don’t rush the ache

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It has been a while since I last wrote a personal blog. One year and 355 days to be exact. I write blogs for other people now, and it is truly one of the greatest honors of my young adult life. It has given me opportunity to tap deep into wells I haven’t had to dig myself. There is fulfillment there, but I am learning, contentment comes only in forging my own.

The problem is, well-digging means ground-breaking. Ground-breaking means you may hit a few roots on the way down. And if you are anything like me, you poured concrete over those roots a long time ago. You convince yourself that because they are no longer growing they are no longer there. But they are and the only way to get past them is to hack the mess out of them.

It takes a whole lot of work, and It doesn’t feel good.

It means at the end of the day, when you have done all you can do, there will be an ache. It’s an ache of reality. An ache of unresolved prayer requests, vulnerable self-realization, unfulfilled dreams, loss, and the acknowledgement you simply can’t get to the bottom without help.

Sure, you can avoid the ache, just don’t dig. After all, the surface is a careful place. A safe place. A quiet place.

But when the Holy Spirit resides within you, you don’t have the luxury of staying here long.

Through some gentle pushes from some loud voices in my life, I have recently chosen to pick up the shovel again.

Using all that is within me, I find myself driving it deeper and deeper beneath the surface-things that have dictated the trajectory of my calling for too long. Cutting through the fear of acceptance and approval. Sinking the spade into roots of unworthiness and complacency. Tears frequent my cheeks, but I find the ache actually drives me further, deeper, root after root. I slowly descend into what it means to be Laura Hamon, and in the quiet times in the dark pit, I wrestle.

Yet, In the great juxtaposition of what it means to be a Christ follower, the further down I go, the further I find myself ascending.

The ache powers the push.

The Lord spoke these words over my heart this morning:

The ache is your gift. Though it hurts, it is not bad. No person or opportunity will ever stitch the wounds of your heart, for those wounds keep you dependent upon Me. Don’t rush the ache away, Laura, its part of the beauty in your redemption story. 

Are you hurting today? Have you lost something dear to you? Questioning what in the world you are doing with your life? Let me urge you with this, God’s calling is irrevocable (Romans 11:29 ESV). Irrevocable, in its original Greek, is translated “ametamelétos”. Defined: “Without regret or remorse for an action because it was done from deep conviction and true concern.”

True concern. God put some thought into it when He making you. He doesn’t regret or rescind the calling He has placed over your life. It is a calling that doesn’t dissolve when you get married or have children. It remains no matter how long you choose to be careful and live your life on the surface. It NEVER GOES AWAY. A person, an opportunity, will not dig the well for you. It is a personal endeavor, and one that must be done with diligence.

But rest assured, you are not doing it alone. You wouldn’t be able to do that. No, the only One who can fill those voids, is right there behind you. Hands over your hands, driving you deeper. He that sees you, is for you.

Let the questions, doubt and broken places bring you deeper, not further from Him. If you are waiting for His promises to be made manifest in your life, don’t give up hope. Don’t rush the ache away, allow it to drive you deeper into what He is revealing to you. And dig, friend.

There, at the bottom…do you see it?

Living water.

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 made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 ESV). 

try again

“You didn’t cause this. There was just something wrong with the baby. This is God’s way of working it out.”

Her bright red hair and empathetic smile seemed to finally convince my spirit. It’s really over. The conviction in which she uttered that painful closure came from a place of deep faith. She really believed that God was doing me a favor, which in turn, made me finally accept it.

After being restricted to a bed, waiting days before the news could be confirmed, it was finally here. I had held fast to my faith and hope that somehow I would beat the odds.

Then I don’t.

She consoled me with medical terminology to prove there was nothing I had done, or failed to do that would have caused this baby to meet Jesus before me, I swallowed hard. No tears left.

It is God’s way of working it out.

I remind myself of this when the waves of emotions seem to drown me.

