Wall of Faith: Tara
Today my husband had to get up at 3AM to be at work at 4AM. He was to drive to a location north of Seattle (about 4 hours from where we live) and pick up a large load of steel and sheet metal for his work. He frequently drives for work as he has his CDL license. So off he went with a 40 foot trailer. He didn't check in as often through the day as he normally does. I knew he would have a stressful day and didn't bug him. He sent me a text around 11AM saying that he had arrived and was loading. Hoped to be on the road within the hour to head home.
I didn't hear from him again until 4pm, when he sent me a photo of his truck and trailer loaded to the gills. It looked like a very heavy complicated load. Made me nervous for him just looking at the photo. I also was aware of what time it was, as when you drive with your CDL for work, there are certain rules that tell you how long you can be on the road or "on shift" before you are required to take a 10 hour rest break to sleep. He was pushing it. We talked on the phone briefly before he headed home and I asked if he should stop and stay the night before heading home. He was irritable and really just wanted to be home. "No" he said, "I'm just going to drive straight home." "I didn't get on the road till 6 or so, so I'm okay, I just want to be home." "Okay" I said, "Just be careful and stop if you get tired. If you're close enough to home I'll come get you and you can leave the truck." This was 4:30pm. We hung up and I left work to go pick up our girls.
It was POURING outside. I mentioned to a coworker as I left "hope you're not made of sugar!" and we laughed at the image of him melting when he walked outside. I drove in the pouring rain about 25 minutes to get my youngest. She's still in daycare. I shared my concerns for Josh with my daycare provider. They are like family and were also concerned. We both hoped for the best and I headed off to get my other daughter. I told Avery, my youngest, to say some prayers for her daddy when we were in the car driving to get her sister. I prayed with her and we asked God to keep her Papa safe (I had said "pray for your Dad" and Avery says "You mean Josh?" haha! She is a card). We prayed that he would keep Pop awake as he drove, and help him to make it home safe and sound. We arrived back in Ridgefield, and picked up Shelby, my eight year old. On the way home I shared with her that her Pop had had a hard day and we needed to pray for him to make it home safely. The girls and I arrived home. I had this overwhelming feeling that we needed to pray for my husband right at that moment. I stood with my girls by the backdoor and we held hands. We stood in a little circle, as I reminded them that the bible tells us "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them"(Matthew 18:20) We prayed in turn for Josh's safety. For him to be protected, for God to watch over him as he drove home. To help him drive in the dark and wet weather we were having, as he doesn't like driving at night. To keep him awake and let him arrive home safely.
I knew he would be home super late, and his typically Monday chores would need to be done. I enlisted the girls and talked to them about how we are a team, and our family helps each other, and we are going to do our chores, and Pop's chores too. Avery set in unloading the dishwasher and Shelby cleaned cat boxes. I rounded up trash and we took out the recycling.
10 minutes later I hear my phone, it's a text from Josh, I can tell by the ring tone. It just says "Call me". My heart sinks into the pit of my stomach. I call him "I'm in trouble" he starts in. He had stopped on the side of the freeway, as his load shifted on the trailer from the wind. As he's stopped trying to tighten down his load a state trooper pulled up behind him. A piece of metal had come loose and had come off the trailer. There had been an accident a few miles back. He didn't have many details, just knew that he had to stay put and was waiting to hear from the state trooper who had gone to check on the accident, and also waiting to hear from his employer. I could hear the panic in his voice. He wasn't coming home tonight, we both knew that. His load was unsafe. He explained that it was a lot of sheet metal, which bends and flexes and he had tried his best to secure it. He didn't even know that a piece had been lost. The state trooper had escorted him to a safe parking lot where he could call me.
Being so far away from him and not able to be there to help is an awful feeling. I was instantly angry that this had even happened to him. I had prayed, the girls had prayed. Come ON God! Where are you? How can you leave him on the side of the road? He could have been killed! Someone else may have been killed, we don't even know! UGH! I was so angry for him, and terrified for him too.
