Saturday, March 11, 2017

Let Him be your sunrise

I'm headed into a transition in my life. A big one in fact.
I've decided not to return to teaching 5th grade next year. Somehow, it became clear to me that it was time to leave the greatest and best job I've ever had. A job that has overwhelmed my life with blessings in every single facet of my life. I can't begin to list how God has used this job to revolutionize my life, to bring me blessing upon blessing, to show me His grace, His love, and give me the best friends a girl could ever ask for.

In 2009, I left something hard and God brought me to something beautiful. I came out of a time where death seemed to surround me and God used this job to breathe life back into me.

But this time, I'm leaving something good.

And you know what, though being resolute in my decision, I'm scared to think of what that decision could mean.

Though I know it's time, I see what all I have been given in this place and I can't imagine walking away from something that has been such a gift.

Yes, there's an excitement of what could be ahead, but mostly, there's fear. What if all I can do is this one thing in life? What if I'm not enough for anything else? Wonder if I've ignored God for so long that I'm headed for disaster or dry ground? What if I think He's talking to me, but it's not Him?

What if?

Yes, I can answer all those things with spiritual platitudes, but what if my life has been so spiritually dry that I feel like those platitudes don't apply to me right now?

As I head to this unknown, these thoughts were starting to consume me. They were beginning to win the day.

As my mind swirled with the what if's, I tried to ignore them as I had so much to accomplish that weekend. I needed to tackle more chapters for my accounting class and I needed to write the devotion book for my New York adventure that was quickly approaching. AND, I needed to finally organize my closet and clean my ridiculously untamed room FOR THE LOVE of all things good.

But, when Saturday morning arrived, I was paralyzed from doing any of that. And because a single girl, with her son at his dad's can hide from life with no one knowing, that's what I did. I never left my room and I hid from all things because I was petrified of the unknown in all of it.

What if I can't pass this class? What if it's too much? Has it been a mistake?
How can I write a devotion when all I do is spend my time begging God and asking Him why I feel so lost in life?
What on earth am I going to do for a career that provides for retirement? Pays for Cade's college? That makes enough money for me to live on? And continue my Starbucks habit?

So...I hid.

But, by the grace of God, a friend and I began to text that Saturday night.
She too was having a less than stellar day, for better reasons than mine, and as we joked back and forth for a while, one of her final texts was, "there's always tomorrow."

Yes, tomorrow, we begin again.

And on Sunday, I did.

I conquered the world of accounting, chapter 8 with a solid 80. I stood in my closet and thought about organizing it, put one pair of shoes away, put a load on to wash, and called it good.

And then Monday...

Monday, was the day I would approach the mountain of God, asking Him to help me write about Him, even though my time with Him seems to be limited at best and complete avoidance at worse.

I am the deer panting, thirsty in a dry and weary times I feel like there's a calling on my heart but I'm too scared to follow it. I'm afraid of chasing an unknown.
I'd rather stay dry and weary, than head somewhere I don't know where it's leading.

As I opened my Bible that morning, I thought that's what I'd write on: Listening to God as He calls you to something new...even though I was proficient at ignoring it at this stage.

And as I began in Exodus with the enslaved Israelites, something prompted me to go back to Abram in Genesis, which then took me to Hebrews 11...the chapter of faith.

As I meandered along the path God had me on, I found myself staring at Hebrews 11:8-16.

In fact, I couldn't move on from it. I wrote a few things down, but I knew this was the garden of goodness God had in store for me.

I sat amongst His garden for a bit but lingering there placed that call on my heart again.

The unknown, God's plan, though we know that plan is beautiful and is written about in books and transforms lives, it's UNKNOWN, so I moved on. I closed my Bible, put my computer back in my bag and headed to breathe and think about avoiding Him.

Some might say, and I would even agree with them, much in my life these last 9 years has been about living in the unknown, but also a rhythm came, a simple, predictable rhythm has become my life. And I keep choosing that rhythm of predictability instead of following Him into further unknowns even though I keep hearing Him beckon me.

And as my decision became resolute around Christmas time to leave my job at the end of the school year, I feel like my safety net of simple predictability is threatening to leave me and that thought is paralyzing.

As I began to write the NYC devotional, I mentioned how in this western world, everything is known. We can solve almost any problem. "Have money, will fix" is the mantra of the day. Keep things at arms length, stay loose, have a back up plan, and create your own destiny.

We put our hope n all things seen.

But, then there's God. A God that beckons us to faith, that says that faith is the crux to all things eternal.

"It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith - for he was like a foreigner, living in tents... Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep His promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead - a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised them, but they saw it from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."

You know, I had a plan for my life, a vision for it.
I had hopes and dreams and wishes and longings.

And though I see how God has brought immeasurable blessing and gifts upon my life that I couldn't have even fathomed, in my loneliness I can convince myself that I'm tired of being lonely and that my dreams were better.

And then I get scared because I'm being called out to a land that feels even lonelier.

And then in the calling out, I'm reminded that I am alone, and doing this alone, and that I better not screw this up because I am the safety net, and wonder if this safety net isn't enough.

And then I start to miss my mom and wish my life was different.

So, then I hide.

I live a life of predictability, too scared to have faith in the unknown, and begin the circling in the dry and weary lands of desert living.

It's a vicious cycle really...reminiscent of people can see why I thought my lesson for these girls would be found in Exodus. ;)

How else does one get out of a desert, if not through a great Exodus.

The lesson I seem so desperately in need of learning...again.

And, as I thought my answer would lie there in the desert, instead, He took me to Hebrews to talk to me about faith.

And reminded me of the stories of how these greats of faith, had many days of doubt and days of wonky, messed up ways of not believing in God's plans.

Having faith is hard.

It's truly the art of believing in something unseen...of watching your life plans get really jacked up and praying to the depths of all within you that there truly is a moment of rescue and that there is a garden and not more desert at the end of His path.

But see, what is crazy ironic about faith, is that the only known and guaranteed element in all of it is God.
We, the seen, are the crap shoot, the wanderers, the unreliable factors in this equation, but God, He's the constant. He's the faithful. He's the unshakable stalwart.

He's the sunrise of tomorrow.

