If I Could Write You A Letter…

tutu in central park

If I could write you a letter…

I’d start by acknowledging the bitter, cold truth that no matter the strength of the relationship built, nor the good intentions expressed, or even the pinky-promises exchanged, everyone has the capacity to let you down. Everyone! And you can either be anchored in that reality or crippled by it. May you choose to love fearlessly anyway…

I’d tell you that while you’ll spend the first quarter of your life searching tirelessly for the person you’re going to marry, that you will likely spend the rest of it working TWICE as hard to stay married. And upon realizing this, you will likely want to right hook Cinderella to the throat for not telling you such a thing! And believe me, you wouldn’t be the first one…

I’d tell you that no amount of makeup, self-tanner, or fake eyelashes can make you feel worthy enough after a broken heart (and that at best, it will only serve to make a greater mess once the tears flow. And mark my words, they will FLOW!)…

And when they do, remember that even the strong break – but more importantly, that the STRONGER aren’t afraid to admit it! Choosing to be vulnerable in the midst of your brokenness always feels like weakness, but it looks like strength; sword-wielding, courage-blazing, dragon-slaying STRENGTH! So never apologize for the state of your heart…

In the event that one day happiness feels so far from you, when you truly forget what it once felt like to savor the warmth of the sun on your skin, converse effortlessly, belly laugh to the point of keeling over, or wake up with anticipation; just know there will be people along the way who are predestined to remind you that happiness is awaiting you in the future, so long as you “just hang on a little longer,” which you will do rather reluctantly…

And someday you will be glad you listened.

Someday…

But for now, you will sob so hard that you’ll fear your heart might give out. But it won’t… and that will always surprise you. And let’s be honest, on an especially dark day it might even piss you off!

Again those said individuals will remind you that “God will never leave or forsake you” and again you will struggle to believe them. Because while you cry to the point of hyperventilation into the palms of your hands, tears streaming down your face, you will also believe wholeheartedly that God is looking down on you…and that He doesn’t care!

But one day you will come to know that He does.

…only to forget it once again…

Lather, rinse, repeat.

In those moments where God seems like “the Big-Bad-Bully” on the playground who deviously ties the already-untied-shoelaces-of-your-life together so that He can laugh sinisterly as you fall to your face – when you feel beat up, worn down, and rage wells inside you – tell Him! He can handle it. All of it!

He can handle the “HOW DARE YOU’s???” and the “WHERE ARE YOU’s???”  The threats you make and the fists you shake! He hears your most private pleas for the pain to be taken, for the strength needed to endure even just onemoreday, and all those nights you are faced with the (often insurmountable) task of simply falling asleep. So pray honestly. Always!

One day we will all find ourselves at the same place in life – whilst while you are so genuinely happy for others – you are also so so SO debilitatingly sad for yourself. When that day comes just remember your closet is you best friend; it’s always there and will never tell of the countless times it finds you crying in a heap amidst the darkness and the denim in the name of broken dreams and hopeless nights… It also won’t divulge that you secretly aren’t THAAAT happy for others! 😉 

You see, if I could write you a letter for the moment you find yourself slipping farther and farther away…

When you look in the mirror and worry the person looking back at you is becoming less recognizable to the person you once were…

I’d tell you that in time you WILL get through this,

Although you may not feel like it, you WILL stand triumphant over your darkest days.

Because My Love, you are so much stronger than you know…

 

*** A letter of understanding and hope for the day my daughter goes through the kind of heartache I am faced with today. May the Lord comfort her – and all of you – every step of the way, in much of the same way He has always comforted me ***

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“The Meltdown” A Memoir

meltdown

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, know that I am truly one of the most chill human beings. Like chill to the point that I don’t even flinch when my wedding was running 45 minutes late, or when 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, and 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 held my composure beautifully

… until nap-time!

If you aren’t familiar with this nap-time that I speak of, it’s the mom’s equivalent of ‘Girls Night’ minus the blood orange margaritas and the little black dress! Nap-time is oftentimes a mother’s only time to unwind, to feel human again (if only for a moment) and to 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!  And while the ‘original nap-time tune’ was MUCH more to my liking (and may or may not have included watching reruns of Sex and the City and attempting to apply fake eyelashes…)  I embraced it as much as I could muster, and 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 out loud to God…

“WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING ME!?!?!”

As soon as the words left my lips, Him and I 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 was far from 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 bowed my head (without peeking) during church, and have thanked Him endlessly for the apartment He gave me… but even still, I 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 be honest with the Lord? 

Jesus says, “…Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28-19

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 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. 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.

You see, it’s just as much about not running FROM God, as it is to decide – with every ounce 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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From My Weary Heart To Yours

airplane sunrise

I was shaken abruptly from my slumber. Just as quickly, the ‘seatbelt sign’ dinged on and the stewardess postponed  drink orders while the pilot made apologies in advanced for the bumps that lay ahead.

The woman next to me took a deep breath and tightly grasped the arm rest, I could almost hear her thoughts…

… Please Lord, I want to get married! …don’t take me now God! I want to have children!…

I smiled to myself, closed my eyes, and eased into the comfort of my seat. Not because I hadn’t felt the same way before, but because oh, how effective a little turbulence is at weighing the status of our lives.

And while my flight was nearly being jostled into oblivion, I realized…

I just don’t give a damn.

Take me now Lord Jesus!

You see, for the last two weeks that I have been MIA since writing ‘This Weary Heart of Mine,” I have started (and given up on) over 6 self-help books. I have also avoided exactly 11 phone calls, and avoided nearly the equivalent in panic attacks.

I have cried myself to sleep, raised my voice in a restaurant (Once again!) and have used my ‘labor breathing techniques’ to physically resist the urge to punch someone in the face.

I am numb, I am heartbroken, and I deeply regret the two strong margaritas that unfortunately did little more than give me a headache and give my husband a piece of my mind (further explaining the said “raised voice in a restaurant”) 

And the truth is, I am in a dark place.

So dark even, that in my insecurity I have wondered if I am too far out of God’s reach. If it’s even humanly possible to be as small as I feel, and if because of it, the Lord is unable to see me in my desperation. If this pain, caused by the hands of another, is the final blow that will have me ushered out of the ring never to return the same again…

But then I remember you, our beloved readers. Those of you all over the world, that have shared with us your stories, your heartbreak, and expressed your deepest yearning for miraculous healing over your most secret struggles.

I know if there was a base you could run to where you would finally be “safe,” that though you are terribly exhausted and out of breath, you would get there as fast as you possibly could!