I tried to comfort him, reminding him that he was covered by the insurance of the company he works for. That even if there was an accident, that the insurance would cover everything. He may get a ticket because of what happened, but that would be all that we would have to deal with. And we can handle that. "What can I do to help??" I asked him. He needed a hotel room for the night. He didn't know where he was even. Some park and ride along the freeway.
He had to go and take a call from his employer, I checked his location on my phone, (THANKFULLY we share locations with each other, and I could see right where he was, and was able to find a hotel room just up the street). I reserved him a room. He called back, and I suggested he get an uber to the hotel if he was unable to drive the truck. He did just that, and called me again once he had checked in, taken a shower, and had a moment to rest.
The state trooper had come back after we had hung up the phone before he had left for the hotel. She brought back the piece of sheet metal that he lost. The car that it hit had a broken windshield. Nobody was hurt. She said "His insurance will be calling your employers insurance" and she left. She didn't write him a ticket. Everybody was okay. He was okay, and safe in a hotel room.
We got off the phone and I just started crying. I had been so angry in that moment when I heard what had had happened, that I didn't stop and realize that God had answered my prayers.
Josh was safe. Nobody was hurt. He wasn't out driving in the dark and crazy weather. He's able to rest and sleep. He has people coming tomorrow to help him transfer some of the load to another truck and get it all home safely. And that in the exact moment that Josh was risking his life on the side of a freeway with cars zinging by in the dark and pouring rain.. his family was huddled together in prayer, asking God to keep him safe. And God was listening.
And you know what? He did just that. Sometimes answers to our prayers don't look like we think they should. Sometimes he answers our prayers and we don't even realize it. I truly believe that we were all part of a miracle tonight. We trusted Jesus to keep our loved one safe, and what could have happened, didn't. Josh could have been stuck on the side of the road. The vehicle that hit the metal from his truck could have been killed. That vehicle could have hit somebody else and it could have been horrific. I'm sure whoever is in that car probably isn't too happy that I'm sharing his broken windshield as an answer to my prayers, but it really is.
When you pray, be prepared to be awed. Be prepared to hear God's answer, as HE decides to deliver it. It may not come wrapped up in a perfect bow. He may not fix everything that's broken, and he may not right every wrong. But he does hear our prayers and he does answer them. Sometimes the answer is "no." Sometimes it's "not right now." Sometimes it's what we least expect, and feels like a travesty. But in reality, it's exactly what we needed in that moment.
As I did my morning walk at the Mall today, I took notice of all the merchants who were setting up for their daily business behind the locked metal gates and mesh screens. And a truth hit me! They are so brave and courageous!
My thoughts had just so happened to be on the events that have happened over the last couple months: Las Vegas, New York, Denver, and a simple church in Texas. We hear of mall shootings, church shootings, school shootings, and the list is endless. Yet, somehow, we as people still have the courage to not let these things stop us from living life!
“God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (I Timothy 1:7)
We are born with distinct coding in our DNA. We can gloss over the fact we have certain traits or bents. We can deny it. We can fight against it, even with some success. But it doesn’t change the fact that the coding is still there.
We are created in God’s image. Period! We have the spiritual DNA of faith. We can gloss over it, deny it, and even fight against it, but it doesn’t change the fact that God’s coding is still in us. It is prevalent everywhere we turn as we see people still moving forward with courage regardless of the adverse and painful events that hit our lives.
Getting up in the morning…. Takes courage.
Going to work and school… Takes courage.
Seeing a therapist or counselor… Takes courage.
Taking care of our families when we may be battling a health problem… Takes courage.
Attending a sports event regardless of past bombings… Takes courage.
Playing in a sports event regardless of past crippling sports injuries… Takes courage.
Paying of a debt…. Takes courage.
Going to the grocery store regardless of past robberies and shootings… Takes courage.
