Looking for Your Story

Have you ever needed to hear a great story? When I found “I am second” videos on YouTube, I devoured them. I distinctly remember where I was and what I was doing.

I was in a very intense job at the time, and it was my day off. I was cleaning the house where I was living. When I heard the first story, I listened and cleaned the entire afternoon and into the evening. As soon as one ended, I’d click to listen to the next one. Mind you, these videos are, on average, 7 minutes. I just needed encouragement, and they were just what I needed.

From time to time, when I feel discouraged, I will scour the internet to find a good story. There’s nothing like a good story to lift your spirits. A good movie can do the same.

Recently, however, I found myself looking for another good story. I started listening to one, and instead of finding encouragement, I found frustrated. I think because as the woman (in the video) was telling her story, it was the story I wished/prayed would have been mine. I turned it off and then felt like the Lord was saying, “Why are you looking for your story in someone else’s story?”

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Honestly, how many times have I just blindly followed a narrative without considering where God might want to take me? Do I care what story He wants to write with my life? Or am I trying to write my own story and then try and fit God into it later?

Your Story

Do you know how incredibly creative God is? I don’t, but the bits and pieces I see blow my mind! He doesn’t have a one size fits all formula when it comes to our lives. He is intimately acquainted with all our ways (Ps 139:3). Your story might look different. Everyone might not understand it, but God knows the desires of our hearts (Ps 37:4). His ways are not our ways (Is 55:8-9).

I was reminded of this a few months ago as I was thinking about a book idea. I paused for a moment and thought how incredible it is to have the privilege of writing a book and have it published by a traditional publishing house. I mean, how many people would kill for that opportunity. The crazy thing is I can take zero credit for it. I thought back to when I graduated from college and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I never thought I’d graduate from college. I always assumed I’d get married and start a family.

But that day, as I thought about my book coming out, I realized if I had gotten married, I probably never would have pursued writing. I wouldn’t have the time to write. Plus, only the Lord knew that I had always wanted to write a book. I remember thinking as young as 12 that I wanted to write a devotional someday. I might have forgotten that for a few years, but He didn’t.

To wrap this up, I want to pull from the story of Ruth. She’s someone who didn’t quite do things the way she was expected to. After she was widowed, she was supposed to remain in Moab (modern-day Jordan) with her people, with her family. Instead, she left with her mother-in-law (Naomi) to go to a foreign country with no real prospect or direction. She knew that Naomi’s God was real and worth following, even if it meant a different narrative than what people expected her to have. Am I willing to do the same? To set aside what I think should be. To stop looking for my story in someone else’s story. To embrace the story God wants to write in my life. I can guarantee it won’t always be easy or comfortable, and people won’t always understand, but you won’t be alone, and it will be worth it.

So if you’re like me and scouring the internet to find a good story, let it encourage you, but we must try not to look for our story in another person’s story. Because ultimately, our stories should not be about us but reflect the creative, kind, good, intimate, gracious, just, and true author of the story.

Where is the Miracle?

They were with him during the wedding at Cana when He turned water into wine. They were with Him when He healed a blind man from Bethsada. They were with Him when He fed the four thousand and then the five thousand. They walked with Him for years. They’d seen Him raise the dead, walk on water, and calm the waves. So where was the miracle now? On that dark Friday afternoon? Surely it wasn’t really finished. Like He said, as He breathed His last breathes. He was the Messiah, the ONE they had waited for. He was going to be their ruler, their king. But instead, He was being carried to a grave.

I came across a verse today that echoed in my soul.

“…And where are all His miracles?!” Judges 6:11.

Gideon is the one asking the Angel of the Lord this question. The Midianites had overtaken and been ruling Israel. Gideon, being brought up as a good Jewish boy, would have known the stories of the Red Sea parting, the provision of water, food and clothes for 40 years in the wilderness, and of the miracles that took place in Noah’s, Moses’ and Joseph’s life… But Gideon questioned: Where are the miracles now? If You are who You say You are… Why haven’t You shown up?

I’ve asked this a couple times in my life. “God, why did this hurt have to take place? Why couldn’t You have had me go another route in life?” or “Why didn’t you save my Dad. Where was the miracle then?”

