Not All is Lost

Sometimes, we lose things.

This past weekend has been challenging for me. I dropped my phone for the umpteenth time. Unfortunately, I cracked my internal screen, and the black screen of death stared back at me. I lost pictures, notes, and other odds and ends stored on that phone.

My wedding ring broke. The band came apart. This is likely from excessive hand sanitizer use in my daily job. I have lost the familiarity of having my ring on my finger until it is fixed.

We lost our freedom temporarily the other day when our Jeep stranded us miles from home. We were at the mercy of others to come rescue us.

Over the past several years, I have lost the ability to eat whatever I choose due to chronic stomach issues and an autoimmune disease.

Yet, sometimes, the things we lose aren’t tangible things we can touch.

What do we do when the things we lose are intangible? When we can’t touch them or easily replace them?

Things like patience, hope, peace…

I have been reading the book of Joshua. In chapter 7, Joshua and his people are defeated. Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the ground. He cries out to the Lord…why have You brought us here to destroy us?

God had called them out of their comfort, but He had also just brought them victory over the battle of Jericho. Oh, how easily we forget God’s miracles and blessings in our life when things seem hopeless.

How did God respond to Joshua?

Joshua chapter 7:10… So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie on your face?”

The chapter goes on to talk about holding people accountable…they have a second chance at the battle…they win and all praise is to God.

How many times have we felt defeated? Hopeless? Exhausted?

The story doesn’t have to end there.

In loss, there is much to gain. Jesus gave up His life so that we may live and live more abundantly.

God is the God of all our days…the good ones, the bad ones, and the really hard ones.

Sometimes, the greatest blessings are found in the times of loss. Sometimes, we have to die to self-our pride, fears, self reliance- in order to discover the blessings of all He has in store for us. Not all is lost.

May He be the God of all your days.

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Surrender

Surrender…letting go…to be free…

When I think of surrender, my mind travels back to a few years ago sitting on my friend’s couch as we had a heart to heart talk. As we talked about my challenging job situation, I remember her asking me if I was willing to surrender everything to God.

Surrender….to let go…to be free from control

My journey of surrender led to a gratitude journal. Despite my circumstances, every day, I recorded things I was grateful for. Most days, they were simple things, but it helped me stay focused on trusting God with the details of my life.

One of the greatest gifts of learning to surrender has been trusting God with anxiety.  It has been a long journey,  but I have learned to let go and let God. When I feel myself becoming anxious, I reflect to seek the root cause. I turn it over to God and pray on it.

So  much of life is out of our control. Our reaction to life is within our control.

Surrender…let go and trsut God.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday

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Hiding

I have had an emotionally challenging week. I didn’t realize that I would struggle so much this week. The impact of everything and my emotional response blindsided me.

Let me back up a bit and fill in a few details…I lost a high school classmate and friend very unexpectedly in a car accident. I had a difficult interaction with someone this week. My daughter went back to college after winter break and I already know she will not be home for the summer. Long days at work equal exhaustion.

I slept in today on this Saturday morning. I rarely sleep in. My husband brought me coffee to bed and I am lingering for a bit before starting my day which affords me time to reflect.

My week has made me really think about this…how often do we hide behind masks? We smile. We tell the world we are fine. We push on through the challenges of our jobs and lives.

This is all great. Having a spirit that can persevere through whatever life brings is great. I call myself a fighter, and I am, but sometimes we need to take off those masks and stop hiding behind them.

Sometimes, we need to be transparent and vulnerable. Not with everyone. It feels risky to take off those masks. Some people honestly won’t care what is behind them. We want to protect our vulnerable self.

Prayer is so powerful. I believe God wants us to be real, definitely with Him. I encourage you to read the Psalms. So much raw emotion is poured out to God in those Psalms. I also believe God cares about us and wants us to feel the freedom to be vulnerable and transparent. I believe He places safe people in our lives. I had some very powerful conversations this week with safe people in my life. God takes care of us through the love of others.

I also have been reflecting on the ways others around me hide behind their own masks. I have seen two situations this week where people have broken down, the weight of hiding behind the masks suddenly too much. 

I encourage us all to….

1. Regularly read the Psalms and share our own raw emotions with God.

2. Pray for those safe people in our lives.

3. Just be kind… everyone has a story and some hide more behind masks than others.

Last night I heard this song … If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli. Sometimes, we just need to be real. 

It’s a new year. Let’s come out of hiding and strive to be better versions of ourselves and to love more genuinely.

What helps you when you feel like hiding?

An Altered Course

Sometimes, things unravel.

Sometimes, when everything seems to be falling in place, something suddenly alters from what you thought was the perfect laid out course.

And, just like that, your “perfect” course is no more. 

Yesterday, I received news that alters my course and leaves my well developed plan now feeling uncertain. The news wasn’t earth shattering. In fact, there was an element of joy in news. It just wasn’t my personal joy to celebrate, but then again, it’s not about me.

