Friday, July 27, 2012

A Safe Place

I find myself in the still soft glow of the full moon shining through the walls of our tent. The fire crackles outside while my husband tends it alone. Voices of other campers can be heard along with giggles from our teenagers and their friends.

Tucked under their covers, my three little ones lay satisfied from marshmallows and chocolate and I lay down between my sleeping son and my youngest daughter. The pattern of his breath softens my own.

Exhausted I close my eyes and my thoughts soon become dream like; blue sky and the rhythm of the waves beneath me lulls me deeper still, but blue suddenly darkens as clouds rush in and cover the moon’s light. Water turns to wind rushing through the canyon where we’ve camped.

My eyes open as lightning pierces the darkness and thunder shakes the ground beneath us. My son remains in deep sleep and the fearless daughter laughs as the four corners of our tents roof fight for the right to collapse.

The fire has gone out and my husband stands watch over his family, strong arms hold firmly the frame of our shelter.

The youngest daughter begins to cry. "Pray with me, Mama!”

She needs me near and I draw closer. My voice is calm as I tell her the story of Jesus in the storm. “The storm threatened to collapse their boat and the disciples were afraid for their lives. Jesus awoke and said to the storm ‘Peace be still’ and the storm calmed.”

I remember a song and I sing the lullaby to my daughter, my voice strong with assurance of its truth.

“Peace be still, lay all your worries down Be still oh my soul, my God is in control And if God is for us, then who shall I fear? And our God is for us, so lay down, be still”

I sing it again and again and peace from within comes out and faces the storm. Her eyes slowly close and her breathing slows and soon she’s sleeping along with the fearless one and my son. Giggles have stopped in the tent next to us and after awhile the storm subsides. My husband comes in and embraces me as the night is still once again, the moon returns and we quietly laugh together at the absurdity we’ve just experienced.

A year ago I said a big prayer. Our neighborhood had slowly gone downhill and a series of horrific events had infiltrated our home and our family and we were living in the aftermath. I wanted to escape. I wanted rest from what seemed like a never-ending attack on our family. I wanted to take back the prayers of “yes” and give back to God the ministry he’d placed in our hearts.

I prayed that God would take us out of here; that he’d bring us to a peaceful house out in the country where we could hide from the world and find again what had been taken, and what had been lost.

Our family.

My child’s innocence.

My joy.

My gratitude.

A house came but both my husband and I felt like something was not right, like we should say “no” even though it was exactly what I had asked God for so boldly.

We said “no”.

We stayed.

A couple days later I discovered that a girl who’d stood out to me at a youth conference lives a rocks throw away from us. I never knew that. She came to borrow some sugar the next day. Another girl from church was hanging out at the park across the street from us one day and I went out to chat with her. We talked about starting a small group and I offered my home as a meeting place.

Suddenly I didn’t want to leave. I decided that since we were here for now, this was God’s plan for now and I made the decision to BE here and rest in that.

But we still wanted to be out in the country, in our restful home on property, before this summer started. But summer is here and has been here, and here we still are.

Yesterday I stood by the playground with my new friend and just looked around, reflecting with so much gratitude on what has happened to our home and our neighborhood. People that were dangerous to my children moved away. The apartment which used to be a known drug house was bought, fixed up and now yesterday I met a lovely single mom who lives there with a son my own boy’s age. Other apartments near us were also fixed up and great families have moved into them. A house where guys partied on their front lawn now is home to a great local pastor and his family. Another party house where people would often drive away from while intoxicated is now being fixed up by a newlywed couple.

I am completely blown away and grateful for the transformation that has taken place.

And today, through tears I write, that I’ve been given a glimpse of how I have been transformed.

I’ve found forgiveness.

I’ve been strengthened with joy.

My heart for young girls and single moms is so full every day!

My children are being healed!

When we pray those dangerous prayers and move toward the “ministry” God has for us, there’s not always safety in the world, but there is safety in the arms of God…as He sings over our hearts to be still and rest…where He has us.

Maybe as you read this God is stirring up something in your own heart because you know what I'm talking about and you know that I haven't come near to describing the pain and fear you daily face. You might want to escape from something, some sort of hurricane in your life, where rest is elusive. I encourage you to allow the transforming power of Jesus to come in and unfold His beautiful plan before your eyes as they close. As your breathing slows and you begin to dream again.

**I'm in no way referring to any abusive situation when I'm talking about storms. If you or your children are victims of abuse, follow God OUT of there. He is powerful to rescue and will lead your path as you trust Him with your life.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I love getting to the place where the fog lifts a little and I glance back at the path that I've been tredging along on and see how each step has fallen into the place it was meant for.

And gratitude fills my heart!

A few months ago, at a women's retreat, a wise woman spent a large block of time talking about thankfulness and giving practical tips. One thing she mentioned was starting off her day listing things she's thankful for.

Sometimes I hate the idea of the "thankfulness formula" BUT I also know that it SIMPLY WORKS.

So I decided to try it, listing 20 gratitudes before raising my head from my pillow.

I admit, there are only a couple of days that I actually got to 20... hmm, pre coffee brain?
But...even if I only think of a couple of things it has now become a habit and has been a consistant way God has carried me through some darkened days.

And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

This morning I was thankful for my boy who let me sleep in a little before he peeked in my room and with his smiling eyes, asking for breakfast.

I was thankful for the worship song that was in my mind and on my lips as I woke up (this has happened more and more since I started this little routine).

I was thankful for the opportunity of our oldest to sing this morning in church for Youth Sunday (I think she did an amazing job by the way).

And my love, my big strong husband; the one who challenges my soul and my heart. I am thankful that God made me his helper, his partner, his encourager. I'm thankful that I can see things in him that he can't see himself and I get to call those things out of him! (God has brought me far I tell you!) 

And lastly today I cannot get over how thankful I am for friendships that are healthy, honest, vulnerable, and trustworthy.

Last weekend we went camping at a local campground on the beach. It was a beautiful Saturday and a lovely time of rest for our family. My husband needed it, just to take a break from the overwhelming tasks that having a business entail. I'm actually am not the biggest fan of sitting around a campfire, but he repaid me kindly by patiently waiting on a windy beach while the sun set over the islands in the west.


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