Behind the Scenes

 

 

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Photos by Sweetlife Photography (www.lovethesweetlife.com)

I will never forget the wisdom passed on to us during a very difficult time, from very close friends.  Jake and Anna came to visit us in the hospital the day Maya was born (and would take her newborn pictures a week later!  If you’re in the Portland area and in need of photographers, they are truly the BEST in the biz and you won’t be sorry you hired them!).  It was the day before she began experiencing complications and had to be transferred to the NICU.  The next few days that followed were a blur of doctors, little sleep, tubes and tests for our little girl.  I don’t think I’ve cried so much in my life, yet I don’t think I’ve ever felt so supported and cared for in all my life.  People all over the country were praying for our sweet Maya, and our church community (which Jake and Anna were a big part of) was right there along side us the whole way.
0512_Liilard-Maya_37I remember talking to them afterwards, explaining how the doctors really couldn’t find anything and somehow Maya just kept improving enough to the point where they sent us home.

We were amazed at all the drama that ensued only to lead us to the doctor’s prognosis of “I guess she just decided to puke green stuff.  It’s odd, we don’t know why, but she’s okay.”  And she was.  Even though generally a newborn who is less than 24 hours old and has not swallowed meconium should not constantly projectile vomit bright green (we were told most likely she had an intestinal blockage and would possibly need immediate surgery), she suddenly began slowly holding down milk and spitting up much more normal colored spit up.  She no longer gagged all day long.  By day four, we were about ready to be discharged…  This time WITH a baby!0512_Liilard-Maya_56

“I guess it was a fluke thing,” I remember David and I telling Jake and Anna one afternoon.  “She just stopped vomiting green, and it became like normal baby spit up,” we continued.  “It must have just been a really weird fluke thing.”

Then Jake said something I will never forget.

“You don’t know that,” he said, looking at Maya.  “You had a loooot of people praying.  You never know what God was up to behind the scenes.”

It was as if a light bulb went off in my head.

Wisdom, straight up!

This has become one of my life’s mantras, no joke.  We seriously don’t know what God is up to behind the scenes.  We do know that He is good (Psalm 116:5), He loves us (Romans 5:8) and has plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  He is sovereign (just close your eyes and turn to any psalm, you will see “Oh Sovereign Lord” written on every other one!), His purpose prevails above all (Proverbs 19:21) and all things can be used for his glory (John 9:1-3).  He is at work even when we can’t see (Numbers 22:31)!

0512_Liilard-Maya_02Krista already shared about Elisha the prophet and his assistant when they were being chased by the King of Aram.  When surrounded by the king’s army, the young man trembled in fear.  Yet God opened his eyes and he saw far more of the Lord’s army ready to fight than the King of Aram’s.  God was working behind the scenes, and when He allowed the man’s eyes to open, suddenly everything changed.  The king’s army was the same, but the circumstances were substantially different.

The same kind of thing happened with Balaam in Numbers 22.  He was frustrated that his donkey would not do what he was commanding it so he began beating the poor animal!  Little did he know that the Lord was working behind the scenes…

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him.

32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. 33 Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”

34 Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.”

God can still do this today.  He may or may not open our eyes to physically see what He is up to– he may or may not invite us into the script to know exactly what it is He’s up to– but we can be assured He still works behind the scenes.

As Perry Noble would say in his book Overwhelmed, “It may be time to stop praying, ‘God, get me out of this’ and begin praying, ‘Jesus, let me see You.’” (p. 81).

It is a peaceful, all consuming, overwhelming, ABUNDANT feeling to truly know that God is working behind the scenes on our behalf.

It is also incredibly life giving, gracious, and precious beyond words to have friends who speak wisdom into our lives, even in the hardest of times.  We are so thankful for Jake and Anna’s friendship.  And they take pretty amazing photos too :).

