Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I remember

I was scrolling through Facebook today and saw this




In shock, I glanced at the calendar and realized that tomorrow is 9-11.  How easily I forget, on a day to day basis the tragedy that was that day.  But how easily I can recall it as well.

I was a police officer and working night shift, so I normally wouldn’t have been up for hours.  But, a recent accident, necessitated my early rising to take my truck to the body shop for repairs.  I was so groggy on the drive I didn’t bother to turn the radio on and I quickly arrived at the body shop.  I filled out my paperwork and slowly became cognizant of the panicky voices coming from the radio.  My ride arrived and I climbed into the passenger seat of the rental car.  I asked the car company associate if he knew what was going on.  He said no.  As I drove home I switched on the radio and listened to the news.

A plane had hit a building in Manhattan and everyone one assumed it was a horrible accident.  I drove home feeling fear and anxiety rise into my throat.  I switched on the T.V., when I got home, for visual confirmation and watched in shock as another plane flew into the second tower. 

There was no doubt that this was no accident.

I sat in my room, alone, watching the footage.  My heart sunk as I watched each tower fall.  I cried as I realized all the people inside.  Quietly wondering if I would have had the courage to charge into the building.  And I rejoiced as children were rescued from a day care.  All day I sat in quiet vigil, unable to do anything else.

I felt so alone.  I was so used to doing things alone, it never dawned on me to reach out to others.  I might have called my mom.  But beyond that, I sat motionless most of the day.

Even those born after that day have been changed by that tragedy.  It changed our awareness of people outside our country.  We realized not everyone like us and we started wars, in countries we could never possibly understand.  Even today it flavors how our president is reacting to the Syrian conflict.  But has it changed who we are?  Has it changed who I am?

I for one, go about most days with my head in the sand.  I don’t want to think about the atrocities being committed across the world and down the street.  I want to pay my bills, enjoy life and coast through the week.  But that picture today stopped me in my tracks, I have forgotten what it means to love my neighbor. 

In my desire to love myself before others, I have placed myself in the role of a victim.  At one time I was, but I no longer am and I haven't been for a long time.  This attitude means I lash out at others for my pain (my mom and dad to name two).  So what does it look like to live as a survivor instead of a victim?

I embrace the woman God has created me to be.  This means walking confidently in the talents God has gifted me with.  To do this, I am starting a new website.  This site will not have my writing but give me a place to showcase my photography as well.  I am excited and for the first time not fearful. 

I am confident in the talents God has given me and I enjoy sharing them with the world.  (That is definitely new!)  I look forward to telling the world how my struggles have strengthened me and how God helped me discover who He is and Whose I am.

I will be launching this site hopefully October 1st.  But until then, tell me your stories about 9/11.  Where were you?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Packing Light

“We discover what we need when we live without things.  This is part of the value of traveling and packing light as we travel.  Sometimes it’s good for us to need things and not have them.”  Allison Vesterfelt, Packing Light

After three cross country moves you think I would be good at the whole packing light thing.  I thought I was too, until I read this book. 

Packing light Book Cover

Allison has an ability to tell a fun and entertaining story while weaving in how unpredictable life is.  Whether you take risks or choose the safe right, you have little control of the outcome.  As Allison takes you along on her 50 state road trip, she shares the profound life lessons she learned along the way.  When the book came to an end I found myself wanting more.

I have had the pleasure of following Allison’s writing for some time.  and her style of writing is fun and entertaining.  But you always know that the nuggets of truth are coming.  My truth is that I was scared to offer to review this book.  It is way out of my box to review someone else’s work.  But I took a tiny step and asked Allison if I could help. 

Here I am, a mere two weeks later on the other side of that little step.  God has used her book to open my heart to the truth’s he has been whispering to me for a while.  There are too many to list here, but I will be unpacking them (yes pun intended) over the next few weeks.

What is your traveling story?  Tell me about a time that choosing to ‘pack light’ or let go of something, led to something greater.  Everyone who comments on here will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of this book.  Please be sure to use your email address when commenting so I can contact you if you win!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Trauma or Depression.

Am I running away from God?  This question ran through my mind the other day as the rain poured down for the ten thousandth time since I moved here. 

You see I hate rain!  Yes I know it is necessary, but too much and I want to crawl the walls it makes me so crazy.  Being outside, feeling the sun on my skin and being amongst nature is how I draw near to God.

I dislike rain so much I moved away from Portland to get away from it!  But there is also the fact that the rain means nothing has died yet.  Which in turn makes my allergies and my asthma uncontrollable.

