Places I love

Monday, December 9, 2013

Climbing a Hill

Last weekend I had the opportunity to spend time with my nieces and nephews. Seeing a child's eyes light up as they return my smile and hearing their bursts of pure laughter are beautiful gifts to my heart.

One night, I found myself at the top of a hill as evening approached and the winter chill was setting in. My husband and I had just returned from a special birthday "date" with one of our nephews. We took him for a hot chocolate and cookie, just the three of us. He chattered on about so many things and this little man told us that one of the things he wanted to do was climb a hill. So, Uncle Chris stopped the car a little ways from our house and took Jude by the hand and said, "Come on Jude, let's go climb a hill." His smile beamed and lit up our world as he ran towards the small trail head. I took the car and drove the hundred yards or so home where his brother and sister were awaiting our return.

I told them Uncle Chris and Jude were climbing a hill and they instantly ran for the door and scrambled to get their shoes on so they could join in this adventure. Jonah tied his shoes like the big man he is, and his sister Idelette tried so hard to get her little Santa's elf shoes on so as not to be left behind.

We crossed the street and looked over the hill and there they were, Uncle Chris and Jude, climbing a hill. Idelette instantly jumped into my arms and screamed at the top of her lungs, "Hi Chris! Hi Chris!" waving her arms wildly until Chris waved back at her with matched enthusiasm. In front of us, Jonah scrambled a couple of feet down the hill and slid a bit in the dirt. Idelette saw this and clung a little tighter to me. I looked at her, blonde curls bouncing, and then our conversation went like this:

"Ok, you still wanna climb down?"

"Yeah!" Eyes gleaming, she was the picture of adventure. I went to put her down and after taking one step, she leaped back into my arms.

"I'm scared!"

"That's ok Idelette, do you want me to take you back inside?" I began to turn towards the house and found two little hands on my cheeks. I looked into those very serious eyes that were staring back at me.

"No, I want to go down there." She pointed with fierceness at where Jude and Chris were about to meet up with Jonah on a small trail in between climbing hills.

"Ok." I tried to put her down and she clung to me once again.

With my cheeks once again squished, she looked at me and smiled and said, "No. You. You take me down there."

I looked down the hill and realized that she was scared but was not going to turn back.

She didn't want to walk down the hill on her own and I could tell by the look in her eyes that she had no doubt in my ability to carry her all the way down the climbing hill with no problem whatsoever.

Knowing there was no arguing with this little adventurer, I looked again at the hill below me and said a quick prayer that God would keep my feet secure so I didn't drop this little girl's faith on the side of the mountain.

I looked back at her again and she was ready. I gripped her little body tightly as we started to descend. I used my full concentration and all my strength to stay on my feet, grabbing branches and using rocks to dig my feet into the dirt step by step. I was serious and focused.

Idelette was screaming, "Hi Chris! Hi Jude!  Hi Jonah! We are coming!" Her not so little voice echoed in the valley as she smiled and waved and had the time of her life "climbing" down the hill.

We reached the bottom, I gently set her down, and she took off running towards the boys. I stood there for a second to catch my breath and thanked God that I made it down without falling. I watched her joy explode as she joined the others in the birthday treat adventure to climb a hill.

Towards the end of our adventure, I prayed a little harder because I ended up carrying her back up part of the hill at her request. I prayed because I am out of shape and can barely carry myself up the hill, but God is faithful in our times of need, so we made it.

We walked back into the house as the coolness of the air and the darkness of evening fell. I caught my breath while listening to a few little voices recount the adventure to those who had been making dinner. I couldn't help but think that how Idelette was with me is how God wants us to be with Him.

She saw the adventure before her, and she wanted to go, but she was scared. How often does God call me on an adventure with Him and I have second thoughts and go back to the house to sit where it's safe and warm waiting to hear the stories of those who went for it? Too often, I hate to admit.

However, Idelette did not shrink back. She jumped into the arms of the one she believed could get her to where she needed to go. She not only trusted me, she enjoyed me and the ride along the way. I love being with children. They teach me so much about how I need to align my heart with the one whose arms are open wide to lift me up when I realize I just can't do it on my own.

