August 29, 2016

The Way Out Is Through

As much as we would like to bypass a difficult situation and be delivered from it altogether, most of the time, we have to go through to come out on the other side.

Eventually, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel and we will make it through.

This picture was taken when Randy and I drove from Dallas to Phoenix to see his family for Christmas in December 2014. Twelve hours of driving on a Tuesday and six hours of driving on the Wednesday which was Christmas Eve. Once we were in Arizona we turned off Interstate-10 and took a road less traveled and much more scenic.

I was almost dozing off when my eyes opened wide at the scene in front of me, this tunnel through the mountain suddenly before me. I grabbed my phone as quick as I could and took this picture, and I can’t believe how well it turned out as quickly as I took it.

What a visual reminder that the way out is through. And that you will get through. You won’t always be in this difficult place. 

 Is there a mountain looming in your life right now? A storm you wish would go away but won’t? A trial that is difficult and scary?

I hope you will find comfort and strength as you walk through a difficult season and I hope you know God is always with you each step of the way and He will never let you go. He will take you through and you will come out on the other side.

Joshua 1:9 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

August 14, 2016

A Self-Imposed Fog

I read a devotion the other day on trusting God through the fog, the writer recounting a difficult drive down a foggy mountain road and trusting God to take her safely home. 

I have not had that experience of driving down a foggy mountain road. And yet, recently…I created my own fog on a bright sunny day.

Nothing had changed. A blinding fog did not roll in and obscure my view. I just took my eyes off what God can do and let circumstances overwhelm me with doubt and fear. I was not a friend to myself. I was a saboteur of my own journey. 

For a while I let a thick fog swirl around me and swallow up my hope and faith and pull me into a dark place where discouragement filled my heart.

We all have those days when praying, waiting, and working toward something are met with discouragement. We often find we derail our confidence in the Lord with our own weakness and wrong thinking because for a while we take our eyes off of Him and instead let a fog of doubt and worry surround us. The fog comes rolling in when I take my eyes off of the Lord. 

It is a miserable place to be when we feel like we have lost our way and can’t find a clear solution.

There are multiple possibilities for our discouragement. Here are just a few:

  • We become impatient because we have already waited a very long time for answers.
  • We might convince ourselves we have asked for too much or too big and back down from our asking.
  • We don’t see any signs of change in our difficult situation and hopelessness leads to great frustration.
  • Our task looks too complicated to complete and we feel like giving up.

We will all go through discouragement when faced with the above type scenarios. But will we let discouragement rule our lives, or will we place our trust in God to work those things that we can’t comprehend? Will we remind ourselves how He has worked for our good in other difficult times?

When I realized that all the negativity I was experiencing was a product of my own doing and that my reasons for discouragement were based on feelings and emotions run amuck, the fog began to lift and clear thinking prevailed. I stood my ground with faith and trust and let the sun break through all the fog.

When my self-imposed fog lifted and I experienced the fresh air of hope and faith once more, I truly felt a wave of energy surge through my body, heart and soul. God’s indwelling spirit renewed me and I welcomed His faithfulness to me as His strength overcame my weakness and I felt strong and whole. The sky was blue again, the sun was shining and all fog had lifted away. 

Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

August 10, 2016

The Neighbors and the Fence

Lamentations 3:22-23
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

After two damaging spring hail storms, a portion of our wood fence was replaced when one of our neighbors behind us was approved for all new fencing by his insurance company.

He hired a crew that was obviously not a top notch crew. I think it was a friend of a friend and well, it was clear they weren’t expert fence people. Thank goodness we only shared about 50 feet of fence!

But, half of that length bordered a section of our lawn and the other half bordered my flower beds that contain a birdbath, garden bench, flower pots, and a decorative trellis among other typical decorative garden items.

From an upstairs window I watched the crew begin to tear down the fence and when they broke the first section loose they pushed it over onto our lawn, which meant the next section, if pushed carelessly like the first section, would crash onto several breakable items in my garden.

My heart began to race at the thought of them destroying my flower beds and its contents. I told myself, they will look around the fence and see what is on the other side and seeing that it is a decorated flower bed, they will not just push a whole section over onto it. But, I continued to watch and no one looked around to see what was on the other side. They just started to pry it loose and I knew that in a matter of a couple minutes it would be pushed over onto my flower bed. I ran down the stairs and through the house and out the patio door yelling stop, stop!

I got to them just in time to stop them.

And then, I lost my temper. I angrily let them know they should have more regard for other people’s property. They should know what is on the other side of a fence before they push it over.

Then I went inside the house and quickly began to feel the shame that I had not handled the situation more calmly. Talk about not being a good testimony as a Christian. I failed big time.

I walked back outside and across the back yard where they were carefully taking down the section of fence so it wouldn’t fall on my garden, and I took a deep breath and began to apologize for how I yelled at them. I did mention something about the fact that they did truly need to consider what is on the other side of a fence before they just push it over. But I said it very sweetly this time. 

They accepted my apology and although I still felt bad because I lost my temper, I also began to feel much lighter of heart after I apologized. I knew God had given me grace to do the right thing and I knew that His gift of mercy for me that day was new and fresh just for me in the moment I needed it.

I messed up. His mercy made me whole again.

August 3, 2016

Breath of Prayer

When breath is prayer and words are hard to find, You still hear me.
You understand the language of my heart.
When nearly silent whispers call out to You, I rest assured You still hear me.
My prayers— not always eloquent or reasonably spoken,
Speak to the depth and gravity of need and breadth of hearts desire.

I found this in my poetry files this past week, not even remembering ever writing the words. I almost deleted it at one point as I worked on it yet couldn’t get it to come together. Then, I actually did hit delete and sent it to the recycle bin and a few days later, restored it from the recycle bin and read it again.

It still seems awkward but I think that is the point. So, I am going to leave it, sort of feeling unfinished, sort of feeling like it doesn’t quite speak a succinct message.

Prayer can feel awkward sometimes because it is such a mystery. There are times we can wonder if we are doing it right. There are times we don’t know what to say even though our hearts are so full of words and thoughts needing expression.

Aren’t we blessed though to know our prayers are heard and understood in spite of awkward and clumsy attempts to approach the throne of God? Aren’t we blessed to have an invitation to come boldly?

Yes, Boldly.

If I could choose boldly over clumsy and awkward, I would every time. Thankfully, God says, bring it all. Bring it boldly.

He hears and understands our every breath of prayer.