His Will. My Will.

My lips so often say, “Lord, Your will be done.”

It is my heart, however, that rebels and screams, “My will. My time. My plan.”

I struggle to synchronize my lips and my heart. I know what I should want and I know what I should say, “Lord, Your will be done.”

beach-1868772_1280As I say this, and try to mean it, my plan is still burning in my thoughts and seems so much better than His.

Tonight as I sit in the quiet of my living room, having a few minutes of peace while my husband runs errands with my son, it becomes blindingly clear to me that my current situation is less than ideal.

I am 39 weeks pregnant.

Christmas is 5 days away, and we are completely without a definite plan because of the baby.

I am recovering from a severe kidney infection, a harrowing experience indeed.

My family is 200 miles away; that is possibly 200 miles of extremely icy, unpredictable North Dakota roads.

My baby has been teasing me for weeks, acting like he or she would be here by now, but instead, has decided to permanently take up residence inside me.

As it is in the last weeks of pregnancy, everything is an unknown.

Today, God brought me to Luke 1:26-38. This is when the angel, Gabriel, appears to Mary and reveals to her that she will bear the Son of God.christmas-crib-figures-1060059_1280

Um…. Let’s talk about uneasiness and a less than ideal situation.

She’s a virgin. She’s engaged. She’s a teenager. Now, she carries the Savior of the world. Yikes!

In verse 28 it says that Mary was “deeply troubled” when Gabriel greeted her. Later, in verse 34 she asks him, “How can this be?”

Mary’s immediate response was not to trust God, but to doubt His plan and wonder at what it could mean. I resonate with Mary here since my first impulse is nearly always doubt, fear, anxiety, panic…then… in time… I settle upon trusting my Heavenly Father.

Mary does finally settle on blind trust when she says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Even 2,000 years ago, these words are like magic to this sick, pregnant, anxious woman.

I have no doubt throughout her 9 months of pregnancy Mary regularly wanted to scream, “My will. My time. My plan.” However, her trust in God carried her through nine months, and mine has and will carry me through these uncertain weeks.

Each time my heart screams, “My will. My time. My plan.” God will answer back and remind me to be still, give Him the glory, and let Him work in my life.

And besides, nothing would be more incredible than my little one sharing a birthday with the Savior of the world.

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To my First-Born

We have had 20 months together.

Just me and you… and sometimes dad, of course.

In the short 20 months you have been my son, you have taught me more than I learned in the 25 years I had before you.

You taught me what real fear looks like–fear that something might happen to you or fear that I may fail you somehow.

Of course, you also taught me what real faith looks like—a faith that weathers all the woes that parenting brings.

God has seen us through a lot in 20 months. He has seen us through sickness, surgery, tantrums, impatience, frustration, many many sleepless nights, hard falls, road trips, incessant and seemingly unnecessary tears, and He has most certainly given me grace during the many moments that I have reached my wit’s end.

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In 20 months, I have begun to grasp that God has given me an incredibly gifted and special boy. There have been many moments when I’ve looked at you and thought, nope I can’t do this. You are a daredevil and a troublemaker. You have a glint in your eye that seems to say, “Catch me if you can, mom.” You have worn me out and worn me thin with your nonstop energy and your ceaseless and unmistakable personality.

You are feisty. You are opinionated. You are strong-willed. You are a fighter. These are the reasons it has been challenging to be your mom for the past 20 months, but these are also the reasons it is extraordinary and thrilling to be your mom every single day.

I became a mom on the day you were born. I know this may seem rather obvious to you, but becoming a mom actually has quite a learning curve. I knew very early on in your existence, when you were still inside me, that my main purpose in life was to just be your mom. This is why I don’t teach anymore and I spend my days raising you. It is and always will be the greatest joy of my life.

And as your dad often says, you are such an awesome little dude.

For a long time, we thought your dog, Remi, might be your favorite. If Remi was around, no one else really mattered, especially your parents. Although, now you and Remi resemble siblings more than you do friends, constantly badgering one another and picking fights. I often feel like I already have two children. Remi is better at taking your toys than any of your human friends.img_20160312_162218

You and your daddy are two peas in a pod. You look like him. You even walk like him. You love everything he loves, and you most definitely make just as much of a mess of mom’s clean house as he does. You shout his name constantly throughout the day, even though you have understood for some time that daddy has to go to work. It is so obvious to me, already, that you want to be just like him. I see you watching him, imitating him, and attempting to be a man, just like he is. Each time I see this, I ask God to slow time down, to let you be a little boy a little longer. You will be a man soon, so for now, you can just be my little boy.

