I’m sitting in front of a campfire and thinking about all the people in my life who invested in me. Most were simple ways, teaching me things I didn’t learn in school; like how to build a campfire, fish, grill and camp. Others taught me how to love; some taught how to love badly. But from each one of them I learned and I grew. Some were fleeting, they came in and out of my life for a season, others were there for the long haul, some are still around. When I was ready, some expanded on the lessons of others. I believe everyone came into my life for a reason, maybe I taught them something too.
There were some things I had to do myself, I had to learn them in my own way and navigate through them alone, like grief, self acceptance, personal boundaries, core values and beliefs. Through these times I had people who stood by me to support me, cheer me on and give me someone to hold on to. I am grateful.
When I was in my 20s I remember saying what I wanted most was to be done learning lessons. I disagree with that now, I want to keep learning and growing, becoming a better version of me. I also want to invest in others, even if it’s in small ways.
My Hall of Faith
Hebrews 11 is called the Hall of Faith chapter in the Bible. It speaks of people who have gone before us who were filled with faith; extraordinary faith.
Enoch walked so closely with God that he didn’t die; he was taken to heaven by God because of his great faith.
Noah obeyed God when he was told to build an ark. It had never rained; no one knew what rain was, much less a flood! Noah was obedient and did as he was told; he believed God and had faith that what God said would come to pass. He became an heir of righteousness.
Abraham believed God by going to a place he did not know, He also brought his son Isaac to be offered up as a sacrifice because he trusted and had faith in God. God promised him he would be the father of many nations and his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky.
These people and more had great faith in God. Some of them died before seeing the fulfillment of the promise God had given them. Who are the people in your Hall of Faith? I have had several over the course of my life and I am incredibly grateful for each and every one of them. My Grandma prayed for all of us kids; she didn’t live to see us as adults but her prayers carried us and I’m sure they made a huge difference in our lives. I wonder where I’d be if I didn’t have the prayers of my Grandma.
My dad prayed for me everyday, he died when I was 32. I became a Christian at 34. My mom told me that my dad would tell her not to worry about me because I was going to turn out OK. He knew it because every time he prayed for me he felt peace. God let him know his prayers were being answered. Even though he didn’t live long enough to see the fulfillment of his prayers, he believed and he was obedient.
My mom also
prayed for me everyday. She never gave up on me. We had our moments just like all mothers and daughters do but she never gave up. She did get to see the answer to her prayers. My mom and I were very close when she died.
My aunt Elsie was a Spiritual voice in my life. I visited her every year, sometimes a couple times a year for the last 10-12 years she was alive (she lived in AZ). Every time I was there, she showed me her prayer list at least a couple of times. She prayed for everyone on the list everyday; she prayed for me and my husband every morning and every night. I miss her prayer covering.
These are a few of the people in my life’s Hall of Faith. I recognize them and thank them for the role they’ve played in my life. I thank them for being obedient to God; for praying and not giving up on me.
If you’re praying for people in your life. Don’t give up. God is at work even though you may not be aware of what He’s doing.
Lately God has me confused. Well, let me re-phrase that. I’m confused because I’m busy trying to figure out God andwhat He’s up to and where He’s bringing me.
Over 6 months ago my husband and I decided to help my friend launch a new church. We took it on as a short term mission project because neither of us felt called to leave the church we were going to which also the place I work. Within 2-3 weeks God made it clear to both of us that He was calling us to leave our church. I’ve attended this church for 16 years (and on and off for 3 years prior) and my husband had attended for 11 years. We weren’t sure what God was up to but we obeyed. I assumed my job was part of the package and I was to leave it as well. I was grieving leaving my job because I enjoy it and I love the volunteers I serve with. I have at least 150 I oversee and manage.
I started to look for jobs. I came across some I thought would fit my schedule and would work for me. However, I never applied to any of them. It just didn’t feel right in my spirit. Meanwhile, I started helping my husband at weddings. He’s a photographer and had weddings booked every Saturday in June. I got really wiped out and tired. I had no energy and it would take almost the entire week to recover and then it was time to do it again.
