Strength

strength

One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that fear grows in dark places deep within when I’m not paying attention.  I particularly find this in the context of relationships. The husband and I have a rough day and I turn suddenly I’m on the bridge of the Enterprise yelling “Shields up! Prepare for battle! I’ll take the conn!” A small offense turns into an insurmountable obstacle and I fight hard to control every detail and make it all work out the way I see fit. I’m sure you can see that there are obvious flaws in this strategy. I do this out of fear. I’ve been hurt before and rather and than take the risk of being hurt again, I grab the guns and dig in.

Thankfully, there is grace that comes along and shines a little light on it, revealing to me the reality of this monstrous thing that’s been choking me slowly. I read a quote from Francis Frangipane this week that explains it perfectly. “We pray, “Lord, change me.” To answer that prayer, He will often allow circumstances or people to offend us. Our fleshly reaction illuminates the specific area where we need to grow. Thus, the Lord initiates change by offending the area of our soul He seeks to transform. He does not expect us to merely survive this adversity but become Christlike in it.”

The truth is that fear and self-preservation rarely lead to positive outcomes. True strength is being able to stand in spite of fear and love anyway. True strength is in moving beyond the things that paralyze us and give of ourselves even when it hurts. Meg Cabot said, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”

Today I encourage you to live! Take the risk and do that thing that makes you afraid. Go all in! If something offends you, let it go. If you’re hurting, pray. There is a Comforter who is more than able to turn ashes into beauty and He wants to fight that battle for you. He wants you to overcome. March on into the fray armed with His strength and you will find your freedom.

“Oh my soul, march on with strength!” Judges 5:21

Giant on a fluff of dust

I feel like the world has shrunk beneath me. I’m sitting on top of it, this little fluff of dust and I’m so big.

The air becomes my only solace and I focus on breathing in and breathing out. I’m lost, suspended atop the tiny surface by nothing more than grace.

Holding me, the intangible taking on substance in this moment because He always knows exactly what I need and brings that…nothing more…nothing less. Just enough to sustain me when my eyes are dry and my heart can’t quite muster the strength to feel.

The numb is pushing hard against me with it’s eerie nimble fingers clawing merciless at my soul. I want to run but the ground is hiding.

So I sit here on the lonely ball of earth beneath me and wonder how I’ll make it. Knowing in my head that there’s a plan…wishing my heart would get with the program. Tomorrow we begin again.

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Ripples

I wonder what ripples my life will leave after my drop in time has passed. Will they grow to be a wave strong and forceful, or will they fade slowly into the others unnoticed? Such is the nature of life, a drop in the bucket of eternity and it’s gone in an instant.

You welcome a new one into the world, crying tears of wonder and amazement and then you turn around and they’re off and running. You’re suddenly planning a wedding and watching them fly away.

You write a song and sing it timidly only to hear that another is singing it wildly, holding onto it as if it held their hope and you are humbled. You wonder when your words cross paper and find the eyes of a reader if they will mean anything. You wonder if you’ve done enough. You wonder if you can do more. You wonder if you’ve been wasteful.

Then you realize that your wondering is a gift, an opportunity to live tomorrow free. Wondering what was should propel you to create tomorrow. Craft each moment with deliberate hands. Decide to embrace the seconds, the good and hard and sorrowful. Decide to live your “now” with everything you’ve got. Decide to leave a legacy. Decide to live with purpose. Then at the end of the journey you can look back and see the tide that swelled with one touch of the finger of God into the river of life you allowed to flow through you. As you cross the shore, you can smile as you listen to the crash of the waves that began miles away with a ripple.

 

The Color of my Lawn

Pink

I was at a birthday party years ago. I’d joined a group of fellow homeschooling mom’s who were discussing daily activities, curriculums and parenting choices. In the midst of the group was “that ONE mom”. You know the one I mean. She talked of how organized her life was. She shared how many hours she spent with each child pouring over books and games. She condescendingly commented how she would NEVER dream of feeding her child pizza or chicken nuggets. Then it happened…she started asking questions.