If there was a debt you could pay to make it all disappear, I know you would pay it no matter the cost!

Even if it meant you’d be given only the smallest of guarantees, I know it would be enough for you to hang in there just a little longer…

But alas! It is out of your hands, and out of your control. You are up against a wall, in over you head, and with such dire circumstances looming that you aren’t sure how – or if – you will ever make it through.

I am with you…

Heartbroken,

hopeless,

and mad as hell!

… And I need Jesus more than ever.

And after two long weeks I am ready to put down the ‘Ben and Jerry’s’… and write. What exactly? I am not sure.

But with vulnerability as my voice, and God as my strength I will see this storm through.

I will fight to remind myself that even when I feel so far from God, that He is NEAR to my broken heart. (Psalm 34:18)

That when it seems my greatest plans have derailed and cliff dived into a horrific nightmare, that His – even greater plans for me – are PERFECT (Psalm 18:30)

That when my troubles are mounting, my life is crumbling, and there seems to be no hope in sight, that My God will not only meet me there in the shambles, but will OVERCOME the impossible! (John 16:33)

Dear weary readers,

There is no denying the very real war that is being waged over our souls! And yet, there also is no denying the strength of the God we serve!

I love how Perry Noble puts it when he says,  “…He is a grave-robbing, water-walking, miracle-working, death-defying God, so NEVER give up! He’s about to blow your flippin’ mind!”

All that to say, may the Lord “Blow our flipping’ minds!” … ideally, before we lose them! 🙂

***And in the case that you can’t get past the fact that I cursed…

Feel free to check back here the moment the turbulence doesn’t faze you…

We will get along much better then! 😉

Krista Signature

This Weary Heart Of Mine

krista and gia

This Valentines Day, I watched while you indulged in gourmet chocolates from a tulle wrapped box, and how surprised you were when a beautiful bouquet was awaiting you on the counter… I saw the sweet valentines that are still covering your refrigerator, and the dishes you ordered from your favorite restaurant…

But that’s not what Valentines Day had in store for me this year…

My Valentines day left me blind-sighted and broken-hearted.

BUT before you decide not to read another word of my sob story, and before you come to your senses and realize your time could be better spent reading someone else’s (far more eloquent) words… I wanted to share with you something God brought to light about this weary heart of mine.

It started when I awoke to hear my daughter whimpering in her bed. When like any parent, I instinctively made my way to her side only to find that her sheets were sopping wet around her. Still groggy and disoriented, I can remember sweeping her up in my arms and making my way to the bathroom to get her cleaned up.

Moments later, after her cries had settled and her flailing limbs were wrapped in the warmth of a towel, I held her close and whispered the sincerest apology – knowing full well that both of us were opposed to baths before sunrise, and before the coffee had been brewed!

It was around that time that I fully expected my usually rambunctious toddler, to break from my arms – NAKED and running towards the living room squealing in delight at the thought of her triumphant escape!

… But she didn’t. Willingly she would stay, wrapped in my arms, the weight of her head resting deliberately on my chest.

Alarmed, I held my palm to her forehead checking for a temperature… she never flinch.

When it became apparent what she was doing the tears instantly welled in my eyes! My precious little girl was listening attentively to the sound of my heartbeat! Likely for the first time since she was born!

I studied her as she listened and saw the familiarity the sound of my heart brought, the comfort she found in its unending rhythm, how captivated she was by it’s strength...

… STRENGTH?! How could that be? My heart was weak and shaken – a far cry from the strength it possessed all those years ago!

But as I watched her listen intently to each beat I realized, not only was she the only person who truly knew the sound of my heart, but that to her, it was still as recognizably strong as ever! Even after all this time, and even amidst my current brokenness!

As I held her head close to that weary heart of mine, there was no resisting the tears that swept down my cheeks…

I was overwhelmed with gratitude knowing that My heart … MY GOD had never failed me!

Overwhelmed knowing that even when our hearts are crushed and our spirits are most feeble, that there will always be a part of us, up until our very last breath, that will remain strangely strong! That even when we feel we can’t endure any longer, that there will always be something alive and thriving deep within us, even still.

Like a soothing lullaby from our Creator, each beat makes sweet promises that if He was able to preserve our heart through the pain of the past, that He will indeed sustain it through the paralyzing uncertainty and fear of the future.

While the cruelest hand the world can deal may succeed in taking every material thing I have worked so hard for… while it may unapologetically and cold-heartedly tear the ones I love from my grasp, and crush every dream that I have fought so courageously for…

There is NO denying

the enduring power,

and undoubtable strength,

of this ever weary heart of mine!

“Come to Me with all your weaknesses: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Rest in the comfort of My Presence, remembering that nothing is impossible with Me.” Luke 1:37

“When anxiety attempts to wedge its way into your thoughts, remind yourself that I am your Shepherd. The bottom line is that I am taking care of you; therefore, you needn’t be afraid of anything. Rather than trying to maintain control over your life, abandon yourself to My will. Though this may feel frightening—even dangerous, the safest place to be is in My will” Ps 32:1-4

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We Must Remember The Storm

Of all my most cherished photographs there is one that stands out.

There are pictures illustrating wedding day jitters, and another portraying a perfectly wrinkled newborn smirking in her sleep. There is one that captures the rare occurrence of me and my siblings embracing, and another of my daughter warily taking her first steps.

And then there is the picture I hold closest to my heart…

a picture of when I had nearly given up.

storm

The summer sun illuminating the smile I had purposefully painted on my face doesn’t fool me. At the exact time this picture was taken my husband had been sleeping on the couch for weeks, and the broken promises within our marriage easily outnumbered the wedding gifts we had received just two years earlier! We had run out of things to say and even worse, reasons to keep trying to make it work!

…And it was going to get worse!

At the time this picture was taken, I could have never known that there were more lies bubbling to the surface, more fits of tears in store (that were oftentimes so intense, I questioned whether my heart would physically give out) And even more difficult for me to admit, a bout of depression that would have me questioning whether I could endure any longer.

The picture that holds the most significance to me is one taken amidst a raging storm in my life. A storm that pains me to remember, but I am hard-pressed to never forget!

A storm much like what was described in the Bible…

“The waters of the flood came and covered the Earth…

All the underground waters erupted from the Earth and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky…

The rain continued to fall…

The floodwaters grew deeper…

As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface.”  

Genesis 7:10-12, 17-18

This violent storm that the Bible is referring to is the flood, and from the sound of its enormity it sounds much like the ’emotional storms’ I have found myself in!

