• Stand Your Ground

    “I got in a fight today, Mom,” he said. “I hit him. I didn’t have a choice. I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. I blocked the first punch and told him to stop, but I could tell he wasn’t going to. He struck again and hit me in the side of the head. That’s when I hit back. I knocked him as hard as I could.” “Well, what happened—did he stop?” I asked. “He kept holding his head and groaning. Coach saw what happened. He ran over and got him and took him to the office.” “Are you hurt?” “My finger is messed up from where I blocked the first punch. I couldn’t play my bass in jazz band very well, but other than that I’m okay.”

    Not the kind of after-school conversation I was expecting.

    My son isn’t aggressive in any sense of the word. He is mild-mannered and laid back and calm. He does what he’s supposed to. He is tall and thin and unassuming. He is nice and clean-cut and in-control. He’s not a fighter.

    Until he needs to be.

    And when he needs to be, I feel sorry for the person on the other side. Mild-mannered, laid-back, and calm turns intense. What he’s supposed to do gives way to whatever the situation requires. Tall and thin and unassuming reveals a hidden, muscular core of strength. Nice and clean-cut and in-control becomes fury. He is a fighter; he will stand his ground.

    This situation is a parallel of our spiritual experience in so many ways. Satan comes in. He strikes. We try to use our words at first, try to block his blows, but he doesn’t stop. He strikes again, hitting harder in places more vulnerable, attacking in areas he knows will do the most damage. And we are left with two choices: keep talking, keep blocking or stand our ground and fight back.

    Talking and blocking are defensive actions. They are ways we try to keep ourselves safe from injury. They are responses; they are reactions. They don’t engage in the assault; they cower in it. Talking and blocking sustain more personal damage. They are passive. Standing and fighting are offensive actions. They are ways to stop the attack. They are initiations; they are instigations. They are active combat; they are involved. Standing and fighting inflict wounds. They are aggressive.

    As long as my son talked and blocked, he continued to be hit and injured. But when he decided to stand his ground and fight, the aggressor withdrew. Interestingly, the damage he received from trying to thwart the blows was greater than the damage he sustained from inflicting them.

    We are in a fight. The days of talking and blocking are over. It’s time to stand our ground and fight. Mild-mannered, laid-back, and calm needs to turn intense. What we're expected to do should give way to whatever the situation requires. What appears unassuming should reveal a hidden, muscular core of strength. Nice, sweet, I'm-just-trying-to-do-my-best needs to become fury. Satan will relentlessly strike as long as we take it. He will beat us down and the injuries we sustain from our attempts to block him will hamper our abilities and keep us from operating in our callings. But when we fight back, when we become aggressive and offensive, he will be the one hurting and hampered; he will be the one unable to operate.

    How do we stand our ground? How do we fight? We beat his lies with our belt of truth. We block his evil with our breastplate of righteousness. We don’t run away scared or cower in fear when things get difficult; we stand in our shoes of peace, knowing God is with us. We bash his face of doubt and insecurity with our shield of faith. We protect our minds by putting on the helmet of our salvation, assured we are forgiven and redeemed through Christ’s blood. We slice through his schemes with God’s word—the sword of the Spirit—which is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts straight to the heart of the matter.

    Be encouraged today. God is with you. He is your refuge and your strength. He is your shelter and strong tower. He goes before you and sets His angels to keep watch over you. You can fight, not in your own might, but in His. Satan does not have the right to put his hands on you; you belong to God. You don’t have to be beaten down and afraid and wounded. You are not a victim. You are a victor. Decide to stand your ground and fight. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world, and He will fight for you.

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s evil schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV)

  • Refrigerators and Wallpaper and Other Inherited Things

    Curtains, wallpaper border, a refrigerator—these were some of the items left behind by the previous owners of the home we just moved into. While we expected the early-nineties country-chic border to be an issue we would have to take care of upon moving in, we were surprised by the curtains and refrigerator that stayed. We assumed they would be taken; no one had mentioned they would be bequeathed to us upon the purchase of the house. So we’ve been left with some unforeseen decisions to make; we’ve had to determine what we will allow to remain, what we can use somewhere else, and what we’re going to get rid of.

