Faith is Believing God. Period.

She absently picked at a scab on her leg as she held one of her old journals and read a conversation about faith she had had with Jesus years ago.

“Jesus, this is still not too clear in my head,” her younger self had written.

What wasn’t too clear? As she was about to turn back a page or two in the journal, she stopped just in time. Her finger was covered in blood! Great, she thought as she put down her journal and picked up a nearby napkin to place over the blood oozing out from the freshly opened wound where she had removed the scab. Holding the napkin in place with one hand, she picked up the journal with the other hand and continued searching for what had not been clear.

Her younger self had been writing about faith and had referenced Hebrews 11:1-6.

She knew that Heb 11:1 started with, “Now faith is…” but couldn’t remember exactly what came next. Something about things not seen.  Feeling that it was important to know the rest, she picked up her phone and opened the Bible app. Suddenly, out of the blue, her nose began dripping.

“What now,” she thought as she removed the napkin from her leg and tore off a clean portion. She shifted uncomfortably on the couch as she blew her nose. Trying to see without her contacts, which she had not yet put in that morning, resulted in an awkward position as she had to hold both the journal and her phone close to her face. And her dog had decided to camp out on her legs restricting even more movement. She tossed the napkin into the small trash can she kept by the couch. Dabbing at her leg with the rest of the napkin revealed that the bleeding had stopped. Good. She threw the rest of the napkin into the trash can and picked up her phone, but before she could start reading, she noticed a growing pain in her left hip and on the left side of her neck. “Oh no,” she thought as she put the phone back down. “It’s like something doesn’t want me to read this.” She pushed the dog off her legs and completely re-positioned herself.

Once comfortable, she picked up the journal and reached for her phone. Again her nose began dripping. “Where is this coming from?” she wondered, exasperation creeping into her thoughts. “I don’t have a cold, no allergies, and I haven’t been crying. So what’s the deal?”

After blowing her nose again, she reached for a notebook and a pen to record Heb 11:1 – but somehow she managed to grab the wrong side of the pen and got ink on her hand. Staring at it in unbelief, she thought, “OK, this is getting crazy.” Determined now to read what she was being distracted from, she picked up her phone, found Heb 11, and began reading.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

She read the following verses about the creation of the world, Abel and Cain, and Enoch. Then she got to verse 6: “and without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Was that what her younger self was confused about? Why? It seemed straightforward enough. She put her phone down and picked up the old journal.

“Jesus, this is still not too clear in my head. Please explain it more clearly.”

“Faith is knowing My Father knows best and that He’s in control. And that He can and will do what He says. Faith is not questioning but accepting…”

She thought about how God had been teaching her about believing Him for over a year. Really deep down with no reservations believing Him no matter how things look to her. It was easy to believe Him when everything was going well. But did she still believe Him when things looked as bad as they did now weeks after the category 4 hurricane had ripped through her town? Did she still believe He even existed when everywhere she looked she saw devastation and hurting people and needs that far exceeded her income?

Yes, she did believe. And she chose, moment by moment, to keep believing each time fear, worry, stress, or complaints tried to rise up in her. Although God understood these things, He was not pleased with them because they were evidence of a lack of faith. If she gave in to fear and worry, she would be saying that she didn’t really REALLY believe God was taking care of her. Maybe even that she had no confidence in His ability or desire to take care of her. And if she began to complain, she would be saying she wasn’t happy with His care and didn’t want to accept what He had chosen to allow in her life – like He wasn’t really in charge of everything after all. Instead, as she chose to believe God loved her, was in control of everything, and was taking care of her, she found peace replacing all those stressful emotions. Bottom line? Faith means believing God. And acting like it.

So THAT’s why all the distractions. Someone didn’t want her faith affirmed with a message that was as much for her today as it had been for her all those years ago. Today, when so much of her life seemed to be controlled by someone and something else, she knew He loved her enough to use an old journal to confirm to her that He IS in control and that He IS taking care of her like He had promised. Not only taking care of her basic needs, but also surprising her from time to time with amazing rewards – just because He said He would. Knowing this, she knew she no longer had to focus on her own needs but was free to seek ways to help other people with their needs.

