Faithful Footprints

Last year’s destruction gave way to a supported season of rebuilding.  Now that the foundation is nearly restored, it is both exciting and terrifying to see what shape this new structure will take.  There is energy and enthusiasm in the discovery as it begins to take form.  An afternoon meeting further increased both the excitement and the anxiety.  Perhaps it is all as He intended – my enthusiasm with the clear understanding that it is beyond my capability.  My capacity to accomplish what lies before me, completely lacking without His strength and provision.  
 
As I find myself in new spaces of necessary dependence, I am discovering that it is not about physical strength – rather I am to recognize and embrace my own weakness, so that I may lay hold of His strength – strength of heart, entrusted emotion, value in vulnerability. 

 How might I release of the reigns that have been held in clenched fists for far too long?  His healing hands are allowed to work on what remains raw, only when the reigns are released.   Though the idea of surrender is scary, the thought of continuing to hold what is not mine to carry – completely exhausting.  The weight of the burdens this life provides – crushing if carried alone.

 “All I have needed, thy hand hath provided, great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”  The words of this old hymn are what resonate.  He has provided for my every need, despite my circumstance.  He has proven again and again, His faithfulness to me.  This does not mean that there were not trials and heartache, but at each moment of melancholy, my Maker provided someone to come beside me and hold my hand – someone to speak the words that my heart longed to hear to encourage me to continue, even when there was little hint of hope.  His word does not promise absence of trial and heartache, rather He promises His strength and His provision wherever we call out in our lack.  Being able to look back to last year, last month, last week, even last night – I can clearly see His footprints in the sand, and know that He was with me.  My needs were met and my heart was held in the palm of His hand.

 Great is His faithfulness indeed.

Holding Hope

A heart that is full

warm sun in the sky

joy in the journey

encouraged to try.

Spirit now soaring

released from the pain

burdens unbinding

washed clean by His rain.

Great gifts of laughter

reduction of fear

Father is calling

inviting me near.

Courageously step

where never before

faithfully follow

discovering more.

Ever He’s faithful

always He’s true

beauty from ashes

sustained and renewed.

Reunited

As this weekend draws to a close, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the incredible opportunity I have had to reconnect with women that I had not seen in nearly seventeen years.  Our hearts and lives crossed paths all those years ago as we joined a journey that would leave each of us forever changed.  Each one of us from different corners of the United States, and some even from far away place around the planet, we had been placed together for a purpose far greater than any of us could have likely imagined. 
 
Back then, we had left our lives at home and were brought together to learn and prepare for four months, before being thrown into international travel in a completely foreign country and culture for two months.  We lived in cramped quarters, sat together in class as hearts were healed and eyes were opened, dined together not only daily – but for every meal, worked alongside one another to accomplish assigned duties, and navigated the most intense experiences of our young lives so far – together.  Memories made, hearts aligned, each of us went our separate ways with a sincere fondness and favor for one another after all that we had seen and done in such a short time.
 
Fast forward to the present.  The tenacity of one teammate to search for our souls to reconnect, created the unfathomed fortune of seeing one another again – face to face, after all these years.  The first night, it was only three.  Together we reminisced about our experience and shared much laughter as we recalled all there was to remember.  Each memory connected to hearts and faces found far in the archives of our minds and photo albums.  Joy in joining one another again to share our stories.  Time had touched each of our lives with tragedy and triumph, trials and truth, as our lives had flown forward since we had last met.  Testimonies of God’s grace given as we unpacked the bags we each had carried throughout our seventeen years apart, continued into the wee hours of the night.  Eyes heavy and hearts full, a short slumber was in order prior to the arrival of three more memory makers.
 
Another treasure arrived the next morning, as we again shared laughter and heartache that we had accumulated since our parting.  Later in the afternoon another; a few hours later, one more.  More stories, more laughter, a few tears… 
 
One of the sweetest stints of sharing ensued when we decided to Skype a gal that we had desperately hoped could join us. Life’s demands and the daunting distance she would have had to travel, prevented her presence.  Yet there we were, all gathered around the laptop – her contagious laughter triggering a montage of memories – as we intently listened to her unpack the most recently acquired “a-ha” that her heart had heard, as she had been faithfully fulfilling her work on the farm.  Each of us took a turn in front of the laptop, with her loving and familiar face before us, and allowed a chapter of our story to be heard.  Laughter, tears, and the entire gamut of emotion exposed, hearts that had been apart for so long, were reunited and encouraged. 
 
