A Season of Hope-Filled Longing

winter

Pine needles and cinnamon. Nutmeg and spiced wine. Holly berries and gingerbread.

All of these speak to my heart, reminding me that the Christmas season is upon us. There is a familiarity, warmth and excitement to it all.

Yet there is also a longing.

And the older I get, the greater that longing becomes. It’s a deep ache, not an acute pain. The kind you almost forget that is there. Until it rears up all of the sudden and claws at your insides, much like a hunger pain, telling you that something is amiss, something is lacking.

That is kind of how I feel about Christmas.

Yes, there is so much festivity and fun and yumminess to the season. Yes, I delight in watching my children open their presents with giddy anticipation and cherish their shouts of joy and laughter and smiles.

And yes, of course it is a joy to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, to rejoice as the shepherds and wise men did when they heard that the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah, had finally arrived!

But there is still a longing. An ache that wants to be filled. An awareness that this is not all there is.

And so I wait.

Expectantly. With hope. With giddy anticipation and child-like joy. Because I know what is to come, what is waiting beneath that tree, what is inside that tiny little gift box, wrapped up, perhaps simply, but which contains the most precious treasure in all the world.

Come, Lord Jesus, come. O come, Emmanuel.

 

 

 

Washed Whiter Than Snow

white-as-snow

As a little girl, I remember all those Sunday mornings when my mom, brother and I would climb the stairs together, up to the second floor of that small town Baptist church to find our seats, tucked into that same little corner where the curved wooden pew wrapped around the balcony, overlooking row after row of people down below.

I remember adoring one hymn, in particular, and how I always hoped we would sing it because it spoke right to my heart. The lyrics created word pictures in my mind:

I hear the Savior say, 
Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray, 
Find in Me thine all in all.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, 
He washed it white as snow.

As a girl of 8 or 9 years of age, I didn’t have much life experience. I didn’t have deep things to feel shame over. I doubt I even grasped the concept of sin.

But I do know this: my spirit stirred within me at those words.

Something in my heart said:

YES! This is what my soul needs! This is what I long for. Oh, how I want to be made clean! Oh, how I want to be washed whiter than snow. Wash me, Lord! Cleanse me with your hyssop branch and remove the crimson stain on my soul.

I cannot tell you how or why my heart told me I needed to be washed, that I had a deep, permanent stain on the inside, somewhere I could not reach on my own.

But each time I sang the words of that hymn, ‘sin had left a crimson stain, you washed it white as snow‘ my heart and soul cried out within me, sucking in that breath of fresh air as if I had been underwater for an agonizing amount of time.

Oh, how I wish the world’s advice could be true. How I wish we could heal ourselves. Trust me, I’ve tried. Time and time again. We say things like: Forgive yourself. Keep calm and carry on. Everyone makes mistakes. Accept who you are. Live with no regrets. Let go. Move on. Believe in yourself.

But for me, without the power to change, they are just words. Empty, powerless words. Words that sound good and true and right at the time. But when tried and tested, they can never remove the burden I carry. They can never transform or liberate or empower. In fact, they often do just the opposite – they defeat me. They make me feel worse. And I know, deep down, that no matter what I do, I cannot rid myself of that dark, heavy, dirty, empty, scary feeling inside that slowly suffocates me.

I don’t like the idea that Jesus had to die for us. I don’t like the idea of needing a blood sacrifice to atone for our sins. And honestly, I don’t like the idea of needing saving. Who does?

But I cherish the idea of being washed, made clean, whole again, free, unburdened, unhindered, and deeply precious in His sight.

I don’t know where you are on your faith journey. Or if you are even on one. But I do know this: I have sought Him and found Him. I have knocked and He opened the door. I have searched for Him, high and low, as eagerly as if I was looking for a buried treasure and He made Himself be found.

For you, He waits. He whispers. He gently woos. Quiet your soul. Let Him speak to your heart. If you are willing, He will mend your wounds, He will heal your scars, and He will wash your crimson stains and make you whiter than snow.

 

A Divine Encounter with a Polar Bear

It wasn’t our family’s first time to the zoo. More like the 15th. But it never gets old. There is always something new and wonderful to discover. Whether it’s a couple of cute little spider monkeys playing tag in the treetops or a line of penguins eagerly awaiting their turn to slide down the icy slopes belly-first into the frigid water, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring entertainment from the animal kingdom.

