Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Relentless Pursuit

It's hard to explain, but for a long while now I have felt the need to hold back. My inspiration to write anything (newsletters included) had all but disappeared, and I even felt a bit afraid of it. A couple of months ago a close friend told me that she felt God was saying to me that I shouldn't stop writing. Instantly I felt fear at opening up again but also some excitement. Writing has always been a way that I processed things, but I think at some point I got fed up with processing and just needed to live life for a while. If you have been reading the blog you know last year knocked me back on my heals and the getting back up has been harder and longer than I would have imagined. But tonight, out of the blue while I was standing there doing the dishes that I should have done earlier and cleaning the kitchen so it can get destroyed again tomorrow, the song on my Pandora station caught my ear....

There is no distance 
That cannot be covered 
Over and over 
You're not defenseless
I'll be your shelter
I'll be your armor

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night 
It's true, I will rescue you
I will never stop marching to reach you
In the middle of the hardest fight
It's true, I will rescue you

- Lauren Daigle (Rescue)

This strong sense of being pursued, of being sought after by my Savior, caught me by surprise. Not so much that I was lost, more like I've been going through life with my hand at the plow and my head down watching my feet pound through the dirt, trying to get as much done as possible. But He will come for me over and over. Not only me, but YOU. This is half of why I'm writing this because I feel like there is someone out there who needs to feel this too. Maybe you don't realize you are running, or maybe you have been crying SOS to God for a long time, but He is coming for you. And when you turn and run into His arms he will be your shelter, and your armor, and he will rescue you. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Walking on Water

I reflect on this last year, and it has been the hardest year I've ever been through.
Some days it still does not feel real that my brother is gone, and for a little while I allow myself to imagine he is still here. And then other days, like today, a year since we lost him, it is so, horribly real. I feel physically ill with the harsh reality, and the reliving of the day I heard he was gone. All over again, I'm sad, angry, hurt, and devastated. This is not how it was supposed to be. These emotions that have been bottled are exploding like someone shook a soda can and then opened it.

Tim, I miss you.
I miss how you would play the same song on the piano, over and over, until we were all sick of it. I miss how you were quick to give a hug, to anyone who needed it. I miss the way you would sit there and listen to my kids and answer the millions of questions they would ask you, and you did it with so much patience. They loved being with you. I miss how when we were little I could always convince you to play with me, or share with me. I miss how you would try to sound super smart, just because you went to grad school and got your masters. Ok fine, you sounded smart because you were. I miss making you go shopping with me, or decorate for Christmas with me. There are too many things we never got to do, and things I never got to show you.
I miss you.

I'm so thankful I don't walk this life alone. That I know where to turn when I am overwhelmed and falling.
The other day I was reading through a devotional and I took to heart the story of when Peter stepped out of the boat and walked towards Jesus. He trusted when Jesus said to come, and walked on water! It doesn't talk about how long he walked on water, or how far he had gone before he got scared, looked away from Jesus, and started to sink. But he had the faith to do it. There was wind and waves, not exactly great conditions for your first try at walking on water  maybe, yet it was in that hard moment that Peter stepped out of the safety of the boat and walked to the One whom He knew he could trust to save Him. Even when he got scared and lost sight of Jesus, he knew he would be saved.
In the beginning of everything, I felt God was holding me close, I needed to be close and I needed to be held together. Now, slowly, He is teaching me how to walk on water. When my eyes stray away and I start to feel myself drowning (like today), he always picks me up again. He gently reminds me to keep my eyes on him, to look forward, and to keep walking, and I walk again. Never rushed, never pushy, but full of grace. Knowing I can trust Him. Even when the waves are crashing, I know he is greater than my circumstances.
I am walking on water.

(O'Lord by Lauren Daigle)

Your strength is found
At the end of my road
Your grace it reaches to the hurting
Still through the tears and the questioning why
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hearts On Chains.

