Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Great Day to Celebrate

It only took 4 years for me to celebrate this day but when I wrote the date in my journal this morning it hit me.

I have joy. 


A day when, in 2014, we were leveled after a phone call that changed and uprooted our lives. 
A day when, now, we are witnessing so much of God’s faithfulness in spite of that pain.  

With wide eyes and a racing heart, I jotted down, “Oh God, you’ve done so much! SO MUCH!!"

You’ve turned our mourning into dancing… You’ve truly given us comfort and joy in place of sorrow.

I still don’t understand many of the details but in reflection, I do see with more clarity the circumstances that led us to a greater need of our Great God. 

For that I celebrate. 

And I will praise.

I declared that when there’s breakthrough I will not only praise, but I will share.

So in celebration today, I want to encourage you.  

Keep your hopes up even when you can't hold your chin up. 
Know there's a Great God fighting for you when you can't fight for yourself. 
Don't place your trust in people, not even in the "godly" ones. 
We cannot trust what we see or even what we feel. 
But we can trust in the same God that held Job through all the storms that sought to rob him of life. 

Job recognized God’s sovereign right to decide all things and y’all, we have to do that, too. 

With an understanding that God’s faithful and loving character doesn’t waiver, we have to realize that with testing comes teaching. He is growing us in the hard, in the muck. When we are tempted to run back to the familiar, to the things we know so well, we have to reach for the unknown when He leads us there. And sometimes we have to cease the fight to push for our way and just let Him lead. 

Hold on while He breaks walls down and lights up the shadows. 

Hold on while He does what only He can do.

“Position yourselves, stand still and see the deliverance of the Lord, who is with you.” 
2 Chronicles 20:17

We are truly in a haven where we've learned in stillness that God is our refuge but I don’t share from a haven where everything has fallen into place. I am not praising from a stance without need, but GLORY.. oh, Glory….HE is with us. 

And He is with you. 

No matter what you see, what you feel, He is there. He hasn’t forgotten you. He’s not out to get you. He’s not absent from your pain. He is working all for your good, even when it hurts like hell.

With raised hands and a grateful heart, proclaim the promises! When letting go of things you want to hold white-knuckling close, claim the truth that God doesn’t give us all we ask for when it isn’t for our good, but that He works for our good even when we cry out against the plans He makes. 

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” 
Hebrews 10:23

Your ways are not our ways, God, and we know that despite what circumstances look like,
You are working to bring about only the best. Help us claim that in the hard places.
You know better and Your plans are always for our good.

As this new year unfolds I pray that we will all have courage to lean..  
   rest on a Savior that we so desperately need and to share.. 
        share all that He teaches us along the way. 

So, raise your hands, and your glass if you so choose, and CELEBRATE!
Here's to 2018, where God is waiting for me & you!

~Happy New Year~
from our family to yours


6 on a journey

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Some Sanctuaries are Cold & Sterile

Trusting that all things happen for a reason, I am steadily learning to embrace the crazy with a “what are you trying to teach me, God?” heart stance. Enough crazy will do that to a person and who better to talk to about it than the One who makes the whole world go round?

The last time I saw a Dr. was in 2014 when I flew home from Haiti to seek medical care over some abdominal issues but some doubling over abdominal pain this past Friday led to spending 10 overnight hours in the ER.

After seeking the advice of my closest medical peeps and without putting it off any longer, I assured the kiddos that everything was going to be fine and kissed them goodnight before taking a trip to the newly remodeled ER in Winter Haven.  

Those of you who know me well know that
      when it comes to medical or dental stuff, 
chaos and weird are in the mix for me.
      This past Friday night proved no different.

I hate needles unless I’m sewing and sometimes I don’t even like those. I absolutely despise IVs and have been known to nearly hyperventilate over the start of some. I don’t have “good” veins so after 6 sticks and the 2 different people tried 5 lines and failed, they called in the “pro”. His job was to use an ultrasound machine to find a good deep vein that wouldn’t collapse like the others. My question at that point was why they didn’t call him in, being the pro, to begin with.

I begged God for mercy and took advantage of the ‘waiting for Chris, the pro, to arrive’ and texted my on-call prayer warriors at 4:05am and begged for prayers that they’d get it right on the 7th stick. 20 minutes later it was done. Bigger needle, deeper stick and lots of tape but it was done.

Rolling back for the CT, I was freezing & anxious to get some news and move on. My brain ran through the maybes & ifs. 4 hours, 4 tests, some fluids and 3 meds later, a Dr. came in and told me they detected an old issue that I already knew about (that wasn’t a threat and hasn’t bothered me) and went on to say that they found nothing in the area causing me so much pain.

I stared blankly as he diagnosed me with “abdominal pain”, prescribed some pain meds and told me to follow-up with a primary care physician this week and I was discharged.

Near tears, frustrated and exhausted I went home at 8:30am where I was greeted by my 10 year old and a get-well banner just before falling into bed.

