Dear Friends of Summit Church,Image

In the past year we’ve been through a lot.  We’ve watched our lead pastor, Isaac Hunter, leave the church after committing adultery.  We’ve cried out in horror when the media had a hay-day with his sin, putting not only him but also his wife, children, parents, and us in a distorted light.  We’ve picked up the pieces, did our best to move forward into the “new normal” of our church.  Then he took his own life.

Let me tell you how angry I am with Isaac Hunter right now.
Let me tell you how much I want to see him walking through the lobby of Summit Church
Let me tell you how disgusted I am at his sin.
Let me tell you how many times he said just the thing I needed to hear to see God.
Let me tell you how many sleepless nights I have had over his poor choices.
Let me tell you how much I learned from his wisdom.
Let me tell you how hard it has been to go to church over the past year.
Let me tell you how I was drawn from the darkest time in my life through his words of wisdom.
The list goes on…

Is it ok to have such conflicting emotions toward one person? I think it is, so if you are having some of the same thoughts, please know that you are not alone.

What else are you thinking about?  What are you trying to work through in your mind and heart?

If you are not from Summit or Northland, what words of encouragement do you have for our community?


I’ve recently faced a disappointment which led to what seems to be a dead-end that presents itself as another disappointment.  The obvious question running through my mind is “now what?” Without really directing it to God, He responds, “wait.” So, here’s how the conversation goes:

Me: Now what?

God: Wait.

Me:  I wasn’t talking to you.

God: Just wait.

Me: Well, then what?

God: Wait.

Me: Ok, I get it.  But what do I do while I wait?

God:  Just wait.

Can you see how this would be frustrating?  If you pray regularly, it’s likely you’ve had a similar conversation with God.  It’s kind of like we’re sitting down to coffee and God is just sitting there smiling at me saying, “I know something you don’t know” with His eyes. Your eyes say back to Him, “Come on.  Really?”

So, there are two questions that arise with these circumstances–”How do I deal with disappointment?” and, “What do I do while I’m waiting for the answer?”

It’s All Loss

Whether the disappointment is loss of a relationship, loss of a loved one, loss of a great job opportunity, loss of the chance to have a child, loss of the opportunity to get into the school or program of your dreams, or whatever; it’s all a loss.  With loss comes grieving.  Yes, while grieving is often associated with death, I think that we also grieve over other losses.  It’s all the same process.  Shock, denial, anger, sorrow, and acceptance are part of the process for anything from a break-up to getting laid off.  So, what’s the best way to work through that process?

First, we realize that there’s a time and place for all those things.  It’s not a sin to be angry.  God was angry a lot.  This you know if you ever read any of the Old Testament.  It’s what you do with that anger that is important.  Do you lash out at others or do you take those raw, unedited emotions to God and hash it out with Him?

Sometimes we are afraid to go to God with anything but praise, “Oh you wonderful, mighty God, thank you for your grace and everlasting presence.”  God sees right through it.  I think the best way to connect to God through those times when you are angry about your circumstances is to be honest with Him.  He knows you are angry and He doesn’t need you to tell Him so.  However, by going through the process of confessing how you are really feeling to the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present Creator, one experiences a great cleansing.

Taking the Ugly to God

When I really have a matter to take up with God, I write out what I have to say to him in letter form, by my own hand (the old fashioned pen and paper way).  By doing this, I am truly owning what’s going on inside my mind and heart.  I usually then end up also receiving God’s grace as I write.

The beginning of my letter is ugly and full of things that are awkward and uncomfortable.  They are full of raw emotion, and seemingly unspiritual.  However, by getting out the ugly, I can make room for the beauty of God’s redemption in my brokenness and, therefore, to receive God’s grace and mercy.  I end up ending my letter with acknowledging that God is all-knowing and purposeful in what He allows His children to endure for the sake of a higher purpose.

Some passages that really help me during these times are:

James 1

Romans 5

Romans 8

Ephesians 2

Another great thing about regularly writing these prayers down is that I can go back and look at them.  I usually find myself saying, “If only I knew then, what I knew now,” because as we strive for obedience in Christ through the Holy Spirit, we are refined and find that if we always got what we wanted in the moment, we’d miss out on the greater things God has for us in the future.

