Monthly Archives: February 2018

Sophie’s Story: A Winter Hat on a Warm Spring Day

Have you ever had one of those moments where you are saying something to your child and you immediately hear the voice of God speaking it back to you? I had one of those moments this morning. We were running late getting ready for school, surprise, surprise. I hadn’t slept much the night before. The baby was cranky, being the reason that I was up, she was also sleep deprived. I was trying to do too many things in too little time. As I hurried to get ready to avoid driving Sophie to school in my bathrobe, I shouted instructions to the big kids, hoping against hope they could get themselves together better than usual when left to their own means. I asked Sophie to get her pink blanket for rest time at preschool, to get her socks on, and to get her shoes on. Three simple requests.

She came back to my room a few minutes later where I was trying to dress myself while keeping the baby out of my trashcan, and she proclaimed with glee, “Look, I got my hat!” She’s wearing her winter hat. Sockless. Shoeless. Blanketless. But she’s got her hat. And she was so happy about it. In my overwhelmed moment of frustration I told her she didn’t need a hat today because it’s 50 degrees outside. (Can I get an amen for that?!) I reminded her about her socks and shoes and blanket. But instead of getting on the ball, she came back to that hat and argued with me that she did indeed need her hat today, that she planned to wear it outside to school. I should have just dropped it. She’s six. Her logical function is, well, six. Sure, wear your hat. It’s a hat, who cares! But I was a little annoyed with her attitude to argue with me, and so I chose the wrong battle. But in that battle, what I said to her really resonated with my own journey lately.

“You have spent all this time worrying about a hat that you don’t even need when you have not even done the things I’ve asked you to do. What I’m asking you to do will prepare you for school, where you need to be today.”

That hit me between the eyes, man. I have spent so much time worrying about things I don’t even need instead of just doing what God has asked me to do. When I spoke those words, I heard “house” rather than “hat” in my head. You have spent so much time worrying about a house you don’t even need instead of doing the things I’ve asked you to do. I’m going to chew on that one today. Mine’s a house. What hat are you worrying about?


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The Arrow

In the past six months, my husband and I have had to grapple with some real-life big decisions. Adult decisions. Risky decisions. Uncertain decisions. Should we continue to carry our private health insurance which is so expensive it is literally sucking us dry? Should we sell our home and move closer to his job? What do we want to do for school for Sophie next year? Should I get a job outside the home, or a work-from-home job? I’ve felt a keen lack of direction in many of these areas. What I have wanted in each situation just does not seem to be lining up with reality, in any way. It’s been a frustrating and unsettling season of waiting. I’ve been seeking direction, figuratively and literally, as there are several “where’s” among my questions. But I feel like I’ve been casting about quite a bit in my search.

Today clarity settled on me as my eyes landed upon yet another arrow while I was browsing the card aisle. The arrow. They’ve been everywhere since November, on my purse, on a new scarf I received for Christmas, on home decor I’ve seen in stores, on cards and more.

As a new year opens, some people search for a word for the year. The past three years, I have received an image for the year instead, although a word tends to emerge in tandem. Two years ago it was the lighthouse. They were everywhere. And as I dwelt upon that image, the word beacon emerged. Jesus was (and is) my beacon, shining his light on my life, and through my life on to others. Last year the image was the bloom on my morning glory, and the word bloom accompanied it. It didn’t bloom until November the previous fall, right after we discovered we were expecting our much longed-for third child. In 2017, I bloomed as her life came to be. And for 2018, the image is that of an arrow. Each arrow I’ve seen over the past three months has drawn me in and captivated my attention in a surprising fashion. But today as I pondered our finances and our move on a more serious level, the significance of the arrow bounded to the forefront of my mind.

I think God has been placing these arrows on my path as a reminder that he is my direction. Yes, God gives us direction, but that’s not what I mean. He is the direction. Whether we move or remain, wherever we go or don’t go, he is both what we aim for, the direction we point, and also the way we move forward. Our journey needs to be less about seeking the answers, and more about seeking him, and him alone. As I press in to him, I hear again his call — just do what’s in front of you. Instead of searching out what to do or where to go, if I just do what’s in front of me, I can trust that it’s all happening because he brings it across my path. There’s plenty to do if I just focus on what’s in front of me.