July came and the weddings weren’t booked so close together anymore. It was hot and humid for much of the month and again I found I was tired and had no energy. I blamed the humidity.I painted and worked at the space for the new launch church many afternoons a week. Once I painted for 20-25 minutes and was so sore the next day I could hardly move. I began to realize I most likely couldn’t do a job other than the one I had.
During this time, I continued to pray for God to show me my next place of employment. I made a promise to God back when I first got the job I’m currently doing. It was literally given to me. I didn’t apply for it, they just offered it to me. Initially I said no to their offer and they bargained with me, gave me such a sweet deal I realized it was God who was putting the job in my hand. I promised Him I would hold it loosely and I’d stay until He took it away. I’ve survived numerous staff and budget cuts and I’m still there. I get frustrated at times because God called to leave our church yet it’s difficult to find a new church when I work 3 Sundays a month. I don’t get it.
I kept thinking God was going move me. I would tell myself “I can do anything for five years” and one day I heard back “even do what you’re doing now?” Huh, that was the last thing I expected. I knew it didn’t come from me. I continued to feel that phrase in my spirit whenever I prayed about it.
I went to the Rheumatologist in August and was told my previous blood work showed I’m in a Lupus flare-up. Well, suddenly my entire summer (and winter before) made sense. That’s why I’m feeling the way I am. I told her about my job and asked her what she thought about me getting a different one; she told me “no”, at least not now. She explained that if I had a different job I would most likely be quite sick. She thinks the reason I don’t feel as bad as my blood work shows is because I’ve learned over the years how to rest AND because I have a job that I can work from home – on my couch. I work when I want, for how long I want.
About 10-11 years ago my biggest desire was to know God’s voice and hear what He’s saying to me. I realized my prayer has been answered. I clearly know what God is saying to me; I’m never confused about what He says but rather why He’s saying it. I’m incredibly grateful I have learned to recognize and listen to God’s voice in my life. Now my prayer is to relax and quit trying to figure it all out
To Him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:3-4; 27
Listening and Processing
God’s been at work in me lately. He’s been showing me things that have long been buried. This summer I found myself very angry 2-3 times in 3 weeks. My husband remarked that he has never seen me that mad before and what’s going on? Well, like most of my Christian walk; God and I had a talk in my car and He showed me the anger wasn’t coming from the situation or the people I thought I was angry with. It was coming from all those years of abuse and mistreatment. Well, this was something I wasn’t prepared for.
I sat with it for a couple of days and at a meeting (of all places) a friend of mine was telling the group about his struggle with self-pity all of his life due to mistreatment and abandonment as a young boy. He carried this all his life and God showed him through various people and situations that it was time to lay it down; to give it to Jesus. During his sharing he said “I don’t know, maybe this is for one of you” and I felt my spirit leap; it was for me. I needed to share what was going on with me. So, I spoke up and shared with the group my anger issues and what I thought God was showing me to be the cause. They came around me and prayed for me. Before they prayed I was asked “do you trust me? Do you trust us? Do you believe Jesus wants to take this from you?” and my answer to all those questions was “Yes”. They prayed for me and that night in bed I couldn’t sleep, I felt free and light and needed to process it.
The next day I took a yoga class, I always invite Jesus into my class at the beginning and thank Him for the ability to be there and do to the poses, etc. 10 minutes before the class was over I started feeling extremely sad, I found myself crying and realized I was grieving my little girl; my little abused girl who didn’t have a voice and didn’t comprehend what was happening and why. She was naïve and innocent to the point that she thought what was happening was normal and happened to all girls; even though it felt really scary and bad. I was grieving that girl as though she wasn’t me but yet the entire time, I knew it was me. But, I’m not that girl anymore so I felt detached from her and I was just really, really sad about what happened to her and I wish it wouldn’t of been. I journaled about this later and thought more tears and grief would come but it didn’t.