Driving a vehicle regardless of past deadly car accidents… Takes courage.
Saying hi to a stranger… Takes courage.
And the list continues……
The words from the chorus of a recent Skillet song have sunk so deep into my spirit… “If we’re gonna fly, we fly like eagles
Arms out wide.
If we’re gonna fear, we fear no evil
We will rise.
By your power, we will go
By your spirits, we are bold
If we’re gonna stand, we stand as giants
If we’re gonna walk, we walk as lions
We walk as lions.
And how does a lion walk? Always aware and always ready, but not afraid. We still take precautions…. But not in fear.
Next time you feel fear, remember your Godly wiring.
The devil may think he has won a battle, and my heart aches for those precious people whose flames were snuffed out way too prematurely. But, good still somehow surfaces through it all… and ultimately, God already won the war a long time ago.
Wall of Faith: Katie
My precious cousin shares her story this week for Wall of Faith via a YouTube interview. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for an amazing story of redemption. Jesus seeks to save the lost - and he loves us all.
At almost four years old, my little boy zooms around the house in a cape and yells "Super hero to the rescue!" When I bring home groceries he proclaims, "I'm strong! I can carry that for you Mom!" And goes to grab the biggest box in the trunk. He loves to test his ever growing strength by wrestling with his Daddy. When he can tell that I'm distraught, he pats my back and tells me,"Don't worry Mom. Dad and I will protect you." He's my little Super Man and he melts my heart. He's my gift from God. We are overjoyed to announce that God is sending him a sidekick this spring.
One day you will learn that Superman was the figment of imagination of two teenage boys in the 1930's. You'll realize that Star Wars is fun, but fake. I pray that someday you will grow up and put childish things away and find true heroes. Men who really lived. My sons, may you make these men your role models-
Have limitless faith like Abraham. When things seem impossible, know that all things are possible through Him.
Know how to apologize and forgive like Jacob and Esau. Brothers are a gift. Take care of each other.
Listen to your elders and take their advice like Moses listened to his Father-in-Law Jethro. Listen to your Dad, Grandpas, Uncles and Pastors. They are good men. Follow in their footsteps.
Choose your friends wisely like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Stick together. It's easier to take a stand when your friends are holding you accountable.
When others mock your faith, keep believing and obeying like Noah. God will keep his promises.
Persevere and live with integrity like Joseph. Do the right thing even when it's hard and it seems like no one is looking. God sees all.
Be humble and give wise counsel like Mordechai. Be aware of world events and act on behalf of those in your care. Know others are watching your example.
Do not try to live on your own strength and abilities. Know that the joy of the Lord is your strength and point to God as the source of your talents like Sampson ultimately did.
Face your giants with courage knowing God is the one who fights your battles like David. Like him, be a man after God's own heart. Live your life after his lead and care for the weak like David took care of Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth.
May God give you wisdom like Solomon. Don't ever be afraid to ask for guidance from God. Read, memorize and apply the book of Proverbs.
Be like Boaz. May you earn the respect of your co-workers and neighbors and respond generously to those in need. Love each member of your family well.
Bravely take on big, God-size challenges and stand back and watch God do the impossible like Elijah. But know that Elijah needed food, sleep and rest. You need this too. Eat healthy, exercise, brush and floss, go to bed at a decent time, nap...take care of yourself. You are a temple of the Living God.
Superman had his weakness. Kryptonite was his downfall. These biblical men were far from perfect. Some lied, cheated, some committed adultery and others murder...They were sinners. But they all believed in the one true God. Their lives and stories pointed to the ultimate Hero- our Savior, our Redeemer- Jesus.
When you struggle with pride or frustration with life, wrestle with God like Jacob.
When you question God's plans and directions, inquire him like Gideon and praise him like Job.
When you doubt the faith, test the evidence like Thomas.
Speak truth boldly like Peter and Paul. Encourage others like Barnabas. Hold unswervingly to the faith, no matter the cost, like Stephen.
