When God sends an angel
When God sends an angel
April 28, 2017
I woke up today feeling weak, tired, and defeated. Tears rolled down my cheeks so easily the past 24 hours. Hormones or the Holy Spirit, I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been awfully weepy. This morning, I had an appointment (a coffee date) with a volunteer I worked with at the job I quit and I was secretly dreading it. You know those days you just want to roll up the covers and stay in bed? That’s how I felt today. Having to show up, to listen, to function wasn’t on my radar. Running out the door, I said a quick prayer in the car. “Jesus, I need you. Please reveal your heart to me today.”
He sent Rosanna.
This petite, fiery Italian lights up a room. She is passionate and kind. She is driven and thoughtful. She’s someone you can let your shoulders down and breathe around. A life giver. Someone who sees your heart and loves you all the more for it. Being around her was a breath of fresh air. Jesus brought her a message for me. “Be strong. All those toxic people — they’re not meant to be in your life. You don’t have to bend over backward to make them happy. Rather, let God have them and stay away.” This is so foreign to me. Always the rescuer. Always the one to save the world. Stay away? But they need me. Don’t they?
It’s not about me. It’s not about me at all. I am not the rescuer. I am not the savior. A few years ago, my counselor showed me this picture of two yards. Everyone has his/her own yard and contained within it is a person’s responsibilities, feelings, actions and consequences. Everyone is responsible for his/her own yard. Well, I have a tendency to “jump yards.” If people aren’t feeling happy, it is my job to give them my happiness. If people are grumpy, it is my job to give them my joy. If people are downright mean, it is my job to give them Jesus. What I never realized is that the people I “saved” pretty much stayed unhappy, grumpy and mean. And I was left feeling tired, joyless and anxious. What was I missing?
There’s a Bible verse that I thought was neat, but never really understood. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matthew 7:6). I always thought this verse was funny because my mom and I call guys “dogs” (not all of them, but you know the kind I’m talking about). It is beneficial not to give a “dog” your heart because it will be broken. In a larger sense, I think Jesus is talking about sharing the good news of His Kingdom. We’re responsible for sharing His love with everyone, yes, but we are not responsible for people’s reactions. What’s in our yard and what’s in theirs? If someone continues to trample us, we do not need to go back to him/her over and over. It’s okay to let them go and pray.
My counselor said this week, “Sometimes the best place for someone to be is in God’s hands.” Now, we’re always in God’s hands, but if you’re like me, I hold on to people. I hold tight. I don’t let God have them until I’ve done everything I can to help, rescue, fix and change them. I’m slowly learning now that I am not the hero. But God is. He knows their heart. He knows exactly what they need. And I can trust Him.
This is the year of letting go. Of releasing control. Of rest. Letting go and surrendering to God. Releasing control to a God who already has it. And resting in a God whose entire essence is loving kindness.
© Lauren L. Hansen and www.laurenlhansen.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lauren L. Hansen and www.laurenlhansen.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Blog posts may also be viewed at https://medium.com/@laurenlhansen.
When you aren't chosen by someone
When you aren't chosen by someone
April 30, 2017
When I first began to see a counselor, my boyfriend of nearly three years and I had just broken up. He lived out of state at the time and as I was lining up to enter my Master’s graduation ceremony, all of a sudden, I saw him out of the corner of my eye. “He came for me,” I excitedly thought. One for surprises, it wasn’t odd for him to show up at my door on birthdays and random occasions. He was a very thoughtful man. I ran to him and jumped in his arms. Beaming, I crossed the stage feeling so sought after and loved.
That night, we planned to get together. I enjoyed a celebration dinner with my family and raced back home excited to see him. Hours and minutes ticked by but the doorbell never rang. I sat on my couch waiting and wondering when he would arrive. Finally, I crawled into bed, my chest feeling empty and my heart sad.
In the morning, I realized I was wrong. He hadn’t come to see me. In the days to come, he admitted to me that there was someone else — and that there had been someone else for quite some time. I was crushed.
“Why didn’t he pick me?” I asked my counselor, crying in her office. “Why am I not good enough?” “How could people cheat?” “Why do they want to hurt people like this?” The pain was so deep. Every night I would crawl into bed and sob. I wondered if my broken heart would ever heal. One day, I was crying and I felt this voice in my head. Not an audible voice, but it was clear as day. “Lauren, I am protecting you.”
