A beautiful mess

One of the best pieces of advice i have ever received is, “Just be yourself.” It may sound funny and out-of-place, in a world where everyone is chasing perfection, trying to be anything but them self.  Just take a look around you, watch just one reality show,  one contest to find the next idol, or look in one edited magazine, where not even the models are real… no one believes who they are, or what they have is worth anything special, and yet they are all desperately seeking that validation.

Looking back, I remember who i started out to be.  I remember the little girl, with big blue eyes full of wonder, and lip stick red lips, who had joy, passion, and a spirit of adventure.  I also remember the dark moments that marred her, changed her, and forced her to hide her real self away.  To pretend everything was okay, when nothing was.  Pretty soon, you start to believe its true, that this altered you is the real you, and real life.

I have learned a few things about Jesus over the years.  Things that upset normal life.  You can come to him, a mess, hurting, hiding, and desperate, but he never leaves you broken. He is the only truth out there. He is the only real life there is. There isn’t any hiding what’s broken.  Jesus is a no hide zone. He is healer. He is the restorer. He is light, that breaks through the dark

As I came to Him, He exposed the darkness, and gently peeled away the layers of armor I hid my heart behind.  Layers that weren’t me to begin with, they were things that actually kept me in bondage to the pain, because they made me feel safe, but really they kept me unreachable, and unhealed. As it turns out, you don’t need protection from a savior.  The one who made you holds the original blue prints, and He alone can restore you.

Of course when you have worn armor on for a long time, you get used to the weight. Sure its heavy, and awkward and really looks ridiculous on a 5 foot four-inch girl. But you get used to the protection. It’s a war after all, and without it you feel…. vulnerable.  I used to think vulnerability was a bad thing.  People that were suppose to love me, exploited mine.  But with Jesus, He needs you without armor, so you can feel… HIM.

It’s a terrifying and beautiful place to be, standing before the one true king, offering up the only you thing you can, yourself. The you, you believe, could never be a good enough offering to begin with, is the only offering he accepts.  As the layers come off  you realize, all you thought was real, wasn’t. Everything is not okay. The you, who you hide from others, and even yourself, makes mistakes, has worries, doubts and fears, and fails a lot. The real you is broken, and can’t live like this anymore. It needs the creator, to fix whats broken, But more importantly, it needs the Savior.

Oddly this doesn’t change when you become a Christian. The more i walk alongside Him, the closer I get, I see how perfect He is, and how not perfect I am.  And as I own it,  I cling closer to Him,  because, on this side of heaven, I will always be a bit of a mess.  We all are. If you don’t think you are, you are more of a mess than me, and that’s saying a lot. Owning our imperfections, keeps us reliant on the only one who can save us.  Even after we come to Him, and He restores us, we still are in need of a savior, every day.  He reminds us, through our mistakes, that we are but the clay, and he is the potter, and we remember… how much we are in need of him.

I believe what the world needs most, is transparent, genuine, Christians who own their need for a savior. We are all broken apart from Christ. There is no one who is perfect, or never sins. And if saying one single prayer made us perfect, we wouldn’t need a Savior to die a very painful death on a cross.  But we do. Everyday. Every moment i breathe in, I am aware of the horrible price He paid to make me free, to be the me He designed me to be.  I am His and In Him, I find my true self.

So this is me, just me.  I am  honest, and real. I don’t hide my fears, hurts, and disappointments.  I speak from places that normal, safe people hide from. I refuse to pretend anymore.  I passionately share from my heart and life, openly, because I know, there is a message somewhere in this beautiful mess called Sarah.  And if my open book, helps even just one person, find the one true God, its worth it.  He knows what He’s doing, and I am just me, going along for the ride. Care to join me in a life of daring adventure? Take off the armor, strip down to just you, travel light, You are all He needs.

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

Matthew 9-10 “Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.

Let Freedom Reign

A few days ago we celebrated our first Independence day in Texas. In years past we had a tradition of going to a Fourth of July parade in the morning with extended family. It was always the hottest day of the year, and way too hot and sticky.  In the evening we would BBQ with friends, then walk down to Kailua Beach and wait for darkness to fall so we could see the fireworks get shot off of flat island. I had been watching those fireworks from the same beach every year since I was a little girl.

This year we did something new.  I worked for part of the day, Justin had the day off and stayed home with the kids, I got off work just in time for a hamburger and hot dog dinner, and we quickly walked down to a park nearby our house where we were told would have a fireworks show.

After the surprisingly long walk, (texas streets are deceptively longer than Hawaii streets) we got to the crowded park, and couldn’t decide where to sit.  We found a spot, moved, found a spot, moved again.  The tricky part was, we had never seen the show, so we had no idea which direction the fireworks would get set off in.

Looking at others didn’t help either because it seemed they had their own ideas on which way they shot up from.  Some people were looking north, some south, some east, some west.  A few minutes before the fireworks went off, a few lone fireworks went off in the distance, and we were tricked into thinking that might be the show, but they quickly died off.  Finally it grew dark enough, and the real show started.  It was in the opposite direction we were sitting, so we quickly turned until we could see the show perfectly.