I got up yesterday afternoon in time to see my family before they left for church and then grabbed my journal and cried through what had been my weekend.  I had a splitting headache but my abdominal pain was gone. Worn out from the week that kicked off with Hurricane Irma, and reflecting on the last 24 hours, I began to pray through the lyrics of Mercy Me’s “Even If” that played in the backgroud…

                “God, when You choose to leave the mountains unmoved…
                Give me the strength to sing, “It is well with my soul”.
                I know You are able & I know You can save…
                Through the fire with Your mighty hand.
                But even if You don’t …
                My hope is You alone.
                You’ve been so faithful, You’ve been so good.
                I know the sorrow and all the pain would go away…
                If You would just say the word.
                But even if You don’t my hope is You alone.”
I trust God has a purpose for all things and as insane as the last several hours had been I chose to believe that this was, yet, another lesson of learning to trust when I couldn’t understand what was going on.

I spent several hours praying and moved from the “whys” to asking God what it was He wanted me to know through this. I started to thank Him for being faithful, for giving me strength that I didn’t have, for making me brave, and for being a friend who could see what no one else did. I thanked Him for the kind hospital staff and I asked for His assurance that He is still in control, especially when things seem to be swirling out of control.

I asked for wisdom, for courage and for grace. I praised Him that things weren’t worse and claimed His promises for healing. Despite not knowing what is actually going on, I prayed and sang promises back to Him as Hillsong’s song played, “Even when it makes no sense to sing, louder then I’ll sing  Your praise”.

Running back through the night before, I wrote as God revealed things as clear as if He were physically sitting here. It’s true that as we give an offering of praise, God is present. He is faithful and He reminded me that He doesn’t just give us pieces, but His all. In fact, during family devotion time last week we talked about faithfulness and how through Irma and all of life's storms, God IS perfect faithfulness.

In reflection, I couldn’t stop thinking about the horrible IV experience and then it hit me that I am much like those collapsed veins, unfaithful even. I have prayed for years to be a vessel for God to work through. I believe He has answered my prayers but I suddenly felt very convicted about the times when I was weak and when I had collapsed from trying to do things in my own strength…when I didn’t follow His plan because mine seemed more convenient, easier or faster.

Trying to refuel on anything but God will always lead to collapse.

Chris, the pro IV starter, had to go deep to find an adequate vein (vessel) so that the radiologist techs could do their job. It’s painful to go deep whether we are talking about blood vessels or human vessels for Christ, right? But it’s in the deep where we find our weakness is met with His strength and in Him we don’t collapse. We can allow Him to flow and reach others that He puts in our path. We can share the life that He gives and we aren’t the only ones who benefit.

I may never understand why it took needles to get me still enough this weekend to "go deep" and I may glean on those 10 crazy, uncomfortable hours for a while to come with or without further health issues but this I know…though the sanctuary may sometimes be cold and sterile, when He calls me to go deep, I won’t ever settle for surface level again.

“Let loose the lines that are holding you to the shore and sail into the deep.”
-J. Gresham Machen

“Your bad things will turn out for the best,
Your good things can never be taken from you,
Your best things are yet to come.”
-Jonathan Edwards

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Little Dust and Some Change

My heart races as I remember.

With our 2 year old 'tiny boss', 5 year old 'lover of all' and 9 year old 'life explorer' out front we left Mississippi in route to Haiti 4 years ago today.  

After pushing through the worst spiritual battles to date, we were weary but prepared and anxious to start the next chapter. We boarded our first flight knowing that people all over the US, and even a few outside the States, were covering us in prayer.

We could only hope that the obstacles leading up to that day would give way to God’s ultimate plan as we answered the call to serve full-time in a foreign country. And as our new journey began we prayed over, around and through the tasks before us while continually asking God to show us what He wanted to do through us while we were in Haiti. We knew He had incredible plans in store but what we didn’t realize then was how much work He would do in us while He was working through us.

Y’all, I’ve wrestled so much this last year to find words and even complete thoughts regarding where we were vs. where we are and the in-between and how/what I'm feeling through it all. 

God has been stirring my heart a lot in recent months to remember...the joy, the pain, the exhilaration, the risks, the rewards, the mistakes, the lessons, all of it...the incredible 'life' that's happened as we've circled Haiti. He's used it all to shape me and make me who I am today but I've struggled to find a way to share in the processing. 

I haven’t written in so long. 

When I did open my computer it was as if I'd forgotten how to write. 
But today I felt like I needed to blow the dust off the keyboard and give it a go. 

Maybe through my sharing you will see/hear something you need but maybe it's just what I need to do to continue healing. We lost a lot over the last few years but today I am choosing to end this memorable day by giving thanks for what we gained.

When we moved 4 years ago we were journeying as 5 but today I am pausing to give praise for us, as 6.

Our move back to the States last year proved to be much harder and scarier than the move TO Haiti but God parted waters and moved mountains when He blessed us with a 4th child in April of 2013. 

I want to be present this year and notice all the things that we've gained. There's a time to mourn and a time to rejoice, a time to be silent and a time to share. So I'm venturing back into the sharing realm and taking note of how HE, the One who never once left us, GAVE. 

He keeps blessing us right here in the middle of our brokenness and quest for discernment.

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” 

At least that’s what Robin Sharma said.

I still feel like I'm somewhere in the middle but I’m pretty stoked about the view God's providing in the change.

Tonight's sunset at home...because only God knows.