Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Love Language

To some it was just toast.  Bad toast at that.  To me...it was a young boy's effort to show that he cares.  To show kindness through his love language.  To serve the way that he knows how.  And I felt what was intended... even though everyone else seemed to miss it that morning.

There I sat, quickly eating cold cereal at church, on an early Sunday morning.  I had only a few minutes before we were to begin practicing the songs that we would lead during that morning's worship service.  My youngest son, Levi (7), sat across from me still working on his own bowl.

"Mommy, can you make me toast?" said my cute little 7-year old son.

I had not yet spoken...but my face must have shown that either I did not have the time or did not really want to.  (If I am being truthful...everyone in my house loves toast.  In the same breath, they also loathe making toast...which means it usually falls on me to do.)

"I'll make him toast!" said this little boy we had met only weeks ago, when he showed up at our church with a friend of ours.

I have come to know that this little boy has every reason to be destroyed.  He has endured much pain in these first years of his life.  He has seen and heard things that I can guarantee would make me cringe.  And yet...he remains sweet.  But how?  The day he walked into our church may have very well been his first experience with God and His followers, but I can assure you...someone in his life; a grandparent, an uncle, a friend of the family, a teacher...someone has been praying for this little boy.  And it is evident that Heaven heard every request for the safekeeping of his heart.

At his offer to make my son toast, I felt a slight twinge of guilt.  *Insert inner sigh here*  Just as I was about to tell him I would do it...he turned to me.

"I will make you toast too!  Would you like toast, Vanesa?"

As I told him that he did not have to do that for me; he responded, "I know, but I want to!"

"Sure, that would be great," I said Levi spoke up with his toast topping requests.

"Make mine with jelly and butter," my son said with a huge smile.

"Mine too!"

He seemed a little bit confused as to why someone would want both jelly and butter.  He even asked us both separately to be sure. I wasn't sure what was going through that mind of his...but I was about to find out.

A few minutes later he sat this plate in front of me at the table.  *Remember the order of the toast toppings....jelly AND butter.  Therein lies his confusion.  Who would put butter on TOP of jelly?  Hahahahaha!*


When the serving heart of a child, makes you toast with jelly and a cold chunk of margarine on top...I highly suggest you smile and say THANK YOU!  It was not his culinary skills that God was pleased with that morning...it was his sweet heart. (Let that sink in for a moment.  Those who doubt their ability to do what God is asking.  Your heart is what He sees!)

I sat and ate every last bite of my toast.  As I chewed...I was completely in awe of how good God has been to this boy who is just now getting to know and experience Him.  I thanked God for the display of His all-powerful protection over this little boy's heart, through this act of love.  

It was not about the toast.  It was a tactical lesson for me. (A cold chunk of margarine really sticks with a girl....both literally and figuratively! Hahaha!)  To me the toast served as a reminder that God truly is a good good Father.  It was a glimpse into the love language of one of God's infant warriors.  He was just learning how to love like God intended it...and he. was. killin'. it!

What about us church?  Are we seeing broken children(people) as damaged, beyond our ability to repair...or as opportunities for restoration.  We don't have to do the impossible.  We serve The One and ONLY TRUE GOD who does that.  We need only to be obedient in Love.

Can we strive to follow the example set by Jesus, Himself?

Can we pray without being asked?
Can we love without expectation?
Can we show grace for behavior that we deem 'unacceptable', according to our upbringing, with the realization that they too need to be taught right from wrong?
Can we gently guide with a soft answer of Truth?
Can we give without expecting even a thank you in return?

That last one can be a hang up for us.  Thank you.  It is simple.  Some would even say it is common sense.  And yet...when a thank you is not offered when it clearly was the appropriate response...it has even the most generous of Jesus followers want to throw in their apron and go home.  Who wins when we stop serving because of what WE did not receive?  Who is likely to have authored that thought anyway?