I can’t tell you how many people I know who desire to have a baby but have a hard time conceiving.  Then, once they finally get pregnant, or make that decision to adopt, God blesses them with not just one child, but a second child conceived naturally, without drugs or fertility treatments.  I can’ tell you how many times I’ve looked back on my life and thought to myself, “If God had given me that little thing I wanted back then, I wouldn’t have this huge blessing I have before me now.”

Accept, Wait, and Receive

Accepting the circumstances of a disappointment doesn’t mean that we’re ok with it.  Accepting a disappointment just means that we’re acknowledging that I am a small little speck compared to God’s greatness and, as His child, I know that His plan is bigger than my plan.  That ever popular proverb always comes to me–Trust not in my own understanding, but acknowledge God and He will direct my path.

I am one of the least patient people I know.  This impatience comes from a lack of trust in God and His plan for me.  However, the more I’ve asked God to give me the strength to endure the long-suffering of patience, the more I’ve been blessed because of it and the more trusting I’ve become of God.  My husband teases me all the time that I want “everything right now,” and how unrealistic that is.  Let’s be honest, waiting for “God’s timing” isn’t fun; nor is it supposed to be.

So, what does one do while waiting for the uncertainty of God’s timing?  The most important thing I’ve learned about being patient is that it doesn’t come by just sitting around and waiting.  It comes by trusting that God is in control and knows best, so in the meantime I can be productive by continuing to seek Him daily.  I can have a hard time stepping back from all of my long-range goals and plans to see the day-to-day obedience which is so important in patience.

If I sit and watch out the window for a good friend to arrive for coffee, I will get frustrated with not seeing her walk up the path.  However, if I’m busy around the house preparing for her arrival, she’ll come sooner than I anticipated.  So, while we can miss Jesus, like Martha did as she busied herself in the kitchen after his arrival, it’s also important to take Martha’s lead in preparing for his arrival while we are waiting.  That just means being faithful, doing what is right in the day-to-day, so that when God does show up and bless us with something we desire, we are ready to receive Him.

Some of my middle school girls at my back to school sleep-over (yes, they are stair sledding!)
Some of my middle school girls at my back to school sleep-over (yes, they are stair sledding!)

The Reward of Faithfulness

I was recently at a weekend camp with the middle school students from my church.  On Saturday afternoon, the kids had free-time to enjoy the many activities of the camp.  There were two activities that were especially popular, so the lines were very long and the students had to wait up to an hour to enjoy the activity.  One of the girls in my group was so excited that she kept hopping from line to line out of impatience.

After about an hour of this, she complained that she just wasted all this time and hadn’t been able to do either activity, plus she also wanted time to go swimming.  I encouraged her to get in line for the activity that she wanted to do most and be patient while she waited in the line.  We talked, made jokes, and cheered on the other kids as they faced the challenges of the activities.  Eventually she made it through the line and afterwards said, “That was really worth the wait!”

By the time she got done with the first activity, the line had died down in the second activity and she was able to join right in.  She still had time to spare to enjoy swimming with her friends.  I pointed out to her that because she was patient and waited for one good thing, she was able to enjoy all the good things laid out before her.

While this is a simple story of a child’s impatience, I think this applies to most of life.  If we jump around trying to get all of our desires met, we are often disappointed.  But if we are faithful to what matters most, we are often blessed beyond measure.

Oh, and that big disappointment I so wrestled with?  A few months have gone by and what I was expecting as a really big life change that would alter the course of my life became a small adjustment that allowed me to remain just where I was…only happier.

Black and White

black and white
My husband slaving away as he fixes his car in the Florida heat.

Change has become the new normal for my life.  I always thought that I was pretty good at change but that was when my life had a fluid consistency, like  the comfort of a classic black and white feel good movie, so adding a little splash of color and adventure now and again was welcomed.  For some time now I’ve thought that going back to a little consistency would be nice.  The colors flashing speedily before my eyes get a little overwhelming.  I’ve been waiting for the comfort of some good old classic black and white…and I’m still waiting.

