Roses

When your greatest shortcoming, the obstacle that stands as the way of your defenses, is also what God is asking you to do —

Is it possible to walk in a path of fear and faith simultaneously?

I’ve felt a deep rest on my heart since March of this year that I had to take a break from dating. I chose a year. God corrected me near July that it wasn’t I that could take a year off, but it was His leading that would guide me to see what I needed to complement who I am and the time it took could be 3 months, a year, or 10 years. All I knew after that time was that He was going to make me whole before I could give a full yes to anyone else. The more I would seek after Him, the quicker I could become whole.

I was right in pausing dating. I was wrong in setting rules for myself in what I could and couldn’t do, expectations for when I would be ready, when the right person would cross my path.

I played the blame game with myself: “I’m awkward, I’m bad at relationships, I’m better off alone.” An Enneagram Type 5’s most typical response (if you haven’t taken the Enneagram test, it might be the best $11 you ever spend – read more here), there I was in the middle of it. These thoughts fueled this so-called failure for myself when the reality is, we’re all still figuring out who we are and what we need.

I’m learning there’s grace for that.

Rejection is a terrible theme for a monologue, if I’m being honest. It fueled my fear, and it fueled my faith simultaneously. I was afraid of another no, but I wanted to believe God was bringing me the right person, but I was afraid to trust. The cycle needed to break. Even if I didn’t date for another ten years, I had to stop the cycle.

And it has now. As of this morning, really. Funny how you wake up one day and things feel different. It has and it will take more prayer, more trust, more time for me to sort and let go and hold fast and know that I can be called to be single and be okay with it at the same time — I just can’t favor it, can’t hold onto it, need to be okay with opening up my heart. I have to hold onto Jesus instead. When I’m called to a relationship, I need to be whole. God won’t call me to it until I’m ready, but I need to be open to change. And I need to let go of past patterns, fear and hurt to know I’m going to be whole.

We have to learn how to hold onto wildflowers. Some have thorns and bristles on the outside, but if we learn to hold them the right way, it works out just fine.

I’m learning to hold myself the right way, too. Grace for the finish, hope for the beginning, peace in the middle. Breaking down the lies and picking up life as it is, as it should be.

And me, telling myself each morning:

There’s grace for that.

for you

I will withstand

again and I will breathe

in the words

and they will restore my soul

as they did before

when I hear the words that come against me

I will sing

of your everlasting love

and I will dance through

the forest

I will run through the fear

I will rest in the pasture

I will trust You

I will l trust You and I won’t be afraid

and I won’t be angry

I won’t let bitterness sweep in

I will trust You

I will trust You and I won’t be afraid

 

Training in the Dark

Facebook post, post-marathon:

“26.2 barefoot miles |
The grace of God brought me to the finish line.
The God who healed me as a baby when doctors said I wouldn’t walk; who healed my broken foot at 19; who has healed me over the past 10 years of CRPS/RSD chronic pain — three times, the diagnoses said I would never walk normally, let alone run. But He’s the One who’s healed me inside and out.
Nothing is impossible with God.
In May, God put it on my heart to run the marathon. During training, the chronic pain disorder I’ve had since age 13 limited my ability to run, and I also had a mysterious case of throwing up at the 2 mile mark every time I ran with shoes on.
I took it to prayer and surrendered it to God, and in late July, I felt it on my heart to start running barefoot. The same day, my pain went away, my sickness went away. This marathon was completed against the odds, the diagnoses, the facts, the logic, and solely on the power of the cross. I learned that we give a little faith, and Jesus gives us love & resurrective power.
To everyone who supported me and prayed with me through these past few months, thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

As many times as I’ve sat – stood – wandered around – to write about the marathon, there’s been something in me that’s halted the full publishing of the story of this summer. I feel the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying that this story is not yet over, and therefore, I’ve pondered it in my heart and documented as much as I can in order to write it at the right time.

However, there are parts of the story that at this time should be shared, people I must thank, glory where glory is due.

With that in mind, I’ve felt a conviction in my heart from God in something I’ve been hesitant to share:

A marathon is long, but our God is not a God of distance. He is near, more near than we can understand. And because He is near, He can bring us to and through the impossible. But not only does He do the impossible, He also brings us to and through the possible in miraculous ways.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “It is by grace you have been saved, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – so that no one can boast. We are God’s handiwork, created in Jesus to do good things, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Our God is a God of grace. Our God is a God of miracles.


I ran a real run for the first time post-marathon on Saturday. I was waiting for a blister to heal and an “o-k” from the Holy Spirit through the month of October.

I ran it with shoes on, without pain, and didn’t throw up. In short, I ran normally for the first time in ten years. I averaged a 9 minute mile in 45 degree weather on a path by a beach in Holland, MI. It was a very average run for the sake of running, but it sealed and healed a loss in me and claimed a victory.