But on this visit, I didn’t expect it to come from a polar bear. Bears aren’t exactly exciting to watch, at the zoo, at least. Except for the occasional nosing a ball or eating a fish, they are usually sleeping.

But on that day, we were in luck. A brand polar bear exhibit had just been finished. His facility was impressive. With an enormous expanse of mountainous rock to climb on and a 12 foot deep ice cold tank of water to swim in, he looked pretty excited about his new digs.

We walked up to the glass and stood behind a crowd of school children. I have never seen a polar bear swim. On land, they move slowly, waddling about like most bears do. But in the water, oh my. This guy was GORGEOUS. Every stroke was majestic. His huge, enormous dog-like paws paddled through the water like powerful oars, propelling him forward. He would push off the bank with one paw and shoot across like a rocket to the other bank, back and forth, in a playful manner. Then he’d climb up onto a rock and dive back in, sending a tremendous gush of water into the air that splashed the glass, much to all of our enjoyment.

At some point, a group of school children were so tickled with his antics that they started chanting, “Dive! Dive! Dive!” He knew how to play to his audience, let me tell you. He started pretending to play with a ball, facing the other direction, but as the kids chanted louder and louder, he lift his nose into the air, as if to say, “Is that the best you can do?” and then suddenly, he would turn towards us and dive straight down into the bottom of the tank, sending an enormous wave of water crashing into the glass. We all cheered and chanted and he would do it again and again.

He reminded me of the Pink Dragon from The Never Ending Story. One of those creatures that looks too enormous to be majestic, but shockingly graceful. Powerful and elegant all at once.

I stood there experiencing a deep sense of awe for my Creator. It was a worship-full moment, watching this majestic creature play and show off his strength and beauty, all the while, recognizing that the Great Creator made him. The same Creator who made the earth and the sky and the sea. As Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky reveals His handiwork…”

Could science have done this? Perhaps. But oh, when you take a look at the world through the eyes of one who believes in a good and awesome God that created animals like the polar bear with intricate thought and design, you can’t help but be inspired to worship Him.

Thank you, Father, for a glimpse of You today when I saw that polar bear.

And, in the words of my daughter, “Mommy, I think there will be polar bears in heaven. But they will be nice.”

Amen, sista. I can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Peace in the Midst of A Storm

hurricane

My storm came while I was in the throes of what is normally an exhausting season for anyone – that season of parenting little ones, a time when you are going on little sleep and just trying to take care of the basic needs of your family.

I think I struggled with depression before. I can see that now. It usually came on during seasons of change. Like after graduating from college or post-honeymoon or post-partum. But those were nothing like this.

This was a different kind of low. A low that felt like I was falling. Like I had no control. And stranger yet, there was a part of me that wanted to fall and not try to fight it. I just felt so tired. So done with doing life as I had been doing it. It felt easier to let the darkness win, to let it envelop me in its soft, heavy weight.

My first panic attack occurred at my children’s preschool. It was something about the floor. The design in the carpet suddenly became this swirling beast that was jumping out at me. Of course, I knew this was not logical and chocked it up to lack of sleep, so I pressed on and continued down the hall to pick up my kids.

On my way out, I collapsed. All I remember is being half-carried out on my friend’s shoulders and the shoulders of another teacher into the lobby. I didn’t know what was happening, the only thing I remember is that my arms felt like they were on fire. Painfully so.

In the parking lot, my friends prayed for me and then called my husband, who took me to the emergency room.

In the weeks and months following, I experienced waves of intense panic attacks multiple times a day. After each one, it felt like my body had run a marathon. I would sleep for hours afterwards, totally spent. I started going to bed around 7pm every night and sometimes sleeping until noon the next day.

Of course, my husband was worried. We knew this was not a schedule we could keep running on. One of the first people he called was our pastor, who quickly began reaching out to his network of doctors, counselors, and therapists.

At first, my husband and I assumed this phase would pass. But when weeks turned to months, we knew we had to adjust to this ‘new normal’.

I didn’t feel normal. I felt like I was going crazy. And that fear just made things worse.

For the next 3 years, I saw a slew of therapists and doctors who helped me understand what was happening and how to regulate my body when the attacks came on.

I could barely drive my kids to school. The sun felt too bright. The buses were too loud. The bumps in the road were too jolting. Lawnmowers and blowers grated on my nerves.

I was ashamed, embarrassed, and intensely critical of myself.