Now that’s faith in action.

red heart on a old opened book ii
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

(NOTE: I did draw a picture to go with this blog, but weird stuff continues to happen that prevents me from getting it from my phone camera to here. Like how I’ve been able to transfer pictures from my phone to my computer using hot spot but can no longer do so as of yesterday when internet was restored on my computer. And yet when I try to use internet, it tells me there’s no connection. And how my phone can get on Facebook just fine, but tells me I have no internet access when I try to get on WordPress so I can’t add the drawing directly from my phone to my blog. But one day, hopefully soon, I WILL get this figured out and be able to add my own drawing!)

Climbing the Mountain like a Turtle

She opened the front door and stepped outside. The bright sun caused her to squint as she closed the door behind her. It was hot – too hot to be outside. Good thing she was heading to her car instead of starting her dreaded daily walk around the neighborhood. She had only taken a step or two when something small caught her eye. A box turtle? What was a box turtle doing on her front patio? And this one appeared to be a baby! She stopped to watch it as she contemplated whether she needed to rescue it or not. Where would be a good place to relocate it? As she watched, it began to move quickly towards a nearby bush.

IMG_20180924_101328100_HDR (2)
The turtle, tired of the hot, rough sidewalk, hurried towards some shade she had glimpsed from across the patio.

I’m like this turtle, she thought. Sometimes my life is as uncomfortable as this hot, rough sidewalk, and all I want to do is cross over it to get to somewhere more comfortable.

IMG_20180924_101335430_HDR (2)
What’s this? She wasn’t expecting such a high barrier of large rocks. They hadn’t looked this big from the other side of the patio. Would she really have to climb these rocks?

Yep, she thought. Always something to block me from what I want. And it’s usually just as daunting as these rocks appear to this turtle.

IMG_20180924_101337332_HDR (2)
If she wanted to reach the shade, yes, she would have to climb these rocks. Resigned, she began climbing.

She thought of the mountains in her life. If she wanted a better marriage, if she wanted a healthier weight, if she wanted a cleaner house, if she wanted a closer relationship with her God, she would have to climb mountains to get to them. Mountains as high and hard and difficult as what the turtle was facing. Did she have the same determination as the turtle to start climbing?

IMG_20180924_101342280_HDR (2)
At first it was kind of easy. “This is not so bad,” she thought. But before long, she felt her balance shifting.

Isn’t that the truth, she thought. Mountains are always so deceiving. They start off easy, but soon, too soon, they have a way of throwing you off balance. Mountains are never that easy.

 

IMG_20180924_101343910_HDR (2)
Oh no! The weight of her shell was pulling her backwards. She was going to fall! In an attempt to stop the backwards momentum, she stretched out all she had, including her neck.

She thought of rock climbers. They never got off balance. Did they? Why not? So what made this turtle get off balance? It was the weight of what it carried on its back. That’s it! It’s the weight of my baggage that makes climbing mountains so hard, she thought excitedly. If I got rid of the baggage – stuff I drag with me from my past, stuff I refuse to let go of because I think I need it – I wouldn’t be losing my balance all the time. And whatever I left behind, God could replace. Right? But… she thought about the turtle shell. The turtle couldn’t just leave its shell behind, could it? The shell was too much a part of it. Just like there were some things she was incapable of leaving behind herself. She watched closely to see how the turtle was going to handle this problem, sensing it would also be an answer for her.

IMG_20180924_101348853_HDR (2)
It worked! She was no longer falling backwards, but she was also not moving forwards. She stretched out her neck even more, giving it everything she had.

Ahh, she thought. The turtle, although it couldn’t take off its shell, did have something with which to counter the balance problem. Its neck! It stuck out its neck! It let itself be vulnerable in order to try to save itself. Isn’t that what Jesus wants us to do – become vulnerable? To open our hearts to Him? To stick out necks, so to speak, in faith, towards others? To love others even when they don’t love us back? To give to those who ask even if it hurts?  But, she wondered, was it going to work?

IMG_20180924_101357023_HDR (2)
Yea! Her shell slowly righted itself and she was back on her feet. Should she go back? This climb was dangerous. She couldn’t have fallen off and landed on her back, not able to move. Besides, all she could see was the rock wall she was climbing. She couldn’t see over the top of those rocks. Was there really shade up there? Or had she just imagined it?

Relief and amazement flooded through her. The turtle was OK. It didn’t fall. It was safe. Or was it? Why wasn’t it moving? Did it change its mind? That’s what she usually did when the way got hard. Insecurities, questions, doubts, and fears all seemed to stop her from getting to the top each time. And each time she was stopped, she returned to the bottom where it was easier. Would the turtle do the same?