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***This post is not sponsored by Sweetlife photography; all these opinions are purely my own.  Like I mentioned, if you live in the pacific northwest and need photography for any reason, these guys will beyond impress you.  Not only are they incredibly talented, but they are so. much. fun. You won’t be disappointed!  Check them out at www.lovethesweetlife.com

An Excerpt

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Often I will thumb back over my journal and read and re-read what God’s done in my life. I think it’s a cool way of remembering how He moves and writes the storyline of my life.  The following is a short excerpt from my journal…  While I wouldn’t normally post a personal entry from my journal, reading back on this from a few weeks ago I couldn’t help but think it could possibly be an encouragement to someone else.  I hope whatever it is you are facing, you will remember and see freshly how God works on our behalf!  Thank you all for coming along with me on this journey!

 

June 29, 2014

God,

Do you remember how you paved the way?!  You remember how you found a buyer for our house in 9 days?!  Remember how you closed the door on those other jobs and led David specifically here to the NY region?  Remember how you found us an amazing home to rent?  Remember how you then brought my best friend out here too?

I’ve seen your hand in this…  I see You, but still… Often I feel so lonely here.

Do you remember how you paved the way?!  Can you remind me that you will make it all worth it?!  I feel guilty even saying that, but it’s how I feel.  Lord there are so many good things about being here…  Krista, Jean, Chris, Debbie, David, Joe and Denae, the church, the library, my favorite Italian market…  But I miss having true community and I feel like it’s been a challenge for us to connect here than it ever has before.  But God– do you remember how you brought us here?!

And then I hear him saying…

Child,

Remember how I brought you here?!  Sold you home, found you a home, got everything lined up?  It’s because I purposed it that way.  I made it that way for a specific reason.  I am working in ways behind the scenes that are for My glory, My honor and your good.  I brought you here…  Trust and believe when I say I will provide.  Obey me still and I will show up abundantly.  Oh ye of little faith!

I’m sorry, Lord.  I’m sorry for doubting your goodness, your faithfulness, your perfect plan.  Help me to see You in all of this, to know You more.  Oh that I would know you more!  Oh that I would believe You!  I feel like an Israelite who has been led out of Egypt complaining.  And I feel like You’re frustrated with me; You’re like “HELLO, been there, done that, don’t you know the ending already?!  Canaan Rachel!”

Ok, God.  I get it.  Help me to trust You in all things.  Help me to seek your face FIRST.  Help me to let go of my dreams and embrace YOURS.  To RISK for the sake of the greatness of the Kingdom!  I’m ready.  Okay.  Thank you for reminding ME.

Sometimes when we start off reminding God, He just ends up reminding us.  He is faithful, true and good.  May Him who started a good work in us bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6)!

This is why I write down my Ebenezer stones.  I know that while I’d like to think I’m a super rock star like Moses, I’m really just more of an Israelite at heart.  I am quick to forget and slow to remember.  Keeping track of the stones– the many, many ways God pulls through and rescues or works or executes in my life– reminds me to stop and remember.  I cannot allow forgetfulness here.  He is, was, and always will be the beginning and the end and the middle of everything.  Now that, I must say, is an Urban Hallelujah! :)

 

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For Your Friday: 3 Things

When you’ve experienced a bat in the house and the very next day a flood that totals your car, you begin to wonder if perhaps you are beginning to go through a modern day version of Moses and the 10 plagues.  Dramatic, you say?  Maybe.  But I seriously thought I was under attack.

My devotional yesterday read this:

Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice.  I speak softly to you, in the depth of your being.  Your mind shuttles back and forth, hither and yon, weaving webs of anxious confusion.  As My thoughts wrise up within you, they become entangled in those sticky webs of worry.  Thus, My voice is muffled, and you hear only “white noise”. ~Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

But then this week happened, and although it was a CRAZY week (and it’s still not over!) with VBS at church and a couple interesting phone calls and a disappointing one too– I felt alive.  When I came through the door, exhausted after chasing around 30+ kids for four hours and finally put Maya down for a nap, I sat down to get rid of the “white noise”.  Given everything that’s gone on over the last week, I was in desperate need of centering myself around His purpose, His truth, His timing– just HIM.  No TV, no music, no computer… Just me and Him.

