A smile pushed my cheeks upward after chore day this past week.
Perfect stripes marked the carpet in the library.
Even a few days later, I still almost don’t want to cross the rug to go grab a book from the shelves.
Chores can be a chore — especially for teenagers — but, I can’t help but wonder if my son was smiling just a bit as he decided to mark his work with perfection and have some whimsical fun while doing his chores.
Chores can be a chore for me, too. The mundane of the everyday work can get in the way of serving my family.
Priscilla Shirer, in her Gideon study by Lifeway, tells us, “Today’s tasks–even the most mundane of them–are often preparation for tomorrow’s calling.” She goes on to say, “God is teaching you faithfulness, diligence, and integrity through every task.” (page 47)
Perhaps I need to have more fun with my own chores.How about you?
The sun is shining, and it’s a beautiful day here today. Yesterday, however, a huge storm overtook the morning. The sun came up, and it was bright and beautiful as it crested the horizon, but I could hear the rumble of thunder far off in the distance. Within the hour, the storm loomed close and the skies grew dark.
Thunderclaps, lightning bolts, and pounding rain raged outside for a few hours. Pellets of hail fell in bursts. I went online to find the forecast giving hope it would all be gone by the noon hour.
The storms of life often appear similarly, don’t they?
The sun can be shining in our lives, and we might hear the distant grumble of trouble looming.
When we’re in the depths of the storms of life, they are often all we can see.
The rest of our life is still there, but the storm is what dominates the present.
We’ll see the darkness taking over the light. We struggle to see the horizon.
The winds feel like they are swirling around us.
We’ll often allow the negativity to overtake us.
We may feel like we’re drowning and being pelted with despair.
If you are anything like me, you wish you could have access to His forecast. If we could just know how long the storm would last and what might be over the rainbow, it would make it easier to jump into our rainboots and wade through the muddy yuck, wouldn’t it?
In Matthew’s Gospel, Matthew records an account of a storm that came in fast and went out even faster:
“Then he [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”” ~ Matthew 8:23-27 (NIV)
A mighty storm raged around them, and the disciples were in the thick of it. Jesus was sleeping in the boat; He was with them in the same storm. They called upon Him for help. He provided it, but He also rebuked them for their lack of faith.
Dr. Tom Constable’s commentary in Sonic Light tells us that when whenever Matthew uses the phrase “little faith,” in his Gospel, “it always reflects a failure to see below the surface of things.”(Study Notes/Matthew/page 149)
That phrase and commentary on the phrase makes an impact on me.
When I’m in the depths of a storm, a challenge, a trial, a crisis, some kind of trouble, (…whatever label you and I want to attach to it in the heat of the moment…) I’m often self-consumed.
How will this go?
How will I be impacted?
What about this?
What about that?
What about them?
I often fail to “see below the surface of things” when the waves are sloshing over the side of the boat. I’ll have my bucket in-hand and be bailing fervently, but I’ll often forget He’s in the boat with me. Right there. Right there in my presence at all times – even in the storms.
He calmed the seas He created. He pushed back the winds He controls. He did so to the awe and amazement of His closest followers.
He doesn’t always calm our storms as quickly as we call upon Him and ask Him to do so. I don’t have the specific answers as to WHY He doesn’t, but I can imagine Him looking at me saying, “Why are you so afraid?”
I want to often skip over that “You of little faith…” rebuke, but there are times when I know I deserve it.
When I can stop focusing on trying to bail the rising water out of the boat and, instead, focus upon His constant presence with me in the storm, I can then lean on learning to grow a bit more in faith while not being so afraid.
Perhaps He desires for me to realize my “momentary troubles are achieving for us [and also for me] an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:5
Perhaps He allows those winds to swirl around me, the horizon to remain hidden and the short-term forecast to be unknown because in the midst of the storm, He wants my focus to be on His presence. Perhaps He knows that when my focus is there, my faith will be greater and my fears will be calmed.
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Which fairytale creature, mythical being, Muppet puppet, character from “The Princess Bride,” cupcake flavor, Disney princess or “Star Wars” character are you?
