When Things Don’t Go As Planned

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Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 37:23

I was walking through our neighborhood recently, pondering what to write about. My mind wandered to a time, nearly 5 years ago when our oldest daughter, Amanda, was going through a really tough time. Her plan had been to get married and live close to us. She never wanted to move away from home – ever- she was adamant about that. Then through a series of difficult events it became clear to her dad and I that her environment had become toxic and she needed to make some really big changes. We encouraged her to move to our home state of Florida and to attend our alma mater. We really wanted her to have a fresh start in a safe place near our family and to work toward a career in something that she really loved.

Once she got to school her whole life blossomed. She immediately had a circle of the best friends anyone could want. Opportunities for performing as an actor became so abundant that she was even overwhelmed at times and she became a co-host for the campus TV show. Then she met an amazing man that became her husband and our son-in-law. She’s now working at her university and finishing her film and communications degree.

As I thought about everything God did I was so excited! I thought about how great it was that God interrupted her plans. I wasn’t excited or happy about the heartache she experienced but what came out of it is something that only God could do.

Proverbs 16:9

We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps.

 

Psalm 37:23

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

In the last couple of weeks we had to buy a car and it was unexpected. Travis and I had been praying about it for a while and I’d done a lot of research on makes and models to find out what type of vehicle would be best. We landed on a car and bought it fairly quickly. The next day I decided to take Halle out for a short drive and she said, “Mom, there’s a crack in your windshield”. Blerg. It took the wind out of my sails a bit because I put a lot of time, effort and prayer into the whole thing. How could I not notice a crack in the windshield? Well, I know how I missed it. It’s small, about the size of a spider, and the day we took it for a test drive it was really overcast outside. Thankfully, CarMax has a 30 day repair guarantee so it wasn’t going to cost me anything other than a trip to Franklin and a couple of hours waiting.

I hate waiting rooms because they remind me of hospitals. I determined to make the most of it though. I went to the library the day before to check out a book. As I perused the aisles I came across a book that looked interesting, Murder on Music Row. It seemed kind of interesting because I like mysteries, the Nashville aspect seemed intriguing and since I was looking for Sherlock Holmes the material seemed similar at least. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Amy, do not get that book”. I was a bit puzzled but figured that whether or not I was hearing from God I should just put it back. I found a Sherlock Holmes book that was small enough to put in my purse and planned on grabbing my ear buds too so I could tune out and pass the waiting time reading. That night as I laid in bed I thought about my plan and prayed that if God wanted me to interact with the people around me instead I’d do that.

So, the next afternoon I took my car to the shop, dreading the whole experience. The mechanics were nice but said that if they replaced my windshield I’d have to wait an hour after they were done before I could drive it. Thankfully Travis works close by and brought me lunch and we were able to hang out for a bit. While he was there other people came into the waiting room. One of them was a woman who was dealing with a double ear infection and had been for nearly four months- I’m going to call her Sally. I felt bad for her and realized that I’d never heard of anyone that had to deal with an ear infection for that long. I wondered if I should offer to pray for her and was waiting and quietly asking the Lord if that’s what I should do. While I was trying to figure all that out I was interrupted by a mechanic updating me on the status of my car. During that time, Sally  had gotten a cold water bottle to press on her neck behind her ears to help relieve the pain. And while I would have loved to have had a clear word from the Holy Spirit on what to say or do I just heard the words, “Do you trust me”? I’ve been in this position before, a few times actually. A couple of times I’ve failed and left without praying for anyone and once I got past the panic rising up in me to pray for the stranger standing in front of me. This time I told the panic, no. I’m not going to freak out this time. I thought that she needed help that the doctors hadn’t been able to give her and I know Jesus. My compassion for her pain moved me past my comfort zone. So I just asked her if I could pray for her and told her that Jesus loves her and that he cares about things like infected ears that won’t heal. Then I prayed. It wasn’t weird and it wasn’t terrifying, it was just me bringing Jesus into the market place.

