Discovering What Remains

You hem me in , behind and before. Psalm 139:5


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What do you do when Christmas feels more haunted than magical?

For the past three years, Christmas has been different. There was a period of time when I was younger, when my dad was gone, and Christmas was…off. But I knew it wouldn’t always be that way. And it wasn’t. He came home, got his mind and life right, and we had magical Christmas’s—there was sparkle, joy and Christmas spirit galore. It was beautiful—some of my best memories.

2014 Christmas
Then everything changed when my dad died. He died right at the beginning of his, and our favorite time of year. From Halloween to Christmas really was the happiest time of the year in our family. But now it feels tainted and full of holes. Deep, dark holes that I’m explicitly reminded of during these three formally blissful months. It hurts. It’s this deep, cavernous ache in my soul—this constant, haunting reminder of what is missing.  The past two years I’ve been able to push past it, or rather shove these feelings down so far and emote the expected holly jolly Christmas joy.  But not this year. Truth—I’ve been a Scrooge. The Scroogiest of Scrooges.

 
On top of that, with all of the massive changes quickly approaching, my stress level has peaked and reignited my PTSD. I was diagnosed with PTSD after being with my dad as he took his final breath. My PTSD primarily manifests itself through anxiety and intrusive nightmares/flashbacks. I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested : ) But this is the first time I’ve had to deal with a resurgence of these symptoms. All I want to do is enjoy Christmas, and celebrate the birth of Christ. My heart has been so blessed by the sweet time I’ve spent with a few different advent devotionals. SheReadsTruth, Naptime Diaries Advent, Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift—they have all blessed me immensely in my relationship with God. But that’s about all I’ve been able to muster for the past 15 days.

 
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means ‘coming’. We celebrate Advent as we wait for the birth of Christ. Waiting requires patience. And patience does not always come easy for me. Waiting also involves resting in the trust we have in the Lords plan. Most importantly, waiting involves working through the hard times. I’m fairly sure the Lord does not use waiting as a time when all we are expected to do is twiddle our thumbs and google things. Waiting is often meant to be hard, heavy and challenging.

 
So what do you do when Christmas loses its magic? I don’t know if there is perfect answer that fits everyone. For me, it’s more Jesus and wading through the gaping holes and dark spaces, searching hard for joy. When I find joy, I receive rest. A deep rest that can only come from Him.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28


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Plan v. Presence

Over the past 6 months I’ve been focused on the plan. Where are we going? What are we going to do? How are we going to get wherever it is we are going? Knowing that everything is changing, meant it was all about the plan.

 
As I watched Ann Voskamp’s video for the first week of Advent, it hit me right in the heart when she mentioned Job. After losing everything that he holds dear, Job doesn’t ask ‘why me, God?’, rather he asks ‘are you with me, God?’

 
When trials come your way, and you’re in the thick of it, it’s so easy to say, ‘oh sure, I know God’s with me.’  But do you really believe it? When life brings you to your knees, are you screaming ‘why me, God?’ or as you screaming ‘are you with me, God?’ Knowing the plan doesn’t comfort us. It’s knowing that He is present.

 
If you heard God’s answer to ‘why me?’, would you find hope, and comfort in that response? Or, would you find hope in God’s response to ‘are you with me?’

 
Me, I want to know that God is next to me, and that I’m not alone.  Knowing the why doesn’t bring me much comfort, and it certainly doesn’t help me through the hard times. It’s knowing that God is standing beside me as the storm rages that brings not only comfort, but hope.


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#mystoryisbeautiful

Hi, friends!

Today I’m sharing my story on the amazing Allison Ramsing’s blog. Hop over there and check it out, along with all of the other beautiful stories in the #mystoryisbeautiful series : )


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The Lipstick Gospel-Your next must read!

Traveling

I love a good story. Fiction or nonfiction, as long as the story is captivating and compelling, I’m hooked.

I was honored to be able to receive an advanced copy of Stephanie May Wilson’s new book, The Lipstick Gospel: A story about finding God in heartbreak, the Sistine Chapel, and the prefect cappuccino.