Jesus came, when He did not have to.  Jesus gave, right up until His time here was done.  Jesus finished the work that He began even when the world hated him.  The thank you's didn't come until the hearts of the lost could grasp the weight of what He had done for them.  The same concept applies.  We expect fruit from a tree that has not yet found living water.

Do not underestimate the power in your prayers for the least of these.  When God lays it on your heart to pray...for a child walking through Walmart with an adult that is yelling insults and cuss words...do not hesitate.  Heaven hears you.  Heaven wars with you.  That child needs someone to love them enough to intercede.  Let it be you!

Matthew 25:39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ 40And the King will reply,‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Dear Dad

As I sit here at my desk, drinking my coffee and eating my grits, I am thinking of you.  I can't help but to think of you whenever I have grits (and sweet tea).  As I type it is clear to me that I have a mission field in mind this morning.  You.  I have been relentlessly praying for you these last couple of weeks.  Though I will admit, that some days I don't have much to say.  During those times I am just still before the Lord.  Quiet, as I just let Him see my heart's cry.  I keep asking Him..."What am I to do?"

God's response...tell him what I want him to know.  Speak my Heart through yours and let it be Me that takes if from there.


If I never see you face to face again...here is what I want you to know.  

You have value to me.  You are irreplaceable.  Your constant prayers are a vital part of why I am who I am today.  God heard every one and He has stayed close to me through every tear I have shed.  He has protected me and healed me over and over again.

You are a part of my story.  My faith.  My ministry.  My family.  We will carry on the legacy that Jesus began in and through you.

Your grandchildren love you.  They love to hear your voice.  (My daughter says you sound like a cowboy.  Haha!)  They think of you often.  They want desperately to make some memories with you.  Until then...they will continue to love you and pray for their Grandpa James.

Your mission field looks much different than most; BUT, it is still your mission field.  God continues to place you where He knows you are needed.  You speak of your Savior boldly and without an ounce of regret.  My grandpa was also like that...and I very much respect that passion in you both.  You are not done on this side of Heaven.  God's work through you has not yet been completed.  Your children and your grandchildren still need your fervent prayers when they rise to begin a day and while they sleep.  We need you to fight for us and with us.

Your days are numbered...and only God knows the beginning of your eternity.  There is a reason that He does not give that decision to us.  It's because we are not all-knowing.  We are not omni-present.  We can't see what is to come.  We can't think past our own perspective some days; to see how far the  ripple of ending our life would extend.   

I know that the enemy will not stop pursuing us because he fears our prayers.  He shudders at the sound of our voices.  He wants nothing more than to silence the loudest advocates for the cause of Christ.  We have an eternal mission in our days...and we courageously walk in our calling.  We are the worst type of Christian to satan.  Confident.  Bold.  Sassy.  And relentless....     Even when I am feeling weak I whisper, and the enemy hears it.  I keep saying these words over and over again...

"I WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING YOU!"  

I want the enemy to hear my voice.  I want satan to know that he will not dictate my future.  No matter what he throws at me, I will not bow to him.  I need you to fight, Dad.  My kids need you to fight, Dad.  God has spoken and He is not finished with you, Warrior.  I bow beside you in prayer, Mighty Warrior.  I place my hand on your back, scarred from battle.  I see the places where the arrows that were meant for me...pierced you.  I am thankful for your fight.  Beyond grateful.  

But now I need you to stand up with your armor on and your knees shaking...and tell the enemy Who your Daddy is.  I need you to boldly approach the Throne of Grace, for it is there that you will find rest and strength.  I need you to kneel at the foot of the cross and proclaim that you, a son of the King, will submit to His authority for the rest of your days.  You have a family to live for!

Until I see you again....
I love you so much Dad! 
  -Sugar 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Sacrificial Victim

Victim.
I have come to truly hate that word.
Because a true victim does not have a choice.
And they never deserve what they receive.

