Story Behind the Song: The Other Side of Night

In 2005, I had my little six week old baby, Selah, in my arms and my husband, a youth minister at the time, was watching an International Justice Mission video in the other room. I overheard it teaching about modern day slavery and the sex trafficking of children. Something in my heart broke like it never had broken before.

Five years previously, I had lived in a poor little village in Mali, West Africa, as a short term missionary. My year there was really hard, and I saw short life spans and absolutely zero ease of daily life, but I also saw joy, hard work, family, loyalty, and a precious culture. I loved the poor already. I loved nations and languages already. But I did not love justice yet, because I was so unaware of the lack of it.

There I was, 27 years old, newborn baby in my arms, the first time in my adult life that I literally couldn’t go anywhere I wanted around the world to try to meet a need. It killed me. I wanted to RUN to those people and I didn’t know what I would do once I got there, I just knew I didn’t want to be here, doing “nothing”. I lived in that real tension for a couple of years, my journals and songs and friends could tell you. It was such a slow and painful work the Lord did in me. But the outcome was life changing; it changed me from the inside out.

God did these things, in this order…

  1. He allowed me to SEE. He opened my eyes to what I had been unaware of, sheltered from. I became educated. Because of my relationship with Him and call to the nations already, it wasn’t hard to also SEE in another way: That these people were just as precious to God as I was, and they were deserving of justice, hope, and help. I asked God to help me see them as actual family.
  2. He made me GRIEVE. I thought, “How is crying and mourning and just being sad for these people–refugees, orphans, starving children, the persecuted–helping them at all?” But this grieving was part of the process to being changed from the inside out. This will sound crazy, but I even wore black most of the time for that season. My heart was half there, half here.
  3. He led me to PRAY. I began to pray for ministries helping people and the people groups themselves that were affected by war, slavery, trafficking, poverty, etc. I asked Him–no, begged Him–for more than “just prayer”. Eventually, this season of prayer and lamenting brought me closer than ever into union with the heart of God and it was in prayer that He gave me part of His heart. (And the same is true for millions of other believers!!)
  4. He made me dependent on the HOLY SPIRIT. The Church is really good at pep rallies, but that is not how God speaks to me. He made me wait on Him, and little by little the path of how I could tangibly “help” came into clear view. Some of what we started doing was with our church community, some of it was as a family, and some of it was personal. If ever I wasn’t listening to the Spirit, and just did what I wanted, it would be made clear– it just wouldn’t bear fruit, or it would feel like I was tugging something along that didn’t want to move. It was like I would say, “God, why is this not working? It’s a good thing!” And He would say, “I never told YOU to do that.”
  5. He led me to join in their suffering through TANGIBLE SACRIFICE and GIVING. Yep, we finally got there! We started our adoption of Yemi, from Ethiopia, when Selah was 2 years old. Parts of this were excruciating, as we fundraised, gave all of our savings, saw her health deteriorate while still in Africa, and eventually it would again be so painful as she realized her early losses in life. We got to adopt again from Haiti, this time two sweet girls, Eva and Zoe, who just got home 1.5 years ago. Again, we shared in personal suffering as we went through these long processes and became a trans-racial, bi-cultural family. As a family, we write letters, pray, and give to two sponsored children through World Vision and Compassion International. When we receive any unexpected money, we pray and find out where God wants us to give some or all of it. We pray through Voice of the Martyrs magazines, and when friends or family are going on mission trips or collecting items, we try to be a part of that. We financially and prayerfully support missionaries and organizations we believe in, like International Justice Mission that literally kicks down the doors of brothels and sets innocent prisoners free. We started a ministry called Sister Bridge where we partner with artists/women in third world countries and sell their items here, sending all of the money back to the artists, in hopes they can make enough money to keep their families together. We work with ministries that are sharing the gospel with these women/artists as they train them in these crafts and skills! We try to have a view of our money and belongings that they are God’s, and while I think we are probably failing at it, we want to live in equality with the least of these. It’s important to me that we always have before us this absolute tangible reality that we shouldn’t seek more comforts and privileges while others don’t have their basic needs met. I don’t feel guilty for my needs being met, or for gifts given to me, but anytime the “American dream” starts to sneak in my heart, He sends something to snuff it out. May He EVER continue to do so, and may He show me more and more and more ways I can be faithful!

