So Much Freedom

A word that God continues to bring me back to this year is Freedom. Oh, I long to grasp what He is trying to give me! He is saying, “Lyndsay, there is so much freedom.”

Freedom from guilt. I struggle so much with guilt, and it is not from the Lord! Conviction, specific conviction, is from the Lord, but not guilt. Some of the things I feel guilty about is not having time for people outside of my home, like extended family, old friends, all the way to people around the world. This weighs heavily on me and God is calling me to just look to Him and trust HIM to give me opportunity to serve them when HE leads, not just because I feel a tug. I can’t give more than I actually have. I also struggle with guilt about not finding balance. With my health conditions, I really must eat well, sleep a lot, handle stress with prayer, yoga, exercise, and just keep a pretty regular routine. It’s frustrating to get sick and think it’s my fault, when I simply ate some sweets at a party (ok, several parties…Christmas is hard! Vacation is hard! Weekends are hard!)  I know the Lord is telling me that I need to operate from a heart of desiring wisdom, not rules or perfection or feeling trapped. He can work through me even when I’m down and out, but He gives me the freedom to choose a better way. He even gives me the freedom to choose joy and peace if I am sick. He gives me freedom to forgive myself and start again.

Also, another big one is freedom from fear. I have always thought of myself as fearless because I do it whether I’m afraid or not. My faith, because of God’s real presence in my life, has always been greater than my fear. Going to live in other countries alone, getting on stages, I wasn’t raised to do that! It doesn’t come naturally. But my purpose is stronger than my feelings. But fear comes in other forms. Like fear of disappointing people I love, fear that I won’t live up to the potential God wanted for me, and fear that I will forget and be left without valuable truths I’ve learned and priorities I have been given, beautiful memories and seasons of life. These are real fears! I am not strong enough to combat them on my own. But still God is saying, “Lyndsay, there is so much freedom.” He doesn’t want me focusing so hard on myself nor does He want me focusing on what may happen later. He gives us freedom regarding what we choose to focus on, isn’t that awesome?! He wants to set me free from trying to control what does or doesn’t happen to me and those I love. The more I trust Him, the less concerned I will be because my eyes are on who He is and on obeying Him in this moment. When your good Father is also your King, there is peace should you choose to accept it! And all we really have to give Him is this moment, right?

I think freedom comes when we let go of what we thought we had to have–to be happy, to be good, to be loved, to live a purposeful life–and we embrace that there is only One thing we actually are promised, only One thing we can keep in life and in death, and it’s not our family, our potential, our wise choices, or our legacy…it is the love of God. I am wrecked by the love of God! When I let it hit me, when I let that wave of His great love and mercy hit me, I can’t even see anything else. Even if all the guilts and fears and other issues were true and actually happened, I’d still be here, lost in the wave of His undying affection for me. It doesn’t mean we never think about anything or anyone else, it just means once His love takes the place in our lives that it deserves, everything else falls into lesser categories.

That is so much freedom.

Just Catching Up

So, I am taking a moment to sort of “re-surface” here on my blog and my music Facebook page…I have missed blogging, singing, recording, and sharing. This week, actually with being sick and in bed, I’ve been able to just stop, breathe, and think about things other than my daily norm and check in with some of these other loves.

My daily norm revolves around my family, my home, my church, and homeschooling. I am deep in “reclaiming my education” as I teach my kids, grades Pre-K,  1st, 3rd, and 7th. (I really am learning a lot that I missed along the way…I wonder what I was doing all that time I was supposed to be learning?) Anyway…we are in Classical Conversations for the Pre-K, 1st, and 3rd, and the 7th grader has a co-op she attends for some of her schoolwork, too. We love what we are doing this year. It’s a good challenge for us all, and we also have planned in some good breaks since we do a kind of “year-round” school.

I’ve been praying about how to add in Music and Missions again into this daily norm, and I feel like God is not only giving me peace about it, but answers! My goals for music are to make another CD in the next couple years, of hymns and original songs, and I’d also like to make a Christmas CD as well. This is probably the biggest goal and will definitely require the Lord’s hand!! Also, I’d like to keep putting videos of my songs on YouTube since this is a great way for people to hear them–my old songs as well as my new ones as I write them. Lastly, at least once a quarter, I want to lead worship or sing at a concert or cafe. Sometimes that will be hosting a Mom’s Night Out and just worshipping together, or going to the nursing home!

