Is God an Evil Stepmother?

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“Am I allowed to be mad at God?” I’ve asked myself this question many times in the past year, but what I have come to realize is that whether or not I’m allowed to be mad at Him doesn’t really matter. The fact is, I am mad at God.

I don’t want to be mad at God, but the denial of my anger doesn’t make it disappear. It’s a bittersweet feeling to say it, “God, I’m mad at You!” My heart aches with the pain of disappointment, but I finally feel heard. For so long I have denied my anger and as a result I have minimized my feelings, but my feelings are present regardless if it is “ok” to feel them. But how do I process and confess my anger to God?

God is perfect, right? He doesn’t make mistakes. But my life is not what I want it to be. I feel stuck. How can I possibly be mad at my creator if my life is how it should be. Somehow I am in the wrong, because I am the sinner, not God. But I’m still mad and I don’t understand. I didn’t do anything wrong. When my crappy situation was the consequence of a sinful behavior I could accept it – I knew that I had done wrong, and what I was going through was not punishment for my sinful behavior, but the reason why God wanted me to stay away from the behavior in the first place. But what had I done that resulted in infertility, loss of dreams, and the fear that my husband’s blood disorder will lead to an early death? These thoughts tripped me up, because I began to paint a picture of a God that is all powerful, but uncaring. I started thinking of God as the wicked step mother in Cinderella.

He has all the authority, he shouts out abusive orders that I must obey, and I can’t find rest or get what I want. I go from one back breaking demand to the next and every time I ask questions, plead for rest, or make a special request (to go to the ball, or have a baby) I am immediately manipulated and put into my place. “Haven’t I done enough for you? Has my sacrifice not been sufficient? I have cared for you when no one else would. The least you could do is obey my commands.”

Just as Cinderella relied on the provision of her wicked step mother, I rely on the provision of my God. Matthew 6:26 tells of God’s provision “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” But what is provision without love? God’s character isn’t like the wicked step mother – He does more than provide, He loves. In fact, God is love (1 John 4:8).

I’m reminded of a time when I was sixteen. My brothers and my dad were away for the day. I wanted to practice my dancing on my dance floor in the basement, but my brothers had left the basement in disarray. My dance floor was barely visible under the Legos and air soft pellets. I was furious. My mom made a proposal, “let’s work together and get the basement all clean, then you can practice.” All I heard was, “clean up your brothers’ mess.” The unfairness of the situation blinded me. I flew into a rage, and without even acknowledging her attempts to join me in cleaning a mess that was not her own, I called her hurtful names and accused her of being unfair. I was told to go cool off in my room, but in my anger I fled the house. I walked around the neighborhood for two hours, but soon my hunger for lunch called me back home. I was certain that my return home would result in a lecture and a grounding. I was wrong.

My mom ran to me and hugged me the second I walked in. She confessed her worry for my safety (she had no idea I was just walking the woodsy paths in our neighborhood). She fed me lunch and sent me to my room. Then the craziest thing happened. She sat down on my bed and said, “I want to know why you are so mad at me.” I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t receive a lecture on how wrong I was, we both knew I was wrong to react the way I did. Instead she listened to me as I ranted about how upset I was that my dance floor had been commandeered by Lego castles, the Millennium Falcon, and x wings. She listened as I confessed my desire to do well at Nationals and my fear that I wasn’t good enough. She heard everything. Some of my anger was directed at her. I mistakenly saw her as an authority figure that was abusing me into doing something I shouldn’t have to do. But in reality, she had heard my desire to practice, and was willing to help me make it happen.

That’s how God is. His character was reflected in my mom’s character that day. He does not make decisions based on selfish desires, He does everything out of love. God is love. I am not suddenly flooded with understanding about my situation. But I never found out why my brothers continually used my dance floor as Lego central either. The reality is that I don’t have to know why, I just have to know that God is willing to help me. I can also be free to tell Him how I feel. He can handle it. I will not be condemned for my feelings, I will be comforted and led.

The Grief is Coming from Inside the House

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My mind has turned grief into a deranged adversary. Everywhere I go, there it is, threatening to destroy me. It started like any other thriller movie – with an unexpected tragedy. My tragedy doesn’t involve the accidental death of a person, or the intentional torture of an innocent soul, but the slow death of a dream. And again, like any good protagonist in a thriller, I have run as far as I can from the scene of the tragedy, in the hopes of escaping the pain, blame, or both. But just as Michael Meyers tracked down his sister, Laurie, after 15 years and her adoption into a new family, my grief finds me no matter how far I go.

