Hope Dancing in the Darkness

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. -James 1:17

Ever feel like you aren’t sure when you’ll see the light of day-those times when the trials come but don’t let up-when darkness surrounds and you wonder if it will ever end-and you need that reminder of Hope?

God reminded me in a big way, recently, that He is still here, no matter what I am going through. Just when I needed a little light, BOOM! He was at work lighting up the night sky, putting on a full dancing display before dawn-while I was still fast asleep. I had no idea what I was about to witness for the first time.

Then two weeks ago, as I was dropping deeper into the slimy pit of depression and had just asked for prayer from both my husband and a friend, He did it again. My husband came running in from walking our dogs before bed and yelled that the Aurora Borealis was bobbing in the sky. These two sightings were indeed blessings, because in the year and a half that we have been in Alaska, we have waited anxiously to see the Northern Lights-something so breathtaking, that it’s written on many a bucket list. These were signs of hope from our Creator.

Jostled awake a few weeks ago, I arose to shouting voices and a panicked rush out the door. “It’s the Aurora Borealis. Hurry.” So, I stumbled to the mud room to pull on my snow boots, still not fully aware of what was going on, and I hobbled out the front door in the dark following my family. There it was. To my amazement, we finally saw it. Just when I needed it most, He blessed us with His magnificent light show. Just when I couldn’t see any further, because I was so caught up in my trials, His blessing was around the corner-but I didn’t know that. And, I had no idea He would shine His light so spectacularly a few days later.

And He likely has blessings just around the corner for us all. So, when it’s difficult to see the light, let’s remember that He is our light-waiting to shower us with His blessings. Let us not forget that he makes each day anew. So when the days are long and we don’t know when that trial we are going through will end, we can anticipate His blessings-blessings of hope that he sprinkles all around us. Let us not forget to keep our eyes open to all He has for us, because we never know when He will surprise us and shine a light on our darkness!

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. -Romans 13:12
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. -Isaiah 60:1

Know

Last night, I was awake until the wee hours of the morning. It wasn’t until just after 4am that I finally fell asleep. So, tonight I was looking forward to a full night’s slumber. My daughter’s breathing took a turn for the worse, however, and she started having an asthma attack just before bed. With her oxygen level dropping, I knew it was going to be a long night of me monitoring her every fifteen minutes.

And a long night, I can handle. Heck, having handled many long nights, I’m a pro. But, with the continual challenges we’ve been pounded with over the last several years, I am truly exhausted. As I prepared our girls’ schoolwork for tomorrow, I got lost in thought about the state of this world, the suffering so many are experiencing right now, and the weariness I’m feeling lately. I began spacing out. When my eyes came to focus, it happened to be on a copywork/handwriting worksheet I had pulled from a folder. A few minutes earlier when I had grabbed it, I hadn’t even noticed the verse that was on it, but it definitely caught my eye this time: Be still and know that I am God. The Bible verse, Psalm 46:10, is a well-known one. God spoke to me in that moment and somehow it hit me differently this time. When He told me to know-that I can rest assuredly in Him, I felt it. It was like a breath of fresh air. I could breathe and know.

And so can you! We can be still and confident-unmoved when all about us the turbulence of life attempts to throw us around, because He said to be still and know that He Is God. He has it all under control, even when the world rages and life feels out of control. And, for those struggles that pile up and start weighing us down? Let’s not forget to hand over the weight of what we cannot control, to Him.

Faith…No Matter What

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

How do you answer these questions from your own child? “Does God not care about me? Then why am I always sick?” Those were the questions our 11 year old asked me last night. And they were tough ones. Having dealt with my own chronic health issues since I was 13 years old, I ran from doctor to doctor for almost thirty years. With few answers, and left completely demoralized, I, too, have wondered this at times-days when I couldn’t bear the agony any longer.

Those many, many days when I felt as though I was on my deathbed, truly wondering if I would see another week, I wrestled with God about being chronically ill. “Why, God?” “Why?” And while I still have my good days and bad days, with my baseline far from perfect, God gives me the strength I need each day to get through. This isn’t just about me though.

To see my own child suffering through something very similar, is heartbreaking. Multiple mysterious symptoms. Several doctors. Numerous specialists. No concrete answers. And then, the questions that I can’t answer. “Mommy, when will I feel better?”

I wonder, how do I fill others with hope when I don’t see an end to their situation-especially my own child’s? This is where faith comes in. It is believing, even when we cannot see. It is grabbing onto Him and trusting, no matter what. When my daughter asked me if God cared about her, I had to remind her that of course He did, and that God is good no matter what.

