Waiting for Rain…

You all, we need rain.  Badly.  You can see the results of the lack of rain on most people’s lawns around here… especially mine.  It’s not pretty, you guys.  April has now passed and there was sadly no such thing as “April showers” this year.    Occasionally, we get a tiny little shower.  But most of the time, the rain they supposedly predict on weather forecasts never seems to come.  Meanwhile, I have friends in other parts of the country telling me it’s been raining every day where they live, and they are so over it.  I jokingly asked – or possibly even slightly begged – one of these friends the other day, if she could somehow send some our way.  If only it were that easy…

But on a serious note, isn’t it the same way in our spiritual walks quite often?  One person appears to be feasting while someone else feels like they are fasting.  It’s like walking through a spiritual desert, longing for some word from God, the source of Living Water, to quench our parched souls.  Another person is just bubbling over with all the Lord has been teaching her lately, while another opens her Bible for what feels like months on end of seemingly no real dynamic connection with Him.

There seems to be this commonly held belief that every day walking with God should leave us feeling so close to Him, that all we are constantly learning from Him just joyfully spills over onto everyone around us.  But boy, is that not the case at times, at least for me.  Dry times seem to come more often than those times of spiritual refreshing and renewal.   So how do we endure those dry times well when we are undoubtedly faced with them?  I’ve been learning a few things through my own dry times lately that I hope I can encourage you with today.

1. Dry times come to all of us. And don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.  No matter how much it seems like someone has got it all together, has a way more dynamic relationship with Christ than you do, or has so many exciting things going for her that you can’t imagine her life being anything but perfect – don’t let what you see on the outside fool you.  Everyone goes through loneliness, questioning, and times when God seems absent… even those people who never share about them.

2. Dry times are different from dream pauses. Sometimes, because dreams of mine for the future are on hold for the present, it’s easy to think that God isn’t really speaking to me right now.  Instead, I must remember that what He has to show me today may be right in front of me in the everyday mundane and smaller picture, instead of just looking at the bigger picture and saying He’s being silent.

3. Dry times are better endured together.  I know for me personally, the need is great, particularly during those harder seasons in life, to have friends nearby who can remind you of Truth when you most need to hear it – even when you don’t want to hear it.  We all experience seasons that are unique to us, and since we all won’t be in a dry season at the same time, those of us who aren’t walking through deserts can be great encouragers for those who feel like they are.

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4. Usually the only way out is through.  Life is just plain hard sometimes, and often God does seem far away.  We send up repeated prayers and feel like they may never be answered.  We read our Bibles and don’t take away half of what we wish we did.  Yet, God’s promised that His Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11), and that He will reward those who remain faithful to Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Keep pressing in and stay faithful, trusting He is working something good even when you have no idea what He’s up to and don’t understand His plan.

5. You never know when the rain might fall. Just like I’ve learned from watching the local weather forecasts, no one can really predict the future when it comes to rain.  Even the supposed “experts.”  Keep a positive attitude, remembering that He loves you and is with you even when you don’t sense His presence.  One day, perhaps when you least expect it, you’ll have some amazing and life changing moment with your Heavenly Father.  And like the beautiful rainbow that comes after an intense storm, the dry dark time in your life will result in an even more amplified and stunning encounter with the One who truly does know you best.

Hang in there, friend.  The rain is coming.  I’m believing it for both of us today.

christydsiggy2013

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Laying aside the weights…

So, I still feel like I need to pinch myself when I say this out loud… but I ran a half marathon a little over a month ago.  It doesn’t seem possible that first, it was over a month ago. (Who else feels like this year is just flying?)  But more importantly, that I ran that many miles.  13.1 to be exact.   You see, last summer I got this crazy idea to run Disney’s Princess half marathon the following February.  I’m not much of a runner and it’s always been kind of a bucket list thing to be able to say I’ve completed a half marathon – someday.  But when I saw that the upcoming Princess half was going to fall on the date of the 4th anniversary of B’s death, I knew I had to run it.   I had this vision of creating some beauty on what can seem from an earthly perspective to be a very hard day, and I wanted to defy my odds and bring God glory for helping me accomplish something I would never be able to do on my own.

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So I called my friend Desiree, because she’s amazing and someone I can share pretty much all my crazy ideas with and know she will listen.  And she decided to do it with me!  In the seven months to follow, we both set aside hours on end for training time, encouraging each other and – let’s be honest- whining some to each other too.  (That much running is tough!) At last it was race day, and after what felt like three hours of sleep, we were off to the start line.

Now to tell you this race was incredible doesn’t even seem to scratch the surface of all that this race meant for me.  The Lord taught me so many lessons both throughout my training and during the actual race.  Receiving that medal meant so much more to me than just completing the race, because it showed me yet again that I can do hard things, but only through His strength in me.  But the biggest lesson I took away that day was the reminder of weights.

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You see, we didn’t know how cold it would be at 5:00 a.m. when we would be standing around waiting for our corral to get the start signal.  So I went out beforehand and bought some cheap cold weather clothes on clearance that I could toss later in the race, which would all go to a homeless shelter.  (How cool is that?)  I was so glad I had that warm jacket as I began running, but as the sun began to rise and the weather got a little warmer, I started to struggle with what to do with my jacket.  Because apparently I had grown a little too attached to it.  It was a really cute running jacket, and I got it for quite the steal.  And right then, silly old me did not want to give up that jacket.