Grief has caught me by surprise several times and it is always at the most inconvenient times. Like a teenage girl trapped in a tanning booth, I am trapped inside my thoughts and can’t get out.

Just this past weekend I was at a wedding, and out of nowhere I was blindsided with the loss that comes with infertility. A friend had declined alcohol. That was it. No baby talk, I don’t even know if she is pregnant or not. But the thought of another couple getting pregnant before me and Dean has the ability to derail me. But of course I couldn’t surrender to grief at a wedding, so I ran. I had been running for so many years, each subsequent interaction with grief became more frightening than the last, that I had become antsy with anticipation and fear. I was exhausted.

I decided to take refuge inside the walls of my mind.  The walls were strong and solid so nothing could get in and destroy me. And like a rain soaked teenage girl running from a crazy maniacal killer with a chainsaw, it’s after I’ve locked myself in, that I suddenly realized the killer was inside with me!  Life inside the walls has become a game of tag with grief. Grief is “it” and I am constantly running from it. The fear of being destroyed is my motivation to keep going. Not fear of death, death seems restful. The fear of being destroyed. Hacked to pieces by the sharp butcher knife of grief.

I don’t want to run anymore. I am so tired of running from all these emotions. But if I stop running I have to turn around and face my fear. I’ve been running for so long, I don’t know how to turn around. I don’t know how to face it.

Yesterday morning I was outside during the early hours. I was praying my rosary and looking at the stars. I noticed that I could not find the moon. I knew it must be out there somewhere, but for the life of me I could not find it. I gazed at the stars instead and I started to grow weary. I wanted to pray with my eyes closed, but I didn’t want to miss out on the beautiful starry sky. I wouldn’t have many mornings left before I would have to fight the cold for some star gazing. As I continued to pray I became aware of a cloud on the horizon, it slowly grew and started to overtake the beautiful clear night. I watched the cloud and imagined I could push it back toward the horizon. I was fighting the cloud so I could continue looking at the beautiful sky. But I was so tired, I just wanted to close my eyes. But I didn’t want to miss anything. Despite my wishful attempts to fight off the cloud with “the force”, the cloud overtook the sky. There was something beautiful and peaceful about the cloud. I could close my eyes and pray. I no longer had a fear that I was missing out on something, because there was nothing but gray cloud to see. I finished praying my rosary with my eyes closed and when I opened them again the gray cloud was high overhead. The horizon was clear and there, brightly shining, was the moon. It was a beautiful sight. A sight I would not have seen if I was in control of the cloud. A sight that I would have been too exhausted to cherish if I had kept my eyes open because I was too scared to miss something.

My grief has become this way. I have let the fear of missing out on joy blind me from the rest and release of grief. I have put so much energy into running away from grief, that I don’t fully appreciate the good things. When life is good I am constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure grief isn’t sneaking up on me. 

How do I let my grief roll in like the cloud so after a time I can experience something breathtaking again? If I don’t turn around and face my fear I will continue to live my life like an anxiety driven thriller.

I don’t have an answer, otherwise I wouldn’t be in this situation. But I’m open to learning. Please pray for me as I try to find the courage to approach my fear.

The Dragon In My Heart

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I was “genuinely and lovingly encouraged” by a friend to read an article via facebook. To spare confusion while I try to keep her identity anonymous, this friend will hence forth be referred to as Cookie (Cookie because I love cookies and I want it to be clear how much I love this friend).  I was nervous when I started reading, as I often am with Cookie’s chosen articles, because of her past and current accusations against the Christian church. Upon finishing the article I was irritated and left with a pit in my stomach. I felt defensive and angry and scared what will become of our world. Part of me wants to link the article here and tear the author’s misguided opinions apart with my own. But what would that accomplish except to irritate both sides of the argument? I would only succeed in hurting Cookie, who posted it, and putting up a defensive wall every time we were in each other’s presence.

After angry venting to a close friend and receiving some very strict advice to “refrain from posting anything”, I decided to sit down and hash out these issues with myself. I am refraining from even mentioning the actual article and its contents, because this post isn’t actually about that article at all. It’s about the ugly vicious monster that lives inside of me and my fight to keep it from tearing apart other humans.

