Brave Faith

Peter. Sweet Peter. We all seem to identify with him, don’t we? His fierce devotion mixes with wavering bravery at times to produce something we can only define as “human.” I am currently taking my favorite verses of the Bible and writing them in watercolor calligraphy for my children. One of my favorite verses ever is short, and a bit odd. John 21:7 says, “As soon as Peter heard Jesus was on shore…he jumped into the water.” I have a vision of Peter running, like Forrest Gump, off the boat to welcome his friend, Lieutenant Dan! But what makes the verse so memorable is what had happened before. You see, it was PETER who once bravely had the audacity to walk out onto the water with Jesus. It was he, and only he, who knew firsthand that his Jesus could both hold him and sustain him. So it is he, and only he, who jumps out of the boat again to run to the Savior he had just days before denied. Did he think the water would again be firm and sustain him, meeting him with firm footing? Or was he just excited to see his Savior? We don’t know. What we do know is the man who has enough faith to first get out of the boat will be the first one to try it again – because he knows first-hand, above all others, that his God is able! Oh, that we may share that same faith and walk bravely to Him!

The Hardest Part

They think chemo is the worst part. Or losing your hair. Or Stolen moments away from family. True, those are all heart breaking. But the hardest part of all is this: learning to live again.

My physical return to life has mirrored the mental and emotional struggle. Math and recipes I used to be able to do from memory are long gone, as is some motivation. And After the metal rod was put in my femur and somewhere in the middle of the chemo rounds, my husband and I went for a walk. I’d not been able to drive or go upstairs for about 6 months and I gotta say, the walk ended in tears. Around the time I got the diagnosis I had finally been able to jog for 3 miles and was planning to do a 5k. That day? We barely made it half a football field to the stop sign. It’s been 6 years now, and I finally got back on the elliptical again only to be met with the stats (below). It’s embarrassing. It’s disheartening. Most days you feel like “Why even bother?” It’s depressing.

And it’s also part of the process.

The hardest part is not falling. It’s learning to fly, not sure whether you’ll soar or go splat. It’s relearning how to do things. It’s doing things differently. It’s doing things slower – always with “how it USED to be” clouding your progress.

Today is day one. Here’s to all you “get up againers” and “try one mores!” You have my deepest respect!

R.E.S.T

I used to bemoan naps. I remember on Sunday afternoons my parents requiring me to either nap or read. Oh, how I loathed the naps! I remember the time ticking away so slowly…

Then, I became an adult. Four kids later, naps are now my favorite hobby. My husband says I am a “connoisseur” of sleep & that sounds about right. But it doesn’t come without extreme guilt.

Even though I know raising four kids, not to mention homeschooling 2, requires a lot of mental and emotional energy I still feel guilty for resting. In this “go, go, go” “do, do, do” achievement oriented society we live in in America, to even rest feels almost like a sin itself. So, I changed the definition of rest.

We know that even God himself rested after creation and even commanded a day of rest for his people. He also required the agricultural land to take a rest every seven years to rebuild the nutrients in the soil. Rest is not just a good idea, it is COMMANDED by God!

My new definition of rest?

Restore

Energy (to)

Stay

Tough

We are not going to be able to keep going without rest. We are not going to be able to stay the race long without rest. So, kick that guilt to the curb. REST is a good thing!

Diving into Fear

I remember hearing my son’s heartbeat drop and the doctor saying in a low, serious voice, “We’re taking him [out] now.” It was a statement of what would transpire, not a request. I had dreaded this moment. There seemed to be some weird curse in the Estes line with baby boys being strangled at birth with the umbilical chord and so, for seven long months, I prayed against it, Pentecostal style – and yet here we were. I bore down hard to get him out ASAP – and suddenly, there he was! Tiny and blue with a chord around his neck – but alive!

I remember laying in the grass, two years later, holding my son and throwing the phone to my neighbor cause I couldn’t PRAY for him and talk to t he 911 operator at the same time. He seemed fine and all of a sudden started convulsing. A “fever seizure” they called it. They said it happened to lots of kids and he’d be fine.

Only he wasn’t. He later had stunted growth and dyslexia and dysgraphia…coincidence? Maybe. But maybe not…

Now, here we are, ten years later and still struggling. Regular school does not accommodate his learning disabilities very well so homeschooling it is. But i am weary and lacking confidence. Most days I could collapse from worry. Some days I do. What will become of my son who twists numbers and can’t spell worth a flip? Having come from a line of college graduates, I feel ill equipped to direct my son. I know nothing of trades, can’t even change my own tire.

The fears are real and wash over the back of my neck like a cold sheet. Some days it’s a fulltime job just keeping my worries at bay. From the beginning of his life I feel the Lord has been constantly trying to teach me the one phrase that He ever so gently whispers over me. “TRUST. ME.”

There’s a funny thing about trust: it’s dependent upon the unknown. It’s easy to “trust” when everything is fine and predictable and lovely. There’s just one problem: that’s not trust. It’s something, but it’s not trust.

Trust is bigger and confusing and MESSY. It’s unanswered questions on founded fears. It’s walking in the dark with nothing but a promise of firm ground. It is knowing all the “what if’s” and jumping in anyway. Trust is diving into the fear.

And so, I dive. Dive into the unknown future, not sure how to direct my son. I dive in, with lips trembling as a constant “Help me, Lord” plays across them. I dive in, remembering how I prayed for his life – not caring the difficult times that might come with it and not knowing when or if my efforts will reap a reward and cling to the one thing my Lord has been ever so calmly saying to me: TRUST.

