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Eyes of Faith: CV Lay-Off Day:12

As I slipped out the front door for my morning walk, my mind was going a million miles a minute. I had awakened feeling overwhelmed and trepidation for the day ahead. 

While I walked, I talked to God. In fragmented sentences, I poured out my heart. Fear was at the center of my thoughts. As I asked the Lord to help me to trust Him, Jehosaphat’s prayer came to mind, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12b)

Finally, turning on my audio Bible app, I picked back up where I’d left off from the day before, Genesis 20-22. I’d been curious about Abraham because of a passage I read in James 2:23-24, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” –and he was called a friend of God.” Why I wondered, did God call him his friend?

As I listened to the rest of Abraham’s story unfold, I wept.

God told Abraham, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)


Abraham rose early the next morning, saddled his donkeys, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. After three days of travel, Abraham “lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.” 

“Then Abraham said to you his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” (verse 22:5)

“And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac, his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 

Abraham said, “God will prove for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son. So they went both together. 

Whey they came to the place which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac, his son and laid on him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now, I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.  

So, Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided. (Genesis 22:6-14)


I noticed three ways that Abraham believed God:

  • He believed God from the very beginning, “The boy and I will go over there and worship and come again to you.
  • In belief, Abraham told Issac that God would provide a sacrifice
  • Abraham’s faith was realized, and he (Abraham) called the name of that place, “God will provide”

My question answered was answered; Abraham was a friend of God because he believed God, this is faith.

Tonight, as I write, I have no further clarity about the future. No one does, really. But, I want my faith to be like Abraham’s. And right now, He says, “Child, trust Me.”

Lord, though we don’t know what to do, our eyes are on the You. 

Until tomorrow,

Missy 

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His Abiding Faithfulness CV Lay-Off Day: 11

When I was eighteen years old, and one-day post-graduation, I heard from God. A few months earlier, I had attended a retreat with my church youth group. I don’t remember all of the details of that weekend except that the speaker’s testimony mirrored my life.

When I returned home, I began kneeling by my bedside and seeking the Lord each night. I felt an enormous amount of stress; the majority of my friends had already selected their colleges. I, on the other hand, wasn’t sure if my grades would allow me to cross the stage and receive my diploma. I’d lost track of how many times we’d moved, but it was my fourth high school in four years. Therefore, I had no plan at all and only a part-time job at the local Fish N Chips.

But, by the skin of my teeth and a horrific GPA, I did indeed graduate.

The morning after my graduation, I was sitting on my bed when the phone rang; it was my pastor. Shane told me that he’d had the urge to clean out his closet that morning and tucked away on a shelf, he’d found a packet detailing a summer internship in Mexico. He thought of me, he said. I asked him how much it cost because I didn’t have a cent to my name. Shane told me that he’d already spoken with the elders, and they agreed that the church would sponsor me, including my airfare.

“Well, when would I leave?” I asked.
“In three days.”

I told him I’d talk to my parents and let him know the answer as soon as possible. To say my Dad and Mom were less than thrilled is an understatement. They didn’t know Shane well and weren’t familiar with the way mission trips run. They saw the whole thing as slave labor, and my dad may have threatened to go to Mexico himself and “take care of business” if something happened to me.

Ultimately, my parents said that because I was eighteen years old, I could make the decision to go, but I would not have their blessing. I knew with all of my heart that it was a direct answer from the Lord. Three days later, my sister and her boyfriend dropped me off at the airport, and I was alone for the first time in my life. I spent the next ten weeks teaching youth groups how to build houses in impoverished cities in the heart of Mexico.

The Lord used the last semester of my senior year to lay foundational building blocks of my faith. Because when we lost Justin, and my life turned upside down, I remembered His faithfulness to an eighteen-year-old girl crying each night by her bedside.

Today, when we are tempted to fret about tomorrow, let us put into practice King David’s words in Psalm 62:8, “Trust in the Lord at all times O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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In the Eye of the Storm CV Lay-Off Day:10

Just as dusk settled over the sky, the six of us piled into our truck and took our long-awaited drive. We had no particular destination in mind, only a change of scenery. In a few minutes, our neighborhood was behind us, and vast fields of green cotton sprouts lined the road. 