    And this got me thinking about my emotional and spiritual life. There will be times I will move into a new place and have to decide what to do with the things that are left there, because here’s the truth: sometimes we inherit old things left in new-to-us places. And just like in my house, I have to take inventory. I have to decide what I will allow to remain, what I can reuse somewhere else, and what I need to release.

    I have to carefully select what I will allow in my space, because how I have things decorated, how I have things arranged, how I organize and utilize and prioritize will impact my function and growth and ability to mature within that place. And it’s important to know that just because something is left behind in the place of your new arrival doesn’t mean it’s for you; someone else’s left-overs don’t have to be what you use to decorate, arrange, or organize your life; what is in your new space or circumstances does not have the power to dictate how you utilize and prioritize what is now yours.

    You don’t have to keep everything left for you.

    You do not have to accept everything that is passed down.

    You do not have to take ownership of the things others try to transfer onto you.

    You must decide what stays and what goes.

    Having an extra refrigerator will be nice. I have three starving teens in my house, so an extra place to store more food will actually help me out. I’m keeping it. I like the curtains. They won’t work in the room they were left in, but I was able to move them to another place in the house where they look great and it saves me the expense of buying more. I’m reusing them. While some may like it and think it’s totes adorbs, I hate that country wallpaper border. It simply doesn’t work with the other stuff I have. It stresses me out and gets my focus off the good things in the room it’s in. I’m releasing it.

    So how do I apply this remain, reuse, release principle to my emotional and spiritual life? I take inventory. I ask myself some questions about the things I have allowed into my life and answer honestly about the impact they have on my space.

    Is it helpful? Does it make your life easier? Does it facilitate growth? Does it give you space to move into the future? Does it operate correctly and without problems? Does it have the capacity to hold all you need? Let it remain.

    Is it useful? Is it dependable? Is it something you’ve learned from? Is it working for you? Is it keeping you from having to spend more in another area? Reuse it.

    Do you have room for it? Does it take up your energy? Does it stress you out? Does it cost you a lot to keep it? Release it.

    What about you? Are there things in your life you inherited—things you didn’t ask for, circumstances you didn’t expect, relationships in dysfunction, attitudes out of line, a past that haunts, labels from others, doubt, fear, frustration? Be encouraged today. You don’t have to keep everything left for you. You don’t have to accept everything that is passed down. You do not have to take ownership of things others—or Satan—tries to transfer onto you. You are a child of the Most-High King. You are made in His image. You are who He says you are. And you have the power—with His help—to clean up your space. You have the authority to declare what stays and what goes in your life. You are capable of change. You are qualified to determine the course of your mind and emotions and spirit and relationships. Ask yourself these questions, answer honestly, and invite God in. He wants to help you.

    With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2 (MSG)

  • On Leaves and Weeds and Spirit Beds

    That up there?

    That’s what I’m doing this weekend.

    And I wish it was just that little section.

    I’m not good with measurements and math and what not, so I can’t give you an official number, but I think I can safely say there’s somewhere in the region of a butt-jillion more piles of leaves and weeds just like this one throughout my backyard and flower beds. Just looking at it makes me tired. But, if I want to create a place where new life can grow, I have no choice—I must get rid of the leaves and weeds that block its potential.

    Our spirit beds start to look like this sometimes, too. Falls strip us of our belief, leaving us exposed. Our peace and strength and grace left in piles of crisp brown around our feet, we stand barren and alone. We give up the hope of a better future after tough seasons or financial setbacks or crumbled marriages or crazy kids or illnesses or extended droughts. Winter’s freeze solidifies the despair; on artic winds our faith is carried away.

    And that up there?

    That’s what is left in our spirit beds—sprigs of anger and resentment and exhaustion and sickness; heaps of loneliness and depression and fear and hurt.

    But the only way to create a place where new life can grow—the only way to start fresh—is to get rid of the rubbish, to let go of the past, to clean out the feelings and attitudes that block our potential. It takes a lot of hard work and time spent on our knees. It takes a lot of pulling and trimming and cleaning. We have to decide we want new and fresh and open space more than we want our mangled, tired, overshadowing pasts. We have to determine to start again. And when we do, God comes in and He helps us.

    The beauty of that up there?

