The sun was so bright this morning, I was blinded on my way to work. I feel like it’s been a long while since I’ve seen the sun in the morning on the way to work. I was almost too distracted to notice it. I mean, my eyes sure noticed it when it struck the windshield and I lost my bearings briefly. But my heart didn’t soak it in. My mind forgot to appreciate the goodness of the sun, the beauty, the benefits.
Like so many things, I quickly focused on the negative, I dwelled in the depths of despair, even in the overwhelming presence of the light.
On the way home, the sun was in a much better position and I caught glimpse of the clouds. I’ve been reminded lately to look at the clouds… to pay attention (I think it was @kaitlyn_bouch, or @shannanwrites —I looked, it was both). So I snapped a quick picture because I want to remember.
Pictures, even quickly taken ones, help me remember. I remember that the sun will shine again. The clouds are a part of creation and each one tells a story. Today may feel like the storms (the hurricane, the conflict, the battles, the pain, the grief) are never going to cease. And while the fall-out and clean-up from each unpleasant situation cannot be avoided, the sun is still going to shine. The blue skies are going to display the glory of God. The white fluffy clouds are gonna show up and show off.
God shows up in the clouds. Time and again in the Bible we see where God shows up—in a cloud. Clouds represent His presence and his faithfulness. He is coming again, in the clouds.
“Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; And your faithfulness reaches unto the clouds.”
And we just need to keep looking up, to notice the beauty, to keep our eyes on Jesus, to hold an eternal perspective. To remember that we all live under the same beautiful sky. We live a hard and beautiful life and it’s better together. And He is with us.
I’ve had a hard time finding words these days. Mostly because I have not made time or space for the words to come. Partly because the troubles of the world weigh heavy on my mind. And also because I have decisions I don’t want to make, open wounds, parenting teenager struggles, and overwhelming work. Not really the seeds for great writing when you’re in the middle of the mess.
It’s easier to avoid what needs to be done, to stay in the hard and uncomfortable because it is KNOWN. But sometimes you need to step forward in faith, to walk into the unknown, to know and remember that Jesus always goes before you. You will finally move forward when the pain of staying in the mess is greater than the pain of moving forward. I write those words, but I’m still not sure I’m there yet.
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
So I sit in Psalms and Proverbs. I lament with David, but remember that God is always good, always just, always faithful.
“My spirit is weak within me, my heart is overcome with dismay. I remember the days of old. I meditate on all you have done. I reflect on the work of your hands.”
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground.”
I read the wisdom of Solomon and pray for integrity, a teachable heart, a righteous mind, a soft answer, and wise words. Some days I feel so far from who I want to be as a wife, a parent, a friend, a part of the family of God. I have a hard time finding the level ground. I have a hard time finding the beauty. I have a hard time seeing the change and growth in my life. But I also know that God goes with me on the journey. He goes before me. He surrounds me. He walks beside me. I know that I am a work in progress. I know that I have not arrived. I know that I make mistakes. But that does not stop me from celebrating the right choices, the small victories. I come to Jesus with a broken and contrite heart.
I waited for the thunderstorm to roll in this evening… I’m still waiting. I love the way the sky changes color as a storm rolls in. I love the lightning flashing, the thunder rolling (I much prefer gradual thunder rolls, to startling thunder cracks). I love listening to the rush of rain from the safety of my front window. But I’m not sure the forecast was correct tonight. Some days we are waiting for the storm to roll in… and some days we are waiting for the storm to pass.
I’m not always good at waiting. I try to distract myself. I like to plan and prepare, and know what the next step is and when it should be taken. I don’t like last minute, surprises make me nervous. I like to keep moving forward. I want to make progress. Waiting gives opportunity to rest, which I’m not great at. Waiting reminds me I’m not in control.
We aren’t talking about thunderstorms anymore.
Sometimes in the waiting we get distracted, we get discouraged, we try to convince ourselves that we aren’t waiting. We rush ahead when we should wait. Maybe you’re waiting for marriage, a baby, healing in relationship, a health diagnosis. You might be waiting to finish that degree, or get a new job, buy a house. We wait for answers. We wait for deliveries, the brownies to finish baking, the light to turn green. Or perhaps it’s the wayward child we want to come home, the uncertainty of a housing situation, the reunion of friends and family (on earth or in heaven).
Does anyone ever say that waiting is fun? But it’s in the waiting that our faith is strengthened, our hope is renewed, our love is deepened. So I look out my front door view, I remember that God is in control. I search the Scriptures to remind myself that there is hope in the waiting, strength in in the waiting, salvation in the waiting.