I don’t say ANY of these steps, especially #5, to “toot my own horn.” There are so many people doing SO MUCH MORE. I still feel the tension of the needs around the world, the reality of hurting people, and my comfortable life. But I know for sure at this point that I am walking in obedience with an open and completely available heart and life. That’s all I can do, and when the Spirit gives me more opportunities to be an advocate, give, serve, suffer, or go, I will do it.

This song–The Other Side of Night–is a heart cry. It was written in tears. There is such a disconnect between the Church and the least of these. We are so, I AM SO, individualistic and independent and set on personal success and comfort and fun for my family.  But I believe God never intended such a disconnect, such a great divide between us. I’ve heard this phrase and I love it: “Live simply so that others may simply live.” It’s a personal conviction I pray that I grow in and see how to live out.

May He do so much more in our hearts than the little I have written about today! But lets not be afraid to “do little”! Thinking nothing will change is not for the minds of children of God. We carry His love and hope in each little thing–each tear, each prayer, and each act of obedience.

Top Ten List: Practices I Promise You Won’t Regret Starting This Year

As we start off the New Year, I’m thinking about some habits and choices that  I want to do or already have done in years past — choices that have the power to really enhance my relationships and life for the better! I want to share ten of these practices in the form of one of my very favorite things: A LIST!

  1. Sponsor a child or sign up for monthly giving! I highly recommend the following ministries: worldvision.org, compassion.com, empowerhaititogether.org, embracinghopeethiopia.com, lifesongfororphans.org, ijm.org, and persecution.com
  2. Work to memorize Scripture! Aim for one chapter or one really meaningful passage, or verses about a particular issue with which you struggle.
  3. Ask God whom to put on a daily prayer list. As you pray for them, send a card sometimes to encourage or at the end of the year, let them know you prayed for them all year!
  4. Read aloud a devotional or inspirational biography at dinner or bedtime or before school at least once a week as a family.
  5. Make a change in your diet, even if it is to only add one beneficial food and remove one harmful food for the year. And can I squeeze into #5 to exercise at least 15-30 minutes per day?
  6. Put on your calendar a quarterly, if not monthly, ladies’ night/men’s night or coffee date with a friend! No one is going to do this for you; make it happen!
  7. Plan 12 dates with your spouse if you are married. Even if they are “couch dates”, write down the ideas and put them in a jar to pull out or put on your calendar once a month. Get the sitter a month in advance. We can do this, y’all! When we are old, we’ll be sorry that we didn’t…It’s good for the kids to see us date, too!
  8. Live in community, inter-generationally! Seek out relationships with older and younger people; write down the story and advice of at least one older person this year and seek to serve them this year.
  9. Pow-Wow! Give the closest people in your life a chance to share their heart daily, in two categories. Ask them what was great about their day, and listen (this is their Wow!) Ask them what was difficult and what they’d like to sort through, and listen (this is their Pow!) You can do this with friends, roommates, spouses, and definitely kids and teens. I do this as I put my kids to bed each night and if I “forget”, they do not. 😉
  10. Plan a day or weekend anywhere from 2 to 12 times a year where you get away from people and re-think schedules, goals, relationships, health, etc. Read, watch inspiring movies, be quiet, journal, be in nature, and let God renew your mind, heart, soul, and strength in solitude.

We are responsible to take care of ourselves (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually)…our immediate family, our marriages, our kids that won’t be kids for long…the least of these among us, close by and around the world…the elderly…but we get busy and sometimes just live on autopilot! Whatever your choices are this year, let them be YOUR CHOICES. Whatever you spend your time on, whatever you commit yourself to do, let it be thought out and deliberate. What you decide today is a little bit who you are tomorrow. 🙂

Story Behind the Song: And the Angels Sang

It’s hard to believe that I wrote this song about fifteen years ago! Does that make it officially an “oldie”? Oh, well. My kids make it feel new. As each daughter of mine learns it, hears it on the iPod or Pandora, or even plays it on the piano themselves, every year at least one of them says to another: “Mom wrote this song!” It’s sweet.

