Category: heartache

Don’t Sit on the Sidelines

Do you ever find yourself sitting on the sidelines in life? What makes people sit on the sidelines? For me it was fear—it kept me at a distance from life and from living a faith dominated lifestyle.

The opposite of fear is faith…ponder this a moment—if in any area of our life we are fearful—it’s a trust issue and the antidote is faith. The bottom line is—when we have true faith in God there is no room for fear.

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been on a giant (wonderful and sometimes painful) journey to strengthen my faith. The amount of fear in my life was the tell-tale sign that lead me on this expedition in search of unmovable—relentless faith.

On this mission I first had to come to a major conclusion, which was God’s Faithfulness is Not On Trial  nor should it ever be. Yes, I have walked through many heart breaking adventures in my life, but God was never to blame.

Oh but the enemy of my soul was ever present to accuse God with subtle allegations, that unfortunately over time created a bed of comfort for me—a place in the midst of pain where I found a bit of shelter.

The bad news is when we agree with the devil it never turns out good! The good news is when we wander from truth, our gracious; long suffering shepherd always provides a way for us to return.

A good thing to realize about lack of faith is that it’s a heart issue—it’s a place in our heart needing to be perfected in His love. A place that simply needs to be let go of—a place where we make a beautiful exchange—our fear, pain and doubt for His unrelenting love and freedom.

Who wants to be partnered with fear anyway?

The Bible tells us,

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

I started off this blog intending to write about my big adventure this past weekend, but ended up writing about the my bigger adventure of acquiring deeper faith. The two adventures really do go hand in hand and the lesser of the two would not have been possible without the first…

One way fear effected me was that physically I was not very courageous. My husband and kids they are beyond courageous—they are borderline thrill seekers! And I normally just sit, watch (pray) and take pictures, but not this weekend!  Well…a third of this weekend—they participated in three courageous events and me—only one (maybe next year)!

I found myself fearless when on our family vacation, I decided to make the one hundred foot rock climb to a beautiful crystal clear waterfall. Yes friends I did it without hesitation!

waterfall

Each step upward was made rock by rock. And when the climb got intense my husband and sons were before and behind me, ever faithfully holding out their hands, and pointing out the best places to next set my foot. Even when a snake popped his head out of a crack in the rocks and when another slithered on top of one sons foot, I kept going—even when spider webbed rocks where unsecured and shaky, yes even when the moss was slippery and the freezing waterfall pounded on my head and shoulders as I maneuvered across a one foot  wide, one hundred foot high ledge—I, by God’s grace, simply choose not to give fear a second thought!

The climb reminded me of my journey—my life. There always has been and always will be reasons to fear, but God in His unending faithfulness is right behind me—right behind you—and He’s ahead of us, holding out His hand, pointing out the best way to go. Encouraging us to take life one step (rock) at a time, never allowing us to fall—even when our feet land on unstable ground. And when the devil (that snake) rears his ugly head threatening us, we must realize all we have to fear is fear itself. And fear is really nothing but a facade. God’s the real deal and if we allow Him to perfect us in His love we can walk in the freedom He gave His life for, we can get off the sidelines and we can experience the waterfalls of life—crystal clear and refreshing.

Please be encouraged to strengthen your faith (click here to read how: Fully Convinced)—to say no to fear and all its restrictions and yes to God’s faithfulness!

waterfall2 Simply beautiful—so glad I did’t miss out by sitting on the sidelines!

Here are some pictures of my family doing what they do…being adventurous! These are the ones I didn’t participate in!

rock       oasis
The kids climbing down huge rocks leading into a vast canyon and beautiful oasis.

mr bridge  Girls jumping off a bridge.

bridge 2
My husband and son sitting on top of this bridge before jumping off.

 

sunset
God doing what He does best…just being Himself.

 

 

Change of Season

When the beautiful leaves of fall begin to flood the ground—my heart twinges—it’ll soon be winter. Of all the season changes this one causes me—the born and raised southern California girl, to have to mentally prepare.

My heart and life are experiencing an even vaster season change. Just the term used to describe it sounds wrong. Empty nest.

Truly, it’s not the fact that the kids grew up that aches my heart—it’s the rending—the separation—the change of season it self.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m over being sad, excited for the next season and I am gladly letting go of last season, ready to move forward—I just didn’t realize the ache would be so deep.

Two weeks ago today we packed up our youngest child and moved him to California, where he will begin fulfilling his God designed destiny. Before we left I went into his room to make sure nothing was forgotten—just the sight of the emptiness brought tears. I said oh God—I’m in trouble—it’s not even 6 AM on the first day of the trip and I’m crying! Ten minutes later with tears in his eyes my husband asks if I’ll be okay—more tears—this only lasted a few hours—thankfully our son was in a different car than us!