  I can’t run, I can’t hike, I can’t go outside and explore.  I have to stay indoors. 

I am forced to stay in my house this weekend so that my doctor can do allergy testing on Monday.  It is beautiful outside (or so it looks from my window).  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, birds are singing.  Of course my imagination doesn’t take into account the heat and the humidity. 

So I have a choice.  I can look on this weekend as a punishment from God or see the reality that He is answering my prayer.

In Portland, I begged Him to show me why I never felt well, but I refused to admit that my asthma was out of control.  In Nashville, I have no choice but to face that reality.  Something here is literally trying to kill me! 

So even though I feel like this:

I am choosing to praise God and focus on this:

He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,

upright and just is he.  Deut. 32:4

Because He is working a miracle in me as I type. 

How about you?  Ever been in a situation that was hard, but later found out that God was working a miracle?  Share it with me!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Joy through the pain

If you have been around here long enough, you know that I spend more time writing about the struggles of my life then I do about the good days. I noticed that too! So I have began to ask God to show me the joy even when I don't feel like seeing it. Most of my life I have had severe allergies and headaches. Each day I wake up with a headache and stuffy head. (For me it is normal to have pressure in your face). Since I arrived In Tennessee though, these headaches have gotten worse. They always get worse when a thunderstorm approaches so I expected this to happen before I moved here. But, I didn't count on the additional allergy and asthma problems I have here. The headaches are horrendous. My typical plan of action is to run to doctors for healing, instead of running to God. This time I have reached the end of my rope so I decided to approach it differently. I asked God to heal my head and my lungs. Slowly, and through doctors, He is answering that prayer. (His timing is always so slow to me!!). A week ago, I met with a new allergist. He took some blood, scheduled an appointment for two weeks and sent me on my way. I left the appointment with no answers but I did have a rekindled hope that God is working His miracle. But, I have at least two months to wait for relief. Saturday I woke up with one of those debilitating headaches. The kind that drains you, feels like someone is trying to pry their way out of your head and you ache all over. Then the real headache started. It felt like someone was stabbing a knife into my brain. (Probably the same little man that is always trying to pry his way out!) I was done. My day was miserable, but I accomplished a few things and even spent time with a friend. That night I lay in bed defeated. The next morning brought the same, so I resolved to go about my day. However, things began to turn around. The headache dissipated, the pressure vanished and even my breathing was a little easier. I went to church and came home amazed that it was still gone. I ate lunch and then stood staring out our patio door wondering if it would stay all day this way. Just then a beautiful humming bird paused and hovered at the door. As he hovered, for more than a minute, I felt he was staring into my soul. In that moment I felt God whisper, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31) For the rest of the day, until late into the evening, I was a bundle of energy and free of pain. I got a lot accomplished! As I ate supper, I began to feel the headache creep back in. Normally when this happens I just get frustrated and angry. But that evening, I looked at my roommate and said I am so grateful for the reprieve God gave me today. And I was and I still am. But it could be months before I find real relief, and there is no promise that taking care of the allergies will cure the headaches. I want to be angry and frustrated, but instead I am choosing to hold onto the promise he gave me. I will not be afraid because I am worth more to him than that hummingbird that he so beautifully made. So in the midst of this trial I will cling to His joy and trust His timing.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I sat in the parking lot, gasping for air, terrified because my lungs would not inflate.  Each breathe in felt like knives punctured my lungs.  As I waited for the medication to force my lungs back open, I cried out to God for help.  Even as the medication did its job, anxiety and fear held me firm in their grasp.  I was out of control, unsure of what to do next.

For the first time ever, I felt true terror at not being in control.  Just that morning I had read a devotion on the Fear of The Lord.  As I sat there, I pondered, is this what He means to fear him? 

Over the years God has proven that He does not judge me for my sins, instead He loves me more than I could ever deserve.  Yet that ingrained belief that I deserve judgment alone continues to strangle me.  Especially when I loose what little control I feel I have.  As my world spins out of control, my joy and peace vanish.  I begin to question God and His love for me, instead of resting in His promises.  I begin to shake in fear of His judgment, instead of standing secure in the awe of who He is. 

See that is what fear of the Lord is.  Not a terror that He may strike me down at any moment.  But the awe that overwhelms me when, instead of lightning, I receive love.  That moment, when I drag my weary bloodied corpse to the foot of the cross, drenched in the sins of my heart, and instead of wrath He picks me up, cleans me off, wraps me in princess robes and holds me in His wondrous love. 

That is fear of the Lord.

