Nobody Wins When You Lose It

In a month like this one, I’ve been reminded on almost a daily basis how glorious it can be when a husband and wife have personalities that help balance each other out. There have been dozens of moments where we could’ve absolutely fallen apart, but somehow we’ve managed to hold it together…together. 

One of the challenges of having your child in the care of the medical community is being able to trust that things are being done “the way they should be.” Especially when you’re not a trained medical professional, and don’t know your ICPs from your EVDs, you’re at the mercy of trusting that you’re being given the correct information and the right decisions and judgement calls are being made.

We’ve been so fortunate to feel like we’ve received fantastic care at just about every turn, but in the few places where we felt uncertain or uncomfortable or even frustrated, the Hero Hubs set a precedent early on  that stuck with me through every twist and turn. He said something to the effect of:

“Blake is not going to get better care if we freak out or get angry or yell at people.”

Getting angry and yelling at people isn’t something we commonly do, but when you’re under stress and your kid is in critical condition, you might be tempted to break down crying over a dirty diaper or a nurse tripping over a stand attached to an EVD.

We quickly found ourselves in a place where we realized we were going to have to trust that somehow even the things that seemed wrong or delayed or rushed too quickly or unsatisfactory in some other way could still work out for good for Blake. 

A couple of weeks ago, Blake pulled out his feeding tube (the nasal kind) with three adults in the room standing just a few feet from him. It happened so quickly the decision was made that he needed a restraint to prevent this happening again. The reinsertion process was very difficult for him AND the people doing it.

Later the hospital decided to discontinue the restraints, but as parents we thought, “Hmm… I think we need to keep using them…” or else we will have to figure out how to hold his hand for absolutely every second of every day.

Somewhere along the line, someone decided to assign a sitter to Blake twenty-four hours a day. The ‘sitter’ is an individual responsible for literally sitting near Blake, helping care for him and most importantly making sure that (since the restraints have been discontinued) he does not pull out any stitches or tubes with those clever hands of his.

This evening Blake went to sleep and while the sitter wasn’t watching stirred and pulled out his feeding tube again. 

I wanted to lose it and freak out. I wanted to say “You had one job!!!” Or, “Why don’t you just head out and I’ll take it from here.” But in the back of my mind, I remembered that Blake wouldn’t benefit in ANY way whatsoever from me losing my cool. So I stepped out and took some deep breaths and trusted that it was going to be okay.

Do we need to speak up and ask questions if we are concerned that things are being done incorrectly? Absolutely. But won’t handling things with kindness endear us to the people caring for Blake and for our family so much more than rudeness or meanness or harshness or freaking out?

And how much of life does this principle apply to?

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Whether we feel like we’ve been unjustly treated at work, cut off in traffic or treated unfairly at any turn in our journey, we are so much less likely to improve our situation if we set out to be harsh or rude or even just dang unpleasant.

But as we’ve done our best to choose kindness and goodness and gentleness, we have received exactly that in abundance in return from the caregivers that have walked us through this rollercoaster of a month.

As I continue doing my best to learn in this hard place, I hope these thoughts encourage you that life just plain feels better when you decide to face it with a smile and kindness and a good helping of self-control.

Mother Teresa often said, “Take whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile.”

When we trust Him to work everything together for our good and His glory, we truly can live our days doing exactly that.

xCC

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Update on Our Sweet Blake
Thank you for your prayers, dear friends. I am so happy to say Blake is making wonderful progress and we feel closer and closer to that beautiful day when our boy will get to come home with us. He is beginning to speak more and more, and we have seen so many beautiful glimpses of his personality, still definitely in tact. He still has that pesky feeding tube and perhaps some weakness on his left side, but we are watching him get stronger every day. He has begun walking with assistance, is able to write his name and guess letters and still even remembers how to count in Spanish! We are praying for his 100% head to toe healing and continue to Raise Hallelujahs for all the Lord has done and all He still will do! Thank you for joining us. 
 You can Follow With Love, From Here on Facebook for daily updates. 