I want to be like Idelette who wanted to go on the adventure no matter what. She was not ashamed or guilty about the fact that she needed help. I need to remember this and find freedom in this truth. I can't do this life on my own and it's not only ok for me to jump into His arms, but He loves it when I do. He will never drop me or run out of breath.

So let's all take a lesson from Idelette because:

We do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. (Hebrews 10:39)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A little something about church...

Today was a refreshing day. I opened my eyes, and my husband was there with a cup of coffee and a good morning kiss. I love that man. We talked for a few minutes and decided to go visit a church we hadn't been to in awhile.

I enjoyed God's presence there. The worship was restful and the message was solid. I sat next to a man who smelled like marijuana. There was a man in front of us who looked like he might have just come out of gang life, but man, did he know how to worship. I saw every ethnicity represented there. I loved it.

As I sat there, I listened to the pastor preach about the hope that is found in Christ. He said that today was a the day to go home with hope and not despair. He preached about a future hope and a present deliverance.

I was energized by the people who were fresh with the joy of their salvation. I got to thinking about church in general. I wondered if the reason church is stale for many people is because churches have become something they were never meant to be. I wondered if many churches are filled with those who already know Christ instead of full with those who don't.

Maybe those of us who know Christ, and have walked with Him for awhile, are meant to be the church with legs. Maybe we aren't meant to be sitting in a building Sunday after Sunday looking for something we've already found.

For those who don't know Christ, it is a matter of life and death to have a place to go for counsel, for help, for a new start separate from the community they may feel trapped within.The church doors should swing open to anyone and be a place where safety is found within the walls.

But, so many of our churches nowadays seem to have become another place of judgement and where those seeking Christ just don't fit in. The dirty are often looked down upon. The routine has become more important than the relationship.

There will be a time when we are all clean and pretty and safe and can rest in our knowledge of God. But, I don't think that time is now.

Maybe the church buildings were meant to be the spiritual emergency rooms of the world and not comfortable places where we are entertained. Do we leave church on the lookout for the wounded, or do we go in and come out feeling better about ourselves and leave it at that? I know when I entered a church and found a seat in the back row nearest the door, I didn't care how cool the church made Jesus look or what kind of music they had. I didn't even care if there was coffee available. I was literally running for my life and looking for the only one who could save me.

Many times in the Bible, Jesus heals someone and then it says they immediately got up and and followed him, or served him. Christ called the disciples, and then they were moving. How many of us have responded to Christ and then found our favorite seat in church and stayed there Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year after year, and yet have never experienced the adventure that is walking with Christ?

This is not a criticism of any church, nor is it an advertisement for another. I just got to thinking that maybe we just need to be more on the move. When you're called to a purpose and you don't move forward towards it, life will become unsatisfying.

I, myself, will be praying about all of this. Am I courageous enough to follow Him wherever He may lead me? I know I will waiver, but he is faithful and will never leave me. He promised. He saved you and I for something. He gave you something to offer to a broken wounded world. What is your something?

Next Sunday, I encourage you to walk out the church doors with Him. Take a deep breath and really look at Him. He is most definitely in the church, there to save all of us who are not able to save ourselves. But, He is also alive outside those walls and walking with us every moment of every day. Where do you think Jesus and you might go together this week after Sunday? I'd love to hear where he takes you.

Only by His grace,

Don't be afraid, for the Lord will go before you and will be with you: HE WILL NOT FAIL NOR FORSAKE YOU. 
Deuteronomy 31:8

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Disarmed by Love

I got turned down for a job this morning. I was really excited about this job and even had a great interview under my belt. I read the rejection email, and in normal fashion, I sucked in a breath and braced myself. For what? I don't know, I guess to continue on with life. Rising to face another day where I'm not sure what the next step is.

I walked towards my husband who was in the other room and said, "I didn't get the job." I expected to hear him say "I'm sorry" so my "braced" self was prepared to say, "No big deal, God has a plan." After that I thought I would go about "doing" something so the hurt, disappointment, and pain couldn't settle on me. What else am I supposed to do when faced with another door locked to my touch?

My husband silently walked towards me and wrapped his arms around me and the only thing he said was, "I love you." At the tenderness of his words, I was disarmed by love. My attempt at having strength to face another deferred hope crumbled at the tone in his voice. He held me and God's love fell on me. No matter what this day holds or what the questions are that I have about this often hard to bear life we all live, our Lord longs for us to hear those words that He is speaking to us, "I love you."

