This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The kids were bickering this morning. I was so mad. And as my temper rose, my attitude went down. Oh, I was down. The details don’t matter, it was just another tiff. One of hundreds. All I could hear was Annabelle yelling, “Stop! Stop!” So I came out of my bedroom shrieking the same. “STOP IT, STOP IT!” I sounded just like her…
My eight year old.
The drive to the bus stop was dreary and I had a conversation with my teenage son – in my head. I told him a thing or two – in my head. How he should be lifting his little sister up to his level, not sinking down to hers. To a third grade mentality. But by the time I got back through my front door, I knew. God was speaking to me. Words directed at my son – in my head – were pointed right back at me.
“You, Pam, should be lifting your children to your level, not sinking down to theirs. You, Pam, should not regress to the mind of an 8 and 16 year old.” And just now, my husband’s remark from months ago echoes in my ear, “Just who’s the adult here?”
No doubt, God’s the adult. And He calls out, prompting me to rise above all this.
Because experience teaches how the darkness of these mornings can linger. Oh, they can bring me low and I’ve let them. I’ve dwelt there, wallowing in the muck and the mire. Staying low, angry and dark. In years past, I’d stay down for days. Months? Because one morning followed by another and another, filled with the cacophony of everyday life held such power over me. But the truth is, I let it.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Micah 7:8
Rise up, God says. Set my mind on things above, not below. His word encourages and nudges, and if I let it, it has the power to lift me to His level. To the heavenlies. Yes, if I allow His word to penetrate, and I do, I find I’m able to rise, transcending this earthly realm that’s had the propensity to floor me. And when I find my footing, I start again.
What occurs to me now, though, in this very moment, is how ironic it all is. Perplexing, even. The fact that God tells me to have the mind of Christ. I’m called to rise above earthly trappings, setting my mind on things above, and to not sink down to a worldly level. And yet, He who was above lowered Himself into it. Jesus, who came down into the muck and the mire, did it for me. For all my darkness and missteps.
He became human-like, made in human likeness so I can become Christ-like. Remade in the image of Him.
This idea causes me wonder this morning. How He came down so I can go up…
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
I’ll tell you, I’ve not felt like writing for ages. It seems to be seasonal, this period of muteness. And the book of Luke tells me I’m not the only one. Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, was mute for a year. His silence came after he was told of his wife’s pregnancy. See, he doubted the angel’s message. I surmise it was a lack of faith that shut him up.
Me? Perhaps similar. Because I’ve been living down here in the world. And the bad stuff I’m inundated with rubs off. It has the power to permeate my heart and soul. But this morning, there was a glimmer. God’s word speaks of other believers who opened their mouths. 2 Corinthians 4:13 says “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak…
This inspires me today. And if I let myself, I could cry. Because today’s desire to share is a gift from God. He gives a measure of faith. And because I’ve had one too many low mornings, and because my behavior can be contrary to Christ, and because my words don’t always match my actions, I’ve been shut up for a while. Oh, so quiet.
Most especially when my attitude reflects that of an 8 year old. Or a teenager. But I heard Him this morning. He spoke to me through my own words. A message meant for my son was turned toward me. God said to lift my children to my level, not sink down to theirs. I must live higher, though. Heavenly. This morning, I wasn’t. I was a mere child.
But He calls anew. He never lets me stay down. Never. And as I turn toward Him, I hear His tender voice, “Arise, Daughter, You are mine. I didn’t beget you to behave this way. Follow Me, and I will show you a better way to live.”
Thus, once more, I rise and dust off my backside. I thank Him for the hope He gives me. For the flutter that moves my heart. The ember that starts to burn. And I look where He points me. Upward. He calls me to join Him there.
“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.
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
I felt compelled to share last week but delayed. And the stirring, which began on Thursday, was enhanced by Friday afternoon. Maybe even to a fever pitch. However, a busy weekend was followed by even busier days. And by Tuesday night, I was done. Exhausted. Spent. I had nothing left to offer. No more was I inspired to pour out my heart…
That’s why today, I smile at the verse I read first thing this week. Perhaps a mild chastening from my heavenly Father in that John 9:4 exhorted me, “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the one who sent us.” Because that’s what the previous week’s compulsion to share felt like. An assignment. But one I neglected to carry out. And because the past few days happened, I no longer wanted to do it. Passion waned as all my creative energy depleted.
I felt empty, not full. Dry, not satiated.
But then, today happened.
And he who waters will himself be watered… Proverbs 11:25
I chose to meet my friend this morning. We were supposed to yesterday but my new job required all of me, so I postponed. We met a day late. God’s word, though, assures me our walking date was right on time. That’s because last night had to come first.
And, oh, I relish the quiet hours I spend alone in the evening. After all my people go down, I either watch an old sitcom or immerse myself in my current mystery novel. But last night, I didn’t want to read my “Cat who…” book. Instead, I just sat there staring into the not so distant dark outside my window. Eventually, my tired hand reached for the living words housed inside my Bible. I just really wanted to hear from Him because the preceding days felt so heavy…
There’s the world. The chaos and the discord. Tragic events left and right, afar and within reach. Sicknesses and divisions too close for comfort and too close to home. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
So I opened my favorite Book and the pages fell to Jeremiah 31 . At first, I honed in on a favorite passage. But then I glimpsed a phrase that moved my parched spirit…
“For I (fully) satisfy the weary soul, and I replenish every languishing and sorrowful person.” Jeremiah 31:25
I needed to hear this last night. I savored the definitions of satisfy (saturated, take one’s fill, slake thirst, satiated). And I meditated over the meanings of replenish (to fill, be full, be full of). And before I knew it, one verse pointed to another, and to another, leading me straight to the truth of my situation.
I was empty because I chose to be. I expended myself, neglecting to pause and fill on the most necessary thing. And it’s cyclical. Summer, always pressing, is followed by the first days of school and followed by birthdays. Excess busyness. And the extra causes me to make cuts in other areas. Like late nights infringing on my mornings with God. Later and later I stay up, lessening and lessening those precious moments in His word. With Him…
The pattern ends with me hitting a wall because I keep hitting the ground running. I start pouring out before pouring in. I attempt to fill needs from an empty vessel. Empty bowls and empty cups and empty backpacks and empty stomachs and empty closets. Then there are things that need emptying, like full inboxes and full hampers and full dishwashers. Endless emptying and filling, filling and emptying.
And yet, filling on the one thing that can truly fill me is minimized.
By last night, my innermost being echoed the psalmist’s sentiment, “I pour out my soul to God, and I remember how I used to… ” Yes, not so long ago, I used to wake when it was still dark and fill on His word. But for days, I had not. And my soul was left parched. But He reminded me last night. He told me how He fully satisfies dried out beings. And how He replenishes thirsty souls.
And it happened. It’s absolutely true that God poured out His Spirit into my empty one last night. And for today, I am refreshed. Replenished. And my friend’s actions during our seemingly one day late date seemed to underscore everything He revealed. Because without asking, she brought me a full glass of water. She knew what I needed and refreshed me.
But you know, my replenishment had more to do with our time together than it did with the contents of that cobalt vessel.
And one who gives others plenty of water will himself be given plenty. Proverbs 11:25
Last week, before losing my oomph, I wanted to write about Rebekah jars. After reading Genesis 24, I had all these thoughts swirling around about how I should be filled with God’s spirit, but how hard that is when I’m full of myself. Yes, I admit, I have a problem with pride. And yet, I was moved by Rebekah’s actions when asked for a drink…
She quickly lowered her jar and offered its contents. The aha moment being that I’mthe jar. A clay vessel formed by God’s hand, to be filled with good things for the outpouring onto others. However, I must be full to accomplish that. And more, I must be lowered. Humble. The best example I find is in Philippians 2, which tells how Jesus lowered and emptied Himself. And further, how He gave His very life for us. His blood poured out…
But during His time on earth, even Jesus took breaks. Solitary moments alone with His Father. A time for filling to equip Him for His time of emptying.
