Fear

“This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Within context, the Lord is commanding Joshua, and the people of Israel to be courageous. Not because there was nothing that would normally cause fear or discouragement for someone facing such opposition, but because GOD WAS WITH THEM, they had nothing to fear.  That’s the key.  God was with them.  God already knew the outcome and he wasn’t going to abandon them.  He had it.

When God is with us, we have nothing to fear.

There will be circumstances in this world, every single day where we could have good reason to fear.  Good reason to be afraid, anxious, worried.  And yet, God’s word says, we have nothing to fear but God himself.

I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear the One who, after you have been killed, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:4-7

With all the damage and potential for harm, injustice and pain, God’s answer is, “do not be afraid, you are with more than many sparrows.”  We are his kids.  Now this is in the context of the disciples going out and preaching the gospel, Jesus warns them that they will be flogged, thrown in jail and some even martyred, however I believe it applies to us as believers.  We have God with us, of whom or what do we have to be afraid?

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Self-discipline.  For me, I think fear can be a drug.  It’s not even a nice one.  The irony is I literally hate real drugs because they can make my body feel out of my control.  And yet fear is a drug in itself that can cause us to loose our grip of control.  It distorts reality, and then starts everything spinning so much that then what is true and what is a lie are no longer distinguishable.  And it takes discipline and prayer to not give into it.

Once I felt God say to me, “do not take counsel from fear.”

I say all this because I feel like recently the Lord has spoken to me regarding my fears.  I am planning on getting lasik eye surgery towards the end of next week for my birthday.  The outcome sounds fantastic, and I really believe it will be.  When I prayed about it, I felt like the Lord showed me that I’d say, “I wish I would have done this sooner.”  So that’s a good end in my book.  The thing is… I haven’t gotten it yet.  Screeeeech!!!!

To get the surgery I have to have lazers shoot at my eyeballs while a vacuum holds them in place.  There are a lot of people who are not bothered by this in a bit, however when I think through having to take the drugs to numb my eyes, (something that is not my favorite feeling) and then not pass out from the loss of control over my body (which I’ve done in the past!) it freaks me out a little bit!  My eyeballs!!!  The smell of burning flesh!!!

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So naturally, I talked to the Lord about it.

He gave me an awesome word picture.  He showed me two different pictures.

In the first one, I’m waiting in a dark, cave-like hallway set up to be a fun waiting zone, like a cave or hallway at Disneyland.  It’s a bit dark, but has lights and is completely safe and a little boring.

The other picture is of a fun house, but it’s not really fun.  Mirrors are warped, tons of neon colors, music that is way too loud, stuff spinning, florescent lights, it reminds me of a cheap fair ride.  Inside, it is difficult to get anywhere and very disruptive and the fun is more for the maker and less the patron, almost to mock those who enter.  As though the creator could watch and laugh at those who enter.  And yet, outside, it’s a cool night, still, quiet and calm.  That is reality.

I feel like the fun house word picture is fear.  It seems like fun, but inside everything is warped and disorienting.  Outside, reality, is calm, cool and still.  Reality doesn’t change because you step into a fun house, but stay long enough and it will begin to mess with your mind.  It doesn’t make any of it true.  Outside remains a perfect calm night.

The darkness in both word pictures may represent that there will be instances where we wont see all the details, and yet there is no danger in it because God can see all of it.

The first word picture is safe.  And it’s designed with the purpose of making it fun for the patron.  Every detail was thought of (just like in Disneyland) and it was safe.  For the record, I REALLY like Disneyland, and I’m always impressed how even the tunnels and waiting areas are set up for the amusement of the patrons, they take every effort and energy and pour it into the finished product all for the amusement of the patron.

And that’s the difference.  In the one instance, the joke is on the patron and the maker gets to enjoy the foolishness and make fun of the one inside the “fun house” and it’s not really fun for those who enter.  In the other, the maker goes over every single detail, with the patron in mind, all for the patron’s pleasure.  The maker does all the work, just so we can enjoy it, and even if it’s just a waiting area for a fun ride, the details are all there, everything thought of in advance.  He did all the work for us to just enjoy it.

Isn’t that how God is?  He even has the details of the waiting set up to be perfect for us.  And that’s God’s grace.  He cares more about us than himself.  Jesus died for our sins, so we might enjoy life everlasting.  He gave of himself, for us.

The Lord spoke to me a few times just today about the upcoming lazer eye surgery.  Because it’s been keeping me up at night.  This morning, I was going through old photos and I found this one.  It’s of my dad holding Ellie because Davin was acting like a sleeping monster, and she was legitimately scared.  The older two were having so much fun with the “sleeping monster”, however Ellie really did become afraid.  So my dad held her.  He didn’t stop the game, he picked her up and held her.

When I saw the picture, the Lord prompted my heart reminding me that he holds me in this way.  That he loves me with that same compassion and that he’d hold me while having lazers shoot at my eyeballs.  That I didn’t have to be in control, but just to trust him.  That he would be with me.  I’d have nothing to fear even though I would be in the dark about so much of it.

Tonight as I walked to my car alone, leaving my dad and Davin with the kids, I felt the Lord walk with me, arm around my shoulder, “I’ve got you.”

Later this evening, I held my youngest before bed.  Just rocking her in her chair, savoring her beautiful hair, and soaking up the sweet cuddle moments.  I felt the Spirit remind me, “I love you just as you love her.  I made you, I adore you, I’ve got you.”

I say all this not because I am special or that lazer eye surgery is terrifically terrifying – it’s not.  I say this to tell you, God CARES, SOOOO much even when we are afraid of stupid things.  He feels the same way about you.

But we have to believe him.  We have to walk in that truth and reality, otherwise things can get distorted.  We have to have the self-control to not let our mind go to a fun house.

In all reality, when I’m not psyched out, I’m actually excited for lazers to shoot at my eyeballs and make my vision clear for the rest of my life.  That’s going to be SO crazy to wake up and be able to see in the morning.  I’ve never known that.  I can snorkel and swim without having to worry about loosing a contact, or travel without having to bring extra glasses and solution. That’s the Disneyland ride I’m waiting for in the hallway word picture.  But I have to go through the somewhat boring hallway (the surgery) to get to the fun part.

God loves me so much, that even when I am unable to calm myself down, when I am so afraid I can hardly think straight, when I feel like I might pass out in fear – God cares enough to wrap his arms around me and ease my fears.  My silly fears.  All in SUCH love.  He doesn’t mock me or tell me to get over it, or even minimize the concerns, he simply reminds me of who he is and who I am to him.

You’re his kid that he loves, and that just like with Joshua and the Israelites, “ God is with you wherever you go”.

You have nothing to fear.

What Really Matters

Today I came across a card I’ve had for years.  I love cards, and I collect them.  Mostly to give away, but this one I’ve kept because it has a glamorous picture of Grace Kelly on the front, and it was like over six bucks.  For years, I’ve always looked at it and thought of how she was such a beautiful woman, and how wise and gracious she always seemed.  Every time I’ve looked at the card, I’ve looked at her as though she were older and wiser than myself.

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Today I looked at it and realized she wasn’t older anymore.

When I looked at the card, closely, I realized that I am now older than the Grace Kelly on my card.  When did that happen?

I’m not in my twenties anymore.

I always thought once I was older, I would actually FEEL older, more confident of the decisions I made, more sure of myself, that I would know how to live my life and not mess up.  I would feel the way Grace Kelly looks on the front of this card.  Fully put together and wise, never letting an ungracious word come from my mouth.  Now, I know that no one is perfect, but this is just what I’ve thought.  I really believed that I’d reach an age where I finally didn’t feel like a little kid just trying to learn what I’m doing.

But I haven’t.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and wonder where the parents are in our house.  And then I realize that Davin and I are the parents.