How I wish Trust felt warm and cozy and safe. But it doesn’t. It feels like diving – your stomach in the top of your throat and your toes? Tingly. But the good news? These are where the miracles happen. This is where you get to see the Sea parted. This is where you finally learn that He can do exceedingly more than all we could ever hope and imagine.

All you have to do is dive.

Who told you?

Adam and Eve had literal paradise on Earth until the devil lied to them. As we all know, they fell for his lies leading to our condition today. Interestingly, God does not confront them with anger or accusations, but questions. First, he asked, “Where are you?” After they revealed themselves, God asked another question: “WHO TOLD YOU you were naked?”

I’ve found myself in recent months relying heavily upon that question. Our son has a few learning disabilities and quirks and I’ve noticed the devil plaguing me witb arrows of doubt and fear concerning his future. It was only recently that, in the middle of my prayer, I hear the still, small voice whisper to me, “Who told you?”

“Who told you your son would be destitute? Who told you he would forever struggle? Who told you he had to measure up to his peers?” The answer is obvious: not God. While our fears and worries make us feel like things are out of control, God so gently and meekly reminds us that those might be the messages of the world, but they are not HIS messages. This makes us then wonder: what does HE say?

In my case, He has promised protection and provision to my son, to hold him in His hands and make his paths straight. He promises a HOPE and a FUTURE, the total OPPOSITE of the lie the devil is always shoveling at me.

If you find yourself struggling with the same worry continually, ask yourself “WHO told me that?” Then replace those messages with what GOD actually says, himself. Repeat as necessary 🙂

The Weight of Holiness

I’ve long heard the story about the wheat and the chaff and how the Bible compares the chaff to the World and the wheat are the redeemed. But I recently learned an interesting fact about the threshing process. It seems when the dry wheat stalks are beaten, the chaff floats away and the wheat falls. Why? Because it is HEAVY.

You see, being holy can feel that way sometimes. Trials and temptations do not merely flip off your back like oil, no. It is struggle and wrestling, fasting and praying, spending time on your knees and in t he Word – and that can feel awfully heavy. But it is that weight, that weight of holiness that seeds us and makes us heavy enough to fall into the basket of salvation. It is the heaviness that saves us.

Falling Into the Fire

There is a photo of a fireman in fire. But in a particular photo, it shows a fireman falling INTO the fire. Purposefully. I was told this is because of the type of fire. THIS fire was a gasoline fire, and the flames only exist on the SURFACE. By falling INTO the fire, things fare better for him, being under the fire.

Life can be like that. We see problems looming before us and we want to run. But we can’t. Like the elementary school book, we can’t go over it, can’t go around it, we must go thru it.

But it is by going THRU the trial that things will get better. So we, like the firefighter, put on our best armor of prayer, faith and hope and press on.

What’s in a Name?

A name. It comes with meaning, reputation and, in some cases, entitlements. And it is very important to God.

From the beginning, in the Ten Commandments, we are told not to take God’s name in vain. We are to reverence Him, even down to His name.

Later, when dealing with the unruly Isrealites, God says He will rescue them from trouble “for the sake of His name.”

Usually, upon conversion, people would change their names (Abram became Abraham, Saul became Paul). Names are significant.

In the New Testament we are told “where two or more people are gathered in His name, He ((Christ) is there.” And later, we are told there is “NO OTHER NAME whereby men may be saved [other than Jesus].”

So, what’s in a name? Meaning, significance, reputation and, for one precious name, salvation! Praise God for His adoption to us!

Perfection: Satan’s Favorite Weapon for the Yuppie Mom

I’ve done it, and you probably have too: seen a pinterest looking photo of a neatly laid out Bible and devo book, complete with a cup of coffee and perhaps a fresh-cut bowl of flowers and I do it: vow that THIS will be the year I do THAT – have a daily, calm time set aside free of distractions for communing with my Lord. Yet, life doesn’t work that way for me, sadly. As soon as I sit to commune (even if I COULD find a clutter-free zone), the littles start fighting or the bigs need a ride somewhere…seems my ideal prayer time never evolves.

But, can I tell you, sister, that’s ok? While a idealic setting may feel nice to US, God knows where we live. He knows our busy, crazy lives. And here’s the good news: God doesn’t want to wait for a Pinterest worthy study space complete with Martha Stewart decor, He wants YOU. He wants you praying throughout the day under your breath as you head to carpool, he wants your prayers in carpool or while doing laundry. He doesn’t want to WAIT for you to prepare the ideal place – which, let’s f AC e it, might never happen. He wants YOU, now. Whether it’s midnight or 6 AM, at an outdoor getaway or in the tub. Just come to Him. Don’t let the devil’s tool of “perfection” keep you from coming to your Lord. He wants us all, where we are, just as we are.

New resolution for 2020: go to him continually, perfect space or not.

Embracing Simple

I grew up in a simple house, in a simple town – population 4,000. Russia got a McDonald’s before we did and, yes, entertainment comprised of “cruising the square” on Friday nights. I married an engineer, thinking my life would be spent in a same simple small town the rest of my life. HA HA. We just made our 10th move and I have to admit suburbia life has been hard for me. There are church holiday parties and subdivision parties, ladies second income parties, one-two-and even THREE hobbies PER KID some people do…it has been draining on me. Perhaps it was the way I was raised, on a quiet street on a quiet town? Who knows. But on THIS move, I’ve done something different: embraced the simple.

I used to feel bad or “less than” when i was overwhelmed with all the busy-ness that seems to accompany suburb/city life, but 4 words changed that: “That’s just not me”. Nothing is wrong with the church and suburb and sports, but “that’s not me.” I’m learning to let go of the guilt and embrace who God made me to be: a little more simple, a little “less”. And that’s OK.

What is it that you have been trying to “keep up” that you need to let go or change in 2020?