And you know what is so crazy amazing about the God we serve?

Just when I really needed Him, He met me right there in His word.

But why am I even the least bit surprised?!

That’s just who He is.  Amen?! :)

As I sat in that comfy chair in the 90 degree heat of that July afternoon, I was refreshed in a way I can’t explain.  It was as if He gave me three things, one after the other, to remind me of who He is and how I am to pray.

1.  Ask for WISDOM.

James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

All we have to do is ask.  He is generous with his portions. ‘Nuf said! :)

2.  Make Your will plain to us, Lord!

Psalm 5:8 says “Make your way plain for me to follow.”  God does not complicate things to the point where we are putting together one of those million pieces jigsaw puzzles in order to figure out what to do.  On the contrary, rather, we serve a God who is clear and orderly.  Like David, I ask that God would make his will simple for me to understand, grasp, and follow.

3.  Be with us in all we do.

Jabez was just a guy in 1 Chronicles that was part of the descendant lineup of Judah (aka a reeeaaallly boring part of scripture to read) but then suddenly we get to Jabez and there’s a short little story on the guy.  Apparently he prayed, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain! And God granted him his request” (1 Chronicles 4:10).

I want the God of the universe with me in all that I do, don’t you?

So as I head into the weekend, I hope I will be faithful in asking for wisdom, for His will to be plain to me, and that He would be with me in all I do.  Three things for my Friday, and hopefully Lord willing, my every day.  I pray the Lord would give these to you too!

Happy Friday everyone!

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That One Time my Car was Flooded in a FLASH FLOOD

07102014 flash floodI swear, the devil is really trying to attack me in New Jersey!

The day after a bat flew in the house  my husband and I were on a very rare date night.  I wore heels, we went out for dinner and browsed at all the fancy coffee makers at Sur La Tab.  I was in heaven, hand in hand with my man; not worried about fishing for snacks in my purse or strapping a toddler in and out of her car seat.  It reminded me that taking the time out to really date your spouse again after having a child is soooo worth it!

After dinner and window shopping, we decided to go do some real shopping at a much less fancy department store.  Shopping without a toddler?!  Yes please!  As we were driving, rain ensued and the warnings on our phones went off.  Flash flood.  No biggie.  We were driving so surely we were driving AWAY from the flash flood area, right?!

We got to the parking lot and thankfully were able to find the last space available in the way back.  There was caution tape marked off on certain areas, and I figured that was probably a flooding area or something so thankfully we stayed outside of the caution tape with all the other cars and made our way into the store.

About 30 minutes into our shopping endeavor, the thunder became really loud.  I didn’t think much of it, we’ve had a lot of thunder storms here in New Jersey.  We continued to shop for about another 30 minutes when we heard over the loud speaker:

“The parking lot is beginning to flood.  There is a black car in the back of the lot that is beginning to go under water.”

I looked at David worriedly.  Our car was dark blue, so definitely it would appear black in the evening.

We hurried to the front of the store, and while I checked out he ran outside.

Yep, it was our car.  Halfway underwater, almost to the door handles, in stinky, dirty rain water!  And go figure, all the other cars were GONE.  We had gotten the last parking space available, and now every single car had disappeared.  It appeared as if we had made a painstakingly awful rookie mistake.

David got a few shopping bags and took off his shoes.  He wrapped his feet in bags and began riding a shopping cart through the water to the car, getting out Maya’s car seat and the Maclaren from the back.  As he waded back I stared in complete SHOCK. (Oh, and my blue suede heels were destroyed in the flood!)

As soon as he got back “to shore”, he got on his phone and called one of our new friends here who graciously dropped everything and drove out to pick us up.  I had no idea the parking lot would fill up with water this high in a matter of 30 minutes!  I was so grateful he knew not to try to start the car (electric car + submerged water = possible electric shock!) and that he works for a car company so this would all be straightened out pretty easily…

On the drive home I just couldn’t believe it.  A bat, a flooded car, what next?!

