Category Archives: Love

Joy, Where Are You?

Some mornings I can barely find the energy to get out of bed. I’m exhausted and worn out and in pain and I simply don’t want to do anything but lay there. This morning was one of those mornings. My alarm clock (AKA, my children) started screaming in my ears and I had to get up and face the world. Before I could even get out of bed, the girls were already dressed for church and chattering in their fastest, most excited voices about what they might do at church today. So, begrudgingly, I got up, showered, and got ready for church.
And I’m glad I did. 

We sang some of my favorite Christmas songs, which immediately lifted my mood a bit.

  

“I rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel.”

Today’s sermon was titled, “Joy” and based on Luke 2:8-20. My first thought, from anxious and depressed mind was, “oh great, joy. That’s the last thing I want to talk about right now.” But that’s exactly why I needed to hear it. 

Luke‬ ‭2:8-20‬ ‭ESV

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 

“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

So apparently, joy is command. My pastor opened up the sermon with that and all I could think was, “great, we’re starting the morning off with something I suck at.” But as he kept talking, I understood it more. God doesn’t want me to have fake joy, like the fake smile I tend to plaster on my face when I tell everyone I’m doing great. But God wants me to a real, genuine joy – the kind that only He can give me; the kind that comes from being awestruck by an amazing God. 

  

Let me be real here for a minute, the last few weeks I have been stuck in a cycle of sadness and feeling sorry for myself. I’m having brain surgery in four days and I’m scared – really scared, about all the “what ifs” and things that could possibly go wrong. I really haven’t felt much joy at all. I haven’t been praying. I haven’t been reading my Bible. I’ve just been quietly simmering with anger at God for not making me healthy. But the more I’ve ignored God, the worse I’ve felt. The more I’ve pushed Him away, the angrier I’ve gotten. My joy has been nonexistent.

I feel like an outsider in this world, like I just don’t belong anywhere. I have some wonderful friends and great church family – but often, I just feel different, like I don’t fit in with anyone. I feel lost. My pastor’s first point today was that joy is for the outsiders. We explained how God sent His angels to the shepherds, of all people. He could’ve sent the angels to someone powerful, like a king or ruler, but He didn’t. He sent them to shepherds – to the outsiders. 

In the same way, in our current society, God doesn’t come only for the “insiders.” He doesn’t come just for the powerful and popular – He comes for the outsiders. But here’s the thing, if you really think about it – we’re all outsiders. None of us in this world are insiders; we are all OUTSIDE of Heaven. And my pastor made a good point, even the people who I look at and think have it together and appear to fit in so well – even they struggle with feeling like outsiders, it simply part of being human. And we all feel like no one else feels the way we do so none of us talk about it; but if we did, we would know we weren’t alone. 

  

So in acknowledging that others feel like outsiders as well and many of us never speak of it, how well do I reflect God to others? How well do I reflect God’s love to those who feel like they don’t belong?

The second point that my pastor made today was that joy comes from Heaven. We don’t create joy from within ourselves. I can be sad or depressed or going through a rough time and still feel joy in my heart. God is perfect and Holy and separate from us, but He is also imminent and close through Jesus. 

The glory and power of God reassuring, but it should also leave a healthy fear in us. When the angels came to the shepherds, they were scared because they felt unworthy of their holiness. But the angels told them not to be afraid, for they had new that would bring great joy. The birth of Jesus brings us joy by reminding us that even though we may be going through a rough time now, even though we’re scared, even though we feel lost, even though life is hard – a savior has come to save us. 
How much different would my life be if I believed, I mean rally believed deep in my heart, that Jesus came down from Heaven for me? 

  

Lastly, my pastor touched on having joy in the valley – this was, I felt, the most fitting part for me today. I’ve had “mountaintop experiences” – times where God’s love and glory are so apparent that I am in awe and filled with joy. The goal is to live out the joy from those mountain top experiences while we’re in the valley. God wants me to treasure His words in my heart and live my life in faith. It doesn’t sounds THAT difficult. But when you’re in the valley, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative – the fear, worry, pain, and anxiety. But God calls us to remember the things we know to be true, to remember the mountaintop, remember what His closeness feels like – those are the things that will bring us joy in the valley. 

