Snow Days

I find myself surrounded by special “days” this month. Snow days ushered in January while yesterday was MLK day. And for those who observe it, Sanctity of Life Sunday was two days ago. More, my birthday is this Saturday. Not only do I share the day with my brother (who’s two years older), but also, I share it with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And here we are today…

Another snow day.

I’ll be honest, I’m not usually fond of snow days. I love to watch it coming down and don’t mind being outside in it. And aside from the effort of walking back up, I do like to sled down our driveway with the kids. It’s the mess I dislike. Coming in afterward and draping soggy clothes everywhere to dry out. Extra towels. An extra load of laundry. I know, this sounds very much like a complaint, so I’ll stop there.

That’s not the main reason why snow days bring me disturbance, anyway.

Have you entered the storehouses of snow or observed the storehouses of hail, which I hold in reserve for times of trouble… Job 38:22

Basically, snow days disrupt my routine. They throw things off course and mostly, they slow me down. Thus, the rigid woman I can be, bound to a schedule and a plan of my own making, can easily fall into a funk by what I deem to be delay. Yes, in my book, that would aptly describe a snow day.

A big fat delay.

But you know what? I’ve come to realize they’re so more than what I feel. Because the past two weeks have served to teach me God ordains them. And He, who is sovereign, planned them. And if I submit by giving in to the slower pace of the day, He can shepherd me by it. But when I resist?

Well, that would be me shepherding (guiding) myself. That’s when angst sets in.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want; He makes me to lie down in green pastures… Psalm 23:1-2

I just wrote about this subject on the heels of the last snow days, and I thought I was done with the matter. However, it appears God has more to say on the issue. And seeing this week is bookended by monumental days, His teaching is quite timely. Providential, even.

Because me and snow days have a history. As I recently shared in my last blog, snow covered the ground when I wondered if I were pregnant. I was twenty-two but alas, the Lord was not my Shepherd. No, I was my own guide, led by a fierce sense of longing and want. And my pace was hurried and hectic. Oh, I always moved too fast in every way. Thus, without thinking, I chose the unthinkable.

No, seems nothing could deviate me from my plans.

And as for today? I realize I still have a choice. I can submit to God’s guidance and plans, or mine. Unfortunately, at the beginning of last week, I chose my own. Because snow days hindered my at-home job, the work eeked into special days I set apart for a big project. By Tuesday night, just a week ago, I was foul. I told my husband I felt beat up. And at the time, I felt provoked by the devil.

Today, though, I know it was me using the prod…

I was driving myself at an unreasonable pace. Forcing myself to hurry so I could get to what I wanted. Reaching for the thing I aspire to attain, but delays only push it that much further out.

You know, my lord, that the children are frail and need gentle care, and the nursing flocks and herds (with young) are of concern to me; For if the men should drive them hard for a single day, all flocks will die. Please, my lord, go on ahead of his servant and I will move on slowly, governed by the pace of the livestock that are in front of me and according to the endurance of the children… Genesis 33:13-14

I read this passage yesterday and it caused me to take notice. Because no doubt, God reveals much through it in conjunction with these snow days. Well, in conjunction with any perceived delay. Because that’s how I’ve looked at this past month…

Snow days capping off holidays turned a two-and-a-half-week holiday into nearly three weeks. Add in a busier than expected work week, and faulty perspective suggests I’m a month off course. And despite my hectic pace, I still feel behind. But God reveals I’m right where I need to be. Because through it all, He’s teaching me to follow His lead.

And His pace is often slower than mine.

Through the words of His chosen servant, Jacob, He provides illumination. Jacob, who hurried away from his hometown because of his rash actions. Jacob, a former man of the house who was transformed into a shepherd. Jacob, who learned about driving cattle and sheep. And who knew the young, and their mothers, needed to move slowly.

That’s what God has been trying to teach me. He reveals my hurried, hectic pace negates all traces of tender care and gentleness. More, it’s not God who drives me so hard, it’s me. I’m the one who pushes and pokes and prods…

I feel beat up and knocked about. Driven severely (all definitions of “drive them hard”). A week ago, I felt all this because I am a driven woman. I drive way too hard.