Last weekend, I was reminded of something so simple and yet so vital to living the spirit-filled Christian life.  I was reminded that, like the Rich Young Ruler, I too must be willing to live fully abandoned to God.  It occurred to me that all the changes and all the dissatisfaction I was facing were a result of my having this perfect image of what my life should look like; what I want to do everyday, what I want my house to look like, how I want my relationships to be, etc.  I’ve been focusing so much on “I” and “me” that I was missing out on what plans God may have for me.  If I’m not willing to give up that which I think will make me happy, there will be no room for what God knows will give me eternal fulfillment.  Who knows, maybe God and I have some of the same plans but I can’t know that if I’m not willing to be ok with losing everything in order to make room for the abundance of Christ’s blessings.  I believe that God gave me a simple object lesson to reinforce this truth over this past week.

Transportation is one of those rich blessings that is often taken for granted until it’s taken away from us.  My husband, being a mechanic, was doing some much needed work on his car last weekend.  He got done as much as he could but not enough to make the car drivable for the week.  He told me that he would have to finish the following weekend when he had more time but this meant sharing my car throughout the week.  Because Andrew works nights, from 2pm-4am I would be without a car.  This wasn’t a huge inconvenience because I didn’t have any major plans that I couldn’t work around, however I really dislike being home alone; especially at night.  It is being home alone at night when I’m apt to sink into my depression.

The one thing I really didn’t want to miss is volunteering at the church on Tuesday night with the middle school kids.  I remembered one of the volunteers lived close by, so I had a ride and something to do during one of the four nights without a car.  Even so, I dreaded going into the week knowing that Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I’d be home alone.  Then, things started falling into place.  Each day I had a conversation with someone that said, “I’ll come pick you up to do_________.”  By the time Thursday night rolled around, I had been able to get out of the house three out of my four nights alone without a car!

I could have been really resentful and complaining about having this freedom taken from me.  Yes, initially I felt a little trapped and anxious about not having the control to go wherever and do whatever I wanted, when I wanted it.  However, I trust my husband with the mechanics of our vehicles, I trust his hard work, and I had to choose to trust God that I would be ok for one week without transportation.

At the end of the week, I had gotten out so much that I actually began to think, “wow, it would be really nice to have a peaceful night at home!” I felt very alive, fulfilled by God’s mercy, and blessed to have a community around me that cares for me.

Trusting God with this one small thing helped me to remember that if I trust Him with everything else, my life will be so much more fulfilling.  My ongoing worries had been about how I’d keep my house clean and healthy food on the table once I started my second job, when Andrew and I would be able to start planning a family and, when we did bring our first child home, how I’d be able to take care of that child and still have enough income…and on and on my worries weighed me down like treasures of which I was unwilling to live without.

It occurred to me, that unlike the rich young ruler who, “Disheartened…went away sorrowful,” that if I were to leave behind these momentary worries and followed Christ with full abandon, that God’s plan for our needs, house, and family would fall into place.

This world is so entranced by technology, cell phones, nice cars, the Jones’ way of living and whatever that looks like for you.  Many of these things have their place and benefits.  However, if the question is between living my life based on my plans and possessions and basing my life following God’s plan, I’m going to choose God’s plan.  I’m going to go back to the basic black and white movie with the slow dialogue and simple lifestyle over the fast paced High Definition color with surround sound any day.

Listen to the sermon that inspired this post!

Dreams and (Un-)answered Prayer?

Slovak teenagers sitting under a tree hearing the gospel from my 2011 mission to Slovakia

Lately my mind has been filled with dreams; longings for the future. I’ve been gazing down a winding path of uncertain hopefulness of things that could be. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been considering what I’ve accomplished over the past thirty years and where I’d like to be.

There is a song by a popular Christian group, Sidewalk Prophets, which keeps catching my attention called, Help Me Find It.  The chorus goes,

“If there’s a road I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will,
Whatever Your will”

Every time I hear this song, every verse resonates in my soul and I have to stop and pray to words to God as I listen.