I knew it was God and I had a decision to make. Would I trust Him or continue to wallow in the rejection? Deep down in my soul, I knew the on-again-off-again relationship I had been in wasn’t healthy. But I was in love. I don’t think God told my boyfriend to cheat on me, but I do think He knew I wouldn’t leave the relationship. In some way, could God actually be protecting me?
Months passed and I cried a lot. Some days were brighter than others. Some days were pretty dark. Songs on the radio and smells would trigger memories and I would shatter to pieces again. Slowly, I began to deal with the rejection, anger, and pain. Camped out in the book of Isaiah during this time, God held my heart in sweet, gentle ways:
“Never again will you be called ‘The Forsaken City’ or ‘The Desolate Land.’ Your new name will be ‘The City of God’s Delight’ and ‘The Bride of God,’ for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as His bride.” -Isaiah 62:4
“For your Maker is your husband — the Lord Almighty is His name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” -Isaiah 54:5
“I have chosen you and not rejected you.” -Isaiah 41:9
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord." -Isaiah 55:8
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:31
“You are precious and honored in my sight and I love you.” -Isaiah 43:4
These verses brought me back to life. I read them over and over and over. They reminded me that I was chosen. I may not be chosen by people, but I am chosen by the God of the universe. He pursues my heart and loves me dearly. I can trust Him.
This morning on my social media page, an old comment from my ex-boyfriend popped up on the screen. In addition to the comment was a photo of the girl he chose instead of me. But today, it didn’t sting the way it used to. Thankful for a God who protects and guards my heart, I am beginning to see His hand even in the most painful parts of life. He is an expert in creating beauty out of ashes. And scrolling through this time, for the first time, a small smile stretched across my face.
When you're tired of giving into fear
When you're tired of giving into fear
May 1, 2017
Last Thursday morning, a friend and I went to a young professional’s breakfast featuring a really neat speaker. After filling our plates with tomato basil eggs, bacon and cantaloupe, we introduced ourselves to the people at our table and scanned the speaker’s free book. Soon, the speaker shared her story. After a difficult adjustment to life in the big city, she began to hide “love letters” of encouragement around NYC. On a whim, she promised to write and mail a love letter to anyone who requested one through her blog. Over 250,000 letters later, her hobby has become a full-fledged organization. Her mission: to spread love.
The author’s speech was interactive and throughout her talk, she posed questions for us to discuss at our tables. “What is one thing a year from now you want to say you changed or made different?” As people contemplated the question, my answer popped into my mind quickly. “Fear. I don’t want to be ruled by fear so much.” Fear of disappointing people. Fear of rejection. Fear of losing my loved ones. Fear of evil. Fear of not being enough. Fear of depression. Fear of not living the abundant life that Jesus said He came to give us. For much of my life, fear has controlled my decisions, conversations, thoughts and plans. It’s exhausting and debilitating.
Yesterday, I woke up with so. much. anxiety. I prayed but couldn’t shake it. I quickly read some Bible verses but couldn’t shake it. I went to lunch with my family but even their words couldn’t shake it. My wise brother (who has the most positive attitude of anyone I know) said that it’s all in my mind. I just needed to cultivate a positive mindset. This sounds great in theory, but when you are riddled with anxiety and someone tells you to “cultivate a positive mindset,” it just adds to your anxiety. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I cultivate a positive mindset? I need to try harder. But I’m too exhausted to try.
I am so thankful that God is continuously pursuing us with His love. Later that day, the Bible app on my phone “happened” to buzz with a new study from Louie Giglio (one of my favorite pastors). The words jumped off the screen. “The solution to facing the giant of fear is not determination but faith in Jesus. It isn’t so much saying, ‘Fear, go away,’ but confessing, ‘I have confidence that Jesus is bigger than this giant and has already defeated it.’ In Romans 10:17, Paul states, ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God.’ When you see and hear God in and through His Word, the Word allows you to see and hear that He is bigger than your giant. That builds up your faith, and your faith in turn becomes the stone that shuts up the giant that’s already defeated. So today, identify the source of your fear and place it in the hands of Jesus. Remind yourself that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) and He is able to overcome this giant. Remember that Jesus has promised to always be with you (Hebrews 13:5). Name what is keeping you up at night and then offload those cares to the One who has promised to care for you (1 Peter 5:7). Then fill your mouth with praise because you see God’s might, recognize His love for you, and know He will always come through. His compassion will never fail (Lamentations 3:22).” -Louie Giglio
I wish I could say I read that and all of my fears vanished. That wasn’t the case, but it did give me hope and a place to go. I am so grateful we can take each fear to the God who created the stars and the skies, the God who knit our hearts, and the God who dearly loves you and me. And I am excited to read His “love letter” tonight to see what He wishes to share with me.
