Thursday, January 26, 2017

Shattered and Broken

It’s been a while, to say the least, since my last blog post. I took some time off from posting and then when I thought I would begin again, I received a negative comment regarding my blog that just completely shut me down from writing. In the last few weeks, I have been listening to the Tony Evans series on Detours. If you find yourself asking “How” and “Why” and “What” questions of God, this series is encouraging!

Writing has always been an outlet for me to sort of “work out” my thoughts, my circumstances and what I’m hearing from God. I could sense Him urging me to pay attention, be watchful and take note of some things happening around me.  This seemed like the perfect time to get back to writing, let God lead the way and see what unfolds.

This week, I began the online Bible study of Ann Voskamp’s TheBroken Way. I’m not sure where I will end up as I walk this path, but I do know that I’m on the broken path. Too often, outside forces are pressing hard and not relenting, more often than I’d like, I find myself crying out as the Psalmist did:

My God, my Rock, why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? – Psalm 42:9

And I pray:

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me. – Psalm 43:3

These two chapters are replete with the exhortation to:

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

I don’t know what’s ahead, but I do find encouragement in knowing He is my hope.

The week leading up to the start of this Bible study on TheBroken Way, I experienced some broken things…

My one year old disobeyed and opened a cabinet that he knows he is not supposed to open. He proceeded to pull out a glass baking dish that shattered as soon as it hit the ceramic tile floor. The crashing sound of the breaking glass was loud and it seemed like thousands of pieces large and small, to tiny little slivers of glass surrounded his feet and covered the kitchen floor and beyond. I quickly picked him up out of the brokenness and carefully washed his feet. Then I vacuumed the floor several times just to make sure every last sliver was picked up. As I did this, I thought about how many warnings God gives us about things and if we keep on after something when He has warned us it is not good, something may break and shatter into a thousand pieces. We may get hurt, others may get hurt, there may be irreparable damage. Just as I was disappointed in my little one, God may be disappointed in us, but in His love, He will pick us up and wash us off. In our disobedience, His mercy can limit some of the hurt of our actions. With the dish, the only thing to do was throw the pieces out and buy a new one.

Later that week, after washing his hands, my husband turned quickly and as he did, his wedding ring flew off and hit the ceramic tile floor. His ring shattered into a few pieces with one piece ending up on the counter top clear on the other side of the kitchen. As I looked for pieces of his ring, I thought how some things shatter and break and the only thing you can do is take it back to the maker for a new one.

The third broken thing that crossed my path over the week was the remote entry key to my car. Sometimes when things are broken, we can bandage them as a temporary fix.

But, ultimately we have to let the manufacturer replace the parts that are broken.

All of this brokenness in one week’s time, starting a Bible study on the broken way, feeling broken in ways I never thought I would, God is up to something and He has my attention.

In the first chapter of her book, Ann writes: What in God’s holy name do you do when it feels like you’re broken and cut up, and love has failed, and you’ve failed, and you feel like Somebody’s love has failed you?

I don’t know how deeper will this trial go – how much pain and suffering it will bring me. This does not worry me anymore; I leave this to him as I leave everything else.


Feeling like I have messed up and taken the wrong path, this encourages me to hope in the Lord. For his mercies never fail. Even when we create the detour along a broken way. He is still on His throne, He has a plan and a purpose. I’m still hoping for His best to break through.

We never stop hoping for the best, waiting for the best like it got lost in the mail.  TheBroken Way

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Running the Race

Driving downtown to begin the Double Bridge 15K Run, the Chris August song, I’m Gonna Sing, began to play. Listening to the words of the song, a particular verse stood out to me.

I’m gonna run
Like I’ve been set free

I played the song over and over again and sang along as those words became my prayer and my commitment.

Just days before, I was feeling completely unprepared mentally, emotionally and physically. As these feelings came over me, I remembered a Bible study leader who spoke of the Hebrews Hall of Faith, those men and women of the Bible who in Hebrews chapter 11 are called out as ones who ran the race before them, continuing to believe God, finishing their race well and entering the Holy Kingdom. She asked us to imagine these people on a runway, but let’s not think of it as fashion week in NYC. They were not perfectly adorned with the finest clothing, professional hair styling and make-up artistry. No, they had endured life’s hard struggles, long waits, sacrifices, treacherous journeys, were mocked, ridiculed, beaten and worn…coming down the runway they would be dirty, limping and bruised. Yet, by faith…it didn’t matter what they looked like or how they held their form. They simply kept believing and going forward and praise God they finished the race. I found comfort in this, and quit being so hard on myself, acknowledging that my main goal for this day was simply to finish the race, just cross the finish line.