Then when it comes to Missions–well, our lives are already engrossed in Missions with our connection to Haiti, prayer for the nations and so many adopting families, and my husband’s ministry position which leads him to Zambia, as they partner with another crisis pregnancy center there. But something on my heart beyond these things is Sister Bridge, and especially seeing if I can find ministries that do these two things:

  1. Share the gospel with the women they employ.
  2. Focus on employing women who are trying to keep their family together (versus putting them up for adoption because they cannot feed them).

If you aren’t familiar with Sister Bridge, it is an opportunity for people here to buy products from women around the world, with no profit being made by anyone but the women. This year, I am doing a very small version of Sister Bridge and only getting items from Timbali Crafts (www.timbalicrafts.org) and the Apparent Project (www.apparentproject.org). This will be our first year with Apparent Project, and I am looking forward to learning more about them to know if I want to continue. I chose them because they are in Haiti, and are literally and directly helping moms keep their children. I’ve read that women wait and wait for an opportunity to work there. The more we can sell, the more women can get their foot in that very important door.

That’s a bit of an update and maybe soon I can write a little more often!

 

Seven Months Home

I was just reflecting today on all that has changed in the past seven months…well, I can go back even further and say the past year. This time last year, we had learned on Spring Break that there was a mistake in some paperwork which ended in a month-long delay, followed by very bad news in early summer that Orlanka would have to stay in Haiti another 3 months for a TB test. Multiple trips, multiple phone calls to doctors, and multiple prayers finally got our girls, Eva Orlanka and Zoe Woodjina, HOME at last. Our Gotcha Day was August 31st and we landed in Kentucky on September 2nd. Leaving the creche with them that day was just as sweet as I ever had dreamt it would be. They were overjoyed…no more goodbyes.

In seven months, we have definitely had joy but we’ve also definitely had sorrow. One child more than the other really misses the people she loved in Haiti (as expected). There is insecurity at times and lots of need for gentleness and affection, which sometimes in my rush to teach and take care of four kids I’m sad to say I have to be reminded of. Stories and memories come to their minds often about their life before us, and I am recording those. I often ask them to draw pictures and try to remember details. We are blessed they have each other, so they’ll never lose those precious pieces of their identity.  Nighttimes can be hard sometimes; I still sit with them until they fall asleep (thank you, my friend Melatonin!) At first, one child complained that at the orphanage the nanny would sleep on the floor of the kids’ bedroom, so she liked it better there. (I kind of wish I had a picture of my face at that moment. It would be funny now.) We definitely work through strategies for fear at times, and those times are becoming less often. There have been a few instances where they had an idea in their minds of how something would be, only to find out it’s not–such as ice cream. They just recently got to where they can actually eat it. Before, it was too cold, and it wasn’t purple and sparkly like they had seen in pictures (darn Lisa Frank)! They can definitely have their picky moments, their complaining moments, and their unreasonable moments, like all kids.

But the joys…wow. These girls in themselves are an absolute joy. They love to go, they’re also happy to stay. They are quick to obey and want to get along well with their sisters. They have enjoyed every friend we’ve gotten together with and LOVE their grandparents (how could they not though?) They are thankful and they are loving. I didn’t share this with many people before they came home, but the personality and behavior of one of our girls (while living in the creche) was beyond challenging. I was truly worried about how her moods would affect our home. She is honestly the most stable and easy going person in this crazy household!! It is amazing and God gave me a wonderful surprise in her!! They love to learn, and oh how they love their Daddy. One day when I was in the other room, I heard Eva say to Jack (my husband, her dad), “I said to God, ‘God, will you give me a Daddy?’ And He DID!” We all cried…imagining her praying that prayer, the joy of it now answered. Yes, God does settle the lonely in families; yes, He does hear their cry!!

I remember when the girls first came they were so fascinated with/we kept running out of:

Toilet paper

Eggs (they would eat 4 or 5 at a sitting, and 2 or 3 a couple hours later!)

Band-aids

Ice

Barbecue (yes, the meat, the sauce, anything bbq related!!)

These things have calmed down now. They still always want to know what we’re having for each meal, and always want to know if they can have more (long before they’re done with what they have). We’ve finally figured out how to handle some of the more difficult “meal issues” and they only overeat pizza and spaghetti (understandable?!) They do so well with rewards, chores, homeschool, imaginative play, asking with respect, and even talking about their feelings and sharing their problems. Their ability to speak English has increased exponentially, and most sentences they say are about 50/50 Kreyol/English. I’ll end this blog today with two English sentences said to me recently. The first is so completely precious, it’s one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said to me:

Eva (6): “Mom, your face, my present.” (I know!!! Heart melted!!!)

