Restoration

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Not too long ago, my older daughter and I were out college shopping. We had barely hit the “back to school” aisles when my husband called frantically.

“You have to come home right away. Your bike was stolen,” he said out of breath.

Our Neighbor saw two young boys riding a bike and when they got to our house, the one boy jumped off, ran up to our carport, and grabbed my bike. My mind flashed back to that morning after my bike ride. We were storing our bikes in a trailer, and I was too lazy to unlock the trailer and put my bike back after my morning ride.

I felt my heart sink. I thought for sure, I would never see the bike again. Despite the fact that a couple of years ago my husband had his bike stolen in the exact same fashion and he recovered his bike (with God’s help:) How quickly I forget what God is capable of.

I take comfort in the fact I am not alone in my forgetfulness. There is a pattern in the Bible of a God who performs miracles and His people the Israelites, His disciples, and we still today, find it difficult to believe in His miracles or remember what He has done for us.

Join me at thedoorcf.wordpress.com (our church blog) to read the rest of the story.

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Bears and Fears

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A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a trip to visit friends in North Idaho and then traveled on to the YWAM base in Lakeside, Montana. Our daughter participated in a DTS (discipleship training school) there the year before, and we wanted to see the base and experience Glacier National Park.

Before we left, the topic of bears seemed to weave itself into many of my conversations. When we arrived out West and made our way from Spokane, Washington, to Sandpoint, Idaho, and finally Glacier National Park, I noticed my fear of bears had grown as large as the Glacier mountains themselves.

I am not usually a fearful person. Yet, in the last year or so, I found myself worrying at times about various things, and my latest fear was the possibility of meeting bears on this trip.

The day came for us to explore Glacier National Park, starting with Two Medicine Lake on the East side of the park. We were armed with bear spray and Anton revealed he had also checked out some Youtube videos on interactions with bears.

According to the videos, we were to make loud noises such as clapping, carrying on conversations, and shouting, “Hey bear!” every so often. Shouting, “Hey bear!” to me sounded a little too nice, like an invitation to a meet-and-greet with a Grizzly.

However, as we trekked along, it was not long before a lone girl in her twenties came hiking along, clapping and shouting, “hey bear!”

Anton smiled, and I just stared in admiration of the brave girl, walking alone.

We did not see a bear that day, nor did we see much of any wildlife. Still, I carried this fear with me.

The following day we headed to the Many Glacier Hotel, where our friends had seen a Grizzly bear the year before. I would later find out, Many Glacier was a popular place to see Grizzlies. Our friend had carefully omitted this detail when he raved about this part of the park.

We started and picked a trail we knew would be heavily populated with humans to ease my fear. After maybe ten minutes on the trail, we met a group of people who had just seen a bear 200 yards or so from where we were. Despite my nervousness, we decided to keep going. As we walked closer, there was a family on the opposite side of the trail watching a black bear, about my height, dig in a tree for some sort of goodies. We made sure the bear was aware of us, and then made our way higher above the trail so we would not disturb him. Even in my fear, I managed to grab my phone and snap a picture.

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After seeing him, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue. If we were 10 minutes into our 12-mile hike, how many more bears might we see? We continued to walk with the family we had met, talked about the experience and then continued on with the normal national park questions – where are you from, what do you do, how long have you been at the park? Soon enough I had forgotten about the bear, and as we met person after person along the trail, my fears lessened.

The hike itself was incredible: mountain peaks, turquoise lakes, snowfields, rock edges, and finally the glacier and glacial lake at the top. The view was definitely worth the trek.

As we made our way back down the mountain, we walked with a woman from Poland. Hiking is an incredible way to meet new people and hear their stories.

After one turn down the mountain, we saw a park ranger holding out his can of bear spray, talking to another couple. As we approached him, he shared they had just seen a Grizzly down in the brush. Our new Polish friend and I didn’t hear much more than the word Grizzly before we took off down the path in the opposite direction of the bear.

My husband stuck around with the park ranger, and sure enough, was able to catch a glimpse of the bear.

