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Comfort in the Shaking

Life is like a snow globe.

Sometimes it’s nice just sitting on a shelf feeling pretty…everything’s going A-Okay.

And then somebody comes along and gives you a good shake.

For a moment the whole world seems to be crashing down around you and then you are placed back on the shelf and everyone watches in awe.

It’s even more beautiful than before.

There’s comfort in the shaking…

A few nights ago I lay down in bed and prayed for comfort.

Immediately 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 popped into my mind:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

And then I started pouting like the baby in the family that I am:

“That comfort is just so I can comfort others…I want comfort that’s only for me. My comfort, that I don’t have to share.” Me, my, mine.

So I fell asleep in my self-pity.

Of course, the next morning this same verse came up on the radio. The host followed it with this question as a math problem:

If you have 15 parts of comfort and you give 5 away, how many parts of comfort do you have left?

Answer: 15.

I know this is true but it’s that old battle of flesh against Spirit that takes me back to spoiled brat mode.

This wasn’t the last time I heard that verse that week…it came up in our Life Group lesson at church as well. The Holy Spirit was just hammering it in, and I got the message.

Christ comforts us so we can comfort others, and this in return makes us feel the comfort of Christ all over again.

Shake the snow globe…let the comfort be shared.

The hard part is that the shaking is assured:

The Bible says we WILL have affliction if we’re following Christ.

…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

And we can be overcomers with Him.

4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4).

Faith, tested through trials, leads to completion. It is a beautiful thing, and there’s comfort in that.

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

So if you feel your world being shaken and you think it’s all going to smash to the floor in a wet mess of broken glass, and clay, and lackluster sparkles, DO NOT FEAR:

God will not be shaken.

Psalm 62
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3
How long will all of you attack a man
to batter him,
like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse. Selah
5
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
9
Those of low estate are but a breath;
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10
Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
11
Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.

Grace and peace…even in the shaking.

Faith, Running, Travel

D.C. With Kids, the Marine Corps Marathon, and My Surprising Take-Away

Earlier this year I was drawn to run the Marine Corps Marathon. I didn’t really want to run another marathon, but I did want to run this one. We planned to take the family to Washington D.C., see the sites, run the race, and come home…and that’s pretty much what happened.

However, days before we left we decided to leave “the baby” home with Nana and Poppy. At seven-years-old it was a toss-up, but this was ultimately a very good decision. He would not have managed the fickle weather and miles of walking like the big kids did. Win #1.

We booked a tour with “DC By Foot“: a “free to reserve” tour service that relies on your tips afterward in any amount you see fit. It was great!

The weather that day was cold and misty but our guide, Becca, made it into a pleasant experience for our whole family. She was prompt and very knowledgeable, and kept things spiced with funny, weird facts. We saw everything on the National Mall and around the Tidal Basin. Win #2.

We also went to some of the Smithsonians. We started with the Natural History Museum. The kids loved seeing the animals, but evolution was woven into all of it as truth and that was disturbing. I’d rather do the Creation Museum again. Truth wins everytime.

However, the American History and Air and Space museums were the “bomb” (the kids loved seeing the nukes and weaponry)…the big kid Dad did too. Double win.

We also got to meet up with our friend from college and his family. They took us to Carmine’s where I carb-loaded like a pro. BIG win.

Love that family.

And then there was the race…

As soon as I got on the metro at 6am it was like being an ant in one of those little glass ant farms for the rest of the morning.

I just went with the flow of the crowd all the way to the start corrales (I did not make it to mine), through 26.2 miles (though my GPS said 27), through the finish zoo, I mean “festival”, and back on the metro.

The crowd was a downer for me…I don’t like them, but the inspirations along the route made it worth it: A mile (or more) of signs with faces…marines who sacrificed their lives. Young men, women, healthy, strong, happy. Plus, all the marines in uniform handing out water and encouragement…peoples’ little boys and girls, who turned into men and women, doing what they think they need to do. Inspiring and humbling. Win #…I’ve lost count.

I definitely didn’t get a P.R. (that’s “personal record” for you non-runners ;)) but I’ve never felt so good and strong at the end of a marathon. That’s a big win for me.

And this is my last marathon…for real this time.

And now we head home. Tired and depleted, yet full of new memories and inspiration from all the heroes we saw represented on our tours and wonders of God and man that we saw in the museums.

The number one take-away for me surprised me though. It’s about women. Women in history, women in military, family women, women today, and women of the future.

The statue that struck me most was the one of “Faith, Hope, and Charity”, depicting the nurses from the Vietnam war. The image just wouldn’t leave my mind. True humble servants just doing their jobs. Not flashy, not glory-seeking, just working…quietly and with purpose.

King captured the statue from all sides:

Faith, on her knees in prayer
Hope, looking up for help
Charity, helping the wounded

Then there were the marines at the race. It was a beautiful, young girl who put my finisher’s medal around my neck. And I was humbled. She was congratulating me, but there’s no way I could do what she’s doing. Once again, she’s just working, doing what she does…it makes a difference.

Finally, the friends we met up with have four beautiful babies…all under 5, a dad who works long hours, and a humble servant of a mother who wrangles those kids with grace and peace that can only come from the Lord. I know her days get long and messy, but I know her reward will be great.

Women…we do have a lot of power, and we can cause a lot of trouble too. Haha. I’m not really into the whole “women can do anything men can do” movement, but I do think that whatever the Lord puts before us He will also give us the tools we need to get it done. Whether it’s on the frontlines…or on nursery duty…

IV bought me a shirt with this on it. 😉

Let’s do it for the glory of God.

