Ryan and I got out of the house for a date last night. It was just an hour, got a sundae at McD's and went to the park, just the two of us. First time since Chloe's birth and some much needed alone time to just take some time alone and talk. It may not seem like much in terms of what a date night should be, but it was so needed. How are we? Well, if you've been reading my blog this week you know it hasn't been great. We are taking it a day at a time. Ryan is working a job he hates, but it is a paycheck that we need. He's got a couple of other prospects this week but like this job they are also just jobs. I shared in my blog yesterday a lot of questions I am pondering, and the state of my heart and mind right now is not great. I am struggling once again to understand His purpose for this time. This waiting, this season of uncertainty. I realize it is only uncertain to me, not to Him. Yes I get that the point of faith is trusting in the unseen, but I am having a hard time with it. I want to see something, just a glimpse. It is easy for me to say it isn't too much to ask, but I have been thinking today, perhaps I am asking too much of God? Is this another lesson in patience, growing my faith, my trust in Him? I want so much for Ryan and I to be in a better place than we are at this time. I want so much for both of us to be whole again, to be filled up and poured out in ministry, adn we are both so hungry for purpose. We know He is not finished with either one of us yet. We have been strengthened, blanketed with comfort by the prayers of our family and friends. As hard as it is to be in this season, the support we have helps us endure it. I heard Josh Wilson's song yesterday on the way home, "Before the Morning", and the timing of it couldn't have been more perfect. I have been so tired, so weary, for so long and the words of this song lifted me up just when I needed it most. The chorus kept circling in my mind long after the song ended. Encouragement to hold on, wait for the light, know that the pain we are feeling is just the dark before the morning. I am sure a lot of people are experiencing struggle today on a completely different level, and because of that I am humbled by the realization of just how blessed I am. No matter the struggle, thank goodness we can all say that we have a God who loves us deeply and can handle it all.
Yesterday was a particularly difficult day. I have been trying to get caught up at work since returning from maternity leave, but as anyone knows there's plenty to do and not enough time in the day to get it all done. Well, at least I can't seem to get as much done as I would like. Today is not looking much better especially since I get to cover for 3 people-Yay! (Can you feel my sarcasm in that last remark?) Days like this all that keeps me going is knowing the day will come to an end. For years what has kept me going as I have worked outside the home, my greatest desire and my prayer has been that some day I could be home full time with my children. I worked retail for awhile, enjoying the flexibility of part time work that allowed me to be home during the day and work nights and weekends. What started out as being a short term thing turned in to a long term thing when Ryan's job situation changed. Unemployment, especially long term, changes the situation dramatically. When this job in Brazil opened up for Ryan, it didn't include benefits so once again, I found myself stepping up and resigning myself to the idea that I could do this just a little bit longer. So here we were, settling in to a wonderful small town community and an incredible church family. We were thinking we could be here long term so we started looking at buying a house. That possibility soon disappeared when Ryan was asked to resign in January. Extremely pregnant and a new, higher level of stress do not go together well. So, nearly five months later we have a new baby, a lot less income and a whole lot of uncertainty as to what is ahead of us. I am thankful for God's provision, because without it we could not make it. I am certain if we didn't have the support we do have, we would be in a completely different, desperate situation. I had hoped and prayed for years that by this point in my life things would be a whole lot better and whole lot different than they are. I am disappointed, discouraged and just plain fed up. I want my husband to be in a job that is beyond his dreams and takes care of our family. Is that too much to ask? My faith is being tested, and I literally found myself crying out to God through tears gushing down my face that now, now would be the best time to do something. Why can't something happen when we truly need it? I know I will get on the other side of this uncertainty and discouragement, but the weight of our situation is just too much for me to bear right now. I know I should take strength from my devotional today but it is difficult. I need to think on this some more, pray on it and hope that as a result of this entry I will find strength in the prayers of others. It is amazing how in my weakest, darkest moments God provides through the prayers of others. I need it more than ever today.
I want to live a life that is abundant, not just barely surviving by the end of one day. I know it will get better, it is just hard to see right now. Somehow, some way restoration is coming for me. I know I need to keep the faith, I know it.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
At one point today I honestly felt like Monday had never ended. It seemed that the day had just bled right in to today. And then when I realized it was Tuesday, well, that just didn't make me feel any better. Such is the life for me. I keep telling myself it will get better, the baby part I mean. At some point I will get more than 5 hours of sleep again and oh my goodness, when was the last time Ryan and I had a date night?! Ooh, not good. Okay, so life is a bit blurry and ragged around the edges for me right now, but in my state I can still say I am very blessed. Since Easter rolled in this year I have made time in my thought process, in my time to myself to think about what we have to be thankful for. It is easy in our human nature when we are met with something unexpected and difficult to get bogged down, depressed and down right bitter about what we have lost, what we don't have. There are days I definitely could let myself go, wallow in it. I choose not to, and no matter how ugly it gets somehow I manage to grasp the feet of Jesus and say, "I can't anymore. Lord, help me move." There are days I am so weary that I can't even muster the words. He is my strength in moments of utter failure and distress. He is my peace when the storm is howling and whipping at me so fierce that I can't find a way out. He is there, He hasn't moved and won't, and He will take care of me no matter what. I just read the passage in Matthew 14 about Peter stepping out of the boat to walk to Jesus. As the storm whipped around him he lost his ability to focus on Christ, and he began to sink. "Master, save me!" He cried out as he was sinking, deep into the storm that raged around him. That passage in Matthew reminds me that even in the darkest storm, Jesus is still there and will save me. I don't think I could have stepped out of that boat like Peter did. I am sure I would have watched him with a great deal of envy at his faith. I know Jesus isn't asking me to walk on water, but as we continue to wait I wonder what He wants from us. I wonder what He has for us, for Ryan. I know it must be good, it has to be. God is not finished with either one of us yet, there is so much work to do for the Kingdom. I hope and pray I am ready, that my faith can take whatever He has for us to do. Prepare me Lord, and prepare the way.
I am so tired of rain and just plain ugly weather. I love spring and everything blooming, bright and beautiful. The weather has a huge impact on my mood. It is Monday, and as most Mondays go I had way too much to do and didn't make near the dent I'd hoped to at work. My devotional this morning was a challenge mentally. It really pointed to where we are seeking God. Too many times we are drawn by a great song, a great message, a great drama and suddenly there's God. How often do we seek Him in the day to day? He is there, plain as day but we go through the week so busy and caught up in what we have to get done that we completely miss Him. I think I realized today that it takes some extra oomph to find Him. This is especially true when you consider I am NOT a morning person and I need a half a pot of coffee just to get myself in any way functioning for the day. I will admit that seeking God in the day to day is not something I practice. I hope to start doing more of it and I want to challenge myself to do it. There are days when I catch myself, stop and realize how long I've been going on auto pilot...even in my devotional/quiet time. It is easy to do, isn't it? I need to do that more often, stop myself and realize that I am not seeking Him as I should be. I want to find that passion once again, the desire to seek after Him with every bit of myself. It seems that the wearyness of this life, this season we are experiencing is taking a toll on my relationship with God. I know I am not alone in this, but how easy it is for me (and just about every woman out there) to get so busy, so caught up, so concerned about keeping all the plates spinning that I forget I can't do any of it alone. God has placed His hands on my life, and I don't want to miss what He has for me. How many times have I packed my schedule so full that I literally don't have time for God anymore? We make excuses, checking off everything we are doing right but it turns out we are just simply doing way too much. How about slowing down, choosing to let a few of those things go in favor of authentic time with God. He is waiting, He has something to say to me today I just know it. I've got to listen, I've got to let it all go and just listen because He is here. I am thankful for that, for how much He really wants to be with me.

Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Today is the day! He is risen and we are so thankful! It is amazing to me that one man chose to do something so selfless, so wonderful for you and for me. I don't know that in my humanity I will ever be able to fully comprehend this. We had family worship today and it was sweet. I watched as my children sang and played along as Ryan led us in several songs. It is so good to hear the sound of our own family singing praises to the King, having our own home church service. We have never done this before and I want to do it again. I know we need to gather in corporate worship with our church family, but today was something different that we as a family needed. I believe our time of worship at home will help us stay focused and bonded as a family as we continue to wait through this season of uncertainty. This past week I had more difficult moments than good moments, but I savor the good knowing that God is taking care of me all the time. We are not promised an easy life, but we are promised that God will help us through it all. So even though at the end of the day I am exhausted and overwhelmed, I can close my eyes at night knowing it doesn't matter--God is in control and will take care of me.
Easter weekend is approaching and for the first time ever our family is not going to corporate worship. This year we are going to have family worship. If the weather cooperates we may go to a park and have our own celebration in the beauty of the outdoors and enjoy a picnic lunch. My mind is already whirring with an idea for an Easter cake and we'll do our own egg hunt for the kids. I am looking forward to a very special and memorable Easter weekend with my sweet family. I am so blessed to have Ryan and the kids. I can't imagine my life without them.
I read Psalm 40 this morning in my quiet time and more wonderful insight from David Crowder. It is a psalm we can all relate to in our walk with Christ. It echoes the cry of my heart, asking where God is. The psalmist acknowledges God's rescue in our times of great need and how truly great He is. Inevitably, uncertainty creeps back in again and the psalmist is once again crying out for help. I love this part, because it is what my heart speaks right now:

