The Quiet Truth

I was 8 months pregnant when I learned that my baby had stopped growing. A routine check up was ending at the hospital, with the news that I had to be induced. Immediately.

My mind was a web of shock and disbelief. My voice trembling, I asked the attending physician if there was no other option but delivery. Wasn’t there a way to give my son more time to grow?

What she said next sounded cold and harsh: “What’s the point? The baby isn’t growing. You have to get it out.”

I was already drowning in the cacophony my fear was making with other loud emotions. But I made enough space to be offended by her subzero delivery.

And that’s how I nearly missed it: the quiet truth of trauma.

The hidden truth in her question was that my baby’s health was the priority. His safety was the point. Not me. Not my feelings. Not what would make *me* feel better about (or in control of) the situation.

Her statements cloaked another truth: My perfect ending—the one I mapped out so often in my head—isn’t necessarily what’s best. What I see as the safest haven can quickly become the fowler’s snare. As informed as I think I am, God will always catch that kind of change before I do. However noisy life gets, I need to be in tune with Him at every turn, so I know when it’s time to adjust (or abandon) my plan.

In the roaring seas of sudden illness, loss, broken relationships (or a full year of bad news), the truths we need are waiting. Quietly. They won’t shout to be heard… but they won’t drown either.

We have to take a deep breath and dive past the surface, past our emotions and selfish desires, past our trauma to see the truths it delivered.

A Lesson of Atlantic Proportions

You know what genuine peace looks like? Birds floating on the seaweed-plagued shores of the temperamental Atlantic.

They’re not ruffled by noxious, rotting seaweed or waves that temporarily force them into the air every 20 seconds. They’ll just wait for things to calm down enough to settle and float again, then they’ll ride and rock with those waves again, dipping their beaks in the ocean, preening their feathers in the morning light.

The Atlantic’s waves are tenacious, though, and they won’t give up.

But neither will those birds because they understand some things I’m still trying to master:

  1. Those who conquer must learn to confront (and sometimes co-exist with) the unpleasant, smelly things we can’t control.
  2. True peace doesn’t mean we’re never displaced or ruffled; it means we’ve learned the art of settling down quickly after a wave.
  3. Life is an ocean, with its own salty moods and tides, phases and seasons; it won’t always follow our plan or fit our understanding. That’s why we can’t lean on our understanding to navigate it. But there’s no law preventing us from riding the waves, trusting the One who’s always kept us afloat.

Even at its messiest, life offers the chance to find our space, own it, and enjoy it as best we can. That choice comes with a Peace that isn’t just for the birds. It’s for anyone who’ll find their place in this Ocean—and simply refuse to let it go.

The Road

It’s beautiful over there.

In muted defeat, she admits it…and a forgotten weakness greets her: she cannot resist a beauty that cannot last.

She allows herself this moment–just a moment, so her eyes can flirt with Heaven. But her feet won’t leave the asphalt.

Not this time.

She is smarter now; she knows her road and it will hold her, warm and solid, even in the rain. It won’t confuse her with shapes and hues she can’t describe.

Not like that soft place where colours melt into each other, whispering plans of a future, a hope she’d tried to forget.

The moment ends and her eyes are on the road again. This is her life. Studying her sneakered feet and the thorny trees ahead, she turns her back on the fire. She has made peace with her path.

The fire should respect that and leave her alone; stop pulling her back, reminding her, tempting her, showing her more, making her weak…

She knows the road. She trusts the road. And turning around, she follows it into the fire.

The Puppy

During this morning’s commute, we saw a puppy running through a field. It shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I couldn’t stop glancing over at that dog. His fur laid back in the wind, mouth open just wide enough to suck in all the oxygen he could—that dog ran like his life depended on it.

No, he wasn’t being pursued; didn’t seem scared, threatened, or hurt.

But his collar and the leash that was flying behind him told me all I needed to know. That puppy knew that he was finally free. And as he embraced that freedom with all he had, I tried to embrace the lesson.

See, I have this tendency to see limitations: what I didn’t get in childhood, the time/opportunities I missed, what I suffered, and the far-off things I worry about—the hundreds of thorny what-if’s that grow in my field of vision.

But that puppy reminded me today that although we can’t always escape our leashes—our clingy, persistent things—we don’t have to surrender our freedom to them, either. Despite their presence, we can still run free. We can suck in every opportunity to enjoy the life we’ve been given.

So, I just stopped by to remind you: Don’t spend all your time worrying, anxious, trying to grab the specious life you think you see “over there”. Those leashes and collars will choke real life out of you (Mark 4:19), until you can’t see what’s in front of you: the life you are free to enjoy right now.

See, true freedom is valuing and being present in every moment we have. So, don’t settle for reminiscing on a time you barely remember. Be present now. Enjoy your friends, family, children, life, gifts, time, freedom… now.

Even with your leash sailing in the wind, my friend—live like you know you’re finally free (John 8:36).

Foundations

The first step to building a three-story structure is to dig a hole. Going underground in order to go higher doesn’t make sense—unless you understand construction.

Choosing the smallest thing that the huge tree offers and burying it doesn’t make sense, either—unless you understand basic horticulture.

Everything you do won’t be understood by those around you. If they don’t understand foundations, things that make perfect sense in the long run will look silly when you start.

But build anyway, plant anyway. It may seem crazy, but you don’t know what a big deal it will turn out to be. You don’t need to be understood now, to explain it now, or prove it now. For now, just keep digging. Plant the seed now.

Later, the fruit will speak for itself.

The Seat Belt Sign

I’ve noticed that pilots and flight attendants don’t have the same energy when the flight is over as they did when I first sat down. They’re still polite, yes. But I always feel like their hurried “thanks-for-choosing-us/have-a-good-time” wishes don’t quite reflect what we shared while I was buckled in.

I don’t take it personally, though.  

Taking me to my destination is their job. Once the “fasten your seat belt” sign goes off, that’s everyone’s cue that the job is over and it’s time to part ways. No lingering conversations, no offers of another ride.

The same is true of rejections, mistakes, betrayals, losses…; life’s hurts are vehicles that will always take me somewhere. But when their job is over, I have to get out and explore the new place I’ve landed and its new levels of understanding, wisdom, confidence, truth….

As daunting as our new place may look, we can’t stay strapped into what was just a vehicle. We can’t linger around forever, grieving, regretting, hurting, hating…. We don’t need any more rides. When the seat belt sign comes off, so should we.

The Pond

It started so simply, I nearly missed it—the most sobering conversation of my adult life so far.

Last night, my son, Matt, was lamenting how long it was taking to have his old keyboard instrument repaired and returned to him. I was confused because he seemed so attached to the new one we’d bought him. I asked if he’d prefer to use the old one again when it’s fixed.

Noooo!” he exclaimed. He insisted that the new keyboard was a huge upgrade, detailing some of its techy bells and whistles.

On a whim, I asked if he’d missed any of those functions while he was using the old keyboard.

“Not really,” he said, half-smiling. “I loved that keyboard.”

I finally understood. He was attached to it now for the same reason he didn’t know its shortcomings then: it was his first keyboard.

That led to a conversation about what it’s like when what we have is all we know.

“It’s like fish in a pond,” I mused. “They think the pond is everything because they’ve never seen a lake. If you take them to a lake, they’ll think it’s everything because they’ve never seen a river. And river fish think it’s everything until they get to the ocean…”

Matt replied, “So we’re all like fish in a pond. We don’t know what we’re missing yet.”

What happened next was pure Holy Spirit.

His point took us from fish to a discussion on dating at his age, my adolescent years, marriage, spiritual growth, his observations of my growth as a parent, his feelings on abortion, God’s Grace, and humility.

Man, I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t expecting that conversation to still be with me as I got ready for bed. I wasn’t expecting it to be confirmation of something I’d talked to God about earlier that night. I wasn’t expecting the revelations and applications that hit me in the shower this morning. I wasn’t expecting it to be the clarity I’d been praying about for years.

The relationship that seemed like a waste of my whole life at 19, was just a pond.

The God-fearing man I met and married after that relationship imploded in my 20’s, was just a pond.

The maturity and character I’d witnessed in that man when we battled Matt’s 35% chance of survival at birth, was just a pond.

The times I struggle with my God-given purpose, doubting my abilities as wife and mother, are just a pond.

Watching our son grow and mature in service to the Lord, in his music ministry, becoming our church’s interim organist this month at age 15—as awesome as that is, and as grateful as I am for the Grace that’s brought us here—it’s just a pond.

At my highest highs and lowest lows, God has proven that He always has more in store. Better days have always followed.

So whether this season of your life is a rough one or your best one yet, I pray for you the humility to see the bigger picture. In the tough seasons of life, marriage and parenting, hold on. It’s just a pond; better days are up ahead. In your victories and successes, stay humble. It’s just a pond; better days are up ahead. Whatever season you’re in now, this isn’t the end—not by a long shot. There’s more because eye has not seen nor ear heard the things that your Father has prepared for you (1 Cor. 2:9). So, in your rejoicing and in your weeping, know that God isn’t done with you yet. Keep expecting the God of your ancestors to increase you a thousand times more (Deut. 1:11) than this pond.

And when He does…when you just can’t imagine it being any better, remember that you still don’t know what you’re missing yet. The One Who gave up everything for you says it’s still just a pond.

Mid-week Message

This is your mid-week reminder to keep it light. That includes your entertainment choices, because you’d be surprised how they can influence your mood and play with your emotions. Maybe now isn’t the best time for that dark mystery where everybody dies in the end (a hard lesson from my last movie night choice. Epic fail.).

Depression is a sneaky animal, so heaviness and negativity in your spirit is risky right now. Internet drama might be entertaining, but it’s probably not wise to have all that toxicity parading up and down your timeline all the time. Facebook’s ‘Snooze’ service offers multiple free uses. The ‘Block’ feature available on many social media sites is also complimentary. (Just saying.)

Not everything that’s attractive, accessible, and familiar is best for you in this Season. Read that again because it might be the reason you ended up here, my friend.

You’re welcome.

Do You Not Perceive It?

Last year, when churches were locked down, I pined for the privilege of lifting my voice with others—all of us worshiping in one accord. I was eager to return to God’s House, and when the restrictions were lifted, I did. This past Sunday, with new limitations of 25 people per service, my invitation to attend should have been great news.

But I hesitated. This was neither fear of exposure nor the Sunday-morning lethargy that shows up every now and then; I couldn’t sanitize or pray this away.

Maybe God is about to say something that will change everything.

I dragged myself out of the house anyway, suddenly thinking about that “new thing” scripture that pastors and prophets have been talking about this year. Starting the car, I wondered what new thing might spring up after this Season of Silence. And if we were still scurrying to adjust and react—still safe-guarding or re-inventing our old thing—how would we recognize a new one?

I can’t claim to know what God is up to. He never seems anxious to divulge details…but what if this time, it’s different? What if the silence is to help us perceive His direction; His path through the wilderness?

Maybe God is about to say something that will change everything

So maybe, right now, worship in one accord is all of us being still—and listening for His voice.

Isaiah 43:19

Majestic

This weekend I remembered a netball match I saw at least 7 years ago. One team had a huge player: 16 years old, 6 feet tall. The other team was made up of mostly adult women, but none came close to this girl in size or presence.

She was majestic.

In the first 2 minutes of the game, I witnessed an attack on this girl by one of the shorter women on the other team. She ran at this girl hard; the unexpected impact almost knocked the teen to the ground. I knew why. By the end of the game, we all did.

But the assault bewildered the huge girl. She looked at the woman with a surprised hurt I will never forget—like she just couldn’t understand why. And for the rest of the game, she avoided an opponent half her size…which eventually cost her team a victory that had pretty much belonged to them in the beginning.

If we’re not careful, we’ll make the same mistake.

The enemy’s tactics are designed to keep you bewildered and licking your wounds. Listen: I know that thing came hard for you. I know it was a dirty, unfair move. I know it cost you something last time you tried and I know it still hurts. But I’m telling you with love, friend: that’s not a reason to bow out. You don’t know what’s riding on your finishing…or where this round will lead. So get up again, love. Shake it off and try again because you have a God who breaks rules for you, too. And He says this Victory is yours because His Power is within you, and that makes you…Majestic.