Heather asked me a very important question

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{by Heather Spring Gilion}

Here’s me and my friend Heather. I met her a couple of years ago at our church. When we learned that both of our names were Heather, we were instantly connected. EVERY Sunday when we see one another we do our little thing, “Hi, Heather.” “Hi, Heather.” And then we hug and giggle. I LOVE this girl!

At our women’s retreat she came over to me and asked me a very important question. With her hand propped on the back of my chair and the other playing with her hair, she stood tall and asked, “Does Dallas treat you like a lady?” With confidence I could answer, “Why, yes. Yes, he does!” I said, “Why do you ask?”

“Well, Charlie treats me like a lady.”

“And who’s Charlie? Your boyfriend?

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s good. How long have you been dating Charlie?”

“Ten years.”

“Wow, that is a LONG time, Heather! So, how does he treat you like a lady?” I asked.

“He opens the car door for me. He puts my seat belt on for me. When we’re walking into a building, he opens the doors for me.”

“Woah…woah… woah… HOLD ON! Charlie puts your seat belt on for you!?! Now, Dallas doesn’t do that for me!” I told her the next time I got in the car I was going to wait until he put my seat belt on for me. It sounded very flirtatious.

Here I am waiting!

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“If you love me, buckle me, buddy!” Ladies, it’s actually very romantical 😉

This little conversation has stuck with me. Here are some take-aways that I’m now sharing with you.

1. I’m thankful for Heather… and all the people that the Lord has allowed me to live life with. There is so much we can learn from one another! I need you. You even need me. We need one another.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10: 24 & 25

There is so much we can glean from one another. I love seeing our Creator’s creativity displayed through smiles and eyes and laughs and hugs and tears and hands. Don’t miss the moments of beauty all around you today! Ask God to give you eyes to see His handiwork displayed in the people that are all around you. Do you see how genius our God is? There is no one like Him! As cheesy as this sounds… you are you-nique! There is no one walking around on this entire planet that is just like you. Your fingerprints, your DNA, your soul is specific to you and only you! {Even if you are an identical twin… you are set apart and uniquely different.}

If you’re engaged in a conversation with me and I start smiling and you didn’t say anything funny, I’m not laughing at you, I promise! I’m enjoying moments of His reflection displayed through your adorableness. For you were made in the image of our God! And to see glimpses of His reflection is stunning and breathtaking. Scroll back to the top of this page… look at Heather! Aren’t her eyes glorious!?! And that smile! She’s always smiling, friends. She is generous with her hugs and hands them out like she’s the richest person on the planet. May we be so generous with our affection and our love toward one another!

The other take-away I gleaned from my convo with Heather:

2. Let your hubby buckle your buckle now and then. And offer to buckle his buckle. That’s sounding more like an innuendo than I’m meaning it to, but however you’re supposed to hear it, HEAR IT! May we find ways to serve and love our spouses in unexpected ways. Hey, wives! I’m speaking to YOU on the other side of the screen there: let’s love our husbands and treat them less like our employees or roommates and more like men that are loved and respected. May we strive to look for ways that send this message loud and clear. It’s so easy to get caught up in the tasks at hand and miss showing real love. I get that you’re busy! I’m busy. He’s busy. We’ll probably always be busy. But how do we weave love and respect through everything we do? In the way we speak, in how we go about marking tasks off our to-do lists, in how we talk to him on the phone, in how we delegate tasks, or how we partner and parent in our home, and how we respond when we’re tired or had a hard day or are on our beloved time of the month. {EEK!} It’s easy to be selfish. It takes work to be selfless. Oh the beautiful things that arise when we love with no strings attached! When we give a back rub without the promise of one in return. Oh to care MORE for another than you care about yourself. {Ouch! I’m stepping on my own toes, here!} It’s when I let the hugs linger and when I don’t rush to look away from his gaze, that I see… I see this human being that I’ve vowed to love and cherish, to be true to, to uplift and support, to frustrate and challenge (*wink* – God’s on a mission to make him more like himself, people… and He uses me!), and most importantly to respect and show selfless love as God has shown to me and equips me.

God, may You give me eyes to really SEE my man! May You show me how to love him the way You designed me to. May You continue to teach me how to speak his love language; how to pray for his heart, mind, and soul; and remind me to join him in the war for the purity of our home. Thank You for the grace that covers my failures as a wife, and the generous gift of Your very Spirit that leads me to even know how to love. For I can only offer love when I first understand Your love for me. May I serve him and accept the ways he serves me.

That’s all I’ve got today. I hope you’ve been encouraged today!

Buckle up! Loving one another is a bumpy ride!

 

 

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{Story6} I have a brain tumor

Through the month of March, we’ve had a guest series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There were personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you needed to hear! I know, I know, it’s April… but I have another ONE!

This series has been too much fun! We can’t stop… we won’t stop… (Eek! I’m sounding like Miley Cyrus.) I (Heather) can’t wait for you to meet Preston! He’s the first male appearing on our blog! {insert applause machine.} Psh—this blog’s not just for females anyway. I’m so thankful he agreed to share some of his journey with you. I met Preston years and years ago when he was hired as the photographer at the university where I was employed. He is so personable and joyful! Once you’ve met Preston, you won’t forget him! So nine years later, when our paths crossed again, I was ecstatic to learn that he and his wife were becoming a part of our Lifepoint Church family.

When I was praying about who should share in our series, his name kept coming to mind. The first five stories in our series were stories where each person shared things from their past—hard things—but they made it to the other side—up the mountain—so to speak. Preston is not necessarily on the “other side,” he’s walking THROUGH it! He and his wife, Traci, have been beautiful examples to me of worshiping Jesus even when circumstances are hard.

We’re praying that this will encourage those who may be in the valley walking… or maybe crawling… through it.

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I have a brain tumor

by Preston Dial

I have a brain tumor. Gets your attention, doesn’t it? It certainly got my attention when I found out in late 2004. My wife, Traci, and I had been married for 4 years and everything was headed in the right direction. We were happily married, attending a wonderful church. We had good friends, a nice home, good jobs, 401ks and a good financial plan for the future. We were on the road to reaching that American dream! I can remember thinking: “God has certainly blessed me.”

That leads up to the big day that changed everything. Some would say for the worse, and honestly, there were times that I felt that way as well.