    None of it is wasted. The weeds and leaves and dirt are used as fertilizer to make us stronger. It is the fodder that feeds our new growth. What once hemmed us in propels us toward freedom; what once blocked His light, now piled beneath, pushes us toward it. But we must be willing to do the work.

    I’ve got some spring cleaning to do. There are some places I’ve let get overgrown and dry. But I want to fix them. I want to get my spirit bed all cleared out so new things can come up. If I’m not willing to do the work, I’ll stay dry and overwhelmed and malnourished. I don’t want that. I want new. I want fresh. I want more. I want Jesus.

    What about you? Do you have leaves and weeds that need to be cleared out of your spirit bed? Be encouraged today. Make the decision to get it all cleared out. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to let God do a work that’s fresh and new. It may be hard and it may take some work, but I promise you will not be disappointed. God is faithful. God is our help. God loves us. God makes all things new and God is doing something new. I want to be a part of it. Join me?

    Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. – Isaiah 43:18-19 (MSG)

  • How to Get People to Listen to You

    Everyone wants to be heard, to feel validated, to have a group upon which to exert influence. It’s a basic human desire—to be considered; we want what we say to have impact and sway. We want our voices to be heeded; we want our ideas to be received; we want to make an impact.

    But in this world of hype and opinion and noise, in this age of spin doctors and charlatans and sharks, how can we be understood? How can we who feel burdened to speak out, to help others be guaranteed that in spite of the multitudes of other voices, no matter the clamor, regardless of the brazen blare of swindlers and cons, our voices will be heard?

    When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. – Acts 8:6 (NIV)

    I read that in my devotion this morning, and it hit me hard.

    Want people to listen to you, Deidra? Want people to know what you have is real? Want people to be pointed to me through your life? Want to help others? Then heed these words: After they saw what he did, they paid close attention to what he said.

    The crowd heard the clamor of what Philip was doing; his actions made noise; his work got the attention. And once the people saw his work, once the crowd realized what Philip was doing, they all paid close attention to what he said. Philip worked first and spoke later, and when he did speak, he had a captive audience.


    Because actions speak louder than words, because well done is better than well said, because when deeds speak, words are nothing, because people will doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.

    Want people to listen to you?

    Don’t say God’s words; do God’s words; be God’s words.

    And when you do, your actions will create a noise. People will come to see what you are doing, and when they see what you are doing, when they see that you are being, they will pay close attention to what you are saying.

    Because the truth is that in the world in which we live, words aren’t enough.

    Everyone talks, but few do; everyone declares, but few are.

    Be encouraged today. God wants to use us. He wants to speak through us to touch the world, but more than He wants to speak through us, He wants to do through us; He wants to be in us. We are His hands and feet. We are His ambassadors. He has given us power of attorney. We must act through the power and authority He has given us—it’s the only way the world will hear.

  • The Best Remains

    When the worst thing happens, the best remains. – Corrie ten Boom

    I used to live in the shadows. Some created by me, some created by others, these shades enveloped my whole existence and shrouded me in fear, discouragement, resentment, anger, and depression. It took years for me to learn the truth in that statement—when the worst thing happens, the best remains.

    When you’ve been hurt, suffered loss, walked through hell itself and lived to tell about it, it’s often hard to focus on anything other than the pervasive darkness that outlines even the brightest and best moments in your life. Even in the good I always travelled back to those times and places, wishing somehow it could have been different. But then, after soul-searching, crying out to God, and years of hard lessons, I started to talk more about the future than the past.

    That’s one of the signs of healing—the ability to envision yourself in a different time, in a different place, in a different mindset. Seeing yourself apart from the hurt, acknowledging it without letting it reclaim ownership of your life.

    And it is really true: When the worst thing happens, the best remains.

    What does that even mean? For me, it means that when I’ve done all I can, when I’ve given my all, when I’ve shed my last tear, when I’ve lost all of me, there is nothing left but the best. All the negative, the inability, the doubt is gone. I’ve reached the end of myself—none of me remains—and all that is left is Jesus, the best that lives in me.

    It also means that if I’ve already experienced the worst, things can only be better in the future. It means hope. It means light at the end of the tunnel. It means there is a rope dangling and all I have to do is grab hold and start climbing. If you’re at the bottom, the only way out is up. And if the best (Jesus) is all that remains in you, then it is by His strength and leading you can dig your way out. He is strength in your weakness. He is light in darkness. He is the way-maker. There is no place He cannot go, no distance He is not willing to travel with you.