The greatest adventure of your life
The greatest adventure of your life
May 4, 2017
In March, I resigned from my job to learn how to rest. It sounds silly, but I don’t know how to rest. I don’t really understand work/life balance and I have a really hard time turning that voice in my brain off. The first week of unemployment, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Does “resting” mean sleeping for 15 hours? Does it mean watching 12 “Gilmore Girls” re-runs in one day? How often am I supposed to see people? I was restless and anxious and didn’t know how to spend this new free time. So I booked a vacation to California.
One of my very best friends lives in California, so I planned a few days to visit him and a few days to have a mini-retreat with God. After a few wonderful days in Rancho Cucamonga (the best city name ever, if you ask me), I drove solo to the Pacific Coast. It was too early to check into my hotel, so I took a detour and hiked the Laguna Canyon. I laced up my gym shoes, clicked on my hydration belt and studied the six-mile trail map the park ranger gave me. This little trail quickly led up the mountain and after a few minutes, it was just nature and I. As I hiked up the mountain, I poured out my heart to God — everything from the past few years, all of the thoughts and questions I’ve had, and I asked Him to reveal His heart to me.
There’s this story in the book of 1 Kings where the prophet Elijah has this really cool God moment. When his enemies find out, they threaten to kill him so he runs for his life. He runs into the wilderness and tells God to essentially take his life because he’s so afraid and exhausted. “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died,” he says (1 Kings 19:4). He had just witnessed miracle after miracle, but forgot. God, instead of being angry or upset at Elijah, sends an angel to feed him. Then, the angel encourages him to sleep. The angel wakes him up later to feed him again.
This story touches the depths of my soul. A lot of times, I think people envision God as this big, mighty guy in the sky, ready to yell and punish us. But the Bible says that God’s essence is hesed. His character is hesed. Hesed is a Hebrew word that means “loving-kindness.” He looks at us, His very own creation, with loving-kindness. It is who He is.
Do you ever think about your birth? The Bible says that before God knit us in our mother’s womb, He knew us (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13). He chose to create us. We are precious in His sight (Isaiah 43:4). He is the artist and we are His masterpiece.
After Elijah is well-rested and nourished, God meets him on a mountain. All of a sudden, there’s a mighty windstorm. “But the Lord was not in the wind” (1 Kings 19:11). Then, there’s an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake (1 Kings 19:11). Then, there’s a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire (1 Kings 19:12). After the fire, there was a still, small voice. And God was there.
I don’t think you have to go to the top of a mountain to hear God’s still, small voice. I do think he does beautiful things when He helps us quiet our mind, though. And as I poured out my heart to God on that California mountain, He met me there. He reminded me of things I had forgotten. He started to fill me up with hope and joy. Later in the vacation, through the people I met and the books I read, He spoke to the deepest parts of my heart. And He answered my prayer — He revealed His heart to me. His loving-kindness heart.
I have so many more stories that I will share another day, but let me just say, He is real and He is more than you could have ever imagined. You can trust Him because His essence is goodness and love. Ask Him to reveal His heart to you. Keep asking. Ask Him to open your eyes. He will feed you and help you rest in Him and He’ll feed you again. He will fill your soul in a way no one else can. And He will invite you in to the greatest adventure of your life.
A daddy's love
A daddy's love
May 5, 2017
This one’s for the girls. For the girls who had the best fathers and the girls who wished they did. For the girls who never had a father or whose father is no longer alive. I know the father/son relationship is also very important, but I don’t have experience in that arena. So tonight, I write to my girls.
This evening, I participated in our church’s emergency training for volunteers. Before the official training began, we were asked to introduce ourselves to a few people we didn’t know. As I was driving to the training, I asked God to prepare the way because I knew there wouldn’t be many people there that I knew well. During that time of introduction, He put Derrick and Dan in my path. Derrick introduced himself and I soon learned he would be leading the safety training that night. I noticed a little girl near him and asked if she was his. He smiled and said, “Yes” and explained that she wanted to join him tonight. Throughout the training, it was a joy to watch her proudly look up at her dad.
