No More Bullies on the Playground

Matthew and I went for a drive down memory lane the other day, back to the neighborhood where my family lived three years before we met. I had just turned 11 when we moved here. Sixth grade was hell. I know of no other way to put it. I was bullied almost daily at my new elementary school. For an entire year a select group of kids made it their mission to destroy me. They almost succeeded.

I decided to go back and revisit a place of desolation to remember and acknowledge how much God has healed. Because there’s something about remembering the faithfulness of God that strengthens my weary faith. His faithfulness has zero to do with me and everything to do with him. It’s who and what he is. This Daring Adventure demands we not forget where we’ve been and how he’s brought us through. His faithfulness is everything.

Through tears I looked around the sixth grade schoolyard trying not to throw up. My body remembered all these years later. It remembered the cruel jokes, the name calling. Abuse doesn’t forget, it cements itself to a little girl’s identity. It follows her to new schools, into friendships and marriage. I don’t know if a person can ever completely remove the cement of abuse, but I know that the love of God longs to chisel away the ugliness and make something beautiful out of what was meant to destroy. His faithfulness demands nothing less. That’s exactly what he’s done for me.
The old school isn’t as big as I thought it was. My bullies are all grown up now. The playground was empty. My wounds have healed and even though scars remain I am clothed with strength and dignity by the one who has loved me all along. He was there then and he was there today to help me see how far he has brought this girl.

Standing near my classroom door I whispered “Thank you, God. Thank you that this place no longer defines me. Thank you for healing and restoring me. Thank you.”

Wiping tears away I walked back to the car with my head held high, my man beside me, and left it behind. It’s time to see what’s ahead.

…I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate.
Ezekiel 36:36

Why Are You Moving?

If you were to stumble upon my journals for the last ten years or so you would begin to recognize a common theme: I miss my family.

You would find page after tear stained page with scribbled prayers asking him to allow us to move closer. There have been too many close-call health scares, babies born, missed funerals, and celebrations to count. We have missed so much in the two decades we have been gone. Holidays have been downright lonely at times.

Most of our vacations were planned in a way that included meeting up with family on either side. Our boys adore their cousins and have become good friends over the years. I hope somehow those relationships can grow and deepen as we close some distance. Beyond that, we consider our siblings to be some of our best friends. Isn’t every parent’s dream to raise kids who actually want to spend time together when they grow up? Good job, parents! You made some good people.

Matthew had a blessed career at Rockwell Collins. He loved his co-workers and the satisfaction that came with an often high pressure position. The paycheck was nice too. His decision to leave all of that behind hasn’t come easily, but that’s his story to tell. All I know is that when he told me he was ready to let go I couldn’t imagine how quickly things would happen.

The timing of this move has me asking more questions than anyone has answers for today. My heart hurts as I think of dear friends we left behind. God gave me some amazing girlfriends who became sisters of my heart. One of them is having her baby tomorrow. I never imagined I wouldn’t be there to hold him and witness her miracle. Jesus, hold our hearts.

I woke up a few days ago with a picture of a dandelion in my mind, its seeds floating away on a breeze doing exactly what the Creator designed it to do. This hearty weed preferred by sweet little boys to give their mamas is as wild as the One who scatters seeds where he pleases. He’s doing that with us too. We don’t have to try and manage his methods. We simply choose to let him carry us where he wants to plant us. New life is coming. After all, this is spring and all things are new on this Daring Adventure.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) seeds blowing in the wind

Where Are You Moving?

So where are you moving?

This is a question we’ve been trying to answer for months. It doesn’t matter who asks, the answer always sounds foolish coming out of our mouths.

We’re not exactly sure…

I have wanted to make up something that sounds responsible and concrete in order to save my pride, something that makes sense. But then I remember that lies are lies no matter how I may feel in the moment.

It’s in those moments that I remember stories from the Bible about what happened to people who told seemingly harmless fibs to make things easier for themselves. It never ever worked out the way they hoped. Not ever. Abram and Sarai ring a bell? Genesis 12 tells us that God took them on an adventure too. Along the way there was a severe famine so they went to Egypt. Abram (later became Abraham) was worried the Egyptians were going to kill him and decided his beautiful wife might be the solution to saving his life. He told Sarai (later Sarah) to tell people she was his sister. What the what? Next thing she knew she was taken as some Egyptian pharaoh’s wife and ick. Scripture tells us the Lord inflicted serious diseases on the Pharaoh and his household because of this lie. All because Abraham wanted to avoid a sticky situation.

