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Going It Alone

March 21, 2010

I think I want to do it alone.

You sure?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.

“I know the drive like the back of my hand. I-15 to I-70 and then turn right. Easy peasy.”

“You’ll take it in two days, right?” He wasn’t convinced.

Yes, or even three. The boys will do great, and, honestly, I think I’ll just want to be alone those first few days after you leave.”

After my Marine left from San Diego, bound for Afghanistan, my two little boys and I needed to make the 16-hour road trip from Southern California back to the tiny Colorado town to which we’d just moved. We’ve made this drive countless times throughout the past five years–this would make our fifth round trip in the past ten months alone.

I knew I could do it.

I knew I had to do it.

I said it was because I wanted to be alone the first few days after John left. I said the open road is cathartic to my heart. Both were true.

But the real reason was deeper. More personal.

I needed to prove to myself I could do it.

It was just a road trip. Not even a particularly difficult road trip. But I hadn’t ever done it on my own, without my husband or another adult, not with two little boys.

(…and no dvd player in the car… just saying)

What I didn’t realize when I decided to traverse several states and stop in hotels along the way was that the road trip would prove to be simple when compared to the other strength training exercises I’d face this first week.

Neither did I realize that this trip, and the first seven days that followed it, would show me the truth.

As it turned out,

I couldn’t do it on my own.

And that was a good thing.

I needed someone to stay on the phone with me and talk me through a mild panic attack the morning after John shipped out.

I needed someone to load our bikes on our truck hitch and repack the truck bed after I tossed all the heavy jackets and snow boots under the rest of the luggage.

I needed someone to show up at the hotel in which I’d reserved a not-so-great room, pack up the boys and our belongings, whisk us off to her house and send us to bed.

I needed someone to talk to me for two hours when I got drowsy somewhere in the middle of Utah.

I needed someone to move the snow out of my driveway before I pulled back into town.

I needed someone to knock on my door, help me get the boys ready and get me out of the house.

I needed someone to come, at a moment’s notice, and try to fix my broken sewage system.

I needed someone (or several someones) to let me call them late at night when I just need to talk.

I might be able to drive sixteen hours with the boys, on my own, without event.

But that doesn’t mean I was doing it on my own.

I needed Someone to carry me, to hold me, to protect me, to surround me with people who would show His love.

I needed Someone to remind me that I needed. That I needed Him.

I might be stronger than I think.

I might also be weaker than I realize.




My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…

II Corinthians 12:9


Are you trying to prove to yourself that you are stronger… that you can do it alone?

Or have you embraced the Sufficiency found in your weakness?

(Because I’m not sure what I am these days…)


Some Reality in the Best For Clickin’

February 17, 2010

Your comments made me cry.

I always feel so very humbled by your love and support when I share my heart, my reality.

On the deployment front, this is the time when it starts to get hard. We keep reminding ourselves that the anticipation of it–the goodbyes, the emptiness, but probably not the little boys’ heartache–is almost always worse than the actuality, because our Father gives grace for the moment.

In the vein of reality, here are a few others sharing their own authenticity:

  • Sarah, talking about the reality of criticism. Although I can’t believe this turned into a controversy about makeup.

All of these beautiful, strong women have challenged me today to pursue transparency and authenticity. Even when it’s difficult.

Because the Father gives grace in the moment.

Gaining Altitude

February 10, 2010

We heave when we walk down the street. We’re lightheaded after bounding up the stairs. It takes effort to unload groceries from the truck to the kitchen. Boxes are much heavier than they were two weeks ago.

There are a lot of changes when one moves from being, literally, at sea level to a mountain village sitting at 10, 200 feet elevation. The severe lack of oxygen is a force with which to be reckoned.

I knew I’d have to seriously adjust my baking when I moved here. An extra quarter cup flour here, a little more baking powder there. But who would have thought that I’d have problems with my contact lenses–with my very vision? Or that I’d be ready for a nap by the time my little people hit their pillows each afternoon, and I’d still be needing toothpicks for my eyelids by nine o’clock at night? I didn’t foresee the voracious appetite that would set me into munchie mode by mid-morning every day.

(When I come up here to visit, I typically sleep a zillion extra hours, eat like a horse AND I lose weight. Go figure.)

(But I’ll take it.)

All of this is in addition to the freezing temps and the snow that lasts… well… most of the year.

Going from the lowlands to the high places isn’t exactly easy.

But people do it. Because it’s worth it.

MountainsSummer

Our Mountains ~ Summer

Breathtaking. Awe-inspiring.

Worth it.

What are your lowlands? Complacency? Self-righteousness? Cold-heartedness? Judgement? Anger? Bitterness?

What are the forces that drive you upward? Disillusionment? Betrayal? Confession? Brokenness? Loss?

Who are the companions that steal your oxygen? Shock? Despair? Anguish? Confusion? Abandonment? An aching spirit? Physical pain?

