Day 16: Work Worth Waiting For

Hi there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now halfway through! Ka-chow! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you, he cries out, “Destroy them!” {Deut. 33:27}

We received some unpleasant news from family far away this morning. It created fear for the Hubs and for me, and I was left sitting on the couch, trying to think of something to write about, after bringing that fear to the Lord and asking for His deliverance.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles. {Ps. 34:4-6}

The truth is, when something is heavy on your heart, you don’t always experience immediate relief. It’s not clear from these verses whether David (the writer of this Psalm) experienced immediate relief from his fears or whether, over time, he continuously sought the Lord and his deliverance was a gradual process.

In an age of speed and convenience, we who pace in front of microwaves are usually looking for a short work to be made of just about anything, otherwise we might tend to feel as if it’s not going to work at all.

But the encouragement from that first Scripture mentioned above, and from many others, it to make God our refuge. Even though He is a person, His presence is the place He wants you to run to.

Leaving Doubtful Behind

We’re encouraged to Look to the Lord, and His strength, seek His face always. {Ps. 105:4} So whatever it is that we are walking through, we are invited to turn our the gaze of our souls toward His presence. Any time, any where.

Right now, our home is a work in progress. We moved a few months ago, and after one big moving day, we gradually, over several weeks, brought the remaining things we needed to move from the old house to the new one. There are still boxes that need to be unpacked and things that need to find a home in our new home.

Living in this sort of limbo, in the process with so many things still undone, is uncomfortable. I think most people like for things to be done with and be over rather than having to work through a process over time.

God doesn’t leave us stuck in the middle of a process when we seek His presence, but, often, neither does He immediately pull us right out of it:

“Oh, this is hard and you don’t like it? Well I’ll wave my heavenly wand and it’ll be done!”

Whether we’re endeavoring to lead a healthier lifestyle or turn a house into a home, the progress is going to be a process and the process is going to take time.

Sometimes, when we can’t see the progress immediately, we become discouraged and think nothing is happening. But you can trust that the Lord is at work, and things are changing behind the scenes, things are being positioned for the best to become possible.

Our job is to trust, to pray, and to continuously make the Lord our refuge, through each and every challenge that we face. In His glorious goodness, He sees that these processes are good for our souls, and in light of eternity, it’s good work worth waiting for.


That Still, Small Voice

It all started with two completely different incidents that told me the same thing. First, there was a book a friend thought I should borrow. Someone else had recommended it back when my Dad was in the hospital. It was about a doctor who had a near-death experience and spent an extended period in a coma. When, against all odds, he regained consciousness, he had a story to tell about the experience “on the other side.” Since two people had recommended it, I figured it was worth giving it a read.

A few chapters into the book, something just started to seem off to me — and with a nod at giving as much respect as possible to the experience this guy says he had, something in my gut was just going Uh-un. {Let’s also acknowledge another fact that I had to come to terms with — this guy was in a coma for seven days and had a miraculous recovery, and my Dad was in a coma for seven days, with a very different ending.} By the time I was almost midway through the book, I sensed this whisper — that quiet voice where you’re not sure why, you just know it in your knower. And the whisper said, “Stop reading this. It’s not good for you.”

Being the very sensitive and thoughtful gal that I am, I promptly reasoned out why I needed to continue reading the book in my own mind. My counterarguments included the fact that I would have to tell the truth if my friend asked what I thought: “Um, thanks but, I kinda dropped that book like a bad habit” and another thought, which I rarely live up to, “it’s good to finish things, you’ve started, right?”


But a chapter or two later the whisper was unmistakable — and I finally closed the book and only opened it again to remove the business card I’d turned into a bookmark.

Over the next few days, I pondered the reason why I needed to close the book, and it became clear that the guy was describing an experience of the afterlife that doesn’t line up with Biblical Theology. In contrast, if you read Heaven is For Real, for example, the things that Colton Burpo describes about his near death experience agree with descriptions of heaven in the Bible. The encouragement about the beauty and greatness, and goodness of Jesus in that book strengthened my faith and encouraged me to dig deeper, celebrate more, remember again how great and powerful, and how kind and loving God is.

This book, instead, left this icky feeling in my gut, as if I was trying to build a brick house with sand instead of bricks — trying to pull together something that was never going to build anything, never give me a firm place to stand. And it just made me feel bummed I lost my Dad, really.

But a redemptive purpose was at hand — the bigger lesson behind the experience. The real sermon in the nutshell was:

The Holy Spirit is speaking. I might hear, but I am not listening or obeying.

A few days later, a completely different encounter seemed to whisper the same message. I am still juggling many tasks surrounding the settling of my Dad’s estate, and picking up an estate-related check at a lawyer’s office about twenty minutes away was on the list. I decided on a whim, about forty minutes before lunchtime, to throw the kiddies in the car and quickly run this errand before lunch. And — maybe I should mention — I didn’t know exactly where the lawyer’s office was.

