Land of Mourning

Everything was dark. The sun shone only a dim light when it rose. The fear, the uncertainty, that deep, tangled knot seemed to grow ever larger. His voice was like a silent wall, not to be heard, but standing, unmoving. Nothing came from Him, no encouragement, for anything in His word she had read felt like a useless platitude in this day of despair. And any words addressed to him only came back empty, wanting, measured by the shortcomings of her humanity.

Her feet wandered in this dreary and terrible place. A thin mist of fog covered the places she stepped; even if it were brighter out, she couldn’t watch for her own safety as she explored the land of mourning. She hoped His words were true, but wondered when she uttered them aloud, desperately clinging to promises in her heart. She felt the weight of the oppressor in every sinew of her body; it struck her and slowed her and tried to consume her. And with each step she resisted, counting aloud the words of Him who is eternity, pulling them from the wells deep in her heart. She would not give in.

A rare step, here and there, a cool stream of water would flow over the top of her foot, under her arch, between her toes. These moments were the most refreshing pieces of this dreary place, but of course she could never see where to find them because of the mist. Any one step forward, even in search of the cool water on her feet, took all of her might.

The chains, they pulled at her and creaked and resisted with every movement. Etched in each link of the chain were feelings and words and things that hurt oh so deep.

Torment.

Hurt.

Anger.

Rage.

Bitterness.

Despair.

Lies.

Injustice.

Wrong.

Blame.

Guilty.

Betrayal.

She had to escape, but didn’t know how, and the days extended longer and longer in front of her weary heart.

Mourning

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Resurrection

I’m not here without Christ. I’m not full of hope and joy without the promise of what His resurrection means. I have no hope for heaven or anything good without a promise of God. And if I don’t have God, I have no purpose in this world. I must be living for something greater than myself. Nothing else in this world makes sense.

I’ve spent the past year and a half becoming. I think I have talked about this before. I’m on a journey of always becoming what it is God calls me to. The newest portion of that journey has included the labels “wife” and “mother.” And after almost 15 months of marriage, I get to become mother again. This season of becoming hasn’t been easy, but my has it been joyful and blessed. And here I sit facing this new season of unknowns (mainly having a newborn while trying to care for the rest of my family, and taking work off for a time), I hope and pray that I can continue to become just what God asks, no matter the uncertainty of tomorrow.

A gal on Twitter asked back in January what word you would choose for this coming year. What word would you come back to dwell upon as the overarching purpose of the year? What word has God laid upon your heart? I answered woman. I long to be a daughter of the King, content and rested in Him no matter the circumstances. I long to be a devoted, encouraging wife who helps her husband at no care for her own desires. To love as C.S. Lewis said,  is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved one’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. And I long to be a mother who shows God’s character to her children, to help rear them in a way that glorifies the God who created them. Now that I am married, these are my first priorities. It starts with “the basics” and anything beyond that must come from God for me to pursue.

Without God I can do none of these things. Without the truth of His word I cannot be helpful to those around me. I cannot serve Him or others without Him. So this is my journey. Figuring out how to find Him first, so that I can be the woman He has asked me to be. So this blog has been resurrected to be my companion on this journey.

Books I am reading:
My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Abide in Christ – Andrew Murray
And a few days each week, I continue to write my way through God’s word. I’m anywhere between Leviticus, the last few books of the New Testament (I have yet to start the Gospels, however), and the Psalms.

One Incredibly Long Week

I’ve been receiving some “complaints” about not updating my blog – who would have thunk?! This may not be very creative, as I’m being taxed to my intellectual limits at the moment.

I have been here for a week – one incredibly long week. Honestly, the past three weeks have felt like a string of months considering so much has happened. God has blessedly provided in every way I need thus far, and I am sure He will continue to do so. I start a new job soon which is a huge blessing. I thought there would be complications with my work study program, but not at all. I am still blessed daily by the family I live with – they are a joy to be around. I have a new best friend (don’t worry Steph, she can’t possibly edge you out!) and her name is Lucy. Lucy is 6. She gives me plenty of hugs and colors me pictures to slide under my door. I do love a good hug, so I’m thankful someone around here so willingly gives them – and so often! I’m enjoying long walks on the beach, wearing flip flops and t-shirts, and eating incredibly fresh avocados by the pound (it seems, anyway).