My inner dialogue would go something like this:

What is wrong with you? Get your stuff together! You are a mom! You need to function for your family. You have so much to be grateful for! Stop wallowing.”

Of course, none of that helped.

It was frightening and humiliating and exhausting all at once.

But oh, how gracious God was in the midst of this storm. Rarely has he given me a tangible dose of his presence in dark times. But I think he knew I needed something to hold onto.

I am a dreamer. Literally, I dream in vivid colors and scenes, which often inspires my writing. So, oh! How tender and compassionate was it that the Lord gave me visual images of hope that I could hang on to!

It was often when I was curled up in a ball in the closet that these images came to my mind:

1) A hurricane. Fierce winds battered my body, trying to rip me away into utter darkness, but I was holding onto something; a wooden post; just a simple wooden post; as the storm whirled around me. As long as I held onto that post, I felt safe. It was my anchor. I believe that was Jesus. His tangible presence saying: “I’ve got you. Cling to me. You don’t have to be afraid. I am right here.”

2) The second image He gave me was: a knotted rope hanging down from the sky, not a stormy sky, but a bright blue sky dotted with wispy white clouds; and a voice, soft and tender saying ‘Hold on. Just reach out and hold on. This will pass.’ But then I remember thinking, ‘What if I can’t hold on? What if I let go?” And in response, He gave me a vision of an enormous hand, palm facing up, hovering just below the rope, ready to catch me if I fell. And a voice said, “I am right here. I’ve got you. Trust me in this.”

I clung to those images every time I had a panic attack over the next 3 years. I would repeat His promises every time a fearful wave washed over me.

And to me, that act of holding onto the wooden post or grabbing the rope that hung from the sky didn’t mean that I should just muster up the strength to hold on. Because I physically had none. I felt like a weak and wounded animal.

No…the action was in my faith. A faith to bear the storm and wait for it to pass. A faith to grab the rope even when I didn’t think I could. It was a faith in God, in His presence, His protection, His provision, and His mercy, even in the midst of the darkest storm.

And like all storms, this one eventually passed. Today, I am able to function again for my family and for that I am deeply grateful. But I will say, I have not experienced a tangible dose of His presence like that ever since. It was a sweet and precious gift He knew I needed in that moment. Not for every day, but for that particular storm.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped.”

Psalm 28:7

A Soft Answer Turns Away Wrath

hulk     gentleness

This post is going to be short and sweet. I seem to have smaller and smaller windows to write. Please forgive the stream-of-consciousness style – I know this breaks so many blogging rules. But I need to just get my thoughts down on paper/computer.

Here’s what I’ve been chewing on lately:

Proverbs 15:1: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I’ve chosen this verse because well, I have a REALLY hard time not responding in anger to any anger or rudeness or unkindness that is projected towards me. This mainly pertains to parenting, because that’s where I am right now – in the thick of it – but it can also apply to marriage, family and friendships.

My sweet 6 year old said: “Mommy, when I get angry I just can’t keep it inside. It wants to come out so bad.”

Sweet bud. I get it. I totally get it. I’ve heard it said that anger is a surface emotion; that there’s always something deeper going on. But I’m not going to try and analyze that today.

Here’s what I am learning right now:

  • Responding to anger with more anger just doesn’t work. It feels ‘deserved’ in the moment, but in the end, it just makes ME feel worse and hurts the other person (which is sometimes my goal in the moment, but it has damaging long-term consequences).
  • As hard as it is to do so: Responding to harshness with a GENTLE WORD really DOES work. I know because I’ve been experimenting with it. My sweet little 6 year old has a lot of BIG emotions. Just like his mommy. As ‘outrageous’ as his behavior seems in the moment, it’s not worth getting all worked up about. I’m tired of feeling terrible for yelling at him. I’m tired of seeing that look on his eyes of shame and sadness and a sense that he is trapped, like he wants to stop doing what he’s doing, but he doesn’t know how and doesn’t know if he could even control it if he could because it’s just so big and strong and takes over his mind and body. Oh buddy, I know that feeling! And it can be scary and produce intense shame. I think of Paul’s quote: I do what I don’t want to do and the things I want to do I don’t do! Is this not the human experience?!
  • When you have big emotions as a kid, it’s hard to know what to do with them. I felt ashamed a lot as a young girl. I had anger that I didn’t know how to handle. I wish I’d had a tool box, some quick things I could pull out and use to express my anger without being destructive or hurtful.