Know that these heroes really lived. Follow their lead. All of these men are heroes of faith. My prayer is that you will both be counted among them.
A little over a week ago I threw my lower back out. Bad! It was literally crippling at first. After a few days of being completely out of commission, my crowning glory grew to being able to make three cups of hot cocoa and getting through an entire shower.
Mobility is returning gradually and I have been able to introduce more normal activities slowly each day. I celebrate these moments!
Last Friday, my dear friend, Kathy, accompanied me to Costco to help me with the stooping and lifting as I pushed and leaned on the cart. I could have washed that woman’s feet! I must say, I have recently fallen in love with grocery carts and have a whole new appreciation for them!
As we sauntered down the cereal aisle we passed by some boxes of Annie’s Toaster Pastries.
Me: “Toaster Pastries!”
Kathy: “Annie’s too!”
Me: “Healthy Toaster Pastries!”
Me: “ No! I must resist. We are watching our spending to pay for Sheppard’s schooling and conquer debt. Toaster Pastries are not a necessity.”
We head on down the aisle and turn onto the next aisle where low-and-behold a Costco worker was stocking shelves, and what was one of the items waiting patiently to be stocked? You guessed it! Annie’s boxes of Toaster Pastries.
I shot Kathy an “Oh!” look.
Me: “Must resist.”
We then make our way to the following aisle and wouldn’t you know? God sent an angel in the form of a young man who was serving samples of…. Yes! …. Annie’s Toaster Pastries!
Me: “It’s a sign.”
Kathy: “ Yes, it is.”
Me: “ Three times now.”
Kathy: “ Yes.”
Me: “ Three….Trinity….. I’m supposed to buy these Toaster Pastries.”
Kathy, bursts out laughing.
So, yes, I left Costco that beautiful, sun-shiny rays from heaven, September day with a lovely, brightly colored box of Healthy Annie’s Toaster Pastries.
As I relayed my (ahem) “God-led” journey to Annie’s Toaster Pastries to my husband, Mark, he responded with a laugh, “ Now, that is quirky faith!”
A couple months ago a dear friend of mine and her husband were on the final lap for preparing to move to the other side of the country. 3,107 miles to be exact. Due to schedule conflicts and such I was unable to make it to their sending off party and the sending prayer moment our church family had for them.
“What kind of friend am I!?” I critically thought to myself. Yet, I felt no strong conviction that I had failed in my spirit. Just guilt… Pure guilt.
Monday arrived and I felt this strong inkling that I was to drive to a favorite local farm nearby and pick up a box of green beans. I had experienced canning beans for the first time last summer and they were so much yummier than store bought that I was determined to do so again this summer. Healthier for my family too!
In spite of other things I felt pressed to do that day, I had such an overwhelming feeling that today was the day! I decided to follow through. I am so glad I did.
No sooner had I gotten back home when our doorbell rang. I opened the door to find my dear friend standing there. Although she smiled, her face looked frazzled and stressed. “We are leaving tomorrow and I wanted to stop by and see if I could just hang with you. I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.” “We were supposed to leave Friday, but then all kinds of things seemed to start going wrong.” “ My husband encouraged me to take a break today and just get away from it all. So I came to see you and then have lunch with another friend of mine in an hour.”
Me: “ I am so glad you did! I was just about to snap green beans, would you like to join me? I heard it said that, “Part of the problem with the world today is no one snaps green beans with grandma anymore.” Come join me for some ‘Green Bean Therapy’.”
I thought to myself, “She is going to think I am so cooky for suggesting such a thing. However, A)She already knows I’m cooky anyway and B) It just seemed like the right thing to invite her to do.
“Yes! I would love to! That sounds wonderful! I used to snap green beans with my mother when she would can and it was always so relaxing.”
So, to the back porch we commenced, snapping and chatting away. It was a beautiful sun-shiny day and we had so much fun.