And as to Rebekah, her lowering prompted me to look into wells during biblical times. Seems young women typically had the daily chore of drawing water from wells. Not only would they gather water for their families into earthen vessels, but the time was also used for socializing. For meeting people. Talking. In my eyes, ancient wells were the equivalent of a modern day watering hole.
And so, what strikes me today as a forty-eight year old woman, is that a young woman’s need for female companionship was tended to while she took care of her family responsibilities. And what was important then is no less important today…
The lesson is that while I take care of my family duties, filling and watering my people, I must also tend to my own needs. And one of those, in addition to time with God, is time with friends. In fact, I’ve discovered this particular need is essential to my well-being.
Because after quality time with a dear friend, I walk away feeling full. Satisfied.
More, I am inspired.
We have this precious treasure in earthen vessels… 2 Corinthians 4:7
I realize I’m fortunate. I work from home, so flexible hours allow me time to schedule a walk or occasional lunch. Like this past Friday, when I met two of my girlfriends. One reached out seeking counsel and thoughts, wanting to pick our brains. Though I didn’t have much to offer verbally that day, I’ve had time to ruminate since.
And the advice I now offer to my dear friend, the who stands at a crossroads…
Do what fills you. Do what’s fulfilling. Don’t add one thing to your calendar that empties and leaves you feeling dry.
Yes, that’s what I’d tell my friend who is facing something really hard. Now I know, some tasks women face are unavoidable. There are unwanted things we have do in life every day. But the reality is there are some things we don’t. In fact, a lot of what we do, we don’t have to. And too much unnecessary doing leads to excessive emptying.
This is what life, and especially the last few days, have taught me. That if I want to add something to my calendar, in addition to my responsibilities, then it must be life-giving. Fulfilling.
It should be something that fills me in a way that’s beneficial to me and to those I’m surrounded by.
Funny thing we talked about Friday was women’s work vs. men’s work. Perhaps that’s why one of the definitions for vessel in 2 Corinthians 4:7 really stands out today: specially, a wife as contributing to the usefulness of the husband.
Well, we all had our thoughts on that issue. And a few differences of opinion as we each lead different lives. Accordingly, our roles and responsibilities on the home front vary. But you know, after this past week of meditating on jars and wells and filling and emptying, I’ve come to the conclusion there’s one task that applies for all of us women.
And no, it’s not ironing or cleaning or cooking. It’s that of collecting water. Living water. That type of women’s work affords the most benefit to our husband. Because no doubt, women are vessels made for filling. And we will be, whether good or bad. And inevitably, what’s inside comes out because that’s what women do… we pour out. We empty ourselves from the moment our feet hit the ground.
That’s why we must be filled…
With things that make us happy. With fun things, like time with friends. Coffee dates and lunches and walks. But also, with things He calls us to do. Because assuredly, an assignment from God is fulfilling.
First and foremost, though, we must spend time in His word. Time with God. Because that’s where the filling starts. The good kind. Yes, this task is essential in order for a woman to accomplish all she must do.
This is what God reminded me of last night. And what He reiterated through my friend this morning. He wants to fill me with good things, but it’s a daily filling. Because I can’t continue pouring from an empty vessel. Thus, I choose to fill up on Him. In doing so, I find the replenishment I need…
And I am satisfyingly full.
“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
Something happened this morning. I was doing my last-minute inspection before rushing out to the car when I heard a loud thump outside the door. And though there was no scream or shriek, I knew without looking. I knew it was my little girl. Annabelle. See, the deck is slick from frost and I didn’t think to warn her as she went out…
I took a quick glance at the stove once more – off, off, off, off, off – just to be sure the house wouldn’t be set to fire by gas burners while I was away. Then I went out to see.
Though she was down on those wooden steps, she wasn’t crying out, which somehow made it worse… she just silently writhed while grabbing hold of her back. It broke my heart. When I got to her, a quiet moan escaped, and her face revealed pain. Yet, she held back. Since she held her tears in, I gathered her into my arms and cried for her. And I held tight as long as I could. Alas, it was 7:03 a.m. Time for carpool and I had two boys to get to our designated spot.
On the way to drop off, I kept glancing in the mirror to check on Annabelle. While she was silent as a mouse, I had to choke back sobs. And I wondered why the emotion. Because my crying seemed disproportionate to what actually occurred.
Thus, I deduced my tears had as much to do with my own tumble as with Annabelle’s. And because of His mercy and grace, I think God gave me a glimpse into His own heart, and how He felt when I went down…
As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you, and you will be comforted in Jerusalem… when you see this, your heart will rejoice and your bones will flourish like new grass. Isaiah 66:13-14
Some years back, I sensed God calling me out of everything. Most specifically, the light. He wanted me to come out of view of the watching world and yet, I resisted. I wanted to stay right where I was in the midst of it all. Incredibly visible.
But see, God knew what was coming my way. Like Humpty Dumpty, He knew I was headed for a great, fall. A spiritual and emotional one. In my mind, God was calling me out of view because I was being chastened. Punished, if you will. But this past year, I came to comprehend the truth of it all. It had more to do with God’s surpassing love for me…
He was trying to protect me so people wouldn’t witness my downfall. See, it may be true a fall can hurt physically. But if someone sees you take a nosedive, the inside pain can be almost as unbearable.
I think that’s what happened with my little girl. Oh, so sensitive she is. And that’s why I cried this morning. Because I knew her humiliation. She fell hard and someone else saw it happen.
How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Matthew 23:37
I could hardly wait to be alone with Annabelle. I wanted to talk to her about what happened. She confirmed she was embarrassed but smiled so big at me. I think she was happy I understood. And as soon as we got to her school, I pulled her onto my lap and held on. I told her over and over, “I love you so much.”
And oh, I do. More than I could ever imagine. So much so, it hurts. That’s what loving someone can do. It opens you up to pain.
I knew Annabelle was okay by the time I left her at the school door, though, because she was already discussing recess activities and how she might not be able to play tag… if others touched her where she bruised, it could hurt again.
I told my precious daughter it was a good idea to sit out. Because I saw the bruise. I know how bad it hurt. And I have to say, as I left her at the door, that purple stain from her back was emblazoned on my own heart. And when I got home, I cried as if I’d taken a beating myself.
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was woundedfor our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5
Something happened this morning. However, it goes deeper than my little girl falling on the steps. It has to do with the pain I felt inside my own heart. I cried till I was hoarse. And as I quieted, I had to ask God, why? Why was I so affected by it all…
Then a verse came to me. It has to do with Jesus and the beating He took for us all. That’s when God revealed truth. See, every bruise I ever received by this cold, world (both inside and out) was emblazoned upon the body of God’s own Son just before He was raised up on a wooden cross. He took all my pain. Jesus felt it.
More, God felt every bit of it, too.
And in contemplation of what took place at Calvary, I have to believe God cried. Because that’s what I did. How could He not for His Child was in pain?
And no doubt, the beating Jesus endured caused both kinds of pain, inside and out. Oh, how the rejection must have scored His heart just as deeply as the cords cut His skin. And because I’m a mother, made in the image of God, that’s how I know God cried, too.
Oh, how He must have wept. Maybe even till He was hoarse.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
I tell you, being a mom is so hard. It opens you to so much pain. Because who wants to see their child suffer?
And this morning, I realize just how God feels when I hurt. Oh, how it must have grieved Him to see me cry all those times. Oh, how He wanted to gather me under His wings to protect me, just like a mother Hen. And oh, how He wanted to draw me onto His lap for comfort.
He feels just as I do when I see my own children hurt.
