On Quitting and Healing

Do you

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.  In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.  Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews  said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”   But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’  They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”  Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.  Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”  The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.  And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.  But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

{John 5:1-17}

On a Sabbath morning and I read these words following a mind dump/journaling session/crying out to the Lord in prayer time. Morning pages of long hand writing, with tears blurring the pages of every lament for God’s provision, the hearts of my sons, strained relationships, jobs, college planning, caring for my parents, all of it.

My confession today and really every day this week is that this low lying sad undertone in my heart is because I have been living in disappointment. Disappointment rather than gratitude when the reasons for gratitude are solid and tangible and the disappointment is in the fleeting ideals that were never real or may never come to pass.

The last few years have been wrought with uncertainty and my response at times has been full of faith but also marred with fear. The combination of faith and fear led me to try hard to find another way, another job, to change the circumstances on my own. Some of that was good and much has been unhealthy. I figured if I tried to knock, turn the handles and pick the locks, God would open the doors he chose to but I was at least doing my part in trying.

The man laying by the pool, who lived with his illness for 38 years tried hard to get himself into the stirring waters of the pool. The waters called to him daily and each ripple was a visible reminder of unmet expectations and the pain of trying hard to get somewhere to no avail. Then Jesus asks a simple question, “Do you want to be healed?”

The man’s response wasn’t about being healed, but how he was to get into the pool in order to get healed. His answer to the Savior of the world was focused on his situation, the obstacles and disappointment with everything and everyone and the way he thought it should all go.

It’s true, life is a journey, but  like the man at Bethesda I often lose sight of the ultimate goal: to encounter Christ and let Him bring full on healing to my life. As it turns out, for all those years the man was trying to get in the water, he didn’t need the water at all.

All he needed was Jesus.

Jesus directed him to get up, take the bed and walk. Don’t look back, do things differently but under HIS direction, not the way he thought he should go. In the back of my mind as I consider this, I’m reminded:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.

So, I’ve decided to quit. I’m quitting trying so hard.

I’m quitting trying to be the best mom to these boys because it easily becomes more about me rather than the path unfolding before each of them.

I’m quitting thinking through my vocation and calling and wondering how they will reconcile because they actually are and it is so easy to miss that and what’s more… I end up finding my identity in what I do rather than who I am.

I’m quitting thinking through the “what if’s” that may never come to pass because today has enough trouble of it’s own.

I’m quitting trying to impress, inspire and prove myself because I am fully loved and have already been fully welcomed by a God who has plans for my life that are good and meant to prosper me towards Himself.

At this point in life, if it’s not Jesus that directs me to get up and go, I’m going to stay put. Stay put in this day, with these people and hopefully my ears attentive to how it all unfolds. I don’t need to work so hard because Jesus plainly says, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

I’m pretty sure they are doing a better job than I ever could. Also, this post is more of a prayer of declaration and not saying I’m going to be awesome at any of this quite yet. It’s a journey, right?

Do you need to quit something as well?

Peace be with you.

When Home Becomes Less About a Place and More About God’s Presence

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Sometimes you write a post for a Blog and then time passes and you forget… you forget about what you wrote and even some of the things that welled up so high in your heart you couldn’t help but write them down. I write to process and to make sense of things. I write because it helps me see the presence of Christ through said process. With my writing, I pray that sharing allows me to offer some kind of encouragement to you.

As I read this post today, I ached all over again. I ached because some things are still really hard and yet that longing in the ache, that longing for Jesus, is becoming more and more real as time moves on.

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It was late 2013, and I was walking to dinner at a conference when my eyes caught a glimpse of these artfully written words:

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

My heart leapt with excitement as I thought about the things God is able to do when he does a new thing. In their context these words tell the story of God bringing the Jews out of captivity. As it was with their forefathers, this new thing would come with a promise of hope and deliverance alongside hints that it would certainly not be easy.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
 and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2, ESV)

The year following that conference was the beginning of an unearthing. My entire world shook with upheaval and many times I felt my circumstances overwhelming and consuming me.

 

If you’d like to read more, hop on over to Trochia.