The night before the race, I had the privilege of attending a talk by Dr. George Grant on The Theology of Running. During the talk he pointed directly to the word of God encouraging us to keep running, to feel the pleasure of God, to throw off what hinders, to stay alert, keep our zeal and to take care of the things of The Lord. Returning home, I was encouraged and uplifted with confidence that this would be the day the Lord had made and that I would run the race marked out for me.

Little did I know that I would not sleep at all that night…I tossed and turned, prayed, journaled, then repeated it all again. Up at 5:00 a.m., well-fed, dressed and ready as I was going to be, I drove along singing…I’m gonna run, Like I’ve been set free…these words were life for me as I joined my sister-in-law at the start line. With a bang we were off along the streets of Downtown Pensacola making our way to the 3 Mile Bridge. I was filled with a renewed joy and confidence in this run, literally stomping on manholes (something that had made me literally fall on my face once before) thinking, “I’ve been here before and that is not going to trip me up again.”

Having run this race the previous two years, I was aware of the hills along the way and paced myself to be ready when the first incline began. The sun had made its brilliant debut and was shining brightly above, glistening on the gulf. Reaching the highest peak of the first bridge was worth the climb. Looking out ahead of me, seeing the remainder of the bridge to run, I was invigorated and energized. I felt strong and capable of making it across the bridge. Throughout the race there were times when the sun was so bright that I could not see what was very far ahead, I could only look out a few steps in front of me. Sometimes the light of Christ shines so brightly in our lives that we can’t see what is in the future, only the next few steps in front of us. We have to keep moving forward in faith to reach the finish line, trusting that what lies ahead, is for our good and His glory and is part of His plan.

Exiting the 3 Mile Bridge, I ran with vigor because I knew that there would be someone cheering me on in Gulf Breeze. My parents were running the 5k portion of the race (Yay! Their first official 5k) and they along with the other runners, would be at the start line cheering us on as we ran. There is nothing more encouraging than knowing that someone is watching and rooting for you.  

In the last two miles of the race there are two steep hills. Making my way up the first hill, the Meredith Andrews song, Worth It All, began to play on my iphone.

All I am Lord here before you
Reaching out for more
You’re the promise never failing
You are my reward,
Jesus, You are my reward

I let go of all I have just to have all of You
And no matter what the cost I will follow You
Jesus everything I’ve lost I have found in You
When I finally reach the end I’ll say
You are worth it all

These are generally two very difficult portions of the run, but I had this great reminder to let go and give it all to God. How I finished was in His hands. I looked up and saw the Bob Sikes Bridge ahead, the highest height to climb in this race followed by the last mile of the race. Reaching the foot of this bridge I had two options: a.) quit b.) keep going, see the beauty of reaching the top and finally finishing the race. I opted for choice B and placed one foot in front of the other, keeping my thoughts on the feeling of exhilaration that awaited at the top of the hill and the joy of crossing the finish line soon after. No words can describe the view of the sun still shining brightly, the glimmering water and the beachscape. Coming down the steep hill is tricky because you’ve just hit this really great high and want to let the momentum take you as fast as possible, but if you do that, you will run out of steam before reaching the finish. I kept my focus and found a place of balance between the momentum and holding back just enough to make it all the way across that finish line.

About one-tenth of a mile or so from the finish, I began to hear the names of those who were finishing before me. I thought, “this is heaven”, knowing that all of us runners are in the same race, with the same goal, each one going at the best pace for him or her to finish well, we had endured the bit of wind, the hills, the turns the brightness of the sun, the blinding reflection of the sun on the water and had finished the race. One day, we will cross the finish line of life and there we will be surrounded by those who have gone before, they’re cheering us on even now as we continue to place one foot in front of the other.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Friday, January 31, 2014

Going Forth

My heart is hurting and I’m sad because I’ve spent and used up all of my resources trying to do things on my own, trying to do or accomplish something using the wrong method, the “self” method, rather than trusting and praying and waiting on God. So, I’m letting go of my own plan and trusting God now to use the painful experiences to teach me, grow me and draw me nearer to Himself. As tears stream down my face from heartache and disappointment, the Spirit (who surely is pleading for me with groans words cannot express) reminded me:

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. – Psalm 126:5-6

Though I go forth with tears, I can rest assured that I will once again be renewed to a greater joy and experience of God’s blessings. I’m thankful for a Father God who wipes my tears and stoops to cup my face in His hands, filling me with His peace and presence.

I do not know what the next minute, hour, day or week holds, but I am the child of an amazing God who holds each moment. I look around and see situations of uncertainty and am unsure of what next step to take, but He knows.

When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. – Proverbs 4:12

With Him who holds my tomorrows, all things are possible…strength to heal, wisdom to discern, compassion to restore, repair and remain or let go and move on…I trust that my merciful Father will lead and guide my mind and heart, opening my eyes to see as I walk with Him, not fighting Him, but rather trusting Him and accepting what He gives. I am believing the word of God that tells me there are good things for me here on earth and that He has a plan prosper me and give me hope and a future.