And what, oh beautiful friend, are the rewards? Redemption. Newness. Clarity. Beauty. Dancing. Wholeness. Restoration. Forgiveness. Jesus.

Altitude isn’t without difficulty. It pulls the very breath from our chests, affects our vision and is beyond exhausting.

But the fragile beauty, achingly alluring, can render the burning lungs, stinging eyes, chilly fingers and even the icy patches unspeakably valuable.

Leave the lowlands. Follow Him to the peaks.

Discovering the Unconditional Love of My Heavenly Father

February 1, 2010

When I started reading Elizabeth Esther’s blog, at the recommendation of my friend Sarah, I caught my breath more than a few times. Here was someone who understood and wrote MY heart. How was this possible? By the time she and I met face to face, there was no question our hearts were kindred. At my request, this sweet and wise woman has graced us with her presence here at Heart and Home today.

As you read this, my family is traversing across the United States in the company of my husband’s parents, a dog and a not-so-happy cat. I had every intention of mentioning this fact in the post I never wrote last Friday, but I was highly distracted by the sea of boxes and all the wonderful people who put their lives on hold to help us out this past week. But don’t worry–you’ll be hearing the scoop on the moving truck that wasn’t big enough and the water spilling out of the bathroom and the landlords who were overly eager to have the house re-occupied.

In the meantime, read and be blessed.

It was a blazing hot day in the Yosemite valley. We parked the Suburban on the side of the road and loaded ourselves down with chairs, towels, a picnic lunch. The children took off running across the meadow, headed for the shady trees next to the river.

“Stay on the path! Stay where we can see you! Don’t go near the river!” I shouted after them.

“OK!” they called back over their shoulders.

They were so excited, thrilled to swim on this hot day. I just wanted to find a cool place to rest. I was 9 weeks pregnant with the twins; nauseous and exhausted. The walk across the meadow seemed like the journey of a thousand miles.

I hunkered down and plodded through a meadow buzzing with bees and butterflies. Ahead of me, the children suddenly disappeared around a curve in the path.

Matt and I quickened our step to catch up–they couldn’t hear us if we called. A thread of anxiety weaved its way through my heart. And just as I was about to call out for them, it happened.

A bloodcurdling, violent scream. The kind that makes every mother’s heart stop. It was Jude.

A second scream joined in. James.

“DADDY! DADDY! JUDE IS DROWNING!”

Matt dropped his load and sprinted down the path, over a fallen log and out of sight. I dropped my things and followed, praying harder than I ever have.

“O God, please. Please help.”

Jude’s screams were louder now, more desperate–short sticcato gulps of panic.

I rounded the bend and saw them. Matt was yanking Jude up by one arm. James stood trembling nearby. The screaming ceased.

Jude had fallen into the river. He was submerged up to his neck, hanging onto a clump of grass from the riverbank. A few more seconds and he would have been gone. Matt pulled him out just in time.

The boys walked toward me, heads hanging. They were both crying. For a moment, we couldn’t say anything. It had been such a close call.

“James, why did you lead your brother close to the river?” Matt asked.

“I dunno,” James said, dashing at his face with the back of his hand. “I didn’t think it was that bad. But Jude slipped…”

“You should have listened to us!” I snapped, my voice loud and angry. “Instead, you disobeyed us! Your brother could have been seriously hurt!”

James’ face crumpled and I felt terrible. I was hopped up on adrenaline and really upset. I needed to cool off. We gathered up our things and trudged down toward a sandy spot near the river. No-one was talking.

We unpacked our bags, spread out towels. Matt blew up the inflatable river rafts. The tension eased and the children began to play. Jude was back to being his happy little self.

The afternoon progressed. We splashed around in the river and floated on the rafts. Later on we drove back to our hotel and once there, I sat down with James. I apologized for getting so angry at him. I explained why I had been so upset.

We hugged and kissed. All was well.

But that night, I couldn’t fall asleep. The whole scene kept replaying through my mind.

And then I thought about how Matt had run to the rescue. He had dropped everything and sprinted toward his son without hesitation. Yes, they had disobeyed. Yes, they had gotten themselves into this mess.

But a father’s love for his children is unconditional. It will stop at nothing.

A Father’s love runs to the rescue. A Father’s love runs out to meet His prodigal child.

At that moment, the tears I had been holding inside all day finally splashed down my cheeks.

I’ve never felt good enough. I’ve struggled with perfectionism ever since I was a trembling, fearful child being raised in an oppressive church. I’ve always felt unworthy of love.

But He’s been saying it to me for all my life. And that night, for the first time I finally heard it. I finally believed Him.

Elizabeth, I love you like that, too.

Read more from Elizabeth Esther and let your heart be challenged and encouraged.

Just DO Something–Finding God’s Will

January 27, 2010

Questions:

Is God’s will meant to be “found?”

Is it mysterious?

Are we to search for his will, not making decisions about life until we’ve discovered it?

Answer:

I’m not sure.