Twice that day, I was forced to face my bear fear and yet both of those times, it was the best possible scenario to face those fears, with others (community) and with a park ranger (one who had experience and authority).

What a picture this was for me, of how it should be to face our fears and struggles in life. We should face them together with other believers, and with those who have gone before, and who know and understand the terrain.

Despite those bear sightings, I continued to hike and was drawn day after day back to the beauty of Glacier National Park.

Towards the end of the week, I hiked another trail with friends. I knew this trail was less populated and the chance of seeing bears was greater. Yet my fear was no longer the focus; instead, the focus was on the beauty and adventure that awaited us. Something had shifted in me.

What started as an overwhelming fear at the beginning of the week, lessened as the beauty of the park became greater than the fear.

“Fear precedes beauty – beauty overcomes fear.”

As I later reflected on this idea, I wondered if this is how it is with God’s love. As we are drawn, covered, and surrounded by the love of God, our fears lessen/diminish and His love is all we want and see. The fear might not totally be gone, but the desire for more of God, more of His love, and more of His beauty diminishes the fear holding us.

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“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:18-19

As we are drawn into the beauty and love of God, may He diminish or lessen the fears holding us today.

 

Why I write

Today, October 20th, is National Day of Writing.

For one of my English classes at Millersville, we were asked to write about why we write. Although there are many reasons why I write, here are a few of them below:

Why I Write

Writing slows my

world down,

causing it to move

in slow-motion.

It causes me to see the details, I would otherwise miss.

Writing is my

viewfinder,

bringing

life into focus.

Thoughts once blurry, now becoming razor sharp.

Writing is an

act of faith

every

single

time.

It is trust,

that words will make their way

from head and heart

to paper.

Happy National Day of writing. May you find space to write today, whether it be a grocery list or the beginnings of a novel. Your words are sacred and give life to others.

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In the valley

I know it has been a while…

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This past semester at college I took an English literature course that focuses on the bible. I so enjoyed this class that combines two of my favorites subjects.

To look at the bible in the light of literature was eye-opening, and the verses came alive in a new way. If you ever get the chance to take a class like this, I highly recommend it.

The first week of class, we looked at the story of the Good Samaritan and Psalm 23. Growing up in the church, both of these stories were very familiar.

Yet,

the bible never grows old.

It is living and breathing, waiting to share new thoughts.

As I read through Psalm 23, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.

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In the first part of Psalm 23, David writes in 3rd person. He is describing God.

He makes, he leads, he restores, he guides…

until,

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,

For you are with me, your rod and staff, you prepare, you anoint…

In the midst of the valley, David begins to write in 2nd person instead of 3rd. The text suddenly becomes more intimate, and instead of speaking about God, David speaks directly to Him.

The same thing happens in the book of Job…Job loses everything and at the end of his story, he says,

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5

When we walk through the valley, wade through difficulties in life, or lose everything, this is the place where God becomes real. He moves from 3rd person to 2nd.

Out of pain, comes intimacy with Jesus.

Out of pain, comes knowing, instead of simply hearing about…

It doesn’t make me love the valley anymore, but it does give me hope that God can bring good out of it.

I saw God today,

in the valley.

 

 

Fight

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A little while ago we were in a desperate sort of situation. It was not a life or death scenario, but it was something which felt overwhelming for us as a family.

The one morning as I was praying about what to do, I had worship music playing in the background, and songs of trust and surrender kept popping up on my Spotify playlist. You know the ones that call us to trust even when we don’t understand why something is happening or trust when things don’t go our way. There is nothing wrong with these songs, and God has used them to speak to me many times in the past. Yet, on this particular morning, I sensed God saying something different. It was not time to surrender or to give up,

instead it was time to fight.

In prayer.

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…” Ecc 3:1

The word “fight” is not really one of those words I use regularly in my vocabulary. I like to think of myself as more of a peacekeeper than a warrior. I grew up in the peace-focused Mennonite church. I really have no reference point on how to fight or fight in prayer. It is not just the fight part I struggle with. It is the prayer.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14,15

My struggle with prayer lie in the tension of “name it and claim it” prayers vs. “God’s will be done” prayers. The one type of prayer feels like it depends on my effort while the other one feels like I do not need to take responsibility at all.