The painful news that the baby shoes and pastel christmas ornaments will have to go back into their packaging. A pregnant body already resorting back to its normal condition in what seems like just minutes. So much anticipation, over. Devastating.

Well-intended friends and family tried to console me with, “I’m so sorry. I hear miscarriage is so common in first pregnancies.”

You hear it and it only seems to intensify the gaping wound in the depths of your being. Nothing seems to feel common. You don’t cry over common things. Brushing your teeth at night is common, loading the dishwasher – thats common. Writhing pain and the loss of your child – somehow that doesn’t seem to fit into the same category.

“If you want to cheapen something make it common.” – Jentezen Franklin

Miscarriage is as painful at a soul-level as it is a physical level. But you must endure, life doesn’t stop. In order for a new beginning, you must… well, start over. New inspiration, new dreams are in the resting, the healing.

“For behold, I am doing a new thing – now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:19

I think of all the women in my life who are in the same boat. Many that have walked painfully through their own miscarriages. Some never lost pregnancies, but rather dreams and hopes conceived and buried deep. Dreams of love, marriage, careers, futures. How painful when those dreams experience premature deaths. Thwarted because of unplanned interruptions, conflict or offenses that you couldn’t prepare for, beyond your control.

When there is absolutely nothing you can do to salvage something – it’s unbearable.

But new inspiration, new dreams are in the resting, the healing.

It’s God’s way of working it out…

And it always has been. His plans always require sacrifice of some kind. He himself watched his beautiful dream miscarry in order that we may encounter an eternity with no sadness, no tears, no questions unresolved.

For Ruth, it was her first marriage. For Joseph, it was his relationship with his brothers. For Moses, his homeland. Mary, her reputation. Abraham, his son.

There is something about a miscarried dream that drives you to try again.

Let me remind you, Ruth’s broken heart found restoration in the arms of Boaz, In time, Joseph gained deep relationships with his brothers. Moses’ grand-babies never had to experience the land of bondage and abuse, and instead lived their lives free, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Mary, is forever one of the most respected women all across the world. Abraham’s descendants outnumber the stars.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away… and then He gives again.

As my 4-month-old coos over the baby monitor, I am reminded of God’s goodness. Even in the death of one dream – I see how it was motivated out of His great love for me. There is something greater on the horizon. There is hope in your devastation. He is still in control, and as tears stream down my face I am reminded…

New inspiration, new dreams are in the resting, the healing. Always.

Hold fast to your uncommon dreams. Your time is coming.

illuminated

 

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I grew up in a quaint town on Long Island. A euphoric setting to explore adolescence. Just a short walk from our house lay the great expanse of the Long Island Sound. On weekends you could walk out onto the dock and watch the sailboats launch. Wonderful memories were made there.

Years came and they went. Life brought about some unexpected and tragic transitions and on the brink of my 15th birthday, with heavy hearts and teary eyes, we moved away from that pretty little town.

Some months later, I was afforded the opportunity to return for a visit. In the midst of such life change, I needed to clear my mind with something stationary, something familiar. So I made the trek down to the dock of my childhood.

As I approached I was taken back. The boathouse that lay across the street from my beloved dock was tattered, worn and neglected. There were profanities graffitied on the side and beer cans littered the overgrown grass. The waves crashed over the dock that desperately needed some repair. Grey December clouds seemed to come out of nowhere, covering the whole scene, and with a crack – the sky opened up into a downpour.

As Handel’s “Messiah” played through my headphones I could do nothing but cry. In my 15-year-old eyes, life had turned ugly. What was once a place of refuge, a place I had called home, was now foreign to me. I was overwhelmed with a broken heart and what seemed like tattered pieces of a life gone wrong.

Just as I was diving headfirst into a pool of self-pity, something caught my eye.

Their white feathers were almost blinding against that ugly backdrop.

Two giant swans. They had been nesting on the other side of the boathouse. I suppose they were looking for a place of refuge from the icy, wet storm. They seemed as shocked to see me as I was to see them. We stared. They didn’t bother running away. Eyes locked with eyes. And almost in sync with the whole moment, my iPod switched to the famous Hallelujah Chorus.