Now I know we’re not even near the realm of that kind of crazy, but I hope I have enough healthy fear of the Lord to keep speaking the truth even if it makes me sound stupid. He’ll cover me because he teaches that when I honor him above my own comfort he won’t let me be put to shame. I need that more than temporary embarrassment.

We don’t have a final destination in mind yet. For now I can tell you we are going to visit and stay with family in the Seattle area first. From there we’ll drive down to Quincy CA. That’s what we know today. We’re praying and believing God to show us the way to go in all of this. It sounds a little crazy…maybe a lot crazy, but we’re not the first people to do this. We won’t be the last.

It’s tempting to wait until I know how our adventure ends before sharing the details with you. However, I believe God is inviting me to risk sharing our story with you as it unfolds mistakes and all. We are messy imperfect people. We are bound to have a few days I’d rather not tell you about, but that’s real life. Who knows, maybe we’ll encourage one another along the way and one Daring Adventure might lead to another. Maybe even yours.

Our Daring Adventure Begins

A few months ago Matthew asked if I really believed God would take care of us if he quit his job and stepped out in faith to move closer to family out west and do something different. I said, “Of course God will take care of us. He always has. But maybe we should fast and pray about it for a couple of months just to make sure.” The dude was starting to scare me. By lunchtime the next day he had given notice at work. It was done.

The thing I know about my man is that he takes his own sweet time about everything. We dated for NINE years before getting married.

N I N E.

He doesn’t just wake up one day and make big changes. Nope. He prays, he looks at it from all different angles and beats the thing nearly to death. When he decides to do something though, you’d better hang on because he’s all in. There’s no going back. And that’s where we are today. We’ve strapped ourselves in for a Daring Adventure with God to see where he wants to take us. It’s bound to get a little crazy, but we have faith for today. We’ll get what we need tomorrow. Ready, set, let’s go.

  1. {Special thanks to Kelly Rieger for giving me the gift that inspired our #DaringAdventure2017}

Thanks for following along.

The Secret to the Perfect School Year

I spent a few minutes in the back to school section at Target the other day watching parents try to manage the chaos of gathering school supplies for multiple children. I wanted to gather us all in a circle for prayer because I could hear the tension in the words exchanged between a mother and father about exactly which markers were needed. Instead I opted not to linger near the markers. This year I only needed a few things for my ONE high school student who hasn’t even bothered to look at what I managed to find him BEFORE the actual first day of school. (I am determined to be awesome in the eleventh grade.) My oldest graduated in May and I’m still not quite sure how we got here since I was pretty sure I was messing him up the ENTIRE eight years we home-schooled, even though I knew it was the right thing for him. This is the first year as a mother that I feel peace about the upcoming school year and want to share some of that peace with you.

Lean in close because I feel like I need to whisper these sage words…

There is no secret to the perfect school year.

This is actually really good news for us. It means we don’t have to even try to do it exactly the way someone else does their school year for this thing to work out. This means you can send your kids to public school or private school. You can teach them at home or a whimsical combination of homeschool and traditional school. Mama, you have never had more options to educate your children than you do right now at this moment in history. And you have never had more pressure on you as a mother to educate your children as you do right now at this moment in history. So if you feel a little overwhelmed at times, there’s a good reason.

Here’s the one thing that I wish I would have understood and owned FIFTEEN years ago when I dropped my firstborn off at preschool:

As a parent you are the president and CEO of your family. (In a perfect world you are sharing this role, but this is not a perfect world so let’s just focus on you.) You get to manage your children’s education. This means you get to determine from year to year what your family’s needs, your personal needs, and each individual child’s needs are for that year. (This does not mean you get to start firing people in your family for being annoying slackers. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.) What worked for you last year might not work this year. Perhaps you’ve been homeschooling forEVER and this year you decided to put your kids in traditional school because you are on the verge of losing your mind and dear God let there be peace on earth once again in this house. Perhaps your kids have been in traditional school forEVER but you’ve decided it’s time to try something different at home because you sense a change in environment might be exactly what your children need to grow during this season of their lives.