“but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, And in his word do I hope.”
“I waited patiently for the LORD; And he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”
“The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, To the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly Wait for the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations 3:25-26
Hallelujah! Give praise, servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be blessed forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the Lord be praised.
I’ve been struggling with being a complainer lately. I also feel that I’ve been surrounded by complainers lately. It is so easy to vent and whine all about the problems and everything that is seemingly going “wrong” in life. And we feed off each other. When one person complains to us, it makes it easier for us to complain about our problems right back. And while there is a time and a place to bear one another’s burdens, I also believe that we would benefit by rejoicing with those who rejoice and continue to give praise to the name of the Lord… because He has done great things for us.
I’ll go first. He has given us great things. I have a job that I love, even if it’s sometimes overwhelming and I sometimes have to deal with cranky people (hello, supply chain issues). I have four wonderful children that are not perfect, but they are mine and that makes them the #bestkidsever. My husband works hard, loves me, serves others, follows Jesus, leads well. #myhusbandrocks
I’m bragging on God because He never fails to meet my needs. I have a roof over my head, we are in no danger of going hungry, (even if the teenagers in my house there there is nothing good to eat) and I have clothes for every occasion. I have a church family that loves Jesus, loves people, and is doing the work of God’s Kingdom here on earth. I have a friend who is not local, but our drive to work is the same time as mine and our almost daily conversations are just another way God spoils me. They’ve been a lifeline and remind me of the faithfulness of God.
He showers us with sunrises and sunsets, changing of seasons and wild life. He give the gift of thunderstorms and rainbows. So far, this summer I’ve seen the rolling hills of Western New York, the mountains of West Virginia, the Potomac River, zoo animals, a little strip of Amish country, and the flatlands of Ohio. And always, I am thankful when I come back home to the mountain God has blessed me with, with a view of our little city.
He speaks to me through His Word, music, nature, other people’s victory stories. He pursues me when I’m wandering from Him. He shows me He cares about me through bird songs, crickets and peepers, the wind rustling through the trees.
Bless the Lord and forget not all His benefits.
If He had only rescued me from sin and given me life eternal in His presence it would have been enough. But daily He surprises me and overwhelms me with good gifts and spiritual blessings.
How can you vent your joys today? How has God met your needs today? How can you praise the name of Jesus? Let’s encourage one another with good news!
I spent my weekend doing just about nothing. I read three fiction books and it was glorious. I sat in the sun, and on the deck, I lounged on the couch, I laid in bed, and sat on a swing. My body aches from lack of movement, but my brain is praising me for the rest I’ve given it.
We spent time with family… listening to the cousins having fun (and also fighting). We feasted on party foods, picnic foods, take-out, desserts. I sat alone, I sat in groups. We went to church. I went to bed on time. I slept in. I rested.
I’ve been thinking a lot about rest and sabbath and how God created us to rest in Him and I haven’t really been doing that lately. Perhaps reading 3 fiction books in one weekend isn’t quite resting in God, but I believe that God did make us for enjoyment too. Psalms and Proverbs have been a part of my resting weekend, too.
I consider this weekend a “practice” in rest. When you try something new it’s not always going to be perfect. We practice as we work toward improvement. This is true in writing, art, baking, education, sports, even in friendships. Life takes work and life takes practice. And so does rest.
So this weekend I was given the gift of time and I used it to practice rest. Next week will be overwhelming again, the to-do list is already growing but for this moment, I breathe deeply and I give thanks for rest.
How do you practice rest? I’m learning that it is something that needs to be intentional… scheduled. And while we may not have time for a 24hr period every week, we should aim for moments or hours each week. How are you intentional about scheduling rest in your busy life?
My dear friends @Hopewriters had a weeklong instagram writing challenge. I had great intentions and shared my writing on my blog and on Instagram four of the days, which is pretty good. So I decided to go back to the word prompts I missed, because word prompts help me think and help me focus.
Another thing that helps me in my writing is my middle of the month pause to reflect and pay attention to my #frontdoorview. (#frontwindowview) I snap a picture when it catches my eye, or when I realized it’s the middle of the month and I forgot. I take special notice of sunrises or sunsets, storms rolling in or bright blue, cloudless days. And in the month of May, I wish there was a way to better capture the few lilac bushes that hedge the yard. And I wish I could share the burst of lilac scent that catches me when I leave my house. And always I’m reminded of the goodness and faithfulness of my God.