I want to say that I’m done seeking answers, but I know my nature will fight hard against that. So what I’ll say is that I’m keeping the arrow in the front of my mind, letting that image direct my sight onto my loving Father, pointing me to him, and allowing him to direct my path and all that crosses it.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”           Psalm 143:8

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”              Isaiah 30:21

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”            Proverbs 3:5-6

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”             Proverbs 4:25-27


Filed under Life Stories

Micah’s Story: My Mini-Me

My son 3 year old Micah is given to fearfulness. In the summertime, it’s bees. With the warmer weather we’ve had recently, he asks me every morning and every time we go outside, “Are the bees alive yet, Mom?” In the colder months, it’s fears of ghosts, wolves, or the toilet jumping up to get him while he’s peeing. It’s easy to chuckle and reassure him, but as his mom, I see what havoc fear wreaks in his little life. And I see in this some profound spiritual lessons on a bigger scale in my own life.

Even though most of his fears seem irrational, I can relate 100% to Micah’s feelings in these situations. I have a long-standing battle with fear in my own life. God helped me chip away at some of it when he gave me Sophie. Something happens to your fear when you face one of your worst fears and survive, even grow stronger because of it. That’s another tale for another day… As time has passed, I have seen the enemy begin to try and manipulate me again through fear. Sometimes I think God gave me Micah and made him so much like me just so that I could relearn all the life lessons. We are two peas in a pod, Micah and I. In almost all of his battles, I see myself. His little life is like a mirror for all my own faults! And so it has been in his battle with fear. I have seen my own battle. But it’s eye-opening to see someone else fighting your same battle. Things snap quickly into perspective. As Micah deals with fear, I can quickly pick out the ways that fear is negatively impacting him and also myself.

Fear immobilizes. My son won’t go anywhere without me, or without his big sissy as my stand-in. Our home is small, but he won’t go from one room to the next, even if he can clearly see me in a different room. And forget about going upstairs to the bathroom or to his bedroom. He can’t move forward when he’s afraid. How often have I allowed fear to immobilize me? How many times has my journey halted simply because I’m too afraid to take the next steps? For me this is most often the fear that I’m going to make the wrong choice, so I just don’t make any choice at all. I’m immobilized. Just sitting there are the crossroads, doing nothin.

Fear controls. Not only can Micah not move freely when he’s fearful, but his activities are also determined by his fears. Many of his choices are based upon his fears. He won’t go into the dining room, where the wood floors are bare, to race his cars, because I’m in the living room, on the carpet. He won’t obey or be my helper because he’s too afraid of what I might ask him to do, or what might happen to him along the way. How have I allowed fear to control me? I’m too afraid of what God might ask me to do if I agree to obey and be his helper. I’m too afraid of what might happen to me along the way. I’m too afraid that I might fail, if I try. And I’m too afraid of the judgment that others might assign to me if I don’t measure up in their eyes.

Fear creates misery. If Micah even thinks I’m leaving the room, he begins to get upset instantly. We’re talking zero to sixty in 1.5 seconds. I can hear panic rise in his voice as he hurries to avoid being left behind, even if I’m just stepping into the next room for a moment. And in the event that he is left somewhere alone in our home, he comes undone. He doesn’t enjoy his day because he’s so fearful. This is the big one for my life: How have I allowed fear to strip away my joy? Instead of rejoicing in the blessings of my life, my mind is running rampant with fears and what-ifs. If I even catch whiff of something going amiss, I can feel my own panic rising.

Although this battle is not what it used to be for me, and, praise God, I am not nearly as controlled by fear as I used to be, I still see in myself the battle that Micah is beginning at just three years old. What I see in Micah has helped me to realize again that fear is a tool of the enemy intended to immobilize us, control us, and make us miserable. Our enemy doesn’t want us moving forward in our faith or in our ministry. He doesn’t want us to move freely, to enjoy our activities, to live our lives in abandon, secure in our Father’s love.

Something that I often say to Micah resonates in my spirit as well: “Why are you so afraid? Mommy is taking care of you. You are safe in our home,” I know God would say the same to me: Why is she so afraid? Doesn’t she know that I’m taking care of her? She is safe in my love. I John 4:18 promises that perfect love drives out fear. I think that’s the key. If we could really grasp how much God loves us, then we would be able to trust completely that no matter what happens, it’s going to be ok. And we don’t need to be frozen at the crossroads, or fearful of what he may ask us to do, or running in anxious circles mentally. If we really understood how deeply and how perfectly the Father loves us, we would recognize that we don’t need to be afraid. We are secure in his care. That doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen, unfortunately, but it does mean that his goodness will prevail even in the bad things, and that we are always, always, always secure in his love.