Soften up, God, and intervene; hurry and get me some help,....I'm a mess.
I'm nothing and have nothing; make something of me.
You can do it; You've got what it takes--
but God, don't put it off.

Daily I find myself crying out to God. I am finding as life goes on, and it doesn't get any easier, that this is how my prayers begin. A cry, a plea, a request to intervene and make me better than I am. Make my day better than it is looking to be. The sustaining comfort I have and have had throughout this ordeal, is that God never changes, He is not moved by our circumstances, and He is still on His throne. It is impossible to fathom in my humanity that I am capable of praising Him in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. I think praise in suffering takes on many shapes as we progress through it. I am certain that in the darkest depths of our struggles, our praise is sweetest to Him. It is where we are most vulnerable, most broken and truly ready to receive what He has for us.

How about a crumb, Lord?

It's Monday and just after noon and I am already so tired. Life rushed at me this morning and it just about knocked me on my back side. I had to get 4 kids up and going by myself. Here's the day's snapshot for you:
5:15 am Ryan and I are both up. He is getting ready for work, I am nursing Chloe.
5:32 am Ryan is off to work.
5:45 am Chloe is done and asleep-Yay! Now I got to get myself ready.
6:30 am Bailey is already up and getting himself ready. I think my 10 year old boy is the perkiest one of the bunch today.
6:38 am Rylee and AJ are up and all of us are getting some breakfast and getting ourselves ready to go.
6:50 am Got Chloe dressed and in her car seat. Check diaper bag is stocked, bottles ready, my purse, my lunch and the breast pump all ready to go. Geez, it looks like I am packing up for a trip somewhere other than just a work day!
7:14 am We are out the door and headed to daycare.
7:21 am Get Chloe checked in and ready for her first day. So not liking this!! I've got to do this again tomorrow?! Get the other 3 kids checked in and ready to load the bus for school.
7:24 am On the road to work. Whew.....

You can imagine the conversation I have had with God today. I am so tired. Do I really have to do this again? Lord, how do people do this everyday? I know it sounds like I am whining but seriously.....is this it?! How long do I have to do this?! There's got to be something better for me.

Last night I told Ryan I had a conversation with God while I was walking yesterday. I find myself in a place where I believe I have moved beyond anger, frustration, doubt, fear into some form of calm. I am not totally at peace with what has happened, but I can look at it objectively. I find myself in a place where I can't say that I feel anything but tired. I believe my mind and my heart are resigned to the fact that this is it for awhile. I am hoping and praying that it isn't for very long. This is where patience kicks in. Well, at least it should but what is kicking in at the moment is my need for it. I told God yesterday as I walked that I am tired, but I am okay with that. Is that weird? I told Him even though I am very tired, I can move forward. I know He has called Ryan and I to ministry, I know He has a place for us to serve, and I have been experiencing a feeling of great expectation these past few days. Something in me has changed, and I am just feeling very expectant of God doing something incredible in the next few weeks. I asked Him to move, I asked Him to give us a sign, a morsel, a tiny crumb...something to let us know the work He has for us is about to begin. I didn't give Him an ultimatum, I just told Him I am hoping and praying His plan will begin to unfold in a way that we can truly see. I know He is working on me in the area of patience right now more than ever. I want to walk boldly in my Christianity, standing on His promises and speaking His promises. He will move, He will provide when we ask and I realize that is according to His timing and not my own. How long do we have to wait? How much more of this do we have to endure before it starts to get really good, Lord? I am looking forward to the next few weeks and what He is going to reveal to us.

