Tag Archives: Trust

Merciful Days: Beautiful Words

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Ps 119v103“Your test results are really good.” My doctor smiled.

Oh what words!

I am one year and five months into a medical treatment that is projected to last for three to five years.  It feels like each day of the past one year and five months has been giant.  It’s been a fight.  One step forward and two steps back.  Battling an illusive monster.  It’s been quite a year… and five months.

My doctor is the only human who really knows what my past one year and five months has been like.  She has become very precious to me.  I long to see her.  She is my coach.  My trainer in this long race.  My cheerleader.  My advocate.  She knows my enemy.  She knows my story.  She knows how far I’ve come.  She is in the valley with me.  I have come to love her.

Her smiling words were so full.  Full of understanding and celebration. I have been so desperate to hear words like this.

Her words mean so much because she knows so much about me.  Her words carry more weight than any others.  Her words give me strength, joy, energy, focus, hope.

I’m thinking about my true Coach. Trainer. Cheerleader. Advocate. Guide. Mentor. Savior. Father. Shepherd. Hope.

[Continue…]

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Merciful Days: When Hope Vanishes

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mark 9v24b“I don’t want to keep living this way.” I prayed honestly.

“Have I failed you?” The Holy Spirit asked me.

I was praying about an amazing job my husband had applied for.  It seemed like the perfect fit for him.  And, to be honest, we are beyond ready for the lifestyle a traditional job brings.  So I begged God to open the door for him to have this job.  And I talked about the tiredness of my heart that has come in these years of gig-based self-employment.  … Oh, it was such a great job!  Perfect for my husband’s career journey.  AND it would change everything for us.  Regular income.  Medical benefits.  Paid vacation.  Please God.

“In all these years, have I ever failed you?” His Light pointed at the depths of my heart.

He showed me that in the depths of my heart, it was still there. [Continue…]

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Merciful Days: Open Blinds

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Prov 27_9“Everyone opens their blinds in the morning. It’s weird that you have them closed.” His judgmental tone rang in my ears as he went around the room and pulled open all the bent and broken metal blinds.

He was happy.  I was not.

The “Youth House” was on the corner of the church property.  A busy suburban corner with lots of car and foot traffic.  The rental agreement was part of the terms of our employment.  The upstairs was ours exclusively.  The downstairs rooms and kitchen was shared with the church.  And that’s how our “living room” was also a meeting room.

It was a sweet old house.  One of the oldest in the neighborhood.  Lots of quirky charm.  Lots of potential. Terrible windows. Awful.  Single panes, warped aluminum frames, and inexplicably uncleanable glass.  We tried cleaning them but the dirt was permanent.  (How does that happen?)  We tried scraping the mislaid brush strokes from the glass but nothing removed that old, old paint.  And, anyway, I didn’t like how exposed our lives were to all the traffic that passed by so I was happy to leave the blinds closed.  It felt vulnerable to live in a house with a church sign out front.  And at night, when my husband was 45 minutes away working the graveyard shift at the children’s prison (yes, a children’s prison), I wondered how many people could work out that the windows didn’t really lock and how easy it would be to break in.  (I should note that my fears were not based in crazy suppositions because several of the youth group kids made a habit of climbing in through a window to wait for us if we weren’t home.)  All that to say, it was just better to keep the blinds closed.  It was better to keep things all closed up.

He took control of the room.  He decided his needs were most important.  In fact, I doubt he even thought there could be needs apart from his.  I doubt it even crossed his mind.  I wish he’d asked.  I wish he’d cared.  But he didn’t.  So I had to sit in that meeting feeling embarrassed and exposed.  Embarrassed that the windows were so dirty even though it wasn’t my fault.  And exposed to the view of all the passersby.  When the meeting ended and everyone was gone, I closed the blinds.

And I decided to move the meetings to a coffee shop where I didn’t have to feel embarrassed or exposed.

