Eulogy for Grandpa Baker

If there is a will, then there is a way is a phrase that I never heard Grandpa utter. When I look at what he accomplished in his life, though, that is the catch-phrase that comes immediately to mind. Grandpa just wouldn’t take “no” as a possible answer when he wanted something: he wanted to attend the Naval Academy–he persisted until they let him in–even though he was technically too tall (nothing that bending your knees a bit can’t fix). The academics at the Academy were brutally rigorous. Grandpa had to seek extra help to master the concepts throughout many courses. Instead of deterring him, this invigorated him.

Upon graduating from the Naval Academy, Grandpa choice to enter the service of the Air Force. They promised him extra education. During his first assignment in the Air Force, Grandpa realized that they were not going to train him in the skills they had promised after all. This was not acceptable! So, after his superior office repeatedly said no, he went over his head and wrote back home. He held people to what they had promised, and soon after that, Grandpa was relocated to a different station where he could get the training he so eagerly wanted. Grandpa’s “take the bull by the horns” attitude propelled him forward in the Air Force. He returned to school to get not only his Master’s Degree, but also his Doctorate. The only thing his determination could never earn him was certification of passing fourth grade. Somewhere in heaven, I hope he finds that teacher and that they can have a good laugh. Who fails a student multiple years in a row??

Grandpa’s accomplishments in the Air Force are astounding. He was a part of the team that transformed airplane navigation, and he also got to analyze intel that was then shared with President Kennedy. Grandpa didn’t like that though. He requested–repeatedly, and until it happened–that he be removed from that position. It didn’t sit right with Grandpa the way that analysis and decisions work in federal government. In true Grandpa style, he pestered the right people until they moved him to a different position.

After he retired from the Air Force, Grandpa and Grandma returned to Stillwater–where he had earned his Masters and Doctorate–and Grandpa began working for Oklahoma State University. Eventually he retired from there, too. And that is where my memories of Grandpa begin.

Every memory I have of him takes place after his esteemed professional career ended. And I have 27 years of memories–Grandpa lived life fully. There are the moments that are burned in my brain: laughing with Grandpa at my wedding, Grandpa holding Lilah on her baptismal day, building my IPC project over Thanksgiving Break in 9th grade, and the brisk walks around Boomer Lake–no one could never keep up!

Grandma and Grandpa made visiting us a priority wherever we moved to. Even when we lived in North Pole, Alaska–they trekked up there. For all the years we lived in Oklahoma, we regularly got to have trips to their house. One year we spent Eater there with some friends from South Africa. Grandma and Grandpa were so welcoming. During the Christmas season, Grandpa always showed us where the best Christmas lights in town were–they are still my standard today.

Since Chris lived so far away, and Garrett didn’t arrive until much later, most of our activities were just Hannah and I. Hannah-with her tight blond ringlets and her infectious smile-was cherished by Grandpa. Little Hannah could do no wrong. She was Grandpa’s buddy. He’d hoist her up on his shoulders, she’d giggle and toss her hair, and the two of them would be off. Grandpa was overjoyed when, years later, Hannah chose to attend OSU in his hometown. Although she switched universities after the first year, to ultimately graduate from the villanious Texas A&M, Grandpa loved the time he got to spend with her at OSU–and he loved that she met Travis at his school.

The impact that Grandpa had on me was one I didn’t fully embrace until about 8 years ago. You see, before then, I was pretty judgmental, a trifle insecure, and not wise enough to realize that I just didn’t understand everything. I would hear Grandpa try to convince me not to go into education and think, “He just doesn’t get it. I am born to teach. It doesn’t matter if I don’t make a lot of money.”

I didn’t get it. I heard his statements as judgments on my poor decision making ability rather than confidence that his granddaughter had what it took to succeed in the professional worlds he so deeply wanted me to conquer. Grandpa believed that I could do so much more than teach children. Grandpa didn’t love superheroes–they are too unrealistic–but he did love Wonder Woman. It wasn’t until recently that I realized maybe Grandpa loved Wonder Woman because he believed his own girls could do anything–achieve any dream. He wanted me to dream bigger than I did at 18.