Each day that God gives me in a gift and I should rejoice in every day – even the days when I’m in the valley. 

So let me rephrase my current thoughts and worries…

  

I’m having brain surgery in four days. I may be scared, but even if the worst happens – if I were to die, I would go Home to Jesus and have no more pain. If it’s successful, I will stop going blind and my vision will be saved. If something goes wrong and I come out of surgery with some type of disability, God will use that to glorify Him. I am scared and I really don’t want to go through with it. But just like He always does, God has me in the palm of His hand and whatever happens will not be a surprise to Him, He already knows and He will care for and provide for me no matter what.

I simply need to trust Him and find my joy in Him, not in this world.


Expect the Unexpected

It’s so frustrating when life takes an unexpected turn that you weren’t prepared for. This past week has been a rough one for me – for our whole family. Emotions are swirling around me in a chaotic whirlwind and I’ve simply been trying to keep my head above water.

Over this past weekend, we had to make the very hard decision to put down our precious puppy dog. He’s such a sweet boy and we love him dearly. He’s great with the kids and he’s so loving and affectionate and we are so heart broken to have to say good bye.

After spending most of Sunday in tears over having to make this decision, Monday turned out to not be much better.

Monday, my husband called me to inform me that he was going to be deploying soon…VERY soon. My heart sank and I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. It was like someone had reached into my chest and literally stolen the breath right out of my lungs. I sat in my car and sobbed as I was just overwhelmed by fear. I called a friend, and I’m pretty sure she probably had a hard time understanding me through my hysterical sobs. I tend to live and die by my emotions, so I’m very thankful for friends who are willing to interrupt my chaotic feelings with truth and reason (even though I would never admit that to them).

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Now that I’ve calmed down over the initial shock of re-entering into a season of deployment, I’m beginning to understand the importance of the mission my husband is being called to do…even though I don’t like it one bit.

So then, yesterday, I went to see my surgeon for a follow up from my sesamoidectomy, almost 8 weeks ago. He is pleased with my progress and how well my foot in healing. However, I also had an ingrown toenail (in the surgery foot) that had to be cut out. I also had some concerns about some pain I was having on the top of my foot and he told me that, because I am have been walking on the side of my foot instead of evenly distributing weight through my foot, I am quickly on my way to a stress fracture if I don’t correct my gait – so I’ll be starting physical therapy next week. And if that’s not enough, he also told me that because of the drastic instability of both my ankles, he wants me to consider a brostrom procedure on both ankles to help stabilize them. I’m a bit anxious about the thought of another surgery, but I’m considering it because if I go through with it, I will be able to run again without such a high risk of injury.

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So life this week has been chaotic and I’ll be happy when things settle down. But I’m also very thankful for where I’m at and where I’ve been and how God is going to use me from here.

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Jesus, I Need You

You ever have one of those days where the enemy feels the need to remind you of every bad thing you’ve ever done in your life? Yup, today was one of those…this was my response – I had a talk with Jesus.

Jesus, I Need You
Here I stand broken
I’ve got nothing to bring
I’m holding on to the lies
Like a cat on a string
I’ve pierced my own skin
And denied Your truth
I’ve gotten lost in my mind
And I let go of You
Jesus, I need You

My stomach is empty
Poison courses my veins
My body is fading
I can’t handle this shame
You say You can reach
All the way out to me
But I feel just one step
Too far to be free
Jesus, I need You

If You know my heart
You know my evil thoughts
I once held on to You
But I let go and I’m lost
I’m trying to fight
The lies and temptations
But few things can compare
To power of starvation
Jesus, I need You