For a solid 3 years I've been scared to have faith and to trust God in many areas of my life. I've chosen the seen and the predictable instead. I've chosen, more often than not, to hide. And then, I've beaten myself up for being one of such little faith and being a runner from God instead of a runner to Him, because I've been too scared to see what that would mean for my life.

But, as I read about Abraham's faith in Hebrews, I also reread his complete lack in all things courage while he traveled through Egypt in Genesis. He basically sold his wife out to prostitution to preserve his own life.

And then as I read Sarah's beautiful testimony in Hebrews, I couldn't help but remember how her lack of faith and patience produced in her the need to solve her own problem and "help God" by having her husband sleep with the maidservant, which led to the birth of one of the most life altering shifts with Ishmael.

Both of their life stories could very well frighten us with the consequences of what lack of faith leads to...

But, what is better than that, is that their stories are great reminders that having faith is hard for people...even those who have been the pinnacle of it. Part of being human is this struggle to surrender our lives and our visions for what we thought it would be like, and taking hold of what life is really about.

On that Sunday, I thought my answer would be found in a great desert, but God had another place for it.

What if in life, where I thought my answer lied, it really wasn't there?

What if I showed up looking to prove my point, but God had a completely different one to prove?

I can't help but think that faith could be about showing up with a question for Him.
And then letting Him answer it.

And then asking Him to give me the courage to keep showing up and letting Him lead me through the unknown to His path and following it as it meanders around to His garden of goodness.

Are you feeling alone? scared? or stuck?

Let Him be your sunrise in the darkness. If you don't know where you are or where to go, start in the desert...He will always be your Exodus.

In Him,

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Life doesn't give us security and we can't find our identity in anything here, but during a great exodus, I found both.

God could have stood before me and told me I was making poor decisions, that I was jumbled up and twisted and about to live it all out on a grand scale, and, without question, I would have grabbed Him by the shoulders, looked Him in the eye and said,

"I've got this Lord."

and walked away...

You see, the more I read the book of Exodus I don't just see myself as an Israelite needing rescue from bondage, I see myself as Pharaoh doing the enslaving.

I'm not just a captive in need of freedom, I am a captor in need of being overthrown and swallowed by the sea.

There's a line in Exodus I can't ignore...

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land..."

for under compulsion

God knew that Pharaoh wouldn't do anything until he was losing everything, and just like Pharaoh, we too often won't budge until we are under compulsion to do so...

And that explains how 2008, a year of death and divorce, was the very same year of my exodus.

It was the year I got to see how God's grace works on a grand scale...His outstretched arms parting waters and walking me to freedom, while simultaneously, causing the waters to crash down and kill the pharaoh I had become.

I would soon see that through death, His plan was to give me life.

I've written before about how fear entangled and intwined my life in ways that my main goal was to find security. And when one is searching for security, that means their identity is in question as well.

I believe the two are inextricably linked.

Therefore, I found myself looking for both in all the ways life can offer it. And for a 20 year old, that meant marriage. I, of course didn't realize this about myself. I traipsed around covering my insecurities with fierce independence, false confidence, and seemingly knowing exactly what I wanted in life.

Unfortunately, all of that was a facade.

My heart was hardened to the fact that I was lost, scared, and knew little about anything.

Then the Lord said to Moses,
"Pharaoh's heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go."

As humans we all face the question of where our security comes from.

Sometimes, life lets us slide for years before we face the question, but the knock on our door will come.

Personally, I believe the knock comes in the form of death. Death exposes our vulnerability, and we realize we are sitting ducks.

When death comes into our life through abandonment, disease, divorce, betrayal, or in any of its myriad of forms, our eyes are opened to the fact that we are vulnerable, and this vulnerability becomes a plague to us...and if we aren't careful, this vulnerability can lead to our own death if we let it.

I don't know when death first knocked on your door...for Adam and Eve, it was when the serpent showed up convincing them to not trust God.

For me, it was when I was 9, when cancer entered my life.

My mom's cancer diagnosis stood at the door telling me, taunting me that there were no guarantees in life, and it shook me so deep that I scrambled for years trying to find a guarantee, trying to find my now lost security.

Being the sensitive young one I was, that news formulated a chasm inside of me that convinced me life was just a bunch of quicksand.

Death may not enter our realm until adulthood. Death of a loved one, death of dreams, jobs, marriages, innocence, or even our own, but death will eventually knock on all our doors and we will have to face the inevitable questions death brings...

Am I OK?

Am I going to be okay if all of "this" goes away?

WHO am I if this all goes away?

How can I possibly be this vulnerable in life?

When those questions were posed deep within my soul...was I going to be okay? My answer was a resounding NO!

Even with all the support and truth that surrounded me, I would have to discover a new answer, the true answer on my own. By God's grace, I had people pouring into me, people who already stood on the other side of the bank of the Red Sea. But, just as we all have to, I needed to see God's outstretch arm part those waters in my own life and watch Him lead me across on dry land.

Unfortunately, first, I would have to find myself in Egypt.

Because I could not handle this new realization that my life could completely fall apart in a moment, fear gripped me, so I tried to control as many outcomes as possible, which led to me becoming a perfectionist and a linear, black and white thinker.

Because I couldn't fathom a life of unknowns, I decided to create as many "knowns" in my life as possible. I became a mitigator, a planner, an anxious anticipator who allowed little emotion to shake her. No more spontaneity, no more uncontrolled, unplanned, excitement-filled life events.

 I was someone who knew the definitions of trust and grace, but never understood them...they were foreign to me.

Therefore, my walk turned into shakily balancing the legalistic tightrope of how to map out a life plan where no hurt would be involved. Going from point A to point B in the most "I know exactly what is going to happen here" kind of way was my long term goal, which by proxy became my daily goal.

FEAR had taken hold and was grabbing my life by its throat.

Laughter, love, joy, rest, mountain tops that take your breath away, valleys that cause you to hold on tight, and everything in between that make you want to live, were absent.

I can remember being beckoned by the Holy Spirit during all of it to turn, but I was stubborn and too afraid. I refused to let my fear go and to trust in something that I saw as risky and unknown...even if that was this God I claimed to know and love.

Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them.

So I would forge on in all I thought I knew: how to avoid the quicksands of life.