The day before the trip I sat at mid-day, amongst the chaos of preparations, in my chair needing my Father to hold me. In His faithfulness and this is the gist of what I want to share with you, He showed me that my heart is securely in His hand and He is massaging it. He knows the ache, He understands the season change and He’s put my heart in his tender care.

How faithful is God that He would accept the gift of our heart and take charge of it? I’m so grateful to be in a relationship with the One who knows and understands the smallest to the largest of heartache. He knew this time would come—this ache—and He knew just what to do.

This was an anticipated season change—every parent knows its coming, at times we even long for it. We prepare our children for adulthood—we teach them to walk, talk, feed themselves, use the potty,  get dressed on their own, read and write, take chances, speak out, be who God created them to be—that’s what we do as parents—every step of the way teaching them to be independent of us. By the grace of God we teach them to be excellent, strong, mature, loving, kindhearted, God filled—world changers.

Why then are we so taken off guard when those taught excellence, walk in excellence?

Because we have dared to love.

Dared to take God’s charge of carrying, giving birth to, training and finally releasing—yet again into God’s loving hands.

Letting go—always letting go—such is life.

The night before we said goodbye we were at his new church where he will start an internship, I looked over at my man-child—so handsome and so grown. He was worshiping the Lord—just as I taught him to do—giving God his all. As I wiped my tears the Lord softly said “He also is in my Hand.”

Everyone—everything—every season—always in His faithful hand.

Life—but a vapor is always bursting with season changes—no need to fear, be encouraged in knowing—your heart is being held by the heartbeat of heaven Himself.

Isaiah 43:13 Indeed before the day was, I am He And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand, I work, and who will reverse it?”

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Apology: The advertisements on my page are allowed by the blog site WordPress, I personally have nothing to do with them…sorry for any inconvenience.

 

Divine Rearrangement

cs lewis

I was recently reminded of a time in my life where the landscape of my heart and soul were rearranged. Prior to this divine rearrangement I was unsatisfied with my life and my simple Christianity, I knew there had to be more.

In my thirst I cried out to the Lord asking for His rain, fire, wind and flood. I did this with an unpretentious understanding that He would come and bring something fresh. What I didn’t realize was that it would rearrange my entire life.

When we think of the rain of God—we picture Him showering us with His love, the fire of God is pictured as His intense presence, the wind—His Spirit flowing through us, the flood—an abundance of refreshing.

That’s very poetic, but in all reality when those four elements arrived they overwhelmed everything I knew, and when they left I was rearranged. Rearranged for the better of course—and in the end that’s all that really mattered.

I was reflecting on hurricanes and tsunamis, or storms of any kind—after their initial devastation the landscape, to say the least, is rearranged.

Most times we don’t understand why hardships are allowed to interrupt our life—but what I do know is—God is constantly good, and always has a beautiful purpose for divine rearrangement.

Even the simplest most sought after situations bring rearrangement. Take marriage for example—the young couple so excited to finally live together, embark on their new life and suddenly reality hits—they have to learn to live their life in a whole new manner. It’s no longer about one person, but about selflessly giving your whole self to the person who just invaded your space! Now life is rearranged.

Or how about having a new baby? The couple has hoped and prayed and imagined how wonderful this new precious life will be. And yes, this baby is the most perfect gift. But truth be told—this tiny, adorable child has many needs! And life as you know it is divinely rearranged!

In all situations it’s our heart that matters. We must keep a soft, pliable heart towards God. Embracing the good and the bad—seeking His divine, sovereign purpose—even in rearrangement.

Please be encouraged knowing that if God be for you who can be against you!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3

Hero of Grace—Finding Treasure in Tragedy

September 30…a day forever etched on my heart—it marks the day, twenty-six years ago, that my daughter died. I’ve decided to post the following blog every year on this date. As a memorial to her, to my family, to those who have lost loved ones, to those who suffer and mainly as a thank you to God—who by His love, mercy and grace heals the brokenhearted. I wrote it last year, but honestly it rings with the truth of finding treasure in tragedy—that never ages…

A quarter of a century has gone by since my two-year old daughter Haylie Anne, left my arms to be in Gods. It was September 30, 1986. Twenty-five years is quite a while, even so, at times it seems as yesterday.