I have another card, it’s from Hawaii.  I bought it because it reminded me of one of my best friends, mostly because there is a beautiful brown Hawaiian girl and a cute little blond girl on the cover, and whenever Jen and I take photos, I feel like we look like that, beautiful brown and pale precious blond together.

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When I looked into the eyes of the little girls, so sweet and young, hopeful, I realized something else.

We are still young.

We are so much like those little girls on the front of the Hawaiian card.  We don’t have all the answers, she and I make mistakes.  We try to cook dinners like my kids do in their pretend kitchen, we invent games to make life fun and try and go camping and have baby showers, and we have best friends that we look forward to seeing.  We are really just like children trying at life.  Especially in the areas of marriage and motherhood.

(Andrew Belle, Sister)

 

I think often times, Jesus looks less on us like adults who should have their lives together, and more like kids who are just playing at life, trying to learn and grow and explore.  I don’t think he throws up his hands in exasperation every time we do something wrong, like when I say the wrong words in a moment of frustration, or choose impatience when I should be stopping to rest in Him.  I think he sees that we are still learning and is gracious.  I think he loves that we are trying.

I think he loves that we are trying.

And when we don’t get it perfect, I think he still loves us with the same love that he always has and always will.

We don’t love our kids more when they win an award, we love them because we spend our days with them, because they are our children.  We are happy to see them succeed, mostly because it’s fun to see your own kid feel successful, but I love my kids because they are there with me in all the little moments of life, the dinners, the swim lessons, the getting ready for bed baths and brushing teeth.  We do life together, and just being around them makes them so very, very lovable.  I love them just the same at the end of the night whether they have made a million good choices or twenty bad ones.  I may be more tired or frustrated, feeling like I may have missed something or be failing them, but I never feel like I don’t love them with all of my heart.  And, since Jesus already knows how to do his job perfectly, he doesn’t get frustrated, wondering how he could possibly do it better.  Nope.  He just continues to love and chase after us with his fierce, unrelenting love.  I don’t think he’s he’s worried that he’ll loose us.

I think I beat myself up too much.  I give myself a hard time every time I don’t do something perfect.  And I imagine Jesus is thinking the same.  When really, instead of looking at myself and my mess-ups, I’d do better just to look at Christ, and see his deep love for me reflected in his eyes, in his real life actions towards me.  In the sunset he made to say, “I love you and I want you to have beautiful moments” in the surprise part of the day when my son comes running into the kitchen while I’m cleaning up breakfast and says, “Mama, I love you” and then gives me a kiss for no reason.  When I find myself with my head against my husband’s chest and his arms wrapped around me tight, thinking, this is how much God loves me, he loves me like this.  Or even in the quiet moments when I can hear him say to me, “Peace, be at peace.  You don’t need to rush in this life.”

When my toddler brings me a toy kitchen pan with a pretend apple in it and says with all the enthusiasm IN THE WOLRD, “MOMMY!!!!  I MAKE YOU A WOOSIE!!!! (smoothie), I don’t think to myself, “shoot, this girl doesn’t know an apple from a frozen beverage!”  No, she’s just trying, she’s playing and pretending.  It’s not the end of the world.

I think Jesus knows the whole picture.  I think he trusted us enough to give us free will, to get it wrong sometimes, but I think he knows that we are going to choose him.

One time I had a dream.  It was years and years ago.  I was at a point in my twenties where I felt like my life was a waste because I had everything physically that I wanted, but not relationally.  I wanted a husband and a family.  I had the house, the job, the car, the friends, but not what my heart truly, truly wanted and there was nothing I could see that I could do to make it happen.  I was so frustrated at God for not giving me what I thought was so important in that moment.

In my dream, I found myself in a completely white place.  It was nothing of this world that I have ever seen, the basic rules of science and gravity on earth did not exist in this place.  Every being was under God and his authority.  I couldn’t see him, but he was in front of me.  I was suspended in the air, and nothing looked familiar.  I knew that I knew, there was no way I could lie, or get around what was the ultimate authority in front of me.  I wasn’t getting out of anything here.  Everyone and everything was in agreement that God was the authority, and I felt very, very small.  He then called me into question, “What do you have to say for yourself?”

I thought of my whole life on earth.  Everything I’d ever done, good, attempts at good, any of it.

It all amounted to nothing in the place where I was.  NUUAAHHH-THING.

It was if I was the defending lawyer in the case of the century, the whole world involved, and I brought kindergarden coloring scribbles.  I was like, “Here, this is my evidence.”  That would be absurd.  It wouldn’t even begin to be close to anything even remotely helpful in my position as a defending lawyer.  I’d be laughed at.

That was what ALL of my life amounted to in front of God, kindergarden scribbles.

Then, I could feel someone standing behind me.  I recognized him.  It was Jesus.  I said, “He knows me!  He knows me!”  That’s all I could say of any value in that place.  He was the ONLY reason that I was allowed to continue standing where I was.  Because I knew Jesus.  I knew him well enough to recognize him standing behind me.

I say all this to remind myself about what truly matters in this whole life of menu planning, diets, exercise, sleep schedules, ironing clothes, sweeping the floor and trying to do everything right according to this world and Pinterest and Facebook and Martha Stewart and Pottery Barn catalogues.  And no, my house is not decorated for fall, and that’s okay.

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I still don’t even have a coffee table for our upstairs media room, for over two and a half years, we have held our cups and popcorn while watching movies.  We have unending projects and sometimes I just don’t want to cook dinner or sweep the floor, and I’m pretty sure I found a spider under the kitchen cabinets who’s been living there for the last four months.  My life is so messy, and it doesn’t really, really matter on the big scale of things.

But what really matters?

That I know the One who really matters.

Romans 12:2 The Message (MSG)

Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

As always, thanks for reading.

College Days

I woke up early from a weird dream, so then I lay there, praying for my family and what-not, and then my mind began to drift to days of long ago.

College days.

The main reason I’m actually writing about this, and not just putting it into my dear old diary, is that I tend to write better when I think other people are actually going to read it.  And, I know at least my mom will read this post, and that is more than enough fantastic audience if you ask me:-) Also, writing for others forces me to better concise my thoughts and reflect on them with purpose and intention rather than just letting my writing drift all over the place from one thought to the next.  And lastly, because when Pioneer Woman had nothing to blog on, she wrote about falling in love with her husband, which led her to write a delightful little book, so I’m taking her advice and writing on whatever flits my fancy because it’s fun to reminisce.

I graduated from UC Berkeley.

Normally when I tell most people this, they pause, and then look at me different, like “OHHHH, you’re SUPER smart and I had no idea.”

No, you actually had a pretty good read on the situation, I want to say… but I don’t say it, which is why I try to avoid telling people where I went to school.

Instead, I typically say, “I went to school in the Bay Area.”  It gets me off the hook from people thinking untrue things about me.  But since this post is about college, it would be weird not to state the school I went to.

When I got accepted, I didn’t know how to spell Berkeley correctly.

I wish I were joking.

But I’m totally not.

And I was slated to be an English major.

Fortunately they had invented the red squiggle line by then, so they weren’t any wiser to my terrible flaw.

I attended junior college near my home for the first two years of college.  It cost $1,000 a year to take a full load of classes and live at home.  And since I’d received a $1,000 scholarship from the Frozen Foods Foundation I figured it was a sign from the Lord.  I think I may have sworn to uphold the integrity of the frozen food business, and I feel I’ve fulfilled that dream by using a deep freezer in my garage and occasionally buying frozen pizzas and fruits and vegetables. Besides that, attending a public University at the time would have cost $11,000 a year, so it was 100% a financial decision.  The college counselors at my high school said that we could go to the local jc and then if we maintained good grades, transfer to a better University then we would have been accepted to straight out of high school, AND save a bunch of money.