I have vivid memories of me crying, knowing that I was headed in a wrong direction, but changing courses seemed way too big and too frightening to even fathom doing so.

What would that mean for my life?

Who would I even be if this planned out existence didn't come to fruition?

Looking back, I can see these were moments where God was prompting me to turn and engage Him, to let all of that fear and insecurity go, and come trust Him, but I always had a reason not to.

I always chose my plan over His.

Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern...

With my marriage and my mom, years of anguish and angst were had. Moments were there where all I could do was turn to God, I would beg for mercy and relief, and just as Pharaoh had done, I'd make bargains with God and even agree to let things go for a short while, but then I'd grab back hold because I seemed to know no different. The known seemed better than the unknown.

My heart was hardened, so I remained in Egypt being both captor and captive.

And then 2008....for under compulsion, he will let them go.

When DEATH knocked again and took all that contained my security and identity...

under compulsion, I decided to let them go.

My safe place of finding unconditional love in my mom and then my marriage where I had seen myself as chosen and had given me an identity were now both gone.


In a moment.

And that night, there was a cry from my Egypt, RISE UP AND GET OUT!

As I was curled on my bedroom floor, with everything inside of me screaming, I declared,

It's time to leave Egypt and go worship the Lord.

With steely resolve, I exclaimed, "GET OUT! All that is within me that is toxic and wasting my life away. Get out. No more.

No more!

I begged God, whatever it takes, right this ship, swing the pendulum back, and right this ship because I can't do this anymore, and I need You.

I need You.

I turned to God and said I need You to come SAVE me.

And He did. On January 1, 2009, God walked me out.

"for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt."

In the story of my exodus, He parted the waters and brought me out from an Egypt I'd spent over 20 years in. And, just like the Israelites, as I was walking out, in those dark nights, feeling alone, confused, and petrified of what life was like in front of me, fear would set in and I would look back. I would see and feel Pharaoh chasing me once more.

I would begin to question...question if God could be trusted.

What have I done?

What if Lord?

How can I know Lord?

This hurts too much Lord!

Leaving Egypt is one thing, but facing the unknown of what is to come is another. The fear of the unknown can be powerful enough to make us choose to go as God draws His people out, His mighty hand kills the most powerful stronghold those Israelites had...Pharaoh and his entire army.

As they stood still, God parted the waters for them.

Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today;
for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to keep still.

Though terrifying for the Israelites, God had Pharaoh and his entire army chase in after them, in order for the Israelites to watch God utterly destroy the Egyptians.

As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army...then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord...then the Egyptians took up the pursuit...the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians...Stretch out your hand over the sea...and the sea returned...and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea...not even one remained.

But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea...thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.

And as I stood still, God parted the waters for me.

And though terrifying, God had all that was pharaoh inside of me chase me down, so I would watch Him send the waters crashing down to swallow it up.

And just as ancient Egypt has never recovered to its former glory, the Egypt inside of us won't either.

Because when God sets us free, we are free.

God knew what it was going to take to get His people out. He wasn't coming to give them temporary relief, He wasn't coming to give them a simple story of entitled rescue, because that doesn't truly deliver them from anything.

God came to set His people free, so they would know without a doubt that He is the Lord. He is the Lord that sees their affliction and comes down to deliver them.

Do you feel like you are in Egypt? Maybe the pharaoh inside of you is in need of being swallowed up and destroyed once and for all?

God knit you together in your mother's womb, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made by His very hands.

Don't for a second think that He has forgotten you or that He's not willing to come and rescue, no matter how long you've been in slavery.

No guilt or shame, no indifference or stubborn will, no anger or hurt, no darkness is too far or too deep, that God will not come and with His outstretched arm deliver you.

"Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. and at the end of the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be observed for the Lord for having brought them out from the land of Egypt...

"Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this shall be when the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanite...a land flowing with milk and honey...

Are you in Egypt?

Are you a slave to fear? shame? anxiety? substance? rejection? loneliness?

Are you Pharaoh holding yourself captive?

I bet God has been sending you signs and wonders, and at times, you are tempted to trust His power, and you are tempted to let it all go...

Or maybe, something so big has happened that you find yourself on the floor begging God to carry you out, with His outstretched arm, and you're telling Him that you're ready for Pharaoh to be killed, and you're ready to head towards the unknown, towards whatever is ahead that He has prepared, even if it includes a long journey of walking with Him while He sifts and molds us into a free people.

Then the Lord said to Moses,
"Why are you crying out to Me?
Tell the sons of Israel to GO FORWARD.

As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it,
and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.

There seems to be nothing else He wants more than for us to know that He is the Lord, and the God of the universe is waiting to strike Egypt with all His miracles to show you how His grace parts waters.

May 2017 be a year of days we get up and GO FORWARD.

Life doesn't give us security and we can't find our identity in anything here, but during a great exodus, I found both.

I am the Lord...I will deliver you...I will redeem you...
I will take you for My people, and I will be your God

The journey isn't easy. It isn't predictable.
It can't be mitigated, anticipated, or controlled.
But you are guaranteed that across the waters there will be manna, something you've never had before, you will experience God's constant presence guiding you by day and by night, you will stand still and watch Him fight for you, and there will be the Rock for you to stand on...

You will see miracles, and you will stand on a shore watching God save you, and you will never be the same again.

"Therefore if anyone is of Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." 2 Cor. 5:17

"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone...and give you a heart of flesh." Ez. 36:26

In Him,

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Waters will Part

Nine Christmases ago, I sat in Starbucks, alone. I was newly separated, had been given the most dreaded and devastating news the day before, and was about to file for divorce in less than 6 days after 10 years of marriage.

As I completed the horrific year of 2008, which included my mom's death and my divorce, I thought my Christmases, especially my Christmas Eves would never recover. I thought they'd be marked by heartache until the end of time.

I thought that year was powerful enough to erase all that Christmas stood for in my would no longer be filled with the innocence of children running down the stairs with eager anticipation for what Santa had brought, no more laughing while eating crackers covered with my mom's cheeseball, no more stockings hanging from Snoopy on a sled, or staying up late assembling Barbie dream castles, ping pong tables, and wrapping until 1 a.m.

You know what? To a certain extent, I was right.