And way too fast.

My little lamb…

If I let it, Genesis 33 can be life-changing. Because God gives me my pace. “Governed” by the pace of the livestock… and according to the endurance of the children. It’s all in that passage. Under His shepherding hand, I am led on softly and with care. And in stages. More, He leads me to rest. And most incredibly and awe-inspiringly, He leads me through my children.

They’re the pace car. They cause me to slow down. But only when I yield.

And if I can take it to heart, this becomes the greatest lesson of my life. And I absorb here it in the midst of monumental days. Because this week is bookended by Sanctity of Life Sunday and the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And monumental days give way to colossal enlightenment…

Because at twenty-two, I refused. I was not governed by the pace of my unborn children. The Lord was not my Shepherd, and guided by my own harsh hand, I was driven too fast to operate life safely. Driven to leave both God’s plan and my children behind. And this is one of life’s greatest tragedies.

That fact is, though, it can still happen. Left unchecked, I can do the same. Because inadvertently, when I operate life at a breakneck speed, my living children can be left behind in the stirred-up dust.

This is truth.

And so, I see the choice remains. Every day, I get to choose life or death. But I have to tell you, sometimes it feels so hard to choose wisely. Because choosing life at forty-eight means putting aside all my plans. It means giving way to the slower pace yielded by a snow day. Because the kids are at home.

However, when I make them the plan, my plan lines up with God’s…

So very different than the younger woman I was…

Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. Psalm 139:16

my flock…
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it (Psalm 81:10)

He also chose David, His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from tending the ewes with nursing young. He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people. So David shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them with his skillful hands. Psalm 78:70, 72

I was a shepherd in our Christmas play this year. In preparation, I read all of the passages pertaining to Jesus’ birth, and Matthew 2:6 resonated. Because not only was the forthcoming Jesus described as Ruler and Governor, but also Shepherd. ” Jesus would shepherd God’s people.

And though I don’t always yield to His prodding (pace or direction), He does certainly lead me. Eventually, I find myself turning the way He points. And when I do, I discover He gives me both what I need and what I want. And as always, it’s not what I’ve been chasing. It’s them.

Yes, my family plays a huge part in the lesson of my life, that of choosing life. Because in facing God, He forever faces me toward them. He reminds me of my nursing young. My flock. And though they’re not babies, anymore, they still need to be fed. Both physically and spiritually. And that’s one of the definitions for shepherding…

In addition to everything else, it means to feed, pasture, graze.

But see, God wants me to do it like King David. According to the integrity of my heart. That means fullness or completeness. And with skillful hands. That means spoon, hollow, or palm. Do you see it?

My heart can’t be full of angst caused by longing and want, it must be full of Him. And my hands can’t be full of everything I cling to. Instead, I have to let go of that which displaces my childrens’ feed. Because if I don’t, they go hungry…

And that’s not what a good shepherd does.

See, the flock needs to be fed.

When the layer of dew evaporated, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine, flake-like thing, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” Exodus 16:14, 15

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lay down. He gives me rest. And sometimes, He governs my pace with snow days. But like the Israelites, I was confused when they first began to hinder my progress years back.

Why the delay, I wondered. Is it me? God? The devil? But now I know.

It’s how He feeds me. It’s part of my sustenance. Like manna in the desert, snow-white flakes from heaven serve to provide me with my daily bread. It’s what the Good Shepherd offers from the hollow of His hand. And if I’m wise, I’ll remember it. And oh, I pray I do.

Because that way, I’ll no longer resist. Or push so hard chasing my agenda. Because I know He sends them…

Snow days.

God uses them and rules through them. He redirects and slows. And unlike last week, I thank Him for today’s. Because through it, He deepens the lesson of choosing life. And because it’s a new day, He gives me yet another opportunity to make that choice. And I tell you, choosing life at forty-eight looks a lot different than it did at twenty-two…

Because there was no struggle for the younger me. No fight. Nothing was going to slow or deter me from my plans. Today, though, I can. I struggle because laying down “mine” for theirs can be hard. But inevitably, I always come around. And in the end, I make them my plan. And this is how I choose life at forty-eight. I put my flock first…

Because as He teaches me, that’s what a good shepherd does.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Sometimes the devil wins…

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“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:15

Christmas happened. December 17 came, and from that moment on, it’s been a mad dash. Preparations and presents and baking and a trip and the aftermath. I don’t know about you, but it usually takes me a week or two to bring order back to my life. It entails an overhaul of each room, removing items no longer needed, and also, movement of furniture.

