Timing is Everything


“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” ~ Dolly Parton

I am a writer, it is what I do.  No, I’m not an author…simply a writer.  My thoughts are best communicated when words flow from my mind to my hand, from the pen to the page.  Maybe this is the reason I have kept prayer journals for years.  I struggle to quiet my mind when I pray, yet when I write my prayers they effervesce out of me.  I wonder if this is how composers, song writers, authors, and other truly gifted artists feel as they come alive in their craft.  I am no Mozart, I don’t belong with the likes of Lennon and McCartney, and Shakespeare, Austen, and Hemingway would cringe if they thought I was even suggesting to be in their league.  LOL…I am amateur at best with my feeble attempt to write yet when I sit down to journal my heart to God or to answer His prompt to blog…that is when I find words…words He has crafted in me to share and words I return to Him is praise, worship, acknowledgment, anguish, despair, confession, and intercession.

Seven years ago…

There were no words, they died with my broken heart.  All that remained were the muted cries of anguish that screamed from the depths of my soul but the pain was too great for them to manifest into an audible sound.  I didn’t worry about whether I would ever find the words to journal again, I was more focused on trying to make sense out of the heartache that weighed down on my chest like a freight train.  As I sat in my living room the night my daughter died, rocking my body back and forth in a futile attempt to soothe the unsoothable ache, the thought that nothing would ever be okay again consumed me.  I cried out God to fix what seemed broken beyond repair…our hearts.

“Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything” ~ Unknown

One week after my daughter passed away my dear friend and grief counselor gave me a prayer journal.  The words of my heart flowed to the pages of that book like the haunting and aching melody of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.  There is such beauty in the rawness of the human experience…crying out to the only One who can heal a heart that broken.  Of course at the time I didn’t see beauty, I felt the pain.  But in those moments the gift of communicating my deepest hurts, desires, fears, and hopes to God through the written word returned to me and the healing process had begun.  As I scour those journal entries now I am transported back to a time when God’s presence in my life was so strong…He was everywhere…I felt Him with me, physically.  His people showered love down upon us so lavishly that as I reflect I am awed by how much God took care of us.  His hand print was everywhere.  In my desperate prayers I begged Him to help us survive.  He did more than help us survive…He transformed our family through His love so that we could thrive.

“I AM ABLE to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine…Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered.  Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark.  The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see My power and glory at work in the situation…Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life.” ~ Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

Tomorrow will be seven years since losing our precious Francesca.  As I sit here tonight I am in awe of just how far God has taken our family since that fateful afternoon in 2008.  I asked for survival and He gave me beauty like I’ve never experienced amidst the ashes.  I asked for healing and He gave me peace and purpose.  I asked for my daughter to be a miracle and every day I live, every breath I take I do so knowing that I walk in the miracle of my precious girl’s life.  It is through Francesca that God was able to mold me into all that He created me to be.  She was a miracle…my miracle…she helped me fall hopelessly in love with my God, to fully surrender my life to Him…every part of my life.

Timing is everything.  Seven years ago I sat in the middle of the destruction of my imploded life.  Tonight I sit here in awe of my God and how His plan and His purpose far exceeds anything we could ever imagine.  Seven years ago I wondered day-to-day how I would get out of bed…This morning I got out of bed to start a new chapter in God’s plan for my life.  In the rhapsody of this paradox I could feel the words coming alive inside me waiting for the right moment of release.  The awe I felt reflecting on the road I had traveled…the road that God has carried me down.  Three years after Francesca died I felt God place a call on my life.  He guided me back to school because He desired to use me in ministry.  I had no idea what it would all look like and I really didn’t care…I had learned to just trust that still, soft voice.  It was the voice that had brought me comfort, healing, hope and peace.  I trusted Him to guide every aspect of my future so on to school I went.  I graduated over a year ago and have been in a holding pattern since the day I put my last period on a research paper.  God had told me to wait…the time wasn’t right…so I waited.  Believe me, waiting for a Type A, Doer is not an easy thing to do.  But I trusted God’s purpose AND His timing (even if I thought He was kinda slow at times).  Today of all days the wait came to end and I began my journey into full-time ministry.  Some will say the timing of this is pure coincidence.  I don’t believe in coincidence…I don’t believe in chance.  I believe that my God is always at work in the details.  Beautifully crafting the timing of certain events for His purpose…even if it’s merely to remind us that His hand print is everywhere.  To illustrate that He does make all things new.  To demonstrate how He turns the pain, that evil would like to use to destroy us, into the catalyst for His plan and purpose for our lives.