“Hallelujah! Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth!”

A moment that will forever stay with me.

The vandalized boathouse provided the most beautiful backdrop amidst their feathered hides. The shadows only aided in bringing out their light.

I am transported to the top of Golgotha. The place of the skull. As clouds covered the sky, curdling moans and cries came from the men on the splintered crosses, slowly taking their breath away. Blood dripped, people cheered.

Ugly.

But not the man in the middle. The man in the middle – beautiful. He hung before a backdrop of hatred and corruption, but he stayed pure and faithful. Faithful to death undeserved. The contrast is what makes it all so beautiful.

Beauty amidst beauty is easily overlooked. Beauty amidst ashes – captivating.

Hallelujah. He reigns. In the darkest places – He still reigns. In the pain and loss – He still reigns. Disappointment? Rejection? Abandonment? Betrayal? Backdrops to display His beauty in us.

What tremendous hope we have in knowing that wherever we are, whatever is staring us in the eyes, the insurmountable problems we may face – they only serve to make the Light that lives deep within us, shine just a little bit brighter.

 

“And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible.” – 2nd Corinthians 7:11 (The Message)

 

blind spot – things I never knew were there

 

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A bit more of a personal tone this week. In light of Mother’s Day, I have been extra-reflective on the life changes that my little munchkin has brought about. 

My concept of love. 

Up until the day I delivered my son, I had secretly mulled over the fear of not feeling an immediate bond. I struggled with not feeling as connected to the squirming alien in my belly as I thought I should have been. Don’t get me wrong, I was filled with anticipation and whatever love I knew up to this point- but I still felt I was going to be introduced to a stranger the moment the doctors handed him over. 

When they placed my baby boy in my arms, something blanketed me from my head to my numbed toes. It was a love I can only describe as HUNGER. I needed this baby as if my life depended on it and it was immediate. Love at first sight. Soul-wrecking, fierce love that would forever change my perspective on EVERYTHING. 

Discovering what I am capable of. 

It is amazing to experience labor and delivery. The good, the bad, the ugly. I realized all that I was capable of. Physically, the whole concept of pregnancy and delivery is mind-blowing if you ask me. I never knew what my body could really do until put to the test, and it has inspired me to live life to the fullest and take care of the body I have been given. 

As I made the long walk down to the NICU for that painstaking week, I realized the capacity the Lord had given me to take the emotional turmoil in stride. I certainly did not handle everything un-effected, in fact – I was VERY effected. For the first time ever, I allowed myself to break down when I needed to. No use trying to keep it bottled up, and I assure you – there were floodgates. 

I also realized that I had the capacity to loose it, to snap at unsuspecting victims if they asked me a question I couldn’t answer, or handed me bad news on my newborn. It is amazing what being placed in a stressful environment teamed with raging hormone crashes will do to you. I laugh at it now, but woof, I was a monster. Bless my husband. 

The sacrifice it would entail. 

I was not one of those women who love being pregnant. Pregnancy for me was hard from the first day to the last day. I was quite sick through week 27, and by week 36 I had blood pressure spikes, migraines and projectile vomiting.  No one prepared me that making another human being was HARD WORK. Well, it is! 

For a female who has never struggled deeply with weight issues/image issues – as the scale raised – I was amazed by the effect it had on me. I would love to say that it didn’t phase me – but it did, deeply. And as my self esteem dropped, my guilt rose for even caring about my appearance. Teamed with innocent comments on my swelling face and giant belly, there was not a day I didn’t shed a tear or two. 

I wasn’t prepared but in hindsight, I find such beauty in it all. The sacrifice clearly didn’t end at the end of my 41 weeks, in fact – it had just started. But somewhere along the way I started cherishing the fact that I had such a treasure to sacrifice for. 