I applied to Pepperdine, Cal Poly, and ON A WHIM, The University of California, Berkeley, because I thought since I applied to a CSU, I should even it out with a UC, and Berkeley seemed the least likely place to be accepted.  I wanted desperately to go to Pepperdine.  It is literally ON a beach.  I was going to be an au pair for a family friend.  It was all set.  It was going to cost $33,000 a year and I didn’t care, I at least had room and board covered.  The ocean was calling me, I was going to finally live my dream of becoming a surfer.

Because that is why you go to college.

To become a surfer.

I didn’t get accepted.  I had a 3.9 from my jc (stinkin’ art history!) and Pepperdine said NO.  I was crushed.  When I got the tiny envelope out of the mail and knew it should be thicker or bigger or look happier, and when I read the letters the said the words that told me I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough, I was crushed.  I remember following my dad around the Osh Home store, moping about among the outdoor plants section, contemplating the meaning of life.  I was sad for a whole 1/2 a day.

Then I got over it.

I found an apartment down in beautiful Cal Poly.  I put $400 down on it, and planned to live with three other christian girls.  In my mind, Cal Poly was lame, because all my friends were going there, and I wanted to make new friends, and do new things.  To go out on my own and not follow a bunch of the same christians around for the next two years.  Barf city!

You’ll have to forgive me, christians are fun and all, but I grew up in church, everything I did was saturated in church.  My dad was the pastor for goodness sake.  I started the bible club at my high school.  Two other kids and myself sat in the atheist principal’s office and stated that it was our legal right to start a bible club.  We had like 50-75 kids in that thing and we didn’t even have a CLUE about what we were doing.  There were no intelligent grown up’s leading us.  We led worship with one guitar and sometimes a cappella.  A CAPPELLA!  Can you imagine?  Who wants to come hang out with a bunch of christians over lunch and sing without instruments? WHAT WAS I THINKING?  But kids still came, and heard the gospel, and I think even a few kids might have considered that God was real, and maybe liked them, and perhaps it got them thinking about the whole thing.  Who knows, it kept me out of trouble and I was informally voted “most likely to marry a minister”, except the yearbook teacher wouldn’t allow that category, so it got nixed.

Needless to say, I’d hung out with enough christians to realize I wanted to start hanging out with people who weren’t like me – because I didn’t know anyone like that up close.  I had lots of friendly classmates who were non-christians but when I’d try and hang out with them outside of school they’d always say stuff like, “Oh, you don’t want to come to that party, it’s not your thing”, or “You should stay away from me, I’m a bad guy, I’m not good for you.”

Who says that?  People who maybe like you, but don’t want to screw you up I guess?  I say, thank goodness to that, because it was nice to be sheltered in high school, I left feeling happy about life and not addicted to anything, and feeling a bit like a nerd because I’d never kissed a boy – but I had a future husband I was waiting and praying for, so it was acceptable in my book.

Then I got a huge envelope in the mail from UC Berkeley.

My parent’s were so excited for me.

Well-meaning christians told my parents not to let me go there.  They said it would change me. They spoke words full of fear and good intention.  They were extremely hesitant about my parents decision to trust me.  To trust God.

But because I have parents who trust God at the base of who they are, they gladly helped me pack my bags and my mom even went with me to orientation day.

The pastor’s kid goes to UC Berkeley.

Scandal.

I was still in shock that I got accepted.  I was really wondering what God was up to.

The cover letter said the words, Congratulations with my name on it.  MY NAME. The folder was thick with information about financial aid and registering for classes.  It had flyers about clubs and parent day.  It had pictures of super smart kids sitting on lawns and talking.  I was in disbelief.

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The font of the folder had the beautiful words, “fiat lux”, which means “let there be light”.ucberkely

God was sending me to a liberal, non-christian school with the motto, “let there be light.”

God has a sense of humor, and apparently a lot of faith in a little bible club starting girl.

This is the school with the third tallest clock tower in the world.  

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photo credit: wikipedia

The Campanile, or Sather Tower plays the carillon every day at noon, challenging students to strive for academic greatness.  If you’ve never heard a carillon, it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world, especially surrounded by the history of this school, and the beauty of the Bay Area.  Go sit on the lawn in front of Doe Library and have a listen, and then get an expresso brownie from the Free Speech Cafe attached to Moffitt Library.  Yowza, you’ll be set for the next 36 hours of life excitement.  

This is also the school known for political protests and academic-amazingness.  Some of professors are Nobel Laureates, and fancy award getters.  There are 7 Nobel Laureates, 32 MacArthur Fellows, and 4 Pulitzer Prize winners among the current faculty.  Berkeley is known as the number one public university in the nation, last I checked.  What was I doing here?

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Cal crew (rowing) days, that’s me on the left and my bow partner, T on the right. It was the best of times!

When I was in 3rd grade, I was not a great student.  I have a vivid memory of a Monday night when I was forced to stay home from church baseball night and work on a report about dinosaurs.  This was sad to me and made me do some serious thinking.  Church baseball night was super fun as a kid, all the dad’s would play baseball, and all the kids would run around, and usually regardless if they won or lost, we would go out to ice cream and the kids would eat their weight in frozen dairy, and then I unfortunately would throw it up later that night, but that is another story entirely about my stomach not tolerating a bunch of sugar.

Needless to say, missing out on ice cream and fun gave me some time to ponder my future.  I always knew my dad wanted me to go to college.  When I was really mad at him, like SOOOO mad, I’d loudly announce to him, ‘FINE, then I’m NOT going to college!”  It was irrelevant, and he’d let me say it and mean it and he’d love me anyway and knew I wasn’t serious, but I knew he was serious about me going to school, so it was that night I decided it was time to think about my academic goals.

I sat and thought about who I was (in third grade, yes) and who I was going to be.  That night I decided I wanted to go to a really good college, the kind that was in the movies, the kind that was old, and had history and prestige.  I pictured myself on some carpeted old steps in a beautiful old library, walking down the stairs to go to my next class.  I can still see it now. That was a college where really smart kids went, and someday, I was going to walk up or down those fancy old steps and be apart of it.  I wasn’t just going to go to college, I was going to attend a really good college, one of the best.

I should share that the junior college I attended had fake bells, on a loud speaker.  And I’d walk up the steps to the library and hear them and think, someday I’m going to walk up steps to at a really good school, that has real bells, not fake ones over a loud speaker.  I’d think that every time I walked up the steps to the library.

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photo credit: UC Berkeley Website

When I walked onto the UC Berkeley campus for the first time, for the intro tour to the school I’d been accepted to but never set foot on, all my very forgotten 3rd grade memories came rushing back to me.  I saw the beautiful old buildings.  I could feel the prestige in the air.  I heard the real bells from the clock tower.  If you’ve ever been to the Bay Area, you might notice it has a beautiful smell, the smell of the ocean, the fog and the eucalyptus trees.  It’s refreshing on almost any day.

I remember standing there, but trying not to look like a fool, in a great amount of disbelief that it actually came true.  I couldn’t believe that God had remembered my 3rd grade dreams.  And I had forgotten them completely and attempted to trade them in for a surf board.  But he wouldn’t let me, and he didn’t forget.  Every time I heard the bells over those next two years, I’d stop and think and remember.  It was hard not to.  They sounded so beautiful, it was a reminder of my dreams coming true.  And I should say, every day there felt like a dream.  It literally felt like I was living in someone else’s graces.

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photo credit: UC Berkeley website

One time our professor put a paragraph on the board in Latin prior to class, and my friend next to me read it and knew what it said.  He learned Latin in his private school on the East Coast.  I knew how to make a skim board and slip around on the water in Santa Cruz.  I was completely out of my league and I loved every second of it.  Plus, no one knew I was a pastor’s kid, so people stopped treating me weird.  It was like an escape from my old life, I could be exactly who I wanted to be, and no one was going to judge me or care.  It felt like freedom.