Yep, Christmas 2008 changed the course of my life, my dreams, my nostalgia longing heart and even though I find myself sitting in a Starbucks, alone, here at Christmas 2016 finishing up the hardest 4 days out of every. stinkin. year, that moment in time during the worst year of my life awakened me to something I had been missing.

This is my ninth Christmas to navigate without all the delights of mom no longer grates cheese and prepares a bowl of chopped pecans to wrap around the delightful mush of what is cheeseball heaven, there are no more pictures of me and a husband assembling ping pong tables and having midnight conversations of the excitement that awaits, and there are no more days filled with extended family watching Christmas Vacation, playing Skip Bo and putting puzzles together...and as much as that can break my heart and knock me for a loop for about 96 hours, it forces me to find the meaning of Christmas somewhere else. It forces me to look deeper, farther, and beg God to show me Himself as He helps me make it through the longest days of my year.

Exodus is my favorite book in the Bible. Fifteen years ago, when I read it seemingly for the first time, it was as if I was reading the story of my life.
Yes, at that time, I did feel like I was in a really bad place that had taken me down roads of grief, heartache, anxiety and depression, but as much as that wilderness was caused by circumstances beyond my control, that wilderness was also set up by much of my own doing.

I was lost and wandering and I wasn't looking for direction in the right place until I was miles into the middle of nowhere, until I was in the middle of an overwhelming wilderness.

The book of Exodus is so relatable because it's the story of humanity, of how incredibly lost we are, but it's also the story of how God comes to save us all from Egypt.

It's a beautiful picture of God coming down and saving His people.

The story in Exodus often mimics the story we find in the gospels. And just as the Christmas story begins with wise men seeing a star burning brightly and following it for the chance to meet the Savior, Exodus begins with Moses going to the mountain of God where he sees a blazing fire in the midst of a bush, and "turning aside to see this marvelous sight".

As God saw him turn aside, God called to him and said "Here I am."

All those years ago, when I was sitting in a pit nearing hopelessness, reading Exodus reminded me of a God that rescues.

Here were His people in a horrific mess both by willingness and by the hand dealt, just like I was, and God showed up for them, and He was telling me He would do the same for me.

Freedom seemed impossible.
Bondage had been all they knew.
Egypt was too great, too powerful.

But, God comes down, Moses turns aside to look, and the waters to freedom begin to part.

"I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey...Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you; when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship at this mountain."

One would think the beauty of this story lies within those words of God, but no, I believe the beauty of it all is what comes after.

Moses, being just like you and me, looks at the bush and says in his Old Testament way... Come again? How is this going to happen? You want me to do what?

And then, the conversation...yes, the real beauty of this story is that God is willing to converse with Moses; a scared, confused, insecure, stubborn man that's only seeing the overwhelming Egypt that is before him, God stays and speaks right into that.

"I AM has sent you...But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go except under compulsion. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go."

And just as I do, Moses doubts and says, "but what if Lord?"

God answers by showing Moses His power in personal ways for just him to witness.

But Moses is still a nervous wreck and says again, "but What IF Lord?"

God reassures him, "I will be your mouth, I will teach you what to say."

Moses again, "BUT WHAT IF GOD?"

Upon this final what if, God makes a way for Moses to trust Him, and Moses heads straight for Egypt.

And as Moses heads to fight the bondage, to seek freedom, to go as God asked, Moses finds himself empty, failing, and becoming a person the people scorn.

Moses lands in a place, just as I have this Christmas, before God saying, begging, yelling,

What follows are, what I've come to believe, some of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture.

"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land."

And then God continues by declaring the greatness that will soon follow, declaring what happens when He is trusted, even amongst sadness, oppression, confusion, bondage, what if's and what if's one more time, and even amongst the inevitable question of WHY GOD?

"I established my covenant...

I have heard the cry.

I am the Lord and I WILL BRING YOU OUT from the burdens.

I will deliver you from their bondage.

I will REDEEM you with an outstretched arm.

I will take you for My people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out...I am the Lord."

I've come to see that the answer to the question of why is often that I'm in need of remembering and seeing once again in my life that I need a Savior; that it is HE who brings me out.

On this Christmas, are you feeling lost?
Are you looking around and seeing that you are 200 miles from nowhere? In a pit where you can barely see the light anymore?

Or maybe you are just in a funk of 96 hours with the pain of loneliness more palpable than you thought could happen after so much time has passed?

Or has this year landed you in a puddle of grief? confusion? heartbreak? shame?

Are you asking what if?

And asking "what if" once more?

and begging God to answer WHY?

Yes, Egypt is powerful, overwhelming, and oppressing.

But, God comes down.

"I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he. will. let. you go."

That burning bush is waiting for us to turn aside and look.

God is waiting to say, "Here I am."

and as soon as we do...the waters begin to part.

"...the Lord is fighting for them...and when Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord...The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him...the Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name." Ex. 14 and 15

"For nothing will be impossible with God." Matthew 1:37

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Year of Drifting and Finding my Anchor

I looked for my tennis shoes yesterday. I couldn't find them. I thought to myself, "hmmmm, when did I see them last?"
And I couldn't answer the question.
For nearly 10 years, those shoes were on my feet more than any other pair. I wouldn't go a day without wearing them, using them, and letting them be my steady friend of stability and predictability.

Then 2015/2016 happened and I don't even know where they are today.

Even worse, I think I threw them away the other day. I came across a pair of tennies (ya , you heard that right, I came across a pair) a week or so ago and thought they were my way old pair and tossed them.
I vaguely remember this.
Yep, that's how bad it has gotten...I vaguely remember throwing my apparently unrecognizable pair of tennis shoes away.

What has happened to me and how have I drifted so off course when it comes to this area of my area I thought was embedded to the very core of my existence.

Two weeks ago, I went looking for my Bible. I couldn't find it.
I thought, "hmmmmm, when was the last time I saw it?"

I couldn't answer that question either.
I had no recollection of where my Bible could possibly be.

Thankfully, I had no memories of throwing it away, but the pit in my stomach was just the same.

This wasn't the first time I'd wondered where my Bible was over this last year. In fact, it's almost every Sunday.

I bought a computer 3 months ago. Today is my second time to open it. I left it at Walmart for 10 days after delivery before I even went to pick it up.