You see, when I read that article I was hurt by some of the statements. I was “lovingly encouraged” and yet, the article was not written out of love. At first I thought the article was hateful and defensive. How could Cookie possibly think this was helpful? I was so mad and hurt I wanted to comment on Cookie’s post with all the reasons why the article was wrong. I even debated writing a blog post in response to the article dissecting every last “misguided” opinion. In all honesty I still want to, because that hurt is running deep.

Every time I engage in an argument I feel myself crouching down into my defensive posture – a place between fight and flight. I feel like a dragon guarding treasure. The one in the bowels of Gringotts Wizarding Bank to be specific.

I have the ability to cause a lot of harm to someone if they try to loot my treasure (in many cases it’s my self worth). However, if you are familiar with Harry Potter, although the dragon could inflict great pain, it was also trained to back down when it heard the specific sound of the clanker.

The sound induced fear of pain from past experiences and the dragon reluctantly backed away from the treasure, the fear of pain overpowering the desire to guard what was important. I have the same tendencies, although my training isn’t as obvious, because it wasn’t an intentional training, it just happened as I experienced life.

I try to guard the treasure I have hoarded, and with some it’s easy. I fight them off at the first sign of danger. But other people know how to get me to back down and can talk circles around me because my anger gets me flustered and I lose all ability to defend my opinion. Most of the time this leaves me feeling stupid, unheard, not worth listening to, or that my feelings are wrong. Part of me wants to stand my ground and fight back, but the fear of pain is greater than my desire to guard what I think is important. But here is the interesting thing, everything I am guarding is worldly treasure, because it can easily be taken away. I’m not talking about money and possessions here (although sometimes it is that). I am talking about my self worth. I have stored up good opinions, words of affirmation, and personal vanity in my volt. Hoarding them so when I feel bad about myself I can look back in my volt and say “I’m worth it.” Somehow I have attached my self worth to my personal beliefs. If someone doesn’t agree with me, they must be attacking me. Their attack and bad opinion of me is like someone coming into my volt and taking away some of my stored up good opinions (self proclaimed or said by others). I also have lived into the falsehood that I have more hoarded treasure than others because of what I believe – that I am worth more because I believe in Jesus.

The reality of the situation is this. I do have treasure, but not the treasure I thought. When I look to the Lord for my worth and love I am abundantly blessed. Not with compliments or gifts from mankind, but with unconditional love and protection from my savior. And the cool thing about this treasure is that it does not need to be protected by me. It never runs out, so it doesn’t need to be hoarded or guarded. It needs to be shared. So while I am aggressively protecting my self worth or cowering under painful accusations and allowing someone to make me feel bad about myself, my real treasure sits untouched out in the open. It is a treasure that cannot be taken or stolen, only given.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So here I am fighting to protect something that will eventually fade away and refusing to share what is eternal. And not just that, but I’m fighting for all the wrong reasons. I’m not fighting to simply protect myself, I’m fighting to take someone else down. I’m not fighting out of love, I am fighting to prove that my opinion is better, that I am worth listening to, and that I am right. Essentially, I want the other person to fall short of bowing down to me and admitting they are wrong. I am trying to puff myself up by pushing someone else down.

This dragon is no Puff the Magic Dragon, it is an ugly monster.

That part of me is vicious. That part of me couldn’t see that the author and Cookie were expressing hurt. The article itself wasn’t written out of love or hate, just pain. Pain that I may or may not have caused. But my own hurts blinded me and hardened my heart towards the author’s and Cookie’s hurts.

I still don’t agree with what was said and how it was said, but the reality is, I don’t have to. My fury has started to fade with this new found compassion. And instead of fighting pain with more pain, I want to listen. I don’t have to fix the pain, I can’t. I don’t have to claim I know the answers, because really, I don’t. All I can do is share what I have experienced and the peace and love I have found in Christ. Yes, the accusations made against Christians have hurt me. Yes, I feel lumped into a group that can never win against the opinions of the world. But I know otherwise, I know my Lord and Savior overcomes the world.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus does not say “I have told you these things so that you can inflict pain on others when they hurt you.” No, He has told me these things so that I may have peace in a world that is full of trouble. The peace does not come from loudly blasting my opinions. The peace comes from Jesus and the pure knowledge that Jesus’ ways are higher and He fights this battle for me. Sometimes He does call me to stand up, but never to harm someone. He wants me to show the love that He has shown me. I know when he calls me to stand up, because my heart wants to fight for someone not against them. The motivation behind talking is love and not a desire to compete. Winning is no longer about me, it’s about us.

