A Smile for the Soul

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This post will be short yet full of deep, intellectual thoughts.

JUST KIDDING! 🙂

We have been living it up over here with my mom and dad.   A Yankee game, a trip to Coney Island, shopping in the city, lunch at a pizza icon, a fabulous date with my husband, the farmer’s market, walks every morning, wine around the dinner table, a late night movie, cookies, the most delicious homemade siu-mai, splashing in the kiddie pool with the cutest two year old, and starting some really fun projects.

The best part?

It was all with my mama and my dad.

For those of you who live near family and have the wonderful privilege of sharing life on a daily basis, don’t let the everyday mundane moments rob you of the beautiful joy it is to be a family in close proximity.

For those of you who are far away from loved ones, I feel you.  But oh what a smile for the soul when you are together!

Grimaldi's!!!  One of my favorite NY style pizza joints.

Grimaldi’s!!! One of my favorite NY style pizza joints.

Mom and Dad  in the city

Mom and Dad in the city

If you know my dad, you know he has this pose in every picture in every place he's ever visited :)

If you know my dad, you know he has this pose in every picture in every place he’s ever visited 🙂

Park time with her grandma!

Park time with her grandma!

Coney Island!  It lives up to every expectation you'd have of it!

Coney Island! It lives up to every expectation you’d have of it!

Ice cream, hot dogs, the ocean, her grandparents... Doesn't get much better than this!

Ice cream, hot dogs, the ocean, her grandparents… Doesn’t get much better than this!

The girls :)

The girls 🙂

Go Yanks!

Go Yanks!

My soul is smiling. 🙂  Until next week,

xoxoxo,

Rachel Signature2

 

When God Drags You Through The Wilderness

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“Get up right Now!!!! ”

Startled, my eyes opened in a fury, darting across the room with more questions than I had gone to sleep with …What time is it? …What day is it? … Please Lord, tell me it was all just a terrible nightmare…

Still disoriented, I strained to make out the figure still standing in the doorway, the lanky frame of my 3 year old slowly coming in to focus. I noted the stern look on her face was one I had never seen before…

No mo’ sleeeeepin’, Mama! Get up RIGHT NOW!!!” she demanded.

Out of duty I complied, positioning myself upright in bed as I continued my search for answers long after my daughter dashed down the hallway praising my awakening.

My eyes fixated on the nightstand by my side, a bottle boldly labeled ‘PAIN RELIEF’ brought the events of the last 36 hours flooding back…confessions made in the dark… phone calls to different timezones that began with, ”I don’t even know how to say this…” and sitting alone on a balcony feeling the paralyzing weight of decisions that would have to be made, and yet ZERO willpower to begin making them. 

As I recounted the events of that night, I picked up the bottle of pills, recalling each of the 33 hours I had been too tormented to sleep… 

The piercing screams….

The sobs that went on into the night while my husband looked on helplessly… 

The hours that felt like days, watching the stillness of the city transform with the rising of the sun into a bustling spectacle that offered no more than the cruelest reality; that the world never stops, even though mine so devastatingly had…

The two Tylenol PM’s that had been the only conceivable way to silence my racing thoughts…

I rolled the bottle around in the palm of my hand, pondering the irony of its promise to provide “Pain Relief” when in no way could the contents relieve me of the pain I had been confronted with. 

I put the weight of my head in my hands, tightly closed my eyes, and declared to the universe that if for the last 6 months I had been ‘breaking,’ than this final blow had left me shattered.

Game over.

I had only one question left for God, 

“… How did I get here?

His response was as infuriating as it was comforting,

“… I led you here.” 

In Exodus it says, “God did not lead them [the Israelites] along the main road even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land… God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” (13:17-18)

You see, God led his people tirelessly through the wilderness, to a place of complete hopelessness. Even more alarming, He planned it that way!

He goes on to address the people of Israel by saying, “…And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory.” (14:3)

It’s as if God is saying, “Listen, I know you thought you were in the clear (finally free from a lifetime of slavery and all that ish) but mark my words, its going to get BAD! Here’s whats on the agenda: I’m going to take you on an emotionally taxing, physically exhausting journey through the wilderness until you reach a place of complete and utter hopelessness and have no where left to turn… Oh, and if thats not bad enough, it’s going to get WORSE because I am going to have Pharaoh chase you!!!

P.S. I planned it that way!

XOXO,

God

… Sound familiar? 

 But it’s what He said next that struck me most, “…My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh, and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers…” (14:17)

In other words, God will reveal his mighty power through the very thing that has us on our knees and is threatening to take us down! 