IMG_20180924_101358693_HDR (2)
She decided to trust her vision. The possible shade was worth the work and danger of this climb. Deciding to keep her neck out for balance, she began climbing once again.

Nope, the turtle didn’t give up. It knew what it had seen and it wanted it more than it wanted the ease of the sidewalk. That’s what I need to do, she thought. God gives me visions of what’s up there. I need to trust Him and just keep climbing no matter how hard it gets.

IMG_20180924_101401482_HDR (2)
Finally she could see her goal ahead of her. Yes! The shade was real! Excited now, she began to move a little faster.

She was surprised at the envy she felt as the turtle entered the shade. There was shade available in her own life. Promises God had given her. All she had to do was climb the mountain to get there. So why was she envious of a turtle? Maybe because that turtle was more committed than she was?  Maybe because that turtle had more faith than she did? Or maybe because the turtle wanted it more than she did? She knew this turtle had given her a lot to think about.

IMG_20180924_101427593
She had done it! Here was the promised shade, where she could rest and maybe even catch something to eat. Was the climb worth it? Oh yeah!

Goodbye, little turtle, she thought as she walked away. Thank you for teaching me something I needed to learn today. Maybe someday I’ll make it to the top of one of my mountains just like you did.

What Does Your Chair Look Like?

IMG_20180810_163206342

“Look at the lounge chairs.”

She turned and looked.

“What do you see?”

She looked at the lounges. They were the usual blue lounges found at most pool sides. All were pointed towards the water. All were well used. All were empty. So?

“Look again.”

She took another look.  Although the chairs were all pointing in the same direction, they were not lined up in a perfect row, and the backs were all set at different angles. She frowned in concentration.

“What are they telling you?”

Hmmm… she thought. What would these chairs be telling me if I could hear them? That they were there to serve people? That they were enjoying the sun just as she was? That they were in the place they were supposed to be? That they were lined up casually and set at different angles?

She thought about how the angles would affect her line of vision.  If she sat in the chair with the back straight up, her eyes would look out over the pool. She would see the sparkling blue water and all the people who were in it. If she sat in the chair with the back all the way down, she would be able to see the brilliant white clouds as they slowly passed by and birds as they flew overhead. But she would no longer be able to see the water or the people. The other chairs, with backs set at different angles, would allow her to see varying amounts of both water and sky.

The chairs are like our faith, she mused. Sitting in one with the back straight up doesn’t take much faith. Our muscles could hold us upright comfortably even if the back of the chair should give way. But lying back, no longer using our own strength but trusting the chair to hold us up requires more faith.

And the amount of faith we practice affects what we focus on. With little faith, like sitting upright in a lounge chair, our view is limited on what we see around us. Our focus is on the physical world and all its troubles along with its beauty with little ability to see into the spiritual realm.  The more faith we practice, like the further back we recline, the more of the spiritual world we’ll be able to see. We can still see the physical world, but our focus becomes increasingly centered on God and His kingdom. We are better able to see things as God does. And lying fully back? That probably only happens when in the midst of fully worshipping God… or when we die, she thought wryly.

“So, what does your chair look like?”

She thought about that. She knew what she would have liked to have answered. But the truth was – her chair was constantly changing angles. And then, she knew. That was the whole point of this lesson. Her chair was not going to stay in one position, or even progress steadily to a flat position. And that was OK. The important thing was to ask herself, especially in times of stress, “What does your chair look like?”

Because her chair may need a little adjusting from time to time to get the best view.

Rachel’s Story, part 3: BP Roller Coaster

With her new baby doing well in the Level Two nursery, Rachel should have been able to relax and concentrate on recovery from her c-section. However, her blood pressure just IMG_20180625_101321910would not be controlled. Time after time, nurses would come in to check it. Rachel would feel relieved and hopeful when it was lower, but then get frustrated when it climbed back up. No one ever knew from reading to reading what it would be. Rachel grew to dread the readings, which only made it worse.

“It’ll come down,” the nurses would tell her. “Just give it time.”

After several days, Rachel wasn’t surprised to find her blood pressure medication was being changed yet again. Because she was attempting to breast feed, she couldn’t be on her pre-pregnancy medication which had worked well for her. And the doctors and nurses here at the hospital hadn’t found the right medication at the right dosage to bring about the same results. Her blood pressure continued to range from really low to dangerously high, with most being on the high side.