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Fourteen years ago we became fast friends when were thrown together on a youth ministry team.  She and I have gone through a lot together.  A lot.  We’ve planned and dreamed together.  We’ve prayed and cried.  We’ve giggled and celebrated.  We’ve ministered to hundreds of teens together.  We’ve shared and forgiven.  She knows things about me that no one else knows.   And in my darkest moments, she is the person I have called the most.  She is wise, loving, and she hears God’s voice.

At our latest coffee date she said, “I can tell you anything because I know that you love me and won’t judge me.”

Took the words right out of my mouth, sister!  Our friendship is very special.  Vulnerability, transparency, and a sisterhood that overcomes.

With her, I have open blinds.

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Everyone has reasons to live blinds-closed.  Everyone has something they want to hide.  Something that is best left unseen.  Something that makes them feel at risk.  Something that makes them feel too vulnerable.

As I listen to the friendship stories of women around me, I hear themes of judgment, rejection, pain, and humiliation.  Of being attacked, ridiculed and unloved.  And over time these women of deep beauty have pulled closed their blinds and walked away from being in community.  And in the process they have closed themselves off from much needed sisterhood and friendship.

What is the answer?  How can we have what we were made for?  Love and sisterhood.  Lives intertwined.  The joy of being known.  Of being truthful and vulnerable.  How can we have friendship?  Why is there so much pain involved in the friendships of women?  It’s a tragedy. [Continue…]

 

Source

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Ps 43v5“Don’t be sad.” My husband chirped the words like it is a simple matter.

And in that moment, God spoke to me.  About something He’s already spoken to me this week: having abundant expectations.  About trusting God to provide for the opportunities He brings me.

The thing is: I have the blues. Our life variables have shifted. Again. And again we are both praying for God to bring us to a season and place of stability.  Begging.  Honestly, we are tired.  It is stressful living without certainty. I want comfort.  I want joy.  I want peace.

For two months my incredibly gifted, highly skilled husband has been looking for solid work.  Again.  But, it’s just the nature of his work.  That industry is project-by-project.  Gig-by-gig.  There is no certainty.  Despite this, he LOVES the work.  Loves.  And he LOVES the group he works with.  Loves.  He is using his full range of passions, gifts and skills.  He is fulfilled.  And I LOVE that.

I do not, however, love not knowing if there will be work tomorrow. Because life costs money.

This uncertainty makes me feel like I’m on hold.  Paused.  Unable to make plans.  On lock-down.  Stuck at home.  No dreaming allowed.

And I live like our circumstances are my king. Allowing this tyrant to inflict.  To oppress.  To bind me.

And I get overwhelmed. Sad.

This week, the death of my laptop sent me over the edge.  My new little monitized website venture is on hold until I can have a computer again.  The website is a venture to help contribute to our income. It could help us afford to get a replacement computer… once the website has actually been built.  But that requires a computer.  And instantly I was overwhelmed and sad.

Today I feel God asking me, yet again: Who is your Source?

I have been hoping that website would help us.  And it may very well be helpful.  But, only if Yahweh gives His favor.  I feel like God has put me on hold this week.  A time-out to remember that all my provision, regardless of its channel, comes from the One True Source.

My amazing husband is right.  I have the power to choose my king.  Will I bow to circumstances? Or serve and trust Yahweh?

Selah.

Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again — my Savior and my God! (Psalm 43:5 NLT)

Human Danger

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Her voice was muffled.  Our conversation had to push through a special vent in the thick wall of bullet-proof glass.  “Check that all the Passport details are correct before you leave today.” She repeated for me.

Standing there, I couldn’t help but wonder why they need bullet-proof glass and armed security guards .  What horrors are expected here?  What violence was anticipated at this Passport Office?   What potential life-threatening attack inspired the design of such a fortress?

I can’t help but feel like we humans have become a like this office: over protective, over-cautious, over separated.

When the risk of being hurt seems too great, build a wall.   A thick wall.  And a lie sets in: humans cannot be trusted.  You give your heart but get trampled.  You share your journey but get judged.  You trust but you get betrayed.

Oh glorious wall.  Keeps those hurtful people out.