I ran like I had been running my entire life: the evidence of living on the other side of a miracle. I realized it wasn’t the marathon itself that healed me, but instead it was living in the freedom after.

I don’t remember what it was like to not be able to run. I don’t remember what it was like to tell myself I can’t, I won’t, I couldn’t. Every promise, every dream that brings glory to God is yes and amen in Jesus.

When Jesus sets us free, we’re free indeed.

Thank You-s

I thank Jesus for promising we’d do miracles like He did and greater, and for fulfilling anything we ask in His name (John 14). For reminding me He came to restore life to fullness and bring us into freedom. And, for healing me miraculously when I unknowingly used expired Neosporin for cuts on my feet pre-marathon.

I thank the Holy Spirit, who in the final days leading up to the marathon told me, “If the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you (Romans 8:11), how much easier is it for you to run 26.2 miles barefoot?” (I still laugh when I think about that). For the way He guided me through each day and provided the revelation necessary to complete the race in freedom and without pain.

I thank God the Father, who comforted me when I faced affliction. For keeping me so close to Him when I cried out, for picking me back up off the ground when I was afraid or felt defeated, for reminding me I am a child of a kingdom that can’t be shaken.

I thank a God who is three-in-one a Father, Son and Spirit, all encompassing, ever faithful, who brings intangible things into existence when we pray and spend time with Him. All honor, all praise, all glory be to Him and Him alone. It wasn’t a positive attitude or personal determination that brought me to the finish. There was incomprehensible sobbing, doubt and fear leading up to it that He quieted in me. It was the courage and perseverance He’s placed in me over the past ten years that came to life in this season.

I thank my friends who walked me through the journey of this summer, for (jokingly) confirming that I was actually crazy when I asked them if I was crazy, for praying with me, for trusting with me that Jesus was at the center of it all. For standing on the corner of Michigan and Randolph (downtown Chicago) during rush hour while I was throwing up post-run. For sending me training materials on running barefoot. For praying over my feet, for running with me, for laughing through the madness, and the nights of tears that led me back into confidence in the Lord. It was not an easy journey, and I couldn’t have done it without you and your faith supporting me to trust in God.

I thank my parents for the conversations we had, for the way that God poured confidence and courage into me through you. I am grateful for the fear that broke down, the doubt that became faith, and the faithfulness that ensued.

I thank those who helped me fundraise and provide clean water for families in Africa.

I thank those I don’t know who, during the marathon, cheered me on from the sidelines.

I thank those who taught me that a demonstration of faithfulness to one is a miracle to another.

I thank those who were praying for me from the sidelines, and those who dedicated miles in their own race to pray for me.

Through the past 10 years, He brought me to and through situations, miracles and tests that built the mental toughness I needed to endure. He taught me His Word through reading the Bible, so that I would know and remember His faithfulness. Every situation I faced where I didn’t know the way, He knew the path in advance. I walked blindly through night seasons only to discover exactly what I set out to find.

He trained me in the dark.

the harvest hour

if my heart has a throne, then it must have a King.


 

There are times where I come into a space with God and say, “I don’t have the faith to wait for this anymore.”

And He tells me, in a quiet voice: “that’s okay. I have faith enough for the both of us.”

I’ve come to learn that the seed we plant in this season is always from the fruit of the last harvest.

I’ve come to learn that the next season of our life begins by sowing the breakthrough.

It’s not the breakthrough that brought the harvest to life. It was the waiting that brought the harvest. It is the waiting where we must be the most watchful, the most patient, the most valiant, the most caring.

We can’t carry the seeds around with us in our hand or pocket in the waiting and expect them to start growing. We can’t walk around or past the promises that God reveals and expect them to start moving in us.

I had a recent couple of days where I felt insecure in God’s promises – saying, is this really the plan you have for me? Is this really the best path?

An excerpt of me, talking to myself:

“There’s so much more that would make more sense to me”

“I’m not ready to give my fear up, not ready to give my (false) hope up, not ready to not be frustrated”

“I have to keep this to protect myself, protect my dreams, protect from this person, this situation, this problem”

“I’m just feeling trapped by this promise”

And I felt Him over me, in His quiet voice, say

“You can’t go into the next level of My promise, you can’t grow deeper in Me without letting go”

But I still didn’t know how to get un-trapped, how to stop the discouragement, how to stop the breaking and the silence and the frustration that was caught in me.

So I started running. And I ran to Him.

And He showed me that I had borrowed the throne of my heart for the promise over reserving it for Him. He showed me that I was resting so firmly in His promises that I forgot to rest in Him. He showed me that when I was discouraged, when I was hesitating, when I was breaking, when I was frustrated, it was because I was trying to be a detective in the mystery of grace.