“Don’t worry,” they all told her. “We’ll get this worked out.” But how could she not worry? She knew the risks associated with high blood pressure. She began to practice zoning out each time they placed the cuff on her. She focused on nothing, breathing deep and slow, until the machine beeped. Then she’d look over at it, at first hopeful, but later with pessimism as her own attempt to help lower it failed.

She tried to keep her thoughts on other things. She didn’t like watching TV but she had her cell phone and lap top and lots of friends on-line. Her husband and parents stayed with her as long as they could. Her mom even slept in the room with her, providing someone to talk to and a distraction when needed. She tried pumping every three hours although her milk had not come in yet which gave her something else she could focus on. That one or two clear drops the machine managed to get from her were taken directly to the nurses each time by whoever was in the room because Rachel limited the number of times she got out of bed. She worried that moving around would raise her blood pressure even more, so she kept herself as still as she could.

“You need to walk,” her mom would tell her. “Walking might help lower your blood pressure.”

“You need to walk,” her dad would tell her. “Walking can’t hurt you and it might even help you.”

“You might want to walk,” her nurses told her. “If you’re up to it, you could walk a lap around the nurses work station. It will help you.”

But Rachel was never up to it. She wanted her blood pressure to come down first. She didn’t want a heart attack. However, she did give in eventually and started walking very short distances before asking for the wheelchair.

A couple more days went by. Nurses continued taking frequent blood pressure readings, Rachel continued to practice zoning out each time, her doctor sought the help of another doctor who had more experience with resistant high blood pressure, and many people were praying for her. The maternity ward just happened to be pretty empty so the nurses were able to spend a lot of time giving her personal care – reassuring and encouraging her throughout those long days and nights.

Yet nothing seemed to be working. As the numbers neared 200, her thoughts began to drift towards what might happen if they couldn’t get it down. She could have a stroke. She could die. And the words to a popular song that kept coming back to her didn’t help. “Help me want the Healer.more than the healing..”

Finally, in the middle of the fifth night, she could no longer hold it in and she began to cry. “I know God has a plan. But what if His plan is for me to die?”

“Don’t worry about that,” her mom tried to comfort her. “God will take care of you.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about,” she cried harder. “It’s Aaron and the baby. What will it do to them?” She went into the bathroom and closed the door.

Her mom, at a loss for words, decided to turn on some worship music. Maybe filling the room with the presence of God through the music would help. She pulled up one of her favorite Christian radio stations on her lap top and set the volume to provide soft background music. Then she prayed. She knew the struggle her daughter was going through. Did her daughter’s deep faith and trust in God with everyday concerns extend towards trusting Him with her life, even if that meant leaving her husband and baby alone? Did she truly believe the words she said and sang so often?

Rachel emerged from the bathroom and got back into her bed. “I just had a thing with God and told Him my life was in His hands,” she told her mom. They talked a few more minutes, then got quiet as they focused on the music. Eventually both fell asleep.

The next day, the hospital specialist came to see her. She was put on a high dose of a second medication later that day, which began to have positive results. By the following day, her blood pressure was at an acceptable level and was no longer roller coasting up and down. She was not checked as often, and was soon taken off all monitors. And then came the best news of all – she was being discharged from the hospital!

While waiting for the discharge papers, Rachel and her mom talked about that night when Rachel broke.

“I think you passed that test,” her mom said.

“That was intense,” Rachel answered.

“I went through an intense test last week when I didn’t get to be here for the baby’s birth, but I’ve got to say, your test went to a much deeper level.”

“I hope I never get tested again,”

“I wish I could assure you that this was the final test, but I’m afraid there will be others.”

They both sighed, knowing it was true. As their faith continued to deepen and grow, there would be more tests, each time revealing their hearts and strengthening their relationship with God. But it was worth it. God was worth it.IMG_20180619_140537869

By lunchtime, Rachel had signed the discharge papers and she was free. At the beginning of her pregnancy, her doctor had asked her what her goal was. “To walk out of the hospital” she had said. That afternoon, as she walked through the exit door, her goal was met.

img_20180619_142313294.jpg

But now she had a second goal. She might be free, but her baby was still in baby jail. Time to break her baby out!