Then I met Dan. Our pastor asked us to share a “fun fact” with each other and his fun fact was that his daughter was at her prom tonight. He beamed as he shared that with me. I could sense his love for his little girl and I smiled, envisioning her in her beautiful dress at prom.
There’s this really wonderful book about a woman’s soul called Captivating. In it, author Stasi Eldredge writes, “Little girls need the tender strength of their fathers. They need to know that their daddies are strong and will protect them; they need to know that their fathers are for them. Above all, a little girl learns the answer to her Question (Am I lovely? Do you see me? Do you want to see me?) from her father. Remember twirling skirts? We twirled in front of our daddies. We wanted to know, ‘Daddy, am I lovely? Am I captivating?’ From them, we learn that we are delighted in, that we are special…or that we are not. How a father relates to his daughter has an enormous effect on her soul — for good or for evil” (p. 62).
As I think of Derrick and Dan with their daughters, I am filled with such joy. They are bringing so much good into this world, giving their daughters such a great foundation of love. They are tangibly showing their daughters a glimpse into how God feels about them. However, I know this is not always the case. Some daughters have absent fathers or abusive fathers or passive fathers. In my life, my dad did the best he could, but he had a really difficult childhood that bled out into how he fathered me. But I have good news. We have the perfect Father. He really is the only one who can answer our heart’s deepest questions and fill our soul’s deepest longings.
So tonight, I want to remind you — whether you’re missing your earthly father, still processing wounds he imparted on you, or basking in gratitude for his love — I want to remind you that you also have a forever Father who adores you. This is what He says about you:
“You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you.” -Isaiah 43:4
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” -Jeremiah 1:5
“You are my masterpiece.” -Ephesians 2:10
“Nothing will separate you from my love.” -Romans 8:38–39
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” -Jesus (Matthew 11:28–30)
“I will never leave you or forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6
“I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters.” -2 Corinthians 6:18
Ask God to show you His love. Ask Him to show you what type of Father He is. Ask Him to answer your deepest questions. Ask Him to fill your deepest longings. Continue to pour your heart out to Him. He loves you so very much and He delights in lavishing His love on you personally. You can trust Him with your heart.
May 8, 2017
Each week in my women’s Bible study small group (nicknamed: Young and Sassy! YAS for short — yeah, we’re cool like that), we start off the night sharing “God sightings.” I’m not sure anyone in our group has actually seen God physically, but we share moments of how we see His work in our lives and around us. In the past six years, I have heard stories all across the spectrum. Stories of exhausted girls who received a free cup of coffee out of the blue, to girls whose ovarian cysts were healed overnight. Each story, whether simple or miraculous, builds the bricks of my faith foundation. It also gives me insight into the depth of God’s character, love, and kindness.
I’m involved in another Bible study class on Monday nights (hey, what else are you supposed to do when you’re not working?) and tonight was the last class of the year. This international program, called Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), meets across the world. From September until May, everyone studies the same book of the Bible. This year, we studied John. I just joined BSF in late March, but it has been so neat going through the last chapters of John in-depth. Tonight was a “Sharing Night” where the women shared how God has moved in their lives through the study of John all year.
I wish you were sitting next to me there. Women told stories with tears in their eyes of how they had experienced Jesus as their “good shepherd” (John 10:11). I know we often see that photo of Jesus carrying a soft, woolly lamb on His shoulders, but shepherds are so much more than that. They watch all sheep all day, making sure they don’t fall off cliffs (sheep aren’t the brightest animals). They guide their sheep to food and streams of water. Shepherds are on guard at night, protecting their sheep from predators and thieves. Their role is active and personal and they know what each sheep needs.
Women told stories of how Jesus’s patience and kindness with His disciples (also not the brightest bunch) touched their hearts. When Jesus was crucified, many of his disciples fled out of fear. Instead of being angry at them when he was resurrected, Jesus’s first greeting to them was “Peace!” (John 20:19). Women told stories of the worthiness they felt when Jesus first appeared to women after His resurrection (John 20:16). Women were not very highly revered in Jesus’s day. But Jesus loved them. Others told stories of how Jesus spoke to them so personally through words of the Bible and the experiences they had gone through this year.