As Easter approaches, I am reminded that Friday was not only an earth shattering event but also faith shattering week. I wonder if the disciples asked themselves, “Were we all deceived? Were the ones who mock us all along actually right? Because, He’s gone and so are our dreams of a new kingdom.”

I just want to pause here… Because, if we are honest, we have all had times when the dream in our heart died. The trajectory of where we thought our life would go, or what we thought it’d be, died. Every loss has to be fully felt in order for it to be unshackled from our hearts. We will always feel the ache but we don’t always have to carry the full weight of it. That was the disciples. They had lost their friend who was, up until this point, immortal. No one could touch Him. He was invincible until He succumbed to the cross .

So where do we go after we experience our Friday afternoon? The moments when our life seems to be crumbling and our faith is shaken. After you grieve, and you must grief. And after you question, because you will question. And after you wrestle… You get up and let God use you to be a miracle in someone else’s life.

What do I mean? Gideon, although scared out of his mind, obeyed God. He let God used him to bring liberation to Israel. And as I was looking up the name of the town Gideon came from, I learned this was the SAME valley where David would later take down Goliath.

God used the disciples to turn the world upside down, but it wasn’t until they surrendered their grief, and what they thought their lives would look like. And acknowledged that His Kingdom was greater than theirs— no matter how well intended.

So, what does a miracle look like today? It looks like girls in India who had been sold into slavery, being freed and then raising enough money to rescue another girl. It looks like individuals stepping up to take a child in who has been removed from their home due to abuse or neglected. It looks like volunteering in your community. It looks like a bone marrow or kidney donor. It looks like walking down a hospice hallway to be with someone whose about to lose their loved one. It looks like a million different things in a million different ways.

But, before we rush in, let us be very aware that the only reason we are able to be a miracle in another’s life is because of the miracle Jesus did in our life. Maybe it wasn’t the miracle we asked, begged and petitioned for, but it far outweighs the one we were or are asking for here. His miracle is the fact that we can spend eternity with Him. God whose ways are perfect, who is always kind. Who is good beyond measure and abundantly gracious. Who is just and true and pure. Who does not waver but holds steady. Who is our Rock, our Fortress and our Defense, Who is present, and sees us as He created us to be. Who has our names engraved on the palm of His hand. This is a the ultimate miracle. The fact that a perfect and holy God would bring heaven to earth to save a wretch like me. I am once again humbled and amazed all over again.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see.

Click image to hear “Glorious Ruin”

The Letter I Wrote to Myself…

A few years ago, in Fall no less, I found myself just outside Los Angeles, California. The team I worked with had a conference there and I was the keeper of the schedule, merchandise table, and other things.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. We would be meeting people from famous TV shows, people who make films, Congresswomen and more. I asked a friend if I could borrow some clothes before I went. Silly, I know, but I desperately want to “fit in” while I was there.

We were picked up in an incredibly nice Mercedes and chauffeured to our hotel where our arrangements had already been made.

Yet, regardless how excited I was to be there, the trip for me, was awful. So awful, in fact, I never wanted to go back to California. The mention of the state would remind me of all the things that went wrong. I was also reminded of the dark pit I went into after the trip.

Soon after connecting with my team, I found myself slumped into a corner of hotel bathroom bawling my eyes out. Why? Because I had an important lesson I needed to learn and learning it would not be easy.

After returning from California, I called out of work, it was the only time in my life that I was so depressed I could not will myself out of bed. I felt like if I stayed in bed that day, I would die. My thinking was not very rational but I knew I needed to physically move. I got out of bed, grab my sneakers and suddenly, the verse Philippians 4:8 popped into my head.. Whatever things are true whatever things are lovely, think on these things… then I thought, “what thoughts have I been thinking?”

As I went for a walk, it quickly dawned on my that I had been believing things about myself that were lies. I kept telling myself “I can’t do this!” “I’m not like so-and-so or so-and-so.” “I’ll never be able to do this” “This is too much for me to handle” “So-and-So should have this job”. On top of all this, my identity had become one with my work. So, when my work was criticized— I felt like I was being criticized.

