Hero

I have all these heroes in the faith..people who shine bright amidst the noise and impact the world with light.

Tonight I wonder if I’m a “hero”.

Can I be one who shows a glimmer of light in darkness? Am I beacon to someone holding on, trying to breathe when the air seems thin?

Is it enough to live and love? Is it enough to show up everyday?

I think it is. We don’t need megaphones, we need presence. We don’t need lights and applause. Maybe a smile is enough.

Think about who impacted you the most on your journey. Did they need accolades or were they just there?

The beauty in life is in showing up in the small things. The big things are great but the small things are magic.

Shine when the light is missing. Shine when the dim overwhelms.

Be, unapologetically, you. You were born for this!

Sing for the Light

Call me into the deep where you are waiting

I’ve missed the feel of you

My head can hear you and my sensibilities know you but my emotions have fallen out the window.

Who have I become that my emotion is absent?

I was passion now I’m passive and that isn’t enough.

I don’t want to live in a world without feeling

It doesn’t satisfy

Reason is enough in a world of black and white but let’s be real we live in prisms

It isn’t enough for me.

I need the sunshine and the breaking of light over dim

I need to feel it

It’s who I am

And I’m not alone

We need to feel

Emotion carries us through the mundane

A world without feeling is nothing but muted strength struggling to hang on

I want to feel the daybreak

And cry when the light strikes the perfect pose

I’m not alone

I can feel it

So sing with me seekers and cry out for the dawn

It’s coming

Hang on tight

Noise

When did the world stop making noise?

It screams from the rooftops but I don’t think I can hear it anymore

The sound of my head has blocked the overwhelming.

Survival

I am me. I am struggling. I am alive. I will live another day.

There is life when the grass dies.

There is truth, among the pain.

Lean in.

Learn.

Tomorrow is the greatest gift we have.

Don’t waste it.

It is Enough!

This post is a little different from my standard posts. I’m sharing with you what I wrote this morning while reading my Bible. Last night was a particularly difficult night for me. This morning, Is brighter because His word brings life and hope. Hopefully, you can glean something from it that will encourage you today. If you’re unfamiliar with the stories I’m referencing, read I Kings chapters 18 & 19.

It is Enough!

God showed Himself mightily through Elijah. In I Kings 18, he proves himself by sending fire to consume the sacrifice and turns the hearts of the people back to the Lord. Then he hears the “sound of abundance of rain” and prays until the clouds form and outruns Ahab’s chariot. Still, he (Elijah) was under a tremendous amount of pressure and adversity. By chapter 19 of I Kings, he’s running for his life from Jezebel, and it finally overwhelms him. He prays in verse 4 that he would die, “It is enough! Now Lord take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” He is tired and feels like a failure.

How many times in my life, have I felt exactly this way? The heaviness of it all gets to me from time to time, no matter how hard I try. I don’t think Elijah was suicidal. He wasn’t trying to hurt himself and if he really wanted to die, he wouldn’t have bothered running from Jezebel. He just needed to rest and find the voice and peace of God in the middle of the pain.

God was there and shows up to sustain him, just like he always does for us. For Elijah, he sent an angel to tap him on the shoulder and feed him. The angel says to him in verse 7, “The journey is too great for you”. God know what we can handle and when it’s too much for us. He doesn’t expect us to do it on our own or in our own strength. He is there with compassion and provision when we don’t have the strength to keep going. His provision strengthens us. Elijah went, “in the strength of that food” all the way to the “mountain of God”.

“What are you doing here Elijah?”

God could have been asking him this because he should have been somewhere else and he was hiding out in a cave instead, but I think God asked him this because He wanted Elijah to see where he was. He wanted Elijah to see his purpose and who he was and who God is.

“Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” I Kings 19:11-12

When Elijah heard the “still small voice”, he wraps his face in his mantle, the symbol of his prophetic authority and “went out and stood”. “What are you doing here Elijah?” It’s then, when Elijah knows why he’s there and recognizes who he is and that he’s not alone, that he goes back and follows the instructions of the Lord and continues the work of the Lord.

