The Orchestrator of ALL things

Can I just be honest with you all for a moment? I often struggle to believe that God will use everything for good. I have read Romans 8:28 often and most times I have the same thought, “surely He doesn’t mean ALL things work together for good.” I must admit my faith can often times ebb and flow with the seasons of life and is unfortunately swayed by my emotions more often than I care to admit. I struggle with this and honestly would love to not be the “doubting Thomas” if you will. I long to have the unchanging and steadfast faith despite circumstances or feelings. I feel like I have begun to see that and I have begun to see just what God meant when He gave these words to Paul to share, “We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” Romans 8:28, The Voice. I personally liked this translation because it says that God orchestrates everything to work towards something good and beautiful.

The word orchestrate means to- “arrange or manipulate, especially by means of clever or thorough planning or maneuvering… (Dictionary.com). I don’t know about you but I like knowing that my God cares deeply for me, so deeply that he will arrange the whole universe to make sure what is good and beautiful will always come to be.

I wrestled with this knowing there is a lot of evil in this world. I wonder how God can turn evil and ugly things into something beautiful and good. How can sexual assault, human trafficking, cancer, death, famine, war et cetera be good and beautiful? Those things in and of themselves are not beautiful and good but what God does with them can and will be if we accept His invitation.

I think about my own story. I am a product of teenage lust, of divorced parents, I experienced rape at the hands of two men, I struggle with depression, I battled a razor blade for many years. I had a child before I was married. I have experienced the pain of infidelity in marriage. I could continue but I think you get the picture. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows over here.

However I have seen God’s goodness and grace in the midst of all of those things and even in my day to day. You see God knew those things were going to be a part of my story and He knew that my freshmen year of high school would prove to be one of the hardest years I would have to make it through. He also knew that I would fall head over heals for a stupid boy and would follow him to youth group so that I could bump into some women who would forever change my life (and still do today). God orchestrated the entire universe so that I would be in the hallway of my high school at the exact same time as this really cute boy knowing I would follow him to church and run into the women God had already orchestrated to be there that night and the nights to follow because He knew those women would lead me to Himself.

To be honest until recently I wondered how on earth could God turn the years of rape into something good and beautiful. I battled with feeling used up, dirty and damaged. I disconnected emotionally from sex and from people in general. I battled the inner dialogue and honestly believed that here was no hope in that ever being redeemed. I battled through feeling angry that what was suppose to be a beautiful and intimate, was turned into something full of shame, fear and pain and by no choice of my own. Then this last fall God did His thing and He orchestrated the universe again to bring healing to that part of my life. You see my marriage was on the rocks. I was contemplating asking my husband to leave and was unsure that trust could ever be repaired. God knew the very night all the details would come pouring out and He planned even that. He also orchestrated the phone call I would make the next morning to share my pain and tears and orchestrated it so much so that the person I called was available for a long phone call (which is nearly impossible for either of us considering we have little ones running around). He did that knowing she would be the one who would ask the very question I needed to be asked to launch me into the healing God was about to take me through. He used a painful season of my marriage to bring me to a place of beauty and goodness. He not only made our marriage more beautiful and rich but He healed a part of my life that had felt broken and unrepairable. I got to see God do His thing and repair what was broke and turn it into something new and beautiful. I got to experience sex for the first time the way God intended sex to be and I got to do that with my beautiful husband. It was a joyous night and I wept tears.

I could look back on all the ugly things in my life and tell you of the ways God used them to make something beautiful and good out of them, but then you’d probably be reading a novel and not a blog post.

This week I was reminded of Romans 8:28 and how He is orchestrating everything toward something good and beautiful. I awoke one day this week and had been overcome with a yucky head cold. I was bummed out because that meant that I was going to have to skip out on a night with my girls. I had been looking forward to hearing my dear friend share about her struggle with anxiety and learn somethings from her. God orchestrated the very time and place I would be exposed to those germs knowing He would need me to be listening to the message the next night instead. The next night I intended to sit down and listen to my friends words and then of course it was a night my toddler fought me go to bed. Even still God orchestrated my toddler to be a bit wound up knowing He needed my kid to fall asleep at the exact moment He did- knowing I would be listening to my friend speak about anxiety in the exact moments I did – knowing that I would be so entranced in that, that I would miss screaming and sirens and gunshots happening right outside my window. He knew had I heard those things my mind would have gotten caught in the darkness and anxiety would have taken hold of me.

I am so thankful to have a God who loves me even when I am a doubting Thomas. A God who doesn’t create the dark and evil things of this world but knows they are there and uses them to create something good and beautiful for His glory. Evil is close, but God is closer still. I pen these words in hopes that when I begin to doubt that God will use ALL things, I can look back and see what He has done. I pen these words in hopes that they bring you hope and remind you that God is orchestrating everything toward something good and beautiful in your life. You may not see the beauty and the goodness right now, but one day you will.

