Wednesday, August 29, 2018


HE did it again.

He showed me an answer, exactly what I needed, in such a unique way that it could have only been Him.

In the last couple of days and most specifically the last 24 hours, there has been quite a focus in conversation with myself and my spouse, a neighbor/friend, and a few friends that near or live more than a few hundred miles away about being in that hard place of feeling disconnect with God. Of feeling in a dry season.  With a faith that just feels lifeless.  I honestly shared that though I wasn't feeling it to the deepest level they are currently experiencing, I am in that same struggle or I HAVE been in that depth many times before. It's a reality we all face if we choose to be honest.

I don't think there is a problem with being in that place.  No shame in it. I think if we are living and breathing on this earth and not at home in heaven, we will find ourselves at times at a loss for "feeling" the connection.  Maybe there's some out there that are so holy and spiritually that they just always feel alive and as if He is sitting so very close with no gap and no silence.  But, I think they're lying or too afraid to be vulnerable. 

We can and do FEEL that way.  We have different seasons of life that it feels harder to find Him or that we have to work at it HARDER and LONGER than we want to maintain it. We think it should feel effortless, but we find it takes extreme effort.

Here's the thing...

Experiencing it and staying there are two different things. To walk through it is one thing.  To lay down there in that desert and give up is an entirely different thing.

What do we do in the middle of it? How to we get to the other side of it?

We remember that our feelings lie.  They are indicators not dictators. We don't have to act on what we feel. 

We CLING to and CLAIM the promises of His truth.  We get in the Word.  We listen to worship music, contemporary Christian music, hymns, or even classical/instrumental.  We let the words wash over our souls.  We let the music calm our spirits or we let it revive our souls.  We turn off the TV shows we probably shouldn't be watching anyway, the ones that keep our anxiety stirred up or fill our minds with images that don't belong.  The ones that have words or attitudes we don't need to see or hear.  We get picky about the books we read and the places we go. We turn to a trusted few friends that we know have our best interest at heart. We all need community and let me be the first to say your tribe doesn't have to be large. Just this past week, I've gone through some REALLY deep hard valleys and NEEDED some of my tribe.  It only took TWO people to gather around me (and they can even live miles away) and pull me up and out of the pit I was sinking in. Two women of faith, one that is ahead of my season of life and one that is not quite where I am yet. Those praying and encouraging hearts were VITALLY priceless.

We must allow our minds to have margin to HEAR.  If we are so busy going and going, we ARE going to feel disconnect.  It's hard for Him to get our attention if we never stand still long enough to listen to Him.  Truly listen, not just hear.

"The Son of God saved my life, but the Word of God saved my mind."

Those are some very powerful words.  If we don't have the Word IN us, it can't flow FROM us.  We won't have anything to sustain us in those periods of disconnect.  Then that place we were meant to just pass through becomes a place we are stuck. And then we get paralyzed by our doubts and that is exactly the place where Satan can really come in and destroy so much.

It's like I'm constantly having to remind one of my children to brush his teeth. Seriously, why is that always a battle?! He doesn't seem to think it's as necessary as we as his parents and his dentist continuously tell him.  Why do we stay on top of it?  Because WE KNOW the results of what happens if he continuously doesn't. Surely, I don't need to create a visual of what happens if he doesn't.  But it comes down to this, his teeth will rot out or a whole host of other problems.  So we tell him it's important and expect him to follow through.  He may not can see it's something that's needed every day, preferably more than once a day, but we KNOW it is.  Getting in the Word is the same concept.  You may not THINK you need it every day, but you do.  Anyone that is lovingly reminding you of that importance KNOWS how vital it is and is only trying to help you to prevent more problems.  They know and they want you to know and experience firsthand the changes it makes and how it truly helps you hang on through the hard seasons and dry spells.  His Word isn't limited to just 30 minutes in the pulpit on Sunday morning.

I also look at it like this...

You come home late at night and for some reason the house is completely dark. Someone forgot to leave the lights on or you expected to be home before dark. You can't see anything or you might see a faint outline.


Because it's your house and you've made your way around it time and time again, you can pretty much feel your way around and manage to get to the light switch.  Because you've spent enough time there, your brain has memorized the path, even if you weren't specifically sitting down and trying to do so.  If you close your eyes right now, I bet you can, in general, describe your surroundings especially if it's a place you visit often, like home or work. In the dark, you can still get to that switch and turn the light on. Yes, you may trip a bit, your steps may not be steady, and you might even knock over a few things (especially if your a klutz like me....sorry's in your genes!).

In those dark seasons, because you've spent other times saturating yourself in His Word, YOUR lifeline, you CAN feel your way through the hard season until you are fully connected back with the light.  Back to Him. Because those words have imprinted on your heart, they will speak to your soul in the faintest of whispers, giving you the courage and hope you need until your spirit feels alive again.