The Best Thing to Do With the Thing You’re Most Afraid Of {+Blake Update!}

I have an incredible secret to share with you today. Lean in close and let me share from experience, if you will.

Sometimes the only thing you need to do to shake off the power of something you’re really afraid of?

Is say, out loud, that you’re really afraid of it. 

I can’t promise this will work for a fear of spiders or snakes or bridges or canned tuna, but when the enemy of your soul is whispering hard to try to corner you in a dark place where you’re nothing but plain scared, those thoughts, brought into the Light, seem to somehow lose their power.

If you’ve got a moment, I can explain what I mean.

So. If you’re reading this post, you may already know my lovely eight-year-old son has been in the hospital for three weeks now. A very traumatic brain aneurism unexpectedly changed our lives in an instant on September 1st, and we spent the better part of his first two weeks in the hospital just living with a scary fear that our boy might never survive, might never come home to us, might make our family of six suddenly one little fella short at the dinner table.

Once we were past the stage of simply fearing whether or not we would lose our boy, we quickly discovered (as is often the case with worry and fear) we had something new to be afraid of.

Blake has had a traumatic brain injury. And I guess in some ways TBIs are kind of like life and Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Enter the biggest, scariest thoughts possible, stage left.

Perhaps for a few days, or more than a few, the Hero Hubs and I danced around this conversation. And since we’re taking turns staying at home or at the hospital, it is easy for us to dance around conversations if we want to.

But finally one evening via FaceTime, tailored perfectly into our topic of conversation, he wisely said, “I think the thing we’re really not talking about here is that we don’t know what Blake is going to be like when he wakes up.”

That was the truth of the situation — the sum total of the greatest fear — and now it was no longer whispering in the recesses of my mind while I tried to shush it and put on a brave face.

So we faced that fear head on, and talked about it. Together. Out loud.

And then a funny thing happened. It somehow didn’t seem as big or scary anymore. We thought about some important things, like the fact that Blake is still with us. We almost lost our son — but we didn’t. He is ours. We do and will continue to love him to pieces no matter what.

The next day when the fear started whispering again, I shared it with a trusted friend in a good long commuting-to-the-hospital conversation. And she encouraged me, and I eventually found myself thinking: if our sweet boy is changed by this, maybe I should be careful about automatically assuming that’s bad.

I remembered a verse I’d been clinging to during this storm:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield,
the Lord will give grace and glory.
No good thing will He withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
Psalm 84:11

Together we pondered that verse, and Romans 8:28, and how God promises that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. 

On both occasions, bringing something scary into the Light diminished its power and lightened my load. 

I decided to remind myself again, and again, how I’ve seen God’s hand in the past, in what seemed like the hardest of hard places, and I’ve seen how they worked together for my good. Like the time we were in a hard place in ministry in South Africa and felt it was time to return to North Carolina sooner than we’d originally planned, and I had eighteen months with my Dad before he passed away. Eighteen months I would never have had had we not be so hurt that we knew God was closing a door to open another.

God is in the business of making beauty from ashes. Last week, I was blessed with an incredibly sweet, thoughtful birthday party. It’s been a long time since I had an actual birthday party. This one was complete with homemade food and cake and flowers and decorations and gifts — and it was thrown for me by the nurses and medical staff right here in the Pediatric ICU, where my son currently resides. I will treasure that birthday party for the rest of my days! People who’d known me 18 days chose to so selflessly care for me at such a hard time.

Like flowers pushing their way through dirt…What glorious beauty!!!

So friend, I don’t know what finds you here, what you might be hurting from or afraid of, but I encourage you to bring those fears into the light. Remind yourself that God is good and He can strengthen you to walk through anything. Anything. ANYthing. And He is in the business of redemption — always turning brokenness into beauty.

Trust that you’ll see it. Say it out loud! Don’t let whispers of fear steal the joy you should have because God’s life in abundance is what Christ died to give you!

xCC

I hope you’re encouraged today, friend. If you’re visiting this site for the first time, I’d love to welcome you to
 subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.