It’s funny because before the show started I was panicking that maybe we were in the wrong spot.  I was worried that our family would miss this great event, and that they would be disappointed.  I was having a hard time believing this was going to work out simply because I didn’t know enough about this event to feel even a little bit in control of the situation.   But once the fireworks started,we simply turned towards them to see them.  Not only was it big, and loud, and fun, but the show went on longer than any show I had personally ever seen.  It was almost 40 minutes with several fake grande finales.

 It was truly amazing.  And as we watched the show, I could feel myself relax, because everything had worked out okay.  I was able to sit back, lean into my family, and be simply caught up in the beauty and power as it overtook the sky.   As I sat on the big blanket, staring up at the sky, in watchful expectation, God impressed three words in my heart.  Let freedom reign.

 I thought of the song that people sing to honor our country, and the  entire day that as a nation we celebrate our freedom.  And I thought about the sacrifice that others had made to purchase our freedom, and the many others who still fight to keep it.   Then I wondered about the word God gave me.  Lord? What are you trying to tell me?

God broke down the words in my spirit.

LET. Allow me.

FREEDOM.  To free you, and keep you free.

REIGN. To be above all else.

He reminded me that He has given us freedom by Jesus, as a free gift, but we have to make to a choice to stay free.  It’s so easy to get entangled in what used to keep us prisoner.  The lies that used to hold us hostage.  The fear, the anxiety, the worry, the insecurities that blind and bind us.  And like a child who gets lost when they wander away, its easy for us to get distracted, confused, angry, scared, and frightened sometimes.

At home I looked up the words.  Freedom is living in liberty,  rather than in confinement. It’s the absence of slavery. Moreover, it’s the power to confidently determine action without fear of being restrained by anyone or anything.

To reign means to rule from a position above all others.When we LET freedom have reign in our lives, we permit him and we allow Him access to all of us.  We give him the right to occupy us, to determine our actions, course, and purposes.

When we LET FREEDOM REIGN, we move from set free, to living free.  We become His free people, bound only by our love for a Savior who paid our debt with His life, to return freedom to a broken world that chose slavery.

When Jesus died on that cross, He broke the power of death and hell.  He went to the gates of Hell, and opened them.  Death no longer has the reign.  He gave those same keys to you and me.  We have not only been set free, to live free, but we have been given the keys to set others free from their self-imposed dungeons.

We are free people.   What will we do now?  Will we return to the dark dungeon of self-doubt, and fear.  Will we willingly be chained again by the lies our enemy so cleverly whispers in our ears? Lies that keep us bound rather than running in our freedom.  Or will we decide to fight everyday to stay free and fight for others freedom?

I will always remember this fourth of July.  What an experience it was.  The colors of the explosions of a billion lights, the sounds of excited kids, and the grand finale which ended with at least a few hundred people cheering and clapping for several minutes in awe of what they just experienced.

Letting go, and leaning in to God… and the inevitable peace that followed.  And being overtaken by a power and beauty bigger than myself.  Bigger than what I can do on my own. Let HIS FREEDOM reign.

As I read this verse, I picture a small child, a little girl… huddled in a dark corner, holding herself close. She is alone.  Its helpless. Nothing will ever get better.  And then, a light shines through and falls on her, and a strong but gentle voice calls out  to her… a mighty hand reaches out to pull her to her feet, and her rescuer holds her close. It’s over. Her enemy has been defeated.  The darkness is gone forever. She won’t be afraid anymore. Nothing can stop her now.

Isaiah 49:8- I tell prisoners, “Come on out.  Your free! And those huddled in fear, It’s alright, its safe now!”

Losing sight of the shore.

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My husband and I used to have dates like other couples.   We would go to out to dinner at a nice restaurant ,or if we both had a day off when the kids were in school we would go out to breakfast and talk, may be go walk around the mall after. You know, normal dates.  We had those, until he bought me a paddle board for a Christmas present. 

I had been hinting at wanting one for a while.  Paddle boarding is a fantastic sport.  It’s great because you don’t have to know how to surf to paddle board.  I have always loved the idea of surfing, but paddling into a wave has never really been my thing. For one, it takes way to much effort, and two, I hate wiping out.  But you don’t need waves to paddle board. Its the best time to go out when its dead winds and glassy.

On my days off I would take my paddle board  out to Boat ramps, and paddle out to Flat Island.  Most days I would paddle shore to shore and spend an hour out, just going back and forth.  It was a good overall workout, and the area I would go to was shallow all the way out.  My, blonde and obviously not based in reality, logic has always been, if the water is shallow, and clear, and I can see the bottom the chances of any sea creature eating me is slim.   If  however, it’s deep, murky or otherwise not shallow and clear, I don’t go out.

One day, after having my paddle board for a while,  I told my husband that paddle boarding is fun, but can be a little lonely. Peaceful, quiet, but lonely. I told him I had seen couples out before and  groups of people, and thought it might be fun for us both to have a board and go paddling together.  I told him it would combine my two favorite things, him and the beach and his two favorite things, surfing and me. 

 So my husband traded 3 beloved surfboards for a paddle board, from Kimos Surf Hut.  Kimo, gave him a deal, and light winds welcomed us to heading down to Kailua beach the following day.  At first we started at my usual place, Boat ramps, and paddled out to Flat Island. 