I know now how ridiculous that is, looking back on it.  It’s just a jacket.  But in the moment, I was conflicted until this one phrase from Scripture popped into my mind: “lay aside every weight…”  I couldn’t even remember the whole passage right then with my mind and body fixed on running, but I knew the context was a race and was written to tell believers to focus on finishing their race well.   And I knew then that I was being so silly.  If I was starting to sweat with this jacket on at mile 4, how was I going to feel at mile 8?  And even if I took off the jacket and tied it around me for half of the race, how much harder would it be for me to run as I got tired with “extras” strapped onto me?

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So I chose to throw it off, and as I ran past the place where I left that jacket on the side of the road, I thought of so much in life that weighs us down.   There are just plain hardships that we face that can’t  be helped, because we are living in a fallen world that groans for the Creator to restore its original beauty and sinlessness.  But there are also the “weights” that we needlessly put on ourselves – of worry, anxiety over the future, fear of unknowns, and the results of focusing too much on what we can’t control and yet so often try to.   They leave us living with an overall heaviness and the inability to breathe easily.  We aren’t able to remember that each day we have to live is a gift given to us by our Heavenly Father who loves us, and is writing a story more beautiful than we could ever comprehend.

I don’t know why it took a silly old jacket to remind me of how much easier life is when I let my Father carry me through it, instead of strapping unnecessary weights and burdens to myself that will only make life more difficult.  But I do know that my race that day was much easier when I continued running it without my cute, but bulky, cold weather accessories.

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And as I reached the finish line, I celebrated, knowing that I did my very best.  Which is what I want to be able to say about the way I ran this much lengthier race called life too.  Yes, there will always be obstacles and hardships.  There will be aches and pains and times when I can’t stop crying and when I don’t feel like taking another step.  But I will.  Because my eyes are on Jesus, and He’s shown through the Cross that there’s victory in the end.  And because, when the needless weights aren’t on me, I’m free to run as hard and as fast as I can for the finish line.  That, I learned firsthand last month, is a very exhilarating feeling.

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith…” -Hebrews 12:1-2a

christydsiggy2013

 

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Book Review – Redeeming Grace (Ruth’s Story)

I recently had the opportunity to read and review the new book Redeeming Grace, by Jill Eileen Smith.  This is a biblical fiction book based on the life and story of Ruth.  I have read other books in this series based on other women in the Bible, and was excited to see another book out based on one of my favorite Bible characters. Smith tells the story of Ruth’s marriage to Naomi’s son Mahlon, and … {…Read More}

Rediscovering my “why”…

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have a big place in my heart for Compassion International, and the work they are doing around the world to offer sponsorships for children in need.  I am happy to blog for Compassion and share its mission with others because I think it’s important.  It’s been awhile though, since I’ve mentioned anything about Compassion.  Lately, it’s been easy to go through the motions a little … {…Read More}

New Year, New Word… or Not.

We’ve all just turned the page on another calendar year, and the wave of opportunity and fresh starts has hit us once again.  No matter how bad or how good 2016 turned out, it’s over – and we each have been blessed with a blank slate of another year to write on.  I know that at least for me, the realization that it’s once again the time of the year to reevaluate my life and … {…Read More}

Thanksgiving blessings…

Just like that, another Thanksgiving is upon us.  (Does anyone else feel like this year flew by?) For those who have experienced loss, this can be such a bittersweet time of counting our blessings, yet feeling that ache of missing those no longer with us that churns in our hearts a little stronger around holidays.  We are definitely feeling it, but there is still so much to be grateful for, and I always want to try … {…Read More}

When the carving brings hope…

A few weeks ago, we sat down like so many other American families this time of year, to invest a night in the activity of carving pumpkins.  Now, you must understand that I make this incorrect assumption every year when we buy pumpkins and plan our carving night… that is, I tell myself that my kids are old enough to do the carving now.  I know.  Faulty.  But to justify my thoughts, my kids do … {…Read More}

The beauty of the slow brew…

I will never forget the way our house used to smell each morning after I brewed a pot of coffee. It wasn’t just any old brand of coffee, either. This was coffee made of rich Ethiopian beans that we would get through a company supporting fair trade and small business opportunities in developing countries. And, as an extra bonus, five dollars of every bag bought went to help fund our pending adoption. B never really enjoyed … {…Read More}

Why we should all keep walking…

I don’t know what it is about walking, but it’s really enjoyable for me. And I feel like I don’t do enough of it. Walking is an easy task in and of itself, but it can sometimes be laborious too. You can set out for a walk eager to get some exercise, and come back home exhausted due to the length of the walk you took. Of course, now that I’m trying to train for … {…Read More}

When birthdays become life lessons…

Calling all the mamas out there today… Yes, you, with the child you feel like you are constantly disciplining for the same old reason.  The one who wears you out with the way you have to stay on top of them with a balance of discipline and love, wishing you could just love without the discipline for just one day.  Isn’t disciplining so exhausting?  It wears me out and makes me long for a day … {…Read More}