God loves me so very much, He takes note of every tear I shed. And when He wipes away those salty drops, He places them in a bottle.
As for me, I can’t collect the tears of my children. No, Levi’s and Annabelle’s salty drops evaporate. But I sure do feel them. And I sure can love them through the pain. Because that’s what God created me to do… I am a mother.
Made in the image of Him who loves me.
In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
I have a friend I don’t see very often. And though I’m a bit older than her, we used to play when we were young. See, our parents were friends way back.
I have great memories of running around her property, riding in the tractor bucket, jumping in their pond, swinging the swings into the high heaven, and singing songs with her and her sister late into the night (Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop, Shimmy, Shimmy, Bop)…
Anyway, life hasn’t turned out so smooth for her. And she posted the most beautiful poem today (copied from a friend). After reading it, I was inspired to write her the longest Facebook message ever. But just as I finished typing it up, my computer went black. Some sort of error shut me down.
When I rebooted, I hoped the message would still be there. That I could send it. When I saw it wasn’t, in frustration, I gave up. I wondered if the computer glitching was a sign to not send anything.
Then, I looked to God and said, you’ll have to send me a sign today if I’m supposed to send that message.
About six hours later, I received the above feather. A totally unexpected gift from my cousin. Well, to me, this is God’s sign. Reach out to my friend and tell her what I’d been thinking…
I’m six days into this devotion. Because of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a strong woman…
I’ve told my friend more than once that she’s the strongest woman I know. And if you know who I’m talking about, you know why. See, she takes care of her kids. They need her. More so than other kids need their mama’s.
I ended up printing that poem she shared for my journal. I have her name on it, with a note, “Wonder Woman?” See, I’ve asked her before if she’d be willing to share her story with some women…
How God’s helped her through life.
Today, I wondered again if she’d be willing to. One day. God willing. Maybe via video… because her life is just too up and down to commit to anything outside the home. It was the following from the poem that made me think it again:
“A little one fighting for their life – And you, strong beside them in perfect stride.” Again, “More strength than you had ever known. A faith in God and Him alone.” Again, “You’ll fight and give up and fight some more. You won’t be stopped by seemingly closed doors.” And finally, “Your motherhood was not the way you planned. But today you love more – and stronger you stand.”
This describes my friend perfectly. And what stands out the most is that part about faith in God. Him alone. See, my friend has a faith in God that runs deeper than most and she’s very vocal about it. No matter how rough things get, she continues to praise Him. To thank Him. Never losing hope…
And because of a conversation we had recently (via messenger), I think I understand why…
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4
My friend had posted a picture of a feather. I had to ask why because feathers recently took on new meaning to me. I just love the image of God covering us with His and even wrote about it a few months back. Lo and behold, after finishing the piece on feathers, I caught one in mid-air. Out of the blue.
It felt like a miracle.
One month later, I received another feather. This one was deep, down in my purse. I found it the day the state shut down. My second feather coincided with the shelter in place.
Well, after my friend posted the picture of feathers, I learned she loves Psalm 91:4, too. More, I discovered she also receives feathers. Hers being way more dramatic and way more amazing than my finds but that’s not my story to tell…
The point being, because we bonded over feathers, I believe God nudges me to send that message I started earlier. That golden feather inspires me, too.
What I find amazing, though, is that my message would have been incomplete had it gone out earlier. Because I hadn’t read what I did tonight…
And I can’t help but wonder if the timely shut down of my computer was so I’d have the following to pass on first.
As I said, I’m reading a book called STRONG. Because of that, I’ve really dug into the definitions of strong and weak and meek. The above find provided me with a picture of the younger me. Man, was I meek. But also, I was weak and I hated that about me. Oh, I despised my timid and mousy demeanor.
Not surprisingly, my friends were always the opposite. Bold and secure and strong and confident and all that went with the package. And because I admired them, I made this my aim. I wanted to emulate the strong woman, not the weak.
Because strong women are admirable.
But see, God’s taken me to task over this the past few years. It’s been quite a process. Basically, though, I now comprehend I was trying to be strong according to the world’s standards. More, I was trying to be strong and confident and the whole package through my own power.
But what I want to share here, is that I believe my friend emulates not just the world’s model of a strong woman, but also God’s. I think she is strong because God is within her. I think He equips her and empowers her and I think that’s true because Psalm 91:4 is her verse. “He will cover you with his feathers.”
But I think the key to her strength is found in the first verses of the Psalm…
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
There’s a lot to do with dwelling and resting and abiding in here. And I think my friend does this. She stays with God. She remains with him. She has to. But because she does, she can state the following and really mean it:
“My God, in whom I trust.”
Honestly, before this past year, I couldn’t say that in all sincerity. I still placed my trust in too many other things. And when those things gave way, there went my confidence. When everything I hoped in was shaken, I was left shaking. Insecurity abounded.
Here’s my big revelation of the evening, though. I find it in the definition for trust. Among other things, it means: confidence, secure, confident, bold, sure, to have confidence, to be bold, to be secure, to feel safe.
Wow. This is my definition of a strong woman. It’s everything I ever wanted to be. But I realize if I want to be this kind of woman, I have to dwell in the shadow of His wings. If I want to be bold, I have to remain with God. If I want to be confident, I have to stay with Him.
And I have to tell you, this really kind of rocked my world tonight. Because it feels just like God handed me the blueprint for becoming a strong woman…
Nestled right here in the verses I’ve been meditating on for months and months. Tonight He showed me exactly what a woman who trusts God looks like. She looks just like a strong woman. And she looks just like my friend…
Because when a woman has that kind of faith, it shows. The world can’t help but notice her sureness. An inner strength.
This describes my feather buddy. Because no matter how hard life can be, no matter how difficult, and no matter how crushing, she always displays strength. But I now know, her strength stems from trusting God.
The end result is the strong woman she is.
I want her to know that I’m not the only one who sees her strength. One born not only of struggle, but also, born of God. That’s what I want her to know…
Strength. It’s her feather.
I realize I could have sent a private letter. Or a whopping personal message. Instead, I opted to post this blog. There’s a reason for that…
See, when my feather buddy and I talked about feathers, she told me it was time to receive another. Well, I’m putting this out there because I’m hopeful it will feel just like she found one…
Because that golden feather given to me out of the blue today? I can’t help but think it was right on time. A nudge from God for me to tell her just what I just did. Thus, I have no doubt in my mind…
…Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24
It’s cyclical with me. Spring is my season of rejection and I feel it acutely. Piercingly. A sense of loneliness and abandonment fueled by underlying feelings of unwantedness. And underneath it all, there’s a hint of betrayal. Invariably, these notions plague me when flowers begin to bloom and trees begin to leaf.
This year, the feelings began circling towards the end of March. And by the first of April, the darkest of thoughts eclipsed all sound judgment and mind.
Quite aptly, it was April Fool’s Day and no doubt, I was a real April fool.
The unwanted feelings peaked as I unpacked umpteen boxes that had been stored for nearly two years. That’s when I unearthed a journal dated 1989. I was sixteen and what struck me is my present-day mindset uncannily echoed that of the younger me. At least it did that particular day…
As I said, these feelings are cyclical. Seasonal.
And Spring happens to be my time…
So from now on we regard no one from a human point of view (according to worldly standards and values). 2 Corinthians 5:16
Words penned thirty-one years ago were full of self-loathing. And strangely, despite how far God has brought me, a similar refrain thrummed through my heart and mind last week. The unending chorus wore me down…
“You’re not wise, you’re foolish. Not strong, weak. You’re dull and boring. You’re insignificant, overlooked, and less than everyone else. Second choice by far, unloved, and nothing at all.”