This blog entry has literally been forming in my head for months. It started one morning at a worship time when I was struggling to get through it without letting all of my tears out, again. I looked next to me and saw another woman who had my emotions on her face. The tears were at the surface and I knew, even though I didn't know her full story, that we were both in a similar place. I read the grief on her face. The picture that came to my mind was people walking around pulling their heavy hearts on chains. Trying to get through the normal, day to day life, and trying to keep up with everyone around me. This feeling of a heavy weight that I am pulling behind me that keeps me from getting through the day without some difficulty. Not all days are this way. Anyone who is around me often knows I laugh, enjoy jokes, and fun, and usually my days are like any other mom.
But some days it's heavier than others. Some weeks it's heavier than others. This week it's heavy. It's taking a lot of effort to pull my heart through.
This week was a memorial concert for my brother. Beautiful, a labor of love from his friends. Music he had composed and music inspired by him. The emotions are raw and real, some are so good but some are just so hard and I'm tired. May 4th is his birthday. It was coming and it has been creeping up on me. Like it always does, because it's in the beginning of the month, and I can't think of how many times May would come around  and I'd realize I only had a couple days to think of a present!
One night that was really hard, in the beginning, I asked God how I should grieve. I didn't know what to do, or how to let the emotions come out that needed to come out. He said, sing.
Immediately I thought back to when I was about 16 and everything is dramatic and hormonal and I used to just sit and play songs on the guitar, or listen to music and cry, and pray, and sing, and cry and pray some more. It was a safe way to let it out.
But I was trapped. We lived in a studio apartment and I didn't want to do it when my kids were awake but if I waited until they were asleep then it was such a small space, it would wake them up. I could go outside but if they woke up I couldn't hear them. I would go out for just short times.
Moving to a bigger place was a gift in so many ways. I'm not great at playing the guitar, or singing. But music is a release for me. As I let the emotion out, and give it back to God, the weight gets lighter. The ache isn't as intense, and I feel like I can rest. I had to figure out a way to get it out otherwise my family gets a ticking time bomb. The pressure comes out in ways that I am ashamed to admit. It's not their fault, and they don't deserve to have someone with such a short fuse.
There have been times where I make myself so busy that I end up putting God on the back burner, and even in those moments, I know He still is holding me. Keeping the pieces together.

This passage spoke to me tonight:

Psalm 42 5-8
'Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again- my Savior and my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you - even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar, I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. 
But EACH DAY the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.'


Psalm 43 3-5
Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God - the SOURCE OF ALL MY JOY, I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again- my Savior and my God!

(emphasis my own.)

He is my source. He is the lifter of my head. He is my joy, my hope, my salvation. I will trust in Him, and let him carry my heavy heart.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pause Button

When life throws you a curve ball, and it smashes into your life and changes everything, it seems like there should be a pause button. Something you can press to just STOP what is going on around because it feels like your heart and your life have stopped, but everything is just going on like nothing has changed. But my whole world has. 
In two days it will be a month since my brother died unexpectedly.
The past few weeks I have been struggling to keep up with life, my kids, homeschooling, friends, the school we are helping to run.... Like I'm treading water with a brick on top of my head. Talking to a student who is wondering about a form I was going to send them and why hasn't it come? Because they were accepted right before I flew back for my brother's memorial service. And I forgot. So much is trying to process in my brain and my heart right now that I feel like it's a struggle to just do the normal, everyday things. By the end of the day I'm exhausted from trying to keep my emotions, which are right on the surface always, from spilling onto every person around me. I don't always succeed and I have made a mess of a few people's shirts. I'm so thankful that they don't mind. That I'm surrounded by love, and friends who understand, and that my heart is held together by the God who's love is real and tangible in these moments. 
The tidal waves of grief have become less intense and a dull, heavy ache is setting in. I have to figure out my new normal. It's a learning process. I'm sorry for my lack of communication to so many. I just haven't been able to keep up with everything. 
Knowing I'll see him again someday, is a comfort and I am so grateful for that. But I keep thinking of how my kids won't really remember him, and he was such a good uncle. And how different holidays and visits home will be without home there, and so many other things, the list goes on. The ache is deep. 
Thank you so much to all who have been praying, writing, and surrounding me and my family with love. It is like balm to this heart. 
'The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.' Psalm 34:18

Here is Tim playing with Kaleigh and Gideon a few years back. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First World Problems

I stood in the bathroom, listening to the shower run, tapping my toe impatiently, waiting for the hot water to kick in. No joke it took about 10 minutes. Nathaniel was at work and I was hoping to quickly take a shower before the baby woke up from the darn molars that have been bothering her for what seems like months. So who has 10 minutes to spare waiting for the water to get warm?
"At least you have warm water."
Conviction hit me. And I flashed back to our first year of marriage when we lived in Panama and every shower was cold. We had buckets outside to catch rain water for flushing the toilets, hoping to lengthen the amount of time the running water would last on the missions base where we lived.
I sometimes get a little grumpy about doing laundry in the coin machines here ($2 to finish a load! My quarters disappear so fast...). And then I remember needing to take a taxi down to the laundry mat and sit there while it finished. Here I can just walk down the hall and leave it there and return when it's done.  
Our life before was NOT bad at all! It's just now, we are more comfortable. Inconveniences that I let get under my skin sprout from being ungrateful. When in reality we are SO blessed. It helps me so much when I start to complain if I stop and put things into perspective.
How so many other people live.
What so many other people are going through.
How many people are hungry, scared, and alone.