I cried then. In the arms of love I couldn't help but grieve the loss of a hope I was holding. Some of us are bearing heavy loads of hopes lost today. No matter how small or big your hope seems, He cares.

My prayer for you today is this:

Instead of feeling like you must brace yourself against this life, I pray you would find yourself disarmed by love. I pray that in that moment today when you hear your God silence everything within as well as outside of you with three simple words that you would grieve safely inside of His love. 

He knows you have questions. He knows you have doubts. He knows you are afraid. He knows.

Yet, His answer remains the same. Close your eyes and listen with your heart, dear ones.


Today hasn't been all that bad, I was rejected by the world today, but I was hugged by the love of Heaven.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Romance of God's Word #1: Lectio Divina

This morning at church we did a little something different at the end of service. One of our pastors taught us about one method of reading the Bible. I loved the simplicity and depth of this method called Lectio Divina (divine reading) and wanted to share it with you. 

File:Lectio Divina .svg
Image by: Eugenio Hansen, OFS

There are 4 steps

1) Reading (Take your time)
2) Meditation (Think on something that He is showing you: could be just a word) 
3) Prayer (How is what you are showing me apply right now?)
4) Contemplation (Thank Him, sit and rest in His presence)

Before you begin, pray that God would reveal something to you as you read. This isn't about studying, it's about reading and thinking on the living word of God and communing with Him while doing so.

Below is what came to my heart in church this morning when I tried this out. Give this method of enjoying God's word a try. The method is simple, yet intimate, and it doesn't take long. I'd love to hear how God communes with you, so email me if you'd like to share! Click here to email me!

Lectio Divina: Matthew 22:34-40

1) As I was reading, the word "silenced" stood out to me in verse 34. Jesus had silenced the Sadducees. 

2) I meditated on this word "silenced". I felt peace in that Jesus could silence people. People meaning critics, doubters, testers. They were the ones who questioned him the most. 

3) I then prayed and asked God to show me how this applies right now.

4) I contemplated that Jesus had the ability to silence his critics with the truth and he still is capable of doing that in my life today. I looked at the scripture again to see how Jesus responded to these people. His answer was to love God and your neighbor, but I saw something even more simple. 

Jesus answered their question directly, and even though they couldn't see it, he had given them the foundation on which to ask all the other questions. His response to them was about love.

Jesus gave them an answer to think about it, but what He really was trying to show them was that without love at the beginning, in the foundation, all their questions would be the wrong ones.  He responded to their need, not their question. And yet they couldn't see it.

I sat there and thanked God that He is the God who answers questions, but even more so He responds to our need for Him and who He is.

I have needed someone lately to silence the ones who constantly seem to think we need reminding of the uncertainties in our life. This morning, in those few minutes it took to try out this method of "Lectio Divina", I heard only one voice and it was love. 

This love whispered to my bruised heart that I have been asking the right questions and that is where my certainty and peace is found. His truth, His heart, His response, HIS LOVE. 

1 Peter 1: 6-8  (in first person)

In this I rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, I have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of my faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though I have not seen him, I love him. Though I do not now see him, I believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Heaven Lit Prayer for our Black Forest

The worst fire in Colorado history occurred this past week in my hometown of Colorado Springs, more specifically in the Black Forest area. Many people have lost their homes and many of those have been my dear friends and members in our church. There are no words at a time like this when you watch something change lives right before your eyes.

I sat at my desk yesterday morning with nothing to say, nothing to pray. So, I prayed for a prayer. The following is what poured from my pen.

Oh God, tend to our grieving hearts, we so desperately need you. Revive our hearts and teach us to live again. Strengthen us for the road that now lays ahead. We are a broken people, but we are yours O God. Let our hearts not faint or grow weary beyond words, but let our mouths be filled to the brim with the unchanging truth of your goodness and faithfulness. 

Remind us that your character is not founded in circumstances, it is not changed by tragedies, your character is the same yesterday, today, and forever because you yourself are the immovable unchangeable foundation upon which all good things are built. May we declare together that you are our rock and refuge in times of trouble. That you are our God and your faithfulness and love towards us as your people has no end. When we walk through the rubble and the fragility of our lives remind us that you are established and Your kingdom shall never perish or fade. Though our foundations have crumbled, you O God, you have not. 