It was fun and familiar, and most importantly it felt safe.  Through the sparkling, fresh, and clear water we saw a Honu swim by without a care in the world.  And we all know if you see a turtle, sharks aren’t near by right?!   We paddled out together, talking about how cool the turtle looked, how pretty the sky was, how peaceful, how barely anyone was out.  It was shaping up to be an amazing morning.

When we got to flat island we put our boards up on shore, making the first foot prints of the day on the sand.  The island is flat, and full of holes, but you can walk all around it, in less than 10 minutes.  I found shells and Justin checked out the surf.  As we stopped to watch the waves off the right, my husband had an idea. 

“Do you wanna go paddle out to the Mokes?” he asked me.  I stood there on flat Island, looking at the Mokes, doing my Sarah reasoning. Thinking…. Is it safe? Well, the water looks just as clear and shallow. Hmmmm… Doesn’t look too far away.  I remember  paddling out to one of the twin Islands as a teen with my youth group.  It took awhile then, but we had also come from bellows beach which was pretty far away.

“Is it a far paddle?” I asked him. 

 “Nah, not too bad.” He said. 

Feeling brave and full of courage I said, “Yes. let’s do it, that sounds like fun”.

Justin is always my partner in adventure.  He strives to get me to do things out of my comfort zone, and almost always gets me to try stuff I wouldn’t normally try.  So we paddled back to shore, got in the truck and drove to Lanikai to paddle from there, to the Mokes.  Justin said that would be the fastest and save time.  The kids were in school and it was only 9:30 am, so our plan was to go out for a while and then come back and have lunch before grabbing the kids.

We got to Lanikai, parked, and carried our big boards down to the beach. It was a beautiful sunny day, the sun sparkled off the water like jewels as Justin and I stared out at the Mokes. From the shore the twin islands looked close, I could see the sandy shore on one of them. Couldn’t be that far of a paddle, a short swim perhaps? 

Lanikai is safe, and shallow, and full of reefs.  The main thing I was worried about was getting my paddle stuck in a reef, or going too shallow on a reef and putting a hole in my board. Kimo had said he had more people come in with broken boards from that reef than anywhere.  I mentioned that to Justin, and he just said to be careful, that the tide was up, so it should be ok, and stay away from the big reefs.  That made sense. Okay.

Justin got in the water up to his waist and prayed outloud, “Lord, let us have fun, and not get eaten by any sharks. AMEN.” I kid you not, that is what he prayed! I looked at my husband who was now climbing onto his board and beginning to paddle out. 

 “Uh, what… ?” 

  Justin just kept paddling so I got on my board and started paddling after him. 

 “What kind of prayer is that?” I demanded.

  “Sarah, you know I always pray before I surf.” He explained, with his back  to me.

“Okay. But theres no sharks, right? I mean, this is lanikai.” I said.  I have lived in Hawaii since I was three, and I have never heard of anyone seeing any sharks anywhere near lanikai. It was suppose to be safe because of the reefs! Don’t forget how clear the water is!

“Babe,” He says, as I am catching up with him, “It’s an Ocean. There are sharks everywhere.  But don’t worry…If one comes up, just kneel down on the board and smack it with your paddle. We are on pretty big boards, probably a lot bigger than any shark we will see out here, they are more scared of us than we are of them.”  What?!

“YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?!” I screamed… probably attracting sharks from all over the place. “ARE YOU CRAZY?” “WHAT IN OUR HISTORY TOGETHER, HAS LED YOU TO BELIEVE I CAN DO ANY OF THAT?” Seriously?! Who does he think I am? I am most certainly not a shark beating surfer chick! Thats for sure.

Of course from that point on, all I could think about was sharks.  I was seriously considering going back to shore, or beating the heck out of my husband!  Still, I didn’t want to draw blood and attract more sharks.  Plus I couldn’t have him thinking I was a complete baby.  I mean, my husband knows I have fears, and who cares if fears are rational or not, they are still fears! But still, i didn’t want to be the spoil sport who ruined our fun, surf, date day.

So we started to paddle…. and kept paddling and paddling, and paddling.  I looked behind me, and could barely see the shore we had left behind in the distance.  We weren’t anywhere near  land.  Not Lanikai’s shore, or the Mokes shore.  We were kind of in the middle of both.  The Mokes still seemed pretty close, almost as close as they did on shore.  In fact it seemed like we weren’t any closer to them.   Hmmm….  Panic was beginning to set in.

“Justin…. how long is this paddle going to take? It feels like we have been paddling for a while now.”

“Yeah, it’s a bit farther out than flat Island is.” he tells me.

Ya think?  Uh, great. Thanks for the heads up.  So now i have been paddling for about 20 mins? And we aren’t even close to the shore? I could go back but that will take another 20 mins back, or I could keep going and who knows when I will arrive? Will we ever see land again? Will JAWs eat me first?

His next comment goes something like this:

 “So, I don’t want you to freak out or anything, but we are coming up to some pretty deep water. ”

 uh….. “How deep?” I ask him.  My heart is already pounding, my legs are getting tired from paddling this long.(I don’t know about you, but whenever anyone begins a sentence with…. “Don’t freak out…but…” I immediately FREAK OUT!)

