The Worst Day Ever

Last Friday was a day anticipated more than Christmas!  Through a school PTA fundraiser the girls were given a “Ride to School on a Firetruck.”  The girls waited patiently through the Christmas holiday for school to go back in session and for me to arrange their ride.  We got the arrangements made and the plan was for the truck to pick them up on Friday at 7 a.m.  The girls waited and waited, counting down each day of the week until finally the big day (Friday) came.

Everyone’s alarms went off at 6 a.m. on Friday, thirty minutes earlier than normal.  The kids shot out of bed, even though they went to bed over an hour late the night before, and raced to get ready.  I dragged out of bed, after having slept less than two hours, and threw on clothes piled on the floor that I had worn to work two days earlier.  (Truth and honesty here, right??)  Everyone was excited for the firetruck to arrive!   The girls because, hey, it’s a firetruck, and me so I didn’t have to hear them talk about it all day every day any more.

7 a.m. came.  7 a.m. went.  7:15 a.m. came.  7:15 a.m. went.  7:20 a.m. came, and Livi insisted that they forgot us.  7:25 a.m. came, and we all piled into my car and went to school.  Every morning I tell them the same thing: Have a super, awesome, fabulous, stupendous, amazingly incredible day.  Livi responded “This is the worst day ever!”  When I picked them up from school and asked “How was your day?”  they both responded “It was the worst day ever!”  I tried to console the girls by letting them know the ride was rescheduled to the following Friday.  They weren’t moved.

Finally the big day came.  This time the alarms went off at 6:15 (we learned how quickly we could get ready with some motivation last week) and everyone, including myself, hurriedly got ready.  It was another successful morning of everyone fed and ready by 7 a.m.! 7 a.m. came.  7 a.m. went.  7:15 a.m. came.  7:15 a.m. went.  7:25 a.m. came, and we all piled into my car and went to school.  Livi insisted that the firemen forgot them and that I was a liar for saying they probably had an emergency like last week.  When I dropped them off at school with their standard morning encouragement, Livi once again responded “This is the worst day ever!”.

After making some arrangements, I surprised the girls by picking them up 15 minutes early from school.  Both girls were truly surprised when they saw the firetruck sitting outside the school waiting to take them home.  The firemen were incredible and drove them all over town.  They let us wear the headsets, and we talked and laughed the whole time.  It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  At the end, as we walked up the driveway after waving goodbye to the firetruck, everyone agreed it had been the best day ever.

God’s plan in our lives works the same.  We see the pain of today, but God sees the hope in tomorrow.  We see the mess of right now, but God sees the beauty in the future.  We feel the hurt in this moment, but God sees the joy in days to come.  What may feel like “the worst day ever” may actually be “the best day ever”.  Don’t let waiting for your firetruck make you miss your ride to school.

Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Isaiah 14:24 – The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”

2 Chronicles 20:6 – And said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven?  You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.  In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Stillness In Movement

It recently struck me how still you are while driving in a vehicle.  Sounds pretty dumb, maybe everyone else has realized this already, but for me it hit like a ton of bricks.  I was driving a golf cart down the road (this is a normal everyday occurrence in our community), wind whipping my hair, sun warming my face, and I was enjoying the stillness of life.  Then I realized that I was enjoying the still even though moving 28 mph.

Life flies by us.  We have errands to run, people to meet, meetings to attend, kids to chase and general busyness.  At the end of our day, we look around wondering, “Where did my day go?”  We promise ourselves that tomorrow will be different, we will say “no” more than we say “yes” to commitments.  We reassure ourselves that we aren’t a bad friend for not texting back because we ran out of time.  Then the next day ends the same as before, and we tell ourselves “I’m not enough.”

Sister, that’s a lie.  Don’t lose sight of the reality that, while you are flying through life, you are also living.  Be kind to yourself.  You ARE enough.  No one has perfect balance in their life.  That doesn’t mean don’t strive towards it, it simply means give yourself some grace to live life and be messy.

Every moment of every day you can choose whether or not you want to get caught up in the chaos of the moment, or if you want to enjoy the stillness of the moment.  When you’re frantically packing lunches in the morning before school, pray in your mind that God would bless your children when they eat the food.  When you’re racing from one event to the next, pray that God would use you to encourage someone when you arrive.  When you feel “not enough”, pray that God would be “enough” for you, that He would fill the gap.  Pray for yourself that you would feel loved in your messiness of life.

Today I choose to be still in the movement of life.  I pray that God would help me feel adequate and enough.

2 Corinthians 3:5 – Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 3:1 – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Breaking Your Chains

I used to live life in heavy chains of guilt and shame.  I remember one day in particular.  Addy and I went to McDonalds after getting her dad’s drug test results.  She was 18 months old and had no clue what was going on, other than she got to play and eat ice-cream.  I, on the other hand, needed a public place so that I could breathe and make sure I wouldn’t fall apart in front of her.

