough feet to fill our God-sized dreaming shoes, but we have to lace them up. To build confidence to be able to pursue the path God’s laid out for us, we need to set realistic expectations based on what God’s gifted us. The Life Growth Guide did wonders in unraveling who God made me to be. Who knew there was a process that could determine what you were meant to do by what you like to do. #amazing
There’s so many times I make it harder than it has to be. Correctly based confidence is a product of wisdom applied. I love the part in Exodus when Moses’ face is literally lit up after experiencing the presence of God. (Ex. 34:29,35)When we spend time with God in His Word, He will not only illuminate the truth (Matt 5:14), but I believe our flames start to flicker brighter, too. Holley takes such great care to walk through God’s Word as it pertains to unlocking the potential He laid within our framework. That’s what makes it shine so bright.
The “good fruit” in James 3:17, according to the Dictionary of Bible Themes, is an “image of the church’s mission: a fruitful plant in a fruitless world.”
At the heart of every calling is a confident conversation To testify Jesus as the only way to the Father. That’s what Christianity is all about. That’s the compass of wisdom directing us out of meaningless doubt and conflict and into the mission of spreading the Gospel. It’s imperative to go through a process like which Holley brings us through, so that we can execute the mission we are here on earth to accomplish until God calls us home.
“True wisdom will go on …to make peace in the world.” -Matthew Henry’s Commentary on James 3:17
I want so badly to grab control of my gifts and squish them into goal sized ice cubes. But frozen fortitude isn’t going to thaw any hearts. It’s an everyday process of sacrifice. Leviticus 1 is all about sacrifice…the specifics of it…it’s really kind of gross…makes me want to be a vegan. But God spoke to me about the type of sacrifice I’m meant to make daily. The cubes. Purified of any particles I may not even have noticed I added to the water.
Walk through this journey with Holley. It was as simple as starting with what I like to do. What am I good at? Who do I drift towards? God lent His wisdom through her words, to restore old and establish new confidence in my calling. I believe God will help you, through her faithfulness in answering her own calling,to realize that “You’re Already Amazing.” #foreverthankful
If you know me at all, you know I do not understand God’s purpose for squirrels. Just don’t. I don’t think they’re cute, I don’t get sad when one loses a race across the road with a car, and I don’t find joy in feeding them. The feeling is mutual. I’ve been chased out of my own yard by squirrels, and at my previous residence, definitely yelled at by squirrels. I was sad that my husband and I had to have three giant, hollowed-out trees removed from the lot we built our current home on, until I was told they were home to a pretty giant family of squirrels. With one maple tree left in the yard, I felt home free from squirrel harassment. Until yesterday…
Lo and I were sitting out on our front porch on a beautiful summer morning, admiring our sunflower patch. It’s smaller than usual this year. I decided to replace the giant sunflowers that have grown there in the past with smaller plants this year, so they wouldn’t topple over in the wind. With the plethora of rain and clouds we’ve been blessed with this summer in Northern Ohio, we’ve yet to see one single sunflower bloom…until yesterday.
Lo turned back around to our little table and to her paper that she was practicing the letter “D”on, and I to my journal and cup of coffee. Listening to the lake and summer breeze and the birds…all of the sudden we heard a rustling from the sunflower patch.
“MOM!!!!” Lo jumped up, “IT’S A SQUIRREL! HE’S EATING THE SUNFLOWER!!!”
“GET OUT OF HERE, SQUIRREL!” we both yelled. “GO AWAY-GET OUT OF OUR GARDEN!”
The squirrel had left the flower half-eaten and severely dismantled, but we chased him off and sat back down.
The rustling returned immediately. He was back for the rest of the flower. This time, he snapped it off and ran back up the lone maple tree with it in his mouth…sat on branch just out of our reach…and proceeded to munch on the flower.
By this time, Lo and I were in the yard, at the base of the tree, me with a broom in one hand and a hard shell in the other trying to whack the thing one way or another. The broom broke, and the flying shell did not scare the squirrel. He sat there munching the flower until it was gone, and then sent the leaf attached to it floating back down to the ground. Then he just laid on the branch to full to move.
All the while my older daughter, Brianne, had now joined us in yelling at the squirrel, who could obviously care less about what our plans were for that beautiful sunflower. See, the sunflower patch just so happens to sit in front of a giant smiley face sign, in honor of the Elementary School principal who lost her battle with cancer. The smiley face was her thing, and when we moved the sign to our sunflower patch, they grew out of control. It become a happy little tribute. The squirrels have never bothered it before.
When I was texting my husband what had happened, that snapped off sunflower reminded me of “the marathon.” (Leave it to a dumb squirrel to bring a difficult memory to the surface.)
Each stride of my marathon training was in praise of the miracle of my healing from a fused spine and AS. God literally allowed me to experience a healing from disease, and through prayer and God’s Word I felt confidently called to use the marathon as a platform to spread my testimony in order to give others hope.