I know in my heart I have already won, because Jesus told me so. That frees me up to be compassionate and loving instead of fearful and defensive. Not a pushover mind you, and not one that gives up on her beliefs. But one who listens and joins in the pain without fear. There is no need for fear, because Jesus has overcome the world.

I’ll Let Go So I Can Take Hold of You

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I am nearly speechless. I feel so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with Joy, fear, confusion, excitement. I can barely contain myself. I am buzzing. So much has happened. So much is changing, and yet my God is constant and good. I pray that He gives me focus right now to sort through my mess of thoughts.


Yesterday was my last official day as Associate Co-Director of Youth Ministry. I woke up early to pray, but as I sat outside in my summer prayer spot, I couldn’t focus: I was too cold. It was a cold morning and I could see my breath. I wanted to stay outside and watch the birds wake up, but even wrapped in my blanket the chill set into my bones and my teeth chattered. It was then that I recognized the irony of my situation. The seasons were changing in more ways than one, but in both seasons I was being called into my home.

Three years ago God called me to lead the high school teens at my church. At the time I didn’t understand the call: I was certified in Elementary Education, I was looking for a teaching job, and I was working for my family business. I didn’t have any qualifications to lead high school teens aside from the fact that I loved Jesus and I loved volunteering my Wednesday nights to hang with them. I didn’t even know the books of the bible by heart, a skill that all my high school teens learned in 3rd grade. But I answered the call and by the grace of God, He provided me with everything I needed.

I fully expected to remain in this position until God finally decided it was time that Dean and I become parents. My plan was to work until I became a mom and then I would stay at home with my kids and be a housewife. So when God called me to stay at home and be a housewife without kids, I felt, well, terrified! What would people think? I felt like this call went against every timeline the world taught me:

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But if I put the fear of the world aside, this call feels so in tune with who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved my job as a Youth Ministry Co-Director. It never felt like a job and it still remains a passion of mine. I love those teens like they are my own little brothers and sisters and in a way, they are. But throughout the past year I have often felt a pull to my home. I was in a constant battle. When I was working on my house, I ran through lists of ministry things that needed to get done. I felt guilty for spending time on my home, when there was so much stuff that I could be doing in ministry for others. But when I was doing ministry I felt like I should be spending more time on my house. I felt guilty that I was allowing other people to come before my husband and my home.

After a month of diligent prayer and counsel from those I trusted, I was able to discern God’s call for my life. I made the decision to obey God. I would resign from my staff position and become a full time housewife.

So there I was, standing on my deck, just hours before I would attend my very last staff meeting. I wanted so badly to remain outside, but out there in the cold I could not focus on God. The seasons were changing and I must go into my house. In that moment my yard felt like youth ministry. It looked the same, but I could feel change in the air. It even sounded different, not bad, just different. The cold had silenced the crickets and cicadas and the birds had not yet started singing their morning praises. It was a beautiful silence before the start of something new.

I looked out at the different parts of my yard as if I was looking at them for the last time – as if they were the different parts of my ministry: Sunday School, Diving In, Impact, Work Camp, retreats, fellowship, etc. Each part is full of so many memories. I can’t help but cry; what an honor it has been. The things I have seen and been a part of are priceless and I will cherish them forever. I had spent the last 3 years of my life in youth ministry, just as I had spent every morning for the last 3 months outside in my yard. And now it was time to go inside.

The memories make me want to stay, but I can’t, God has called me somewhere else. The mornings would be different now that the cold has rolled in. The ministry was beginning a new season too, and just as God did not design me to withstand the bitter cold, He did not design me for this season of ministry. I wish He did, but He didn’t. I must go inside. I walked slowly toward the door, hoping that before I reached the house the air would warm up and I could stay, but it didn’t. I must go inside. I stepped into the doorway and turned to take one last look at how things were, knowing that the change was good, knowing that there would be so much beauty in the new season, but allowing myself to feel the sorrow that I would not be there to experience it. But there were new experiences ahead of me. There would be new things to learn and cherish. So with the memories of the past and the excitement of the future I closed the door, the yard and ministry outside and I in my home.