Believe me. I know how silly this is. And immature. And in the throes of Corona Virus, I debated sharing at all. How petty compared to the worldwide crisis. And yet, perhaps my faulty thinking was a by-product of this shelter-in-place. At home with nowhere to go, inward eyes and too much self-focus can be a slippery slope.
I’m too embarrassed to mention what led to last week’s line of thinking. However, that’s where I ended up on April 1, 2020. A full-blown pity party for one all because I allowed myself to entertain a sixteen-year-old mindset. The same outlook (and inlook) I housed a number of Springs in which my heart sustained directed hurts I never really forgot.
As I said, the balmy months are my time.
And because I wallowed in cyclical feelings of lowness, I wasn’t inspired to make dinner. Instead, I asked Jason to bring home take-out and I’m so glad I did. Because God used a Chinese fortune to snap me out of my momentary lapse of reason.
And by the time April 2 dawned, I was ready to shut down the self-pitying thoughts I’d nursed the day before.
The very good news is this year, my “season” lasted the shortest of whiles. And with each passing year, I find there’s more progress. Better yet, I suspect in a year or two, these seasonal feelings of mine may pass me by altogether.
In fact, I’m sure of it.
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19
If Spring is a season of sadness, what I know now is March is my time of “coming out.” Multiple occasions this past decade, I sensed God’s leading to sit still or come out of activity (and out of view) during the third month.
And I’ve tried. Halted my doings for a short while only to go back to what I’d been doing before, and all the more. But I really thought this year would be different. Believed I’d learned all my lessons and that there would be no stopping me in 2020.
But then COVID-19 happened. And is happening.
And because this virus has shut down nearly everyone and everything, I find I’m obeying God’s cyclical command to “come out” in March without meaning to. In a sense, my hand’s been forced…
Like many, I’m shut-in and life has drastically changed. No doubt, this sickness terrorizing the land has interrupted many a plan, including mine. But you know, I’m thankful for the pause. No, not thankful for the disease, mind you. I wish it had never come. But in the midst of madness, I find gratitude for the delay has changed my focus.
See, I was on a set course in February, eyes locked onto one thing. And with schools closing, that one thing went out the window. Way out. But then it was like a lightbulb came on. Illumination allowed me to recall the very few goals I set at the New Year. One or two things well, most specifically, my children.
Yet, in the midst of my plan, I had forgotten they were the plan. My kids. But COVID-19 helped me remember. How could I not because they were looking to me every, single day for guidance.
Thus, I formed a daily schedule. In setting up morning time for God and prayer, I remembered a binder I put together months before. It contains focus words for Levi, one per month.
Needless to say, none had been contemplated. Not one. Instead, the notebook sat dusty on a shelf. But the new shut-in itinerary compelled me to resurrect it from the ashes and I thought we’d go in order. However, in a roundabout way, we landed half-way through the book. Wisdom is where God planted us…
I thought it was all about my son. Alas, due to recent childish actions, I quickly understood God’s word choice had more to do with me than Levi. And that’s why the Chinese fortune resonated.
Because it speaks of wisdom. Or lack thereof. And that little piece of paper brought to mind one of the most comforting passages of Scripture I ever read. One I tucked away in my heart many years back.
Through it, God soothed my soul anew. But mostly, He snapped me out of my foolishness.
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
I studied Genesis 3 yesterday morning. I contemplated how the serpent deceived Eve when he told her, “You will be like God.” This statement caused the first woman to look harder at a tree she’d been commanded not to partake of. And because she realized the fruit could make her wise, she gave in to the temptation and scarfed it down.
In studying, I found a nugget of truth hidden within the definition of God. The devil said she could be like Him, so the word means just that – the Supreme God. But also, it can mean rulers, judges, divine ones, gods, and goddesses. Perhaps this was part of the temptation.
But most intriguing, I find this particular word can be used as a superlative, passages describing things to be great, mighty or exceeding.
Superlative stood out because in recent unpacking, I came across my keepsake box. Letters and pictures and yearbooks and such. I thought about how I didn’t receive a senior superlative. Oh, I’m not the only one and I know it’s not important. Not really. But at eighteen, it sure felt that way. Especially because our graduating class was so small. 63, I think.
Anyway, superlative means the highest quality or degree. It means surpassing all others. And perhaps that’s what stung so when I was young. I didn’t surpass anyone in anything. At least not in anyone’s eyes. And maybe that’s what can sting a bit now…
I can’t help but wonder if this was the first true temptation for the first true woman. And surely it’s tempted millions and millions who’ve followed her. I know it’s what tempts me…
Yes, I’m convinced the devil deluded Eve by enticing her to be more. That fruit could make her great and mighty and exceeding, surpassing all others. And when you get down to the meat of it, the implication is that you should be more than you are. That’s what the devil was really saying…
In a sense, he proclaimed Eve to be less than in telling her she could be more than. It was a lie used in the garden, a deception that’s endured through the ages, and what he continues to use today.
The fruit still dangles.
“You should be more,” he whispers. However, today’s tempting fruit doesn’t promise wisdom. Quite the opposite, really. And this particular temptation made me an April Fool last week.
We do not have the audacity to put ourselves in the same class or compare ourselves with some who (supply testimonials to) commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they lack wisdom and behave like fools. 2 Corinthians 10:12
I fell for it last week. The serpent beguiled me. Fooled me into the comparison trap. And like Eve who covered up her nakedness, I felt like doing the same. Wanted to cover up everything I disdained about me…
But that’s when I remembered the most beautiful lesson from Genesis 3. See, Adam and Eve hid away after sampling forbidden fruit. They didn’t want God to see them. And though they were ultimately banished from the garden, there’s tenderness in God’s question…
He asked, “Who told you you were naked?”
You know, I think He asks the same today. We can fill in the blank. “Who told you you were __________.” We all have a word we can put in there, my list consisting of everything I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
As to who told me? Well, it was the world. The world told me all the days of my life I wasn’t enough. And if I let it, it still speaks loudly.
It began when I was small. “So and so can do that but you can’t.” Or, “Just because your best friends are popular that doesn’t mean you are.” I can still see her little eyes boring into mine.
That’s where it began. The world entered and I heard every shout. “Pam can’t and Pam’s not.” Negative statement layered upon negative statement. And there were good things, too. Only, the bad far outweighed anything good I ever heard.
Five years back, this all came to the surface. Back then, I didn’t even know it was in me. But March came about and it was like Jesus said, “Come out!” I heard Him in a dream. The only problem is I misunderstood. He meant to come out of everything (activity, view, my head, the world), but I went all the way in. And within months, everything inside came spewing out. A journal entry said it all…
“I hate me.”
And I did. Oh, I despised me. It was July 2015. When I told my mother-in-law, she said I should ask forgiveness. At the time, I didn’t understand. But today, I do. I get it now. Because in hating me, I hated God’s creation. In rejecting me, I rejected His plan for me.
But more, what I’ve come to comprehend in recent days is that hating me is no different than hating Jesus. Because everything I ever disliked about me happens to be some of His qualities…
What I hated about me, and what I’m still tempted to hate, is what the world hated in Him first.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-19
I already gave you my list. I always felt second. Less than my peers. But when all those feelings are stripped away, I find the very way God crafted me contributes to those lowly feelings.
Because I’m quiet by nature. Deep down, I’m really quite reserved. Submissive and mild mannered. That’s the real me. But most of my adult life, I tried to be other than that. More than how God designed me.
See, the world just doesn’t seem to admire reserved. And meek people often come across as weak people, going unnoticed. This is what I hated about me for so many years.
Today, though, I know the disdained attributes are those that make me most like Christ. And if I hate them in me, that means I hate them in Him. In rejecting what I dislike about me, I end up rejecting Him, making the words of Isaiah ring true in my life today.
