Retreat – To the Shores of Lake Superior

This past weekend my husband, siblings (their spouses), and myself headed up to Madeline Island, Wisconsin. A vacation that we had planned for several months was a very welcome distraction and came with perfect timing! We were able to share memories, and also spend the majority of the time goofing off as siblings do! It was such a welcome distraction from the non-stop feeling that my world is falling apart.

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I have a bit of a confession. I’ve heard from many of you who have admired my strength and my faith, but to be raw, and honest, and real… this past week I had been fretting over answered and unanswered prayers. Does God even hear me when I pray? Does he even care about my will, or is it all up to him? I laid awake last Tuesday night in hysterics thinking that God doesn’t hear me at all, and what even holds our universe let alone world in balance? I imagined our planet flying through space, and wondered desperately what holds us together? The prince of darkness tried to drench me with his lies that God is far away, and that he doesn’t care about anyone. But in an instant I was sobered when I took pause and read verses like:

Luke 12:24-34:Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I even felt better when I read the words of Jesus when hanging on the cross cried out to God saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:46.  Even Jesus himself questioned the Father, and He was not offended.  The feeling is normal. Asking questions is completely normal.

The prince of darkness tried to make me stumble and fall, but I have the strength of Jesus Christ on my side, and have the treasures of His word in my heart.  I know the real truth and the real story is that God loves me. He loves my dad, and He loves my family. It wasn’t Gods aim to make us feel like our world was falling apart, to cause us angst, or worry, or despair. But God loves us through it all. Through these messy times where we question him, and even wonder if He hears us he Loves us. When I doubt that my will is ever done He loves us. When we question if anyone in this world matters He loves us.

He is not offended by these questions, or when we stumble and fall, He is there to catch us, not stand by and be offended. He loves us, He loves us, He loves us!

Here is the back story on the song “How He Loves” which is a lot like my own story.

Take Heart

Everyone asks how I am doing….

I don’t know…. how do I possibly answer a question like that? I could say, “I’m doing fine, or pretty good” but it honestly depends moment to moment. Mostly though, I would say I am okay.  My life has been changed, and although time will loosen these knots inside of me… right now I realize I am changed. I’m quieter and at times prefer time to reflect. This blog is such a blessing to me. It helps me say the words I want to cry out to everyone I see… words that are stuck tight inside of my throat. Such a weird place for me, as I’m never without words, yet I find myself so taciturn.

Work is pretty busy right now, but sometimes I need a quick break away. This past week I found myself driving for a break and came across this secret garden. This beautiful place of hope that I never knew existed. Somehow my car drove me there, and this is my spot when I need to catch my breath…re-calibrate. Bumble Bees kissed the earth, and monarchs fluttered about… I spent about 20 minutes there quiet… and came back to work refreshed. This. is. my. spot.

The nights had been especially hard. My mind is as if it is on a mouse wheel, turning and turning, and thinking and thinking…. What does it feel like to choke? Was my dad terrified? Was Jesus with him in that moment saying, “My good and faithful son, I am here, take heart and take my hand?” I’m unsettled by the fragility of life. I know that there is life after this, but I find myself afraid of leaving everyone behind, and does death hurt? Is it terribly painful?

All of the distractions of this world fail me in the evening while laying in bed, and all of the memories, and questions, come flooding at me. I’m forced to stare Jesus in the face… as if he is on the other side of a tight rope, and I have to just look at him should I loose my balance and fall.  I’m reminded of a time when I was in high school that I chose to stay out the entire night. My parents were particularly worried, and on this particular night rain was falling. I will never forget when my dad told me that he kneeled down in the middle of the road in the middle of the pouring rain with his arms stretched out and cried out to the Lord for my safe return. I did come home unscathed, and this imagery caries through now. When I close my eyes I feel myself in the middle of the road during my own rain storm with my arms stretched out to the lord and thankful that he has overcome, and has my father tight in His arms.

The past several nights I’ve taken extreme comfort in listening to this song; like a lullaby to my soul.  In John  the author says, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV). It brings me such comfort and grace that I’m able to loosen the knots, and relax and drift peacefully to sleep.

Should oceans rise and mountains fall He never fails ~ So take heart, let His love lead us though the night. Hold on to hope, and take courage again.