And another, sweet in its own way:

Zoe (5): “Mom, I coming, but I not want to bring my fart to you.”

 

Thanks for journeying with us. There are lots of ups and downs, just like with any family, but we are certainly learning to love and lean on Jesus and therefore are very, very blessed. 🙂

 

 

 

When You Don’t Know How Long You Can Keep This Up

Have you ever felt, about a relationship or circumstance or job, that you can’t see yourself going on like “this” for long? Every now and then, when you get really real with yourself, do you feel that?

The other night I was halfway asleep, but my mind and heart were busy trying to get to the bottom of   why I have been so tired…cranky…joy-less, perspective-less! And this question came to mind: “In what parts of your life would you say, ‘I don’t know how long I can keep this up’?” And I thought through each part, each category, of my daily life, assessing how I felt about each. I came to the conclusion that there were actually several things that I love, but that also held a certain dread and anxiety, a fear of how long I can last for the long haul.

For me, it is the daily-ness of it all, the doing & re-doing of Each.Bless-ed.Thing.One.Million.Times. It’s getting up, meeting needs, (remembering my own), quieting the soul to seek the heart of God, serving, exercising, cooking, cleaning, shopping, schooling, soothing insecure hearts, smoothing miscommunications, learning to tame the tongue and live loving and love living…

For others it may be caring for a special needs child or a parent whose health is failing. It may be a very difficult marriage or a particularly hard season in school or work. Maybe it’s months of looking for a job, trying to complete an adoption, losing weight, breaking free from an addiction, or even paying off debt.

Can we last for the long haul? How can we last for the long haul?

We are not 100% spiritual; God gave us bodies and minds to care for, too. Physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, we have to be adults (darn it) and see to it that we invest in ourselves. We’ll reap what we sow. We are free to make changes about a lot of things in our lives. That has been a beautiful thought to me lately–all the freedom the Lord has given us in this lifetime! It’s crazy how easily I forget the choices I do get to make, about my circumstances often and my attitude always.

But even in the most disciplined, or even in the people with the best perspective and sunniest disposition, I think that all of us are met with seasons, relationships, jobs, health issues, or circumstances, that make us put one foot in front of the other and we really don’t know when the day will come that we just can’t take one more step. We can keep our game face on for only so long.

The race is hard, the cross is heavy, and we just don’t wanna anymore. Sometimes.

And God knows it, and expects it, and He is so good to provide the answer in a way that benefits us so deeply…He answers it with Himself.

He answers our limits with His limitlessness. He meets our lack with His abundance.

His Word is full of reminders that He is a fountain that never runs dry, He is the Vine and we are the branches, and He is the Bread of Life, daily manna, who gives sustenance in our desert. He actually really is these things…and He says, “Come and abide.” Come and plug in, come and refuel, come and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, come and be still and know that He is God and He is good and He is enough. Come and know that while this is our race, it’s not a race, and we can breathe and enjoy and receive…a lot more and more often than we do.

Just a few words from my reading in 2 Thessalonians 2 and 3 today, so fitting after journaling about this very thought right before opening my Bible:

2 Thess. 2:16 “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good word and deed.”

2 Thess. 3:3-5 “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”

2 Thess. 3:13 “And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is right.”

2 Thess. 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

We can keep going like this, if HE has called us to, because HE will keep going like this. There will never be a morning we have to wake up and do life without Him, never. We have what it takes because He has what it takes, and He says ALL that is His is ours! It’s scary to not have reserves. I cannot preserve my energy or perspective or even love or hope for tomorrow. I can’t trust in myself. But I can put my trust in the One that never sleeps, never forgets, and never loses heart.

 

 

Something I’m Learning

Yeah, that’s a pretty vague title, but I don’t have time to be clever! I wanted to name it “Prioritizing My Husband (in other words, what I have not been doing for the past 6 months)” but that was too long 🙂

The other day in my morning time with the Lord (and often with Zoe), I was praying for Jack and using the book The Power of a Praying Wife. I quite randomly turned to the chapter/prayer entitled “His Priorities” and began praying for him. But that particular prayer started with praying for HIS WIFE’s priorities before praying for his. At first, I admit, I thought, “Well, sure, I know I stink at this, but what choice do I have? It’s not like I have more time or more attention or more energy to give…” as if I was exempt, as if somehow it didn’t apply to me.

