Encouragement

What Isn’t Can’t Change What Is

I was suppose to be at my Mimi’s house tonight. My Aunt and Momma would be leaning on the counter in the kitchen talking about their kids. My Dad and Uncle would be in the living room with my brothers and sisters and cousin catching up and laughing. My Mimi and Nana would be laying out the final plans for tomorrow, when to put the ham in and take the rolls out, etc. Place cards and table linens would be set aside and ready to lay out before we left for church tomorrow so that when guests started to arrive for lunch, everything would be ready. Poppy would be doing dishes and I’d be drying. We’d be talking about books and theology. He’d say something like, “You sure are pretty” and I’d tell him he was a blind old man. We’d laugh. We’d all be together, and it would be wonderful. It would feel like home. It would feel right.

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Encouragement

I Love You From Over Here

The door bell rang yesterday afternoon, which startled me, because as with most of you I’m certain, it’s been weeks since anyone came over. On the front step, there was a package addressed to me. I didn’t remember ordering anything or winning any giveaways, so I was puzzled. When I opened the box (after Clorox wiping it down of course), I cried a few tears of joy. The packing slip inside listed my address as the delivery, but my sweet friend as the one who ordered it. There was a box of sleepy time tea, a candle, a chocolate bar, and a face mask.

My friend who sent this knew that I struggled with anxiety and sleeping most of the time, and also knew it had gotten worse with all of the uncertainty in the air the last few weeks. She knew that I’d been at an emotional low before any of this started and was well aware of the things heavy on my heart and mind. She’s the kind of friend that brings you flowers and has you over to watch a funny movie when life’s tough, because loving people for her is second nature. She sees the need in your eyes, and then sets aside her own desires and needs to help you. She’s really good at loving people, and not just when it’s easy.

When there’s a pandemic and she can’t come hug you and bring chocolate and flowers like she usually does, she mails you a little treat in a box and texts you pictures of yellow tulips every morning instead. She doesn’t let the social distancing and difficult circumstances get in the way of loving people. She just replaces her normal “I love you” with “I love you from over here.”

And we all should be doing the same thing.

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Encouragement

Of Wonder & Gratitude

The window beside my desk is open just now and the spring breeze rustles in. The soundtrack from Little Women is playing in the background and combined with the song of the birds just outside, it is a rather magical atmosphere. It’s easy to be thankful in this moment, where beauty and peace seem to swirl around me canceling the chaos and confusion of the broken world. It is in moments like these where my heart responds with glee to the command in 1 Thessalonians, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

But it was not easy last week when I was frantically reading the headlines. It was not easy when my job was canceled, several trips I’d been anticipating were delayed, and the question mark was placed on the calendar for the next time I would see my church family in person. It was not easy when my Mom got sick and was quarantined in her room for five days (just to make sure whatever she had wasn’t serious and it didn’t spread, she is better now). It was not easy last week. It will not be easy in the future. But all things considered, it should be. Because, as a Christian, I’ve been given so much. But I forget it so often. I think many of us do.

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Encouragement

When He Becomes All Our Hope & Stay

Panic attacks, nightmares, and anxieties surrounding conflict or change have long been large parts of my life. I remember when I was little, I would dream that my Dad would be mortally wounded by an escaped evil warrior with an undetectable poison disguised as a Reese’s cup while traveling. (I’d like to take this moment and thank my vivid and rather eccentric imagination for that.) I would wake up sweating and seek to find comfort in the normalcy of life. My little brother would be sleeping beside me, his steady breath and toddler hands clutching his blue blankie brought me comfort.

Everything is okay. Dad is okay, because life is still the same. Evil warriors with Reese’s poison aren’t real.

I’d roll over and go back to sleep, comforted by steadiness that was found externally when internally I was overcome with a dreadful sense of chaos and confusion.

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Encouragement

Hope for Broken Hearts & Pandemics

Life is short, it’s true. But boy, it can be hard sometimes. We are living in strange and confusing times. Universities are closing, borders are locking down, and everyone seems to have the answer to all questions regarding the pandemic. The confusing part is that everyone’s answers are different and while we all think we’re experts, the truth is that none of us are. We haven’t ever dealt with something like this, and can’t pretend that we have. What we can do is the same thing we ought to be doing in any uncertainty or trial: praise God and make Him known among the nations.

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Encouragement

It’s Like in the Great Stories, Mr. Frodo

We were watching The Two Towers last night, and I cried. I don’t think crying in that movie is uncommon, especially for my fellow women, but last night was different. I didn’t cry for Frodo and Sam, I cried for myself. My tears were for this real world, not for Middle-Earth. I was the one who said, “I can’t do this, Sam.” It wasn’t Frodo who was wavering and wondering if the end really could be happy, it was me. It was my weak faith I saw on that television, not Tolkien’s magical universe.

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Encouragement

He’s Still Enough

It’s the warmest winter in our small town since the 80’s and my southern heart is not complaining. There is no snow on the ground, no ice scrapers being pulled out when we leave the house, and the sun is shining brightly. The weather outdoors mirrors that inside of me. Warm, bright, and hopeful.

All around the world, people seem to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s in a sense of reflection. It makes sense that as another year closes and is slid onto the shelves of memory that we take one last moment to flip back through it’s pages and remember with bittersweet fondness the stories that ended and the ones that have just begun. That is just what I have sat down to do.

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Encouragement

A Baby Sleeping & Fearless Rest

There is something incredibly natural and soothing about a baby sleeping peacefully in the arms of the one caring for him, and this morning something very convicting.

He does not raise his head to question whether my grip is strong enough to hold him if he squirms. He does not hold onto me as if I’m going to let go of him. He does not keep his eyes open to see what dangers or dilemmas may creep up on him as he sleeps.

He closes his eyes.
He relaxes his body.
He looks into my eyes before he closes his one final time with a look not born of question, but of trust.

And then he rests in my arms.

Yet here I am, as he sleeps peacefully in my grasp, internally struggling and fighting, questioning and doubting, keeping my eyes stretched open on the lookout for potential sorrow or danger, while the Father holds me in His arms.

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Encouragement

He Holds Us Fast

The morning light was still hours away from creeping through our windows yesterday morning when I woke up and stumbled downstairs to the coffee pot at five o’clock. Rubbing my eyes thoroughly and rummaging through the fridge to find the creamer helped wake me up and by the time I curled up in my usual spot on the couch with my coffee, Bible, and journal, I was well awake and alert. It was the day before my birthday and just as I always do, I read through the last year of my journal.

Every year before it’s been a very enjoyable thing to do. Memories that made me smile, ones that made me laugh, and always a few that brought on a cringe. But this year was different. This year was hard to read through.

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