 As we drove, I gazed at the sky filled with pink marbled hues. When we passed the school where Sammy first practiced baseball, all of us grew silent for a moment. That was our before: before we lost Justin and everything changed forever. 

As the sky transformed into flaming pink, Sammy spoke up, “I’ll bet Justin watches God paint the sunset for us every night.” Smiling, I nodded and said, “I’ll bet so.” Joshua agreed and added, “Justin has the best view.” That he does, Joshy. 

When “Eye of the Storm” began playing on the radio, my eyes filled with tears. I remembered how the Lord ministered to me when we lost Justin. He taught me to trust Him when I could imagine taking another step without my boy. My tender Shepard cared for me with His sweet balm and tended to my shattered heart. He nourished me with His Word and comforted me with His presence

We were almost home when the night sky turned to a calm deep blue. As we pulled into the driveway, I was reminded to fix my eyes on Jesus. He cared for me in my most profound sorrow, and He will again see me through the ominous of the unknown.   

Until tomorrow, 

Missy

 

 

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Tender Hearted Compassion CV Lay-Off: Day 9

When I met Tim, he loved coffee; I did not. Years later, when I went to work for a ministry, most of my face-to-face meetings were held at Starbucks. Much to my husband’s delight, I started drinking coffee. Now, I start my day with a cup of joe, and then later in the afternoon, I reheat whatever is leftover in the coffeepot and enjoy my second round.

One of the upsides of Tim’s lay-off is that now we get to enjoy our afternoon cup together. Speaking of my husband, one of my most favorite things in this life, is having good long talks with Tim. He has a deep well and asks me the most thought-provoking questions. He can see the big picture when I get lost in the details. Also, he’s made me laugh from day one. 

In yesterday’s blog post, I wrote, “The greatest travesty, second to death, would be arriving at the other side of this pandemic unchanged. Today, God brought that truth home.

As Tim and I shared our afternoon cup of coffee, we discussed what we want our lives to look like on the other side of COVID-19. We talked about a passage of Scripture I was mulling over from earlier in the day.  

I had been reading Matthew 25:31-46 about the final judgment. Anticipation began mounting in my chest as I read about the glorious day when the Son of Man will come in his glory. I savored each word as I imagined what it would be like to see King Jesus face-to-face.

And then, just like that, I was deeply convicted when I read verses 34-40:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father to inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me, I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothed you? And did when we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” Matthew 25:34-40

For many reasons, some entirely legitimate, I have fallen into a mode of self-preservation. I think it’s easy to do when you’re in a tunnel of grief. 

 As Tim and I discussed what living out Jesus’ words might look like; Tim wisely said, “It begins with prayer.” 

Tonight, I am asking the Lord to give me eyes that see the least of these, and a tender heart to act accordingly.

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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This Vaporless Life CV Lay-OFF Day:8

If you are at all familiar with Dave Ramsey, you’ll understand my next statement with ease. Tim and I have “done stupid” more times than we can count. Financially speaking, it’s been a long road of learning how to steward our resources wisely.

We’ve put ourselves on many budget freezes, made oaths to each other that we wouldn’t eat out, and for a while, I even ventured into the craziness of price matching. Everyone in our family jokingly uses the phrase in our best Texas accent, “beans and rice, and rice and beans,” but we’ve never actually eaten only rice and beans for dinner.

When the news began trickling in about the COVID-19 from China, I was mildly alarmed. My heart went out to the Chinese people who were unable to receive life-saving medical care. And then, I heard that two cases were reported here in the United States. My concern increased, and I began paying closer attention to the news. Still, I had no idea that we’d be facing a complete pandemic.

Two Saturdays ago, I was still pretty calm about the whole situation until I read a post in a local Facebook group. It said that people were in a line, wrapped around Costco waiting to buy their supplies. Around the same post, I read there was a run on toilet paper; I had to read that post twice. So, instead of my typical calm Saturday morning routine, I put some on clothes some and headed to the grocery store just in case all of the hype was real.