Last night my longings manifested themselves in a dream while I slept. It was late evening and I was supposed to be meeting my husband to do an errand together when this kitten came up to me, put his front paws on my leg, then swung his body around to the other direction, looking back at me like, “come on, I have to show you something!” I was conflicted as I really needed to go meet my husband but my heart goes out to any animal, so I followed him. Under a tree were about six other kittens and a mama cat, obviously homeless. They were surrounded by four older children, also casually sitting under the tree. There was a building to the left, more of a shack, with outside lights shining on the two families.

I asked the children what they were doing there. Between the ages of around 8 and 14, the oldest one, a girl, told me, “We have no family and nowhere to go.” I didn’t know what to do. I thought, “At least I can get them a blanket while I figure it out,” but that didn’t seem the answer.

It was as though Jesus were standing beside me saying, “Tell them about me. What they really need is me.” In fact, I realized there was a young man standing beside me with a stubbly beard and unkempt sun-stroked hair, he was dressed in every day jeans and light jacket. It was as though he had been with me all along. It must have been Jesus.

So, filled with the spirit of Jesus Christ, I began to speak. I related my own life challenges to the suffering of these four kids and began to share the message of Jesus’ redemption.

The children hung on my every word, and as they did so, more children began to gather around them. Some came and sat closer to me in eagerness, others stood behind the tree, a little more shyly but all leaning in to the Truth of God’s gift of salvation. I finished with an invitation to them all to receive this truth into their hearts and lives. I knew that my words were not my own, but given to me by the spirit of God. I alone am not capable of such eloquence.

As I concluded, I told the kids, mostly young teenagers, to tell someone if they had prayed that prayer, so that they could begin to learn what it meant to let their decision to follow Jesus grow and become a part of their everyday life. I told them to go and tell others the same truth. My outward thought was, “Oh wow, now I need to stay here in case they need to tell me of their decision, so that I can answer their questions and guide them,” but my inner self said, “No, you’ve made a commitment to your husband to meet him.” It was as if the man beside me, Jesus, was saying, “No, it’s not your responsibility. Leave them to me. I will take care of them.”

As I left several of the kids came up to me to say, “I did it! I prayed to have Jesus in my heart and life!” I rejoiced with them but said,”I’m sorry but I have to go now,” to which they seemed sad, but ok, and so I left. I met up with my husband, apologized for being late, and told him the amazing thing that had just happened.

As I awoke this morning, it occurred to me that my dream was a direct realization of my life’s dream. Some time ago, I wrote out this vision for my life:

“My vision is to be a light of the Gospel of Christ in the lives of teenagers, their parents, and other student ministry leaders, that they may know and receive His love in the every day realities of their lives and to shepherd them as hands in the harvest.”

The passage from the Bible which had led me to this vision was from Matthew 9,

 35  And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

I think the four siblings sitting under the tree were the “sheep without a shepherd.” The rest of the kids that came as I shared the gospel message were the harvest that needed tending. I am convinced that my dream last night was a visual image of my dreams for the future; a prayer I’ve been praying more and more.

This dream was my peace, God asking me to be still, while I wait for Him to show me the road He needs me to walk. This dream was a message from God saying, “It’s ok that you don’t have all the answers, all the directions for the journey you are on. Trust me while I put into place all the necessary things for your vision to come to full manifestation.”

If you listen to the rest of the Sidewalk Prophets song, you will here them tell you that all the answers aren’t going to be there, and that’s ok. They encourage us to trust God, have faith, and say no to fear.

Sometimes what seems like an unanswered prayer is really just God saying, “wait.”  His answer is the peace in the waiting. I certainly don’t have all the answers and I’m learning to be ok with that because I never will.


My Plans over 30 Years of Life

My Plans from 30 Years of Life
Some of my awesome community at my birthday party last night.

Today I turn thirty years old.  About a month ago, when it dawned on me that I was really going to be 3-0 years, I started to freak out.  I was both excited and afraid.  I began asking myself what I’d done with my life, reflecting on my current reality compared to my plans and past assumptions about what I thought my life would look like at this age.