    Be encouraged today. If you’ve come to the end of yourself, rely on Jesus—the best that remains—to sustain you. He lives in you, His strength is made perfect in your weakness, and He has started a good work in you that He will finish. You carry God’s best in you and your future will come to pass. Hold tightly to His promise—your best remains.

    You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4 (NIV)

    Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

  • Swimming, Drowning, and Living in One Room

    That picture up there? That’s where we’re staying right now. Because there’s a gap between the closing on our current home and the home we’re moving to, we are temporarily living in this one room.

    All five of us.

    At one time.

    With nowhere to run.

    With nowhere to hide.

    Four nights down, 31 more to go—not that I’m counting or anything.

    And although we’ve only been here a short time, God is using this experience to remind me of some of life’s important lessons—some things that I’ve lost sight of in the midst of our changing circumstances—and I thought I’d share them with you today on the off chance you need to be reminded, too.

    Life is harsh sometimes. And challenging. And in my case, also bipolar. Good one minute and difficult the next, circumstances change within a matter of seconds leaving me to do one of two things: drown in its wake or swim with its current.

    It’s a choice.

    Many times I’ve drowned, allowing situations to overtake me. I’ve flailed and choked until I was too tired to fight anymore. I gave in to the conditions and let them dictate my fate. But through our recent upheaval, God’s reminded me how to swim with the current, to go with the flow, to float on top instead of struggle below.

    First, we must prioritize. When we moved into our temporary place, we had to decide what were the most important things—things we can’t live without, stuff we have to have to be able to function. If it is not necessary to our daily survival, we put it in boxes and sent it to storage.

    The same is true in any other circumstance. If you’re going to be able to float, you have to let go of the baggage that weighs you down. Being attached to too much stuff will make you sink. You have to decide what and who is important to your daily survival and cling only to those things. If it isn’t helping you, then there’s a good chance it’s hindering you and you need to let it go.

    Second, we have to learn to improvise. Since many of our belongings are in storage, I occasionally find that I put something we need in a box rather than bringing it with us. That forces me to get creative and find a way to use what I have with me in this space.

    That holds true in life as well. Sometimes you aren’t going to have exactly what you want or need at your disposal. Sometimes you will need to be creative. Some days you will have to find a way to use what you possess rather than complain about your lack or wish things were different.

    Third, we have to learn to compromise. In our one-room living space, we have to make accommodations for each other. We have to be more considerate of each other’s needs. We’ve had to stop doing some things and start doing others in an effort to establish a more peaceful environment for everyone. We’ve had to adjust to the notion that everyone else is impacted by the decisions and actions of the others.

    And so it is in life. We are not islands unto ourselves. Whether we like to think it is true or not, the fact remains that we all have an impact on those around us. What we do and where we go and what we say and how we live directly affects the people we do life with. We must learn to consider others and be willing to change our way of doing and living and speaking in order to help those around us.

    Finally, we must personalize our space. Each of us brought something of personal importance to this temporary place as a reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re going. This is not our home. We will not always be here, but while we are, we are making it our own. We are focusing on what we do have, ways we can make it more comfortable while we are here.

    No matter what situation we may find ourselves in, we must remember it is temporary. This too, shall pass. The one constant in life is change. Circumstances will not always be what they are now. But while we are waiting for the next transition, we must be able to find the positive in the place we are in now. We have to learn to focus on the One Absolute—God. He never changes; He is always the same.

    Want to be able to swim in the current of your circumstances rather than drown in their wake? Call on Jesus. Ask Him to help you. He is the one constant in our ever-changing lives. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will give us what we need for each moment, but we must be willing to prioritize, improvise, compromise and personalize. You cannot expect to see a change unless you are willing to make a change. Call on Him today.

    God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV)

  • Miracles of the Middle {God Sends Angels}

    She makes a late-night visit to the ER with her daughter. No one there knows, but she’s been sick herself. For the past four years she’s suffered with chronic anemia. She’s been to doctor after doctor, but has never been given a reason—they just can’t seem to find the cause. Weak and tired, she’s resigned herself to the fact that she’ll never really know what’s wrong. She’ll always be this way—it’s her new normal.

