Joy in the dark.
Posted on October 27, 2020
Dark Autumn mornings beg me to smack the snooze button. At my dimly lit desk, coffee steaming into the quiet, I felt a pang of jealousy of as I read Acts 8: “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:39 NIV) I would like the Holy Spirit to physically relocate me, I thought to myself, which is exactly what happened to Phillip. (Zondervan)
There are many pandemic days burned into the permanent section of my memory. Days full of shock, tears, heartache and loss. Normalcy has fallen by the wayside, and it’s been hard to cope. We miss hugs from friends, seeing smiles in person, and sharing live laughter. 2020 has been a very hard year.
The generation currently navigating junior high has a skyrocketing suicide rate, and they now pile on the anxiety of quarantine. My daughters are in 7th and 5th grade.
The patch of sunflowers I planted in late September had a slim chance of surviving long enough to bloom. Yet today, I cut the first batch and brought them into the warm house. Miracles do happen, and life can bloom despite of the odds stacked against it. In the midst of heartbreak over what they haven’t been able to do this year, my daughters have chosen to remember where their strength comes from. My oldest will clunk up the stairs from the basement in her pointe shoes to show me what she has been working on. Her grades, even though she had been zoomed in for much of the first quarter, were straight A’s. Today, a photo gift she made for a friend arrived in the mail, and she wore a new outfit she bought with her allowance to zoom into school. As I write, I hear her laughing with friends on a group chat.
When I told my husband the buns were on the stove next to the crock pot this morning, my youngest daughter laughed at no less than ten of her own “bun” jokes. Everyday, she has us rolling in laughter, despite of these dark times. This girl, who tends not to communicate with the same word count her older sister does, shared with me on our ride to school today about her nightly conversations with God.
God could physically pick me up and move me. He could change our circumstances …make it easier …ease the pain of isolation… Jesus wept and prayed for God to change His circumstances, too. He was isolated and deserted as He was crucified, unjustly. He endured all of the pain of this world voluntarily because He trusted God’s will. So in moments of isolation …I choose to remember the source of my strength.
Jesus gives me the perspective to see my situation through the filter of hope, and the blessings He’s sweetly and faithfully embraced us with in 2020. The laughter, long boating days in the warm sun, lunch dates during the school day, late night talks, and time with my girls who will disappear back into their busy lives as soon as they resume. I’m not glad its happening, but I know where my strength comes from. Acknowledging personal hardship is important. Tears are healing and some anger is righteous! But I know beyond what I can see, feel, and plan for …God is always on the move …and He is always good.
Remember the verse at the top of this post, and the man who went away, rejoicing? Phillip shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him, and he was baptized! His joy was a sign of new life, and evidence of the Holy Spirit. (Zondervan) 2020 has taught us not to hang our hope on our plans, routines, and goals. All of those things are good, but His plans are more than we can ask for or imagine. It may get worse before it gets better. We were never promised life would be easy. But, if we unplug from the manic media and choose to tap into our real source of strength, we can live joyfully even in crazy hard times. Dark times. Jesus links arms with us through it all.
(Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament. Copyright 2002.)
Posted on October 26, 2020
The windshield wipers squeaked and scraped across the windshield. Misting gray skies muted brilliant colors of the changing season. Wet blacktop swished in traffic, and dreariness attempted frame the day before it had barely begun. Slumped over, choppy breaths evidence of watery eyes, my passenger clutched a cuddly elephant. School picture day meant we would eventually frame 2020 and place it on the fireplace mantel.
“What’s the matter?” I asked her. She simply shrugged and could not say. The cumulative effect of this year’s anxieties have worn her to the core. She feels beyond my reach, at times, a helpless feeling for a mom. This has been a year full of infinitely more things I cannot explain to her, definitively. Her eyes waver back and forth to me and we both wonder what tomorrow will bring and how we can possibly brace for what it will be like. I want so badly to tell her when this will all be over, that tomorrow won’t be worse, and we’ll all get through it …together.
Under normal circumstances, parenthood illustrates our daily need for God. The author of Hebrews wrote, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he said down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”(Hebrews 1:3 NIV) The Greek Word for exact defines the instrument used for engraving or carving.
Numbers, facts, and circumstances change daily in our lives. The author of Hebrews assures us exactly where Jesus is. Our Savior sits at the right hand of the Father.