I remember feeling so lost that day.  I was a believer, I had recommitted my life to Christ, yet I felt such overwhelming crushing bondage.  The Bible teaches that we have freedom in Christ, so why did I feel such death upon my life?

Satan whispers in our ears that we are alone in our shame, alone in our grief, alone in our guilt.  There couldn’t be anything further from the truth.  Look around at the people in your life.  They each have a story.  It’s probably a juicy, drama-filled story that you’d never believe in a million years.  It is also through those stories that Christ’s glory shines the most.

The recognition of guilt and shame is the first step.  Turn that feeling, that emotion, over to God.  Pray over your shame.  Pray over your guilt and grief.  Fully give them over to God from your heart.  Take them off your “I feel” list and put them on God’s “I redeemed” list.  Then each time the thought of you being ‘less than’ (shame, fear, guilt) arises, instantly call it out, stop it dead in its tracks, and turn it over to God.

Christ has already conquered Satan by Jesus’ death and resurrection, don’t give him any ground in your life.  Call a spade a spade, call a lie a lie.  You are loved, redeemed, delighted in, rejoiced over, precious and honored.  You are my brother and sister in Christ and I am honored to do messy life with you.

**Note: Great resource that was incredibly impactful for me going through guilt and shame from my divorce was Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler.  Here is a link to the book (you can also get used ones for around $4) and his videos are free on YouTube.  It is such an incredible life changing study.  Everyone needs to do it.  I’m currently completing it for the 3rd time. 🙂

Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 8:1 – There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 43:25 – I, I am the one who blots out your transgression for my own sake, and I’ll remember your sins no more.

Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the devil.

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

So Lush and Green!

My favorite road to drive down is Ottinger Rd. in Westlake, TX.  The trees on opposite sides of the road are so full and lush that they form a canopy over the road.  When you drive you’re transformed into a different world, one of beauty and possibility.

Here lately the trees have been extra green and the grass has been extra lush.  We’ve had rain almost every day for the last week, and the landscape is loving the relief from the heat of summer.  It makes the drive down Ottinger that much sweeter.

Just like the grass and trees, we, as individuals, can’t grow without the rain.  Sometimes rain in our life is gentle, sometimes the rain is a harsh, pounding storm.  For whatever reason (probably my own hard headedness!), my life seems to be comprised of more hurricanes and tornadoes than gentle lulling rain showers.

It’s through the greatest trials in life that God’s glory can shine the brightest.  God uses our sufferings in life to reach others for Christ in a way that only God could orchestrate.  He has grown my trees, watered them abundantly and woven them together intricately to display his beauty through his creation, my life.

Our lives are on display for all to see, dead or alive, messy or clean, perfect or not.  I pray my life appears abundant and lush like the trees on Ottinger Rd., and I pray that God continues to bring me storms so that I might continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of Him.

Check out The Day of the Ugly Cry and also Blessings by Laura Story for additional encouragement.

Romans 5:3-5 – Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 8:17-18 – Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

James 1:12 – Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

No Perfection Here

My life is messy, like stupid messy.  It’s highly likely that I bring all the drama on myself; however, I presently choose to live in denial on that subject.  You definitely won’t find the key to stress-free living on this blog!  Hopefully, to God be the Glory, you will find hope, joy, love, grace and mercy-filled living, though!

My heart has recently been greatly burdened by a personal ongoing trial.  It’s the kind where the situation’s tentacles reach into every orifice of every facet of your life.  I felt  so lost and overwhelmed (and still struggle with those emotions!).  My quiet time consisted of a lot of tears, a little snot and an empty heart.  I cried out “God, I don’t know what I’m doing!”  I was lost and seeking resolution to my hurt and relief for my pain.

When you have those situations where you don’t know what to do, pray to God.  Surrender control of the situation to Him.  He has all the answers and, not just the answers, but the perfect answers.  When you are lost and don’t know which way is up, pray to God that He show you the way.  Looking for God’s direction?  Stop, pray, seek and ye shall find.

It’s painful when sometimes the answer is “wait” while we are amidst our suffering.  There’s no clear “solution” to my situation at the moment.  There’s no do or don’t do, stay or go, lift or drop.  That means the solution is to wait and pray.  My calling at this moment is to love God and that includes loving Him through my suffering.

I pray that God would bless others through the trials in each of our lives.  Live your life as a witness to God’s grace, love, mercy, joy and hope.  May God be glorified through our sufferings and pain.  Lord give us the strength and wisdom to surrender all to you even when it hurts.  Bless, encourage and uplift us as we weep at your feet.

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

Philippians 4:7-9 – And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Psalm 31:7-8 – I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.

Everything Dies

This post may be more therapeutic than purposeful but I pray God will weave His words through my fingers so that He will be glorified, and that His glorification will find its way to your heart.

Our AC unit is a year and a half old.  People kept saying it was too hot in our house for it to be working properly, but I lived in denial.  I didn’t want to have an AC problem.  We called a repair company out, and then another and another.  Our lifetime warranty with the original installers apparently meant nothing since they are now out of business, and you hear “your call cannot be completed as dialed” when you call them.

