Hope

Choosing a response

So, today I moved my mom in with me. I knew when God said that He wanted me to trust Him and do this that I would choose to respond.

There was some arguing and whining about what it would cost me, but in truth what it cost me (emotionally and physically, not financially) is far less than what it has already gained me. I didn’t do it because of the benefit to me in any way, I did it because God says love Him and love others. She is an other no matter our history.

And so, today I settled her in, made her lunch and helped her shower. I was hit with the image of Jesus washing His disciples feet as I washed her hair. It was in that moment that I gained another HUGE perspective about choosing the response He would ask me to. Choosing the response that looks past so many things and sees your incredibly sick mother as another piece of His handiwork and having compassion for her and the things she didn’t choose as I would have it.

Choosing to see the incredible love and compassion that He has for me. A broken sinner, learning to live loved and love like Jesus.

Today was a special day and affirmation that His plans are always better than my own.

My encouragement for you today, dear loved ones, no matter who or what you believe is to see those around you with the eyes of compassion. Check to see if there are places and relationships in your life that you may not be choosing the best response for them or for you and then choose to adjust if needed.

Hope, Keeping it Real

Before, Beyond and a Little Horse Training

I have been intentionally focused on so much beyond what my heart can even process over the last few weeks. I am choosing to stay in the moment, and not be distracted by things that are way out of my control and instead choosing to do something about what I can. 

The political climate, the division, the non-stop argument about vaccinate or not to vaccinate, and all of the other things swirling in the cesspool of the media and public outcry would have been really distracting, intriguing and debilitating before. 

Before, the situation we are walking through with my mom’s illnesses and all the complications that has brought, would have left me in a pity pool party for one. 

And I know, without a doubt in my mind, that God knew the before, He knew the now and He knows the beyond. When I get stuck in the middle of wanting to understand the why, and find myself beginning to care a bit too much about opinions and lack of wisdom then I start doing and thinking in a pattern of before. I even start behaving in a pattern similar to that which was before. 

I am constantly having my head turned round like a stubborn-headed horse that wants to go their own way. He is constantly having to remind me who has the reins and who doesn’t. He doesn’t do it forcefully, but gently. He uses constant even pressure to remind me that He has control and can see beyond. He uses a still, small, steady voice to remind me that it’s all going to be okay, because He has everything lined out ahead.

Beyond four months ago, when the last thing I ever imagined I would be doing was taking my mom into my home to care for her when she cannot truly care for herself any longer.

 Beyond a year ago, when we weren’t even speaking to each other.

 Beyond nearly six years ago, when I had to set the boundary for my own sanity while He knew what was coming and had some horse-training to do. 

 Beyond a period of more than eight years of walking with Jesus, choosing recovery and continuing to practice the principles in all my affairs when this stubborn horse would rather just run or quit. 

My hope is in the One who knows the beyond because He is the beyond. He is not only beyond but above all things. 

The things of this world, they may matter some, but they don’t have the final say. The hurts, habits and hangups do not have to have the final say when He is given the reins as many times as it takes. Eventually, the horse will no longer need to be regularly reminded of who is in control or who has the reins.  Even the most well-trained but still stubborn horse needs a little tune up every once in a while. 

My encouragement today is to remember that He goes before. He goes beyond. He can see what we cannot see. My question is how many times in the last months has he gently pressured  and turned your stubborn head around to remind you that He has everything held gently in the palm of His hand?

Have you forgotten that He is not only the lamb, but the lion?

We sit in the before every day that we wake up and know that one day all things will be new again. We can look forward to the beyond where He went before us. 

Hope

Being Upheld and Holding Up

We made it! We saw the end of a difficult year and now we turn the page for the next chapter.

I have never been the “what’s my word of the year” person or been super big on sitting down and writing down a list of goals, but I do take the time to reflect, review and look forward to a fresh page. 

As I am reflecting, talking with God and thinking about what has happened and what has yet to happen, I hear Him telling me, “Take forward with you all the good, and the bad, because without one there isn’t the other.”

The recovering instant-gratification girl would really like to be able to button up the crazy 2020 chapter with a pretty little bow, but the living-in-the-moment girl knows that’s pretty much not remotely possible. 

I hear Him whisper, “I have upheld you. I have strengthened you” and I KNOW that to be true. So, when I think of being upheld and how I am holding up and how we are collectively holding up I can not only think of what I personally have faced in the last 12 months, but so many other people I know as well. Not one person I know has had a stellar year, but we have all had opportunity and reason to take some stellar lessons with us into the next one. 

How have I been strengthened? How have you been strengthened? Through trouble and hardship; mourning and loss; and division and drama. I think I am familiar with that territory. He has a great track record of holding me up, strengthening me through the stretching of faith muscles and trust muscles, and I have held up just fine. It was not painless, but it was an exercise in what to hold on to and what to let go of. 

My relationship with God is stronger. It’s being held up. My relationship with my siblings is stronger. Those relationships are being held up. My connection with my dad is stronger, and it was held up through the strain his children are experiencing facing a horrible set of circumstances with our mother-his ex wife. My relationship with my mom, the person that hurt me the most, loved me the worst, and did the very best she could do at the time is stronger. He is holding it up and I am being held through every challenging piece of the story while the book comes closer to the ending. 

My reflection is this: what do I want to carry with me, and what do I want to leave behind? I tell you, I don’t think I can leave one piece of it behind. Since He has a great way of using all things for His glory and our good, I don’t think we can just spit out the things and pieces that leave a bad taste in our mouths. Instead, we take it all forward. Without the bad, there cannot be the good. Without darkness, nobody can see the light. 

The situations, circumstances, changes and losses of this last year will always serve a bigger purpose if we let them. I will take forward the moments of hard; the times that isolation became too heavy; and the days that felt like they were years long because there was a limit placed on what we could do, where we could go and what we could do. The extra bonus complications that the pandemic brought also brought out creativity. I had to get creative many times over in how I was going to afford another special memory for my mom or with my mom. I did not always like it or see it as a great opportunity, and I bitched, moaned and complained. But being held up, helped up and held onto by my God meant that I would soon see the blessings even in the many bummers once again. I still saw 365 sunrises and sunsets. I still had love and loss and all in betweens. I had major milestone high moments and some really ugly low moments. I had a lot of BIG feelings and I didn’t hide from them. I had a lot of opinions and still managed to do what I could to keep my mouth shut in wisdom and grace. 

As a reminder for you and I, He will strengthen us. None of us truly can get through our lives without Him being the good God that He is. His strength to carry us out of, over, and through the things He knew were coming is all we have to get us through the hardest of days. 

When this period of history is written in the books, I hope that we can reflect on all the good in it. Many times before in our history, in our personal lives we have gone through dark things (addictions, divorces, child loss, death, etc.) and He has given us wisdom, peace, recovery and growth beyond our understanding. I am confident that He will continue to do the exact same thing with all of this and whatever comes next. 

So, thank you 2020 for all that you have taught us. Thank you Jesus for what you have upheld us through. Truly. We have all experienced more love for our neighbor; more creativity in difficult times; more compassion for those with less resources, less family or those that don’t even know that they belong to You as Your children; and we have all experienced the loss, rebuilding and value of community and basic human decency. 

Welcome 2021, we are stronger than whatever silliness you have to throw us, we are being upheld by the One true God and we are not just ready to hold up but to level up.