Sometimes God puts ideas in our hearts when we are little, because that is when we will let them be deposited there.  Our hearts are still fresh and young, and not full of why-nots.  He planted those dreams in my 9 year old heart, only to make them come to pass ten years later.

I feel him attempting to plant new dreams in my heart now, but I so much more resistant.  I have all the arguments of why they aren’t possible and why they are selfish and why they are too good to be true.  Of why money should be spent elsewhere, as though God’s resources are somehow limited.  I keep hearing him say, dream.  Trust me and dream.  Dream.

A lot of my previous, seemingly ridiculous dreams (except for becoming a beach bum surfer) have come true.  So, now I’m starting to dream new ones.

I am doing this 5 day Storyline thing on the storylineblog.com.  So far I’ve completed day one, and it’s been like a month, so in a few months, I’ll have completed it.  I figured I needed some proper organization to my dreams.  I want to live life intentionally, and not be afraid to dream. I am still a bit afraid to dream, because it could mean really big things could happen, and what if I’m not ready, or good enough or smart enough?

But isn’t that the moral of my college days story?

I didn’t have to be smart enough, or good enough, or ready.  I just had to let God plant some dreams in my third grade heart and then say yes when the time came.

So much of christian religiosity and churchie-church talk is about surrender.  Surrender to God. Surrender of our hopes and dreams in place of God’s.  And it usually sounds like giving all the cool stuff up, choosing the road less traveled, taking the poor man’s path, carrying our cross. And I get that, because much of the christian life lived out is a surrender of our will – choosing to love when we want to hate, choosing to forgive when we want to hold on.  But sometimes I think we take it too far – like we think being a good christian looks like giving up all our dreams and living a mediocre life.  If I had taken the well intentioned advice of so many, many christian “friends”, I would have never attend Cal.  But I knew God had something more for me there and I wasn’t afraid to hope.  I learned WAY more about God’s love for the lost hanging out with a bunch of non-christians who liked me just the way I was then I ever could have at a mandatory skirt wearing christian college.  And it’s amazing to see how God showed up in such a crazy spiritually dark place!

What if God’s plan for your life looked super cool and awesome on the outside?  What if it looked more like surrendering YOUR lame ideas of boring-ness for God’s way better ones?  What if he really wants to you live out your 3rd grade dream?  What if churchie-church people won’t like it and it will make them frown?

Here is my favorite song about putting dreams out to the Lord.  I always ask him that I can sing it with 100% honesty, and then trust him to do the rest.  Sometimes I sing it out of giving something up, and sometimes I sing it out of accepting a big dream that scares me.

I’m giving you all my heart, and all that is within
I lay it all down for the sake of you my king
I’m giving you my dreams, I’m laying down my rights
I’m giving up my pride for the promise of new life

[Chorus]
And I surrender all to you, all to you
And I surrender all to you, all to you

I’m singing you this song, I’m waiting at the cross
And all the world holds dear, I count it all as loss
For the sake of knowing you the glory of your name
To know the lasting joy even sharing in your pain

Some of the dreams I currently have, scare the crap out of me.  They are way bigger and require much more than I have to offer.  But I feel myself being tempted to dream them anyway.  Because I never had what it took the first time, but God did.

Not to be super cheesy and leave you with a thought provoking question, but what dreams has God planted in your heart, and is there anything holding you back from saying yes?  If so, is that truly from the Lord, or is it’s motivation fear?  Because we know scripture says, “Fear is not from the Lord.” (Perfect love casts out fear – 1 John 4:18.)

Just a thought.

Or a kick in the bum to get you moving.

Come on already, if all us Christians were truly living the dream lives God has for us, this world would be a million times cooler already.  Get on it friend!  

As always, it means literally the world to me that you read this blog, and I know it shouldn’t but it does, and until God fixes that in me, it probably will.  Thank you so much for reading!

Healing and Jesus Fries

I have a migraine.

Why am I writing right at this very moment when I’m shaky and feel like I want to throw up?

Because I want to do the very thing I think the enemy is trying to keep me from doing.

Speaking truth about who God is.  Last time I tried to sit down and type out this truth, I got a migraine and didn’t finish it.

So this might be a super crappy post.

But I don’t even care, because it’s my best attempt at saying, “God is bigger and better then barf and headaches and pain and more pain.”

My head started hurting earlier this evening, right as I sat down for church.

I unfortunately get migraines on a regular basis.  After years of prayer, they are better then they were, but they are still not gone, and they can still be terrible and of course inconvenient.

I typically get them when I am in a place where I could enjoy myself and find rest, for example: my husband and I are about to go on a date, I’m in church, when I should be sleeping or when I have time to reflect and write.

I feel like there’s a pattern.  I feel like they might be spiritual and the enemy is trying to rob me in my times of peace.

But really, what do I know?  All I know is when I get them, I want them to go away and they make me question what I’m doing wrong in my life to have them in the first place.

They are also always on the right side of my head.  And it feels like a 1/2 metal rod has been shoved through my eye socket up and out of the back of my scull.

That’s descriptive and lovely.  Sorry about that.

In church tonight, as we were getting up to leave and go pick up our kids, I felt like the Lord said, “have someone at church pray for you, go ASK for prayer.”

I was like, ummmmm (drumming up some good excuses), “I don’t want to bother anyone, it’s not that bad, I’ll be okay.”  I added on for good measure, “my dad’s a pastor, and I love his prayers, I’ll have him pray for me” and then, “my mom is an intercessor, she will pray and mean it, (she wields a giant spiritual sword)” and to end it, besides, “my husband loves me and his prayers for me are like treasures, I love hearing him pray for me and I’ve been healed at different times by each one of their prayers.”  It wasn’t that explicit when I said it, but basically I was telling God, “I have like three super qualified people to pray over me, I am so blessed already, there are people here who maybe don’t even have ONE person to pray over them, why would I ASK for help from our church?  I don’t want to bother anyone.”

Because praying for people in a church is a bother.

And I’m an idiot who still has a migraine at 4 in the morning.

It’s starting to feel a little bit better.  But I’m still shaking.

Here is what I understand about Jesus and healing… not very much.

Why does he allow pain in the first place?  That is a ten-jillion theologian page book in itself, but sometimes Jesus’ answer is, “so that God may be glorified.”

But everything Jesus ever did on the earth, was to show us more of who God was, to bring us closer to God, his Father which in the process, made us healed and whole.  It really seems to me that the Father is glorified when we know who he is, and when we know who he is, we become healed and whole.  There’s something to that.  From the outside, it sounds like, “oh it’s all about God and his glory, but actually he sent his ONLY son, to die for US.  It’s not about our glory, but it sure sounds like it’s a lot about us being rescued and saved, healed and whole and his glory looks a lot more like the sacrifice of a dying soldier then a dude on a throne who people worship and throw flowers at.

Here is an interesting look at healing in the first book of Matthew chapter 15. verses 21-28.

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman.  Her story is a bummer at first, but it ends well.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. 

Say WHHHHHHAAAAT?  Jesus legit ignored her.  That does not sound like the “nice” Jesus I know.

Does Jesus REALLY ignore people?  I thought he was always, super-nice-guy.  Ignoring seems so rude.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about Jesus.  In the bible, he does everything for the benefit of those around him (and for the future readers of the bible, like you and I, he is multifaceted like that).  In this case, the best thing for this woman to have a real encounter with Jesus, was for Jesus to ignore her.  How crazy is that? 

Let’s read on.

“And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Again, she is ignored and the excuse is because she is not a Jew, the people group chosen by God.  Canaanite’s according to the commentary on biblegateway.com were, “bitter biblical enemies of Israel whose paganism had often led Israel into idolatry.”  But she doesn’t care, she even goes so far as to bothers his disciples, so much so that they, “came and begged him saying, “send her away” for she is crying out after us.”  She must have been determined, insistent, over-the-top obnoxious, not caring about social rules or status, not caring about looking like an idiot.