…When bad luck seemed to fall ‘ in mighty torrents from the sky’…when my seemingly happy existence ‘erupted’ into something barely recognizable …When my trials got deeper… and deeper… and each new wave of trouble threatened to overtake me….

Yet, the Lord kept me safe.

After all I am here to tell you about it, aren’t I?

God tells us that our lives will be full of many seasons, “planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night…” but in Genesis 9:11 He clearly says, “… never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood.”

God made a promise to the world (via a rainbow) that He would never again destroy all life, and that picture of me smack-dab in the middle of my heartache proves He never did!

Even so, my heart will always break for the girl in that picture. When I look into her eyes I will always feel pressed to tell her there’s no need to disguise her pain because I know she cries every night in a heap in the closet. Oh, how I wish I could remind her that when she screams out in frustration like a raging lunatic, it’s not a direct reflection of how ‘awful she is’ but how hurt she has been!’

… And that no matter how unfair a hand life has dealt her if she can withstand the storm  just a little longer, the storm will settle ‘and she will not be destroyed!

Our God promises a life of varied seasons, so we can be certain that at times it is going to rain! Likely even that it will POUR!

But even when life seems most bleak… we will not be destroyed!

Even when we feel most weary… we will not succumb!

Because In God’s hands we will ‘float safely on the surface’ of every storm that comes our way!

Oftentimes it takes staring deep into the heartache of our past, to speak directly to the fear that is overwhelming us in the present. So this week: find a picture of yourself in the midst of the most turbulent storm in your life, and remind yourself that our God will overcome!

He did it before, He will do it again! ( and again!)

“[God] calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.” Psalm 107:29Krista Signature

If 2013 Broke Your Heart…

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it… 2 Corinthians 1:8

image

Each Christmas, my husband and I search the city over, in pursuit of an ornament that best represents the last year of our lives.

Our Christmas tree tells ‘our story’, displaying the likes of seashells from tropical getaways, an antique bassinet in soft hue’s of pink, and an ornament in the shape of a Chinese takeout box symbolizing our first year of our marriage (and more specifically, the frequent calls made to Choi’s Chinese Food, thanks to my many failed attempts at making dinner each night!) 

…and then there is a margarita glass.

One margarita-shaped ornament, that represents to us one of the most difficult years we endured. A year marked with heartbreaking tragedy, of death, of malicious lies, and cold-hearted betrayals… and the need for counseling and the occasional STRONG margarita!

I can still remember to my shock and bewilderment, when that same year was publicly declared as the “BEST. YEAR. EVER!!!” by all of my Facebook friends…

The very year that had left me broken!

New Years Eve was a blur, as I struggled to hold back tears as the ball dropped, and while all of my closest friends cheered and embraced each other somewhere in the background. I can remember struggling to pinpoint whether the tears were welling because I was so relieved to see that year pass… or because deep within, I knew that I would not be able to withstand another year of the same devastating magnitude….

Even more, fearing that I would have to!

But when it comes to sheer magnitude, it is In Isaiah 43:16, that the Lord reminds us that He did the impossible and made an escape for His people through the expanse of the Red Sea! By doing so, He reminds us also, that no matter the magnitude of the trials we are up against this year, that He has got it covered! (After all, the Red Sea was a HUGE problem for the Israelites! Roughly 1400 miles long, 220 miles wide, and 1600 feet deep if you want to be exact!)

But God doesn’t stop there! He goes on to say this…

” Forget all that – It is NOTHING compared to what I am going to do! For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland… so my people can be refreshed.”

Carving a pathway through the Red Sea, is arguably, one of the greatest things God has ever done! And yet, He is saying, “that is NOTHING compared to what I can do in your life!”

But just over a year ago, with a bout of rejection under my belt, a tragedy that had me gritting my teeth and bracing for what was next, and feeling emotionally ‘pushed to the limit’ just by having to get out of bed each morning, and paint on the fake smile needed to appease everyone around me, I can recall struggling to believe that I too, was worthy of this level of blessing in my life!

But as I packed up the last of the Christmas decorations this last week; reminiscing about the significance of each year’s ornament, and tucking each one safely away in its place, I came to my beloved margarita glass. And I smiled…

Because what I had failed to see the very first time I nestled my new ornament into the glow of our Christmas tree just a year ago, was that in that very moment, God was working to do something ‘new’ in my life! That the piece of glass hanging from the branch in the shape of an alcoholic beverage – which once, only humorously symbolized the turbulence of the previous year – now serves as a constant reminder of the overwhelming blessings we could have never known He had in store for us in the year to come!

I imagine God must have snickered to himself, when I asked Him with bated breath, to merely ‘survive’ that next year, knowing that in the very moment I made my request, that He was already beautifully orchestrating – not only the provision of all my needs – but outlining a journey that would make some of our greatest dreams as a family come to fruition!

Since then, He has traded what was left of my hollow existence, with a life overflowing with excitement! He has restored my family… my heart… and my laughter…. and replaced my broken spirit with a strength that I never knew resided within me!

I love how Beth Moore puts it when she says, “If Jesus gives us a task or assigns us to a difficult season, every ounce of our experience is meant for our instruction and completion, if only we’ll let Him finish the work. I fear, however, that we are so attention deficit that we settle for bearable when beauty is just around the corner!”

No matter how badly broken 2013 has left you, our God is a god who seeks to refresh. And He is not finished! He promises to make a pathway through the lifeless deserts you may have found yourself in, and provide a way out of the most trying circumstances you are up against. No matter the depth, He will be our guide through the raging sea that is currently standing in the way of the life we most desire.

And The Lord will do something ‘new’ in our lives…

Something more miraculous than anything He has ever done before!

We need only to take a look around, and wait expectantly for the beauty of it to unfold!

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it… but as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to only rely on God…we have placed our confidence in Him and He will continue to rescue us. 

2 Corinthians 1:8-10

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To: The Haters

image

I wanted to be Nicole Thompson.  I envied her long blonde locks, and the perfection that was her handwriting.  I can still remember how she munched awkwardly on her apple at snack time; avoiding getting pieces of fruit lodged in her braces. I pleaded with my mom to pack me an apple for snack time too, and every day, attempted to eat mine in the same fashion.

I was her best friend.

The only problem was, so was Emily!

Nicole often enjoyed pitting me and Emily against each other; taunting us with the most miniscule reasons why she was going to play with one of us, and not the other…

“I like Emily’s shoes, so today I’m going to play with her on the monkey bars instead of you!” she would say, leaving me alone to drag my feet in the bark, and contemplate what was so wrong with my shoes.