***

Update on Blake:

Thank you so much for Raising a Hallelujah, and lifting up our precious Blake! He is still in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, but those days are numbered! Both of the drains which were removing excess blood from his brain have been removed. He was extubated last Wednesday and has been breathing very, very well all on his own since then. While having his PICC line removed today, he said his first word, “Ow!” We were sorry he was hurting, but so blessed to hear him speak!

He is beginning to give thumbs up and thumbs down to communicate with impressive understanding. Today the nurse asked if he was six years old, and he gave a thumbs down. When she asked if he was twelve, he gave a thumbs up and a cheeky grin!! (He is eight and this is totally his personality shining through!) The medical team that has cared for him (and his family) so incredibly well is working together to slowly and carefully reduce his medications, and with less and less sedatives on board we are able to see more and more of Blake shining through. 

He does have a journey ahead with regard to rebuilding his motor skills and recovering from the TBI and the time in a coma… but he’s already been in a hurry and we feel sure his fighting spirit will serve him well. He could be transferred to the Pediatric Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit later this week. (Our minds are reeling at the thought of that! Wow!)

We’d be so grateful if you’d continue to lift up our sweet Blake, as well as the rest of our family as we continue walking this journey together. Rotating nights in the hospital is a challenge, but we are grateful to say we’ve been so well cared for and supported by our community, those tangible efforts and prayers have made our burdens so, so much lighter. I look forward to sharing more news with you soon — perhaps from Rehab next week! You’re also welcome to find With Love, From Here on Facebook for daily updates. Thank you for your prayers and support friends!!!

How to Look for Truth When People Shout Out Their Windows at You

Wow. Seriously, wow. I had the most unexpected experience the other day. Coming home to tell the hubs about it afterwards left me visibly shaking. Once I got over the initial shock, there was some food for thought worth considering. Let me break down the crazy for you for a second.

It was an overcast Friday morning and I realized I had just enough time to scoot to the local seafood store for some shrimp — a necessary errand because my eldest’s birthday was two days away and he requested Shrimp and Grits for his birthday dinner. Since the hubs had a shoot soon (photography), I needed to make it quick.

As I backed down the driveway, that sweet eldest kid came running to ask if he could come along. I gave him the go ahead to hop in and as we left the driveway noticed that he didn’t have shoes on and commented “You’ll just have to wait in the car while I pick up the shrimp.”

Barefoot in the fish market… or any market? No.

I left the keys in the ignition so my almost-eleven-year-old could enjoy music while I hurried in for the five minute errand, and I noticed another car that had pulled up at the same time, with an elderly lady using the wheelchair ramp instead of the stairs to make it easier to get up to the store. I waited for her to go ahead of me since she’d started the journey first and it just felt kinda wrong to scoot ahead of her just because she was moving slowly.

She made her purchase and left the store, and I did the same, only to come down the stairs in front of the store and notice her with her window down, glaring at me. Her husband honked at me and she shouted, “Do you ever watch TV?”

“Um… not much. Why do you ask?” was my response.

“That kid could be dead by now! You can’t leave a kid locked in a car when it’s this hot outside!”

“Ma’am, it’s 80 degrees and cloudy,” I responded. “And he’s eleven years old! If it’s hot he’ll roll down the window.”

“If it isn’t locked! Isn’t he locked in there?” she shouted again… and I felt frozen in surprise that she was so angry about this.

“No, he’s not locked in there! And it’s not hot outside… or sunny!” I gestured toward the sky with bewilderment.

“It’s hot!” she hollered again. Her husband piped up from the driver seat, “I was about to smash your window in!!” 

I was so caught off guard, I had no idea how to reply. A man in his seventies just threatened to smash my window in. I think I repeated, “He’s eleven years old and knows how to open a window…” but before I could finish the lady huffed, 

“Whatever! Let’s go! She doesn’t care about her kids!”