I enjoy celebrating special occasions.  I figure being thirty is a pretty big accomplishment, so I want to celebrate!  I actually feel like an adult…most of the time.  I have a sense of responsibility that I never had before.  My faith in God seems firm and steady, ever challenged and ever growing. I have a wonderful God-fearing husband, a sound community of people around me, and a comfortable home to care for.  However, I look at how I spend my time (as I have over the past three years), and wonder,

“What am I doing with my life?”

There are so many things I want to do.  While I’m super grateful that I still have a lot of life left ahead of me, God willing, I question if I shouldn’t be further along in my accomplishments; more established in my day-to-day life.  Ten years ago I thought that at thirty I’d be married with a family, own a nice home, and a steady career.  I have the husband, and by God’s abundant provision, I live in a great home; but where’s the family and the steady career?  I hardly think two cats count as a “family” and jumping from part-time job to part-time job count as a steady career.

This is where I began to panic a little.  I started thinking about whether I’m using the time God has given me to the full.  Am I wasting my time?  Am I missing out on opportunities to serve God, to build His Kingdom, to do something with my life that is bigger than myself?  I don’t know.  I don’t know the plans the Lord has for me but I’m coming to realize that I just need to continue to trust His plan.

A couple pieces of wisdom come to mind as I meditate on these questions:

Proverbs 3

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make straight your paths.

 Proverbs 16 

1 The plans of the heart belong to man,

but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,

but the Lord weighs the spirit.

3 Commit your work to the Lord,

and your plans will be established.

My Plans from 30 Years of Life
My husband and I after my friend played a “create your own card” in Apples to Apples. Andrew had no choice. “Bethany” was the winning card for “Magical.”

My perspective on my life plans has changed a little in the past ten years.  I no longer want a full-time career.  In my “perfect” world, I want to focus on my family and God.  In my “perfect” world, I would have1.5 kids, a dog, two cats and the ability to stay home most of the week to take care of them.  I would also be established in a fulfilling ministry to teenagers on a part-time basis.  My husband would have a 9-5 job.  He would be home in the evenings and we would serve together at our church regularly.  This is not reality for me right now.

Having read and meditated on the above scriptures so much over my lifetime, God brought them to mind as I contemplated these things.  I remembered that my life is not my own.  All I need to do everyday is seek God with my whole heart, stop and listen for His voice in my life, and be obedient to pursue the desires He puts on my heart.  Most of all, cling to the faith and trust of an infallible God who has saved me from a life of aimlessly chasing after the wind.

Do you wonder if you are walking in God’s plans for you?  Do you think God is silent in your life or wonder how to hear God?  Look through my great links page for more resources, leave a comment on this post or contact me.  I’d love to begin a discussion!

When God takes Second

Photo on 2013-04-01 at 19.40Who is your God?  Mine can be so hard to define sometimes, and yet I live a life that would suggest the answer to be simple.  Daily I read the Bible where over and over and over again it says, God is the only God and there should be no other.  However, I live in a culture where so many things are deemed “the most important thing”; things other than God.  In Biblical terms, these things are called idols.

(See Psalm 96:4-6 and Habakkuk 2:18-19)

We make idols out of material things (computer, tablet, or smart phone anyone?), out of money, our jobs, and even people.  Lately, I’ve had conversations with so many people about how men can so easily and deceptively become idols in a woman’s life.

The question has been posed to me in different ways but all asking basically the same thing: Have you ever put your husband before God?  If so, what do you do about it?

Let me tell you that it’s very likely that I have a choice to make every single day whether God or man (in my case, usually my husband) will be central to my life, love, and happiness for that day.  It is probably more likely lately that I’m going to miss a beat and put my husband, Andrew, in that place.