At the time, I had a successful and well-respected wedding and portrait photography business. I was at my home office, and as I was talking on the phone with my brother-in-law, Alec, my left arm that was holding the phone to my ear suddenly straightened out without me telling it to do so! All I remember at that point was saying to Alec, “I think I’m having a stroke.” Then what felt like a heavy black veil, pulled over my eyes. I had lost all sense of time and can remember when Traci found me I kept looking at her in a fuzzy way. An ambulance escorted me to the ER. A CAT scan showed a golf-ball sized mass in my brain. My surgeon was able to remove 99% of it and I was left with only minor deficits.

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During the time in the hospital, we were visited by more friends and family than I can remember. We were also so blessed by the huge outpouring of love and prayers from people we didn’t even know.

After the surgery, I did have some issues with my fine motor skills on my left side. In fact, when we followed up with my surgeon a few weeks later, he was relieved to see that I was able to squeeze his fingers, because there was a strong possibility of paralysis on my left side due to the location of the tumor.

After the dust settled from surgery and the medical bills started coming in, we realized my insurance was inadequate. A large portion of the medical bills would have to come from our own pockets! We emptied out our 401ks and had no idea where the rest would come from. In addition, I was now considered uninsurable.

The oncologist informed us that the mass was a rare non-cancerous tumor and that the typical survival time was 10 years. The next course of action was thirty-five radiation treatments.

Radiation is a very strange thing. You can’t feel it entering your body at all, however, it is certainly affecting you. I remember as they bolted my shoulders and head to the table with a hard plastic mesh thing so I would not move, I said, “Ok, God, here we go.” I had so many thoughts running through my head as I lay still on that radiation table.

After the first month of treatments my hair started falling out. So I just started shaving my head every day—and still do (which is okay, I’ve been told that I look good bald.) A few weeks later I started to feel the negative effects of the radiation. I was treated with was a small beam of high-intensity radiation. This was shot at me from several angles. The beam goes all the way through and out the other side of my head. The theory is that tumor cells are not as resilient as normal healthy cells and although the healthy cells are receiving the same amount of radiation, the healthy cell will rebuild and the tumor cells will not. Sounds good in theory, but it can really mess you up until your healthy cells can regenerate. In addition, the radiation can give you a major sun burn and that’s exactly what I got. It was some kind of radiation poisoning. It first started on my head and then moved to my face. It was excruciatingly painful. It also itched horribly. The overall experience was so bad that one night, Traci woke up and found me in the kitchen just standing there in complete anguish because I did not know what to do to make the itching and burning go away. She ended up taking me to the emergency room where I was treated.

Life moved on. I was able to get back to work with my photography business. And in just a few more months we were expecting our first child.

We were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We had been able to set up affordable payments with the hospital and I had secured adequate insurance through the Missouri Health Pool. I had some minor issues with my fine motor skills, but I was so thankful that it was not worse. With the exception of our 3-month routine MRIs, our life was back to normal.

When you go through a life-threatening event, you start to look at life differently. You realize how fragile and short life really is. You also quickly learn it’s not the material things that are important, but the relationships with people in your life. Of course, as a Christian, I saw how God could use my experience to witness to others who needed encouragement.

Even though my tumor had been 99% removed, there was a strong chance that it would rear its ugly head back into our lives again. Two kids and almost five years later, the tumor returned. This time there were new chemotherapy drugs available, so in the spring of 2009, I started chemo.

During that following 6 months, I still ran my business. That whole summer wedding season was a blur. I was constantly exhausted and in survival mode.

I was stable for almost 6 months and then a MRI showed more growth. We really started to feel the stress and burden of how my health was affecting our lives. Another year of stronger chemo was suggested. I knew that there was no way that I could operate my studio while going through more chemo. After much prayer and council, we decided I would have to shut down the studio. This was really hard for me.

I began a new job selling timeshares in Branson. It went really well and things seemed to be headed in the right direction. I loved my job, the people I worked with and the families I got to meet. I was typically home by 3 p.m. so the hours were not long. It all seemed like such an answer to prayer.

This chemo round was much harder and affected me very differently, I started getting very weak and shaky; you could even hear it in my voice. I would get sick in the morning and middle of the night, I also started to get neuropathy in my fingers and toes (numbness and pins and needles). I was amazed at how God kept my spirits up and still used me. But ultimately, my sales started to drop and in November of 2010, I was let go.

For the first time in my married life, I had no idea how I would support my family. At this point we were almost completely broke. I was so sick from the chemo, and confused about why God had opened this door and then did not bless me in the way I thought He would. This was one of the lowest points of my life. We were totally reliant on God’s provision.

And God provided.

Not in the way we expected. But He provided. He provided everything we needed through family and Christian brothers and sisters. It was overwhelming. It was humbling. It was a great time of learning and leaning. A friend in the local wedding industry planned a fundraiser for my family and raised enough money for our living expenses for 6 months! We would get random calls from our church to let us know that there had been an anonymous envelope dropped by the office with our names on it. We would open the envelopes to find several hundreds of dollars in them. Another day would come with a call from a friend whose wife’s workplace wanted to give our kids a great Christmas. They delivered several toys and other gifts to our house. It was an amazing blessing. On one hand it was humiliating, but on the other, God allowed us to witness firsthand how He provides by using others to meet our needs.

I was approved for disability and Traci, after staying at home since the kids were born, went back to work. This was not “our plan” of how we wanted to raise our family and this is not how we expected God to provide. It was not our preferred way, but this is how He has provided for us.

I have exhausted my radiation and chemo options and we have decided to pursue more natural options. As it stands now, I am tentatively scheduled for another surgery in early May pending the results of my next MRI.

Having to deal with this tumor for the last 10 years has certainly changed our lives. I can honestly say that it has brought me closer to my saving God, family and friends. It has been full of many uphill battles but also too many joys to count. I can bear witness that God has sustained me and my family. However, it is over the last few years I feel God has used me the most. He has given me a great peace that no matter what happens to me, everything will be taken care of and this has allowed me to be a witness to so many others.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3

Praise be to my great God in Heaven!

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The Dial family: Preston and Traci along with their children, Emma and Max

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Join with us as we pray for complete healing for Preston! God is able!

If you are new to this blog, follow Holly and Heather by clicking the “follow” button at the top of the screen!

Read up on their story: here!

And read why they wrote Dancing On My Ashes.

If you want to know more about who God is go here!
I hope you’ve been encouraged today!

{Story5} A Journey to Adoption: “I would not change a thing”

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There are personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear!