Oh, I know. Profound. But as I’ve said a time or two before, I’m not one to have many answers these days.

This is why I jumped at the chance to review Kevin DeYoung’s new book Just Do Something, in audio book format from Christianaudio.com. I’m a big fan of audio books, being I don’t have many blocks of time to sit and turn pages, but I DO have a lot of time when my hands are busy but my ears are still available. When the narration is well done and the book isn’t too long–which were both true in this case–the situation is ideal.

They call it multi-tasking. I call it… survival.

Kevin DeYoung puts forth the premise of God’s will being straightforward, predetermined and easily understood: to love God with our whole hearts, serve him, obey him as outlined in his Word, and after that… to do what we like.

I wasn’t sure what I thought as the book began, being I’ve always heard Christian-ese conversations peppered with phrases such as, “Just pray about it,” “I can’t make a move until God shows me his will,” “I don’t get why I’m doing this, but God’s telling me to do it,” and, “I need to wait until I have a peace about this.”

Of course each of those have a grain of their own merit, being we are told to ask God for wisdom, we shouldn’t make decisions until we’ve figured out God’s will on a matter, and sometimes God’s way doesn’t make sense to us.

But, as DeYoung points out, many, many modern Christians are paralyzed by fear–albeit, fear with a good cause–of doing the wrong thing because it just might not be God’s will. They pause, searching, waiting to have “a peace” about a situation, or for some special revelation from God.

God’s will is seen as mystical, mysterious and something he expects us to search for endlessly. It’s as if, DeYoung describes, God is dangling his will in front of our faces, then playing hide and seek with it.

I don’t see the God of the Bible having a character that delights in tormenting his children after he tells them to obey.

Instead, DeYoung suggests, God has a definite will. But it’s much more concrete than we imagine. Throughout the Bible, God always connects direct statements about finding his will with statements about following his commands. He has asked us to obey the basic statutes given to us in his Word–to love him, to love others, to follow his principles and seek to become more like him. But he doesn’t tell us to live on an endless quest, trying, searching, hoping, always unsure if we’re doing the right thing–if we’ve found God’s will.

DeYoung tackles the hard stuff–jobs, marriage and personal responsibility with a clarity I’ve never heard before when dealing with the topic of “finding” God’s will. He offers the idea that God has given us clear principles in his Word to live by, and as long as we are obeying him in those areas and are seeking him, walking closely with him, we will have the wisdom needed to make decisions that are in line with God’s will. When we’re following his direct will, we can have any number of good possible options available to pursue, and any one of them could be God’s will–but that doesn’t mean that only one of them is God’s will.

My retelling may be clear as mud, though I have to say that this book definitely solidified answers to some questions I’ve had churning for several years regarding the way God works. I’ve been talking with various friends for years about the question of whether or not, when a person marries, those two are God’s one and only for each other. Is there really one person on the face of the planet for every other one person, and we are supposed to hope we find that person before we die, possibly in the general vicinity of our 20’s?

Um, I don’t think so.

God gives some pretty clear principles to live by regarding finding a spouse, and if the potential partner in question matches that standard he’s set and we, you know, like the person, then God gives the go ahead, and that person is now God’s will for us.

(Conversely, just because the person in question matches that standard, doesn’t mean that person must certainly be God’s will for us. Especially if we don’t like them. We also have to be sure we’re using God’s standard and not one we’ve concocted on our own or someone else has made for us… but that’s a rabbit trail I won’t head down today!)

In keeping with this school of thought, it would mean that perhaps we’re attributing too much to God’s will. We’re telling ourselves everything that happens must happen for one specific reason and that it’s always God’s perfect will. The fact of the matter is that we live in a world that has been corrupted by sin and sometimes bad things just happen. People make wrong choices. Other people end up hurt. To say that God specifically ordered all of those tragedies, catastrophes and difficult times would be a cruel theology.

Yes, he may ultimately use them for our good, but I don’t believe it’s all part of his perfect will that we’re just too human to understand. But that gets into the issues of God’s permissive will and his perfect will, which I’m simply too day-worn from packing boxes to tackle right now, especially when DeYoung already does it so succinctly in the book.

I don’t necessarily have it all thought out fully, nor do I think these ideas are flawless. I personally believe the will of God might just be one of those issues that is simply too high for our finite minds to fully comprehend on earth. So in the mean time, we use our minds to the best of our abilities and continue to walk closely with him.

What I will wholeheartedly agree with Kevin DeYoung on is the idea that we need to stop waiting around for God to suddenly speak audibly to us, or to necessarily give us a feeling of calm before making decisions. I know people who have waited around for years, trying to figure out “God’s will for their lives.”

With DeYoung, I say, follow Jesus and just do something.

What do you think? Is God’s will already laid out in scripture or is it something we’re to be on the lookout for?

Do we find God’s will or has it already found us?

Whether well-rehearsed or just tossing a thought out there, hash it out with me in the comments!

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