I trust God in this. I trust I am still on the course He desires for me. I’m just not going to be traveling the course in the way I thought, but I know I need to stay the course.


I have to cling to what I know. That’s the thing about God’s Word. When circumstances alter, His Word remains constant. His grace is still there. 
Yesterday, I read this: “Here is the great irony about opportunities. They usually come disguised as insurmountable problems.” Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

Today, the truth in that statement feels just a little bit more real…a little more personal.

And what is the message to me in this? 

Maybe grace is disguised in these difficult moments. Maybe, hopefully, I will look back and see how this time only served to grow me and stretch me more.

It’s not about me. 

His plan will prevail. 

Can I trust what’s next without knowing?

Can you trust your plans to God?

Breathing through the Clutter

Clutter. 

This past Sunday, I came home from church and looked around at the current situation of my downstairs. From the busyness of our lives, everything had become cluttered. Nothing was in its place.

My life had been feeling a bit cluttered, too. I was spiraling from feeling as though things were out of place.

With the “voluntold” help of my husband and son, we spent hours decluttering and organizing our downstairs that day. An unwanted chair that had become my son’s dumping station for school stuff was taken to Goodwill. An old couch was placed on a Facebook garage sale group and sold. We picked up, we pitched, we organized. 

The minimalist look of my front room, my reorganized laundry area, and my scaled down living room have left me with breathing space.

I needed to declutter.

I needed some whitespace.

Life gets like this. 

Sometimes, we need to declutter the distractions around us and quiet the noise. We need to evaluate all the things that compete for our time and decide what really matters to us.

Sometimes, we have to say no to something so that we can say yes to something else. Sometimes we need to strip down our lives to the essential things that matter most.

We have to fight through the noise of the clutter so we can catch our breath.

This morning, I sit in my living room. The hum of a light is my only noise. I savor these moments before I must begin the day. 

A life uncluttered, focused on those things most dear to my heart, Christ as the foundation…that is the life I seek.

What “clutter” in your life might you be able to declutter so that you can see more clearly and catch your breath?

Running on Empty

“Oops.” 

I looked down to see the gas gauge of my Jeep much lower than I realized. 

I took my son to school and then decided how much to press my luck before stopping for gas. I prayed that I would not run out of gas, but I also realized that it was within my power to stop before that happened. I exited the turnpike an exit earlier than normal and began to pray. 

Thankfully, I made it. My morning adventure of almost running out of gas parallels too much to my life at the moment.

You know it is a rough day when five people through the course of the day ask you if you are okay. That was the day before. Tired. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Life feeling a bit overcommitted.

Simply stated, I had let myself run too close to empty. Like the warning light in my Jeep, the warning signs were there. I needed a time out. I needed sleep. I needed some whitespace in my life.

God always provides. He poured into me through people He has placed  in my life who care about me.

Running low on fuel often catches us off guard. We go, go, go, and wonder why we feel like collapsing.

Situations like these are great opportunities to take a time out and step back to re-evaluate what we need to surrender to God. If we are honest with ourselves, there are probably areas we are trying to control which we can’t which sets us up for running out of fuel. 

This morning, as I read from Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson….We tend to view the goal as the goal; but in God’s economy, the process is the goal. It’s not about what we’re doing at all. It’s about who we’re becoming in the process. Page 207

That means sometimes it takes a reality check of running low on fuel to step back, catch our breath, regroup, and consider the process. In our moments of weakness, He is our strength. 

Where are you running low on fuel? God is the greatest source of energy.

Seasons

It is a rare Sunday afternoon where I am hanging out in my backyard with my laptop and my terrier. I live in a small town and it is quiet and peaceful out here. 

Except for one blaring distraction.

It is not the neighbor mowing his yard nor the EMS sirens as they travel to the hospital down the road. The distraction is less about audible noise and more about the inescapable comparison to my life at the moment.

Overgrown. The fence that needs to come down is overgrown with vegetation. Weeds to be exact. Why? Because we have been busy doing life. Because when we do have a free moment, it is easier to stay inside than stare at the work that needs done.

Life gets like this sometimes. We overcommit ourselves. We say yes when we should pause and pray first. We leave so little whitespace in our lives. The responsibilities grow around us and squelch the joy of things we once felt passionate about. Burnout threatens to set in.

So, here I am now after a message at church this morning…do not be afraid. Here I am contemplating decisions of where commitments have overgrown in my life and what must be reprioritized.

When we want to welcome something new in our lives, we must be brave. If we feel God’s blessing upon a new chapter and if we witness a door opening, we must be willing to close the doors that need closed. Yes, I believe God closes doors for us sometimes. I also believe there are times when we need to step back and realize that some areas in our lives are overgrown. 

For example, do you want to start writing a novel? Maybe you need to step back from a committee you serve on.

Ecclesiastes 3:1…There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…

What season are you in currently? Maybe it is a season for something new which also means an end of a different season.

Isaiah 43:18-19…Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

Life is full of seasons. Don’t be afraid to end one so a new one can bloom.