The obvious orchestration of God’s blessing for His daughters, delivered and received.  Hearts  full and hope renewed, we each anxiously anticipate our next reunion.  Though it took seventeen years to reunite, I am certain it will not be that long before we meet again.

In the Grip of Goodness

A truth that I am discovering more and more as I go, is that in as much as I am willing to be open, that is the equal measure by which I am able to experience His goodness and love for me.  When I am closed, I block access to God.  Yes, He could make His way into my struggle anyway, but because I have a free will to choose – He never pushes me.  He waits for me to determine the distance that the door will be opened and the depth of what I willingly allow to be exposed.
 
Through a conversation with a dear friend, in which she was willingly transparent with her turmoil, I grasped glimpses of grace in the midst of her pain.  Despite trailing tears, she was able to give a voice to her pain, and experience God’s grace for her in the midst of her heartache. 
 
With this scene fresh in my mind, I made my way to meet with a wise friend.  Trivial talk rapidly turned into pressing pain.  I allowed my heart and my hurts to be made known and exhausting exposure ensued.  Despite the demise of my fortress walls, I felt safe.  Though such times often feel lonely, I knew I was not alone.  I felt His presence and heard His promises for me.  His kindness was as overwhelming as the aches.  My longings lovingly fulfilled by my faithful Father.  Willingly I waivered walls to experience the emotion that entered.  I don’t think I have ever been so acutely aware of His grace for me, as I was in the grip of His goodness while the baggage was unpacked.  Heart and mind held and heard as anguish was acknowledged.

This morning as I prepare for the day, the weight I had been carrying is not nearly so heavy.  Light has now found way to what had been hidden, and though the ache remains, the burden is now bearable.  He has presented peace and lavished love where it was lacking.  His grace again shown sufficient, and His strength has proven perfect in my weakness.

Love Song

These steps of exposure

open, terrifying

yield blessings abundant-

a new song to sing.

Twisted and tangled

the layers of lies

hidden in darkness

try feigning disguise.

Illuminating blackness

with one single word

forgiveness is granted

His truth to be heard.

Arms ever waiting

outstretching to me

chasing the demons

being forced now to flee.

Locks being broken

the doors are destroyed

avenues of open

His Truth now employed.

Trust in the terror

protection is found

songs of safe haven

forever abound.

Child-like Faith

There is no joy quite so pleasing as a field trip with exuberant third-graders.  The energy and excitement for the promised adventure of a new experience – exhilarating.  Kids don’t consider potential danger or problems, they simply trust that the entire experience will be wonderful.  Faith in the planners and faith in the destination.  Unwavering belief that the new will be the best experience yet.

 As a chaperone, my group consisted of the five biggest boys in the third grade.  Two of them are mine.  I can only imagine the sight to an outside observer – a mom and the future defensive line of the middle school they will all attend, skipping and bounding from exhibit to exhibit with giggles of delight at each new sight.  I am still not certain as to whom enjoyed the experience more – the boys as they beheld the new, or me, as I had the joy of watching each child delight in the discoveries of the day. 

 It is a remarkable reminder to trust that there is excitement in the new, and that the path of discovery is safe because I am walking with the ultimate and ever-present Chaperone.  He provides paths that wind with unexpected joys as I round each new corner.  Though I may grow weary from the walking, He provides benches for me to rest upon, companions to travel beside, and nourishment to energize as I go.  The trail is not always smooth, nor is it without incline; He sustains and renews my strength and provides a hand when my steps are unsteady.  He is trustworthy, and I am safe to travel with the faith of a child and freely take my Daddy’s hand when the road gets rough.

Refuge in the Rock

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; He is my rock, in whom I take refuge… (Psalm 18:2)
 
It is in the walking that I am discovering the difference between hiding, and standing in His presence and protection.  There is a monumental difference between cowering in the corner and standing in the shadow of His strength.  In one, I am rendered powerless and defeated.  In the other, I am protected by His power, and able to press on.
 