That was yesterday, but today is different. Yesterday marked the end of something old; today marks the beginning of something new. To my great surprise, this morning was warm enough for me to sit on my deck and pray. My yard was no longer a metaphor for the ministry I once led, it was just my yard, open to my presence. I spent the morning listening to the world wake up and praising God for his beautiful creation.

“And the joy is found in the laying down,

so I give it all to You

And the joy is found in the laying down,

so I give it all to You

I’ll let go, so I can take hold of You”

Just as I sang these words, I felt a drop of water on my head, then my hand. A drop fell on my journal and then hundreds of drops fell from the heavens all around me. It was raining, but how? There was not a cloud above my head. I looked at the sky, perplexed. I stood up, turned my back to my yard, and looked for a cloud behind my house. What I found was not a cloud, but a rainbow. A beautiful rainbow that stretched across the whole sky with my house at its center. Yes, this was the beginning of something new, and something very beautiful.

“And I’ll let go, so I can take hold of You”

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An Embarrassing Identity Crisis

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I’ve wanted a new tattoo for ages now, but I kept putting it off because of the price. Today was the day I was going to set up an appointment to finally get it done. I was all a flutter with excitement as I walked into the tattoo parlor. I spoke to a guy, put down a deposit, and set the date. But as I walked out of the door an overwhelming feeling of dread hit my veins like fire. Feeling hot all over is one of my first signs of an anxiety attack and I was heating up fast. I got into my car and sat there. What the heck was going on? Why was I freaking out? I’ve wanted this tattoo for a long time now, why was I second guessing myself now? It wasn’t like I hadn’t thought this decision over for months. I had found the perfect placement and everything. I was so excited on my drive here and then PANIC!!!!

I sat there for 15 minutes trying to calm myself down and breathe, when I realized that I would probably have to do this all day, every day until I actually got the tattoo. There was no way in hell I was going to go through an entire week freaking out over a tattoo appointment. What was I going to do? In times of worry, I pray the serenity prayer. I pay special attention to the very first verses “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It did not take a lot of wisdom to realize that this situation could be easily remedied. My anxiety could go away in a matter of 5 minutes if I wanted it to, but boy would I need courage.

All I had to do was walk back into the tattoo place, confess that I am a scaredy cat, and ask for my deposit back. Easier said than done. My fear of looking like an idiot tempted me to just suck it up and get the tattoo. But fear of looking like an idiot is not a good reason to get something permanent or suffer through a week of anxiety. 

So I walked back into the parlor. There was a girl sitting on the couch waiting for her appointment..oh joy, another witness. I walked up to the guy at the desk and before my brain knew what it was going to say, my mouth blurted out “I can’t do it!”

The guy looked at me like I was crazy. When he asked why I changed my mind, I couldn’t give him an answer. I had no idea. I just made this awkward “uuuuhhhhhhh” sound like Tina from Bob’s burgers.

I’m sure my extended and awkward “uuuuuuuuuuhhhhh” made him uncomfortable, because he quickly found my envelope with my deposit. Luckily, he was a really nice guy and he handed me my full deposit. I’m not completely certain why I did what I did next, but I think part of me tried to lighten the load of my own mortification so I turned around, proudly exclaimed, “embarrassing moments brought to you by Liz” and did a curtsy before exiting.

I thought about this sequence of events a lot today. Partly because I was mortified, but also because I didn’t understand what triggered the anxiety attack. It finally hit me that every time I got really excited about this tattoo it has been around an identity crisis. The last time I was really pumped and ready to get this tattoo I had just been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The time before that I had just found out that our last fertility treatment did not work. This time around I am transitioning from my job at church to being a full time housewife. There is something about my feeling of inferiority and loss that brings about a reaction in which I try to adjust or control my appearance.

To me a tattoo signifies knowing yourself. You have to be pretty secure about the piece that you choose to display – it becomes a part of you. I guess in a way I feel like I really don’t know who I am. My life is completely different than what I thought it would be, not necessarily bad, but I’m left not knowing what my purpose is.

I want to feel like I know who I am again, and for some reason I thought a tattoo would give me that back. I would be “the earthy girl with the tattoo on her neck” or people might think “she’s cute but a little edgy”. Funnily enough the tattoo I wanted was a cross. I am a child of God and a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. A tattoo doesn’t give me that identity, God does. A tattoo doesn’t prove that identity, I do through my actions and words.