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” – Matthew 13:45

Sold ALL and bought it. In life, things of true value are worth sacrificing for. My son is a treasure, and as hard as it was in moments, the purchase was the grandest of my life. I don’t regret the things I lost, gave away, surrendered. (Though an occasional morning to sleep in would be nice. I kid. Kind of.) 

Momma Bear

I didn’t realize the protective beast that lay dormant beneath my typically approval-addicted, push-over personality. There have been a handful of times since the birth of my boy where I felt the environment in which he was in, be it in the care of another individual, doctors office, hospital etc. that was not out for his best interest and I quite literally saw red. The normal filter that I depend on to send that trusty voice through my brain, “think before you speak” dissolved and I am left with spewing out words I didn’t know I had the capacity to say. Something that before Tristan, was not my knee-jerk reaction, but an instinctual protector has taken over. “I am momma, hear me roar” kind of thing. I’m working on the delivery of my words folks, but don’t mess with my baby. Grr

My need for help. 

Guys, I am stubborn and I don’t like to accept help. I don’t know where this vice ever came to plant ugly roots in my life- but it is something I have had to dig up and get over since having a baby. The first few weeks we were left with this new, crying newborn and no breaks – it was exhausting. My God-sent Mother in Law came in town about a month after and gave us a breather. Even then it was hard for me to accept the help, but her steady offers soon became a lifeline. I made small steps – said “yes” to offers of food and company, and I realized how much happier I was because of it. 

My appreciation for my own mom.

May go without saying, but you definitely gain a new perspective on your own mom after birthing a child and carrying the responsibility for another life. I always knew she had an unshakeable love for my sister and I, but after Tristan… I get it. She gave up so much so we would have and I get it. Love you, mom. Oceans worth. 

True Colors 

Before having a baby I would have done just about anything to see my own personal goals fulfilled. I would find myself compromising, surrounding myself with people who were not positive examples, if it meant advancement. Since baby, the Lord has freed me from this. I am so much more sensitive to the atmospheres of places and even the dreams that I had for myself revealed their true selfish colors. I certainly believe that the things I was called to before a baby are absolutely still there and I will always do my best to walk in obedience in the opportunities the Lord presents, but its not about that anymore. It is about being faithful even in hidden seasons. It is about loving everyone you can like crazy, going out of your way to make sure others advance and trusting that all opportunity is given by God, not man. – He is not going to forget about me if I stop trying to manipulate my future. 

A deep need for “Real Religion”

Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” – James 1:27 (MSG)

I have such a deep rooted NEED for my boy to get in the trenches of ministry alongside Blake and I. True ministry, ministry that God looks down upon and is pleased with. I want my boy to fall in love with simplicity. I want him to live a life full of love and loyalty, integrity and hard work. May he see JESUS in the actions of Blake and I, and desire to emulate a life like His. 

No greater ministry 

Recently the Lord blew my socks off by literally raining down favor and abundance on an event with our precious youth group girls. We had expected a certain number to show, but they continued to arrive in droves and we found ourselves filled to capacity. More than double what we had planned for. We worshiped alongside them, challenged them with right-living and the TRUTH of Jesus Christ and his Word. We prayed with them down at altars, we socialized with them around tables. To say my heart was full was such a drastic understatement. THANK YOU GOD for the life change that weekend. And all glory to Him, for it was nothing we did, we just opened up some doors and bought some pizza. HE did the rest. After about 30 straight hours with the girls, I was able to come home and return to my boy. 

As I rocked him to sleep I was overwhelmed with tears. As great of a weekend as it was, the Holy Spirit blanketed me as I saw his tiny eyes flutter. Complete trust, complete dependency – here in my arms was a ministry that carried a weight that nothing else I had ever done or accomplished could hold a 10-foot-pole to. I am not saying the other was not important, the flock the Lord trusts me with is VERY important, but as far wide as it may stretch, it will never dig itself as deep as the little boy in my arms and his daddy who came up and prayed over us. I never understood the statement “Your greatest ministry is at home” until now. 