To be continued one more time.

The Arrival (Rachel’s Story, part 2)

IMG_20180625_070155636 (2)

At 9:30 PM, Rachel, resigned to what was about to happen, agreed to the c-section. As soon as she said, “OK”, the room exploded with activity. The lights came on and people rushed all over the place. Aaron panicked and began calling everyone he knew. While Rachel watched the craziness around her, she could sense God’s presence. She knew He was there with them which kept her calm. She looked down at her body and told it, “Body, you had one job,” signed the consent papers put before her, and called her mom.

The anesthesiologist, the only calm person in the room, sat down on her bed and explained what to expect while a nurse tossed scrubs at Aaron. “Put these on,” she told him as she ran off.

Then the doctor returned to tell Rachel what would happen, and what could go wrong, “But it won’t” she added.

As Rachel was prepped for surgery, she watched Aaron on the phone with his mom and thought, “This is surreal.” When Aaron finished his call, he was told to wait in recovery room. They would get him when Rachel had been given a spinal and was all set up in the OR.

Aaron, still in panic mode, made his way to the recovery room and was joined by the respiratory specialist. “Everything’s going to be OK,” the specialist said. He continued speaking reassuring words until Aaron was able to calm down. Well, maybe not calm but at least not panicking.

At 10 PM, Rachel, feeling loopy on the magnesium they were giving her for her blood pressure, was wheeled into the OR and watched as people scurried around preparing for her surgery. Aaron joined her just before her doctor arrived after scrubbing in. She walked up to Rachel, holding her hands up, and said, “Remember when your baseline protein level was 125 early in your pregnancy? Well, four hours ago it was 900, and now it’s 4500.” From earlier talks with the doctor, Rachel knew protein in her urine meant her placenta was breaking down.

Rachel said, “So I’m exploding.”

“Yes, you are,” her doctor said. When everyone else in the room introduced themselves, Rachel acknowledged each one, but then said solemnly, “I promise to forget all of your names.”

“What music do you want?” they asked her.

“I don’t care,” she said. So they put on their shower play list and began singing along.

Aaron was brought in and they started the c-section. She was worried that she would feel the knife slicing her open, but she didn’t. However, she did feel a lot of jerking and yanking and pushing down on her diaphragm which made breathing difficult. She also noticed her hand turning purple as the blood pressure cuff kept going off every minute.

As she struggled to breath, she heard Aaron’s commentary while he snapped picture after picture.

“I see her!”

“This is so cool!”

“I’m looking at your insides!”

“Wow!”

And then, at 10:58 PM Rachel heard a baby cry. Aryn Jade had arrived!

While Aaron helped bathe newly born Aryn, Rachel noticed the music that had been playing in the background. “Is that the Backstreet Boys?” she asked.  “Yes, it is,” someone answered. “Cool,” she said.

Aaron held Aryn next to Rachel while the anesthesiologist took a family picture of the three of them. Aryn was breathing well and didn’t need intensive care so a nurse took Aryn to Nursery Two, a higher care nursery for premies than the regular newborn nursery, but not as intensive as NICU.

Still laying on a table in the OR, Rachel asked her anesthesiologist, “Why does my chest hurt when I breathe? Am I having a heart attack?”   “No, you’re fine. It hurts because they were pressing down on your diaphragm to leverage your baby out.”

Then she focused Aaron, who was still taking pictures and giving a running commentary as the doctor finished working on her.  “That’s gross!” he said as the placenta came out.

“Take that, placenta!” Rachel said, and heard the doctors crack up.

Jerking as they sewed her back up, she commented “I smell something burning.”

“They’re cauterizing you,” the anesthesiologist answered.

“I smell me burning. That’s so cool,” she said.

Everyone was still singing along to the music, and later remarked that this was the most fun delivery they had had in a long time. Finally, the anesthesiologist held a bottle of morphine in front of Rachel’s eyes. “I’m going to give you this now.”

“OK,” was all Rachel said and quickly began to feel the effects. They turned her and flipped her as they moved her from the table to a bed and she lost all sense of direction. And then the drug really kicked in and she lost touch with everything.  That is, until she got to her recovery room where she threw up all over herself.