'By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.'
Romans 5:1-3 The Message

Anointed

We are anointed with purpose, each and every one of us. The question is, Are we living it? This morning I heard from a popular pastor in his televised message that we need to ignore those who would tear us down and don't agree with who we are. So many of us live to receive the approval of others, whether it is our family, our friends, our church. We can make ourselves miserable trying to please others and live up to their expectations. Whose approval should we seek? That's easy: God's. If we are truly living a life that reflects Christ and who He has anointed us to be, then we will know true joy and peace. I want that for myself and for Ryan, and right now we are both struggling with that. I know what my heart and soul longs to do, what my gifts and abilities are as does Ryan. So what happens when life creates barriers? Find a way, live in His purpose and His calling upon your life any way that you can. I am hoping and praying that we find the strength to push forward, to be used completely by Him in ministry. I know God has that for us, but we just can't see it unfolding yet. I don't know why, but I've got to be okay with that and trust He will reveal it in His perfect timing. Thank you Lord for the anointing You've placed on my life and Ryan's.

What drives you?

I think this past year I have struggled with what drives me. I am passionate about many things, but the combination of having Chloe, Ryan's stress at his job and then losing his job has taken its toll. If you had told me 3 years ago that we would be going through this, I wouldn't have believed you. We loved Tennessee, had a wonderful church home where Ryan was on staff part time and held down a full time accounting job, and I was working part time at Kohls. No, it wasn't ideal and we had goals for ourselves to be in a better place but then the bottom dropped out. Ryan lost both jobs, struggled to find a permanent job and was unemployed for awhile. We couldn't keep up financially which eventually resulted in losing our house to foreclosure. Broken in spirit and finances, somehow God provided and we found ourselves moving to Brazil, Indiana. So here we are--not where we thought we'd be--facing unemployment again for Ryan and a whole lot of uncertainty. When life hands us these kinds of surprises, is it any wonder we get worn down, feel beaten and defeated? Ryan and I were talking about how much we hate the word perseverance. Why? Well, isn't it obvious?! We don't like persevering, we don't feel like it, we want life to give us a break for once and for it to last a long, long time. Yeah, I get that God has a purpose, but why here, why now and why like this? Can't you show me You've got purpose in some other way God? I am spending time with you, I am in You Word every day, I believe in You and have believed in You all my life so is this a test of my loyalty? My faith in You? What is it?! I want my passion, my drive to come back but I feel more often that it is 2 steps forward and 100 back. Life is beating me up a lot lately, and moments of peace and strength are few and far between. I told God the other day that I got it, I will follow, I will serve, I will do what You want me to do but why can't You just show me? Why is it so hard to see You right now? I don't like wondering where You are. So, I am spending more time talking to Him, and it is not always a pleasant conversation if you know what I mean. I have been reading a lot, finding encouragement and wisdom from some great resources that I hadn't taken the time to read until now. It may only be a couple pages here and there, but for me right now that is a lot. So, thanks to David Crowder, Louie Giglio and Patrick Cavanaugh for getting my mind going and keeping it going. I believe it is sinking in, and it is going to stick so let's see if I can reflect it once I have had a chance to absorb it.
Matthew 22:37 'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' (The Message)

I trust You

I was walking yesterday afternoon, wind was a bit cool but it was really beautiful. Chris Tomlin came up on my mp3 player,
"Where You go, I'll go, Where You stay, I'll stay, When You move, I'll move, I will follow. Who You love, I'll love, How You serve, I'll serve, If this life I lose I will follow You."
I don't know how to describe it, but something in me broke. I found my voice to say to God, "Okay, I get it. I trust You, I really do trust You." Tears came to my eyes and as I walked I was aware of His peace. For awhile now I have been struggling to deal with all this stuff we are going through. I admit yesterday was a good day, and it doesn't mean every day will be like that. Today has not been as good but I am giving it to God and I know He'll bring me out of it. I read in my devotional today about God's role as the Vine and ours as the branches. I know I've been withering, choking from the weight of worry and doubt. Matthew 13:22 says "But the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful." It is difficult if not impossible to stay on God's path for our lives. We are bombarded by pressures from the world, from our family and friends, and yes--even from our churches. Whose approval do we seek? The only one that matters is God's. If we seek Him, follow Him, then He will provide. It is very simple really, but we have to complicate it with our own idea of who God is and what His plan is. None of us knows what God knows--He is all knowing, and we are not. There is something to be said for humility, integrity and accountability. These are words that should describe each and every one of us and how we live our lives. I hope my life reflects that to others. I am asking God to break me down and clothe me in these very things every day.