This embarrassing moment has given me a lot to think about. I was about to jump into this commitment for all the wrong reasons. I don’t want to get my identity from a tattoo, I want it to express my identity. And to be honest, I don’t feel secure in my identity as just “a child of God, a follower of Jesus”. I want to feel secure in that, but I don’t. I always want to add something else in, like what I do. What I did has always been enough for me, but now I’m not secure in what I do. I am following God’s will for my life but I fear judgment from others. I am once again finding myself in a place where I have to choose if God is enough for me. Is His will enough for me? Is His grace sufficient for me? Do I trust His plan? Can I learn to get my identity from Christ alone and not what I do? Did I at least give the tattoo guy a funny story to tell his coworkers?

I pray that the answer is “yes” to all these questions.

Maybe someday I will feel secure in my identity again. And maybe someday I will get that tattoo, but whether I do or I don’t I won’t get my identity from it. 

My Rosary Miracle

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About a month ago I called my mom desperate to be in someone’s presence. It was one of those mornings when life seemed too hard. Dean was at work, and I was home alone. I was scared, tired, and hurting. I got in my car before I even decided to call my mom. All I knew was that I could not be alone. I didn’t know who to call. Who could I have a breakdown in front of and not scare them off? Who would accept me as I am, broken and needy?

I am so blessed. I have since recognized many people in my circle of friends and family that fit this criteria. I still have fears each time I call on someone (even if I have called on them many times and they have never once given me reason to doubt them). But on this particular day I called my mom. I doubted she would be home, it wasn’t her day to work at the house. By God’s grace she had decided to take her home day a day early and she was home.

Let me try to explain to you the comfort I felt when she held me close as I sobbed into her shoulder. It wasn’t comfort from my anxiety and depression, those things were still very much there. It was the comfort of being loved regardless of my mess. Her love for me was so evident in the way she held me close despite the fountain of snot and tears that threatened to soak every inch of her right shoulder. She could not fix me, but she loved me.

We decided to pray a scriptural Rosary together, a practice that brings me peace during my most intense panic attacks. My mom didn’t tell me at the time because she didn’t understand exactly what she had experienced, but several weeks later she revealed to me a miracle.

We each sat in the corner of a couch, clutching our rosary beads, and whispering hail marys, when she suddenly felt the presence of someone new. She could not physically see her, but she knew it was Mary, the virgin mother. Mary came into the room, but did not approach any further. She remained standing at the front of the room. This confused my mom. How could a mother not run to comfort a hurting child? Why was Mary just standing there? Then my mom felt another presence, Jesus. Jesus did not merely stand in the front of the room, but sat beside me and held me as I prayed. Mary stood and watched, and Jesus comforted.

My mom kept this from me because she did not understand why Mary wouldn’t help comfort. She wanted some answers first. For weeks she prayed about it, and finally she understood. Mary knows her place. Just as Mary was used by God to bring Jesus into the world, she brought Jesus to me. She interceded for me. She knew it was not her place or in her power to comfort me, only Jesus could do that, so she did what she could: she brought Jesus to me.

This vision continues to bring me comfort each time I pray the rosary. I dwell on the miracle and know that Jesus is faithful and holding me close. I feel a protection from wickedness and evil. That doesn’t mean I don’t still sense those things around me, and feel their attacks. It just means that with Jesus by my side I know he will protect me.

Safe to Shore

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Matthew 8:23-27

Jesus Calms the Storm

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”


Today was the day it all came together. Bits and pieces of a divine puzzle were fitting together before my very eyes. I could see work that God had done months ago coming to life and it all started with a prayer.

February 15, 2014

My precious Savior,

                        Help me with my unbelief. Fill me with confidence in your divine power and love for me. Help me to be more like You. Jesus, this is a bold prayer, but in order for me to be more like You I must experience the things that You do. So, I pray for stormy waters. When you were on stormy waters you brought your father glory because of your faith in Him. I trust you, and I know that you will guide me through these waters and bring glory to the Father. You are my protection and my shield. I love you.

                Amen.