And then do you know what happened? She started talking and asked me if I listen to country music. I don’t listen to country music but I’ve lived in the Nashville area long enough to know that I should say that I don’t in a way that’s kind and humble- because a *lot* of people not only listen to it but are involved in some aspect of the business. As it turns out, her husband is a country music star. The band he’s in is a big deal and she started listing off the songs that I should listen to. She thought I’d like the  ones that are uplifting and encouraging. Then she played a video of one of their songs from their new album.

So, while there may have been nothing at all wrong with my checking out a book called Murder on Music Row, her husband is a big deal on Music Row. She may or may not have been offended by the book but what that said to me is that the Holy Spirit knew ahead of time who I’d be praying for the next day and that God was most certainly directing my steps. All-in-all a broken windshield doesn’t seem to be such a bad thing.

How does all this fit together?

Whether you’re the one who is in difficult or devastating circumstances or you’re dealing with life’s little annoyances, God is there to direct you. He cares about your life and about where you end up. Ask Him to direct you and then listen and obey what He says. When things don’t go as planned, very often it gives God the opportunity to change our lives in very real and meaningful ways. I don’t rejoice over the hard things I’ve been through, some of those times were so painful I didn’t know if I’d make it through them. I do rejoice though in the fruit that came out of those times, that I’m not the same person I was and that I can share with others that no matter what you’re going through God is there and wants to direct your steps.

 

Blessings,

 

Amy

Thoughts on Prayer

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Luke 18:1-8, Luke 5:16, Mark 1:35

It’s spring time, the season when most everyone in my subdivision emerges from their winter hibernation to start working on their yards. Personally, I enjoy gardening or rather I enjoy aspects of gardening. When we lived in apartments I used to dream of all the things I would grow once we had our own yard. Once we did have our own yard I discovered that Tennessee doesn’t have nice black topsoil like I’d imagined but instead was hard clay. I never imagined that digging would be such a back-breaker! I don’t really enjoy that aspect of gardening- imagine that!

Thankfully most of the things I planted last year survived the winter. Snapdragons, Dianthus and a silver plant that the name escapes me, along with a lot of things that the builder planted. The thing I added this year was ranunculus. I wanted to add something to the mound around our silver maple tree. In researching them I found out that you can only get them by planting root systems that had been dug up and dried beforehand since they won’t survive Tennessee’s winter. So, I found a box of roots at the store and planted them around the tree. Then I watered…and watered…and watered. It looked like I was watering nothing and I felt a little embarrassed as my neighbors walked by and waved at the crazy lady watering the dirt & mulch.

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As I stood in our yard contemplating how silly I looked, I thought about the dry, crunchy root systems I’d planted in the ground. They certainly didn’t look like anything I should plant. They looked like something I should throw away or put in a compost pile. Then I thought about prayer and how sometimes circumstances in our lives, in the lives of people we love or in the world around us can look pretty bleak but that prayer is the water that brings those things to life & it’s the work that breaks up hard places like digging breaks up Tennessee clay.

A little over two years ago our family traveled to Florida to be with our oldest daughter when she got married. We stayed with Travis’ parents and I had what would be my last face-to-face conversation with my mother-in-law. She shared her heartbreak over the state of the lives of people that she was close to but her hope & faith that God would bring them to repentance and change their lives. During that conversation we agreed to take one day a week to pray for those family members, believing that our prayers would change things. And do you know what happened? We saw things change…

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We saw God bring life when things looked hopeless.

The lives of people are changed when believers pray. Jesus taught us through parables and by example how important prayer is. He also taught us the importance of praying continually.

Luke 18:1-8 New Living Translation

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

It’s wonderful when I pray for something and the answer comes immediately. It’s a great faith builder and encouragement. It doesn’t always happen that way though. Jesus’ encouragement here is to pray and keep on praying. There are people that I know and love that need me to pray for them and to keep on praying. Our nation needs for me to pray and keep on praying. Our world needs for me to pray and keep on praying.

If there are hard places in your life or in the lives of people you love I encourage you to  pray and keep on praying.

Blessings,

Amy

The Parable of the Talents

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Every second and fourth Wednesday we host a Life Group from church at our house. We share a meal together, talk for a bit and have a Bible study. This past Wednesday we looked at a passage from Matthew.