I can just hear her screaming like a crazy woman, “SAVE MY CHILD!!! Don’t you care?!  HELP ME!!!” – reminds me of reality-tv people going for good ratings.

Yet, Jesus says no again, replying, “I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel”. (strike 2)

But there’s more

“25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 

26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 

He is still telling her no appears to be speaking to her as the Jewish leaders might have, putting her in her social place. (that’s 3)

“27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 

A humble and wise response, she is attempting to persuade God, And humbling herself in the process.  Now her heart is in the right place, she has moved her attention PAST herself, and onto Jesus and his business.

28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith!   Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

I seriously doubt that the Jewish fancy-pants leaders would have ever prayed for healing for her, so Jesus was basically breaking down those social barriers but anyway, that’s another type of commentary. This story is crazy.  I used to think that Jesus was all about going around and healing people instantly.  Fixin’ stuff.  But healing is not what she really needed first.

Why does he draw her out, make her wait?  She goes through the motions of seeking, asking, and begging, she gets rejected BY Jesus, three times.  What could be worse then getting rejected by Jesus?  How awful in your life story, “This one time, I was rejected by the Son of God, three times…”  But she wasn’t ever really rejected was she?  He knew she wasn’t going home without what she came for.

Sometimes Jesus heals people in an instant: BAM healing.  Other times he first says, “go, your sins are forgiven”, while they sit there still crippled, then he heals them too after a sec (Mark 2:1-12). In one instance, a lady touches his robe (Matthew 9:20) and she is healed without him saying anything and he acts all surprised saying, “who touched me?”  Do you really think he didn’t know?  No, the dude is God in the flesh, but he responds that way for her unique benefit, and she humbles herself in her response to God.

Back to Strike 3 Lady.  Why did he tell her no three times?  I thought when we ask God for something, he wants to give it to us right away if it aligns with the bible.  The bible is pretty down on people being possessed by demons, so we can assume it was God’s will to heal this little girl of demon possession, so why did he wait?

Perhaps to grow the Canaanite Woman’s faith in the process?  Jesus is always saying in the bible, “by your faith you are healed”.

Like me, tonight in church.  How much faith did I really have?

Well, what does faith mean?

Hebrews 11:1 says, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Sure and certain.

Those two words.

When I am sure and certain of something, I will stop at nothing to go after it.

I WANTED my migraine to go away.  I assumed it would get worse as they normally do until I am crying and have to make myself throw up just so I can fall asleep again in the middle of the night and get at least the nausea to go away.  But I didn’t stop at nothing.  I stopped right at the doorstep of pride.  Pride is the doormat you have to walk over to get into the house of healing.  You have to get over your pride before you can get into God’s healing.

IMG_6849
Big girl shoes on the doormat of pride, probably a little bit of how God sees us.

I wasn’t sure and certain enough to humble myself.  Really that’s the truth behind the “facts” I told God.  It’s not that I don’t believe my family can pray for me and heal me.  It’s that I didn’t want to have healing the way he directed me to have it.  I didn’t want to go up to some nice strangers and tell them I needed them.  To say, “Hey, I have this problem, and I’VE prayed about it and it’s NOT going away.  I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed, and I STILL need help. I’ve done everything in my mind I can do, and it’s still not fixed.”  How humiliating is that? Maybe I’m just prideful but I don’t like the idea of going up to super nice strangers who ARE THERE TO HELP ME, and telling them I need help.  I want to solve it in my own way. (There are SO many biblical examples of that, so at least I’m not alone).

Because what if the nice people at church think I’m pathetic, and not good at praying, and wonder if I really know Jesus at all because if I did and he really talked to me, I’d be right as rain this very moment.

But they don’t wonder any of those things.  Because when I get to pray for someone I am delighted.  I am so happy to stand with my brother or sister in the Lord and intervene on their behalf.  It’s makes me feel like I still have a purpose.  It is a reminder to me that God is using me, that I’m still USEFUL to him, which is what I desire most in this very world, to be someone that God still says, “hey, I can use this girl”.  Some of my most favorite, best experiences in life have to do with being in the presence of God. He is so beyond peaceful, beyond all the distractions, beyond all my doubts and questions and misunderstandings.  Even when I’m in his presence for just a second, I begin to feel better.

What if God wanted to use someone tonight to help heal me?

And I took my reasons and handed them up to God in list form.

And I didn’t get to experience healing.  Because I wan’t humble.

According to the dictionary, humble means: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

Like we aren’t the one’s who are most important when we go to God and ask him for things. We hold the position that HIS will is still the most important.

And sometimes, I don’t think we always want that.  We want our will, with a side of Jesus, like he’s the fries in our delicious meal of self.  Jesus fries.

Jesus is never the fries.  He’s the whole meal.  We aren’t even the fries.  We aren’t even the ketchup leftover stain on the table from the meal prior.  And yet he loves us, and wants to heal us and to give us what we ask for.

But not until we stop negotiating with the Lord.  And I didn’t hand over that migraine to the Lord tonight, I held onto it and said I knew how to fix it myself, I had the solution.

And where did that get me?

Barf city.

I should have said, “Okay God, I REALLY want THIS (healing in the comfort of my own home by my family’s prayers), BUT, seriously if you have something better (nice strangers praying for me), something that is more your plan, even if I don’t like it – I’m down, let’s go that route, I’ll step out of my comfort zone, I surrender.”

And I have to mean it.

And I have to act on it.

It totally doesn’t count if I just say it like a wish to the sky.

This usually involves part of ME dying.  Myself.  My will.  My pride.  And me saying and big fat, “YES” to God and his plans.

Because it’s not my will, it’s his.  Because it’s not about me.  It’s about him.  When my eyes are on him, I get better.

So maybe you want something really bad, something that is good and lines up with the bible.  Maybe you’ve been asking for a long time, and you FEEL like he’s ignoring you.  He’s not.  He might be waiting for you to simply humble yourself and give it over to him, saying,

“I trust you enough that even if I NEVER get this thing I want the way I want it, I still trust you, and believe that you are good.  I’m giving it to you.  I surrender.”

And if you can’t say that prayer just yet in all honesty, tell him you can’t, but that you wish you could, and then ask him to help you get there.

Then, if he tells you to go to church and ask the nice strangers to pray for you, listen to him and go, don’t be dumb like me and hold onto your pride while you suffer in pain.  Don’t be dumb like me!

And, by the way, somehow over the last two hours and a bowl of Joe’s O’s, the migraine is gone.

See how much I know about healing?  Not very much.  The migraines I tend to get usually last three days.  Fortunately, God knows everything and I don’t have to.  I just have to know him.

And, side note, in church tonight, we learned that we are the introducer guy, the one who introduces others to the one who can actually help them.  So here’s the introduction for whoever this post was actually written for, because the enemy did everything he was allowed to do to stop it from being written.  So if it’s you this is written for, run to God and do whatever he says.  He had some big plans for you whoever you are.  Don’t even wait, find a bible and go right now to the only one who can help you, heal you and make you whole, his name is Jesus.

a made for tv movie

I LOVE horribly cheesy made for tv movies.  Especially Christmas ones.  I like the mix of predictability, mediocre acting  and always ending on a happy note.  I also love that they can’t include gratuitous shots of people not wearing enough clothes, there is nothing I despise more than movies where people are acting like they are getting physical.  So tacky, so gross, so not the real thing – barf.

Back to point.  The other day I convinced my husband to watch a made for tv Christmas movie with me. I had delicious snacks, so he was lured in.  I’m pretty sure the soundtrack was the same gals that always did the Gilmore Girls, so it was on par with my standards in many, many ways.