Nursing a sore Achilles that I was scared would end my journey to the marathon, I remember taking a deep breath and praying before the start of my last training run. With an Elevation sermon series ringing in my ears, I put my feet in God’s hands for 20 miles. I relaxed into Him and into my stride, soaking in the scenery of the sunrise along the lake as I sailed on down the road.
“Go, Mommy! Go-Go-Go Mommy!!!” my girls chanted as they and my husband met me for pit stops along the way. Runners will relate to the smile that creeps on your face when your out on the road doing something you never in your wildest dreams thought you could do. That’s how I ran that day. In disbelief of what God can do with my life when I just surrender it to Him.
Legs barely able to pick themselves up from fatigue, I stopped my watch immediately after it beeped for the 20th mile. Eyes welling up with tears, limping up my sidewalk to my house…, I looked down at my average pace. 8:29 per mile. Boston qualifying pace for a girl my age is 8:20. Holy smokes…it was within reach. Tears flowed down my face as I praised the Lord for his faithfulness and strength.
The miles had been logged. The work was done. After two months straight of “longest run ever” long runs, I was finally ready to race. Months of diligently icing ailments and stretching and strengthening weak spots. Hours upon hours striding down long country roads, face half frozen during the cold winter, hobbling through wind and pain. Collapsing in my driveway with tears of agony after my 13-miler and 18-miler.
Every run was a leap of faith. Eight miles, ten miles, twelve miles, thirteen miles, fifteen miles, seventeen miles, eighteen miles, twenty miles. Each time I asked God if this was the way. Each time asking for prayers that I would make it through. Each time finishing the run that I had started.
After a day off to rest, I went out to run an easy five miles down the pier to the lighthouse and back. Halfway back down the pier, I felt a pinch in my Achilles.
For the next two weeks, I would watch my dream shatter right before my eyes, because after all that training….all those miles….what I couldn’t do…was rest.
Just like that sunflower was picked right as it was finally starting to bloom, I sidelined myself with acute Achilles tendonitis two weeks before my race. It was so severe that a lump formed where the damaged tissue was, probably due to a microscopic tear. Unlike the sunflower that was snapped off after it fought through the rain and cold weather and finally started to bloom, it was less clear to me what the purpose of it all was. The sunflower fed the squirrel.
Never did I imagine that I would make it through all of the training, but not even to the starting line of the race.
I watched others update their facebook status and tracked my friends on race-day…much like watching that squirrel eat my sunflower just out of my reach. There was nothing I could do about it. What was once a clear “yes” from God was now a very loud “no.” To race on my Achilles would risk allowing it to snap right in half…but why was that leap of faith a “no?”
I felt God telling me that I didn’t need the “show” of race day, and I felt Him answering my prayer to remain humble through not being able to race. My kids and their summer vacation kept drifting into my mind, making the risk of landing myself on crutches for the summer less and less worth the sake of saying “I did it.”
God encouraged and affirmed my decision not to race while I was sitting in the dance studio waiting for my tiny dancers, listening to Pastor Steven from Elevation Church preach on my i Pad.
“What if the thing that God wanted from me all along was not that I would arrive, but that I would reach?” Pastor preached.
A pit formed in my stomach as he continued on…
“What if what He really wants from you…what if the real goal is just that you keep reaching?”
My eyes welled up with tears…
“What if the real goal isn’t that you could make it around the bases without falling down-but what if even while you were flat on your face-what if even while you were down-what if even though it looked like you had lost-you missed the fence by 60 feet and just didn’t know it yet.”
When I knew I wouldn’t be able to race the marathon I had felt so called to race, I was crushed. How else would I ever be able to tell people about the miracle I had experienced? How could I encourage others not to give up hope when I had failed to reach my goal. These were the thoughts I prayed so earnestly for answers to as I listened on…
“What if reaching… pressing… coming after God with all your heart… trying again-the righteous may fall seven times but he gets back up (Proverbs 24:16)-that’s the goal,” he preached on, “Get up again! Press towards the mark! Stretch your imagination! Stretch your faith! Stretch your limits! REACH.”
I don’t understand why God does the things He does or when He chooses to do them, but I do trust Him with my life.
I made a goal to try to be like Paul, who said…
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I CAN DO ALL THIS THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.” Philippians 4:12-13
Whether I can run or not…
I came up short, and yet I don’t feel slighted in the least. If God didn’t lead me through my training, not promising…but allowing me to envision crossing the finish line…I might not have even tried.
Dreaming of pointe shoes and driven towards dance, I related to Brianne as she struggles to get her “splits.”
“Brianne,” I said, “think of your splits like me running twenty miles. I never though I could do it, but I just kept trying…just kept running. Have faith in yourself, have faith in God, and try your best. Just keep stretching. ”