Sometimes this life, these trials, are too much for me. I lay down just like Elijah and pray “It is enough!” God is there for me as well. He sees and provides and leads me through. I need to lean in. I need to trust Him. When he says, “Arise and eat.”, for me that means devouring the word of God and letting His word sustain me. I need to realize that though the winds, and earthquakes, and fire, break the rocks into pieces, He is still, unmoving, constant. The seemingly smallest of things contain the most meaning. I need to lean in and steady myself in that! I need to remember who I am.

Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle, his purpose. My purpose is to glorify God in and through everything…to show Him to the world. When I remember why I’m here, I can stand up.

Like, Elijah, I also need to remember I’m not alone. God has placed people around me strategically to fight alongside me. I don’t have to find alone, and I can rest in that. Still, Elijah had to go out and appoint and anoint them. I need to stop being afraid of being vulnerable and be willing to reach out and accept help and support. That’s a tough one for me, but I’m working on it.

All the Happy People

JoyI confess that when I was pregnant with baby man I spent a few too many hours watching shows like “A Baby Story” and “The Business of Being Born”. I think it’s inherent to pregnant women to read and watch everything pregnancy related they can get their hands on. This seemed strange to me only because you’d think by pregnancy number four I would be ready to write the material instead of reading it.

Something started to bug me as the months progressed. If you’ve ever watched “A Baby Story” you’ll remember that at the end of each episode, they usually have a clip of the parents saying what they want for their child as he or she grows. I realized that almost all of them said the same seemingly noble thing, “I want for my child to by happy.” Ah, the sentimentality.  Isn’t that what every parent wants… a happy, well-adjusted, smiling brood following behind them like a row of ducklings. It seems so normal and selfless a request.

Bubba

I don’t think I realized why it didn’t sit right with me until this week. Now it seems epidemic. People everywhere I look are touting the need to be happy. It is an inalienable right after all, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. If it’s in the Bill of Rights, it must be a noble aim. Who am I to argue?

Still, I think we’ve gotten it all wrong. Happiness is so circumstantial. It comes and goes like the tide. I’m happy when things go my way and I get what I want. I’m not happy when the hard times come. I’m not happy when I can’t pay the bills or when the kids are sick or when I’m completely soaked with baby spit-up at the office (circa today), or the car or the microwave breaks, or my marriage gets rocky, or my friends prove unfriendly, or…insert whatever else here…

The “pursuit” of happiness is a great way to put it because it’s fleeting. It often seems just beyond our reach and we stretch and fight and push harder and farther hoping to achieve it, the whole time wondering what we are doing wrong. We must be doing something wrong if we can’t grab it! After all, it’s the goal, the dream, what our parents wanted for us, what we were taught to desire and follow above all else. What is life without happiness anyway?

I contend there is a better way. There is such a thing as joy whose purest form can only be found in the Lord. Joy is a gift given freely with salvation. It’s a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.)

I heard the following quote by Pastor Greg Surratt recently, “Happiness is what happens to you but joy is produced in you.” Joy should well up from inside simply because we are His, because the Spirit of God within us is the source of all joy. Nothing else matters.

Paul says in Philippians 4:11, “for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”  Somehow, we feel like our lives shouldn’t be messy. Somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves that if we’re serving God, everything will be perfect and we will never suffer. This ideal is totally contrary to scripture. Paul was beaten with rods, shipwrecked, thrown in prison multiple times, yet he was content. The disciples were martyred for the sake of the gospel. They suffered horribly, but I don’t think you can convince me they did so without joy or peace.

Ultimately, true joy comes from trust and obedience. If we trust in the Lord, nothing can steal away the joy set before us. If we truly believe what we say we believe, we won’t be thrown by the circumstances of this life. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Some may think it seems a little easy for me to say such things when I am now incredibly happy, but I assure you, I know what it is for circumstances to steal the wind from your lungs. I know the ache of life not going as planned all too well. I speak of this amazing joy that permeates everything, including the ugly, not from a place of a life well lived, but from the remnants of a life torn apart and rebuilt after “I never expected things to turn out like this”. I’ve melted to a puddle on the floor of my closet crying to the Lord begging Him to change situations in my life. I’ve spent hours or my past telling Him that I didn’t think I could take anymore. I know pain. I also know that in the midst of the worst of it, He was there and so was a deep peace and everlasting joy.

