Skip to content

Delight and Trust

January 1, 2017

Can I just get a confession out there? I’m not really a big fan of New Years. Now, before you call me a curmudgeon or think that I am a Debbie Downer (rest assured, I love sparkling grape juice and seeing the ball drop) allow me to explain. Every year, the general populous makes their resolutions. For some, it’s to eat healthy and finally go to the gym. For others, it may be to read a certain number of books, or maybe to read through the Bible. Still others fill up colorful planners with goals upon goals. Maybe it’s the age of social media, but it seems like just about everyone has posted a beautiful planner or goals page talking about all of their goals for this next year. Don’t get me wrong, these are all great things. In fact, I’ve done some of them myself.

But this year? I’ve found myself over the past few days having a pit in my stomach as the days grew closer to the calendar reading 2017. My attempts to make goals oftentimes fall short, especially if they are written down. (Which I know…so weird, because the rest of my life MUST be written down. Hello, Apple Reminders. Anyway…) I think writing them down makes it more concrete, which is a nice thought, but then if the goal doesn’t get met, I look back where it’s written and either want to rip the page to shreds, or cross it out, like I never made it at all. I put all kinds of pressure on myself to perform, to ensure that the goal is met, and come down hard on myself if the goal or resolution is not kept. I have good intentions…but as someone said once, “Good intentions are just that- good intentions.” I can intend to finally schedule that coffee date with my friend, but if I don’t pick up the phone and call or text, it may not happen. I can intend to become a great journal keeper, but someone’s gotta put the pen to the paper. I typically get stuck in my good intentions, and hard as I try to make them into a goal, I often fail, and then am left kicking myself because it seems that the rest of the world is carrying on with their pretty planners and goal sheets, and so here I am today- goal less. No planner. No goal pages. Nothing.

I’m simplifying this year. Instead of lengthy lists that I tend to make, filled with all of my nice intentions and unspoken expectations, I’m just putting two words in the forefront of my mind this year.

Delight. Trust.

These two words won’t be get to be checked off at the end of the year as “done” or “accomplished”- I know that they will be life long and there is not an ounce of delighting or trusting that I am able to accomplish on my own. These aren’t words that I pick up as goals to be met, or resolutions to keep.  But when I look at the year ahead, these two words have stuck deep in my heart. I want my trust in Jesus to flow from my delight in Him. I want to have such deep joy in the Lord that I can’t help but trust Him, even when plans don’t go how I expect, even when sorrows come, even when unexpected rocks come along the path and threaten to trip me up…even then, Lord, help me delight in You. There’s a lot of unknowns as I look ahead to this year- leaving a job that is familiar, friends and family that I love dearly, and a church that is a refuge, to move to a beloved place with it’s different language, customs, weather, and people. Honestly, the road ahead looks long and scary and messy- even in the anticipation of being obedient to the Lord and doing something that I know that He has called me to…left to myself, I would so much rather stay wrapped up in my comfortable, semi-put together, familiar life. But this is where delight must take hold- the joy I have in following Jesus, in obeying His call, in loving His people- both here and in Cancun well- delight must be the fuel to my trust.

So welcome to the mess, 2017. Glad you’re here.

 

Spring is coming

January 30, 2016

It’s 55 degrees today. 

I stepped outside after spending the morning indoors at school, and I smelled it immediately- spring. I know it won’t last but a day or two, but this something about that spring smelling air that does wonders for my soul. The sunshine, cool breeze, hair blowing every which way from open car windows…I needed this. 

It’s been a long winter. From a weather standpoint it’s actually been pretty mild. Some snow, some cold, but that’s all to be expected. It’s been a long winter for my grief. 

Winter has this way of sapping the joy right from me. The mountains of snow, the ice on the roads and the air so cold that it hurts to breathe…some days it feels like the grip of winter has me so tight that it won’t ever let go. The days are short and the darkness comes quicker than I’d like. My soul had resonated with winter’s darkness. For me, winter came early this year…mid September, in fact. The grief from losing my niece, Cora, sits like a thick layer of snow and ice over my heart. Some days it feels completely impenetrable, just like that layer of ice on your windshield. The darkness sits heavy, not allowing much respite from its grasp. 

