I pondered a blog name for quite a long time, debating ideas around what would capture the message of God’s transforming work in my life, and ultimately give glory to the One to Whom it’s due. When I heard the phrase “hands up, worries down” in a song, I knew that hit the proverbial nail on the head for what I wanted to encompass with this blog. Continue reading
Greater Health through Greater Trust
Let’s be honest, even as Christians we struggle with worry. It has been said that as much as 90% of illness and disease is stress-related. Such a sobering statistic ought to compel us to examine how our anxiety and worry translates to not trusting God and, in turn, our languishing the opportunity to best steward the body He’s entrusted to us. Stress that is based in sinful fear and distrust of God’s good and perfect sovereignty should be absent in the Christian life.
Truly trusting God leads to a blessed peace and a divinely-given lower stress life. The more we trust God in every little thing, the more eagerly we’ll pursue going to Him in the midst of trials and circumstances that foster worry. The result of truly knowing God leads us to trust Him more, and therefore uproots those entrenched weeds of stress from our mind, all leading to greater health for His service.
God’s gift of peace is constantly available to us, but we interrupt that flow by giving in to our flesh in myriad ways. When we take our eyes off Christ and who we are in Him, we start focusing on things of the world, trying to live in our own strength and sinfully worrying. To remedy this despairing obstacle on our pursuit of peace, we must pursue righteousness. As Psalm 119:165 states, “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.” We ought to be pursing righteousness through knowing God’s Word, examining our heart, turning from sin, continually renewing our mind, and obeying God – all through the help of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 32:17 confirms the benefits of this pursuit stating, “And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.”
As we pursue righteousness, we grow in faith as we dive the depths of God’s truths in His Word. Having faith is a reasoned response to revealed Truth. Faith is thinking. Spiritually-stable followers of Christ are involved daily in thinking about God, His attributes, His promises, His sovereignty and perfect control, His work in their life, His goodness, His grace and mercy, His magnificence, and His unparalleled power. Far too often we fill our minds and spend our time fixated and dwelling upon things of this earth. We can mistakenly put our ultimate hope in people or desired circumstances and not God.
As we put some trust in fallen man in many areas of our lives, such as with doctors, taxi drivers, pilots, and so forth, how preposterous does it seem that far too often we act untrustingly toward God in our heart with all our sinful worry, anxiety, and fear? God’s Word gives us no reason to ever question Him. His faithfulness in our lives gives us no reason to ever doubt Him. His sovereignty in this world gives us no reason to ever despair. His control in this world gives us no reason to compromise. His goodness gives us no reason to ever fear. His character gives us no reason to be anxious. So, whose fault is it when we worry and stress?
When we truly know who God is and all that His character embodies, when we behold His power and magnificence and sovereignty, and when we ponder His promises and tremendous truths revealed to us in scripture, we’re left without any doubt that He is worthy to be trusted. Store up in your heart truths about who God is, so you may be reminded of them when your mind is under attack with an anxious thought. Strive to know the Word and perhaps also post visual reminders that you’ll encounter throughout your day. A painting with the following scripture hangs in my kitchen as a constant reminder, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3.
Stress-inducing situations are inevitable, but our responses can be managed, and therefore our health impacted for the better. Our experiences and trials are the fires that forge the strengthening of our faith. Let us trust Our Father in everything, humbly embrace every circumstance, run to Him for strength, and give thanks to Almighty God, praying that He will cultivate character and spiritual growth in us as we patiently endure trials and tribulations. Our spiritual and physical health will be better for it, and we will be stronger and better equipped to serve Him with all that we are.
Release, Receive, Rejoice
We recently uprooted from the rolling hills of Tennessee and began to plant new roots in South Florida not even 3 weeks ago. Emotions had already been high yesterday as I dropped my husband off for a business trip to Italy, on this the 19th day in the home we’re renting. I was missing a familiar life and routine, as well as longing to be establishing our potential forever home here on Earth, rather than honing my gecko-swatting skills in a home that is not our own.
Sleeping has been hit-or-miss for both of us here. I can count on one or two fingers the number of restful nights of sleep I’ve gotten here so far, not entirely sure why, but last night was no exception. As I laid down to sleep, mind somewhat racing, replaying details of church conversations just an hour before, and thoughts of my husband’s trans-Atlantic flight, I was hyper-aware that it was teeing up to be another restless night. Continue reading
Have you ever sung a song for years and, when you really stopped to think about it, not truly known or understood the meaning of the lyrics? I’d sung “How He Loves”, written by John Mark McMillan and made known by David Crowder Band, for 9 years before even scratching the surface of understanding the powerful depths professed in the truth of these lyrics. Continue reading
When Everything, Yet Nothing, in Your World Changes
I have slowly, often fraught with resistance, learned that I’m not in control and I don’t have it all figured out. This realization would have served me well decades ago, but better to discover in decade 5 of life than much later! I don’t have it all figured out, I don’t have the best plan in mind, and I must let go of control and rely on the only One that does. Continue reading
A Heart-Racing, Deer-Chasing, Night of Endless Celebration
November 4, 2016 will forever be etched in my memory as one of the best days of my life. On this day, 7 years of patience and perseverance paid off from 23 yards away, 17’ off the ground, through shaking hands and a heart pounding in nervous expectation!
