When You Fear God Is Done Listening

 

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At the exact moment you fear God is done listening to your pleas late into the night…

you read verses like this:

and you pee your pants.

Luke 18:1-8

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 

“There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy! I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly!” 

So may we continue driving the Lord crazy, er… wearing him out, …I mean, PRAYING this week!

God knows this is SURELY something I can excel at!

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Fully Sufficient

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Spring is finally here!

We opened the windows, cracked open a bottle of chilled white wine, ate salad on the porch and went for a walk in short sleeves.  I could not believe how gratitude came so much more naturally in the sunshine.  Thank you Lord for the sun!

As I type, it is currently raining… But it is not snow so my heart will rejoice! :)

Sun and cadbury eggs will do it for me every year…  I love Easter.  I love the egg coloring, the egg scavenger hunts, the ridiculous bunnies and baskets and even that horrific cellophane grass that seems to linger in every nook and cranny until Memorial day.

And then this.

How is it that after 13 years of private christian education and even more years of Sunday school did I never understand this?  Perhaps it was taught and perhaps I was too busy day-dreaming of boys and swim meets (or both at the same time if I’m honest :))…  But now, wow.  This is just way too cool to not talk about here with all us urbanites raising our hallelujahs in preparation for Easter!

You see, last week was “Palm Sunday”.  Yeah, I know, the term doesn’t exist in the bible.  It’s basically titled in many versions “The Triumphal Entry” where the Israelites took palm branches and went out to meet Jesus shouting “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13)

I knew about Palm Sunday, but what I didn’t realize was when it took place and why that really matters at all. 

So, to really understand the significance, we have to go back to Exodus, where God gives his people their very first holiday:

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect,and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. ~Exodus 12:1-6

The fourteenth day of the month– Passover.  Five days prior (the 10th day)– they chose the lamb.

They were to choose a perfect lamb, one without defect, one that would be fully sufficient to feed their family, not too much or too little, but absolutely perfect and fully sufficient.  One that met both the physical needs of the people’s appetites and every requirement of the Lord.  This lamb’s blood would cover their door posts, and in turn cover them and cause death to pass over their homes.  They would not taste death, they would be passed over!  What a lamb!

Perfectly fully sufficient.

Fast forward to “Palm Sunday” or “The Triumphal Entry” or “The Week Before Easter” or whatever you like to call it ;-).  John 12:1 says “Six days before Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany…” The text goes on to say in verse 12 “The next day, the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.  They took palm branches and went out to meet him….”

So if I’m doing the math right…  “The next day” is the 10th day of the month of Passover!

The 10th day!

It’s the 10th day people!

The 10th day– the very day the people were commanded by God waaaaay back in Exodus to choose that lamb, that perfectly sufficient lamb…  The lamb they would slaughter who’s blood would cover them.  The lamb who’s death would allow their own to be passed over.  The lamb who would meet every need their physical hunger had and would meet every single requirement of the Most High.

So perfectly, fully, sufficient.

When Jesus rode on that donkey while the people cheered and waived their branches in his honor– effectively calling and therefore choosing him their king– their lamb was chosen.  Okay, so He was chosen long before that by God, but the significance still amazes me.  The symbolism of Him standing as that lamb, slaughtered, his blood covering our sin so death would pass us over…

Maybe this has been obvious to everyone out there but me, but I got it last weekend.

It clicked.  I get it.

He is THE Lamb.

The fully sufficient one.

Perfectly.

Fully.

Sufficient.

The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. ~John 1:29

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It’s Not God’s Fault

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I enter stage right and take the platform. My heart is pounding, and my hands are clammy. All eyes are on me. As I fumble to adjust the microphone, my eyes lock with yours, and a deep sigh escapes me.

“….How are we doing so far?”

I look out at the audience who were all crazy enough courageous enough to join me in my 30 Day Challenge- A challenge to quit thinking, quit talking, and quit trying to solve our problems! To instead, give it to God and ask him to show up and do a miracle in 30 days!

My eyes catch a group of you who respond to my question by sporadically jumping up and down and whoo-hooing like you are front and center at a Katy Perry concert… If this is you, you already feel God working in your life, and can barely contain your excitement for how He will continue to show up for you throughout this month!

I am with you!