How do I know when I should press in, fight in prayer and use faith to move mountains or when it is time to surrender, simply rest and trust, or simply stand and let God fight? There are examples of each in the Bible, so how do I know which one to use?

What stuck out to me as I was praying, was the part of the 1 John verses that says, “…that if we ask anything according to his will.”

As I heard God’s whisper that morning, “it was not time to give up or come up with a different plan, but it was time to fight for this one thing,” I had such a peace that this fight in prayer was his will for that moment. It was the nudge I needed to keep going and believing. In the back of my mind I still worried, what if our prayers were not answered? However in that moment, the call to fight was stronger than my doubt and fears.

God answered our desperate prayer. I know this is not always the case…to receive an answer hoped for. Yet for me in that moment, it was so much more than just an answered prayer, it was the encouragement and faith to keep going then and in the midst of future battles.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time for war and a time for peace…He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8, 11

I saw God today,

in the fight.

The Joy of Letting Go

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In 26 days my oldest daughter will graduate from high school.

I am not sure if it is the fact that she could soon be leaving home or other factors influencing our life right now, but my wanting to hold on, wanting to control my life and the life of my family has been at an all-time high. Time and time again over the last couple months, these words have been playing in my heart and mind.

It is time to let go.

What is it about letting go, that causes anxiety to rise up inside? Or why is it, when faced with letting go, we hold on even tighter, or try and control other areas in our life?

This tension, this battle of control/letting go isn’t new. It was present from the very beginning, from those first moments in the garden…the need to be God, the desire to know, and the desire to control.

“You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil…” – Genesis 3:4,5

Our need to know, our need to control was part of our original sin, while God’s heart was for us to trust and depend on Him and trust in His goodness. Yet, we know how the story ended. We know how it played out then and how it plays out today when we try and control situations and others. It gives birth to frustration.

“pain in childbearing…he will rule over you…cursed ground…by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food…” Genesis 3:16-19

The truth of the matter is, we can control no one. As much as we try, we are not made for control, we are made for freedom.

In Danny Silk’s book, “Loving your kids on purpose” he talks about control. ”The lie that we can control others, is the biggest lie in human relationships. If we can be delivered from this one, deeply rooted lie, then there is hope that we can change the dynamics that cause so much anxiety between people.” (75)

And he goes on to say, “The only person we can control is ourselves.”(80)

No matter how much of a challenge this is, there is a freedom in letting go. When I realize ultimately I cannot control another, I lay that down and look instead to what I can control, such as my reactions, my words, and my feelings. This is never easy, but with God’s Spirit, these are the areas I can influence. The added bonus is, when I am focused on these areas there is little time left to control anything else.

So in these 26 days, I want to find joy in what is and what is to come, rather than holding on to things which were never meant to be held.

“Noble” faith

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I watched a movie the other evening I had been wanting to see for some time. It is called,

“Noble”

after the main character’s last name. It is the inspiring story of Christina Noble. The movie weaves together Christina’s past as an orphaned child with her work later in life to help orphaned children in Vietnam. There were many parts of the movie which stirred me, and I knew they would. But because I knew little about Christina before watching this movie there was one aspect of the story I was not expecting.

It was one of faith.

I do not want to give pieces of the movie away, because I think you should watch it, but this much I do want to share. Christina did not have an easy life. Anything but. Time after time, she experienced pain, loss, hurt, and disappointment. And time after time the movie shows her walking into church, lighting a candle, and talking to God. She was honest about her pain, her doubts, and whether she could even follow him. But she did not walk away. In her honesty, she continued to go and look for God, and she continued to talk to him. In fact one of the last lines in the movie was…

“She still talks to God…”

And this made me stop and think, maybe the most incredible act of faith is not the kind which moves mountains, or raises the dead. Maybe it is simply the kind that will come back, time after time and talk to God, sharing each hurt and disappointment.

“Though He slay me, yet will I hope in him;” Job 13:15

I saw God today, in faith.

“She still talks to God…”

What does faith look like for you today?