When I am struggling I ask a lot of questions. I seek answers, because in my experience God usually sends one or two people into my path to speak the exact truth I need to hear. It can be in the form of a question, it can be a bold statement or subtle truth. I have learned to keep asking questions and wait for the answer to find me.
When I was younger my youth group at church would volunteer at a homeless shelter in the cities. The shelter is called, Sharing and Caring hands. It was started by an amazing woman who recently was honored by the pope. She is a devote Catholic and this was a huge honor for her. She has literally made a difference in thousands of lives. She offers hundreds of people a day with a warm meal, clothes, hair cuts, dentistry and she even has a temporary shelter to help folks get back on their feet.
We met Mary Jo briefly while we were there, she shared her own story of homelessness and being abused. She told us something that would stick with me forever. It would be the truth that would change the way I approach the world. She told us, “I realized I had a choice. I could get bitter or I could get better. I could build up or I could tear down”. She made a choice. My life was changed and I pray lives have eternally been changed through my effort to truly live this out in my own life.
During the time I lived in Colorado I worked at Camp Redcloud. While there I began to have flashbacks of being abused and at first I thought I was just imaging the things I was seeing and feeling. The more I tried to ignore it, the worse they got. After several months my boss stopped me and made me face all of the hurt and pain. It was truly a gift I am thankful for everyday. During this time of healing I was mentored by a woman I admire greatly. She would be another key person in my life God would use to mold my character and set my life on a course. Cindy Dozier told me, “To never let an encouraging moment go. If I think something positive and encouraging about someone, say it.” Oddly this has not always been easy to do, walking down the isle at Wal-Mart I will see a woman who looks beautiful and I wonder if I should tell her. The answer is usually yes, I need to speak up and say something. Sometimes it feels weird, but the responses I get are usually well worth the discomfort or awkwardness of speaking up to a stranger.
Summer at camp was usually our busiest season of the year and we used this opportunity to pour truth into our staff. One year our equestrian director, Becki Casey taught us to look for parables. What is a parable? It is a story used to teach a point. Jesus taught parables all of the time because it allowed his disciples to understand what he was teaching. Eleven years later I find myself continuing to look for the teachable moments around me. What is God wanting me to understand about his love for me? What is it God is wanting me to teach my kids or the world around me. I try to the best of my ability to not let a teachable moment go by. Owning a dog is a great teaching tool. It has given our kids a glimpse into what parenting is like for Mark and I. They experience the joys and excitement of dog owning, but they also experience frustration when they have to pick up her poop, when she doesn’t listen to their commands and chooses her own way. It has given them a greater respect for Mark and I’s role.
Another summer Becki worked with teaching us perspective. Am I looking at a situation in earthly terms or eternity terms? the answer will make a difference in how I tackle a situation. She gave us all different colored sunglasses and had us put them on. We all saw the mountains around us in a different color. Her point was in the moments when we are tired, frustrated and want to quite in the hard times are usually when God is doing the greatest work in our lives. We need to breathe, pray and trust God in his timing, watch and wait for him to move. From my experience of being a child of God, the fathers ways often look like madness and make absolutely no sense. You and those around you may second guess what He is asking you to do. You are not alone in this second guessing. Yet, Mark and I have learned over the years that trusting God’s madness or what looks like craziness can and will often time lead to blessings.
This last year Mark and I have been attempting to put into practice the things we have learned through the Ultimate Journey. They taught us how to be not only our own ally, but how to be our kids ally. “Help them process the world around them, give truthful answers to their many questions, and lastly give them a pattern for the future”. Every interaction we have with our kids, we strive for this to be our mantra. It helps us to remember to slow down and process life with them. If we don’t, they will fill their information holes with nine, seven and one year old information. Even more important to me is how they they emotionally process what is happening to them and around them.
When Mark had his accident and I was trying to process our life and the world around us a friend told me, “Love your family, because God shows up through love.” This was a huge affirmation to me, a word from the Lord to continue fighting for my family in the way I believe God is calling me to. When my life comes to an end, it is not the world, my clients or my family I will be accountable to. I will stand before the throne of God and I want to know I ran the race he set before me. I want to run fearlessly. In some ways I have pulled back from our business and in other ways it has been a matter of restructuring, both have come from a heart of doing what God has called me to do within our family.
God has shown up so many times in my life through the body of Christ. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ he uses to share his truth, give me encouragement and helps me to strive towards the direction he wants me to go. When I watch and listen, he is faithful to answer my questions and give me assurance.
What are the phrases of your life God has used to help you keep going in the moment you didn’t think you could go any further? I would love to hear them.