Here are some things in my toolbox with my son:

Physical touch – as HARD as it is to cuddle with him, much less be around him after he has exploded on me, I know that he CRAVES physical touch. Rubbing his back, giving him a big bear hug, or tousling his hair is very soothing for him. He has a lot of flailing fits and sometimes it seems like his very own body is crying out saying, “Mommy, I need some boundaries! Hold me tight! Don’t let me get out of control.” And oh buddy, do I understand that sense of feeling out of control. So scary. Yet so normal.

Soft answers – Back to the point of this post: responding with a soft word is KEY. I don’t do it every time and often times, I’m too pissed to say a single word. But the phrase I often use to de-escalate things is: “Oh buddy…what’s going on?” It is one of compassion and concern, not judgment. Sometimes, it just makes him angrier. But lately, he’s even been able to identify his emotions and say “Mommy, I am feeling really angry right now.” And I see that as HUGE progress – an ability to recognize his emotions!

Share my struggles/tools –   I usually start by sharing my own tools I use when I get angry. I’ll say something like: When Mommy is angry, sometimes I go for a run. Sometimes Mommy has a glass of wine. Sometimes Mommy goes back to her bedroom, puts on the sound machine and sound proof headphones and cuddles up in her soft sheets to calm herself down.

Ask him to identify his tools – It was amazing to see how quickly he could list off several things that helped him calm down! Things like listening to a book on tape, cuddling up with his soft animals, hiding in his ‘tent’ or climbing to the top of his treehouse are all things that help him calm down. Now, when he gets angry, we’ve got this rhythm where he can articulate “Mommy, I’m feeling angry” and I can say: “well, what tool are you going to use right now?” It doesn’t go exactly like that, let’s be honest. But on a good day, hopefully somewhere along those lines.

My point: We all have big emotions. We all have a hard time expressing them in ways that don’t hurt ourselves or others. But instead of responding to anger/rudeness/whatever negative emotion you want to choose with MORE anger (hello our political debate these days…ugh!), try responding with Grace and Gentleness.

Yep, that guy just cut me off (now that I drive a mini-van I feel like everyone thinks they can cut me off! JERKS!). But I can choose to turn on some soothing music, take a deep breath, smile and move on or spend the next 15 minutes cursing him under my breath and trying to ride his bumper as close as possible to make sure he knows I’m pissed and am not going to let him off the hook that easy. He will pay. Not that I’ve ever done that.

But HOW? 

I don’t think we do this just out of sheer good will or karma or to tap into some vague ethereal Energy Source out there that everyone has a different name for but no one really understands what He/She/It asks/expects of them. Talk about powerless. Nope. My source of power is REAL and pretty dang SPECIFIC.

Jesus.

Isn’t that exactly what He did for us? He responded to ugliness and hatred and sin with love and forgiveness and mercy. He could have climbed down off that cross and sent his angels to give us the smack down or well, he could’ve given us the smack down himself and sent us to who knows where, but he said: No, that is not the way. I’m going to show them I love them. They don’t deserve it, but I want to lavish my love upon them. It is the GRACE upon Grace, His endless mercies, His kindness poured out on me despite my undeserving it that has lead me after all these years, and hopefully my children some day, to repent of anything in my self that thinks I’ve ‘earned’ it. All of it is grace. A gift of grace. And that is where the power lies…

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned in 11 Years of Marriage

marriage

“We just think differently!”

I uttered this phrase in irritation, many years ago, while driving around an unfamiliar city and helping my husband navigate from the passenger seat. Can you relate? Two people with a very different sense of direction and driving style are trying to get to x location. One makes decisions on gut, one uses logic.

That day, when he was asking me where to turn, I said something like, ‘after that gas station.’ He was expecting a street name. We missed the turn (how?!) and well, we were both annoyed. I think I threw the GPS down onto the floorboard in exasperation and said, “We just think differently!”

That was long ago, but we often quote that phrase in laughter now, realizing it captures a deep truth: We DO think differently. How we view the world and people and work and purpose and free time and friendship and parenting is different. It took me a LONG time to realize, accept and even appreciate this fact. Because well, it’s easy to view differences as wrong or weird. Now, I try to put myself in his shoes and see the world from his perspective (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!).

Know your spouse’s personality. 