A year and a half ago I found my dream house. It would shorten Adam’s commute by half. It would mean living down the street from my job and Lilah’s school. Having learned how valuable Grandpa’s knowledge was, I went to talk with him about the house. I wanted to know if he would front us money for a down payment that we would repay over the next two years. Typical of his generosity, Grandpa wouldn’t hear of it. He wanted to give us the down payment. I wanted to show him all of the reasons that this particular house was a good investment, and he said he would look at it, but that it didn’t matter. He trusted my judgment.

This was one of the most powerful statements Grandpa made to me: He trusted my judgment. Over the last few years Grandpa has repeatedly told me that I did the most important thing right: I married Adam. I picked a great spouse. He would say that the most important choice in life is to marry the right person. He was thankful that both his children and granddaughters have the right spouses.

In the years since Grandma’s death, Grandpa would frequently insist that Grandma was amazing. He loved to talk about how marrying her was the best decision he ever made. She was an incredibly devoted mother. She was intelligent. She was his partner. He couldn’t stop talking about it. He’d tell me how amazing my mother was. How proud he was of her for the woman she had become. He held her hand so often this past month saying, “Best daughter. I love you. I love you.” 

Grandpa also loved getting to spend time with his great-granddaughters. He would watch Lilah play with a light in his eyes that I never noticed when I was young. On the occasions that he got to cuddle Adaline, he was overjoyed. The presence of his little girls comforted him.

It breaks my heart that he isn’t going to see any of the photos I’ve been sending him of Lilah or the snow that fell while he was in the hospital. I’m sad that I won’t see the twinkle in his eye or the wiggle of his ears. Over the last week, I would sign I love you, and he would wiggle his ears back at me.

So, I will teach Lilah to value family, hard work, and have confidence in herself. I will look at Garrett’s smirk and see the smile of Grandpa. I will listen to Chris and hear the intelligence of Grandpa. I will always see Grandpa’s cherished one when I look at Hannah. As I hug Lilah and Adaline, I will feel the hope of the future. And when I hear stories about Wonder Woman, I will smile as I remember how blessed I am to have a grandfather who believed in me.

Grandpa and me

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By Faith…

Hebrews 11, 12, and 13. Have you read them lately?

If not, here are some hi-lights:

  • Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
  • But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
  • By faith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’s parents, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Daniel, Samuel…(see where this is going?)
  • Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  • I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
  • Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, giving thanks to His name.
  • Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.

When I read this today, tears began streaming down my face. Here is “Who’s Who” list of real people who were given opportunities to trust God in the face of seemingly impossible situations–and God stood with each of them. Because of God’s faithfulness to the faith of his people: kingdoms were subdued, promises were obtained, the mouths of lions were stopped, the dead were raised back to life, out of weakness came strength, and victories in battle occurred where it made no logical sense.

If that isn’t enough to make you emotional, check out the next part: Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Have you felt shame recently? I have. I felt ashamed that I got sick with a virus again when family came to visit. I felt even more shame when I didn’t react positively to the change in anxiety medication. I felt weak, mortified, and helpless. I could tell that I have grown spiritually, though, because I didn’t feel hopeless. I knew–and know–that God will use this to bring glory to His name. He will use it to strengthen me and mold me into the woman He wants me to be. (13:20-21)

There’s that pesky word though. Shame: a tool the devil decided to whip out against me; a sly emotion that slipped into my mind and wove itself through each corner of my brain. “God has calmer, healthier people than you to do his work.” “God is disappointed that your body reacted this way again. It is over for you.” “You should be ashamed of yourself. You should be better than this by now.”

Not until this morning did I recognize the insidious nature of shame–not until I read this verse that Jesus rose above the shame of being murdered on a cross. That is public humiliation to the worst degree.  But. Jesus. Was. Not. Ashamed.

He focused on the joy that was to come. He endured the path He needed to tread. He was not ensnared by sinful thoughts that sought a weak spot in His mind. He stayed strong. He stayed faithful.

And there it was. The realization that God is using this to, perhaps not quite so gently,  chastise me. My immediate, consuming emotion is always shame when I feel anxious, sick, or have a bad reaction to medicine. He’s giving me an opportunity to show him that I can obey Him in the midst of this trial. As a beloved daughter of Christ I should endure this time, remain faithful and hopeful, be thankful, and look forward to the peaceable fruit of righteousness that will be mine once I’ve been trained by this. (12:7-11)

It doesn’t end there though. God continues to provide by “strengthening the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” (12:12-13) 

By His grace, I choose to remain thankful. Ultimately, we will join Jesus in the city of our living God. What we endure now is passing. He has promised us this. Noah remained faithful when God spoke to Him about the upcoming flood. Will we be faithful to God when our floods come?