Faith

Unknown Distance, Unknown Time

As part of the SWAT team tryout IV and the others had to take part in a ruck march of “unknown distance, unknown time”. Meaning, they were to start marching without knowing how far they had to go or how long they had to get there in order to pass this part of the qualification.

It’s a mind game.

They had to start moving (IV took off running like a crazy person, of course) and hope that their pace was fast enough to get them there on time, yet slow enough that they could endure the distance.

They just had to go and keep going…

Goal unknown…

Unknown distance, unknown time.

As I’ve been studying Revelation with a group of ladies at church and also reading the book Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado with another group I’ve thought about this exercise and how it applies to life, and faith, and suffering through afflictions.

Bad things happen, life happens, and sometimes there’s no end in sight; this is when we must cling to our faith in the One True God and just keep moving forward…

Unknown distance, unknown time.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:1‭-‬5

After Matt was shot, IV went to his bedside and whispered in his ear, “unknown distance, unknown time”.

He knew Matt would understand this…he hoped it would help Matt to push forward in his fight to live.

I have no doubt that Matt’s training is one of the tools the Lord knew he would need for this time.

However, the most important weapon Matt has…and any of us have in any affliction…is faith…whether it’s our own or if we’re feeding off the faith of the people who love us.

We need physical training for this physical world, but it’s the training of the heart and soul to love God, love others, and follow Jesus in faith that is going to get us over the only finish line that really matters.

In Revelation we were talking about the tribulations of the church at Smyrna (ch. 2) and how they were given a precise number of days for their tribulation, 10 to be exact (2:10), and how we don’t always have that “luxury.” Usually, we have no idea how long a trouble is going to last.

So many people are hurting, and a great number of us are drowning in anxiety. The hurts and the worries of the world are going to be around as long as we’re here…we have to find a way (THE way) to endure.

Keep looking up, keep showing up, keep moving forward, and leave it all in God’s hands. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way.

And the Lord knows the end.

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord .

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Commit your work to the Lord , and your plans will be established.

The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord ; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.

When a man’s ways please the Lord , he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
Proverbs 16:1‭-‬8

He holds the key!

So what’s our key to holding on to this kind of faith???

Rejoice even when you don’t feel like it, PRAY…and keep praying, and find something to be thankful for.

“As you sense anxiety welling up inside you, cast it in the direction of Christ. Do so specifically and immediately.”

Anxious for Nothing

By Max Lucado

And then rest in the promises of God…

He will not delay.

Unknown distance, unknown time.

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Fear Revealed

One day after my last post I read chapter 3 of this book:

And I had a lightbulb moment.

My fear was revealed. I realized immediately why the Lord had me reading this book and exactly what I needed to do.

But I didn’t want to do it.

That’s when the arrows flew.

…a “BUT GOD” moment.

One hard situation was put upon me, but through it I was set free from the other.

Everything crumbled around me for a moment, BUT GOD used it as a key to my release.

I immediately felt lighter.

At this time I was in Canton for a half-marathon I had entered, so I headed out on the trail expecting good things.

It was a disaster:

I underestimated the technicality of the trail, I completely dehydrated, I took a wrong turn, and I finished 32 minutes after my goal time.

As I was chewed up and spit out by these trails this verse from Job came to mind, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” Humbled.

And then I pitched a big fit.

I grabbed my medal, yanked a couple of chocolate chip cookies off the table, and fled the scene.

I was so mad…at the race, at myself…just mad at life, and I let it shine.

BUT GOD…

He still saw me, still reached out in love and grace to me, He still quieted my soul as only He can, so by the time I got home all was well.

Then I read chapter 4.

That’s when I realized the BUT GOD in my recent history…and I was sorry for my whining.

And then I was convicted and comforted all at once by this line:

…we have a choice. We can wear our hurt or wear our hope.

I had definitely worn my hurt after that race…not just my disappointment in the race but the hurt I felt as the Lord had filleted my heart and in the process cleaned out clots of my own sin.

So now the healing begins…and I’m thankful that it’s underway.

And if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times:

Praise the Lord.

Photos.in.the.shade captured this early morning rainbow…”The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22‭-‬23
Faith

Hidden Fear

I finally finished this book:

My mom gave it to me months ago, and I started reading it months ago. It really was a good read, but I’m easily distracted I guess.

When she first gave it to me I decided to read it solely because she said it was good. I didn’t really feel fearful about the future, or fearful of anything for that matter. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to “uncertain times”. Ha.

Next up…

A group of ladies at church are reading this, and I bought it so I could read along…thinking to myself, “What is it with the fear issue? Is the Lord trying to tell me something?”

If He is I’m still not certain what it is.

To top it off, last night, our dog Lulu was just bark-bark-barking in the backyard. I sent Duke out to check on her, and he came back laughing. He reported that Lulu was trapped in her invisible fence…

…the fence that she hasn’t been in for a few weeks…

…the fence that’s connected to the collar that she hasn’t worn in a month…

…the fence that’s connected to the collar that had a dead battery for a month before she stopped wearing it.

So, Duke went over to her, made a clicking noise with his mouth, and she ran happy and free.

Fear kept her trapped.

Fear of something that wasn’t even there….something that was long gone.

Fear of a situation she had walked into herself.

I hope I’m not like Lulu…and if I am I hope that the Lord will snap me out of it.

So, I’m praying that Lord will show me any hidden fear I have…or maybe that he’ll use me to snap the collar off of someone else.

Until then I’m resting on the fact that God holds yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and His promises are sure.

Just some thoughts from the shade.

Resting in the truth.