I wrote this song when I was a really, really new songwriter. It was one of my very first songs actually and I was still in that stage of asking people, “Is this a real song?” I’ll never forget how it happened…A great friend of ours, Matt Black (www.mjblack.com) asked me if I had any original Christmas songs that I would like to sing at an upcoming Christmas concert. I told him I didn’t…yet. Matt has an incredible gift of including people and giving opportunities for songwriters/singers to grow and “get out there.” He really did that for me, time and time again!

A while later, I went over to Matt and Joanna’s apartment and said, “Hey, I did write a Christmas song! Can I sing it for you?” So they sat down on their couch, with their little white Jenny-dog, and listened all the way through. When I was done, I turned around from the piano and Matt gets up and yells, “Oh, no! Jenny pooped!” So Joanna and I were laughing, Matt was taking care of the dog, and nothing more was said about the song, to my remembrance.

Fast forward about two weeks to the Christmas concert I mentioned…

I walked in to the theater and Matt said, “Are you going to sing the song you played for us a couple weeks ago?” I didn’t have the song with me. I had no idea he had liked it or wanted me to do it! Looking back, I realize how dumb I was to not ask or anything, but I think I was too shy and didn’t want to be rejected! So, I drove home really quickly, got the song which I hadn’t practiced in two weeks, and played it for the audience at the end of the concert. It got lots of love, and I kinda like how I didn’t have a chance to be nervous, considering it was all a surprise that I would be performing!

Anyway…about the actual song: It tells the greatest story ever told, how God sent His mercy and love in the form of a baby. Maybe creation knew the magnitude of that moment, and maybe every single created thing worshipped (and continues to worship) Him in their own beautiful way. Truly, the earth is filled with His glory and I hope you’ll join your heart with us in worship as you watch and sing along!

 

Story Behind the Song: Just Want You

I miss getting to share at concerts all the details about my songs–where I wrote them, what was going on in my life at the time–and so I’m going to try to do one blog a month that tells the stories, one song at a time.

The first one that I want to do really should be JUST WANT YOU. This song is truly my testimony. Not my “I was six, loved Jesus, and walked down the aisle” testimony, but my ongoing adult testimony. It is the story of learning and re-learning that my life began when I found Him and He never intended me to get caught up in anything but that one fact.

Being a church girl, being in the generation of big youth rallies, being a “helper” at heart, gosh, there has been no end to my ambition “for the Lord.” But how easy, how quickly, can worship and adoration and passion turn from His face and His voice to this all out, you’re a wimp if you can’t hang, die hard occupation with doing “His work” on earth?

Never ever would I say being His hands and feet is wrong, (it is merely second in command), but our eyes have to stay on His face and our ears have to stay tuned to His voice or what we do with our hands and feet may just be us doing. Just doing doing doing. Spinning our wheels, angry at others for not doing, frustrated by lack of results. How many times have I thought I could only focus on one or the other? Either a Martha OR a Mary, etc.

So when Selah was just a baby, I stayed home from church one Sunday morning. I seem to remember it was in July, near or maybe on my salvation birthday. I had been a missionary in Africa before coming home, getting married, and having this first baby…I still struggled with why that commitment to missions didn’t work out for me, why I couldn’t “cut it.” I just broke down before the Lord and told Him I was so tired of waking up every morning feeling like I had failed Him. I told Him, “I quit. I quit trying to be great and do great things for you. I will just be a nobody in Your kingdom. Count me out of that special team, Lord, I will just love you and know You love me, and that’ll be enough. I can’t keep wanting to do more, with you not allowing me to do more. I can’t keep feeling guilty for what I’m not ABLE to accomplish for you. I have nothing to show for myself! So, I give up on this making a difference for You thing. Just take me as I am!”