I raised my hand to share. Although new to the study, I had been praying for Jesus to reveal His heart to me over the past few months. I had always felt like Jesus was disappointed in me and that I wasn’t enough. So I’ve been asking Jesus to show me what He’s really like and what He thinks of me. Because I joined BSF in late March, I’ve only studied the last chapters of John which have mostly focused on Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection. But man, Jesus has answered my prayer.
What I learned through the in-depth study is how Jesus was in control of every detail of his death (even details written 700 years ago). The precise way His death happened, His burial, and His resurrection confirm He is who He says He is. That’s all really neat and important, but this is the real “God sighting” for me. He did it all for love. He did it all willingly because He loves me. Because He loves you. Because He loves all of us. Right where we’re at. He was in control of his death and, yes, it was hard, but He did it for love. His love for us is so deep and I’m only beginning to glean it. God is in every detail and His character is loving-kindness. We live in a messed up world, yes, but our God is a restorer and redeemer and lover of our souls. He has a beautiful plan and invites us into it. And it’s all because of love.
Ask Him to show you. Ask Him to reveal His true heart to you, His love to you. He delights in lavishing His love. Ask Him to open your eyes to see it. Keep asking. Don’t lose hope. He loves you so much. As you sleep tonight, I’m praying that He begins to give you a glimpse into the love He has for you. It’s so deep and so rich and so beautiful. You are His masterpiece and He adores you. Ask Him for your very own “God sighting” this week.
Why I hope you have the chance to meet my mom
Why I hope you have the chance to meet my mom
May 11, 2017
Dancing queen. Baby holder. Letter writer. Jesus lover. Wisdom giver. Toolkit master. Rap star in another life. But I know her as mom. She’s been there since my day one, as Drake says. And I hope you have a chance to meet her.
You may be the only Jesus someone ever sees. If you meet my mom, it’s like meeting Jesus’s best friend. They’re always talking, always laughing, always singing, always dancing. She knows His heart and He knows hers. She inspires you to want to know Him, too.
If you have the chance to meet my mom, here are a few things you should know:
You won’t be judged. I know people sometimes picture Jesus as a stern judge, but He isn’t. “God sent His son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). My mom is like Jesus in this way. She accepts you as you are and finds beauty in you instantly. (Unless you steal her parking spot — then, get out of the way. Just kidding! Kind of…)
You’ll be pointed to the Rock. No, not the big, muscular actor (even though he is dreamy). She’ll point you to the best Rock. My mom knows Jesus’s heart is full of loving-kindness. So when you face something difficult, she’ll point you to His loving arms and remind you that He cares deeply.
You’ll have lots of “aha!” moments. Jesus promises to give us wisdom if we ask (James 1:5) and He gives my mom wisdom all of the time. When I was a little girl, I loved listening to my mom’s conversations on the phone. She always knows how to comfort, encourage, direct, guide and give people dignity.
You’ll experience joy. Joy transcends circumstances. My mom will dance with you in hospital waiting rooms. She’ll make you laugh when you are facing the deepest depression. She’ll remind you of your blessings when all you see is your pain.
You may be in the pit — but you won’t stay there long. One of my favorite things about Jesus, and my mom, is that they pull you out of the pit. Out of the pit of fear. Out of the pit of despair. Out of the pit of perfection. Out of the pit of loneliness. Out of the pit of exhaustion. They physically pick you up and carry you out of the pit. When you are with them, they breathe life into you. They remind you that you will get through this and that you are never alone.
You’ll have fun. Jesus said He came so that we would have life and have it to the full (John 10:10) and my mom knows this well. She’s been caught many times singing to Justin Timberlake blasting out of her car stereo (you should see the look on the faces of police officers). Last weekend, I walked into her house and caught her dancing in the living room. My mom sees every blessing and joy in life, even in the hard stuff. If you have the chance to meet her, you will have a blast.
Throughout my life, the person that draws me to know Jesus more is my mom. She knows He is trustworthy. She knows He is good. She knows He is for us. She knows He is love. She thinks He has the funniest sense of humor. As we fall in love with Jesus, His desire is to make us more like Him. My mom is Jesus to me on this earth and I hope you have the chance to meet her someday.