The questions she asked did rattle me a bit however, I have to be honest, because I saw her in me. I don’t want what I’ve gone through for my daughter, yet these past few years, she’s been living it. Our family has been through a lot, and yet we persevere with God by our sides. So, if she takes away anything from me, I hope she sees that in my weakness, that I’m learning to depend on Him wholeheartedly, and that God is her hope and strength. And while I will do whatever I can to get her better, through it all, God is still good, because He is. We can’t let our faith be shaken in these instances. God is still who He says He is, even in times of testing, and I’m thankful for this.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain.” -John Henry Newman

**I would love to hear how you would answer the questions above if you were asked. Leave a comment below! And for anyone willing to lift our daughter up in prayer-prayer for good health and full healing, I would be extremely grateful.

An Angel and an Opportunity

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19

We hit the road for an early echocardiogram appointment two days before Thanksgiving and low and behold, we found ourselves in the least expected situation. Stranded on an Alaskan highway in 7 degree weather, with snow blowing all around us in the most dangerous intersection of the 142 mile stretch of highway, at 7:30 a.m., was not on my agenda that morning. We had our day planned out, but other plans panned out. And it gave us yet another opportunity to trust our Heavenly Father. What could have turned deadly quickly in those frigid weather conditions, instead was a rescue by an angel.

As we sat there on the side of the road with no heat, trying not to panic, we wondered how soon a tow truck in this small rural town could deliver us to an auto body shop. In full survival mode, trying to figure out what went horribly wrong and how to get out of the elements-something miraculous happened. Lovely people-3 different cars to be exact-began to pull over asking if we were ok. My biggest priority was finding someone who could take us home so we didn’t freeze to death. And we did. A woman on her way to work at the local hospital agreed to drive us 20 minutes in the opposite direction on this dark, snowy morning. And while the day sure didn’t end there, God kept providing.

Shortly after arriving home, my husband, who stayed with the car, was able to get a tow to the auto repair shop about an hour later. Several hours after that, the bad news came that our engine in our only vehicle-a car, with only 36,000 miles on it, mind you, likely blew due to the fault of the auto repair shop who changed our oil recently. And, it didn’t stop there. The owner told us he wasn’t sure there was even a rental car available in town. But again, God provided. With a rental car, my husband was on his way home. Once home, he gave me the news that the auto shop would pay for our rental car through Thanksgiving until the following Monday and then “figure something out”. Once again, our faith muscles were tested, and again, He provided.

And not only did he provide physically, he provided a new perspective: that a disaster can be an opportunity. It’s all about perspective, really. We can look at an extremely trying situation as a nightmare, or we can see the silver lining and what God may be trying to teach us. Maybe a day gone awry is actually a blessing in disguise-a strengthening of our faith-a lesson in learning to trust our Creator more fully. As for our car, we are still waiting for answers. Several events followed leaving us even further in the dark, which I will write about in another post. For now, while we are still unsure when our vehicle will be fixed, we will continue to trust.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. -Isaiah 41:13

Fear as an Idol

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. -2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

Can fear be an idol? This is something I recently began pondering. If we are drowning in our fears, instead of hiding in God, I believe it absolutely can be. When we are in fear, we are not trusting our Creator. And mistrust, is the opposite of having faith. If we are so frightened and wrapped up in our fears, we are not walking in faith-not believing that our Father has everything under control. When our fears are elevated to the point of interfering with our relationship with God, fear has become an idol. We must instead, give these fears to God and choose trust. By handing each thing we are afraid of over to Him, we can rest in peace knowing that he has us. He has our lives and those around us in his palms. This doesn’t mean we won’t have hardships, of course. He, however, will give us the strength to endure those trials, blanketing us with His peace along the way.

So do not fear, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

Misguided Hope and Healing

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” -Mark 5:34

Are there things in your life that are difficult for you to surrender and place into God’s hands? I realized recently that my health was one of those things I hadn’t yet fully surrendered into His care. A few weeks ago, my family and I made the two and a half hour trek to see an hematologist/oncologist that my doctor referred me to. After I checked in, I waited nervously in the room for an hour and a half for the physician to come in. During that time, I was skeptical of being helped, but prayed and put the situation in God’s hands. When the doctor finally came in, it was one of the most demoralizing and hope-crushing appointments that I had ever had. Within the first minute of my appointment, I knew this doctor had dismissed my case-and he had. He didn’t want to take the time to look into what other doctors had been unable to figure out, and he later admitted it.