Focusing On The Right Words

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed says the LORD who has compassion on you.” {Isaiah 54:10}

I read these words this morning and the eyes of my heart immediately rested on the mountains departing and the hills being removed. Whatever that looks like is different for everyone. For me, they provide an image of this continual finding of footing in a season of change. They represent the unmet expectations of what I thought would be in place and is not. However as I kept meditating and praying through these words, I realized the point of the whole sentence written by Isaiah from the LORD wasn’t about the pesky mountains and the annoying hills that take your breath away as you climb. The point of his statement is for the reader, the hearer, to know God’s love is indeed steadfast. Never changing. These words were lovingly spoken to remind us no matter what we do, or what happens in life, God  L O V E S us and his love will never depart from us. This is more breathtaking than any hill or mountain can ever be. The God of all creation thinks this much of us. Better yet,  we don’t ignore the mountains and hills because God certainly has not. Isaiah tells us the LORD has compassion on us. By definition, compassion implies He has to see us and know what we are in. Compassion, defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

God is not just sitting high up and looking down wishing we would pull it together. He sees. He knows. He feels. He loves. He is sorrowful for the mountains and hills caused by our own selves or the circumstances around us and is literally in it with us. He has a desire to alleviate the suffering but that will often look differently than we think it should.

So often I miss the truth and the joy of being in God’s presence when I read the Bible. I want to focus on what the mountains and hills are and why He won’t just move them and put them where they belong because He can. The truth is, many scriptures like the one above say more about who God is and His presence with us and love for us than anything else. Scripture is a good teacher.

Today, let us shift our focus like the word of God teaches us to and acknowledge the mountains and hills, but keep our eyes on the ever present nature of God. His love. His compassion. May we have the grace to see it and believe it.

What mountains and hills are you facing? How have you been shown the love and compassion of God though it? Has he sent someone to show you? Has he provided something to remind you?

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Lately I’ve Been Learning to Say Yes Daily

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Eighteen years ago today on a cliff overlooking the San Francisco Bay, a seemingly cool, calm and collected Steve Lind invited me into ever after.

I’m glad I said yes.

What I didn’t realize then that I am learning now is marriage isn’t as much about the initial “Yes!” or “I do,” but more about a daily yes. The purpose of marriage is oneness and every single day is a choice to say yes to that oneness or to something else that has the potential to divide.

Every day I get to choose to say yes to Steve, yes to our marriage and yes to our ever after which helps determine just how “happily” it will be.

Unfortunately, sometimes I say yes to other things. 

I say yes to my iPhone.

I say yes to my boys when they should see my first yes belongs to their dad.

I say yes to work.

I say yes to the tyranny of the urgent.

I say yes to the fear of the future instead of the gift of today.

I say yes to my friends who make it easier when I share my heart with them at times.

Lately, I’ve been learning there is nothing sweeter than oneness when the yes is said emphatically over and over again even when that yes is hard.

Yes, we should go from our community because together we are being called to something new.

Yes to new dreams and vision.

Yes, we should take that job that will require us to walk in faith.

Yes, we will choose to slow down and rest so our family can thrive.

Yes, we will step into the unknown and trust that our very first yes, our yes to God, will help us see abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.

Yes, we will sacrifice and be brave even when it doesn’t make sense.

And even yes to everything mundane. Yes to dishes and cleared kitchen sink. Yes to preferring the other person over self. Yes to the laundry being folded and put away and yes to the grace when it isn’t {most of the time}. Yes to creative meal plans and yes to a few moments of quiet together when the boys are finally in bed or the early hours when they are still sleeping. Yes, to the Adirondacks on the back porch and yes to one more episode of Netflix.

Yes because yes together is way better where ever it may take us than when we are apart.

What have you learned about saying yes in marriage?

 

The Earth is the Lord's

What Would Happen If We Realized Everything Is On Loan?

This passage is often referenced in sermons, teachings and writings about giving. It refers to the fact everything we posses belongs to LORD and was given to us by Him in the first place. It helps to think about this when we are praying for God’s provision and his peace and when it comes to giving away our money or begging God to provide what we need.