You get your eyes and your sense of humor from me. You laugh a lot, just like your mom. Your laughter reaches up into every corner of the room, consuming everything in its path, so that even when it dies away you can still feel it and know that it was there. The way you look at me and laugh with me heals my every worry and fear. No matter how imperfect the world may seem, when you laugh, everything falls right into place.20150807_110023

You are one of the most social children I have ever known. You definitely get this from your mom. You love everyone and you truly believe that everyone loves you. You want nothing to do with your parents when there are other people, even complete strangers, around. Sometimes, I already feel like I am raising a teenager and that I am just not cool enough to keep up with you. It’s really not a great confidence boost, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love to watch you come alive in the midst of others, and I love the smiles you bring to all their faces.

Just like your mom, it is imperative that you get out of the house and see other people every day. You have been like this from the very beginning. Even at a few weeks old, I would bundle you up and whisk you out of the house when I had no other answers to stop your crying. Once you had other things to see and hear, you were happy and so was I. You are still this way—always on the go. If I need to keep you cooped up for an entire day, we are both hurting by the end of it. Our favorite time of day is in the morning when we go to the library, run errands, go to a park, go to playgroup, or just go wander the mall. It’s all the same to you, as long as you aren’t stuck at the house. This is the part of you that drives your daddy nuts. It’s the part of me that drives him nuts too.

Your sibling has been on the way for about 9 months now, and many times throughout the 9 months, I have wanted to warn you, to get you to understand, that things are about to change. I have caught myself wanting to apologize to you—wondering if we should have given you more time to be an only child. I worry about the guilt I may feel when you lift up your little arms toward me to be picked up, and I already have your sibling in my arms. I worry about the confusion you may feel when you miss story time at the library or playgroup because your baby sibling is causing all sorts of trouble. I worry that I may not get to sit with you for 45 minutes at a time, just reading stories, with no other care in the world.

I never have to worry about these things for long, however, before you show me how incredible you will be as a big brother. You point at the infant car seat, which is a new addition to the backseat of our suburban, and say, “Mom! Baby!” You point at my tummy and say, “Baby!” You always move blankets away from a baby’s face so you can have a better look, and never fail to reposition his or her pacifier. You are so young, yet seem to understand exactly what’s about to happen. You were born to be a big brother, and I was born to be your mom.

img_20160305_081257In a few short weeks, you won’t be my baby anymore, but my oldest born. I will constantly be asking you to be a big boy and take care of your sibling. However, the memories we have made together over the past 20 months will be a treasure in my heart for the rest of my life. I will always remember when it was just you and me, and I will cherish it.

This is far from the last change we will experience.

Someday another sibling may come along, making you the oldest of three.

Someday you will go to school and discover a whole new world outside your parents.

Someday you will be a teenager, and those looks you give me– like I am your everything– will be rare and fleeting.

Someday you will become a man and discover a faith of your own, a life of your own.

You and I will change along with each of these life changes, but one thing will remain the same: I will always be your mom and you will always be my boy. I will pray for you each day of your life, no matter where you are or what kind of incredible human you grow into.

Soon, you will have a sibling and things will be different, but my love for you, just like God’s love for you, will endure and never falter.

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No Applause Necessary…

Happy Anniversary to Pursue Peace Blog!

Hmm…. For those of you who are wondering how I feel about writing just one year into blogging. The only thing I can really say is the following:

I love writing.

I love writing.

I love writing.

And sometimes I hate writing just a little bit.

When I started this blog a year ago, I had an incredible and, dare I say, unrealistic vision for it. I dreamt of being the next famed blogger, getting paid bucket loads of cash just for jotting down my ideas. I dreamt of people from all over the world drooling over my syntactically dazzling sentence structure and my even more exceptional and superlative word choice. In fact, I often considered that perhaps so many people would be begging me to write for them that my husband would retire from his job roughly 30 years early and we could buy ourselves a 10-bedroom house and raise 9 to 12 babies in it. I would write and parent and my husband would build things out of wood and parent. Life would be grand!

That’s just living the dream and I assumed it would be easy enough to achieve.

20161122_132536Alas, after 365 days of pure writing bliss, I have achieved not 1 million or even 10 million followers but a whopping 100. After I publish a post that I truly believe will change the world, only for it to be read by about 10 people, I am baffled. However, after I publish a post that was painstaking and served no real purpose other than just to publish a post, I don’t blame one soul for ignoring, or even avoiding, my artistic endeavor.

Blogging is full of ups and downs. I often wish more people would spend time reading my posts. In fact, my most frequent daydream involves the publisher of Focus on the Family giving me a phone call and begging me to write more short stories for their magazine. I promise I’m not the most arrogant person around—I just have enormously unrealistic expectations.