And for this, I ask forgiveness…
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Isaiah 53:2-3
God comforts me with 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. And within, I find the similarity to Isaiah 53:2-3. Most particularly, I note that God chooses things despised by the world. Things considered worthless. Because that’s exactly what Jesus was deemed.
And though He was God in human form, the devil came to Jesus just like he appeared to Eve. Yes, Jesus was tempted just as we are.
I can’t help but wonder if it was Spring with Him, too. And I speculate about Jesus’ fill in the blank list, if He had one. Because the world told Him He was a liar. It accused Him of having a demon, of being a foreigner, a drunkard and crazy. The world said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
No doubt, the world had a low opinion of this Man who was God’s chosen. And I can’t help but think if Nazareth High had a Senior Superlative page, Jesus wouldn’t have made it to the list. He just wasn’t all that impressive. Not to the world, He wasn’t.
Because this God-Man was humble and submissive, gentle and mild. He came to serve and not be served and the world hated Him for it. Because the world esteems otherwise. The world looks up to rulers and leaders and gods and goddesses. The formula’s just different.
At the heart of it, the world seeks to be God-like, not Christ-like. This is the tempation the devil dangled before Eve, before Jesus and what He still puts before our eyes.
I know this to be true because it tempts me. I want to have a superlative ascribed to me, too. Deep down, I want to be surpassing and great and mighty. Because the world loves all that…
Thus, Jesus cautions. He warns us. He tells us that if the world hates us, and it does, to remember it hated Him first.
But who in the world wants to be hated.
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. John 15:16
On the mount of transfiguration, God had something to say about the One the world rejected. He said, “This is My Son whom I have chosen. Listen to Him!”
And that’s what I’m really trying to do. Because for too long, I listened to the wrong people. The ones who spoke loudest and usually, it was the world. But Jesus is different. He doesn’t raise His voice and isn’t pushy. He won’t force Himself on us.
And so last week, I had to decide which voices I’d allow into my shut-in state. And I think I chose wisely because I chose to shut up the world. More, I also shut me up and finally, I could hear what Jesus had to say.
The first had to do with being hated. The definition means to “love less,” and oh, how that causes an inward groan. Because this is the deepest of wounds, feeling less loved. Loveless…
But Jesus also had something to say about love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Greater means stronger or more and this is what He’s been trying to tell me for so long.
This is the reason He’s been calling me out and calling me out, March after March. For my protection. He knew April and May loomed and He knew my vulnerability. Thus, He wanted me to know how He feels about me…
Indeed, I’ve suffered some hurts and rejections. And I may sustain a few more before my days are done. However, when those times come, from here on out I can stand on truth. His.
And I can remember this particular Spring, a season in which His voice overrode all others. A time comprehension dawned and I just knew…
See, the world may love me less, but Jesus loves me more.
And if there were a yearbook for forty-seven-year olds, you’d find me on the superlative page. Yes, you’d find my name beside, “most likely to be loved.”
Because that’s what I am.
“It is finished.” John 19:30
This Spring’s been pretty significant. We finished our basement project, unloaded a building full of boxes, and this past Saturday, our final home improvement project was completed.
It was finished…
This coincided with my season, the balmy months being my time. A cyclical sadness. But you know, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Because cycles are made to be broken. And I’m optimistic this year’s different…
Deep in my core, I believe it. And I think the morel mushrooms my hubby found this past weekend are symbolic of April 2020.
See, Spring is also the time of Easter. A cyclical time for miracles and I believe one happened this year. The shelter-in-place lended itself to the process and because of it, I see the meaning of the day then, and the significance of it now.
He faced such accusations before the cross. The world said Jesus did this and that… He was this and wasn’t that. And after dying on a cross, He was placed in an inky tomb. But what transpired was miraculous. The tomb became a womb, giving way to resurrected life. He came out fully alive.
Being shut in at home can be like that for me, too. I went in one way but can come out different on the other side. And I think I will. God help me, when all this is over, to be wiser.
Because I went in foolishly. I listened to the accusations and believed them. Pam can’t and isn’t. And if I chose to live worldly, those statements just might be true.
In following Jesus’ pattern, though, I decide to live other-worldly. I despise the shame, paying little attention to cyclical thoughts. Instead, I bury them in the blackness of my tomb.
Oh, death, where is thy sting?
By putting a sixteen-year-old mindset and worldly thoughts to death, I find the tomb gives way to a womb-like environment. And here, I find such tenderness. Such love. And within, I come fully alive. Resurrected life.
It’s why He gave His Son to begin with. For God so loved the world, He provided a cross, and whosoever shall believe will have everlasting life. New life…
Yes, at the cross, I know I am loved. Thus, at a cross which is foolishness to the world, I become a fool for Him. Because I chose to no longer believe as the world does. Instead, I believe like Him.
And I know the danger. The world may hate me and think me a fool. But you know, this is the kind of April Fool I want to be.
Wednesday, Annabelle told me it was the best day of her life. Five days later (yesterday), she said it was the “worsted” day. And I think that about sums up the stay at home initiative so far… the social distancing.
In the manner of Charles Dickens, and in the voice of Annabelle, “It was the best of times, it was the worsted of times.”
The best comes in the form of our daily breakfast together. We end it with Scripture and discussion and prayer. And I tell you, some of Levi’s prayers have to move heaven and earth.
The worst of times come when I get really aggravated because they goof off too much and don’t listen very well when I’m trying to have a serious moment…
The best of times come when we spend a lot of focused time outside together. Walks in the woods, picnic lunch on our little ridge overlooking the road, soccer and horse and scooters outside. The worst comes when Levi and Annabelle bicker incessantly and I have to play referee one-quarter of the day.
The best comes when our family takes a Sunday drive down to the river and skips rocks. Or when Annabelle plays with my hair and notifies me of the white streaks I have which causes me to burst out in laughter…
The best comes when I watch her play with her stuffed animals. You’ll be happy to know she delivered four unicorns, two bears and umpteen puppies this evening. When I watched her pulling them from the mama’s backsides, I asked where she learned that and she said she just figured it out (homeschool must be working).
The best comes when I have deep conversations with Levi revealing to me that I most definitely don’t give this boy of mine enough credit. He’s a deep thinker and so compassionate. That’s why his persistent picking on his sister mystifies me…
The best comes when I see my husband come down our driveway and we’re all home safe together again. The best comes in having a wonderful home, food in the fridge, a beautiful family, a job that allows me to stay home so I can take care of my kids.
Because though I have the best of times, even in the worst of days, I am so aware that some have only the worst. No good home, no mate to deal with life’s circumstances… wondering where the next meal may come from.
Oh, if anything, this home quarantine has made me very aware of how good I have it… that there are many who have to go out on the front lines every single day. I pray this pandemic helps me to never again take for granted the blessed life I have.
As for the worst? Those moments are not so bad in light of the best of times. Kids’ squabbles are a way of life. Hushing a child while I’m on a work call nothing at all. If the worst I have to do is scold my kids, then I have nothing at all to complain about.
Nothing at all is worst at all.
As for the social distancing and self-isolating, I’ll take it and everything that comes with it. So far, Corona hasn’t touched anyone close to me. It still feels surreal, like a crazy nightmare. But for today, it’s definitely caused me to refocus. I’m redirecting my attention to all that really matters…
I’m looking to the best in life. Like the best who make our lives bearable (doctors, nurses, scientists, truckers, gas station clerks, PO employees, etc., etc.) I look to the best in my life by reaching out to friends I didn’t see nearly enough of before (though via electronics). And I’m focusing on the best in my family.
I know, there will be other “worsted” days to come in the coming days. I know I’ll lose my cool and blow my top and raise my voice causing my youngest to lament, “it’s the worsted.”