A couple of days later, the dishwasher died.  We knew that it was dying for a while but, with everything else going on in life, we ignored the problem until one day it was done.  We’ve been without a dishwasher for three weeks now.

Then a couple of days after that, our two-year-old, still-under-manufacturer’s-warranty fridge died.  It’s been almost three weeks and we still don’t have a fridge.  Samsung told us Thursday that it isn’t repairable.

All within 6 days.  It has been an interesting last three weeks to say the least.

What situations in your life are you ignoring until you are forced to confront them?  What relationships are you neglecting?  What are you turning a blind eye to?

Had I fixed the dishwasher when it first started going out we wouldn’t have been without a dishwasher for a month.  Had we used a reputable AC company instead of trying to save money we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now.  Not everything is fixable, some things can’t be saved, but you do move forward.

I urge you today to address those situations which you’ve been ignoring.  Seek repair in the relationships you find the most trying.  And don’t forget about repair in our relationship with Christ.  Without repair in our relationship with Christ no other repair is possible.

You may not have the same job, the same friends, or even the same house (I’m frustrated with ours at the moment, venting!), but you will always have the same God.  He loves you even through all this mess.  He wants nothing more than to walk you through the repair and break the cycle of fear, anger, remorse and grief.

Everything dies and is made new in Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Philippians 4:12-13 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

1 Peter 5:10 – And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

Photo by Vali S. from Pexels

The Day of the Ugly Cry

We’ve all had the ugly cry.  The one with tears pouring down uncontrollably.  Snot running, mixing with the tears, no tissues within sight.  Shoulders heaving, chest tightening, body in uncontrollable waves of sobs.  That ugly cry.  We each have a memory that comes to mind when someone says “ugly cry.”  When we are at our absolute lowest of lows, God is there.  He lifts our face and smiles love and hope into our hearts.  That doesn’t always mean it is puppy dogs, rainbows and unicorns though.  (Can you tell I have two little girls?)

I’ve had two big “God gripping my life” ugly cries.  It seems when God needs to get my attention gentle words aren’t effective; I need my head beat against the concrete instead, but I digress.  First ugly cry was the Sunday after I filed for divorce.  Yes, Christians can be divorced, we sin just like the next person (another blog for another day).  That was the first time in many years that I attended church and I sobbed through the entire sermon.  I don’t think I heard a word the pastor said and found myself sobbing and weeping at the front steps of the sanctuary begging for absolution of my sin and confirmation of my salvation in Christ.  (Luke 7:36-50 was me!) That was 8.5 years ago.

The second big ugly cry was in the parking lot at UT Southwestern before my neurosurgeon appointment, to receive a 3rd opinion on my spine and neurological diagnosis.  The first two opinions were not encouraging.  I prayed harder than I’d ever prayed for longer than I’d ever prayed just for that one appointment.  Seriously, when the Bible talks about praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:16-18) that’s what I was doing, for weeks!  Before walking in for the appointment it came down to do I really believe that God is good?  Do I really believe that living the rest of my life in constant nerve pain that cannot be medically improved is God’s best and God’s “good”?  How could a good God really do that in my life?

I decided before I walked in to the appointment that God was good, no matter what.  Then I wiped all the snot and tears away, using at least 10 napkins, gathered myself (and water because I was dehydrated after all that!) and went inside.  The appointment didn’t go well.  I didn’t get good news and the doctor didn’t have the best delivery of the unfortunate news.

However God is good, and he is faithful.  He has used my journey of pain and suffering to reach others for Christ in the most miraculous ways one could imagine.  I met a random woman suffering in constant pain at the exact moment her husband was across the world in the Sea of Galilee praying for help for her pain.  God gave us to each other to love and mentor each other through this journey.  She is now pain free, I am not.  And that’s okay.  I’ve been able to share Christ openly in several doctors offices.  Nurses have been able to see the example of my love and joy through suffering and have received encouragement.

God has used my pain for His glory.  He has used my suffering for His glory.  But the biggest result of my big ugly cries was God changing MY heart towards Him.  I had to pray incessantly to God which forged a new level of relationship with Christ.  He taught me to trust Him even when it doesn’t feel good.  God lifted my head, ignoring my running snot, looked into my eyes and said “Peace be with you.” (Philippians 4:7 ringing in my head).  God taught me it isn’t about this moment, it’s about the future discipleship of others using the giftedness God has given me, which includes my pain.  My pain is a gift from God.  And God is good.

If you are struggling today my friend, be encouraged; God is WITH you and God is FOR you!  He will absolutely give you more than you can handle just so you will rely on Him to make it through.  If you are having a hard time, I encourage you to sit and worship with these songs today: “Blessings” by Laura Story, “Thy Will” by Hilary Scott, and “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix.  These three songs have gotten me through the last 9+ years of pain and worship, worship in pain.

Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 29:11 – The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 54:10 – Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.