 “Dunno, it’s a channel.  It’s definitely over head.  Probably deeper. You won’t be able to see down its pretty dark blue….. but don’t freak out.” (First of all, Justin is a surfer. Everything is described this way. Its not a useful description for us non- surfers.  And I am no good at numbers, but I can tell this channel is very deep. And big things live in deep water.)

I can’t tell you what I said next, because it’s not nice. But lets just say, I was angry, and felt a little tricked.  This obviously was no easy, fast, fun, un-scary date paddle.  This was serious business.  What was my husband thinking taking me out here?  This was not a paddle for beginners, which I clearly was.

Justin kept looking at me as we paddled along through the deep.  Me repeating my mantra “Oh God,  please don’t let me get eaten.”  I could hear the tune from Jaws playing in my head.  Dun Dun.  Dun Dun. Dun . Dun dun dun dunnnn.  DUN DUN! 

Somehow… finally after about 35 minutes of non stop paddling, we made it to the island.  When we got there I felt relief.  I was exhausted, but happy to be alive.  I had never paddled so long in one direction, fighting currents and the fear of sharks.  My legs felt like rubber and as I pulled my board up the beach, I collapsed  not too gracefully, on the sand. 

 Justin on the other hand, ever the adventurer, was all… “Come on, let’s go explore the island.”  So we did.  We left our boards and being the only ones on the island, began to explore.  There was a small trail and we started to follow it up the side of the island.  One of the first things i saw was a baby bird in its nest.  There were so many nests with eggs in it because the island had become a bird sanctuary. It was really neat.

  We explored a little and came to where the trail ended.  I thought we would turn back, but Justin wanted to keep going.  Keep in mind, im in a bikini, no shoes… and he wanted to explore the non trail area. Lined in rocks… but it was our date day… so I said “OK”.  We climbed around and scaled rocks. I followed Justin who said he knew the way, that he had been here before, and told me I would just love the other side of the island. 

 “Just wait till you see it, it’s totally worth it,  its really cool.”

  Well, after about  another 30 mins of my wobbly, tired legs scaling cliffs, me scratching my feet up, falling and slicing up my knees and God knows what else, we finally get to the backside of the island.  And can I just say?  Yes, you guessed correct, ….. a straight drop down.  There was no way around the island, not unless we were swimming.  We would  have to turn around and go back.

I told my husband what I thought of his climbing adventure… nothing nice again.  Did I mention I do not like heights.  Or falling to my death? No? Well yeah, there it is.  So we have to go back the way we came.  The whole time he’s explaining how the last time he came to this island he was a lot younger, and could have sworn it went all the way around.  But wasn’t I having fun?

Whats weird is I actually was.  I was tired, sore, bleeding, and scared for most of it, but surprisingly it was pretty fun!  When we got back to the beach part of the island I decided to lay out and get some sun and rest.  I had earned it!  

 Justin went for a dip in the water and washed off.  In the distance another Paddle boarder was coming up to the island.  He came up and sat on the beach, saying very little.  Then, he pointed at something in the water.  “Look at that!” he said.

We looked at the shore but because the water was deep even around the shallows it was pretty dark. All we could see was a big shadow.  Oh my word.  Is it a shark?  The shadow got closer to shore and then a Hawaiian monk seal jumped out of the water, and onto the beach, rolling in with the crashing waves.  He rolled back and forth with the waves, up and down the beach,…. playing in the water.  

I have never seen anything so amazingly beautiful! I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was so close to us, and completely oblivious to us.  We sat there and watched him, and finally he came up an rested in the sun on the shore.  Our cue to leave the island and head back. 

What a day!  It was literally the best date I had ever had.  And to think, I could have missed it. If I had let fear win, or familiarity hold me back, we would have just gone to the same place and done the same thing, missing out on a bunch of new amazing things. 

Hanging out with my husband on the water, conquering fears, climbing and scaling cliffs on an island, and seeing nature up close and personal, was a day and a memory, I will never forget.  We ended it by having breakfast at Fatboys in our swimming suits, sand still on our bare feet, talking about the adventure we had, and when we would do it again. 

I have heard it said, “Once you’re in over your head, it doesn’t matter how deep you go.”  It was a truth I realized out in the middle of the ocean.  You always have the option to quit, to give up, to go back.  Or you can commit to keep moving forward, keep going, and just …. go for it.   Sometimes the beginning of a great adventure is losing sight of the shore, and trusting someone else to lead the way.

These things I remember…

There’s something  that happens deep inside you when you lose someone you’ve known your whole life.  I am certain death is always painful, but when you lose someone in your life, you have never been without, it leaves a hole in ways many things cannot. 

A death like that places an invisible marker, and sets the tone for life beyond.  Like a milestone, you start seeing life differently from that point.  You begin to realize the temporary pass we have been given. 

You wonder where you will be, when your time is up.  How old will I be? Will I outlive my children, my husband? Will I be alone? Will I be sick or hurt?  It’s odd because until you lose someone close to you, death isn’t thought about much.  Its something that happens to other people, far off in the future… We wake up every day, and it’s the farthest thing on our minds.