When I pulled into our Fry’s parking lot, I was shocked. I could hardly find a spot, and I scarcely got a shopping cart. When I walked into the store, the panic on people’s faces unnerved me. The store was completely picked over. Interestingly, the fruit and vegetables were still well-stocked, but almost all the other shelves were bare.

I had the whole beans and rice mantra going through my head, but rice and beans had left the building. There was no pasta, and 90% of the canned goods were gone. I am pretty sure I saw SPAM there, but, no thank you. I was in such a daze that I forgot to even check for toilet paper, but I am quite sure it, too, was gone. It was then, as I checked out at the counter that I realized that this thing is real.

Getting Back to the Basics

Tim and I talked about it in length and immediately began implementing changes. Again, another spending freeze, limiting fast-food, and no new projects. Thankfully, our canned goods and beans were well stocked, because well, we never eat them.

We, for the most part, are staying at home. For the next few days, we are purposing not to make a quick run to the grocery store or any other errand. We’ve decided that we’ll make do with what we have and as much as it depends on us, try to stay healthy.

Our family needed a reset. We needed to get back to the basics with things like our grocery budget, our time, and even the kind of food we serve at home. More importantly, it’s been a good time to pull back the curtain and reexamine our priorities.

The greatest travesty, second to death, would be arriving at the other side of this pandemic unchanged. Much like Edmund, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, was lured in to eat the enchanted Turkish delight, so are we captivated with comfort and ease. They slowly lull us to sleep, our affections for the Lord diminish, and complacency reigns.

When we lost Justin, I learned that life indeed is like a vapor. Justin had no idea that his life would end on July 15, 2017, at 20-years-old. Moses wrote,

“Whether we have another 50 days or another 50 years on this earth, let us not waste this life. In the blink of an eye, the Scripture tells us that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:10)

In this sobering time, let us draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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Peace in the Storm CV Lay-Off Day:7

When I was a new mom, I met an Irish woman at church named Rosie. She had flaming red hair kept in a pixie cut. Her sense of humor was razor-sharp, and she held a wealth of wisdom in her petite frame.

At the time, Tim was taking a full load of classes at seminary and working fulltime at the hospital. Most of my days consisted of just Justin and me. I noticed that Justin started to misbehave in the late afternoon, making the home stretch to bedtime feel like an eternity. One day, I shared my concern with Rosie. She looked me in the eyes, and with empathy, she said something to the effect of, “Missy, no wonder. the hours from 5:00-7:00 pm are known as the arsenic hour.”

At the time, that sounded a little sinister to me, but now, five kids and twenty-some years later, I get it. By dinner time, I come in limping, and tonight was no exception. Tim was making chicken on the grill, and I was at the kitchen counter, cutting up vegetables for our salad. Sarah was trying to tell me a story, two of the boys were chasing each in and out of the house, and our youngest was crying because he got hurt in the middle of the chaos.

Tim called Sarah and me outback and said we had to see the sunset, my favorite. As I stepped outside, I caught a glimpse of the sky filled with glowing pink clouds. I breathed in deeply, unclinched my jaw, and drank in the beauty. And in a single moment, I heard, “Peace! Be still.” At that point, I walked back into the house, out the front door, and crossed the street to the cotton field to get a better look. I repeated to myself, “Peace! Be still!” And when I did, I thought of the story in Mark 4:35-41.

Jesus and the disciples were winding down after a long day of their own. Jesus had just spent the day speaking to massive crowds. He said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” The Scripture goes on to tell the rest of the story:

“Upon leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still.: And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

As I gazed at the sky, now almost twilight, I knew that the Spirit reminded me of Jesus’ words not only because of the chaos happening in our home, but the storm that we are facing with Tim’s lay-off. There are no guarantees that Tim will have his job back in eight weeks. We don’t know how long it with take the travel industry to bounce back.

The truth is, my security is challenged, and it is frightening. But just like the disciples, I must take Jesus’ words to heart, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

As I began walking back to our house, fragments of Colossian 1:15-17 played through my mind,

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.”