If she had been able to think about it, she might have marveled at how quickly life can change. She had had no idea when she awoke that morning that it would be the last morning she would wake up pregnant. She had no idea as she got ready for work that her body would go into crisis later that day. She just knew God was in control of her life. It was this deep foundation of faith that carried her calmly through the unexpected events of the day. And it was the amazing God she trusted that had arranged every detail perfectly -from the time she “just happened” to be having her regular checkup in an office that “just happened” to be across from the hospital when she went into crisis – to her doctor “just happening” to be on the one on call.

Yet, as well as this day had turned out – a beautiful, healthy little girl and a Big Mac in the freezer – she had little idea that her faith in God would soon be tested like never before.

IMG_20180625_072538312 (2)

To be continued.

Plans:  Do I Believe… or Not?

I had planned to be there when my daughter had her first baby. Both my mother and my mother-in-law had been there when my babies were born. And I wanted to do the same for my daughter.

But I was 500 miles away when I got the call. “Mom, don’t panic, but they want to take the baby now…”

I knew my daughter had struggled with high blood pressure throughout her pregnancy, and that they were planning for an early birth. But that was a month away! Surely the doctor could wait twelve hours before inducing, giving me time to drive over there.

But before I finished  packing, a picture of my newborn granddaughter popped up on Facebook. Proud daddy and adorable AJ. An awesome shot of the two of them together moments after the birth.

35191361_10160360422265462_4240027504573677568_n

I knew I should be happy. I knew I should be thankful for both mom and baby doing well.

But all I could feel was disappointment. Which quickly turned to bitterness as I added this event to so many others in which I didn’t get my way. Why couldn’t I be there with them at this incredible time? Just one more example of the bad luck that followed me my whole life? Another dream that was not allowed to come true?

IMG_20180617_071945087

But was it luck? Did God really have control over every detail of my life? If He was in control, then it wasn’t luck, it was His plan.

Grieving over my broken dream, I wailed out at Him: “Why didn’t you want me there?” He let me cry, but He didn’t answer me as I struggled with questions that rose up from deep within. Why was I denied what so many other grandparents got to have? Didn’t God love me as much as He loved them? Was I inferior to other people, as life had convinced me I was since I was little? Always second class, never first? Never worth enough for God to bother with fulfilling my dreams? Always dealing with second best answers?

I knew God loved me regardless of what I felt at this moment. I tried to choose to believe His word over my feelings. “God, I don’t understand this. But I know You are good and that You love me.”

I wish I could say that peace flooded me or that light filled me or some other wonderful result of my prayer. But nothing changed. I still hurt. I was still 500 miles away. And I still had questions.

An hour of packing turned into three, and an eight hour drive turned into twelve. I couldn’t figure out how getting to my daughter took an extra six hours. There had been no incidents that would account for that much delay. Where had the time gone? Was it more bad luck – or God’s plan?

I didn’t want to get into that again, so I ignored the pain, put on a happy face, and went up to the third floor of the hospital. At least I would be able to spend time watching my grandbaby through the nursery window.

But that was not to be either. Baby AJ, being six weeks premature, was in a special ward where visitation was very limited. I wouldn’t be allowed in there without my daughter or son-in-law, and then only for a very short time.

Eventually, I did make it to my daughter’s room, And meet my new granddaughter. And watch with pride the strength of my daughter and son-in-law as they dealt with the curve ball God had also thrown at them. They hadn’t planned on such an early birth either. In fact, their curve ball was much larger than mine. My daughter could hear the other full term healthy babies as they passed in the hall on their way to visit their moms while she was denied her own baby due to medical concerns. Her husband also had to deal with the stress of closing on their new house, which should have happened months ago but kept getting delayed, and packing/moving/unpacking pretty much by himself. Were they questioning God’s love for them also? Were they also feeling inferior to others who’s plans always seem to work out?

“Count your blessings.” “Focus on the good, not the bad.” I can hear people saying as they read my words. I know it’s good advice. So many years I have walked with Him, learning of His love and faithfulness. Time after time I have seen Him intervene in my life in one form or another. Yet evidently this whole experience has revealed that I still have deep issues that need healing.

I know that God is in this. My husband and I were both able to leave at a moment’s notice and drive through the night without an accident despite how sleepy we became. And I am able to stay here with my daughter indefinitely, helping with the move, and later with the baby. Hearing my daughter’s story, it’s amazing how many things “just happened” to happen at just the right moment from the time her body went into crisis and continuing even as I type this.