Hater.

Many years later, and after I had just recently gotten married, the first couple I –  so nervously – invited over for dinner, spent the first few bites of the meal I had made , bickering back and forth about whether the pasta she makes was better than the one I had made!

She savored another bite, and then looked to her husband. Both of them nodded in agreement. Her’s was most definitely better, it seemed.

Mine was ‘missing a little something’ she would go on to say, resting her fork on her plate and graciously asking my husband to pass the bread.

cough* Hater.

Around this very time last year I posted a request for prayer on Facebook; specifically for me and my extended family in a time of great need.

I had someone contact me privately and tell me how inappropriate it was for a Pastor’s family to reach out for prayer like that.

hmmm….

Hater.

Whispers then began to circulate; speculation spread about why I had asked for prayer in the first place, and our moment of desperation as a family was met with a wealth of malicious rumors and lies!

Months later and completely unrelated to my plea for prayer, my husband got a job in New York, and we were surprised to find that our decision to be obedient and follow God where He had called us, was met with unwelcome opinions openly declaring that we were making a huge mistake!

Some even laughed, as if to say God wanting us in Manhattan was a joke…

Many others, wouldn’t even say goodbye.

Haters. Haters. Haters. 

Now I know from the title of this post, it would be easy to assume that I will be addressing those haters, and no doubt use verses like “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths”, or how “a dishonest man spreads strife”  in an attempt to put those haters in their place…

but that’s for another time!

It’s much more valuable instead, to address the nature of the Lord in situations like these.

Because around that time last year, when I found myself overwhelmed with grief and betrayal, I also found myself captivated by a verse; a verse that as a lifelong Pastor’s kid, I had never heard before.

And I will restore to you, the years the locusts have eaten…

Joel 2:25

This verse spoke straight into my current heartache, and every hurt proceeding it.

Because not only was God accepting the fact that there will be times in life where swarms of locusts will come – devastating our crops and stripping them of all life! He promises even then, to restore them!

He promises to restore us!

How long have ‘haters’ (aka locusts) been cutting down everything you have worked so hard for? Eating their fill of everything you have labored endlessly to protect, the very crops that we have spent our entire lives tending to -the very person we have worked so hard to become!

Locusts, leave us feeling defeated, and lifeless; laughing in our face, and spreading cold hearted lies, until they move on to the next crop that they want to destroy.

imageJust last week I traveled back home, and met these feelings head-on when past hurts and betrayals all came flooding back!

Especially when upon returning, I noticed a few people still shuffling awkwardly to avoid me in the church lobby and struggling to maintain eye contact through half-hearted inquisitions of how my husband and I were adjusting to our new life in the city.

Locusts…

I was discouraged – but only for a quarter of a moment! Because just as quickly as the pain of rejection was felt, I could hear the Lord’s still strong voice reminding me, that even without the ‘blessing’ of others, that I am indeed still a blessed person in spite of it!

How thankful I am that the Lord doesn’t rely on majority rule to determine the level of blessing He will put on my life! That He wont withhold His blessing just because others have! 

He is bigger than the people bringing you down!

And He will see us through our hurts, and bring us back to a place of immeasurable blessing!

Just as Jesus who was beaten beyond recognition and who looked to be defeated on the cross, had come to life again just 3 days later – so can we rest in the fact, that the same power that brought His spirit back to life, is at work to do the same on our behalf!

During my trip back home –  just as my past heartache came back – so also did my eyes open to the Lord’s amazing power of restoration in my life!

The flood of people who have seemed to leave my father’s church in a frenzy, have now given way to a crowd of others who have found their place amongst the same seats; finding Christ come alive, awakening their souls and calling them to life change, just like the previous people had! 

The same friends who walked with me through the darkest of days last year; meeting me for coffee at random hours of the night and holding me as I cried, can now chat about more light hearted topics, such as mice eating brownies off my counter and Tom Selleck sightings!

And in just a year, the family that I requested be lifted up in prayer, has now taken giant strides – with or without the prayers of others – thanks to the Lord’s unfailing love and restoring power!

No more hiding behind fake smiles, of past hurts. No more shielding ourselves from the extreme ill will of others. Instead, we laughed over banana waffles, and participated in group hugs until everyone screamed out in frustration. I went on a lunch date with my dad and went shopping with my mom, and made nearly every effort I could to embarrass my little brothers.

Sweet restoration!

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And Just like the emerging blossoms from a tree after a barren and bitterly cold winter,

Or a loved ones embrace after too many months and miles have seperated you.

Like a heartfelt apology that mends the deepest wounds,

And the first laugh after a season of sorrow,

So is the restoring power of Christ

Available to each of us!

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace… will Himself, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Peter 5:10

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*** And to all the Haters: Quit being a locust. It’s not a flattering look on you!

When God Prepares You For The Unimaginable

I can remember, closing my eyes as I listened to my husband’s heart beat the night before I was to drop him off at camp. I would keep myself up late that night in an attempt to savor every last moment with him.

Grabbing his bags out of the back of the car, I can recall how strangely hard it was for us to say goodbye that day. I remember struggling to make eye contact with him for fear that he might see my uncertainty.

The sun was to be my clock that night, and I knew very well that I needed to get through the desert valley before it got dark. I knew I should’ve headed out awhile ago, but it had been difficult to leave my husband’s side. He would stall also, finding silly excuses to tell me one more thing, and to sneak in one last hug.

It was only seconds after we had said our goodbyes, and after I had made him pinky-promise that he would be safe, that I made my way down the gravel road to head out on my 3 hour journey back home.

I will forever remember the last thing I saw as I left the campsite – over 100 counselors collectively gathered together in an open barn under the stars, arms outstretched to the heavens, singing praises to our Lord!

I took a deep breath as almost to reassure myself that God’s presence, was so obviously with them. I had nothing to fear.

Even still, I cried the whole way home. My heart was terribly troubled and I couldn’t understand why.

It was only after I came upon one of the most captivating back drops along my drive, that I’d at last, be able to calm my restless thoughts.

Not more than an hour into my journey and just as I neared a mountain up ahead, the sun began to set picturesquely beside it in a way that illuminated it’s peak in the most stunning shades of blue that I had ever seen!

And as far as I could see, I was the only one driving through the expanse of the valley that night.

The setting was all for me, it seemed.