If you spend any time on Facebook, you’ve seen the silly quizzes your friends have tried and the results they’ve posted. I might be considered a party-pooper, but I haven’t done any of them. If there is a possible answer that would tell me I’m a volcano-climbing, coffee-loving, adventure-seeking, faith-filled, healthy-gardening wife and momma who homeschools her kids, likes good food, can’t get enough of nature and dabbles in writing … THEN, I might check boxes in a quiz to see what the answers reveal.
Last weekend, I participated in an online conference by (in)courage. The focus of the online conference was for us to feel empowered to share our (in)real life stories with one another.
The speakers were women who had a story.
Does that sound like you? It sounded like me. The women shared their stories. They were all different, but they all mattered.
WHY? Why did all of their stories matter? They mattered because thousands of women tuned in over the weekend to hear someone tell a story that made sense, that held familiarity, that held hurt, that held grace, that held mercy and that He used in some way.
My story wasn’t talked about and neither was yours,
but there were tiny bits and pieces of my story
Not everyone is meant to be a writer or a blogger like the women above and those from the (in)RL Conference. But, we all still have stories that matter.
One thing that was said repeatedly in the promos and in the videos was, “We need your story.”WHO is the “we?” My take-away was…
It’s those of us who wonder from where our value comes.
It’s those of us who want to know how a broken heart can heal.
It’s those of us who are living in singleness.
It’s those of us who wonder who else cares.
It’s those of us who have watched our husbands die.
It’s those of us who cry in our quiet moments.
It’s those of us who feel the need to put on the smile mask.
It’s those of us who have watched our marriages fall apart.
It’s those of us who were violated.
It’s those of us who are lonely.
It’s those of us who wonder, “Why me?”
It’s those of us who have lost a child.
It’s those of us who have never been able to carry a child.
It’s those of us who have been cheated upon.
It’s those of us who feel lost.
It’s those of us who don’t know how to get through today.
It’s those of us who don’t know from where our hope comes.
It’s us. We are the “we” in “We need your story.”
You have a story. There’s someone out there who needs to hear your story.
They need to hear it, because it matters.
WHY does it matter?
It matters because you matter.
You aren’t a mythical creature, a princess or a movie character. You are you.
You also aren’t only one (or more) of those sentences above. You are you.
When we find ourselves in our story, and when we have a heart to become what God created us to be, our story grows and it changes. The hurts, the heartaches and the heaviness in our lives are a part of our stories, but we come to realize and we come to live, because we know that God isn’t finished with us yet.
He’s working on us, in us and through us to make our story all He created it to be. He’s working on us, in us and through us to make US all He created us to be.
And…even though He isn’t finished with us yet, He wants us to be available for Him. When we are willing to be available to share our story with others who might need to hear it, we continue to grow our story, and that story has the power to impact others. When we can seek and find the hope and redemption in our story, AND we’re brave enough to share parts of that story, that hope and that redemptionwith others, we offer them a rope of hope…one in which they can grab hold of and use to pull themselves toward Him.
I attended the (in)RL conference last year, too. The Lord had already begun working in me, leading me to write, and leading me to hope. I had ideas, I had writings, I had a name, but I lacked the bravery to put it all out there, even though I felt Him prodding me forward.
After sitting in the comfort of my own home for (in)RL in April 2013, I knew I had to take a step forward toward where He was leading. Hope Surrendered was born shortly afterward. I haven’t shared a lot of the background of my story; some of you know some of it, but none of you know all of it. I’m very grateful to the people of DaySpring, (in)courage, and of the (in)RL Conference for what was given to us in both 2013 and in 2014, and I am here, in part, because of the courage gained from them to share my story with you.
For a lot of reasons, I’ve not shared much of what is behind me, but do know this: The Lord has used almost all of that in moving me forward. Some of that “moving forward” is here in the pages of this site where I share with you some of the ways I’ve learned from His leading.
Our stories – yours and mine – have many layers. Our Lord can use our stories to help others move past their hurts, to lean into the challenges they are facing and to lay a stepping stone for those whose upheaval might be yet to come. Our stories might plant seeds of hope for a generation to come.
When we surrender our story to Him and allow Him to use us, He will find a way to use our story.
If you are willing, if you are led, or if you need an ear to listen, you are welcome to email me with parts of your story or you can comment below.
I’d be honored to pray for you.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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