On the Meyers Briggs, I am an ENFP, my husband is an INTJ. He is introverted, I am not. He is a thinker, I am a feeler. He likes to have a plan, I do not. It’s taken me 10+ years to realize this is HUGE in marriage, something that you have to pay attention to and respect in your spouse. Otherwise, big conflict will occur. What is refreshing to me is not necessarily refreshing to him. What appears to be ‘order’ to me is ‘disorder’ to him. (i.e., I like to keep the general living area tidy, but stuff things in closets in haphazard piles that may fall on top of you if you dare open the door. He likes things to have a home, assigned to a specific place in bins with labels or hanging on hooks and such!). On the weekends, he likes to be productive: run errands, do yard work,  catch up on bills. And well, I wake up and say: what fun thing can we do today? We are good for each other. He helps me create structure, I help him enjoy the moment.

Be a Team.

Early on in marriage, my husband would constantly say: I’m on your team. Let’s be a team. It really annoyed me. What the heck does that even mean? Over the years I’ve learned it means that in stressful moments and times of conflict, we try to work together, rather than back into corners and bring out our big guns. Easier said than done, I know. When his schedule his crazy, I try to be compassionate and willing to pick up the slack without resentment. I accept the fact that our duties will rarely be ‘even.’ But when I put his needs before my own (with healthy limits, of course) and try to understand what is causing him stress, things tend to go much more smoothly. Many tense moments have dissipated when I’ve chosen not to respond in anger, but instead, with tenderness and compassion by trying to understand where he’s coming from and why he’s stressed (and yes, sometimes that means just keeping quiet until I can respond with a kind word). It’s not easy, but it makes a world of difference.

Know Your Spouse’s Love Language.

I’ve always thought that book was a bit cheesy, but I’ve come to see the value in this concept. If your spouse feels loved through acts of service, find ways to serve them. If quality time is the key to their heart, make it a priority. This sounds easy in theory, but when life is hectic and kids and work and schedules demand your time and energy, it’s easy to let this fall by the wayside and just do life in constant survival mode, when you can barely tend to your own needs, much less think about those of your spouse! That’s often when little things become big things. When I don’t feel loved, I go defensive and hear everything as criticism.

Be Intentional with Your Time.

Everybody says this, but again, what does this really mean? Here’s what I’ve learned: as a people-pleasing extrovert, I tend to overschedule myself so that I am completely spent by the time my husband comes home at the end of the day. I work part-time, which is very different from the norm, where both have full-time careers. But even when both of us were working full-time, I had some choice in how I spent my time. I could choose to book my evenings with girlfriends and work-outs and church events and errands. I could choose to work that extra shift because I hate to say no. I could choose to serve on that committee even though I’m already serving on 3 others. I could choose to stay up late and be a grump for our date night the following evening. In all of these things, we have some choice. This is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn (and am still learning!) – being disciplined with my time and what I say yes to so that I do not sacrifice time and energy with my family. The more I pour out outside my home, the less I have to give to my family.

Accept Flaws.

There are things in myself and my spouse that will probably never change this side of heaven. We all have selfish tendencies that can hurt and isolate others. Yes, God can refine and even change those things with the help of prayer and gentle feedback from our spouses. But they may never fully go away. Accept your spouse’s weaknesses by acknowledging your own.

Forgive Quickly.

I tend to be the first one to ask forgiveness. That’s the people pleaser in me that can’t handle unresolved tension. I could choose to get annoyed and resent that fact by keeping a mental tally in my head and priding myself on how humble and saintly I am every time I move towards my spouse first. But that’s not truly seeking forgiveness. That’s actually rooted in pride. And my husband sees through it every time. Over the years, my husband has been the one to move towards me more often. It’s beautiful. It’s what a marriage is meant to do – soften our hard edges and help us become more like Christ – full of humility and love.

Hope and Encourage His Best Self. 

One of my favorite books is “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis. It’s a story of a bus full of people who take a trip to heaven (from hell!). They meet several individuals, many of whom had no status or impressive qualities about them while on earth. But now, they have become radiant people, full of light and love and laughter. We all have a ‘best self,’ a fuller and more complete version of ourselves. I’ve heard some theologian say (?), we are most fully human when we are walking in the ways God intended us to walk, using the gifts and abilities He has given us to honor Him and bless others. That’s when we begin to truly thrive. We are not hoarding our gifts or being selfish with our time. We cling loosely to the things of this world and have a peace about us no matter what the circumstances are around us.