Have you ever had to watch your child walk through a trial so completely and heart-wrenchingly devastating, that you found yourself pleading with God? Desperate. Like you would do anything, ANY. THING. to just take it away. To heal their brokenness. To rescue them. To restore them to what they once were; carefree, joyful, without a worry in the world.

For some of us, our children are dealing with constant torment from others. (Being bullied is no joke.  It truly brings out the worst in people.)  For other children it is a traumatic life event that haunts their days. Maybe it's a family separation for their safety. Maybe an array of varying types of (mental, sexual, physical, verbal) abuse.  Maybe divorce of their parents, or the death of someone they loved. Or maybe it is the devastating moral failure of someone they respect(ed).  Maybe it is a series of poor choices that come with heavy and irreversible consequences.

Although we are all walking our very own path; all while our kids are simultaneously walking theirs...I am guessing that we all ask the same question.
Why?  Why do I have to watch them suffer?  Why can't I fix this?  Why aren't YOU fixing this, God?  Why aren't You taking their pain away?  I AM PLEADING YOU!!!!

But what if we (moms, dads, caregivers) had a choice....
Would we choose...
1.) ...what was best not only for the molding of our child's character after that of Christ, but also for the future of their role in the ministry that He began...no matter what that looked like....
OR
2.) ...what was easiest?

Ugh...gut punch.  That is a decision that I never want to make.  And, honestly, there is a good reason that God does not give us (parents) the option.  It's because we can not be trusted to choose what He Himself chose for His own son.  He chose what was best and never what was easiest.  And God's best plan for Jesus, has effectively changed the eternity of millions of lost and hurting people.  

To God, It. Was. Worth. The. Sacrifice.


Sacrifice.
It is something that we parents have to do often for our kids without a second thought.  We understand the role we are to play in their lives...and we give (more than we have some days) to ensure that their needs are met.  We take our cues from Christ and we give until we are exhausted and empty knowing, expecting, hoping, pleading that our Father will always fill us again.

What happens though, when the victim collides with sacrifice?  
What happens when the very act that made a person a victim...is what God uses to extend His heart's reach?  
And what happens to us, deep within our spirit, when God asks our child to be the sacrificial one?  
When He is using them to teach us just how faithful and omnipotent He is?  (Omnipotent defined: having unlimited power; able to do anything)
When His plans for their lives are more than we are imagining?  
When He is molding them through the pain of trial because only He has seen their life from beginning to end.  Only He knows who He has designed them to be, and what it will take to lead them there.  

Would we have ever have chosen for our child to sacrificially walk the road they are on...if that meant that God would use it for their future mission field?  If it meant that some day they would meet someone who IS where they WERE...and through their raw, messy, gut-honest testimony of God's faithfulness and goodness...they would BE LIVING PROOF that there is ALWAYS HOPE, for a future free of debilitating fear and heavy burden.  ALWAYS TRUTH, to cover and remove the weight behind the whispers of the enemy.  ALWAYS GRACE, to bring freedom from captivity of guilt and shame.  ALWAYS LOVE, after the trail of poor choice.

The sacrificial victim.  I know how impossible it seems to overcome.  I know how much it aches to watch.  I feel the sudden and uninvited flood of emotions that follow those 'past days' thought-patterns.  I am easily angered by the thought of the scheme that they enemy used to try to destroy my child.  

BUT GOD...
God has something that He has been desperately trying to teach me...and I have been so close to getting it.
SO. CLOSE.


There I sat, telling my wise counsel, of my recent Romans 8:28 moment.  I went into the conversation super excited to share how God had used my circumstance to speak life into another's story.  Romans 8:28 moments are those in which I help someone see what they are missing amidst their misery.  Because of where I am and what I've walked through...I have a credible word of encouragement to speak.  I am speaking as one who still flounders some days...but also one who is having way more strong days than weak ones.  (That was not always the case.  At one point, all I had was Sunday.  Sunday was my point of greatest strength...and every day after, was only barely above the point of drowning.) As I always say, these moments bring purpose to pain.  

