To the one’s who are left…

For whatever reason, the way my life has gone, I have been the one to go more often than not. I went away for a year of Bible school. I went to stay with my brother and sister in law for half a year and then I moved to Virginia for 5 years.

But, I stopped and noticed something about a few people I know who have been “left.”

Being “left” categorizes a lot of individuals: Left behind as someone moves away, left behind from a trip, left as an organization moved on without you, left by a boyfriend/girlfriend, left behind by a spouse, a Dad, a mom, a family member who passed on before you. I think we’ve all been left a time or two.

As I was discussing this with my younger sister, two individuals came to mind… My sister, Linda, and my mom.

There are times my other family members have been left, but today, I want to focus on them…

My sister has been the local anchor for my family. She’s lives close by and does the airport runs, extra shopping, filling love tanks, dropping off flowers, coffee, and just being available. Seeing her day to day perseverance, you would have no clue how many times she’s been left. She and I were thick as thieves in high school and then I left. I left again two more times and every time, she’d cheer me on even if there were tears in her eyes.

And my mom. She’s been left by two husbands who both went to heaven before her. She is the biggest cheerleader for marriage, family and the church even with her broken heart. She’s also been left by friends time and time again.

But, the thing I’ve noticed in both Linda and my Mom is a deep strength. Like their strength is a thick 6inch rope that is tied to the anchor of their souls. They press on and press in every time another trial comes. “When the going gets tough— the tough get going.” That’s a perfect picture of them both.

Their being left has made them into some of the most beautiful people I know. My heart breaks recounting all the blows they’ve taken, but they turn around and find someone else who have been left and help them in their way.

There is a deep seated hope and endurance inside of them and I know it’s the God of all hope that helps them keep pressing on… It’s truly an honor to be family with them. I learn so much from them.

And my little sister, Jessica, is following suit.

My encouragement to us all is to know that even in your season of being left know that God is producing a strength in you — even though strength is the last thing you feel.

The more I grow, the more I want to be like them.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. –Helen Keller

Catch the wind in your sails…

I was scrolling through my emails trying to find a link when I came across this quote:

God relishes surprise.

We want lives of simple, predictable ease — smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see — but God likes to go off-road.

He provokes us with twists and turns.

He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension — and yet don’t. By his love and grace, we persevere.”

Tony Snow (1955-2008).

Ironically, my Dad was the one who emailed us kids this quote. My Dad was always up a for an adventure. I believe that’s where I get my love for travel. My Dad didn’t care if it was a road trip to North Carolina or a missions trip to Brazil. He was totally up for wherever and whatever the Lord wanted him to do — even if it came with challenges.

My Dad was the most confident man I know. He was so sure in God that it didn’t matter what the storm blew in. He knew God had his back.

I just recently returned from a trip to England and Ireland. Some of you might know that I used to travel extensively; as it was a part of my job. But, I was always a little nervous to travel on my own. The way this tripped worked out was that

I’d be traveling solo the first few days and then meet up with friends.

Some of you might think this isn’t a big deal and it’s not. But, to me, I was a bit nervous going by myself. I’m so used to people being around. But, I knew I should go.

Traveling is also expensive. I had enough for my ticket, but when it got closer to the trip, I was starting to worry a little about lodging because things hadn’t lined up as I had hoped.

Call me crazy, but I felt like the Lord told me, “Don’t you think I can afford this trip?” And I was like yeah, but how are you going to get that money to me. I’m such a skeptic sometimes.

A month or so before my trip, a family friend wrote me a check for this trip which covered all my lodging cost and some. I couldn’t believe it… Then when I had a few extra costs I wasn’t counting on, another friend sent me a check. I kept thinking, “God, why are you doing this? I’ve hardly talked to you this year. And most of the year I’ve been mad and confused by You.”

But, on this trip, I felt like the weight of life that I’ve been carrying fell off somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve felt dead inside since last summer and this trip felt like CPR for my heart and soul.

Sometimes, I think we do need to go off-roading. It’s in the off-reading we finally are able to break the deafening silence between our Maker and us. It’s not like things make any more sense, but there is a sense of grace and understanding that God understands and I’ve got to persevere.

I want to leave you with a few quotes from one of my hero’s — Elizabeth Elliot:

o The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.

o Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.’

o It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while he is the end of our journey, he is also at every stopping place.

And as Mark Twain said… “Catch the trade winds in you sail… Explore. Dream. Discover.”