It’s hard enough being married to a mechanic.  The long hours, the unpredictability of vehicles, and ridiculous pay system is a challenge in itself.  Anyone who is a mechanic, or is married to one, knows what I’m talking about!  Andrew and I have been challenged even more over the past several weeks as he’s taken a night shift–fixing cars that will be sold in a used car super-center.  He now works 3pm-3am four days each week.  I remain on a typical daytime schedule.  This means that we can go days without seeing each other or even talking to each other.  Even on the weekends, our waking hours only have a small overlap, so the time is precious.

I hate this!  Before I was married, I hated living by myself.  I always had a roommate if I could help it just for the sake of my sanity.  I would keep myself extremely busy in the evenings and on weekends so that I wouldn’t go crazy or become depressed.  When I finally got married I took a huge sigh of relief, thinking that I’d never have to worry about being lonely again.  Well, I’m back to trying to be busy nights and weekends, with an occasional visit to my husband during his break at work as we try to keep the romance alive in our relationship and even just catch up on day to day conversation.

This situation has really caused me to reevaluate my heart.  Am I putting my husband before God?  Wherein lies my satisfaction?  How do I know?

It may sound morbid, but my litmus test is imagining the worst.  I imagine that I get  phone call from someone telling me that my husband has died, has become gravely ill or disfigured,  or that (oh, God, spare us both!) he’s left me for someone else.  I ask myself, “If something were to happen, would I be ok?”  That is, what would I have to lean on to get me through such tragedy?  If my answer is not, “It would be extremely devastating but I know that God would be there to comfort me through the pain,” then I have a problem.

Even if I think this in the sense that I know that is the right answer but I can’t honestly say it isn’t true for me right now, then I have a problem.  I then need to redirect my heart, realize my husband is a broken and imperfect man (Romans 3:10-12), and God is the only source of satisfaction for my life (Romans 5:1-5).  I need to get down on my knees and seek God’s face.

I am truly grateful for my husband.  He’s a God fearing, honest, dependable, loving man.  He points my heart to the Truth of Jesus better than anyone else in my life.  God gave me a blessing when He gave me Andrew as my husband.  God also gave me a challenge; to daily remember who is responsible for my life.  If I don’t seek him with my heart first, it’s impossible for me to love my husband well or even receive Andrew’s love for me.  It’s also impossible for us to work through difficult situations together, like the recent scheduling challenges.

Just for good measure, the following is a shout out to my fellow mechanic’s wives who can identify with the occupational challenges of their husbands.

10 Signs that  You are Married to a Mechanic:

  1. Your husband comes home from work walking like he just climbed out of a really small box.
  2. You can’t find the dish soap by the kitchen sink and immediately look for it in the shower and find it there.
  3. Your husband never has clean or straight fingernails.
  4. Your husband smells like motor oil even when he’s not just been working on cars.
  5. While driving down the road together, your husband often makes random comments like, “Ooh, that doesn’t sound good.  That car <fill in car ailment here>.” Or, another favorite, I worked on one of those this week and I would never want to own one because <insert recounted experience here>
  6. You know what “flat rate” means and really dislike it.
  7. You understand when your husband sometimes comes home at the end of the day in a bad mood because you know that he probably worked several hours that day which he knows he won’t get paid for.
  8. Your husband has extremely strong hands and can open any jar no matter how tight.
  9. When you go out with friends, at some point during the evening someone will start making funny car noises and ask your husband what he thinks is wrong with their car.
  10. The only garage you take your car to for repairs is your own…unless your husband has access to the shop where he works, in which case garage hours are after closing time.

The Lord of My Ring

ImageI fell off a dock when I was about 8 or 9.  It seemed like it was about ten feet to the water below and I was scared, so I grabbed the edge of the dock and hung on as though my life depended on it.  It really wasn’t that far down and I was a good swimmer.  Why did I do it?

I had been playing a game with myself, touching each post (or, in nautical terms, “piling”)which held up the dock as I walked along with my family.  We were on one of our many family sailing trips and were heading out for dinner.  As my family conversed, strolling down the dock, I turned to look at them, keeping the rhythm of my game.  But I missed and fell.  I clung to the dock screaming, “Help!  Help!”  My dad reached down and pulled me back up to my feet.  I was wearing just shorts and a t-shirt, so I got all scraped up and am scarred to this day.

