It’s been a grueling couple of weeks. Without going into details, we moved suddenly and are headed to a vacation rental for a month to figure out our next steps.
That said, my life is upside down and sideways which has left me clinging to Jesus in a desperate and fulfilling way. He is good. We know he is doing good and bringing good, but in the meantime, I’m exhausted and need – oh, maybe a year – to recuperate.
Therefore, I’ve got nothing for this last post in August.
Except, to introduce you to an exceptional, new author on the scene who writes about food – his first love after my daughter and their kids. I swear I’m not biased just because he’s my son-in-love. He really is an incredible hobby chef and emerging author. I think if you check out his blog, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at his “tongue-in-cheek” writing as well as his food recommendations and critiques.
A number of years ago, I lived in Nevada where snow fell for the better part of the year. Many days, the roads were still covered in ice and snow, even with plows clearing them on a regular basis.
On days like that, I rarely went out. But on this one particular day, I had no choice so I piled my four kids in our old Bronco, set my four-wheel drive, and ventured out despite my longing to avoid the trip into town.
We lived outside Reno, in a little valley at the foot of the Sierras so whenever it snowed, the storm would swirl around in our valley as if it were trapped by the surrounding mountains and hills.
Getting out was hard enough, but going down the slippery hill, onto the highway, and into town proved challenging at best. Especially when the snow blew in blizzard, white-out conditions.
As it did on this particular day. (Did I mention I would have rather been at home with a cup of tea and a good book?)
Whenever we made the twenty to thirty minute journey into town (depending on what part of Reno we needed to arrive at), it seemed like a longish drive. But on snowy days, the are-we-there-yet question played every few minutes in what felt like a never-ending trek of epic proportions.
We made it down the hill, onto the highway, and the road was remarkably clear of traffic. (Those smart other people!) But it was not clear of snow and ice.
I drove clutching the steering wheel while reassuring my youngsters that all was good. “You all have your seat belts on, right? Mommy’s just double-checking.”
That’s when I glimpsed a flash of red up ahead of me through the blinding snow. The brake lights of a slowing, or stopped(?) car. I tapped my brakes lightly, but in an instant, the car spun out of control.
Kind of in slow motion.
But within a few seconds we were headed the wrong way on the highway.
I’m thrilled to say that we didn’t crash. Simply landed with a bump and poof of snow in the center divider. While we were shaken up, I was able to carefully navigate us into the right direction and off the highway. Thank you, Jesus! (I say that a lot.) I decided to take the longer, street route the remainder of the way into town. Yeah.
Here’s the thing.
For those few minutes, the scariest part was feeling like I was completely out of control. My car was turning and sliding and no amount of driving-in-snow protocol helped.
I was helpless, powerless, and sensed danger all around.
I think that’s how most of the world feels these days. Between the virus, job losses, the election, violence in our streets, and even friends and family turning against us on social media, we can spin out of control and land facing the wrong direction.
Isn’t that what we fear most? Being out of control?
Don’t we want to know what’s happening all the time and have a handle on it? Our family, our job, our finances, our spouse, kids, friends, and the outcome of this election?
But what if we don’t? What do we do then? How do we handle life when we feel like we’ve lost control?
It’s been a slow road, but I’m learning to trust the God that IS in control. He sees all, has already been where we’re going, and knows what’s up ahead. I may not know, but if he does and I trust him then no matter what happens, I can be at rest.
Even when I’m out of control.
What if God knows everything about this virus, the election, the violence, and what my spouse, kids or friends feel and think? What if he’s using every single good and bad thing to bring something good, or better for us or someone else? What if we trusted that what we can see is only part of the bigger picture and plan?
I could tell a multitude of stories of all the times I questioned what was happening from injury, sickness, death to job loss, financial struggles and misunderstandings with family or friends. I have plenty of material.
I know this from my sixty years of life. God is good. He is faithful. I can trust him with everything and when I do, my heart is at peace even in the midst of messy spin-outs. It took practice to learn, and I’m still in process, but I know my God, and he loves us.