The bottom line? None of us got what we wanted. God had a different plan. Now we have to decide whether or not we truly believe God has full control over our lives like we profess, and whether His plans were made with our best interest in mind. Are we going to believe our circumstances – or – are we going to believe God’s Word?

The struggle is real.

Life is Like a Beach, section 8: Out of Place

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

Out of Place

Imagine your surprise to look up and see this washed up on shore! Imagine the captain’s surprise!  Well, I imagine that wasn’t his main emotion. Makes me wonder what went wrong for him to end up where he was. Captain error? Broken part? A storm? Good thing for other captains and other boats who can get him out of this mess.

IMG_20170525_071611224

Or imagine the surprise on people’s faces as this bird tried to take off with someone’s flip flops! I wonder what the bird thought it was. Did she think it was a new kind of food? Or something to add to her nest? I know she worked hard for quite some time to take off with one then the other flip flop. Eventually she gave up and flew away, but not before she managed to get the flip flops about ten yards from where they originated.

017.jpg

010

012

Sometimes in life we end up in a place we don’t want to be. Something went wrong somewhere. A wrong choice on our part such as a captain’s error, someone else’s choice such as the bird’s choice to move the flip flops. Maybe it was because something in us broke and we were powerless to change our circumstances.  Or maybe it was  a catastrophe in our finances, marriage, health, children, home – the list is endless. The result is the same. We end up in a place we never thought we would. And we don’t like it.  However, the good news is – we don’t have to stay there.  God knows how we got there, and He knows how to get us out. He won’t let us stay there if we turn to Him for help. He can deliver us miraculously like only He can do. But more often He puts people in our lives to help us when we get in difficult places. And in return we can help other people when they get grounded or are pulled from where they should be. We don’t have to do life alone.

 

Continue to have faith and do what you know is right. Some people have rejected this, and their faith has been shipwrecked. 1 Tim 1:19

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. Ps 91:15

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path

Section 2: Red Flags

Section 3: Water

Section 4: Waves

Section 5: Sky

Section 6: Surprises

Section 7: Puffer Fish

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella woke up the next morning with one thought on her mind. She WAS going to get some answers. She didn’t know how. And she didn’t know when. But she would get them.

All through work that day, thoughts of Pastor Toby danced through her mind. Who exactly was he? And why did he love her even though he didn’t know her? Or did he? Maybe he did know her from somewhere. If so, she couldn’t figure out where.

After work, knowing it was too late in the day to visit the church, she got back online to do more research.

“Who is Pastor Toby?” she typed. She knew from the earlier research she had done that there would be many opinions, so she was prepared with a notebook and pen to take notes. Maybe she would see a pattern or theme that would give her a better picture of who he was.

As she scrolled through the search results, clicking on one site after another, she made a list.

An hour later, she stopped to stretch. Looking at her list, she shook her head. This is crazy, she thought. There’s no rhyme or reason for what people think about him. She decided to take a break and headed to the kitchen to make dinner.

When she had finished eating, she found herself wishing she had some of Pastor Toby’s peach cobbler for desert. She wondered if he would consider selling her one if she asked the next time she went over there. One of many questions I’ll ask, she thought, as she headed back to her computer.

She decided she was too tired to keep searching. Besides, it really wasn’t helping much. Instead, she picked up her notebook and pen and went into her bedroom. She put on her PJ’s, brushed her teeth, and climbed into bed. Leaning back against the headboard, she studied the list she had made. There had to be some way to make sense of it.

As she read through the list, she noticed that some of the items contradicted what she already knew about him, while others matched her own observations. She decided to group them into three groups.

True

Not True

Unknown

True: teaches about God, church leader, mysterious, loves everyone (at least she knew he loved her), kind, brings life to things  around him (like his backyard), unique, lived at the church forever (that’s what Jude had said), likes to feed the hungry (fed her that amazing peach cobbler), likes to talk

Not True: stays to himself, won’t let others near him, only interested in his son (he sure was interested in her)

Unknown: can make people see what’s not there, commands strict obedience, out of touch with life around him,  sacrifices to help others, selfish, hoards the money given to the church,  secretive, built the church and yard with his own hands, supernatural, can do things no one else can do, nice on the outside but dangerous on the inside, reclusive, gets involved in everything whether it’s his business or not

She put her pen and notebook on the side table. That’s enough for now, she thought sleepily. I’ll look at it again tomorrow.

