captain

two years ago today marks the date.

of those non-stop phone calls I kept ignoring.

listening to Oceans by Hillsong United. praying those lyrics and etching them into my soul.

two years ago – reminds me where i’ve been

and where I’m going…

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where i’ve been –
Way back in May of 2013 My co-worker and friend Vanessa had sent me this song over Spotify message that simply said, “Today’s song“. Little did I know that the moment I listened to those lyrics I would make them my life prayer over the next several years.

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To be a woman of God who would get out of the boat and follow Jesus onto the water. To have faith that ran as deep as the Mariana Trench and beyond.

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Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark

After several repeated phone calls from my mother on July 1, 2014 – I answered the phone. Nothing but Jesus could have prepared me for that proverbial gut punch. “Your dad has choked on his breakfast… lost consciousness…heart stopped…. on a ventilator….in a coma…. come quickly.” The words bled together.

Tearing my laptop out of the wall at work – just ahead of the Red, White & Boom! TC Half Marathon that I am Course Chair for – I ripped off to St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN.

… and waited

… prayed

…begged

…bargained

…and while my heavenly Captain knew where we were going, I could not understand the course that He charted for us.

Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north

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I believe to this day, that singing those lyrics to Oceans – over and over and over the year prior kept my entire focus on Jesus during the months after. Not projecting, or burying the hurt, but fully trusting that God had it all figured out, and not carrying the burden of trying relentlessly to understand why this happened. Just simply getting out of the boat, and grabbing on to His hand.

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In 2015 I heard this song – Anchor also by Hillsong. Classic. Now that I took the step out of the boat – I had an amazing Anchor of faith to help hold me steady. I knew, whatever the storm was, my vessel would not be blown around, but conversely would stand the test of time.

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That year I saw anchors everywhere. On billboards, Facebook posts, a wedding invitation, and a random gift from my friend Vanessa of an anchor bracelet (which I’ve now turned into a necklace) that I wear to this day.

It’s a glorious reminder that I am anchored in Christ’s amazing strength through any storm, that I won’t blow away, and an abundance of grace and relentless love – each and every day.

where I’m going –
Held up in genius fashion, yet another song from Hillsong for 2016. And isn’t it kind of weird that they’re all so eerily related, and similar, and perfectly progressive?  All relating so perfectly to water. Perhaps this is a spiritual baptism I’m encountering, slowly being transfigured into a new creation.  As if that God of ours knew, and knows exactly what course He is charting.

Like the wind
You’ll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I’ll glide this open sea

My eyes are still focused straight on him.

I am not saying in the least that its easy, or that I never shed a tear. I shed a lot of tears when I allow myself to think about the tragedy that occurred, and I do allow it.

After all – Jesus wept too.

I find myself completely stunned however –  every time I play back the memories. That really… this was My dad. and he really IS gone, and now this is really MY story.

Knowing though – that I have a Captain that knows the path set before me, and how to navigate through the tough waters makes all the difference in the world. I can glide this craft through all waters with Him.

Just shy of three years ago thirteen of us embarked on an epic houseboat adventure in Voyagers National Park! My dad – the captain…

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There was this spot coming out of Crane Lake into Sand Point Lake called the King Williams Narrows. Now – this doesn’t look like much from the photo, but with our huge boat we had mere feet on either side to clear the passage.

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It took knowledge of the distance between the land masses, the specs on the boat, a steady hand, practice from driving river boats in the Navy – trust – lots of calm and patience, and a whole lot of praying to make it through. We all trusted Captain Rich as we knew none of us were skilled enough to clear that tiny passage.

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In the same way, I trust that God, my Captain knows the specs on my life, and the passages I will go through. “I’ve got this”, he says.

The destination that I’ve ended up thus far has been more mind blowingly beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I know that sounds odd given the circumstances, but my faith has exploded, and the peace I have is unexplainable. While darkness separates me and my dad for now – I know we will meet on the shores again. I’m so thankful to Jesus for giving us the opportunity.

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❤ Linds

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You taught my feet to dance…

So yeah – I heard this song not too long ago… which – really God? Really? Goodness you have such a way of speaking right to me through song.

First Oceans… then Anchor- and now Heroes.

Around this time of year – I grow anxious, and think about the disappointment that I feel – that I often keep bundled up inside of me.

You see, today is my 35th birthday and would have been my dad’s 67th birthday.

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He passed away very suddenly July of 2014.

So you see… I grow anxious – and think about the disappointment that I feel surrounding today. Its a real reminder to me that my dad isn’t here any more. More so than any other time of year.

