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Do You Worry or Ask God?

 

 

Periodically, I take a break from social media. My soul knows well when a fast is in need. My mind becomes more scattered. My heart races. I find myself reaching for the phone every few minutes. When there is a lull for even 20 seconds, I fill it by scrolling.

My thoughts change. Seeing so much of the lives of others creates in my heart dangerous ground if I’m not careful in my navigation. I become wearied of the opinions of people. Cynicism creeps in. Pride grows, love decreases.

I love the online world, but in order to walk it well, I find it necessary to remove myself at times to allow for a reset. I never plan for these breaks. It usually is a snap decision in a moment.

The timing of my recent break couldn’t have been better. Days after I began my social media fast, our family left for our first ever road trip. 2300 hundred miles round trip in a rented RV. We traveled from Omaha to Badlands National Park in South Dakota. From there we headed to Custer State Park in South Dakota on to Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

Without a doubt, this trip was the best trip of our lives. It wasn’t restful. We stayed on the go with three active boys. But the memories will last the rest of my life.

Since returning I’ve pondered what made that trip so amazing. Experiencing the wonder of God’s creation? Seeing God in science and history? The ages of our kids perhaps? The timing with our recent move away from friends and family leading us to draw closer and tighter as a family? A little of it all?

I think each of us has a different list of reasons this trip ranks number 1. But what stands out to me most is the great adventure we took together. We journeyed far from our comfort zones, which meant we had to rely on God.

That might sound silly since I am talking about a vacation. But stay with me.

When we moved to Nebraska, we realized that annual beach vacations were to be no more. For the last 17 years, we’ve been to the beach at least once a year, sometimes more. My entire life I’ve taken for granted living near the coast. Living in the middle of America requires a different kind of vacation.

We’ve longed for the days our boys were old enough to take adventurous vacations. Skiing out west, exploring national parks, extended road trips.

This was the year. Our boys are 13, 12, and 8. The ages couldn’t have been more ripe.

I see the spiritual in all of my life. I believe all of life is spiritual. We live in the physical and forget the physical is a manifestation of the spiritual. When I began planning this trip, the anxiety began. It was a big trip. To go as far as we planned to go, to spend as much money as would be spent, I began to feel the pressure to get it all right. To make it perfect in every way.

Living for perfection opens the door to an anxious mind. I began to stress over every possible angle of this trip. What if the RV broke down? What if we got lost in the middle of nowhere. What if we slid off a cliff? What if we were attacked by a bear? What if we didn’t know how to operate the RV and ran the wrong gas source and never woke up? What if. What if. What if.

I began to dread the trip because the entire thing was full of unknowns to me. We’ve never camped more than a night or two. Now we would camp for 8 days straight.

My social media fast came at the right time for two reasons. I was fully present with my family. And my mind was free from clutter and distraction giving me space to hear, see, and feel God.

I’m a planner and rarely deviate from a plan once it is set. Day 3 plan was to leave Custer, SD and stay overnight in Thermopolis, WY before heading to Yellowstone. For some reason, days before our trip I began to question if that was a waste of a night. Should we have tried to squeeze in Grand Teton? I discarded the thought because it was too late to come up with a new plan. To plot a new route, plan new activities was too much given all it took to get out of town for a week.

However, Day 3 of the trip arrived. We sat around the campfire, and I announced to my family that I had a rather crazy, wild idea. “What if we take a different route into Yellowstone through Grand Teton?” Secretly, I hoped they would tell me I was crazy and I could leave it alone. But instead, they all said they were open to anything.

One thing we are not is spontaneous. We are planners. And planners dangerously rely on themselves more than God at times. I had this trip carefully planned. I needed God for protection, but I didn’t need Him to provide because I had planned it all out.

Suddenly, I found myself in a situation where I had spotty internet, which meant I couldn’t research and plan. It was almost time for bed and no time to plan.

The family decided Grand Teton was the new route. I called the campgrounds and every RV site was filled. The lady suggested we try to get there early for a first come first served dry site. But those fill by noon typically and we wouldn’t arrive until much later. My family was at total peace with no plan in sight. I was not.