Others of you are somewhere in the back. I can’t make out your faces because you are rocking back and forth in fetal position, and are murmuring things under your breath that I can’t quite make out. You desperately know you need to quit, have courageously decided you were going to quit, but equally question whether its humanly possible… If this is you, you likely know exactly how many more days, hours, and seconds are left of your 30 day challenge (I have 16 days, 11 hours, and 46 seconds!) You have also likely gone to bed before the sun set a handful of times last week, because you realized if you couldn’t talk or think about your problems, than really…what is there left to do?

Deep Sigh. I am with you….

Then there are those of you who are breaking for the doors the second you see me hit the stage. You have already adamantly thrown up your hands and QUIT ‘quitting’ and have yet to decide if you are more mad at me for suggesting such ridiculousness, or at yourself, for in a moment of bad judgment, following suit…. If this is you, then you’d likely come hunt me down if it weren’t for the fact that I live with 8.4 million other people, and the chances you will ever find me are minimal, at best!

I get it, I do. The truth is, I’m kinda ticked at me too!

So I’m with you…

ALL OF YOU!

And have danced between all 3 emotions, over and over! In the last 4 hours!

But no matter where you are at, or what you chose to let go of last week-

You should know,

It’s not Gods fault.

In the last couple months, I have been anything but shy about airing my frustrations with the Lord. In my desperation I have demanded answers, questioned why, and wondered what I could have done to deserve this. If you recall, it was only two weeks ago, that I screamed at God, punched pillows, and made no apologies….

But what I realized this week is that my current reality is not the ‘Divine torture chamber’ that I made it out to be! (Torturous, yes.. Divine, no…) and that the answer to every question I screamed and sobbed into my pillow late all those nights (and of course, before I ‘quit’ all that!) was right there all along…

in James 1:16-17  it says,

“Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”

My most poignant questions had asked God: …Why me? …Where were you? …Why would you do this?

The Lord’s response: You got it all wrong my child… I am good. my plan is perfect. I am the creator of all beauty, and though your circumstances and emotions may change (often abruptly) I never will.

I believe this verse begins with a warning to not be misled, because He expects that some day we will be! That when things go disastrously wrong that He knows we may lash out at Him in response…. That we may demand answers and throw punches…. That we won’t know where to turn or who to blame…

…And that ultimately, we will get it all wrong!

You see, the last couple of days have been a disaster; a barrage of spills, and toys! …Bubbles were dumped on the rug, UNO cards were found in my bed, pennies were eaten, and it seemed like every stuffed animal got a ‘bath!’ (…and yet, now that I think about it, I don’t know if my daughter ever did!)

When I couldn’t bear to step on, yet another Lego, and was one more “uh-oh Mama!” away from losing my – already dwindling – sanity, I made the decision to shut it ALL down! No more tv… no more “shnacks”… and FREAKIN. NO. MORE. TOYS!!!!

To be expected my 2 year old threw herself on the ground, kicking and screaming in refusal. Once her yelling had died down, she then proceeded to sulk and roam around aimlessly, not knowing what to do with herself amidst the space and silence.

Moments later though, and too my surprise, her whimpering turned to laughter!

I looked to find that she had ascended her Father’s back, and had completely transformed him into a “Ca-BYYYYY-Oh!” (learning also, that if you kick him under the ribs that he will indeed, go faster!)

I watched as she squealed in delight, taking turns between riding him like a horse, and plopping into his lap to glide down his legs like they were a slide.

That day my daughter learned something new (and wildly entertaining) about her father! Something she may not have fully grasped about him, had she kept pouting, or the distractions been present.

We have the same opportunity, in each moment, and through each emotion, of this 30 day Challenge!

And while I hesitate to kick my Heavenly Father under the ribs (…though I secretly wish He would move faster!) I have found that it often takes quieting my distractions, and putting my ‘mess’ in it’s place. It takes adamantly deciding to quit questioning, quit kicking and screaming, and – for the LOVE - to quit sulking, so that I too, can learn more about my Father.

To learn something I had all wrong…

That while our circumstances are unquestionably bad, our God is forever good in spite of them.

While our emotions may change on a whim, that our God never will.

And while He often allows pain and uncertainty in this life to come, that we can be just as sure His goodness and perfect plan will follow suit.

So don’t be misled…

It’s not God’s fault.

Krista Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Success?