To give you the back story, I began hunting in 2010, though only briefly that fall as we experienced 2 deaths in our families in October which left us completely spent emotionally, physically, and without much time to hunt. My husband Peter and I had just taken up hunting as a new hobby to learn and to enjoy time together, and it has turned into more than either of us ever could’ve imagined. God has blessed this endeavor immensely and in so many ways outside the deer stands.
After beginning to hunt in 2010, I spent many seasons enjoying the squirrels, blue jays, doe and fawn, and only once in 7 years did I see a buck approach my stand, though not within shooting range.
The afternoon of Friday, November 4, 2016 we arrived at our cabin earlier than usual, but much later than we typically ever go out hunting. I wasn’t planning to hunt at all as we were driving up, and had my husband not gone out himself, I never would have gone. I decided it was a nice day and I might as well give it a shot. 🙂 I took my de-scenting shower and just threw my clothes and hat on without brushing my wet hair. It was 4:00 PM when I headed out to the stand, with a 5:38 sunset time.
While I sat, I maintained as little movement as possible, having learned through the years that deer may be watching from a distance and you have no idea. By 4:45 I decided to hold my bow upright on my thigh, arrow nocked, wrist release attached, just to be ready and to minimize movement should I have the opportunity to draw.
Sunset came and went, and I knew my time to stop hunting was drawing near. All of a sudden I saw several deer emerge from the woods and into our yard, and then they made their way toward the food plot I was overlooking. I thought I might’ve seen a spike among them, which actually excited me and I would’ve shot, but they turned out to be all does. Oh well, I figured, at least I was seeing some wildlife and something to enjoy watching for the last few minutes of legal hunting time.
The does were there for a matter of minutes, when I lifted up a prayer to God about a buck, and within 30 seconds I saw the monster 10-pointer (which I didn’t know for sure at the time, just knew he was big and had a mature rack of at least 8!) strut out of the same spot in the woods and make his way back toward the does. He walked casually, not a care in the world, with just one thing on his mind, holding his head confidently and not even giving a notice to his blond-haired nemesis 17’ off the ground. The second he reached a spot that was clear beyond a branch for me to shoot, I was looking through the peep sight and feeling like I couldn’t see anything! I’m sure nerves had nothing to do with it! 🙂 The motion light in our yard had gone off from the does, because it was dusk, and the glare was messing with my vision somewhat. I got myself settled and into focus through the peep and then I saw my level bubble was off to the right. I frantically made subtle adjustments to no avail, panicking in my mind that I couldn’t figure out which way to tilt the bow to level it. I finally (all of 3-4 seconds) got it leveled, I could see through the peep, and I maximized my draw a half inch more as I heard my husband’s coaching in my head that I need to be quick in the moment and not wait as long as I do when target practicing. I ensured I was well behind the buck’s shoulder, aimed slightly higher to account for the distance that I knew was further than the familiar 15’ target and what my bow was set at, overall aimed as best I could in this rushed, adrenaline-filled moment. I released with another prayer for accuracy and not injury to this beautiful animal. In the moment this felt like an eternity preparing to shoot, but I figured out later that it was about 20 seconds total from the time the buck emerged from the woods until I shot, and I made it within 2 minutes of legal hunting time!
He jumped, that famous whitetail flew up, the does scattered, he began running straight forward and immediately jogged back to head into the woods from where he came. After setting down my bow, I immediately took out my phone and, with a full body shake going on, attempted to text something coherent to my husband that said “I just shot!!!!!!!!!” followed by “8-pointer” then “I’m shaking to death” and “Oh, I hope I got him” followed by “Dying!!!!” I told him “I didn’t hear the running for very long, so I think he’s hit!”
I descended my perch in the birch and headed to the cabin to bring my stuff in, get a flashlight, and get some gloves on my freezing bare hands (discovered my gloves were in my pocket the whole time). I went back to look at the site of the shot to see if my arrow was there, holding my breath that this one amazing opportunity had not slipped through my hands. No sight of the arrow! By then Peter arrived and we began looking for the blood trail. Words cannot describe the elation we both felt when we saw that first, huge, crimson drop on a dry leaf. Peter assured me that it was a good bleed and I got him! We started the adventure of tracking each blood spot, our hearts beating harder with anticipation as we made our way through the woods only a total of 94 yards until we beheld the sight of my majestic 10-pointer on the ground. We were like kids on Christmas morning, jumping in excitement. Three years of hard work on our land had culminated in this moment, the crowning achievement of Peter’s fervent focus on developing our land more and more each year to bring deer in.