To Him be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” Romans 8:28, The Voice.

I would love to hear some of your come and see what God has done moments, so if you’re willing leave a comment below!

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A letter to my little boy 

You have challenged me in ways I never thought possible, you have tried and depleated all my patience and you manage to do it before 9am on a regualar basis. You test every boundary and push every limit. You have been the reason behind my tears on numerous accounts. You are a strong-willed, determined little man. You are full of gumption. You are jocular. You are adventuous and brave. You are vivacious and energetic. You are inquisitive. You are meticulous. You are sensitive and thoughtful. You are captivating and the truth is I am lucky to be your mommy. I am lucky to be challenged to grow in my own personhood through you. God knew I needed a sweet little boy like you to remind me often of my need for Him and to humbly remind me I will never surivive these toddler years on my own strength.

My dear sweet boy,

Today you reached up and grabbed my hand when we were walking and every time my hand would shift or slip from your little grip you would grab hold a little tighter. For a moment I stopped to take it all in, to memorize how little your hand was, to breathe in the fresh spring air. I took in the sound of the birds chirping and the children laughing on the playground. I felt the heat of the sun across my face. I captured a picture so I would remember your hand in mine. 

That moment was a breath of fresh air. It was a moment my soul needed. You see people often say, “you’ll miss these years when they grow up.” I have wrestled with that saying in parenting, because I long for the toddler years to come to an end. I have felt guilt and shame for not appreciating the trying moments, to be longing to be out of the toddler years and for not finding joy in this season of motherhood.  The reality is I will miss moments like today, moments when your sweet little hand reaches to grab mine, or when your arms reach up high because your little legs are too tired to keep walking. I will miss the days when you sweetly climb into bed with me in the mornings, cuddle up and fall back asleep. I will miss watching you learn new things. I will miss your sweet little voice and your contagious laughter. I won’t however miss the tantrums, the utter defiance and the blatant disobedience. I won’t miss the moments of training and discipline. Those moments are quite exhausting and I long for the day they are over. 

You have challenged me in ways I never thought possible, you have tried and depleated all my patience and you manage to do it before 9am on a regualar basis. You test every boundary and push every limit. You have been the reason behind my tears on numerous accounts. You are a strong-willed, determined little man. You are full of gumption. You are jocular. You are adventurous and brave. You are vivacious and energetic. You are inquisitive. You are meticulous. You are sensitive and thoughtful. You are captivating and the truth is I am lucky to be your mommy. I am lucky to be challenged to grow in my own personhood through you. God knew I needed a sweet little boy like you to remind me often of my need for Him and to humbly remind me I will never surivive these toddler years on my own strength. 

I love you deeply.

Love always, 

Your exhausted, but grateful Mommy

I see you

We don’t know each other well. We talk occasionally at the crosswalk before school or at a school function but I don’t know you on a deep personal level. However here is what I do know about you- you are inspiring, you are passionate, you love deeply, you exude joy and you see people! 

You see my daughter and you are ready to greet her with a hug knowing that makes her heart feel loved. You choose to give up your lunch break to have lunch with her just because she asked. You engage in conversation with her and you seek to know her. You’ve changed her world, her life and you aren’t even her teacher. Thank you. Thank you for loving my sweet, sensitive, brilliant little girl. You’re loving her has changed my world and impacted my heart. Nothing makes a parent more estatic than someone loving their child well. 

Your passion for education is life giving. It encourages those in your presence to embrace the same passion. I am inspired just from watching on the outside. You change lives everyday. You impact lives and you set the course for students as they venture through life and their education and you are the teacher they look back on years down the road and remember vividly and can recount the ways you encouraged and supported them. It does not go unnoticed, it does not go unappreciated

 I watch you greet each student and parent at the cross walk with the same excitement and love. You listen intently to their stories. You notice their bad days and you seek to find out what’s at the root of those bad days. You ask the questions. You ask because you care. You create a safe place for people. Thank you for being a safe place. Thank you for being a safe place for my daughter to go when I can’t be present. 

I remember the first conversation we ever had. You commented on how much you loved my little girl. It sparked a conversation about her education and where she would be attending school since we were moving 20 miles away. You listened as I shared my fears and frustrations with a gifted child in a public school setting. Later that day you chased me down as we were walking out of school to give me information. You encouraged me. 

 Then a little longer down the road you were appointed to help her as she struggled through a tough situation at school. You sought me out and asked questions so you could help her navigate through the turmoil and the emotions. You never stopped asking questions and you helped her navigate a hard situation with ease and confidence. That’s what teaching is truly about. Sure the numbers and letters and reading and writing are important but you gave her something valuable, something she can and will use for the rest of her life. 