I first came to ‘know’ Stephanie from her World Race blog. My cousin was on the race, and I soon became enamored with other racer blogs. In her World Race blogs, as well as in her book The Lipstick Gospel, it feels like I’m sitting down with Stephanie over a cup of coffee as she regales me with stories of how she discovered God in the most unique places.

Your mess becomes your message, as the amazing Lara Casey says.  Stephanie embraces the entirety of her mess, and how God used it to draw her to Him. And it’s beautiful.

I can hear the critics now, ‘oh how cliché, finding God in the Sistine Chapel.’ Truth: I’ve stood in the Sistine Chapel three times in my life. It’s one of the few places on earth where you can be surrounded in this chaotic atmosphere of sweaty foreigners that completely violate your personal space, and still feel His presence.

I could continue on about all of the other memorable, hilarious, and moving moments, but I’ll just keep you from hopping over to Stephanie’s beautiful website and downloading your very own copy. So go…now!!

I can’t wait to see what great adventure God takes Stephanie on next. Even more so, I can’t wait to read about it!

——-

“Life with God is wilder than the wildest roller coaster ride, and safer than your childhood bedroom. It’s more thrilling than the greatest adventure, and more delicious than an Italian cappuccino—if you can believe it.” PG 77


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Currently in November

So…I’ve been a bit absent.   Mea culpa.

October is a hard month for me. This time of year, as much as I love it, is just tough for me.  I tend to retreat from everyone and everything as I reflect on all of the loss that I’ve experienced in October, and where I go from here.  Nonetheless, here’s what’s been going on in my absence…

 

…reading Lets All Be Brave by Annie Downs—y’all, this book is one of the best books I’ve read in a LONG time. I feel like I’m literally sitting down with Annie as I read.  I also got my hands on an early copy of Stephanie May Wilson’s new E Book, The Lipstick Gospel.  Tell you more about it soon, deal?

…watching Old Modern Family and Once Upon a Time episodes.

trying to stay positive about the future. I literally have no clue where I will be living or working 6 months from now. Not terrifying at all! {sarcasm}

eating Rudy’s smoked turkey with some divine Chipotle Mayo from Whole Foods. SO good!

pinning Young Living Essential Oils. Oils are changing my life. No joke. I’m planning on sharing more here soon.

tweeting/instagramming #influencegratitude, finding gratitude in anything and everything.

going to Return to Rest in January–just booked my flight!!

loving Daylight Savings. For real, it’s one of my favorite days of the year.

discovering how versatile essential oils are. Lavender promotes healthy eyelash growth, smells divine, is great for bug bites, and is one of my favorite things on the face of the earth.

thinking about the future. Lord know where I’ll be. I’d just like a sign, or even some smoke signals to point me in the right direction.

hoping for clarity {see above}

listening the new T. Swift album on eternal repeat.

thanking the Lord for my mom, and good friends.

 

What about you friends? What are y’all up to??


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The Seamstress {Psalm 139:5}

So, I’ve missed a few days. More like a lot of days. Life has gotten in the way. The pesky day job, the three year death anniversary, and a little bronchitis too…the list of excuses could go on and on. But as I stop for the first time this month, and after I mentally freak out that there are only 10 days left in October (!!), I am reminded on of v5:

You hem me in, behind and before.

As I’ve felt that I am spilling out at the seams these past 21 days, HE hems me in and keeps me together even when I feel like an utter mess. Like a seamstress, He comes behind and before and knits me back together, and gives grace. Lots of grace.


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Perfect Knowledge {Psalm 139: 3-4}

You search out my path and my lying down

And are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue

Behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

 

Again, we see David praise the perfect knowledge of God. We know that God is perfect, but can you wrap your mind around the concept of what it means to have perfect knowledge?

I don’t know if I could ever fully understand the magnitude of perfect knowledge. But what I do know is that nothing can be hidden from perfect knowledge. How often do we hide things? Everyone has secrets in our earthly world. But with God, there are no secrets. Not only does God know our ways, He also knows our secrets.

Friends, what are you hiding? Confess it to God. Even though He already knows, you’ve still got to talk to Him. It’s not an option. We sin and we confess, it is the nature of our beautiful relationship with God.

 

 

 

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