I was genuinely happy to share my story, but within moments my smile quickly faded as my joy was syphoned out by sudden, crippling guilt.  God was speaking to my heart and my tears indicated that I was not there yet.  My brain wanted to be, but my heart was too afraid to let go and allow God's best plan to penetrate my pain.

If you have a few moments...please listen to The Unexpected Letter.  I could barely see the screen through my tears the first 4 times I watched it.  My favorite lines...

"I was not a victim of human plans
and I was certainly never a slave to you.


I am the victor." -Jesus

YES!!!!!  I am the victor.  I want to know, live, AND feel that...all of my days.  I want to scream it into the face of the devil and watch him cower away.  I know the God that I serve and I know that it is through the sacrifice of Jesus that my children will be victorious over every obstacle in their life.

God wants to know...do I trust HIM enough to say AND believe....that it was worth my child's sacrifice?  That God knew their hearts intimately and because of that He knew what they were capable of overcoming.  He knew that we would be struck down but not destroyed because of our collective faith in Him.  He knew that we would help each other through the low times where we felt as though the end of the torment was far off.  

Can I know that my child's ministry in his/her future will bring forth healing to the victims who are where they once were?

I can.

I do.

If my child reaches into the lives of the broken and offers them living water that forever changes their course of eternity...it is worth it.  The price was paid by a Savior that taught us how to sacrifice with eternal purpose.  And that is a heart I would love to teach my sons and daughter to imitate.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Expose him

Every so often we have to call the enemy out.

We have to call him by his name.

We have to remind him of who we are in Christ.

So that he never forgets.

But what about you and I? Is it possible that we could ever forget?

Is it possible that we could go through a day, that could turn to a week...that could then turn to waaaaaaaay longer than we'd like to admit...where our days just seem to wear us down. Weariness sets in and our fight is weak.

This is me today.  My fight is feeling weak...so what am I going to do about it?
Sleep more? -Yeah. Stinking. Right.
Complain less? -I wish!
Read a self-help book? -Who has the time?
Run away to Hawaii? -Um...yes please!!!!!!!!!!!

For real though. Back to reality...what can I do?  I can reach out to the women that God has placed in my life who help hold me up.  I can read the promises and truth in the Word of God.  I can scream pray. <-- Ever heard of it?

I don't scream pray often, but when I do, it. is. for. real! It is like praying...only much much louder and with more crazy "passion" because I am reminding the enemy Who he is messing with.  I am talking directly to the legion of demons that dare mess with a child of the King.  I am speaking life over the death that they taunt me with.  I am speaking truth over lies.  I get feisty...and I look ridiculous.  I am always alone...and I am usually driving.  But there, in my minivan, I become a warrior. A warrior who has come to fight the giant that knows his end.  And I love to remind him of the end. 
I. Win.


What about my our children?

Does the enemy know the sound of their voice?  Does he yet have a reason to fear it?

I want the enemy to hear my kids proclaim truth.  I want him to hear them pray for victory.  I want him to hear them war for their life, their family and their friends.  My kids can not live off of my faith.  It is not enough.  I want to enemy to watch them become exactly who he feared they would.  I want him to never forget that we. win.

If someone that you love comes to you in need, absolutely, pray over them. BUT...be sure that they also pray for themselves.  Encourage them to speak to that mountain in their life and accompany them as they boldly approach the Throne of Grace for themselves.  It may seem like a minor step...but I assure you...it is not.  The enemy needs to know who He is messing with...and that is the King above all kings.  Jesus.  If that is the only word that they can whisper...it is enough.

JESUS

"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sum of the Lies Women Believe

If I had a penny for every lie I've ever believed...I would own stuff. Alotta stuff. It is in-cred-ib-ly infuriating for me to take a moment to think, for just a minute or two (so it doesn't become a 'dwell'), about some of the lies I believed in the last week. The enemy strung me along with his maddening nonsense for most it. I knew it was him. My Father does not, would not say those things to me. And yet...I could not shake them. They lingered in my thought patterns. I was reminded of them just when I started to forget.

