I have mentioned on many occasions on this very blog that fear has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember.  It is the “thorn in my side” if you will.  It is the thing that steals my joy.  It steals my moments.  It is so often the weapon Satan most often uses to defeat me.

I wish I could express the extent to which I have had to battle this enemy.  

But something has changed over the last 10 years.  While fear is still an everyday part of my life and something that I continue have to battle, it isn’t crippling me like it once was.  Oh there have still been moments…and I am certain there will still be more…but it isn’t ruling my life anymore.

There is only one reason why…

God has continued to put me in situations and experiences that I have had to look right in the face my greatest fears.  I have had to decide if fear was going to win or if I was going to win.  I was forced to do things that were uncomfortable and at times even painful.  I have had to wrestle with ugly and mean and scary, over and over and over again. 

The hard truth of this is that I probably will have to again.  I hate that.  Sometimes just thinking about what God is going to make me do next makes me have anxiety diarrhea…like really. 

I don’t want hard.  I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to go through experiences that are painful. I don’t want to watch those I love suffer.  I don’t want to go to bed heavy and exhausted. I don’t want my heart to ache as often as it does. I don’t want to cry silent tears in the shower.  I don’t want those things and so often my response to God when I experience those things is to say, “Where are you God?  Where is your justice?  Why aren’t you fighting for me?  Why is this so hard? WHAT ABOUT MY RIGHTS?!”

So I know fear.  I know it well, and I know how it can ruin your life if you let it.

As I watch this refugee story unfold, I can’t help but feel like so many are operating out of fear.  We are afraid because as we watch the events unfold in Paris and Iraq and Syria and so many other places around the world, we think about how that could be us or our family or our kids.  

I was WRECKED by that picture of the little boy washed up on the shore in Greece.  I kept looking at that picture and thinking about how it could have been my sweet little boy.  I could literally imagine his lifeless body lying there too. 

“Oh please Jesus don’t let it be us! Please protect us!  Don’t let us ever taste that sorrow and grief!  Please oh Lord please don’t let it ever be us!” my heart cried.

But why oh why does my family have more right to safety, security, opportunity, food, freedom, love, etc. than these other families?  What did I do to deserve that?  What did I do that was so special or right or good that gave me the authority to decide that I get to have those things but not others?

Nothing. I did nothing.

Guys, I am scared too.  Every single time I get on an airplane, I think about how that could be the one that is used by a terrorist.  Just today I read that 5 Syrians were caught in Honduras trying to illegally enter the US.  I know that at any time I could be in that place or my family could be in that place when all hell breaks loose.  That scares me to no end. 

But I refuse to let it rule me.  I won’t let that fear rule my life and keep me from doing what I know I am called to do.

I read these words a couple of weeks ago and they have haunted me every since…

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are WRETCHED, PITIABLE, POOR, BLIND, and NAKED. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” –Revelations 3:15 – 18

I have read these verses before but this time it was different because I know that most days I am longing for simple…for comfort…for riches and prosperity even to a certain extend.  I don’t want to worry or fear, and somehow deep down, I think I feel like if I am comfortable enough, rich enough, skinny enough, happy enough, good enough even that all those worries and fears will disappear.  I won’t have need anymore.

But this verse clearly says that if I have riches and prosperity and need nothing, I will in fact be WRETCHED, PITIABLE, POOR, BLIND, and NAKED. 

That sounds horrible.  Nevertheless I know that is what is happening to so many Christians.  They have all they need so they no longer need the Lord.  But, He asks us to seek gold refined by fire…this means it will have a cost!  It will cost something.  It will mean sacrifice.

I don’t want prosperity if I no longer am able to open myself to the plight of those that are suffering.  I don’t want riches without love.  I don’t want comfort if it means I no longer have need.

We have got to stop hoarding it all for ourselves.  It’s not just about my rights and my needs and my family.  It’s about all of our families.  There is an enemy out there.  He is prowling around like a lion, looking to destroy and take away all we hold dear.  Lets not mistake who our enemy really is.

There is a chance that within all these refugees looking to come into the states that there are terrorists among them.  This is a real possibility.  But, I also guarantee that there are already terrorists living in the states and others like the ones caught today looking for illegal ways to get in.  I am all for screening these refugees and putting proper things in place to try and prevent that from happening.  But the answer isn’t turning them away all together. 