I emptied closets and cabinets making room for the new. And I had to smile when I realized both my mom and my mom-in-law gave me footcare items. As you can see from the picture, my feet desperately need them. The polish has been on my toes since July and my heels are as rough as 40 grit sandpaper.

I tell you, though, in seeing the lotion and solutions, another thought occurred to me going beyond self-care. It had to do with the above verse… how lovely the feet. That word means belonging to the right hour or season. It means timely.

And so at the end of December, I wondered, is it time now?

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

This message rings out from the Old Testament, as well. It resonates in that the definition for “bring good news” can mean to publish. And those who know me best know this is a heart-felt dream of mine. Not only do I hope to complete a book, but I want to publish it. Oh, I’ve been chasing this dream of mine ever since the Fall of 2011.

In fact, that’s what I was vigorously doing up to December 17. Then, I hit pause on my dream and settled into everything else, expecting to get back to it just after the 3rd of January when school started. Alas, snow days bookended the one day my kids went that week. Nonetheless, I found my heart so full of God’s goodness by Friday morning, I wanted to share.

Indeed, it felt like it was time. I wondered… a blog, Instagram, Facebook? Perhaps a card for the two women in my sphere who are dealing with something exceptionally hard?

I needed an outlet for my good news. But because a snow day’s busy with extra, passion waned and life carried on. Ever since, though, I’ve found myself wanting to share at dawn’s first light. Busyness and duties forever eclipse that early morning high, though. And inevitably, good morning news gets overshadowed by the weight of everyday pressures.

It just happened yesterday. My heart so full was black as night by evening. And the woman who stood at the kitchen counter heating up leftovers, barely glancing her husband’s way when he got home, seemed to be the very same one who stood there ten years earlier. Yes, after everything God’s brought me through, it seemed as though I hadn’t changed a bit.

Indeed, the devil won the day. Because not only did I have a terrible attitude, I also gave way to doubt. I thought how can I share good news when my very demeanor seemed to shout, what good news? Thus, I felt disqualified…

And judging by last night, I’d say the time most assuredly had not come.

The Lord speaks; many, many women spread the good news. Psalm 68:11

My grandfather, Eddie, was a Bible thumper. In his day, he was a lay preacher, and later on, he preached from his chair in the living room. And when he lay on his bed reading that old black book, he’d sometimes call for me, asking how to pronounce a difficult word. These were my first tastes of God.

Now, forty years later, I find myself following Eddie’s footsteps. I preach from my driver’s seat and from the living room. To whoever will listen. The dream of publishing plays into this. Yes, when I first felt the prompt to write, I wanted to share what I knew. And hearing Psalm 68:11 for the first time seemed to solidify the call. Because it’s right there in black and white…

See, the King James Version uses the word publish instead of “spread the good news,” and I tell you, I aimed to do it. There was a problem, though. Seems I set out to proclaim the good news before I actually had any. That’s because I hadn’t internalized anything I read from God’s word.

And the woman who stood at my counter last night?

Well, proper perspective assures me she’s an occasional visitor now. But in 2011, and for many years afterward, she was pretty much a permanent fixture. Oh, I was dark. And yet, I believed myself qualified to spread the gospel.

No doubt, I’ve been moody ever since that first snow day. That’s when the darkness outside my window reached inside my heart and took root. And my journal gives evidence of everything I carried to bed with me the night before…

Anger, hardness, brittleness, sharpness. I felt numb and had given way to a feeling of resignation. But I sat in my chair anyway last week. It’s just what I do. And before I even opened my Bible, a phrase came to mind. Hold Fast. It’s something I heard at a Beth Moore conference long ago. “H.O.L.D.F.A.S.T. God has set His love upon me.

