Monthly Archives

December 2016

When God Doesn’t Show Up The Way You Want Him To – 3 Questions For Finding Hope

December 27, 2016
Dark unfamiliar roads stretched through the town of Durham, North Carolina on the morning of December 21st, 2015. In the predawn stillness, two of my siblings and I navigated a route toward Duke University Hospital over nearly empty streets.
We spoke softly, not knowing exactly what the day would bring, and tried to ward off the chill in our hands and hearts.
Just a few short miles away, our youngest brother was being prepared for an intense, high risk brain surgery none of us wanted him to face, and we were determined to wake before the sun to show up with love, prayers and support.
A cloud of questions and uncertainty hung in the air. One we carried together, but knew the strength would ultimately have to come from a much higher power.
Thinking back on that day, now more than a year later, I vividly remember how hard I prayed (and still do pray) for a miracle. I wanted God to unleash an abundance of healing and make everything better again.
Maybe you can relate?
When facing difficulty, it’s normal to desire that God swoop down and fix the problem on our terms or deliver a solution we believe to be the right one. And it’s not always easy when He doesn’t show up the way we asked Him to.
But could it be that He’s calling us to slow down and recognize the detailed way His hand touches our lives, even when it’s not the hoped for answer?
Upon reflection of that cold winter day in North Carolina, I can say without a doubt, God showed up. Not the way I asked Him to, but in beautiful ways I did not anticipate.
Like the time a stranger, who knew nothing of what I was facing, sent these words hours before news of the surgery came:
“If God is on our side, who can be against us?”
Or the unexpected artwork and voice of encouragement from a beautiful six year old girl that brought my siblings and I to tears in the spacious hospital hallway.
And the sure, steady way God’s hand gently guided the surgeon’s, bringing an expected four hour operation down to just over two.
And the precious friends and family who drove hundreds of miles to be with us, putting their own needs aside to offer love and support.
Each experience carried God’s signature, allowing me to know, that even in the darkest night, we are surrounded by expressions of His love.
With time comes light and perspective, and God alone knows what each of us needs to change from what we are to who He wants us to be.
Sometimes, we may pray for victory – and God calls us to surrender.
We may ask for healing – and He offers hope instead.
We pray for the pain to lift – and He supplies fresh strength to carry the burden.
We may ask for an end to suffering – yet He sends down comfort for the battles we must face.
It’s not always easy to understand, but perhaps God is calling us to press beyond the veil of our own desires, and truly know He is near, in the good times and in the bad.
And I dare say there is nothing more beautiful than the kiss of Heaven woven intimately through our earthly struggles.

I don’t know the hardships you face, but I encourage you to consider three questions when clouds hover on the horizon, and I will try to do the same.
  1. Even in seasons of darkness, what unexpected blessing can I embrace with gratitude, knowing it is an expression of His love?
  2. While in search of God’s miraculous power, may I pause to recognize the whisper of His abundant presence?
  3. And though His answer doesn’t align with my desire, can I still find Him close through the provision of His sufficient grace?
These answers may not come easy, and on earth, I believe difficult journeys will always be par for the course.
But the good news is, we don’t have to walk alone. And if we move forward with open hearts, God may show up in beautiful ways we never could have expected.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured image credit Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_123rfguy’>123rfguy / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

 

Mining Gold In Moments of Gathering

December 19, 2016
They disappeared beyond a dip in the shoreline with sun kissed cheeks and tousled hair. One little niece and two nephews arm in arm, sandy feet carrying them down the beach to the rest of our group. With family in town for a long awaited stay, I could almost feel the moments fading.
December was upon us, but the cold grip of winter had yet to settle a firm hold here in the South. A smattering of vacationers and residents basked in the lingering whisper of autumn, lining the soft earth with chairs, coolers of snacks and iced tea.
Soon it would be time to join forces and begin the process of cleaning and packing. To shake the remnants of sand, sea and togetherness from our blankets, collecting towels and toys before trudging across the dunes toward the end of this beautiful day.
But not yet.
I turned, frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean teasing bare ankles, a constant reminder of my role as an unofficial lifeguard to these children of my heart.
Several more little ones played in the waves, jumping and splashing beneath a bright blue sky as seagulls pranced overhead, their soft gray and white wings moving against the late afternoon breeze.
This buzz of activity alternately stirred fear and delight in my nieces and nephews, the flurry of birds soaring high and swooping low at unpredictable intervals drawing a mix of giddy squeals and wide eyes at their unusual closeness.
And I knew these were the moments I wanted to remember.
The love. The laughter. The excitement and thrill of being together with little thought of how quickly it would all be over.
Soon there would be the struggle of herding our crew toward showers and dry clothes. And the duty of lugging armloads of beach gear across the dunes, up a weathered boardwalk and into the parking lot, layers of sand and seashell dust multiplying along the way.
But it would all be worthwhile.
Because along with these strands of time comes high reward when we choose to fully embrace beauty wrapped into the experience.
As time passes, I realize the stark reality of words that have been handed down for generations: “Life is a vapor. Treasure the good moments while you can.” Amid the rhythm of a fast paced life, I know it’s what I want to do, and I’m guessing you do too.
Thinking back on that day now, no longer standing at the water’s edge or surrounded by childlike wonder filtering the salty air, I’m struck by the value woven through these moments of togetherness.
Perhaps it’s a bit like mining for gold, where the sifting of hard work and responsibility is part of a natural process in uncovering shiny nuggets of wealth. A place where effort and reward go hand in hand if we’re willing to pause.
If we’re willing to release the rush and embrace the treasure hidden just below the surface.
All too quickly, times of gathering with those we love will slip through our fingers. But the next time we feel the moments fading, what do you say we linger just a little longer? Let’s fully embrace the present and allow memories to settle, captured forever in our hearts.
Because ultimately, regardless of status or wealth, these tiny slices of time will be worth more than all the gold in the world.