Transformed, Changed

I realize now more than any other moment in my life that I am flawed. I am not perfect, I am not going to get it right most of the time but I will do my best with what I've been given. This morning in our family devotional time we read Acts 9 when Saul is converted on the road to Damascus. He was so certain of what he was to do, and then God struck him. The light, His voice, and then the blindness. How many of us could stand to be blinded for a time? Would it benefit our faith? I think it would. I can't imagine how utterly dependent he was on others without the basic ability to see. Is that what it takes to really shake us up? Is this what I need--to be blinded so that I really get just how dependent I need to be on God? He is the Master of my life, the Creator of all things, my Savior, my Redeemer, the one and only true God. And yet I am in this place of such doubt and uncertainty in my faith. Do I dare ask Him to provide something miraculous to prove He is there? I have seen Him in Chloe. The miracle of life. That I can't question. But what of His presence, His provision, His desire to make something good of what has happened here? In the deep, dark crevices of my soul I believe He is saying,"Yes, I am here. Yes, I will provide good for you even in the midst of this great struggle." Acts 9 was just the beginning for Paul. Great works and great suffering in the name of Christ lay ahead of him as he began his journey. I can't begin to understand what he endured, but I know God understands it all. I may not be able to make sense of what we are going through but He does. I know it is by His grace and peace that I can sleep at night, well, what little sleep I am getting when Chloe allows it. I know He intends to make me better by getting to the heart of the worst of me. I know it is going to be ugly and painful for awhile, but I know He'll help me get through it to the other side. That's when I'll be able to stand in my faith more confident, more secure in knowing God is there and He never changes. He is not moved by any of this. I would like to think He gets a real kick out of watching us navigate life as if we have it all figured out. We don't. Not even those who have been serving in leadership in our churches can say they've got it all figured out. They don't. How often do you hear them say, "I am sorry, I am flawed, I have screwed up." In my opinion, not often enough. Transformation, real change in our churches, real revival needs to occur on every level. It is necessary for every single one of us to be transparent, honest and real with each other. Accountability and integrity is lacking and without these, pride and arrogance slip in and take over. Too many of us are willing to stand silently and approve what is comfortable, safe, and packaged in a lovely box. More of us need to step forward and voice our expectations of what God has called His people to be. I am praying for transformation in my own life, and I pray that for our churches. Are you in need of transformation? Join me in stepping outside of the box, and choose to be transformed.

Treasure

Matthew 6:20-21 tells me that "The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being." (The Message)

I am meditating on Psalm 19 today. It talks about God's amazing creation and how it speaks of Him. His glory, His majesty is all around us, crying out to us through a sunrise and sunset, through the power of a storm, through the beauty of flowers in bloom. Creation speaks His name, my life should do the same. God in His amazing power and wisdom will make me whole, will be evident in how I live day to day. So why do I feel so inadequate, broken, unable to grasp this? What do I treasure right now? I know what I should treasure, I can say all the right answers here. These past few weeks I've been doing a lot of personal evaluation of my life. I have found it to be very easy to find fault in myself, in my husband, in others. I am tired of hearing all the predictable and well known answers that everyone gives in times of crisis. I know what the Bible says, I know the familiar stories of those who have gone before me and suffered horribly in comparison to anything I have for the sake of Christ. Life happened to people back then just like it does today, and I realize it was not any different how they handled it than how I am handling it. I am certain when Job was hit by the loss of his home, his family, all of his wealth and physical ailments, he was asking God in ways that weren't even penned in the Bible, "What the FAT is going on God?! How can you do this to me when I have been nothing but faithful to You?!" Even if we didn't read it, I think you'd agree with me at some point he had to be feeling this way. What happens when our heart and mind no longer want to cope with a struggle? Not just any struggle but one that rocks you to your core, makes you do a complete overhaul kind of look at your life and go, "What could be next? Am I even ready for it?" My treasure. What and where is it right now? I know it should be God. I know I should not be consumed by the cares of this world, but right now I am. The hardest thing for me to grasp right now in this whole evaluation of my life is what could have been. I have prided myself the entirety of our marriage on being Ryan's biggest encouragement, his cheerleader, his biggest fan. When life got us down, I was in his face telling him what was what and that he needed to pull it together and move forward. Admittedly, there have been moments that I have found myself spent, exhausted, done. I want so much for him, but I cannot do it for him. I can't, nobody else can make this thing he wants so bad magicly appear and be offered to him on a silver platter. The reality was, we needed for him to work--no matter what--in order to survive. What resulted was him blowing up, me blowing up and the magnitude of our situation truly slapping us in the face. I would love for a job in worship ministry to land in his lap today, but I can't do anything to make that happen. So, where was God in that moment of tough realization? I don't know, and I am still wondering where He is. Ryan started a job yesterday that he doesn't like but it provides some form of income for us that we need to survive. My capacity for handling a million different things is maxed out right now. I return to work next week and I am not happy about it, not looking forward to it but I have no choice but to just do it. I feel as if I am running on fumes in terms of my ability to cope. I know I need to turn it all over to God, and trust that He is going to carry me through this, but I can't seem to do that. Being hurt, being burned, being let down and disappointed by life can leave us so wounded that we can't even muster the strength to believe in something better. My treasure? Right now, I treasure survival. Right now, I can't see beyond what lies right in front of my face. My family needs me and somehow I must move forward for their sake. I am hoping and praying that somehow in the midst of this I am able to really let go and let God.