Today I thought about how God may want me to approach this truth in other ways as well. When I think about the areas in my life where I struggle with peace and wonder:

What if I really took to heart what I said at the baby dedications of all four of my kids that they do not belong to me? What if every day I looked at them and acknowledged they have always belonged to the LORD and I’m just borrowing them for a few short years with some very long days attached to them? Would I be less worried about their hearts and minds and more trusting in the God who has said he authors and perfects our faith? Would I be less fearful of harm coming their way and more at peace knowing that even if they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Jesus would be there with his rod and staff to comfort them? {Psalm 23} How would this change the way I love my children?

What if I really believed my husband belonged to the LORD and this marriage was built on borrowed time? Would I take to heart the idea that one should return something in better condition than when they received it? Would I be more apt to pay attention and be more protective of it? {Ephesians 5:21} How would this change the way I love my husband?

What if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt my mom belongs to the LORD? Would I wake up less worried about my responsibility to care for her knowing He is going to provide everything she needs? Would I be kinder, more gentle and less anxious about the future? {Matthew 6:25-27} How would this change the way I love my mom?

What if I believed my dreams and the things I’m good at are truly gifts that have been given to me by God and for God? Would I be less concerned about what’s next and more likely to stay present in the now? {James 1:17-18} How would this change the way I love others?

Scripture is meant to reach every part of our lives because every word of God drips of his loving kindness and is reflective of who He is. Our goal in approaching scripture is to know God and through our understanding become more reflective of Him. How would this change the way I love God?

Allow me to encourage you today friends by inviting you to inventory those parts of your life where you are not at peace and apply this question to each. What if? What if that thing, that person, that relationship, that situation belonged to God and was authored by him? Would you hold on a little less tightly and give yourself permission to step back and see what He wants you to see?

This is my prayer for all of us today.

May the Lord, in His infinite kindness, grant you the peace of knowing he is with you and for you.

 

The Earth is the Lord's

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Paris and the One Thing ISIS and I Agree On

 

It was reported by CNN when the gunmen stormed into the Bataclan Music Hall in Paris, they were shouting “Allah akbar.”

God is great.

And He certainly is. Although we are not speaking of the same God, this is the one and only thing I can agree on with ISIS.

Lately I’ve been camping in a story about Syria. Not the ones of late but one of long ago in 2 Kings 6. The story is part of the great story of God that continues with Syria, Israel, and us today.

On this mourning after, we might be waking up numb because these news headlines seem to be coming one after another. Or we may have woken up with a significant measure of fear. Or outrage.

PC: CNN.com

In the story in 2 Kings a young assistant runs to his master, Elisha when he sees the attackers of his day, great in number, with an artillery of horses and chariots encamped around this city.

“What shall we do?”

Isn’t that often our response on days like today? When we see babies washed up on beaches. When we see people in crowded city streets clinging to each other.

Elisha answered him, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Then, Elisha prayed for his fearful young assistant and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.”

The LORD immediately answered this prayer and opened the eyes of the young man, it says.

“He saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

All along there were these angelic armies that outnumbered those who were coming against them. They were there the whole time but they were invisible to Elisha’s servant until the LORD lifted his eyes to see them.

God never vacates His throne and He never turns His face from those He loves. There is great power in our prayers as we pray against terror, as we pray for protection and peace.

I woke up this morning praying for Paris, praying for Syria, praying for Israel, praying for us to have eyes to see what God is up to, but I was also deeply compelled to pray for ISIS.

I believe we are living in a time when the Church is waking up. The upside of the information age is that we can’t look away at the evil and destruction that is happening in all parts of the world. Rather than be paralyzed by fear or numbed by headlines, we need to be moved by our grief, moved by our rage, moved by our doubts because regardless of what we think and fear God is on the move. We who are part of the subversive Kingdom of God are called to arise and walk in love. We are to walk in love because it is written that this is the best use of our time as the days are evil. {Ephesians 5:16} Walking in love is not exclusive from walking in justice, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Love was poured out in the form of all of that on the cross where Jesus died. The answer to “what shall we do?” is informed by what we know, what we have seen and what we believe about God.