When I got back to my room, after my walk, I decided to write the most important letter I’ve ever written to myself.

I reviewed this letter on a daily basis for several months. Suddenly when my work was criticize, I felt like I had tools to combat the negative thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong, this by no means happened overnight. But I knew I had to believe what God said. Without His Words in my life, I would have not only been fired, but also left in a very very dark pit.

Looking back now, I realized how important that lesson was in the long run. Eventually I got to a place in that job where not just my work was called into question, but also my character. Because God helped me differentiate the criticism of my work and an attack at my character, I knew when I needed to leave. That lesson as hard as it was, was actually a saving grace.

I was reminded of this lesson again as I was talking to a friend. It’s so easy to let what we do become who we are. And although we should do our work with excellence, it is not who we are. We are so much more than a 9-5.

We are made in God’s image. He is a creative God. He is an intelligent God. God has a will. He has emotions. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. He made us each with incredible gifts that He wants to use. So let me say it again because I need the reminder too. You and I are more than what we do. We are spoken for, died for, loved on and fought for. You’re not a number in a million. You’re unique. You’re special and I am anxious to see what God does with each one of His children.

Fighting Fear: The Power of Truth

Introduction:
This month I have been focusing on the topic Fighting Fear.
Today’s blog comes from one of my dearest friends. She and I met in Bible college, and have remained dear friends. Our main communication has been through handwritten letters- yes, letters! We have written back and forth for over 10 years now. We have seen each other through ups and downs. I am so grateful for her. She has been someone who has always spoken truth to me, even if it hurt. Here is Lyndi’s story on fighting fear.

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“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

My fear may seem silly to you, or maybe it is quite common –childbirth.

The fear was not there at first. It was slowly confirmed after having three kids.

When we had our first child, my husband and I walked into the hospital (induction appointment) looking like we had just left the wedding chapel and we were going on our honeymoon (complete w/ family snapping photos of us) Oh, so naïve – right?

A lot has happened since that day so let me just say the main “birth” events following. I have fast labors; no drugs or epidurals by choice and large healthy babies. I have nothing worth “complaining” about, but I honestly HATED having babies and would tell all young women in earshot to “never have kids!”

For our 3rd child, I thought water therapy was my ticket. “If I’m not going to have any drugs I may as well try something natural,” I thought. Nope – still had fear when it came time to have the baby and it was still a terrible experience. I wonder if fear is worse than pain. I’m not sure…

One thing I know now is: You may not be able to hinder pain from entering your life – pain comes from without (even if it’s inside your body like giving birth). But FEAR comes from within. Aha! There is something you can do about that.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” If you are born again, you have the power to overcome fear.

Baby #4

God so graciously introduced me to a book about childbirth. It educated me on what happens to my body during birth, how women gave birth in previous centuries and other countries. How birth has changed over the centuries. I read lots of birth testimonies, many different scenarios. All sorts of information (truth) were in this book! I sure was enlightened! (And then I enlightened my husband) I didn’t feel anxious about the approaching birth anymore. I was actually excited!! What??

A couple of things I did that I had not done before are: walked through the birth experience in my mind and prepared myself to accept the pain. I was going to look at it as my body doing a beautiful work instead of as a semi-truck coming to demolish me. I was going to speak truth to myself during hard moments like, “God designed you for this”, instead of being silent and actually losing my mind. Of course, I spent much time in prayer in the months and weeks approaching the birth. And…..

It was perfect. It was wonderful! My husband and I were alone in our camper laboring quietly together before the midwife arrived. When she got there, there were 45 minutes left of pushing before we met our beautiful 10-pound daughter. I never felt rushed or scared. Did I achieve the euphoric painless birth like some women have?? No! It still hurt really bad, but that is not what stands out in my mind anymore. What do you think made the difference? I know the truth is what made the difference. It helped me approach and be in the situation in a completely different way.

I hope that this encourages someone to identify any fears in your life. And ask God to shine the light (truth) on those situations so you can view them differently.

“The truth shall make you free”

Song of the Week: Fearless, by Jasmine Murray
Listen Here