God is using last week for this. #Romans8:28 I know that I am not the only woman who believes lies about themselves. I am not the only woman who entertains thoughts that were not originally hers. I am not alone in this battle of the mind. If I was...there would not be SO many books already written about it.

God spoke to me yesterday while I was push mowing my lawn. I'll admit I was complaining, in my head, about doing it; even though...it was a perfect day for mowing. Not too hot. Breezy. Sunny. It was nothing like the monsoon our NW Pennsylvania summer was last year. Nor like the thick, muggy weather we had last week. I came in for a drink on one of my many 'breaks' and saw the sweetest message about my post from yesterday. When I went back to mow...God started speaking to me about today's post. See how all it took to break my crappy thought pattern was one sentence of encouragement from a random person. (When God asks you to offer words that are nourishing to another's soul...even if they seem small...do it! You can be the change in someone's downward spiral of a day.)

Let's move on to some of the lies. Some I have believed. Some I have not. The same will go with you.

-If i am larger than a -0....I am not and can not be beautiful
-If I am a size -0...i know i am beautiful and am therefore happy, always.
(FYI *I, on purpose, chose a number that is not real. It is not about a size, it is about God's masterpiece, You.*)

-Pinterest is real life! (...for everyone,but you.)

-If your kids are wearing 'non-church clothing' to church...you are clearly lazy and don't care.
-If your kids are dressed nicely at church, your morning was full of nothing but peaceful, sweet moments captured on camera
*There was clearly no screaming to brush. your. stinking. hair.  Or, frustrated last minute changes of clothes because the mud puddle was just. too. much. to. resist.*

-Your job defines you.
-Their job defines them.

-Perfection is attainable.

-Women who are in ministry 'have it all together'.
-Women who aren't in ministry aren't doing enough.

-Pastor's wives don't have bad days because they are super-spiritual, extraordinary beings.
-Pastor's wives don't understand real life, because they don't have to live it.

-Stay at home moms are not doing enough.
-Working moms are doing too much.


Comparison. It is not something we had to learn to do. It came very naturally to us at a young age. The problem is that those things that we don't have to work to become...are, most times, what we are to be fighting against. What we need to ask ourselves is, would God compare me to another sinful, created being? Is that consistent with the nature of our God who is so full of love that He sent his son to die for those He knew would reject Him? OR, would he instead see us THROUGH a Man who was tempted in every way...and was sinless?

Did you notice the title of today's post? It was purposeful. I know the difference between some and sum, promise! It was an intentional decision to use the word sum. Alone, each lie we hear and carry on with us for any length of time, might not feel too burdensome. Add a couple more and they become a bit more noticeable. What about when we have heard, accepted, and are dragging along a large sum of lies. Some of them from family members. Some of them from friends. Some of them from strangers. Some of them concocted in your own brain. It becomes increasingly harder to remember who you really are. It becomes even more difficult to BE who you really are because one by one you unknowingly let someone else's thoughts define you. <--- That someone...satan.

For today, try to take captive, every. thought. that God would not say to your heart.  He would not remind you of your mistakes, without truth to dismantle them.  He would not dwell on your flaws and weaknesses for the purpose of keeping you in a depressed state.  If you KNOW His voice, you know..."God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17  He takes your life seriously.  Very seriously. I heard it said one day recently, "You were worth Jesus to God."

Your worth is not in anything that you can acquire here.  Your worth is not in how stylish you can look.  Your worth is not in your position at work.  Your worth is in Christ.  He was there at the beginning, and He will be there at your end.  If you believe that God sent His only Son to die for your sins, weaknesses, shortcomings, thoughts, actions, words...then He is Who you listen to.  It is HIS opinion of you that matters.  It is He that you will answer to for your choices...and it is He that is waiting to free you from the lies that overwhelm your days.