Getting to know him is the first step. Getting to know him intimately (nothing weird, just up close and personal), is the next. First we try talking to him and trusting him with something, and then we can trust him with the next thing and the next. Anyone who would give their child so that we could be close to him must love us an awfully lot.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” I John 4:9
“We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19
Today, when you feel out of control, maybe try talking to the God who loves you and is in control. You may find a new sense of peace to give up your control and leave everything in his very capable hands.
I don’t mean in a skeptical, it-won’t-do-anything kind of way. What I’m talking about is that deep searching of what prayer means. It’s not like God needs us to tell him what’s going on in our lives. He knows everything. And he knows what we need, so do we need to remind him? Besides, He is God Almighty, creator of the universe and the one who holds everything together and controls it all. Does he need our input?
So what is the purpose of prayer then?
Well, I asked Him. After all, in James he tells us if we lack wisdom to ask and he will give it to us. So I asked. And I guess that is the first purpose of prayer. God wants to give us things and he’s waiting for us to ask. He says if we ask, we will receive. And wisdom is a good thing to start with. But sometimes we can feel like we’re asking Santa for a Christmas list, and that’s not the point. Even though God longs to give us the desires of our heart.
I thought there was something more.
Partnership is a concept we’ve discussed in church. A former pastor, Daniel Brown, used to describe God wanting to partner with us in doing his will. Like a father asking his son to help him take out the trash. Dad doesn’t need his little boy’s help, but it’s about the relationship. Doing something together. I like that.
But, I still believed there was even more.
So when I asked, I was reminded of the Lord’s Prayer. We call it that because it is how Jesus told us to pray. Hmm…maybe there’s something in that.
I grew up reciting that prayer as a rote tradition. Even singing it, while deeply moving, didn’t impart the depth of it’s meaning to me. But the day I asked Jesus about praying, this is what struck me…
If God is all about us talking to him, and asking him for things, and partnering with us, then maybe praying that prayer would look something like this (translation my own):
Our Father, who is in heaven, I praise your holy name! I honor you as Almighty God. You are so holy! You are so worthy of my praise. Because You want to do good things for us, I invite you to bring your kingdom into my life and do your will just as you have purposed it already in heaven because you are great and good and have wonderful things planned for me. Whatever that is, I want it, so I ask you for it. Please, Lord God, I ask that your kingdom would come here to earth. That your will would be done here on earth. And please, since you know all I need, will you provide it. Just for today? I won’t worry about tomorrow, but trust you to give me what I need today. And about forgiveness, Lord. You forgive me for everything so will you please make me willing and able to forgive others the same way? Thank you that temptation is never from you. Will you please deliver us from evil? That awful enemy, Satan, who is looking to distract us from you and destroy our lives? I know you can and will do all this because your kingdom is glorious and powerful, and you love me so very much.
What do you think?
I’ve begun to pray this way, acknowledging who God is and inviting him to bring his kingdom to earth. That his will would be done in my life, in my home, my marriage, my children’s and family members’ lives, my friend’s lives, in my church, community, city, state and nation, as well as the world. Because if I believe God is who he says he is then I have to be open to and accepting of what he wants to do here on earth.
And I’m seeing incredible things happening.
Not always what I expect, but always great and good. In my life, my husband’s life, our marriage and family. Truly amazing.
God is a gentleman and never forces us. But he longs to do good for us, with us and through us. As soon as we invite him, remembering who he is and what is truly important, he will bring his kingdom to us.
I challenge you to give this a try and let me know what you see happen in your life.
There’s a book in the Bible about a man named Nehemiah.
He was brokenhearted over the fact that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and after praying to God about it, he embarked on a mission to rebuild the walls.
I love this story for a number of reasons.
First of all, I’m moved that someone saw devastation and cared enough to find out how he could help. I feel this way when I hear stories of people whose lives have been ruined. Maybe it was destroyed by a natural disaster, or because of another person’s selfish action, or even by their own poor choices, but whatever the reason, the ruins of someone’s life solicit a compassionate longing to help them rebuild.
I think that’s how God feels about us.
Secondly, I love that Nehemiah took action. After he grieved for a city that lay in ruins, he asked God to help him and then set out to obtain permission, supplies and a group of people to rebuild the city even though he “was very much afraid.” The king granted him all the time and supplies he needed.
God gives us time and what we need to rebuild. He’s patient.
