Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Went from a peaceful morning this morning to a tremendously stressful afternoon. Decided that I needed to get away from work for a short while before I fell apart, and decided too that instead of doing some much-needed Christmas shopping, I needed to write and reflect. In the midst of mountains of stress, extreme exhaustion, and a little pinch of heartache, the Lord has called to mind over and over the many blessings that He's put in place. So I'm using this little mini break from the chaos to list out these things, mostly for my own benefit, but hopefully it'll be of some encouragement to someone else as well. Here's what I've got:

Some things to be tremendously thankful for:

A Savior who has come and is coming: in this season, it’s sweet to think of the desperate need our world was in for a Savior 2000 years ago, and God’s goodness in sending one! And sweet to joyfully await the day He will return! And to know that this Jesus we sing about is MY redeemer!

Friends who get it – not just friends who know the right thing to say or might share hobbies with me, but friends who GET me, who know my quirks and love me anyway. Friends who’ve stood the test of time, people with whom the “remember whens” just keep on coming

A loving and stable family – I realize more and more all the time how very rare this is! I’ve never had to question my family’s love for each other or for me, I’ve always been able to count on encouragement and support, and patience when I’m snotty or selfish. Dinner dates with my parents and little getaway trips to my sister’s are becoming some of my favorite activities of late!

Having people w/disabilities in my life. People say all the time that it “takes a special type of person” to work with this population. But I really think I’m the lucky one! I’m thankful for every ounce of trust I’ve earned from any client over the years, for all the mini triumphs I get to witness, for all the struggles worked through, for the sweet friendships formed.

Working with amazing people who share my passion. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible my “operations” team is at work. The other supervisors and our managers are some of the most dedicated and capable people I know. I never feel alone in my passion for the people we care for – sometimes I feel like I have to run to keep up!

Worshiping with people who mean it. There’s something pretty incredible about playing Christmas songs on keyboard with the church band and really worshipping through it. And it’s so sweet to know the lives of the redeemed sinners all around me and know that they mean the words that they sing.

And so much more! What an ocean of blessings I swim in!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Encouragement from Leviticus

I was reading in Leviticus 25 the other day, and came across this passage about the Sabbath year. Every 7th year, the people were to stop their farming for an entire year. The Lord promised that they would be provided for in this season, and then he reassures them again in later verses:

"The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and dwell in it
securely. And if you say, "What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we
may not sow or gather in our crop?' I will command my blessing on you in the
sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years."

I was particularly struck by the word, "command." I am well aware that the Lord blesses. I am well aware that He sustains, that He provides for His people. I've seen it over and over again, in the pages of scripture and in my own life. But I don't often associate His blessing with His authority. God is powerful to bless His people. He is active in it. This association really changed the way I prayed that day and since. I'm praying to a powerful God who wills His blessings on His people. He didn't just allow the Israelites to have plentiful crops in the 6th year, He commanded it!

Let me be clear: I am of the firm belief that the Lord does not will that all our days will be pain-free, problem-free, and overflowing with abundant blessings in every form. He's pretty clear that won't be the case. However, I'm tired of praying tired prayers. I'm tired of praying that the Lord would sustain me in hard days, would give me peace in trials, would free me of the burden of anxiety that troubles my soul daily. I'm tired of praying these things in a weary way, only half-expecting that today these prayers will be answered.

This passage in Leviticus reminded me that I pray to a God of power. And while the promise in Leviticus 25:21 was specific to the Israelites and their farming cycle, I am certain that I serve the same God that they did. This God commanded the people of Israel to rest from farming in the 7th year, then gave them a promise that, I'm sure, helped them to obey his command: "I command you to rest, and I will command blessings to allow you to rest. Trust me." Something like that. Not hard to see parallels in my own life. I'm not expecting the Lord to bless my work this year that I may rest next year. That promise was not for me. But I can remember that the God who gave even His own Son will give me all good things. I can remember that He is eager to bless and has power to do so. He doesn't just allow blessings; He commands them.

My Spurgeon "Morning and Evening" devotion book reinforced these thoughts this morning. He quoted from Jeremiah 32:41: "I will rejoice over them to do them good." And so I'll close with Spurgeons eloquent words on the most incredible of truths: that the Sovereign Lord of the universe actually delights in His sinful but blood-bought people! It brings Him joy to bless them!

"How heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in His saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we cannot take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened; conscious of our sinfulness, and deploring our unfaithfulness; and we fear that God's people cannot take much delight in us, for they must perceive so much of our imperfections and our follies, that they may rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces. But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery: that as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so does the Lord rejoice over us."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

seeing wonders in the deep

I haven't written much lately. In the past few months, some of my past traditions, like quote-of-the-day and daily journaling about the events of my days, were deliberately abandoned. Several reasons behind that decision, and I'm not sure yet that I regret it, but I do miss it. And I went back through some old writings today and remembered that the best part about putting things in writing is often looking back at them and remembering. That maybe it's worth the sometimes-tedious process of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, of late), in order to really capture that moment in time for reflection later.