I (Heather) am about to introduce you to someone very, very special. She is not only my pastor’s wife—but my friend. She is one of those women in my life that I love watching. She makes serving and loving her husband, her children, and her church family, look easy peasy. She’s probably the first face you’d see greet you if you were to visit Lifepoint; with her welcoming smile and sweet southern accent, she invites you into the family. This lady juggles a great deal with ease and smiles as she strives to abide in Christ. I joke with her that on days I have too much to do, I whisper to myself “What would Christin Harrison do?” {So, for all you momma’s with growing “To do” lists, the “WWCHD?” bracelets will be made available soon! heehee}

Maybe I’ll have her share some of her organizational secrets in another post… but for now, you’ve got to hear a piece of her journey that led she and her husband, Lane, to adoption.

So, have you ever wondered what it would be like to write a letter to your past self? What advice would you offer? I asked Christin what she would tell her 20-year-old self about the journey “past-Christin” was about to embark on. I know this will encourage hearts… and maybe, just maybe, cause you to write your own letter. What would you say?

Here’s Christin’s letter…

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Dear Christin,

So you are about to get married. You have so many exciting days ahead as you look towards your future and all that the Lord has in store for you and Lane. You may think the future is going to be easy, fun, romantic, full of wonderful adventures… and at some points in the journey, it will be. But oh how the Lord has an adventure set before you that you can’t even begin to imagine.

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On your journey, you are going to experience your first hardship even before your wedding can happen. At a routine doctor’s appointment, you are going to find out that you have two eight-pound tumors inside that have to come out immediately. But this surgery will not be your last. Five more will come your way during the first seven years of being married, which will even result in a hysterectomy at the young age of 28. It is going to hard. Painful. You will think that you can’t endure the pain your body goes through, the emotional toil that it takes on your spirit, and the sadness that seems to take root in your soul. But you know what? You will endure—the Lord will give you His strength. You will grow in your walk with the Lord during these years. The weeks, even months, of quiet recovery will be times of growth in your love for Jesus. The Lord will be your Great Physician and you will learn to trust Him with your health. Your marriage will be strengthened from the very beginning when you are just newlyweds. You will learn that Lane loves you unconditionally—no matter what—and those years will be what build the foundation that keeps your marriage strong in the future.

During these same years, you and Lane will be praying and planning to have a family. Doctors will tell you that there is a chance to conceive a baby with the small, one-third ovary that you have left before, but eventually, that has to come out too. Those months of hoping that you will find a positive sign on a pregnancy test will come and go and the disappointment will be there with each negative found. But over time, the Lord is going to do something in your heart. You and Lane will feel the Lord leading you to adopt…EVEN while it may physically be possible to get pregnant. That fact alone will shock many people. They will wonder why you would abandon your desire to get pregnant. That desire will not leave, but instead, your desire to be a mom to a child that is already somewhere in this world will be greater than the desire to wear maternity clothes. You will gladly exchange those maternity clothes for traveling clothes and trade the big belly for a big three-ring binder of adoption paperwork.

You know those children of whom you have always dreamed? They are going to come from two different parts of the world! You, Christin, the girl who loves to be home and is not a big fan of risks, are going to board a plane and travel to Russia to become a mom for the first time. You will be scared. You will wonder if this child will love you. You will wonder if you will have a “motherly instinct” without giving birth to this child. And in one split second, at the very moment you see and hold your baby for the first time, these fears will vanish. Instantly. This little blonde haired, green eyed, malnourished, eight pound, six-month-old little boy will change you forever. You will no longer wonder what it is like to be a mom. You will now know that there is nothing like it. This boy will be kind, tenderhearted, love you and all his family, and be filled with a desire to learn about everything. But most of all, he will love Jesus and serve Him and others faithfully.

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The day will come again for you to become a mom for the second time. This will be the result of many prayers. Not only those prayed by you and Lane, but also by your precious two-year-old son who wants to have a sister.  He will pray faithfully for her. The Lord is going to answer those prayers and be the Provider of all the details involved in this adoption as well. Once again, you will board a plane for yet another country, this time to the country of Guatemala. It is there that you will meet your princess! The moment you see her, your heart will overflow with love. That motherly instinct that you no longer worry about, will abound for this precious child. Just like her brother, this curly, brown haired, brown eyed, petite, six-month-old little girl will transform you. This little one will be caring, filled with love for people, and will want every day to be a party! And like her brother, she will love Jesus from an early age, which will enable her to love others even more than she loves herself.

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So, dear Christin, when the road that you travel gets tough, don’t lose hope! The Lord is in control of your life. Just release your grip on anything else but Him. At times, it will be hard and you will want to change His plan—or even give up! But the Lord will be faithful. Trust Him. His desires for you will become your desires. He will take your worries, your sadness, even the pain, and turn it into complete joy. You will wonder if it will all be worth it. Looking back, in complete confidence, I say, “YES!” I would not change a thing—nothing. Nothing. Just like Isaiah 55:8-9 says, ’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ (ESV) That is the truth. His ways and His plans are far better than anything we could ever conjure up.

Love,
Christin

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If you are new to this blog, follow Holly and Heather by clicking the “follow” button at the top of the screen!

Read up on their story: here!

And read why they wrote Dancing On My Ashes.

If you want to know more about who God is go here!
I hope you’ve been encouraged today!

 

 

{Story4} My Marriage Was Over

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There are personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear!

I (Heather) can’t wait for you to hear from my precious friend, Karla Parker! I have watched God totally win her heart through and through! Her empathy for others is truly one of my favorite things about her. She walked through a very dark and uncertain time in her life. I remember vividly one Sunday seeing her in the congregation worshiping. Tears were streaming down her cheeks as she sang,

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save

She knew her God and her God alone was the only One that could move the mountain that stood in front of her. I’m going to let her tell you her story.

My Marriage Was Over

by Karla Parker

My world came crashing down on a November night. I remember the moment so clearly. I was sitting in our living room eating when my husband told me he wanted a divorce. He was done. FINISHED. He was tired of never being good enough and he was tired of the endless fighting. He felt like he had failed at being the husband I “wanted” and “needed.” Marriage wasn’t fun anymore. We fought more than we laughed and we were basically living separate lives—not much more than roommates. So he decided to listen to the advice (a.k.a. threats) I’d shouted time and time again, “Just leave!” or “Let’s just get a divorce!” He’d had enough and his cold, angry and hurtful demeanor made me realize this was for real.

I instantly begged and pleaded with him for us to get help first! But it was too late. The damage had been done. And his mind was made up. Even though I hated what our marriage had become, this was not the way I wanted it to end after six years. I did love him. I did. He told me he’d stay with family until he could figure things out. Minutes later he was gone. He left—and I—I fell apart.

Over the next few weeks and months, my journey to wholeness slowly began. We had no contact. None. (Except for me, early on, begging for us to get help, which in return his response was “leave me alone!!!”) It was right before Thanksgiving and then our anniversary came, then Christmas…. New Years… my heart was breaking. I had no idea that I would be waiting eight months before I would hear from him.

I was a Christian. So was Terry. No one stands at the altar, and vows “’til death do us part” and believes they will one day willingly sign papers to break their promise. We had meant what we said, but here we were. It was over. His empty side of the bed was a cold reminder that something had gone terribly wrong.

During that time, God broke me. But it was in the wrecking that God began His gift of healing.  He opened my eyes to so many things. He gave me a love for my husband and a longing for God like I had never known before. I was immediately brokenhearted for how I had treated Terry. It was so painful as I recalled how I had used my words so many times as daggers just trying to get his attention.

I was grieving the loss of my marriage and of him. I felt like he had died.

My pride was shattered too. Here I was working at a Christian university at the time, attending an amazing church, with many close friends but NO.ONE.KNEW. We should have our acts together, right? Now EVERYBODY KNEW. I made a choice to become real with God, with friends, and with family during this time. Life became so freeing as the weight of hiding lifted. I still did not want a divorce but my new heart change was too late.

God began to show me that my faith hadn’t been in Him—it had been in Terry. Terry had been my God. Because Terry is not God, he couldn’t live up to who I thought he should be. And because my hope was in the wrong place, no matter how badly I tried to control and manipulate Terry, he never measured up to my expectations. And anger would erupt. I had no patience or grace. I was left frustrated that he couldn’t complete me. I began to let Christ fulfill my life again.

The silence from Terry was deafening. I missed him deeply. But as I pressed into knowing God more, I grew confident that God had a plan through this and I had to trust Him. I sure had screwed things up, but in Christ there is grace upon grace. I was learning to forgive… even myself.

I began to pray. People I didn’t even know were praying. I prayed that God would change Terry’s heart towards me. God became my first love again. I began to praise Him and thank Him for all He had done even though my circumstances hadn’t changed and even though it still hurt. He used others to encourage me. Over the months I had multiple moments I like to call “God Moments” where it was confirmed time and time again that I was to “wait upon the Lord.” To me that meant doing nothing but seeking to be closer to God in everything I did and then praying for Terry and our marriage to be healed. I knew God had joined us together and I knew the only way God would heal us was through prayer and a miracle. I didn’t know if a miracle would happen, I just knew God told me to wait. Exodus 14:14 is one of my favorite verses. It says, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” Still means to wait. I waited and waited and waited.  (And I hate waiting!)

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Notecards filled with Scripture verse on them that Karla clung to.

I can’t say that I was perfect over those eight months of waiting. It was a roller coaster of emotions. My mind played with me. I distanced myself from mutual friends because it hurt knowing that they had contact with him and I didn’t. I hurt others when I let fear rise up. I questioned if I had really heard from God? In some moments I knew I’d be okay and I experienced amazing peace, but in other moments I was just so sad. Well-meaning people offered me advice; they couldn’t understand why I would wait. They didn’t understand this confidence I had in what God had shown me.

When I took my mind off Jesus, I was so confused. Why am I waiting? I need to move on! Towards the end of month six or seven, I started to give up the hope that we would reconcile. I decided to take off my wedding ring. Meanwhile, as I was letting go of my marriage, God was working in Terry’s heart. I was unaware of all the “God moments” that were happening on his end.

Out of the blue, Terry called me and wanted to meet but he would not tell me why. It had been 8 months. We met with our counselor for the first time since we had separated. I couldn’t believe it, but Terry wanted to fight for our marriage—he wanted to fight for ME! He told me everything he had felt over the last year, everything he had went through, but most importantly, he asked for my forgiveness for leaving. He wasn’t angry anymore. He admitted his failures too that led up to the separation. He took full responsibility for how his actions affected mine in our marriage. Although it was a hard moment, it was an amazing moment. I was watching my miracle take place. I was witnessing first hand God’s redeeming work in place. Emerging from despair was a picture of love and forgiveness. We had a lot of work to do. But we were fighting for one another, not with one another!

Terry and Karla on their "first" date... back together, September, 2, 2011.

Terry and Karla on their “first” date… back together, September, 2, 2011.

We learned and are learning how to communicate, how to give grace, and we have begun to pray together. We had to start trusting one another again. It has taken time but God has healed us completely! Almost a year to the day he moved back in. We have now celebrated almost two and a half years of our “NEW marriage!” I don’t know why God chose to heal our marriage the way He did, but He did! And we feel very blessed. I know many marriages have not turned out this way. Some of my closest friends went through heartache that ended in divorce but I know God has done and can still do great things through those situations too. That’s just what He does.

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Lastly, this video that my friend Heather (writer of this blog) made with Kanakuk Kamps sums up everything that happened in my heart. I remember watching this when things were hard. I remember thinking this season would never end. He truly changed me. I’m not perfect, we are not perfect, Christians are not perfect—and we don’t have to be. That’s why it’s called grace—a gift, not because we’re good enough but because HE’S good enough. We are all on a journey and God used this detour as a way to show us more about Himself. In the end, it was the best thing that could ever have happened for our marriage. God makes all things new.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. {Isaiah 43:19}

Here’s the VIDEO: YOU MAKE ALL THINGS NEW

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If you are new to this blog, follow Holly and Heather by clicking the “follow” button at the top of the screen! Read up on their story: here!

And read why they wrote Dancing On My Ashes.

If you want to know more about who God is go here!
I hope you’ve been encouraged today!

{Story3} A Journey of Forgiveness

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There are personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear!

Holly and I (Heather) are thrilled to share this next story with you! We’ve known Julie for a long time. She was our pastor’s wife for a good part of our growing up years. We even watched her little girls on occasion. {Now I’m feeling old!}

When we began to line up who would share during our “story” series, I couldn’t get Julie off my mind. Her example of forgiving like Christ has wrecked me over the years. Our family has experienced her genuine love and grace first hand. And for us, to have her share, is one of those full-circle moments.

