Monday, September 29, 2014

Come Back

It is no secret to my family and friends that I am germophobic. My supply of hand sanitizer and propensity toward hand washing has increased in recent years, especially since I had kids. There are times when the stress and anxiety of possible illness just takes over and I can't help it. In fact, I recently reprimanded my nine-year old for helping her sick friend to the nurse's office at school. Not my best parenting moment.

My husband once commented, "You can't put them in a bubble, you know."

My response, "Wouldn't that be great if we could?!"

Part of my life I lived in a spiritual bubble. I kept my faith to myself and at times didn't even allow God penetrate the tough exterior that I had built. Then, God popped my bubble, creating in me a desire to venture outside of my safe place.

And, even as I began to move out of the comfort zone I had created, my desire became to move further. I wanted to keep moving, to know more and to go further.

That's when the frustration set in. God, I only want to do your will. Was that true? Or, did I just want to keep going? Come back. He had asked me to step out, but maybe he didn't want me to go that far. Yet.

"We often find God's will when we do what's next and obediently respond to the normal duties of life...
The Enemy's voice will focus on the past and the future while the voice of God will focus on today. He is the God of right now." 
- Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God

As I have been reading, studying, praying and listening recently, I have learned that God is the leader, the good shepherd who wants to go before me and call out to me when the path has been set, cleared and well worn by him. We are part of a larger story. Consequently, timing is everything. We must wait for God to speak before acting.

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, "This is the way you should go."
- Isaiah 30:21 -

"The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given - and you will receive even more." 
- Mark 4:24 -

Remember that bubble, I talked about? God called me back there. Only, he transformed it into an inner circle or sphere of influence. It was no longer an impenetrable barrier, it was a way to embrace my people. It was those close to me he was asking me to minister to. Those in my family, church and city. He didn't want me too far away from those people. My people.

Sometimes being outside of our comfort zone simply means having a difficult conversation with a friend or inviting a neighbor to join you in Bible study. It may not be about literal distance, but about a stretching of your heart and mind, looking at the people and places around you differently.

So, what is God calling me to right now? In some things he is asking me to wait, to let him lead and carve out a path before he asks me to walk it. In other things, he is asking me to act, to do something - call a friend, write a note, show my husband how much I love him - today. Still, in other things, he simply wants me to let him take care of it. To pray and watch him work, so his glory can be displayed in our lives.

Lord, may I be a person who seeks you and desires to walk in step with you. Lead me along your path, your plan, because I know it's what is best for me. May I be a woman who waits patiently for your invitation, as my desire is to move with you. Help me to always remember that your perspective is greater and that it's in your power that I operate in the works you have planned for me. Allow me to see the needs around me and direct me toward obedience, so that I will be willing to serve when you call. Amen

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Tonight. I am feeling stuck. Not just because I am in a dark room, with the only light coming from the computer screen, because my sick, six-year old begged me not to leave the room. And, not just because I was looking through old blog posts earlier today and found myself wishing for the days when I was confident thin enough to post photos of myself in fun, bold outfits. It's these things and so much more.

Lately, I've been struggling to understand God's plan. I want to hear his voice now more than ever, but I just can't be certain what he is saying. I've been spending more time in prayer and studying the Bible, yet I still feel like he is distant...or, maybe I am. I think I am blaming him for leading me away from the dreams I believe he birthed in me. Speak. Tell your story. Okay. Write a book. Share your fears and how I have transformed them. Sure. Pursue these dreams. I will.

Then, came the walls. No more opportunities to speak. No time or inspiration to write. Did I hear you right? Was that what you really asked? Discouragement and doubts about these dreams fill my mind. I'm stuck, paralyzed by the fear to move forward because I don't want to do the wrong thing and because I wonder if there really is a "thing" for me to do.

I'm in a holding pattern, because of comparison. Lack of confidence. Weariness. Exhaustion. 

Today I read a post by Ann Voskamp and watched a video of Priscilla Shirer, which both spoke to my need for answers...

"We want clarity -- and God gives a call. 
We want a road map --- and God gives a relationship. 
We want answers -- and God gives His hand."
- Ann Voskamp

Take what God is giving you now and be obedient to it. This will open the door for him to disclose more.
-Priscilla Shirer

I feel like God is saying...Look up. Choose me. Take my hand. Give me room to move. I have the answers.

I don't have all the answers. But, I know that I have been called and sent by the one who created the universe. He does not make mistakes. I need to have faith - boldly acting in the belief - that not only does God have the answers, but that he will reveal them to me at just the right time. In the meantime...focus on the relationship, not the search for a road map. Praylisten, and obey. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Braver Than You Think

I have always been fond of watching movies and reading books that make me cry. Some of my favorites, like Steel Magnolias and The Shack, I have watched and read on repeat, for I seem to find joy through the tears. There is just something about the raw emotion that draws me in. How is it possible to find beauty in tears, sadness and grief? I can't explain it. It is definitely not something my husband understands. But, it's the way I am wired. Tell me something is going to make me cry and I'll watch it or read it, usually multiple times.

It is this part of my personality that first drew me to Anna's blog, An Inch of Gray, early in my blogging career. It was shortly after she lost her son, Jack, that I began reading her words.

Something about her story hit me hard. Maybe it was because I have a son of my own that I felt so compelled to read her story and respond in any way I could to encourage, support and uplift this woman I didn't even know, who had lost her son. Or, maybe it's because Anna and I ended up chatting via email or through blog comments about the similarities between our boys - their love of trains and Legos, the desire for order and symmetry, and their generally cautious nature.

"The upside of parenting a kid who sometimes struggled was that it pointed me 
toward God and away from my focus on worldly success...
Toward the issues of the heart. To loving well the child you've been given, 
not the child you thought you would have." (p. 108-109)

Things have been tense in our home the past couple of weeks. I can only explain it by blaming it on the stress of school starting. No one, except O, has been outwardly stressed. But, the rest of us, especially Matt and I, have been handling our stress and anxiety by retreating and taking it out on each other. 

This is one of the reasons I needed to read Anna's book, Rare Bird, now. Because it was written from one mother to another. Because it seemed to make more sense to shed tears over someone else's grief than to cry over the impending struggle I would endure when it was time to help O with his writing homework or the fact that he is still afraid to use the bathroom at school, even to the point of having an accident. 

"Because despite my attempts to...relax and trust God with my kids,
I'd clung to the belief that I could somehow control our futures if I just tried hard enough." (p. 81)

These are my losses. The loss of normalcy and control...even though I have truly never held either of these.

While I hesitate to compare the life we live to the tragedy that Anna writes about - because they are not even remotely similar and because it seems selfish - I do so because there are many different types of loss and grief. Some with death and others within the boundaries of this life. And, I think that one of the reasons to read a book like this is to know that it's okay to feel your loss, in your way.

What reading this book reminded me about my own life, is that it's better to ask than to retreat, better to love than to withdraw. Some times, in life, there are no major changes that can be made that may fix a situation, there may be no exit strategy. But, in those times, there can still be love. We can give and we can receive.

Rare Bird is a book about grief and loss and life not turning out how you expected. It's about empty rooms and unused passports, life cut short and things that don't make sense.

"...while I'm speaking, it feels as if God is using the words in a way that reaches beyond the simple little stories of home and life I share. I hope those listening get a glimpse of Jack, and God, and will somehow be changed." (p. 75)

But, it's also a story of how God moves. How he prepares, sustains, and propels us forward. How he speaks, comforts, and inspires. How he gives and takes away, loving us through it all. Helping us to be braver than we ever thought we could be.