My Nana, was 1 month away from celebrating her 93rd birthday.  Can you imagine? To live a life as long as 93 is amazing, especially when the average lifespan they say  is about 75.   I had gone to visit her shortly before we left the island. My mom and I had reconnected after almost 6 years of not seeing each other.  It was a reunion of grace as me, my mom, my little sister with her new baby Lila, my mom had just met, went to see Nana in the home she lived in. 

 She was out in the garden, admiring the flowers.  She loved flowers and in her early days told me she had a “green thumb”. “That means Sarah, I can plant things and they will grow.  It’s a gift.”  She had gardens that grew veggies and beautiful orchids.  She used to spend hours watering and talking to her plants as if they were children.

  During our visit, we sat and talked with her out in the garden,  and she held the baby and cooed and patted her. She loved babies, and Lila was no exception, she wouldn’t let us move or adjust her at all, she jealously held on to her for fear we would take her away. 

Nana, ever stylish, was wearing a red sweater, and cute denim Capri pants.  I told her how beautiful she looked and asked her if she was wearing red for Christmas… or did she have a boyfriend we didn’t know about in the home?  She looked beyond me and pointed to the flowers, mumbling something about them. 

 She didn’t know Christmas was less than a week away.  She had no idea she was so close to celebrating her birthday, or even who she was, or who we were.  In truth, the nana I had grown up with had been missing, lost in Alzheimer’s for a number of years now. 

This visit, was the worst I had seen her.  I regretted not having visited in a number of months before this.  Things had always come up.  Life, had gotten in the way.  Now, my nana could barely speak.  And when she did it was a jumbled mess of languages she had learned earlier on in life. 

She was from Canada, and french was her first language, but she had also learned Italian and Spanish and she could read and write in many other languages.  Once, when I was little, I had asked her why she had learned so many languages, and she said it was because she wanted to be able to read Gods word in any language they had it written in.  She thought it was such a privilege to read the word of God. English just wasn’t enough!

Just three short weeks after we left Hawaii, my beautiful, and very sick Nana, went home to be with Jesus. Our last visit had been a sad time, and in my heart I was already mourning her loss because I knew it would probably be the last time I saw her.  Still I hadn’t expected her to pass just weeks after I left. 

 When the call came, I was thousands of miles away, across an ocean.  My little sister was gently informing me Nana was sick, she had a fever, she was passing.  As her voice came over the line I felt all the air inside me whoosh out.  My throat felt so tight. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak.  Tears just fell.  Somehow I had convinced myself she would never die.  She had lived this long, surely she would outlive us all?

The hardest part was how far away I was.  I couldn’t just drive over to be with her. I couldn’t hold her hand, I couldn’t comfort and pray over her.   I couldn’t kiss her cheek and let her know she was loved.  I felt so helpless.  For the first time, I couldn’t be there.  She had waited until I left the Island. 

She had moved to the Island shortly after my mom had gotten married the first time.  And my mom and I moved up when I was three after the divorce to live with my Nana and Aunties.  Growing up, she was a constant in my life.   

 What’s truly a miracle is my Nana got to see the reconciliation of my mom and me during our last visit together. She may not have understood the importance of it then, but I know she’s smiling in heaven about that.  She was always pushing for peace, healing, and reconciliation between us. 

My nana was an amazing women.  Her ministry had been healing and encouragement.  She had the gift of mercy and used it to serve others who were hurting or needed help.  She was a strong women, who raised 9 children all alone.  After leaving an abusive husband behind in Canada, and starting over in America as a nurse, she gave her children what she could, a chance to experience freedom from a life of abuse.

Years later, when her husband was sick, she allowed him move in with her, and she nursed him for many years, bedridden till he died.  She had a heart of compassion for the hurt, and it overflowed with grace.  She told me she looked up to Mother Theresa because she helped the hurting and lost.

I remember her smell, her perfume. Her love of flowers, and the beach. She was a hugger with a quirky sense of humor, a sly wink, a contagious laugh, and a beautiful smile.  Her bedroom in the old house we shared growing up was my favorite room in the whole house.  Her bed  had a green and white  bedspread with flowers and vines on it.  Afterschool, and in the early mornings, I would come in and she would be on her knees praying to Jesus.  I would sit on her bed listening to her pray out loud, and read books until she was done.  Just wanting to be close to her.  To her strength, to her peace. 

My Nana had a way of looking at life, that was temporary.  She knew she had a purpose, a mission and she never lost sight of her home in heaven.

The hour my sister called to say she had passed, I received a text message from a friend who had been praying all day for Nana.  It said: Suffer no more with Jesus.  I know she is finally free from the sickness that made her forget who she was.  The sickness that stole the memories of a life that was so completely genuine and relentlessly in love with Jesus. 

 When she passed, I was jealous of her.  She was finally home with the love of her life!  I am so glad this place is temporary.  I can’t wait to get home and see her again… Nana will probably have all of heaven planted in orchids! What  a sight!

 3 days later, we were on our way to church, listening to the radio.  The radio host was talking about the death of Jesus.  He said,  “When Jesus died, all the people who loved him mourned.  But on the 3rd day, he rose again…  The third day gives us hope, allowing our faith to rise up with Him.  Causing us to believe in life beyond the grave.”  He said, “you may have been experiencing pain and loss.  But Jesus says, it’s the third day, rise up.  Believe again.”

