A Great Adventure

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Last weekend I hung out with some friends hiking up Mt. Rainier. I hadn’t been on a hike since last summer and I really wasn’t ready for the adventure that came with this one. It was probably the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on, climbing much higher than a thousand feet, but it was totally worth it. With hiking boots in hand, I joined my friends, catching up on life during our car ride towards the mountain.

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What a treat for me to be encouraged by our conversation, meeting new friends from their church and enjoying the beauty of the day. The mountain flowers were such a beautiful sight to see.

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For me, going up isn’t as difficult as coming down, but I was ready to embrace this adventure.

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The climb eventually had me beat. At one point I sat down because I kept thinking to myself

“How would I make it down over rocks and snow?”

This was definitely not what I had in mind when I had decided to come on the hike. I struggled a lot with whether to keep going and even attempted to try to climb up some rocks on my own, but by myself, I couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me. The belief that I could keep going was fading fast. It wasn’t until someone came back for me and encouraged me to try once more that I decided to keep going.

I was able to continue hiking up the mountain, through snow and over rocks. Someone else in the group offered their poles, a tremendous support going up and then coming down as well. Not only did I have the help of friends, but I was equipped with the right gear.

Life can be the same you know. I often think that my culture has influenced me to live independently for the sole purpose of not becoming a burden to anyone. But part of the adventure is living in dependence, not only on God, a loving Father who cares for us, His kids, who wants to help us journey through all parts of life, but with each other as well. Had I not chosen to trust that my friend’s heart towards me was for my good, I would have missed out on the glory of these beautiful sights:

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Here I am near the highest point we went, maybe a mile and a half from the trail head. I was tired and worn, but able to keep going.

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I can’t tell you how painful it was to hike down. At times it was so steep and I felt like my feet were going to fall off or that my knees would give out from under me. Sometimes life presents itself like this.

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The path is steep and full of turns. We don’t always see what’s coming at us. And then we get distracted following others instead of walking together, doing life in the company of those who see us as we are, treasures.

I keep thinking about these words from an old Steven Curtis Chapman song:

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild, blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure

I think there are many souls in our world who are overwhelmed at living in this place, at this time in history. They don’t know how important they are right now, acting out their role in the universe around them. The thought of taking one more step when the pain feels so incredibly unbearable just stops them, dead in their tracks.

Yet when someone comes along to take their hand, hold them up, carry their burden, the ability to keep going grows deeper inside us weary pilgrims.

Sometimes I find myself there, helping encourage the ones who can’t see how they’re gonna make. I don’t know that my words are as helpful as just being present for them. Sometimes I’m the one who wonders how I will take the next step. And I am definitely guilt of giving in and giving up on myself when it seems so difficult to keep going.

But how grateful I am for those who encouraged and won’t let me do life alone.

Proverbs 18:24
...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Who are those people you call friend?
Who are those who need to be reminded that they matter to the world around them?

I may not know all of these people well, but I do know that they cared about me, about my well-being. They took time to learn about me this weekend, offering acceptance towards me. And I, them.

These folks aren’t the only ones who make my heart so thankful that we don’t have to do life alone. There is always someone available to help. Sometimes it comes in unexpected and even in ways that are not easy to receive, but there is ALWAYS someone. My hope for you is the same for myself, that our eyes will be opened to see who those people are and then embrace relationship with them.

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Don’t Worry

I can’t sleep.

The rain is keeping me up when it should be soothing me with the rhythms of its down pour and I’ve already been to that place where I could have fallen asleep, but it came and went all too soon. So now I’m awake. Ugh.

This can’t be good because I have to be up early in the morning to attend Day One of a two day training. I think I’m stressed about heading back to school. What do you think?

Yeah, I think you’re right-I’m not ready to go back. Not yet at least. And honestly the thought of heading back into my classroom is a bit daunting. Not for any reason other than I’m fearful that all the great things that have happened this summer will be a memory rather than fulfillment of the answer to my heart’s cry that shouts “Take me deeper Lord Jesus!”