This anxiety–this reaction to medication–this journey…it is a big part of my flood.  Because the God who created this entire universe is in my corner, I say, “Bring it. I am no longer ashamed to feel anxious, sick, be weak or need help. This is temporary, and God is with me, so I will be thankful and faithful. This, too, shall pass.”

 

Houston is Making America Great Again

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Two times in my life have I felt overwhelmed with pride in being an American. When my community came together after the Murrah Building Bombing in 1995, I knew what it was to be American. Then again in 2001 when we united against the nameless faces of terror in the wake of 9/11. Being an American is something to be proud of. It is something to celebrate. This week, in Houston, we are again showing America what it means to be a citizen of this proud nation.

Outside of Houston, people may be criticizing our community leaders and citizens. As a Houstonian, I applaud them. Their families are in the same situations we are. Their homes may be flooded. Their lives are forever changed. The coordinated efforts of our leaders should set the standard for the rest of our country. We, Texans, stand with our leaders in this time.

To suggest Houston ought to have evacuated last week is madness. If the rain had stopped around the expected 25 inches of rain, most citizens would be fairly okay today. When areas are now at 35. 40. even 50 inches of rain this week…you begin operating in uncharted waters. Don’t criticize people for not being omniscient. Harvey was even worse than anticipated, and the ramifications of this are grim. In the face of this tragedy, our people chose to act. Our leaders remained calm and disseminated information as quickly as they could.

You can’t spend ten minutes watching the news or searching social media without being struck by the characteristics of the citizens of our great nation:

  • Self-motivation: Countless individuals have come out with boats, supplies,and life jackets. People are driving their boats through neighborhoods searching for those in need. No one is giving them step by step instructions. They are just out–being Good Samaritans. Seeing areas that need help and going there.
  • Perseverance: Tireless efforts are being made around the clock by everyone who is able. Through rain, wind, floodwaters, and the midnight hours, our people are facing the dark valley and walking bravely through it. No obstacle is too great, no hour is too late. Lives are at stake, and our people are determined to save them.
  • Selflessness: The outpouring of supplies and the willingness of people to sacrifice their time, resources, and for one Officer Perez–even his life–is astounding. There are millions of people in our giant city, and those who have are giving to those who are in need. We thank each first responder and each volunteer with words that can never convey the impact you are having on the lives of those you are saving and the lives of those inspired by you. Thank you.

Jeff Lindner and his team are always on air and online updating people with information. Police Chief Acevedo and Mayor Turner are doing everything they humanly can to get people to safety and provide supplies at the shelters. The USCG, National Guard, Cajun Navy, Police and Fire Departments, and more are our heroes.

We have a long road ahead of us. The number of displaced families is high. Rebuilding will be slow. It will test our endurance and our faith. But we know that through it all, God is good. He will provide either supernaturally or through the movement of his people. The overwhelming theme I hear from stories of rescued people is thankfulness. People are thankful to be safe. They are praising God on national television. News reporters are talking about faith. Our police chief talked for several minutes in a press conference yesterday about the faith of our mayor, the family of the police department, and the faith of the family of Officer Perez.

As the helicopters continue to circle and the boats endlessly rescue people, we continue to pray. Houston will stay strong because we have faith in the God who is stronger than this.

I am Redeemed.

Isaiah 35 3:-4 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, BE STRONG, DO NOT FEAR! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; HE WILL COME AND SAVE YOU!

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and NOT BE AFRAID; For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song. He also has become my salvation.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father.

Romans 8: 26/28 Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses…And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …Yet in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.

From Jesus Calling August 22: Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. I want you to view trials as exercises designed to develop your trust-muscles. You live in the midst of fierce spiritual battles, and fear is one of Satan’s favorite weapons. When you start to feel afraid, affirm your trust in Me. Speak out loud, if circumstances permit. RESIST THE DEVIL IN MY NAME, AND HE WILL SLINK AWAY FROM YOU. Refresh yourself in My holy Presence. Speak or sing praises to Me, and my Face will shine radiantly upon you. Remember that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Me. You have been judged not guilty for all eternity. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid; for I am your strength and salvation.