I climbed into my car and sat behind the driver seat, bewildered for a moment that someone could so quickly make so many judgments — and feel perfectly right in addressing them so vehemently.

Meanwhile, my son looked at me, obviously disturbed, and explained that before I came out, the lady and another customer were standing and talking and pointing at him, and he was afraid they were going to try to take him.

We had a conversation about what had happened, what he should do if anyone ever did act as if they were going to try to take him, and he reassured me with 100 percent certainty that he knew how to roll down a window if he felt hot. But for goodness’ sake, it was overcast, had rained half the morning and was barely 80 degrees outside!!

Last week, I shared some thoughts about The Best Time to Find Out Who You Are. And this? This was a moment for discovering a few things about who I am:

  1. I don’t like it when strangers yell at me.
  2. I will argue with strangers about dumb things and when they yell at me I’ll feel as if I’ve been physically assaulted and shake for ten minutes.
  3. Everything is cool until you accuse me of not caring about my kids. That is obviously a major source of pride for me because I don’t often want to throw things or cuss at people but I sure did want to for a minute or two. Or ten.

An encounter with ridiculously ornery strangers is not necessarily the best place to find truth. But it illustrates an important point that bears highlighting.

Sometimes the world will literally SCREAM what it wants you to believe. Voices will scream to convince you to agree with them — whether there is a shred of truth in what they’re shouting or not.

If you’ve read more than a couple of posts from me, I hope you get the idea that I’m a devoted Mama. I set aside some dreams and some desires and even some scholarship funds to take on the calling of motherhood, and I have no regrets. I’m not amazing at it. I fuss and huff and puff and probably spend more time with eyes on a screen and less time with my feet in the grass pushing a swing than I want. But I feel pretty confident that the comment “She doesn’t care about her kids” is false. A lie. Not true.
What is the world shouting that you might be believing?

Do you believe there’s a correlation between the number on the scale and your worth or value? 

Do you feel like you’re falling short as a parent because your kid’s birthday party didn’t look like a Pinterest post?

Do you feel like you need more completed items on your to-do list each day to be adding value to this world?

Or is the mirror lying to you — whispering falsehood to snuff out the truth of who you are, who you truly are?

Can I encourage you? Catch your breath for a few minutes today and just listen to the talk in your mind. What are you telling yourself that is true, and what are you believing that isn’t?

While I can’t lean out the window and honk the horn to shout to you today, I want you to let this sink in, just as if I did: 

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life. {Isaiah 43:1-4}

God wants to shout: I’m crazy about you. You are precious and honored in my sight! Don’t be afraid — I have redeemed you! You are mine! No matter what today brings, or tomorrow, or the next, I am with you! I love you so much I’d give the world for you!

And the King of the Nations, the Lord of heaven and earth, stepped down from His throne and demonstrated it — that He loved you so much, He would die for you. You’re worth it.

This crazy world will honk and scream with so much emphasis, and sometimes downright vehemence, it will be hard not to believe what they’re hollering. 

So listen closely to the Voice that tells the truth about who you are, what you are capable of and what you were created for. Listen well and listen often. Hold the truth in your hands and frame it on your walls, bookmark it on your phone and hide it in your heart. 

He may not shout the loudest, but He will whisper the longest, and travel the farthest to set His unfailing love upon you.

xCC

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Psst! If you’re encouraged today, you can subscribe to receive weekly Love, From Here and never miss a post by clicking right here! I’ll do a happy dance, and you’ll get encouraging words in your inbox every week (and my new Five Steps to a Fantastic Meal Plan System.) Definitely a win/win!

And pssst…. yes, this really happened. Last week. Scouts honor.

Also, some posts on my site contain affiliate links. Like this one. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for supporting With Love!

The Best Time to Find Out Who You Are

It began as a little whisper. 

I think most of the best things in life probably do.

It was first thing in the morning, when I had the choice between pulling the charging cord out my phone and pulling my legs out from under the covers and sauntering to the back porch with my Bible and journal in hand. I’ve been working on making the latter of those two choices a habit these days as best I can, but the phone sure does want to talk, too.

