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Stay in your lane

Track practice. Track uniforms. Long (and I do mean long…) track meets. That’s our new life right now. For a bit I was unscathed by “sports mom” duty. Thankful for not having to drive to and fro. Or sit through my Saturday in hot sun, or frigid cold temperatures on a Tuesday night.

Until I didn’t have that luxury anymore.

And while it has added a new dynamic to what is already our crazy family life, I am thankful for this season.

I am thankful that she chose it, because it means without mom and dad nagging her to do this or that-she invested in it because it was solely her idea.

I’m thankful for the memories it conjures up of my own long (hours long) track meets. The thrill of standing at the finish line cheering your teammates to the end, even if they didn’t win.

Even if they didn’t win.

I’m even thankful for that. Because it has taught me something. Watching my girl run with reckless abandon has taught me something.

Just stay in your lane. And what do I mean by that?

Rick Warren in his book The Purpose Driven Life likens our unique purpose to a race. He states about our journey to fulfill God’s calling in our lives: “Don’t be envious of the runner in the lane next to you; just focus on finishing your race.”

And I have noticed something as I have watched my girl run. She stays in her lane. She isn’t looking back. She isn’t focused on who is ahead of her. She just runs, until she is finished.

And her teammates cheer her on until the end. Through the finish line. Because she finished. Not because she won.

And that’s the thing with these races. With watching these boys and girls run what appears to be the longest of laps around the track. You get applause just for finishing.

Not for being first. Not for running the fastest time. Not for using the perfect form to jump a hurdle. Not for jumping the highest. You are not looking at the person next to you to determine if you are better or worse.

You put YOUR best foot forward and you simply finish!

Stay in your lane today. Be it in a fast sprint or a slow stroll. Don’t compare yourself to the person who is faster, higher, or first.

Just run your race. At your pace, and finish. I’ll be at the finish line cheering you on.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2019 in On Purpose

 

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The lost (beans) get found

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Anyone that knows me well, knows that I have a slight, unhealthy dependency on coffee. So much so that I have been known to plan entire road trips around stops at Starbucks (don’t judge!).

My husband also knows this about me. Thankfully, he also understands my obsession, and the fact that it is essential to his health that I remain caffeinated. For this reason, he will often come home from Costco shopping trips with the newest seasonal Starbucks blend…and, while we are still working on the “He-Brews” part of the deal, this one is still pretty sweet.

This past Christmas season I found myself in a bit of a tizzy when my “bean” jar had dwindled, and I could not locate the remaining beans from that bulk bag. It was quite possible I had gone through 2.5 pounds of coffee in a month, but I was pretty sure I had hidden those things somewhere in this house. Somewhere I would remember, of course. Or not.

That somewhere was never found.

Until 3 months later. In a cabinet I open every night at home during the dinner making hour. Sitting right next to my beloved casserole dishes, and my well-used measuring cup, were my “missing” coffee beans.

“I found them! I finally found those darn coffee beans! I told ya! Things are finally looking up!”

My husband was slightly (well, probably more than) amused that I had missed them each time I had opened this cabinet. I, however, was not. These beans were just one more “wink” from God that I can miss a whole lot when I am distracted from my purpose.

See, I looked everywhere for those coffee beans, but never once thought to look in that cabinet.

We look everywhere for love, peace, joy, healing…but never once think to look to Jesus for these things.

I have been feeling lost myself. Like everything I touch crumbles beneath me. Clinging to hope in a dark world. And, praying that God would restore some fire in me to keep fighting.

And, somewhere in a dark cabinet, he shows me some missing coffee beans. The ones I had totally given up on. But showed up, unannounced 3 months later, exactly where I left them, mind you.

To show me that yes, even in those struggles, things are looking up! That good things do exist in a dark world, if you can rid yourself of the world’s distractions and look in the right places.

That he won’t stop pursuing. Won’t let go. Won’t give up hope. For His people. That lost sheep. His purpose. Even missing coffee beans.

Because what was once lost, can always be found!

I once was lost, but now am found; t’was blind, but now I see. 

 

 
 

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Keep on keeping on…

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past, and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.                                                                                                                                                             Philippians 3:13-14

Lately, life has been an uphill climb. Each climb up the path God has purposed for me has led to a face to face battle with some unexpected and unwelcome boulder.

Usually, these burdens come along once the climb becomes too smooth. Seems too easy. When all those pieces finally get put together, and everything has fallen into place. We get complacent. And we think all is good.

Not so these days.