Tonight I go to sleep with words of celebration as vibrant as any heavenly scene Michelangelo could have ever created in my head.  In a  dream I am one of the great artists creating a masterpiece of praise.  Praising the love and grace our Creator God showers upon us, a love that is faithful and limitless.  And I  Celebrate the beautiful life of my precious Francesca, the one who pointed my life straight into the will of God.  Seven years ago I would have said this blog entry was impossible…tonight I say “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

Prepare For Takeoff

Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia is the busiest airport in the United States.  Over 260,000 passengers pass through this airport…daily.  Last week I told you that my blog was going to offer complete transparency so let’s be honest. You all know that air travel brings out the crazy in a lot of people.  We rush to the airport three hours prior to departure in fear of long security lines, we rush to the gate just in case we miss something, when the flight attendant’s voice comes over the loud-speaker for boarding we rush to wait in line because we need to hurry on the plane.  We even get frustrated when our “zone” doesn’t board first.  My personal favorite is the look on people’s faces when the Sky Priority fliers, a.k.a. frequent fliers, waltz right up to their own separate, special line and board immediately.  That really boils the blood of a novice traveler.  I’m not going to lie…one of the perks of my husband traveling so much is that when I fly with him I get to be one of those special people…it really is a great feeling.  But I digress. The point is that the airport experience for most people is rush, rush, rush just to sit and wait.  I’ll never understand the people who are dying to board the plane first.  If you’re at the gate on time the plane won’t leave without you, why sit on a cramped plane any longer than you have to.  But still we rush to wait.  We wait for everyone else to board, we wait for the cabin to be secure, we wait for the plane to roll away from the gate, and we wait for take off.  Now because I live in the Metro Detroit area and Delta is a major carrier out of our airport we often have connecting flights through Atlanta, a Delta hub.  At most other airports as you begin to approach the runway you know that any minute the wait will be over and soon you will be airborne.  But not at Hartsfield. No, at Hartsfield you approach the runway and over the cabin speaker you hear this cheerful greeting “Good morning passengers, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard flight whatever the number.  Service from Atlanta to wherever.  We have sunny skies for our flight today and will be reaching a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet.  We will be getting underway shortly.  We are number 75 for take off.  Thank you for flying Delta.”  Whoa, did I just hear him right?!?!  Did he say number 75??  Does that mean 75 other planes need to take off before we can go?  This might be a slight over exaggeration but you get the point…again we wait.

“We may impress people with our strengths… But we connect with people through weaknesses.” ~ Craig Groeschel

I hate to wait.  Impatience is one of my weaknesses.   If something is going to happen I want it to happen now.  If someone has news to share I want them to tell me now.  If something needs to be done let’s do it now.  That is me…I’m a doer.  I take the bull by the horns and dive right in.  Why wait?!  There is plenty of work that needs to be done now!  But what happens when God makes you wait?  Where do you go when you’ve rushed, rushed, rushed and all of a sudden God slams on the emergency brake and brings you to a screeching halt?  How does the impatient doer reconcile themselves to the season of waiting?

The land in between is a weird place to be.  I should know, I have been living here since October.  To the outside world it doesn’t look like your moving forward in fact it just looks like you’re standing still.  I have a deep struggle with standing still.  My husband will be the first to tell you I don’t know how to relax.  I multi-task even in my down time.  I mean I read a book and watch T.V. at the same time for goodness sakes.  So entering this new season of my life, the waiting period, was beyond difficult.  Self-doubt started to settle in, a lie that the enemy was all too happy to fuel and perpetuate.   But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back the story up so you can understand a little better.  Almost 4 years ago I felt God’s calling on my life.  I had persevered through some trials and I felt that He wanted me to share my experiences in order to help others through life’s journey.  I assumed He wanted me to be a counselor of some sort so back to school I went.  Very quickly into my schooling God made it abundantly clear counseling was not His path for me.  He had wired me with a heart that beats for discipleship and a passion to teach His truth.  I knew that He wanted me to use my life experiences not as basis to counsel people but as a tool for discipling them.  Having walked a deep valley becomes a great source of credibility when you are teaching Scripture like James 1 and telling people to rejoice in their trials. People want to know why they should believe that. When we can be vulnerable enough to share how God has worked in our lives His truth is no longer just words on a page…we become a living testament to His promises and faithfulness.  So I refocused my energies to ministry…that is what God has called me to.  I wasn’t really sure what that would look like but I knew that was where He was leading me.  Of course the impatient doer in me was not going to do this school thing at a leisurely pace…there was kingdom work to be done and I had to get moving so I could join the game.  Almost 3 years to the day that I started school, I finished it.  October 11, 2013, my husband’s birthday.  Believe me, my completing school was the BEST birthday gift I have ever given my husband.  By then he was OVER it…he wanted his wife back.  Interestingly enough I, like the impatient traveler, rushed only to wait.  God didn’t roll out the red carpet on October 12th and send an angel to deliver my divine appointment.  There was no ministry job awaiting me…in fact October 12th was just a typical, run of the mill Saturday at our house.  The only unique thing that happened on that day was that I took up residence in the land in between.  I was in between what had been accomplished and what was coming next.  There was nothing left for me to do but wait.  I was plane number 75 in line for take off…