 And through my pain and tears I heard this song play: “I lift my hands to believe again. You are my refuge you are my strength, as I pour out my heart these things I remember… you are faithful God…. forever. Let faith arise.” Chris Tomlin

This is a picture of My Nana, me, and my niece Lila during our last visit together. Even in this picture, she was looking beyond, to the life she could see waiting for her in heaven.

Jesus, Take the Wheel.

I had the pleasure of having two, very amazing Women of God pray with me in the middle of a very long, and busy month.  It was the last week of October, beginning of November.  November is always a crazy month for our family with 3 birthdays in it, mine, my daughters, and my husbands, but this week was especially hectic.

First, there was getting the kids ready and dressed as zombies, and carving our pumpkins on Monday for  Halloween, then on Wednesday I was invited to share in the birth and welcome my first niece, Lila into the world, a day later on Thursday I was celebrating my own birthday, and leading an HR visit at my work, on Friday we celebrated my daughter Madeline’s 12th birthday with her first Co-ed birthday party/Movie night at our house.  And finally that Saturday we got ready for my husband to fly out on Sunday night to Austin to try out a new job that just may be the beginning of a whole new life in another state.

Needless to say, when these ladies came for a visit at my home, I was one week in to a schedule overload.  Physically I was exhausted, and emotionally I was feeling drained.  When the two Women took my hands in prayer, I felt relief. I knew I needed the Holy Spirits power to fill me up again but frankly, from my pace…I needed someone to stop me and really push me into the presence of God.   More than that, I felt dry, brittle even.  I started praying for a fresh fire, passion and excitement to spur me onward … up until that point it hadn’t even occurred to me to ask God for that.  Sometimes when you are so overwhelmed, it takes someone who loves you to slow you down, and remind you who you are leaving out of the process.

There has been very little that has been stable in our family’s life these last few years. The only thing reliable has been that we have not been able to depend on ourselves for anything.  Being a creature of habit, this a frightening way to live, and vaguely annoying.  I have felt moody and out of balance many days, unsure of my families future.  Where we will live, what we will eat, where we will be even in a few short months from now.  Lacking any real control, I am forced and desperate to rely on God alone.  It’s a day-to-day struggle… and frankly, sometimes flat-out battle, to simply trust Him.  Especially when confronted with a roller coaster life of emotions, drought and famine.

I don’t know why it is, but for me…He always breaks it down to surrender. Like a true poker player, God calls my bluff over and over.  Forcing me to drop my hand, and admit I don’t have the winning cards. When I do, I allow Him to simply take over my life.  My marriage, my family, my job, my finances, my health, my time, my thoughts, my sleeping and waking. I have found that He doesn’t enjoy sitting on the sidelines, giving imput only when I ask for it. He isn’t satisfied with what I give Him of me, unless it’s everything.  He wants it all.

In truth, Our God is an all-consuming fire. Consume means to take in, to absorb until it becomes a part of you.  Its intense, its engulfing, it leaves no question whom you belong to.  You are His. In this consuming fire, you don’t get the wheel… you are absorbed by the one driving.  What a concept. Yet, for some strange reason we wrestle with this divine truth that has a reality of allowing us to live life free.

Somehow, we feel that we alone are in the driver’s seat, with our God speeding along for the merry ride, (when we allow Him in the car that is).  When we come to a roadblock, we get frustrated, when people dare get in our way or cut us off along the way we experience road rage, and when the road shifts and the unexpected happens, we don’t understand where we are going  and we feel lost and ultimately blame the passenger, (or the bystander).  No? This doesn’t happen to you? I guess it’s just me then.

During our 35 minute prayer time, one  of the women squeezed my hand and said: “Jesus we don’t know where we are going, but we give you control because you know everything, so Jesus take the wheel from us, you take the lead.. we give you control… take us where you want us to go, you alone know the way.”  As  she prayed this I realized the stress I had been feeling was there because I was trying to stay in control, and figure out a situation that was completely out of my hands.

No wonder I was exhausted, and angry and sad.   I was trying to drive a car, but sadly I wasn’t tall enough to see over the dashboard.   The car wasn’t mine to begin with, it was Gods!   I prayed, Oh yes… Jesus take the wheel.. and in my spirit I saw a picture of Him holding me on his lap.  I sat with him in the front seat, behind the wheel.  His arms were around me, and He was driving… but like a true father, He let me hold the wheel beneath his big hands.  I felt safe, I felt loved, I felt special, and most of all I felt extremely excited because my father and I were on a great new adventure together!  I wasn’t sure where we were going, but in my spirit I knew it would be wonderful!

I encourage you to let Him drive.  Your father knows best and He loves you enough to let you hold the wheel, His big, capable hands over yours.  Do you trust Him enough to give Him complete control, to believe that He not only knows where to take you, but that He has your best interest at heart?  Cry out to him… Jesus, take the wheel!!

Show me more.



I got the rare opportunity to walk the beach these past two days.  Its something I used to do a lot, but with 40 hour work weeks, its been few and far between.   So armed with praise music on my IPOD, and God as my walking buddie,  I went to  Kailua Beach to run.