But then, there’s days like today in the middle of my winter. The sun starts to shine a little bit brighter. The air isn’t so harsh, so I breathe it in deeply. The smell of hope, of possibility, of what’s to come…it’s all there. I know the winter will come back, and I’m so thankful that my Savior walks through it with me. But for now, I’m relishing the sweetness of just a few hours of this precious gift. It’s almost as if Jesus is saying to my unsteady heart, “It’s okay to hope again.” 

http://youtu.be/Bco4kmBHEKQ (If my words have been nothing more than jumbled thoughts, take a few minute and listen to this song that I’ve listened to dozens of times over the past months.) 
Spring is coming. 

He is big enough for my grief. 

November 1, 2015

I’ve been feeling a press to write for a few weeks now. My journal has had a few pages filled, but not many  and this space has been silent. Today, I tried to push it away again by shopping and Netflix. But I couldn’t shake the push this time. So here I am, frail words and all, trying to piece together my thoughts and feelings. 

This season has been so heavy. Almost two months ago now, my baby niece, Cora met Jesus before she had the chance to take her first breath here on earth. Grief is so unpredictable. One moment you can be just fine, and then the next moment, the pain presses in so deep that it’s hard to breathe. Yesterday was one of those moments, all day long. As I cried through the songs at church, I could sense the presence of Jesus drawing me near once again. I was talking to a friend afterward trying to explain away my sadness. She gently said to me, “You know, it’s okay to be sad.” 

She was right. Sometimes I fight this internal battle brought on by the belief that God is tired of me being sad and that I just need to get back to life as usual.  I think about dear friends who have lost parents or siblings and I think “My grief surely isn’t as big as theirs. I need to suck it up and not be stuck in this place of grief.” 

How silly of me to compare my grief with someone else’s. What a lie from the enemy to think that a God is tired of hearing about my sadness over and over. He’s not. He is big enough for this. He is big enough to handle the weight of my grief, the ache of my heart and the feelings that come in the midst of loss. Even in the times when I struggle and bring my questions and anger to Him {and oh how I wish that I didn’t doubt Him…} there He is again, with His Father’s heart, telling me that He knows. He knows my grief. He knows my anger. He knows my heart…and He says that he is big enough for it; that there’s nothing too hard for Him. He is eating to be my place of refuge and of solace. He is drawing me near. 

One of the passages of Scripture that has been so precious to me is one that I have known for most of my life. I sat in my parents’ porch swing the day of Cora’s funeral and said it through tears: 

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You annoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)

Jesus is the comforter of my soul. There is nothing too hard for Him. In the moments of my greatest weakness, He remains faithful. 

“Though I cannot have the answer that I’m wanting to demand, I’ll remember You are God and everything is in Your hand. In your hands you hold the dunk the moon, the stars up in the sky, for the sake of love you hung your own Son on the cross to die. You are faithful, yes You are faithful. When you give and when You take away, even then still Your name is faithful. And with everything inside of me, I am choosing to believe- You are faithful. (You Are Faithful- Steven Curtis Chapman) 

Moving

June 17, 2015

I think there is something to be said about the walls and the rooms and the spaces that we call our home. No, those walls can’t speak and the rooms certainly can’t can’t be our companions. But in a way, the places where we live see the best and worst of us. If our homes could talk, I’m sure they would have a story to tell.

I’m moving out of my very first “big girl” apartment in two days to a new place just down the road. When I moved here, I was a newly minted graduate, ready to jump into teaching, without a house church, and missing the friends who had become family through my years of college. These walls, floors, and rooms saw the best and worst of me in those days that turned into months, that have now turned to years. If this little apartment could talk, oh, it would have some stories to tell. This space has been precious to me. It has been a hiding place from the difficulties surrounding me, a center of solace from a long day, a couch full of friends and laughter, and a table full of tears as I muddled through some dark seasons. This place has been a refuge- a small spot to pray and sing, throw dance parties with myself, and take Sunday afternoon naps. It’s where I celebrated some of my life’s biggest joys and walked through some of my toughest days and nights. These walls and rooms that I’ve called my own have been a grace. And despite this home’s many imperfections and the many times I recall saying “I can’t wait to move!” this move to a new place is being met with a heart full of bittersweet feelings. Nostalgia is thick around me as I look at my now empty walls and sit on my mattress on the floor. The things that have made this place “mine” have been packed into bags and boxes, waiting to be put on a truck and driven to a different space. A new refuge. A new spot to laugh and cry and read and nap and eat my weight in Oreos.

In spite of the nostalgia and memories in this place that bring tears to my eyes even as I type- I’m thankful. I’m thankful that Jesus gave me this place for a season. I’m thankful that He allowed me to grow and change and be stretched and be humbled. I’m thankful for these walls and rooms, and yes even my ancient window air conditioner and coin operated laundry facilities, because I know that in this space, I grew to know Him more. I know that He has shaped my heart in my time in this little home and I am confident, because He is faithful, that He will continue to do just the same in the next space that He places me in.

