At the beginning of this year, the words God gave me for this year was rest and trust. In January, I had no idea how that would how literally this would play out in my life this year. And honestly when God gave me these words I did not understand why He gave them to me.
Ten weeks ago when I quit my job, my plan was to take a week off (that was going to packed full of things) and then start a new job the next week. Key words here is MY PLAN. Not God’s plan. I did have a job offer but I turned it down for numerous reasons. So I ended my last job with no new job. During the week after I quit my job, God pressed it on my heart to take a significant amount of time off before I start something else and for me to go away by myself.
In the first month of not working, I had no desire to work any job. And it caught me by surprise that I did not want to work. Anyone that knows me personally knows working is something that I have always done and I see value in it. And it would give me anxiety when I do not have an ongoing income to pay bills and live on. But not having the desire to work showed me that I needed this time to rest. I needed time for my physical body, emotional being and my spiritual being to be able to rest and heal.
Six weeks after I quit my job, I went on vacation by myself for 12 days! Yes, you read that right, I went by myself to the Finger Lakes region in New York. During this time I was able to sight see, meet up with a total stranger to trade a photoshoot, I visited a new church twice, chased the sunset one night, try iced custard made out of duck eggs, sit at a local coffee shop and work on my business for a few days, read a couple books, go see a movie alone, reconnect with some family that was in the area, and most importantly I took the time to connect with God and listen to his voice. Where I was staying there was not internet or TV to distract me from hearing God’s voice. In these 12 days God spoke to me and I learned what it means to rest and just stop without rushing to the next thing.
I am grateful for this season of rest. I do not regret that I took time for this season. It was a season that I needed. In this season, God has provided for me in more than just finances. And He has given me clarity and direction as to where He has called me to. He met me in the moments that I was anxious and unsure that I had done the right thing. He has spoken to me through the Bible, my time with Him and through other people. God has walked with me through this season of rest and healing.
Out of this season I have gained and learned some things:
It is important to take time to rest and take time alone for anyone but especially for those in ministry or in a profession that helps others.
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)
Jesus did this on a regular basis. And if Jesus had to do this how much more important is it for us humans. We need to have a rhythm and focus in our life that allows us to have rest and focus on our relationship with God. We need to slow down in life and not always be rushing off to the next thing. While you may not be able to take time off of work for a couple months to rest like I have; it is still important to integrate rest in our lives in a regular basis.
***This is part of a series of blog posts of me sharing about my burnout and things I have been learning through this. They are numbered in the order that they are written in and to indicate that they are part of this series.***
Howard and Edie celebrated being married for 50th years. This is 50 years of choosing to serve God and each other. They have built a legacy that is great. I loved watching how they interacted with each other and how they are still in love after so many years. As in any other relationship they have had the good times and the not so good times. In all that they still chose to choose each other.
This is their wedding day picture and the original cake topper.
They recommitted their love for each other with a vow renewal service.
“And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.” — Kiersten White (The Chaos of Stars)
I love listening to their family and friends talking about Howard and Edie. Part of they legacy is their children and grandchildren.
Venue: Houston Run Community Center
Flowers: Florals in Time
Photography: Marlo & Co
Light in the darkness
That is who you are” – Way Maker
Yesterday I got news that a friend died from cancer. He leaves behind a wife, family and friends who are grieving his death. Tonight at church I had a hard time singing these lyrics to this song as I was processing my friend’s death. All a sudden I could not sing these words because I started to question why God did not heal my friend. If He is the miracle worker and promise keeper, why did He not heal my friend on this earth so that his family and friends do not need to feel this pain of him not being on this earth anymore?
There are many questions you ask when you are grieving and hurting. And it is hard to understand why God did not heal my friend on this earth. Why did my friend’s healing needed to include his death on earth? Why did he have to die at such young age? Why does his family and friends have to go through this pain? I do not have answers for these questions. I am a person that likes to know why. I do not know why my friend died and this truth is hard to grapple with.
Death has a hurt associated with it on earth as we as humans grieve a loss. Because this pain hurts and it is so real. I have felt it in the past and feel it now. Emotions are real and they are given to us by God to help process and experience life. But sometimes we have to be careful that we do not get caught in the hamster wheel of hopelessness when we are processing and experiencing our emotions.
In a time of grief, we can feel hopeless in our pain. But reality is that we can feel hope in a hopeless time. Tonight as a wrote out what I was feeling in my planner, I came to the conclusion that Jesus is my hope. Because He the source of my hope, I can have hope even when it seems hopeless. He does not break His promises to us. He is the source of miracles whether they are received here on earth or in heaven. He is a way maker when it seems like there is no way out. And my feelings do not negate these truths in this moment or any other moment.