My sin is enclosing
Around my every side
The truth is fading
While I cling to the lies
I worthless and useless
You’ll never love me
The voices keep screaming
That You can’t save me
Am I too far gone
To receive Your grace
Your love and Your mercy
I’m just a disgrace
Jesus, I need You

I’m crying to You
As loud as I can
My ground has been shaken
And I can no longer stand
My voice, it cracks
As I beg You to answer
Because, Lord, if You don’t
My heart won’t endure
If You can’t save me
I have nothing left
The only choice I will have
Is to end it in death
Jesus, I need You

Then I heard Him…
“Daughter, You have me.
I’ve always been right here
So let me confront you with truth
In the midst of your fear
You are faced with two choices
Only you can make
You can wallow in pity
Or admit your mistakes
It comes down to one question
Do you believe
That I died on a cross
Nails in my hands and feet
I was scared too
Just like you are now
But even then I loved you
Enough to pour my blood out
You could never pay
The price of your own sin
My death on that cross
Is the only way You’ll see Him
I conquered death
And I took on satan
So that you could be free
From this life you are living
So tell me, is that enough
For you to trust
Will you stop fighting
And just give it up
Or are you gonna tell me
That my death was in vain
That I died on that cross
Just to feel the pain
I died for you
So that you could live
I’ve made your heart new
You’ve been forgiven
I didn’t deserve
The death I received
It was meant for you
But I took it on Me
So don’t you yet see
That I want to help you
If you’ll give me your hand
Just trust that I can rescue
You must make a choice
So what will you choose
My arms are always open
Just waiting for you.”

Jesus, I am so sorry
For my doubt and control
Please take it all
My heart, mind, and soul
I need you to heal me
I need your strength
I’m scared and confused
But I’ll trust what You say
Jesus, I need You


7-in-7 Day 7: Who am I?

I’m posting this early. Day 7 isn’t actually until tomorrow, but God laid this on my heart tonight. It’s not my usual style of writing, yet every word is deeply true.

Who am I?
Really, who am I?
I could tell you my name,
But that doesn’t answer the question.
Who am I?

I am not my age
Nor my name or my weight
I am not my past
Nor the reflection I see
I am not my mistakes
Nor the things I’ve seen

So who am I?

I am a princess
A daughter
I’m loved by a King

I am an artist
I like to create
I’ve seen hell in my life
But I’ve also seen glimpses of Heaven
I feel deeply
And I love passionately
My skin is too thin
For the hate in this world
I spew words onto paper
And empty my heart
Express how I feel
In stanzas and lines
My favorite color is purple
And there’s something about a yellow rose
That just captivates me with it’s beauty

Who am I?

I’m human
I’m a sinner
I need friends
Not a lot, maybe just one or two
To help me through life
But I’m awkward and scared
Insecure and intimidated
Too afraid that you’ll reject me
Just as soon as look at me

Who am I?

I’m not where I have been
But where I am going
I am not what I’ve done
But what I am doing
I’m learning to give love
And also to accept it.

Who am I?

I am worthy of love.


7-in-7 Day 6: Help Me

I’m at a loss for words
I just don’t know what to say
This world is broken
And I don’t know how to pray
It feels like it’s over
Like You’re not even here
I’m just trying to trust you
In this gut-wrenching fear

Life or death
That’s the question at hand
Trust and doubt
I just don’t understand
To be blind or have vision
Help me to see
I can’t see like You do
Help my unbelief

You’re holding my life
You know my every moment
Even though now
I feel so forgotten
Where is Your hand
Why aren’t You moving
If life is a war-zone
This is a battle I’m losing

Life or death
That’s the question at hand
Trust and doubt
I just don’t understand
To be blind or have vision
Help me to see
I can’t see like You do
Help my unbelief

Caught up in doubt
Confused by my fear
Are you weeping with me
I really can’t hear
I’m hoping for more
Longing for grace
Do I have faith to believe
That You’re in this place

Life or death
That’s the question at hand
Trust and doubt
I just don’t understand
To be blind or have vision
Help me to see
I can’t see like You do
Help my unbelief


