Dealing with Roadblocks

Last Saturday my friend Libby and I hopped in the car and headed to her church. Boxes of my books were in the backseat, and I was looking forward to speaking and sharing Becoming A Peaceful Mom. She was eager to gather with the others who helped organize the event to finish last-minute details. Excitement and anticipation for what the Lord had in store filled our hearts.

And then we saw the roadblock. Today was the “Mutt Strutt”, an event that draws hundreds of people and their dogs. We drove up to the police officer and asked if we could pass through somehow . . . No. We asked him about other street approaches to get to the church  . . . All have roadblocks in place. We explained about the event and how others would soon be driving up . . . I’m sorry. Of course, we had to see for ourselves, so we dashed around. All were blocked.

At the first roadblock, our frustration took form with self-determination to find a way to the church. We could not change the circumstance. We sighed a lot 🙂 and just maybe I went around one roadblock to park the car. And we prayed—We vented our questions, Lord, how do we get there? How is everyone else going to get there? How are we going to get these boxes up that hill that’s a couple of blocks away?  . . . Then our prayer shifted—God, you’re so much bigger than this. You have the way through. Show us what to do.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41.10)

How you ever noticed that God’s help doesn’t always look the way we think it should? Libby jogged up the hill while making calls and soon walked back down toward me with a plan. We grabbed as many books as we could carry and began to walk uphill. Uphill among the walkers and dogs. . . Did I mention it was really humid?

(One of the walkers who offered to help carry books.)

As we panted, laughed, and our clothes began to stick to our backs, we praised God that he is good and is not surprised by any of this. We prayed that each woman who was trying to come would not be hindered by the roadblocks.

We got to the church, as did the rest of the team, 15 minutes before the event was to begin. We were sticky, dashing around, focused. And then the women began to arrive. God filled the newly accessible parking lot and then some. Mostly, He filled out hearts.

Do you ever feel hindered by a roadblock?  Or one roadblock after another seems to clutter your path?

No roadblock prevents God from fulfilling his plan.  Ever.

He goes before you and before your child. He walks with you. He leads with a plan, and hopes we seek him and then follow him.

Whatever you face, face it with God. Invite him in to the circumstance. Invite him to lead. Unload your worries and be filled with His peace. No matter how weak in faith or overwhelmed you feel, praise him for he is our faithful God.

In Hard Times, Surprised by Peace

dsc01397As I turned the calendar page to December, I packed for a quick trip to see my Mom in South Carolina. Christmas decorating, shopping, and baking would need to wait until I returned to Houston. My birthday would fall within our visit, so I was particularly grateful for the timing of this trip. My sweet momma has Alzheimer’s. Thank God, she still knows me; she still knows my voice when I call. But the beautiful way that she celebrated her family on our birthdays is now a treasured memory in our hearts. My best gift this year would be her company.

Hours before my flight, I learned that Mom was not well. Of all the dates I could have chosen to visit, He secured this one in my heart weeks earlier. From that moment forward, awe:  You, God, are so good.

dsc01407So what do we do when our plan turns upside down and then spirals downward?
Sometimes a Plan B quickly emerges and all is well. Sometimes we have a pity party or a temper tantrum. And sometimes, we aren’t sure what to do. . . . Emotions stir, yet they don’t lead. Thoughts amass, but order is evasive. Then, whether we have prayed or not, God is faithful. He moves. He moves, for he was present in this moment before we came into it. He carries us THROUGH the hard minutes and hours and circumstances such that often we don’t realize this until much later—in awe and wonder of his tender care and provision in the unexpected hard.

dsc01389As I spent time with Mom in the hospital and later settled her back into her residence, God gave me an Advent gift that I’ll treasure always. Leaning against pillows, Mom and I sat on her bed and I offered, “Mom, it’s Advent. Let’s read the gospel stories of Jesus’ birth.” As I read, I glanced at Mom. Awe covered her face and two soft, child-like gasps of wonder made my heart pause…..O God, this holy moment with You . . . with Mom. Thank You.

