Monday, January 26, 2009

When I am afraid I will trust in You

I am not a brave person. I hide from things that scare me all the time or I let my fear paralyze me. As I head into my surgery tomorrow I have been thinking about my fears and what place they have in my life as a Christian. Like everything these days I am asking what God has to say about being afraid. I pulled out a chapter titled The Grip of Fear from the book "Choosing Rest" by Sally Breedlove. Here are some quotes from the parts I have highlighted and read over and over this past month.

" . . . Do we really want the gift of peace in the midst of our fears? Or do we insist that God solve our problems so that our rest flows from what He has done for us?

Sometimes our worry is the thread by which we hang onto the belief that we can do something to change our situation and end our fear. As ridiculous as it is, we believe that our anxiety gives us some measure of control. Or we believe it keeps God mindful of our problem. We are afraid that without the pressure of our fear, He might forget what we want from Him. But our anxiety and demanding prayers accomplish nothing . . .

This describes me and my worrying heart perfectly. How do I find peace and rest tonight in the midst of wanting to control the outcome tomorrow?

"In the midst of our worry, all we want is out; all we want is for God to solve it. Despite his longings David faced his fears, taking them back to God again and again. Eventually the battle inside him began to subside. His testimony is not that of a man who once and for all released his fears into God's hands, but rather that of a man who turned back to God each time the tide of fear rose in his soul.

Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and He hears my voice.
He ransoms me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
(Psalm 55: 17-18)

The gate to the rest we long for in the midst of our fears is gained only by persistence. Again and again as our hearts fill up with fear, we turn to the Lord who is ever patient, who never shames us for our faltering, whose heart is always open wide.

When I was a child and would be frightened at night my mom would always quote the verse from Isaiah 26, "You will keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You." My God is good. His arms are open wide tonight waiting for me to rest in His perfect plan.

Thank You for being patient when I struggle with doubt and worry. Help me to trust You more and turn back time and time again to Your rest. Please help me keep my mind on You and give me Your perfect peace as I have surgery tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Station

Before I met my husband in person we began emailing one another after the prodding of a mutual friend. I asked him what his philosophy of life was and he sent me the following essay by Robert Hastings called "The Station".

Tucked away in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We're traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination--for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the Station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Station.

"Yes, when we reach the Station, that will be it!" we promise ourselves. "When we're eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!" From that day on we will all live happily ever after.

Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The Station is an illusion--it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrow's a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.

So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather the regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today. "Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.

I didn't know much about Dan then, but I knew I wanted to spend my life with someone who wanted to live and love this way. I had so many painful regrets in my short 23 years and was so afraid of my future. I was just taking the first steps in my gratitude journey and this essay seemed like a road map.

Dan and I have known one another 10 years now and been married almost 8 of those years. Today as I was changing the sheets, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, running lists, all getting ready for my surgery on Tuesday, I kept thinking about our time together. These words were really an ideal we couldn't even understand fully when we met. Only in the past year and a half have we grown into this way of soaking in the preciousness of one another in the here and now. We have lost so many THINGS and found a freedom that comes from only carrying the weight of what truly matters.

Thank you for my Dan. Thank you for not just preserving our marriage but making it grow and flourish. Keep teaching us to rejoice and be glad in THIS day You have made.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why I always shave my legs before I head to the hospital

Remember how your mom would always tell you to make sure you change your underwear in case you get in an accident? Ok, maybe that was just my mom. Well, after my umpteen admissions to Shady Grove hospital during my last pregnancy, which always seemed to end up in scans and then some kind of procedure or surgery, I learned to shave my legs before I went no matter how much pain I was in. The last admission ended up being over 3 weeks and after they put me in a constant epidural with wires going into my back I wasn't permitted to shower or shave at all. There were a lot of horrible things about my experience but for someone who is OCD and pretty obssessed with hair removal I thought I would go out of my mind. Shaving our legs is initially a rite of passage for girls that quickly turns into a pain in the you know where. Oh how I have grumbled about the never ending task of shaving. I can honestly say if I won the lottery I would run not walk to have laser hair removal and reclaim hours of my life spent removing hair.