As for me...I would LOVE a chance to pray for you!  In person, over the phone, through social media, through email...whatever it may be.  It would help fulfill my purpose in posting today...if I could help you find a truth from the Living Word to cover over each lie you've been believing.  Please send them to me. One at a time. A whole list.  Just reach out and gain strength in your days. Let God intervene and stop your stinkin' thinkin.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mourning Life

Mourning. It was a word that I would have said I understood.

I have mourned loved ones who've left this world more suddenly than I was ready for.
I have mourned family who had lived a long life and were ready to meet their King.
I have mourned three of my own babies that I never got the chance to meet.
I have mourned for those that have fought hard for every last day they had on this earth.
And I have mourned with many families of which death took a person that they were not ready to give up.

What I did not ever know...was that I could mourn a person who was very much alive.
A person whom I loved.
A person who I saw day after day.
A person who was no where near death.
I did not know about this type of mourning. And honestly, I wish I still didn't.

This type of mourning has its own rulebook. It comes with a vast array of helpless, emotional roller coaster type of feelings. It has you replay over and over what you could have done differently to prevent the very action that caused it. It has you second guess every decision you made. It has you wishing you had chosen things...anything...everything...differently.

Mourning your child, who's hair you brush. Who's tears you wipe. Who's laugh you love. This mourning is silent. It is kept secret, as a protection mechanism. It is misunderstood by anyone who has never walked down this path. And it is a lonely place to reside.

This type of mourning will cause you to give up everything you loved. People. Places. Passions. Possessions. This type of mourning will leave you starving for genuine love and support, and yet leery of absolutely everyone offering it. Do they truly care...or do they just want to know what has changed you? Trust does not come easily with this type of mourning.

I am mourning innocence that was selfishly stolen.

I am mourning the freedom to trust people that I once respected.

I am mourning saying Yes to my children.

I am mourning the life that I once had.

I know I am not the only one. I can't be. There is too much going on in this world for me to be the only one.

Moms. Dads.
Where are you that mourn a child who was taken away by empty promises?
A child that chose hollow, toxic relationships over unconditional love.
A child that can't stay away from the things that you fear will eventually pull them to their grave.
A child who has left and has promised never to return.

Moms. Dads.
Where are you that mourn a child that lives in your home?
A child who trusted because it is what they were taught to do so.
A child who obeyed because it was what was right.
A child who endured trauma because they would not tell an adult No.

We silently mourn our living children because of addiction. Of poor choices. Of broken relationships. Of undeserved traumatic life events. Of all the days that were stolen from us. And though our circumstances are very different...some days...this mourning seems impossible to bear and still function. Some days it comes out in anger. Some days it comes out in paralyzed fear. Some days it comes out in simply withdrawing from life.

Mourning isn't the same for any two people. My husband and I handle it very differently. Our phases of mourning never coincide. I thank God for that!! When I am weak, God is strong...and some days God shows His strength through the protection of my husband.

Moms. Dads.
I may not know you at all. I may just pass you in the store. But if I see the sorrow in your eyes when you feel like your smile is hiding it well, just know that I am praying for you. I am praying for those who mourn their children; both that have passed away and who are still with us. I am praying because I know that I am nothing without Prayer. I am lost without Promise. And I am angry without Hope.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
Are you brokenhearted? God is close.
Has your child's spirit been crushed by the enemy that seeks to destroy....? God saves.
HOPE IS OURS because GOD'S PROMISE IS REAL!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Trust Issues

I have said it silently to myself more times than I can count in my 35 years of life. My guess, is that you have too. They are those questions that just can. not. be. answered. Even if they ever were...the answer would probably not satisfy the deep longing questions in our hearts.

Why?
Where were You?
Why now?

Most recently it has not even been so much for me, but still I ask God, 'Why'...