In the movie, the main gal hits her head, and gets an amnesia dream where her life is totally different (absolute predictability) from her mean/selfish/ambition driven life and she in the end realizes that she wants to change who she is and have the dream life where she is nice/selfless/semi-philanthropist.  All ends well.

During the made for tv movie, there is a point where her long lost love is telling her all the things he did after they broke up and she moved away.  He saved the grocery list she wrote on the chalkboard in his house, he kept some old mayo in his fridge from when they were together, he even bagged her pillow to always have her scent.  SO kinda creepy, but hearing all the ways he treasured even a memory of her made her realize that she was truly loved by him. All that time she thought he’d moved on and he hadn’t.  Game changer.

Later on he lists the things he loved about their life together and why he wanted her back; how he wanted to be there when she went to sleep, and watch her wake up each morning, to be the one who was there when she needed him, to catch her fall when they ice skated because she was always so clumsy and he knew her better than she knew herself… there was a laundry list of things he stated which included lots of qualities girls hope for in a man, all the little things that say, “I ADORE YOU”.

This made for tv movie summary totally has a worthy point;-)

It was during this movie that it hit me.  When the dude was listing off all his awesome qualities and ways of affirming his love for the main gal, I thought, “Whoa! That’s totally what Jesus does!  He IS that dude that all girls dream about!”  Not in the creepers save your pillow kind of way, but in the, “there for you when you need him, and never lets you down” kind of way.

Now, I love my husband, he does do a lot of the little things that are blockbuster movie worthy.

When he has to get up early for work, he makes a stack of pillows to hide the bathroom light from my face so I can keep sleeping while he gets ready.

He fixes my fuel filter when it smells like diesel in my car before I can notice there was a problem in the first place.

He watches silly movies with me like Pacific Rim and lets me “ELBOW ROCKET” him and doesn’t get me back.

He brings me cold water from the fridge before I go to sleep.

He is totally the guy I was meant to marry in a million-trillion ways.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s super dreamy handsome either.

IMG_1876
a match made in heaven.

But he’s not perfect.

And neither am I.

But I still want perfect.

Sometimes he just doesn’t get me.  Sometimes he’s gone for work and really can’t be there when I need someone.  Sometimes I still feel alone in something even though I’m married and have three beautiful children and an amazing family and friends.

Guess who stands in when other people can’t?

Jesus does.

Other people were never meant to fill all of the voids in my heart.  They were meant to fill some of them, but even in those people meeting my needs, Jesus is behind it.

He is the one who gave me my husband to stand in as a physical representation of how much God loves me.  And when my kids come up to me and say the sweetest most angelic, heavenly things at just the right moment, I have to chalk that up to Jesus sending me a sweet one saying, “Hey, I love you.”  Because normally they do things like this…

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father-son resemblance?

Jesus is behind so much, and we don’t even see it.

Jesus has been there for me in so many moments when no one else could be.

We all long for someone to love us, adore us and to think that we’re special.  And someone does.

When I stood in my littlest one’s room tonight and held her and sang while she rested her head on my shoulder, I was overwhelmed with how much I loved and just absolutely adored her, but my next thought was, Jesus adores me even more.  That is astounding.

He adores you even more.

He adores each one of us even more.

He’s the one who’s going to come dashing in and rescue you from danger, to hold the elevator for you in the building, to wipe the tear from your eye, to kiss your owies, to snuggle you to sleep and to sit with you and watch a made for tv movie with you and not eat all your snacks.

He’s there all the time.

And he’s perfect.

Sometimes he’s demonstrating his love through other people and their actions.  And sometimes it’s just you and him and he covers you in peace as you pray and ask for what to do next.

He’s the made for tv dreamboat we’ve always wanted, only better!

So, if you find yourself lonely in something this season, maybe it’s that someone isn’t understanding you, or getting it, or saying just the right thing at just the right moment… tell Jesus right then, and let him step in and be the one that meets all those hopes and dreams in being loved perfectly.

And, have grace on those who aren’t perfect, because they are just giving Jesus a chance to step in and fill that role.

Thanks for reading!

Life in all its fullness

I’m kinda on this kick where I’m REALLY into de-stressing my life.  De-cluttering my life, De-overcommitment-ing my life (not a real word).  Basically taking some serious time to look at all the small and great details of my life, and pray over them, asking God, “Do I really need this in my life?  Is THIS what you want me doing right now?” Sometimes God calls us to do stuff.  Good stuff, fun stuff, God stuff – whatever.

But then sometimes we find ourselves doing too much stuff.

I know I’m doing too much stuff when I stop really listening to his voice.  If I am running around all day, from one thing to the next, trying to be somewhere on time, letting someone down by being late, feeling as if there aren’t enough hours in my day to get stuff accomplished, I know I’ve stopped listening and I’m no longer hearing God’s voice super clearly.  I think I know how to run my own life even though it’s riddled with stress.

God is not at the center of stress.  He is at the center of peace.  God is a God of peace and he doesn’t abide in stress.  He just doesn’t live there.  So if I’m choosing to live there – I’m choosing NOT to live or abide with him.  It’s not like he ever leaves me, but when I walk away from him towards stress and overcommitment land, I can’t hear his voice so good when he speaks to me, because I’m not close to him.  Recently, I’ve felt him leading me back to him, back to peace.

Yesterday I was running late.  I was trying to get the kids ready for preschool, I slept in (my favorite treat to myself) and one thing led to the next where I found myself trying to rush out the door.  I had the whole car packed with all three kids (a task in itself), my keys, purse and water, and then I realized I hadn’t made a latte.  I know, first world problem, but I had the almond milk in the fridge and I figured since I was already late, I may as well enjoy my late drive to preschool with a latte in hand – I’m trying to relax more even in the stressful moments and not worry about the little details, like being on time;-)  I had already opened the garage door to head out when I made the split decision to go back inside.

Now, normal Rebekah would have left the garage door open with my kids, keys and purse in the car because normal Rebekah believes she lives in a pretty friendly neighborhood.  BUT, I heard a different voice.  The still, small, very, very, quite voice in the back of my head said, “shut the garage door.”  That’s it.  I have learned to listen to this still, small, very, very, quiet voice.

I shut the garage door.

I left the kids to sing and entertain themselves in relative safety while I ran inside to make a quick latte.

Within 30 seconds, my husband says from upstairs, “there’s someone coming to the door, let me answer it” in a serious voice.  I THOUGHT he said, “there’s a burglar coming to the door let me answer it.” I REALLY heard burglar.  So I stayed where I was and listened intently slash told Jesus I was concerned.  The guy sounded sketchy and was asking if so-and-so were home, and pretended he was sorta a contractor or something.  When my husband asked him the address he was looking for, he couldn’t even answer the question.  He had been standing across our street, staring at our house “talking” on a cel phone while his bud was skateboarding up and down our neighborhood streets.  They had a bunch of random stuff in the back of their truck, a kids bike, a table saw – an array of looked to be stolen goods.  I know it’s like, innocent until proven guilty, but I felt like the guy coming to our door was not up to any good.

It was at this moment that I said to the Lord, “Thank you Jesus for making the suggestion to close the garage door.”  My three babies were all strapped into their car seats in an unlocked car with my keys and purse on the passenger seat.  And yet they were perfectly safe because God recommended I do something as simple as close the garage door.  I was so glad I was listening.

Sometimes the enemy plans stuff to harm us, and sometimes God says, “nope.”

I believe this is because we pray and ask him.  We seek him for his will, ask him for his provision and protection.

There have been times where the enemy had plans to harm me, and God said, “nope” and I didn’t listen.  I was too busy.  I thought I knew how to run my life.  I wasn’t as interested in God’s suggestions.  I look back in regret that I didn’t listen to his voice.

It’s not that I wouldn’t hear him, I would only half listen.