I smiled to myself, upon hearing the chorus of a song playing softly in the background…

“Savior you can move the mountains,

My God is mighty to save,

He is mighty to save.”

“That’s cute, God…” I thought to myself, and of the mountain-themed coincidence.

And yet, as I hummed the lyrics that I had no doubt sang hundreds of times before, the words began to come alive to me in an entirely different way that night.

Because as I looked up at the greatness of the mountain ahead of me, there was no denying how truly massive it was!

It felt as if the Lord was intentionally illuminating the entire mountain – all the way to it’s utmost peak- as if to allow me to fully grasp how incredibly enormous of a mountain it really was!

So that He then could declare, that this mountain in it’s entirety -and any other mountain for that matter- were never too large for Him to move.

He was mighty and able to save!

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He spoke this so clearly to me that night, that I took this picture to remind me of my moment alone with the Lord in the desert.

But I could never have known when I casually snapped this picture, what the Lord was ultimately preparing me for.

Only He who knew the magnitude of the mountain we’d be up against , when just a day later, we would face unimaginable tragedy in our youth group.

Only He would be able to foresee the very same counselors, that I had last seen lifting their hands and voices in worship, hours later,  falling to their knees at the foot of the cross in complete anguish.

And yet, my God did not cower in fear at the sight of the mountain ahead of us!  (-the way I so badly wanted to-)

The promise He made remained; ” I am mighty to save”

I am eternally grateful that God prepared my heart that night.

Because just a day later, I would get a phone call from my husband in a voice of hysteria I could barely recognize. The words he spoke, would be so awful and unbearable, that I can recall having to repeat them back to him in an attempt to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

It felt as if my mind was refusing to recognize what he was saying – refusing to believe the heartbreaking end to the days events – as truth.

…But He was mighty to save.

When Caleb’s family asked Ricky to speak at his memorial, close family friends would come to me privately, overwhelmed with a deep concern that it would be too much responsibility for someone in such a fragile, emotional state.

I would hear out their concerns, but ultimately would look back on my encounter with the mountain that night – remembering how impossibly huge it was – and how even then, the Lord never waivered.

I would choose in that moment, to believe that God was going to use this irreparable loss to move some miraculous-sized mountains. And that in the process, I wasn’t going to be the one to hold Him back.

And so I would choose to believe that my husband could. And for the record, Ricky proved he damn well could! 😉

I will never forget how stunned I was to hear a message of boldness and strength from a person who was no doubt, void of either at the time!

But again, just like He promised, the Lord showed up in a room of Caleb’s closest family and friends, and He indeed, was mighty to save!

Even as I observed my husband struggling to write out his deepest and most private thoughts for last weeks post – tears streaming down his face as he read it aloud to me – I would be lying if I said I didn’t question whether it was wise for me to have asked him to write from a place of such immense pain and tragedy.

And yet, 3 days later we stood in awe at the computer screen! Eyes wide in disbelief at the realization that his post was read by over 1,000 people all across the world!

People in:

The United States

Canada

Germany

Mexico

Japan

Finland

Singapore

France

Malaysia

Russia

Turkey

Mongolia

New Zealand

Australia

Togo

Spain

South Africa

Slovenia

Switzerland

1,000 people in 3 days heard of last summer’s unimaginable loss and yet, God’s unmistakeable presence in the midst of it!

Our Lord, is without a doubt, mighty to save!

And my encouragement to you, is that no matter how massive of a mountain you have found yourself up against today –  no matter how long you have stood paralyzed in fear, staring up at it wondering if this is the one, due to it’s enormity, that He can’t move on His own – I want to assure you that the very same God that met me in a desert in Oregon, will again remain faithful and true to you!

In the chaos and confusion, I know You are sovereign still.

I will trust in You, Lord.

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Moments That Span Into Eternity…

So how do you write about something you wished never happened? How do your describe something that felt so dark, but in reality was actually illuminating? Where do you begin?

I guess I’ll start from the beginning…

imageSunday, July 8th around 8:45pm – First Day of ETV Summer Camp 

It was a typical tent-discussion with a handful of 9th and 10th grade boys following the first message from camp…”What’d you like? What didn’t you like?” etc., etc. One comment stood out from the rest…It came from a boy entering the 10th grade named Caleb Justice. In a conversation about the relevancy of God and the Bible, Caleb spoke up and said, “It doesn’t surprise me that God’s word still makes sense to us today [after being written some 2,000+ years ago]…I mean, He’s God and that’s just what He does…”

It’s amazing how enlightening a single statement can be. Words have a way of doing that…to inspire…to reveal truth…to stick. Caleb’s words stuck. I left that conversation thinking about the nonchalant, “no duh”-type of way that Caleb spoke about God.

“What else did I expect? God always works. He never fails. Every year at ETV, He does something amazing. Yeah…this is what He does.”

Little did I know that God would begin to work in ways I could have never imagined. But this wouldn’t be the kind of work that was easy or brief. This was to be a work that would involve pain and loss. A work that work that would require faith and courage. A work that would require sacrifice…

Monday, July 9th around 11:00am – Arriving to the Lake

My main responsibility for the week was to oversee all of the lake activities – we had a great week planned with multiple boats for students to go tubing & wakeboarding, we had water polo goals for the shallow water, countless water floats for the students to use and enjoy, and we even had fried chicken for lunch (which is way better than the usual ham & cheese sandwich with no mayo)! So it was set to be a great week!

For months I had been preparing for the week of camp. I had several areas of responsibility that I was overseeing for the week and I wanted to make sure that I was as prepared as possible to lead and serve well.

One of my areas of responsibility was the Lake Team…I know, I know – tough gig, but somebody had to do it 😉 Like I told the ETV Leadership Team, “If somebody needed to suffer in the sun and make sure the lake was covered, I would be willing to ‘take one’ for the team.” So I did 🙂

I planned for a great week at the Lake with lots of fun activities, but I learned quickly that you can’t plan for the unexpected. Within a matter of hours everything would change.

Looking back now – a full year later – it seems as if this was a “small” microcosm of what to expect over the next year. Life is full of so many twist and turns – almost all of which are unexpected. It’s as if we set our plans only to appease our minds and give us some sort feeling of control.

It’s interesting really – with so much being out of our control, we fight and struggle for every little bit of control that we can muster. Now I’m not advocating abandoning plans, or saying that plans don’t have purpose, but it’s foolish to think that because we plan things will unfold the way we expected. If there is anything that I’ve learned in this life it’s that few things go the way I plan.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Only God knows fully our exact steps and the direction of the paths we journey. All that we experience and all that we go through are part of God’s plan and His purpose.