I woke in the middle of the night in complete panic. What had I done? Why did I open my mouth? What if we drove 8 hours and had nowhere to park and sleep safely? Why is everyone else sleeping peacefully and I’m the only one awake worrying about how we will pull this off? Maybe when they wake up I suggest we scratch my ridiculous idea and stick to the plan, which is safe and comfortable.

Then God spoke. “Stop worrying and ask me.”

In that instant my heartbeat slowed. I took a deep breath. I realized I wasn’t debating a moral issue in my head. This wasn’t a situation of deciding if it was God’s will or not. This is a route on a vacation. I’m limiting God by acting like there is only one good choice and it all hinges on me to choose the right path.

This is God’s creation we want to explore. We want to see His glory. We want to experience Him. Satan wants me to agonize, fret, wring my hands and choose comfort and safety. Because in comfort and safety I will miss seeing God magnified when He breaks through.

So that moment, I took another breath and simply prayed, “God, we want to see your creation in Jackson, WY. Would you please save us one RV electric hook up site?” I fell asleep.

The next morning we awoke before dawn, unhooked, and hit the road with no reserved site. My cell service was unreliable and internet access would come and go for brief moments. I hopped online as soon as I had a signal, found the park’s info and read that campsite reservations typically fill by January for the summer season. Of course, I’d already called and been told nothing was available. But I prayed and trusted God would provide what we needed.

My internet went out again. I kept praying. Internet came back on so I hopped back on, went to the online reservations, and again saw the only thing available were tent cabins. As I stared at the screen, right before my very eyes, the screen popped up a new reservation opening. One RV hookup site. I frantically typed in all my info, received the confirmation, and within seconds lost access to the internet for almost the entire remainder of the trip.

He had saved us one RV site like we’d asked.

We arrived to Grand Teton NP after hours and found our name on the corkboard. Reserved for Renee Robinson. And I smiled. Thanked God who is intimate, personal, and adventurous. He is amazing and fun, and why for the love of all things do I forget to have fun with Him? Why don’t I allow Him into every aspect of my day and life?

I felt His Presence as dusk cast its glow on the campground corkboard.

You know what my very favorite day was out of 8 days across 2300 hundred miles? It was that day. That day which was not planned by me. The day that we gave to God to guide and provide. The day we surrendered to Him was full of spontaneous adventure. We were excited and alive. We experienced Him so tangibly in such a fun way.

When we arrived in Jackson, we went at a friend’s request to the ski resort. We took the tram to the top of the mountain. Ate waffles and gloried at His glory. We hiked down a mountain and marveled at the sights. We stopped, took a million pictures, breathed in all He had for us in those moments. After a couple of miles hiking down the mountain, we hopped on the gondola and rode down the mountain.

We made our way to our newly reserved by God campsite. We hooked up and had a safe place to sleep. We walked by the lake and stood in awe at what His hands made. We ate pizza at the campground restaurant. We laughed, we played, but mostly we spoke in awe of our God who cares and provides not only in the moments of life that we truly need Him for survival, but even in the fun and light moments of life.

We realized He is in those too. God is fun. He created laughter. He delighted in watching us race to explore His creation giving Him glory.

We didn’t fail to thank Him throughout that day. And I haven’t stopped thanking Him since because since God healed my stomach ulcer, I’ve watched Him guiding me more to enjoy Him. To laugh. To rest. To have fun. Life isn’t all serious. He is the God of it all. The serious and the light. The planned and the spontaneous.

And for the rest of my life, I will hold dear to me the sweetness of that day watching God work so that our family could marvel at Him while laughing and feeling wild and free. No plans needed because we have a great big God who holds the world in His hands.

How to See God in the In-Between Moments

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The doctor placed oversized glasses on his eyes. One lens blue, the other red. The lights dimmed low, she held her flashlight tool inches from his face. “Ok, buddy, how many lights do you see?”

His slumped back straightened, and that dimpled chin I can’t get enough of took a slight turn north, “Three!”

“Great, how about now?” she inched closer to the door.

His shoulders drew back, “Three!”

