Sunday, January 23, 2011

Loneliness and its good friend Fear

Just sit there right now.
Don't do a thing.
Just rest.
For your separation from God
Is the hardest work in this world.
~Hafiz

It seems that my deepest times of loneliness are times when I separate myself from God. Something I do to myself.

That may not be your experience, but it is most often mine. And during these times I find that my loneliness quickly finds its long lost friend, fear. My fearful nature takes over. I become continually distracted by all my fears... and that fear controls me.

I know what I should do in the moment. I need to run straight for the Word of God to cast out that fear. But more often than not, I curl up in a ball, hide under the covers, and cradle that fear. How sad is that?!? I could cast these cares on the Father, but that means I have to get up and go straight to Him. Why is that so hard?

Community is the answer, I think. I know that I will find comfort in the Word. And I know that I will find solace in a Christ following friend. But I have to be vulnerable enough to ask for help!

I can share a story of this playing out in my life just this week. I had a not-so-great Monday morning... dealing with personal issues and brokenness. I knew I was in trouble. I was crying often. I was struggling through some pretty horrific fears - usually revolving around the safety of my family - and I was not reaching out for community. I finally did drag myself to the Father - and the Psalms. I find so much comfort in the words of David. He suffered loneliness, bitterness, and anguish - sometimes of his own doing and sometimes not. Psalm 40 is my favorite chapter so that was where I went. I didn't have the energy to sit down and hunt out verses I thought would be appropriate. I just jumped in where I could find comfort. And I prayed. I asked for redemption of awful situations. I asked for someone to pray for me. And I hid myself - not being willing to reach out in community for someone to share my burden. In reality I was asking God for a miracle - to send someone my way because I wasn't willing to go looking for the help.

A friend of mine was having her own struggles on this day. Beginning around the same time that I cried out to God for help, she began experiencing some pretty debilitating anxiety of her own. She couldn't pinpoint the purpose or cause and asked God for direction. Her husband told her to call me. And she did! We began to talk about her anxiety and she chose to be vulnerable and share her struggles. Immediately it became clear that God sent her straight to my door to help me carry my burden and to drag me back to community! We both cried at the goodness of God. He used her anxious spirit to get her to my house and He used her vulnerability to share her struggles to bring my struggles right out in the open. I am grateful to God for her and grateful that my burden is lighter. Isn't our God good and gracious?

Now, not every situation in my life plays out like this. There are times when God leaves me alone with my worry and fear and loneliness.While I am hiding He calls my name. But I continue to hide. He draws me to Himself. And that sometimes is a long process for me - I stubbornly fight for my right to keep my fear and loneliness protected from God.

God knows where you are. He knows the loneliness that you struggle with. He has felt it. He has walked with it. And He has been victorious over it. He is more than enough to meet your needs. He is waiting to meet you right where you are. Maybe the first step for you is the Word of God. Or maybe the first step for you is to be vulnerable and run for Christ centered community to help you carry those burdens!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Funny kiddos and gross boys

Well, I wouldn't show this clip to just anyone. Isaac is a gross boy. You will see. Consider yourself warned. :)


video

Funny... we are getting old!

Well, actually Steve is getting old! :) He doesn't want to admit it... but sometimes you just can't avoid it. It just kinda creeps up on you when you least expect it. Hopefully for you no one is video-ing when those moments hit!
I love him.
Enjoy!


video

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Community

I know sometimes I sound like a broken record... but I LOVE LOVE LOVE my community. I love the Metro East - and my town of Edwardsville. I love my church - Trailhead Church (www.trailheadonline.org). I truly love my pastor, Steve (ummm... okay, he's also my husband!), and think you should listen to his message on community.

Many times we hear about how hard community is - and it can be difficult. But today I want to celebrate how wonderful it is! God gave me a great reminder this very day of how blessed I am by my community. Steve told a story of the giving of a car to our family. I vividly remember Steve sobbing with tears of joy and amazement that God had answered his prayers. Hondamus, as we fondly refer to our gift car, reminds me almost daily, how community is a blessing. Someone offered their possessions to God and God directed that someone to offer a specific possession to help a friend - us! And those friends have continued to check on us - and randomly at times bless us with their company, a gift, a meal, or prayers. We feel loved by them. And then, in turn, that rejuvenates me to share what I have with others.... joyfully, because I have received from someone who gave joyfully! And more importantly, we have all received grace and love from a giving God who sacrificed His Son to be my Substitute when He (Jesus) died on the cross - when He died the death that I should have died because of my sin. I gratefully receive life because of the sacrifice He made.

Yes, community can be rough at times, but the majority of times community is gloriously giving, joyously fun, and overwhelmingly a picture of the community of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. May we seek to walk deeper into community together. May we seek out those who are running from community and give them a safe place to explore what it looks like to be in a group of very different people who are seeking to follow after God. May we embrace forgiveness and be quick to forgive those who have failed us and ask for forgiveness when we fail.

A Wendell Berry quote that I love talks about knowing that you are in community when you help pull a neighbor's cow out of the ditch. This week some friends and I added to that. You know you are in community when they actually tell you that you have white wedding cake on your rear! Here's to you finding that community. If you don't have it, hunt for it til you do!

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Year, New Pictures

Happy New Year!!! Wow. Can you believe that 2011 is here!? What will this year bring? A daughter who goes off to college. A second daughter driving! A son who will turn 13. And twenty three years of marriage! Am I ready for this?

I wasn't ready for a family picture, though! Most of you who know me know that I detest getting my picture taken. But I have a beautiful family and am very happy for you to see my handsome husband and amazing kiddos! So - you guessed it - I gave in. A wonderful family friend, an an awesome photographer/college student, Jordyn Gehret agreed to graciously and patiently take our photo. I am SO pleased with them. She is the best!!

So, without further adue - here they are:


Can't forget the one where you can tell by looking at me how much I just LOVE this process. :)

And finally...


So Jordyn made us look pretty good!
We hope that you have excitement about this new year. We pray that God will draw you closer to Himself and show you yet again how faithful and merciful and glorious He is!!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things...

The middle of winter is the best time to dream about gardening. Ask any gardener - that's part of what we do best! These are some of my favorite things. It is fun to dream!!! Spring planting will be here soon. Until then, what do you think?

Hydrangeas!!




Steve built me a fence and arbor this spring. And my dad just bought me roses for Chrismtas! Can't wait to have them growing in my yard! Spring can't come quick enough.



My all time favorite rose - had one for 14 years (but it didn't survive the move to Illinois) - is the Queen Elizabeth.

No garden is truly complete without... Chickens!! Much to Steve's dismay! I have asked for a chicken coop almost every birthday for the past ten years! And this one has room for doves, too! Just perfect.



I can't talk about dreaming without mentioning my favorite dream ever - been wishing for this since I can remember. :) EVERY single birthday candle is blown out with this as my wish. That's 42 years! And LOTS of candles!


Here's hoping some of your dreams come true!