Nothing is a surprise to God. He created heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible. The One who calms the storm holds us with his right hand. 

Are you facing a storm in your life?  How can I pray for you? Please leave a comment or send me a message. I would love to pray for you.

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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Coping with Stress CV: LAY-OFF Day 6

All of the unemployment paperwork arrived in the mail today. Things just got real. As I read over the affidavits, my mind got a little fuzzy while the rest of my body felt like I was carrying a fifty-pound weight.

I don’t feel worried or panicked. But, I do feel the gravity of our situation.

At my previous doctor’s visit, I teared up when he asked me if I currently had a lot of stress in my life. For the last year, we’ve been working on getting my body functioning more efficiently. He asked because, at my most recent check-up (before Tim’s lay-off), some of my numbers came back a little out of wack. I was disappointed because I’ve been making significant progress. It was a good question. I know that the majority of my stress is rooted in our loss of Justin. I also know that there’s no easy fix for that kind of strain. 

While I can’t change my circumstances, there are a few things I’ve learned over the last two and a half years to help me deal with stress. 

  • In the morning, I love to take walks by myself. It’s a time for me to pray, listen to the Scripture, and set my mind for the day.
  • I found it’s important for me to drink a lot of water. When I am hydrated, I am energized and my brain functions with more clarity.
  • I eat ten servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Okay, just kidding, but wouldn’t that be awesome? 
  • I write. I wrote my first poem when I was ten years old, and I’ve been writing ever since. I keep a journal, I write on social media, and of course, here on the blog. Writing has played a vital role in my healing journey. 
  • I sing. Oh, how I love to sing! On most mornings, if I am quiet enough to hear it, I wake with a song of praise playing through my mind. The song that keeps coming back over the last week is the old (and beautiful) hymn, “Be Still my Soul.” Oh, what a treasured word of truth. Tonight, I thought I’d leave you with her lyrics. I pray it’s as much a healing balm to your soul as it is to mine.

Be Still my Soul  

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end
Be still my soul when dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears
Then shalt thou better know His love His heart
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears
Be still my soul the waves and winds shall know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below
Be still my soul the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last

 

 Until tomorrow, 

Missy

 

 

 

 

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Drawing Close to God in Suffering CV: Lay-Off Day 5

I spent the first half of the day positive it was Tuesday. It is, in fact, Monday. At breakfast this morning, I whispered to my husband, “Maybe we should take the week off of school.” After thirty seconds, I decided that would be a horrible decision because what exactly would we do with more free time right now? Also, right after dinner, I set the clocks forward an hour.  

It was a very long day.

I saw a picture of Justin today, and my heart jumped in my throat. His smile was so carefree; for a moment, I remembered what it was like to hug him. There is a multifaceted mixture of emotions swirling around inside of me. I long for the familiar hum of life to resume. But, comfort is not what builds steadfastness, that’s usually sufferings job.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” 

My husband shared a post on Facebook today, and in it, he wrote, “The gospel never lets you graduate to self-reliance.” How accurate. Suffering silences the chatter of this world, and suddenly we become acutely aware of our need for God.

So, how do we draw close to God in Suffering?

Worship in the Storm

It was the morning of Justin’s memorial service. With the cold bathroom tile beneath my feet, I stood facing the shower as uncontrollable wracked my body. I reached for my phone and turned on an old Michael Card song, “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows.” There’s one lyric in this beautiful song that has forever changed the way that I view worship. It says, “Come lift up your sorrow and offer your pain…” 

I’d never thought of offering my pain as a sacrifice to God. But that single lyric gave me permission to rest in the Lord with confidence as I lamented.  

Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” 

It’s quite beautiful. We offer our pain to the Lord, and our sacrifices are like the fragrance of Christ. In this sacred exchange, He draws us near, and we receive His comfort. I know no sweeter healing balm than the tender care of our Savior. 