You get to choose what’s best for your family and for your sanity. Because your family needs your sanity. (You know that, right?)

And here’s the best part. You don’t have to do it alone. Even if you’re not married. Because Jesus will lead you every step of the way.

Isaiah 40:11 says “He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

It’s not all up to you. He leads, you follow. This means if he leads you in a different direction that you can trust where he’s leading. If he leads you to keep doing what you’re doing even when it seems like everyone else is doing something better, you can trust him. Mama, you have to let him lead so you can lead well. Maybe that’s the secret after all.

This is my prayer for each one of us as we begin this new school year.

Jesus, you are the good shepherd and you know where we need to go. You know our fears and frustrations better than we know ourselves. You know our children and the destinies you have just for them. Forgive us when we wander off and try to go it alone. Thank you for the gentle correction and loving encouragement that brings us back to the path right behind you. We love where you’re taking us, Jesus. Lead on.

Now it’s your turn. Would you please share some back to school encouragement with a fellow reader today? You can do so by leaving a comment.

Thank you.

 

 

You Need Beauty

One son is away at church camp. The other son has driver’s ed in the mornings. My husband is at work. This means I’m home alone for THREE whole hours. I honestly cannot remember the last time that happened.

Still trying to remember.

Nope. No wonder I’m so giddy.

Instead of filling this time with chores, I’ve been trying to fill it with what I actually need. This means slowing down and thinking about what it is that I actually need. I know exactly what everyone else needs. For starters, they need clean socks. They need, they need, they need.

What do I need?

I say a little prayer while driving in the car where I practically live these days.

Lord, what do I need today?

You need beauty.

Ah, yes. Beauty. I know how peaceful I feel when I’m surrounded by beauty. I know I never get enough of it. I crave it and yet…it’s not exactly on my daily to do list.

John and Stasi Eldredge explain the need for beauty in their book Captivating:

Beauty is essential to God. No–that’s not putting it strongly enough. Beauty is the essence of God. Scripture says that the created world is filled with the glory of God (Isaiah 6:3) In what way? Primarily through its beauty.

Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. We’re so used to evaluating everything (and everyone) by their usefulness that this thought will take a minute or two to begin to dawn on us. Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Which is to say, beauty is in and of itself a great and glorious good, something we need in large and daily doses (for our God has seen fit to arrange for this).

So I decide to go home and change into my walking shoes. The dog gets very excited whenever she sees my shoes because she thinks I’ll take her for a walk. I have let her down so many times, but today she is going to get her wish.

I take the dog leash off its hook as she thumps me with her thick tail. She is beside herself. The back of the SUV lifts and she leaps into the car like a young pup.

We back out of the driveway and head toward the county park. It’s beautiful there. As we get closer I start to wonder if it will be busy. My heart starts to race and I feel fear.

The last time I took the dog to the park for a walk without my husband it ended badly. A grandpa type man yelled at me and my children. He threw the f bomb around and threatened to get a gun. Because of my dog. Because of me. Because I couldn’t control her and he thought she was going to hurt his small dog. She would never. She’s just a big dumb lab. He was out of control angry and I was afraid. He even followed me in his car out of the park. I thought he was going to follow me home.

That was five years ago.

I park the car and look around. There are only a couple of people out in the field. This shouldn’t be that big of a deal so I open the back hatch and let Mocha out. She is so excited that she can barely stand still long enough to put the leash over her head, but I am afraid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mocha wants to sniff and explore and pee and I am holding on for dear life because I am afraid.

I look around and see no one. There are no bullies here.

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I bend over to remove the leash and set her free.

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She darts ahead and sniffs her chocolate heart out.

She is free to run ahead. I allow her some distance and then test her by calling her name. She comes running back to me. This is progress.

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She’s not the same dog she was five years ago. She’s mellowed a bit and I see that even as she runs ahead of me she stops to make sure I’m not far behind. She’s looking out for me too. Suddenly I’m not afraid. I’m able to look around and take in the beauty that Jesus wants me to see.

Everything is green. The ground is soaked from the storms. Birds soar and wildflowers sway. Frogs and insects sing their song. My lungs are breathing in the sweet fragrance in the air. It’s gorgeous. We follow the bend in the trail and come to a fallen tree. I have to decide whether to turn back or keep moving forward.