As I drove home from the grocery store I pondered how my asthma attack relates to my walk with God.  For years, I have denied that my asthma was out of control.  I have suffered physically and emotionally because of this, losing sleep and peace.  I have grasped onto this denial because my fear of admitting it was out of control outweighed my desire to be well.    The same thing happens with sin in my life.  I know it is out of control, I know it needs to be confessed.  But the fear of that judgmental God keeps me in denial, pushing forward, pretending I have it under control.  I lose sleep, I have no joy and my peace evaporates.  All in the name of control.

But God doesn’t want us to be in control.  He wants us to rely on Him.    Because when I am unbalanced, and unsure of what tomorrow will bring, I run to Him.  In that free fall I find Him in the center.  As the winds rip around me, I find joy in the chaos, strength in the process and love in His arms.

Chaos rips at my skin
Life rushes past
Seconds run through my fingers

Oh Lord, how long must I wait for you?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lord, I need you

If you were to ask me, I would tell you that God is my life.  He is the very air that fills my lungs, the water that quenches my thirst and the bread that nourishes my soul.  Yet I am torn in two, gasping for air, dying from dehydration and starvation. 

This move to the south has ripped me apart leaving me feeling hollow and empty.  On one side I rejoice in the provision God has given me.  On the other I rot from un-confessed sin. 

My God helped me to move across country with no job for the second time in my life.  He provided for me quickly and abundantly with work and a church home.  He blessed me with a wonderful roommate, who loves the Lord and encourages me to walk closer to Him.  But my other side sings an different tune.

I grumble because my job bores me.  I seethe with envy for the relationships my friends have with their families.  I am jealous over the clothes people wear, the phones they use, the money they make.  And I ache at the family God has yet to bless me with. 

So today I am here today to confess.  My heart is black and decaying, rotting from envy and jealousy.  I have turned my back on my one true love.  And I have sought love and acceptance from the world around me. 

But in this confession I find His rest, peace that I am still His.  Comfort that he will never abandon me, and joy in the plans He has for me.  So with outstretched hands I beg Him to change me because without Him I truly fall apart.

“Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You”

Lord, I need you by Matt Maher

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Lord is Trustworthy…Right??

Often I open my journal and look at the pages that beg for my emotions to be poured out on them.  I write a few words and nothing comes, my ink has dried up.  My soul feels broken, lost, torn into a thousand pieces.  I fear the day the spigot opens back up and all this emotion floods out. 

Transition’s are hard, no matter what it is.  Yours could be making changes to your diet, or starting a new school.  But they are all the same, you have to let go of something, or everything, to move on.   

Truth is, I am tired of letting go, I fear my heart has nothing to give.  I miss my Oregon family, the warriors who carried me as God  healed my wounds.  My heart aches for the embrace of my Macy girls and the sound their scream “Angela” from across the room.  I long for that family who overflows with unconditional love and acceptance.  I laugh as tears glisten in my eyes when I hear my friend Kristy shouting “cancel that” at something negative I say to myself.  And a part of me dies as I watch her daughter grow, wondering if she will ever recognize me again.

I am tired of new.  New places, new people, new food, new jobs.  I miss the comfort of old and long to just belong.  I find myself angry with God, confused by what He is doing.  Each moment each day is a choice not to turn from Him and find my own way. 

“The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does

Psalm 145:9-13

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Rung Part 3

From deep in the darkness I watch Him come and go, day after day.  What a fraud, I think, tempting me with the offer of His warmth and safety, only to betray me and leave me in the cold.  I settle deeper into the familiar embrace of Fear and The Darkness.  No surprises in store with them.

I don’t know how long it has been, but I tire of the monotony of the darkness.  Something in me longs for the light.  I recall His warmth.  The compassion that flooded my soul.  “What it must be like to live in that light”, I muse to myself. 

My days now consist of replaying that moment in my mind.  The coolness of the rung under my hand, the warmth of His touch.  For the first time in months I look up.  In shock I stare at the two remaining rungs.  Raising my eyes higher and higher more rungs come into view.  Some are close together, while others seem so far apart, like they would be impossible to grasp.  “But why?”, my words echo off the walls and I clasp my hands over my mouth.  I mutter “But why did He stop at the second rung? 

I have pondered this question for days now, and the voices and gnawing of my companions gets heavier and heavier.  I know the truth I just don’t want to admit it.  He provides the rungs, I climb out.  That simple, but I also know the climb will be even harder then the brief moment I experienced before. 

“Is it worth it?” I think as I recall the warmth of His presence.