Today I head to the hospital for a CT scan to see what kind of ugly things might lurk in my abdomen causing me so much pain. I thought about just pulling on jeans and a sweatshirt and going like a bum, but then my fear of becoming captive there for some kind of unseen reason took over and all I could think of was, "What if I can't shave my legs!" As I went through my ritual in the shower I realized this is how my mind and heart have changed. Something as silly as shaving has become a reason for praise. Today I am here, healthy enough to shower and yes, remove hair from my legs. It's a good day. It's true, when you lose almost everything the world becomes a different place. Every moment is a gift and my God is always good.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand... and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late. Marie Beyon Ray

I am learning to hold on to moments. This morning when I went in to get my Danica out of her cribby I looked at her sweet smile and arms lifted to greet me and there was nothing else in my world or in hers but that feeling. This Colbie Callait song, Bubbly, makes me think of both my girls and what snuggle bugs we are and how happy they make me.

Thank You for little gifts wrapped in minutes. Open my eyes to see Your love in everything around me and help me to use each moment up.

Bubbly - Colbie Caillat

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christ is praying for me

"If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me." Robert Murray Mc'Cheyne

My dear friend Angie sent me this quote awhile ago. I jotted it down and have thought of it from time to time, but as I have been studying the book of Hebrews the powerful truth that Christ is actually making intercession for me has become more real, and I am amazed. So, what is He praying about? Last night in GROW we read from John 17 the prayer of Jesus for Himself, for His disciples and for all believers, and as many times as I have read through the book of John I have never thought of the passage as a detailed account of what my Savior is actually praying for me. His greatest desire for me and what He asks of His Father is that I would be sanctified,"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." It made me realize how often my prayers for myself and others are full of pleas for assistance regarding earthly things when so clearly every aspect of my prayers, whether bringing temporal or spiritual concerns, should really focus on the heart and life becoming more Christ like.

If I could hear Christ praying for me today, it would not necessarily be about the stabbing pain in my left ovary and what decisions have to be made regarding my health. Although I know He cares deeply for every detail of my life, I believe He would be asking that my response to another thorn in my flesh reflect His grace and goodness. He would be asking that I would not succumb to Satan's temptations to fear the unknown and the physical pain but trust in the truth that my God is good and all wise and let that truth transform my mind and heart day by day. He is praying my outward response to this and any circumstance He brings reflect to the world His light and love. He is really praying for one thing, my sanctification, making me more like Him. What peace I would find if I could really grasp knowing the greatest desire of my heart is the continual prayer of Christ for me. Everything in my life is to this end, to become like my Savior.

Thank You for the comfort found in the truth that You live to continually make intercession for me. Teach me how to pray more like You. Make the focus of my prayers more about heart matters and less about things that are passing away.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


On this icy morning with more snow in the forecast I feel a gnawing angst. The holidays are over, and I look at the mostly blank calendar stretching before me with nothing more than day in and day out routine. This poem from Luci Shaw reminds me even this bleak month of January has cause for praise if I embrace the details of this ordinary day and hold on to the sure hope of spring.

Psalm for the January Thaw

Blessed be God for thaw, for the clear drops
that fall, one by one, like clocks ticking, from
the icicles along the eaves. For shift and shrinkage,
including the soggy gray mess on the deck
like an abandoned mattress that has
lost its inner spring. For the gurgle
of gutters, for snow melting underfoot when I
step off the porch. For slush. For the glisten
on the sidewalk that only wets the foot sole
and doesn't send me slithering. Everything
is alert to this melting, the slow flow of it,
the declaration of intent, the liquidation.