Sometimes stupidity looks a lot like bravery.

I loaded the small people into the van with no small amount of effort, and was eventually ready to go, after running back inside to grab something and something else at least twice. Neither of those something elses were a diaper bag, by the way. I didn’t even remember that.

Finally pulling out of park and into reverse, I glanced over my shoulder to see a big red truck in the driveway. I put the swagger wagon back in park and hopped out to find out Who and What. A roofing estimate was ready and the gentleman who’d done the estimate dropped it off personally to explain a few things. I thanked him for the estimate, and after a brief chat hopped back in the car to get going.

And there was that whisper again.

This is not a good idea. Put the car back in park and take the kids back inside. Don’t.

But brave (stupid) me, being the sensitive and thoughtful gal that I am, promptly reasoned This needs to get done. And, it’ll be really quick. And, I’ll feel like thebombdotcom if I manage to cross another chore off the list with three kids in tow. And, I’ll call the hubs and he can help me navigate my way there since… look at that… Google Maps doesn’t actually know how to get me there.

An hour later, I was back where I started. In the driveway at our house. With a crying baby, two whining and hungry kids, and no check. I never found the lawyer’s office. Google Maps and Bing completely failed me. An extended detour wasted a good twenty plus minutes of my time. It. was. a. stupid. waste. of. time.

And there the message was again, a solid sermon in a nutshell:

The Holy Spirit is speaking. I might hear, but I am not listening, or obeying.

We took a trip up to the mountains a few weekends ago celebrate our anniversary. In six years of marriage, we’ve lived in three countries, had three kids, and called about six different places home. There is good cause for celebration.

I decided to “unplug” for the weekend. My laptop stayed at home, my phone was only used for the purpose of calling or texting, and I kept that to a minimum. And I learned a few things in the process.

First, if you can figure out where your heart is by observing where your mind is, my mind wonders where my phone is, and not where my heart is, no less than twenty times a day. If HH walks out of the room — even just to the loo — I immediately grab my phone to glance at how my game of Words with Friends is going, the time, maybe my email, or … you guessed it… Facebook.

And I mean what I say — if my mind immediately thinks PHONE before I sit down to nurse a baby, before I change from one room to another, anytime someone exits the room, or when I’m about to go to the bathroom — my phone is where I am devoting a heap of my time and attention.

Here’s some scary sauce for you. It’s the definition of worship:

The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.

My pattern is clearly one where I show more love and devotion to this sacred object that I constantly keep in close proximity, rather than the Deity — the Lord, my God, my Savior, the One I want to call my All in All.

If step one is diagnosing the problem, step two is finding the solution.

I started by apologizing to God. Lord, You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’ve repeatedly sold you out for an extra half hour of youtube before bed.

And then I apologized to my Words with Friends buddies, acknowledging that if I don’t have time for my Lord, my Bible, or prayer, then I don’t have time for Words With Friends. Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That, replied my understanding friend, Mona.

I proceeded to begin deleting apps my from my phone. And I began to feel a great weight lifting. The self-inflicted pressure of keeping up with social media fluttered away. No, Pages Manager App, I don’t care that we got new likes. Sorry, Facebook, you are no longer allowed to notify me every time anything happens. To anybody anywhere ever.

But more important than the removal of the things that are not beneficial is bringing in the things that are. This means renewing my commitment to choose a reasonable bedtime over an episode of whatever show it is at the moment we’re barreling through a season of on Amazon Prime. What a novel idea — to get up early and be with the Lord, rather than to stay up late just to be entertained!

My Dad would’ve turned 65 today. And dealing with losing him is a constant reminder that we don’t know how much time we have — and time is the one thing we can’t buy more of — so it’s in our best interest to give ourselves a good long look in the mirror to ask — what am I doing with the time I’ve been given?

Just as the bucket empties just the same whether you knock it over or it has a slow leak, I am praying for help as I slowly take baby steps toward re-focusing, re-centering, and re-committing to live a circumspect life with Jesus at the center. He will fill up the cup to overflowing again, He will show me what to do with the time that I have. Thank heavens for a God who comes near to the contrite (Psalm 34:18) — I regret allowing urgency to determine my daily course of action, and allowing entertainment to pretty much fill all the space between one urgent task and the next one.

More thoughts on this Re-centering are on the way, but in the meantime, I’d love a slice of your story. Do you feel like you’re making the most of the time that you have, or do you feel caught in a cycle of distraction?



P.S. Thanks so much for your prayers when I shared a message about my Dad on Father’s Day. If you’d like to hear it, you can download it here. I kept it together – and I know prayer had everything to do with that. Thank you.