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I see that it’s possible to go around and I try not to think about the ticks hitching a ride in my hair as I go off the trail. Mocha is having the time of her life while I coach myself out loud. You can do this, Nic. Going off the trail is not the end of the world. That’s big news for a girl like me. Going off the trail is not really my style.

A few moments later I make my way around the tree and I’m back on the path. Mocha is still in the thicket sniffing out deer and God knows what else. I stop and notice above my head are red, white, and purple berries. I don’t know if they’re edible and I don’t care because I don’t eat fruit that doesn’t come from the grocery store. They are lovely.

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A few steps further the path becomes swampy and my feet are soaking wet. It dawns on me why we are the only ones at the park today.

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Still, there is beauty all around me.

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We allow things to grow here in the wild that we don’t allow to grow in our yard.

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My heart is pumping harder and there is mud on my calves from tromping through the soaked ground. It’s time to follow the path toward the car. I take a deep breath and thank the One who invited me back here to this place today. I thank him for beauty. I thank him for keeping the bullies away. I thank him for helping me around the obstacles on the path and for keeping an eye on me and those I love every single day.

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I’m not the woman I was five years ago.

I needed to come back to this place today to experience this beauty from the lover of my soul. The One who knows me best loves me most. It’s good to be loved.

Jesus, thank you for loving us enough to invite us to experience the beauty all around us. Thank you for calling us back to places marked by fear and regret to redeem us and set us free. Thank you for trusting us in these wide open spaces to hear your voice and come running back to your open arms time and time again. You are beautiful, Jesus. We love you.

 

Therapy Sessions

I’ve been spending a lot of time in therapy lately–physical therapy–with my hubby watching his body pushed beyond its physical and mental limits. Some days I wonder how much more he can take. It’s not easy to watch someone you love struggle, even when it’s for their own good.

Two surgeries after dislocating his right shoulder and fracturing the humerus, my man is working hard to regain strength and range of motion in his dominant arm. I can see pain and determination on his face as he tries to do simple tasks like walk his fingers up a wall. Sometimes I sing the itsy bitsy spider song while he does his wall walks. He does not think I’m funny when he’s in pain. Pain pushes him to his limits every single day and I wonder how much more it will take for him to recover.

The therapy process is slow because the injury was severe. I’ll never forget watching the therapist move his arm gently and slowly those first few weeks. Muscle and soft tissue damage in addition to the fracture had restricted him to passive motion only. He wore an immobilizer to strap his arm to his side. Movement was a big no-no because his body needed time to heal.

I listened one afternoon on our drive home from a therapy session as he vented frustrations about how it seemed like nothing productive was happening. The therapist had spent the entire 45 minutes stretching and massaging his arm. It felt like a huge waste of time. How was he ever going to get back to normal when he wasn’t even able to lift his own arm? He was completely dependent on others to bathe, get dressed, tie his shoes, and even cut his own food. He was so over it. He wanted to be independent and back at work. Truth be told, we both wanted those things. I tried to explain that if he did more than his body was ready for too soon that he could re-injure his arm and do more damage than good. I told him that we had to trust that the therapist knows what he’s doing and that in time he would regain some independence. Please, Lord, let the man be able to scrub his own armpit. Amen.

My husband’s body had been broken. Overnight our lives had been turned upside down and we were living in what I call a haze of grace. There was a lot of HGTV, Food Network, and series binging on Amazon Prime. I ordered take out, made ice packs and tried to keep up with laundry. Oh and then there are the medical bills. We survived on the prayers of our family and friends and several pints of Haagen-Dazs ice cream. But it wasn’t enough. I was falling apart. Again. My world had been rocked and I thought I could pretend that it was all just fine.
The trouble was that I didn’t have time to fall apart. This was not a good time for a breakdown. People needed me and I found myself reverting to a lot of old thought patterns because that’s what I do when I’m in crisis mode. I do what I know, even when it doesn’t help. Basically this looked a lot like beating myself over the head with a baseball bat for not being super woman every moment of every day. I wasn’t a good enough wife. I was the fattest person in the room all of the time. I wasn’t a good enough mom. I wasn’t a good enough Christian because if I were good enough probably none of this crap would have happened in the first place. Jesus was counting on me to suck it up and be a good example of mercy for heaven’s sake!!! I found myself wallowing in a pit of shame for not being enough for this crisis.