One day it is the boulder of rejection. Hurt. Doubt and lack of faith in what God has called me to do. In my emotions, I want to quickly turn away and run back down that hill. Yell that they are all right. That I am not good enough. That I don’t know what I am doing. That God really did call some kind of dummy.

But, instead…I get back up. I climb the next hill. Keep on keeping on, as our youth pastor frequently says. I repeat these words as I climb that hill once again that God has purposed just for me.

And, then…here we go again! Another boulder. This time-pain. Crippling pain. Want to stay in bed all day pain. Ready to crawl under a table and cry out in defeat pain.

But, I remember my purpose. I remember my call. And, I get back up. Climb the next hill. Keep on keeping on.

Until another one comes. The next boulder. Knocking me down. Until I am helpless. Literally can’t breathe. I am ready to wave the white flag of defeat. Tell God that I just give up. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t get back up. I am tired of being knocked down.

I am worn out. I am hurt. I am dead tired. I just want my bed, and some sleep. Someone to believe in me. Have faith in me. I don’t want anymore boulders in my way.

I am done.

I know I need to lift my eyes up. But, I’m too weak, life just won’t let up. And, I know that you can give me rest. So, I cry out with all that I have left. (Worn, Tenth Avenue North)

And so I cry out. My God! My God! Why do you continue to allow these things to happen to me? When will things get easier? When will I sleep again? When will you remove these obstacles? Why have you forsaken me!

What a baby!

Didn’t Jesus cry out similar words to the same God? Sure, he did. Yet, he also climbed that hill. Carried a much larger boulder than I ever will. Suffered pain I could never imagine, and gave ALL of himself for ALL of His people.

So, certainly I can get out of bed tomorrow and once again keep on keeping on. And, maybe instead of seeing only boulders in my way, I can praise God for the morning sunrise that greets me as I wearily drive to work.

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For the kids that can look at mommy and know that for just tonight, mommy really needs a moment of peace and harmony.

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Maybe this morning, the climb will be easier than yesterday or maybe it won’t, but I won’t be alone on that climb.

So God,

Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn. I want to know a song can rise, from the ashes of a broken life. And all that’s dead inside can be reborn, cause I’m worn. (Worn, Tenth Avenue North)

That’s my prayer. That I continue on this journey you have chosen for me, even though it may be one rocky climb. Lord, help me to see that you can mend all the brokenness that comes from all the shattered bits of my heart these boulders leave. I pray that I remain faithful in moving forward despite these boulders daily, and continue to keep on keeping on.

And, let us run the race with endurance God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in On Purpose

 

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My mess. Your mess. His power.

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Spring break. A glorious week away from school. From paperwork. Time to sleep in. Enjoy life with the ones I love. And get away from the demands of home.

We meticulously planned each detail of our small trip away. Each day had adventures sure to please the picky fella that would be coming along with us. We were going to have fun! A blast! The kids would love EVERY minute of it. We would have smiling grins to prove it. Beautiful pictures that depicted the fun and excitement of our time away.

But, what about those that were not so picture worthy? What about all those messy moments we didn’t really want people to see?

 We share all the exciting details of our lives. All the things that are going great. All the reasons we are blessed. The fun things. All the delightful details our social media friends long to see.

We make our lives look effortless. We want people to believe we have it all together. We hide our frowns. Our sadness. Our struggles. Because, who wants to see all that? Because, someone, somewhere may have told us that when we profess to others we have Jesus in our life, then life was supposed to be pretty and perfect. That you should stuff all those feelings you have. Hide the mess you are. Put on a beautiful grin and bear it.

Some may even make you believe that going through struggles means that you somehow failed God. Failed to hold onto His promises. To pray enough. That you did something to deserve it. Or, that by sharing your mess you diminish His power. Your testimony is somehow flawed.

Instead, we fail to be real. We hide the mess our lives can really be. We fail to share our pain because others just are not uncomfortable relating to our mess. It’s easier to smile and be happy. It’s easier to respond to happy.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike. Matthew 5:45

My discomfort. My struggles. My mess. They exist. They have meaning. They have purpose. There is power in the madness. There is glory in this mess. The twist, turns, ups, and downs of what is known as “life,” happen. Sharing them is not something I will apologize for.

This is why.

10 years ago when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior…well, I certainly wasn’t happy. My life was a mess. I was lost. Sad. Crippled. I had tried everything. My life wasn’t a slew of smiles, but my photos chronicled nothing but “happies.”

I didn’t call to Him with a painted on smile, or an uttered “good,” “fine,” or “great.” I called to Him in the midst of tears and heartache. In the midst of a mess.