What I’m beginning to understand is that I’ve been putting my hope in the wrong place, when it comes to my health. Instead of seeking God first, I’ve been putting my hope in a worldly medical system. It’s a system that has failed me and at least three other friends I know with chronic illnesses, time and time again.

As many of you are aware, I’ve struggled with chronic health issues for years. I’ve seen countless doctors ranging from regular MD’s to naturopaths. And while I have one doctor in particular, who has has really dug in the most, thus far, she still doesn’t have all the answers about what has caused such profound fatigue or the other mysterious symptoms.

More despair followed my appointment the following week, as I waited for an ultrasound result that I was told would be to me that evening, but still did not have in my hands. Again, the tears flowed. Over the years, there have been so many mountains I have had to scale to try to get proper medical care. At this last appointment with the hematologist/oncologist, I was in no way treated like a human being and it made me believe that I cannot be helped by our current medical methodology.

The afternoon of my appointment, with tears steaming down my face, my husband said this: “I think you going in there and saying you were putting it in God’s hands, He just closed the door and solidified what you’ve always known. And, you’ve been hurt way too many times to let people keep doing this. Western medicine is never going to be able to help you.” Shortly afterwards, I spoke to my good friend and told her what my husband said. She said that God had also told her in these exact words “they can’t help you”. So, a new journey for me has begun.

And while I’m in no way advocating not seeking medical care, what I am saying is our faith should be in God first and foremost. For myself, I had been leaning on doctors who couldn’t help me, rather than leaning on our Great Physician in this area. My faith was backwards. It needed to be in Him, above all, not in a worldly system. I cannot hand over my hope to these doctors, who are merely human.

Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. -Psalm 30:2

Vaccine Anxiety

Dear God,

Last Tuesday, was one of the scariest moments of my life. For a year now, I haven’t so much lived, as I have survived, in a little bubble, not really exposing myself to the outside world for fear of the dreaded Covid. Tuesday of last week though, took me for a spin. You told me to do something I wasn’t expecting and it turned my world upside down. I was to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine-something I hadn’t even decided if I wanted. Not only was I afraid of what I would be injecting into my body, and the lack of long-term studies, I was very concerned with how my chronically ill body would react. And just when I said “yes”, I sure wasn’t prepared for the steps I would have to take to get the vaccine.

I would have to go get an Alaskan State ID at a hole-in-the wall establishment that had no regard for mask wearing. Not only that, but I would have to risk my life by taking off my mask with several non-mask wearing people in the room in order to get my photo taken. Sitting outside in the parking lot, watching person after person stroll into this tiny building with no masks, made me angry at them for their selfishness and lack of regard for those of us with underlying health conditions. I was fearful for my life-so fearful, in fact, that I was in tears. Doubting that this was what I was supposed to be doing, I heard “go in”. Was this me? Was this really You? I wrestled. Then, I felt it. I felt Your peace wash over me-the type of peace that settles like a blanket of freshly fallen snow-the type that only You can give. You told me to put my entire life in your hands and it was incredibly frightening. I was wrestling with anxiety and with You, yet, I did it, shaking in my boots.

When I walked out with temporary ID in hand, I broke down. A few minutes later, I got the gumption to continue on the path You were taking me down. There was no turning back now. It was off to get the vaccine. Anxiety still present, I kept telling You I was choosing to trust that this was what You wanted me to do, but deep down, I was still scared. Going through the motions, doing my best to be obedient, I filled out the required paperwork and then the vaccine was given.

It was done, or so I thought-done, until the symptoms hit-body aches, nausea, headache, chills. I felt like I had the flu. Anger welled up inside of me. I had been feeling so much better lately. The chronic fatigue had improved some and the Lyme disease had felt more under control and now, I felt awful again. I was mad-mad that I was sick and was losing yet another day of my life and who knew how many more to being unwell. It triggered the years I’ve spent in bed due to chronic illness and missing out on life and on my family. Again, I wrestled with the anger and the feeling of little control.

Putting my fears aside, what I realize now, is that You were blessing me with protection. Not only that, You were giving me an invitation to live-which I haven’t done in quite some time. You were asking me to trust You with everything in my being-which I again, wrestled with. You were teaching me that You are in control and You know what is best for me-far better than I do.