I remember when Sophie’s journey first began, one of the things her pediatrician said to me that was so simple, yet has stuck with me all the way was this: “It will all be ok.” At the time that was rather maddening because how could anything be ok when my baby girl could have some life-altering or life-threatening disease or disorder? How could it be ok?! But, six years later, I have seen that truly, it is ok. As I referenced earlier, I faced that fear, and I walked head on into it. I had no choice in the matter. Face like flint is the expression that comes to mind as I recall my journey into fearful territory with Sophie. “Welcome to motherhood, please step directly into the fire, Catherine.” But as in Sophie’s journey, I cannot assure you more, no matter what your journey looks like right now, it will all be ok. I know that I know that I know my Father loves me and he loves Sophie. So no matter the things in life that most assuredly do go very wrong, will go very wrong, God remains constant, faithful, good. His deep and perfect love holds us. So we can set our faces like flint, and we can step directly into the fire if we have to. Because he is there, he will be there. And he will keep us secure in his perfect love. In this we can walk free from fear.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are mine.”


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Kicking and Screaming

My children have this tendency that brings out the crazy eye really quickly in me. It’s called disobedience. I’m not talking the “I stole a treat from the pantry” kind of disobedience, or even the “I was mad at my brother so I threw a toy at him” disobedience. No, I’m talking about the kind of disobedience where I know that I know that I know that they heard me give a direction, but they just choose to do whatever they want anyways. It’s maddening.

This is especially true when we’re trying to leave to go somewhere, like to school, every morning. I do not want to say 12 times “Get your shoes on.”

Sometimes I ask my kids, “How many times do I need to ask you to do this?”

They always reply, “Just once.” Uh-huh. Sure.

I know that my experience is a common one, because we’ve all chuckled at the meme on Facebook where the mom loses her chill before anyone listens to her about their shoes. “Why is Mom so crazy?” they ask in wonderment.

I’m not sure why this is a struggle other than they’re kids and they’re too focused on other things, like the Paw Patrol Pups and Matchbox cars littered across my floor. They can’t see the big picture. They can’t read the clock. They don’t know that school starts in T-minus 10 minutes, and we live 7 minutes from the school. They don’t realize that I’m asking for all these small steps of obedience so that we can arrive at our destination as scheduled, to fulfill our intended purposes for the day.

What I want is best for all of us, but they often go kicking and screaming instead of with the ease of obedience.

Kicking and screaming. That’s probably a good description of my stance with the Lord sometimes.

Priscilla Shirer hit me between the eyes in her Bible study on hearing and obeying God: “God doesn’t speak to be heard. He speaks to be obeyed.” So often we want to hear what God is saying, but when he does speak up, we simply continue to focus on our own little world, arranging our own little “pups” just how we want them instead of following his directives. My heart cries for his voice, to hear him speak, but then when he does, I delay, I resist, sometimes I flat out ignore, because I’m too busy with my own plans and desires.

The situation is the same: God sees the big picture, and we don’t. He knows where we need to be and when we need to be there.

I was especially struck by this truth in recently reading the story of Philip in Acts. God tells him to get up and head down the desert road to the South. Immediately Philip does this. He happens upon the chariot of an important man from Ethiopia, and God directs him to remain near the chariot. Luke tells us that Philip ran to the chariot. He ran. He didn’t ponder if he ought to listen to those directions, he didn’t continue arranging his scrolls or adjusting his robes and sandals — he ran! And because he ran, he was near the chariot at exactly the right moment, when the Ethiopian was reading an important piece of Scripture. So Philip got to share with him the gospel of Jesus Christ. The man believed and was baptized. Because of Philip’s obedience, this man’s life was forever changed, and he took his new knowledge of Jesus back to his own country and people. All because Philip obeyed, immediately.

Proverbs 3:27 has been rolling through my head on repeat as I’ve pondered obedience: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act.” There are so many times that I feel a nudge to do something for someone, to pray, to offer a word of encouragement, but unlike Philip, I don’t run towards the opportunity. I withdraw into myself and think “I couldn’t possibly do that.” But the words of this Proverb and the words of Priscilla have driven me onward into opportunities to obey. When we obey, we release our perceived notion of control, and we embrace God’s control, and that we are moving pieces in his grand design. We embrace the good works he prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). And who knows, maybe someone’s life will forever be changed because of our obedience, or maybe we’ll just make it to school on time for once.

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