Just a few sentences in, even though I had prayed through these pages before, the Lord was definitely talking to me! I wrote in my journal, asking the Lord to help me learn how to prioritize my husband. Over these past few days, I’ve realized it’s more of an attitude than a list of more I have to do. Marriage is hard work, especially when you feel like you have nothing left to give or you have a hard time getting in sync due to all.these.other.people.in.the.house or just thinking completely different thoughts about completely different things all day long. For me, the difficulty stems from being an introvert and craving time alone, so when a moment of silence arises, I don’t necessarily want to give it up, or when free time surfaces (hahahahaha, but someday it will), I want to THINK MY OWN THOUGHTS! There’s nothing wrong with that, but eventually, BOTH need to be regular things: time for me to unwind and recharge, and time for US to unwind and recharge together. Anyway, here are some thoughts on that attitude change…and how I’m noticing the Holy Spirit lead me in learning how to prioritize my husband. They sound so simple, but I wasn’t feeling responsible to do them and I have a far way to go.

  1. When he tries to say something, (yep, 5 girls in the house) take a second to tell the kids their dad is talking and I want to hear what he’s saying. Ask them to wait. Turn my face AND eyes to him until he’s done.
  2. Whether I really want to think about what he’s talking about or not (again, we are thinking different thoughts about a multitude of things all day long so it takes me a while to get on the same page), LISTEN. Give positive feedback even if I can’t give a definitive answer.
  3. Respectfully, not with a major annoyed sigh, tell him when I just can’t listen right now and ask him if he would please remember to talk to me about that the next time we will see each other, such as certain nights after the kids are in bed or Sunday afternoon while they are “resting” in their room.
  4. One more detail about the listening: Always recognize and say out loud that I can see how that might be a good idea, and show respect instead of quickly announcing “that won’t work”, “that’s not what I’m wanting to do”, “that doesn’t make sense to me”…I married a very intelligent, creative man, yet often I act like if he has a plan that doesn’t make sense to me or that goes a different direction than I anticipated, that it will be disastrous. That’s rude and arrogant of me. This wife has got to learn to share the load when it comes to plans and decisions!
  5. Answer texts from him as immediately as I can, and take time to text him at least once throughout the day.
  6. Answer or return a call from him, even if it means our routine gets messed up a little!
  7. Love what he loves. I don’t mean I’m going to follow his hobbies (i.e. looking online at vintage cars, adoring manly men’s beards- oh my, he needs some free time to get some real hobbies!) but I do mean that when he is excited about something, wants me to come, wants me to get on board, I need to at least share the enthusiasm. If I can physically be there, I want to be there, bring the kids, make it a big deal, buy the t-shirt. I can’t do everything. In fact, I can do very little. But I need to be willing to try, to see, if it’s possible to rearrange some things to be by his side.
  8. Pray for him. I’ve always prayed for Jack daily, and I want to continue in this, asking him more often how he would like me to pray for him. Maybe I can start doing this on Sunday afternoon, write the need down somewhere I’ll daily see it, and check in and see how that situation is going the next Sunday. It’s not a rule, just an idea.
  9. Show appreciation for sacrifices and hard work. “Thank you for going to work today! Thank you for coming home! You are crucial and needed in both places!” I need to LET Jack make sacrifices and do things for me more, kindling thankfulness in my heart that I truly should already have.
  10. Find a way to make special time with him happen. I have to get in bed earlier than most adults on the planet, but surely one time a month I can rent a movie, get some of our favorite snacks, and stay up late just us two on the couch for a stay-at-home date. Someday we’ll get to date again and when we do, we will make space in the budget for it, and my girls will see that even though it’s a sacrifice to leave them behind for an afternoon, marriage is an important relationship one can’t take for granted. Until then, I want them to see that my attitude and heart toward their dad is one of gratitude, enjoyment, and respect.

 

 

 

A Moment to Write…

Right now, as I write, there are 4 girls (Selah, Yemi, and two of their friends) upstairs making cake pops while soup for dinner boils on the  stove top…and I am downstairs keeping the little sisters out of their hair!

So, I guess that means: We have found our normal?!