But the emotional fortress betrays the builder.  It doesn’t just keep the hurtful people out, it keeps ALL people out.

I left the building thinking about how to be more purposeful in keeping my walls down.  Thinking about how important it is to keep trusting people.

The blessings of sharing life with other humans far outweigh the pains.  Right?  Yes?  Yes. I think so.

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“Mummy! A man waved at me so I waved back! Then he started talking to me…” My sweet child was smiling through the car window at a pan-handler.

Oh the irony.  As we drove away from the bullet-proof Passport Office, I had to talk to my pure-hearted children about “strangers” and being safe.  About not trusting people.  Right after I sat thinking about how important it is to trust people.

It made me sad.

So where is the balance?  How can the beauty of human relationships thrive when the risks are so great?  When there are horrors and violence?

I don’t want us to live in a fortress of mistrust but I also don’t want us to live being needlessly exposed danger.

I’ve added this dilemma to my prayer list.  Only God can show us the way to balance.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV)

Part Of Something

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“We didn’t want you to worry, so we didn’t tell you…”

My parents don’t want me to worry.  The day I moved across the world, they stopped telling me things that I used to be privy to in everyday life.  For the most part it’s a good thing.  I tend to take on the burdens of others too deeply.  This is especially true when it comes to my family.  And it has been heightened by the our geographical distance.  Being so far away makes me feel powerless.  I cannot help them.

In the 14 years I’ve been here, I’ve received several emails that started with “Don’t worry…” and then a story of things that made me worry.  The source of my worry is that I’m losing life with my family.  My parents, unwitnessed by me, have been aging.  My sister is married and has kids I haven’t met.  And none of them have met our youngest.  When I hear of my family members being sick, I worry.  I worry because we are not getting to share life.  And I’m not ready for them to pass into eternity yet.

Last week, God had been talking to me about my family and my worries. He showed me that I had been living tethered to my past.  He brought me into a new freedom and understanding about my life so far away from my family.  I felt lighter.  A great weight had been moved.  I was seeing life so differently.  And then, on Friday night, an email came:  “We didn’t want to worry you, so we didn’t tell you…” 

My strong, adventurous, resilient dad, whose life history strongly resembles the “Man from Snowy River,” has been ill for over a month.  Actually he’s been ill for some years but he’s been increasingly ill the past month.  In the past weeks, he’s been to a myriad of doctors for all kinds of tests.  They are trying to piece the puzzle together.  In typical ex-farmer strength, my dad said, “I’m not on a respirator in the hospital.  I’m fine.” 

But on Friday my Mum felt the Holy Spirit tell her it was time to tell me about his illness.  When I read her email, I immediately knew I needed to go home.  It wasn’t the desperate reaction of the girl-who-had-abandoned-her-family like I’d had in the past.  It was like God had arranged the seasons and times to line up and He was ushering me home.

Yesterday dad received a very good batch of test results that showed improvement!  The doctors don’t know the source of the issues yet.  But I have this hopeful vision: For my dad to be well enough to play with my kids.  For my kids and my parents to walk on the beach together.  For them to chat and share secrets.  To build memories.  To be in relationship.  I want to go home while my parents are still able to interact and commune with us.  It’s time for me to go home.

One of my precious mentor mentors called me.  She had some news: a group of dear people are raising funds for me and my kids to go home.  I cannot believe it.  I am utterly humbled.  My pride is being peeled off.  My dreams are coming true.  When my precious mentor told me, I curled up on the kitchen floor and sobbed.  Tears of gratitude.  Cries of hope.

This is a deeply personal journey for me.  I hesitate to write about it.  But I feel like God is doing something that extends much further than just me and my silly homesick notions.

My mentor told me that she felt God speak to her in September about me needing to go home.  Another person says that in December they felt like God put on their heart that I needed to go home.  Two weeks ago, a friend felt moved to pray for me to be able to go home.  This weekend she pointed out, “We prayed and God is already making it happen.”

I do not believe that me going home is very important in the grand scheme of things.  But something grand is happening in the midst of this.  I feel like God is doing something personal and majestic in the lives of those who are praying and giving.

