Ding dong the polar vortex is gone! Wicked old witch she was. It’s 28º outside right now and yesterday at church I actually heard people describing the weather as “balmy”. I won’t pull out my shorts quite yet (although a few people shopping at Target don’t share my opinion) but I will enjoy a few less layers when I run to the grocery store later. Cali keeps begging to go outside and I just noticed she was sitting on the driveway, eyes closed, facing the sun, taking full advantage of her brief 5 minutes of fresh air. I suppose a 60 degree swing in temperature over a week will do that!
This last week has been one of those where I was surrounded by extreme praises and extreme sorrows. One text message shares that a family member’s tests results came back cancer free, another message shares that close friends received unexpected health news about their unborn baby. It was a week where I was rejoicing in answered prayer requests one moment – a new job for a friends spouse, a successful egg retrieval for another, news of a potential birth mom considering a well-deserving family and then the coin flips. A job opportunity for my sister slips away. Hearing news of a friend’s miscarriage. Feeling helpless as I watch someone sink deeper into a depressive state.
I wrote in my journal a few days ago “There seems to be so much around me right now – things capable of praises and things capable of gut wrenching sorrow. Life just seems too cruel and painful some moments and others, filled with unimaginable joy. I was reminded today that that we will “never learn faith in comfortable surroundings”, yet to live life uncomfortable is so hard. It’s days like this where I am reminded that HE is the only one who can help. He is between us and our difficulties. He is the one fighting our battles. And above it all, He still reigns.”
Isaiah 43: 1b, 2 has been appearing EVERYWHERE for me this week. It has been on the cards I have picked up, random flyers, in multiple devotionals, and I am pretty sure Shia LaBeouf even hired a skywriter to etch it above my house. It reads:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
The word when stuck out to me. It doesn’t say if. It is inevitable that in this life, we will go through hard times. There is suffering on this earth because it is a broken world of sin. Even Jesus had to suffer through life-claiming trials. When. When we suffer, we will not drown. When we suffer, we will not be consumed by the flame. These trials may feel like they only happen to you. But while you struggle with infertility, someone else struggles with painful financial struggles. While you struggle with the declining health of someone you care about, someone else is struggling with a broken marriage. Everyone has their Thing. You are not alone in living life with a struggle simply because everyone else around you has a baby/is thin and healthy/has a flourishing marriage/has decent salaries/has that house you always wanted/etc.
Verse 5 continues by saying … Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
Even in the midst of the rain, the flood, the fires – even when we are walking through hard times, there He is in the midst of it. WITH us. Not ahead of us or trailing behind. But walking right alongside us. But sometimes He is silent. I have walked that path of silence before. The words prayed seem to fall on deaf ears and the void seems vast. It is a time in my life that I look back on as one of the most frustrating spiritually, because no matter how hard I tried, it seemed like nothing could get His attention. I walked through that period for nearly a year. I look back at it, almost 4 years ago now, and am so thankful for my persistence. It almost became a challenge. Lord, I am going to keep coming to you, even though I don’t feel your presence right now. Truth is, what other option did I have? I believed in Him with my entire heart, I KNEW He was real. I thought back to those moments in my life that can only be labeled as “God Moments”, and so with determination I continued to seek Him. I took the words of Romans 12:12 to heart – Don’t quit in hard times. Pray all the harder. And so I prayed. And journaled. And blasted worship tunes. Begged and pleaded. Some days it simply felt like I was going through the motions. But I will never forget that day in March when He whispered back “I am here. I never left you.” Looking back now, I can see that was so true. He kept pushing me, never letting me be consumed by the waves but also, not pulling me out of them either. And because of that, what was one of the most frustrating seasons of my life had one of the most beautiful endings, which made it all worth it. The growth over that year was immeasurable. The brokenness real, but the healing, overwhelmingly eternal.
He never leaves us.
He has never left us.
He will always be with us.
My encouragement to you today is press into Him. Continue persisting. When it seems like the waters may overwhelm you and the fire may consume you, keep faithfully crying out to Him. I promise you – He is not ignoring you. In fact, I am willing to bet my life on it.
With that said, I am excited to share with you the news of my first EVER Blog Giveaway! I find so much joy in spreading love to others and who better to bless than those who are faithful in caring for me and following along on our journey with us.
The giveaway includes many of my favorites: A journal, Jesus Calling and Jesus Today (hardcover), a box of one of my favorite herbal Starbucks teas, Burt’s Bees foot cream, EOS chapstick, a HOPE bracelet, a wooden GRACE decorative sign, a pair of lucky socks and a $10 Starbucks gift card. I am so excited to send this off to someone!
So how do you enter? It’s simple! Each of the below items you do will credit you with 1 entry for the drawing:
– Like the Instagram post with the photo announcement and comment on it.
– Share the Instagram post on your page. (If you do this and are listed as private,– simply comment here or on my IG page that you shared it with your followers. I believe in honesty!)
– Like this blog post through the blogger page you are reading it on.
– Comment on the blog.
– Like the Facebook post with the photo announcement.
– Comment on the Facebook post and make sure to say you want to be entered.
– Share my blog on your Facebook page, being sure to let me know about it if you don’t tag me. It doesn’t have to be this post – feel free to share any of the post in the past that you have liked.
– Share/Tag my blog on your blog and let your followers know about the giveaway as well.
– Share my blog on Pinterest. (If you do this, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know)
And YES! You can enter if I know you in real life or only through social media … everyone is welcome to enter!! I will be tallying all of the entries and will be doing the drawing on Wednesday the 22nd in the afternoon. Unfortunately I can only ship within the US and apologize to my overseas followers.
I’m excited! Cali is too. Good luck!