And I’m sure your biggest curiosity: school. It’s wonderful. I know in six weeks I won’t be saying this, but I’m almost wishing I’d taken 20 credits instead of 16. There’s just so much to learn and be a part of here that I don’t want to miss out. Chapel is turning out to be one of my favorite times of the week and it never ceases to amaze me that we’re all here to learn and serve God. His Spirit most definitely rests in this place. Oh, and let me just mention that Condoleeza Rice is going to be speaking at one of our chapel times in March. Super rad.

If I could have you pray for anything it would be that God would provide one or two close girl friends to walk with. The wonderful woman of the house, Toby, has been such a sweet spirit to talk to, though she is busy with an infant and two other children. Even surrounded by people everywhere, I find I haven’t been in very much face to face conversation, nor have I been verbally processing my days like I used to be able to. I realized this when I was on the phone with Steph last night and I basically dumped all of the words, frustrations, worries and joys onto her in the span of about ten minutes. Bless you, woman, for sitting through that!

I miss you all dearly and cannot wait to see you again soon.

God Has Provided

It is with deepest gratitude and joy that I am able to write this! I spent much of yesterday praying and searching high and low for a place to live. I, quite clearly, felt a bit of frustration and even discouragement. My motives were put on the stand. My desires were hanging in the balance. And my hope rested on God’s ultimate will.

Last night I sat on the beach at sunset wondering why God had been so silent all day long. I thought it rather funny to think that He is silent when the ocean He created was roaring, crashing and breaking just before my eyes. It is in the moments of deep frustration that we often go back to the core and ask, “Alright, God, you haven’t responded yet, so what is it about you that I do know?” And the joyful part of that question is reveling in God’s far reaching goodness to us. So after about an hour of this reveling (despite my circumstances) I went back to the house and got ready for church. As I drove into the quaint little beach town of Carpinteria I thought, “Wow, this place is quaint. Santa Barbara is overwhelming, but this place I could manage. How cute!”

During church my dear friend called me and left a voicemail, and immediately texted me saying she may have found me a place to live. I figured this was God speaking just a little more directly than through the pastor (though what he had to say was rather amazing, also), so I walked outside to return her call.

Turns out she has a friend (who also graduated from Westmont) in Carpinteria who has a room which just became available. The family is willing to host me rent free (though I purpose to get a job and pay at least some rent). And may I just say, all of the details, the family, the location – completely divine. The house is just five blocks from the church I have been planning to attend since my first visit last March. The house is also only four blocks from the beach. I already adore the socks off of the wonderful wife and cannot wait to spend some more time with her. And after spending a few moments chatting with her husband I have a sneaking suspicion he is a man that enjoys some good, awkward humor and laughing a lot. They have three beautiful children, the eldest I met and I must say he is a handsome and well mannered young boy. This family is already a blessing and I can barely wait to move in.

I’ll have to give you yet another walking tour very soon. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your prayers alongside me the past few days. Glory to God.

Time for Battle

We all know I’ve been ready for this journey to Santa Barbara for almost a year now. I’ve been talking about it, excited about it, and ready to leave little Bend for a sprawling metropolis. God faithfully paved the way, and along the way He has given me such great gifts I cannot help but praise Him. He has also challenged me greatly and given me two battles to fight; one of which I will tell you about.

I do not feel welcome in this place. I do not feel peace here, though I feel peace about being here and God’s will for me here – please understand the difference. I am still without a home and my time is running out in the place I currently stay. I was told very plainly by Him that I would need to fight to stay here. This is not something I was anticipating God to say. I am exhausted and have been running hard every day for weeks in preparation to come here, but I know God is faithful to renew my strength and I have no doubts He will guide me into just the right place for this term. I greatly appreciate your prayers and thank those of you doing footwork for me in trying to find a home for the next five months. May God bless you.

Isaiah 40

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.

Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

A Little Tour

Here’s a little walking tour of the neighborhood. And when I say “little” I mean all photos were taken within sixty seconds or less of the house. It’s beautiful here and I am ready to settle in and have a schedule. So far, the place I thought I was going to stay isn’t panning out as anticipated, therefore I am crashing on my friend’s couch. Please pray God provides a place for me soon.

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