Glory be to God for changes. For bulbs
breaking the darkness with their green beaks.
For moles and moths and velvet green moss
waiting to fill the driveway cracks. For the way
the sun pierces the window minutes earlier each day.
For earthquakes and tectonic plates-earth's bump
and grind-and new mountains pushing up
like teeth in a one-year-old. For melodrama—
lightning on the sky stage, and the burst of applause
that follows. Praise him for day and night, and light
switches by the door. For seasons, for cycles
and bicycles, for whales and waterspouts,
for watersheds and waterfalls and waking
and the letter W, for the waxing and waning
of weather so that we never get complacent. For all
the world, and for the way it twirls on its axis
like an exotic dancer. For the north pole and the
south pole and the equator and everything between.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Interview with Keri Wyatt Kent on REST: Living in Sabbath Simplicity

Today I would like to welcome Keri Wyatt Kent as she stops by on her blog tour for her newest book, REST. Keri was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Sabbath that will give you a taste of the wisdom found in the book.

1. What is Sabbath, and what is its purpose? What do you mean by Sabbath Simplicity?

Sabbath, first and foremost, is a gift from our loving God. He invites us to take a day to rest from our labor, so that we might engage in relationship with Him and with others. Its purpose is to refresh us physically and spiritually, to celebrate our freedom, to draw us close to God, and yet to remind us that we are not God. God commanded us to Sabbath, to stop. But Sabbath-keeping is also a spiritual practice or discipline. All disciplines, (like prayer, solitude, etc.) create some space for God in our lives. Just as we have a lot of latitude in other practices (we can pray any number of ways, for example), we have freedom in how we practice Sabbath. My book offers a lot of ideas, and real-life examples, of how to approach this life-giving practice. Sabbath Simplicity is a sanely-paced, God-focused life. It’s a lifestyle that includes the practice of Sabbath-keeping, but goes beyond just taking a day off. In a way, it’s living out what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 6:33: Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Sabbath Simplicity seeks God first.

2. How does practicing the Sabbath in today’s busy society differ from the ancient concept of the Sabbath? Why is it so different? Why is it still important?

The ancient Jewish Sabbath had very strict boundaries, but within those boundaries, there was freedom and relationship. The Torah and traditions prohibited what was known as melachah, work that is creative or exercises dominion over your environment. There were 39 specific tasks, such as reaping, lighting a fire, etc., that correlated to the 39 tasks needed to build the temple. Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, gave us a new way of following the ancient law. Jesus reminded us that the law was originally meant to invite us into relationship with God. While the Bible makes it clear that we are saved by grace, and not by the law, God’s law still remains a great way to live—as long as we don’t get legalistic or think keeping certain rules will save us. It’s important for many reasons, which I cover in the book. But here’s just one key reason: it allows us to experience the unconditional love of God in a physical, tangible way. It’s one thing to say he loves us even when we are not accomplishing or performing. But if we never actually stop performing, how can we experience that unconditional love? It allows us to say yes, with our bodies and our schedules, to Jesus invitation in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sabbath is not so much something you “do” as a gift you receive.

3. You have a chapter in the book about how Sabbath connects Christians to the Jewish roots of their faith. Why is that important?

We live in a culture that forgets history so easily. Our faith roots are in Judaism. Christianity is “a branch grafted in” to the tree of the Jewish faith. We cannot understand the New Testament fully without the context of the Old Testament—also known as the Torah. The Sabbath is a picture of God’s grace—we don’t work, yet God provides. Jesus is our peace, our Shabbat Shalom. Plus, we are followers and disciples of Jesus. As should, we should live as he lived, practice what he practiced: prayer, solitude, Sabbath. In the book, I note: “The cure for our isolation and disconnection is not simply more relationships but deeper ones, and a deeper connection to our shared past.” Also, a pivotal ritual in our faith—communion, is based on a Jewish Sabbath meal, the Passover. Sabbath meal always includes wine and bread—again, the communion elements. Even though they have different meanings, the Sabbath meal was a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice for us.

4. Didn’t Jesus set us free from the law? If so, do we even have to practice Sabbath at all? What did Jesus say about the Sabbath?