Unchanging truth comes from God alone. He knows the number of our days. Nothing changes it. God is the only One who can peer beyond what we see and experience in the present moment. His Truth, alone, is trustworthy and dependable. He is good, and makes good of all things.
God is personal. Reframe the truth as such. His greatest expression of love for me was Jesus, who came to earth and died on the cross to save me from my sins …and through salvation in the Him the Holy Spirit lives in me and my soul lives eternally with Him. When our lives are built upon this Rock of truth and our faith is rooted in God’s love, we wade through the really hard things with Him.
Why, then, is it still so hard for God’s Truth to make it past the lump in my throat today? I know Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, fighting for me. Why do I feel so powerless, my prayers seemingly ignored? Because the truth about the world we live in can be pretty grim.
The world’s unfairness isn’t just a fleeting feeling, it’s a magnified fact of life on this sin-soaked earth. There is real evil in the world, intended upon stealing, killing, and destroying us. Our enemy lies. When we feel we are surrounded by unfairness and evil, lies and manipulation …it’s because we are! It’s really hard, and it can make us feel hopeless and helpless to stop it or make things right. Especially when our kids are hurting and there’s nothing we can do to fix or ease the pain.
Perspective is our rescue. Knowing what is true allows us to see through a different perspective. One of wisdom, peace, hope and love. Jesus is the way we keep moving …because when we can stand anymore …He carries us.
Letting go is the hardest task in parenting. We ache to see our kids go through pain we wish we could prevent and steer them around. Imagine how God feels about us, when we are in pain, mistreated, hurt, manipulated, and taken advantage of? We have limited power on this earth to set things right, but He is limitless. God, though we don’t understand His purposes or His timing, is in control. We may be manipulated by media, but God is in control. We may be taken advantage of by corrupt leaders, but God is in control. We may not get answers to our prayers in the way and timing we want …but He does hear us …and He will answer.
The reality of my 2020 is- I don’t know what time I’ll pick my daughter up from school today. But, no matter if it’s normal pick up time and I have her favorite snack and cuddly source of comfort waiting for her in the passenger seat, or a hug and spirit that will share in her heartache and tears, we will turn on the wipers …drive through the cold misty rain …and go home together. And I’m thankful for that …for together.
Posted on June 1, 2021
“You’re going to have to have your teacher stick your lashes on,” I texted my daughter as I sent my husband out the door with her dance gear, “I’m useless right now.”
Every non-life threatening symptom of said vaccine crashed down on me in waves the night of her dress rehearsal. The day before, I decided to hit the gym for the first time in a long time and lift weights for the first time ever since college athletics required me to. I laid there, completely miserable, two afghans on top of me and unable to move a literal muscle without hurting. Naturally, I called my mom and cried …”I’m falling a part from the inside out!”
Another trip around the sun.
This one feels different. All of the birthdays change slowly over time as we grow out of cousin b-day parties with pin the tail on the donkey. The celebrations are never quiet the same without Grams, or since my parents and brother and sister moved away. But there is a different different to this one. A different I can’t quite put my finger on …maybe because I can’t move a single muscle without hurting. (Apparently if you grip the weights too hard, fingers cramp and hurt …noted.)
Holding onto the railing with a death-grip, praying my legs didn’t give out and send me tumbling down to the first floor, I thought about how this fourth decade of life constantly temps me to goal-check. A whole new set of fears rolled in with this fourth decade …the ultimate FOMO of unaccomplished dreams, my kids becoming more athletic than me, and not fully realizing God’s purpose and potential for my life.
When I started this blog, I was a new mom. It was a big call from God, but I obeyed …and left my career to stay home with Brianne. God provided in the most miraculous and impossible ways, and along came Lauren two short years later. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed by God’s love, grace and blessing, but also very tired. I wrote down all of the funny things my mind might forget …and the stories are all still here.
God grew more from this space of genuine gratitude than I could have ever imagined. He gave me blog titles, article assignments, and book titles! I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t scared I couldn’t do all of what He has asked me to do. After all …I’m already 42.
My daughters are young ladies now, so I don’t air out every hilarious story about them here anymore. They’re in junior high, so everything is embarrassing! (I am harboring said stories, though, so if you’re lucky enough to know me in person, I’ve always got one to tell.) While they are at school, practice, and rehearsals …off with friends and away at camp …it’s quiet. Amidst all of the assignments and another looming book outline …I can feel God’s purpose back-building.