Now on the other side looking back, I can see it so clearly, the brightness of glory as He carried me through. I see how he molded me into something lovely. He didn’t blow away the ashes of a life once lived and start fresh with new material. He used the ashes of every moment seemingly wasted and shaped them into something beautiful.

He didn’t promise us “happy”. He did promise us joy. For my children and for those I love, I don’t wish for happiness though it seems a nice gesture. My prayer is that my children, my loved ones, may know Him and the fullness of His peace, love and joy. I pray they would dive deeply into every precious promise and seek first HIs kingdom. I pray that they would know that no matter what life throws at them, they can be content.

Lord, I thank you for the hard times in my life. Thank you for being there with me even when the darkness seemed to overtake the light. Thank you for allowing me to know that my joy comes from you alone and that nothing can ever steal it from me or snatch me from your hand.

Challenge

I’m a sucker for a good challenge until it hurts too much.

I recently gave into an old obsession and bought yet another workout DVD because it looked SO pretty. We all need a little variety from time to time right? I was so excited to pop the sucker in and transform my body in one hour. I knew as soon as it was through I’d be rushing with endorphins and ready to overtake the tri-state area (yes, I have kids and watch way too much Phineas and Ferb). With one swift flash of my Reebok I’d forever destroy the evil forces of Cellulite and his marshmallow minions.

Unfortunately, my dreams of heroism were dashed within the first twenty minutes of hellish torment inflicted upon me by power lunges and the land of ten thousand squats. Even the perfectly perky muscled out trainer people on the tape were in tears with quivering legs unable to sustain any more torment. It was somewhere in between my tears and the tears of the poor and pitiful buff girl on the tape that I decided I may have been a little too ambitious. I decided to come back to this particular DVD in a few years when I’d changed my name to “Jaimie, body-builder extraordinaire”.

For some reason today I decided to get it back out and I happened to notice there was a shorter workout on the same DVD that I hadn’t seen the first time. So I figured I’d give it a shot. Worst case scenario, I could just give up and have a good laugh at the insanity that drove me to try again.

I made it all the way through!  There were definitely a few moments when I was convinced that I would fail. I lost my balance a few times and had to readjust and get back in the right position. But I did it and I feel like a warrior…maybe not quite a superhero yet, but a warrior nonetheless.

I think that’s the way it should be with the challenges before us. Usually the things worth fighting for don’t come easy or cheap. I will not offer on the altar that which costs me nothing comes to mind. (2 Samuel 24:24) Sometimes it will feel like the earth will open underneath us and swallow us whole if we keep standing here. Sometimes it will feel like we aren’t nearly strong enough to keep standing in that position for another second. The cool thing is that in the end, we are a lot stronger than we think we are. We are capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe and on top of that, when we aren’t strong enough we have a comforter who is. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I’m beginning to believe that if the task I’m setting out to accomplish is perfectly comfortable for me, then it may not be the task God is setting before me. I think he expects us to tackle the big things. I think he wants us to realize we can do more than we have been doing and that he has big, incredibly good, plans for us that exceed what we conceive in our limited understanding. I’m determined to accept the challenges that come my way with determination and passion. I’m determined to not freak out when I lose my balance and fall down, but rather to get up and go again.

I’m going to be one fit mama by the time I’m done both physically and spiritually.  “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.  But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:6-8

 

 

Clarity

Oh beautiful disaster, the life that once was. Stretched before the faceless masses with bloated heart set to bust. Above the cynic’s laughter, beyond the doubter’s tomb, a small voice sings. Growing louder with each resistance. Brought forth from deep within. Singing wonder of the soul. Blood, sweat and tears collide in rhythm at the sound. All the pain once carried, all the songs once sung, all the moments of abandon lead to now. And everything is clear.