I've been battling emotions again lately, and feeling discouraged about a great many things. Recently had been asking for prayer that my goals would be greater than "not being sad" or "not being anxious," that I would be more eager to serve, to grow, to glorify the Lord. I specifically prayed about this during a series of weeks in which I was not sad OR anxious...but I'm fairly sure the enemy would rather my goals stay small. Sadness and anxiety have hit me hard the last couple weeks, and again I feel like all my energy goes into battling those things.

In the heat of the battle, what I need most is right thinking, truths to rest in. And today I read something timely and helpful.

Charles Spurgeon, in his daily devotional book, writes about how God's glory is most evident when we are most aware of our weakness, and how this tends to happen best in trials. Here are some of his words: maybe they'll be as helpful to someone reading this as they were to me:

"He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God. They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks, know but little of the God of tempests, but they who 'do business in great waters,' these see His 'wonders in the deep.'"

"Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road: it is this which has given you your experience of God's greatness and loving-kindness. Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as He did His servant Moses, that you might behold His glory as it passed by."

"Praise God that you have not been left to the darkness and ignorance which continued prosperity might have involved, but that in the great fight of affliction, you have been capacitated for the outshinings of His glory in His wonderful dealings with you."

Can't really wrap up in my own words what Spurgeon said so I won't try :-) Praise God, indeed!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Death of an Enemy

I remember many months ago, teaching a Sunday school lesson on the parting of the Red Sea. I teach a group of mostly-well-behaved young elementary kids at church. These kids are, for the most part, responsive and thoughtful and inquisitive and such fun to teach. During this particular lesson, they were getting pretty excited, and also getting really silly. When it got to the part of the story where the Egyptian army was wiped out, they were laughing and cheering and such. An understandable response, for sure. These Egyptians and their ruler had certainly been the enemy in the story, and after all those plagues and all that pleading, it sure was a relief to get to the part of the story where the Israelites' victory was sure. But I stopped the kids. I explained to them that these people DIED, and that that is always a very serious thing, and not something to laugh about. We were able to go on to talk about the fact that the Israelites were not better than the Egyptians but that the mercy of God was upon them. Similarly, that we deserve death just as much as those Egyptians did and that it is only the mercy of Jesus that saves us from an awful fate.

Tonight, I read all the news on Bin Laden's death. I watched Obama's address, I read articles and blogs, and I followed all the various facebook responses. What I was really searching for, a couple hours after the announcement, was a response from New Yorkers at Ground Zero.

My first experience at Ground Zero was visiting with a friend in 06, during my first visit to NY. This friend had lost a dear friend in the 9-11 attacks. During the process of grieving for that friend and watching that friend's family grieve with a hope in Jesus, my friend had become a believer. So being able to visit that sort of "sacred" space with a friend whose life had literally been saved through the death of a friend in that tragedy was a pretty incredible and sobering experience. I have visited Ground Zero several times since, always with that little story in mind, always saddened by the losses and intrigued by the many stories with 9-11-01 as their focal point.

I don't know what I expected to find in video footage of Ground Zero tonight. Maybe people praying, reflecting, embracing each other and feeling a certain sense of closure after an impossibly rough 10 years of grieving together. What I saw instead reminded me of my Sunday school kids. People were simply excited and cheering and laughing and cursing and chanting. It was sad. Understandable, but sad. I don't think I've ever in my lifetime seen a mass rejoicing in the death of another, and it's sort of an unnerving experience. And I wonder if somewhere in that crowd were people longing to think quietly of their lost loved ones 10 years ago, longing to reflect and pray and grieve, and instead finding themselves in the middle of a party.

Certainly, I'm relieved Osama is gone. I'm certain his heart was full of evil. But I'm also certain my heart, apart from the grace of God, would be capable of that same evil and deserving of his same fate. And I think that death, no matter whose it is, is a serious matter and not a laughing one.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." Einstein

  • "It is curiously comforting to know that your calling is beyond your capability." Powlison

I saw both of these quotes today and could relate so very well to both. Man, is work difficult. It was especially hard to return to "the grind" on Monday after 4 days of true, God-enabled, God-saturated rest. 4 days, also, where I was the boss of nobody and had very little control over anything, not even my OWN schedule, much less the schedule of any employees. Returning from that to the fast-paced, intense, one-crisis-after-another environment of work was a challenge I was expecting and preparing for. What I was NOT prepared for was what awaited me on that first day back. Some decisions had been made and had been announced to the rest of my team while I was taking my blissful rest last Thursday. I was brought up to speed Monday and learned that there are going to be some pretty significant changes in the next couple months. These changes are being made for really good reasons, and there's not even a hint of anger in my heart about the whole thing. At the same time, the changes are ones I'm not sure I can handle, and so, for the 3rd year in a row, I find myself back on the job hunt, at least in my spare time as sort of a "just in case."