Really, it means that things are going well. We are enjoying Fall Break, and have been very happy to see how easy going the girls can be with going places and missing a snack time here and there. Before Fall Break, we started each day with worship, breakfast, playtime, connection time, then school with Yemi while the girls played quietly, and then school with the littles on the kitchen floor. We really enjoy it, but there is a lot of “herding cats” in those hours! Then a few days of the week we have some activities we go to after lunch. So, we’ve enjoyed a (even more) laid-back routine and several trip to playgrounds, stores, seeing the Little Mermaid at the PAC, and even two restaurants. They thoroughly enjoyed it all. One of the best things to happen this week is that we met up with some friends of Eva and Zoe from Haiti!!!

Yes, Eva and Zoe! I’m surprised but they already are asking to be called by their English names. We gave them these names because of their spiritual meaning–they are a prophetic blessing over them. They mean newness of life and abundant life. I didn’t know if they would use them or not. They’ll always have the option in the future as well.

Let me tell you a little bit about Eva. She’s a really good helper and enjoys being a big girl SO much. She loves to help in the kitchen and she does a very good job! Every day at supper she still says, “I want BIG chicken!” No matter what it is, whether they’re asking for ice or pushes on the playground, they want “anpil, anpil” which means “a lot, a lot!” She loves to play Memory and is really good at it! She likes to sing and sings along at nighttime and in worship time! She has a really tender heart. She can be stubborn and pouty, like every kid, but is reasonable and lets me hold her and help her get regulated again.

And Zoe. She’s hilarious. She loves to laugh, run, and just be silly. She has went from very silent crying and avoiding eye contact in that first week, to tons of affection, hugs, and nice loud wailing when she hurts herself 🙂 She comes to be comforted, and she enjoys lots of snuggles especially from me and Selah! It’s bad but it’s also really funny…when she gets mad at someone, she says “kaka” (poop) under her breath. She’s also singing along to songs…especially (thank you so much, Yemi) “Shake Your Booty”. She and Eva both are good at art, and love Barbies. Their major investment of time one day this week was to put the entire head of hair of several Barbies into braids and beads. Zoe can also get stubborn and pouty, too, but it’s usually short lived with a few minutes on my lap.

We’ve had to start on the medical stuff…bloodwork, immunizations, seeing some followup docs from the whole TB mess. I’m not ready for this and I do not like it one bit. I would have liked to have waited until they had been home at least six months but it wasn’t under my control unfortunately.

The hardest things for me have been the same as any mom, i think!

  1. Being an introvert but having no time alone…I literally ate an ice cream bar that my friend brought me IN THE BATHROOM and they said, “ou fini? ou fini? ou fini?” outside the door until I came out! I never thought I would do that! Ha!
  2. Helping siblings learn to love and accept one another. For the most part, everyone gets along very well, but I think this transition has been the hardest on sweet Yemi. She’s 8 and starting to grow up, but still loves all the small child stuff, too. She’s trying to decide: “Do I want to be a triplet with these littles?” or “Do I want to set myself apart a little as a big sister?” She’s the same size pretty much as the girls, even though they are 2 and 3 years younger than her. She’s done such an amazing job sharing SO much of her stuff!! Room, clothes, all the toys except what is on her “special shelf”, and, well, her parents! That’s not easy but sharing hasn’t been an issue for her. All the kids need a lot of one-on-one support right now.
  3. Going back into “real life.” For a few weeks, I didn’t clean, cook, shop, or pay any attention to my phone or emails or calendar. It was so blissful…I thought, “I can do this!!” But then I started to realize all that I couldn’t leave to grow weeds forever. You know, like the checkbook and the refrigerator…Now we are putting things on the calendar and going places and while I make precious few commitments, with 6 people, there are commitments. And it’s good. It’s real life, and I love all we do…it’s just that this is the real transition for me.

 

Updates and Praise Reports

Hi everyone!

I wanted to share a quick update with my precious friends/family/prayer warriors:

First of all, Orlanka was able to get in with a wonderful new doctor and she had all the necessary TB testing (and more) at Gheskio, a good hospital in Port-au-Prince. The two ministries that helped this appointment happen were Ti Kay Haiti  and Empower Haiti Together. New friends from these ministries truly were a vessel for the Lord to answer so many prayers!