Contentment. No more. No less. 

After graduating college I had a view of what I thought was a successful life. When people asked me “What do you do?” I would have a very eloquent response of whatever job I was currently doing, promotions I had received, places I had traveled/lived. More than even trying to impress others, I always felt the need to make MYSELF believe I was doing something important. Since having Tristan I have found a role that gives me deep fulfillment regardless of anything else I am currently involved in. I have found that life is not as complicated as we make it, to take whatever is in my hands and do the best I can with it, moment by moment as the Lord continues to direct my steps. For the first time in a long time, I have found a place of true happiness and contentment. I feel proud of whom I am becoming. I am energized to face tomorrow with a smile. After all, life is temporary. What will outlive us? Our great bods? Our cash flow? 

Of course not. It is the eternal impact we leave on others, leading them to lives of freedom that only Christ can bring. Never did I think the greatest sermon I would ever hear and receive would come from a babbling infant who knows nothing of what he is teaching me. But one thing is certain, I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. Motherhood is a pearl. 

resolved.

We are all writers. Some of us pen our thoughts, others keep the story hidden, but assuredly, we are all writing.

We start out, pen in hand, ambitious and hopeful. Full of dreams, visions and futures. We dream of lives full of purpose and fulfillment. Yet sometimes we stumble on a chapter or two we never anticipated authoring.

Chapters titled: Issues. Tragedy. Death. Disappointments. The list goes on.

The stories that were once bubbling with inspiration and hope, flatline and we stop writing. We tuck the transcripts neatly back into the desk drawer and slide it shut. We become spectators on others’ stories, consume ourselves so we don’t have to get back to self-composing the stories that were just not reading as we had anticipated.

What does God do with messy people with unfinished stories?

There once lived a woman who found herself at a dead end. Pen down. She was known to have had an issue that ripped all hopes of an idealistic life right from her hands. Her health was failing and no one could help her. All the money she had went into the hands of individuals that promised hope and healing, only to be left worse off than before, and broke.

Imprisoned by a disease she had no control over. Worse, if she stepped outside her walls she was to be stoned. Dead end.

If her issue didn’t kill her, the people around her surely would.

She gained wind that a miracle-worker was coming through town. Naturally, she was the skeptic and in no way looking for religion, but her desperation drove her to Him.

Desperation tends to do that.

Sheepishly, she hides in the crowds until she can see Him. She inches closer and closer, and then – in a moment of tiny faith, she kneels down in the shadows, reaches out and with her fingers, brushes the hem of His garment.

He immediately turns around “Who touched me?”

Wait, shouldn’t this man know who touched him? Does He not claim to be God?

She stays silent. If she identifies herself, she is sentenced to death.

Again he asks “Who touched me?”

What audacity? Why did it matter? Why was He exposing her?

In that moment she had a choice… remain hidden, safe and unchanged – or claim herself.

Admit she was the woman who was ill. Admit she had run into situations in her life beyond her control that caused her soul to ache. Admit her devastated heart.

In a moment that would tempt most of us to put the pen down, she alters history by picking hers back up. Mustering all the meek bravery she could, she barely gets out,

“It was me, alright! It was me!”

I can imagine the crowd as they turned to see who it was, only to find a woman who was plagued, cursed and worth nothing. I imagine their evil thoughts as excitement rose at the thought of punishing her. I can imagine the fierceness in their glares.

He then takes the pen from her hands.

This is where the author of the story changes.

“Take heart, daughter – for your faith has healed you.” – Matthew 9:21

The man with all authority hushed the crowds. In a moment, He gave the issued-woman a clean slate, and a new reputation, a place to belong and a hope for a future.

Her devastation led her to the feet of her eternity. She was forced into identifying her weakness, and beheld strength beyond comprehension. Her body was healed, but more importantly her story continued on… and found grand resolution.

I know many women whom by no decision of their own have been left in desolate places. It is tempting to quit moving forward. We lure ourselves into thinking we are better off not dreaming, hoping and believing, rather than be hurt. Derailing pain can at times cause us to recluse into being spectators, not authors.