Welcome to my pity party. One night I climbed the stairs to my bed after tucking my husband into his recliner, crawled into bed, grabbed my journal and wrote,
“The pain is really bad today. My pain—emotional pain. My brain is so fuzzy I can barely function. There are so many hoops to jump through on any given day. I don’t have the will to jump today. I’m sleepy. I just want to cry and let it all out. The trouble is that I’m not sure I can. I look at my mental list of things that should be done to make it all better and it’s like a wave of depression crashes over me and drags me down–way way down. It’s no wonder people don’t want to continue to live like this day after day. I wish I could just sleep it all off and wake up to everything being better. God, why does this keep happening to me? What can I do to make it never happen again? I wish there was a reset button I could hit on my life. So many mistakes. So many things I wish I could un-do. If only I could make peace with my messy life. But I can’t. I hate it…
I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse. Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember? When I told my story, you responded. Train me well in your deep wisdom. Help me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your miracle wonders. My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn; build me up again by your word. {Psalm 119:25-28 The Message}

If this was a song I’d play it over and over again. It’s the cry of my heart tonight.
Jesus, help me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your miracle wonders. Build me up by the power of your Holy Spirit and your living breathing word. Thank you.”

I wish I could tell you that I woke up the next morning and everything made perfect sense. It didn’t. But somehow along the way I began to see that I was broken too. I didn’t have the physical injury that my husband had, but I was just as in need of healing. Overnight our lives had been turned upside down and I needed to give this crisis the respect it deserved in my own life as well as my husband’s body. There wasn’t a single thing I could do to make it better. In fact, all of my trying to be better was just making it worse. I needed to trust the Therapist and let Him do his job. I had to stop trying so hard.

For my recovery I’ve been reading encouraging books written by people who dare to use their pain to help people like me see that my messy imperfect life is covered by more love and grace than I will ever be able to sort through in this lifetime. I’ve started praying more than reading my Bible. I’m allowing Jesus to tend to my broken heart and I stopped beating myself up for not being good enough when he is more than good enough. I sleep more. Sleep is good, like really good. I watch Jimmy Fallon YouTube videos and laugh a lot more. People are alive because of Jimmy Fallon. Finally, I told that mean bossy B in my head to leave and never come back and she did. We are all the better for it.

Some wonderful crazy things happened when I stopped trying so hard to be good enough. Joy returned. It had been a couple of years since I’d had any joy. Anxiety was the front and center drama queen demanding ALL of my attention. The slightest misstep would send me into a full blown meltdown. Something as annoying as being late for an appointment took days to recover from. Perfectionism once again had its hooks deep in my soul. I felt hopeless that I could ever get free. Guess what? Anxiety is not front and center any longer. I’m a total freaking mess AND IT’S OK. I’m not doing a single thing I thought I’d be doing at this moment in life AND IT’S OK. It’s really ok. I have peace again, and man, I have missed it. I stopped clinging to the HaagenDazs life raft and have embraced healthy food again. It’s so much easier to love people when peace and joy are actually welcome in my heart and mind…and I’m not jacked up on caffeine and sugar 24/7.

I wonder what our lives would look like if we truly believed how much God really loves us. What if we simply rested in believing that he is enough and we are loved?

Sometimes we have to stop trying so hard and let the Therapist do his job. It might not feel like much is being accomplished, but when we allow for rest and healing to take place in our brokenness we will be stronger for the people and the plans God has for our lives. The Therapist knows what He’s doing. He really does. After all, my man has started to do planks at his physical therapy sessions. His muscles are shaky and it hurts like heck, but I’m beginning to think anything is possible.

Thank you for praying for us. Your prayers are powerful. Don’t ever forget it. Thanks for stopping by.

Asking For More

It was the end of the service and we were singing our last song of the day when I saw her walk up the platform stairs and approach the guest speaker. She approached with an urgency that first made me a little concerned for the speaker. All I knew was that this woman was not ready to exit like the rest of the congregation.

I could tell she was a mother of young children by the familiar nursery sticker she wore on her top with her child’s number for security purposes. We had just listened to a Mother’s Day message about how to strengthen our families. It was encouraging and inspiring. My son took notes and texted them to me. Ahem.