Later, my Dad said, “Beth, why didn’t you just let yourself fall into the water?  You are a good swimmer.  You would have gotten wet but that’s better than being all scraped up.”

“I don’t know.  I was scared,” was my reply.

I remembered this event recently, after watching The Return of the King, the third of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson.  After a long, grueling journey to destroy a ring whose power brings evil forces upon the fictional land of Middle Earth, Frodo and Sam finally make it to Mount Doom.  Within the mount of doom is a firry pit which is the only entity which can destroy the ring.

Frodo and Sam rest for a moment before hiking up into the mountain wherein Sam starts remembering the pleasantries of their home, The Shire, which they’ve been away from for a very long time.  Frodo can’t remember the smells, sounds, and tastes which Sam describes so longingly.  They decide to continue on in their journey into the heart of the mountain to the Crack of Doom but Frodo is exhausted from the journey and the burden of the ring, so Sam carries him.

Reaching the top, Frodo has one last burst of energy and scrambles toward the destructive body of lava.  He holds up the ring, the burden he’s had to bear which has nearly destroyed him countless times in their journey, but he can’t throw it in.  It’s power has overtaken Frodo while Sam pleads with him to destroy it.  Just then their nemesis, Gollum, who had also been overtaken by the power of the ring many years ago, appears and struggles with Frodo in efforts to take it back.  Gollum is so desperate to get the ring he bites off Frodo’s finger which holds the ring.  They struggle and finally Frodo pushes Gollum over the edge.

Falling a far distance, Gollum is not afraid; he is too entranced in the satisfaction of holding the “precious” ring once again.  He doesn’t realize his fate until the lava begins to overtake him and he sinks to his death.  With the destruction of the ring, the mountain begins to cave all around them.

Frodo and Sam escape to a sturdy precipice where they await what they assume is their impending death.  Frodo tells Sam that he can remember, now, the things of the Shire.  Eagles swoop down, saving Frodo and Sam from death and they are returned to their friends and, eventually, to the Shire.

The entire journey, the entire 11 1/2 hours of the extended edition film series, all Frodo and his companions can think about is destroying this ring.  It is a burden.  While not a large object, it becomes personified and the weight of it nearly drives Frodo and his companions crazy; others’ desire for it nearly kills Frodo.  So why, at the hour of glory, does Frodo want to keep the ring?  Why does he hesitate to throw into into the Crack of Doom?  I think that carrying it with him for so long in this mentally, physically, and emotionally draining journey, it’s power got the better of him and he was scared to let go.

How many times have I had the chance to let go of a burden only to grab it back and say, “No!  It’s mine!”?  How many times have I been engaged with an unhealthy relationship, an unhealthy activity, an addiction, a pattern of sin which was destroying me little by little from the inside out, distancing me from God and others.  How many times have the burdens I’ve carried affected the lives of those around me; hurt the people I loved and drew them away from God, rather than pointed them toward Him?  How many times have I been playing a seemingly innocent game with my life only to let it go too far and step over the edge?

My Dad was right, if I had just let go, the water would have cushioned my fall and I could have swam safely to the shore.  If Frodo had just thrown the ring into the Crack of Doom, he wouldn’t have lost his finger.  If Gollum had realized the consequences of having possession of the ring, he wouldn’t have been forced over the edge to his death.

If we could just let go of the sin which so easily entangles us and trust our Savior, Creator, God, we could be freed of so many of our burdens and be able to experience the joys of the abundant life God gave us through the forgiveness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Letting go is painful but not as painful as hanging on.  What burden do you need to let go of today?

If you want to reach out for help but don’t know where to turn, please contact me.

The “Sensitive” One: My Lifelong Journey of Depression

I have always been accused of being, “sensitive.”  It’s a labeled I’ve carried well just because it was how I was labeled.  It’s a label I’ve denied, trying to overcome in my own power.  It’s a label I’ve searched deep and high and far and wide for reasons and meaning.  Up and down my whole life, it’s amazing to see how many different things can contribute to my mood.  I can cry at the drop of a hat and not even know why.  I can slump into a stupor, like a vegetable on the outside but one wrongly imprisoned on the inside.Continue reading “The “Sensitive” One: My Lifelong Journey of Depression”

Washing Dishes

ImageOne thing I dislike about being married is the extra dishes in the sink.  However, one thing I really like about being married is having someone to care for.