Hannah in the Bible experienced this. In the midst of her pain of being barren, she cried out to God with her emotions but she anchored her hope in God even though her situation and pain did not change immediately. Her situation was hopeless and seemed impossible. Eventually she did receive her miracle of a son.
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1:10-20
So tonight as I write this blog post, I may not understand why my friend’s death occurred. And the emotions I am feeling are real but tonight I chose to believe God’s truth over my emotions. And I choose to anchor my hope in Jesus because He helps to carry my emotions as I walk this journey in what may seem hopeless at times.
Recently I have been faced with one of the hardest things that I have had to go through in my adult life. While I am still in the midst of it all, there are a few things I have learned in last couple weeks.
He is here with me in my sadness.
He is here with me in the joyous moments.
He is here with me in the moments that I don’t understand.
He is here with me when I pretend to be ok and ignore my feelings.
He is here with me when I don’t understand my feelings and can’t put a name to it.
There is a song that I have been identifying with the last couple weeks.
Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok
‘Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me
Maybe it’s all right if I’m not all right
‘Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life
“Maybe It’s Ok”by We are Messengers.
While I don’t know when this will end, I do know that God with me in the midst of the storm. He is teaching me new things in this storm. I trust Him in the midst of the storm.
If you are going through a hard season in life, look at what you can learn through it all. Look to the peace in the storm rather than focusing on the storm.
God has been teaching me patience and to wait on his timing for probably the most of my life. There are times in life that I have felt like I was in the waiting place(according to Dr. Seuss) for a long time and in many ways I am still in the waiting place. Excerpt from Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss:
“You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.”
It is in this waiting place that we often get impatient and frustrated with God and life. And we can ruin what God make have in store for us. Granted God can use us in all situations to even if its not in His plan but for His glory. But where we may end up might not be as good as God intended us to be. We humans have a way of getting in the way of God because we think that we know best for us. But in reality the creature(us) does not see the whole picture like the Creator(God) does. So how can we know what is best for us over the Creator that created us into existance.
Sometimes we need to stay in this waiting place for God to prepare us for something greater than we can imagine. The waiting place is not an easy place to be but it is in that waiting place we can experience the peace and love of our Creator. Even though we may have no idea what is going to happen next. In uncertain times, there can be peace and joy because we have our Creator walking beside us in life.
Do I have life all figured out? No, I will never on this earth but I do know that I am a child of God who has a God that loves me more than I can imagine and fathom. (It still amazes me that God would love me and that He wants a personal relationship with me with millions of people on this earth.) And I would rather be in the waiting place with my Creator than in a place on my own. When we are in this waiting place, we need to sit back allow God to do the work and be ready to follow His calling for our lives out of the waiting place.
Scenario #1: Have you ever seen a mother at the store with her children who are screaming and crying; you wish she would tell her child to be quiet because you had a long day?
Scenario #2: Or you meet someone who is struggling to pay their bills and they may go to a food pantry or use food stamps for food? And you think if they would only work harder, they would have money to pay their bills.
Scenario #3: Or you see woman park in a handicap spot at the store and when she seems to have no physical limitations that would warrant the handicap placard? You wonder if she is using some else’s handicap placard, just so she can park close to the front door.
Scenario #4: Or you go someone’s home and they do not have electricity in the home because they could not pay their electric bill. They ask you if you can help them pay for the electric bill. As you look around the home, there are nice things in the home that you think they could sell to pay bills.
These are all quick judgements that we make and we think these are things they can do to improve their lives. And if I am honest I have been the person who has had these thoughts at one time or another in my life time. It is so easy to judge others when we know little to nothing about the other person. We don’t know their story or what has brought them to where they are today. And perspective can change this for us very quickly. Let me explain the scenarios above in a different way.
Scenario #1: The mother at the grocery store with her children that is screaming and crying, has had a day of appointments and this is her last stop before she goes home. She prayed before taking her child out of the car seat for the 8th time that day, that they would be happy long for her to complete her grocery shopping. She needs to finish the shopping trip in an hour to her other children get off the bus. And the other 4 year old daughter that is with her, is cranky because she missed her nap that day and the last thing she wants to do is go into a store!
Scenario #2: The individual that needs additional assistance with food is working a full time job at McDonald’s. Right now the only place that will hire this person the area, they live is McDonald’s because they aren’t many jobs in the area and they live in a rural community. They are not able to work more hours or get a second job because they have children that need childcare and a family member that lives with this individual provides it when they are working. And this family member has a part time job when this person is not working. And if this individual gets a second job and makes more money, they lose the very benefits that is keeping their family afloat.