We hadn’t seen Julie for years when the three of us connected once again as we taught at the same women’s retreat. {By the way, if you are looking for a speaker, she’s your gal! Her contact info will be at the bottom.}

This post is beautiful through and through. There is SO much more to her story. So much more! She’s in the process of writing a book and we’ll let you know when it’s out! YAY! But for today, I’ve asked her to share with us what she’s learned about forgiveness…

THIS IS POWERFUL….

A JOURNEY OF FORGIVENESS

by Julie Davenport

What do I know about forgiveness?

Enough to know that it isn’t easy. Enough to know that forgiveness is a process – one that in many ways, I go through each day.

And I know what it’s not.

Like many, I was taught the importance of forgiveness. It was a principle that wasn’t all that difficult, as long as I was in the loving home of my childhood. But as an adult, I have had more reasons to forgive and more years to face its challenges.

When it comes to forgiveness, I’ve lived it, accepted it, given it, and possibly messed it up.  Let’s just say I bought the t-shirt and could write the book. 

It has been more than 30 years ago, but I will never forget the feeling I had when I first realized forgiveness would be a constant presence in my life. I’ll never forget where I was sitting. The way the air felt.

The feeling that the bottom had just dropped out of my world.

The knowledge that things would never be the same.stouts

My husband, the love of my life, the man that I saved myself for, the only man that I had ever known in the Biblical sense, had just told me he had “known” another woman. Not just any woman. A close friend.

He cried. He was SO sorry. He begged my forgiveness.

God did a healing in our marriage.

I did not believe in divorce. I did, however, believe in forgiveness. He promised it would never happen again. He told me that if I really had forgiven him, I would not talk about it or bring it up.

Yet it did happen again a few years later. He begged my forgiveness again. By then, we had a precious baby girl. We were pastors of a large church. He begged me not to tell.

We went to six months of marriage counseling which resulted in a promise from him that it would never happen again—and a promise from me that if it did, I would leave. We stayed together and had another precious baby girl.

God did another healing in our marriage.

Two years later, he confessed to me that he had been involved in three additional affairs over the period of one year. Once again he begged my forgiveness and wanted to stay together and work it out.

This was more than 20 years ago, but I will never forget the feeling I had. Where I was sitting. The way the air felt.

Something inside me broke. I was done. Done covering up. Done having my heart torn to shreds.

We went through a difficult divorce and years of drama and pain.

So you may ask, what do I know about forgiveness?

{1}    I know that forgiveness is not sweeping issues under the carpet.  Secrets cause sickness.  If not dealt with and brought out into the light, they will continue and grow in the dark.

{2}    I know that forgiveness is not feeling like someone owes you or needs to pay you back for how they have wronged you. For years I said that I had forgiven, I gave testimonies about how I had forgiven. However, deep in my heart I was still waiting for the day that my husband would pay me back for all he had stolen from my life.  I know now that it is not until we release a person from “owing us” that we can completely forgive them.

{3}    I know that the main reason we need to forgive is because Christ forgave us.  Forgiveness does not make any sense unless you first realize that you are a forgiven person.

We cannot balance the scales.  Forgiveness means the scales are forever out of balance.  It means that one person is always going to owe a debt.  It’s only when we can forgive the debt that we can heal.

It was only six years ago, when we had both remarried and re-established our lives, when a deep healing came.

As in the other life-altering moments, I will never forget the feeling I had.  Where I was sitting. The way the air felt.

I was sitting on the front porch with my first husband, after he had visited our daughters.  I shared with him that even though I had made the intellectual decision to forgive him years ago, that it was only recently that I felt I had emotionally forgiven him.

I told him he did not owe me anything. I wanted him to know that I released him to be happy and free in his life.  He in turn asked my forgiveness, and this time there was such a feeling of peace. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed us to have this conversation, because he tragically died two months later.

What do I know about forgiveness?

I know that forgiveness allows you to put the pain and hurt behind you, release it, and move beyond the hurt and heal. With all that we have been forgiven in our own lives, how can we not offer forgiveness, love and mercy to those around us?

Julie and her family today!

Julie and her family today!

Publishing rights retained by Julie Davenport.  Permission given for one time publication on Dancing On My Ashes blog (March 2014). This article is not to be republished in any other format without express permission.

To contact Julie for speaking engagements (and you’ll want to… she’s witty and kind and deep and funny and warm and all about Jesus):

Facebook:  Julie Perkin Stout Davenport
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I hope you’ve been encouraged today!

{Story2} Burying your baby

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There are personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear!

The story you are about to read is incredible! I (Heather) met Sarah a little over a year ago. You know how sometimes you meet someone and your friendship takes off? That’s what happened with us—a deep friendship emerged so effortlessly. I have no doubt, God had our paths collide. [Not only are we friends, but we also have a side business together called Story Designs {by S & H} – after you’re done reading… check out the pretty things we make!]

I can’t wait for you to hear from her! I’ve been praying for THIS MOMENT since she first shared some of her journey with me over coffee! Our kids were off destroying the play room as we were wiping tears and smiling over God’s fierce love for us. I KNOW this is going to bless your socks off!

I’m happy to introduce you to Sarah…

♥♥♥♥

by Sarah Lombardi

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him,
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
O for Grace to trust him more

I have been singing that song all my life, but it wasn’t until this year that I began to understand the joy and fullness of putting my complete trust in Him.

Five years ago, on March 29th, I went into labor with our second child. We were very excited about welcoming our baby BOY into the family! Earlier that week the doctor told me it could be any day. I was 37 weeks and full term! We gathered our bags and headed to the hospital. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of fear as we drove in. I prayed silently for peace, and as I prayed, it was like I already knew.

Shortly after we arrived, the nurses got me in a room and started hooking me up to monitors. The nurse could see that I was having close contractions, but she was having trouble finding baby. I continued to pray. After what felt like an eternity, she called in the doctor to do an ultrasound. The on-call doctor wheeled in the sonogram machine and placed it right on Miles. It was very clear—Miles had his hands raised and was still. No heartbeat. Just still. The doctor said, “You see this,” pointing to the screen. “This is his heart and its not beating.”

My world… our world… came crashing down.

Tears came.

All I could do was weep.

My husband and I held one another and wept.