I bet you can imagine what that looks like for your spouse. What does it mean for him to thrive where he is right now, using the gifts God has given him to bless those around him? Let’s HOPE in that vision for our spouses, let’s ENCOURAGE them to walk towards that fuller self, not with nagging or nitpicking, but with prayer and patience and hope, just as we ask that they do the same for us.

Father, give us the power to love and forgive and hope in our marriages. Help us to throw off the sin that so easily entangles – anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from our lips. Help us to lay our burdens at the cross, leaning on You as our Strength and our Refuge, rather than expecting our spouses to bear all of our burdens, those things that only You can carry. Let our marriages be full of light and life and faithfulness, that they may bring You praise and point others to You. Amen.

What Walking by Faith Looks Like to Me

forest

I remember as a little girl how I would often talk and sing to God. Like a friend. Like a father. My favorite place to spend time with Him was in the outdoors, in the wildness of nature, beneath a lovely canopy of oaks or near a gently flowing stream. There is something about the quiet and peacefulness of the forest that has always soothed my soul and lifted my heart towards heaven.

bubbling brook

It’s our secret place, a hidden refuge, where me and God can spend time together.

I wonder sometimes if I’m abnormal, the fact I began talking to God early on, even as a young girl. Having lost my father when I was only four years old, perhaps God knew I needed a tangible dose of His presence in my life. For that, I am deeply grateful.

Faith, I do believe, is a gift.

But it is not an exclusive one.

It is available to anyone who seeks after it, who desires to receive it. As Jesus mentions in the parables, it is a hidden treasure, a gold coin, a string of pearls. While it may require some searching, some perseverance and possibly even some suffering before you find it, it’s there. And once you have it, it is like a precious jewel, full of incredible worth and beauty and power that nothing else compares to it.

 

But walking by faith is a process, a lifelong journey, full of highs and lows, mistakes and doubts, but also hope in what’s to come.

Ways I can choose to either walk by faith or by sight:

  • When I look at the events of the world around me, I wonder: Do you care God? Are you going to step in? Why are you letting evil win? Therein, lies a choice: I can choose to doubt His goodness and His power and His sovereignty over all things and become hard-hearted. Or I can pray: Father, I trust that Your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts. I trust that You are in control, even when it doesn’t look like it. I trust in Your goodness and lean on the promise that You are making all things new and that one day, there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain.
  • When my children throw tantrums, when they fight, yell, and scream, why they are outright defiant and disobedient to me or other adults, I cry out: Lord, I don’t know how to do this! Am I doing this wrong? I’m terrible at this! Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mom! But then I hear you say: You have everything You need. Lean on me and I will equip you with the wisdom and discernment to parent these precious children.
  • When I see a friend hurting whose suffering just seems to continue with no end, I wonder: Lord, when will you let up? Isn’t it enough already? To which you respond: Trust me, my child. I am working in her life, just as I am in yours. No suffering is pleasant at the time, but I have a plan and it is good. I am working all things together for good, even when you cannot see it. Trust me. One day, you will see.
  • When I look at myself in the mirror and see the wrinkles and saggy skin, I think: Oh Lord, I don’t like growing old! I’m not pretty anymore. My body isn’t the same as it used to be. Does everyone say: My, how she’s aged? Should I get Botox?!?! A tummy tuck? A boob job (lift)? To which You respond: Oh my precious one, you are beautiful. You are the apple of My eye. Outward beauty is fleeting. But inner beauty, that which fills your heart and mind and what you meditate on, desire and worship most, is everlasting. (He hasn’t answered me on the Botox/tummy tuck/boob job question!).
  • When someone hurts me or angers me, my tendency is to distance myself, to avoid, to back away, to be silent. But then You whisper: They are precious in my sight, too, my child. Love them, just as I have loved you. Forgive them, just as I have forgiven you. Lean on Me for the power and wisdom and desire to do this, for while this seems impossible for some, you know that nothing is impossible with Me.

For me, walking by faith is a choice, an act of surrender, a willingness to submit to the One who is greater than me, the One who reigns over all things, in heaven and on earth, and who will one day establish His kingdom over all peoples and nations and tribes and languages.

Each day, I have a choice. I can demand my rights, cling to my comforts and sulk in my sin, or I can choose to walk by faith, leaning on His grace and love and power, laying all of my needs, my fears, my wants, my hurts and my hopes at His feet.