Jesus Says Come

It was in church two weeks ago when it hit home. (Again.) No matter what the wakeup time, something (or some little person) occasionally seems to hinder us starting the half-hour journey early enough. We’d hurried in a few minutes late, plonked down on an empty row, and I was busy trying to simultaneously sing and worship and make sure the Tank was still with us and not wandering off.

At the end of a time of worship where I felt mostly distracted, and guilty for being distracted, the Pastor reminded us that Jesus simply says, “Come.”

Now if you’re anything like me, which I hope for your sake, you’re not, you sometimes feel like you’re just not good enough to just come. I think about all the things I haven’t done — all the places where I’ve fallen short, and they form a collective whisper in the back of my mind. The more haven’ts there are, the louder it gets, until there’s a resounding shout:

You’ve got to get it together before you can get to Jesus!

I’ve been tired — especially being pregnant — I haven’t been getting up early in the morning to read the Word. I haven’t been spending the time I think I should be spending in prayer. I didn’t take the opportunity to show love in this or that situation. I was worn out after a week of hospitality and didn’t accomplish these things on the list which I think are important and make me good enough to stand before God.

And those words from a Pastor with a microphone were the tip of an iceberg of truth that a gentle God-voice kept whispering to my heart, sure and steady, for perhaps another week or so — long enough for me to believe it:

You’ll never really get it all together! Just get to Jesus!

Jesus said Come. Come to Me, all you weary and heavy-laden. Come to Me, let Me give you rest. And none of those verses about coming were followed by a list of haven’t’s and didn’t’s which would disqualify a person from being allowed to just come.

And for that matter — I can approach the throne of God, however and whenever, but never because of what I have done or what I did do. This, friends, is why Grace is so Amazing. I can approach the throne of God because when He looks at me, He sees Jesus. The things I’ve done and the things I’ve left undone, my should’ve’s and my shouldn’t’of’s… they are all covered by the One who gave His life for me. I wear His righteousness to approach the throne. Like the beautiful words of an old hymn, this truth sings to my soul:

Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.*

Can I get a hallelujah? Is that not an absolutely glorious piece of good news to start your day, your week, or even the rest of your life with?

You don’t have to have it all together to meet with Jesus! Even if you’ve been feeling far away, if you’ve been struggling to walk out what you believe, even if for a season you’ve been questioning His truth — Jesus says ComeCome, come, come.

He loves you. He wants to meet with you. He has a plan for you.

Today, tomorrow, the day after — the invitation still stands.


Will you?



*Before the Throne of God Above, words by Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Another story the Bear has taken a liking to in his children’s Bible  is the story of Elijah, when his little brook dries up and he goes to stay with a widow in Zarephath. {It’s in 1 Kings 17 if you’d like to enjoy it later.} In the story, Elijah finds this widow and asks her for a glass of water. After she obliges him, he asks her for some bread.

She doesn’t like that idea so much.

You see, the widow and her young son (remember in Elijah’s day women didn’t work much outside the home so a woman without a husband usually had to count on children or other family members to provide for her) only had a little flour and a little oil left, and with drought going on that was kind of a big pwobwum. (As Ming Ming, the Wonder Pet might put it. Can you tell I’ve been spending heaps of time with my children?)

But Elijah told the woman not to worry, and that if she went and made him some bread, her flour and oil would not run out until the Lord sent rain onto the Earth again. She trusted him, made him some bread (I bet it was kind of like this recipe) and just as Elijah had said, her flour and oil did not run out, and she was able to feed herself, her son, and Elijah throughout the drought.

Good story, hey?

One evening last month while I was washing the dishes after dinner that story came to mind as I glanced over at the bottle of olive oil that sits besides our stovetop on the counter. I love olive oil and use it kind of a lot, and the bottle was about to run out. It was perhaps a week or so before the end of the month. Our finances were tight and getting another big old bottle of olive oil was going to have to wait.

As I pondered that for a moment, the story came to mind, and I prayed:

“Lord, you could make that bottle of olive oil just like the widow’s in the story. Lord, will you make it so that that bottle of oil won’t run out?”

It was a simple sort of “Why not ask?” prayer — I was genuine in asking, but it wasn’t going to crush my faith if nothing happened.

But something happened.

And here’s what happened.

Every once in a while, my Mom makes a Sam’s Club run. It’s in the next town over so it’s not convenient to go all the time, but when she goes she gets diapers and baby wipes for me and I pay her back. They’re such a good deal compared to the prices everywhere else!

She picked up diapers and wipes for me at Sam’s, and she also decided just to buy some extra things to bless us with — like a ginormous box of brownie mix (whoo-hoo!), oats for granola making, and {want to take a guess…?}

a gargantuan bottle of olive oil!