Secondly, the first two TB tests came back NEGATIVE (praise the Lord!!) and I was there in Haiti to get that report personally a couple of weeks ago. Orlanka did have a fever at that time, and some kind of lung infection was detected while I was there, and she started an antibiotic immediately.  I had a really good visit with Orlanka and Woodjina. There were certainly some hard parts, but our goodbye was calm and peaceful, which shows trust is being built and that’s possibly the best I can hope for in these absurd circumstances.

Today, I actually got to FaceTime with Orlanka, who was at the hospital for an appointment with her new doctor. This doctor could not be more of an answer to prayer. She called me while Orlanka was in her office so that we could FaceTime!! She said she was finished with her antibiotic and looking much better. She also told me she personally checked on Orlanka’s sputum sample, that it was still negative at this time, and that the lab technician said the test will be finished August 19. (Basically, the lab has to wait a full 56 days to make sure her sample doesn’t grow bacteria/”become positive.”) That’s a couple days later than I had thought, but still in the same week I was expecting. I don’t know the exact steps or who does what afterwards, but when the time comes, our associates in Haiti will be getting the report to the Embassy and Lord willing within a week or two, we’ll get her visa and bring both girls home. Lord willing, that means they could be home early September if not before. (There I go saying dates again…I know better…but I can’t help it!!)

Knowing the challenges ahead with language, personalities, grief, culture shock, changes, food, and only God knows what else, we are praying and preparing…but also feeling really ready. It’s kind of like training for a race. At some point, you’re just like, “ENOUGH! I’m as ready as I’m going to get! We’ll deal with whatever when it comes.” This whole journey I’ve imagined as an ocean, and I keep stepping farther and farther away from the shore. Sometimes I have felt like I was drowning and sometimes like I was walking on water, feeling okay with the waves, feeling resilient. It requires so much faith to have no idea what kind of needs or personality or age or the history of a child God will chose to be your son or daughter, or how high and rough the mountain ahead to get to them will be. It’s just a blind jump of obedience. And we keep going further into the unknown as we choose to love those people He gives us. It is always and completely His miraculous life at work in us to do this.

The miracle of getting them home is INDEED a miracle. The miracle of loving them with the love of Christ all of our days is a much greater one. Keep praying for us, and know we are SO grateful for the love, prayers, and support we have received! I feel like, together, we have lived out so many portions of Scripture through these hard times…and may we continue doing so!

We’ll keep everyone updated; hoping to have some great news to share soon! 🙂

Faith Off the Shelf

In all honesty, it feels like a very long time since my faith has been “on the shelf.” I need the Lord all the time and am lost without Him, even on a normal day. Either I’m a wimp, or He has called me to some big tasks, I don’t know which, but it doesn’t matter. He puts me in situations, and has since I gave my life to Him, where I must have faith, where I must believe His word is true even when all I feel is fear and all I see are obstacles. In job situations, relationship issues, learning how to parent kids from hard places, the decision to go back to homeschooling…I kinda thought I was at my full faith potential already!

And then God allowed our adoption to go on a really unexpected path, as if it hadn’t taken enough scary and hard turns in the past 2.5 years! Just when I thought I could not take anymore (and by the way I totally let God know this status update), He did allow things to get worse. At this moment, I have no idea what He is doing or why He hasn’t delivered us yet. I can’t see one step in front of me. There’s nothing else I personally can do, at least not right now, besides pray. I don’t know how or when we’ll get past this, but I know the Lord has a plan. There have been moments I wasn’t sure though.

I needed two major components to come together at the same time in the same intensity.

This confusing, painful trial (component one) had to go head to head with the promises in the Word of God (component two)!

And when they do, even in the worst moments, even in the darkest news, there’s a light.

Faith is activated when we speak and believe God’s Word in a situation that begs to differ, in a situation that looks like quite the opposite of His heart, His character, and what we understand to be His will.

There are dozens of promises God has used to activate my faith here and now in this nightmare with my girls–Isaiah 43, John 14-17, Romans 8, & so many more. But there are two passages in particular that have challenged me to hold on to them:

  1. Luke 18:1-8 The parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow: The widow day after day tells the judge her case; eventually even though he really doesn’t care, she wears him out and he gives her justice. Then Jesus says: “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly! However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
  2. John 20:29 The story of Thomas’ moment of doubt: Jesus has risen from the dead, everyone is super excited, and Thomas says ‘no way, not until I touch where the nails were will I believe He’s alive!’ And all of a sudden, there Jesus is, standing before him, in the flesh. He says, ‘go ahead, friend!’ Then Thomas believes, after touching his side. And dear Jesus says: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I can tell God all day long what I believe His job is. He is so kind to let me. But He also wants to tell me my job.