I left it in the box in my kitchen for nearly a month before I opened it.

I bought it because my mac was officially dying. I couldn't write/blog anymore because it wasn't compatible to blogger, which was fine, because as my life became hijacked by good, glorious stuff in 2016, I stopped reading, running, and writing...the 3 R's of my life.

And as I've watched the "shore of Shelly" drift away over the last year, I've desperately wanted to throw the anchor overboard and stop it from happening, but I couldn't.

I mean, I just never could.

I'm not sure why.

I guess I don't do well with change...or maybe I'm just lazy...or maybe it's life and seasons as you age hijack your simple life routines...or maybe I'm allowing myself to get blown by the winds of change and it's too much work to lift the anchor and throw it overboard.

I'm really not sure. It's probably all of that combined.

In the end, it doesn't really matter why. It happens and as we drift and even watch ourselves do so, somehow we've gotta throw that anchor overboard and stop ourselves before we are too far from the shore and all but convince ourselves we can't find our anchor.

The voice inside my head has gone from whispering to screaming to throw the anchor over, and today is the first day I listened to it.

I found my Bible, I went to DSW and bought a pair of running shoes, drove to Starbucks and began to write.

I'm throwing my anchor over.

For about 6 months I felt so guilty with my drifting that I just listened to the guilt.
The next 6 months, I ignored the guilt but listened to the I'd lost credibility and can't even remember how to do it. You can barely walk, you don't even remember how to read, and you have nothing to say because you've become a bump on a log.

Today, as I nestled in my house that now FEELS like home, the voice came back and said get up, no more drifting, and go find the shore once more.

We're working our way through Hebrews at church and it's been one of the best sermon series I've listened to...maybe because it was the only time I was really listening to God's voice.

Hebrews is rich and deep and convicting.
In Hebrews 2, it warns us about drifting away...

Ever since reading that on a Sunday over 2 months ago, I've had the picture of the little boat I'm in and how I've let myself far. away.

Wen my world came crashing down, the disciplines of healthy living became the anchor to keep me rooted, grounded, and close to shore.

But this time, when life got busy with gloriously fun and joyous things, I let go of the disciplines and let myself drift.

I long for the predictably, sometimes boring, simple disciplines of life that keep one rooted to something bigger, deeper, truer than anything life has to offer.

I miss the secret place of God's goodness.
I miss the flow of His sweet whisper as I write and seeing His truth as I flesh things out.
I miss wrestling with Him as I jog and listening to His grace as I walk and the feeling of my heart beating wildly as I do so.

I miss the shore and what it has to offer. The peace that sure footing brings. The refuge from the storms. The beauty of listening to the waves but not being shaken by them.

To sit on the sand, watching the sun rise and set and knowing that you are right where you belong.

Today, as the voice became so loud I couldn't ignore, I asked myself, "how do you get back?"

Where is my anchor?

And I put on my teacher voice and answered my question just as I would answer my students.

Start with what you know.

Start with what you know Shelly.

"You have taken account of my wanderings...this I know, that God is for me...In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid..." (Psalm 56)

"How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which you have have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men.
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the Lord, for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
As for me, I said in my alarm, "I am cut off from before Your eyes",
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to You.
O love the Lord, all you His godly ones!
The Lord preserves the faithful and fully recompenses the proud doer.
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord." (Psalm 31)

Have you been drifting?

Do you feel so far from shore that you feel like you could never make it back again?

Have you lost your anchor?

Well, start with what you know.

God is for you.

It's as simple as that.

Exit the drifting boat and know, God will guide you back.

In Him,

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Finding Home after I lost mine.

Most of my adult life has been me searching for "my home".

During college, I loved coming home...there was a security found in those walls, in my bedroom, and on that couch. Much of it was because of who resided there; my mom and dad brought me immense security.

When life was difficult and unsure in my twenties, their home was my refuge. It was where I felt okay, calm, and safe.

But then, I lost my mom and part of that went away. My home was still my solid ground, but when life moved on and my divorce was finalized and my dad was getting remarried, my “home”, my safe haven was taken, it vanished and was no more.

Where was my home going to be now? Where could I go to feel safe and secure? Where could I go that allowed me to breathe and truly find peace amongst any storm?

And so my journey began...I needed to find a place I could trust, a place that removed the angst, the fear, and the uncertainty life brings. I needed my safe haven.

A few years back, I had a friend ask me how I could trust God when, even though I prayed, bad things still happened.

"How can you trust something that still allows hurt?"

It was the same quandary I lived in for years...and by years I mean, almost my entire life...until I had figured out where my home truly was and the only thing I could really trust.

What if my refuge, my safe place, my trust wasn’t in something that was temporal?

What if my home wasn’t somewhere that could die, be sold, or could turn and walk away?
Anxiety and fear are rooted in insecurity. I don’t know what comes first, the fear, or the tragedy that sparks the fear and insecurity. Either way, they will both be birthed in our lives in one form or another, and we will deal with them in one form or another.

We will try our best to create a refuge to bring about this security we long for.

Whether it’s in parents or marriage, in kids, our independence, or an abundance of things...we long for a place to feel safe and to breathe, so we build our tents of security.

Unfortunately all we can build are tents, structures that get easily knocked down when storms come.

Inevitably, our security is placed in earthly things that will be destroyed.

There isn’t one place we can make our home that is safe here on earth.

It will all fail. Nothing here is faithful till the end.

It falls, it stumbles, it hurts, it gets sick, and it all eventually dies...

So, as I searched and as I’ve wandered, wondered, and pondered through these last several years of being on my own looking for my home, I’ve finally figured out where it is and where it must be...

It’s with God.

I know, it’s the Sunday school answer of “Jesus!” but for nearly 38 years, that’s all it was to me...just an answer I said, never the truth in my life.

The Psalmist must've struggled to find his home as well. As he faced the storms, he eventually concluded this same truth.

And the kiss of God's amazing grace for me today is, as I wrote and pondered these things and words of mine nearly 2 weeks ago, He had me re-find and reread Psalm 46 today.

It was one of my mom's favorites. I've read it countless times over the years, but not really with this context of searching for home. And as I read it today, the flood of a new perspective fell upon it, and I began to tear up.