And so I sat there and meditated. I knew the reason for my blackness and I knew the way out of it. It has to do with submission. The surrendering to God’s plan. And because I felt so bad, I prayed I would yield to God instead of giving way to the darkness. Nothing extravagant, just a one-line prayer.

And when I noticed the picture I recently placed on my side table, my heart began to shift. Because it seemed God was whispering to me the very words written out by my mother. She gave me a poem for my birthday, twenty-two years back.

A daughter is a precious gift; she shines as silver in the sun, and gleams like gold caught in the moonlight. Fine chains are woven of these two, but stronger still, and holding fast are chains of love that hold us tight. MLC

I saw what God wanted me to. I knew He was telling me that not only do chains of love hold me tight to Mom, but also to Him. I am held fast to God, my heavenly Father. And oh, what treasure I find in the definition for Father: for those who through Christ have been exalted to a specially close and intimate relationship with God, and who no longer dread him as a stern judge of sinners, but revere Him as their reconciled and loving Father.

I had to see this. More, I had to internalize it for real and for good. And had I not moved my room around, I would have missed it. Thus, I comprehend the shifting of furniture wasn’t random. No, a strategically placed poem served to point me to the deepness of my Father’s love. And that’s when I felt a shift.

For a while, in my surrendered state, the blackness dissipated. And the land blanketed by snow seemed to give testimony to the white flag I’d hoisted in my heart.

The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. Psalm 68:11, 13

Me and God had a moment Wednesday because He reminded me of His Fatherhood. But through my daily Psalm on Thursday, He stressed my daughterhood. For I am His little girl.

And there’s that verse. The one about publishing. This time around, though, I noticed the verse after. And it’s here I find good news highlighted through the word yet.

Though you did (fill in the blank), yet, you will be as silver and gold. The God of all creation was rereading my mom’s poem to me, but this time through His holy word. He confirmed that yes, I did many things in the past. And yes, I continue to do things. Like my bad moods. And yet, I shine like silver caught in the sun and gleam like gold caught in the moonlight.

God confirmed His Fatherhood and my daughterhood. And by Friday, my heart was full of this good news.

And I wanted to share.

“Daughter, your faith (…in Me) has restored you to health; go in peace and be (permanently) healed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34

Just look at that. God, I love this picture. I wanted to share it Friday because it captures the Father’s love and a daughter’s adoration. Alas, busyness set in and I never got to it. Thus, it appears the devil won the day. But you know what? Sunday hadn’t happened yet. And I had to experience Sunday before I could share this message.

Because that was the day I put my own little girl first. I tended to Annabelle’s heart by taking her to church for AWANA…

I tell you, God met me there in a hundred small ways. When we prayed for the two little girls who are so sick, Annabelle’s teacher asked for healing and that God would make them miracles. She had no idea she was voicing the very words I’d read that morning through Psalm 71:7, “I am as a sign and a wonder (miracle) to many.”

And the picture she’d drawn to depict what creation must have been like? Well, it immediately brought to mind the cards I intended to mail on Friday. The ones I never sent to the little girls’ moms.

The biggest encounter came from my conversation with the pastor. I shared with him about Fathers and daughters. Then he shared with me about the woman who had a bleeding issue (Mark 5). He said it was the only time Jesus addressed a woman as Daughter, and I could hardly wait to get home and read it.

Daughter. It means daughter of God, acceptable. Rejoicing in God’s peculiar care and protection. And I tell you, Sunday is when that verse came alive in a way it never has been before. Because I’d just experienced such peculiar care from Him. So intricate in His dealings with me…

And I hope to never forget it.

Daddy’s Girl

I painted the above of me and my Daddy a couple of years back. And this past November I used it at the beginning of the section of something I was writing called Painter’s Daughter. Lo and behold, I found a coat that looked just like it in Annabelle’s size at the thrift store. At the time, I had no doubt God gave it to me. See, He was confirming His Fatherhood then, too.