So I think I’ll sit here for a little while longer tonight, maybe blinking back a few nostalgic tears, listening to that window air conditioner hum, being thankful for this season, and anticipating His work in the season to come.

God is good.

Running the race

February 16, 2015

I had the day off today (thank you presidents, past, present and future!) so in typical Amy fashion, I made a cup of coffee and planted myself in front of the morning news. I half-listened to the stories- SNL recaps, gas prices, the attack in Denmark…when I was drawn to a news story about a runner.

The runner, a 29 year old woman from Kenya was running in the Austin Marathon when unexpectedly, her body just gave out. Her legs quit working. She had trouble breathing. She was literally on her hands and knees, crawling to the finish line, vomit coming out of her mouth, shaking off every person that tried to offer her help. Here’s the thing that struck me the most about her in the clip that was on the news…

She never took her eyes off the finish line.

There were people cheering around her and others trying to help. She was crawling on asphalt for miles, obviously weary and worn. But her eyes were dead locked onto that finish line and she was NOT going to give in. She had one goal: finish the race. And that’s exactly what she did.

The runner didn’t start the race anticipating being struck with hardship. In fact, she was an experienced runner, and well-trained to handle a 26.2 mile race. But then, trial came. For whatever reason, she was suddenly faced with the unexpected and she had to make a choice. Would she quit? Or, would she finish and gain the prize she had worked so hard for?

As followers of Christ, we’re also running a race. Our prize is Christ. This race isn’t without hardship or suffering. We can train for it- spending time in the Word and in prayer, surrounding ourselves in community with other believers and being intentional about our obedience to Him, building our spiritual endurance as Scripture calls us to do. But even the most trained runner has a breaking point. Even a runner who runs miles and miles every day has to stop sometime. We’re human. Things happen. A job is lost. A relationship is broken. An unexpected death occurs. All of a sudden, there we are- a trained athlete, crawling on the ground, gasping for breath. We have a choice right then, don’t we? We can throw up our hands and say “I quit! This is too hard!” We can take the way of the world, the ones who offer us a brief solace for our pain, by burying it in something that won’t satisfy.

Or, we can fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We can forget what is behind and strain forward to what is ahead. Unlike this young woman, though, we don’t have to rely on our own strength to pick us off the ground and get us to the finish line. When our legs give out, when our hearts are broken and we cry out, “I can’t take this anymore!”, Jesus says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” Our Savior comes to us and instead of giving us a temporary fix, he asks us to learn from Him and to walk with him. He walks beside us and guides us so that we don’t have to bear the weight of this life on our own. He allows us to keep our eyes on that prize- Himself- all the while guiding us and allowing us to find rest in Him. What a beautiful paradox- taking something heavy on, only to find true rest. And in that rest, we press on toward the goal. Oh, it’s hard- there are days where we want out of that yoke. We think we’d be better off back where we were, on the ground, crawling inch by inch, refusing any help. But even if we wrestle our way out of that sweet yoke, God doesn’t abandon us to our own selves. He walks alongside, waiting for us to lay aside our pride and stubborn rebellion and once again come back to His yoke of rest.

Finish well. He is worth it.

images-2

{image from kingdompen.com}

Plans

August 31, 2014

“I would have never chosen this for myself.”

Does anyone else resonate with that statement? Whether it’s a difficult job, a relationship struggle, a living situation that’s just not working out, or a health crisis that’s left you broken- there’s many things in this life that we would never choose for ourselves.

I’ve heard it said before that the reason why God doesn’t reveal to us his full plan for our lives, but only gives it to us in bits and pieces at a time, is because if we knew the entirety of it, we would turn around and run the other way. It would terrify us. We would be kicking and screaming and saying, “No!” Whether that holds any truth or not, I don’t know, but this I’m sure of- if left to my flesh, I would probably want to tell God, “Nope. You’ve got it all wrong. Would you like to see my idea of how I think my life should go? In fact, you’re already a bit late to the program.”

You see, there’s so many things that I thought that I would have figured out, or checked off my life “to-do” list by now. Yet many of them have not come to pass, nor seem to be anywhere near to the moment I’m living in now. My entitlement that is engrained in my flesh is that of a two year old toddler throwing a tantrum. “Why haven’t you done this for me, God? Don’t you see that I’m serving you? Don’t you see that I have given this over to you? Why don’t you see that? Why aren’t you honoring that?”