Well, clearly God’s message is necessary for me! Today I trust YOU Jesus. You do impossible things! So, You definitely do the possible things!

I feel God saying, “Come out of the darkness! I already FREED YOU! Grab my hand, let me bring you to my glory. The sun is shining, the light is warm, and the freedom is breathtaking. Come to me, daughter.”

Have you ever continued living in bondage, even after knowing that Christ freed you? I think I’ve been doing that. For so long I’ve endured battling this stupid fear that now I wake up anticipating to endure through it again today. I pray hard throughout the day everyday. But, Thursday God said, “Today and henceforth you are FREE from this. I love you. Live free!”

And what did I do on Monday? I woke up, cracked open the door of fear to “make sure it was gone,” but it isn’t gone. It will always be on the other side of the door. Cracking it open let that fear seep in. What I should have done is banged against that door that Jesus has sealed and praised Him for ALREADY freeing me! I don’t need to fight it again, everyday, for all time. I need to live joyfully in the freedom that he has given to me.

So today-Tuesday-I praise God for the gift of liberty! I praise God for loving me so much that He doesn’t want me to relive my fears day in and day out–no, He has wiped them from every corner of my mind and replaced all those damaged corners with joy and compassion.

Because of Jesus’s power I am redeemed from the fear of fainting. I am redeemed from living in fear of the fear of fainting. I am redeemed from fear of losing my job that I love at SML. I am redeemed from the fear of Lilah going to public school. I am redeemed from the fear of failing God by not fulfilling his roles for me. I am redeemed from ANY AND ALL FEAR. My mind is God’s beloved domain-protected by angel armies.

I am redeemed. I can’t wait to go live the life of God’s redeemed daughter today.

*But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen! 1 Peter 5:10-11*

 

 

 

 

Eleven years in education?! Say it ain’t so!

Eight years! This year I begin my EIGHTH year as a teacher. Add my two years of subbing in plus my year of student teaching, and I’m on starting my ELEVENTH year as an educator. Oh. My. Goodness.

To really weird out my mind: this is only my second year teaching the same subjects.

As I begin all the joyful festivities that come along with August, I’m preparing myself for the journey ahead. This year is quite a bit different though. This is the first year where I am operating from the dramatically transformed mind that God has been developing in me.

No longer is my natural reaction, “Yes, I can do that.” Noooo, not at all.

I know that I, alone, cannot do it.

I cannot overcome the upcoming obstacles.

I cannot prepare for every scenario of the day.

I cannot reach May with the same level of energy that I have now.

I cannot calmly redirect the child who pushes my buttons for the 35th time.

Nope. These things are beyond me. It seems that every teacher book, every self help book, every anti-anxiety training, every source recommended by our society encourages the power of “I.” Believe in your power, and you will overcome! YOU CAN DO THIS!

Well. I can’t. And I have to say…now that I accept that, I am liberated. I shrug my shoulders at the unknown day before me. Why?

Because. My. God. Can.

God, the God of angel armies, is always by my side. He reigns forever. He is my friend. He is my father. He is my protector. He is my guide. He goes before me. He goes behind. He is invested in His children, and I am a valuable part of His plan. Nothing will stop His will from happening and nothing is beyond His ability to fix.

Wow! So I will enter this school year not visualizing how I will handle the inevitable conflicts in the day, not micromanaging the myriad of tasks I need to do, and definitely not pumping myself up with how much I belief in my ability to handle things.

I’ll keep trucking along praising God. I’ll trust that He will intervene when needed. I’ll keep trying to make sure that my words and actions steer my kids to Him.

We are all his beloved children, and I thank Him for entrusting these sweet souls to my care this year. I think this will be the best year yet!

Why didn’t you trust me?

Peter stepped out of the boat. He began walking on the water toward Jesus. Then Peter looked at the wind and the waves. He became afraid and began to sink. “Lord, save me!” Peter cried out. Jesus reached out and pulled Peter up. “Why didn’t you trust me?” Jesus asked Peter.