Which begs the question of why? If He confirmed it in November and confirmed it years before, why did He have to again Friday? I think my answer is found in the bleeding woman’s story. Because her 12-year issue made her unclean, she was unacceptable to the religious leaders of the day. Untouchable…

And yet, Jesus stopped to interact with her. He tenderly called her Daughter, marking her as His own. Though she was unaccepted by the world, she was accepted by Him.

And though it may not be a church leader who sets a high bar of expectation, I am my own worst enemy. I demand perfection, thinking I must be a certain way before delivering God’s message of good news. In my mind, I cannot make mistakes. Like yesterday’s very bad, dark day. In every way. In my mind, I wasn’t fit to share because I just can’t get it right.

I’ve been bleeding out over this issue and it’s hindered me off and on for years. It causes me to shut down and when I do, the devil wins.

But this is contrary to the gospel because I’m basing acceptance on my goodness and what I do. The very, good news, though, is being acceptable to God has everything to do with what Jesus did. That’s it. And no doubt, the devil delighted when He was raised on a cross. How dark it was that Friday…

And it must have seemed like the devil won. But see, Sunday hadn’t happened yet. And when it did, after burying my sin along with the sin of the world, Jesus came up out of that tomb alive. And my faith and belief in Him, and what He did, is what makes Psalm 68:13 true. That though I (fill in the blank), yet, I am as silver and gold.

A little girl, accepted by God, her heavenly Father.

Seems I needed a reminder of that good news. And how like God to make sure I got it this time through the painting below. Yes, I recently moved it. And no longer does it hover over my jewelry box, where I keep all my adornments. Instead, it sits above my quiet time chair. And what a visual…

Because it tells me that in His sight, I am more precious than gold…

Since Friday morning, a couple of invitations or requests have come my way relating to Facebook. And they seemed timely. Doors opened for sharing the gospel on the heels of my elation. But for reasons known to God and me, I declined both. For now, at least.

The second was really tempting, though, because it was an opportunity to share what I’m writing. Since sanctity of life Sunday is coming up, it seemed a good spot to talk about the book because it’s a pro-life message. Or choose-life. And sadly, that’s my story. Because at twenty-two, I did not.

As a young woman, I found myself pregnant and when I first realized my condition, thick snow covered the land. A snow day, if you will. But back then, I wouldn’t be stopped. Nothing hindered me from progressing because I chose me. And therein lies the rub…

Because today, I do get stopped. All the time. And a snow day most specifically halts my plans because I have children. Their wants and needs will always trump mine. That was the battle last week. Surrendering to the day. To God’s will. Thus, God’s word, and the verse Annabelle is learning through AWANA, resonates all the more.

“For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son…”

Yes, God sent a Son to lay down His life for God’s children. And because I’m a follower of Christ, my actions should look the same. God sends me, a daughter, to lay down my life for my living children. That means putting their stuff before mine. Them first. That’s what choosing life looks like for me at forty-eight.

But God help me, I slip up. Darkness descends whenever those selfish mannerisms the younger me possessed present. It happened just last night. But unlike the old me, I don’t dwell there. Light always slices through the dark. That’s why I know…

I have changed. And that, my friend, is good news.

“Little girl, I say to you, get up!” The little girl immediately got up and began to walk… Mark 5:41-42

Indeed, the fifth chapter of Mark is one I won’t forget. The bleeding woman speaks because like her, I’ve got some issues. But if you keep reading, you find another story. This one of a sick little girl. She was at death’s door when Christ took her by the hand. He told her to walk, and she did.

The Greek word for walk intrigues me because it means to make one’s way, progress, make due use of opportunities. And I can’t help but see this in light of the good news. See, feet aren’t just made for walking, they’re used to bring good news. And when you do, they become beautiful.

Even feet sorely in need of a pedicure…

Beautiful. It means timely. Now. No matter what. And so I deem yes, it is time. Because it’s always the right time to bring good news. The key is, you have to have some to give it.

And though the devil won yesterday’s skirmish, he won’t win the war. And though darkness creeps in, it won’t utterly consume the light. I know so because this is my story. It’s my good news. I’m free to share it because it has nothing to do with me and my goodness.

Instead, it has everything to do with His.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Acts 3:6