All I want is to be the next Flannery O’Connor, and for those of you who have not read her brilliant words: DO IT NOW. She is top-notch.

I do not even come close to taking pride in every one of my posts. There is nothing I hate more than publishing a post that I just could not perfect. I know it is not up to par, but I have no idea how to get it where I want it to be. So, eventually I just give in, hope for the best, and publish it anyway.

I often lie awake at night thinking of past posts and how they could have been made better: I should have said this, this word would have been better, I can’t believe I actually said that, etc.

All joking aside, I regularly pray that I will not forget all of our gifts are given to us by our Father and we should use them to glorify Him—this, of course, includes my writing. I have prayed countless times in the past 365 days that my blog would become as popular as the Lord wills, and that its main purpose be to encourage people in their faith. Whether God allows one million people to read my posts or just one, I know I can trust His plan for my writing and I can rest in knowing that I am doing it to serve Him, despite my desire to be the next Flannery O’Connor. It is so important to remember that we do nothing for our own glory, but for His.

Countless frustration abounds in writing a blog. A lack of motivation or inspiration is a constant battle. Negative comments must always be dodged. Frequent disappointment after receiving less than stellar feedback.  The list goes on…

Many have asked me in the past year why I write. More specifically, they have asked me why I write the things I do. I write because it is a gift I am trying to cultivate. I write because it is therapeutic. I write because it strengthens my faith. I write because I love it. I write because I just can’t stop.pencil-147130_1280

And there you have it: One year of blogging and my 60th post. Here’s to many more… J Thank you to all who have supported me!

Maybe Focus on the Family will call me during year two…

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Dress Shoes and Loneliness

It strikes her as odd that he is always alone. He walks by her house every single day at the exact same time, always on the opposite side of the street, like he has some sort of aversion to her sidewalk and prefers Carl’s, even though Carl’s aversion seems to be with shovels. That fact always makes her roll her eyes as soon as she gets through waving amiably to Carl—she just can’t get over his laziness. What she probably doesn’t realize is that Carl can see her loose eyeballs from across the street; she has yet to fool him.

She figured once winter descended upon the neighborhood, she would stop seeing the walker, but the only thing that changed beside the color of the ground was her inability to see his blue suit jacket beneath his bright red coat—making him look a lot like a cherry flavored mushroom.

Prior to the addition of the coat, the man never seems to change clothes. Normally, this would cause her to make all sorts of assumptions about the character of the man, except for the fact that he dresses like the sidewalk demands his best—black tie not optional so to speak. No matter the temperature, a blue suit jacket is always draped around his small frame with a black and white checkered button up peeking out from beneath it. She would generally be quite irritated at such a person’s lack of fashion sense, trying to blend navy and black–it’s practically sinful. However, to her surprise, and a bit of dismay, the walker manages to pull it off.guy-690751_1280

His faded blue jeans lower her estimation of his social class just a bit, but what really concerns her is the shoes he chooses to sport—black, lace-up dress shoes; the light from the sun glints off them like they are made of diamonds. It unnerves her. She has no idea where the man lives or where he is going, but she often considers meeting him on the sidewalk on any afternoon and explaining to him that his feet would thank him if he bought himself a proper tennis shoe. She refrains from doing so, as it is rarely received warmly when Alice generously offers her two cents.

menswear-952833_1280Besides his peculiar clothing, Alice notices very little about the man, except the fact that he is very little. Everything about him seems little except for one noticeable protrusion. She has deduced that he is not walking to lose weight, as months into his routine, his stomach still pretentiously overhangs above his belt—perhaps he simply carries a basketball under there.

Despite this annoyance, the man is very small. His eyes sit close together and rest on the bridge of his nose as if someone had once taken a vice and squeezed his face together. His head sits like a marble upon his thin, protruding shoulder blades, like a sucker on a stick. His short arms swing at his sides in an unnerving fashion, almost like they are detached from his body—Alice thought that perhaps there is no room for his arms since his stomach is taking up so much space on his torso.

He never got anywhere too quickly since his legs seem about the length of a small child’s, although the man does not seem to be in any hurry. This also unnerves Alice, such a curious creature should find another sidewalk to tread upon for she is downright tired of wondering about him.

At the very least, he could consider walking on her side of the street once in a while. Her side of the street had a better view anyway, and the children never trampled her lawn on their way home from school like they did Carl’s. Alice has considered all sorts of scenarios as to this man’s motives. He is not dressed appropriately to simply be out for a daily exercise routine. He is not walking to town to run errands as his return trips never reveal shopping bags. He is not going to visit someone—she has no evidence to support this fact other than she is just certain of it. She has also decided he is unmarried, since she assumes a woman in his household would never allow him to put on such miles with a shoe like that.