And that’s when I heard that still, small voice whisper: “Let me tell you who you are before the world does.”

Just a few days before, I’d shared some new content online and had new subscribers signing up to receive emails With Love, From Here.

I’m not dying for huge numbers and have tried my best to rather focus on writing clearly to the hearts I think I’m supposed to be writing to with the words I think I’m supposed to be writing, but I’ve also been learning a bit more about what the journey of publishing looks like for the average non-fiction writer. Turns out “How many followers do you have?” and “How many subscribers get your emails?” are actual questions that I’ll be answering as I continue to pitch ideas and take the next steps on the journey.

So when those little numbers started pinging that day with the happy little news from MailChimp that someone new is “Picking Up What I’m Putting Down”? I was pretty darn happy about it.

And that is all fine and well and reasonable to celebrate.

But I think the whisper came that morning with a few different reminders attached. Numbers can come and numbers can go. Fans can quickly change from cheering to sneering and jeering. (If Jesus was a hipster teenager right now, I imagine Him rolling His eyes and commenting, “Um, yes! Ask Me how I know. Anybody remember Holy Week? Most. Epic. Cheer-to-Jeer experience. EVER.”)

Sometimes people will love you for what you do. How you navigate the complexities around the office or improve the ROI. How you love on the kids in your classroom wholeheartedly even when all kinds of crazy seem to be busting out of every corner. Sometimes people will love what your art, your words, your heart brings to the table.

And sometimes they won’t.

Sometimes the hard stuff you’re doing is the unseen stuff. It’s cleaning the toilets. It’s making the PBJs. It’s the 3 am diaper change that no one sees and no one cheers for. 

Or worse: sometimes you have to do the thing that you know in your heart is the right thing to do, and the folks around you don’t like the idea. They disagree with your principles. Don’t understand why your heart is set. Don’t get that there is a fire inside of you that you just can’t suppress.

Crazy enough, what we should do when the world is cheering and what we should do when the world is jeering? It’s exactly the same thing.

We keep letting the God Who created us tell us who we are. We keep asking Him to guide our steps and tell us how to live. 

We aren’t always going to get it right. And perfection isn’t the goal, is it?

The goal is to consistently turn to Jesus and ask, “What does faithfulness look like today? What would it look like to run the race well today?” 

Maybe today it is steering a Fortune 500 company in the right direction. Or maybe today it’s being the one who’s there to change that diaper at 3 am. 

Neither of these two actions will carry greater weight in the light of eternity if they are both done to honor and glorify God.

We do what we can, and then we invite God to turn our mistakes into confetti.

When we wake up in the morning, we really don’t need to let the voices come roaring in that say, “Yes, you are awesome!” or “Look at all these people who are more awesome than you.”

We really need words like these to make our souls brave, and to remind us that it’s not the world’s applause or approval we’re after anyway.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday. {Psalm 37:3-6}

The world is full of voices. Voices so eager to tell you what theythink, they might decide to shout at you to let you know. {I have an actualstory about that I’ll share next week…}

But I’m sharing these thoughts to give you this sermon in a nutshell: Who you truly are has very little to do with what the people around you have to say about you. Your skills or abilities or failures or disabilities. All these things pale in comparison to the Imago Dei of you… the uniquely wonderful you, created not only by God but also in His Image.

So even if it’s going to just be the first five minutes before your feet hit the floor, or maybe you’ve got an hour you can spend with the Lord and the Word on the back porch, either way, aim to let God have the first say and the final say. Be reminded, and remind yourself again and again to Trust Him, do good, feed on Hisfaithfulness. Let Him bring the good things to pass, and let your heart be warmed with the knowledge that nothing you say or do changes His incredible, unstoppable everlasting love for you.

xCC

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If you’d like a little help finding some words to tell you who you are every morning, these are two of my favorite devotionals that can whisper gallons of truth in ounces of words…

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

I was just given a Scripture Journal like this one and I’m really excited about it!! (Thanks, Emily!!!!)