Then I surrendered the throne and I surrendered my plans, and Jesus filled them with grace. You see, grace is given, not found.

Grace is like water. It washes, it rinses, it hides, it sinks. I’ll never know how deep it is, how wide it is, what form it’s taking today. It may come in as ice to skate on, it may come in as an ocean to swim in. It might be in the wind, harder to see. I had to learn to recognize the many forms of grace.

Grace helps to grow the seeds we sow and it brings them to the harvest. Grace helps grow the waiting and brings it to the breakthrough. We need good soil, good conditions, a willingness to work and pull the weeds out when they start to choke out the planting. We need faith, belief, acceptance of peace, a willingness to persevere, courage, a watchful eye, and all else that He provides.

And if the throne of my heart has a King, I know now it has to be Jesus.

If the throne of my heart has Jesus, I know I won’t be overwhelmed.

If it is on earth as it is in heaven, I know He is a perfect King.

Just like that, another breakthrough. Just like that, another waiting.

 

the full armor, pt. 1

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

-Ephesians 6:13-18, MSG Translation

The Full Armor

I could sense it – you know the feeling. I’ve discerned enough to know that distress settles in far before anything goes wrong. The battle for a sound mind was rising up around around me and my mind was shutting down, causing my body to panic. I was stumbling and struggling as if I were underwater. I was indoors, safe, and dry.

I understood rip currents.

They’re caused when water piles up between the breaking waves and the shoreline. A narrow passageway is created, which pulls the water back out toward the middle of the body of water. At times, they can be spotted by water churning, or by a slight difference in color or foam, but experts say they’re often overlooked by the average person. That’s what causes danger.

The battles we don’t see are often the cause of our greatest distress. They’re unexpected, they catch us off guard, and we don’t have the means to fight back in that moment because we spent time without our lifejacket on, without our shield up.

Every battle begins with a single moment. Every battle has a build up. Something happens, ever so small, that triggers us to lose sight of peace. Anger, stress, fear, insecurity, judgment, confusion, *insert your negative emotion here*, can all begin the battle. Then comes our chosen method of problem solving. Some of us will dive headfirst into the current, and others of us will stand on the shoreline and slowly walk ourselves in or let the current pull. Either way, the current will pull us under and pull us out. Some of us will make a different choice entirely.

We’re wired to flirt with danger when we want control of a situation.

When we’re pulled in, we have two choices: the first, to let the water carry us as far out as it will go. Letting our fear carry us as far as it will go. Getting back to shore would a significant amount of time, albeit the fact that experts say recovery is nearly impossible. The second choice is to swim parallel to the shore and break free of the grasp of the water. Choose peace to be parallel with the shore and break free of the grasp of fear. Rip currents are far more long than they are wide.

When we’re pulled in, both require us to let go at a certain point; both require us to use strength to pull ourselves back to shore.

When we’re not pulled in, we have a choice. We don’t have to go near the water.

We can put on the full armor of God, keep our shield up, keep our lifejacket on. We can step back and watch as the water settles, as our heart settles, as our body resumes its peace. We can stop struggling, rest and watch the current subside. Watch the fear subside. Watch the anger subside.

And then, the battle subside.

The Full Armor, pt. 1.

 

 

 

I Am

This is the space I come to when I can still trust your promises, still believe in your favor, snack on strawberry ice cream, and pick up pennies from the sidewalk.

This is the place I come to when I’m at my weakest, stressed the hardest, in the middle of the mystery, wandering the surface.

I’m here when I have scaled the mountain, and I’m here when I’m at the bottom of the ocean.

You see me the same in every place, I am. You see me as beloved, as a child, as a soldier, as an heir. The way you see me doesn’t change the way that I change the way I feel.

My environment doesn’t change the way, I am. You placed the way before me.

My hope doesn’t shift the path, I am. You make it straight for me.

I’m not fearful or brave.

I’m not faithful or doubtful.

I’m not giving grace or taking offense.

I’m everything, all at once – in one moment of bravery, there is a condition of fear.

In a step of faith, there is a pause of doubting.

And for everything you are, I am, I’m so quick to fail in recognizing you don’t change the way I do. But you reveal over me that I’m not changing, either.

I’m transformed by the touch of your hand.

 

 

 

of peace

out of the places you have been,

your feet have touched far more than your hands ever have

more than your heart ever has

more than your mind ever will

so you close your eyes, and open

to find them reaching around the room, searching for something to hold onto

and you find it

you reach out with your hand

and move with your feet, from the couch to the rug, rug to the hardwood floor

to grab the phone

so you can use your hands

and use your heart

and use your mind

with your feet beneath you

to stand, to run, to walk

 

a firm foundation promises there is nothing to be afraid of

which is why our feet

carry the gospel

 

 

(Ephesians 6:15)