The thing about those men who stormed into public places firing rifles with explosives strapped to themselves is that they too have been terrorized.

Like the child who grows up bullied, abused, tormented and mentally destroyed by an abuser grows up to abuse his own children, so are the terrorists who are victims to their government’s evil ideologies and have been shaped by their practices. They are often people who want to be accepted, valued and belong to a people group and a cause greater than themselves.

Can’t the same be said for you and I?

Let justice have its way. It needs to have its way. People who walk in love, like imitators of God are marked by grace, mercy and forgiveness. We are people who are courageous because courage is what you need when you are called to do justice and love mercy sometimes in the form of prayer and sometimes with your hands and feet. Courage is what you need when you are people called to pray and walk in love especially when you are praying for a clear enemy.

We go to the root of the problem and we courageously pray towards the root of evil and pain and pray for the restorative and redemptive way of Jesus to have it’s way in our times and nations.

Because God so loved the world.

This Perfect Love casts out the fear we are feeling today. Perfect Love regardless of any circumstances be they the hardship in your life or the devastating things happening around the world is greater than what we see with our own eyes. The story in 2 Kings 6 provides a backdrop to the words of John, “for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

May the Jehovah Sabaoth, the great LORD of hosts, the LORD of armies be the fuel of every prayer and may He take every thought of yours captive today and move them towards himself.

 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” {John 16:33}

Oh Hey There Friday Favorites!

*This post contains affiliate links which means if you buy something from Amazon I will make a commission.*

Oh hey, Friday! I am so happy Friday is here because it means a little less driving and little slowing down for the next couple of days. Here’s where grace and thanksgiving was found this week from the frivolous to the very much non-frivolous.

First for the very frivolous. I found a new favorite t-shirt.

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I have not mastered the art of the self-timer on my iphone so forgive the selfie (and the mess behind me). This is a Tresics brand t-shirt I found at Marshalls. I orignially got it in grey for 9.99 and like it so much I went back and bought it in another shade of grey and this blue. It’s soft, flowy and super comfortable and cute while hiding everything it needs to hide.

My new favorite Twitter account to follow is @manwhohasitall. It’s a parody of all the things that are said to women who spend their lives “juggling” motherhood, families and career. If you want to go the extra mile you can get a good laugh with this video from Buzzfeed featuring presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

All a great segue to the not so frivolous Jen Wilkin who has an tendency to say everything I wish I would have said only better. She has a brilliant mind and is a great leader and teacher of the Word. In her post this week she comments on an open letter written by Jared Mauldin, a senior in mechanical engineering at Eastern Washington University. He talks about the importance of men speaking up for women in ministry. In my own personal experience, few things have been more encouraging than when a man has spoken up for women in leadership. Everyone calm down…we’re not trying to take over, we just want to do our God given part.

We’re getting increasingly less frivolous here friends. My friend Dan Parkins has gone through more trials than many people experience in a lifetime. He has the best way of writing grace and when I read his posts it literally feels like my soul is being watered. Read this post and be moved by his ability to find grace in the daily and go hunt for your own.

Jen Hatmaker wrote this post on the freedom Christ has set us free for, and here I am, finding myself outside of a gate, wondering how I got here and what kept me inside for so long. Things like my ability to really trust God and my view of His greatness compared to my own fears and worries about life come to mind.

Finally, my favorite quote this week is from Ann Voskamp‘s 1000 Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces.

“Life is so urgent in necessitates living slow.”

Let’s go into the weekend remembering weekends were originally designed for selah between weeks of laboring. This time, let us not be trapped by the over workings of our own minds but walk in the freedom already unleashed for us at Calvary and find our rest in the slow savoring of Jesus and those he has around us. I’m praying this as much for me as I am for you. Amen.

What were some of your favorite things this week?

Oh Hey Friday! | Friday Favorites

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What I’m Learning About A House, A Home and the People who Dwell There

When Steve’s grandpa Lind passed away, Grandma Jo started giving away all his belongings within a week. All his clothes, books, etc.

