In the Face of Fear.

Have you ever been so consumed with fear that you find it hard to be the mom, friend, sister, daughter, wife you know God created you to be in the midsts of that fear? 

If you have read any of my writings, it is no secret I have wrestled with living in fear. I’ve been candid about the pain and torture of what it has been like for me and my family. It would not be a complete picture if I left you with just that picture- the torture. The truth is, I’m a woman who loves the Lord, wants to serve Him and be FULLY who He created me to be so tolerating being tortured by fear is not an option for me (though it is easy and tempting to accept it as my reality, “this is just who I am”.).

I have a piece of artwork hanging in my kitchen that says, “When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” I didn’t purchase and hang this piece for show but because it’s my hearts deepest desire. Don’t we all, as women of God, fully want to be who God created us to be? One thing I have learned for sure is living in fear will keep us from being that woman.

IMG_8573

Recently I have been faced with a choice- a choice to live in the fear of “what if” or the choice to take my thoughts captive and ask for the Lord’s help to trust His goodness- much like what 2 Corinthians 10:5 says. Both options take effort and energy if I’m being completely honest; however, my years of close relationship with the first allows me to say that the energy spent living in fear is wasted on us- always.

I wish I could say this makes choosing to take my thoughts captive easier but I’d be lying if I tried to convince you of such. However, what I now know is that although the initial choice brings great challenge, the result is much more rich. Simply put, living in fear has always birthed more fear and taking my fearful thoughts captive has always birthed a confidence of God’s goodness in my life. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

A dear friend- who knows all too well what it’s like to take her fearful thoughts captive- recently text this to me and it’s hanging on my refrigerator as a reminder of truth. I hope it does your heart some good today as I know it did mine.

“But I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. (Micah 7:7 NIV) You are waiting on HIM. HE is working behind the scenes. HE is obviously so near. HE is faithful to HIS promises.”

It was a few minutes after this text I heard my girls pointing and yelling to tell me to look up at the rainbow over my head. Thinking they saw a spot on the wall with a few colors that resembled a rainbow I looked up to appease them. Standing there in the kitchen, in the midsts of paying my bills and responding to my friend’s text, I looked up to find this…

God sees.

image1-18.jpg

The dear friend I refer to in this post is Krishana Kraft. She has recently authored a book called Tandem Living. I got the privilege of being a part of her book launch, and I can confidently say her book is one worth reading. She has such a testimony of God’s goodness to share with the world! You can learn more by clicking here. 

 

The sign in my kitchen is from The Shed. One of my favorite pieces of artwork!

Does God’s Goodness Always Feel Good?

I want the goodness of God to always feel good, but is this realistic?

When loss is the uninvited guest of our home, we feel something about it. The loss seems to invite feelings of grief, mourning, aching that crush the core of the one living in the loss.

It seems to be in these times we ache for answers to help us understand the purpose of the pain. “How can God be good when this is so painful?”, we say aloud or keep it tucked away in the secret parts of our heart so no one knows you are questioning the goodness of God.

God created us to have feelings and it doesn’t make us weak to express them. We hurt so we cry. We are excited so we laugh. We are happy so we smile. We are tired so we sleep (or are grumpy all day… if you’re anything like me). We are stressed so we drink wine. We lose a loved one so we grieve.

Yet when feelings become the dictator of our life, we can quickly lose heart. How do you respond when met with all of these feelings? Do you cast your cares on the Lord (Psalm 55:22 NIV)? Do you trust the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5 NIV)? Do you let God’s love drive out your fear (1 John 4:18)? How you respond in the face of your feelings can be the regluing or undoing of you.

God’s goodness does not always feel good. The book of Job clearly exposes this reality. I wonder how many people walk around feeling wounded by God because they have allowed their feelings to be the dictator of their life.

Ten years ago, I would have confidently exclaimed God’s goodness and it would have felt good to say. I would even provide you with evidence of his goodness in my life, but the reality is this evidence was based on circumstances that felt good. My feelings dictated my belief about God’s goodness.

On June 24, 2011, my feelings became the most unreliable source of truth for me. I was met with the devastation that would forever change how I did life with the Lord. What appeared to be evidence of God’s abandonment was just the beginning of the stripping of a belief system that was faulty. He was soon going to cloth me with one that was true from the source of truth, my Jesus.

God’s goodness has not always felt good but, I can firmly say, He has always worked the pain for my good. It has been the saving of my soul that has been worth it all. With an aching in my gut and a tears welling in my eyes, I can testify that He has been worth it. It’s been through the  tragedies- that resulted from June 24- I have been gifted with some of the most intimate times with God, in turn deepening my faith.

Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) This Scripture does not say, “And we know that all things are good for us.” We can trust that He is going to work all things for our good even when it is not good for us.

Death is not good for us! Dear one, if death was good for us there would be no need for Jesus to come and die and be resurrected to save us from death. He died on that cross because death is not good for us. Death is terrible and excruciatingly painful and not what God intended when he created this world (Genesis 1-3 NIV).

If you are walking the road of losing a loved one, lean into Jesus. He knows this is not what is good for you but he will work it for your good. Abide in Him and you will produce lasting fruit and much of it, even though you feel as if you might die from grief (John 15).

If you are walking alongside someone who is grieving, will you share this truth with them? This may be the breath of fresh air they are longing for. This may be their break from the idealism of the well meaning that is suffocating them. They just may need someone to come and sit with them and say, “this is terrible”. Your friend can be in excruciating pain and still trust God is going to work this out for her good. I’m so grateful for the testimony of Katherine and Jay Wolf in their book Hope Heals,

No amount of catharsis or perspective finding will change the fact that our situation is terribly sad and deeply broken. I can give God the glory, and it can still hurt. I used to cry myself to sleep every night. But I have learned, above all other lessons, that healing for each person is spiritual. We will be fully restored in heaven, but we are actually healed on earth right now. My experience has caused me to redefine healing and to discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls (page 18).