But, if you haven't spent that time in His Word, your spiritual tank will be empty.  It will have nothing to draw from.  You can't cling to His promises if you don't KNOW His promises.  You can't cling to the truth He says about you to silence the lies of Satan, if you don't know what He says about you.  You can't draw water from an empty well.

When you feed yourself from His word today its power isn't limited to today.  It will be available to your heart when you need it the most.  Most especially in those times that your emotions and feelings can't be trusted.  Because they lie. They really do.  They'll tell you no one cares and that He has forsaken you.  Lie upon lie.

Back to the beginning and how He answered me today in a way only He could...

I was praying this morning for some very specific hearts struggling with either disconnect or just overwhelming situations.  I asked for Him to give me wisdom to encourage their hearts.  I'd already shared a few things with them, but I wanted to make sure there wasn't something else that I could share.  Straight from Him. Beyond the urging to not stop praying for them and to keep letting them know they weren't alone, I didn't quite have any "big" answers to share.  No real wisdom.

However, a couple of hours later, I had this overwhelming urge to pick up a Bible study that I had put down unfinished many months ago.  I'm in a rush to watch a list of videos a page long that coincide with studies I currently have because I have a subscription ending that I chose not to renew. I'm pouring every spare minute into watching those while I can.  There was NO REASON for me to search for this particular one and pull it out.  In my mind, I really needed to stick with those on MY LIST.  Instead He kept pulling my attention to the one HE had in mind.  So, I sat down with it.  Reluctantly I might add in honesty.  I had some technology issues getting the companion video to play.  But He kept urging me to watch it.  I started it and there just wasn't much being said that I felt I needed to hear.  Perhaps I wasn't listening very well or was being stubborn.  Perhaps I was too busy wanting my own way and wanting to get to my list.  I decided it was a waste of time and paused it with the intention of pulling another one up as soon as I finished with a question one of my boys had about one of his school assignments. When I cam back it was REALLY pressing on me that I thought I'd give it a few more seconds, reluctantly, and BAM..... what He wanted me to hear was smack dab in a video that I really didn't think would apply. 

The valley of dry bones, Ezekiel 37, was the context.

And then I knew.  I knew the reminder He wanted to give my own heart, but more importantly I knew that message He wanted me to share with those specific individuals that had been sharing their heart with me. And perhaps (and the whole reason for writing this novel...) maybe YOU need this reminder. I need this reminder today and I might need again and again down the road.


You shall live. He can breathe new life into you.  If He can breathe life into DRY BONES, He most definitely can breathe life into you.  If He can give life to a BONE, He most definitely can take your heart that is still beating, even though raw with emotion, and GIVE YOU LIFE. That bone was just a bone, but upon the word of the Sovereign Lord, breath entered, life was given, tendons came together and flesh covered them.  They came to life and stood on their feet! Why? Verse 6 says, "THEN you will know that I AM THE LORD".

That's it, dear ones, He brings life back to us for His glory. To reveal Himself. To bring Him honor.  Maybe as a reminder for the next time we doubt or the next time we feel lost.  We will remember. We will remember that His Spirit is within us, therefore it CAN'T be that far away and out of reach. "I will bring you back."

Cling to this, especially on your hardest days that you feel like you just can't find Him and that you feel just like that dry bone....

"HIS specialty is resurrecting people from the dead."

It's time to come back to life.

Today is the day. Remember these words, YOU WILL come to life.  Not if.  WILL.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Just Hang On

The strangest thing happened this morning. My phone started beeping incessantly, the tone indicating I had a messenger message. Lots of them. In abundance.  I instantly grumbled wondering who had included me in an annoying group message that was getting constant replies. Or I was frustrated that I had forgotten to turn off notifications for a Facebook live with one of my book launch or Bible study groups.

But it was neither case. Technically speaking, I have no explanation, but it seems like a massive amount of conversations dating all the way back to early 2009 suddenly showed unread or no longer archived. It was as if I was receiving many of those old messages for the first time.

As I spent time clearing out the notifications, deleting, skimming, etc... I just got completely overwhelmed and emotional.

I obviously didn't have time to read them all,  nor did I want to, but many caught my eye. It's so strange to get a glimpse rather quickly of the last almost full decade of life in words. I don't know about everyone else, but much of my messenger consists of deeper conversations, follow ups, or more details of things read or posted.

I saw lots of "ordinary" things like reminders for church activities, lots of VBS planning sessions, homeschool group or parent's morning out reminders and interactions. Here and there were "hey, send me that recipe or link". Even saw a few messages arranging schedules for gymnastics meets back when that seemed to be our whole life. Just the ordinary life things. Not really significant, but a reminder of the fullness of life in BUSY trenches of parenting and ministry.

But, it was some of the others that stopped me in my tracks and drew me in a bit deeper. SO much of the depth of life and its many hard seasons were shared behind those scenes. Walking through life with others in the messy places. Multiple divorces, prodigal children, death of spouses or children, miscarriages, devastating diagnosis of many, being notified of tragedies, lots of venting over hard seasons others were going through especially in parenting or spiritual struggles. Real life. Hard.

Some brought much joy. Multiple conversation threads were waiting for updates of birth of children that were greatly anticipated. Or waiting for dear ones to come through medical procedures or court cases in adoptions/ foster care. They were stressful at the time, but all ended in joyful reports.

I even came across several in very hard situations when very close loved ones or friends were in middle of extreme medical crisis. Intense.  I even came across a few that were almost too hard to read, like during my dad's illness and death, my miscarriage, my own difficult seasons of many kinds that were devastating at the time and discussed while raw and with vulnerability. Lots of conversations and great uncertainty while navigating overseas deployments in volatile situations, even when some of those nearest to our soldiers didn't come back home. There were even some that I forced myself to delete permanently instead of reading and getting angry or dragging up things I worked hard to forgive. I wanted to read them, but I knew it would just hurt and serve no purpose. (I think that's a true sign of forgiveness, maturity or healing when you get to the point EVENTUALLY when you can say, "Nope, not going there!")

Though I'm honestly flabbergasted with what in the world caused all of those messages to return in bulk, a great big message reached my heart. Something my heart desperately needed. Maybe the technical aspect was a glitch, but the message spoken to my soul was clear.

Hang on.

Let me repeat that: Hang on.

Most importantly, hang on with faith and hope.

So much of what I skimmed and read was summed up in one word: intense.  I was in crisis or I was walking with someone else through crisis. Or we were picking up pieces after a crisis. Banged up. Overwhelmed. Broken. Not seeing a way out. Incapable.

In the middle of the mess, in the moments of desperation it MOST DEFINITELY can seem like there's no way something is going to work out, get better, or hurt less.  The emotions can be so raw, the anger so justified, the bitterness so thick, that it's suffocating. The scenario may be so unlikely to have a way out. The sting of rejection or loss so profound you don't know how you'll breathe again. The mind and body so overwhelmed, you don't know if you can make it another day or even another minute. The regrets so deep you may feel like you can never forgive the offender or even yourself. The physical or emotional pain may just feel like you'll never get relief.

Just hold on. Just keep clinging to faith, even if the thread is so thin and shriveled it looks as if it will tear beyond repair.

Just hold on.

Looking back in that flash of almost 10 years of hard things, I was reminded that I survived. Even the hardest, most intense obstacles and brokenness. Yes, I have loved ones no longer with me because of death. Yes, many of those hard situations I walked through with others resulted in divorce, ended relationships, their loss of loved ones that God chose to only heal heavenside, and many of their situations remain difficult, unresolved, or with life changing results. Many of mine, too. Yes, there's a constant pull of life being difficult in some capacity. Yes, there's been some real heartache and obstacles that didn't get wrapped up in neat and tidy bows. That might mean that like me you have a dear friend no longer in your daily life and you find it hard with that specific absence. That might mean you also have someone that you can't have in your daily life anymore because of dysfunction, abuse, or toxicity and IT HURTS. Maybe you've buried a child, parent, spouse, friend, etc... and the hole left behind still feels larger than life. Maybe you battle a health issue that affects day to day living or maybe even threatens your life (or someone near you is battling). Maybe no matter how hard you try the financial hits keep coming.  Maybe you long for something specific that He hasn't provided. Maybe you've tried everything as a parent or spouse and the frustrations keep climbing because you're still fighting the same battle day after day. Maybe you're just TIRED.

Don't give up.

As of this moment, you've survived 100% of your hardest days. You've come through. You may be banged up and still wounded, but you came through.

The reminder of those hard things boosted my faith today. Yes, some stung to glance over because they didn't turn out according to my plans or wishes. Some I'd honestly forgotten until today's reminder and at the time they were HARD and reading brought a sudden rush of emotions.

Today, I remember with gratitude. Gratitude that He brought me or someone close through it. Gratitude for the lessons learned though some came painfully. Gratitude for seeing His hand now in a situation that I may not have seen or understood at the time. Gratitude for renewed hope and strength. Gratitude for those that walked together in the trenches through hard seasons, even though some may have only walked a season, but they were vital at the time.

Though today was full of hard reminders, it overflowed with joy filled ones as well. Even some of those hard times had joyous outcomes. Even in grief there are pockets of joy and laughter. Someone's small kindness in a hard season may mean so much to your wounded heart. Maybe someone's kind words or spiritual insight helped at the moment, but helped even greater down the road.

Life is messy, but so very beautiful. Working in the garden, I often get the not so gentle reminders that there are thorns, barbs, "stickers", etc... surrounding beautiful and bountiful things. Those painful things help make the beautiful  grow and thrive.

Keep thriving. Keep clinging to hope.

Just hold on.

Hope remains.

You've got this. Whatever the "this" is that you're battling, scared of, recovering from, hiding from, or trying to claw your way through...

Hang on. Carry on, warrior, carry on!