The doctor repeated at several distances, and each time, his confidence grew. The doctor put her tool away and turned on the lights. The assistant led him outside to the treasure box, as the doctor gently closed the door behind them.

“Put these glasses on. I want to show you something.” She performed the same tests on me as she did my 6-year-old. At each distance I saw four lights rather than the sure three Andrew saw. Taking notice of my confusion, she said, “Now cover your left eye and tell me how many lights you see.”

Despite the questions running relays in my mind, I answered, “Three?” At each distance, with one eye patched, I saw three lights. Slowly exhaling, I removed the glasses and met the compassionate eyes of the doctor.

Join me over at Crosswalk for the rest of today’s post where I’m sharing how my son’s learning disabilities are teaching me more about seeing God beyond the obvious and the “big” and  seeing Him in all the in-between moments. Aren’t the in-between moments where we tend the hang out the most? 

Full post published originally on Crosswalk.com.

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Answered Prayers, Unexpected Gifts, and Lyme Disease

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If you have been reading along our health journey with my 9-year-old, you know that we have had 3 instances of unexplained knee swelling over the course of 2 1/2 years. Each swelling worse than the one before. He showed no other symptoms. He is a healthy boy, very active and bright. The most recent knee swelling proved to be the toughest we’ve faced. At the worst point, he was unable to walk.

Each trip to the doctor left us still searching for answers. What was causing this knee swelling? The doctors were genuinely puzzled. So we prayed. And we enlisted an army of believers to lift Zachary up to our Heavenly Father. Our prayers have been answered.

12 days ago Zachary and I spent all day at the Rheumatologist and the Orthopedic. Ten vials of blood and 2 bags of knee fluid later, we left with more questions. MRI, X-Ray, blood work, labs on fluids. Everything continued to show a healthy child.

But we were praying. And we had an army of believers placing requests on Zachary’s behalf at the Father’s feet. Specifically, we were praying God would grant wisdom to the doctors treating Zachary, that God would grant healing, that God would bring us the answer to the root cause of the swelling.

Four days after blood was drawn by the Rheumatologist, she called and asked if Zachary had been exposed to a tick bite. It was possible. I mean he is a boy, he lives outside, he loves the woods. I’ve never seen a tick on him, but anything is possible. Answered prayer #1- wisdom to the doctor. She had no good reason to test for Lyme because he showed no symptoms and we live in North Carolina. She didn’t know we lived in Virginia for 2.5 years. She could have fit him into a type of arthritis and treated him. But God heard our prayers, and He granted wisdom to that doctor.

Sometimes God is answering our prayers in stages, yet we move about life unaware of Him.

Lord, let me never become unaware of your constant provision.

Yesterday afternoon the rheumatologist’s nurse called. “Great news! Zachary’s blood work looks beautiful. He is one healthy boy.” I hung up with feelings of relief mixed with more questions. Thirty minutes later the doctor herself called to let me know Zachary tested positive for Lyme Disease. “I’m shocked,” she told me.

Answered prayer #2 – Answers. We can move forward with treatment.

Answered prayers #3 – God has been protecting Zachary’s body from some of the more severe symptoms of Lyme for the 3 years he has had this disease unknown to us. Praise God!

We are thankful for the multitude of people who have been praying for us, and we continue to ask for your prayers. Lyme can be a long road.

People continue to ask me how Zachary is handling this. On the drive to school, he said, “Mom, I think God allowed me to have Lyme so I can help the world.” Amen, sweet boy, amen. This child is tender to the Holy Spirit. He has a heart for Jesus like I aspire to have. He sees the hand of God at every turn along his journey of life. I’m confident that God will use Zachary to bring comfort or encouragement to someone else with Lyme. Or he may just use Zachary to shine a light for Christ to someone who needs to see beyond the illness and pain that plagues our world.

