It is written, “A man’s mind plans his way but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.” (Proverbs 16:9)
My beloved, I’m in complete and total control of your life right now and in the future. Let this bring comfort and assurance for your weary soul. Nothing can separate you from the love I have for you. Not only do I direct your steps, but I also make your steps sure.
Let that sink in.
Let that be nourishment for your hungry, longing soul.
No, you can’t understand my ways. But you can trust and rest in my promises.
It is written, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is a funny holiday to celebrate, because we’re called to give thanks every day, in ALL circumstances. That means even when we’re in the dark, and we can’t see how God is at work, we give thanks.
Here’s a simple list to get us started. I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for, too! Let’s start with the small things, because truly, there is so much!
I’m thankful for waking up today.
For the ability to breath and walk and laugh.
I’m thankful for fresh air. That when I walk outside I feel safe.
I’m thankful for other people. Old friends with whom I share a history and strangers whom I have yet to meet.
I’m thankful that I can trust people, because I trust myself.
I’m thankful for clean drinking water and that I never have to worry about when my next meal will be.
I’m thankful that I have a warm place to sleep at night and a roof over my head…
Okay, your turn!
It is written, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
My precious child, I love you. I love to shower blessings upon you. To listen and respond to the cries of your heart. The joy I offer can’t be taken from you. So keep your eyes on me and delight yourself in all that I am doing in your life. This way, people will see your joy and wonder where it comes from. You’ll set an example of what it’s like to know me.
Child, your faith is a gift more precious than gold. To share your faith and its fruit, is to offer a precious gift to those around you who may not yet know my joy.
I call upon you to give thanks in ALL circumstances. To be joyful ALWAYS. Because even challenging circumstances present you with the opportunity to grow closer to me. Because even in the midst of uncertainty, I am near. And I have come so that you may have life, and have it to the fullest. This is my promise to you. And my word is good.
It is written, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
My beloved, you are tired and say, “Lord! I’m depleted!” But have I not promised to renew your strength? Indeed, I am the God of renewal. Walk with me and you will not grow faint, run with me and you will not grow weary. Rest in I am.
No man goes without rest. Not even my Son, the perfect man. Rest breaks are my opportunity to renew your strength. So don’t confuse your need for renewal, with exhaustion.
Trust that I am handling all of those things that you fear you won’t get to, if you pause. Pause with me. And your strength will be renewed. That is my promise. And my word is good.
10 years ago today was the hardest day of my life. The day my life forever changed. I barely remember the flights that took me from Los Angeles to Raleigh. I alternated between sobbing and passing out the whole way. I remember a woman who sat beside me on the first plane. She lost her husband in Afghanistan and said, “I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t get easier.” I sobbed harder.
I remember waiting for my luggage at baggage claim and a man who smelled like cigarettes handing me a $2 bill and saying, “Just know that you are loved.” I still have the $2 bill.
I got married a few months ago. I gave my girl friends custom made tumblers with the words, “You are so loved,” written in cursive on the side.
Last night, my husband and I played guitar and worked on a painting for our new house, while Bob Marley played in the background and our dog snoozed on the couch.
It reminded me of those first few months, ten years ago. I spent a lot of time painting then. I didn’t know what else to do. The painting was healing for me. A way to momentarily forget about reality. Something I could do without having to think. Thinking was so painful. The next few years, whenever June 11th rolled around, I’d paint.
It’s just by happen chance, (is there such a thing?), that I was painting again last night. The memories are still painful, of course, but over time, June 11th has lost its grip on me.
I don’t know why we have to lose people we love, but I can tell you this: The woman on the first flight was wrong. It does get easier. Jibrey was right in what he often said, life does go on. And the cigarette smelling mystery man at RDU baggage claim was right, too. We must never forget that we are so, so loved.
How else do we bring glory to God,
if not by having hope in a world sown with fear?
…If not by remaining calm in a sea of chaos
…If not by knowing peace in the midst of uncertainty,
how else do we bring glory to God?
If we don’t offer kindness in a society full of hate
…If we don’t act with gentleness in a world that pursues power
…If we don’t call upon His name, sing His praises, and dance in worship,
how else do we bring glory to God?
If we don’t use whatever gift we have, with all the strength God gives, to serve others,
how else do we bring glory to God?
“Everyone is God speaking.
Why not be polite
and listen to Him?”
Why does God let us hurt? Why does He bring us people or animals to love when He knows we’re going to lose them?
Maybe because we don’t love people or animals simply because we’re going to have them forever. We love them because loving them changes us. It makes us better, kinder, healthier, more real. Even if people leave us, or animals die, loving them still makes us better.
So we keep loving. Even though we’re going to lose. Because loving teaches us and changes us, and that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to become better lovers and to learn how to be loved. So when we get to heaven, we’ll be prepared for the place where everyone loves each other perfectly.
There are really two ways of going about our day to day lives.
Either we’re striving and trying to maintain control (a fruitless effort, by the way, which leaves us exhausted). Or we’re relinquishing control to God, and trusting that He will bring us what we need each day.
There’s a distinct and noticeable difference between how good our days are, depending on which mode of being in which we’re acting.
When we’re striving, the people around us can tell. It says to them that there is something more important which we need to accomplish. Something more important than being present with them and letting God work. When we’re trusting God with all of our needs and desires, we’re at rest. And people around us can see this, too. They wonder how we’ve found such peace within the whirlwind of our daily lives. We’re a living testament of what it’s like to know God.
What it really boils down to, is that all of our striving and trying to gain control, makes the statement: “I don’t trust God.” And that hurts Him.
He’s already proven to us His goodness, grace, and love. Why would we not trust Him to take care of us on a daily basis?
Life becomes so much easier when we learn to let go, and let God. With every single aspect of our lives.
You may or may not have noticed that since my beloved dog Ziggy passed away last August, I’ve barely been writing on this blog. I’m not sure if the two correlate but their timing matches up.
Earlier this year, I wrote about how we really ought to be forming new year habits rather than new year resolutions. Well, one of my new year habits is to write more.
Back in November, I adopted another dog. His name is Capone. He resembles Ziggy in his stature and coloring, but his personality is quiet different.
Capone is fearless. He spent the first few months of his life transferring hands from adopters to shelter employees to foster families, before finally arriving to me. He loves all people. At the adoption events, he became used to many different sounds and smells, all sorts of other animals, and humans both young and old. He’s a joy to take out in public because he makes everyone he meets feel like the most important person in the world, smothering them with hugs and kisses.
He doesn’t require much exercise at all or even training. For one, he’s a low energy dog and much prefers snuggling to running. For two, he’s extremely sensitive to commands and thus picks up quickly whenever I’m teaching him new ones.
In short, Capone is everything I could have ever hoped for in a dog. He’s perfect for me. And when I look at him, I can’t help but be reminded of God’s grace and goodness. That no matter how devastating a loss, God turns all things for good. And often, for better than we could have even imagined.