Matthew 25:14-30New Living Translation (NLT)

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver[a] to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together![b]22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

After reading the passage our leader asked some questions about what we’re stewarding currently and what’s the hardest for us to steward well. As thoughts bounced around the group my friend, Katie shared with the group something along the lines of, ‘If God is telling you to do something and you don’t do it he’ll move on to someone who will’. A wave of conviction washed over me and settled as a knot in my belly and a weight on my heart. It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced conviction like that. I wanted to run somewhere, anywhere so I could sob in repentance. Since we were in the middle of a life group meeting that we were hosting I couldn’t very well do that. It’s probably just as well because I had to sit there marinating in conviction while continuing to listen to what God had to say to me through people in the group. Sometimes I’m so ready to repent of something that I don’t hear everything God wants me to hear.

When our group started talking it didn’t take long for the one thing I was supposed to be stewarding but wasn’t to rise to the surface. I remembered a time many years ago seeing John Bevere at a local church. I’d read his book, The Bait of Satan, a few years before that and was impressed by his insight and challenged by its content. During that speaking engagement he told a story of how God had asked him to write a book but he hadn’t done it. I don’t remember exactly how much time had passed but finally God said to him, ‘If you don’t write this book I’ll find someone that will’. His story stuck out to me because I wanted more than anything to do God’s will. I didn’t write back then nor did I ever consider being a writer. I was a singer. I followed Gods leading to study music in college and I wanted to be a worship leader. Being a music pastor was my first job out of college. Then I discovered that I didn’t really like being a music pastor although, since God had called me to study music in college, told me very clearly to be a music pastor & opened an incredible door for me to have a job before I even graduated from college, (keep in mind I was a divorced, single mom) I was very determined to continue along that career path. Truthfully, I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to study music because it was an amazing experience.  I love worshiping & leading worship when I have the opportunity but by the time my youngest daughter was born I felt God calling me to stay at home with my three girls.

I never started blogging because I wanted to write. I only wanted to stay in touch with my friends and family and keep them updated on our lives and share pictures of the kiddos. My friends were bloggers too and so we’d read and comment on each other’s blogs and it was just fun. As our kids got older some of my friends quit blogging and moved onto other things and some of us started writing less about kids and diapers and more about things that were important to us. Then one day I found myself writing without an audience that I knew personally (except for my parents and Travis). I didn’t know who was reading what I was writing, my little community of friends was gone and I felt less sure of my thoughts and opinions. By nature I am very much an introvert. I like to keep my thoughts private unless I’m talking to someone I’ve grown to trust. Writing was the thing that rose to the surface that night as my friends were discussing the scriptures. Saying that it rose up seems so calm, it was more like it was shouting with jazz hands and blinky lights.

I don’t have time. I’m not a writer. I didn’t study English. Why would anyone care what I have to say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I write about the Bible and it’s not accurate? What if I start writing and stop again? These thoughts and many others have kept me from writing consistently. But fear of failure, pride, and excuses all fell away in our living room that night. What about music? Well, I’m on the worship team at church and I feel confident that I’m stewarding that the way God wants me to at the moment. I’ve also been reminded recently that I didn’t only study music. My major was Sacred Music and the amount of hours I spent studying the sacred (Bible, theology, etc.) rivaled how much music I was studying. At the time I was frustrated by having to spend so much time studying something that had nothing to do with music. I had no idea that it was going to be a well for me to draw from in the future.

In the week since we had that meeting I’ve repented of my stubbornness and disobedience and have embraced this new season in my life. If I’ve learned anything in my time on this planet it’s that seasons change. I’ve always used my voice for Jesus and it’s just taking a different form in this season.

I don’t want to be the unfaithful servant. Not ever again. I’m thankful for grace and that God cares enough about me to correct me.

So where do I go from here? I write…and write and write and write. On Sunday during the worship service at church God clearly identified a block of time that I could utilize a different way so that I’d have more time in my day. My writing content is going to change too. I still plan on writing things about life but I want to wrap that into posts that are more devotional and inspirational in nature. I think that by focusing on the Bible and how it applies to not only my life but also to the life of others I can fulfill what I wanted to do when God called me to ministry many years ago. I wanted to help people and I wanted to see Jesus change their lives the way he’d changed mine. If writing is one of the ways God wants me to do that then okay, I’m willing to do it.