When Haylie died I quickly wanted another child, so the void in my heart would be filled, I soon learned the spot she held in my heart was hers; and it remains hers till this day. It is interesting how each child holds a certain place in our heart. I’ve given birth to seven children, as each one arrived, their place in my heart never crowded the other. My heart only expanded and made room for each.

The meaning of Haylie Anne’s name is Hero of Grace. God in all His wisdom allowed a hero of grace disguised as a wide-eyed, precious girl—to visit my family. For what purpose? How could such a short life serve a great purpose? Haylie may have lived only two years but the imprint of her life is still alive.

At her funeral a friend sang a song he composed. The words have never left my remembrance, they  rang; “Haylie chosen of God to do His will on this earth and now the princess has married her prince.”

Yes, her death was tragic and unexpected, but her life warmed my heart, filled my arms and has lasting effect.

In tragedy we can always find  treasure. God has deposited numerous treasures in my life through hers. Because of her, I live my life with intensity and intention, loving God and others as if I may not see tomorrow. Mainly, Haylie’s life and death have bridged me to God in a way that nothing else ever has or could. For that I am grateful.

Today, I just want to remember Haylie out loud, and to publicly thank God for His Hero of Grace.

Haylie, until we meet again…

Following is a three-part series of finding Treasure in Tragedy, also written last year in the weeks after the Hero of Grace post. Understandably this is long, but well worth the read. If you, or someone you know needs to find treasure in tragedy please read and or pass this on. Thanks!

Part One
The Hero of Grace post talked of finding treasure in tragedy, I now realize the need to share; “how” to find treasure in tragedy. Not only in death but all forms of heart-break and devastation.

First, realize suffering is part of life. It is written into every script, no one is exempt—it visits the rich and the poor, young and old, including everyone in between—only the degree and intensity may vary. We live in a fallen world where death, sickness, loss and all forms of sin and suffering abound.

The common question is why? Why would a good God allow suffering to come to good people?  The truth is; God is all good and all-knowing. God is the only answer for life, especially when it hurts.

Evil continually tries to war against God’s goodness, but the truth is evil lost two-thousand years ago when Christ bore our cross, stole the keys and was resurrected.   Basically the devil is a bully, who continually tries to convince us that God is not good.

It’s interesting how when tragedy strikes everyone blames God. That’s what I did when my daughter died. God helped me through the time of her sickness and death, then I turned right around and became angry with Him. Why? Why do people automatically blame God as if He was the one who brought the calamity?

Remember evil always trying to war against good? The fact is—the devil—the enemy of our soul—is evil. His whole purpose is to kill, steal and destroy, even greater, he wants us to curse God. He wants us to lose faith and turn away from the only One who can help us! The devil is worse than tricky, he brings devastating situations into our life that cause heart ache and pain, getting us to turn away from our only source of  hope and help—then laughs. Do you know why he laughs? Because his evil plan has left us hopeless. Not only hopeless but angry, bitter, unforgiving  and empty—without help.

The way (or the how) that I found treasure in the tragedy in my daughter’s death was as follows…

The Lord in His grace, showed me myself—I was angrily shaking my fist at Him, blaming Him for my pain. He spoke and said why not shake your fist at the devil—the enemy of your soul? Why not shake your fist where it will do you some good?

I realized I was basically working against myself, my hard heart towards God and my anger were hurting me and making my situation worse! Again by the grace of God, I turned my fist to the enemy, to the one who came to destroy me and my family, he came to steal our faith and kill us spiritually, hoping that we would spend eternity in hell with him.

I am not a very passive person and believe me when I caught a glimpse of the devil’s plan and how he got me to turn on God the One who loves me—my only help, I was furious and I still am! All my anger is harnessed and turned against evil. I will not give the devil one inch in my life or in that of my family. When he tries to comes against me my faith only gets stronger and my dependency on God increases.

The enemy’s plan for humanity is to turn us against God and to cause tragedy—his hope is that we will not find any treasure in it. God, in deep contrast to the devil, plans that we find good, in all that is bad. Understandably, it is difficult to see any ray of sunshine in thick darkness and pain, but guaranteed if we will make a shift in our thoughts towards God, soften our heart and not blame Him, we will find just what we need—hope, help and healing—we will find Him.

The big question at this point would be—how? How do i keep my heart soft? For me the answer was in surrender and trust. I let myself be loved by God. I surrendered to His love and help, then there—in the place of true love—I found trust.

Think about this . . . if you don’t soften your heart and surrender what are your options? Be angry and become the bitter person everyone avoids? Surrender to the devils plan; curse God, live a miserable life then die and spend eternity with him? If you ask me none of these are even options. Why not get on God’s side where hope, comfort and real love await?