As believers, we do have a responsibility to fight on their behalf.  We are called to something higher. 

“By this we know LOVE, that he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and see his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” -1 John 3:16-18

It doesn’t really get any plainer than this. 

I am not asking you not to be afraid.  I am not even asking you to just blindly let anyone and everyone into your home without a thought for your safety or your family’s safety.  No . Of course, we must be wise.  This is why I am all in favor of screenings and applications and interviews and all of the other things that are already in place for refugees seeking asylum in other countries.

But we must not turn a blind eye on this situation.  We cannot say that these families do not matter or that it is not our responsibility to take action on their behalf.  My family does not matter more to God than theirs.  My family does not deserve more than their families do.  My children do not matter more than their children.  It just doesn’t work that way.

And one final exhortation for the church…

Please start praying and talking and planning for how you are going to help these families.  Just because they have been physically rescued from those trying to hunt and kill them does not mean that their plight has ended.  Most will not know English.  Most will not be able to find jobs.  Most will still be wondering where their next meal is going to come from.  Most will be feeling isolated and alone. 

If there was ever a time for the church to shine so bright, it is now.  Light shines the brightest in the darkness.  Now is the time to let your light shine.  Be the hands and feet.  Open your doors.  Open your homes.  Show these families what love looks like in action and not just in word and deed.

I have often asked God why I wasn’t born in a different era. I have often felt like the weight of this time in the world is too heavy and the burden too great.

But then I remember those famous words that Mordecai spoke to Queen Ester, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

May God use us all for such a time as this…a time that looks darker, bleaker, and scarier than ever before.


The Next Best Thing

Today on my Facebook page I wrote this post…

 Prayer Request!

I would really appreciate it if you all could just take a few minutes to pray for my hubby. Last night while he was watching the news he saw a young lady that he was certain was a girl we had cared for about 12 years ago at our ministry. She was on the news because she lives in a very dangerous part of town and the government apparently is making all the people leave today because they did not have the proper permits to be there. She is a single mother with 3 young children and nowhere to go. 
He is currently on his way to this very dangerous part of the city to see if he can find her. If he is able to do so, we will then see in what ways we can help her find a new place to live and hopefully work. Can you please join me in praying for the following things?

1. Safety. He doesn't know this area very well and it is very dangerous. Please pray for God to protect him and give him wisdom on where to go.

2. That he can find this young lady. She is someone he and I both connected with many years ago, and we would really love to be able to help her. Please pray he can locate her without a real direction and only going off of what was on the news last night.

3. For wisdom for us to know the best way to help. We have some ideas running through our head but without knowing the full situation it is hard to make any concrete plans.
Thank you so much for praying friends!

Within in minutes of posting it, I had so many people “liking” it or writing below that they were praying.  It was really incredible and humbling at the same time.  For all the times that I have been annoyed with Facebook or with people on it, that moment kind of made up for all of it.  I was just so touched that so many of you said “Yes!  We will pray for you!”

Thank you!  What an amazing community God has given me.

However, something else happened that has since left me a little perplexed.  Some folks wrote about how much they admired Hubby and me and that they were really touched by our desire to help this young lady.

Of course I was so moved by those words, and I thank each and every one of you that wrote them for taking the time to tell me.  But, I guess what I want to just remind all of you is that Hubby and I aren’t any holier, better, nicer, kinder, or greater than anyone else.  We truly aren’t. 

We fight.  We get mad. We lose our patience.  We are selfish and prideful.  We choose ourselves way too often.  We get caught up in things of this world and lose sight of what is truly in important.  We are imperfect humans. 

We are just caught up by God’s incredible grace.  We have seen Him pick us up in our darkest hour and administer love and care in a way that only He can. 

He has saved us.  He has rescued us.  And he has set us free time and time again. 
So we look around at all we have, all we have been given, and all we have been rescued from, and we choose to say, “Let’s keep giving back and pouring ourselves out.”  We are unworthy and undeserving, but we know a God who loves us deeply and passionately, so that makes us qualified.

Shortly after I wrote that post asking for prayer, I saw a video on Facebook showing a nursing home that opened up a daycare on its premises.  It was so beautiful watching the little older ladies zip up jackets for the kids and some of the older gentlemen playing games.  Everyone looked so happy!