Overflowing...

It seems these days the only thing I am overflowing with is emotion. I nearly burst into tears every time I sit down and nurse Chloe. It doesn't take much on the tv, a great dramatic show or a heart felt commercial for me to tear up and wimper like a little girl. Emotions are running high for me for a whole lot of reasons. I had a heart to heart with God this morning. I told Him I just don't get it. I know He hasn't moved, I know He is there and yet...I can't find Him. I realize what I am going through, how I am dealing with our current situation is the reason. I am still purging a lot of junk from my system. I can't seem to get past this and it is taking longer than I expected. I expect myself to bounce back quickly, whether it is this thing we are going through or recovering from having Chloe just 5 weeks ago. I hate being down and out, and I hate slowing down. I want to be doing this or that, keeping up a normal pace, able to accomplish exactly what I have set out to do. Perhaps that is part of the problem as well. I haven't really let it all go and slowed down to give God my all. I know He can handle it all, but for some reason I don't want to relinquish control. Why isn't it enough to just know Him, be with Him, love Him and sense His perfect peace? I don't know, but it is what I am experiencing right now. I want to move past this, and I believe I will, but it may take some time. He made us, gave us so much responsiblity in this life and so many times we screw it up. I haven't screwed anything up, but for some reason God allowed someone else to screw up what we thought was a great plan and now we stand in this canyon of uncertainty. Somehow, some way He's got it all under control and He is going to make something good of it all whether it makes sense to me or not. I want His presence, His peace that passes all understanding to be enough...but I am failing to grasp it right now. Clearly I have a lot of work to do in my walk with Christ, and I need to allow Him to break me down and build me back up. It isn't going to be fun, and it will be painful but it is necessary. And when I get there, when I find myself coming out of this thing and looking back from the other side I know my heart and soul will overflow with something better, something wonderful, something that says I am changed and transformed for the better.

Finding God...

If you are like me, blessed to grow up a PK (pastor's kid) then you have been taught and influenced all your life where and when you can find God and He is there. Throughout my walk with Christ since my decision at the young age of 7, I have always known I could look for God in the most obvious places. In worship, in my Sunday School class, at choir practice, at my Bible study group meeting, in my quiet time everyday. I could go on and on, but you get the point. What happens when you can't find Him there? That is where I am right now. I found myself sitting in worship Sunday going, "Okay, God, I know all this but really....where are you???" Psalm 8 tells me that His name should be enough to drown out all things negative. When we are at our weakest, He is strongest. Phillipians 4:13 tells me I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Paul knew it, was clinging to it even when he was facing a whole lot more than I will ever have to in my lifetime. I don't have pity parties, and I am not one to get stuck in a rut for long. I have prided myself for years on being an optimist, one who doesn't let life get her down and if it kicks me--I kick it back. Right now I am having trouble kicking it back. Life and its most recent blow is winning, and I am losing my ability to find God when I need Him most. I know He hasn't moved, He is still on His throne, He is bigger than anything life will ever throw my way. I get it, but I am questioning what the point of this most recent blow really is? How can it possibly be for good and by the way, when is it going to get better? When and how are you going to provide what we are hoping and praying for Lord? I will end my blog entry today with this glimpse of hope. This afternoon as I was holding Chloe in my arms, for a moment she just looked up at me. I found myself asking her, "What do you see? What is going on in that head of yours?" The look on her face was one that seemed to say, "Hey, it's you. It's really you. I am so glad you are here." I am certain God feels the same way about me, I just find myself wishing I could really hear Him say it.