Surrendering to God caused me to find treasure in all situations. The biggest treasure of all is my relationship with God.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

Part Two
Heartache, if allowed can pave the way to a deep connection between you and God. There was a saying going around when my daughter Haylie died; “You can get better or you can get bitter” I hated that saying. Of course I wanted to get better. . . but how? (Years later He required broken instead of better…but that’s a different story!)

The day after her funeral my husband and I, along with our four-year old son Joshua, went out-of-town to try to regroup. One night while waiting for a table at a Mexican restaurant  a mass of people scooted in next to us, they sat so close that their daughter’s feet were in my lap. We chatted and the inevitable question came up. How many children do you have? At first we all froze. This was the first, but certainly not the last time that question was ever asked. Truthfully, I still stumble for the right answer. My husband looked at me, I looked at Josh, we fidgeted and looked at each other again. I answered and out came the whole story. The woman who asked the question was a beautiful, subtle blonde who wore a soft, yellow turtle neck. Tears came to her eyes as she told us the story of her two-year old daughter who died, just a few years back. I looked at her and said, “You are so beautiful and look so normal. I don’t think I will ever feel normal again.” Her response was,  “God and time.”

In the following years when tempted to bend towards bitter, I would recall the woman in the yellow turtle neck-adorned in grace-without a trace of bitterness.

God put that woman in my path. He faithfully causes our lives to curve and bend in directions that lead to Him. He had the answer (the how) to the better or bitter question, before I ever asked it.

All throughout the time Haylie was dying and clear through the grieving process God in His faithfulness set up situations just as this one. Little helps and nudges that assisted me in healing and finding Him. A surrendered, tender heart, toward God will allow the treasure of His faithfulness to heal us.

How do we get through tragedy?

  • We set our heart to believe that God is good—no matter what we face He is good.
  • We trust God and His faithfulness—He is faithful.
  • We can rest and be assured in the understanding that God will not let anything we cannot handle come to us. This means He has faith in us that we will make it through. (1 Corinthians 10:1)
  •  In our weakness we are made strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)
  • We know that God see’s the beginning from the end and will help us. (Psalm 121)

Jesus suffered and in essence made a way for us. (Hebrews 5:8) Through His suffering we are made whole, we are comforted knowing that even though in suffering—we might not feel whole—we have faith—that we are whole because He is whole. We know God’s amazing love fills in all our gaps. There is not a religion and/or pill that can promise that!

A treasure I found in tragedy is this—I look at it as purposeful. Why? How?

Why not? If I find my self in the school of suffering then why not let God be God? Why not let Him turn what the enemy meant for harm into good?

Suffering should cause us to see our weakness and thrust us into God. He is the only place we can take our pain, questions, misunderstandings and disappointments of life. This is where we can lay them all down, let them go and make an exchange. Our pain for His comfort and healing.

The “Hows” of finding treasure in tragedy are easy—trust God—He will never leave you or forsake you.

“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10

Part Three
The most beautiful occurrence in history was wrapped in tragedy. The cross which once represented shame and death is now a symbol of life and beauty. Just the same, all our suffering can be given in trade for beauty.

Some say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. God—our beholder, longs to give us beauty for ashes. Our biggest obstacle would be our inability to believe in the miracle of such an exchange. This is where faith makes an entrance. Treasure for tragedy is only an oxymoron for those who can’t believe. But for those who can believe without seeing, it is a welcomed reality. Of all the hows given in these blogs on finding treasure in tragedy, this quite possibly is the most important.

I used to think pain was my portion in life. Frankly after my two-year old daughter died, I was terrified of pain. I lived with the fear that I did not want my future to be as painful as my past. However because of this fear, it was difficult to engage in the present.

Let me give you some more insight into the year Haylie died. Three months before she died, my older brother also suddenly died. He was twenty-nine, my childhood hero and friend. Less than a year before his death, my marriage took a huge hit and was very unstable. The only way to describe the pain of  that year is to say; it felt as if the music stopped and life was blank. Yet the world continued. And somehow I was expected to continue as well. I was twenty-four years old and the stubborn stains of pain and tragedy were attempting to embed themselves in my very person. The enemy of my soul wanted suffering to define me. Thankfully, the One who loves me wanted it to refine me.

It is important to examine our attitudes toward tragedy. The story of Job in the Bible was one of those books that I wanted to ignore. Mainly, I neglected it because I was afraid of its content. The book of Job tells about one man’s outrageous suffering. Suffering was what I lived to avoid, so why would I want to read and learn about it?

I was able to avoid the story until about six years ago, when my world completely fell apart. The catastrophe was nothing like the year Haylie died, yet it was devastating. I believe it to be so because of my attitude towards suffering. I had the attitude that I had already suffered enough for my whole life time. I did not have the understanding that suffering is not a tally keeping kind of situation. Neither did I realize that suffering is part of life. God used Job’s story to shed new light on suffering as well as change my perspective and attitude, teaching me to embrace it.

Job 1:1, declares that Job was “Blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” This tells us Job had faith. Job was the kind of person who trusted God, therefore he fortified his life and belief system. He had seven sons and three daughters. He had good health and plenty of wealth, he was well-known and admired.

The tragedy that tumbled his life was this: all his children died, all his possessions were destroyed as was his health and reputation. Sounds like a great story huh? Actually it is, because when the weight of tragedy fell on him, he was unwavering in his belief in God.

He said of suffering in Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” In verse 22 it says, “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” In Job 2:9-10, his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

The book of Job is a great place to learn of God’s sovereignty and of our human frailty. Job not only held fast to his faith during suffering, but He found God in a way that only suffering can bring. The art of embracing suffering produces the treasure of genuine faith. Following are but a few treasures from the book of Job.

When God speaks to me or when I hear a good sermon, I always ask God; how do I apply this to my life? So likewise I want to give you hows on applying these treasures to your life.

Treasures we can discover from Job:
1. Job fortified his life: Satan wanted to steal Job’s faith—he couldn’t because Job trusted God before tragedy struck. The key here is to be in a close relationship with God and be grounded in His Word, so when life serves up tidal waves we will not drown. Go under a bit; probably, swallow some water; yes, but when we are fortified in our faith, we quickly find God as the life-preserver. We see God’s love as a sea without a shore, never-ending and always available.
How to  fortify:
Surrender and pray. Read the Bible—believe it and do what it says. Get and maintain an intimate relationship with God.
2. Job did not blame God:
His attitude about suffering and God were in balance.
How to not blame God: Embrace suffering as part of life. Accept the fact that God is good, He cares for you and will never leave you. Believe He is trustworthy and faithful, regardless of the circumstances.
3. Job accepted good and bad from God: He trusted God to do His best for him, even in suffering.
How to trust God:
Give up grudges and forgive. Surrender your will. Lean into God and see what happens.
4. Before suffering Job thought he knew almost everything; after suffering he realized he really didn’t know anything: The realization that Job came to during his suffering, was that he was prideful and God is sovereign. Read Job 38-42.
How to deal with pride: Face the truth—God knows everything and we don’t. God allows suffering and we are not above it—come to grips with this fact and allow God to accomplish something good in you through tragedy.
5. Before suffering Job knew about God; after suffering he knew God. This was the biggest reality that hit me after my huge crushing six years ago. I realized I knew a lot about God, but I had yet to actually know God the way He desired me to know Him.
How to know God:
All the treasures above coupled with the Holy Spirit, will lead us to the point of stepping into an intimate relationship with God where we actually hear His voice, do His will and personally know Him. It really is all about surrender. Once we hand our life over to Him and let Him have His way, He meets us and draws us closer to Him. Here He heals and delivers us. In the place of true surrender we find rest, peace and safety.
6. Before suffering Job was upright, after suffering he was holy: Tragedy refined Job and made him holy. Basically the heat of the fire he was in, melted away his self-sufficiency. Setting him beyond normal, away from pride, causing him to see his great need for more of God.
How to be Holy:
Holy–defined as set apart. The applied cross and blood of Jesus makes us holy. Another way holiness comes is by refining, because refining removes impurities. To be holy, we must allow God to be God in our life, allowing Him to set us apart for His good works. Let suffering refine us, making us more like Him, causing us  to see our need for more of God.

In conclusion, the suffering I found in tragedy has strengthened me, mainly because it has caused me to draw all of my strength from God. It’s made me realize my weakness; therefore my great need for Him. I no longer live in fear, but in Faith. Faith in Someone higher than I. Also I now know God—not just about Him.

A treasure that I behold, is the importance of submitting my will to God’s will. God’s will is all I want. For someone like me with such a strong, stubborn will, this is indeed a good thing! I have peace where as before, peace was illusive. Living controlled by my will was exhausting—control and manipulation always are. I am more than ecstatic to let God have all control.

It’s my prayer that these blogs on Treasure in Tragedy have helped you at the very least to organize your heart and thoughts in regards to suffering. And at the most I hope you can trust God with all your cares.

 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1-5