Before I got married I didn’t really enjoy doing things around the house like cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming.  I always, always, always, detested doing the dishes but I did them anyway because, well, rotten food stinks.  I still dislike doing the dishes but now I do them for more than just the smell of a clean kitchen.  I do the dishes because my husband works really hard, comes home really tired.  The only reason I could ever like doing dishes or cleaning the bathroom is because it is a way I can serve the man that works so hard to provide the bulk of our income.  I feel very fortunate that I can work part time and spend the rest of my time keeping the house, or as I like to say, “doing wifely things.”

This week we are moving to a new house.  Currently we live in a two bedroom, one bathroom mobile home.  That’s pretty much it.  There is no modern conveniences.  We don’t have a clothes washer or dryer.  Coin laundry it is!  We don’t have a dishwasher; even more reason for disliking dishes.  We don’t have a garbage disposal.  We don’t even have one of those sink hoses with the spray attachment next to the kitchen faucet.  My whole life I’ve always had access to those things and yet for the past six months, I feel like I’ve been living in the stone age.  Moving to the new house, we have three bedrooms, two and a half baths, brand new refrigerator, washer, and dryer.  We have a dishwasher, garbage disposal AND even the sink sprayer.

As I go between the two houses during this move I think to myself, “I am never going to take for granted having a dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer ever again!”  However, in the back of my mind I wonder if I’m really going to live up to that vow.

When I was in Indonesia, there were so many things that I became thankful for.  In my last week there I experienced some of the poorest people I’ve ever met (see my post on week three of A Journey Overseas).  I spent a few days with some families who live in a slum village.  The houses didn’t belong to those who lived in them and they didn’t pay rent.  They are squatters.  The streets are lined with sewers; as in you better watch where you are walking otherwise you’ll step right in the flowing stream of stinky goop which foamed and bubbled and carried trash throughout the village.  These are the same streets where the children play.  Needless to say, these people had none of the modern conveniences which I so long for, nor do most of them have access to clean running water or even a toilet.  Yet, I stand at my kitchen sink washing the dinner dishes with a full stomach and my attitude stinks just about as bad as the sewers did.

My husband, Andrew, and I are extremely fortunate to be moving into this house.  We could never afford to rent, much less own, a house as nice as the one we are moving into.  It is through a blessed circumstance, and the generosity of people who care about us, that we are able to move into this house for just the cost of the ongoing expenses of the home.

I have had many conversations with God about this house.  The one we have most often is that I not take my life for granted.  I can have a really hard time remembering that the treasures I have, the money in my bank account, the house I live in and the car I drive are not my own but they are the Lord’s for it is He that provided them to me.  It is really easy for me to look at my friend’s homes or cars or lifestyles and want what they have and wonder what I did to deserve the crummy life I have.  I look at where I’m going and I look at where I am and I realize that my life isn’t as bad as I thought.  Living in the mobile home is helping me to see the true blessing of this new house.  Then I think back to the families in the slums of Indonesia and I think, even the mobile home that I have lived in for the past six months has been a huge blessing.  I continue to pray that I would be reminded of that every day.


A typical goofy moment with my husband

The first day of the year is just a day. It’s also a reason to look back and contemplate the year’s past and to have renewed hope for the year to come.  January first, 2012 had especially high hopes for me as I had been married all of two days.  Having my husband by my side made all the difference this year.  I know it would sound better if I said, “God and my husband,” but the truth is that God is always there and has been all my life.  Sure, I’m learning to trust Him more but I’m always learning to trust Him more.  This year was different because I also had my husband to lean on.  I believe that God provided Andrew to me for the leaning and it made all the difference.  It was a hard year which ended in a depression.Continue reading “Unknown”