If you’d like to chat more with your children about finding their identity in what God says rather than everyone else, I love…

You are Special by Max Lucado

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

And in case you missed it? After two and a half years of great dinners, this week I shared some thoughts about the Instant Pot for friends who are on the fence! View that post here!

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Psst! If you’re encouraged today, you can subscribe to receive weekly Love, From Here and never miss a post by clicking right here! I’ll do a happy dance, and you’ll get encouraging words in your inbox every week (and my new Five Steps to a Fantastic Meal Plan System.) Definitely a win/win!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for supporting With Love!

How Curiosity Blesses Every Burning Bush

You know what lots of universities are now looking for in students applying for admission?

Yes, they’re looking at what you’d expect. Grade Point Average. Test Scores. Extracurricular Activities. 

What’s on the list that maybe wasn’t always?

Curiosity.

Yes. Good, old-fashioned curiosity — the kind that leads us to learn new things, ask good questions and figure things out.

Do you think curiosity is useful in any way when it comes to faith?

Take this little excerpt of a passage from Exodus 3:

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

What if Moses hadn’t followed his curiosity? Imagine the passage a bit more like this:

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “Whoa. There’s a bush burning over there. It’s on fire, but the fire isn’t burning up the bush. That is weird. And kind of creepy. Did I eat something weird at lunch today? I better go get a nap.”

Fortunately for us — and the people of Israel who would later be delivered by Moses, thanks to that burning bush encounter with God — Moses’ wonder led him to investigate. And his investigation led him to an amazing discovery.

He didn’t discover a scientific explanation which explained how the properties of this particular bush made it flame retardant. 

Instead, he discovered that the God who loved the people Moses had left behind in Egypt had an invitation for him. Out of that bush came a whisper, and a command. It was a moment that changed everything.

There’s a cool thing you might notice if you look at Luke’s account of the Resurrection of Jesus. In Luke 24, after Jesus has risen, He appears to two unnamed disciples on the Road to Emmaus. And He doesn’t just drop in for a chit-chat. He doesn’t even allow the disciples to recognize who He is.

First, it seems He wants to have a conversation with them and help them find understand of who He truly is. The Savior. The Risen Lord. The promised Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. Only after He’s had a chance to expound the Scriptures to those two disciples does He sit at a table and break bread with them — and somehow allow them to recognize Him as Jesus.

He appeared again to His disciples, and in modern English I think Jesus would say something like, 

“Guys! Guys, come on! We’ve been over this. Remember when I was with you before and I told you that the things Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms said about Me would have to be fulfilled? Is this ringing any bells, guys? This is it! This is the fulfillment of what they were talking about!” (That’s my paraphrase of Luke 24:44)

Luke goes on to say, “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Lk. 24:45)

In Mark’s account, Jesus is frustrated with His disciples and rebukes them because they didn’t believe the first disciples who’d seen Him and told them. In one way or another, each account of the death and Resurrection of Jesus seems to indicate that Jesus wants His disciples to believe that what He told them was going to happen all along actually did happen, and now they should go and do the things He told them beforehand He would want them to do.

But what of curiosity? 

Genuine curiosity is a beautiful thing. Because if we throw a party and you bring the brownies and I bring the chips and salsa, Jesus is the guy who we can always count on to bring the understanding.

When you read the Bible and you come to a passage that might as well remain un-translated from the Greek or Hebrew because it’s so opaque to you, why not look for some understanding? Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, and many others like it, are available online for you — just a click away.

When something difficult is happening in your day, in your week, in your life as a whole, be curious enough to ask God if He can bring some understanding to the party. He truly loves doing that. Maybe He’ll whisper some words of encouragement to your heart with that still, small voice of His. Maybe He’ll lead you to a Scripture that will help you to see what you’re going through from a whole new perspective.