I used to run at night.  My parents always told me not to run at night.  But being 17 and in high school, I did it anyway.  One night in particular, I could hear a voice almost YELLING, “do not go running tonight , especially in that tiny little tank top.” I remember it was only around 6:30 pm but it was dark and there was a light drizzle.  I said, “fine, fine, I’ll go put on a long sleeve shirt.” But as I continued to run, although more clothed, the voice persisted, “do not go running tonight, go home.”  It kept insisting, I couldn’t shake it.  I finally said, “Hey voice, I KNOW what I’m doing in my life, I KNOW I live in a safe place, nothing bad will ever happen to me! Relax! I’ve got this.”

So I went running that night with intention.

And I was attacked.

It was on a normally busy street, but I was completely alone, in the dark between streetlights.  A man came up behind me.  I only heard three footsteps before he grabbed me by the waist tight with both arms.  At first I thought it was a friend joking.  I can’t explain the fear and absolute clear understanding that I COULD NOT help myself when I realized it was not a friend and that there was not a soul around to help me.

I remember looking up to the night sky and realizing only God could help me.  He was the only one who saw.

I screamed to him twice, with everything inside of me.  I screamed for him to help me.

And He did.

He saved me that night.

He rescued me.

The man let go and looked like he was hit in the face with a bat.  He stumbled around confused, with his face towards the ground.  I didn’t wait to see if he was alright, with adrenaline pulsing through my veins I sprinted all the way home to my front door where I collapsed in the foyer of my house.  I still say an angel hit him in the face with a 2×4, but that’s just my own idea;-)

It took me months to feel okay by myself even in the safety of my own house.  I don’t believe God wanted me to have that terrifying experience or even have to walk through the aftermath of it.  I believe he was trying to keep me from that danger all together.  But I didn’t listen.  I thought I knew better, I was literally running my own life.

And even though I didn’t listen completely to his voice, he still protected me.  That my friends is God’s true grace.

Despite the bad press God gets in this world, He actually wants good for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  So God is speaking this to a repentant Israel in this passage, but it applies to us as well.

It’s the enemy who wants to opposite.  In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”  Jesus actually desires for us to have life, and have it to the full.  In fact that is precisely the reason he went to the cross, on his own will.  How incredible.

When I think about this, I juxtapose it against my own idea of what I think God wants for me: working for him, being perfect, getting it all right, earning his love and grace.

It doesn’t line up.  I am STILL, after being a Christ follower for almost 30 years trying to get it into my head who God really is, and what he REALLY wants for me and from me.

I don’t think God wants us experiencing even a tenth or a millionth of the pain and frustration we experience, it’s just that I don’t think we are really listening to his guidance on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s his voice telling us to forgive someone, to really forgive and hand the pain and hurt over to him. Other times it’s his voice reminding us to slow down and jut trust him, or to not be completely selfish and give some of what we have to others in need.

He speaks all kinds of stuff- and what he says to me, might not be the same message he’s giving you.

This is why he calls us to a personal relationship with him.  Not an “I go to church on Sunday and hear what the preacher says” kind of thing.  Don’t get me wrong, God speaks through the preacher, but God has more detailed, more intimate stuff to share with you.  Most of it probably revolves around how much he loves you and wants good stuff for you life.  Some of it might be conviction to give up something you’re holding onto that’s not good for you.

I don’t know exactly what he wants to speak to you – but if you listen, I can promise with my own life learned experience, that you will have more of what Jesus said he wants for you, to have “life in all its fullness.”

Who doesn’t want that?  Isn’t that what we’re all striving after anyway?

As always, thanks so much for reading.

an actual example of grace, like… in real life

Here’s an interesting story. The other day, I sat outside in our beautiful backyard, enjoying the sunshine as my older daughter swam in the pool, and my youngest daughter jumped in the trampoline.

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Notice the trampoline in the background.  Mind blowing photography.

My son and husband had just left to get semi-matching father/son haircuts (which I think is adorable).

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When styled, it looks like his dad’s. But that only happens on church days 😉
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Thanks for posing for me babe!

Back to the yard.  As I’m flipping through a magazine, I glance over at my youngest who was moments ago was happily bouncing on the trampoline in just a diaper.

Elliepool
Pre-jump attire, boots and all!

ellieclose Ellieface

And here is where the story goes from happy everyday to miraculous.  But it’s a rough go, so give it a chance.

As I look now, to my horror, I watch my 18 month old bounce high in the trampoline, somehow, right through the open zipper part of the netting, and land DIRECTLY on her head (no hands, no feet to “help” in this fall) and then make a second BOUNCE right into the pool, face down, straight into the shallow (18 inch shelf) part of the water.

She missed the stair.

My heart leaps out of my throat.

She is face down, arms out, legs out in the shallow water.

At this point I am already running across the shelf to get to her. She’s been facedown in the water for maybe three to four seconds.  I knew as I was about to grab her that it wasn’t too long to be facedown in the water.  I knew when she gasped for air as I picked up her body that she wasn’t drowning.

As her wet, shaky body soaked my shirt, I just held her while she cried.  I held her against my body and began to pray.  I prayed fervently, in the Spirit, I prayed and prayed.  I didn’t have real words.  I just said things out loud in a hurried whisper to the Lord, asking Him to intervene.

She stopped crying after maybe 12 seconds.  She’s cried longer over us not letting her put on her shoes.

My older daughter decides she ready to get out of the pool.  I pull back my youngest to examine her head.  I notice a purple bump starting to form.  I am familiar with this type of bump that shoots out immediately, my son had one awhile back and it was shocking how fast that part of his head could make a mini black and blue golf ball appear out of his skull.

I realize I need to get something cold on her head immediately.  I get my older daughter into a towel and head inside, hoping I have some frozen vegetables in the freezer.

That was a huge fall. Not only did she fall OUT of the trampoline (at least a good two feet), she then took a second and bounced off the concrete INTO the pool hard enough to miss the stair.

HOW does that happen?  WHY does this happen?

I get a bag of peas.  I try to lay her down and put the peas on her head.  She starts to scream, she is not having any of it. I get a second frozen bag of vegetables, and let her play with the cold corn while she sits in my lap.  She lets me put the peas on her head for maybe five or ten seconds before swatting the away.  I continue to pray.

I send my oldest upstairs to go play trains by herself.  She protests a bit.  It is only at this point she realizes I’m serious, and her eyes get big for a second.  It registers.  Mom is not joking.

I give the baby a few more minuets of frozen peas intervals until she decides she’s done with that.  I take her upstairs to get dressed, at least she needs some clothes.  As I lay her down to examine her head again, the bump looks smaller, and less purple, and more pink.  I question if I’m imagining things.  I decide I’m not and continue praying.

I check her pupil dilation, I look for any sign of distress, anything that is not normal.  She decides she wants to play with her older sister.  I let her, and continue to keep a hand on her (as much as she will let me) and pray.  I pray and pray.

I ask God to please make up for my huge failings as a mother, to intervene on my behalf, for my baby.  I remind the Lord that He loves her.  That He loves her more than I do.  I begin to calm down internally, a bit.  I remember that He loves her more then I do.

The scriptures in Matthew about sparrows and the number of hairs on our head rush through my mind.  I mix them into one in confusion:

Matthew 10:29-31″What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

So, God knows when the sparrow falls, He knows when my youngest falls.  He knows the hairs on my daughters head… she is valuable.

6:26-27 “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

She is valuable to God.  He will intercede for her if it is in accordance with His will.  I beg Him that it is His will.

We go downstairs.

She eats a huge dinner.

She belches loudly with satisfaction after throwing some food on the ground.

This is my typical youngest. I sigh a momentarily sigh of relief.

I keep checking her head.  The bump resembles a bump you’d have after a fall a few days prior.  It looks light, and although there is still a bit of blue hue to the center, there is a tinge of green and then pink around that.  It is almost completely flat.  I am in wonder and still a bit of confusion.