7-in-7 Day 4: Hope in Redemption

She was broken
But didn’t understand why
She smiled and agreed
Looked good on the outside
She tried fitting in
So she hid her hurt
She was afraid to admit
She was getting worse
She was starving herself
She longed for beauty
She ached to be perfect
Assuming it was her duty
Who could she tell
The horrible truth
She wanted to die
She felt broken and used
Every once in a while
Someone would notice
So she’d open her heart
Just to later regret it
She wanted to be happy
She wanted to be okay
But she had accepted
She’d never see the day

That’s when she found relief
In breaking her skin
For just one moment
She’d forget the pain she was in
She would watch the blood fall
And for a moment feel strong
But that small bit of strength
Never lasted too long
So she kept on doing it
Over and over
It became an addiction
She needed more to feel better
That’s all she knew
It’s how she dealt with the pain
It bubbled up to the surface
And she pushed it away

This only lasted for a season
Until she needed a change
She had to find a better way
To hide all her shame
So alcohol and drugs
Made their way to her hands
And in those moments
She found strength to stand
But she was standing on rocks
That would soon leave her shattered
And she was left to believe
Her life never mattered

Why couldn’t she shake
This feeling of being lost
She kept trying harder
No matter the cost
She worked herself to the bone
She had to achieve more
But was this really something
She was willing to die for?

That’s when something changed
God showed her grace
She saw who He was
In light of her mistakes
His love covered her
As she dropped down in tears
His arms embraced her
And pushed out her fears
“Why do You love me?
I’ve sinned way too much.”
She cried through her tears
As she clung to His love
He replied to her gently
“You are My daughter.
There’s nothing you can say or do
To lose the love of your Father.
Yes, you have sinned
And you’ve made big mistakes.
You’re broken and human
But I offer you grace.
Come humbly to Me
Give me your life
And I’ll give you hope
A future, a life.”

So she did as He said
She laid herself down
Before the cross she bowed
And He gave her His crown
She still has her struggles
This world is still broken
But she clings to the truth
Of hope in redemption


7-in-7 Day 3: He Will Equip Me

Last night I had conversation
Trying to understand
Even when I doubt
God has a master plan
This conversation started
As most they often do
As I questioned my worth
And remembered the truth

“Why am I here?
What do you want with me?
I fail You all the time
You continue setting me free.
I’m just a broken sinner
I have nothing to offer You
I can give You my heart
But it’s been battered and bruised
You know the things
That I hide in my heart
And You know the shame
That’s torn me apart.
But You still call me
To follow Your lead
And You give me vision
That I might see.”

My Father is faithful
He’s loving and true
So it shouldn’t surprise me
That He’ll put me to use
“Your sins – I abhor them
I hate what you’ve seen
But the hurt that you’ve felt
Is what brought you to Me.
I’ve cried when you’ve cried
I’ve offered my love
My precious child
You are enough.
You won’t understand
The depth of My grace
All you need is love
And a child-like faith.
Love others like Me
Share the hope that you’ve found
Don’t wander this life
Without making a sound.
Your feelings will change
But I never do
Give Me your life
And I will equip you.”


Tragedy at Fort Hood

I remember when I was in 8th grade, there was a shooting at my sister’s high school – the school I would go to the following year. It was a terrifying experience. I remember some of my friends parents didn’t want them to go to that school anymore because of the shooting, but others were saying, “if it already happened once, it won’t happen again.”

Now, as the wife of a Fort Hood soldier, I can say that horrible, tragic things, like a shooting, can happen twice in the same place. You never think that something like this is going to happen once, definitely not twice. I mean, really, what were the odds?

Yesterday, as shots rang out on Fort Hood, I found myself thinking back to that school shooting thirteen years ago. I remembered how scared I was then for my sister as I wiped away my tears for my husband. My husband was okay – under lockdown on post. He was safe, but all I wanted was to have him home and put my arms around him. There are few things as heartbreaking and paralyzing as the thought that I’ll never see my beloved again.