This is the foundational truth that I’ve held onto over the last year. It’s what has brought me peace amidst turbulence. And it’s been the light that has guided me through darkness.

And darkness was certainly looming…

Monday, July 9th around 2:30pm – “The Phone Call”

The shore was silent…the music had stopped…the “vibe” was changing…not a problem. I would simply get my iPhone, restart the playlist, connect it back to the stereo dock, and the beach party would resume. As I reached for my phone, I realized that I had an incoming call – it was the Camp Director, Mathias Califf – unassumingly so, I answered the phone. What was said to me was not what I expected – how could anyone ever expect what happened next…

Mathias: “Hey, do you have a moment?”

Me: “Yea, what’s up?”

Mathias: “Listen, Greg (Goosetree) just called me and there is a situation happening at the waterfalls. I don’t have all of the details, but Caleb Justice slipped off a rock into the river. Brett McLean went in after him but neither of them have come up yet and it’s been about 5 minutes.”

Me: “What do you mean? Did they get carried downstream?”

Mathias: “I don’t know man. I don’t have all the details, but it sounds pretty scary. I’m on my way there now, so I’ll call you as soon as I have more information.”

Paralysis can be defined as a state of powerlessness or incapacity to act. I’m not 100% sure that this is what I experienced, but it definitely captures how I felt in that moment. I suddenly became overwhelmed by a flood of emotions…fear, uncertainty, disbelief, hurt, and even anger. Each emotion reared itself, making me well aware of its presence.

Yet, amidst all of those feelings I had a sense of hope. Uncertain hope, but hope nonetheless. “Maybe they’re just around the bend…They should come up any moment now…When Mathias calls back, everything will be ok…There’s no way that this could happen at camp.”

It was that small measure of hope mixed with the other wild emotions that led me to prayer. I mean prayer like I never prayed before. It was a desperate prayer. A prayer like I’ve only prayed maybe once before. I longed for the best, but I feared for the worst.

It makes me wonder – in that moment I begged of everything from God…I believed in His ability and in His power maybe more than I’ve ever believed – so why is it that we don’t seek God in this way even in the smallest of matters?

To pray with that same level of burden, to believe with such a deep sense of conviction, to trust with the highest degree of reverence – this is what I’ve learned. That in all things God desires for us to seek Him in this way – even when the outcomes are not what we desire.

Monday, July 9th around 3:00pm – “Cruel Reality”

The phone rings. Mathias Califf calling. Swipe to answer.

Me: “Hello…”

Mathias: “Hey Ricky…man, I don’t even know how to tell you this…”

In that one, half-sentence I knew…more was said, but it didn’t matter. As cruel as it seemed, reality set in. Things would be forever different. 

Mathias: “Do you want me to call the parents? Or is that something you think you should do?”

Me: “No, I think I should call them. I think it would be better for them to hear it from me.”

That 30-minute window felt like eternity times three. It’s funny how we can want something so badly – in my case this phone call – yet when we receive what we “wanted” it ends up not being what we wanted at all.

As soon as those words were uttered my heart sank. This game of life had dealt it’s cruelest hand – death.

Brett McLean and Caleb Justice

Brett McLean and Caleb Justice

As reality set in, I couldn’t help but feel as if someone was playing a cruel joke on me. That day at the lake, I did my best to make sure that everyone was safe. I watched the shore to make sure no one was too far out. I kept an eye on every person – I didn’t want any accidents happening on my watch.

Yet here I was having to face a situation in which I was unable to protect one of my own students. In all honesty, I felt like a failure. Doubt began to creep it’s way in, ”If only I had been there – maybe I could’ve reached him. This happened because I wasn’t there. This was my fault…”

As foolish as it may seem, these were my honest thoughts in that moment. I don’t know how long those thoughts lasted, but it couldn’t be very long. Within moments I had to muster the courage to call Caleb’s father and break the news to him. There was no room for doubt or self-pity. Courage was what was need. Yes, courage.

Yet again it seems that this moment – when all of life seemed still – served to be a reminder of a greater lesson that God would begin to teach me.

You see there are situations that we experience far more consistently than we’d like to acknowledge that cause us to doubt. They have to do with relationships, with family, with work, with school, with ourselves – and they all cause us to doubt. We doubt who we are; we doubt what we’ve learned; we doubt what we’ve become; we doubt the process that has led us to this moment; we doubt our decisions; we doubt the decisions of others; we doubt God.

But it is in these moments, these seasons, of doubt that God is often times pulling us forward, urging us to live with courage. He’s at work within us stirring up the courage that will drive away the doubt; courage that will fortify who we are; courage that will cause us to overcome.

It is this courage that allows us to face all of life’s cruel realities, even when we don’t know how…

Monday, July 9th around 3:05pm – “The Conversation”

Search contacts. Locate Shawn Justice. Take a deep breath. Say a prayer. Dial mobile.

Shawn: “Hey Ricky!”

Me: “Hey Shawn. Do you have a minute to talk and can you sit down?”

Shawn: “Yea, sure – what’s going on?”

Me: “Shawn, I don’t even know how to say this but…Shawn, today Caleb was at the river near the waterfalls. He was on the rocks around the pool and he slipped in. Another leader was nearby and he went in after Caleb to try to reach him. It’s been over 30 minutes and neither one of them has surfaced. Shawn, I’m so sorry…”

Shawn: Pauses. Deep breath.

Me: “I’m so sorry Shawn…I’m sorry…”

Shawn: Exhale. “Ricky, it’s ok, just pray…I’ll get Sara and we’ll head up to the camp.”

End conversation.

Just typing this very conversation is incredibly difficult. With each keystroke I relive the conversation. Moment-by-moment, line-by-line, sentence-by-sentence everything comes back. This is a conversation that I’ll never forget – and trust me, for good or for bad, I’ve tried to forget. But my mind won’t…it can’t…let go.

It’s a conversation that has been re-played in my mind every week for the last year. 52 weeks. Every. Single. Week.

How do you tell the father of a 15-year old boy that his son has just passed away in a drowning accident at summer camp? Better yet, how do you respond to his sense of peace and understanding?

As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t wish this conversation on my worst enemy…

There is much to be learned from this conversation. While I’ve learned some things, I’ve not fully extracted all that is to be gained from this brief phone call. In fact, when I think of this conversation it only leads to more questions and more learning.