A House Tour, Part 1

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I’ve finally decided after living in our new house for nearly two years that I’m ready to give a house tour! I’ve hesitated for lots of different reasons that don’t really matter so here we go…

After months on the market and dozens of showings on our old house we finally got to look at houses! I’ll admit that my expectations weren’t super-high. I was really just hoping for something much bigger than the 1,000 sq. ft. we’d lived in for 7 1/2 years (not that I was counting or anything). I wanted 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths (which was 1 1/2 more than we had), a kitchen with more cabinet space, a bonus room and a fenced in yard for Daisy. There were lots of things that I wanted but the things I already mentioned were on our list of must-haves. I wasn’t looking for granite counters or stainless appliances or a lot of upgrades- those were all in the back of my mind as, ‘That would be nice but it’s not gonna happen’. And, for the record, I was wrong.

Fast-forward to nearly the end of a *long* house hunting day and we found our new house! It was brand-new, not even finished yet. As soon as I got out of our car I yelled to our Realtor, Joan, “Forget all the other houses, I want this one”! It was beautifully finished outside with a lovely combination of brick, stone & LP Siding. As soon as we walked inside I think I gasped- clearly I have no poker face. I’m also a sucker for upgrades because even though this house didn’t have a bonus room I was desperately trying to figure out how to make this house work. It didn’t take a lot of figuring though because it has four bedrooms, one of which we use as an office/play room.

So, without further ado, here’s our new house:

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I took this photo before we ever stepped inside and you can see Chloe’s joy at the prospect of this being our new home. I love the front porch, the carriage-style garage doors, the cedar shakes & everything else really. Except for the color of the front door. Our Realtor, Joan and I were trying to come up with a new color scheme even before closing day. If you can’t tell from the photo it’s olive- the most muted shade of olive I’ve ever seen.

The kitchen definitely has more cabinet space than our last home:

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I love the island, it’s big but not so big that it feels like something that it’s a hindrance getting from point a to point b.

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I also love, love the furniture style legs.

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Instead of using that as a seating area though we’ve made it Daisy’s eating area. It keeps it out of the way and we don’t really need to use that area for seating.

We also have 36″ maple cabinets, granite counter tops ( St. Cecilia light is the name) and a gas stove. I spent years dreaming of having a gas stove. Why? Because all of the Food Network chefs use gas stoves so I figured that there was something magical about them that would make me a better cook. Silly, Amy. There’s nothing magical about a gas stove but I still love it. My cooking is about the same although Travis thinks it’s magical so that’s a win. We’ve been asked a few times why we didn’t choose stainless steel appliances. The short answer is that we didn’t get to choose anything in this house. The longer answer is that when trying to close the deal the listing agent for our builder (DR Horton) asked if we wanted them, our agent told her we didn’t need that but we did need a fence. Which was completely true. Upgrading to stainless was about $700 but a fence was around $2,500 so we got a much better concession on that since the builder threw that in for free. Later, when I was appliance shopping for a fridge, I noticed that there were *only* stainless steel in the appliance department with a couple of white and black appliances shoved in the back. I had clearly not been paying attention to all of those House Hunters episodes where every.single.buyer.says they want stainless steel appliances. I called our Realtor in a panic to see if we could upgrade after all but since the black appliances were already installed we couldn’t change them.It was kind of a bummer but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

I also *really* wanted a french door fridge and we were going to have to buy one since it wasn’t included and the builder’s Realtor steered us away from buying one from them because the price was so high- around $3,500- yikes! I was stressing about it a bit because we were determined to pay cash for one and the only type of fridge that was in our price range were side by side fridges and I really dislike that type. Then one day close to closing Joan called and said that one of her renters was selling a black french door fridge that they didn’t need anymore. The price was a third of what it cost new so we snatched it up quickly. That was just one of the many, many little blessings along the way.

Travis and I also wanted our home to be a place where people could gather. Whether it’s for a family get-together or a Bible study or a cookout, we wanted our house to be for more than just our enjoyment. This house fits that bill perfectly.