As I go out, sowing the seeds that you give, Lord, I am weeping forward in full hope of what you have planned. Though I cannot see it, Lord, I know my future is as if it has already happened and you see the fullness. Please renew my mind, heart, soul and strength for this day and for this wintry season of waiting. Lord, I trust you to water and nurture the seeds that are sown and I trust you for the day when those seeds begin to sprout and grow and blossom. Thank you Jesus for the comfort You bring to my soul and the calming of fears with your Word of Truth.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. – Psalm 138:8

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Losing My Lunch

One evening last week I carefully prepared a simple meal of sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions and mushrooms seasoned with fresh ginger and curry powder. I took time to wash and chop the vegetables, finely grate the ginger and set the stove at the proper heat adding each ingredient in a timely fashion so that the medley came together in perfect harmony. A fragrant aroma filled the house as I awaited my meal. When it was ready to be eaten, I placed just enough for dinner in a bowl and had a good portion remaining for the following day's lunch. I spooned the lunch portion into a glass bowl with a pretty red lid. As I tasted and enjoyed my dinner that night I was delighted that I would get to enjoy this simply delicious and nutritious meal once again the next day.

The following day, as I got out of my car at work in the literally freezing temperatures, I had my bowl in hand. Before I knew it, the bowl slipped from my hands and all I could do was watch is horror as it went crashing to the ground, shattering into what felt like a million pieces. My much anticipated lunch lay in a heap on the cold pavement with chunks and slivers of glass mixed in. Not only that, but pieces of glass spread between and underneath my car and my coworker's car parked next to me. Disappointed does not even begin to describe how I felt. It was cold, slightly rainy, I had tasted and seen that the food was good, looked forward to enjoying it later that day and in an instant it was gone. Once the bowl was in motion there was nothing I could do except watch in dread as it soared to the ground. The bowl was gone, my lunch was gone. My heart sank and my stomach turned. The only thing left to do was get a trash bag and try to pick up the broken pieces.

As I stooped to pick up the mess (did I already mention it was freezing cold?), trying to be very careful to avoid any cuts, a very tiny yet very sharp piece of glass pierced into my finger and quickly drew blood. I generally try to look for a lesson to be learned in all things, especially disappointing things like losing my lunch, so my thoughts quickly turned to asking God how I could apply this incident to life. What came to me was that there are things much more important in life than a lost lunch. Things that God allows in our lives like relationships, whether parent/child, siblings, friendships, dating or marriage relationships. Those are things we crave because we are made for community. We desire and anticipate them much more than I anticipated and desired my lunch because they are the stuff of life and there is much care and protection that is essential to guarding and preserving those things we hold most near and dear.

Although I looked forward to my lunch and knew it was going to be good and was greatly disappointed at losing it, I could have put my bowl in a bag to protect it and help me hold on to it better, but I didn't take the extra care. How quickly and easily it slipped through my hands when I could have easily done something before it was in motion to prevent the mess it left. And so it is with these more important things of life, the people and the relationships that truly are important, if we aren't careful, they can just as quickly and easily slip through our hands only to leave a broken mess. But what if we took greater precautions to protect the people that we care about most? What if we prayed for them daily, hourly if need be and put down our phones and iPads and gave them real "face time" and what if we delighted in spending time, making memories and simply walking through life with them, feeling their hurts and their sorrows, rejoicing in their joys and happinesses? I sometimes find that busyness, distractions, fears and insecurities keep me from doing these things. Yet, all the more as the day draws near, we should fight to protect and preserve the blessings God allows in our lives. And remember, when we mess up that He sees and knows our heartaches and disappointments, restores our joy and hope until one day we see that He is making all things new.

Do not be afraid. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes. - Nehemiah 4:14

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Fun Design Project

It's been a while since my last post, what can I say…life's been busy! I've been working on a design project, and thought, "what better way to break the silence on my blog than with some photos?" It turned out just as I hoped it would, maybe even better. I have a mixture of old and new items that just came together so wonderfully and I couldn't be more pleased. As I went shopping for new items, I was astounded and amazed at how with every store entered and every aisle turned, I would look up and see something that was just perfect for the space. All I had to do was simply walk through with my eyes wide open and the just right pieces seemed to be waiting for me.

One great find was this cute little lamp. However, the shade was far too plain...

I took fabric from an old pillow case, some spare ribbon and fabric tape and in a short amount of time had dressed it up a bit. It was the perfect solution for a customized look.

In the room, all of the wood pieces of furniture came from the local unfinished wood store. I was able to really make each piece my own by choosing the height, depth, width, doors, shelves and finishes and paint colors. I had so much fun making the decisions and finally seeing it all come together. 