How does one maintain a measure of calmness when you’ve been dealt terrible news? At what point in my relationship with God will I begin to know and understand God in such a way that I am not panicked about life’s troubles? When I face an unbelievable challenge or reality – do I think to pray? Or why think at all – why not pray?

I’ve had a year to think on these things and to be honest this is still in “process mode”. I haven’t arrived yet. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m working on it. This conversation that I sometimes wish I could let go of, has become a source for deep introspection and self-evaluation. So for that reason alone, I will continue to replay this conversation and relive possibly the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life.

Monday, July 9th around 3:30pm – The White River Falls

Right after calling Shawn Justice, I was on my way to the waterfalls. While the distance was only 7 miles, the entire drive seemed to move in slow motion. 

Upon arriving to the falls I saw Joshua, Caleb’s older brother, who was just yards away when his brother slipped into the falls. I could hardly bring myself to look at him as I still battled feelings of guilt and failure. 

I walked towards the White River Falls – a set of falls so gorgeous, hidden in an Oregon desert valley. I had been to the falls many times before. I always stood in wonder and in awe of God’s creation. 

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It was here that I was able to gather myself for a few moments. Emergency crews were on the scene and the state park was now closed as rescue crews sought to retrieve the bodies of Caleb Justice and Brett McLean. Still I was able to sit silently, to reflect, to talk…

I found a place of solace – a place where I could approach God and talk with Him about what had occurred. He already knew, but I knew He wanted to hear it from me. It was there that I told Him all about Caleb and Brett. I told Him about how Caleb once tried to play “Hide and Seek” with me even though I didn’t know I was playing, plus he was hidden in plain sight. I told God about the time Brett and I sat in a pizza shop and laughed because we were two young guys with matching “doulos” tattoos on our left wrists sharing a vegetarian pizza.

I told God that on the surface Caleb and Brett appeared to be polar opposites, but that in reality they were very much the same – both were risk-takers; both had a passion for life and even more passion for Jesus; both had unique personalities with their own quirks; and both were comfortable being who God wanted them to be. I also told God that I would miss them dearly.

Yes, it was at the White River Falls – the place where the waters roared loudly and violently – that I was invited to talk with God.

Psalm 27:8 – “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’”

Over this last year I have found God’s invitation to talk to be one of the most comforting things in my life. In God, I have found a friend that I can approach about anything at anytime. He’s worthy of being trusted with deepest hurts and our darkest fears. He’s gives us reason to celebrate and provides us with great joy. No matter my situation, I take God up on His offer to talk and many times this is exactly what I need.

Monday, July 9th around 5pm – “The Message”

After some time at the falls, Mathias and I began to talk about the rest of the day and evening – what would be the plan? Who do we communicate to? What do we communicate? How do we let the other students know that haven’t heard yet? 

With several other youth pastors unaware of what was going on, and with Mathias having to stay with the emergency crews and law enforcement, I headed back to the camp to take the lead on communicating to the students and to the volunteers. 

I’ve given dozens of speeches and I’ve preached hundreds of messages in my life – many of which I’ve prepared for hours, some I’ve done ‘off the cuff’ – but none were as conflicting as what I was about to say. It was up to me to tell about 150 high school students and 100+ adult staff & volunteers about the incidents of the day. I didn’t know what to say exactly, but I knew two things: they needed the truth and they needed hope.

So on the drive to the camp, I began to think. I gleaned on an experience that occurred just 9 days before the tragedy at ETV (which I wrote about here) and I knew that despite the tragedy, the call had to be to worship and to love.

To worship because the day we arrived to camp we celebrated God’s greatness and how good He was; and if God was good yesterday, then the truth still remains that God was still good on this day. Like David when he lost his son in 2 Sam. 12, the only appropriate response seemed to be worship. The beauty of worship is that it requires a total surrender of one’s self in acknowledgment of One that is bigger, or superior. Despite our troubles, I knew God was still in control.

And to love because this was an experience that we all went through – it wasn’t just me, everyone at camp was going to go through this…together. And since we were going to walk through this experience together we needed love. Love for our brothers, love for our sisters, love for our Creator. It was love that was to become the pillars of support on which we would stand.

So this became our “rally cry” of sorts: To worship and to love. That night we broke into groups, told stories, laughed, cried, supported one another, exhorted each other, and sang songs…we worshipped and we loved.

Singer/songwriter Reuben Morgan from Hillsong United once said, “When we are more aware of our weaknesses than our strength, it is ok to sing out of HOPE rather than certainty.”

Although two friends were lost, we all sang out of hope.

It was in this moment that I learned I could worship in any and every situation. That worship of the one true God is not dependent upon my circumstances. No…God is far greater than that. He is much more deserving of that.

Only a God so gracious and so loving could receive and accept a worship so broken yet so pure.

Monday, July 9th to Tuesday, July 10th – Reflection

The 24 hours that followed felt like I was in the twilight zone. All of it felt like a whirlwind…I remember looking at my watch exactly 24 hours after I received the first phone call and thinking how fast, yet how slow, time had moved. So much had happened in such a short span of time. Little by little I began piecing together my thoughts and looking for what God was doing in me and around me…

I’ve always been a “big picture” kind of guy. I’ve always tried to step away from a situation and see how everything was coming together and try to assess what could be. This has always come very natural to me – even when I was a young teenager.

This situation was no different. As time passed, I began to step back and look for what God was doing. He was doing something and it was BIG. All over the world people were becoming aware of what had occurred and they began reaching out and praying together. God’s people were rallying together and sending their prayers and support our way. At the camp, there was a spirit of unity and humility. God was at work and I began to see bits and pieces of what He was doing.

I went from looking around to looking within – what was God doing in me? I wasn’t sure, but I had questions…Why was I chosen to be at the center of these events? What did God want me to see about Him? This wasn’t a short-term learning experience, so how would this affect the rest of my life and my ministry?

In this last year, I’ve walked through all sorts of challenges and I’ve faced countless situations that have required reckless faith. I’ve had people tell me that they know God is going to do great things in me and that they can’t wait to see the story God has written for me. I’ve pursued dreams that I’ve had for 10 years and I’ve seen God honor that in my life.

But why?

One reason: I’ve sought every opportunity to be used by God and I’ve accepted every situation that He has presented me with.

There’s no magic here. There’s nothing special or unique about what I’ve done. It’s something that every single person can choose to do. No matter who you are, you can decide to embrace everything that God puts before you and learn to see it as an opportunity to bring honor to Him.

My Continuing Journey…

Sadly, many of us don’t choose to be used by God in this way. We choose comfort and convenience over character. We settle on contentment rather than growth. We look for shortcuts rather than trusting in the process.