For, something she embedded in me years and years ago, has now grown into a truth in my life..."Be still and know that I am God."

Just like the Psalmist, she too had found her refuge in the storms, and her testimony and walk continues to impact mine.

Through time, those words have gradually moved from my head down to my heart, but on this rainy, dreary morning, I believe God has set them deep within my soul.

It wasn't until I lost "my home", that her words to me could help me find where my home truly is.

People, only a good, good God could bring that kind of beauty from ashes.

God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge
A river brings joy to the city of our God,
the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
From the very break of day, God will protect it.
The nations are in chaos,
and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how He brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
He burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.
Psalm 46

I’ve said it before, I’m a girl who likes to have arrived, and to no longer have to strive and fight and work.

I want to cross the finish line and just sit on the other side and bask in the hammock of completed, but that’s not how life works.

Tomorrow comes. It always does.

One must get up once more and face what another day has for us, and if it’s a day on this earth, anything can await us. Both the incredible and the tragic. It can be what we never could have dreamed of and it could be what only our nightmares contain.

We must get up and fight our way through it, live into it, praise God for it, pray God carries us through it and all of that takes divine intervention for us to rise up and carry on. There is no other way.

After a long hard day, physically, emotionally, mentally, all I want to do is find my safe place where my mind can rest, my heart can remember, and my body can breathe. I want my exit to safety, to peace.

And after searching for home for nearly 38 years, the only place I’ve ever found it to truly be, is with Jesus.

No marriage, no mom or dad, no house, no job, no independent spirit, no determination to succeed, no pursuit in life will provide a permanent place to reside and be completely safe to breathe, to surrender, to just be.

Only God speaks life, speaks assurance, speaks love, and provides the grace and hope this life requires.

All we have to do is get up again, and go where He has set for us, and know that at the end of the day, during the day, and every moment in between, we have a home with Him and He’s made His home in us.

"When we've given up
Let your healing come
When there's nothing left
Let your healing come
Till we're rising up
Let your healing come
Where you go, we will follow." (David Crowder)

This I know, God is for you.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Rule #3: Up to date, Keep your passport. (Yoda Dad) New Year's Resolution: Follow a few simple rules.

This morning I sat for coffee with one of my very favorite people. She asked me what my resolutions were for this year. She knows that even if I don't verbalize my goals, I have them.

She knows I don't function without goals. She too is a goal setter, and even if we don't have the same path, we are both strivers...we constantly strive for the betterment of ourselves and our families. We both see how movement is required and we both believe in the sentiment, to quote Shawshank Redemption, you either "get busy living or get busy dying".

I opened my book of lists, (yep, you heard it, a book of lists) and I shared a few with her.

After I told her (my seemingly impossible) book reading goal, she asked me why. "Why is that so important to you?"
Because this question was coming from an AVID reader herself, one that could school me on volume and breadth when it came to this arena, I knew it wasn't truly a why question but more of a friend investigative one.

My answer: my complete lack of intellectual tenacity...the very reason I beat myself up over my TV watching. I've become the slug who's letting her brain become slow and mushy, and this year, it ends.

Tenacity is a lost art on me. I've given in to the laissez faire attitude of our culture, and just how easily that attitude is my default, completely scares me.
I'm like a 5 year old when it comes to the need of structure. If it isn't there, I'm hanging from the chandelier, over my bed that hasn't been made in weeks, covered in cookie crumbs and dirty dishes.

I go from 38 year old to pre-K student in less than 3 days of no structure.

One of my hang ups when it comes to my lack of tenacity is that I know I'm missing opportunities...not any known ones per se, but the ones I'll never know about because I wasn't prepared, I hadn't gotten myself ready for "the call", so "the call" never came.

Several years back, my dad gave me GREAT was more of a parental, "you should do that" moment, but man, did God use that moment to speak a life lesson into my heart.

Upon some random question about one of my various trips to Seattle a few years back, I had said I really wanted to go to Victoria and British Columbia but my passport was expired so I wouldn't be doing it.

In shock and horror, my dad gasped, "You should always have your passport up to date. You never know when an opportunity will arise and you never want that to be a reason you have to decline the opportunity."

At the time, I rolled my eyes. Such a dad thing to say...

Except it was a total yoda moment for him in that to this very day, as I veg or procrastinate or exercise total intellectual decay, my yoda dad's voice rings in my head and heart, "You're not going to be ready Shelly. You're not preparing yourself for the unknown adventure that awaits you and when the opportunity arrives, you'll have to decline it...Don't let your passport on life expire."

In divorced life, there's LOTS of down time. Alone. quiet. no one seemingly exists. what do I do with myself? having a full blown conversation with your fridge. if a Shelly fell in the forest, would anyone notice? kind of moments.

These moments can be both a blessing and curse, just like family time can be. The constant surrounding of human beings can drive you batty, and well, being alone a lot, can definitely do the same.

Several years back, I decided that I wouldn't let my singleness define me. I'd live in the time I have and not let my preconceived notion of what my life "should" look like dictate my future movement. Hence, I traveled a lot...even on my my own. I made the decision to live out what my heart desired even if it's different than how my mind had pictured it.

I'd pick myself up and live...even if I had to do it on my own.

I'd walk into church alone, go to concerts alone, sign up for races and conferences alone, go to parties alone.

I saw that I had 2 choices: stagnant bitter hermit or get busy living

I chose the latter. I chose to face the beast of "single mom" and trust that God would teach me something in the alone of it all.

He has. Very much, He has.

On the days that I'd feel desperately alone and desire so much for something to change in my life so this nagging feeling of "waiting for my life to begin" would stop, I'd remember 2 passages.

"Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Do what is right, and trust in the Lord." Psalm 4:4

and the second,

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness." Psalm 37

In other words, in whatever it is that you're facing that is seemingly confusing, hard, incongruent with how you thought things would work out, just breathe. Breathe, do the next right thing, and trust God.

Or, as Mary Engelbreit would say, Bloom where you've been planted.

As a child, I loved Mary Engelbreit and this was one of her more famous quotes. I was always intrigued by it, but I had no idea what it meant.

Not a clue. And not even that I didn't have a clue, I didn't understand how it could possibly be true in life.

See, I was ALWAYS about the end game. Always.