There is a history with God and I.  Whenever I need to work things out, or meet with Him personally, I usually go outside.  It started when I lived in a home in the mountains of Maunawili.  I would run on my treadmill early in the morning, and pray, and listen to worship music… and allow God to till the ground of my heart.

Then I would go outside, and sit on the balcony with my bible and worship more, and read, and journal what He spoke to me.   Those were intimate times.  Times of refreshment, and deep closeness to a Savior I was coming to understand was more real than I had ever known.  He would speak, and I would listen, and every morning He would show me things that were just for me. I was extremely jealous of this time, and would guard it protectively.  Even if it meant I had to get up 2 hours before the rest of the house did.  I needed that time.

One morning, as I was reading outside, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge  me to walk downstairs.  I had never left the balcony during this morning devotion time, so I almost didn’t go.  But the nudging kept up, so I got up and walked down the balcony stairs and sat.

I prayed and asked God to show me why he would have me come down the stairs… what is it Lord?  I was sitting there and He told me I needed to forgive someone, it was someone who had hurt me and my family deeply.  I had forgiven that person in my heart, but I was not in contact with them since.    So I told God, “Lord, I already forgave that person remember?”

He said, “Then pray for Him.”  At that, the familiar pain, hurt, and rage from what that person had done came back… and I told God I simply could not pray for that person.  I could forgive, but I could not pray for Him.  He did not deserve my prayers.  I told God that He was asking for too much!  As I argued God reminded me of the scripture that says If you will not forgive your brother, I will not forgive you.   I thought that was a little harsh.  Lord, really?  Can’t someone else pray for him?  “No one else is.  You need to.”

As I sat there on the stairs, I wrestled with God.  Then submitting,  I allowed God to take me back, back to the awful day, back to the disbelief, the pain, and anger, and grief….  and then I began praying.

I prayed for God to forgive me for still holding on to the pain, and I prayed for God to heal me and my family… then I prayed for him. I asked God to show me how He saw him, so I could pray for him.  And I prayed… God bless him.  Heal him.  Restore him.  Bring him back to you. Use this too for your glory.  The tears starting falling, and turned into a steady stream.  Pretty soon I was weeping loudly.

I heard someone come down the stairs and sit next to me, I didn’t open my eyes, because I knew my husband must have heard me crying and came down to check on me.   I kept praying, but  I allowed Him to quietly pull me into his arms as I continued to pour my heart out to God.  The more I prayed for this person,  the further away from the pain I felt…. I was literally being set free from the bondage of this past hurt.

Some time later, the burden to pray was gone, and I felt peace.   I opened my eyes and prepared to tell my husband why his basket case wife was sitting on the balcony stairs bawling her eyes out for who knows how long. When I opened my eyes, my husband was not there.  No one was there.

It was such a jolt to realize that I had been sitting alone.  How was that possible? I had leaned into strong arms as they held me.   I realized, as I prayed and walked through the pain Jesus had been holding me and comforting me.  It was as real as if my husband had been holding me.  And it was an intimate moment that showed me more of God…. and how much He truly loves me.

This morning, as I started my walk on the beach, I heard in my spirit the words…”I want to show you more.”  and it reminded me of that time on the stairs… how by being obedient, I had allowed  God to walk me through something that had been holding me back from experiencing more of Him.

I prayed, “Lord, what do you want to show me?”  As I walked, I saw the ocean…and in my spirit I heard the “Boundary”.   A boundary is a border, or restraint.  Was I restraining God with my personal boundaries in my life?   I wonder how many boundaries we put around God, simply because we expect Him to move the same way every time? That time on the stairs, unforgiveness had been a boundary.

So I  prayed “God, show me more of you.  Show me more.  I don’t want to get complacent in what I already know and have experienced.  There is more to you, than what I could ever know.  You have more in store for me, show me!  Show me the boundaries in my life that keep me from experiencing you more….”

My prayer for you today is the same.  That God would show you more of Himself, because he delights in revealing Himself to His children.  That you wouldn’t get complacent or comfortable in the God you know.  But that you would be passionate about discovering more of who He is everyday.  He is a bigger God than we think.  And He shows us more of Him, as we chose to grow more with Him.

A Personal God

The last few months have really flown by.  With summer ending, and school beginning we have been in a non-stop flurry of motion.  Adding to the chaos, an almost  move to Texas, closely  followed by a move to a new neighborhood with cheaper rent, and both our boys Noah and Micah, celebrating birthdays within a few weeks of each other.  I can’t tell you how old it makes you feel when your oldest is 16 and your baby is 6.  Why can’t they just stay small forever?

After  mostly settling into our new home, we started the process of back to school shopping lists, and the inevitable birthday shopping, birthday party madness.  A few weeks later and we were all ready to begin a new school year.  Then BAM… everyone gets sick.   The culprit? My husband who had come home the previous weekend with a crazy headcold.  Like many guys, my husband does not practice headcold etiquette.  Instead he sneezed, sniffled, coughed, and sprayed all who were within germ spraying distance.  Not only that but after he blew his nose he would throw tissues all over the floor instead of the trash.  Our normally clean home  quickly became a kleenex pile,with germs breeding on every surface. 