I read a beautiful children’s book with my children last year that has stuck with me because it had such incredible wisdom to offer. The book was called What Do You Do With a Problem? and it’s an artistic rendering of a person struggling with a problem, feeling afraid of it on one page, trying to ignore it on another.

Eventually, the character realizes that his problem has a tiny gift — it has an opportunity inside of it.

Here’s where being curious fits in. Curiosity is often the thing that has taken me from I’m going to ignore this problem and hope it goes away to I’m going to look into this problem and see what could be inside of it.

We have refrigerators because someone was curious enough to see if he could solve the problem of always needing more ice for an ice box.

We have motorcars because someone was curious enough to see if he could come up with a better solution to travel than faster horses.

Even through the grief and pain and sorrow of losing my Dad, I stayed curious enough to believe that somehow I was going to see God’s goodness in the midst of all the hard and the sad. Would you believe God showed up? As I prayed for my Dad’s healing and for a personal Renaissance and a new season of life to come out of these dark days, a chaplain arrived in the hospital room to pray for us and for my Dad, using the exact phrase “a real Renaissance man” in reference to him — words which whispered to my soul, “The Renaissance you’re praying for already happened. Isn’t God good?”

You can bring sorrow. You can bring hurt. You can bring pain. You can bring guacamole or pita and hummus. Yes please to both. But Jesus will always bring understanding if you are willing to quiet your soul, listen whole-heartedly and, yes, sometimes this is the hard part, have the patience to wait for God’s clarity to meet you in God’s timing.

People often remember Steve Jobs for saying, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” 

One way of interpreting this interesting statement is to see it as an encouragement to stay curious. Don’t be fooled into thinking you know it all. There is more to understand. There is more to grasp. There is more wisdom, and more Truth and more Light yet to be revealed.

Take a moment to stare at a cricket and wonder about those oddly-shaped legs of his, and how they propel him forward so well.

Notice a rock on the sidewalk and wonder at the thought that it’s much, much older than you.

Welcome Jesus to bring understanding to any and every party you ever think of throwing.

In short, stay curious.

xCC

Are you curious to check out:

Bible Study Tools

Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary

The children’s book, What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada

A Fascinating Hummingbird Story over at Smarter Every Day on YouTube

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The Life Changing Magic of Negative Disclosure

Once upon a time, I was a college student in a fifteen passenger van traveling to I don’t remember where on some mission trip or conference or something. What I do remember is that another one of the passengers in that van was my boyfriend at the time.

And I remember (of all things!) some random joke of his to that fully loaded fifteen passenger van about me. And I quote:

“She toots when she sleeps.”

Hilarious, right? 

I’m not one bit scarred, friends, so don’t get worried. Everyone in the van would surely have known that the boyfriend in question would have had no idea whether or not I toot in my sleep. 

And just in case anyone outside of southern America needs translation? In this context, ‘toots’ is a polite way of saying she passes gas. That may have already been obvious, so let’s move on.

I’m sharing this example to make a quick point: when I talk in this post about “Negative Disclosure” that is NOT the type of negative disclosure I’m referring to.

You still with me? Good.

So. Our pastor and his wife were over for a visit the other evening and he said something very profound. So important that I think it could have downright changed the trajectory of our marriage:

“Negative disclosure leads to greater intimacy.”

I am not sure I’m quoting him perfectly (whereas I’m sure about the sleep and tooting thing.) However, I am sure I’ve got the gist of it here — and the idea is really the main thing I want to communicate.

I think one of the greatest tools the enemy of our souls has in his arsenal is the strategy of making us feel isolated. He whispers things like this:

You’re the only one struggling with this. You should be ashamed of yourself. If anyone else knew it would completely change what they think of you.

The choices you’ve made, the things you’ve struggled with are proof that you’re worthless in the kingdom of God.

What happened to you was really your fault and it’s proof that you’re worthless.

God could never use you to build His kingdom. He only uses people who have it all together.

When we bring these thoughts into the Light, we see how ridiculous they are, right? Yet somehow, while they’re in that fuzzy realm of unspoken stuff we’re trying to stuff down deep, they still have power. 