We dragged big boy a few more yards to our cousin’s clearing on his land and began preparations for the “fun” part of gutting. Peter left me alone with my deer 4 times, as he ran back to get gutting gloves, the UTV, phone battery chargers, and then to go share the news with a neighbor. I did not mind the solitude under the stars alone with my first deer. The most prevalent phrase circling my mind was “Thank you” a hundred times to the Lord. I took a moment to kneel before my buck and thank God for the amazing privilege and opportunity of taking this trophy animal’s life, which would provide meat for us as well as the fulfillment and satisfaction of many years of patient hunting. It was a special moment to reflect on Genesis 1 that gives us clear evidence that God made us to rule over the animals, and I can’t thank Him enough for the opportunity to grow in skill, in patience, and ultimately this victory in a sport that has done more for our marriage than anything else.
After taking tons of pictures, we (and I use that term loosely) began the gutting process on our own, but our new neighbor we’d only met 2 times came over with his wife, whom we were just meeting for the first time. After struggling with a dull knife, the neighbors, Jared and Luisa, offered their extremely sharp knife to get the job done with ease. Jared guided us through the process and we both learned a ton. It was Peter’s first buck he’d ever gutted, featuring a few more nuances to navigate than a doe. 🙂 The guys loaded up my deer on the back of our 4-wheeler, a struggle to even lift him at that point, and we continued back to the cabin to hang him in the shed. I was not going to lose this prize animal to a ravenous predator overnight!
Bracing up our center beam with 2x4s on a bucket and a table saw, we supported the shed’s beam so this beast of an animal wouldn’t pull the whole thing down! By the time we got in the cabin it had been a 3-hour process, from tracking to pictures to gutting to loading and hauling. What an unforgettable night!!!!
I slept less than 2 hours that night and I relished all the comments and likes on Facebook from my big announcement post. It’s certainly exciting to get the buck, but to savor everyone’s congratulatory comments and support made it all the sweeter. I’d been keeping a picture on my phone of my dad’s first buck where I’m “helping” him hold it up. I was about 3 years old at the time. Amidst my insomnia, I created a side-by-side collage of that 1979 picture and the fresh photo from a few hours earlier of me holding up my own buck. I updated it with a daylight picture as shown below. A poignant memento to be sure.
We took my deer into Pelkins in Crivitz for processing early Saturday morning, as it was going to be an unseasonably warm 65 degree day! Peter was such a good sport in letting me “run the show” by obliging my request to hook up the trailer before daylight, and get the deer down and onto the trailer mostly himself. He humored me by letting me wrap the body cavity with tarp to avoid getting road rash in my venison!
Once we arrived at Pelkins we were the 2nd people in line at the wild game door. The guy ahead of us had a little spike, and then 3 sets of men that followed all had smaller bucks as well. Each one congratulated Pete on my deer, but he quickly pointed my way to give credit where it was due. 🙂 Having your husband equally excited about your deer made this experience SO fun. It was truly our deer.
I now await my trophy deer head to be mounted, unknown price being irrelevant, as this deer is officially the biggest deer anyone has ever gotten in my extended family as well as Peter’s in 60 years of hunting this area!! This was an absolute gift straight from the hand of God. There is no other way to explain the textbook, perfect scenario of the area’s largest buck we’d ever seen, coming out while yet daylight, and standing broadside for a perfect shot opportunity for me. Unbelievable. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Sin’s Intriguing Wrapper
Many of our weekends are spent enjoying time in the north woods of Wisconsin. In fact, I grew up in the north woods of Wisconsin. I’ve spent hours upon hours, in all 4 seasons of the year, walking through the pristine, pure Nicolet National Forest. I’ve seen plenty of wildlife, plenty of berry bushes, plenty of leaves, thorns, and trees, overall a mainly green sight to behold…until September 2016 when I encountered what you see in this picture!
This plant (or what was it?!) stopped me in my tracks. It magnetically drew my eyes to itself in this vast sea of green.
I thought “Is this even a real, growing plant, or is this plastic that someone “planted” out here? What in the world is this thing?!” I examined it closely, but didn’t touch it (thankfully, I’d discover later!). Compelled to capture life’s moments daily on camera, I snapped a few pictures and continued on, perplexed.
After returning to wifi range, I immediately posted this picture on Facebook to solicit any botany-savvy friends’ knowledge, while simultaneously beginning a Google search that included “white with black dot plant” 🙂 Surprisingly enough, I immediately found results that indicated this was a doll’s eye plant (or white baneberry), and I learned it is highly poisonous! Eating these berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death!