After my surgery they brought in Miles Daniel for me to hold. He was in a bassinet, wrapped in a blanket. They had dressed him in a little hat and a zip-up sleeper. He was perfect. Just beautiful. Miles weighed exactly 4 pounds, so he was little, but oh so perfect. I held him and cried. I just starred at him “asleep” in my arms. I took in every detail because I didn’t want this moment to end.

Baby Miles

Baby Miles

After the funeral and all the family had gone, it seemed like life had to move forward… but I wasn’t ready to move forward. I prayed day and night, “Lord give me faith to trust this is Your will in my life.”

It’s been a process. It’s been a fight. Grieving takes a toll on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But as seconds turned into hours, and hours to days, and days to months, and now months to years; through it all the Lord has shown me (and continues to show me) how much HE loves US.

Every step of this journey He. Has. Loved. ME!

HE loved this broken momma who had lost ALL of her joy in the Lord.

HE loved this sad wife who became a negative and selfish spouse.

HE loved me and extravagantly poured His love into my heart—healing me bit by bit.

He showed His love through our family, our church family and friends. He took a mother with a broken heart and made her into a mother with a prayerful heart. The Lord has given me a compassion for the hurting, the weary, and the brokenhearted. He has mended our marriage—taking two hurting, selfish people, and showing us how to live and thrive inside a Christ centered, loving marriage.

These five years have been full of tears, but we have begun to see His beauty rising from our ashes. He brought JOY back into my heart and a song:

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take him at his word
Just to rest upon his promise
Just to know thus saith The Lord

I realized how sweet it truly is to put my trust in Him and to believe what His Word tells me. Not just to hear it—but BELIEVE it! Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.’” I began to put my trust back in Him—my Lord, my Savior! I gave Him my whole heart and my life that was broken and bruised… He has healed it!

Exactly two years after we lost Miles Daniel, the Lord blessed us with our third child—our son, Jones Abraham. Jones was born premature at barely 31 weeks. The Lord knew. He knit him together and knew exactly the day he would be born.

Sarah and Baby Jones

Sarah and Baby Jones

I held my precious, Jones, on the EXACT day we lost Miles, two years earlier. “The Lord gives and takes away…” {Job 1:21}

After naming Jones we found out the meaning of his name: “Jehovah has shown favor.”

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. {Psalm 30:5}

We have questions without answers. There are days that I imagine the five of us sitting around the dinner table. I wonder what Miles’s laugh would sound like or how his arms would feel around me. There will be a day that I experience his giggles and his hugs, but until then, the arms of Christ envelop me. His arms are big enough, strong enough, and firm enough to strengthen this momma for the road ahead. He alone holds me together.

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On this road of suffering, I have learned to trust Him. Simply trust. His ways are greater and far better for me! It has been five years and THIS week we will place a stone at Miles’s grave. This year has been a year of freedom and of letting go of heartache. I am ready. WE are ready! “Lord, I trust you!” This stone isn’t for Miles—he is with our Savior! I imagine him dancing along the shore, hand in hand with Jesus! This stone is for mom and dad. We are placing this stone as a reminder: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!

I will forever sing:

I’m so glad I learned to trust thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, friend.
And I know that thou art with me
Will be with me to the end.

♦♦♦♦♦

If you are new to this blog, check out our STORY and how God taught us about rising from our ashes—not to merely survive, but to dance!

Go here to learn more about the book: Dancing On My Ashes.

If you have questions about God or how you can come to know Him—go here!

Feel free to subscribe to our blog, we’d love for you to stop by again and again!

{Story1} What God said to me about my eating disorder

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There’s personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear! I know, I know, it’s still a few days before March, but I can’t wait to get started!

I (Heather) want to introduce you to someone that’s incredibly precious to me. I met her when she was 15 years old (11 years ago!) I had been invited to her church for the weekend, to be among various teachers with the purpose of pouring into a group of teen girls for 3 days. I instantly was drawn to this young lady. We stayed in contact and as the years grew, so did our friendship. It began as mentor/mentee and now I call her friend. Jess loves Jesus. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve always loved seeing Him through her eyes, but for so long these glimpses of beauty would flicker in and out as I could see a sadness roll in. She was trapped. She wanted to be strong enough to kick her battle with an eating disorder. But she wasn’t.

I’m excited for her to share some of her journey with you today. I’ve been on the sideline, as I’ve witnessed this war raging to ruin her. I’ve watched as she’s blossomed into a strong, independent, expressive, and brave young woman. AND… she’s a rapper! {After you read her story, watch her blow up the mic, yo!}

There’s so much I want to say, but I’m going to let HER tell you. So, without further ado… I introduce you to Jess Guemmer. This is Jess’ story of victory.

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by Jess Guemmer

On February 25, 2014, I celebrated one full year of freedom from an eating disorder. I can honestly say I never thought those words would come out of my mouth.

I am a Christian. Christians aren’t supposed to struggle with eating disorders are they? Isn’t that saying that He isn’t enough? That He isn’t all satisfying?

But the truth is, bondage is all I’ve known. For ten years, an eating disorder was my best friend. It was my fix, keeping my inner pain at a minimum. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I didn’t feel joy at all… I couldn’t—but I also didn’t hurt. The trade-off felt worth it. I was convinced that to walk a joy-less life was far better than dealing with the pain that was at the core of my soul.

After my husband and I moved to St. Louis in May 2012, we quickly got involved with a local church. We made friends: knowing others and being known. Those we were doing life with, began inquiring about us… about me, and it was soon brought to my attention that the way I had been living and wrestling, wasn’t normal, and I needed to seek help. After much resistance and the swallowing of my pride, I finally began therapy, initially treating my eating disorder.

I spent the next nine months doing some intense counseling, much of it geared towards my issues with food and addiction to exercise. However, as my time in counseling progressed, God revealed to me that this eating disorder wasn’t really the root issue. Like an onion, He began peeling back the layers of my heart, working towards the core of my self-protection and self-harm. It was a painful, but a healing journey as I walked through the darkest times of my life, to date.

I remember sitting in the middle of worship on February 20 of last year still wrestling with the Lord. Lots of healing had begun, but my ambivalence with God was still present. I had struggled for nine years to see the victory and freedom that God’s Word promised. I had spent countless days, weeks, and months trying to fix my issues, only to come out angrier on the other side. And in that moment, the word “surrender” flooded my mind.