This summer has been one full of adventure with hopes renewed and my heart stirred for an even greater year ahead. There are changes coming in the next year, new teaching opportunities, a different set of routines and habits to support me as I walk the road to better health, and how easily I forget the things I’ve heard a lot in the past month or so:

The kingdom of God is in you. So whatever you need, it’s already there for you whenever you need it.

The enemy of your soul, your adversary, has already been destroyed.

God is for you so who can be against you.

Yet, I have allowed lies to crowd themselves into my mind:

There’s not enough time to do all of the things that need to get done.

The process to get where you want to be is taking too long. It’s slow and drawn out.

Most people don’t understand what you go through.

Sometimes it’s not lies, but the truth of my reality that I’m slammed with:

You are going to revert back to old habits and poor thinking because you haven’t spent the time necessary to get yourself organized. You will feel so overwhelmed when school starts because you didn’t do much when you had the time.

Ever wish you could find the OFF switch? Yeah, me too.

And this so ridiculous because I have no business thinking like this.

Philippians 4:6-8 says
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
“And God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things fix your minds on them.”

As difficult as it is at times, I know that this is where the battle in my mind is allowed to rage because I don’t do anything. I don’t respond, sometimes because I’m exhausted from lack of sleep-it’s an ugly cycle to get caught up in and I’m here again. “Why?” (she says with a fist in the air) Other times it’s because I’m lazy and don’t want to exert the energy it takes to remain vigilant-vigilant so that not I’m taken out by the enemy of my soul.

But it always comes back to this truth:

I have a choice to act. Whatever I do reveals what’s inside of me, the things I hold near and dear.

Right now this level of stress is telling me that I need more of the truth that God speaks about me in my heart. It’s obviously apparent that the well has run dry. So time for a fill-up.

I must remember and keep this close in my peripheral: the way that God thinks about me is good. It’s pure. It’s beautiful and kind and compassionate. And no matter what my actions are, He won’t ever change His mind about me.

How am I going to remember this and know it deeply inside of me?

By filling up with His truth.

By letting His words wash over me.

The peace that comes from knowing He is for me and on my side.

He is everyday working everything for good in my life.

And I’m not where I’m at by mistake. He’s placed me there for His purpose.

So I choose to stand in faith, believing He is greater in me than the one in the world whose only goal is to take me out. You see, I’m pretty powerful when I know and believe that I belong to the God of the universe. And I lack nothing. Absolutely. Nothing. At. All.

This has been a life verse for me over the past six months:

Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of The Lord forever.

Prayer Changes Things

Prayer changes things.

It changes my heart. It changes the hearts of others involved in my relationships. It’s like plugging in my juicer when I’m getting ready to combine all the really good fruits and vegetables God has blessed me with, to enjoy and take in so that my body can live to the fullest.

It moves God’s heart when we pray. Sometimes we pray for things to change because we’re hurting or disappointed or misunderstand what’s happening in the world around us. But if we are willing to respond to His heart, to act in obedience to what He says to do in the moment, in a split second, He is already answering our prayers. He is demonstrating to us that He hears, He listens, He cares about whatever we’re facing.

And is so, so, so very faithful to act on behalf of us, His kids. We are sons and daughters of a pretty incredible King. So we are princes, not paupers. We are Kings and Queens with a heritage that gives us access to anything we need. Our King has insurmountable riches-everything is His and comes from Him. And He says I’m allowed the access code. I have the complete package, the full meal deal. Am I right?

Thank You Lord for Your Goodness and Mercy that always go with me. Thank You for hearing my heart and responding to my prayer. You are amazing and there is no one, not ever, who comes close to comparison. I’m so grateful for how You lead and guide me, and how You are teaching me to trust You even more today than I did yesterday.

Lord, for anyone who reads this, I pray that as they cry out to You, that You would show them just how much You love them and how intently You are watching over them, hearing their prayers. Open their eyes to see You move and respond as they pray to see Your heart revealed in this life, here on earth.

God, You are so very good to us!
We love You!!!