The encounter with this seemingly rare and fascinating plant stuck in my head, and then it came to me, the way in which I must write a blog about it.
The strangely beautiful, intriguing, fascinating, somewhat begs-to-be-touched plant that captured my attention and stopped me in my tracks is such a profound parallel to the way our enemy Satan uses sin tactics in our life. We often grow up thinking of Satan as someone vile-looking with horns and a pitchfork; scripture teaches us quite the opposite, that he was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. We know from 2 Corinthians 11:14 that today, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Nothing visibly unattractive about those descriptions.
Sin sounds like a bad, negative, unappealing image, right? Well, sin itself is bad, a horrible, death-inducing, God-separating, self-elevating, relationship-killing, fact of life since the Fall in the Garden, BUT sin is most often presented to us as everything wonderful that we want and think we need for happiness. Sin catches our eye. It’s presented to us as exciting, intriguing, fulfilling, self-exalting, soul-satisfying options that draw us in until it costs us more than we ever imagined.
How does sin look attractive? The allure of sin draws us in through the flattering neighbor who seems to care about listening to us more than our spouse does, the allure of sin draws us in through the accolades at work that drive us to make our job the ultimate focus and idol in life over our spouse, family, and most importantly our Lord. Some of us may feel a thrill in receiving extra change back from a purchase or having an item go unlisted on a restaurant check that we don’t mention. Nearly all of us will savor marinating in the praises of someone ready to pour compliments over us and then allow ourselves to puff up and begin to diminish in our mind the true defiled state of our heart (Jer. 17:9). (side note for a quote I love, “Man is the only animal that when you pat him on the back, his head swells up.”)
Are the above incidents sinful in and of themselves? Not necessarily. At what point does it potentially turn to sin? It turns to sin in how the next step is taken. Do these scenarios begin to play over in your mind and fuel a longing for more, do they feed your mind with imagined future scenarios that deceptively feed your flesh, and do you take that next step in the moment or in the near future; do you seek out the neighbor for more conversation, do you allow your mind to be consumed with career around the clock, do you let the merchant’s mistake go unmentioned and take what isn’t rightfully yours? Which lies do you begin to buy into? It’s a myriad of temptations to each person.
The above examples,when isolated, can be quickly repented of and taken to God for strength to rely on Him for help immediately and in the next encounter. The problem lies in relishing these types of incidents, entertaining ideas in our mind, where the allure of sin draws us in and then keeps us there wanting more and going back for that false sense of satisfaction or significance. James 1:15 comes to mind: “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
By nature, we are fighting an uphill battle. “Original sin distorts us, actual sin distracts us, and indwelling sin manipulates us.” says Rosaria Butterfield. This uphill battle can only be conquered through the One who conquered sin and death. Romans 8 assures us, specifically verse 2 tells us, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
As in my tracks-stopping moment in the woods, Satan presents something alluring and attractive to catch our eye, reel us in, and hook us; he finds a “door” that we’ve left open, a crack in the foundation, where our satisfaction and fulfillment is not being found in Christ alone.
I’ve been fooled and have failed too many times to count in my 40 trips around the sun, and it’s only gotten more manageable by giving temptations to God through prayer in the moment, and ultimately by finding my true worth, satisfaction, and fulfillment in Christ alone.
In what areas do you detect a weakness that Satan may tap into? Which areas of life might you allow to escalate further than you’d ever imagine…should Satan ever punch in just the right combination of factors that speak to your need for significance? Where does the world have a grip on your heart and mind? Examine these areas that you have the opportunity to give to God, and trust Him to provide what you need.
” And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
I can assure you of this, friend. Tried, true, and tested, Jesus Christ has the power to break every chain, to manage every temptation, and to free every prisoner held captive by whatever bill of goods this world has sold in exchanging the truth of God for a lie. I’m living proof.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:20-21
From a “Bottoms Up” to a Hands Up Lifestyle
This weekend marks 5 years that I walked away from drinking socially, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Many people seem confused when you state that you quit drinking, but not at all because of alcoholism. When people ask me why I don’t drink, the answer is short but lengthy. Plain and simple, “Because God told me to.” Continue reading
Changes in Time
I took this picture on a beach in Florida. There were yards of these amazing sand formations that took shape over time from the water and wind (I presume!). The intricate and perfectly formed detail reminds me of God’s hand as He works on the rough edges of our lives through each moment – painful and joyful. Nothing is wasted. All is for our good and His glory. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Eccl. 3:11 Continue reading
I embraced turning 40 this year, because pausing to reflect on 4 decades of growth and change is a good thing. I shutter at the thought of getting to my golden years and still acting out in dysfunctional patterns that were prevalent in my 20s or 30s. It’s a sad state to witness. I don’t want to waste any years in stagnancy, having no forward growth. Continue reading