But for tonight, I cling to the major mom victory I scored last week when Annabelle told me it was the best day of her life. And I cling to a new victory as she lost her first baby tooth. My little girl is growing up…
I confess, I felt slightly annoyed at first. See, I’d just put her to bed and was looking forward to a little unwind time. Me and a book and perhaps a little SVU or the Voice. And before my butt could hit the couch, I heard her call out, “Mom! Mom! MAMA!!!”
That’s when I realized she lost her tooth. I jumped up and down and shrieked for joy. It was a milestone. Yes, tonight was the best of times for sure.
And I pray that for all my friends and family. I pray you cling to your victories and let go of defeats… and though things may seem to be the absolute “worsted,” deep down, we all know the best is yet to come.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” Charles Dickens
I’ve been wanting to write something ever since Sunday. Alas, the busyness of life got in the way. I even dreamt about this post night before last. More of a nightmare, really, because I didn’t actually say what I should. I left out the most important piece, which is something about my kids.
That’s what this past Sunday was all about, anyway.
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:9
God speaks to me in various ways, but one of the most resounding is through the mouth of my children. I swear it’s like His voice passes through precious four-year old lips. It happened Sunday when Annabelle excitedly came to me around mid-morning, her little hands clutching the above decals.
“Look at these Cinderella things,” she commanded. And so I did.
And that’s when I heard not my little girl, but God. Because earlier that morning, I’d just voiced it. I said I felt like Cinderella. And after the entire household went out, leaving me behind with my two children, that’s just what I did. I looked at what I considered to be my “Cinderella” things…
And bitterness welled up within my heart.
I rinsed a milk jug and washed some dishes. I made my bed and began packing my suitcase (I was out of town visiting my in-laws). All the while, I pictured Cinderella with her pile of dishes and dirty floors…
It was the shoe that really did it, though. My shoe peeking up from the clothes was the ultimate Cinderella thing in my opinion.
Yes, the real Cinderella may have had glass slippers. But me? Just a pair of shoes that have been sitting in my closet for months and months. I’ve never worn them. No need, really. At home, I’m incredibly casual. I work from home, tend children from home, and rarely go out other than church, which is laid back. Come as you are, which means flip-flops for me…
And Annabelle had been wanting me to wear these shoes. She’s pulled them out on numerous occasions, tried them on and even had me slip them on so she could see. And I’d planned to wear them to church that Sunday. My mom-in-law teaches a women’s Sunday school class and I was really looking forward to going. I craved women’s fellowship. A time to soak in and soak up…
I can’t stress how much I really, really wanted to go.
Alas, when we woke that morning, Levi didn’t feel well. He’d been struggling for days at that point and his ear hurt through the night. When we talked about going to church, he was reluctant. Nose congested and simply feeling run down, we decided to stay back.
And though I did all things necessary like feeding my kids and tidying up, my insides festered. All because I wanted to go but couldn’t. I felt as Cinderella did, having tasks to do – at the house – before going out. Her “things” being dishes and floors and ashes, unable to go to the ball unless she completed all her duties…
But me? It wasn’t the dishes or the packing or the milk jug that kept me from going. In truth, it was because my child was sick. And that’s when I heard what God really wanted me to hear.
“Look at these Cinderella things!”
Acts 16:14 speaks of a certain woman whose heart the Lord opened, that she attendeth unto the things that were spoken. I like that word, “attendeth.” It means to bring near, to turn mind to, attend to, be attentive, give attention to, take heed, devote thought or effort. It means attend to or be attentive to a person or a thing, of caring for, providing for.
And Sunday morning, God opened my heart to understand what He meant in directing me to look at these Cinderella things. See, I’d been feeling sorry for myself. Bitter. All because I wanted to go. Basically, I didn’t get my way.
But ultimately, Cinderella things were not the dishes and the tidying. It was not a pair of shoes. In actuality, Cinderella things were, and are, my children. Levi was the reason I had to stay home. He was the reason why I could not go and do what I wanted.
And God’s message to me?
My kids… Levi and Annabelle. It’s all about them. It always has been. Look and see your children, He urges. Tend to them. Pay attention to them. And really, that’s all God wanted me to take care of this past Sunday morning.
I confess, there’s a huge misconception I’ve battled with most of my adult existence. Well, more like after I had my babies. For some reason, I’ve always felt like the big things take place outside my home. I’ve always believed important things are out there, not in here.
It was June when I attended a retirement ceremony and I was so inspired because it caused me to want to be a part of something bigger than myself once more. It gave me the nudge to come off the sidelines, which is where I’ve spent most of my time these past two years.
However, on the cusp of my “going back in,” God gave me a gentle reminder. That yes, important, big things happen out there. But remember, even bigger things take place at home. The most significant thing I can ever do is raise my children properly… to nurture them and lavish them with love. To teach them what I know.
God wants me to comprehend in doing so, I accomplish my part in life. Because in tending to my children, I prepare them for their entrance into the world. And this is so much bigger than me…
In truth, it’s the biggest thing I can ever do. And it happens on the home-front. Unseen to the world. Even when I can’t “go,” big things happen at home when I tend to my little ones. My Cinderella things.
“let me not see the boy…” Genesis 21:16
There’s a passage in Genesis that moved me in a dramatic way years back. The story of Hagar. She wandered the wilderness with her son and when the water ran out, she felt desperate. Because not only was she was going to die, but also her son. She said, “let me not see him.”
Wow, did that penetrate. Still does. When it first resonated years gone by, I was down. Depressed and dry. And truth? Though not desperate or in despair last Sunday, I was dry. Summer tends to do that to me. Time with the Lord is not as much as I’d like and prayer time diminishes. Kids are home and life is busier. Fuller. Thus, I’m emptier…
Yes, Sunday, I was dry before the sun even arose. And I longed to go to church. I wanted refreshment. I wanted a word. But God showed me, He can give me a word wherever I am. No doubt, He speaks loudly in a myriad ways. Most recent, through my little girl.
“Look at these Cinderella things,” she said.
But it was more than her voice, it was God’s. And so I think of Hagar, who didn’t want to look when her son was perishing. She didn’t want to see. That word means to look at, inspect, consider, look after, see after, give attention to.
And that’s the message God brought home on Sunday (and in the days following). He says see your boy and see your daughter. And though my kids are not dying as Hagar’s was, they most assuredly need my help. They need my care and attention and love. And that’s more important than anything I could ever do “out there.”
“Get up! Help the boy up and hold him by the hand…” Genesis 21:18
“Cinderella things,” Annabelle dubbed them. She placed them on my window when we got back home. They’re still there and they serve as a reminder. And in seeing them, I’m reminded that Cinderella things can be the reason women have to stay back. They may be why one can’t just go and do.
For me, my “things” consist of an at-home job and the care of my house with all that entails. But mostly, it’s about my children. Yes, because I have children I can’t always “go” and I can’t always “do” what I want…
I can’t always go somewhere and I can’t always go to sleep. I can’t always go to work or go my way. I can’t always participate in all the big stuff that happens on the outside.
But you know, what I can do – at home – is the most important thing I can do this day. And it’s so much bigger than what I can even imagine. Because my kids, well, they go beyond me. And their future efforts will reach far beyond my days. Now, how BIG is that?!?
In closing, I want to say 95% of the time, I have proper perspective. I realize most days, I can go and do what I want. Every so often, though, I stumble. My eyesight clouds and I forget how good I have it. That’s what happened Sunday.
My husband reminded me last night, though, I can go and do when I really need to. Like the picture above when I needed to take Levi for care. In many countries, there are women who cannot do this as medical care may be hours away…
And then there are other women who simply cannot just up and go because their kids need constant care and attention. Every, single day. God help me not to forget them. That when He says, “Look,” I see not only my own children but theirs, too.
And on the flip side, there are women who have to go on the outside to work. This is how they care for their children. They have no other option but to go and do so they can do for their own. May I not forget them.