I’m sorry for doubting you, Lord, and for struggling to trust You. Please forgive me for fearing and wanting to have control, when You are the One who has the ultimate control. You know best, God, and so I put my life in your hands.

Waiting with Trust

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. -Jeremiah 17:7-8

Although it was a fantasy of mine, I never imagined we would actually land in Alaska. My husband and I were the ones who watched all the Alaska shows on TV dreaming of the day. Then, this past September, it happened.

During July of last year, we were camp hosting in Central Washington. We had been in temporary living situations since 2018, ever since being forced to leave our home and nearly all of our belongings due to toxic mold causing us to become extremely ill. We had camp hosted the previous year at the same beautiful campground and were given the opportunity again to live in a cabin off-grid while caring for three campgrounds over the summer. Our end date for camp hosting was September 9th and we hadn’t yet found a more permanent place to call home. With the few belongings we had accumulated over the past couple of years in tow and no leads, my anxious self was beginning to mull over the unknown. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford a place or that there weren’t homes available, it was that due to becoming hypersensitive to mold and environmental toxins because of our previous exposure, our heightened sensitivities have made it difficult to tolerate modern housing and drywall. We found that we do best in log cabins. And these are kind of far and few between-except in places like Alaska. Alaska felt out of reach though, because I still didn’t have my passport. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the issuance of passports had slowed down tremendously.

We began scouring Craigslist and Zillow for possible cabin rentals all over, but were coming up dry. Then, God spoke in the most unlikely place. One sweltering afternoon as I fought off the mosquitos while picking up litter in the campsites and making sure fires weren’t left smoldering, God left a message, on a fire pit of all places, telling me to trust Him. I knew in that moment that all was well and He had us, that there was nothing to worry about. I didn’t have to jump ahead into the unknown, with my searching mind going into overdrive trying to figure out what we would possibly do, like I had so many times before. With a smile on my face, I could just rest, knowing He had it all taken care of, and He did. He had a cozy log cabin picked out for us planted right along a plentiful river filled with fresh salmon, here in Alaska.

See, my husband had been inquiring about cabin rentals in several states: Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, and Alaska. He wasn’t receiving any responses after reaching out. Since my husband works remote and I homeschool, we were free to go just about anywhere God opened a door. And so we prayed that God would open a door. But, we continued to wait. As the days inched closer to September, heading to our dream state was looking slim. Then, my birthday came in August and to my surprise, my new passport had shown up! It was quite the birthday gift! Shortly thereafter, my husband received a call with a rental offer. The one door that opened was this current cabin we are in, here in The Last Frontier. With a rental agreement in hand, we were allowed to cross the Canadian border into Alaska during a pandemic. It was a long trek, but we made it safe and sound, by trusting that this was where God wanted us. It was in this period of waiting, that we grew in our faith.

While it’s not always easy to have faith during seasons of waiting, we can be sure that choosing to trust Him is always the right decision. So, when we are unsure about what the future holds for us, let’s remember that even in these uncertain places, we can still trust our Heavenly Father. It’s in these times of waiting, that we hold fast to Him, not letting our faith waver. Instead we lean in closer, remembering to always be in His presence, aware and expectantly waiting for Him to speak because He might just surprise us in the most unexpected of ways!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. -Psalm 143:

Fuel Your Walk Friday

Fuel your walk with some Jesus and Joe.

I love Jesus and I love me an iced cuppa fresh cold brew halved with vanilla almond milk. What better way to combine the two and perk up the beginning of your weekend, than to “Fuel Your Walk” with some Jesus and Joe. Once a week, I will be posting a little snippet, thought, or question to ponder in relation to your walk with Christ. So grab your favorite mug, pour yourself a delicious cuppa Joe and get comfy as you let this question percolate in your mind:

Oswald Chambers said “Beware of harking back to what you once were, when God wants you to become something you’ve never been.”

Are you still looking back or are your eyes on Him and what He wants you to become?

Fuel Your Walk Friday

Fuel your walk with some Jesus and Joe.

I love Jesus and I love me an iced cuppa fresh cold brew halved with vanilla almond milk. What better way to combine the two and perk up the beginning of your weekend, than to “Fuel Your Walk” with some Jesus and Joe. Once a week, I will be posting a little snippet, thought, or questions to ponder in relation to your walk with Christ. So grab your favorite mug, pour yourself a delicious cuppa Joe and get comfy as you let these questions percolate in your mind:

Are there areas of your life you are still holding tightly to? What do you need to let go of and trust God with? What can you put into His hands right now?