The other thing I’ve noticed God showing me is regarding babies. It started with my niece’s water breaking. I was volunteering at a Tapestry event this summer (Tapestry is a organization that helps/serves single girls who are pregnant and can’t afford medical treatment). I was serving there, a place to celebrate and encourage life. During a break I looked at my phone and found out my friend’s wife with cancer was told they couldn’t help her anymore, they were just going to “keep her comfortable”. The next thing I saw was my niece in California who was close to her due date; her water had broken. I’m at this event celebrating life and my friend is at his wife’s death bed and my niece is ready to create life. I was confused and overwhelmed. Many different emotions at the same time. I broke down and cried, I cried for my friend’s wife and I cried because my niece has always been the one I related to most in my family; she was the only other woman who didn’t have children and now she was ready to give birth. When I saw the first picture of her baby – just “fresh out of the oven” I broke down. I had this strong longing for my mom to be here, to see her new baby. Mom was really close to my niece and would love this moment! I was sad because she wasn’t alive for it; even though I know she knows and sees from heaven I still was sad because she wasn’t here. She would love this! I wanted to share it with her and I know my niece did too. I was sad because if my niece could be a mom; I could’ve been one too. If she could do it, I could’ve done it. I messed up; I missed out. I was so sad, I grieved my aborted baby; I beat myself up for having my tubes tied to prevent another “unwanted pregnancy”. I was so wrong on so many levels.
Shortly after, a girl I used to work with who I wasn’t really close to had a baby girl. They found out during the pregnancy the baby had some kind of left heart syndrome. Basically it meant the left side of her heart didn’t work, it wasn’t completely formed. I don’t understand all the medical stuff that goes with it, but they were told their baby would need multiple surgeries during her infancy. At the time I remember thinking “are you going to go through with this? Are you going to have this baby?” I thought they should be contemplating an abortion, ya know to save the baby from such a rough life. Well, they went through with the pregnancy and went to Boston for delivery because they are specialists in this syndrome. This little, tiny, innocent, beautiful baby girl was born. The first moment I saw her I regretted ever thinking about aborting her! How could I have even had such a thought! I was ashamed of myself! I had an abortion at 24 and at the time I thought it was the best thing I could do and maybe it was but I’ll never know. My baby didn’t have any medical issues to prevent her from having a healthy, normal life and I aborted her because she was an inconvenience to me! I’m devastated and I feel incredibly horrible for doing such a thing but I did it because I didn’t know any better. I was on drugs and living with someone who hated children, I wasn’t ready.
So, here’s this little infant born with left heart syndrome speaking from God to me with her story. She has already brought God so much glory just by being who she is. She is a fighter and she is doing much better than the doctors expected. She has so many people across the nation praying for her, having fund raisers for her and God is using her to speak to so many people, her parents, me and who knows who else. Every time I read of her progress or her condition on Facebook I cry. I grieve for my aborted baby, my heart aches for this little girl, I want so much for her to be done with her surgeries and be able to go home with her parents. My heart aches for her mom and dad and all they have to deal with. She’s a month old today and they have barely been able to hold her – she’s had surgery and has been hooked up to lines and tubes most of her life. Just lately they’ve been able to hold her a little and she’s been able to wear “regular” clothes. They as a family have a very long, rough road ahead of them but they’re trusting and praising God every step of the way. I’m so sorry for my lack of understanding when I had an abortion. I’m sorry and I grieve for my unborn child. I know God knows best and He knew what He was doing when He trusted me with my little unborn baby. I’m so sorry I didn’t follow through and see her as the blessing she was. I’m sorry I didn’t give children another chance in my life. Although I know if I had them and didn’t change they would have had a messed up, horrible life.
Step by Step
God what is it You’re doing with me?
From my view point, it’s hard to see
It’s been a blur; things happen so fast
And these changes are going to last
My heart and commitments are shaken
My soul has been awakened
Things I trusted and relied on
Have all turned to dust; they’re gone
Gingerly, I take one step at a time
As I cling for life to the vine
Behind me; You close a door
Another step forward, I yearn for more
More will come when the time is right
I find I’m ready for what’s in sight
I breathe deep and I look to You
Step by step You’ll bring me through.