We’ve been smack dab in the middle of a little bit of chaos. Life has thrown a few curve balls in the last year or so. There has been a lot of loss, some changes, heart work, relationship struggles, ups and downs in parenting, doubts, questions, pruning. And in the middle of it all, when I’m tempted to claim a crisis of faith, I can’t. I am constantly reminded that Jesus has the words of life and I go back to my favorite Psalms and remember how David prayed honest prayers and refocused and realigned his heart with the truth of God’s Word.
David’s relationships were a mess, his parenting was less than ideal, he made lots of mistakes as king. But always he turned to God. He confessed his sin, he focused on the goodness of God, he reminded himself that God was in control, he continually asked God for direction and next steps in his life.
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
So when I’m feeling overwhelmed in the middle of my week, the middle of parenting teenagers, the middle of the chaos of life, I ask God to lead me in truth, I pray for wisdom and for Him to direct my path. And I praise the God of my salvation.
“I will praise thee with my whole heart: Before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. ... The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: Forsake not the works of thine own hands.” Psalm 138:1, 8
Some days all I can do is praise Jesus. When all I want to do is complain. When I can’t find the words to say. When life doesn’t go according to my plan. When the sun shines strong and everything is going right. When the doctor calls with not-good-news. When you meet a friend for coffee (I miss this). When your teenager makes you laugh. When your teenager makes you cry. When you see evidence of Jesus working in a situation. When you worship with the body of Christ (even with a mask on). When you remember that God is in control and He is not limited by time and space.
I praise God because of WHO HE IS. Creator. Redeemer. Savior. Father. The Way. Psalm 138 is a short chapter… just 8 verses. We praise God because He is love. He is truth. He is our strength. Great is His glory. He respects the humble. He rescues those in trouble. His love never runs out. And He will complete His purpose in my life and in your life.
He hears me when I cry out to Him. He will not forsake the work He has started in my life (and in the lives of my kids). And when I read His word, I’m reminded of His goodness, His purpose in my life, and that He has made me for good works to glorify Him. So when I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, I can’t help but praise Him when I refocus my purpose to align with His. Daily—every moment I need to realign my will with His will.
God’s purpose will prevail. May I continually pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”
I need to remember why it is I wanted to be a writer. I write to remember the good things God has done for me. I write to remember Scripture. I write to remember that God uses the good and the hard for His glory. I write to remember that I am not alone, and to remind you of the same.
Writing helps me refocus my thoughts, my emotions, my swirly whirly chaos. It reminds me that I’m supposed to live life in community. Writing reminds me that I’m supposed to be relying on God every day, every moment for every thing. He doesn’t want to be my emergency contact (I heard that on a podcast, but I can’t remember which one).
He isn’t just a contact on my phone that I reach out to when I need help. He is right beside me all the time, He goes before me, He walks beside me, He surrounds me. And I want to remember that He is with me. I want to rely on Him in every moment of my day, to be truly and fully aware of His presence in the daily, in the mundane, in the joy, in the tears.
It’s easy to remember God is with me when I’m outside surrounded by beauty of His creation, and the colors of all the flowers, and the flittering and singing of the birds remind me. It’s harder when I’m snapping at my teenagers, drowning in files at work, getting stuck in traffic, or have my plans interrupted.
These posts are essay cairns (a memorial of words instead of rocks) to myself and hopefully a witness to those who cross this path, that God is good, and God is truth and life, and there is always hope.
How have you experienced hope that helped you remember the goodness of God?
The story is this… I thought I wanted to be a writer. I think I may still want to be a writer. But some days I can’t figure out what my story is, I can’t figure out why I want to share it, how, where, and when I want to share it. I can’t even figure out who needs to hear it.
When we tell our stories—humbly, authentically, with the intent to glorify God—it can encourage others. I always want my story to have a happy ending, I like it when it wraps up neatly with a bow. But tonight, I’m smack dab in the middle of messiness. And that’s not usually the best time to share. But here is what I do know.
Always, I want my story to remind myself, my kids, my circle of influence, that God is good, God is love, and God is in control . I know that when I have a breakdown, I can respond like David and go to the loving arms of my Father. Sometimes I ask Him, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever?” Or “why do the heathen prosper?” Or “why is my soul cast down?”
And I ask these questions until He reminds me, that … “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul” and I can experience peace because “You LORD, make me dwell in safety” and “He rescued me because He delights in me.”
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:5-6
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
What story are you telling? How do you combat the questions and doubts with truth? What encouraging truth in your story can you share with us today?