Thank you that you are a God who rouses Himself from His throne and draws near to hear the cries of His people. I can see you tilting your head to our voices and sprinkling us and our land with your tears of love in answer to our prayers. You have not moved away from those who call upon your name. Though the mountains be leveled around us, you O God are our firm foundation and our pleasant boundary. With you, our treasures are secure. 

We have come to you O Lord, lifting our grief, our deep sadness, our loss to you. Holy Spirit we ask that with the power you exerted to raise Christ from the dead that you would lift our swollen tear soaked eyes to you. May our eyes find new light and joy in the reflection of your glorious face. For you are not a dead Savior. You are risen and seated with the head of our family, our Father, the head of the Kingdom which even now, holds rooms and places prepared just for us. Raise us up O God, out of the ashes that are our lives. Set our feet, strengthen our feeble knees and remind us of the glorious kingdom that longs for us all to be together, to be home. 

Let our weeping work its way into worship. Let truth be the foundation of our hearts. May your words, the power of your Holy Spirit, and your unending love towards those who believe demonstrate that we are more than conquerors because we abide in Christ Jesus our Lord, our Savior, our King in whom no death or defeat is found. 

May we see the glorious end to our grief through the eyes of your grace. Help us to look up and hear you whisper that there is a day coming when our suffering will meet its complete end. We are not a people who shrink back because you are not a God who waivers in His will. Your face is set and your heart committed to us, your people, the ones who are called to carry your glory. 

May we bless you in our brokenness. May we worship you in our weakness. May we love you with our lives, now and forevermore. For as we walk this road with perseverance let us find our character has grown to look more like yours Jesus. As we find ourselves different than we were before, may hope be the strength that carries us down the road you have set before us. And O God, let that hope sustain us as you pour it to overflowing into our hearts as we continue to walk with you.   

O you people of the one and only God, stand in your place within the grace that has covered you. Have your fill of His peace. Rest O you people in the presence of love. All is not lost. There is still life in you.

To you our GOD be the glory forever and forever, AMEN.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Because I Can...

I woke up this morning at 5:30.  This is unusual for me. I normally am catching my good z's at around that time; however, when my eyes opened, I realized I was awake. The "I won't be able to go back to sleep now" kind of awake. This also is unusual for me. My husband normally has to employ many different tactics to get me to join the world in the morning, but today I woke up and my husband was soundly sleeping at my side.

I looked at him and I couldn't decide if I wanted to get up or not, so I laid there for a moment before I determined that I could at least go to the bathroom. Up I went and as I turned out of my bedroom, I saw a pink glow rising softly outside the windows in the next room. I asked God to wait for me as He painted the sky while I went to the bathroom real quick.

There is one window on the east side of the house and so I went there. The sunrise had simple beauty. Pure pink shades spread out across the entire horizon. I smiled, said good morning to God, and went into the kitchen. One thing led to another. I unloaded the dishwasher. Made some coffee for my hubs. Then I looked out the window and looked around the kitchen and yawned. My body had all the sudden realized it was awake way earlier than normal.

I thanked God for waking me up, but I stood there staring out the window and thought, well, what should I do now. See, I am a doer. I do things. The whole being still thing I am not so good at. I can always find things to do, even when there might be something else I should be doing.  Should I read my Bible? Should I start a load of laundry first? Should I go back to bed?  I live in this constant cycle of doing things and feeling like there is always something else I should have done.

Then God whispered something unexpected to me. Honestly, at first I thought it was me. Go back to bed? Cuddle my sleeping husband? Surely, that was me. Then I heard God tell me that He wanted me to begin looking at this season in our lives a little differently. See, we are both still unemployed and my husband hurt his back a month ago and needs to do something different in the future than construction. He has started college classes and so our schedule is not traditional at the moment. Although, I am looking for something part-time, I am focusing on my writing, it is time.