After only an hour, my friend had to leave for her lunch commitment and the last of her moving preparations. “This is exactly what I needed. I feel so much better now. Thank you.”
It totally made my day to see the shine return to my friend’s face and the cloud completely lifted off of her. I hugged her tight goodbye and felt my heart ache and tears well up in my eyes as she drove off. I was happy for her new adventure, yet a bit selfishly-sad to know she was going to be leaving for so far away.
I learned something that day. There truly is a difference between guilt and conviction; between following God’s leading and giving in to the expectations I have for myself or worry of what others will think.
If I had followed my guilty feelings for not attending the party and prayer send-off and gone anyway, my friend would have never have had a reason to stop by in the first place. God knew she was going to need that, somehow. Imagine that!”
If I had ignored the conviction of going to buy green beans that day, passing it off as, “Surely, God wouldn’t advise me to go do something so mundane as going to buy green beans.”, I wouldn’t have had the very thing my friend needed to give her a second wind and boost her spirits.
So, never underestimate the power of the “mundane” in your life. Grab yourself a bowl of green beans, and a loved one, and start snapping! Therapy is now in session!
Ever have a flashback as you are doing something mundane and random like drying your hair for the day?
My mind beamed back to several years ago, when I use to homeschool our oldest daughter, Amberly. We would meet with a handful of other homeschoolers at our church on Fridays for a season. It would be a time of studying and receiving tutoring if it was needed.
One of the other mothers, who was fluent in Spanish, had offered to tutor our daughter in her Spanish.
I distinctly remember one Friday when our daughter was in a room with her tutor and another mom was in a different room helping her daughter with her studies. I was in charge of the room with 4 other students to monitor them as they worked on their studies.
It was extremely quiet and studious in that room. I was rather impressed. Then, one of the boys asked to go talk to his mother with some help he was needing on his lesson. I said, “Sure. Go for it.”
Soon, one of the girls asked to go see her mother who was tutoring her little sister to ask her a question. Again, “Sure!’
The room remained quiet this entire time. The remaining boy appeared deep into his book as is all I could see was the crown of his head and his eyebrows above the horizon of his book that he had standing up on end.
Soon, his sister, who was sitting beside him, asked if she could go to use the bathroom. “Okay.” I said. It seemed like a reasonable request to me.
The room was quiet… so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Just me and Nick, sitting on opposite sides of the table. No one had returned as the minutes ticked on.
Then, suddenly, from behind the book, a voice spoke, in Nick’s “Spock-like” logical fashion of speaking. Again, nothing but the tip of his head and eyebrows showing…. “It would appear that the population of this room is diminishing.”
I about fell out of my chair in giggles. He was very much aware of what was going on and in perfect timing, said the perfect thing that totally broke the silence.
You ever have those seasons where you read the Bible and read the Bible and read the Bible and pray and pray and all you feel is silence? Nothing is zinging in your spirit. No great revelations are being revealed to address the deepest concerns of your mind and heart.
Don’t give up! Because Someone is indeed paying attention behind the Book! And in His perfect timing He will speak the words that will cut through the silence and bring the breakthrough you have been aching for.
There is someone watching behind the Book!
FIGHTING IN TANDEM
It started out well. We hauled our kayak down to the river and set in on a warm afternoon. I took my seat in the front, my husband pushed off and hopped in the back. We paddled out onto the water, the sun glistening on the surface. Boats cruised in the distance, kids splashed along the shoreline. We paddled in sync, riding the waves from boat wakes as we neared the middle of the channel.
Then I heard him say something like, “where are you going?”. Huh? We were in a tandem kayak, I couldn’t be headed a different direction than him, that’s kind of not possible. Clearly I was heading upstream like we always did but I paused to turn halfway to ask him what he was talking about. He said something like, “well you’re paddling heavy on the right and skipping strokes so I don’t know where you’re heading.” Excuse me? I defended my synchronous and even paddling strokes and said something like, “I wasn’t favoring the right side and I didn’t realize I was skipping any strokes…” Silence. It was at that point that I rested the paddle across my lap and just sat there.