After all …I’m only 42.
My favorite memories are the miracles God has sewn into the pages of my story. They are still here, too. I needed this trip to the blog, today, to keep from falling a part from the inside out. I needed to remember all of the answers God has written onto the pages of my prayers.
The past year has exhausted us all. I took a nap last week, and it was life-giving. It was as if I needed a literal lesson in how to rest and let God be God. I took another nap this week. I napped the entire car-ride to Northern Michigan this past weekend …and most of the way back. Naps might be my thing now. On the heels of all we lost and didn’t get to do last year, God is doing something new …again. “Everyday, your mercies are new,” Lamentations reads, “great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Yes, Amen, and glory up. Thank God, God is God.
Another trip around the sun.
One that includes two daughters in junior high, the call to move to a new community …and a new church …and all of the amazing things God has laid on my heart to do and to write about. What a privilege to serve Him. What a joy it is to walk with Jesus.
Thank You God, for naps …and movers … all of the miracles You have written onto the pages I have yet to turn …and answers to prayers I have yet to even pray.
You know me the best.
I love You the very most.
You see me.
I trust You.
You hear me.
I talk and talk and talk and talk to You.
In the place where I pray at on the hardest, most heartbreaking days, You sit with Your arm around me.
Whatever it brings.
Whatever You will, God …I’m all in.
Abba, Yahweh. Jesus, Friend. Spirit, Stand-by. Glory up.
What Does It Mean? (Christmas Advent Series, Intro.)
Posted on December 7, 2019
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The world comes into focus as we discover Christmas. Each year God peels back a layer, rich with newly appreciated memories and formative ones of the present. I look forward to it more and more …and begin to celebrate, decorate, and sing carols earlier and earlier with each passing year …in anticipation of the magical way God reveals Himself during the Christmas season.
There’s something uniquely grand about the birthday celebration that greed attempts to block out and political correctness to subdue. Carefully crafted by it’s Creator, and grandly announced by angels, it’s impossible to squelch the hope of the entire planet birthed.
What does it mean?
Join me as I unwrap new presents of this Christmas’ presence …in the Christmas Series …”What does it mean?” Follow this 4-part series by downloading the free Study Guide that accompanies the videos/posts below!
Click below or on the image to download the free “What Does it Mean” Study Guide!
What Does it Mean Study Guide best pdf
Click here for Week 2: EMMANUEL
Posted on November 2, 2019
“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Ephesians 6:24 NAS
Life as a tween mom is akin to an Uber driver. Our vehicle is equipped with all of the snacks, chargers and melt-downs of home. But “the middle” is off limits.
“The Middle,” where all of the important things crucial to driving and my full control of the volume lies. In the tween-age tradition of pushing boundaries, occasionally a cute little elbow will drift into the forbidden zone and bump the shifter into neutral.
My daughters and I daily lose it on each other, take jokes too far, have an absence of patience, and a slew of other things that can probably be explained by fluctuating seasons of life on all sides. But drifting into “the middle” of the vehicle ignites a completely irrational level of panic and anger in me.
I’m grieved when I lose my temper or harshly criticize my children. Though I cannot love them perfectly, I can see glimpses of how it’s supposed to be.
Shame is strong. It’s intent is to accuse. Squash it, and all of it’s distorted thoughts attempting to convince us we’re undeserving, unfixable, and dysfunctional. Because Jesus says …so what if you are?
True love is incorruptible.
“Incorruptible love.” A powerful statement no human being is capable of living up to apart from Christ. We are all, by nature, corrupted.
My flip out over “the middle” being breached ignites a firestorm, but it always ends in laughter. The reactions are too ridiculous not to re-enact.
Grace is the key to unlocking incorruptible love. It will flow throughout our lives and look foreign to many. Grace doesn’t play favorites. Jesus came to save us all from the power of sin. Incorruptible love, this side of heaven, is extending grace to ourselves and others.
As a mother, there are many days that end to the tune of my apologies. For losing my temper, criticizing, or spending too much time gazing into my phone instead of connecting with my kids. The routine of apologizing creates an atmosphere of grace.
There’s nothing Jesus holds over our heads and says …oh, not that one. You’ll pay for that one. I can’t forgive you for that one. We can and should grow and get better. But Grace should be our number one priority.
“Always forgiven,” I assure my girls, “and never loved less.”
That’s how we’re loved. By Love, incorruptible.