“YOU BET!”  I scream as I lunge.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Overheard conversations

I eased into my seat at the small table and took a slow sip of water.  The lunch hour crowd buzzed around me as I gazed around the room.  Soon a particular conversation began to grab my attention:

“Tatoos are disgusting!” proclaimed the young woman

“Yes they are.” agreed the young man.

“Oh you mean a tramp stamp” laughed the woman

“Yes I told her it was stupid and she got mad” proclaimed the man

That old familiar wave of shame and guilt washed over my soul as my mother returned to the table.  Soon our food was ready and we ate in silence as their conversation continued to reach my ears.  Their topics ranged from homosexuality, to sex outside of marriage  and many other things.  It soon became clear what they believed and they were also Christians.  My mother and I finished our meal and slipped quietly out of the restaurant, never to encounter this couple again. 

Once in the car I began to process what I had heard and how it had made me feel.  You see, I am the woman they were talking about, I have a ‘tramp’ stamp, I have had sex outside of marriage and have committed many other sins over the course of my life.  As I marinated in the shame the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears flooded my soul.  (Read it here Luke 7:36-39)  This woman arrived at the Pharisees home that night merely to worship the one man who could see past her sin to the hurting woman she was.  Instead she was also raked over the coals by the Pharisees as I felt by this couple.  Then it dawned on me, I am the young couple as well.

How many times have I discussed my beliefs in a crowded coffee shop or restaurant, oblivious to the people around me.  Did the words of my mouth represent that I am a sinner who is forgiven much and loves much, or did I sound much the same? Is this what God meant when He said that any of us could be called to testify to His name at any moment?  How many times have I given a bad testament of who He is because of careless words that passed my lips?

Each day that I travel this journey I see more and more how important our words are.  A word can leave a deeper scar than a sword or a fist.  But a word can also bring a healing balm to a festering wound.  My prayer is that I am more cognizant of the words and the people around me who may be hurting and need a comforting word.

How about you?  Have you ever overheard a conversation that cut you to the bone?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

For I plans for you declares the Lord

When I was young I felt a call in my heart that God had big plans for my life.  This feeling persisted through the years I turned my back on Him, through my conversion and up to this present day.  Since January 2004 I have sought out this plan, running after every possibility that He placed in my path.  Maybe I was to be a revolutionary missionary in the northwest, or a famous blogger.  Perhaps an important advocate in the fight against human trafficking, or perhaps a missionary in India.  I have spent so much time chasing this I am exhausted, so last year I stopped.  I assumed I had missed my chance and my life was just a big waste.

This past Sunday I had an opportunity to share some of my story with someone I had recently met.  As I tried to explain to them the person I was before Christ the magnitude of my redemption story came home to rest.  9 years ago I gave my life to Christ.  Because of His redemption and transformation in me I am no longer the woman I was.  In fact, my life has been redeemed and I am free of the chains that bound me.  I have found value in His eyes and freedom in his love.

This morning they played a song on the radio called redeemed, (you can listen to it Here). I felt a small whisper in my heart say, “your redemption story is the BIG call on your life”.  What freedom in that simple statement.  Freedom from the guilt that I messed up what God had planned.  Freedom from the effort of trying to make it happen on my own.  Freedom in the knowledge that this is what He has for me.  Freedom in the joy that my redemption story is what He has planned for me all along. 

Have you considered that we as Christians may be getting it wrong.  It isn’t about how many people we bring to Christ.  It is about what He is doing in our lives.  Maybe it isn’t about what mission organizations we are a part of, but does our next door neighbor see Christ in who we are.  We all have a BIG call on our lives.  To let Christ have His way with us and be willing to share the way he has transformed us.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Does God want me to be happy?

Does God want me to be happy?

I keep coming back to this question since 5 out of 7 days I am not ‘happy’.  I am loved by the King of Kings and have joy in His arms every day.  He lavishes me with with blessings everyday and I want for nothing.  But Monday through Friday 8am-5pm I hate my life.  I work at a job that sucks the life out of me and so I wonder does God care if I love my job or not. 

I had a conversation with a friend today and it went something like this:

Me:  Does God care if we are happy?

Friend:  Of course God wants us to be happy

Insert long conversation

Friend:  See you are blessed.

Me:  I know I am blessed, but I am not happy.

That is the paradox I am in right now.  I am blessed beyond belief by the gifts my savior lavishes on me daily.  I am even blessed that I have a job and I make good money.  But I am not happy.  Is this happiness just an illusion?  A carrot always out of my reach that Satan keeps me distracted with.  Or is there really something to be said for being happy with your life?  Or is joy in Him all there is?

More questions is all I have, how about you?