Now, 10 years later…I praise him with for those smiles, for those Instagram worthy moments. But, I still find Him there in my tears. When I am on my knees crying for peace. In the midst of chaos, and the mess that life has handed me.

He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.    2 Corinthians 12:9

The chaos. The weary mommy moments. The mess. The hurt. The loneliness. The real emotions that my struggles create. He is there during all of them. Giving me hope. Rest. Wisdom.

The disappointments. The hard times. It’s part of my testimony. My story. It’s the stuff he allowed me to endure in order to let others know that God still exists in these struggles. This mess. That there is purpose in the madness. That there is a God who gets us through them.

All I have to do is look for Him. To rest in Him. Not to have it all together. Not to plaster on some fake smile. Because it is in the worst of my moments that I have found the most strength. A power I cannot claim as my own. The courage to keep pushing. The wisdom to weather all the storms that WILL rage, no matter how many blessings he may bestow.

My mess. Your mess. They do exist. They will continue. But, He is proof that there is joy that comes when all the chaos has passed. Proof that even when no one else can handle it, or wants to hear it, He can handle the mess my life has become.

He can handle yours, too. If we are willing to be comfortable with what makes us uncomfortable. If we can stop painting on happy, and share the madness that we all know we really feel. If we can reach out to acknowledge that the hurt and pain someone feels, is also something we have felt, too.

My mess. Your mess. Embrace it. Together. And, then sit back and watch His power make beauty out of our wild and thirsty ashes. Out of our broken and beautiful mess.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2016 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Together We Have Him

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The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by their hand. Psalm 37:23

I love snow. Well, let me rephrase that. I love “looking” at the snow. I love watching the dense white flakes fall from the sky, and onto the barren winter ground.

All from the comfort of my cozy, warm home.

“Mommy, I want to go outside and play in the snow.”

I only like the snow while inside, remember? So, this question is not always a welcoming one for me.

Because, while I love snow, and I think it is beautiful, walking in it. Having it fall into my collar, and wet my neck. Packing on 20 layers of clothes, and 3 pairs of socks just to throw a few powdery and flimsy snowballs…not so much.

Plus, this one. This little one who so desperately wanted to play in it…can’t even walk in it!

But, I put on 20 layers of clothes, and OK…only 2 pairs of socks, and I went outside anyway.

At first I just watched. Watched as with trepidation my little “monster” climbed down the front stairs. While walking on ground that altered his already weakened sense of balance. Watching as he faced his fears. As he turned to reach for my hand. Asking me to face them with him..even if it meant I had to play in this mess after all.

“Let’s dig a maze.”

Say what? Now you want me to take a kid sized shovel and dig up the front yard?

“Hon, why are we building a maze?”

“So, I can walk in the snow!”

Walking alongside and constantly waiting for this one to grasp our hands for help has not always been comfortable. And, it has been anything but comfortable for this sweet boy. Whether it was walking on his knees because his little legs couldn’t make sense of the walking thing. Whether it took many years to navigate the stairs on the front porch, or a slide at the park. Or, whether, at the age of 6, he still has to be carried in the sand or snow because they are too much for his brain and legs to handle at the same time…it has never been comfortable.

Each time he has remained determined. And, has wanted one thing. A hand. Someone to walk with him. Someone to encourage him to find a way out, and to never give up.

Someone to help him dig a maze.

Life is kind of like that. Kind of like a maze. We walk along. We take a few too many wrong turns. We try over and over to get out on the right side. Sometimes we need help. And, sometimes we need someone to help us walk through all the twists and turns. All the ups and downs.

He has me.

But, sometimes, I need someone to get me through the maze, too.

Someone to take my hand, and walk alongside me until I get out on the right side. To encourage me to never give up.

He has me. But together, we have Him.

We have God for that.

He will get me through the twists and turns. When I don’t think I can handle the shaky ground beneath me. When my balance is off. When I just need someone to take my hand and help me dig a maze. He gently reaches in and guides me. When I, just like my little boy, can’t walk the path alone.

He has me.

But, together we have Him.

Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in How Is Your Faith

 

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One Word-Perseverance

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I like to think I have a way with words, with at least the written words that express my thoughts, my emotions, my desires. However, sometimes choosing just one word becomes a little more daunting.

Last year I joined a group of women in an on-line bible study in which I participate in choosing one word to live by for the year. This one word would replace any resolutions that would certainly be broken by the second day of January. Deciding on the one word that would define my year was not too complicated, but living it out was often something else entirely.

It is said when you choose this one word that God will reveal how exactly He plans for you to live up to it. And that He did.