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A couple weeks ago something cool job-related happened to my husband.  I was happy for him, for us– and yet it has made me really contemplate what I use to measure success.  When I was working in the corporate world, success was assessed by quantitative and qualitative measures.  More sales, higher profit margins, increased customer acquisition, happier customers or easier navigation.  It’s easy for that mindset of more, more and more or good, better, best to bleed into my ideal of a successful life.

Before I go on, let me just say I do not think there is anything wrong with having more, buying things or making money.  No, no no.  I believe these can all be very good things.

These things, however, are not how I want to measure success in my life.

I want success to be measured by being transformed more like Christ.

Yikes.

I feel like a failure a lot.  A few nights ago my husband and I were arguing, loudly.  Very loudly.  I think our landlord probably heard us (we share a wall with him), which is incredibly embarrassing and I could only think how grateful I was that Maya was sleeping.  We ended the argument late, feeling stupid and immature yet falling asleep in each other’s arms.  The next morning we felt like complete failures.  How is it that we can do the church thing and read that big ole bible and say our prayers and teach our little girl the bible stories and still fail so miserably?!

I want to have a successful marriage.

Read: I want my marriage to be transformed more like Christ.

I want to have a successful job.

Read: I want to be transformed more like Christ where I work.

I want to have a successful life.

Read: I want to be transformed more like Christ every day.

Every day.

Every day?

Every day?!

Yet this is his will, no?

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. ~2 Corinthians 3:18

I will fail, yes.  I will probably fail a little bit every day most likely.  Yet ever increasing glory from the LORD is mine the scripture says!  And if it is from the Lord, He can do it and He will.  When I am tempted to give in to whatever it is, He will provide a way to succeed!

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13

I want to let go of my ideas that success looks like a gourmet meal on my “spring” table, a perfectly decorated and organized house, a little girl with a strategically placed pretty bow just on the right spot on her wavy hair saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, or a husband who brings home flowers and starbucks and lingerie.  All of those things are nice, and I would love to have even one of them (not to mention all of them at once!  That would be a dream!) but alone, a successful life (by my definition) they do not make.

How freeing it is to embrace life with this outlook.  How overwhelming it is at the same time!  May I seek Him always, Him first and let the rest fall into His lap with each choice I face today.

May His grace abound.

Rachel Signature2

I Quit (And Why You Should To!)

I QUIT

I am an above average quitter. In my years, I have quit a variety of things, not limited to cheerleading, playing the flute, couponing, and subscribing to Netflix. 4 times!

I have also quit Jillian Michael’s Level 2 more than I’d like to publicly admit, and am known to quit checking my voice mails once the number gets too high (…currently there are 9!)

I also semi annually (Read: Every other week) consider quitting writing. Like, forever.

But this last week I quit something I will never regret.

It started when I avoided a phone call from my dad.

I knew he was just checking up on me, but I literally COULD NOT talk about this any longer - Not about my problems, not about what I feel I should do in the future, and/or when I should do it… Notta! Even small talk was out of the question!

“That’s exactly why I need to talk to you,” he responded, “I have an idea…

He had my attention as he began to describe an intriguing idea that was as profound, as it was nutty.

… An idea to QUIT!

To throw your hands up, and give up! To quit talking, quit thinking, to even quit WRITING about my problems! …Don’t lie, you just let out a sigh of relief… And if it makes you feel better, I’m just as sick of hearing my sob story as you are! ;)

You see, people all over the world ‘fast’ from things like Facebook, vanilla lattes, or the likes of Salted Caramel Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts, but that night my Dad and I made a decision to fast… from our PROBLEMS!

Even further, we are asking BEGGING God to do a miracle in our lives in the next 30 days! Because boy, do we ever need one!

Every time our trials creep into our minds (which is on average every 23.6 seconds) we will do our best to stop thinking about it and give it to God and ask Him to work a miracle on our behalf…

Every time those closest to us check in and ask how we’re doing, to ask them instead, to lift us up in prayer every time they think to ask…

Every time the panic sets in, and our hearts get restless… when we can’t make sense of this mess and can’t help but question what God is doing… we will throw ourselves at the Lord’s feet each and every time, in hopes that by the end of the month we will see Him more clearly.

In James 1:5-6 it says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and He will give it to you…”

It’s simple, just ask! And in my case, if you need 5 TRILLION TONS of wisdom ask over and over, every second of every day, for 30 days straight! ;)

It goes on to say, “…but when you ask Him be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver.”