Are you struggling because you desperately want God’s goodness to always feel good?

I did too.

It feels like a crushing blow when this truth is met with your inescapable reality that life- no matter how many years pass, new life that grows, exciting experiences that arise- is now filtered through the lens of loss. But this is where hope comes in, dear one. We can look forward with the hope that someday God’s goodness will always feel good because all will be made right (Revelation 21 NIV). As you wait expectantly for that day, you can experience healing of the most broken place right now: your soul.

 

If this post resonated with you, journey over to Newness through the Pain.

Newness through the Pain

Do you ever question how God can make anything good come from devastation? 

No one wants to walk through seasons of deep pain and grief but it is inescapable… the way of a life lived.

As much as I long for Heaven where there will be no more death and anguish, it has been these painful times of my life that have been a catalyst for change. This change has led to a maturing of my faith in the Lord. Navigating my way through this inescapable pain is where scripture became more than just words on a page but the fire that set my feet walking and my heart beating. It seems to be that the Lord has used these times to birth out of me something new…

Newness.
When I think of newness I think of the morning sun, the smell of fresh flowers, the birds chirping, and freshly brewed pot of coffee. I crave the newness each day offers.

It’s a beautiful miracle when this newness becomes more than an experience but the face of a person.

We can change our hairstyle, our makeup, our clothes, our attitude but the real change comes when we surrender and follow our Savior and He makes us new!

Without Him, we’ve just been experiencing a cheap version of what newness really tastes, smells, and feels like.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

 

Journey over to, Stop the Name Calling: from Shame to Beloved, for a proper departure from here.

 

18077409_415896848794002_415488703601875014_o

Sister of the Two-Time Plane Crash Surviver Speaks of the Miraculous

 

hatch-plane-crash-2000

 

“We have seen miracles in our profession, but this I don’t know how to explain.” I will never forget these words from one of the physicians at the rehab institute. He had been working tirelessly to get Austin better. He went on to explain that he wasn’t someone who tended to believe in miracles like this, but he didn’t know any other way to explain the type of progress Austin was making, this kind of healing. Once a week, the family would sit around a meeting table at the rehab center and debrief about Austin’s progress. This is where I learned how intricate and fragile the brain is and how the healing from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is unpredictable and how any healing at all is amazing because often healing can be nonexistent. When you read about Austin “overcoming the odds” it is an accurate depiction of his healing.

After the crash we weren’t sure if Austin would live. He spent three months in a medically induced coma to allow his brain time to recover. The first time I saw him awake after the coma, I was terrified. Austin was unable to speak and unable to walk. It was such a shock to see this athletic young guy not even able to feed himself. I was told this might be his new normal, but there was nothing normal about this for his family. I started to wonder if the hope that I had from his life being spared was going to turn into grief, grieving that I would not be able to talk to my brother again, grieving that I would not laugh or reminisce over memories with him again.

My heart broke just thinking about it. I’ll never forget going back to the hotel room that night and, in the quiet, I took my fists and beat the bed until my eyes ran out of tears and my body ran out of strength. “You healed him for this, Lord?” I had already lost my parents, and I felt like it was one loss after another. This one was hard to take.

Honestly, I don’t remember when it started to happen, but the conversations during the meetings with doctors started to change from despair to hope. We went from hearing “This may be his life” to “We just don’t know what to tell you. People with TBIs usually hit a plateau in their healing, and we just don’t know what that plateau will be.” Austin never plateaued. No doctor could explain it, but I can.

After the plane crash, I spent much time on my knees, face to the floor with my Bible open. I was in complete agony, searching for any word, any sign from God. There is one particular time I spent on that floor in tears that I will never forget. I was in such agony that I could feel my entire body hurt; my heart was physically aching. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. But then I experienced a moment of strength. I sat up and turned my face toward Heaven and cried out, “Lord, I don’t want to be apart of some miracle story where people are in awe of a person. I want you to blow the minds of the world, so that no one (doctor, mentor, friend, sister, brother, etc) can take the credit for what you are going to do through the death of my parents, a second plane crash, and the healing of my brother.” Did he ever answer that prayer!

Austin’s story is miraculous. How could it not be when a boy survives two plane crashes? He has worked so hard. I admire the man he is and the man he is becoming. I have had a front row seat in his life for the last twelve years! Once I was sitting on the sidelines of (nearly) every basketball game he played yelling, “AJ baby!” every time he hit a three with Dad smirking at me as if to know he couldn’t shut me up if he tried. Now, I sit at home and yell, “AJ baby!” every time I see him on the T.V. being a voice of strength for others. I am crazy about my brother, and I’m so proud of him.

But, I have to tell you the truth, Austin’s story is miraculous because of God and to ignore, make light of, or try to get around His name is simply not giving or telling the full story or the truth. What you are reading in the media is just evidence of who God is!

When you allow Scripture to collide with this story, it puts fire to the miracle and a name behind and before it. You won’t find the name in the media or plastered in a magazine. There is a name above every name and it is King Jesus (Philippians 2:9). The Lord didn’t just heal my brother, he brought the house down with His healing so no man could say, “I did that”. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the grand narrative of the Bible … you are witnessing a miracle because of Jesus.

Be sure to catch Austin on  People Icons: Heroes & Survivors on Tuesday, March 14, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC