What the Chaos Teaches Us About the Creator

A few weeks ago we had one of those rains where it seems like the whole sky opens up. Trees bent under the weight of it. Birds scurried to find shelter.

Every living creature seemed to realize the need to stay dry except my dog, who I inadvertently left out while running errands. She just laid there sopping wet, hanging her face when I remembered to let her inside.

She had a huge covered porch where she could stay covered, but she chose to take a cold shower.

Afternoon came and the rain stopped but the storm clouds stayed. I drove to the bus stop and was struck by the scene around me.

Trees and flowers and glowed against a backdrop of stormy sky, their leaves all sparkling and wet. It was beautiful.

The dark clouds provided a canvas that illuminated creation. Living, thriving. Not in spite of the storm, but because of it.

It reminded me of situations I’m facing now and the lives of dear friends. Storms are everywhere, and yet life goes on.

I ache for those who fill my conversations and enter my prayers. I curse the devil and wish he’d go away, never to threaten those I hold close.

And then I see my dog laying there in the rain. I see the God’s creation flickering in the storm.

I know his greatness is not limited by these clouds, these distortions to my vision.

Sometimes instead of evading the storm, we have to let it drench us.

We have to let it hit us with all the life lessons, the cold, and even the pain. We can grieve for what’s stripped away from us in the hard rain and we can yell when we don’t understand it, but we have to let it do its work.

And when we do, our roots grow deep. They aren’t ripped up by the tide rushing around us, but are held tightly by promises that surpass all the temporary things of this world.

Christ’s hope doesn’t equal the absence of chaos. It’s found right there in the thick of it. In the tears, the sleepless nights and the questions.

It’s then that we hear him whispering, “Come to me.”

Don’t wait until you have it all figured out and your life is perfect. Come to me in your mess. Come to when when you’re weary and burdened.

And when we do, we find he brings beauty right there in the middle of our storm. He doesn’t wait until the clouds pass and the sun breaks through. His Light shines in the darkness.

His glory isn’t hidden in the chaos. As we draw near, it’s illuminated because of it.

 

He Doesn’t Have Second Thoughts About You

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I swear whoever coined the term “buyer’s remorse” was thinking of me.

I spend the next day second-guessing major purchases. I’m quite sure if you looked up the term on Wikipedia you would see a picture of me pacing over a recent appliance purchase.

Even an expensive pair of boots can leave me wondering, “but what if I find another pair I like better?”

It makes my husband a little batty sometimes.

“Do you think I should send them back, hon?”

His answer is always the same.

“Do whatever makes you happy, Sweetheart.”

This response makes me even crazier because I want someone to tell me what to do. To make the decision for me. But no, he forces me to make the choice myself, and although I hate to admit it, I know he’s right for doing it.

The real problem comes when I project my indecisive nature onto our ever-constant, unchanging God. I mess up, drop the ball or miss an opportunity and think, “Surely, God must be done with me.”

I wonder if the eternal relationship comes with a free return policy. I disappoint the buyer and he sends me back to my sad life, no strings attached.

Perhaps you’ve been there?

We can’t seem to get over this one hurdle in life and we think God’s looking down at us with all his perfect holiness, utter disdain on his face. Maybe he second-guesses his decision to adopt us into his family.

It is eternal, right?

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And thinking this way doesn’t just affect our relationship with him. It affects every aspect of our lives. Our friends, family and colleagues feel the insecurity of our souls. We may convince ourselves ourselves the effects are isolated to the spiritual realm. But our souls are an outflow of our relationship with the One who created them.

When I thought about my word for 2017, my mind was all over the place. My sleep-deprived, newborn baby brain almost decided to forego the exercise this year. After all, my word last year was “awake” and we can see how that went.

I’ve never wanted sleep so badly in my life. Yes, thank you God.

But in all seriousness, that word was a blessing. I realized in many ways, my spiritual life was asleep and God awakened me to new ways to grow in my relationship with him.

For 2017, I thought God was going to challenge me with a word like “bold” or “fearless” because both are characteristics that need growth in my life. I know the only way I will be either of these things is because of his Spirit working in me.

But then I asked myself what the root of my fear was. What keeps me from being bold and fearless?

I realized I will never be either of those things until I fully embrace who I am in Christ: loved. Daughter. Secure. Safe.

Christ doesn’t have a return policy on his relationship with me. The security of my soul is written with his eternal blood.

When he looks at me, he doesn’t second-guess his choice and think, “Wow, I really screwed up when I sent my son for her.” He sees his beloved child, and he delights in his creation.

Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps the gospel message seems a little too good to be true sometimes and you find yourself feeling insecure.

This year, may the words of John 3:16 not fall on deaf ears. May they sink deep into your soul.

For God so loved….

Say it. Believe it. And let it transform your life.

This is my word and my goal for 2017: living loved.

The Things God Teaches Us in the Dark

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“I should’ve had all my babies in the summer,” I said jokingly to my friend. Only it wasn’t a joke. We were full into the flu season and I was trying to keep both boys healthy as we awaited the birth of our child- a girl. Trying and failing.

All of us caught colds in the final weeks before her arrival. Panic seized me as I imagined bringing our newborn home to a germ-infested house.

The fight against illness and seasonal elements was hard enough, but there was another battle waging. Another reason a winter baby gave me a sense of dread.

I remembered the months of depression that followed the birth of my first child, who was born in the middle of summer. Baby girl would arrive a few weeks before the official start of winter. The dreariness of the season always brought a gloomy mood with it, and on top of it we were adding newborn baby isolation.

A few weeks after our bout with illness, we brought our new girl home and the overcast weather swept in like clockwork. We weren’t supposed to take her into crowded places for a month.

The first few days I was too tired to care, but one afternoon I felt like the walls were closing in around me. Everything bothered me. I questioned my abilities as a mom and a wife, and at night when our newborn wouldn’t sleep, the tears came.

Sometimes when we go through difficult seasons of life, the lessons we learn stay with us. But most of them need repeating.

We humans are forgetful people. Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at Purposeful Faith. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

The Gifts We Miss in the Transition {Anchored Souls Series}

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Thank you to all the beautiful souls who joined us over the past few weeks for our Anchored Souls series. I loved seeing God stir and connect hearts in ways only He can. As we count down the final days until Christmas, I want to share with you how God moved in my heart as we faced a big transition of our own: the welcoming of our third child. In the midst of the sleepless nights and the healing, He showed up. He always does, when we’re willing to invite Him in.

The Gifts We Miss in the Transition

She entered this world screaming. Arms flailing, mouth open wide as the first taste of air entered her lungs, she grasped for something safe and familiar. The cold, metallic environment of the OR was no match for the warm cocoon she was pulled from, and she was mad.

She screamed for five minutes straight as the doctors prepared to close my incision. I laid on the operating table with my arms spread wide, waiting for them to bring her to me.

She quieted at the sound of my voice. I kissed her cheek and willed myself to lift my hands to her, but they were still numb and tingly. I kept my face turned toward her and took in the softness of her features, the curve of her nose and cheek until the nurse took her away.

I looked at the clock and watched the seconds tick while they sewed me up.

Later, as I lay in the hospital bed cradling my new daughter in my arms, the nurse told me her second night would be the worst. More crying. More fussiness. I remembered the sleepless nights with my boys and nodded.

In my groggy state, I thought about how we grow up but our behaviors don’t really change all that much, do they? I mean, we may not scream like a newborn but we all fight against the unfamiliar.

We long for the safe, warm cocoon we were torn from as infants, and when unexpected change comes, we struggle.

Over the next few weeks as I entered life with our third child, I became like my crying infant. My body was healing, but I fought those who tried to help me. We stayed home during the first few weeks to protect our newborn from germs, and I complained about the holiday celebrations we were missing.

Images of Christmas fun on Facebook invoked jealousy. Even when I was tired and running on fumes, I thought about how it was the first year I couldn’t make our annual trip to the tree farm.

One night as I sat in the rocker nursing our sweet daughter, I felt God whisper, “You’re missing it.”

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I didn’t even have to ask what he meant. I already knew. I breathed in the soft scent of her and felt my body relax and little. She smelled like Dreft and baby powder. Her hair felt like silk.

This was the last child I would birth. I could focus on what I was missing, but then I would miss her.

Her first smiles and coos. Those big eyes that looked up at me in the wee hours of the night.

When we fight through the transitions of life, we miss the blessing God is giving in the midst of it.

We miss the joy and the sweetness. We focus so much on what we’re missing that we don’t see the gift right in front of us.

As much as I hate to admit it, most holidays I’m struggling under the weight of other people’s expectations. The presents, the cards, the travel- it all adds up to someone’s hurt feelings or disappointment.

But this season God gave us a precious gift and said, “Here. Slow down. Stay in. This is all that matters.”

As the days pass and I watch our daughters features change like clockwork, I know he’s exactly right.

 

The Worst Christmas Ever {Anchored Souls Series}

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As we continue our Anchored Souls series, I am glad to be welcoming my friend Christy Mobley back to the blog. Christy’s heart for hospitality and encouragement have blessed me more times than I can count, and her loving spirit shines through in her writing. What I love about her style is her ability to cut through any pretense and fluff and get straight to the heart of the matter. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome as she shares a very personal story with us today.

The Worst Christmas Ever

Christmas 2002 promised to be the best Christmas ever.

Two months prior we had moved into to a new home and on December 3rd, I was busily planning my husband’s office party to be held there while waiting for him to come out of his colonoscopy. Believing my husband was strong and healthy I wasn’t a bit worried about the procedure (which is actually unusual for me), instead I turned my attention to the upcoming event. Today, the last thing on my mind was cancer. But It’s amazing how our focus can do a 180 in a heartbeat.

And just like that, with a few hard words the party was over and our world took a drastic turn.

David was a young 44 when diagnosed with colon cancer. We were told he was lucky he had the colonoscopy when he did, another couple of weeks and the tumor would have perforated his colon. Surgery was scheduled for December 13th, and if all went well, he would be home for Christmas with me and our two boys. Our church, family and friends bathed us in prayer and David and I held a strong faith that God would see us through this.

After surgery, he was in the hospital for eight grueling days during which time biopsy results came back and the choice to do chemo was decided.

David made it home on the 22nd and I thought surely the worst was behind us but my once strong man was now markedly weak, frail, and frightened. Like coming home for the first time with a newborn and not knowing quite how to handle things, his condition disarmed me.

Feeling out of control we gave our control to Jesus.

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I knelt beside the bed and held David’s hand and both of us knowing where our hope was hidden, we surrendered this awful thing, this cancer, the healing, to the Lord.

In the middle of the night David woke up with a searing pain in his back, gripping him with every breath. By the next afternoon he was back in the hospital with not one but two pulmonary embolisms. Blood clots meant a mandatory three day hospital stay (which included Christmas) with heavy doses of blood thinners.

Most people don’t make it through one PE but two is most definitely lethal. I made several attempts to get a hold of the on-call doctor that night but he never returned the page. Perhaps if he did we might of given the doctor credit but David’s survival was clearly nothing short of miraculous.

But we weren’t done.

Christmas morning came and around six or so the phone rang. When I picked it up I heard David’s voice.

“I’m in so much pain. I don’t know what’s wrong and I can’t get the nurse.”

By the time I got to the hospital the nurse was in the room. She told me, “Honey you need to call some family for support. You don’t need to be alone.”

I’d never seen him like this. David and I both feared he was hemorrhaging. I called my in-laws and our closest friends to pray.

After a CAT scan his surgeons decided to open him up again.

Before the doctors took him into surgery he whispered to me, “Heaven will be a better place.”

He thought he was dying.

I did too.

Now completely exhausted, my eyes depleted of tears I thought about my sister. Would I be a widow too?

In a silent prayer I surrendered, “Thy will be done.”

As I was escorted through the double doors separating all things antiseptic with the outside world I felt the anxiety lift off me and replaced with a peace. And God said, I’ve got this. I will take care of you.

It’s been 14 years and God has done just that. You see our story together was far from over.

Yes, David missed Christmas with us but if he had been at home perhaps we wouldn’t have been able to get him to the hospital in time to drain the fluid that had gathered in his abdomen threatening infection. In a strange way the pulmonary embolisms were a blessing.

Looking in the rear view mirror here’s what I gleaned from the worst Christmas ever.

God has a purpose and plan for our lives.
God wants us to trust Him completely with it.
God is in control and sovereign over all creation.

And

Jarring realities hit hard sometimes putting the value of each precious day into proper perspective.

And with the proper perspective in hindsight, maybe 2002 was indeed the best Christmas ever after all.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day that Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

 


for linkedinChristy is a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, writer and speaker. She’s also a girly girl who chases teens balls for recreation and at the end of the day she does her best thinking in the tub.
Her greatest passion lies in encouraging women to move forward, and press on while seeking God’s presence in every bump and twist in the road.

You can find Christy at her blog, Joying in the Journey, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Hope on the Horizon {Anchored Souls Series}

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As we continue our Anchored Souls series, I am excited to welcome my friend Katie Reid back to the blog. One of the many things I love about Katie is how she moves past small talk and quickly dives into the deep, spiritual topics of life. It is refreshing and endearing, and when I met her in person a few years ago, I knew I’d found a like-minded soul. Katie’s writing is much like her personality, and isn’t afraid to address the tough questions of life. I always leave her with a nugget of wisdom or truth, and I know you’ll be blessed by her words here today.

Hope on the Horizon

Tangled in roots, I tromp through field with limping gait. It’s as if I am walking through inky molasses—held back by worry that chokes oxygen from limbs and lungs.

I long to spin freely on a carpet of wild flower, but briars adhere to the hem of my garment. The mud coats my feet as I struggle forward, breathing shallow.

Weeds of disappointment leave blisters as glorious freedom taunts on the horizon—just out of reach.

As the shadows close in, it becomes difficult to keep eyes fixed on hope.

Determined not to get stuck, I keep going, one foot in front of the other. Freedom awaits, and I want to feel it, to know it as kin.

Somewhere along the journey I pick up stones that turn to baggage. I stumble with worry as I focus on fear instead of faith. I trip over self-sufficiency and lose sight of the need to be led.

Have you found yourself in a similar place?

Do you feel paralyzed in your ability to break free from a mindset, circumstance, or sin? Do you ache for a better country yet find yourself in wandering desert? Is your heart tethered to despair as hope faintly flickers?

Sometimes we feel lost in times of transition. Sometimes our faith is shaken as painful circumstances scrap at our heels.

Yet, as we remember that we are not orphans but daughters, not paupers but heirs, not abandoned but Beloved, our posture changes—even if our situation does not.

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Our head clears as we grab hold of the inheritance that is already ours. This inheritance doesn’t perish, spoil, or fade away (see 1 Peter 1:3-4). The riches of God’s grace are not just on the horizon, but at hand.

In the midst of the journey we discover that freedom is already here, at our feet, in our lungs, written on soul.

We start to spin, slowly at first, then faster—twirling as a smile spreads wide across this face, sculpted in secret.

Yes, the land of Freedom is there on the horizon, but it’s also within.

Child, even here in wild field, amidst briar, Jesus is within.

Sing the song of grace Beloved. Sing and spin, and breathe fresh air. Let that air give oxygen to hope as it bursts into flame and spreads —a beacon of glory amidst the untamed.

Child, you are free—even when you feel chains clawing at your feet. The chains cannot clasp shut, for Jesus overthrew the power of sin, once and for all. If you have believed and received the Savior, then you walk unfettered.