I was a "decide where you're planted and go after it" kind of girl. I was the "if I don't like it here, screw this, and I'll make my own patch just the way I want it" girl.

There was no middle for me. There was no journey, only an arrived. I only wanted to live in the "arrived".

I had my picture of how it would turn out, and I was about getting to that point as fast as possible.

No middle, no figuring it out, no wrong turns, no gray, no waiting, no grace. None of it. I wanted nothing to do with it, and I was completely ignorant to its necessary existence.

And to answer your question of, ummmm, lady, how on earth did anything in your life turn out? Well, we now see one of the many reasons for the necessary and horrific detour of 2008.

My illusion of a life came tumbling matchstick temple burned to a crisp, and I was left...I was left in need of being planted, because I no longer knew, well, anything.

I no longer knew anything.

I'd finally accepted the conclusion that I was a little seed in great need of a planter. I was not god, but I was in desperate need of the real One.

When you're reduced to a seed, life becomes pretty simple. I slept, ate, mothered, and spent time with God. And in that, God and His beautiful grace got me to a point where I could grow again, and during this seven years of singledom and quiet, God has taught me the art of blooming where I'm planted.

Take one day at a time, do what you're supposed to today, and let Him orchestrate the tides of life.

And for a recovering anxious control freak, that's a pretty good lesson in life. Before, I lived in the land of 2 weeks, 2 years, and even 2 decades down the road, and never in the present.

I can't even fathom how much I missed in the presents.

That's why such a simple card that read, "Bloom where you're planted" made no sense to me.

If you've been planted that means you're not in control. It means something else has dictated where you've been left. Control freaks can't comprehend that, and being forced to grow and bloom where you didn't say you wanted to go is unfathomable.

Taking my tightly bound hands off the illusion of the wheel, and let life play itself out is something I couldn't comprehend.

That madness in my life had to stop. It had to.

So, in 2016, along with my seemingly impossible reading goal, I shall also do my best to live by Rule #2: Bloom where you're planted.

Keep your tank full Shelly, your passport up to date (Rule #3), and keep paddling.

Be tenacious in your pursuits, and some how, some way, God's plan for your future, His opportunities, will find you along the way, and you'll be ready.

Wherever you are today, bloom. Show up and do what God has called you to do today.

This I know, that God is for you.

In Him,

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions found in the depths of Show Holes and Empty Wells.

I've been pondering New Years resolutions for a couple of weeks now, if not longer.

When one is dissatisfied with things, New Years resolutions are enticing, they elicit a new version of you that you wish you could be. They usher in hopes and dreams and wishes for a skinnier, richer, happier, smarter life.

And when one is feeling fatter, poorer, sadder, and dumber, the promise of a new year and the "if I make them, they will happen" mentality is VERY enticing.

But, then January 1st arrives and we realize that sitting on a couch watching marathons of NCIS and envisioning the skinnier, happier, smarter, and richer Shelly doesn't change anything.

What the heck?? You mean you have to do something more than just make the resolution?!?!?

That stinks!

Wouldn't it be great if we could just lay out all we "wanted" for the New Year and for one day experience it, get a taste of it, so we would have the motivation to actually work for it??

Ahhhhh, if only...then it would work.

Ya, who am I kidding. It still wouldn't work.

Because I desire a product of awesomeness with a path of least resistance.

And there in lies the problem. Least resistance is my MO.

Nothing truly beautiful comes from least resistance. It's impossible.

But that doesn't stop me from wanting to magically become someone who isn't sitting on her couch entering a show hole on December 28, 2016, all the while being the person who's sitting on her couch entering a show hole on December 28, 2015.

Impossible dreams.

Least resistance puts you on a stream that doesn't take you far. It might be pretty and calm and at times scenic, but you end up seeing the same scene over and over, because you refuse to paddle passed it. You're stuck amongst the same weeds and flowers and brush with nothing new on the horizon.

You're stagnant, refusing to paddle and avoiding any waves that might actually take you somewhere.

Stagnation is only satisfying for a short while, because you will inevitably realize you're no longer in a stream, but in a puddle, at the bottom of a pit.

You either have to numb yourself through it to convince yourself you want to stay there, or you have to pick up your boat and go find a river.

I've been stagnant for a long while, and I'm having to acknowledge I'm now in a puddle, that can quickly become a pit.

God has been gracious to put all sorts of rivers in my path this year, and I hopped on them and rowed as fast as I could because I saw His river and I knew I didn't want to miss a few of its waves, but as soon as I could hop off it this fall, I picked up my boat and went back to the calm of stagnation.
It seemed safe.
It had little resistance, required minimal output, and I could sit in the sun and let the small ripple push my floaty along.
Stagnant water doesn't even require a boat, just a floaty. I can just sit and do nothing...

but then those pesky gnats come along, the view is deathly boring, and the water is murky.

And the cycle begins again...get numb or get moving.

But the thought of leaving my puddle and going to His river is overwhelming. The thought of resistance, of the unknown of the waves and direction, and the amount of output required of me is I continued to choose my puddle.

I numb myself by watching something distracting.

This break I chose to watch marathons of dark, creepy TV shows that take me from the pinnacle of "I have hopes and dreams and by golly I'm going to go for them before I turn 40!!" to "What's the point? Nothing ever changes. I'm worthless. This world is dark and creepy and I never reach a goal, and I'm a complete loser."

Thank you producers of Mr. Robot.

The best commercial I saw was the Netflix one...or maybe it is Amazon Prime...but it's the "Show hole" one.
Holy Schnikees is it accurate?!?!
The ironic thing is that it's advertising for something that will take you from one show hole and plunge into a hole that is deeper, darker, and 5 days further down the path of "you're wasting your life away".

I usually choose to do this to myself after Cade leaves for an extended amount of time. It seems to be inevitable. I tend to need 24 hours to process, moan, groan, and be depressed while numbing myself with watching television.

I'm aware of it every time. I beat myself up about it every time.

When the marathon of my latest show hole was ending after only 10 episodes, I actually looked up to the ceiling, raised my hands, and exclaimed, "Thank you God! It's only 2:00 in the afternoon!"

I needed Him to miraculously end my pit of despair. I needed Him to save me from myself by making this TV show end.