Yikes! One of the original disciples who had just witnessed Jesus performing miracles still doubted Jesus’s abilities when he found himself in a scary situation. He literally was face to face friends with Jesus and yet…his faith wavered.

I’ve read this story many times, but today God really convicted me as I read it. God has been transforming my mind over the past year in a truly immense way. My deepest fears have been coming to the surface and needing to be dealt with. Time and again God allows a situation to happen that I fear, I try so hard to choose to trust Him throughout the trial, and God is so faithful to bring me through each time. I believe fully in the power of prayer, so when you pray that you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind…you better hold on tight!

No one gets transformed by staying in their comfort zone. God promises to be with us always, but that doesn’t mean the road will be easy. But, don’t you want to have the faith of the woman who believed touching Jesus would heal her? Or the man who believed if Jesus just proclaimed his servant well, that his servant would be healed? How about David going to fight a giant armed with some rocks? I want legendary faith like that.

The last year has felt like a refining fire. I seem to go from one fire to the next and it is exhausting! I keep praying this prayer though, and I know that I have to endure this to keep developing into the woman God wants me to be. I found myself on my knees sobbing this morning. And so began a time of peeling back the layers of fear to get to the darkest fear of all.

Every affirmation statement I cried out to Jesus was immediately refuted by another insidious thought shot at me by Satan. One of my scriptures this morning involved using the shield of faith to fight off the devil’s lies. Deeper and deeper we spun into the fears of my soul until we hit the bottom: the fear of not being here to raise Lilah.

It threatened to overwhelm me. Rational or not, these types of dangerous fears pollute our minds. They take beautiful moments and taint them with fear, doubt, and worry.

As I wrestled with bringing this fear to God I could literally feel his angels take guard around me and fight off those fiery darts. It was as if they had been hovering, wanting to intervene, but knowing that it was necessary I come to terms with this fear. Only by recognizing what is trying to separate us from God can we begin to live in the freedom that God has for us. Jesus redeemed us from the burden of these fears. When we give them a special room in our minds, it prevents us from having our minds fully transformed. For me, I needed to confront this fear head on to move to the next level that God has planned for me.

Lilah brought me her Bible for our morning reading, and the passage today was the story of Peter I shared above. I was floored. I don’t want God to keep asking me, “Why didn’t you trust me?” Instead, I want to show Him my faith is strong, and I believe in His love and power. As much as I fear to say it, the only way to really show that is to endure scary things and proclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness. I’m hoping this season won’t last long, but I know that God is loving and providing regardless.

Liberation by the word “No”

No.

Such a short word, but it is one with powerful implications. As a Christian woman, I live my live intentionally seeking to deepen my relationship with God and walk the path that he has planned for me. When His answer is no, the internal struggle naturally increases.

This year God has been teaching me to flip this natural reaction. When His answer is no, it is instead an opportunity to draw close to Him in faith and let His might move. His power is on greater display when it is obvious to the world that what is happening could not have been done by my abilities and hard work. In these times I should seek refuge in Him and ask for His peace to fill each caveat of my soul; for His light to shine through my interactions with others.

This has never been clearer to me than during my battle each morning. Due to my hormone health journey of the last 28 months, each morning I wake up shaking, anxious, usually nauseous, and already tired. But. Each day I sit down with God as I eat breakfast and pour my heart out to Him. I listen for His words, and I diligently put on the armor of God. I verbally affirm that I am wearing the helmet of salvation, shoes of the gospel of peace, the breastplate of righteousness, and that I am protected by the shield of faith that quenches ALL darts thrown at me by Satan and this world. I hold in my hands the sword of the Spirit and pray without ceasing for I am an ambassador and ought to speak boldly to bring glory to God. This is my birthright as a daughter of Christ. He is with me now, and will be with me through each step-and sometimes misstep-of the day.

Yesterday I felt Him whisper something I’ve been waiting 28 months for: Stop. It is time.

The answer I hoped for did not come, but I am eager to embrace this alternative answer. It is time to stop trying to fix something that is broken. I’ve tried many medications and seen multiple physicians while attempting to find a solution that would kickstart my body into functioning as a 30 year old body should.

Despite everything I’ve tried, the answer was always “no.” Not this medication. Not this doctor. Still not functioning.

Stop. It is time.