While the band played behind me I saw the young woman lean in to tell the speaker something but all I could make out was, “What about…” After that it was time for me to sing my part. I don’t know what exactly this young mom was after, but what I saw that day hasn’t let me go.

Maybe it hasn’t let me go because I also have a million and one of those moments where I want to ask, “But what about…” and never have the courage to ask. That mama’s boldness to rush the stage and ask for more moved me to want to do the same.

I love how our guest speaker responded. After listening to this mama pour her heart out she pulled her close and prayed with her through the end of the closing song. It was beautiful.

There comes a time when we have to choose to reach out and ask for help or deal with the consequences of what might happen if we don’t. Neither one are comfortable in my experience, but I have never regretted getting help when I’ve asked. Even when the help isn’t perfect. Besides, I think Jesus loves it when we ignore the crowds and take a risk to ask him for more.

Ask him for more.

Jesus said, “Daugher, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!”–Luke 8:48 The Message

God’s Faithfulness in the Hard Places

**Hello! Last summer I had the privilege of  sharing this post as a 5 minute talk in a speaker evaluation group at the She Speaks conference. Today I thought that maybe since it’s like the 432nd day of winter where I live that someone out there could use a little encouragement. I’m saying a prayer for you today. Hang in there. He’s faithful.**

A couple of years ago my husband and I took our two teenage sons to Disney World where we met up with my brother and his family from California.

Like most people, we needed to escape the crazy routine at home. Things like putting our house up for sale, laundry, chores, homework, jobs, bills, dogs, sports. As hard as I tried to put on a brave face every day, I was exhausted and didn’t know how to keep up with my own life. I was sinking.

While we were on vacation, my brother and his wife took us to a wine tasting event at Epcot during their Food and Wine Festival. I’ll be honest, I was pretty intimidated. I didn’t know anything about wine other than whether it tasted good or not.

We sampled a Spanish wine called Las Rocas which means ‘The Rocks’. Since we couldn’t go to Spain, the vineyard rep showed us pictures of where the grapes are grown. What we saw looked more like an Arizona desert than a Spanish vineyard. Then she began to describe the extreme climate…hot summers and very cold winters. She showed us close-up pictures of the soil…pictures that looked like they had been taken on Mars of vines surrounded by slate and red dirt. 

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I thought to myself, NOTHING SHOULD GROW IN THOSE CONDITIONS.

Based on these conditions, the wine should have tasted like some sandy concoction my boys would have made a few years ago. But it didn’t. It was actually very good.

How in the world can rocks, hot summers and cold winters produce fruit that can be made into a beautiful, rich tasting wine that people all over the world enjoy?

Psalm 89:8 says

O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

The vineyard rep explained to us that it’s the rocky, nutrient-poor soil that is the key to the grapes that grow there. She said that as the vines struggle to survive in these extreme conditions, they concentrate their energy into fewer berry clusters, to produce grapes with rich flavor.

She explained how the rocks are porous…retaining rainwater and heat so that they deliver just enough water to the vines during the hot summers, and then protect them with just enough heat from the harsh winters.

The rocks give this wine its signature flavor found nowhere else in the world.

About the time I thought my brain would shut down from a science lesson, the Holy Spirit whispered:

I know you don’t see how anything good can come from the conditions you find yourself in right now.

You see rocks everywhere.

You feel alone and exposed.

You long for deeper things than you dare to admit.

You don’t know how you’re going to make it.

But I can grow something rich and beautiful in you because of these conditions.

You need Me more than ever.

Your roots are growing deeper because the deeper soil is full of the nutrients you need to thrive.

You can’t produce anything good without Me. Trust Me to make something beautiful out of this.

His faithfulness surrounds Him.

If God can be faithful to some grapes in a Spanish desert, surely He will be faithful to you and me.

He’s not asking us to trust our track record. He’s asking us to trust His. He has a long history of being faithful to His people even though we don’t have a long history of being faithful to Him.

My circumstances haven’t changed much. My house is still for sale. I’m exhausted. My family needs way more from me than I have to give. I’m still in a hard place, but it’s in this hard place that I am learning to thrive because of a faithful God who has what I need every single day. He gives me His Word. He puts people in my life to pray for me and encourage me and then He asks me to trust Him even when I don’t feel like it because His faithfulness surrounds Him!