I asked her if she felt like it was too soon and gently suggested she might want to hold on to some things for a little while longer. She looked at me totally convinced and said:

“My memories of Hugh are not tied to his stuff.”

That lesson has served me well through times of grief, the KonMari method of cleaning out my closets and today it comforts the bittersweet final goodbye to a home well loved.

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A home where we broke bread with people around a table made just for us.

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Where several young couples sat on our couch, sharing their dreams of marriage and talking through the preparation for all of it.

A home with a dry and desolate land of a back yard where relationships bloomed and the best talks happened around a fire served with s’mores.

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Where loving and skilled hands built more space for our growing family making the attic the best room in the house.

Where two babies of the four were brought home to complete our family.

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Where two foster kids were brought in until their forever family found them.

Where Easter Eggs were hidden and hunted for along with Heineken for the grown ups.

This house was home not because of how lovely it was but because of the lovely people who came through its doors.

A new friend who experienced a similar road recently said she has discovered “our home is Jesus and a house is simply his provision.”

I’ve been struggling with this because as true as it is, my heart’s desire is to have a home here on earth that is spacious enough for my tribe and the people to share life with. A place where I can put down roots and make it my own. While we have this beautiful rental now, it isn’t ours. But here’s the thing… nothing is really ours and everything, including our dreams need to be held loosely so God can take them and show us what is beyond what we can ask or imagine. Honestly, this is requiring my faith muscles to be built up in ways that  make me sore at times because this whole journey has been about seeing the divine in the day to day and God doing great things with prayers answered differently than I pictured in my finite mind. Surely His ways are not our ways and grace is found in the most unlikely places.

What I’m learning about all of this is even when we uproot and go, even when we say goodbye to what was and look forward to what is next, our roots remain in these.

Faith.

Hope.

Love.

Faith God brought us here to this place without the road being fully clear. Faith he is with us and will never leave us. Hope there is much more and the best days are in front of us. Hope that no matter where we are, we always have Jesus. And the greatest of these is love. We were loved well and loved others well in that little house in San Pedro.

I am confident of this.

The memories I have are not tied to the house itself but to the love that took place in words and deed. In the gatherings in the kitchen where over 3000 dinners were made sometimes with the help of a grill so well worn it didn’t make the journey to Nashville. My memories will always be tied to the people who are still our people and to the God we can point to when we say… look at what He did.

 

Creation Swap

Weekend Reading

As we enter into the weekend, I hope and pray you have time to play, time to rest and time to savor God’s grace in your life!

This week I’ve been enjoying a visit with one of my bests and her baby boy. We’ve had fun exploring Nashville with the boys on Fall Break. In the down time I got to sneak in some good stuff around the web.

Here are a few of my favorite reads from this week. Enjoy!

This one is a great post of moving, change, courage and putting one foot in front of the other at Nesting Place.

Happy Birthday Jamie Wright! Read why 40 is NOT the new 30 and prepare to laugh and relate if you are there.

This post was hilarious and went viral this last week. If you’ve experienced a surge of adult onset Calvinism in yourself or those around you, this will make you laugh and maybe cry just a bit.

My cousin Colleen is a super hero. Her daughter Claire has Rhett’s Syndrome and if you’ve ever struggled with mom guilt, her post on Monday will bring you some comradarie and perspective. Her writing is always raw, deep and profound and it’s these little things she is faithful with that God is doing much with her life AND Claire’s.

One of the most powerful reads on how the church can best serve singles by Lore Ferguson Wilbert. Single people, prepare to be encouraged.

Happy weekend!

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Loved & Called {Lifeway Women’s Blog}

The Lifeway Women’s Blog is a great resource for women, particularly those who serve in leadership. I’m over there today talking about a passage that has spoken loudly to me over the last few years. One that I am still wrestling with in these days as I pray and ponder what might be next for me.

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The Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Romans resolved in what his calling is (Romans 1:1-6) and greets his readers with a powerful statement those of us in leadership can easily let slip by:

“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Loved by God. Called to be saints.

You see, the truth you are loved comes before the fact you are called.

You can read more by going here.