Scenario #3: This woman who from the outside watching her may not think she does not have physical limitations that warrant her parking in a handicap parking spot. Reality is that she has breathing issues that cause her to go into a asthma attack if she walks too far.
Scenario #4: In the past, this individual has always been on time with their bills because they were working. Their credit score was excellent. But while at work they got hurt, they were receiving worker’s compensation. After a period of time of getting worker’s compensation, the company decides to stop paying worker’s compensation. This individual has not been cleared to go back to work. So they can not go get another job but there is not income coming into the home to pay their bills. Meanwhile they credit score is decreasing rapidly. And they are worried about losing their home, that they worked so hard to acquire.
We are commanded to love others and not judge them.
Imagine how this world would be if we would judge others less and love others more. It would transform our communities into communities that care for each other and transform the hardest of hearts.
So I challenge you before you judge someone, take time to love on them and learn a little about their story. Most of all show them Christ’s love first because Jesus loved us first and did not judge us for our sin that He did for.
You knew the shame and guilt I would struggle with and you still chose to create me!
You knew my failures in my life and you still chose to create me!
You knew the fears that would hold me back and you still chose to create me!
You knew my frustrations and you still chose to create me!
You knew my struggles and you still chose to create me!
You knew the insecurities I would struggle with and you still chose to create me!
You knew the pain and hurt I would carry and you still chose to create me!
You knew there were things I am going to choose over you and you still chose to create me!
You knew everything about me and you still chose to create me!
I created you because I knew that this world needed you in it. I created you for a purpose that only you can fill. And guess what, when I created you I told all of heaven with delight “look there is my beautiful daughter!” “My daughter, I love you more than you can imagine. Daughter, just as the grains of sand at the beach, the stars in the sky and the rain drops in a rain storm can not be counted. My love for you can not be counted.”
In life, we have some days when we are celebrating and other days when we are struggling. But no matter where we are at in any particular day, we can have a peace in our Father. The song “It is Well with my soul” was written in some of the toughest circumstances. But yet the writer, Horatio G. Spafford, was still able to say it is well with my soul.
Although Horatio was a successful business man in Chicago, him and his wife had several loses within a couple years. They lost their son at a young age in 1871. Then went on to lose most of his business the same year in a fire. Two years later, Horatio’s wife Anna and his 4 daughters were on a ship headed to Europe from the U.S. The ship they were collided with another ship. As a result of the collision, his four daughters died. Anna was the only one that survived from the family. Anna sent a message to Horatio “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Horatio booked a passage to join his wife. While he was on the ship headed to his wife, he wrote this song.
“When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul
It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul
And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul” by Horatio G. Spafford
This is one of the most beautiful hymns written in history. Some of the most beautiful things come out of the most broken people or circumstances. This song was written by a man whose heart was broken and lost almost everything in a short span of time.
After hearing this story, this song has become my favorite hymn. It is also reminder to me that even when life is hard and it does not make sense, it is well with my soul. Because of who my Savior is. He is Sovereign, Prince of Peace, the ultimate Lover, Comforter, Rock, Redeemer and Deliver.
So when life is tough, confusing, uncertain and painful, we can say it is well with my soul because of who our Savior is. I challenge you to find joy and peace in your Father as Horatio did in tragic times. It is in these moments that when we find what we need in God, we are hopeful And hope is what gives the strength to go to the next moment and to keep going from there.
Recently I was thinking about the saying “I love you more.” This is commonly said among those in a romantic relationship or parental and child relationship. As I thought about it, I was reminded that Jesus loves you more. This love is greater than anything in our human mind could even begin to comprehend. It is so great that Jesus laid down His own life for me and you so that we do not have to take the ultimate consequence for sin. The ultimate consequence of sin is separation from God, our Creator, eternally.
The amazing thing about this love is that there is nothing we can do to change this love from God and Jesus! “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” – Romans 8:38-39
There are times that we do things that we may think we have messed up and God is not going to love me or forgive me or give me grace anymore. This is where we are wrong! And the fact that we are wrong is a beautiful thing. God created us and as the Creator He has gigantic love for His creation. A love that our human mind can only comprehend a fraction of. Think of a time when you have created something. You are proud of and love this creation that you made and the purpose that creation was created for. This isn’t much that creation can do that would not cause you to love it. Now take that love and pride that you have for your creation and multiple that by an infinite amount of times. This is the love that God has for you!!
This is the simple gospel. A Creator who loves us so much that He wants to show us this love in something as simple as having a relationship with Him. As in any relationship the more time you spend with someone and get to know them, deeper the love you have for this person. This is how it is with God. We need to put aside the things that we think we need to gain His love. And just get back to the basics of building a deeper relationship with our Creator.