ANYWAY, back to the quotes. Praying and thinking through what direction to head or whether to stay where I'm at causes me to evaluate even more my ability to do my current job. And this first quote resonates so well with me. There are so many days where I feel like quite a failure in one way or another at work. This is my own issue. I'm not getting that sense from my peers or from my boss or from my boss's boss...though sometimes I do get it from my staff members. It's just something I have to battle and bring before the Lord. I also have to remind myself that there ARE many things I'm good at, and that it's ok to not be good at other things. So, like the fish in that first quote, I get caught up in my frustration because the tree just seems so unclimbable...and then I remember the beauty of swimming in the ocean. Some things DO come easily to me, it's just that this job isn't one of them.

And the other quote. Clearly, my "calling" is far beyond my capabilities. I KNOW that I've felt called to work with people with disabilities. And I've seen the Lord's goodness and providence ALL OVER the provision of this job and the many joys it holds. But it will never be easy. I don't think I will ever quite feel "capable." And what I need to strive for, is to find this "curious comfort" in this reality. The Lord has placed me here, and the Lord knows what I can and can't do and all of the consequences wrapped up in that. The Lord also cares for the sparrows and knows how many hairs are on my head. I can and should find comfort in the knowledge that His power is perfect in my weakness, and I should rejoice in this opportunity to be fully dependent on Him as I'm faced with things that I'm quite certain are not within my own powers to accomplish.

Wow, lots of words and so little clarity. I'm utterly exhausted and full of thoughts, and this blog bore the brunt of that combo tonight. :-) Can't even sum it up neatly...but I can say that I know not what the future holds but do know the One who holds it...and that should be reason enough to sleep sweetly and soundly tonight.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why Should You Suppose?

"But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down." -2 Chronicles 25:8

I read this the other day and was incredibly encouraged by these words. Here's the story. The king of Judah was getting ready for a battle. He mustered thousands of men of Judah for this battle, and then he went and hired another 100,000 men from Israel, paying them silver to join the cause. A man of God came to him and essentially told him that he shouldn't have done that and that the Israelites should not go out to battle with him. Then the verse that caught my eye: "But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down."

Amaziah's choice to hire all those extra men seemed to demonstrate something he was supposing - that God would otherwise cast him down. That perhaps only with the help of extra soldiers would he be victorious. And I think this verse grabbed my attention and tugged at my heart because, whether consciously or subconsciously, I've been supposing defeat in my own life. I head into a day, knowing that the battle against sin is a hard one, knowing also that God has given all that I need to win it, but still somehow coming to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try, my sin (most frequently my anxiety) will at some point just get the best of me, and I'll have to just try again tomorrow. Why would I suppose this? God has the power to help or cast down, and somehow I choose to believe that He will choose the latter, when over and over again in my life His help has been a very real presence. I want to suppose the BEST of my God - why would I choose the alternative?

Friday, January 7, 2011

just the sweater again...

Every so often, there is this strange sound that happens while I'm driving, kind of like a thumping, that seems to be coming from underneath me or right outside my door. Numerous times, this sound has concerned me. And numerous times, I eventually come to the same conclusion: It's just the sweater again.

See, my favorite sweater has a real long tie on it that I often leave untied, leaving it to dangle pretty low. When I get in my car and shut the door...sometimes that tie doesn't make it all the way in. It's pretty incredible, really, what a great amount of sound a small piece of fabric can make when it's whipping about down the street at 50 mph. It sounds remarkably as if my tire is about to fall off or something. It's terrifying. And what is most incredible to me is that nearly every time this happens (and I'm telling you, it's ridiculous how often it does), I first wonder, "Oh, no! What's that sound? What's wrong with my car?" before I realize that I'm wearing the infamous sweater, and that infamous tie is having another adventure just outside my door.

Lately I've been realizing the same thing about my thoughts- my anxiety, namely. So often, something stressful will come up, and I jump to all sorts of conclusions about what could come of it - like "I'll never recover from this one," "I'll lose the respect of my boss over this," "this task or list of tasks is something that I will never actually be able to accomplish," etc. In recent days, I've been able to step back a second and say, "It's just the sweater again." These hurdles are NOT the enormous disasters that I'm making them into in my mind; they are just temporary issues that will soon pass away. Like a sweater strap caught in the door, my mind gets caught up in these crazy cycles. Not quite as easily solveable, perhaps, as opening a car door and freeing a strap, but still usually far less serious that what I've conjured up in my imagination.

If the devil had his way in my life, I would be so consumed with those imaginary disasters that I would never step back and just take care of the issue - my heart. This week finds me tugging at that strap, trying to take all my runaway thoughts captive and lay them before my loving Savior.