Yesterday I read a post about a lady who keeps extra purses and backpacks in her car filled with toiletry items and snacks, and when she sees a homeless person, she passes them out.

Last week I read about a family that owns a small restaurant in Greece, and every afternoon the owner takes sandwiches and drinks to one of the local beaches that continues to see a daily influx of refugees. 

All over this world, people are using their gifts, their talents, and their resources to just DO THE NEXT BEST THING.  That’s it.  They aren’t trying to save the world. They aren’t ending world hunger or rescuing every single person that is in trouble or in pain. 

They are just choosing every single day to do the next best thing. 

And that really is just what Hubby and I are trying to do too.  We are so imperfect and so inadequate, but we just keep pressing on.  We have hard days.  We don’t always like our lot.  We don’t always FEEL like doing anything.  I am certain there are days we don’t even like each other all that much.  But we just keep choosing to do what we can, where we can, with what we have. 

We just do that next best thing.

I don’t know what your life looks like.  I don’t know your story or circumstances.  Maybe today you are having trouble just getting out of bed.  THAT IS OKAY! No one is really looking for perfection.  Maybe today your next best thing is something so entirely small that it doesn’t even feel worth mentioning.

But please just DO IT ANYWAY!

Maybe for another one of you, your next best thing is cooking dinner for the family down the road that is going through a hard time and is having trouble making ends meet. 

Maybe you are a stay at home, homeschooling mama, and you could start taking your kids up to the local nursing home once a week and just have your kids learn how to love some of these forgotten folks. 

I don’t know what your next best thing is.  But, I can tell you don’t have to be some sort of saint or superhero to do it.  You don’t have to be rich or famous.  You just have to be you and do what YOU can do.

The next best thing…

Whatever that is, just do it.  Take a step.  It might be scary.  It may be so outside of your comfort zone.  But I can tell you it will make a difference.

I recently heard this Garth Brooks’ song again after not having heard it for many years. However after listening to it once, I had to put it on repeat like 3 times in a row because it touched me so much.  It may seem silly, but I think if you really read the words, it speaks so much truth. 

Read the lyrics and just let them sink in.  Then think about what your next best thing is going to be…

“Standing Outside the Fire”
Garth Brooks

We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk the tables being turned

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always comes with getting burned

But you've got to be tough when consumed by desire
'Cause it's not enough just to stand outside the fire

We call them strong
Those who can face this world alone
Who seem to get by on their own
Those who will never take the fall

We call them weak
Who are unable to resist
The slightest chance love might exist
And for that forsake it all

They're so hell-bent on giving, walking a wire
Convinced it's not living if you stand outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried, it is merely survived
If you're standing outside the fire

There's this love that is burning
Deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly higher and higher
I can't abide
Standing outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried, it is merely survived
If you're standing outside the fire

Despite all the ugly and pain we see on a daily basis, there is still much beauty to be had and experienced.  If we start taking our small little portion and pouring it out as a love offering for others, I believe we will experience a depth of beauty and loveliness that is more than our minds can even imagine. 

I don’t know about you but I want to be a part of that.  I know there will be a cost and I know there will be sacrifice, but I believe with all my heart that is and will be worth it.

[Update on the young lady:  We have located her and her other siblings.  They are okay, praise the Lord, but we are still sorting through some details.  Thank you for praying and please continue to do so.  This family and so many families like this one need your prayers and our help!]  


My Lorelai and Sookie Complex

Recently I overheard my kids talking about their best friends.  My son has had the same one pretty much his whole life, but my daughter on the other hand, tends to give a different name each time she is asked. She is an introvert to the core so really I think that she would be perfectly content if her whole world was just her small little family and her dolls, but the pressure of needing to come up with a “best friend” causes her to share a name anyway.

It’s funny, though, how the word “best friend” still evokes strong emotion inside of me.  I can remember being a young girl and finding out that the girl I thought was my “best friend” had been calling someone else her best friend instead…or even worse she exchanged one of those best friend necklaces with her and not with me!  Oh the heartbreak!

I wanted so desperately to be someone’s best…someone’s favorite. 

It sounds so silly now, but I can remember the pain my little heart felt over this desire.  Even throughout my teen years and early adulthood, I still struggled with that desire to be someone’s best…someone’s favorite.