Recomputing....

Wouldn't it be nice if when life hands us something we don't want, we could simply push a button and find another pathway to what we want? It wouldn't be so different from one of those navigational systems a lot of people have in their cars. If you don't follow the directions it gives you and you miss a turn or something, it automatically starts to calculate another route. But the thing is, it is recomputing based on the original destination that was entered when your journey began. So, if God is the one charting our path, then His way is the way we will be going. If I am stubborn enough, frustrated enough, fed up enough with my current situation that I literally throw my hands up and say I want it my way, then sure, I can simply put in a new destination and be on my way. The difference is now I am on the path I have chosen for myself, in haste, in anger, in bitterness and without a care for what God may have planned for me. I have made this choice in the past on several occasions, and it didn't end well. My path is not a path of God's design, it is one of selfish motivation only. I realize God's design is perfect and requires my trust and obedience in Him. How many of us are ready to relinquish our visions and dreams to one act of simply trusting and obeying God? I have to admit in the midst of our current struggle and the blows life has thrown our way, I am hesitating to do just that. I don't like this God! I don't want to trust or obey you because look where it has gotten us now?! Why should I trust you now and risk losing more, hurting more, being disappointed and heartbroken yet again?! Yeah, it is easy to blame Him. After all, He's the one who has allowed all of this to happen right? How quickly we look for someone or something to blame when we are down and out. As I have been walking through this struggle, I find myself blaming the people of God as well as God. All my life, growing up a pastor's kid I was surrounded by men and women of God, who influenced me, mentored me, and loved me as only the family of God can. Unfortunately, it was not communicated to me til later on and I had to find out from personal experience that the people of God are just that--people. Sunday School teachers, deacons, elders, pastors, whatever their role was I found myself putting a few of them on pedestals. None of us should be put in that position because we are all incredibly weak, stupid and fragile human beings. It only takes one moment of temptation, one moment of loss in one's own pride/arrogance, one moment of allowing our humanity to determine our path rather than God to impact someone else for a lifetime. This is where I stand today. I am aware now more than any other moment in my life that we put way too much confidence and faith in our churches rather than in our God. I don't like the shape I have seen many churches take today. And quite frankly, a lot of us have become very comfortable with that shape. I don't want to live like that anymore. I want to be part of something authentic and genuine, a movement of God's people without fences defined by a denomination. I believe this is steering my need to not go to church for awhile. I find myself longing more and more for seclusion with God. Perhaps this is part of preparation for what He has next for Ryan and I. I don't know. I just know this is where I find myself on the journey today.