It's been a year now since tragedy hit me like a semi-truck.
It has been a year full of change.
A year of asking.
A year of doubt.
Thankfulness. Anger. Sadness. Disbelief.
And it has been a year of watching God swoop in at the very last moment, when I was in full mental outrage, and show Himself faithful.
And yet it was a year of questioning...why?

Several months ago I decided to begin to read for the purpose of fun. Escaping I suppose. A way to stop my mind from constant thought.

Even after the decision had been made...it took me a few weeks to know where to start. Which author? Fiction or non? Did I want to dive into a self help type of book or just thoughtlessly encounter someone else's storyline.

I dove into my new book, head first. I read every spare moment I had. I waited up late and got waaaaaay too little sleep. I took loooong evening baths (almost daily) and stayed extra long in the tub. I had to see how the story all worked out in the end. I was addicted.

One night in particular I was intent on finishing the book that I had been sneaking in at every opportunity. I was so close. I sat with my cup of coconut cream coffee and...escape.....

Just a few moments in there were those words that I have wanted to speak scream time and time again.

Where were You when this was happening God?!

I closed my eyes and looked away. The second I read those words my breath was gone. When I opened my eyes again, I could no longer see through my tears. I knew that what came in the next paragraph was the reason God had chosen this book for me. I was angry at first when I realized the base of the story was very close to what I was dealing with personally. Of ALLLLL the fiction books in ALLLLLL of the libraries...I had to choose THIS one. Ugh. But I read on because I knew God had something to tell me...and I was unsure I could handle His response...

I. was. there.

How could I have doubted that He was there? How dare I think he would ever turn away? How did that simple reality make me feel both comfort and disgust? Why were there hot angry tears running down my cheeks?

They fell because I had trusted Him. But what about now...do I still...? How do you remain faith-filled when you feel as though the wind has been knocked out of you and you lay there struggling to simply breathe? What kind of God........I couldn't even finish that thought.

Sometimes we have to get gut honest with God. We have to lay it all out before Him. I have both a reverent fear of God and an open line of communication with Him. I tell Him more brutally honest things than I do any one person on this earth. He knows me completely. Every thought. Every glare. Every tear. He knows my heart intimately. He formed my inmost being...and He can handle my wrath.

That night as I read through the blur of my tears; I could not help but to silently weep. Alone. There wasn't a person in this world who could fix my struggle. It was up to me. I had to choose to fight my way through what the enemy was using to try to destroy the faith and purpose of myself and my family. I had to admit to myself and to God that I was angry with Him. I had to voice that I felt as though He had closed His eyes to what HE SHOULD HAVE STOPPED.

Should have.
As if I have the right to tell God how my story will go.
As if I think I know what is to come.
As if I was there at the beginning of it all.
As if I can say what it will take to make me into the woman that He knows I am capable of becoming.

I lay down my weapons.
My harsh words.
My doubt.
My trust issues.
I lay them at His feet. I do not deserve any of the wonderful things He does for me because of anything I have done.

I remember the first Sunday that I was to lead the Lauren Daigle song, Trust In You, during worship. I could barely make it through. There was a spiritual battle going on in my head, and I was the only person invited to the fight. It wasn't about learning the song...that had been fairly easy. Practicing the song with the worship team was a little bit more of a challenge. But then came worship...

There is a huge difference between practicing/singing and worshipping. During worship that day...it got real. It was that day that I knew I had no right to sing those very words if I didn't truly believe them.

A single tear ran down my cheek. I knew that I wanted to believe them. I knew that I wanted to trust God with the life and safety of my family. I also knew that He could see through my voice. He could see through my worship. He could see straight to the place in my heart where the struggle was raging.

And it was that day...I knew we had won. I did trust God and I belted those words out because I believe(d) that God is for me and for my family. Romans 8:28 will forever be true. God will use this tragedy. I don't know how. I don't know when. But I will wait for glimpses of good....because it is there that God will be.