I would love to pray for you in your time of need. If you have a prayer request, please leave a comment or send me an email

Until tomorrow, 

Missy

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Learning to Suffer Well CV Lay-off Day:4

This morning, I decided it would be nice to put on a little make-up, do my hair, and actually wear real clothes. Just as I was about to apply my mascara, I heard one of my boys wailing and crying, “Mama!”. I opened my door and saw my boy, who loves all things creepy-crawly, sobbing.  

In his hands, he held a plastic container with the remnants of his favorite hermit crab, Stewart Little. After consoling him, I suggested he give Stewart a proper burial in the back yard; I was hoping it would give my tender-hearted son a little closure. When he came back in the house, he crumpled into my arms, this time, wailing. He kept repeating the same phrase, “He was so young, he didn’t get to grow up.” Finally, I realized his sorrow wasn’t so much about Stewart Little; this was about grieving the loss of Justin, coupled with our new routine at home with Tim’s lay-off.

I pulled my boy in a little closer and whispered, “You cry every tear you need to cry, buddy. It’s going to be okay. I love you.” 

It took that jarring moment to remind me that our kids can feel the stress that we, the adults, are carrying. When I looked into my boy’s red-brimmed eyes, my heart ached for him. Things aren’t awful around here, but I am not myself. I am preoccupied, I am concerned, and I am struggling to not obsess about the future. 

Last month, I spoke about suffering at a women’s conference. In my talk, I asked the question, how do we suffer well? 

The apostle Peter had a lot to say about suffering in the book of 1 Peter. I especially love what he wrote in 1 Peter 4:19, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 

Now let’s pull this verse apart a bit:

  • To entrust: to place down, to deposit, to commit ourselves to His charge  
  • Soul: the very seat of our affections and will, our whole being
  • Faithful Creator: He who sustains all of Creation and hold all things together

In essence, in our suffering, we entrust (deposit) our souls (the very seat of our affections and will) to our faithful Creator (the One who sustains all of Creation and holds all things together) while doing good. 

With this in mind, I don’t need to figure out tomorrow. Instead, I submit myself and all of my ten-thousand emotions to the One who sustains all of Creation. Now that’s hope! He is faithful to do according to his will all that He has purposed in our lives. Let us cling to Him. 

Until tomorrow, 

Missy 

 

 

 

 

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CV Lay-Off Day: Three- BY FAITH

Over the last week, I have been camped out in the book of Hebrews. Per usual, I listened to the Scripture on my morning walks. Chapter one of Hebrews made me want to shout hallelujah square in the middle of our residential neighborhood! When I arrived at chapter 11, famously known as the “Hall of Fatih,” it ministered to me deeply in my soul.  

Now, Hebrews 11 was on repeat. Once I got home, I pulled open my Bible and proceeded to read the entire chapter aloud to my husband. 

There’s something about reading “By faith Abel, by faith Enoch, by faith Noah…” that bolsters my weary heart and makes me want to run my race with my eyes lifted to Jesus, saying, by faith Lord God, I will follow you!

Tonight, as I write, I know the Lord was preparing my heart for such a time as this. Everything that is happening in our world is frightening. Today, I read a story about a precious little boy who has the virus. I thought of my own little boys, and I began to fear. 

A litany of thoughts raced through my mind, all of them starting with the familiar, what- if. Since losing Justin, I can go from faith to fear in the blink of an eye. It reminds me of something that happened earlier this week. 

On the day of Tim’s town hall meeting, a thunderstorm swept through our county. The sky cleared up enough for me to take a quick walk. As I rounded the corner to our main road, I looked up and saw the most beautiful rainbow shining against the dark clouds. Grabbing my phone, I looked down to turn on the camera. Maybe two seconds later, I looked up, and the rainbow was entirely hidden by the new storm clouds. The rainbow was most definitely still in the sky; I just couldn’t see it.

Isn’t that what’s it’s like we take our eyes off of Jesus? Suddenly, we are engulfed in fear, paralyzed by what might happen, and we lose our way.  

Today, I needed to come back to the center and remember that the Lord is not in the what-ifs. Hebrews 11:1 says it best, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Tonight, I’ll close with this beautiful word from Hebrews 4:14-16:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (emphasis mine)

Until tomorrow,

Missy