Next, it encourages me that Nehemiah didn’t give up, even when his group came up against so much opposition. A local official ridiculed and tormented the people, asking them what they thought they were doing. Lies were flung at them to convince them that their efforts were in vain, that their attempts were feeble and inadequate. Too much was ruined. The rubble couldn’t be reclaimed for a purpose.
I’ve heard those same lies so many times.
At one point in my life, I was exhausted from working to hold together my marriage and my family. My strength was giving out because of unresolved daily conflicts, and my determination to stay married in spite of a horribly dysfunctional situation. My children were showing the effects of living under the strain in our home. I was certain that the “rubble” was too much to wade through. Nothing seemed salvageable.
So God showed me this story about Nehemiah.
Finally, I love the story because God has a plan for rebuilding. As I studied Nehemiah’s situation, I saw some applications for my life. For me the plan looked like this:
Fight for my family even if it meant doing things that seemed to tear us apart. I had to separate from my ex-husband for a time in order to allow us to deal with issues. Pulling out of most of our activities became necessary so we could focus on our family.
Concentrate on what God wanted to change in me. Allow God to heal me and leave my husband and marriage in His hands. Success for me would depend on what God did in my life.
Set up a guard against the things that crept in to hurt my relationships with God and my children. For me those things were fatigue, busyness, not making time for them, and trying to figure everything out without seeking God.
Put God ahead of my marriage. I had been setting my desire for the “perfect “marriage ahead of God. I compromised truth in order to keep peace. My fear caused me to push aside things God tried to tell me even when they would have helped me.
Be aware of Satan’s plot to destroy our family. I had to choose to fight for the well-being of myself and my children even when the enemy told me to give up because it wouldn’t be worth it. Recognizing the lies of the enemy is imperative, but not always easy. We have to be so alert. Nehemiah had the people keep a weapon in one hand while they built with the other.
Rebuilding our lives can be scary.
We can’t see all that lies ahead. It’s like driving on the darkest road or in dense fog at night. Our headlights only shine far enough for us to keep moving. We drive as far as we can see, and as we drive, the path is illuminated ahead of us.
Rebuilding happens one day at a time.
We can’t look too far ahead or worry about what will come. Instead we have to trust God to provide what we need for that day. When I look ahead and start to worry about the future, God asks
Do you have what you need today?
The answer is always “yes.” I always have what I need today. When the next day comes, I have what I need again. Nothing surprises God. He’s already seen all of our life and has a great plan for it. We can trust him to bring restoration to every area of our lives. He can make us well if we want to get well.
How is God rebuilding your life? Check out lostcompanion who is tenaciously rebuilding hers…
A few weeks ago, I realized that this year is the fifth Christmas Brendan and I have spent together. Wow! The awareness made me think back, recapping each year and its unique joys. Perhaps you’d like to join me…
Christmas 2008 – I spent the ten days prior to Christmas in Australia. Brendan and I shopped for the children together for the first time. I introduced my pending Aussie family to my Christmas tradition of stockings and learned about Santa bags! The kids and I made Christmas cookies. Santa surfing in the mall surprised this White Christmas girl. Brendan proposed on December 22. I returned home the next day; then watched Brendan, Brodie, Bella and Blair open their presents Christmas morning via Skype which was on my Christmas Eve afternoon.
Christmas 2009 – Our first married Christmas. Brendan and I enjoyed some special moments in front of the fireplace with our Christmas tree lights twinkling ambience. Bella and Blair scootered through the kitchen on new Razors. Brodie practiced shooting his new pellet gun. We all played Mario Cart and Band Hero with the grown up kids until way too late that night. My future daughter-in-law Sabina helped me pack up Christmas because of my increasing illness from the mold in our house (of which we knew nothing at the time!)
Christmas 2010 – We celebrated Christmas with our dear friends Jeff and Jo who had allowed us to live with them because of the necessity of leaving our moldy house. We had been trying to purchase a home here, but every offer and counter offer fell through. Our friends were blessed to have children in their home and we were blessed to have a home to stay in! They left for the holidays so we were able to enjoy spending the time with all but one of our children! Two new grandchildren added to the fun. It ended up being a great Christmas in spite of our not so perfect situation.