In the Light, the deep and real Truth of God, we know that we ALL sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. 

We also know for certain that God delights in using the most broken people for His glory.

David, the king caught in adultery, which he tried to resolve with arranged murder? He wrote so many of the Psalms that connect our hearts to God’s heart — and have been connecting hearts to God’s for a couple thousand years.

Moses murdered an Egyptian who was mistreating an Israelite and then ran off into the wilderness… and God delighted in using him, flawed and broken as he was, to deliver the people of Israel.

Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife. Jacob tricked Isaac to get Esau’s blessing. 

The list goes on but you get the idea — God is in the business of helping broken people do beautiful things for His glory. Therefore: you are not disqualified.

So what about this negative disclosure thing?

Those words breathed life into Mark’s heart, and mine. He chose to be honest about things he was struggling with and I had the privilege of listening and rejoicing with him at our good God — faithfully working to deliver us. I got to be honest about things that were bothering me that seemed big — but when I brought them into the light, they became minuscule and lost their lie-whispering power.

The power of our enemy works best in the darkness.

We storm the gates and take back those strongholds when we bring things into the Light.

This is not just a word for those who are married. We need deep and meaningful friendships where we can be honest — really honest — about our struggles, our fears, and the things that are keeping us from fully walking in the Light.

Negative disclosure isn’t about admitting you have bad breath in the morning — it’s about being willing to tell the truth even when it’s not the pretty, all-put-together truth you want other people to see or hear or believe about you.

I’m struggling with addiction. I’m fighting suicidal thoughts. I find myself drawn to places on the internet I know I shouldn’t be going.

These are examples of the negative disclosure we don’t want to bring into the Light… but absolutely should.

Give these words a good read through or two:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” {2 Corinthians 10: 3-5}

What is Paul admitting here? We are still humans made of flesh. We are tempted. We fall short. We do what we don’t want to do. But how do we fight? We take our thoughts captive, because every action starts with a thought. Before you stand up to get a glass of water, you have to think about being thirsty and tell your brain to move your arms to give you balance to stand to your feet to put one foot in front of the other, and so on. 

The lies we believe are trying to exalt themselves against the Truth of God.

While the world says our sins make us worthless, our God says He created us and we are worthy.

While the world tells us our failures prove us fools, God has consistently shown He chooses flawed, failing individuals for great tasks in His kingdom.

I’d like to invite you to search your own soul today. Is there a whisper of the enemy that is making you believe you are not fully worthy of the love of God? Or not “good enough” to deserve good things? Or not “holy enough” to do things that matter in God’s economy? 

Is there a sinister whisper in your ear? Ask that question and then begin to bring it into the Light. This can be as simple as turning to your spouse or a friend or a sister or someone near and saying “I am really struggling with _________. I’m not sure why, but I think maybe it’s because I think ______.”

You might be surprised to find your friend will say “Me, too.” Or you might be opening a door for them to feel like they can also be honest about their own struggles. 

It turns out negative disclosure — being honest about things that are important, but aren’t easy to talk about — can be incredibly positive for your relationship with others, and for deepening your faith in our merciful, loving God. Honest disclosure will deepen your man-to-man and man-to-God relationships–and that is a beautiful, wonderful thing.

While the enemy loves to find the sheep that is isolated and stranded and separated from the flock, our decisions to be honest help us to lock arms with one another. They pull us in and deepen our sense of community. This changed sense of identity can break chains, friends!

Go for honest friends. It truly is a Life-Changing kind of Magic — maybe we could even say it’s a sort of Tidying-Up for the soul.

xCC

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Are you encouraged today? I hope so!!!! And if so, you can subscribe to receive weekly Love, From Here and never miss a post by clicking right here! I’ll do a happy dance, and you’ll get encouraging words in your inbox every week! Definitely a win/win! Right now you’ll also get my Five Steps to a Fantastic Meal Plan System. Bonus love!!!