I needed Him to show me He had a river awaiting me, and I was stuck in my puddle.

I changed the channel and wandered in my puddle a bit longer, but I could hear the birds chirping and the Light was breaking in again.

If I did get anything from my hole it was that as I watched the creepy, dark show, I was greatly aware of the twisted nature we humans get ourselves in, especially if we are separated from the Light.

As I watched and saw how the writers of the show were trying to create this scenario where "If only all the debt was erased, then we'd be free", "if we scheme and can get to the top, then we can be our own god", "if we can take away the pain through drugs, alcohol, manipulation, sex, money, then we can escape the pain and reach this pinnacle of something I'm not even sure of." it made me keenly aware of how lost and confused we many of us are choosing stagnant puddles found at the bottom of deep, dark pits.

As I watched I kept wondering, what are they thinking will be accomplished by any of this? What is their end?

I want to sit in a room and ask the writer, to what end are you taking this? What will be achieved? What greater good is coming? What truth is being exploited here?

What's the point you are making?

And the answer would be, there is none.

The world is pining for, scrambling for, grasping at the idea that there's this big conspiracy to keep everyone's happiness locked away in a box somewhere and only the richest, darkest, schemiest of those have it, and the only way you track that supposed happiness down is by delving into the darkness of finding it, by enslaving ourselves to the very base of human desire.

I've lived a pretty naive life, with very little exposure to the dark and paranoia this life can involve and is so easily accessed by any and all of us, but I got a glimpse "over the wall" several years back.

I was in my own pit, and it was a dark one...but I was dealing with someone who had crossed over the wall found in another realm of darkness...a wall that I didn't really know about, but one I had only read about or watched on TV, but this person had gone there.

 And because I had to deal with some things with this person, I got a glimpse over that wall. I had to be drawn to the window of it, and I saw in.
Even if it was just a skewed, foggy picture of it, I got a glimpse, and the glimpse was enough for me to take a whole lot of steps back and do all I could to not ever get close to the window again.

I now knew there truly was a twisted, dark, paranoid life out there, and I knew that I never wanted to get entangled in it.

I've known pits, destructive, despairing pits, but I now knew there were darker ones, where the desperation is so deep, it scared me to even get a glimpse in.

All that to say, I know those pits are easily accessed by any of us. I know that various pits in life are just a succession of daily missteps and wrong turns and the ignoring of that sweet whisper inside of us beckoning us to turn around, to reengage, to not believe the dark nor the schemes, nor the idea of how pursuing the lies will bring an ounce of satisfaction, of contentedness, or hope.

The end those all profess is an illusion of a temple, but that temple is made of matchsticks.
It won't withstand a simple wind, and if you make your way to it, you will be destroyed by its own inevitable fire.

One way to find yourself in a pit is to let your well run dry. Without the life source of the well, it just becomes a deep pit.

This last year, I let my well run dry.

I ran until I couldn't run anymore. And instead of choosing to refill and stay connected to the source of life for my well, I chose to let it start becoming a pit.

In many aspects, 2015 was like a marathon for me. We all have years like that. Big opportunities, great responsibilities, lots to juggle, and even though so much of mine were incredible blessings, I refused to stop and refuel...I didn't do what I'd been trained to do. I stopped being disciplined about how I ran and became haphazard about it all, and I let myself think it wouldn't matter that much.

I turned my back on my number one rule in life: Rule #1 IT MATTERS!

I chose to eat metaphorical donuts, to run until I crashed and then get back up and sprint some more.

I rarely refueled properly or reconnected myself to the very source that gives me life.

I just kept running on empty, while wondering why I felt empty or why I felt like I was going in a circle.

When one's well is dry, stagnation is the go to. There is nothing to give it the energy to choose the river that's going somewhere.

Plopping seems to be the only choice because to get out of the pit would require matter the gnats, the quiet, or the murky water...climbing out and picking up my boat to head to the river would require something I began to believe I didn't have...purpose.

Purpose was becoming elusive because I kept choosing my stagnant puddle, and purpose and meaning require movement, and I was losing the motivation to move. I was beginning to believe the lie that I didn't have it in me to move again, to pick up my boat and go find His river.

And even worse, I had started to believe that if I didn't know where His river would take me, I'd rather stay in my puddle, right here in my pit.

So, what's my 2016 New Year's resolution?

To lose 15 pounds? To pay off debt? to get smarter? Be a more present mom? To turn off my stinkin TV?


It's not.

My resolution, what I am resolved to do is to not let my well run dry.

I am resolved to acknowledge that I'm floating in a stagnant puddle down in a pit because I've let my well run dry, and in 2016, I'd like to get my well filled up again, so I can pick up my boat and go find His river.

My goal is to wake up each day and ask God to help me let Him turn my pit back into His well, and then to give me the determination to stand up and have the courage to find His river and row where He leads me.

To stop believing the lie and believe His truth and His plan matters in my life and to pursue it each and every day.

What would happen if I let Him turn my pit back into His well?

How is life different when I choose His well of truth and beauty over the pit of dark and creepy?

It becomes a life full of light.

"For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.
For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.
So encourage each other, build others up.
Honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you...Respect them.
Live peacefully with each other.
We urge you, warn the lazy, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient.
Don't repay evil with evil.
Seek after the good for all.
Rejoice always.
PRAY without ceasing.
Give thanks, for this is God's will for you.
Listen to the Holy Spirt, don't ignore it.
Consider prophetic teachings but examine everything carefully.
HOLD FAST to what is good, abstain from every form of evil...

What happens when I choose to listen to His voice and ignore mine and go find His river?

"Now, may the God of peace sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete."

And the greatest of all the lines...the reason why pursuing this has such a beautiful outcome. It's because the river of God takes you somewhere miraculous.

Faithful is He who calls you and He will also bring it to pass. 1 Thes. 5

In 2016, I just need to remember that the guarantee is with Him. It's His promise that will come to pass, not one from Gillian Michaels or Oprah Winfrey.

So, what's my New Year's resolution?

To stop ignoring that whisper inside my head, the one inside my soul...

because it's in the whisper...the answer is always in the whisper, found at a well so deep, it's goodness never ceases.

"When I'm afraid, I will put my trust in You...You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me."

This I know, that God is for me.

In Him,