My husband comes home.  He looks at me like I’ve seen a ghost.  I am emotionally unavailable. I’m still in shock that the entire thing happened.  He looks at Ellie and can’t even find the bump the first time he checks.  I make him look again and point it out.  He’s too relaxed about the whole incident.  I recount all the details, with “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED?”

He can.  He said kids fall all the time.  He said I prayed and God listened, and healed her. Simple enough.

I am still in shock.  I want to hold my baby, but she will have none of it.  She wants to run around and play.  After awhile, we put her to bed.  I check on her hourly.

In all fairness, I feel like we deserve to be in an emergency room.  I feel like I live in some other reality where things are not as they should be. I am confused and am trying to find myself in a place of extreme grace.  A place of close calls.  A place with sighs of relief.

I’m trying to get a grip on what actually happened.

What actually happened is that my youngest hit her head very hard, she then went under water.  What happened is I was right there to grab her out of the water.  What happened is that her head did not swell up, like it probably should have.  What happened is that was almost a week ago, and she is still her complete self, her small bruise is gone.

The laws of physics say my daughter should have had a serious head injury.  Possibly something worse.  The laws of physics say a lot of things that don’t match up with the bible. Sometimes God operates outside of the laws of physics.  Outside the laws of man. Sometimes He does things through us that we cannot do on our own.

All of this occurred a few days before the end of our 40 day fast.  A few days before the worship, prayer and healing night at our church.  Both my husband and I had volunteered to go and pray for others that night, to pray for healing; the spiritual, emotional and even physical kind. I was a firm believer of the first two, but a little bit skeptical of the last.  I knew God could heal people with Jesus in the old times bible days, but today?  In America?  Maaaaaybe.

I witnessed a miracle right before my very own eyes. When I prayed, I did believe He could heal her.  I had been talking to God so much during the fast, that I knew He could hear me, I didn’t doubt that.  I also knew that He could heal her if it was in His will, so I prayed very much that it would be.

I say all of this to remind myself, that sometimes God does miracles.  He does them in the suburbs of America, with a stay at home mom and baby, and a crappy (my fault) set up of trampoline next to pool catastrophe.

He gives us miracles we don’t deserve because He loves us, and doing so will bring us closer to knowing more of Him.  Doing so will tell another beautiful part of the Greater Story going on.

Sometimes He allows us to go through difficult times, and says no, or not yet to a miracle, because He loves us and doing so will benefit us in the long run and will be another beautiful detail in Greater Story going on.

All of this reminds me that although I am but a very, very, very small piece of sand in this huge coastline of life, my requests are still important.

I am still important.

I am still important to the One who is the MOST Important.

And you are too.

He loves you.

Thanks for reading.

Hot Dog Stand

So occasionally the Lord speaks to me.  It’s not an audible voice.  It’s almost always a picture in my mind, followed (usually) an explanation of what it means and clarification for whom the Word is for.  That may sound crazy-timez to you.  But that’s okay.

In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, the Aposotle Paul gives the deets on the different kinds of spiritual gifts.  He lists off quite a few, some of them being the, “the message of wisdom, message of knowledge, faith, and prophecy.”

Anyways, like I said, occasionally God speaks to me.  He will totally speak to you too if you ask Him.  For reals.

When I was in fourth grade, I started reading the bible.  I would read four chapters a day, because that’s what my mom did, so I thought that’s what all christians did.  I don’t even do this now, but how cool was my fourth grade year?  In fact I read four chapters a day for about ten years.  In fourth grade I learned that King Solomon was the richest dude in all the land.  I thought that sounded nice.  Plus he saved babies by not cutting them in half (1 Kings 3:16-28 for that CAH-Razy story).  I thought he was pretty legit, so I decided to do what he did so I could become like him.  So, I asked God for wisdom.  I think I prayed this every day for over a year.  I wanted to be awesome too.  What I really wanted was God’s blessing on my life, in in my fourth grade mind that meant riches and saving babies.

All I’m saying is that if you ask God for something that He wants to give you, He’s going to follow through on it.  I believe He gave me wisdom because I asked for it, and He continues to give me info that is wise, because I keep asking for it and believing that He will tell me what I need to know.

(super side note: right now my children are suppos-to be sleeping for naps, my son currently is mimicking a howler monkey from his bed… but I digress)

Like I was saying, sometimes when I ask God about something, He gives me a word picture answer in prayer.  Like instantly.

Today he gave me a hot dog stand.  I thought it applicable to anyone who is an attempted overachiever, type A, or grasper of control in any form (be it sock organization or world domination, either way)

hot dog stand

So, I can’t guarantee that this word is for you, since I was asking Him about me, but you can pray on it and decide for yo-self.  There just might be truth in it for you.

Here’s the word:

Picture a hot dog stand in some chill city (like Seattle or San Diego), with a lady running the stand.  Everyone that comes up to the stand is on vacation or lunch break, so they are feeling pretty chill.  They are here to get their tasty food, and then walk on to enjoy the sights or whatever.  There’s even a section on the stand for mustard, ketsup, relish and napkins.  KUH-Lassie.

The weird part is, the lady running the hot dog stand thinks she is running a restaurant, like – be seated by the host, sit down and order, pay a tip kind of place.  With chairs.

She keeps trying to get relaxed vacationers to sit in lawn chairs in an organized fashion on the street.  She can’t imagine why they won’t listen and are so chill about just moving on.  She’s stressin’ about details that aren’t even real!  And people are sorta wondering what her deal is.

I am totally that hot dog stand lady.

Perhaps my poor husband and kids are my customers in crazy town, confused by why I won’t just serve them a dog with a smile, keep the ketchup dispenser clean and chill out to enjoy my easy job.

Compared to running a restaurant, a hot dog stand (I would imagine) is a cinch!  Hot dog stand lady is making her life way more work then it needs to be, she should just chill out, serve some tasty dogs and read a magazine, or listen to music while she waits out the lull between customers.  Then close up shop around 2pm and head on home.  No floors to sweep or anything!

Here is how this word applies to me, and perhaps has some relevance for you (or hopefully not and you’ve already got this):

God keeps reminding me, when I get stressed in my mom/wife/homemaker world to just chill.  I tell Him I will chill once everything is done.  Everything being: laundry, clean house, budget organized, all house projects completed, not a spec of dust anywhere – not even in the garage, everything in it’s place, children are now perfect and do not scream like howler monkeys during their nap time, et-cetera…)

So, that will never happen.  But I try to make it happen.  Every day.  And I get NO WHERE.  Actually, that’s not true, I VISIT CRAZY TOWN.  And I totally drive myself there, probably with a gps and printed directions and a best time to beat with no traffic and stoplights.  It’s insane.  And expensive.  It cost me my joy.  It makes me grouchy.  Like public restroom with twin toddlers grouchy (post coming on that soon to even out this seriousness).

Someone help me.

God is helping me.  I need to let Him.

You know what’s super sad?  This is my fast.  Our church is doing a 40 day fast in preparation for a Prayer and Healing Night in September and I felt like the Lord asked me to fast my agenda, and the idea that I can or should accomplish everything under the sun in one day, when I’m responsible for three little humans all day.  And when I don’t I feel like a HUGE fail.  So it’s like a fail fast.

The fast He put before me has no boxes to check either, and you know how much that bothers me?  SO MUCH.  How will I know I did it if there isn’t a box to check off at the end of the day?  Ahhhh!!!  I will have to check-in with Him instead.  In fact, I’ll have to be checking in with Him all throughout the day as I surrender over all the little moments I try to run a restaurant from a hot dog stand.

So, I am fasting “being a crazy hot dog stand lady”.  At least now it’s clear and has a catchy title.

I will update you on how awesome my life becomes when I start serving hot dogs  and stop trying to run a restaurant on the street.

Thanks for reading.