He realized I wasn’t helping us get anywhere any time soon, we were paddling upstream and we had a headwind. He asked something like, “what’s the problem? Just stop steering us to the left and we’ll be fine” (I’m summing up the best I can from memory). Well since I didn’t realize I had been steering us to the left I got rather annoyed. I started paddling again rather vigorously, proving that I was indeed good at steering perfectly straight (thank you very much). After a few minutes, I noticed a huffing sound behind me. I glanced over my shoulder to see him paddling robustly. I asked, “why are you working so hard?”. His response indicated that I had been steering us to the left (again) and he was paddling harder opposite of me to keep us on course. Are you kidding me? I tried defending myself again, but he couldn’t hear me as I paddled and faced forward. My voice was lost in the wind. I stopped paddling and turned to speak.
He was getting frustrated because I could hear him but he couldn’t hear me. I was frustrated because I could hear him but I couldn’t be heard. I rested the paddle on my lap again and sat fuming. I was stuck on a kayak arguing with someone and couldn’t get away. So much for fight or flight. Maybe when you’re on the water it’s fight or float. After a minute, he asked what was wrong. He didn’t ask it in a snide way, but in an innocent-he-really-didn’t-know-what-my-problem-was kind of way. I realized he wasn’t at fault; I was just getting grumpy because I felt like my form was being critiqued as he sat behind me. He had the best vantage point and was honestly just trying to tell me what he saw me doing.
I sighed. I told him I was sorry, I was trying my best and to let me know if I needed to paddle in a different way. He paused from paddling and said that the current could be giving us trouble, along with the wind and that I was doing a good job. We just needed to keep working together to keep moving forward. Each time I had stopped paddling it slowed us down and made him work harder.
We both dug our paddles in the water and cruised upriver.
Working together, heading the same direction, enjoying our time in tandem.
This wasn’t our first kayak trip. It started out just like all the others as it was a great, but windy day. We packed up our gear, got the kayak on top of the jeep, and headed down to the Columbia. We carted the kayak and gear down to the river and set off. It started like all the others with great scenery and my beautiful wife. Our kayaking skills are improving and we are getting more comfortable working together so we can enjoy what this wonderful area has to offer. It such a blessing that my wife is willing to try new adventures and experience new blessings.
Almost immediately after setting off, I noticed something different. We were veering to the left more than usual. The wind and the current has a big part of this, but something seemed off. Since I was responsible for steering, I tried to correct by paddling harder on the left to force us more to the right. This is not uncommon as my wife has wanted to do some subtle steering to be clear of “hazards” that might be a mile a way. But again, this was different. I was increasingly putting in more and more effort to correct our position. I was audibly getting very winded and losing energy. Finally the non-verbal communication was kicking in and my wife was wondering what the big problem was.
I have never had great hearing nor a good memory, but chemotherapy in 2013 really hindered these key areas. Paddling up stream, in the wind, being anaerobic from correcting our steering, and my lovely wife facing away from me, hearing her is a very, very large challenge for me. Even though I can only see her pony tail, back muscles and her paddle, I noticed that she was getting very frustrated as well. She said something very important, but all I could hear was like the teacher’s voice from Charlie Brown. I paused for a few seconds to try use my best algorithms to make out what she said. My calculations ended up with “cannot divide by zero”. I said “I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you.
With her sharp head-turn to the left and the pony tail flailing around, I heard “I SAID!!!!!!!…..” and then something very important…that I don’t remember. What I do remember is my head slouching low and feeling like was I a beaten puppy.
Then the kayak trip got a lot better. But why? After decades of being together, we know how to resolve conflict really well. It is amazing how things can escalate quickly and how our perceptions can be totally different. Just after a few minutes, we were able to understand what the other person was going through and we were able to have another great trip.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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