At that time in my life, I worked a full time job or two while homeschooling my oldest two daughters and keeping track of a toddler. I made sure to stay actively involved in worship ministry and writing as well because one should never abandon their passions. I was also still stuck in an extremely dysfunctional marriage to an addict and you can imagine the repercussions that had on my already packed schedule and life. I was a BUSY woman! I’d made the choice to enroll my daughters in a web-based homeschooling program where they’d have instructors available to help them in case they needed it and where much of the work was self-guided. It was the best choice for us at that time because I just couldn’t do it all. So, when super mom over there started asking questions about how I maintained our home education program, it wasn’t pretty.

I’ll never forget the look on her face. She asked, “What curriculum do you use?”. I responded with the name of our virtual school program and her grimace was immediate and severe. Her chipper face fell to disdain in an instant. I don’t know why it hit me so hard, the stones she threw with her gaze, but I felt so small I could hug a piece of rice. There I was in a room full of women, seemingly alone. None of them were faced with circumstances as extreme as mine, but I still felt like I was a poor excuse for a wife and a mother. It wasn’t that I wanted to be like the condescending woman snarling at me. It was more that I felt the demand to be more. I was wrecked by my own inner longing to be better.

I didn’t stay long after that. In the safety of the car, I prayed through tears I tried to contain, “God, I’m just not like them.”  In that soothing voice I’ve come to love so much, my comforter spoke a simple phrase to my soul. “Come out from among them and be separate.” (2 Corinthians 6:17) God didn’t call me or create me to be like someone else. He gave me THIS life to live according to His plan.

We ladies seem to spend a lot of time on comparisons. I hear it all the time. The stay at home mamas defend their choices to the working mamas hoping others know how challenging it really is to be home raising little ones…hoping to be appreciated. The working mamas come across as condescending to the stay at home moms because they feel they do it ALL. The homeschool mamas criticize the public schoolers. The public school moms think the homeschool mamas are crazy. We want to be skinnier, better homemakers, better cooks, have hair like her, dress like she does. We want success and respect. We want it ALL! The truth we often forget is that we have it all. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)

If the grass seems greener on the other side, water your yard. Be you! Be the best you imaginable! Rock your you-ness with confidence and grace! There will always be that person whose better than you at something and that’s okay. You are not called to be someone else. You are called to take your gifts and develop them. You are called to greatness and you’ve been given everything necessary to achieve that greatness.

These days, I’m feeling awfully comfortable in my own skin. I’m having a blast homeschooling and I’m a little more hands-on these days. I’m still working a full-time job and running my own business on the side. I’m still busy in ministry and other things. Granted, I’m no longer married to an addict. I’m remarried to the man of my dreams who treats me so well. That helps a lot! But, more importantly, I’ve become confident in who God made me. I’m comfortable in my skin. I’m perfectly fine with the color of my lawn.

Water your own garden with living water and watch how you bloom!

 

Ouch

Love

My breath pushes too heavy upon my chest; my lungs overtaken by some unseen force alien to me.

In an instant all hope spills like beans from a bag burst open…suddenly scattered…useless.

I am altogether undone.

At the end of me, there’s a place I didn’t know about before.

It’s like a stream hiding deep in the forest waiting for a visitor.

Then all at once it moves and I hear the bubbling of water breaking on the hard rock of my heart.

It hurts and I grow weary with myself.

I can’t say why I didn’t conquer the rapids years ago.

I guess I thought they’d become a distant memory lost beneath brighter things.

God doesn’t heal in part; He’s after everything.

Beneath the cracking of the surface, there’s a grace that won’t leave me standing there half finished.

There’s persistence in the movement of living water through human nature.

Refusing to leave me broken, the process continues.

I rise from beneath the surface, alive…nevertheless, not I, Christ in me.

Hope of glory, don’t leave me alone tonight.

 

 

 

Storm

Sometimes life is like a storm
Wriggling, writhing over the face of the deep
Waves with motion fast…furious conquering the soul of the doubter
Another crash, hard and heavy on the face of the water
Breaking with foam and frenzy
Too easily pulling us under

Sometimes life is like a storm
When belief rises, overpowering fear

We become soldiers armed with faith
Hope springing from the word of testimony
Instead of riding the wave, we part the sea
Instead of falling under defeated, we rise above

Sometimes life is like a storm
Pressing onward we charge against the enemy
Taking back all that was stolen
Obliterating doubt
Sure and confident in who we are
Fully assured that we are his

Storm on faithful ones
You’ve got this!