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One of the (many) things we have in this house that we didn’t have in our last is an entryway. It might not seem like a big deal but having guests step directly into the living room or more often, the kitchen isn’t ideal. Here people can take off their shoes, coats, etc. and have a bit of room before they get to the living area:

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Obviously this was taken before we moved in. I couldn’t get over the amount of space and loved that the kitchen was open to the living area. In our old house every room was closed off so if I was cooking dinner I’d miss out on whatever was going on in the living room. Or if we had a party everyone would jam into the kitchen and it never failed, there would always be two people hanging out in the living room that were left out. I feel like a better hostess here.

I think this post is long enough so I’ll wrap it up by saying that we got everything that we needed plus everything that we wanted. I’ve told friends that it’s as if God took inventory of everything in my head that I wanted but would never have asked for and gave it to me. And by me I mean us but mostly me since I was the one picking out things and dreaming and sometimes obsessing over our new home. Travis loves everything too but I think what he loves more is how much I love it. He’s sweet like that.

People often talk about God’s perfect timing. It’s something that I’ve experienced but at the point that we were buying this house I’d been dealing with a great amount of heartache, heartbreak & disappointment (that I haven’t written about). Even leading up to this we’d dealt with Travis losing his job when our old house was on the market the first time (read about that here and here). I felt a wide range of emotions dealing with that and was disappointed and angry that we’d finally gotten to the point of being able to sell a house that had been an albatross around our necks for years only to feel like the rug got yanked out from under us. BUT, I didn’t know what God had in store for us. Like any good father he used difficulty as teachable moments for us, to change us for the better and then he gave us a gift that was far beyond what I even dared to dream of. When Travis lost his job I didn’t know that he would get a better one with a bigger salary right away.  When we took our house off the market I didn’t know that it gave the market time to increase to the point that we could sell our house for what we needed to. The margins were close, so close in fact that we only walked away with $60. But we were able to sell it. And our new house? It wasn’t built yet.

God’s timing was (and is) perfect. And it took a lot to get here. And we’re not leaving any time soon.

Do you know what that means? It means that I’m going to be doing some fun things that I didn’t get to do in our last house.

Like this:

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More on this fabulous aqua door later…

My First Post of 2016

I’ve spent the last several nights lying awake in bed drafting brilliant blog posts until 2am- although, truthfully,  anything can seem brilliant at 2am. Usually that’s a sign that the things that are in my head need to get out otherwise I might never sleep again.

2015 was unbelievable for us- and by unbelievable I mean it was mostly, well, awful. I had high hopes and believed that the Lord had given us a clear word about some good things but as has happened many times in the past, those good words were a life raft to bolster us and gave us something to hold onto in the midst of really challenging circumstances.

I started the year with surgery and as soon as I recovered from that I hurt my neck. I’ve never been in that much pain for so long without any type of pain medicine. It was never ending pain & insomnia for months. I’d go to bed at 10 and still be wide awake at 4 trying to find a position that didn’t hurt. And since I didn’t sleep, Travis didn’t sleep. During that time I was at my wits end more times than I can count. I was exercising a lot, especially before my chiropractic appointments because I wanted to give my body the best chance of getting better. One day when we were walking, Travis and I were talking about how difficult things were (we were also being really stretched financially) and we recognized that this was a time of testing. I could see clearly that God was after something in us. In the beginning I had no trouble believing that God could miraculously heal my neck or for that matter, heal the tumor that I was going to have surgery for (it wasn’t cancer and nobody ever thought it was so we weren’t ever concerned about that) but I knew that God’s plan was for me to have surgery and that he wanted me to go to the chiropractor. Faith for healing wasn’t what God was after, He wanted us to trust him to provide for us financially.

Times of testing squeeze us and whatever is inside of us comes out- kind of like a tube of toothpaste. There have been times in the past that I’ve been squeezed and terrible things have come out- unbelief, doubt, fear, lies that I believed were true, a host of things that were just ugly but I don’t regret those times because I didn’t know that those things lived inside of me and I couldn’t repent of them and truly change until I knew they were there. Then the real healing could begin.