People are giving so sacrificially.  People who have already been giving to us… for we have had several years of big needs.  People who have already given us groceries, paid our rent, paid our bills.  People who have given toward my Lyme treatment.  People who have given us gift cards, free babysitting, gifts.  Truly we have been poured into over and over for many years.  (Confession: My pride would say, “Too many years.” To be honest, I would rather be on the giving side.  Pride, pride, pride.)

I feel like my little family is, for no reason deserved, receiving the abundance of the vision of the Acts church.  The Body of Christ is pouring out the blessing of God they’ve received.  Giving despite their own needs.  Giving with love and mercy.  Trusting that Yahweh will fill their needs too.  I feel like I am part of something huge and sacred.  My heart is quivering with expectation.

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph… sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  (Acts 4:32, 34-35 ESV)   “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10)

Electric Blanket. I love you.

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Why didn’t we buy an electric blanket years ago?

For our 13 years of marriage, we’ve piled on blankets and comforters (Aussie: doonas) to combat not heating the room.  Some nights it took hours to warm up.  Toes icy. Literally shivering from the cold.  No exaggeration.

This year we thought to try an electric blanket.  It’s INCREDIBLE.  Every night we talk about how amazing it is and shake our heads about the years we spent without it.  So stupid.  So very stupid.

We inflicted ourselves with discomfort and, sometimes, sickness all because we didn’t take advantage of the amazing invention of the electric blanket.

So stupid. So juvenile. So pathetic.

That’s truly how I feel about it.  I want to scream at my past-self: “BUY A BLANKET! DON’T BE SUCH AN IDIOT!”

Yes. I’m passionate about this.  We suffered for no reason.  For so many years.

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I’m passionate about this too: I am not taking advantage of all the amazing things God has provided me.  I look back and see that I have suffered for no reason.  For so many years.

The electric blankets of Faith.

The Ways of God that provide warmth in the winters of life.  In the dark nights.  In the valley of the shadow of death.

If I tried to make a list of the electric blankets of Faith, it would never end.  The one that is coming to mind today is a two-sided blanket: Thankfulness and Trust.

Trusting God and having a heart of thankfulness is a warm blanket that guards against the frost of ungratefulness and discontent.

Oh, that frost bites at my heart.  And all too quickly I am numb.  And then I get upset with God that I am so cold.  And His blanket of choosing a thankful heart of Trust is sitting right with me.

Wrapping myself up in this today:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again — rejoice! Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and THANK HIM for all he has done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s PEACE, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His PEACE will GUARD your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
… I have LEARNED how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.(Philippians 4:4, 6-7, 11b-13)

One of my amazing mentors has been keeping a gratitude journal.  Last week she was studying this passage in Philippians and the word “LEARNED” stood out to her.  She shared her journey with me, “Thankfulness takes PRACTICE.  I have to LEARN to be content with much or little.”  Yes, oh yes.  (See why I call her my mentor?!  So humble and strong in her walk with Yahweh.)

Yes.  Living contently is a LEARNED attitude and behavior.  It must be practiced, studied, trained for, focused on.  I must be deliberate and intentional in LEARNING to be content with little or much.

Sigh.  This is a blanket of warmth I’ll have to choose to embrace… despite my fleshly desire to be sad and mad and have sour grapes.  Sigh.

Confession:  It’s always bugged me that people apply the “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” phrase for all kinds of situations… but not often about the actual situation described in Philippians.  Bigger Confession:  It bugs me that I rebel against the Word of God and choose to ignore this phrase in my own life.  So stupid, self.

Each night when I snuggle under the amazing warmth of our electric blanket… I’m reminded of the years we lived without warmth.  And I’m searching my heart for frost-bite and looking for the warm blankets of God’s Word.

Electric blanket: you have warmed my toes and challenged my heart.  I love you.

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Today another of my friends & mentors posted this clip of Joycie (aka Joyce Meyer) talking about trusting God when I don’t get what I want.  Yep.  So good.  https://player.vimeo.com/video/54290172

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