He invites me to persevere in prayer, He wants to find his children asking, showing they haven’t grown bitter and too disappointed to come.

And He invites me to believe He is good, wise, loving, and in control long before I see it with my eyes.

“I am not ashamed, because I know Whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” 1 Tim. 1:12

 

What the Spirit Desires: A Cure for Worry?

All semester I have longed to truly trust God and see the effect of that trust in my feelings. I wanted His peace that everything was going to be okay, but constantly the concerns of my life were on my mind like if I forgot them, He would, too.

Then several weeks ago, this happened. I had no intention of blogging about this, but I kept feeling like I should share. In a nutshell, the Lord said to me:

“Lyndsay, thank you for going to the nations, learning languages, loving and serving your family, and being so concerned about obeying Me with your life. But dear one, I have this one thing against you and you desperately need to hear it. You do not trust Me. You don’t relax under my care and power as a child of Mine would. While you’re physically obeying, you’re worrying. You’re wondering if what “you’re” doing will be enough and if you yourself will be enough for all the problems surrounding you. It’s a shame. I have peace and life for you if you’ll just allow Me to accomplish in your life all I said I would in My way and in My time. You do not need to be or do anything except trust and abide in Me.”

I had to just think on that for awhile and then repent, all the while knowing I could not fix myself. That’s the awesome thing about repentance. It’s not saying, “I agree with You, Lord, I am wrong, and I will do better.” Nope. It’s “I agree with You, Lord, I am wrong, and I am completely bankrupt in every. single. area. of. my. being.” And HE promises to take that heart and make it clean; He also promises to bring solutions by the power of His Spirit once we realize our inability to live His way.

He wants me to live at peace and enjoy life as I follow Him. But how, if this (sadly) doesn’t come as easily as it should?

 

Romans 8:5-17 has our answer. Reading the whole text would be great, but the gist is that our minds can either be controlled by the Spirit or by our natural, sinful nature. 

The things I usually am all in a tizzy about, needing desperately for them to work out soon, are not bad things. They are actually all things that I believe by His Word to be His will. So that led me to skim over this part of Romans 8, because I never realized that my sinful nature can take over even in the midst of daily obedience and doing things HE has led me to do.

My mind constantly on these things working out in my way and my time, adding a smidge of “I better get this right or it’ll all fall apart” made my so-called obedience a big fat adventure in missing the point. Repentance truly was the step to take, not a self help book on worry, and the next step after that was to let God show me how to have a mind ordered by His Spirit.

We can choose at any time to set our minds on what the Spirit desires instead. Let’s get specific if we’re going to do it, right? What does the Spirit desire? Here’s just a short list…

*That we would know the character qualities of God and trust His heart

*That we would know the Word of God as a comfort and a sword

*That we would know and claim personally the specific promises of God for each individual trial we face

*Full surrender in prayer, acknowledging we don’t even know what to ask, and rely on His intercession (Rom. 8:27)

*That we would know how to praise and worship God, being lifted above this realm for healing, relief, and transformation

 

And lastly, back to Romans 8, the Holy Spirit who is such a good friend and wants so much for us in the Lord, He longs for us to know that we did not receive a spirit that makes us a slave again to fear, but we received a spirit of sonship. “And by Him, we cry ‘Abba Father’. The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we also may share in His glory.” (verses 15-17)

What are we supposed to set our minds on? What the Spirit desires.

What does the Spirit desire? That we would receive our spirit of sonship!

 

Three out of four of my children were once orphans.

That’s not an easy title to break free from, even after the adoption papers are signed. I can love them, show them my intentions, and care for their needs all day long, and they blossom, and I begin to think Ah, they are beginning to see themselves as daughters! But the moment I say “no”, or even “not now”, I see it in their eyes. They’re orphans again. The trust isn’t there yet. It’s all sight; no faith. It’s every man for himself; this supposed caretaker, this supposed parent, is not what I hoped for because they will not bow down to me and bend at my command!

When we are disappointed with God’s decisions in our lives or when we don’t see His power working quickly enough, we can easily take on a spirit of an orphan–bitter, untrusting, fearful, self-protective, focused on losses, controlling, angry!

No matter what I do for my girls, I cannot make them receive their new status as daughter…but it is still their’s, like a gift all wrapped up, waiting to be opened and enjoyed.