She often wonders if he has someone to make him dinner. Always an excellent cook, Alice considers maybe that person should be her. Shortly after this thought surfaces, however, she quickly dismisses such a ridiculous notion. She is sure he would not even thank her for going through so much trouble. She has no evidence to support this; she just knows it. Despite the fact she always dismisses this making-him-dinner notion, it never fails to return a few days later, only to be dismissed again with a bit more vehemence.

***

It was a Tuesday, another ordinary day. Alice awoke at 5:30. She had never awoken any later or any earlier since the birth of her first child, who decided early on in his life that 5:30 was the new 7:30. He never thanked her for spending so many dark, lonely hours entertaining him when the rest of the world was sleeping. She determined long ago he never would thank her. Alice read her paper and sipped her coffee until 7:00. She did not like coffee; it always gave her a stomach ache. She only drank it because her husband never enjoyed it without her enjoying it too. It never mattered to him she was faking it. He never thanked her for sitting with him every morning of their 40-year marriage drinking a beverage that, to her, tasted a lot like cough syrup blended with motor oil. She determined long ago he never would thank her.

After she’d showered, Alice messed with her gray hair for over thirty minutes, demanding that each strand find its correct location like a mother demands for a chore to be completed. Once satisfied, Alice headed for the door to embark on her weekly grocery run. As she reached for the door handle, she hesitated for just a moment—a hesitation entirely invisible to someone who does not know to look for it.

She barked at the deli attendant as he dilly-dallied with her ham and turkey. This was a weekly routine for Alice and the deli attendant. The fact that he never served her any faster was more of an act of will than it was his old age, which Alice never failed to mention. He was sure he was not more than three or four years older than her. Spending a few extra minutes with her was so worth it when he had the pleasure of witnessing her haughty little tantrums as she huffed away from him—skirt hiked up so far he could see the top of her pink socks, which landed immediately below her knee.woman-441415_1280

Never taking his eyes off the cracks in the sidewalk, the walker was venturing across Carl’s driveway when Alice arrived home, slightly later than usual thanks to that damn deli attendant. She eyed him suspiciously in her rear view mirror—the way he meandered really unnerved her. The way his head bowed low to the ground when he walked reminded Alice an awful lot of the way she walked the aisles at the grocery store. She did this to avoid speaking with anyone, as she really saw no purpose in conversing with a stranger. He was unlikely to meet anyone else on the sidewalk in the middle of winter, so she wondered why he walked that way.

She briefly considered walking across the street and confronting him. He ought to know the irritation he was causing her. As she reached for the door handle, a familiar hesitation occurred—one that no one knew was there but her. She took a deep breath, glanced across the street to the walker who had just reached the corner. Pushing away the urge to follow him in her ostentatious 5th Avenue, she removed her two bags of groceries from the backseat, walked into her silent house, and sat down in her recliner.

She could still catch glimpses of the walker’s head between the trees as he wandered down the street. She watched him until he was no longer in sight, and with a significant amount of disappointment that no one knew was there but her, she continued with her Tuesday and went to unpack her groceries.

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I Would Rather Eat Cilantro (I Hate Cilantro)

Before I begin, I want each one of you, whether Republican, Democrat, Christian, Atheist, Black, White, Straight, Gay, or otherwise to consider that perhaps none of this has anything to do with politics, nor is it about racism, nor women’s right. Politics is an inconsequential, yet necessary, social construct, whereas Christ’s presence and lack thereof in many belief systems throughout this nation is paramount. It is indispensable. It is literally a matter of life and death, Heaven and Hell.

I’m just going to have to start this post as honestly as possible by admitting that posting this is the last thing I want to do. Like all of you, I am tired of hearing about this election; I am tired of being treated poorly for my beliefs; I am tired of trying to convince the blind and disillusioned that they are indeed blind and disillusioned; I am especially tired of trying to convince others that I am not judgmental or hateful, but simply unable to remain silent, because I love Jesus. As tired as I am however, I don’t think that a Christian should be silent. A Christian should stand up, defend the principles that this country was founded upon, and in turn, defend the heavenly Father who is probably quite tired of being spit upon by the self-centered entitlement of this nation.

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Let me be clear: God does not need me to defend Him, and He most certainly does not need my help saving this nation’s soul. I guess I am doing this for those who don’t know they need saving. Christ has asked each one of us to help lost souls find Him, and I’m praying this may help. I need to be saved. My mom, who is an avid reader of my blog, needs to be saved. My son needs to be saved. And yes, you need to be saved. We all need Jesus, and we all need him equally. This is what leads me to write this blog post, which I am sure will be taken in the wrong context and I will be accused of all sorts of hatred, judgment, and arrogance while simply trying to…. Again… open the eyes of the blind.