He knows what we are up against – be it broken marriage vows, heartbreaking infertility, or a paralyzing journey through depression – whatever it is, it is in our most terrifying times that God will point us back to how strong and miraculous HE is in spite of those circumstances, and maybe even because of them!

Could He have led us down an easier route? Without a doubt.

But two things are certain: Had He not dragged the Israelites kicking and screaming through the wilderness, (1) they would have both avoided their problem altogether by bypassing the Red Sea completely AND (2) missed the chance to be front-and-center to one of the greatest miracles of all time when God made a way straight through their biggest problem by parting the Red Sea!

So when it feels like God has taken us on a roundabout journey… through the wilderness… to a place of complete hopelessness… recognize that just like the Israelites, we are also on the edge of something equally MIRACULOUS!

Because our God is greater than what we are up against, and more relentless than the enemy pursuing us! He is able to RESCUE your struggling marriage and your dwindling happiness, and like a mighty warrior, The Lord will FIGHT for you to overcome your most overwhelming addictions and illnesses!

What you have been led to, our God will see you through. So let us not cower in fear at the circumstances racing towards us, or crumble at the sight of the sea of hopelessness we are up against…

With God as our strength, we can stand our ground, face our greatest fears head-on, and watch for the miracle to unfold.

… Because that’s what God does when he drags you through the wilderness. 

Krista Signature

Two Sides of the Same Coin

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Sometimes my daughter gets scared to go down the slide.  She climbs all the way to the top, looks down and suddenly starts her descent down the stairs.  “Let’s go together,” she’ll say, and one of always obliges.

When we get back up to the top, she’ll look down and then up at my face.  “Let mama go with me.”  She’ll start climbing on my lap, and squeal with glee as we make our way down the slide.

What’s scary and seems unsafe suddenly doesn’t seem as bad when plopped on her mama’s lap.

And so it is with us sometimes and our Heavenly Father.

I love this quote from Perry Noble’s book, Overwhelmed:

Well-intentioned people all too often try to reduce Christianity to little sayings and formulas that are absoutely ridiculous.  Most of the “Christian” bumper stickers out there are pretty off base.  The one that bothers me most, however, is the one that says, “The safest place to be is in the will of God.”

Doesn’t that sound so beautiful?

So poetic?

So inspirational?

But SO WRONG!

If the safest place to be is in the will of God, then what do we do with Jesus?  No one on the planet has ever been more in the will of God than He was, and He wound up beaten, mocked and crucified.

God’s will is good, but it’s anything but safe.

~Perry Noble, Overhwhelmed (p. 214)

Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den– ultimately an extremely dangerous place to be!  But God.  BUT GOD!!!  But God closed those lion’s mouths and revealed His glory, His power, His purpose.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a blazing FIRE so hot it killed the men throwing them in!  I’d say that’s slightly unsafe. 😉 But God shows up again, literally in the fire with them, and His purpose prevails as always like He says it will.

Job lost everything.  EVERYTHING.  His house, his job, his family, his health.  But God again shows up and blesses him even more in the second half of his life than in the first.

Don’t even get me started with the Israelites and Moses…  Stuck between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s vast army?  NOT SAFE!  Death seemed imminent!   But God swoops in with his ever abounding love and performs an incredible miracle in their lives.

Pretty much we can expect to experience trials of many kinds.  James 1:2-4 says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

On one side, we can be sure that the life God calls us to is anything but mediocre, boring, or even safe.  Yet on the other side of the coin, we know that the same God does not sleep in his watching over us (Psalm 121).  Ultimately, everything that has been committed to Him truly is safe because it is under His control and His perfect purpose.

What’s hard for me to grasp is that the God who did these amazing things in the bible is the same God working in my life, too.

He is the same God in that fiery furnace, in the lion’s den, at the red sea…  If He did it for them, He can surely do it for me, amen?!  Even so, I have to be in a place where– with reckless abandon– I trust and give and allow God to come in and do His miracle.

Had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego caved and obeyed the king, God never would have had the same opportunity to walk with them in a blazing fire.  Had the Israelites not trusted God to lead them out of Egypt, they never would have seen the parting of the red sea!  Had Job followed his wife’s advice and just killed himself after all his “bad luck,” God never would have been able to bless him so much more in the second half of his life than the first.  We’ve got to get to a place where we give Him a chance to do His miracle.

Just as my little girl fears the slide at times, knowing she is with her parent gives her the courage to take that plunge and experience something so wonderful.

Yes, I’d agree with Perry Noble on this one.

We’re not safe, yet we’re so, so, sooooo safe.  You get me?

Rachel Signature