To not blow out the birthday candles together
Playfully bicker about what kind of cake to have, or meal to eat.
And sing obnoxiously to each other on the phone.

And I feel incredibly guilty – or ashamed almost – for feeling sad and disappointed. I know my dad is in heaven… I know he is in a better place.

The brain understands – but the heart still hurts.

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I’m trying though to trust God with my whole heart… not just my mind… and let go… open that clenched fist of my understanding and trust that God has this whole thing figured out. – Proverbs 3:5. Just as I trust intrinsicly that the sun will rise each morning.

The good Lord in heaven is teaching me something this year.
Dancing.

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Life throws up disappointment every where we look. For me – I’m disappointed to end my 33 year tradition with celebrating my birthday with my dad. Maybe for you – you didn’t get into the college you wanted, your future husband is lost and has yet to find you, a job fell through, or someone you know – got that terrible diagnosis.

But learning to dance – on top of that. In spite of that – produces Joy.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3)  I have a good Teacher.

Deep joy is rooted not from the things of this earth, or even relationships on this earth, but with my Father in Heaven.

 

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Today I’m singing a new song and dancing a new dance. Old traditions may die – and the bitter sting of knowing that I don’t get to celebrate with my dad for a while still hurts – but I can still choose joy today.

I asked my friends in my house group to surround me in prayer last night – as I was feeling especially sad… and this morning I woke up to a peace that I can’t quite explain. God is so good.

Hallelujah – Hallelujah- you are making all things new….
Hallelujah – Hallelujah- you are making all things new….

I will
Trust
Here in the mystery
I will
Trust
in you completely

Awake my soul
to sing
with your breath in me
I will worship
and you taught me feet
to dance upon disappointment
and I will worship.

 

Here’s My Heart Lord

I stated early in this process that my cousin said to me, “Lindsey… these are the times that your faith either grows unimaginably stronger, or you loose it all together”. She was so right. I suppose you could continue on in your faith as usual, but I am a person of deep feeling, and emotion. Maybe its because of that genetic makeup of my being, or because I have been inviting the Holy Spirit into my life in such a deep and powerful way, but the blinders have been lifted off my eyes.

Of course I’ve always always believed in Christ as my savior, but now its not just believing, its seeing, and feeling.

When everything else is taken away from me, I am reminded that God is more than enough, He’s all I have, He’s everything.

He’s the life link between me and my dad, who I know is standing beside him. I can’t imagine if my dad was not a follower of Christ – and I would be unsure if he is in heaven, but I know with all of my being that he is.

In all of this – my heart has been so fully surrendered to God. I trust so deep to my core that he is sovereign in all things. How couldn’t I?

One area in my life I have been shoving down more privately however is the subject of my birthday – a birthday whom I share[d] with my dad. Even when I was in the Navy I shared my birthday with our physician/LT so I’ve never really really had my birthday be my own… Anytime I allow my self to think about it too much I feel a full blown panic attack approaching. My mom, bless her, asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner and cake since it would be all up to me now…

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Frankly I guess I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to pick a cake by myself or a meal for dinner. Initially I think that maybe I just don’t want my birthday at all anymore, I don’t care. The thought of it is inconceivable to me… but a thought crossed my mind – that maybe picking my own cake, or my own birthday dinner feels like I’m taking advantage of the situation. My dad and I are supposed to battle it out. I don’t want swiss and cranberry pork tenderloin and he doesn’t want chipped beef… I want 7 up Bunt Cake, and he wants Keys House Cake. Of course I have the options to myself now… but I don’t want to. It feels all so wrong, and stings.

Its also a blinding reminder that it is true that my dad is gone, and maybe that’s the hardest part, or maybe a combination of the three.

Several years ago my prayer for my life were the lyrics of the song Oceans. Oh how I prayed for those lyrics to come true. God has faithfully lead me to this place of deep wonderment. Of course it was NOT the way I supposed it would happen, but nonetheless I am here trusting God without boarders.

I heard this song during worship a few weeks back and have been listening to it nearly every day since. It is my new prayer.

Father I am ready and here upon the waters as you’ve called me – the great unknown where feet may fail. And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep My faith will stand.
And I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise My soul will rest in Your embrace For I AM Yours and You ARE mine.

Father I have felt your beautiful presence in my life so strongly these past four months that I see you Lord. You have shown me your mercy, and love, and holiness in a way I never would have seen otherwise. Though my feet feel like they are FAILING ME whenever I think about my birthday – the moment in time when you created me, created my father, and joined us together with You – I know that you will be with me through this. Though this marks strongly reality for me that my father is with you Father let me be in prayer that I am comforted by you and your grace once more.