Yet are any of you like me? I fill my days with so many "should do's" and then I feel guilty when I include something I want to do. This is something I know God is trying to break me of because in the midst of trying to do what I think He wants me to do, I am missing often the things He just wants to do with me. I miss the relationship. My daily schedule lately has not demonstrated that my God is fun and likes to share experiences with me and show me wonderful things. I have not been allowing the romance lately.

This morning God woke me up to teach me that I don't need permission to enjoy Him or what He's given me. He reminded me that when I fully embrace Him and what He's given that His glory radiates. So, with only a tinge of guilt (because I'm still learning), I went downstairs and crawled back into bed with my sleepy man. I wrapped my arms around him and fell asleep soundly. I rested.

God told me to go snuggle with my husband because I can. This season allows for that. What season are you in? What might God be giving you permission to do that will result in His glory radiating to this world and will allow Him to romance you again?

Go for a walk and don't time yourself.
Sit down and read a few chapters (or more) in that book you have been meaning to read.
Sit at your window and watch a bird for at least 10 minutes.
Get up in time to see a sunrise or position your life to watch a sunset. (I don't mean glance out the window and move on either. I mean sit, watch it rise or set, all the way.
Make your child laugh, or heck, ask them to make you laugh.

God's waiting for you to enjoy Him and what He's given.

Do it because you can...

I'd love to hear what you intentionally chose to do different in your day today to enjoy Him. Comment or send me an email. Have fun!

The following is a picture I took a different day. But isn't it something?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A National Geographic Kind of Day

Today was pretty much amazing!  

All I have to say is that God gave me an awesome day.  I had the house all to myself today and upon waking up I was really missing my hubs, but before I could feel sad for myself God grabbed my heart for an adventure!!!  God knows that sometimes I wish I had been a National Geographic photographer. I love animals and seeing the creativity of God in His creation. Well, today my Lord kept me company all day long with various animal sightings.

I felt like Snow White, creatures were flocking to my yard!  I want to share with you some of the pictures I took today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did when I was taking them. 

This first set is of a coyote that wandered into our yard and while I was photographing him ate a baby bunny. It was very cool to see him catch it, but very sad for the baby bunny. 

The next set is of a variety of bird species that I witnessed throughout the day. Aren't they cool?!  The falcon in the middle made me jump for joy! I couldn't believe it. They are common up here but not seen that often! SO EXCITED!

The final grouping is of one bunny. I think this may be the Mama bunny whose baby got eaten by the coyote. She was chasing mag pie birds and running all over the place today. My heart broke for her. I think she may have been looking for her little baby. But, I'm pretty sure she knew it was gone and just wanted to birds out of her area. Poor bunny...

I had a really fun day playing professional photographer and enjoying God's creation.  Be blessed!


Friday, May 3, 2013


This day was full.  Full of a lot of things...

So, my day started out saying goodbye for three days to my husband, my Mister, the love of my life!!! This is the first time in 2 1/2 years that we have been apart for this long. I know, I know, it's only 3 days, but I'm seriously in love with this man!  Anyway, a Christian brother blessed Chris with a 3 day fishing adventure, so I dropped him off and off he went.

So, the quick version of my morning went like this:

* Dropped off my Mister
* Almost ran out of gas on the way home
* Made it home and scrounged for change in  our drawers, pockets, dishes, ash tray in vehicle, etc.
* Barely made it to gas station at bottom of hill where I used the few dollars left in checking account for gas to make it to bank.
* Made it to bank and cashed in my coin (Total $3.89) I know, I've got the big bucks...

Then I had to know how sometimes the hydrating hits you all at once?  Yep, I was there. So this is where an adventure began. I was near a King Sooper's so I thought, well, they have bathrooms, right? I shuffled in and guess what? I was met by a "Closed for Cleaning" sign and a large cart blocking my way. Only the women's was closed. I had 5 guys pass me going into their bathroom while I stood there, legs crossed.

Anyway, so a McDonald's was near so I stopped and went in. I rushed into the bathroom and was beat to the handicap stall by someone in a grey sweater. The only other stall in there was open and I rushed pass a very tiny little girl and a woman drying her hands to go in. As I turned to go in I stopped dead in my tracks. The scene to which I walked into all the sudden became clear. The little 2 year old girl, cute as could be, was standing there smiling at me with no pants on. The woman was not drying her hands but drying the little girls hot pink pants. I looked at them and looked at the toilet that was smeared with poo.