What does God do with messy people with unfinished stories?

If allowed, He will pen it for us.

He will clean up our mess and bring us eternal resolution.

Are you at the end of yourself? Finding no solutions? Devastated? I urge you to come to Him and admit it. All who are heavy and burdened, for He gives rest.

Rest from the sorrow. Rest from the disappointment. Rest from the writing.

Revelation 21: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Echoing Valleys

“Devastation that should have been celebration is almost more than we can take. We are simply and understandably unprepared.” – Beth Moore

I had always imagined that the birth of my first child would be a beautiful, worship-filled experience. Sure, I anticipated there would be some hurdles to cross, but I was ready. I went to every childbirth class I could find, read “What to Expect…” from cover to cover, and watched TLC’s A Baby Story so many times I thought my husband would discontinue our cable.

Because of some unique circumstances, my doctor decided that it would be best for me to do a two-day induction. At 5:18 p.m. on October 3, 2013 my angel came into the world after 19 hours of difficult labor.

As they put this miracle up on my chest. I barely got out a, “Thank you, Lord,” before I noticed my precious boy struggling to gain a breath. I frantically searched the doctors expressions as they reached for him.

“Give him a kiss, we will need to rush him to Intensive Care.”

I was confused. I kissed his sweet face and they whisked him away, pushing him at a sprint. My husband turned to me and asked “Do I go, or stay?” To which I urged him to go with the baby. Make decisions.

I had expected a mountain top experience and here I was plummeting into the shadows of the valley.

Silent tears began to fall. I lay alone on the bed with my husband and baby gone.

The surgeon-on-call in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit sat Blake down and told him he needed to prepare for the worst.

She explained: When Tristan took his first breath he overinflated his lung and it partially collapsed. They would do a procedure in which they would send a needle through his chest, down into his lung and deflate it completely. When they pulled the needle out, in a perfect world, the lung would re-inflate.

Though he survived the procedure, he wasn’t out of the woods.

After an eternity, I was finally released from my room and Blake came to bring me down to see our son.

We went through the NICU protocol of scrubbing in up to our elbows, and passed through security points showing our identification. We walked past room after curtained room of tiny newborns clinging to life. Machines beeped and mom’s sobbed. It was scarring, too much.

Tristan was all the way at the end of the hall (Which I later found out was where the more critical babies were sent.) When I entered the room I saw his tiny 7 lb 1 oz body strapped down to an inverted bed under heat lamps. He had bandages on his chest, an IV running out of his scalp, a feeding tube coming out of his mouth, a nasal cannula in his nose, multiple wires monitoring his every move and a brash nurse standing at the end of the bed like a british guard. When we entered she said,  “Please don’t talk, and don’t touch him, he doesn’t need to be stimulated right now.”

Rules?! Don’t talk, don’t touch. My heart shattered. This wasn’t supposed to happen, this was supposed to be a day of celebration.

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My doctor insisted that I needed to lie down. I was sent back to my room. It was the first night that my little miracle was not inside my womb. He was three floors beneath me, all alone – with no one to nurture him or hold him close. Clinging to life.

My husband crawled into my bed and pulled me to his chest.

Through tears he spoke words of strength. Words that have forever marked me.

“God is faithful. He considered us worthy of this test. He will bring us through. We have to thank him for the test. I know its hard, but we must thank him for the test…and trust.”

I don’t remember falling asleep, I just wailed until exhaustion took over.

Then I had a dream.

With an ariel view, I found myself standing between two large mountains amidst a deep valley. The valley was shadowed but beautiful, full of life. I heard a voice out of nowhere, “He is faithful.” The words bounced off the rock face. It echoed:

“He is faithful. He is faithful. He is faithful.” Over and over and over. Crescendoing .

I woke up blanketed in peace.