No sin, loss, or trial can trump the victory gained through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through the blood of Jesus, you can live clean. He paid for your freedom. The grave was thrust open to prove His love for you.

The lavish gift of grace, under the New Covenant, is enough to unshackle you, both now and for eternity.

Dance in the field of glory, freedom is already yours.

1 Peter 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.


katiemreidheadshotbridgeclosesKatie M. Reid is a writer and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea is one of Katie’s favorite things. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Sit at the Feet of Jesus {Anchored Souls Series}

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If I used one word to describe my dear friend Leigh Ellen Eade’s writing, it would be “authentic.” She lays out her her soul for the world to see, and it is both beautiful and refreshing. I’m am thrilled that I get to introduce her to you on the blog today. Please give her a warm welcome as she shares a touching story about becoming a mom.

Sit at the Feet of Jesus

When the news came that we were expecting our first child I jumped into planning mode immediately. Within days, I was designing the nursery, collecting reading material and filling the freezer with meals for our first months as a family of three.

Every plan was carefully crafted to ease our transition into parenthood. When it was time for baby to arrive, I road to the hospital expectantly and walked blissfully into the delivery unit. What happened seven days later took me by surprise.

Caring for our son one morning I was hit suddenly with the realization of how dependent he was upon me to live. For years I had been responsible for only myself. I enjoyed coming and going as I wanted. Now, I was responsible for myself and the life I stood holding. Suddenly, my life no longer felt like my own, and the journey was only beginning.

For the next fourteen months I sat awake in the nursery holding our son every night as he slept. I relished the opportunity to hold him close, but longed for sleep at the same time. Each morning I’d watch my husband leave for work, and question if I had the ability to care for our son alone.

With growing exhaustion and fading strength, I knew I needed to turn somewhere.

Have you been there? Has change ever left you scurrying for help? Are you there now?

As I began to walk in my new role as a mom there was much I needed to learn. My friends and family were wonderful resources, but some of the greatest lessons I learned were on the pages of God’s Word.

In Mark 1:40-42 we are introduced to a man who had a problem he couldn’t fix. In fact, his problem was such that society labeled him “unclean.” His only hope was Jesus.

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed.

“If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him.

“I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”

Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

Leprosy was a terrible disease. It often left its victims cast out from society, unable to work or see their family. I imagine it never held a place on this man’s to-do list, yet in his story, we find an answer for our troubles today.

when-you-cant-standsit-at-the-feet-of-jesusWhen you can’t stand, sit at the feet of Jesus.

Life has a way of throwing twists and turns onto our path. Sometimes these twists are good; other times they can leave us grappling for help, scared or even at rock bottom.

As an expectant momma I didn’t foresee sleepless nights and feelings of helplessness when I was planning for our son’s birth.

Maybe you are in the middle of a circumstance that’s left you staring at the unknown and wondering what to do.

When you can’t stand, sit at the feet of Jesus.

The man with leprosy was bound by a disease thought to be incurable. Life was limited for him and his future looked bleak until he came to the feet of Jesus.

While others may have avoided him; Jesus moved toward him. Jesus didn’t see his disease as too big; too “untouchable” or incurable. Rather, Jesus was moved by his faith and He reached out to touch the man and say, “be healed.”

We may not be able to physically see Jesus like the man with leprosy did, but we can still sit at His feet by:

  • studying his Word
  • praying to Him
  • praising Him
  • worshiping Him
  • giving thanks to Him

While our circumstance might not change (or it might), we can expect ourselves to change. For at the feet of Jesus we receive hope, peace, and ultimately, a fresh perspective.

Is there something you need to surrender to Him today?

You don’t have to spend another moment burdened, find your place at His feet and trade your trouble for His triumph.


leigh-ellens-headshotLeigh Ellen Eades is a writer on a mission to tell Jesus’ story. She’s passionate about her family, treasures coffee with friends and relishes quiet moments reading a book. You can connect with Leigh Ellen on Facebook, Twitter or her blog, www.raisinganarrow.org