All I could think was, are you kidding...I'm going to have a bladder infection by the time I find a decent toilet! The woman smiled at me and said, "Um, yeah, we had ourselves a little accident and are in the process of cleaning it all up. Sorry." I smiled and said no problem, it happens. The little girl shrugged and said, "Yeah, it happens." I then said my goodbyes and ran out at which point I decided to go the library. I needed to do some writing anyway, so off I went, pressure building. Needless to say I was very thankful that the library was not that busy and the bathrooms were to my liking and I was able to find some relief.

When I settled into my library cubicle I was honestly on the verge of tears. The morning had worn me down. I say all the above jokingly because I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was literally praying one moment to the next. When my husband kissed me goodbye this morning, he prayed that this weekend would hold unexpected joys for us both. Well, God in His tender way of giving good gifts to His children answered that.

I sat at the library and a friend called me and asked me to meet her outside the library real quick. I walked out and she got out of her car with an envelope. She hugged me and said that she and her husband had been praying and that the envelope was for me, to keep doing what God has told me to do, and know that HE loves me. She hugged me and we cried. I put the envelope in my purse and she drove off. This was unexpected. When I took my seat, I opened the envelope that said "A Gift from Jehovah Jireh" and was shocked at what I found. God provided. He gave me an unexpected joy. God is so faithful and good. I broke down and cried my eyes out for a good 10-15 minutes. I could fill my gas tank. I could pay a bill. I could rest in God's provision.

When I got home, my parents decided that Chik-fil-A was making dinner tonight and we went and enjoyed ourselves. On the way home, we drove by an intersection where a group of people were gathered staring up into a tree. We turned around and it was an owl nest!  I LOVE ANIMALS!  God's creativity in animals never ceases to get me giddy and clapping like a little girl. There were three puffy owl babies and a Mama in the nest. My Mom and I got really excited and made my Dad drive home very fast so we could grab our binoculars and camera. My Mom and I rushed back down the hill and I took some pics.  It's a little blurry because it was getting dark, but still, aren't they AMAZING!!!! Also, it was awesome that they had boundaries put around them to protect them. It is a federal offense to disturb nesting owls so I was across the street and far away when I took this. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL!

So, this day started off full of strife and lack, but the day has ended with God's abundant provision and two unexpected joys. Both were a gift. One practical provision, the other an opportunity to enjoy God's creation. He knew what I needed and what would make my heart leap in excitement. This is the goodness of the Lord.

Thank you Jesus.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Rough Day

This has been a rough day, but my God and my husband love me so I think I’m going to make it.

Life is not easy at the moment.

My husband and I are both unemployed and have been since we returned from our 5 month training in Uganda, East Africa last year. Finances are tight. Well, let’s be honest, we have no finances but God has been faithful to provide a job here or there for my husband as we have needed food or gas.

We have had to go without many things for the last year and a half, but last week held one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make in our 2 ½ year marriage. My husband and I had to surrender our dog Phantom to a rescue shelter. If you are a dog person, you know that a dog is not just a dog, it is a family member. This last week we prayed without ceasing that God would provide more time for us to find jobs and be able to move somewhere that would allow Phantom, but that was not the answer He gave.  A foster family was found, and Phantom was taken to them, and our hearts were broken.

Some may say God didn’t answer our prayer, but as I have wept and grieved I have heard the soft whisper of the Lord to my heart. We and so many others prayed for more time for Phantom, but I think what God was doing was giving more time to my husband and I. A few weeks ago the thought of giving up our dog seemed unbearable and unthinkable. No way would that be God’s answer. However, over the weeks, as we have prayed and cried together God moved our hearts. It is a supernatural thing. God didn’t take away the pain. He didn’t end the suffering that comes from losing our precious little buddy. He didn’t provide a way for us in the way we thought He would.  

What God did do was show us the tenderness of His Father heart in giving us more time to let Phantom go. God did not traumatize our hearts and ask us to just suck up this difficult thing. God walked us through the time of uncertainty into a place of surrender. I think sometimes we think of surrender as a place where we scream out, “Ok fine God! Have your way!” And we huff and we puff and then fall into a heap of confusion and pain. I don’t believe God ever intended surrender to feel that way. As a Father, I think He gently and firmly holds onto whatever we have in our hands until we are able to let it go. I think His heart is to see us release that thing, whatever it is, and jump into His arms.