It made me mad!

I decided right there and then that I would NOT let the devil take a foothold on my heart.  I would instead be THANKFUL, even though at the moment I felt as if I was squinting to see for what.  I sighed.  I was thankful that we were safe and that we’d get the car replaced quickly, that no one got rabies from the bat, that we were lucky enough to experience all these “adventures.”

Take that, stupid devil.

I’m taking gratitude and I’m seriously throwing it in your FACE.

I’m earnestly trying each day to be grateful and truly thankful for New Jersey.  I still dislike bats, I still dislike flash floods, I still prefer the west coast– but there are a lot of wonderful things about this state and I need to start being aware of them.  There is no better way to kick the devil in the face than to be thankful for all I am faced with, right?!. :)

As of today we still haven’t heard regarding the car and David says it is definitely totaled.  I guess I am thankful I will get a new car?

Anyone else have a bad week?  How do you turn it around?!

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I’m Afraid I Might Let Go

If you ever hesitate to watch the news because you’re afraid it’ll give you (yet another reason) to consider giving up on God…

When you’d best describe your relationship with God as “you aren’t on speaking terms,” and you’ve avoided your Bible at all costs, almost as a public declaration to the Lord Almighty himself that:

YOU

ARE

DONE.

If you feel yourself coming apart at the seams…

And the thought of Him looking down on you, as you fall to pieces on the kitchen floor, sickens you.

When the lingering question curious minds want to know is, “It couldn’t possibly be as bad as you say… right?” …as if asking YOU to comfort THEM through YOUR pain is a perfectly logical request. 

When you are left to smile through their ignorance and good intentions, all while they unknowingly affirm your greatest fear; you are painfully alone…

If you cringe when people flippantly use words like ‘anxiety’ and ‘depressed’ to lightheartedly describe things such as the congestion on the George Washington Bridge, or what they fear will be the outcome of the latest Bachelorette episode. (insert: eye-rollage, heavy on the attitude)

If you are in desperate need of

Peace

Victory

or Proof that God is still sovereign, and that He’s still holding the world in his hands…

If you are afraid that given the chance His deliverance ISN’T on the horizon, you might just let go…

Then this SONG and these VERSES are for you, US!

Lord, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea! Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress. Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you.

For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like coals. My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite… I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof… my tears run because of your anger and wrath. For you have picked me up and thrown me out.

But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to EVERY generation. You will ARISE and HAVE MERCY… NOW is the time to pity her, NOW is the time you promised to help… for the Lord will REBUILD. He will APPEAR in his glory. He will LISTEN to the prayers of the destitute. HE WILL NOT REJECT THEIR PLEAS.

Psalm 102

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That One Time a BAT Flew In My House

New Jersey has a lot of interesting animals roaming around.  I see beaver looking things crossing the road sometimes, deer all the time, and more squirrels and bunnies than I ever have in my life.  For being such a densely populated area, I’m constantly surprised at the wildlife.

But I’ve never been more surprised (or freaked out) than I was last night!

It was just a normal evening with my in-laws, playing the family card game Spades.  David and I were on teams, which never works out well because we always end up getting upset at the way we’re playing with each other.  Maya was sleeping.  We were sipping on wine and munching chocolate chip cookies and pop chips, looking intensely at our cards, when all of a sudden my mother in-law looks up and very calmly says…

“You’ve got a bat in the house.”

I look up, not really knowing what to look for (I mean who’s seen a real live bat before?  I know they have wings and are black but seriously, who actually sees a BAT outside of a zoo?!).  I hear my father in-law yell and then suddenly we’re all jumping around like five year olds and I’m screaming!

We all look at each other, not sure what to do, staring at the bat that is crawling on my curtains and has now tried to hide behind the curtain rod.

“Bug spray!” I hear someone yell and I bolt out the front door to the porch to get it.