Although I am broken-hearted that I will not have more children, I am thankful for Lilah, love teaching at SML, and have so much fun with my family. Getting off the rollercoaster of hormones and stepping onto the jogging path of stability sounds liberating.

Sometimes when God says, “No,” he is really saying, “Not that path, because I have such great plans to use you here. In this place. With these people. Go out with joy and live.”

 

 

 

 

Promises Kept: Joy Comes in the Morning

Promises kept. Promises fulfilled in ways beyond my comprehension or planning. Our God is the God who has promised from the beginning of time that we are never alone–that He walks with us, within us. Nothing on this earth can separate us. Nothing.

This morning I opened my Bible to three separate scriptures with boxes around them and dates next to them:they were dates of dark times in my life when I claimed a promise that God makes to us. Dates I wanted to remember as fully trusting that God wasn’t ending my story there. God was moving, and one day I would see fulfillment of those prayers . My heat stopped as I recognized which ones God has fulfilled, and which ones I still walk in faith that He is working on.

In that moment, I felt His supernatural peace extend to every corner of my being. It is amazing how He can instantly change your entire world. At times, that change may feel overwhelming, heart-breaking, or devastating. But. Such feelings are of this world. While you’re consumed with negative emotions or despair, God is reaching for you.

So breathe. Pause in the hurricane of life to seek God. He hates the valleys as much as we do, but He has a mighty plan. He is moving through those awful times. Seek His peace. Seek His comfort. Seek His counsel. Nothing else will work quite as well.

Eventually the day comes where you see a glimmer of light, or perhaps one day the entire sun is on display for you.For though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.

Kings battle for their own

Jesus lives the most insane of all sci-fi stories ever. My favorite genre is by far the sci-fi/fantasy one: unlikely hero conquers all adversity despite the odds against him and emerges to shape the world into a better place where there is now hope and peace.

Sound familiar? Jesus is the original sci-fi hero. He literally did things that are impossible, inspired the most unlikely of people, and actually came back to life after dying. Ya’ll. He died…and His story didn’t end there.

He came back! He changed more lives, and then He quite literally rose up into the heavens, but not before leaving us with His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit: a supernatural internal guide and presence that will never leave us.

What!?! I can only imagine how this would look on the big screen if talented artists in this genre were in charge of the next Jesus movie. I think it would blow minds. That hero that geeks are always looking to connect with? Yeah, He is even cooler than all the other heroes to date, but He has one added benefit. He is actually real.

I’m a creative gal. I thrive when I have room for my ideas to fully develop, and a place to express them. One negative about being such an internally creative person is that I can have major tunnel vision. I get sucked into trying to fully explore and flesh out an idea to the extent that I can’t focus on other things, time mysteriously vanishes, and if I have to stop before I am ready then I can quickly spiral into a lot of doubt. Worry that I haven’t reached where I need to go, fear that I don’t have what it takes, anger with myself for having let time slip away,and an anxious heart that something is missing.

Last week God stopped me in my tracks. Like a punch to my gut, I realized that all of those thoughts are actually from my sinful nature. They are tools the devil uses to prevent me from embracing the power that God is so graciously wanting to show others through my weaknesses. They are the Orcs, the goblins, the slithering snakes that seek to break through the front lines and destroy all that is good.

Our minds are the battlefield God wants to display His power on. He tells us to put on His armor, to persevere, to call upon Him to save us. He tells us His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He asks us to let Him do His thing. Do we? When met with an obstacle-internal or external-do we instinctively say, “God, you’ve got this. I’m putting on the armor, stepping back, and claiming my birthright with you. Send your forces here to battle and knock out this evil.”

I wasn’t.  I’m disappointed to admit it, but there it is. When in those situations I responded by trying to fix it myself. By feeling worse and worse as a daughter of God and retreating. The enemy’s forces could easily swell over me. I felt defeated.

The good news is the war is never over. A lost battle isn’t the end of the story. Sometimes it is the catalyst we need to be desperate enough to accept what God has promised us. Sometimes you need to lose a battle, so you can win the war.

This morning I woke up early, to a crazy loud alarm, and my heartbeat already racing out of my chest. I knew I had two options: give in to the crazy thoughts starting to form fearing the day (being new at a job is nerve-wracking!) or immediately start arming myself with all that God has promised. I’m choosing option 2.