For the TV stand, I bought mercury glass knobs to replace the standard wood knobs. This helped dress it up and give it an even more personalized look. 

I first saw the donkey footstool at my aunt's house. Then was able to find one of my own during an After Christmas Sale online. He has been a big hit with my nephew and nieces. 

My table is a little unfinished as it is missing a centerpiece, but I'm confident the just right centerpiece will eventually be found. 

Since this post didn't include a recipe or any talk of food, I thought I'd throw in a picture of my very small, but well-stocked with nutritious items pantry. 

I couldn't be more happy to have started the new year with wrapping up this fun design project, seeing everything come together and enjoying the new space. Feeling truly blessed.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. - Ecclesiastes 3:11

Friday, October 18, 2013

He Cares for Me

It's fall and looking like we are going to have slightly cooler temperatures in the near future. A welcome respite from the summer heat. This year is flying by and my "word" for the year is "Remember", today I'm remembering my fun summer vacation.

As summer approached, it was brought to my attention that I had some vacation time at work that I needed to use. I began researching where, when and how I might use some of this time and opted for a trip to Nashville, Tennessee for the Fourth of July weekend.

There are many choices to consider when planning a trip: Who will go with me? Where will we stay? What will we do once we get there? When will we come home? As I considered these choices to be made, God seemed to provide every answer. In telling my friend Jennifer about my plans she was excited and offered to go with me. She was even able to get a room for us at a very conveniently located hotel free of charge. Weeks before setting out on our journey, we each spent some time researching what to do, compiling lists of the many options and selected which night we would attend The Grand Ole Opry. With our lists in hand, we made the six-hour drive to Music City.

This was my first trip to Nashville and as the driver, I was heavily relying on my car navigation system, iphone and prayer to get us where we needed to go.

Arriving in Nashville the evening of July 4th, we checked in at the hotel and then set the navigation to take us downtown for the evenings festivities. Approaching Music Row, we began to see parking lots with attendants accepting payments of $10. Unfamiliar with the area, we wanted to drive all the way to our destination before choosing a parking spot. With each block, the rate for parking went up, $20…then $25…then no parking available. Arriving at our destination, we turned on Broadway to then find a suitable parking spot. The navigation system showed us where to go, but then we had choices make: which road to turn on and in which lot to park. Of the ones we passed, some were very near to where we wanted to be, but cost a little more and some would require a longer walk, but cost a little less. We made a turn down a road we had not traveled and immediately saw a sign for free parking!

Yes, just around the corner from our destination, and free. In that moment, I was reminded of how much God cares for me…even in the little things and small choices like searching for a convenient parking spot. He sees the need and goes way beyond.

Now unto him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, amen. - Ephesians 3:20-12

It was a little rainy that night, but we pulled out our umbrellas and walked to the Wild Horse Saloon for dinner and a little line dancing. You can’t go to Nashville without line dancing, right?

The weekend remained a little rainy (a lot rainy at times) but we were blessed with a fun tour of the Belle Meade Plantation.

After the tour, it became “a lot rainy” so we did what any girl would do on a rainy at The Mall at Green Hills. We shopped up an appetite and made our way to Sunset Grill for what turned out to be our favorite meal of the trip.

I had the kale salad with grilled chicken for dinner…

…and the chocolate sushi for dessert!

Closing out the evening was a show at The Grand Ole Opry…what a fun time! Performances that night included The Band Perry, comedy by Henry Cho and a stunning performance by Carrie Underwood. 

The next day we ate a delicious breakfast at the Pfunky Griddle…in my opinion, this is a must do when in Nashville, but arrive early. We had to wait about an hour for seating, but it was well worth
the wait! They offer gluten-free pancakes and French toast, which was very tempting, and when I go back again I will definitely give one of those options a try. Plus you have a griddle on your table where you cook your own pancakes, toast and eggs...I chose a balanced meal of chicken salad and fruit salad, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

After brunch, we toured The Ryman Auditorium. This is also a must do! Simply walking in to the auditorium put chills all over me. There was a sense of power in that place and I enjoyed learning about the history while walking around in the auditorium.

The last thing on the agenda was shopping for boots…

On Saturday evening we drove back as far as Birmingham so that we could get up and attend The Church at Brook Hills on Sunday morning. The service was enlightening, uplifting and thought provoking. After a stop at Whole Foods for lunch and a few groceries, we were on our way home! It was a fun summer getaway filled with choices and blessings. Which brings me back to my word of the year, Remember. Today I am remembering a fun summer vacation and taking time to reflect and remember all the ways God has led me, loved me, taught me, changed me...truly He is my source and my strength, always with me, reassuring me as my source of security and hope.  

I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand....For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand...fear not...I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. - Isaiah 41: 10-14