You helped ease our fears and God used you to answer our prayers. You play a huge role in our little girls life and you are the reason we drive 20 miles each direction to school everyday and why we will do the same thing next year. Thank you for being a safe place and for loving our daughter well when we can’t be there. It does wonders to this mommas heart. 

I see you and your beautiful soul!

May this summer be full of blessings, joy, peace and of course the much needed rest after a long and busy school year. 

A world without hate

My daughter was working on a project for the anti-defamation league for school. She had to create a work of art that for her represented  a world without hate. 

She wanted to start with something we say often, “the most important thing is that we love each other.” We talked about what that looks like. She talked about treating people the right way. She talked about being kind to one another. We gave her free range to create a representation of what a world full of love would look like to her. 

She created this:


We asked her to tell us about the pictures drawn on each heart. 

The pink one: Shane and I on the beach. 

The red one: was jus a picture of Shane and I. 

The silver one: was Shane and I in the desert.

The blue one: was Shane and I having a dinner date. 

My husband looked and me with a smile on his gorgeous face and said, “I love that her interpretation of what it looks like to love one another is us.”

I agreed and to be honest I love that too. I love it for several reasons. A few of those reasons being: 

It tells me that we are doing a good job of loving one another well. 

We are setting an example of what it looks like to love well and our kids will follow that lead. 

Our children will have a healthy view of love and marriage. 

Our children feel safe and loved because of the way we love not only each other but them. 

Anyone who knows mine and Shane’s story knows it is one of grace, redemption, forgiveness, hope and love. We had all odds against us in the beginning but we fought hard to get to wher we are today and to know our hard work is evident speaks volumes. 

Her assignment was to imagine a world without hate and create something to represent that. 

I am not an artist in the sense that I don’t draw so I won’t create a picture but I will use my words to share what I imagine a world without hate to look like. 

I imagaine a world where the most important thing is that we love one another. 

I imagine a world where we learn to put the needs of others before our own needs.

I imagine a world where we speak truth in love.

I imagine a world where we can disagree with one another and still remain kind. 

I imagine a world where we learn to value life over death. 

I imagine a world where we show and do the work. 

I imagine a world where we truly see one another and we can all take of the masks and be vulnerable.

I imagine a world where we value humans rather than devaluing them for our own desires. 

I imagine a world where we are free from slavery. 

I imagaine a world where we are free from racism. 

I imagine a world where we are free from hate and full of love.

We may never see this kind of world this side of Heaven a we live in a fallen and broken world. I cannot change or control people or this world, but I can control the way I love and I can continue to demonstrate that kind of love and live out my life without hate. 

What to you envision a world without hate to look like? How do you demonstrate love in a world full of hate? Join in and share what your world without hate looks like. I’d love to see pictures,  videos, written words etc from you. 

Winter

Winter. The coldest season. The darkest season. The sun shines less. It’s a lifeless season. The trees are bare, the grass is brown, the flowers withered and the birds no longer sing.
Lately I have found myself in a winter season. It’s cold and dark. It’s been lifeless and lonely. It’s been a season of questioning. A season of mourning. A season void of life.

Winter. The coldest season. The darkest season. The sun shines less. It’s a lifeless season. The trees are bare, the grass is brown, the flowers withered and the birds no longer sing.
Lately I have found myself in a winter season. It’s been frigid and dark. It’s been lifeless and lonely. It’s been a season of questioning. A season of mourning. A season void of life.

The other day my friend Lyndsey shared these words:

“Today is the winter solstice! What does this mean? Today has the shortest period of daylight AND it will be the longest night of the ENTIRE year. Why is this good news? Well, I’ll tell ya. This is the darkest night all year. BUT! It’s the darkest it’s gonna get. Every single day moving forward will include a bit more daylight and will be a little bit longer. The darkness never gets to last forever.”

These words came after I had just called to say ‘I love you’ to my grandma for the very last time. She was dying. It was a bitter cold day, as a snow storm was moving in. I listened to the sound of her moaning and the sound of the machine breathing for her and I wept.

I also lost my great grandma in the midst of winter. Her death was followed by the birth of my first-born. Within 5 days I had seen both death and new life.

The news of my grandma becoming suddenly ill and of her being in her final moments of life sent me to the depths of winter. It was frigid and dark. It was my winter solstice.

See it wasn’t even just her death that sent me there. It was my season of life. I have been in a winter season and I have loathed every moment of it. I am not one who has ever embraced the winter. I actually despise it. I am a sun shining, flip-flop wearing, outside playing kind of girl and well truthfully winter cramps that style.

The morning after my grandmother had passed. I awoke to a quiet house and looked out the window to see our first real snow storm of the winter season. My kids were away with family being loved on and my husband was at work. I laid there for a moment and breathed in the silence as I looked out the window to see the snow-covered world outside. It was a bitter cold day and for a moment I felt peace in the midst of winter. I felt hope. I saw a glimmer of light in the dark.