In the midst of all this, a friend contacted me Sunday and offered to volunteer several hours a week for the next 4 weeks to help me with my ministry. Friends! God provided for me before He brought me this news of Lyme. He is always taking care of us. He is always at work in our lives. When she contacted me, I sat at my kitchen table with no words. Why would she offer to help me during the busiest time of the year? She doesn’t even really know me. Why? Because we serve a compassionate God who loves us more than we can fathom. He placed on her heart to help me, and she followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Last night I researched online about Lyme. The more I read, the more fear began to speak into my heart. Fear is not welcome here. Fear and faith are at odds with each other. The best way to fight fear is with the Word of God.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

We head into Thanksgiving, and our hearts of full. Thursday we celebrate our youngest turning 6. Not possible!  We have much to give thanks for.

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Don’t believe the lie that God won’t give us more than we can handle

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Our family has been under heavy attack over the last several weeks. We are tired, spent, and somewhat shaken. The enemy has used many tactics against us, and we are rallying right now. The enemy has attacked through health. We’ve been attacked through broken and hurting relationships. We’ve been attacked through daily choices. We’ve been attacked in our schedules and ministries. At times over the past few weeks, I’ve wanted to find a corner, ball up, cover my head, and wait for it to pass.

Stronger than the desire to escape is this desire to fight back.

Last week our son had his knee aspirated not once, but twice. The doctor laid him back on the bed and told him it would be alright. Zachary knew nothing about that needle was alright. I gripped his hands in mine and rested my forearms across his chest, blocking his view of the doctor, the nurses, the needles. His eyes took on a wildness I’ve never seen. His scream was terror I’ve never heard from him. I placed my lips on his wet forehead, kissing away the beads of sweat, whispering with a calm that came not from my own strength. It’s almost over. It’s almost over. 

Dear God, I can’t bear watching my son hurt this way. This pain is more than he can bear. Help him. 

Pulling back from his forehead, I looked into his eyes. My heart raced as I watched his eyes. His eyes turned to glass, he looked far beyond me. Though I held his face 3 inches from mine, he seemed to look miles beyond me. His eyes fluttered and rolled back, all the tension released from his body as I held him.

I swallowed panic and called his name repeatedly. “I feel like I’m falling asleep.” And his body limp lay in peace as they drained fluid from his knee and injected him with steroids. His body gave up the fight. Surrendered.

Lord, I give up the fight. I surrender to you. Fight for me, because I can’t fight on my own.

I often hear people say, “The Lord will not give you more than you can bear.” This is a lie. If he never gave us more than we could bear, why in Heaven’s name,  would he need to die on the cross for us? Why? If we can handle it all on our own, then we don’t need him. No, this is not true. We face more than we can bear. This life at times is more than we can bear.

The fear that kidnapped my son was more than he could bear. He could not handle the stress and trauma of that needle jabbed into his leg, sucking the fluid, feeling intensely the pull of the needle. No, he couldn’t bear it.

The enemy. Prowling like a lion. Seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. Oh, he wants us to believe God won’t give us more than we can handle. He loves when scripture is tossed around loosely in this way. He loves when God’s words are twisted and turned to suit his purposes.

1 Corinthians 10:13 

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

When I’m tempted to stop believing that God is on my side, He has provided a way out of my unbelief so I can endure this. When I’m tempted to believe this situation is hopeless, He has provided a way out of the temptation I face to give in to the apparent hopelessness.

He allows us to face what we can’t bear. He died on the cross and bore what we couldn’t bear. As nails bore into him, He took what we couldn’t take. He took away our sins. He made a way for us to spend eternity with him. He left us with power to face this life.

I asked my husband if we could just cancel our Thanksgiving plans. Stay home, recover. I don’t feel I have the energy to pack, to plan, to travel, then to come back and speak and carry out my ministry. We are on the brink of the advent season. My heart beats strong to encourage you to slow and seek Him this season. Yet I feel exhausted right now from the battles I’m facing with the enemy of our soul. My husband called me and said two words. Dig deep.

Friends, we have to dig deep. Deep calls to deep.

Psalm 42:7 

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

On the surface we can fight in our own strength. When we dig deep, we discover the power that lives in us. His Holy Spirit in each believer, giving power to fight the enemy.

Yes, this life will give us more than we can bear. He died and rose again so that He could leave us with the power to bear all things we can’t bear on our own. Let His waves and breakers sweep over you today. Allow Him to be the power you need to face what you can’t face.

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