I’m here Lord. I’m in the waters, and they are a scary place to be. I feel myself sinking, but then I see that you are with me. While I am here Lord – speak what you need to, and want to. The blinders are off, my ears are listening and tear filled eyes are pointed and focused towards you. Through this season I am found, I am Yours I am loved, I’m made pure. I have life, I can breathe I am healed, I am free. You are strong, You are sure, You are life, You endure. You are good, always true You are light breaking through. You are more than enough, You are here, You are love. You are hope, You are grace YOU’RE ALL I HAVE, YOU’RE EVERYTHING!

– Here’s my heart Lord – Here’s my life Lord – Speak what is true.

Proverbs 3:5

Since my last post I have gone out to see my dad’s grave site which now has a marker on it. It sets things in, and makes this whole ordeal real. My daughter and I laid in front of the marker, and stared up at the heavens. I asked her what she thought “Poppie” was doing at this moment, and she thought perhaps that he was watching Snow White with all the kids that were already in heaven… (a favorite past time of theirs).

“I sat at his grave and cried for my missing friend and for all the lost opportunities.
God is good and God is sovereign, but sometimes he’s so hard to understand.”
-Sam Childers ‘Another Man’s War’
Compliments of Danielle Conley

Proverbs 3:5 comes immediately to mind, when reading the quote above –  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. (NLT). Isn’t that so true. In these precious moments I have nothing BUT to trust in the Lord with all of my heart. I dare not depend on my own understanding because nothing about what happened makes sense. But I feel a sense of calm come over me anytime that I just repeat to myself that God is good… and God is sovereign. He is in control and someday I will too will understand.

I honestly try hard not to think about it too much. – the why’s and the what ifs… It hurts my head, causes me anxiety and puts in me a fearful heart. Do not confuse this with “stuffing it down” which I certainly am not…I’m being a realist. I could search this world until the end of time, and I am convinced I will never have the answer. So why dwell on it and waste emotion on unanswerable questions.

I’m currently living with forgetting. Not forgetting my dad in general of course and not flat out denial that he died, but just forgetting that he did die. Just yesterday a friend of mine wrote a post on Facebook about a housing inspection she needed to get through and I almost commented stating that I would ask my dad if he could do it… In a blink I smirked to myself forgetting for a moment that he was no longer on this side of heaven.

In his book “A Grief Observed C.S. Lewis talks about this. “Its not true that I’m always thinking of H. Work and conversation make that impossible. But the times when I’m not are perhaps my worst. For then, though I have forgotten the reason, there is spread over everything a vague sense of wrongness of something amiss. Like in those dreams where nothing terrible occurs – nothing that would sound even remarkable if you told it as breakfast-time – but the atmosphere, the taste, of the whole thing is deadly. So with this. I see the rowan berries reddening and don’t know for a moment why they, of all things, should be depressing. I hear a clock strike and some quality it always had before has gone out of the sound. What’s wrong with the world to make it so flat, shabby, worn-out looking? Then I remember.”

Each day brings me something new. Most days I have purely blissful moments, and now, more often than not I am generally happy. But I still feel this cloud looming over me, as if it is following me, raining down, getting me wet, ruining my plans, and being generally annoying.

I’m learning to dance in the rain though… and make the most of it. It’s my new normal as my cousin’s wife pointed out to me shortly after my fathers passing. She shared,

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but, you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler.

So what am I learning from dancing in the rain? I have grown so much closer to God in this place. Though I am wet, and damp, and frustrated that my plans didn’t turn out how I thought they should go there is a beauty here that I wouldn’t have known had I not been here.  I feel a sense of newness in my relationship with Christ that is stronger than ever before. I feel so deeply dependent and in love with Him, not as a crutch, but in gratitude that I don’t have to figure any of this out on my own. I don’t have to do this by myself, or try to understand it. I can cast all my cares on to God who will sustain me, and not let me be shaken. ~ Psalm 55:22. (My paraphrase from NIV)

I am learning through Philippians 4:13 (NLT). “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”. I can get through this grief and see the sunshine of tomorrow behind the veil of the rain. I can rest assured that my father is joyfully praising our Creator face to face. I feel strengthened by Christ, and closer to him and more thankful to Him than ever before. I will pour out praise to Him over and over again because it is His breath in my lungs.

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

GREAT – ARE – YOU – LORD

Take me DEEPER than my feet could ever wander

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This past week has been hard. Reality is starting to sink in and I realize I need to cling to our sovereign Lord  tighter than ever before. Each night when my head hits the pillow and I go to finally shut my eyes I just find a flood of tears rolling down my face. I think this is okay and I find it healing.