I threw on a robe and slippers, and headed downstairs. To my surprise, they had moved Tristan. They said he was doing remarkable, better than anyone expected. He needed some help with breathing and he was on preventative antibiotics, requiring him to stay – but he was a fighter, and he would make it.

The nurse delicately placed the baby covered with wires in my arms and we marveled at one another. For 13 hours a day for the next week we just stared and rocked, rocked and stared. Moments I will always remember.

Somehow the shadows of the valley started feeling like the shade in the midst of a hot day.

He is now a thriving baby boy with no signs of all he encountered when he entered this world. His lungs certainly work just fine, especially at 2 a.m. We are eternally grateful.

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We often think God lives only on mountain tops. If we could do enough good things, work hard enough, stay busy enough to get to the summit… then, we would be able to rejoice. We see others up there worshipping in their successes, their prosperity, relationships and good health – and we are left at the bottom, seemingly forgotten.

But what if, just if, God leads those who have the deepest call on their life, through the deepest places of forging.

The testing is not some cruel agenda He has out against us, it is always for our good and for His ultimate glory and purposes. The valleys echo his faithfulness the loudest. Without these seasons we would never truly appreciate what awaits us at the top. Hang in there. One foot in front of the other, this too shall pass.

The view from the top is of no comparison to his presence at the bottom.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1: 2-4 (The Message)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He takes me to lush pastures,
he leads me to refreshing water.

He restores my strength.
He leads me down the right paths
for the sake of his reputation.

Even when I must walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff reassure me.

You prepare a feast before me
in plain sight of my enemies.
You refresh my head with oil;
my cup is completely full.

Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days,
and I will live in the Lord’s house for the rest of my life. Psalm 23 (New English Translation)

unnoticed

You never see her, but she is there. Just a mom, tucked away somewhere deep in the crowd. No one knows her name, and she is not considered in the census that day. She sits quietly in the back row, unnoticed. 

Captivated by the speaker, she refused to get up. She wasn’t going to miss one word this man had to say. She doesn’t notice her stomach start to growl. In between sessions, she overhears the disciples speaking to him.

They don’t know how to get Jesus to understand. There is no way they could feed everyone in attendance. 

She knows its not much, but remembers she had packed her little boy lunch. She pats his back and urges him on, “son, go give this to him.” What a foolish move. For certainly, what good would her scraps be to a king? 

So the young boy walks up to the miracle-working man and hands him his meager lunch. Two loaves and five fish. The man winks at Him and says “watch this.” The boy stands in awe as his small lunch feeds thousands.

Unnoticed. But prepared. Her intentions were not to be recognized, just to help. She loved this man who spoke with such authority, she didn’t have to be the one to hand it to him. In fact – she rather her child do it. If her boy could get close to this man, than all her efforts were worth it, even if it meant shrinking back into the shadows. 

It is easy to get discouraged at times. We feel as if our roles are hidden, that our story doesn’t matter. We spin our wheels, slopping more and more commitments on our plates, determined to make a difference with our lives, even if it takes our last breath. We exhaust ourselves and still feel defeated.

But we miss it. We make it so much harder than it is. Sometimes the miracle is in your kid’s lunchbox. 

Obedience in the details.

There is assurance knowing that the Lord wants to fulfill His plan for your life more than you want to fulfill His plan for your life. Sometimes the best way of getting there is relinquishing the reins and living fully where you are, right now. 

It may mean staying in the shadows for a season, patting the back of someone else as they are recognized for the things that you have rightly worked for. 

But remember, His plans are to prosper you, not to harm you. You are not forgotten or overlooked. He knows every strand of hair on your head, and in fact – they matter to him. 

Life is but a vapor. Let us quit focusing on the accomplishments we have yet to achieve and start focusing on the man speaking to the crowd. 

The only king in history who cherishes the scraps more than the gold. 

Wherever you are, its not an accident. He is working it out in the details. Just stay faithful. You are noticed. I assure you, you are noticed.

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. – Ephesians 3:20 (Message)