Why do we do that? 

I have mentored enough girls in life now to know that I am not the only one who has struggled with this deep desire.  I can’t speak for guys, so I don’t know if they battle this, but I can say with certainty that many young ladies and even women struggle with this constantly.

And while I certainly have matured since my days as a young college girl, I think deep down I still battle with that desire to be someone’s favorite. I put so much pressure on friendships or even family relationships to be exactly what I think they should be.  It may not look like some external pressure, but deep in my heart, I am begging this person to fulfill my expectation of who I want them to be in my life.

It sounds terrible, but I am pretty certain that many of you right now are doing the exact same thing in your relationships.  You aren’t as obvious as the 10 year old crying because her friend gave a best friend necklace to someone else, but deep down you are bandaging wound after wound because your friend, your spouse, your mom, your kids, your sister, your boss, etc. didn’t do what you expected them to do…didn’t love you the way you wanted them to love you.

I am here to tell you that it needs to stop now. 

I recently heard someone say that expectations are nothing more than premeditated resentments.

Expectations are nothing more than premeditated resentments.

Hits hard, doesn’t it?

Time and time again we are asking people, EXPECTING people, to be more than they can or should be for us.  We are begging them to make us feel desired, wanted, fulfilled, happy, content, and a million other emotions. 

It’s not fair guys.

We are nursing wounds that were never meant to be ours.

Friends are drifting a part.  Marriages are breaking up.  Work relationships are strained.  Parents and their adult children are spending less and less time together.  All over the board, we can see relationships falling apart, and we are scratching our heads wondering what went wrong again.

But what I want to literally scream at the world is that we are to blame!

Time and time again we are secretly begging the other person, “Pick me first!  Let me be the favorite! Love me the most!  Tell me I am the best!”

And then they don’t pick us first or we aren’t the favorite, and we decide that must mean we aren’t enough.

Relationships are hard.  They are always going to be hard, but they also can be infinitely good if we decide to stop putting so much pressure on them. 

Stop expecting people to be more than you are willing to be for yourself.

You want a friend to make more effort?  Why don’t you start making more effort not just in that friendship but also with yourself? 

You wish your spouse were more attentive?  Why don’t you start going out of your way to do things he/she will like?  And then while you are at it, start making space and time for yourself…read that book that’s been sitting on the shelf, go for a walk, bake some cookies…do whatever it is that fills your heart with gladness instead of waiting for your spouse to do it.

I am just so tired, guys. I am tired of us whining and griping about wounds that we are bringing on ourselves.  It sounds harsh but its true.

I am looking around at the world, and I am seeing thousands of serious hurts and pains.  People are dying.  Young girls are being raped and trafficked.  Children are going without food.  Families are falling apart. Young adults are taking their lives.

And we are crying because the people in our life aren’t filling all of our emotional needs.

It’s absurd really. 

But, I am the number one offender. 

So today I am writing from a place of saying, enough is enough. 

I am choosing TODAY to stop asking people to be more than they are capable of being for me.  I am going to stop putting ridiculous expectations on the relationships in my life.

I am going to stop making it all about me.

Relationships are hard, and I am by no means suggesting that we shouldn’t put the work into them that needs to be done to keep them healthy.  Go to counseling if you need to.  Save your relationships.  This is not some call to throw them all out the window. Some of the most beautiful moments in my life have come through the relationships that I have with my people, with my tribe.

We were made with a deep longing for community and fellowship.  I personally think community is one of God’s greatest gifts.

I am just saying that we need to come to a place that we are not longer going to find our worth, our happiness, or our passion in another person.

We will always, always be disappointed if that is the case. God never meant for me to find my worth in someone else.  In fact, His Word is pretty clear that I am worthy because HE says I am.  He made me enough.

But as long as I keep begging others to do this for me, I will be left unsatisfied and broken hearted.  There are going to be seasons that I desperately will need people to come around me.  We all have those times in life and that is good and completely okay.

I just also want to be able to come alongside others. I don’t want to be so busy licking my own self-inflicted wounds that I am completely oblivious to those around me.

I don’t have to be someone’s best for her to be mine.  And I certainly don’t have to wait for someone to pick me first in order to get in the game.  I am in the moment I decide to start playing. 


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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and over...so please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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