I am longing for spring and the new life the comes with spring, but until spring comes I am learning what it looks like to live in the winter season. I am being stretched, I am completely out of my comfort zone and I am have not enjoyed it thus far. However I am taking comfort in the words my friend Lyndsey shared and clinging to the truth that “the darkness never gets to last forever.”

 

 

 

an open letter to Fibromyligia

Dear Fibromyligia,

We met about a year ago, but we’ve only just recently been formally introduced. Meeting you has been far from pleasant. You aren’t exactly a joy to be around and truthfully I was hoping our relationship was going to be short lived. Apparently you had different intentions and you plan on sticking around.

Well since you refuse to leave there’s a few things I’d like to say to you:

You are a pain. Literally. You are a thief. There’s been days you’ve robbed me of joy, rest and life. You’ve taken hugs from those I love. You’ve at times taken my children’s mother and my husbands wife from them. You’ve wreaked havoc and left chaos in your path. You breed feelings of hopelessness, confusion and frustration. You are toxic and you are no friend of mine.

 I am here to let you know you’ve messed with the wrong woman. You see I’m a fighter. I’ve dealt with bigger bullies than you and come out victorious. You can keep me from sleeping, you can attack my nerves all you’d like and you can even cause debilitating pain. You can whisper lies of hopelessness, confusion and frustration- and there may even be days when all your attempts to keep me bound to you are successful, but those moments will be fleeting.

You see you messed with a mighty warrior. I have been trained and equipped to fight. There will come a day even if it’s not on this side of heaven where you will cease to exist. I will cling to that in the midst of battle; and when I am feeling beaten and worn down by you I will call in the army I have standing behind me and they will fight for me. 

I will be undefeated by you. 

Seasons

We are officially into the Fall season. The leaves are changing and the weather has begun to cool down. Fortunately for me I live in a place where I get to truly experience all 4 seasons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this new season and the changes that come with it: colder weather, leaves changing, plants withering, etc.; but more than that the parallel seasons have to our own lives. We all experience different seasons of life and just like the changing seasons bring change so do our personal seasons bring about change.

I have found myself in a hard and challenging season as of late and so I am ready to welcome in a new changing season. It’s been a hard season. A waiting season. My season has been full of physical pain and exhaustion. Full of anxiety and fear of the unknown. I’ve been in and out of the doctor office, have had many labs drawn, injections had and new medications started. One positive test led to a specialist, which led to more tests and more waiting. The waiting season is the hardest season.

However, I have learned a few things in my waiting season.

I have learned a bit about grace. I have learned how to accept grace and extend grace, mostly extending and accepting grace within myself. I have learned that I cannot give to others what I haven’t already accepted for myself. So until I give myself grace, I cannot extend grace to others. There is grace in the moments I can’t be present, there is grace in the mound of laundry, there is grace in the nap taken, there is grace is the dirty dishes, there is grace in meal that didn’t get cooked. There is grace abounding. It is grace on top of grace already given. In that I have learned to both extend and accept grace.

I have learned about rest. What it really means to rest. Rest is not something that comes easy for us Americans and especially to mothers of young children. We are taught from a very young age that we should always be doing, always be moving. I have believed that lie. I have believed that if for one second I stopped to rest I had failed. During this season I’ve learned that it is in fact okay to rest, and that actually resting is necessary. Time management and knowing my boundaries has proven beneficial in a season requiring rest. I have to know my priorities and know my boundaries within my priorities and with that comes grace.

I have learned about humility. I am a strong-willed, independent, stubborn woman. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. With that also means I don’t ask for help. This season of life has left me with no other option than to humble myself and ask for help. On the days when the pain is so intense I have to ask my husband to help me get dressed, to open the jar, to cut the apple, etc.. I have had to lean on my sisters and ask for help. I have humbled myself enough to accept meals prepared by my sisters, so that I could use that little bit I had in me to focus on my husband and my children. Humility does not come easy for me, but I am learning that it really is the only way.

I have learned about marriage. I recently joked with my husband about how this is what they must have meant when they said, “in sickness and in health.” That was not a joke, it is truth. My husband has loved me so well through it all. He steps in when I need to step out. He loves me even when the house is a mess, he hasn’t had a home cooked meal in a week, the kids are all whacked out and I’m in his arms weeping. Marriage is a partnership. My husband carries a little extra weight on his strong shoulders these days and he does it without complaint. We have learned new ways of connecting intimately and deeply. And we have learned to love each other well and that is the most important thing.

I have learned a bit about surrender. Surrendering my ideas and visions for my life and instead just being in each moment/day. Surrendering my life and my health to God, knowing and trusting that He has a plan regardless of the test results. He is bigger than whatever is attacking my body.

I have learned to appreciate the good days and rest through the hard ones.