Everyone has their own life story
And everyone’s past can bring God glory
God can redeem brokenness and make you whole
Allow Him to refresh and renew your soul
The details of your story are like ingredients in a cake
When sifted together and allowed to bake
A delicious dessert suddenly appears
Created from your blood, your sweat and your tears
Each cake is different, no two are the same
Life’s heartaches and joys are what they contain
They’re different in appearance and in taste
But no ingredient has gone to waste
Celebrate the cake you’re created to be
Discard your judgements; let yourself be free
The years have helped me to understand
The value of things I can’t hold in my hands
The people I love, my friends and family
And those who have gone before me
Past events have shaped who I am today
Just as a potter molds a lump of clay
The people who prayed for me everyday
As I struggled and journeyed along the way
The sweet sound of a baby’s cry
The love found in a mother’s eyes
These are what I’m thankful for
Things I can’t buy in a store.
Things that God gives to me
Of great value; yet they’re free
As I complete my journey in this land
Of these things; may I always understand.
It was a cloudy day. Not just cloudy but the clouds were sitting very low in the sky. In fact when we woke up the clouds were just 20 feet above the water, or so it seemed. We were in Geiranger, Norway at the Geiranger Fjord. Our plan for the day was to back track the way we arrived and take pictures. What we didn’t consider is that we would need to drive many switchbacks up the mountain into a cloud.
We started out and it wasn’t bad; we drove higher and higher and suddenly we realized we were driving right into the cloud. By this time we were on the narrow, switchback road with no pull off’s to speak of. This road is heavily traveled by locals, tourists and tour buses. Periodically there were places along the road to pull over and take photos, etc. But these places were just a small half circle, enough for one car.
With every turn we were going deeper into the cloud. It was like being in an airplane when it flies through the clouds, you look out the window and all you see is white. That’s exactly what we were driving in. We had a GPS in the rental car so Bill was looking at it and telling me what to expect up ahead. He could tell if the switchback was going to the right or left but that was all. I expected one of these turns would start to bring us up and out of this fog we were in. But, each one just brought us deeper into it.
By this time I was going very slow; just creeping along. We literally couldn’t see 5 feet in front of us. The entire time I’m praying. Praying to find a place to pull over, praying for the cloud to lift, praying that we would drive out of the cloud. We’d see the small pull over places but we didn’t see them until we were right next to them and it was too late. We both were looking very closely at the edge of the road to find a pull off. Finally, we saw a small place that we could use. I pulled over and as I did, we could see a little bit more so I drove a little deeper in; we parked and got out and realized that it was a large area, with a picnic table and everything! We stayed there and watched the cars go by, most of them were going scary fast in our estimation.
I continued to pray and thank Jesus that He had gotten us to this place. I prayed that the cloud/fog would lift so we could return back down the mountain safely. At one point it got a little breezy and the cloud did clear a little bit — not much but it seemed like a lot to us at the time. However, we thought it would continue to clear up and we waited and what happened is the breeze stopped and it got thick again. Bill decided that he was going to drive and we would just go. Going down the mountain it would improve with each turn. We got in the car and were getting ready to pull out when we noticed that there was a tour bus coming; we waited for it and Bill got in right behind it. We had an escort out of there! Thank you Jesus!
This experience is so much like life. There are so many times I make a decision that is really bad and if I would just use a little wisdom and look around, the answer is clear and it’s in front of me. But because I can have such narrow vision, I don’t do that, I don’t see it. So, I make bad decisions and get behind the wheel and go. Then when I realize it was a bad decision, I start praying; I pray for it to go away, I pray for me to be able to get through it quickly and I pray for a break; a place to pull over. But usually none of these things come to me at that point and I just have to keep moving forward because I have no other way to go at the time. I don’t know how to get out. But, I’m not alone I have prayer, the Bible and Christian friends.
I slowly and carefully continue and what’s usually up ahead at least for a little while is more of the same just a different turn, a different direction. I just get deeper and deeper in and I get more blind as I go.
Just when I think I can’t take it anymore, Jesus shows me just a little hope and I go for it, slowly and carefully and eventually He opens my eyes to a broad and spacious place! A place of safety. A place where I can think, regroup, stretch my legs and praise Him for showing me this turn around spot. Then when I’m ready he sends someone or something to gently and slowly lead me out and back to being grounded and having a broader vision.