God with us. Immanuel.

dsc01406Not long after I returned to Houston, Mom’s condition worsened, so I flew back. Every day was heartbreaking. By GRACE, she seems to be recovering slowly. . . What a different December. . . But, isn’t every December different? Our life and the lives of those we love unfold, and these experiences bring joy, laughter, grief, tears, healing, heartache, hope, and deepening faith in the One who remains the same and loves us the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow—Jesus, Immanuel.

dsc01401“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name ‘Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1.23)  Mary held the Prince of Peace, though her life circumstances were anything but peaceful. And God held her.

I reflect on this December and the depth of God’s peace that I experienced surprises me—in a very good way. So many emotions wrestled in my heart and often wore me down. Yet, Jesus lives there victorious over every hard time I’ll endure.  Immanuel.

dsc01409For all of us and every hard time that comes—May God’s peace that passes all understanding REIGN in our hearts.

When We Struggle To Trust God

When my boys were 1 and 2, I read my first parenting book, And Then I Had Kids by Susan Yates. Her message held encouragement, challenge, tenderness, and a refreshing perspective that I desperately needed with 2 bustling boys. I never dreamed that years later I would ask this woman whom I admire to write an endorsement for my first book. Today I welcome my friend Susan as a guest blogger. I highly recommend her new book, Risky Faith. It is timely and invigorating for us as women and as moms.  Enjoy!
risky-faith-book-coverDo you struggle to trust God?
I do.

I suspect that at this very moment each of us has at least one big concern on our heart that we are praying about or trying to fix, while at the same time trying to trust God with our issue. It might be a concern over a child, a health crisis, a difficult marital situation, financial stress, job dissatisfaction or a decision that has to be made for elderly parents.

As I contemplate my “issue” I’ve realized how easy it is to let it become bigger in my head than my God. I get frustrated. I worry, and I lose perspective.

Some time ago I began to worry about one of my children. The more I thought about this child the more anxious I became. Scary “what if…” phrases began to plague me. I tried to read my Bible and to pray but it did not help. Finally in desperation I cried out to the God, “Help Me Lord.”

Two simple words came into my head- words that were from God, words that would change everything.

Remember Me.”

I realized that I had let my concern for this child grow and grow. It had become so big in my head that the problem itself became my focus. And I had forgotten who God was. I had forgotten how very much He loved my child. I had forgotten that He knew my child much better than I did. I had forgotten that He was working in ways that I could not see. He was in this issue. He was totally involved and His love was perfect. He was so much bigger than I gave Him credit for. It wasn’t that these concepts were new to me. It was more that I wasn’t living day in and day out in the assurance and knowledge of how BIG he is.

This insight has led me on a quest to discover in fresh ways how very Big our God is. It’s a life long journey that will not end this side of heaven but it’s exciting.

Along the way I’ve learned a few things: 

Your ability to ruin your child is not nearly as great as God’s power to redeem him.

It’s not all up to us! At this very moment Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father praying for your child (and you!) What a relief. (Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:34) 

God gives us the exact kids we need, not merely so that we can raise them, but that they might be His tools in our lives to grow us up into the women He has created us to be.  It’s helpful to ask, “what are you teaching me through this child O Lord?”  

Natural growth involves becoming independent. However, spiritual growth involves becoming more dependent. God loves it when I fall on my face and cry out to Him in great need. He will always answer – in His time and in His ways. He does what is best not necessarily what is fast, and He’s working while we are waiting. 

God is so much bigger than I realize and He longs to reveal Himself to you and to me. As we begin to see more and more of Him we will find that our issues begin to diminish. They don’t completely go away. We are fallen people in a fallen world. However, we can begin to see our concerns from a healthy perspective.

Susan shares more insights from her journey in her new book,  Risky Faith, Becoming Brave Enough to Trust the God who is Bigger than your World

Also, I encourage you to check out Susan’s blog and her other books HERE.