The same is true for us.

It’ll take time for my daughters to trust me enough to relax and go with the flow. It may take years, but I know the first step would be for them to really know me and their dad, and what we’re all about, to be immersed in our heart for them.

For us as believers to truly be just that–believers–we are going to have to know God, get past the little verses taken out of context and truly eat His Word, and get in step with the beat of His heart. We’re going to have to immerse ourselves in His heart for us, which is revealed through His Word, prayer, worship, and community. There’s a “new normal” the Spirit longs for us to embrace!

Right now for me, to abide means (a) to live in a place of knowing my bankruptcy, my inability to be who God is calling me to be and (b) to constantly be filling my eyes, ears, mind, and heart with what the Spirit desires.

I’m the type that needs to know what my job is.

This—abiding—this is my job. And the more I do it, the easier it is to see how very, very well He is doing His.

 

Some Good News for Struggling Hearts

It really doesn’t matter the exact circumstances. We all have hard things in our lives; we are in limbo about this or that, we are all waiting for something. We all have people in our lives that we pray for; we watch them bobbing out there on the waves that only Jesus can calm.

And sometimes WE are those people bobbing out there on the waves that only Jesus can calm.

That has been me for a while. I’ve been feeling a little untethered from the boat, a little unglued.  It’s exactly what I fear: That when especially hard times come, I will not be able to keep it together. So, I’m coming to this blog today with such honesty…and with some good news as well!

  1. John 15. Jesus says, “Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself…” Let me just stop there. I’m a branch. I can’t bear my own fruit. Right now, the fruit I want to bear is: a steady heart, believing God is good, simple trust, patience, joy. But “it must remain in the Vine. You cannot bear fruit unless you remain in the Vine. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The whole chapter goes on to explain this thought: “remain in my love and your joy will be complete”. My heart has sort of been in shut down mode with others and a little with God, too. I don’t want to “Be still and know that He is God!” (Ps. 46:10) But until I do, there will be chaos in my soul and the fruit that I long to bear and benefit from will not be there.
  2. Psalm 51. David says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” When you’ve been under stress or grieving or just having to surrender again and again (and of course I’ve just described life here), it does not take long for a spirit of disappointment, bitterness, and distrust to sneak in. We begin to see life from a defensive position, trying not to be hurt again. But the pure heart I long for would be void of that response…where there is now disappointment, bitterness, and distrust, this bold and honest prayer asks for a pure heart. Think white, clean, open…pure. We’re asking in this prayer for a steadfast spirit, a spirit that doesn’t go up with the good news and down with the bad, but is set on something, Someone, that keeps it steady. When we ask for the joy of our salvation to be restored we are really saying, “Lord, all these other wants and hopes have taken precedence over the gift of your salvation. Help me remember again, in awe and wonder, that my greatest need has already been met thru Jesus.”
  3. Luke 8:22-25, the story of Jesus and His disciples in a boat when a big storm came up. Jesus was sleeping through it. (Gosh, that feels familiar…”God, are you asleep? Don’t you SEE what’s going on down here? You could do something and You’re not!”) The boys say: “Jesus, we’re going to drown!” Like, “Hello!? Don’t you care?” And Jesus wakes up, meets their need, and says, “Where is your faith?” I kinda wish Jesus had done a “re-do” with them at that moment, so we could know exactly what response to the wind and the waves they should have had. Were they not supposed to wake him? Were they supposed to rebuke the storm themselves? Were they supposed to get tossed overboard and at the bottom of the ocean still be hanging onto stubborn faith that He would take care of them? I’m not going to pretend to know the step by step process of what to do when you’re scared and wondering what God is planning. But I do know this: Jesus was in the boat with them. And He is in my boat with me, too. When I say I’m going to drown under all this, He says, “Where is your faith? Don’t you think that me (the Master, the great I AM) being with you is worth something?” We are going to rock on these waves awhile. This is life. But He’s holding us while we rock; He’s that close, and He’s whispering in our ear that He knows we’re afraid but that learning to trust Him, learning to relax into His chest and hear His heartbeat, is worth something…may be worth everything…may be the very reason we’re here. Perhaps if the boys were to do a re-do they would wake Jesus and say something a little more like this: “Jesus, we hate storms. It feels like it’s going to hurt us more than we can bear. Please make it stop, but until You do, can we lay down there with You?”