When He knew that Chris and I were ready to release Phantom if that is what it came to, He gently pulled him from our hands. We didn’t yell at God for not answering, we collapsed together onto our knees and wept with all our hearts with our Father’s arms around us. We wept knowing that not only was He holding tightly to us, but He was holding firmly to Phantom. Because Phantom matters to us, He matters to our God.  There is great peace in that truth.

I said before that today was a rough day. I woke up this morning and saw that my phone was flashing, indicating someone had commented on a Facebook comment I had made. The back story to this is that the sweet rescue that took Phantom for us had posted Phantom on their Facebook page to advocate for his adoption. They were amazing and so helpful and were integral in us being able to let him go. We knew he was going to be in good hands from the moment we first spoke to them on the phone.

Long story short, some woman (not associated with the rescue) had commented under Phantom’s photo that she was disgusted by us that we would give our dog up. She said directly to me that I wouldn’t give up a child would I? And in her exact words she said, “I’d live under a bridge with my dogs before I dumped them.” The rescue responded to the inappropriateness of this because they are professionals and I greatly appreciated that.

However, when I first saw the comment, before I had even set my feet on the floor to start my day, my heart broke. I know many of you reading this right now are reacting on my behalf to her comment, and believe me, some not so nice things went through my head too, but God revealed something to me. He showed me how far some people are from understanding God’s love.

This woman obviously thought we were selfish and looking after ourselves rather than Phantom. I sat there and thought, yeah, if we had kept him a bridge is exactly where we would be because there was no other option. So yes, we could be homeless with our dog and we would all be together, but we would have no food or shelter. I then looked at a picture of Phantom at his new foster home in a chair, on a blanket, relaxing and looking perfectly content. He was being cared for, taken in, put in a family. He didn’t look lonely or abandoned. He was being him in his new home.

I began to cry as I thought, hey, we did the selfless thing didn’t we God? Wouldn’t it have been selfish to keep him instead of putting our hearts aside to give him a chance of finding a family that can care for him right now in a way that we can’t? We gave up this dog that we loved to a shelter we knew would do their best to give him a chance at life.

My heart softened and broke as I thought about God and what His word says about His heart. He gave something up he loved in order for us to have a chance at life too. Yet, whereas this woman thinks love is about not giving up at all cost, God showed me that the harder kind of love is to make a choice that insures the best possible chance for the one that is loved, even if it is at great cost to you.  God’s way of loving is so far beyond mine.

He has revealed to us the tenderness of His Father’s heart to prepare us for something difficult to bear. He has shown His faithfulness in providing something good for the one that we could no longer provide for. He has given peace in the midst of loss knowing that what we no longer hold isn’t tossed to the side but held lovingly and firmly in His hand. Lastly, He has shown us that so many do not understand His love and reject the sacrifice He made for our good for the sake of clinging to what they think they can hold.

So, it's been a rough day. But regardless of having “nothing”, I can look up now and see my husband’s smile and the peace God has given him in the midst of our circumstances. I can look at these words I’ve written and know that without God the words I would write would be very different.

These are the times where God’s word is alive in us. This peace that passes all understanding that guards our hearts and our minds is present in us. And just for the record, I don't believe I have nothing, I believe I have everything that matters and the rest will come in time.  My husband's smile and the love of my Lord are more than enough.

Thank you Father. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creation Comfort

One of the beautiful things about living in Colorado is the weather. Where else can you find a day like this within the middle of the winter season? Granted, my friend and I weren't wearing tank tops, but we were wearing our cozy sweatshirts and enjoying the Colorado sunshine.

Hiking up the hill with one of my dearest friends made for a wonderful afternoon. She is one of my friends that can walk in silence with me and we are both okay with that. I was feeling a bit sad in my thoughts, and yet I laughed watching my golden retriever revert to her puppy days as she ran back and forth ahead of us.

About half way to the top of the trail, I said, "I love Colorado. It just feels like home." With the red dirt beneath my feet, I squinted against the bright sunlight and breathed deeply the cool fresh mountain air. Pikes Peak and the front range were spread out before me and I felt comfort in creation.