This year I was determined to be honest with God and honest with myself. In the past I have been a “pulling up by my bootstraps, forge ahead, we soldier on, put your shoulder into it” and whatever other strength cliche’ there is kind of person. I’d stuff my emotions, do my best to not feel anything and just keep going. And I did get through whatever ridiculous trouble I was in- exhausted and weary and sick. I was weary at times to the point of wanting to die. I’m here to tell you that is no way for a child of God to live. This year when the pain was too much I told God it was too much and He comforted me. When I felt like I couldn’t keep going I told God that I couldn’t keep going and He gave me strength. When I felt like I was never going to get better I told Him that I “felt” like I was never going to get better but that I knew He would deliver me because He promised that He would. In the past I’ve let my feelings dictate my beliefs and what I feel in any given moment may be the farthest thing from the truth. This time I acknowledged my feelings but declared that His promises to me are true regardless of how I feel.

And then one morning, Travis got the call that nobody ever wants to get. His mom was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was given 6 months to live.

I can’t write about everything that happened next. I’ve sat down to write about it, Travis asked me to write about it and I’ve gone over and over it in my mind and I just can’t. It was too much. To watch someone that’s so vibrant and full of life decline so rapidly, to watch life being quickly taken away by cancer is too much. We had 5 weeks with her from her diagnosis until she passed. The days that I spent at the hospital were both gut-wrenching and precious. I treasure the moments that we cried together, prayed together & laughed together as a family. I saw friends and family that I hadn’t seen in years and the time I spent with them was precious.

The loss clobbered me both emotionally and physically. I felt shaken and had difficulty reconciling my belief that God would heal her with the reality of what happened. I know that God can heal. I had no trouble believing that pancreatic cancer wasn’t bigger than God.  I believe that God will answer any prayer that we pray according to His will.  I laid hands on my mother-in-law and prayed for her. It was a strong prayer, I felt the power of the Holy Spirit and I know that she did too. Even though she was on a ventilator, her eyes met mine and she squeezed my hand so hard that I knew she heard me. I know that God heard me. And He took her home.

After we got home we all got sick. And when we weren’t sick, we still felt sick. The loss hung heavy over our home and the cumulative effect of stretched finances, surgery, chiropractic, Travis also hurt his neck (which was bent at an angle like the Leaning Tower of Pisa when he stood up straight), losing his mom, and then Thanksgiving and Christmas was too much. I found myself panicking at the slightest thing. And once again Travis and I walked and talked. I came to the realization that everything was too much and so my body was overreacting to everything. After we talked I felt much better and much more calm. The next day I woke up feeling like I was getting a cold which ended up turning into bronchitis. My parents and Amanda and Daniel were coming for Christmas and during the week Halle got bronchitis, Chloe got pneumonia and Amanda, Daniel and my mom all got sick too.

The year that was 2015 never let up in its intensity and Jesus never failed to faithfully walk us through it. I was in the shower one day, feeling so sad about my mother-in-law and the shower is often where I end up crying. I was thinking about the verse that says, ‘…There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother’ and the Lord spoke to me and said, “I don’t walk you through things just because I’m obligated to, I want to walk you through this”. And He has not ceased to faithfully walk us through it. The years that I relied on my own strength to get me through things left me weak, sick and weary. This time I feel happy, hopeful and full of faith.

I’ve heard people say that “God won’t give me more than I can handle” which is a misquote of 1 Corinthians 10:13,

“13 No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

That verse is talking about temptation not the normal difficulties of life. Circumstances of life are often more than I can handle but 2 Corinthians 12:9 says,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

As hard as this past year was, I’m happy with the way I handled it. Not because I was strong but because I wasn’t. He was strong for me and gave me the strength I needed to endure. I was, for the first time, honest with God and with myself about my weakness- I let go of my pride in my own strength and relied on His perfect strength. I pray that I always  remember how to rely on His strength because I never want to go back to my old ways of doing things.

I hope all of that makes sense. In a way I feel like a soda bottle that’s been shaken and ready to burst, spewing words all over the place. I want to write more about God’s faithfulness and His unchanging character. I want to write about His greatness. And I want to write about what color I’m going to paint my bedroom and about what crazy things I’ve been throwing in a blender lately (avocado-spinach smoothie, anyone?) I guess we’ll see what 2016 holds.

Blessings,

Amy

 

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