And that will knock me off my high horse so quickly. First world problems are not problems. They are inconveniences that many other people wish they could be inconvenienced with.

I will chose to be grateful. Even if I have to be reminded everyday.

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name... to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night." —Psalm 92:1-2

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Steady Beat

After the last post (two months ago!), Nathaniel started working on a movie set and although we saw him every now and then, he was basically gone for a month. This job was a huge blessing in so many ways, but as I saw that month coming I steeled myself up for it. When he is gone the burden of caring for house and home became a little heavier. Play dates, staff meetings, home school... it all added up and we kept ourselves busy enough to keep ourselves afloat. A rhythm was established for while dad was gone. When he was done, we were so happy to have him home! But we needed to reestablish our old rhythm and take time as a family to reconnect. All in all, it's been a great two months.
As the days roll I find a peace in the steady beat of life. We are accustomed to the ebb and flow of people here on the campus, we are accustomed to community living. In reality, I love it.
Christmas is upon us and I love passing the joy, hope, and excitement of the season to my children. Decorating, baking, (although Christmas cookies six at a time in a toaster oven is not ideal!), Christmas tree, putting money in the salvation army bucket, carols... all leading to the one day where we celebrate the Savior who left his rightful place up in heaven to come to us as a humble babe born in a stable.
This time of year stirs up my heart with so much love. And yet, just like that *snaps fingers* it will be over. We build up to it...and then it's done. And we go back to that steady rhythm.
As I was reading in my Bible the other day I read the verse where it talks about being a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 'Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. ' 
As I live and breathe, I should be a living sacrifice. At all times. Dying to self, giving back to God and giving to others. This sounds exhausting. I think of my steady beat through life and I get exhausted just thinking about what it would take to do that. But then in this special time God showed me a different picture. Here is the month leading up to His birth. I LOVE this time and so I put the extra effort forth to bake, decorate, teach the kids about baby Jesus and what that means for them, and all of the things that have to do with Christmas. On TOP of what I already have to do. It should be extra exhausting but it's not, because it brings me so much joy. Celebrating Jesus brings me joy! LIFE should be this way. Teaching my kids how amazing it is to have a relationship with God, Preparing them for the joys and challenges of adulthood, and knowing that God has great plans for me and that won't ever change. Celebrating Jesus all the time. All year, should be a celebration of Him. The one who gave so much and showed the ultimate example of what it means to sacrifice. I feel I can look at the coming year with expectation. Celebrating life and the One who gave us life so abundantly!
Merry Christmas Everyone! <3

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Run With Endurance

Head down, eyes watching your feet pound the pavement, knowing you've almost reached the end of the race but you are so tired and worn, that you hardly feel you can make it to the end. Then you see this up ahead. 

Your feet pound a little faster, you lift up your head and look towards the finish line. You're heart is encouraged and when you see the end you run! You made it! 
I loved seeing the encouraging messages written all over the path for the runners of the Iron Man Race here in Kona. Encouragement in so many different languages, colors, and sizes. I could see the runners in the last leg of the race who were SO tired, hot, sweating.... and yet they kept on. To be in that moment, and see a message written to you to give you strength and keep you going forward would be just the thing to put the spring in your step! It was amazing to watch the race. And I would say inspiring... but I feel in order to say that it would mean it had inspired me to do something. And do you don't see me exercising? Hahahaha. I guess I have been trying to drink a little less soda. 

So many times in my life it feels like I'm just pushing through, staring at my feet and watching them move forward until the next day comes. Somewhere along the way my gaze drifts down, and things don't look as hopeful when you stare at your feet. You won't see anything new, hopeful, or exciting if you are just staring at your sneakers (if they are like mine, they look pretty new, because like I said, I don't do much exercise =D ). In those moments, God brings me encouragement. Through my friends or family, a song, a verse... something that reminds me to look up and set my eyes back on what is important. On finishing, and enjoying the race while I'm at it. 
This song brought me to my knees first, then I lifted my gaze upwards. 

Two lines that get me every time:

When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world?

(King of The World: Natalie Grant)

So we keep moving. We keep running the race that God has set before us, following His lead and knowing we are not alone in this race. He is right beside us, so put it back in his hands. The burden will lift and so will your eyes. 
Hebrews 12:1-2
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a]Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.