Right Living

I am still soaking in Psalm 1 today. I cannot say that I thrill at God's Word, but I am working on it. It is a new Christ habit for me to meditate on one particular scripture for several days. I have decided not to label anything I do in my Christ walk simply as habit, but rather a Christ habit. It helps keep me focused, a reminder to have a fresh outlook on my time with Him. I don't want it to become what it has up to this point in my life, just another habit. I think we all fall in to that rut at one time or another in our lives when our time with God simply becomes another thing to mark off the daily checklist. Don't get me wrong--I have delighted in my time with Him, but I have had some lengthy periods in my life where it has become a bit mundane, doing it simply for the sake of getting it done and making myself feel somewhat satisfied that I have done what every Christian should do and spend daily time with God. I see now at this particular point in my life that I need something more, something fresh, something to jar me aware. Something to snag me like when you get the tail of your shirt caught on the edge of a chair as your walking by, and you gasp thinking you'll tear and probably ruin that shirt. I should be more concerned about my time with God being ruined. Yesterday and today I have been meditating on the section in Psalm 1 that reads: "You're a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom."
Right living. This is what I read over and over again the past couple days. How do you define right living? Okay, so let me stop you right where you are headed: it isn't just about being someone who choose not to smoke, drink, cuss, go to R movies, etc. As I read David Crowder's exploration of the idea of right living, it made sense to me and it also made me very aware of how I have something to learn and some changes to make. It is a return to the beginning, how it was in Eden, living with the desire to be growing, blooming, fresh and new every day. It is not enough to simply live a good life, I need to live as Christ desires for me to live. With hope, faith and love coursing through my veins and causing an outward reflection of who Christ is and what He has done for me. My life should be an eruption of praise: What is that? How do I get to the point I can say I do that? I look at my life right now, and for awhile I don't think I can say I have blossomed, I have lost most of my leaves the past few months, and I can't say I have born much fruit on a regular basis. I want to get to that place and be able to say I am flourishing, blossoming like a tree replanted in Eden. I think slowly I will get there as I go through this process, live out this new Christ habit. Some days it is all I can summon from within myself to simply say, "God is good, He knows what He's doing, I can trust Him completely." That path seems long, and the waiting is at times unbearable, but I'll keep on it because I cannot simply stop and sit out on the sideline of life.
Second cup of coffee, and I know I'll need a third. What would I do without coffee? I think I would not get out of bed. I would not have much motivation to get out of bed at all if it weren't for the necessity to change Chloe's diaper and nurse her. Usually I set the coffee maker the night before, but that was pre-Chloe. Post-Chloe Ryan has been doing that but not til that day. I hope to get back in the habit of setting the coffee maker the night before especially with my return to work looming ahead. I love coffee...did I say that already? It is the nectar of life especially in the sleep deprived/survival mode in which I currently reside. Thank you Lord, for coffee. My daily ritual is to grab that cup of coffee and then sit down to absorb my daily dose of the Word and some form of discussion with God. Lately those discussions have been of a more brutal nature, raw, naked and harsh perhaps. I know Ryan and I both have found ourselves lashing out at God more than we have been praising Him. I can't imagine praising Him in the midst of what we are going through right now. It is, how shall I put it, painfully difficult to praise Him when you are feeling heartbroken, helpless, defeated, alone, doubtful, exasperated, deeply grieved, and basically left with this feeling of hanging on by the tips of your fingernails. I have been reading David Crowder's "Praise Habit" and find it has been just the refresh that I need right now. I have chosen to take his advice and begin the ancient practice of 'lectio divina'. I have always been slow with comprehension and there have been years where I have dreaded reading anything but especially the Bible. Reading through the Bible in a year? It is not impossible for me, but I feel I can't completely absorb it all fully, that I am more worried about that end goal staring and yelling at me from the other end of the year to get it done. I need more time to let marinate, soak it up for my mind and my heart to fully comprehend. And well, let's be honest-I can't be the only one who struggles to get through the Old Testament? All those chapters with the lists of names that I am certain even the scholars who wrote them couldn't pronounce. Don't judge me--this is just me, throwing a little honesty out there. So, I begin today with Psalm 1. This particular verse is running over and over in my head and my heart: "You thrill to God's word. You chew on it day and night." Often when I read the Word each day, I try to think on a verse throughout the day. In all honesty it may come to me once or twice, but then my day hurdles at me with so much to accomplish that I can't recall that verse when I collapse into bed that night. I hope to gain a greater appreciation for real meditation, soaking, savoring meditation. I want to slowly digest the word God has for me and it very well may take several days. Right now that particular verse is hard for me to comprehend. I can't remember the last time God's word thrilled me. I can't remember that last time I really chewed on it, savored it and soaked up all that it truly means. I want to do that. I plan to daily make some time, even if it just 5 minutes, to seclude myself and really practice this. Not just a habitual quiet time, but a fresh awakening of my mind and heart to read his word, think about it, pray over it, and live it. I know God has many things to say to me, and I know I am letting all this "stuff" we are experiencing to cloud the clarity that should be between us. I realize at the end of all this I could say and do, that I am just a sinful human being who deserves nothing, but thankfully God chose to care deeply for me and has saved me from myself. I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross....some days I believe I am laying in a puddle at the foot of that Cross hoping that somehow, God will scoop me up and carry me through the darkest of times when I feel I cannot carry on. I want to get to the place once again where I can say, "I thrill to God's word." That day is coming, I am sure of it.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...