It is my prayer that perhaps God has placed it upon my heart to say something because He longs for me to use my gifts in a positive way. That is always my hope for my writing. I still face the idea that this post will make any sort of a difference with some doubt. As a wise woman recently reminded me, “There is none so blind as those who will not see.” How true. I am not sure there is anyone out there who really desires to see the truth, hence the immense tumult the American people currently find themselves. I do think, however, that we all desire better, and I am here to say, hopefully in chorus with an abundance of other Christian voices, that I know how we can find the better.

It is Jesus.jesus-1740418_1280

It is Jesus.

It is Jesus.

If you think there is anything else that will heal this nation, you are blind.

It is Jesus.

Whether you agree with my beliefs or disagree, I pray that anyone who could receive the slightest amount of encouragement from this piece of writing will read it. I pray this is not a waste of time. I pray that God will use it how he wishes, and perhaps, will smile down upon this nation for just a moment because He sees many of us still fighting to do His will, no matter how beat down we may be. I also pray that any person who lost hope after this election and might find some restoration of that hope through the words written on this page, that he or she will read this, whomever that may be. I pray the Christian who needs to be reminded of God’s sovereignty, will read this. I pray the Liberal who now lives in fear, will read this. Most of all, I pray this post will not lead to more anger and more sin, but that anyone who takes in these words will be humble and willing to accept and process my views in the absence of hate.

God’s will for the United States of America in unknown. It takes me roughly 10 seconds of surfing a social media app before realizing that many of us have fallen into the appealing and effortless lifestyle of moral bankruptcy. This lack of morals is downright terrifying, and frankly, just despicable. I don’t know how God will punish us, but I know He will and I know we will deserve it and I know it will be just. Many of us should rest peacefully in this reality. In a world where justice is no more, God still is.

Even though I am aware of God’s sovereign power in America, I still wonder what His plan might be as I read and see hatred being spread like a virus. It pains me to say that if I were God, I think my plan would be to bring America to its knees. I think my plan would be to let us destroy one another, since we have made it perfectly clear that we think this is the best option.

flagSome Christians are now resting easy with Trump in the Oval, assuming the Lord has rescued us from the sinful, immoral, divisive beliefs of the Liberal establishment. However, many Christians are still very aware that Trump is an unlikely candidate to be used as an instrument in God’s plan to rescue America. I have laughed many times since Tuesday: It is so depressing that I am excited Donald Trump is in office. Donald Trump. He may literally be the single most arrogant man in history. I have, on more than one occasion, had a strong desire to knock him alongside the head.

No matter what kind of Christian you are, one thing is sure, you have hope. Whether the Lord uses Donald Trump to restore us or to bring us to our knees, we are always able to curl up in His arms and seek refuge. God’s immense love for each one of us really is a beautiful thing.

For those who fear Trump, I am sorry, deeply sorry, and you will be in my prayers for the next four years. I will pray for you because I know what it is like to fear the government. The day Obama was elected in 2008 was possibly one of the most depressing days of my life. Myself, my family, and many of my friends have lived in fear for eight years. Just as many of you believe Trump will strip you of your rights, I also believed Obama would strip me of mine.

For eight years, I purchased as many guns and as much ammo as my finances would allow, believing that one day I would be told it is no longer my right to own one, leaving me completely unable to defend myself against the contagious violence pulsing through this country.

For eight years, I assumed I would have no other choice but to homeschool my children because of the disturbing and anti-Biblical messages they were guaranteed to face in a public-school system.cropped-images.jpg

For eight years, I feared that socialism would take away my rights, and I would have no choice but to submit to a government that demanded I deny my love for Christ.

For eight years, I begged the Lord to save His unborn children, to open the eyes of the blind so that every child would get to see the light of day.

For eight years, as terrorism soared, I feared that my American way of life would be disregarded and overthrown by a radical who was in my country illegally.

So, I will remind you again, I know what it is like to be afraid.racism

I will not validate your fear as I firmly believe Trump has every intention of protecting each one of you. However, I also won’t disregard it, as so many of you disregarded mine when Obama was in control. This is why it has never been more important, nor has the timing ever been more perfect, for us to unite. We have been there and now you are there. We must have compassion and you must have patience. No matter our beliefs, our desires are the same–to better our country.

It is not my place nor my right to judge Donald Trump’s relationship with the Lord. His behavior leads me to assume he is far from knowing Christ. However, by listening to Christian Conservative sources instead of the dishonest Liberal media throughout his campaign, I do know he is conscious of Christianity and desires to have men of God surround him while in the White House. This brings me an immense amount of relief: It has been such a long time since I felt like God may have a place in our government.

I voted for Trump, and I did not do so because I am a racist, misogynistic, radical, white-lover. I voted for Trump solely because, between my two choices, he offered more of a chance of bringing us back to Christ. I firmly believe that God can do anything and use anybody, but it was my duty during the election to do what I could to get a man in office that at least has an awareness of a higher power. Trump’s comments and behavior disturb me as much as they do you, however he has surrounded himself with outspoken Christian men: Mike Pence, Ben Carson, James Dobson. In my frail, human perspective, for Trump, there was hope–for Hillary, there was none. Trump is still a bit of a mystery to me, whereas, Hillary blatantly and ruthlessly disregards constitutional rights, human life, my faith, and my Father. She made it perfectly clear that her agenda involved giving Americans less rights, giving the government more control, and shoving Jesus further out of the picture.

Despite all of these reasons, I would have only needed one to convince me that Hillary was not fit to be our president. Hillary Clinton has felt life growing inside her. She knows what it’s like to lay awake at night, unable to sleep, because the child within her beats at her ribcage with much vengeance and no mercy. She knows what it’s like to have her child react to the sound of her voice in utero. This is what makes it terrifying and deeply disturbing that she supports the idea of killing one of them. Any woman who has had a life inside her knows, in perhaps only the deepest parts of her heart, that it is indeed a life, with a personality, an appearance, and a soul all its own. A woman like this has no place in government, and without repentance, she will have no place in heaven.

Always aware of Trump’s enormous flaws, I find comfort in my faith. No matter what God’s plan for this country may be, I know He is in control and He is powerful enough to change Trump’s heart, and I will pray each day that Trump be open to receiving God’s guidance. I also find comfort in the many ways God has used vile and sinful people in the past to accomplish His will. I think of David, who had his lover’s husband killed, in order to cover up his affair. Despite David’s sinful nature, he served and loved God with all his heart, living as a servant of the Lord for the better part of his life. I think of Rahab, a prostitute from Jericho, no doubt covered from head to toe in unspeakable sin, who became an ancestor of Jesus because she chose to follow God.

If you believe the Bible is too far removed from the reality of the day, look at every single one of us. Each one of us is a disgusting, vile, selfish, hateful sinner, but each one of us has every opportunity to know and love Christ and be washed of these sins, no matter how filthy. This is a gift many of us are ignoring as we take on a fight that would not even exist if we allowed Christ back into this country.

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The reality is that many of us have forgotten God, and therefore, we have lost sight of what is best for us. Trump scares many of you because he may take away things that should have never been given to you in the first place. He may take away some of the vile sins that you have been free to commit with no discipline and with no conscience, simply because you do not know better. It is not your fault that you do not know better; standing upon any sort of principle is difficult when you have no compass. If God chooses to have mercy upon us and uses Trump to free this nation from our godless government, you will have no choice but to turn to God, or live in a state of constant fear and injustice—an injustice that Satan longs for you to recognize, to fight against, to augment with more bitterness. It is not injustice to bring God back into our world. There is nothing more just than a father who disciplines his children, and we need to be disciplined. It is important that we see it as a blessing.

I do know one thing. Whether a Liberal or a Conservative is in office, none of us should fear anything but the Lord. Turn to Him and He will protect you. He will equip you with all that you need to survive the next four years. How do I know this? God tells each one of us in His holy word—the Bible. Imagine how many may be brought to Him through this election. Imagine how many have already realized their immense need for him through this election. He works good in everything, and yes, that means even this torturous political season.

Now, one last word for the Christians of this nation: Stop being afraid to speak out. This is our chance. Take it. Stand up. It is not hateful to call another’s way of life wrong. Jesus did it all the time. Our voices need to be heard, but they will not be heard, if we do not speak. If fear causes you to remain silent in a world that is blatantly rejecting the God you love, you are choosing the world over your Father. Choose God and stand up. He will protect us all and reward us for doing His work.

cross-1448946_1280Jesus will heal this land. We have fallen too far to be saved by anything but Him. Not one of us is perfect and free from judgment, discipline, or our enormous need for forgiveness. This nation must humble itself before the Lord and repent, asking God to heal us, however He see fit. Satan is using the media to climax racism and injustice, so stop looking for it and making it the foremost issue. We must stop seeing protest and violence as a way to healing, but instead we must pray for one another for this is the highest form of love. We must return to the Bible and seek guidance from God’s living word. We must open our hearts to the Lord and stop believing that we can fix this on our own, without God’s love to guide us. Throw off your selfishness and find Christ.

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Following God Right Off a Cliff

One of two things can happen to a Christian when he suffers. First, he can turn away from the Lord in anger and go his own way, or second, he can fall into the arms of Christ and seek refuge, deciding to trust the Lord above anything else. I must say that when I suffer, I’m a combination of the two. I have never truly turned away from the Lord, nor have I ever truly given myself up totally to Him.

Many may already know that my husband and I have been facing a severe and terrifying life redirection. It has been frustrating because it was only a year and a half ago that we believed we had found the right path for our family and jumped head first into our new life. Well, this new and permanent lifestyle has already faded away and we are embarking upon a different adventure, a very perilous adventure so far.20161105_181636

To the world and often to us, it appears we are not using common sense to deal with our struggles. Despite the financial difficulties that have come with having a sick husband and a precarious job situation, we have decided, against all odds, that I will not return to work full time. This decision, at times, seems downright ludicrous. Thankfully, it only stays ludicrous for a few minutes until Heaven’s voice returns once again and we recognize God’s hand in our decision.

A nonbeliever does not have the capacity to understand why a family with a perfectly healthy mother would choose not to send her back to work in order to, ya know, buy food for the family. However, to the Christian, I believe the only thing we need to say to defend our decision is this: God has placed us on this path and we will trust in Him.

savings-box-161876_1280There have been more times than I care to admit when I have begun seeking my own solution to our difficulties. I have planned to substitute teach, clean houses, or land myself a number of part-time jobs. However, when I begin to take my life into my own hands for the purpose of restoring some order to the chaos that my husband and I face each day, God never fails to remind me that He wants me home with my children. The reason why He asks this of me, I really have no idea. It is not that I am unwilling or unable to return to work in some capacity, despite the fact that Baby #2 will be greeting us in six weeks; it is simply that we know the Lord desires for my husband and I to step out in faith and continue on His path for us, and there is no doubt that we are on His path, no matter how perilous it may currently be.

The decision to trust God when it goes against every ounce of common sense in your body is somewhat of a thrill. I find myself lying awake at night and, instead of worrying, dreaming of the possibilities that God’s plan may hold for my family. I hope and pray that my husband and I will be rewarded for our faithfulness, even though our faithfulness regularly crumbles into panic. I also hope and pray that this reward will come within the next few days, rather than our suffering be prolonged much longer. No matter how long my husband and I will battle the uncertainty of his health or career, at the end of the day, I can take a deep breath and believe that God holds us in His hands. I am not always confident or even willing to admit this because my fear triumphs over God’s peace much of the time.

My fear most often triumphs over my peace in God when I start believing what the world is saying. To the world, I must return to work. To the world, only the few and the proud are blessed enough to survive off one income, and I am no longer the blessed. To the world, my husband and I have only a few months to go before our home becomes a box on the street.20161101_135529

For me, the world seems to be right, except for the fact that I live for God—not the world. I am more concerned about what God thinks, and He has told us time and time and time again that He is all the provision we need. He has provided for us in unimaginable ways, and I know He will continue to do so. He has shown us in the darkest hours of my husband’s sickness that we are already reconciled to Him, and because of this, we can rest safely in His arms, even when all seems lost.

I don’t know what God has planned for our family and our future is extremely uncertain. I have never handled uncertainty well, and I ask God each day to pull us out of our trials. It is in the moments that God does not pull us out, that I realize we are being refined by fire. I realize how far my faith has come in three short months of difficulty. I realize that even though I would give anything to go my own way, I am safest amid God’s plan, and God has never promised to make it a smooth ride. Someday, I know I will thank Him for that.

diving-1600668_1280It is a great blessing when our Father asks us to blindly follow Him off a cliff.  It is when He asks us to move aside and let Him show us what He can do that we get a glimpse of his majestic power. This is where we truly discover what it means to live for Christ. Trusting God above myself will take me to a new level in my walk with Him, and I know I will look back on this season of my life and thank God for it. Most of all,  I will always be thankful that I was not standing in the way when God finally decided to reveal His plan.

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Briefness in Time

lightning-399853_1280When I was a little girl, I was entirely convinced that when the sky would burst forth with zig-zag patterns of light, it was made especially for me. Each time I stared in awe at a lightning show, I imagined the Lord saying to me, “Here you go, Tara. Here is my gift to you.” I often sat in the darkness of my bedroom, darting my eyes in every direction across the night sky, trying to ensure that I would not miss one bolt of uninhibited light. This is when my mom usually walked in and turned on the light to tell me it was time to get to bed, and I would beg God to give me one more good strike before I had to close my shades, before the only proof of the lightning outside was the shocks of thunder, heard from my bed.