    He checks her daughter’s vitals, listens to her symptoms, gets her fixed up and on her way. But he notices mom, too. He senses something wrong. He asks questions, delves deeper. And although her daughter is ready to leave, this ER doctor isn’t convinced mom should go. He admits her and makes a promise: she will stay there until the source of her problem is found. She never sees that doctor again.

    Stage 3b colon cancer—that was the source.

    For eleven days she stayed in the hospital. Her tumor, appendix, and gallbladder were removed. She went through six months of chemo.

    She is now cancer-free.

    Her husband is a dentist and works frequently at the same hospital. She asks him to find that ER doctor. She wants to thank him and let him know she’s okay. Although he knows most of the doctors there, he doesn’t know this one—he’s never seen him or heard of him before. She calls the hospital. They’ve never heard of him either and have no records of a doctor by that name working there.

    “I am certain that doctor was sent there that night to save my life.”

    God knows what we need even when we don’t, and He will do whatever it takes to make sure we get it. There is nothing too hard for Him. Even if He can’t find a person willing to be used, He won’t be stopped—He’ll send one of His own.

    Be encouraged today. God is faithful. He will make a way where there doesn’t seem to be one; He will make a way when we don’t even know we need one. Trust God for big miracles, but be sure to take time to thank Him for the miracles of the middle—the ones small; the ones strange to us; the ones we receive before we’re even fully aware we need them; the ones dressed as doctors that don’t exist; the ones we often miss.

    Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

    The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. – Lamentations 3:21-23, 25 (NIV)

  • Miracles of the Middle {God Hears Our Prayers}

    Her junior-high awkwardness can’t hide the pain—not this time. Sad, confused, and numb, she sits in a state of shock thinking of the news she’s just heard.

    She’s known for weeks that her mom has breast cancer, but just moments ago in the school parking lot—like it’s normal, routine, no big deal—her mom tells her she’s having a mastectomy. Today. She’s driving out of the carpool line and straight into the operating room. Panic and overwhelm set in. A family friend died not even a month ago from this—will her mom die, too?

    Sensing something different, her teacher asks what’s wrong. Tears flow as she spills her news, her fear, her sadness, her hurt. Doing the only thing she knows to do, the teacher takes her into the hallway and tells her of God’s omnipotence and omniscience and omnipresence. She prays with her. They go back into class and tell the other students. They all pray together.

    And that’s when it happened. For the first time ever, she felt the presence of God in a tangible way. She heard His voice. She was wrapped in His peace.

    “The strangest thing was that up until that time, it really never occurred to me that my prayers were actually heard. After that prayer I knew. I knew God heard not only me, but the teacher and every single child in that class.”

    God—the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, holy, creator of the universe—heard her sad, scared, imperfect, confused, eighth-grade prayer.

    And the miracle? He hears yours, too. And mine. And everyone’s. Everywhere. All the time.

    And the greater miracle? He answers—however He needs to, whenever He needs to, with whomever He needs to. He answers with teachers who notice and friends who care and the right words of comfort and feelings of peace and the presence of His Holy Spirit. He answers with grace for the moment and strength for the future and hope for better. He answers with calm in the middle of our storms.

    God is everywhere all the time; He can do anything. And He will.

    That cancer? It was rare. There was little hope. It hasn’t come back—since 1981.

    Be encouraged today. God hears you when you pray, and He has an answer for you. It may not be the answer you hope for or expect, but it is the answer you need. God doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t make bad things happen—that’s a part of life and the sinful world we live in. God hears. God sees. God cares. He will answer you. When you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. And while you’re hoping, waiting, and trusting for THE miracle, be sure to take time to thank Him for the miracles of the middle—the ones small and understated, the ones we often miss—like the right words at the right time or the hug of a friend or the concern of a teacher or the strength to stand one more day or peace in a raging storm. Sometimes we focus so intently on the big that we forget the small graces He affords to get us through each day. God hears you when you pray. God is faithful. He will give you what you need.

    Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

    The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. – Lamentations 3:21-23, 25 (NIV)

  • Miracles of the Middle {God Knows What We Need}

    Sunday afternoon, miles from home, he turns the key. Nothing. He fiddles and twists and bangs and shakes and checks and re-checks. He turns it again. Nothing. The van has to be towed. It needs new parts—expensive parts, parts they will have to wait on. Thankfully, they are near the town where her parents live.  