 So Monday rolled around, and with it the  first day of school for the two younger children.  Maddy was feeling pretty junk, but being a trooper, she went to school anyway.  Micah’s first day was Tuesday.  It  was met with three to four stings on his foot by a large black carpenter Bee.  Somehow the Bee had flown into Justin’s truck as Micah was getting inside.  As he began putting on  his socks and shoes, the Bee flew into his sock.  A lot of pain, a  prayer, and a Benadryl later, and Micah was off to face his first day as a Junior in High School.  By the end of that day, Micah had caught the cold as well.

Wednesday morning, day three, Maddy and I were so sick it was unbearable.  Now, I am not normally a drama queen when it comes to sickness…I have had many a cold in my time, but this was the single worst headcold I can ever remember getting.  Thankfully it was my scheduled day off.  By 7:30 Am,  Noah, (who was the only one to not get sick,) and Micah, (the hard-core mantra of “I will go to school if it kills me” playing in his head) get dropped off by the now picture of health, Justin… and Maddy and I stay home and take care of each other.  

The next day I crawl back to work, and Madeline forces herself to return to school so she won’t get too far behind.   When she comes home that day she is in tears.  Apparently she had missed the nominations and voting for student council. Madeline has been in student council every year since the fourth grade.  She has run for president once and lost, and ran partway and dropped out of the race last year because we had been preparing  to move off the island.  She loves student council, and despite never becoming more than an alternate, had vowed to finish off her 6th, and final year at her elementary school, in student council.

So when Maddy came home day four of school with the news she could not be in student council this year, it was beyond shock, it was grief. Her dreams had been dashed to pieces within the first three days of the new school year.  The day she was sick her class had taken a vote and the children who had wanted to be in student council raised there hands.  After the nominations, the children voted and selected the students. Since she had been absent, she was not nominated or voted in.

  Heartbroken for her I asked her if we could do anything, and she responded that it was already done, and that it would be impossible to do anything about it.  I am unsure what it is about me, but whenever I hear the word impossible it gets under my skin and gets my back up.  Perhaps it’s because I know we serve an Almighty God, and nothing is impossible with Him, may be it’s because I am stubborn beyond belief… but I just will not accept that word in my vocabulary, let alone allow my daughter to believe it.

So I told Maddy, “Daughter, our God parted the red sea just so that His people could get across that sea without having to find a way around it.  He just opened it… and made a way for them to cross because he loved them.  If  God could do that, I certainly think he can make a way for you to get into student council.”  Maddy was quiet for a moment and said,“Mom, they already voted the day I was sick…  there isn’t any other way to get in, the decision is final.  Its unfair. ”  Her big, beautiful, dark lashes spilled tears that flooded her green eyes as she looked at me defeated.  

 What do you say to an eleven year old who has lost hope?  I wanted to offer her comfort that we would help sort this out, but I was also  worried that I would get her hopes up for nothing.  What if there was really nothing that could be done?  Still,despite my feelings of uncertainty, I forced myself to speak out in faith, I told her, ” Maddy… nothing is ever final.  Only our God has the final say.  So here’s what we will do… Lets pray today, and talk to your teacher tomorrow.  I am sure God will make a way.  And when He does I want you to thank Him because He is going to show you how much he truly loves you.” 

And right there in the kitchen, we prayed and asked God to do the impossible and make a way.  We weren’t sure how, but we told Him we knew He could.  That night we prayed again as a family and thanked God that He was going to make a way. Before I went to bed I prayed that God would show Maddy just how much He loves her… and that she could experience Him on a personal level, so she wouldn’t doubt His love for her.  The next morning before school, we were all nervous.  Needing reassurance we prayed again and headed out to school. 

When we got to Maddy’s class I walked up to the teacher at her desk.  She was grading papers as kids were filing in through the doors, getting ready for class to begin.   I wasn’t sure how to start, so i decided to first let the teacher know that Maddy was very sick the other day, and I could write her a note if she needed it to excuse her absence.    Then I told her I had heard they had voted for student council and  I asked her if there was any way for Madeline still to get in. 

 I went on to explain how upset Maddy was when she found out they voted while she was out sick, and how passionate she was about being in student council every year…. How she had run for president twice, and last year had to drop out because we were suppose to be moving to Texas this year and she wanted to let someone else who would be here this year have that chance to win.   I told her all of this and prayed in my spirit for favor.

Maddy’s teacher was quiet  for a minute and then said, “Well, let me talk about it with the student council teacher.  I actually was supposed to fill 3 slots for our class but only filled two.  I will see what we can do.”  My heart leapt and I smiled at Maddy who couldn’t hear our conversation at her desk.  Then I waved Maddy goodbye and I left the school praising God that he would go before her teacher and make a way for the impossible to happen.

When Maddy came home from school later that day, her face was beaming as she told me the good news… She GOT IN!  She put her arms around me and told me thank you.  “Do you see how much your God loves you  Maddy,” I told her, ” He made a way for you even when there was no way! He made a way because He is your God!!”

Our God is such a personal God.  He cares about us and what we care about.  He walks with us and is our ever-present help.  He is not just the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.   He is also the God of Sarah, Justin, Micah, Noah, and Maddy.  He can be your personal God too.  

Isaiah 43:3-4 TMV- “Because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior.  I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush, and Seba thrown in!  That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade creation just for you.”

"Behold, I make all things new"