It’s certainly not easy, nor is it always fun. There are many seasons where you truly walk by faith not knowing where you are going – but that is the essence of the Christian belief system. It’s Faith.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “It is impossible to please God without faith.” 

It doesn’t say that your chances of pleasing God are reduced…it says that it is impossible. Faith isn’t an option, it’s a must.

Not only is this the chief lesson that I have learned, but it is what was exemplified in Caleb’s life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It’s not the length of life, but the depth.”

Through all of this, I have discovered that the key to depth is not possessions, pleasure, or even experiences; but rather the key to depth is faith. You see I’ve learned that faith is what leads to a life that is full of depth, meaning, and significance.

It really is amazing how much you can learn in a single day. There are some things you learn that will stay with you forever – you’ll never forget them.

Funny isn’t? How some moments span into eternity…

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God’s Not Done With You

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Would you bow your heads to pray.  

That was my cue to exit the church service before anyone could see my fragile state, or worse – try talking to me on my way out. I drove home in a fury, and as soon as the tires touched the driveway I bolted from the car into the house. Once the door closed behind me, I fell to the floor in a heap of tears.

Just as my knees had given out, so had my spirit.

On the ground, I raised my hands to signify my physical surrender to my circumstances. I couldn’t go on like this anymore. Adamantly I pleaded with the Lord for relief. Knowing there was no end in sight, I literally cried out in distress.

Is this what my life had amounted to?

“Just left something for you on your doorstep.” said the text message. Confused and shaken I quickly picked myself up fearing that my sobs and hysterical pleas had been heard by someone nearby! Relieved to see no one there, I opened the front door to find a book on the step. As I bent down to pick it up, a piece of paper fell delicately from it’s pages.

In disbelief I read the title of the loose sheet of paper, “It’s Not Over Till It’s Over.”

Comparing this mess called ‘Life’ to a long movie, the author writes these words,“…as the curtain falls and I think to myself, this is a strange way to end. I look again and see God pointing to the screen as if to say, ‘This my child, is not the end, but an intermission…’”

Just seconds after being in a fit of tears , the author’s next words, almost felt like they were instructing me in that exact moment. Like they knew…

“Can I encourage you to sit down, take a deep breath, stretch, and regroup? The story’s not over yet. Perhaps you are just at an intermission. We shouldn’t put a period where God put a comma.

Holy mother of Abraham Lincoln… that just happened!

If that wasn’t God speaking to me, I don’t know what is!

As I sat on the steps of my front porch taking in the depth of those words, I was reminded of yet another powerful story that I had heard years ago…

Alter Weiner, a Holocaust survivor, described the unimaginable circumstances he had endured in the 35 months he spent in concentration camps.

He spoke of how by March 1945, that he was so emaciated and weak as a result of starvation, that he could no longer work due to his frailty. The Nazi’s saw no purpose in a Jew who couldn’t work, and so he was sent by train to a neighboring concentration camp where he would be killed.

He described standing in an endless line with other battered and beaten Jews – all hopelessly watching groups of Jews ahead of them being ushered into gas chambers, their lifeless bodies emerging moments later as they were carried away to be cremated.

Feeling the weight of his reality with each step he took – stepping closer and closer to his imminent death.

In his book, “From A Name To A Number” he explains being both utterly terrified yet filled with a deep desire for the pain and torture to cease – even if it meant his life having to end to do so.

He couldn’t do it any longer.

“I was standing in line for the doomed, waiting to be gassed and cremated. I sniffed the offensive odor of burning flesh. I felt downright scared. The thought of being so close to death sucked the life out of me.

Then a German civilian approached me. My heart stopped. He shouted at me, “Get out of line, young boy!  You can still work!”

You can imagine the tension in that moment: not knowing whether you should shout for joy at the thought of another day, or if in complete frustration you should cry out to God for punishing you even longer! After all, he was saved, but only to be sent back to another concentration camp!

But Alter’s story was no where near over yet…

Amazingly, less than 8 weeks later  – in just two months – Alter’s concentration camp would be liberated by the Russian Army! He would be set free from the torture, and suffering he had endured over the years at the hands of the Nazi’s.

While Alter stood weary and hopeless in that line just weeks ago – coming so close to death that he could literally smell it – he most certainly believed he had reached the end.

And yet, it proved to have only been an intermission.

I wonder how many of us could identify the same desperation and emotional emaciation in our own lives. Our circumstances leaving us so frail and weary, that we are no longer recognizable to ourselves.

I know I can’t be the only one who has found myself a midst a raging storm in my life .

One so long and so hard that I have fallen to my knees, arms outstretched in surrender as I pleaded for the winds that were threatening to overtake me, to cease.

If that is where you have found yourself today, then please remember :

This is not the end, it is only an intermission…

The story is not over yet!

Your Liberator is coming for you!

In Isaiah 41:10 its says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

The Lord is making a series of promises.

I am with you…

I will strengthen you…

I will help you…

I will uphold you…

I think we could agree that the idea of Christ being ‘with us’ is a nice thought – kinda makes us feel all fuzzy inside – but if we are really honest, hasn’t the Lord also seemed so silent at times?

It’s like He is passively holding out on us, while in desperation we wonder:

When will His strength come?

When will His help deliver us?

And why – in this very instant – isn’t the Lord choosing to make His presence known by rescuing us from our current heartache like a prince on his stallion? Like now!?

Yet I have found that when the flood waters have risen; when the heat has been turned up to the ‘oomph’ degree; when the burden has become too heavy for me to bare on my own -THAT is when God has brought the deliverace that I have so desperately needed.

The Lord speaks about this in Isaiah 43:2-3

When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

In our darkest days, these verses can offer an undeniable comfort. The comfort in knowing that even when we have fallen to the floor in a fit of tears with no hope of ever having the strength to get back up again, when we find ourselves so badly bruised and beaten that we are almost positive we have reached the end – even amidst the most unimagenable of circumstances – that the Lord our God will meet us there in our pain, and never leave our side!

And we will not be consumed!

Dear friends, I pray that each of us would come to fully grasp the fact that we are not alone, and that He is not done!

Wait expectantly on the Lord…

For your Liberator is coming for you!

Krista Signature

** And make sure to check back here next Tuesday for something really special.  My husband has agreed to take over the reigns, and share his heart on the 1 year anniversary of  a tragedy that broke our hearts and tested our faith in a way nothing ever had before! You wont want to miss it! **