God help me to really see…
Not just me and mine, but them and theirs. And when I do open my eyes, may I also open my mouth in prayer. For mine and theirs. Yes, this is one of the biggest things I can do today and I don’t even have to go out to do it. I can stay right here in my home and do what God calls me to.
‘All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.’ Oscar Wilde
I bought a small book of quotes for my mom once. It was a gift for Mothers’ Day, oh, so many years ago… before children were even a thought. I actually underlined the words of Wilde because I thought they were so great. So deep.
In hindsight, not the best quote to point out to my mom. It was the part about the man not becoming like his mom, though… that’s what struck me as compelling. It’s what I wanted to convey. But I’m not so sure it came across. And more, I’m not so sure I believe these words anymore. Because surely, my young man and my little girl are very much like me.
Look at these nails. Annabelle painted them for me. And before the polish even began to wear off, there were imperfections. You can see that by my thumb. A big gloopy pile took extra drying time. And yet, I let the polish stay.
However, I found myself telling several people (even strangers), “Oh, my daughter did these…” as if an explanation were necessary. I wanted to explain away the mistakes. Tell why they were imperfect…
Today, though, I wish I’d kept my mouth shut. Because my sweet girl painted them for me. More, it would hurt her to know I felt the need to explain. And oh, how my heart melts when I recall the pure look of pleasure on her face with each stroke.
And as to me feeling the urge to explain my imperfect nails, well, it says a lot about me and how I think. And how much stock I put into appearance…
Look at these nails. So much like mine in that the polish has worn away. Her little fingernails mimicking mine. But this is just the beginning. My little girl is like me in every way. Painfully so. It has to do with how she will be received. And how she looks to others.
That became apparent over the Easter break. My son and niece were in the basement talking and Annabelle wanted to join them. Most kids? They’d have run down the steps taking two at a time to join in. Not my daughter, though. Instead, she wanted me to call down first. To announce her arrival so there’d be no surprise. And really, she just wanted to know that they’d accept her into the group. That her appearance would be welcomed. That’s what pierces my heart this day…
The fact that she is just like me in this regard. Because for way too long, I was just like this. Oh, so concerned with how I’d be received. Or regarded. Will they accept me?
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
Annabelle reminds me of me in another way. She’s incredibly quiet. If someone speaks to her, she hides behind my legs. She remains mute. Shy to the core. This was me all the way up to the time I was in my early-thirties. I didn’t possess the skill of conversation and I didn’t have the desire to put myself out there. An introvert at heart.
And this is Annabelle.
However, things changed for me one day. I encountered the living God through His living word (Heb 4:12), and He made Himself real to me. Over and over. With each progressive manifestation, I felt myself more and more emboldened. As confidence grew, I became outspoken. I felt courageous. So unlike the little girl I was.
It was a heady feeling, I can assure you, and I began to do things I never though I would. But you know what? When you put yourself out there, inevitably, you get hurt. Something may be said to you. Or perhaps nothing at all is said, and that can hurt just as much. Or even more…
I put myself out there so much, eventually, my heart began to hurt. And before I knew it, I regressed. I began to shy away. I withdrew, closing up and shutting up. Incredibly, I was just like the little girl I always was.
Get up; help the boy up and hold him by the hand… Genesis 21:18
The first time I read the above passage, I was so impassioned. Because I’d been going through a time of depression. I slept a lot and felt so uninspired. But my little boy needed me. He was around Annabelle’s age now when I read those words. It was the first time I felt the nudge or motivation to get up.
I wanted to do it for my son. For Levi. Because I knew as long as I was on the ground, I wasn’t in a position to help him up. In truth, if he’d grabbed my hand once upon a time, I’d have pulled him down with me. Because I was flat on my face.
But I rallied and rose. I got up and began making great strides. I was full of purpose and aim and took on so much. I was fully confident and fully courageous. Once upon a time, I really was…
And I managed to remain in that upright stance for several years.
Who is the man who is afraid and lacks courage? Let him go and return to his house, so that he doesn’t cause his brothers’ courage to fail like his own. Deuteronomy 20:8
Alas, I sensed God calling me out of the world a couple of years ago. Seems He wanted me to exit the light and enter a dark, quiet place. I resisted wholeheartedly because once I tasted the light, the dark was no longer appealing.
And yet, God persisted. Finally, I succumbed to His bidding. It was August of 2017 and I did my best to stay quiet. Unseen. I knew there was purpose, one of those being found in the above passage listed under the heading “Laws of Warfare” in my Bible.
Wow, it penetrates.
See, I lost my courage. Somewhere along the way, fear set up and not a shred of boldness remained. And so, God took me out of the line of fire. I just couldn’t handle it. Not in 2017. And for coming up on two-years now, I’ve been halted. However, my stand-still allowed for the most wonderful thing to happen.
In coming out of everything, God was finally able to do what He’s always wanted to do. An inside work took place. And in looking back, I can see it all. How He removed my feathers one by one. All the things I wanted to present to the world… all the things I believed were keeping me aloft.
But one by one, God plucked every activity and writing venture and volunteer spot out of my life till there was nothing left. I was completely bare. Just God and me. And that’s when I realized how much confidence I’d placed on me and my abilities. And how dependent I was on everything I allowed the world to see in me. To appear perfect. I did everything I could to keep me upright. And in the air. Until my feathers were all gone…
Grounded by God.
It had to happen. Because uncovered, I comprehended how I’d been using everything I could to hide my weaknesses. All those insecurities and fears that caused me to keep quiet, like when I was a little girl, rose to the surface. In fact, they caused me to become mute in recent years…
But see, laid bare in the nest of God’s rest, He was able to tend to me and my old hurts become new ones. He nurtured me. And cared for me. He tended to me in a way I’d never experienced. And there, in the secret place of His refuge, I found my strength returning. I saw glimmers of boldness and splashes of courage inside and out. It’s what prompts me to write now. To step to the edge of His nest…
For I find a new feather in my wing. Unlike my plucked ones, this feather was placed there by God. It’s called boldness. Inconceivably, though, the wing grew from a weakened state. But out of my weakness, I gained His strength (2 Cor 12:9).
The above is on the front of my journal. I started it on April 22, the day after Easter. The preceding journal is full of notes about getting up, coming out, re-entering the world, etc. Over and over, I see nudges to leave the security of His nest. And to open my mouth. For my heart sang all last month as it composed words to God and His goodness…
But I’ve resisted movement.
It was just too easy to remain here. In the secret place. Because here, I don’t get hurt. And as whole-heartedly as I resisted going in, I find I’ve been just as reluctant to leave. But then, I stumbled across this quote a couple of days ago:
I know God allowed me to hear this because it was the final nudge. It’s what I needed to hear. Because you know…
I see His Son, Jesus. Not in the words about failing and stumbling and error. That’s not it. It’s in the reading about a worthy cause because the cross was His cause. And it’s in the blood and sweat, because He did that. In the garden. But more, I comprehend Jesus went into the arena first. And He’s my example to follow.
See, He entered the arena of the world and was hurt by the crowds. He was stricken and wounded and crushed and beaten. All for me. All for you. But He could have avoided it. And oh, how He agonized in prayer over it. And when He prayed, His sweat became like drops of blood, falling to the ground (Luke 22:44). He cried out, “Take this cup.” But in the end, He submitted to His Father’s will.
He entered the arena and so shall I. For Him. For me. But also, for them…
Taking the child’s hand, He said (tenderly) to her, “Talitha Kum!” – which translated (from Aramaic) means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Mark 5:42
Two days ago, I was ready. Oh, I was moved. God had spoken and there was no doubt. He said, “Get up! Get out! Get it back!” And I was emboldened. Ready to be brave. I wanted to leave my secret place and enter the arena of the world.