“Just one more, God. I just need to see one more.”

My eyes seemed to always be diverted just slightly away from the exact location of the strike, causing me to excitedly look in the direction of the lighting, only to have missed it and find myself disappointed. I just could never have my eyes in the perfect position to fully appreciate a good strike. I would think to myself that if only the sky sent forth some sort of warning each time lightning was coming, giving all its spectators a chance to snuggle in and become completely absorbed in the precise direction the strike was to come. There would be no disappointment, and I would never miss a strike again. Sadly, my mind and my eyes could not move fast enough to catch every bolt of power; for one brief second it was there, and the next it was as if it never existed and my eyes were stuck staring at total darkness.

The college I attended sits upon a hill where the wind is fierce and the sunsets are heart stopping. Throughout my years there, I would regularly perch myself upon one of the many benches sprinkled on the edge of the hill, and s10400843_39671055375_5563_ntare into the valley below. Usually surrounded by friends, we would revel in the beauty of the day’s last minutes, as the sun said its goodbye. When I would begin to notice God’s colors fading, with the sun no longer visible, I would plead, “God, just a few more minutes. Just a few more minutes of this beauty.” To my dismay, He never answered this prayer—my friends and I always walked back to our dorm in partial darkness, only the dim light of the horizon guiding us home. Opening the heavy dorm door, I would look back one last time at the Western sky and a twinge of familiar disappointment would settle into my stomach. Another sunset—gone.

My husband and I had our first Fall in our new house last year. Everything in our lives was new—our marriage, our son, our jobs, our house—and this made everything, even the mundane, a bit of a thrill. As the days grew colder, God tucked each of the trees in our neighborhood to bed. One by one the colors would change and the leaves would fall. Each morning, another tree would not resemble its former self—without its leaves, it looked harsher somehow, less full of life. Each tree resigned itself to the cold, but the perfectly shaped Maple in our front yard held on. As the dead and Fall-stained leaves blew through the grass below it, our Maple refused to embrace the winter cold, clutching the green pigment in its leaves like a vice. It held on so long my husband and I began to wonder if it would ever give up.

20151107_082926.jpgOn a frosty, November morning, everything eerily still beneath the cold, I rushed out the door to a church retreat and stopped midway down my front stoop: the Maple had finally succumbed to Winter’s brutality. Almost overnight the leaves had turned a golden yellow, and with the morning sun gazing at the tree with an oblong look, the tree glowed like it was made of gold. The leaves that had already let go littered the ground beneath, forming a perfect circle around the trunk. With the green pigment gone, the Maple had no strength left, and the leaves fell in rapid succession like a summer drizzle. Despite my hurry, I looked in wonder at the sight before me. The pitter patter of the frost laden leaves knocking against twigs, branches, and the unwelcoming cold of the ground sent a shiver down my spine as I snapped a couple pictures, trying to capture the simplistic complexity of a single moment in nature.

I hopped in my car and drove away reluctantly, saying to my Father, “Please, God. Don’t let it be over when I get home. Just let me see it one more time.” As I arrived home that night, a familiar disappointment crept along my spine when the Maple matched the barrenness of every tree on the block.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized perhaps the very thing that made lightning such a gift was its unpredictably, my anticipation, and its briefness in time. Perhaps God’s strokes with His paint brush, a perfect blend of colors—pastel and bright—never mimicking a former painting and filling the evening sky for just a few minutes is the very reason I cannot take my eyes off of a sunset. Perhaps my first ever Winter goodbye to my Maple would not be a thing to retell, had it not been so rare, so brief, like a whisper in a long period of raucous conversation.

If life were the sun always setting, always sitting upon the horizon waiting to take its 10400843_39671075375_7128_nlast leap from daylight, always stretching its glowing fingers across the land, basking us all in a warm glow, a sunset would be no more noticed than the cars along the street. It would be an ordinary sight, no matter how unique and beautiful. If lightning was more considerate to my human limitations, more willing to lend its beauty whenever I desired, I would, very soon, stop asking to see it, stop begging it to show its face one last time.

It is the briefness of a beautiful, perhaps flawless, moment that distinguishes it as beautiful in the first place. God’s unwillingness to answer a prayer that begs for more is His gift to us. This is why it is such a treasure. He wants us to let go and put Him in control–He desires for us to thrive in the midst of answered and unanswered prayers, in the midst of the mundane and big changes; whether He gives or takes away, He will create beauty. When a moment of beauty ends, fades, or is taken away from us, God’s plan continues to reign in the midst of our disappointment and He will work in this loss to establish one of His most perfect pieces of creation.

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