Sometimes its just good to cry, and let it all out. I’ve been finding myself, when feeling choked up to choke it back down. Not for any particular reason like not wanting my friends to see me cry, because I’m a pretty “wear my life on my sleeve” kind of gal, and I’m not trying to be, “A strong christian woman” who never cries, because as we know from John 11:35 “Then Jesus wept”; God cries too.

We have a God who loves us, and empathizes with us and weeps openly with us. Perhaps I hold it in because I know once I start I can’t stop, or perhaps I’m not in the mood to grieve, or I’m having a good moment. This past week though, involuntarily as soon as I shut my eyes at night I too weep.

My Shepard is leading me DEEPER than my feet have ever wandered before. To a place that is the holiest of holies. The lyric in the song by Oceans says, Take me DEEPER than my feet would ever wander, where my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior…

I feel closer to God than ever before and today at the spur of the moment I decided to go back to Eagle Brook Church for worship and I’m so glad I did. I was treated to Pastor Steve’s last day there. He is the worship pastor and his musicality is unlike anything I’ve ever heard in my life. Today of all days was his last day as Worship pastor at EBC. I’m disappointed that he is moving on, but I was so lucky that I chose today of all days to worship with him to worship the God of the universe.

During the message we were invited to memorize our key verse which was so fitting for this season of my life, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” ~ Psalm 42:56

I was locked in with God this morning, and will praise Him again and again. I do know why I am discouraged and why my heart is so sad, and I will still praise him again and again and again! Because of what He did on the cross, He broke the curtain that separated us from Him. My father is worshiping with my heavenly Father and someday I too will join them! There is a tender loving reason to celebreate.

He brought me deeper into worship than my feet would have ever gone by themselves. During the song posted below I drunk in each word, and the tears flooded down my face as I could barely sing any of the words aloud.

My Lord is my first, He is my last, He is my Future, He is my past.

I’m so thankful down on my knees that I’ve known Jesus my whole life. He is my first and my past because of my dad [and mom] who faithfully lead me to church every Sunday growing up. My dad pointed me towards this loving God of the universe, and through his own life imiated Christ. He showed the world what it really meant to love one another, and extend mercies beyond all understanding.

I’m no closer to having any answers, but I’ve leaned into God more this week than I have ever before, which is exactly where I think God wants me to be. He is my Future and always has been, but i just see it so much clearer now.

I invite you to listen to this beautiful song that in the words of Pastor Steve, made my eyes sweat today!

Running is like Grief

I’m still getting that “age old” question, “how are you”. Its a question people ask the grieving that is as old as the dawn of time. Mostly I now just tell people that I’m fine because I am fine. Some days I have downright amazing days, and other times its just so sad to think that new memories won’t be made with that part of my life.

Above all though this journey could be compared to running. Since 1999 I have been a runner. I began running over the winter that year to get prepared for boot-camp the following year, and started running three miles at a time a few times a week. I was hooked.

While I was in the Navy I became more serious about running, and even ran my first marathon in 2002 and countless half marathons after that. (In fact my very first official race was the marathon! Go big or go home right?)

After a particularly difficult 10 mile race last summer I decided I was going to hang up my laces for a while and took an 11 month hard break from running. I ran five miles on National Running day this year on June 4th which was nearly unbearable, and then began running more regularly just last week. Just two and three miles at a time, a few times each week.

I’m so out of shape. Running just two miles at a 10 minute pace is grueling but like life I just have to put one foot in front of another and continue. Like running I wake up, get dressed, go to work, and try to be a normal and happy person, and it mostly works.

I take each day, day-by-day- each hour by hour, and each moment by moment, just like I take each marathon by half marathon, half marathon by mile, and mile by step. My friend Hannah blogs over at Feet Move Forward and I think she’s really on to something. You just have to move forward.

Do I want to lay in bed all day and wallow in despair? Yes. But I have my husband counting on me, my daughter counting on me, my animals (all 9) counting on me, and my work counting on me. You just move. Move forward. It doesn’t matter how much that day, just move.

I’ve been daydreaming lately of running goals I have over the next year… – as this metaphor continues, and like my blog’s namesake says, “Feet May Fail” some of these daydreams might fail. My day might fail me, and the hour or minute might fail me, but I have to try something. Go out where feet may fail, and not be afraid to get out of the boat.

I think 2015 is going to be a spectacular come back year for me. I don’t want to give too much away, but stay tuned throughout my journey as I use running as a healing outlet for me to cope with this grief.

One block… one mile… one half marathon, and one marathon at a time!

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Hebrews 12:1 And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

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.