The next day, she couldn’t wait to get home after work. She stopped only long enough to pick up some fast food. All throughout that day, a thought had slowly formed in her mind that she wanted to check out, and she didn’t want anything to get in the way.

She dropped her keys and purse on the entrance table, set the fast food on the kitchen table, then went to get her notebook and some highlighters from her bedroom. Settling IMG_20180601_222435544down at the table, she chewed on  her burger as she read through her lists and highlighted everything positive with her yellow highlighter. Then she highlighted all the negative things with her blue highlighter.

She had been right! Everything she knew about Pastor Toby was yellow. While everything she knew was not true about him was blue.  The ‘Unknown’ list was a mixture of blue and yellow.

OK, she thought. If everything I’ve seen and heard and experienced with him is positive, then maybe all the positive ‘Unknowns’ are also true. And if all the ‘Not True’s about him were negative, then maybe the negative ‘Unknowns’ are lies too. Maybe they were written by people who didn’t really know him.

With this realization came mixed emotions. On one hand she was excited and eager to spend more time with him, to get to know him better. Some of those positive unknowns were pretty amazing. But on the other hand, she was afraid to test out her theory. What if she was wrong? What if he was only showing her the positive until he won her over, then she’d find out how dangerous he was when she could no longer get away.

The rest of the week dragged by slowly as she struggled with those two opposing thoughts, each clamoring for her attention and juggling to gain top billing. Finally Friday night arrived. As she got ready for bed, she thought, “Tomorrow is the day. For good or for bad, I’m going back. This time, not only will I get some answers, but I’m going to look specifically for anything negative.  If I find it, I’ll know that some of those other negative ‘Unknowns’ are probably true. Then I’ll know I can’t trust him and I’ll leave. No matter how good that peach cobbler is.”

 

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

 

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day Two

This is the second day of the Three Day Quote Challenge, which I was nominated for two days ago by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God 

This challenge takes place over three days. Each day (or night), I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger to continue the challenge.

My second quote is this…

“While you’re waiting, God is working.” by Rick Warren

God had done some incredible things in my life. But it seems in between those times, there are long seasons of waiting. I don’t know why we have to have those waiting seasons, although I have several theories, but what I do know is that there is a lot going on in heaven that I can’t see while I’m still on this earth. Yet, all too often, I rely on what I see instead of what I know is true.

Rick’s quote reminds me that God is not idle just because I don’t see constant amazing things. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes activity going on every day!

Waiting is never easy or fun, but that doesn’t mean I have to be miserable while I wait.  🙂

IMG_20180512_223806219

What helps you get through those seasons of waiting for God to do what He’s going to do? How do you spend that time? Share your thoughts – it just might be something someone needs to hear today!

 

And now for my nominee… His Perfect Timing.  Perfect timing… waiting on God – how could I not choose this very inspirational one!

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day One

I was nominated for this challenge by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God  Thanks so much for the nomination, Shae.

As you may have guessed, this challenge takes place over three days. Each day, I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger per day.

My first quote is this…

IMG_20180510_185158097

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” by Jack Canfield

I can’t think back far enough to know a time that I wasn’t full of fear. From my earliest days, I was terrified of the unknown. That included people, places, and events. If one of my few friends suggested a new game, fear would immediately fill me. If my family visited a new place, I would be nervous until the trip ended. Joining girl scouts was too scary to stay for long. Making new friends? Impossible. Fear kept me from so many things for so long that it became a intricate part of me. I couldn’t imagine not being afraid. Even after I met Jesus and He had time to work in me, fear remained. It’s been over 40 years now, and I’ve been set free in so many areas. Yet fear still rises its ugly head when I’m faced with something new. Like writing a blog. And publishing my first book. And meeting with a local writing group.

Sounds hopeless?

No way! Fear may still rise up at times, but it no longer incapacitates me.  Quotes like the one by Jack Canfield help me remember I’m not the only one who has to deal with fear, and that fear doesn’t have to hold me back. And best of all, Jesus is slowly teaching me to replace fear with faith.  He doesn’t want me – or you – or anyone – to live in fear.

And that’s the greatest hope of all because what Jesus wants Jesus eventually gets!

 

And now for my nominee… I choose William Pierce aka wordcoaster8550 at Walk With God. I love his artwork and poetry!