SURRENDER

It seemed so cliché to me. I was a Christ-following-Bible-study-leading gal, who had shared the Gospel with others, who knew Scripture more than the average person! I knew all of the right answers, dang it! And… the fact was, I wanted to surrender. I just didn’t know how.

I told Him, “God, I want to surrender this, but what if I say that I surrender and nothing changes? Then what? I don’t trust You will come through.”

And God,

in His great love for me,

so gently welcomed my doubts and my lack of faith.

His voice, so powerfully responded, “Jess, You’re not scared to say you surrender because you don’t think I’ll come through; you’re scared to say you surrender because you know I WILL come through and then you will have to give up what you’ve been holding on to for so long.”

I felt like the breath was taken out of me in that moment. I felt frozen—found out. But His words ushered in such clarity. My hang-up wasn’t my mistrust in Jesus, it was my fear to un-clamp my hands and let go of my “friend,” my comfort, the pain-minimizer, the control… my sin.

beach-jess

Three days later, I was sitting on the shore of a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The vastness of the Atlantic Ocean and the noise of the water crashing into the shore caused my heart to race, as this euphoric feeling washed over me. The same dialogue began with the Lord about surrender. I echoed my same objections and doubts, and God, in His patience and persistence, responded yet again to His child.

I had a visual come to mind that day. I believe, surrender is a picture of one’s hands held out, offering everything to Jesus. But I had been living with one hand held out to Jesus, wanting to follow Him, and one hand held behind my back, still wanting to do life my way.

That day, on February 25, 2013, I sat on the shore of the Atlantic, held both of my hands out to Jesus and said, “Here I am.” I let the waves wash over me and asked God to make me new. I remember saying that I had no idea what my life would look like from that moment on, but I wasn’t going to hang on to my false sense of control anymore. I wanted God to take the reigns… and He did.

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One year later, I celebrated with my closest friends and my husband. God has done as He promised.

He reached into the pit and pulled me out.

He has loosened the grip that I had with an eating disorder.

He is redefining my perception of myself.

He is giving me balance and victory with food and exercise.

And… He has given me life.

I stand today as a conqueror. I still fight the battle, but my trust in Jesus has grown. I am no longer a slave to sin!

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3

Running with my best friend

by Heather Spring {Gilion}

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It’s been a cold winter, but today… TODAY… was a balmy 49 degrees! The sun showed it’s face from time to time, and even though there are still traces of snow, I laced up my shoes for a good old, Valentine’s Day run!

I ran.

I worshiped.

I talked to God.

He talked to me.

I told Him that I loved Him… so very desperately loved Him.

I was running with my best friend. The lover of my soul. The One that knit me together in my mother’s womb. The One that knew my name before my parents chose to write it on my birth certificate. The One who knows my thoughts and still loves me. The One who cares enough to correct and discipline my sometimes know-it-all, rebellious heart. The One that will never leave me. The voice I know intimately, yet the face I’ve yet to see.

Today, I’m thankful for a date on the calendar that love rises to the forefront. Where “I love you” leaves our lips and acts of love come in the form of sweet treats and paper hearts. I’m thankful that God is love and because of this, I know how to love… to really love. Could I have a good marriage outside of the love of Christ? I probably could. Would it be as deep and satisfying? Nope. It’s because my God first loved me that I understand a smidgin of what it means to love others. Would I love my children outside of grasping and beholding the gospel? I would, but it wouldn’t be nearly as deep as it is to love with God loving through me.

So… just wanted to take a moment and say, “Happy Valentine’s Day. You are loved…unconditionally. You are treasured. You have not been forgotten. You are in His thoughts today.” If you knew how much He loves you and how much He wants to say to you, you’d go for a walk with Him too. I think you should. I think I might get off of here so I can talk to Him again.

Why not steal a few moments away with your first love? Close your eyes and set your mind and heart on things above. Let Him capture your heart once again. May we remember today and everyday that, “We love because He first loved us.” {1 John 4:19}

Are you praying for someone?

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by Heather Spring {Gilion}

I’ve heard some of the saddest stories lately. The kind of suffering that you can barely say aloud. I know it’s nothing new that people are hurting… but sometimes the tragic experiences of another leave me in a heap emotionally. A father taking his life while his family is in the home. A toddler raped and now in the arms of Jesus. A grieving widow giving birth to her child without her husband by her side. A friend I’ve spent years praying for, hearing his cancer is growing… again. A dear friend of mine endured a mastectomy. My phone alerting me that there’s an AMBER ALERT nearby. Another email from a widow… and then another. An acquaintance reaching out because she’s walking through a divorce.

I pray.
Or I want to.
Sometimes I don’t know what to say.
I just sit there, teary, saying, “I don’t even know where to begin, Lord.”
I feel like my words can’t say what I want to say.
My words aren’t adequate. “Am I even making sense, God?”

That’s when I feel the groaning in my soul. The words that are beyond me, rising to the One who hears even the deep aches that I can’t put into words.

There’s a real, physical pressure in my chest. My heart seems to weigh too much for my chest to carry.

Sympathy and empathy can be heavy. We “feel” another’s pain, at least a portion of it.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” {Gal. 6:2 ESV}

In my own life I have walked through a season of unbearable pain. For those of you who know me, this is old news, but losing my dad and my sister and I losing our husbands all in the same year almost killed me. But let me tell you, I am a walking testimony of the power of prayer. Family, friends, and strangers wept over my pain. Strangers carried my burdens. Acquaintances dropped to their knees for me. For me?! Family and friends offered up wordless prayers to the One, and ONLY One, that could care for my heart in the darkest season in my life, to date. Thirteen years later, I continue to meet people that “heard” of my story and prayed for me! It’s a very humbling thing to meet a stranger that was so moved by your pain that it drove them to their knees on your behalf. I’m alive today, in part, because of the prayers of others. I’m grateful for the body of Christ that stretches across state lines and oceans to love one another in this way. That is truly a picture of God in us.

Oh, empathy. You are a part of me now. I accept the role you play in my life. I’ll take the weight that pushes down upon my chest, as it reminds me to bow before the cross. Prayer seems like such a small thing, but it’s not. We may say it flippantly, “I’ll be praying for you.” Or comment on someone’s FB status, “I’m praying!” As trite and overused as those words may sound, prayer is probably the sweetest gift you can give to the hurting.