The One who turns water into wine is faithful. Even now He is making something rich and beautiful out of your hard places. You may not be able to see or taste it yet, but you can trust Him because His faithfulness surrounds you.

**I think it’s incredibly helpful for others to hear stories of God’s faithfulness to His people. If you would like to share something like that, please leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by!

I’m Not the Breast

Not long ago a friend came to me exhausted, overwhelmed, and ready to give up. She was physically, spiritually, and emotionally spent trying to balance her career with her role as a mother, wife, friend, and the kind of Christian she thought she needed to be.  The kind of Christian who says yes more than no because Christianity is about sacrifice. The kind of Christian who helps everyone even if it means sacrificing those closest to her.

I knew exactly how my friend was feeling because I had been there too. If I’m honest, I still find myself there far more often than I should.

We prayed and invited Jesus into our conversation and He reminded her of a situation in her past when she felt like she was feeling that day.

My friend told me about a time when she had small children and desperately wanted to help a needy younger mother from church. She believed that it was her Christian duty to make herself and her home available to the needy mother any time she needed. The needy mother wasn’t even all that nice to my friend, but she believed Jesus would want her to be available no matter what.

One day the needy mother dropped by with her baby and said, “I have to go somewhere today. Will you watch her for me?” My friend automatically said “Yeah…sure.” Without hesitating, the needy mother handed her baby over and left.

My friend stood in her small living room surrounded by her own small children, one of which was an infant who still needed to be nursed, wondering how she was going to care for all of these children. When the infant she was babysitting started to cry, she did what any babysitter would do. She looked for a bottle to feed the hungry baby, but her needy mother hadn’t left a bottle.  My friend had no way to contact the mother to let her know she had left behind a hungry baby. So she did the only thing she knew to do.

With tears streaming down her face, she held another woman’s baby up to her breast to offer the only thing she could. The baby fussed, not wanting to suck at this stranger’s breast. It wasn’t her mother, but after a few minutes of struggling, hunger and instinct latched on.  Nothing about this intimate moment was comfortable. Everything inside of my friend was screaming “NO! Make it stop!” 

Sometimes we say yes when everything inside is screaming “NO! Make it stop!” 

As I listened to my friend struggle through tears to tell me her story, I could see how the pattern had repeated itself over and over in her life. She wanted to be able to say yes without fear and know that if she said no that she was going to be OK. She needed to know that God would love her anyway and that God would take care of the person she told no. She wondered if she could be liked and accepted without saying yes to everyone.

We cried. We prayed, and in my spirit I heard the Lord prompt me to tell her,

“You’re not the breast. I AM.”

Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I wanted to laugh because they sounded so absurd. I don’t remember ever hearing a Sunday School lesson about God being the breast. What I do remember is being told over and over about how God (El Shaddai) is all sufficient, powerful, provider, healer, peace, faithful…that He is everything we could ever want or need.

There are many references to “breasts” in the Bible. These are usually the verses that get my husband’s attention. Hey, whatever it takes. After doing some ‘Names of God’ searching, I learned that the Hebrew word “shad” (Shaddai) signifies the One who mightily nourishes, satisfies, protects, and supplies His people. Isaiah 60:16 NIV God tells His people that “they will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Isaiah 66:11-13 paints a similar picture. God is the one who sustains and comforts.

…to experience God’s sufficiency, we must realize our own insufficiency.–Nathan Stone

That day my friend needed to know it wasn’t up to her to be all sufficient. It wasn’t her job to fulfill everyone’s needs and solve their problems. My friend needed to be reminded that our God is everything we will ever need. He lacks nothing. He loves us. He’s already paid the ultimate sacrifice by sending Jesus to die for our sins. He wanted us to know that it was time to stop thinking we were the breast. We get to be part of how He provides from time to time, but it is all about Him. ALL OF THE TIME. He wants us to have the joy that comes from knowing we’re loved and that no one can take His love away from us.

This encounter with my friend was meant to encourage and strengthen her to let go of the guilt and shame she had been holding on to for so long. It was beautiful to watch Jesus set her free to love others more freely. I had no idea how it would affect me, but it has.

I’m not the breast.

It sounds silly, but saying those words (usually under my breath so my boys don’t think I’m crazier than they already do) when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders has saved me from a good crushing lately.

If this is something you’re struggling with, I pray that God will use it to free you too.

 

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