Don't read this blog post -- No, I'm serious
Don't read this blog post -- No, I'm serious
May 15, 2017
I hopped on a stationary bike in the gym the other day, popped in my earbuds and started to listen to a really great podcast. Halfway through, a friend of mine jumped on the bike next to me so I took my earbuds out, excited for some company. We chatted for a minute, but as I asked him a few questions, I glanced over because he wasn’t responding. He was watching a video on his phone. A couple of minutes later, I asked a few more questions to no avail. Finally, I asked, “What are you watching?” and we watched a video of some random guy break-dancing. Then, he went back to his apps and I was left feeling a void in my chest. Reluctantly, I popped my earbuds back in and finished listening to my podcast.
(Okay, before I go on — I’ve totally been this person before, texting people at the dinner table while I’m with friends etc. My friend is a really great guy and roles could very easily have been reversed in another situation, but I’m using this story as an example. Okay, read on).
Tonight, I listened to part two of the really great podcast and learned that many of us have an actual addiction to our phones. When we receive social media notifications, our brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine that reacts with a D2 receptor in our brain. When researchers fed rats junk food, a study by the Scripps Research Institute found that the rats’ reward pathways had been overstimulated and created an addiction-like response, actually rewiring the rats’ brains. Similarly, as we check our phones and see “21 likes,” our reward pathways are overstimulated and we become addicted. Our brains are physically rewired. When we do not look at our phones for a day or have no notifications, we literally go through withdrawal.
Neuroscience aside, when you log-on to your favorite social media site and don’t have any notifications, isn’t there a small void in the pit of your stomach? And when that red circle with a number in it pops up, don’t you feel a surge of joy? I’ll admit I do.
I’m currently reading through the book of Jeremiah in the Bible. This morning, a verse popped out to me: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). I asked God, “What are the ancient paths?” Tonight as I listened to the podcast, I felt like God was lovingly telling me that He had something better in mind for me than dopamine-infested social media notifications.
And you will find rest for your souls. I sure don’t feel like my soul is at rest after scrolling through Facebook for an hour (or three). In ancient days, there was no social media. There was no electronic technology. There were no phone apps. Could God be leading me to put down my beloved phone?
In its place, I think God is also asking me to choose Him. At specific times in my life, occasionally certain Bible verses will come up over and over. Right now, it’s Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” In order to call to Him, to pour out my heart to Him, I have to make space to be with Him. When I have a free moment, though, what do I do? Grab my phone and start scrolling.
So, what do we do? Inspired by tonight’s podcast, I’m going to do a 31-Day Challenge and spend a day (or two) a week completely off social media. With that time, I plan to journal, to read, to pray, to seek God. I’m excited to see how He shows up (after I get over the withdrawal symptoms! Lord, please help me). I invite you to join me, too.
I’m sorry to have added to your social media scrolling with this post, but I pray it inspires you to make space in your own life. I pray that you experience God’s love for you in beautiful ways over these next 31 days. And together, I pray that we may encounter the ancient paths and find true rest for our souls.
The most beautiful story you'll read all day
The most beautiful story you'll read all day
May 17, 2017
We’ll see if I can write this because I my mind is seriously blown. Amazed. Inspired. Overjoyed. I want to jump around like a little girl in a princess store.
Let me tell you why.
Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine told me that my former colleague’s son was in a pretty severe car accident. A driver hoping to pass the car in front of him hit a car in the other lane head-on. His son was in that other car. Thankfully, he is alive, but suffered a broken collarbone, broken ribs and broken pelvis. He is now home recovering, and my friend is trying to balance caring for his elderly mother and hurt son, while working his full-time job.
My friend asked me to pray for him because he was feeling pretty overwhelmed and I said I would. A few days later, I was praying for peace and healing and all of a sudden, the words “Go Fund Me” popped in my head. I wasn’t really thinking about money and the words came out of no where, but I felt like God was prompting me to set up a GoFundMe page. In fifteen short minutes, I created the page, posted it on my Facebook, and asked people to give. Within 48 hours, people had donated $555.
Two weeks have passed and last night, I e-mailed my friend to let him know about the $555. This morning, I received this e-mail from him:
I am so incredibly floored this morning. I don’t even know if I have words to express my gratitude to both you and to Christ. It is the timing of this email that hits me the most. Today is my son’s 26th birthday and he is getting cut off of our insurance as of today. As he is cut off, doctors won’t take him anymore, so I have been trying to figure out how I am going to come up with the $300 per month to swing the insurance for him. If he has insurance, they will take him even if there is a large deductible. I woke up at 3 AM this morning thinking about how I am going to do this, and honestly feeling a little abandoned. I decided to check my work emails and this is what I saw. I cried a little when I read this, and am still in disbelief.