Living in Africa for 5 months, and only recently returning, I have found myself in a season of homecoming. My friend with whom I was walking also has just returned to Colorado after a time away. As I expressed that Colorado was just home, her smile and her agreement said it all.

Our time away changed my husband and I. Time away changed our friend. Colorado may not be filled with the same activities or even the same people as it once was, but this place is where I can breathe deep the familiar smells of the place I come from.

I continued hiking, still a bit sad in my thoughts, and yet I felt God all around me as I walked the trail to the view you see in the picture above. When we are home, there should be something healing in arriving there, experiencing the familiar, being able to rest in what we know.

I began thinking that God gave us His creation to call our hearts to the beauty of what is to come. In His creation, in the way He created you personally to experience it, there is a rest that calls to us. Whether it is the mountains of Colorado, the lush green of the African bush, or the wide oceans of the coastal places, there is something of Him displayed for you. Sunrises and sunsets, rain on your face or the warmth of the shining sun, it is a way to experience the comfort He's given to us now and yearn for that which is yet to come.

Jesus said that He has prepared a place for us.

As I reached the top of that hill, God reminded me that He is with me and that I was not alone in my somewhat sad thoughts. He is all around me, displaying his beauty and glory in the red dirt, the bright sunlight, the cool air, and even in the youthful frolicking of my dog.

God reminded me that unlike this homecoming that has held some joy and some sadness, in the homecoming to come, He will be what is familiar to me. He is the most intimate thing I have with me now that will still be with me then.

I pray you take some time to hike a trail or watch a sunset. May you find comfort in Him, your true home.

Take a deep breath, He is in it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Written Love

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and once again, I woke up rushing and hoping I'd have time to make my husband's breakfast and lunch, and then drive him to work. As I grabbed my phone to check the time, still a little damp around my edges from the shower, I saw a heart. It had writing on it. It was for me!

Like a little girl I clapped my hands and sat down to read. The love of my life claims he is not a writer, and maybe he isn't according to college scholars, but what he writes is beautiful to me. It's his heart pouring into mine. There on a simple page with the rough cut edges of a heart shape, were his words for me to see, but not only to see, but to keep and read again and again. 

There is something powerful and lasting about the written word. It holds something. It's something that keeps us up at night reading when we really should be sleeping. It's something that when we miss someone we can go back and look at how they wrote, what they wrote, hear their voice and remember a time that was beautiful to us. In those moments, often just reading the words can resurrect feelings, emotions, memories. Words put on a page are powerful.

As I sat on the bed and read what my husband had written to me, his written love brought me to life. He didn't spend a lot of money or take me out for an expensive night on the town. He gave me what I love most. He gave me written words that I can hold to my heart and remember his love for me anytime, any day, any moment. That is sacred to me.

I found myself wanting to tell people about how awesome my husband was. To share with them that I love being loved by him. To get them to see how great it was that he took the time to find scissors and cut me out a heart and then write on it in different colored pens to tell me how much he loved me. To help them realize it was special because he put effort and thought into it. 

Later that morning I sat down to read my Bible and rested on Ephesians 1. God spoke to my heart in the tender way that he so often does. I read the words that God had written. I saw repetitive themes such as: in love, in him, that we may know hope, that we may know the immeasurable power that he worked in Christ. 

Just as my husband's written love had brought me to life so this written love did the same, but even more so. God saw fit to write his thoughts, his heart, his love down for those who want to experience it. Just as my husband's note is something that I can pick up to remind me anytime, any day, any moment of his love for me, so God's word is meant to do the same. 

I was reminded yesterday by my husband and by my God how much I love the written word. So I leave you with these things to ponder...

Do you see the Bible as a love letter or is it a set of rules to bind you from the life you want? Is God the greatest lover of all time or is he the annoying guy who you wish would leave you alone because his love could never possibly be enough? Do you think Jesus was just a man or is the pretty unbelievable stuff he accomplished evidence of the effort and thought God put in to showing his love for you?

I pray you would feel well loved because you are. Husband or no husband. Flowers or no flowers. Chocolates or no chocolates. Your love letter has been written. I pray you would clap your hands in anticipation as you sit down to read it and experience this written love.