If the situation is physical, the stance of trusting that I am protected in the powerful, is a default setting.  Yet if it is an emotional scenario, the unseen enemy, I find my inclination is to hide and avoid.  Fetal position in the corner, rocking and sucking my thumb.  No, not literally – but total avoidance and intentional escape is really no different.  It is an admission of defeat and denying God the opportunity to be God in a space where I am lacking trust. 
 
Though I have no reason to not trust God, I have plenty of reasons to distrust man.  Time and time again my emotional exposure has led to destruction.  Small shreds of self stolen in moments of vulnerability.  I have always been a quick study, and readily learned that if I simply shut it off, safety was found.  No risk, no rejection.  Decades of denial in allowing emotion to escape, the banished burdens have been biding their time.  As I continue to learn to trust more deeply, He ever-so-gently begins to bring up the points of pain and is prying off planks that have “protected” my gamut of grief.  Sorrow, pain, fear, fighting for freedom, where shelter has stifled.  Places where I have mistaken a sinkhole for a shield – shown for the abyss they actually are. 
 
These moments of revelation are forks in my road of faith.  Do I take the road less travelled to trust, or do I break for the easy escape?  I know what He is calling me to do.  I know the faith that must be found to forge forward.  Lord I believe, help my unbelief so that I may trust You in the exposure of emotion and walk faithfully in Your freedom.  I want to stand in the safety of Your presence and rest on the Rock.

Quest for Quiet

As the chaos of the day continued to unravel, everything in me craved quiet.  My energy depleted, I was required to rise to the occasion – two nine-year-old boys were in need of nourishment.  I stumbled my way through a thrown together meal, that thankfully, was well-received, and attempted to sit down to take a moment to process and breathe.  Sadly, the volume of my cherubs’ creativity was causing calamity to my craved calm.  Kindly and gently, I requested calm and controlled creativity.  Clearly not words that are meant to be paired, as the frustration began to find fire and patience dwindle.  At last, I resolved to remove myself, rather than expect silence from my sweeties. 

All it took was an escape to another room with the white noise provided by a ceiling fan, to actually find myself able to think.  Intentionally turning away from the frustration and seeking solitude in silence, not only refreshed my spirit, but seemed to restore my strength that was nearly gone.  I have to remember to trust that He will provide all that I need – even if it is something so trivial as a touch of time.  Mere moments to unplug and renew. 

One small step in my strength, met by His monumental movement in love.  I am surrounded by warmth with a cool breeze, encouraged by the kindness of my Father’s heart, and strengthened to finish this day strong.  Though I am feeling a bit weary, the spring in my step is making a comeback and energy for the evening – restored.

A moment in quietness and trust, and His strength is given.  Glorious grace again grounds my heart in what matters most.

Grow

We begin as an infant

so fragile and fair

all needs are provided

and covered with care.

We sit up and crawl

try, determined to stand

we teeter and totter

not sure where we’ll land.

At last on to walking

turning into a run

adventure awaiting

our time in the sun.

As freedom is given

and wings are spread wide

discovery of flight

and the thrill in the ride.

How to stay free

yet know when to return

this delicate balance

a challenge to learn.

It is ever a process

this travelling the road

the walking toward trust

and releasing the load.

My burdens, too heavy

frustration with fears

overcoming in faith

His presence is here.

The Presence of Promise

Monet - Sunrise

There are few things quite as wonderful as waking up to sunshine streaming through my bedroom window on a Saturday morning.  The time to rest well past my weekday wakeup time, a quiet house to breathe in as I leisurely sip on hot coffee, a sun-filled day full of potential for adventure – these are among the little things that remind me of His constant presence and great love for me. 
 
Though the week was long and had many twists and turns, He was beside me in the coaster car reminding me to enjoy the ride.  An aha by a student here, hugs by my own kiddos there, so many blessings to behold, reminding me that He works all things out for good – even the occurrences that seem unsalvageable. 
 
I am in the midst of a season where I am beginning to look forward with wonder and anticipation, as to how He will work certain situations and circumstances out for good.  I know He can.  I know He will.  The unknown is simply the how.  Fortunately, I have nothing to do with that.  He alone in His mysterious and glorious ways, makes a way where there seems to be no way, brings light into the darkness, joy into sorrowful spaces, and hope where hopelessness once overwhelmed. 
 
His countless promises are present.  He is with me.  He is good.  He is for me.  He who is hope, fills me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him. 
 
Right now, it is time to go and soak up some of the sunshine He has given us today!