But then, slowly and surely, I see it. He does see. He is honoring the sacrifices that, in light of His ultimate sacrifice, are so small, yet seem earth shattering to me. He is answering. It’s just not how I had wanted it to be. It’s just not how I would have done things.

It’s hard to be faithful where you are, when life looks so much better from the pictures that others post. It’s hard to be faithful where you are, when things get difficult, relationships get messy and there’s tension where there once was openness. It’s hard to be faithful where you are, when you look ahead to what little you can see, and there just doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

Yet I’ve learned, and will ever continue to learn this little truth:

He knows.

When it feels like He doesn’t know your heartache- hold on. He does. He hasn’t left you.

When it feels like He’s not going to provide- hold on. He will. It may just not be how you would have thought.

When you’re discouraged and questioning everything you’ve worked towards- hold on. He knows you bette than you know yourself.

So, though I never would have chosen this life I find myself in on my own, I rest secure knowing that the One who has chosen it for me knows what will be best for my good and His glory.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Rest

June 12, 2014

When was the last time you really rested? Not slept, not napped, not binged on Netflix and took a day off “rested”…I mean, truly, deeply, inhaled who you are in Christ and exhaled peace. 

We run ourselves ragged, only to collapse in a heap and mumble Matthew 11:28-30 under our breath. “Lord, I’m really burdened and weary here…I could use some rest! I’m taking your yoke…yada yada yada…” And there we lie, in a place of at least trying to “rest” with the Lord, sometimes for just a moment, sometimes for days. But we always seem to get back up and get right back to where we were, don’t we? Duties call, relationships need working on, errands need to get run, and the Lord gets put on the backburner until we find ourselves scraping the bottom again. 

I am so guilty of this. 

I don’t think Jesus wants us to stop everything we’re doing, read Scripture, sing some songs, pray, tell Him, “Look at me, I’m resting!” and then move on. I think that taking those intentional times out are so needed in our walk with Christ just as a period of refreshment and fellowship with Him. But I think even more-so, we are called to a lifestyle of rest- resting in who He is and who we are in Him. Resting doesn’t always look like being still. Resting may look like choosing to say, “I am His” when doubt creeps in and you wonder if anyone sees you. Resting may look like choosing to remind yourself that Christ has already done everything we need to gain approval from God. Rest may look like taking a minute, reading or reciting Scripture to yourself before having that difficult conversation. 

I was chatting with a friend about life and rest the other day and as I was driving home reflecting on our conversation, I got a picture in my mind of exactly what the Lord is trying to teach me about rest. I was laying in a field- a green, lush, beautiful field that was swaying in the breeze. It was the picture of calm and tranquility. I could almost feel the cool blades of grass brush up against my skin as I pictured it. All around the field, however, was pure chaos. People fighting, wars waging, things being thrown…madness. But here’s the thing- I couldn’t hear it. I knew that it must have been loud- I could see the expression on people’s faces and I could see things flying and exploding in the air. But I couldn’t hear it. And oddly enough, as chaotic as it was around the field, I really paid no mind to it. I was at peace. Nothing could phase this sweet place of rest I had found myself in. 

I’m reminded of the sweet Psalm of David where he writes, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Ps. 23) In the midst of whatever may be going on in your life, you can find rest. It doesn’t even require you to stop and collapse in a heap. All it takes is a choice. Am I going to rest in the sufficiency of Christ today, or am I going to try to earn my salvation? Am I going to rest in who the Lord says that I am or am I going to be concerned about what others are thinking and saying? Am I going to worship Jesus in the trial or am I going to try and find a way to fix it on my own? 

Several weeks ago I wrote these words, as simple as they are, out of a place of rest after fighting it for so long. I wanted to create it on my own so I tossed and turned and strived and fought…and came up empty handed. It was only when I rested in Jesus that He was able to redeem the broken places of my life and make me glad once again.

 

When tempests roar, and oceans rise

My weary bones head for demise

You lift my head, You comfort me

Jesus, you have made me glad

 

Oh my soul, rest in Christ

For You are my great delight

So my heart, it will be still

For you have made me glad

 

And when I’m weak, You’ve made me strong

When I compare, You come along

So my soul cries out your name

Jesus, you have made me glad

 

No greater love, no greater joy

You are my Father

You take my pain, You call my name

Jesus, Savior

 

And when the rain turns to sun

And when dark days are finally done

My song it shall forever be

Jesus, you have made me glad