As an Army wife, I’m prone to worry. I’m no stranger to the thoughts that my husband might not come home. But I’ve only ever had those worries during deployments. I never thought I’d have to worry like this when he was home.

A place like Fort Hood (and any other military installation) is a breeding ground for tragedy. There are so many soldiers who’ve come home from war and who will never be the same. These soldiers have seen and experienced things that many if us cannot even fathom. Tragedy happens every day at Fort Hood, we just don’t always see it. Tragedy happens as marriages fall apart due to PTSD or combat related stress. Tragedy happens when soldiers take their own lives. Tragedy happens when soldiers aren’t given the help they need. Tragedy and heartache are in the faces of the soldiers all around us every day.

This world is a scary place. Anything can happen, anywhere. If it wasn’t for God’s grace, I would probably live my life in fear. Fear of the unknowns and what ifs. Anything can happen – anytime – anywhere. We don’t know what our futures hold or what pain we may face, but God does and gives us the grace we need for every day. Just when we think it’s gotten too hard, that this life is too much to deal with, He gives us the grace we need to get through the day.

Please join me in praying for the victims and their families (to include the shooter’s family), for the soldiers at Fort Hood and soldiers everywhere else, for our community, and for our nation.

Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life and words can’t describe how thankful I am that my family is safe. It’s definitely a reminder of what’s really important and how much of our worries are really insignificant.


I’m Still Here

I realized recently that it has been a while since I posted a blog other than my 7-in-7 poems. So here’s one to get you caught up with where I’ve been over the last few months.

1)      I’m still running. I’ve been running my heart out to prepare for my first half marathon, which is in 20 days – the Rock n’ Roll half marathon in New Orleans. I’m still in desperate need of fundraising though. I’m running the Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I had planned a LEGO® Brick building competition, but we’ve had to adjust our plans to only do a virtual build competition because there wasn’t as much interest in it as we had thought. I’m pretty bummed out about it, but I’m praying that God will provide a way. I have 13 days to finish raising the money.

2)      Training is hard. Training for this half marathon has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Yesterday I ran my first double digit run – 10.01 miles. By the time I got home I was ready to collapse. My body ached and I was exhausted. But the pride I felt is something that no one can take away from me and something that no one could ever buy. I earned every mile of that run through the strength that God has given me. I am weak to survive these long runs on my own and I am so thankful that God is on these runs with me, giving me the strength to press on when I feel like I can’t take another step.

3)      Husband is home!!! Robert has been home for a little over a month now. It’s so amazing to have him here – to fall asleep next to him at night and have someone to share my lonely evenings with after the girls are in bed. The Army life is hard, but thankfully God has given us the grace to get through another deployment.

4)      My sister finished chemo and kicked cancer’s butt. You haven’t seen true strength until you’ve witnessed someone fighting cancer. Her strength amazes me and I’m so thankful that God got us all through it. She is why I am running. She is why I push myself so hard in training. She is my big sister. I may not tell her this enough, but even though we are grown up and have families of our own, I still look up to her.

5)      I’m almost a certified personal trainer. I’ll be taking my test later on in the month and (if I pass) I will be certified and ready to start training. So who’s ready to train with me?

 

There’s so much more I could write about right now, but I’m limited on time right now. I’ll update more later. My  New Year’s resolution is to post at least once a week, so you should be seeing a lot more from me in the near future.


7-in-7 #7: He’s Home

In the excitement of him coming home yesterday…I forgot to post my last 7-in-7 poem. Not my usual style of writing…but it’s what came out…

He’s Home
He’s home
No more waiting
He’s home
No more crying
He’s home

No longer alone
No more sleeping alone
He’s home

Seven long months
Time spent waiting
Hoping and praying
For that “welcome home” hug

This is our life
He serves
We wait
His job, his calling
Our hero, our duty
It’s not easy
But it’s all for love

He’s home
No more waiting
He’s home
No more crying
He’s home

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