By that argument, it would be okay to kill or commit adultery, because we are free from the law. What Jesus set us free from is being saved or in right relationship with God through the law. We’re saved by grace, not by law keeping. So we won’t be saved by Sabbath-keeping, but it is still how God invites us to live. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for people. If God makes something for you, it’s a gift. He said it was not about the rules, but relationship. It’s a spiritual practice that brings us close to God. I have a whole chapter in the book that talks about what Jesus said about Sabbath. Researching that chapter was very interesting. I noticed that Jesus often taught by saying “You’ve heard it said…but I say.” For example, He’d say, “You’ve heard it said, don’t commit adultery, but I say, if you look at a woman with lust, you’ve already committed adultery.” But He didn’t use that particular style of teaching on Sabbath. But the thing he seemed to get in trouble with the Pharisees and teachers of the law for most was breaking their Sabbath rules. I think that in the breaking of the rules, He was saying to them, “You’ve heard it said…but I say” with his actions.
He healed on Sabbath, restored relationships, taught and confronted, and defended those choices vigorously. He called us to a new understanding of Sabbath—and clearly stated that legalism is not His way.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Sabbath keeping and what you've read so far on my blog of Keri's book in prior posts, A star to discover and REST. Keri is giving away a free copy of REST to one reader who comments today. Even if you don't win I highly recommend getting a copy and beginning your new year with a heart to obey God by seeking Sabbath simplicity in your own life. I am praying rest for you all in 2009.

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity is available at bookstores everywhere, and on-line. Click here to purchase it from or

Friday, January 2, 2009


You arouse man to take joy in praising You, for You have made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.
-St. Augustine

I began a journey with Keri Wyatt Kent in her book Breathe over a year ago. I love the way she tells stories I can relate to about women trying to find time and space for God in their busy lives. My copy is dog eared. I kept it in the console of my car and would read chapters waiting for the bus with my daughter coming home from school each day. I would inhale and exhale the call to quiet my heart and life. Here's the thing though, I felt like the book needed a sequel. I was breathing, but I still felt tired and anxious even when being still. Slowing my life down wasn't enough. I needed to REST. As a sufferer of sometimes very severe fibromyalgia flares the issue of rest is near and dear to my heart. I struggle to even fall asleep most nights and my physical body is perpetually tense and in pain. Although there are very real physiological reasons for my symptoms I know they also stem from an inability on my part to shut my brain down and give all my burdens over to my God. Where does this constant need to strive come from and what is the answer?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29) This verse introduces Keri's newest book, REST. She begins her book where we should always start when trying to learn and grow in an area of our life--with what God has to say in His word. She then beautifully unwraps the Sabbath, a gracious gift packaged in a command, no longer tied with the ribbon of the old law but with the freedom offered us in Christ.

There is a clear path in the book showing the purpose and progression of learning to live in Sabbath simplicty; rest, reconnect, revise, pause, play and pray. Each chapter spoke to an area of my life, but I was particularly challenged by the chapter on playing. I realize how strange this may sound, that God would convict me about finding time for play, but He did. Keri points out in her book how children when occupied in play are simply in the moment enjoying it. I admit I am so rarely able to find myself in a childlike place when it comes to enjoying the good gifts from my God. As a mom of a six year old and a one year old who also works from home 30 hours a week and holds myself to a very high standard of keeping up my home, I really don't remember how to play. There are things I truly love to do, that make me feel like I am really using my gifts or gathering inspiration, but I don't make time for them. When I do rarely take time to go to an art gallery, a greenhouse or scrapbook and collage, for instance, I feel a joy and a peace that settles my mind and spirit and recharges me. God is calling me to find Him in play and regularly make this part of my Sabbath routine. He is asking me to look on what He has created for me to enjoy and without regret over the past or worry for the future rest in His amazing gifts now.

If you are weary and burdened I highly recommend you read REST and join me in celebrating God's all wise gift of Sabbath. Keri will be dropping by on Monday to answer some questions about her new book and my readers will have a chance to win a copy from Zondervan! Hope to see you then.

Great Love