When I hear stories of heartache and brokenness, may I kneel before my God and lay these burdens at His feet. It’s on my knees that I’m reminded of my position in this life—I am not the Messiah. I am not in control and I cannot fix people. I cannot protect others from getting that phone call or that knock on the door, but I can join into their upward groans. I can speak to God on another’s behalf. And with full assurance, even as the tears stream down my cheeks, hope rises. Because I know He is more than enough.

“My God, my hope is anchored in You. You alone are our prize. If we knew what You know, we would pray for these things in our lives. We would. If we understood how much You love us, we would trust You completely. For when we grope in the night, we will find You! And finding You, knowing You, experiencing You is what brings LIFE.

God, nothing happens outside of Your knowledge and Your care, may that not make us angry—but free. You are indeed sovereign and good. We may weep, but may we not lose heart, for in You we can find peace when all is chaos.

Lord, there are times You may seem far away, but You are as near as our skin. Closer still. We can breathe in strength for the moment… each moment. We can wail, we can grieve, and we can cry our little hearts out even for strangers and know YOU HEAR US! Even our wordless prayers. And the best part is, we’re not praying alone—You are praying too.”

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” {Romans 8:26 ESV}

“[Jesus] is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” {Romans 8: 34b ESV}

How can I pray for you today?

{A song for the grieving believer. Listen and be encouraged!}

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If you are curious about Jesus, go here.

To read more about the book Dancing On My Ashes, or to purchase the book, go here.

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New Year’s Resolutions: Being okay with not knowing where you’re going

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by Heather Spring {Gilion}

We’re a week into the new year.

On December 31st, I asked my husband if we should make any New Year’s resolutions. He thinks they’re dumb. I think they’re kinda fun, but then again I’m a little bit on the competitive side. So mine are really contrived from a game-mentality. When I make a resolution I go through the entire year trying not to lose against myself. On January 1, I glare at myself in the mirror. Threatening myself, “It’s on like Donkey Kong!” Now, the hubs, he’s not competitive by nature. In high school he decided he wasn’t going to play basketball anymore because he just wasn’t “into it,” he had other scholastic aspirations. But what’s one of the first things I hear when someone meets him? “Dude, I bet you played some serious ball in school!” Why? Because he’s tall. He’s so tall when he gets frustrated at me he says, “Don’t make me come down there!” {I’m kidding. I’m kidding. He only says that to the kids.}

So Dallas may not be competitive, but he’s a planner and he’s constant. {He’s also constantly planning, but that’s for another blog.} Like, it’s silly to ask if he’s going to work out or read his Bible or mess around on his guitar or eat oatmeal or give me a hug and kiss when he walks in the house. Or will he call me right when I pour the milk in my cereal? I know the answer to these questions. Of course! He’s constant. He’s my steady-teddy. So, in his mind there’s no need for silly “new year’s resolutions!” If he sees a reason to add something, he adds it. If something needs to be subtracted… done… did it yesterday. “Lasterday” as our four-year-old says.

But for me—change—it takes me a minute. I don’t want to make a promise and not keep it. {Been there, done that.} I weigh the decision—the pros and cons. I have even been known to grieve what I know will be in my best interest. {Like the time I gave up Dr. Pepper. I still meet you in my dreams.} And some “resolutions” I know I’m about to make are not just for a year, but for life. Internally there’s a bit of a fight. I’ve been known to get a little grumpy with those around me when I’m making a change. Change always requires something from us. Time. Learning new habits.  Abandoning “ease” to take on a season of planning and structuring for the new. Giving up or giving in or doing away with or adding onto, it all takes work to arrive at a new normal. Sacrifice.

So, my man didn’t engage my “New Year’s Resolution” talk, {I was thinking about giving up almonds, I don’t like them much anyway}, but he came to me with a New Year’s Evaluation List. It was intense. It covered our relationship with God, with one another, with our children, our roles, our jobs, our dreams, our goals, vacation plans, expectations, and much more, because like I said he’s a planner and he’s constant. {Yet another reason I think he’s constantly awesome!} Dallas led us in a time of reflection and discussion and prayerful evaluation as we embark toward what God has for us in 2014. We’re still discussing. The self-evaluation is still happening. But as two very different people, we must come together as one so we can support and encourage one another when distractions and other “good” things tempt to steal from what we know to be our calling.

I’ll spare you all the things that are swirling around in my noodles and give you the “peak” in all my self-evaluation for 2014.
{peak = the thing that is beyond me but that is luring me higher.}

There are some specific questions I’m asking the Lord, regarding my time and what I spend my energy on. I want to be in-line with His will for my life. Desperate for it, really. And I know myself; I can get a bit distracted at times. But this question seems to have become what lingers at the top of this year’s mountain. It’s what’s haunting me and drawing me all at the same time:

Will you go without knowing?

Because I’ve been asking God a lot of questions lately.
“What are You going to do with this?”
“If I do this, how’s it going to end up?”
“What are You going to do with that dream?”
“Am I waaaay off base spending my time on this?”

Will I go without knowing how things will turn out?

Can I? Will I?

God does not tell you what He’s going to do. It’s taken me a long time to get this. I still catch myself asking for the outcome and begging Him to reveal details. But He answers my questions in a very unexpected fashion: He reveals Himself. He shows me WHO He is and surprisingly, with that, my heart is settled and my faith increased as I go out in confidence. Laying down my expectations and my agenda, this is my daily battle.  But as I understand more of the character of God, I need not wonder if I’m out here alone. I’m not. I don’t have to fret about the details. I just need Him. I place my ear upon His heart and I listen. I open His Word and I breathe Him in. I hold fast to His still small voice that’s ever with me and I obey. I need to be still and know that He is indeed—GOD. I need to trust when He says, “Hang a left,” that the best way is left. I need not fight to turn right.

When I wake each morning, will I go out? I can re-evaluate. I can make a plan. {And my tall hubby is more than happy to help me make one.} Again, there’s nothing wrong with making a plan. But will I be dependent upon Him, come what may?  Will I be flexible, scrapping my plan for His? Will I go and do and be without knowing how this will all play out?

I’m trekking up the mountain, whispering my vow: I will.

I’m Yours.

I’ll go.

I trust You.

I know You are good.

You alone satisfy my soul.

I don’t need to know the how’s or the why’s or the when’s, I just need to, with each step up the mountain, anchor my hope in You. For You, my Lord, will not disappoint.

He alone knows what 2014 holds for me and I’m okay with not knowing… because I know HIM. I will go.