Just like my favorite scenes in Return of the King, my King is riding through the battlefield of my mind cutting down all that opposes Him. No foe is too strong for Him. He delights in vanquishing his enemies, and leaving me full of hope and peace. I am not his fiercest warrior, but I am His daughter. He protects His kids. He gives His kids hope and peace despite adversity. He is the King, we are His kids, and each battlefield we face is one He wants us to let Him conquer. Let your King do his King thing. 🙂

 

 

 

Mighty is our God.

I arrived at Saturday’s prayer vigil slightly late because I was outside on the phone with Granny, and we were talking/crying about how thankful we both were to be married to the right man. After more than 60 years of marriage, having been married at 18, Granny was dealing with the emotions of her partner getting ready to join Jesus. Granny is a very plucky lady who I admire greatly. After hanging up, I entered the foyer, didn’t see anyone, and followed the sign on the door that said, “Prayer Cove.” Since I’m relatively new to the Lutheran world, and probably because I was already emotional, I didn’t even think of looking in the sanctuary, instead following the sign to the prayer cove.

It was lit by peaceful candles, had a note from our pastor on the board, and featured a huge cross with a scattering of concerns people had left at the cross. I sat down and began praying. This vigil focused on people battling cancer, so I started with the people I know fighting through it, and went from there. After awhile, I shifted gears and began praying for people within my family who need God’s intervention in their situations. On top of that, I have been struggling with my own health issues over the last year, so I prayed for that too. For many months it became hard to function in social settings. Some of this was a reaction to the medication intended to fix the problem, and some of it was fear of fainting or having a panic attack due to my body not regulating its chemical levels correctly.

I have known for months that teaching at SML is where God wants me to be this year, and have been on a faith walk with Him believing that He will either miraculously fix me or lead me to the right physician to get it done. I’m mollified to admit it, but wanting to feel healthy again has been more than slightly consuming, while achieving nothing useful. As my mind began to spiral focusing in on my singular issue….

God spoke, “You need to stop thinking about your health. You need to think of and take care of my kingdom. Let me take care of you. You take care of my kids while I work on fixing you. I am Mighty and I am Moving. I am providing for you–my Strength is enough, but you need to claim it. Stand confidently in the grace of being my child. Arm yourself and I will fight your battles for you.”

I was floored. I instantly felt a deep level of peace and confidence that God’s might is powerful, and He will give his disciples, me included, the strength needed to do His will. This is revolutionizing my patterns of thought. There isn’t any situation that can impede His plan. Over the past few days I have been consciously and consistently putting on the armor of God and focusing on His kingdom. It has been the first time since the end of March that I’ve felt strong. It is completely due to the Might of our God. It isn’t because of my strength or a sudden ability to handle the signals my body is sending, but is entirely because I am confidently claiming what God told me to–each and every opportunity I have.

Over the last few days, some pretty big events have happened within my family. It isn’t the time for them to be shared in a public forum, but I can confidently say that God is clearly on the move. He is doing mighty things for the health and life situations of family members. He also unexpectedly provided in some life changing ways to Adam and I personally. In addition, He took home my Grandpa Chief late last night. As much as the family will miss him, I have complete peace knowing that He is partying with Jesus and his family who passed before him on this gorgeous, starry night. Chief lived a long life and I am confident he was welcomed into heaven with the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

The journey continues tomorrow as Lilah and I begin our school year at St. Mark. I keep getting nervous, and then pulling my armor back up and passing off each worry, doubt, and fear to God’s team. And boy, has it felt like a siege. The devil sure wants to stop me teaching. That’s His battle to fight though. My job is to give it to Him and keep focused on each of those darling kids He has placed in my room this year. God will fight through all manner of things to help us fulfill our roles for Him.

So on my last night before resuming my official role as an educator, I claim for my kids the same words God spoke to me, “You need to think of and take care of my kingdom. Let me take care of you. I am Mighty and I am Moving. I am providing for you–my Strength is enough, but you need to claim it. Stand confidently in the grace of being my child. Arm yourself and I will fight your battles for you.”

What changes could a school see if each kid asked God to fight the human battles, while the kids focused on knowing God and building His kingdom? Check back with me in May and I will let you know.