Wouldn’t you know Annabelle got sick. Up through the night and home yesterday. I lay down with her, I ate more than I should and slept in the afternoon. And can I tell you? Courage waned. And I doubted. I wondered if I heard God clearly.
But then, I remember my Christ, who entered first. And what strikes me most about His actions is that He kept silent. When insults were hurled His way or when the crowd esteemed Him not, He did not open His mouth. And I tell you, this penetrates.
Because I realize my Savior and Lord kept quiet that day and this may be the one area in which He calls me not to follow His lead…
See, He kept quiet so I would not. Jesus kept His lips sealed so I would open mine. Thus, with a heart full of His love, I do. And this is how I choose to enter the arena. This is how I go back into the world. It’s the one He died for.
Oh, she’s so much like me. She’s quiet and reserved and scared to open her mouth. And the thought of her entering the world and what it will do to her can leave me paralyzed. It can cause me to grab her tight and never let her go.
Because how will it affect her? Will insults and ugly remarks rip her tender heart to shreds like it did me? Or worse, when she’s esteemed not or ignored completely, how will she handle it? Will she realize her incredible value when she’s not received by the world? When it doesn’t want her and she’s not welcome?
But then I realize a lot of that depends on me. Because how I handle the world will likely be how she handles it. For according to Oscar Wilde, all women become like their mothers. And from experience, I know little boys do, too. So the choice is all mine. What will Levi and Annabelle see when they view my life? What example will I provide for following?
Oh, I want them to witness a strong woman. One who may have laid down a time or two, but in the end, she always had the courage to get up. And get out. I want them to see a woman who may have lost it a time or two but always had the gumption to get it back. Yes, that’s my desire.
And I have hope that’s me. A woman who got it back. For I no longer fear being seen just as I am. Imperfect. Like the polish that adorns my nails…
Because in my imperfect weakness, His power if perfected. Thus, I embrace it. Because when I am weak, then I am strong to carry on. And I find this is the absolute best place to open my mouth.
Yes, through all my frailty, I find courage to say what I should.
And this is what I hope my babies see when they look at me. A woman brave enough to speak up. A woman who didn’t avoid the arena of life. One who allowed God to take her by the hand, lift her off the ground, and lead her back in.
And my hope is that they go in, too. Boldly. Levi and Annabelle. Both led by a strong mom who courageously follows Jesus…
The little girl immediately got up and began to walk… Mark 5:42
Verb. get one’s feet wet. To begin gaining experience; to tentatively try something new.
I took my little girl to her grandma’s house today. It was raining. As I scooped her out of the carseat and deposited her onto the ground, I said, “Stay on the gravel. Stay on the walkway. Don’t get your feet wet!”
And as those words exited my mouth, I sensed God speaking to me. It was about how I talk to my daughter and what she hears. Because the message that goes forth is one of caution. It says stop! Stay on the beaten path. And for God’s sake, stay out of the water.
First, Annabelle would get her feet dirty. Muddy. And I want to avoid the mess. But also, if she keeps her feet dry, there’s less chance of sickness. And deep down, I feel the beaten path is the safe way to go. Guided paths are tested and tried. Less chance of tripping up.
So I tell her to stay on the sidewalk. To stay out of the wet grass. All to keep her feet dry. But on this 31st day of December, the last day of the year, I wonder if I’m sending her the wrong message.
Today, Annabelle knew I was talking about the sidewalk. But you know, this message of caution is one that escapes my lips all too often. It always has…
When my son, Levi, was small and we walked down the driveway after school, I’d cry out, “Don’t run!” See, there’s a steep part and I worried about his falling and skinning knees or busting his mouth. And when we walked through our wooded path, I’d say, “Slow down.” That’s because Levi usually carried a stick and I didn’t want him to fall and poke his eyes out. And now there’s Annabelle.
Go slow, I say. Hold the rail. Don’t fall. And most recently, stay off the grass! So as to keep her feet dry.
But I realize this message can run deep. To the soul, even. Perhaps even stunt her growth and keep her bound. In a box, so to say. All in the name of safety. And caution. And if I’m not careful with my words, I may stop her altogether. Fear imbedded to the core by words uttered every single day…
Stop. Slow down. Don’t…
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. Matthew 14:27-31
I had to get my feet wet several years back. I felt as if God called me by name for a specific task. Something new. And though there was fear, I stepped out of the box (my boat) and walked on water for just a bit. And it felt good. There’s that phrase about walking on air. I think they have it wrong. Surely that heady feeling is more like walking on water.
Like Jesus did.
And like Peter. Like the disciple, though, I began to sink. I’d say within a year of stepping out of that boat, I was up to my ears in water. Drowning in a sea of old feelings that threatened to take me under completely.
But Jesus extended His hand. He pulled me to safety and an extended period of rest. Thus, I’ve been sitting on the banks for some time now. And a thorough drying off has taken place.
Alas, I sense His call anew. A stirring of my soul. Time to get up from the sidelines and move out into the water once more. But a voice plays in my ear. It’s one of caution and it sounds like my own.
It says, “Stop! Stay on the walkway. And for God’s sake, don’t get your feet wet!”
Because when you get wet by putting yourself out there, there’s a chance of danger. There’s the chance of failing. Or getting hurt. And so the bank seems safer. And yet, He calls me out anyway…
It’s almost 2019. Another year down. And this past year has been pretty safe. For I’ve not veered off the path and I’ve stayed close to home. I’ve not ventured too far beyond my borders nor attempted anything out of the norm.
It’s been comfortable, I’d say.
But you know, comfortable is not a good place to be. Because comfort leads to complacency. And as we all know, a body at rest stays at rest. And when one sits too long, the waters become stagnant.
And though there are times God calls one to stillness, there are also times God calls one to action. And movement. To His living waters that run so deep. This is where He calls me today…
In the year that’s coming, God calls me out of the box that’s been my comfort zone. He wants me to step out of my boat of safety. More, He tells me to jump in with both feet. Because there, within His living water, I’ll find my destiny. The catch?
It’s not the safest way to go. It’s not the well-beaten path. It’s the one less traveled and one I’m not accustomed to. And where it will lead me, I don’t really know…
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7
God’s telling me something. It has to do with how I speak to my little girl. It’s the words I fling forth in hope of protecting her. But deep down, I wonder if they’ll do more harm than good.
Because when will they stop? When does my message of slow down and be careful end? And when will they sink into the core of her being? Will they hinder her progress toward the One who walks on water? When He calls her out, will I let her go? Or will I cry, “Stop!”
A little caution is good. It really is. But I’m hearing God today. And He’s telling me to let go. To stop trying to control everything. To stop trying to avoid all the hurts in life. For my kids and for myself…
And if I hear Him correctly, He’s saying a little water on the feet is not such a bad thing. Not for Annabelle.
And most assuredly, not for me.
“Stop your fighting—and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10
Oh, I’m quick to caution my little one. I just want her to stay well. Healthy. Happy. Whole. I want the best for her. So, I tell her to not get her feet wet. You know, the mud and the mess. But also, wet feet can lead to sickness. And sickness, well, it can lead to more. And me telling my little one to stay dry is really an attempt to control circumstances.
And here we are on the cusp of 2019. And I hear God urging me to do the opposite of what I urge her to do. Thus, I will do my best to do the same…
I’ll try to encourage Annabelle just as my heavenly Father does me. And my hope for the New Year is that the words He whispers in my ear will make it to my lips. That I’ll say, “Go into the grass, my child, and feel the blades. Go off the beaten path and try new roads. Get out of the boat. Jump into the water and experience all life has to offer…”
And more than anything, I hope I tell her, “Get your feet wet!”
Because in truth, if your feet ain’t wet, then you’re not really living. Not fully.