“Hairspray!” I hear someone else yell and I bolt back in and towards the bedroom to grab hair spray.

Hairspray?!  Really?!

“Get the broom!” I hear and I grab the broom and practically throw it at my father in-law.

David and his dad take the two hairsprays in hand and count to three.  On three, they spray the living daylights out of that bat.  I am screaming, and plugging my ears.  Not sure why I’m plugging my ears at this point, for some reason it makes me feel safer.  The bat is trying to move, but it’s getting so sticky it can’t do anything.  I try not to look, but I see it start to stagger on the curtain rod and finally it falls to the ground!

“Kill it!”

“No!  Let it outside!”

“Kill it!”

We are all screaming and yelling things and for a moment I think I should just go grab my sleeping baby and RUN for it.  How the heck did a BAT get in my house anyway?!

Finally the broom hits the sticky bat that’s trying to crawl under the baseboard heaters and it’s dead.

Sorry if there are any bat activists reading this.  Okay I’m not sorry.  I wanted that thing dead!

We take it outside to I don’t know where, I don’t want to know where!  I disinfect the floor and contemplate burning the drapes when I begin to wonder how many more bats we have in this dang house and how can I just get back to the west coast already?!  I never saw bats out there…  And certainly not in my HOUSE!

I ask (okay, I beg, plead even) with my in-laws and David to please go check the basement and make sure we don’t have a colony of bats hanging upside down in some of the dark corners or bat babies ready to infest our home.  They look at me like I’m crazy but oblige because they’re the best people in the world.  I mean they just rescued me from a bat, people!  They come up empty handed and assure me the bat must have flown through the door when we had it opened earlier or something.  The thought of a bat living in my house for even a small amount of time creeps me out.

Sorry for no picture on this post, I couldn’t bear to take a picture of it!

So just when I was just beginning to think New Jersey isn’t so bad after all, a BAT has to fly and die in my house.

*Sigh*

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Lessons from Dementia

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I saw this on Kay Warren’s facebook page and something in it deeply resonated with my soul.  May I learn to trust that He truly is the keeper and protector of my beating heart and my every moment.  May I believe Him at face value for His face is all I want to see.  May I be still and know, TRULY know Him.  I hope this blesses you today as it blessed me!

Lessons from Dementia
My 90-year old mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and while she has good days, she has some moments in which she doesn’t know where she is, isn’t exactly sure what is going on around her, and leans heavily on me for support –mentally, physically and spiritually.
The disease is always in a progressively downward motion, and we have had move her to the memory care unit of the assisted living facility where she has been living. It is a move she has protested and argued against in her more coherent moments. We go over and over and over the reasons for the move, but it has been a tough decision for her to process. Lately I’ve heard her talking aloud to herself and this is what she says: “I don’t like where I’m going, and I’m not even sure WHY I’m here – why do I have to go to this place? I liked where I was. But I know Kay loves me and would never do anything to harm me; she always has my best interest at heart – so I’ll trust her decisions for me.”
This morning those words rocked me as the spiritual parallels stared me in the face. How many times in my life – particularly in the last year – have I questioned the path God is taking me on? Frequently I don’t like the new path – it isn’t familiar, it isn’t as comfortable as the road I was on before, and to be honest, I complain loudly about it. I want to stay where I was – I want life to be what I’m used to. But after my griping and moaning and some intense conversations with Him, I settle down – like a weaned child on its mother’s lap – and I say exactly what my mom says about the changes in her life: “I know God loves me and would never do anything to harm me; He always has my best interest at heart – so I’ll trust His decisions for me.”
God, may I respond with trust more quickly tomorrow than I did today. Forgive me for doubting Your love; I always get myself worked up, become overly-anxious, and fearful when I forget that You are “rich in love” for me. I choose to allow You to still and hush my soul so I can rest quietly and peacefully in Your embrace.
Psalm 145:9 (NIV) “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
Psalm 131:2(NAB) “Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.”

~Kay Warren

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