Christmas 2011 – Our first Christmas in this house. We enjoyed the delight of decorating our home with lights and tree and stockings even more because all of our things had been in storage the previous year. Brendan and I treated ourselves to new bikes and rode around the block freezing our hands and faces! We added a new dimension of music by replacing our dead piano (in pieces in our garage) with a keyboard from Santa. Bella and Blair still reveled in the double blessings of Santa bags and stockings!
Christmas 2012 – Here we are! We have a really tall tree and the house decked with Christmas around every corner. The weather has been bitterly cold for us Aussie/California types. Scraping frost off the windows in the morning in order to drive kids to school kind of cold! Bella’s old enough to have figured out the Santa “game” of Christmas and to help wrap packages and decorate at church. Brodie’s off with friends most of the time, and Blair is filled with the wonder of new discoveries. As a family, we’ve chosen gifts to give to others in far off countries who have nothing. Some families far away will get to have some clothes, soccer balls, a goat and freedom from slavery. It’s been a Christmas for solidifying traditions and making some new ones. I love my husband more every day. What a journey we’ve been on. What a journey we have yet to go.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
What are some of your favorite Christmas memories? Is this year different? In what way?
The tension in our home presses on me as if the ceiling and walls were inching closer, forcing out the air and leaving me suffocated.
Every task I put my hand to seems like dragging through mud with repeated interruptions and distractions. My phone will not stop ringing. We’re late to pick up our daughter from camp. Back issues make any position uncomfortable. Each word on the screen is a struggle…even if I get them down, the cursor jumps unbidden to another spot, inserting letters into the middle of a different word. Run! It urges me. Get out. Quit. Give up. Screaming or crying seem my only option for release.
But I get it. I know what’s happening.
For those of you who don’t believe in an enemy of our souls (Satan), or who relegate him to a comically sinister pitch forked demon dressed in a red unitard, I may challenge your theology with these next words.
The Bible says Satan is like a lion prowling around looking to devour us. (I Peter 5:8) It warns us to be alert to his schemes because he is out steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10) or anything we put our hand to; especially if we have been following God’s lead in any particular direction.
This morning, as we do each Friday morning, Brendan and I spent time reading and discussing a book on marriage. I’ve mentioned the book in previousblogs. The title isLove and War by John and Stasi Eldrege. We’re on our second time through it in the past six months–it’s that helpful! The interesting thing is that we’ve been working on the same chapter for three weeks. Not that it’s so long, but because of the subject. The title of the chapter? How to Have a Really Good Fight (Chapter 6 in case you are headed there now).
What we both love about this chapter is the fact that it uncovers what goes on under the surface of a marriage. The prowling lion part. How can best friends who adore each other in every sense of the word be convinced at times that each one is the other’s worst enemy? Why do accusations jump to our minds at the innocuous words or actions of our spouse? What goes through our mind in the midst of a disagreement–our spouse’s pain or our point? For two hours, we battled through the end of this chapter, praying, discussing, crying, praying for each other. Yes, it was a battle. A well fought and well worth it one. But a battle nonetheless. And clearly, the battle rages on through our day.
Because we are on the right path and the enemy is squirming.
My feeling of running and screaming? It’s really Satan’s fear at losing his grip on areas of our life and marriage. He’s the one screaming as we stand together to have a really good fight–against him!
Other areas are threatening him as well. Brendan recently submitted an invention for a patent; I’m almost finished with the editing on our book. Our kids are growing each day in their understanding of God, his love for them and who he made them to be. Brendan and I are being healed and changed from past hurts. Each step we take following the direction God indicates (starting with Brendan deciding to contact me online) brings us more life, more freedom and more joy, individually and as a couple and family.
And each step threatens God’s enemy and ours. Especially when we tell people. Or write it in a blog or a song or a book. The stories we tell about God’s work in our lives strengthen us and others. Just like John and Stasi Eldrege have strengthened us with their story through their book.
The good news?
Peace has come while I’ve been writing this. The ceiling is in its rightful place, and I no longer feel like screaming.
So how’s your day going? Do you have a story to tell that puts fear in the heart of Satan because it brings life and rightness and gives glory to God? Will you share in the comments below?