“There is a big difference between waiting and trusting patiently by faith.  One usually leaves you frustrated and upset; the other makes you feel closer to Jesus.” ~ Christine Caine

How true these words are.  If I can be completely honest, my biggest struggle in the wait was not actually waiting.  I knew with all my heart that God had stilled my forward momentum for a purpose.  He wanted to pour into me.  No, my problem with the wait was people and what they thought.  I was a 37-year-old wife and mother who just spent three years in school and now I was doing nothing.  No job and no real sense of direction. I began to dread the question “what are you going to do now?”   The answer to that question was so complex yet so simple.  “I am not going to do anything because God has told me to be still.”  Every time I gave that answer I felt like I had to validate my call because in my mind I decided that everyone must have thought I was crazy.  I mean, I had just gone to school for three years to do exactly what I had been doing before so what was the point.  God had told me to be still and it didn’t matter if it made sense, I wanted to be obedient.  But living in obedience didn’t make that truth any less difficult for the doer in me to embrace.  With the difficulty came the comparison and the self-doubt.  My mind was a battlefield that wrestled with ideas of being unworthy of God’s calling to thinking I was flat-out delusional to think God had called me in the first place.  Who was I?  I certainly wasn’t good enough to serve God in a life of ministry.  But all of the self-doubt and comparisons were lies.  Lies whispered by the enemy in an attempt to paralyze me.  I thank God for the godly people in my life who helped me to see those lies for what they were.  When I did, that was the moment when waiting turned into trusting patiently by faith.  Just when I was on the brink of frustration Jesus pulled me away from the ledge and reminded me what this journey was all about.  Tucked deep in my heart I knew what God had called me to, I just needed to be confident in it.  I needed to understand that in kingdom work what I was doing only had to make sense to the One who had called me, not to the masses.  That simple truth ushered in the understanding that this wasn’t a season of just waiting, this was season of maturing and pruning.  This was the season where the apprentice learns to be more like the master so that the workmanship is of Him and not of me.  Do you know how much freedom there is in that revelation?  It’s not about me and what I am doing.  It is about God and what He wants to do in and through me.  All I need to do is be available and obedient.  Ministry is not about getting a paycheck from a church.  Ministry is about being the hands, the feet, the eyes, the mouth, and the heart of Jesus Christ to people who need Him and are longing for Him.  The kingdom work that I rushed through school to start…I was already doing it.

“But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31

What if we lived our lives focused on the truth of Isaiah’s words.  Those who “wait upon the Lord.”  Those who relinquish control, those who live a life of total surrender, those who are desperately dependent on God… will have the freedom to be all that God created them to be, will live a life of obedience even when obedience doesn’t make sense, will remember that regardless of what season of life they find themselves in God will use them for His kingdom right where they are, and they will remember that their worthiness comes not from a title or a position but rather by the fact that they are so precious to God the Father that He sent His Son to die for us.  When we fully realize that… THEN we will soar, then we will be the best we can be.

Today I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter if I am plane number 75 or plane number 1 in order for takeoff.  What matters is that I am prepared to takeoff.  As we walk through our journey with Christ we must make sure we are always ready to be used.  Sometimes Christ does not use us simply because we do not make ourselves available to Him.  We are distracted, discontented, disobedient, etc. and we miss the opportunities He lays before us.  Sometimes along the way we need that gentle reminder that it is never about our satisfaction and always about His glory.  When we forget that we take our eyes off of Him.  In the briefest shifting of our eyes the circumstances of our lives begin to overwhelm us leading to frustration.  Jesus is not likely to call on a frustrated servant and we find ourselves sidelined.  Ahhhhh…but it doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact God has given us, through the Holy Spirit, the tools not to live that way.  Those tools are called the fruits of the spirit, Galatians 5:22-23 check them out.  You see when we live life in total surrender to God we find that His Spirit begins to transform us to look more like our Savior, to take on His attributes.  That is what the fruits of the Spirit are…attributes of Christ that can be manifested in us when we live according to God’s ways.  And wouldn’t you know it, surprise surprise…patience is one of those attributes.

What is the value of living in the land in between?  The value is the lessons God will teach you when you allow Him to stretch you beyond who you think you are and allow Him to mold and transform you into who He wants you to become.  It’s about God chipping you away so that all that is left is the image of His Son in you.   I’m not sure how long my stay in the land in between will last.  It might be a few more days or it could last a few more years.  Regardless, God’s call on my life has not changed, in that I remain confident.  In my spirit I feel like God is starting to move and I have seen signs of forward momentum.  But in the end I trust that God will move me when the time is perfect for Him.  As long as my eyes stay focused on Him I will be ready when He says “all clear for takeoff.”