The only requirement to gain the wisdom that we are so desperately searching for, is to trust IN GOD ALONE - Not in our common sense, (which I pride myself in) not in our preferences, our ability to ‘fix’ things, or make good decisions. Not in our closest friends, our parents, or our spouse. In Christ. PERIOD!

In the last couple months I have found this to be true, because while I have an amazing support system in my life (and equally amazing blog readers!) in spite of their undeniable love and support, constant phone calls, great advice and care packages, (Double Stuffed Oreos anyone?!) I am still just as stuck as I was before, and haven’t budged even in the slightest!

While I ultimately desire the life the Lord has for me – and while in the past I have followed Him devotedly – this current journey He has me on, has me traveling uncharted territory, out of my comfort zone, and even more, against my will! I am scared to death, and let’s be honest, if there were a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, I’d play it… Like, yesterday!

So the question is, if I’m up against the wall, with few options and even less hope…

if I’m paralyzed in fear and at the end of my rope…

Than seriously, why am I still trying?

Why not quit?

Why not give it to the one who is far more qualified to get me out of this blunder? The one who doesn’t tremble at the magnitude of the mountain I’m up against? The Lord isn’t surprised by the state of my life, He knew I’d be right here… right now… and that I’d want to puke! Even more, He knows when deliverance will be at my doorstep! (Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later!)

Our God is more than capable to do a miracle in 30 days!

… But will He?  That is the question!

One thing is certain, God can do more with our problem in 30 days than we can!

So join me in quitting….

Join me in putting our lofty dreams, big decisions, and looming deadlines on the back burner! To quit keeping ourselves up late into the night and talking ourselves TO DEATH in an attempt at doing this in our own strength! And instead give it to the Lord and ask Him to guide our every step – our every thought – for the next month!

And while I have no idea what is going to happen in the next 30 days - or even worse, what I’ll do if He doesn’t show up! (Don’t be surprised if in a month I post some bogus recipe for homemade laundry detergent or something!)

…I know that if I don’t take this leap of faith today, that at the very worst,  I will be exactly where I started yesterday.

And so I have nothing to lose…

I quit.

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Let Him Fight

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Sometimes when there are no words, no energy, no tears left…

When the mountain ahead is so high, too rocky, threatening your very existence…

The thrashing waves are crashing over and over and over straight on YOUR HEAD for crying out loud and you can’t even find your way up to get one last breath– you feel as though you’re sinking with two dead weights strapped to each of your feet.  It’s just down, down, down…

When those around you– the ones who have promised to be there and love you no matter what have slipped and let you down in more ways than you can count…

When what you’ve been waiting for keeps slipping from your hands time and time again and you have no energy to run after it any more.  You are a heap of dry tears because you don’t even have the strength to cry anymore.  You thought this was your future, and it seems as if it will never happen! You are losing hope, losing the will to try, losing faith.

When disaster after disaster hits, intimidating you to the point of waiving your white flag and succumbing to your lowest of lows…

This is the time.

When you have nothing left to give.

Nothing left to offer.

Nothing in you that can fight.

This is the time…

Let Him fight for you.

The Lord your God is going ahead of you.  He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt.  And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child.  Now he has brought you to this place. ~Deuteronomy 1:30-31

I love how in the book of Deuteronomy Moses outlines the Israelites’ history and their journey throughout the wilderness.  They were about to reach the promised land, and they were weary.  Weary from 40 years of wandering, weary from eating manna, weary from travel.  And yet before they would cross the river into that special place God had prepared for them, Moses reminded them of all they had been through to get to this point, and warned them of what was ahead.  Even though what awaited them was what seemed like an illusion of grandeur (it was that good), Moses knew these people.  They’re just like normal people, after all.  He knew their tendency to fold and cave and disobey.  He knew all of it; he’d seen it all!  In their weariness, he knew they would be frightened at the “taller and more powerful” (Deut 1:28) people they would face in the new land.  They were so tired from the journey.  Yet Moses reminds them that the LORD is going ahead of them and will fight FOR them!

Let Him fight for you too.

Whatever journey you’ve been on, although weary to the point of caving, folding, disobeying… Let Him fight FOR you.  His arm is never too short (Num 11:23).

Moses reminds them again:

Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the Lord your God will fight for you.” ~Deuteronomy 3:22

He will fight for you dear friend.  In your weariness, in your despair, in your overwhelm… Let Him fight.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grown weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. ~Psalm 73:26

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“The Meltdown” A Memoir

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It started around 9am. Just long enough for me to sit down with my cup of coffee, and take a deep breath in the name of starting yet another day.