I feel like the Lord smiled and said, “Good. Finally.” It really did feel good to get all of that out of my system; to really say what I meant and address it. Of course I wasn’t able to look at it as I do now! At the time, I was broken hearted. Ten years of my life, my calling, it felt like I was forsaking it all.

And I was. I was forsaking the blurry vision, the headstrong idea, of what it meant to be a Christian and a servant of the Lord. Finally on that day in July, for the second time, the first for my soul and now for my life, I received GRACE. You have to know how low and empty and lost and unable you are in order to receive grace. There’s simply no other way to get it.

I hadn’t accepted before that day that only God could make a difference in the world. I hadn’t accepted before that day that if I was making a difference, I most likely wouldn’t even know it. I hadn’t accepted before that day that blindly following God step by step with no agenda or hopes of a great resume was truly what He wanted…and even more than that obedience (which He clearly defined to me as different than ministry), He wanted intimacy. Intimacy first, the rest would follow. He wanted me to:

Just. Want. Him.

Like He Just. Wants. Me.

And I learn and re-learn the lesson. He is so good, so gracious. I have to keep learning to fall flat on my face, give up, and then go, “OH!! Right!” I have to keep learning to come back to my first Love, to sing the foolish love songs, to forget about everything else and get lost in His Presence. I like to run! I like to go and do. My heart bleeds for so many people. I will never understand why I am held back from “doing more”…but I can say I am obedient by pursuing intimacy and stillness with Him, and I believe that means that what I am doing will be fruitful. That is of course by faith, because in my natural mind it doesn’t make sense nor does it seem to be enough!

The most important thing I can say here–to myself–to anyone–is that nothing else matters, nothing else is even lasting, if we have lost our first Love. If gazing in His eyes, eating His word, singing Him worship songs sounds dull or a waste of time or only for certain people, we are missing the whole entire point. I’m not saying all of our walk with God is emotional, private, or quiet. I am saying this intimacy is our root and then our life is the stem and branches, leaves and fruit. No root, then there will be nothing else, not for long.

“So after all this time

after all this journey

after all I’ve tried to be

You simplify, clear my mind

of all I could pursue

so I could just want You.”

 

When You Don’t Know How to Pray: Six Simple Prayers

Whether it’s a friend in the hospital, a family in the roughest season of their adoption journey, a natural disaster that has ravaged a country, or an ambulance driving by while you’re putting groceries in your car…something inside of us knows we need to pray. It’s innate, because God wants to let us in on His heart and actions for people.

I have went through the questions, like, “If God is good and loves people, then why do we need to pray? Will He not move on their behalf anyway, because of His own goodness and mercy?” I don’t know the answer, but I do know this, and it’s the most important thing I know about prayer: Anytime, anywhere, and with or without anybody, we can ask for a fresh revelation of the love of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit to appear and HE WILL DO IT. He will always be happy to reveal His love, either to us or to others, near, far, high, or low. He will always be happy to permeate any place with His Spirit, in increasing measure, AS WE PRAY. Y’all, that makes me want to pray, because this world needs a touch from the Lord and we can pray that in!

So, when there were several major prayer requests on my heart last week, the Lord gave this to me in my journal and I wanted to share it with you. It’s six simple prayers for when you feel led to pray for those in the human trafficking industry, missionaries having safety or health issues, or the news tells of another merciless earthquake.

  1. Lord, send Your Spirit in increasing measure to comfort and convict; send a fresh revelation of Your love and care!
  2. Raise up the local church around them, Lord, to hear Your voice and literally be Your hands and feet!
  3. Jesus, I ask that You would dismiss Satan and any plans he has to steal, kill, and destroy in this situation.
  4. Please send missionaries and aid workers, people of peace and angels of mercy.
  5. Lord, take over my finances and show me any money You want to be shared.
  6. Send me. My eyes and heart are open, now please open doors of opportunity for my family and I to step in and be part of a physical solution, if it is Your will.

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!

 

Run After Me

Hi Friends!

I have finally added an official recording of Run After Me to YouTube. Many listeners have told me it was one of the first songs they heard from me, on Pandora, and I hope you enjoy it, too!

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.