She didn’t know I’d prayed that little prayer. {She does know I really like olive oil.}

But what a blessing that, in a way slightly different than what I’d expected, God provided olive oil, which is likely to not run out until our personal financial drought is over. And then some.

Beth Moore once wrote that she sensed the Lord speaking to her one day when she was praying:

“My child, you believe Me for so little. Don’t be so safe in the things you pray. Who are you trying to keep from looking foolish? Me or you?” — {Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word}

This simple interaction between our amazing Creator and tiny (but getting bigger!) me just reminded me that if we have childlike faith, we won’t to be afraid to ask big and believe big. The Bear asked just this week if it could be his birthday and he could be four. “I’ve been three a long time…” he said wistfully.

Don’t worry about looking foolish. Ask for the impossible. Believe for the incredible. What do you have to lose? Maybe the Lord will answer in the way you hope, maybe He’ll help you understand if He does something different. Don’t be afraid to ask!


Cuz Ya Gotta Have Faith (Part Two)

Yesterday I shared the first part of a faith-filled experience from earlier this week. {Here’s part one — read it first, pweas.} I’d been convicted that we needed to change the way we were giving, and we had a big check to write, and writing it was going to take faith. When I talked with the Hubs about it, it was pretty much awesome. And scary. Because

He didn’t feel convicted about the issue the way that I did, but this is what he said:

“I don’t feel convicted about this the way you do, but I trust your faith and I trust that you hear from God. If you really feel like this is what we are supposed to do, then we’ll do it.”

{Am I blessed or what?}

We’d talked about it on Saturday night, decided to pray about it again in the morning and see what we felt we were supposed to do, and those were the Hubs’ words on the way to church.

I felt grateful to have such a cool Hubs, and at the same time nervous because it was a big deal and I felt like the ball was in my court. So to speak. {Do I use a ridiculous amount of sports analogies?}

In the end, we wrote the big check in faith. I felt so certain it was the leading of the Lord, and I just couldn’t deny it. I knew it was risky because we might not have enough to pay bills later or maybe even to buy food {is that fear talking or what?} — it was giving first and trusting for the rest.


{Still learning to do this faith-walk…I think I make that face sometimes too.}

As we settled into the car for the drive home on Sunday, HH looked at me and said “You were right.”

I asked, “What are you talking about?”

He directed me to take a look at the notes he’d made during church. (I was in the nursery watching the babies so I didn’t hear the sermon.) This scripture was waiting for me to read it:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine. {Proverbs 3:5-10}

Even though we didn’t know exactly how things were going to work out, we had fresh encouragement from the Lord that they would. And I was so deeply convinced that God was speaking, that I determined in my heart to believe Him even if things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to.

Like the Hebrew boys who faced the furnace and said “Even if our God doesn’t save us, we still won’t bow down and worship you, O King,” my heart was saying, “Lord, I will trust you, even if the furnace is in front of me, and there isn’t a deliverance in the plan. I’ll do what you say.”

Faith, the evidence of things you don’t see yet…

The next morning, things got off to their normal start… the Monday song, breakfast with the boys, getting ready for the day, scooting the Bear to preschool and running an errand on the way home.

The Hubs came into the kitchen mid-morning and asked if I wanted to hear some good news. (He works from home on Mondays.)

“I’m always up for good news!” was my of-course-spill-the-beans-fast reply.

“We were just given a special gift of [thus-and-such].”

{Those brackets are just protecting you guys from knowing the numbers and then calculating our income and possibly feeling sorry for us.}

But that thus-and-such? That thus-and-such was about $90 more than the number we’d written on that check the day before.

Even though the gift had been sent to our ministry account a week and a half before hand, it was only that morning that HH was working on the payroll and saw it.

God wanted us to step out in faith when we couldn’t see the resolution. But He saw it already, had provision on the way — we just needed to trust in Him.

I see it more clearly now, I think, perhaps more than any of the times I’ve held on to faith before. Taking action based on faith is being absolutely confident in something you cannot see, or touch or feel or logically know for sure about yet.

Trust hurts sometimes. It reminds us that we’re not in control of our own lives. Each of these trials forces us to decide whether or not we believe the God who actually is in control is good.

If life has you in the fire and you feel like you’re holding on to faith right now, I encourage you to keep holding on. Because your actions might not make sense to world — but it is absolutely reasonable to put faith in the only thing about this earth that is only always ever faithful. That glorious One who dwells outside of time…the one who created this earth.

Though we may not be out of the woods yet (and I may still have another story to tell about this) my faith muscles feel a little bit stronger today. Thankfully it’s not about my ability to have faith, it’s about my certainty that He is absolutely faithful.