It really amazes me how God works and how lucky we are to have him in our lives. At the literal moment I felt like I was in darkness, God asked you to remind me of his love.
This is the beauty of God! He is a God of hope, of joy, of love, of kindness, of detail, of provision. He cares about every single detail of my colleague’s life. He cares about every single detail of your life. As we fall in love with Him, He gives us the opportunity to join him in the work He is doing in the lives of people around us. Not because He needs us — but because He knows it will bring us great joy. As we quiet ourselves and invite Him to spend time with us, He lavishes His love on us. From that love, He shows us how to pour that love out to help others know His love, too. He is amazing and incredible and more than we could have ever imagined!
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!” -Ephesians 3:20–21
Jesus, you rocked my world today. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your beauty. Thank you that you see so much more than we do. Thank you that your heart is full of loving-kindness. You. Are. Awesome!!!!! I love you so much.
When you get that dreaded phone call
When you get that dreaded phone call
May 22, 2017
I glanced down at my phone to see a missed call. “Daddy” flashed on the screen with the voicemail icon glowing. “It’s weird for him to call me in the morning,” I thought. And then I knew. Silently trembling, I pressed play.
“Lauren, I have another brain tumor.”
My dad had an MRI last Tuesday and waited for the results. He called me on Friday, hopeful because they hadn’t called him yet. “That must be a good sign, right?” he asked. A glimmer of hope, I said, “Yes, Daddy, that’s good. That’s really, really good.”
In 2011, my dad suddenly fell and we took him to the ER only to find out he had a brain tumor the size of a softball pushing on his brain. In the most challenging and beautifully painful weeks of my family’s life, my dad successfully came through brain surgery and recovered. (Here is the amazing story). About 18 months later, the tumors grew back — and they grew back 18 months after that, and 18 months after that.
This month marks 18 months since his last diagnosis. In some ways, I’ve been holding my breath since his MRI on Tuesday. This morning when I got the call, I knew. I knew in my gut what he was going to say. And I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks.
I know God knows everything and I really believe His heart is full of loving-kindness. I don’t think He causes brain tumors, but I do wonder if He lovingly prepares us for what’s to come. This past weekend, I was able to meet an author whose book impacted my life so deeply. In March, I was facing a really deep depression and the author’s words filled me with such hope. This weekend, I was able to thank her in person and it was such a beautiful gift from God.
The author was speaking at a women’s church conference and the theme of the weekend was Freedom. The speakers were powerful. They spoke of the deep freedom in the depths of our soul that we can have, regardless of circumstances, knowing that our God is in control and that we can trust Him. They talked about the chains that Jesus has broken for us and those chains we sometimes pick back up. In the middle of the first evening, I went up for prayer. I said, “I’m so fearful. I’m fearful of what may happen to my family. I’m fearful of what my future may hold. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to trust God fully.” This sweet woman, Christine, prayed a beautiful prayer for me. And throughout the weekend, God reminded me who He is and how much He loves us. Slowly, I felt the shackles of fear come off and I could breathe for the first time in a very long time.
God knew what was to come this morning. Instead of giving into worse-case scenarios, I had this deep peace inside that doesn’t make any sense. Yes, I cried, but there’s this peace in the depths of my soul that I can’t explain.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which is far greater than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6–7
That’s what it feels like. God is guarding my heart and mind. He filled me up this weekend because He knew that’s what I would need today. This is our God. Our world is not perfect; we were never promised perfection here. But we have a God who promises to be with us every single moment through it all. He knows our heart and He loves us deeply.
I don’t know what is going to happen with my dad, but I do know that he is also experiencing God’s deep peace. I called on my friends (aka “prayer warriors”) today and I know their prayers are making a difference. I’ve talked to my dad throughout the day and I can hear how God is guarding his heart and mind, too. What a gift.
Lord, I trust you. This life is so hard sometimes. It is so incredibly beautiful and it is so incredibly hard. Thank you that your heart is loving-kindness. Thank you that you prepare us for what is to come and you walk through it with us. Thank you that we are never alone. Thank you that you promise to be near the brokenhearted. I pray Lord that you are glorified through this and that a lot of people are able to see your true heart through this circumstance. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your love. Thank you for holding my heart in the palm of your hand.