While I did prove at times to be far from fearless, I also learned to understand…

Letting go is fearless. Admitting defeat is fearless. Admitting your faults and being transparent is fearless. Telling your story, as ugly as it may be is fearless. Forgiveness is fearless. Asking for help is fearless.

Faith in the midst of doubt is fearless. Embracing the twists and turns of life is fearless. Parenting is fearless. Love is fearless.

This year, this one who thinks she is so great with words, has had a tough time finding the “one.”

Until I lay in bed for the third week of an illness that quickly turned into pneumonia. Gasping for air. Tired. Weary. Worn. More sick than I had ever been.

Crying out for God to just give this weary girl some rest. Cursing Him for not providing the healing He had promised. Angry because the mission He had set out for me couldn’t possibly be fulfilled in this bed. On this couch. Gasping for breath. Tired, Weary. Worn.

Ready to give up on Him altogether.

Ready to give up…something that comes so easy to me.

The one who was “fearless” enough to stand in a room of strangers and tell her ugly story, couldn’t seem to find the motivation or strength to complete the simplest of tasks. To follow through on all the things she needed or desired to do.

The one who can fearlessly wrestle monsters, gives up too easily on other things that just seem to hard.

Like the guitar I played for a week, and then never picked back up.

Like all the books I started and never finished.

Like all the conversations I was too scared to have with the people who needed to hear my words the most.

The ideas and goals I have that I never write down, and then never start.

The good intentions and best laid plans I throw to the side when it gets to tough to follow through.

The “clean” eating. The desire to run I wanted to find again. The dream I so want to make happen. The marriage I take for granted. The prayers I never pray. The time I never have. Too hard. So, I just give up or never start.

And, here I was again. Ready to give up because God was making things too hard.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

So, my one word. The one word God revealed to me as I lay screaming at Him. Angry. Gasping for air. Tired. Weary. Worn.

Perseverance.

Perseverance to pick up that guitar and finally learn to play it. Perseverance to get those dreams and goals written down so they can finally be achieved.

To finish that book. To follow through on those best laid plans and good intentions. To make time for God. My health. My family. My marriage.

To fight the urge to give up on people, projects, hopes when they get too hard. Or, to give up on God when he doesn’t answer.

Perseverance to run the race He will set before me. Never quitting. Never faltering. Never giving up.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in You Make All Things New

 

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Rejoicing for Unanswered Prayers

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

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A few weeks ago we took a family trip to the National Aquarium-one of the trips we had promised our shark lover for some time. As all museums, aquariums, and tourists attractions often do, a strategically placed gift shop waited for us as we began to exit. A strategically placed shop we had used to bribe our shark lover with just to get him to navigate the crowds without melting into the floor. Ten bucks and ten minutes later, emerges a happy little boy with a new toy frog. A frog he then left in the restaurant on the ride home.

A toy frog I prayed would still be in that restaurant as we turned to make our way back, and as I watched my little guy pout in the seat behind me.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

Some prayers are answered. Just like that. Prayers for toy frogs to magically appear in restaurants. The prayers of a faithful boy as he wishes for no more monsters. Prayers for a successful school year. Prayers for that dinner out to be one of joy.

Some, however, go unanswered.

It’s those that often haunt me. It’s those that allow the devil to creep in and test my faith in Him. It’s those that make me wonder if God really hears me at all.

See, for a while now, I have prayed consistently about one particular area of my life. One situation that has plagued this heart of mine.

And, for a while now, I have not gotten an answer. I have doubted Him. Questioned my worth to Him. Even had a scream at Him in the bathroom, crying, “Are you even there,” and cursing out loud moment with Him. Yet, I can’t help but think that just as every other test and struggle has been a part of His plan and purpose, maybe the unanswered prayers have a purpose as well.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, he will hear us. 1 John 5:14

He hears us. He hears all our prayers. Even the crying, screaming, and cursing ones.

And, He answers them…according to HIS will.

Which means…maybe He doesn’t answer them because that’s exactly part of the plan.

Maybe we are meant to go through these moments. Endure pain. Experience heartache. Have screaming matches with God so we can grow. Embrace life. Become more dependent on Him, and less on our own agenda and will.

Or, maybe it’s not about us at all. What if those unanswered prayers are really meant to help someone else endure pain. Embrace heartache.

All so someone else can go through those times when they are screaming and cursing at God. Through the times it seems He isn’t listening. To teach about the strength promised in Philippians 4:13-the strength that only comes from Him.

The strength to endure pain. Embrace heartache. To pick ourselves up off that bathroom floor, wipe our tears, and thank Him for unanswered prayers.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in How Is Your Faith

 

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