    She watches as her husband and boys pull out of the driveway in her parent’s car, heading home to work, school. She and her small daughter stay behind to wait on the repair. Minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days—three days.

    Three days of inconvenience.

    Three days off schedule.

    Three days she’ll never get back.

    On Thursday morning, the van is ready. She drives with her parents to meet her husband and trade vehicles. She hugs her mom and says goodbye, thanking her for the visit.

    She doesn’t know it’s for the last time.

    She doesn’t know on Sunday she’ll get a call from her heartbroken dad telling her that her mother is suddenly, unexpectedly dead.

    “I didn’t know what was about to happen, but God knew, and provided what I needed to live my life without her.”

    Three days of inconvenience? Three days off schedule?

    Three days she holds deep in her heart. Three days no one can ever take from her. Three days of memories.

    Three days orchestrated by God.  

    Sometimes what we think is a setback is actually God setting us up to give us what we need before we know we need it.

    God’s miracles take many forms. Sometimes they look like inconvenience. Sometimes they look like schedule changes. Sometimes they look like an unanswered prayer or a situation we didn’t want to be in or a problem we didn’t ask for.

    Sometimes they look like a broken-down van.

    Be encouraged today. God is faithful. He wastes nothing and will move whatever is necessary to get you what you need. There is nothing too hard for Him. And while you’re hoping, waiting, and trusting for THE miracle, be sure to take time to thank Him for the miracles of the middle—the ones small and understated, the ones gradual or painful; the ones that involve process; the ones that look like a broken-down van.

    Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

    The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. – Lamentations 3:21-23, 25 (NIV)

  • Miracles of the Middle {God is Faithful}

    The sun shines bright, children play all around. She sits alone on the porch, watching.

    He stands in the shadows, candy in hand. He says it’s okay. He says not to tell.

    She doesn’t—she’s only three years old.

    But the shadows, the secrets, the sins of another follow her, mock her, beat her. Guilt and shame, fear and depression sit heavy on her shoulders; they latch on and torment her for years. And she still doesn’t tell— because it’s her fault, because people will judge; because no one will understand. She grows up, gets married, has kids of her own; depression still visits often. She manages through the day-to-day, but still he’s always there, standing in the shadows, candy in hand.

    Smart, vibrant, ambitious, outgoing, responsible—her daughter excels at everything. She marries, gets pregnant, but it ends in divorce. Her behavior begins to change. As time passes, she deteriorates. Frenzied, unfocused, unable to care for her child, she spins wildly out of control. She disappears for weeks at a time. She cannot explain or regulate her behavior. The darkness creeps back in.

    It does that, you know? Lurks in shadows, runs deep, wrecks families—its job is to kill and destroy. This time it took a different form—Bipolar Disorder. This time it almost won.

    And where is God in all of this—where is He  in molestation and mental illness?

    Right beside you; you just have to be willing to look.

    What are the miracles of this middle?

    Even when she should have drowned, she didn’t. He keeps her; He helps her; He teaches her. She has a deep knowledge of God’s preserving power. She is a testament to His presence even in the darkest of places.

    Endurance to keep going when others give up is her miracle; grace to cover guilt and shame is her miracle; covering to shield from deeper darkness is her miracle; protection from suicide and calamity is her miracle; guidance in seeking help is her miracle; hope that the darkness won’t always overpower is her miracle; restoration to right mind and right relationship with God and family is her miracle; acceptance of herself as a child of the King is her miracle.

    Through these miracles she has a testimony.  

    In these scars her stories—His story—is told.

    “God is with you even in your darkest days, weeks, months, and years. He really does carry you when you can’t put one foot in front of the other. God is faithful.”

    Be encouraged today. God is faithful. There is nothing too hard for Him. And though not all things are good, God is good and He works for our good in all things. So while you’re hoping, waiting, and trusting for THE miracle, be sure to take time to thank Him for the miracles of the middle—the ones small and understated, the ones gradual or painful; the ones that involve process; the ones we often miss. And when times are dark, remember, even when you can’t trace His hand, you can trust His heart.

    Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

    The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. – Lamentations 3:21-23, 25 (NIV)