And then it began…

construction.

Those of you who know me personally, know that I am one of the most chill human beings. Like chill to the point that I don’t even flinch when my wedding is running 45 minutes late and my daughter eats potato chips off the pavement in NYC!

But THIS. This loud drilling outside my window that was literally rattling every sq inch of my apartment had me struggling to hold it together.

I tried to stay calm, I tried with all my might to distract myself… when the drilling was in the living room, I looked at it as a great excuse to get some dishes done in the kitchen…When the drilling followed me into the kitchen, I moved into the bedroom to fold some clothes…

But without fail, the drilling followed me Everywhere. I. Went!!

I held my composure beautifully…. until nap time!

If you aren’t familiar with this ‘nap time’ that I speak of, it is the mom’s equivalent of Girls Night! (minus the blood orange margaritas and the little black dress!) Nap time is a moms time to unwind, to feel human again if only for a moment, and simply do whatever the heck she wants! (Can I get an amen?!?!)

However today’s nap time would be experiencing a ‘remix’ of sorts, thanks to the drilling that was going on in her room at the exact time she was supposed to go down. And unfortunately for me, ‘the original tune’ – which had her tucked away in her own room while I attempt to apply fake eyelashes, and watch reruns of Sex and the City – was MUCH more to my liking! :)

But I embraced it as much as I could muster, turned on every fan in an attempt to drown out the sound, and brought my daughter into my room to lay down with her.

As if on cue, once my daughter had finally fallen asleep (and my hand literally felt like it was going to detach from my wrist from rubbing her back for so long…) the DRILLING BEGAN AGAIN!!!

This time

IN

MY

ROOM!!!!

Insert: Full blown meltdown.

It is during that meltdown – and somewhere between thrashing around, and violently punching pillows – that I screamed out in frustration and said these exact words to God…

“WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING ME!?!?!”

As soon as the words left my lips, we both knew I was talking about much more than just construction…

The words I said were few, but loaded!

They confronted God head-on asking,

WHERE ARE YOU?

WHY DID YOU ALLOW my heart to be broken? 

I have followed you DEVOTEDLY, I have loved you PASSIONATELY… WHY would a ‘God of love’ allow this to happen to ME?!

Though it wasn’t pretty, this was the first time in a long time that I had spoken directly to God.

Like Reeeeeally spoken to Him.

You see, I had said my ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s,’ and prayed before asking to pass the salt at dinner… I always bow my head (without peeking) during church, and have thanked Him endlessly for the apartment He gave me… but even still, had yet to confront God about the current state of my life -the seemingly irreparable state of my heart!

A little harmless construction was all it took for me to be truly honest with the Lord…

The question is, What’s it going to take for you to do the same?

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest…”

Though we may not realize it our God doesn’t turn away from our heartbreak, our tough questions, and at times, our confrontational attitude. On the contrary, He invites it!

He goes even further to say (directly to only me of course, and to my current state of unwind)  …Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”

Come to me… I will give you rest.

Let me teach you… I can be trusted.

I don’t know about you, but I so badly need rest… and even more, someone I can trust.

And though last week, we may have admirably decided to stop running FROM God, I realized this week, that it’s just as much about running TO Him…

To throw yourself at His feet when life gets ‘noisy’ and problems arise at the most inopportune times. When there seems to be nowhere to escape, and problems seemingly follow you everywhere!

To come to Him, raw, messy, and unedited. Ask the tough questions. Scream. Cry. Demand answers. Punch Pillows, and say things that would get you kicked out of church.

Our God can handle it. ALL of it. No matter how ‘heavy’ the burden.

And once our heart rate levels out and our voice lowers, (apologize to the pillow) and let Him teach us.

Let Him teach us to love, to trust, and to pick up the broken pieces once again.

Let His strength take the weight that is crushing your spirit, the burden that each day threatens to tear the little you have left from your grasp. Let Him speak words of ‘gentlesness’ in a world that has unapologetically dealt it’s harshest hand, and let the God who was miraculously raised from the dead, work on your behalf to breathe life into your weary soul, and rebuild all that has been unfairly stripped away.

It’s just as much about deciding not to run from God, as it is to decide – with every ounce that we have left – to run TO Him.

For Our God can be trusted…

So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. -Isaiah 30:18

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