I couldn’t believe I had the guts to pray that prayer. Part of me wanted to yell and rage, “Really God? That’s the prayer you answer? Not the 1 million I sent up about having a baby?” But then I laughed. Not a “this is so funny I’m going to pee myself laughing” type of laugh, more like an “I can’t believe this is happening to me on top of everything else” type of laugh. That laugh that happens after you’ve stubbed your toe, spilled your coffee on the crotch of your pants, and then witnessed all your life plans burst into flames before your eyes…that type of laugh. But a part of me was calm. I can’t explain which part of me, it wasn’t my mind or my heart. My mind was spinning and my heart was breaking. It could only be my soul. It doesn’t have a specific place, but it’s deep. The calm came from the knowledge that God’s plan is greater than mine. His ways are truer than mine; His thoughts are higher than mine.

My doctor had just referred me to a psychiatrist for my continuing mental health issues (I have a lot to say about that, but later). The possible diagnosis scared the crap out of me. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the storm I had prayed for.

I felt like the disciples in their little fishing boat making their way across stormy waters. I have trust issues, I have had them for years. I don’t trust people. The only person I felt like I could rely on was me and now even that was being stripped of me. My anxiety and depression make me doubt my own thoughts and feelings. Not because they are necessarily wrong, but because they are misguided. I feel unsafe in my own body. I never know what type of mood I am going to get. It’s, quite frankly, terrifying at times. At those times I feel like a helpless person in a little fishing boat with waves crashing over the sides and winds howling. I feel like I have absolutely no control of the situation. The boat is rocking violently and I am just waiting for a big wave to hit me and take me into the raging sea. “Lord save me! I’m going to drown!”

As I left the parking lot of the doctor’s office I frantically searched the CDs in my car for “my song.” It wasn’t really my song, it wasn’t written for me, but I felt like it was. I found the track, rolled down the windows, blarred the speakers, and sang at the top of my lungs.

In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won’t walk out
You’re great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

In the silence You won’t let go
In the questions Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

My lighthouse
My lighthouse
Shining in the darkness I will follow You

My lighthouse
My lighthouse
I will trust the promise
You will carry me safe to shore
Safe to shore

I won’t fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I’ll rise and sing
My God’s love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

Fire before us You’re the brightest
You will lead us through the storms

The memory of the first time I heard “my song” flooded my mind. I was attending a youth conference with some of the teens from my church. At this conference we saw the band, Rend Collective, in concert. For the first time ever, I heard and fell in love with the song “My Lighthouse”.

March 28, 2014  

As I stood there in a sea of people, the lyrics of the song brought me peace and comfort. And not only that, but I could dance in my truest form to this song. I grew up Irish Dancing, so the stiff backed, high energy leg flailing comes natural to me. But there is something about mixing worship with Irish dancing (nerd alert) that makes me feel completely connected with God. I know it is me in my truest form. I love to dance and sing in the presence of my King and this song had it all – A high energy reel and lyrics that speak truth.

dancing on beach

Again the lyrics brought me peace and comfort. Tears streamed down my face as I sang “you are the peace in my troubled sea” and “My lighthouse, shining in the darkness, I will follow You.”

I finally made it home from the doctor’s office. Instead of feeling destroyed I felt inspired. I set up my paints and retrieved the very first painting I ever started but never finished. I couldn’t believe I actually started painting. For years, the thought of painting intimidated me so much that I wouldn’t even allow myself to think about attempting an original piece of artwork. Earlier in the year I started working on sharpie art, but that was the extent of my skills. Who knew all it took to give me the courage was one man professing his faith in Jesus Christ through his artwork.

March 29, 2014  

It was the second day of the youth conference and I decided to go checkout the resident artist, Connell Patrick Byrne. His paintings were beautiful. (You can check out Connell Patrick Byrne’s gallery here). I loved his apocalypse paintings. But the more I looked at his paintings the more I felt intimidated. I could never paint like that. I’ll just stick to my sharpie art.

Later that day, a good friend approached me and confessed that he had talked to Connell Patrick Byrne. He showed Connell some of my artwork (I had made sneakers for one of my teens as a Christmas present and she happened to be wearing them that day).

IMG_6981 IMG_6982

After seeing my artwork the artist told my friend he wanted to meet me. I was stunned. I’m no artist; why would he want to meet me? During the 30 minutes I met with Connell, he encouraged me to try painting. I confessed to him that I knew nothing about art, canvas, brushes, mediums, etc. He encouraged me even more and told me to paint for God alone, without fear of mistakes, and as a form of worship. I left the conversation unconvinced of my ability to paint but excited to try it as a form of worship. 

That night, during the Rend Collective worship time, I sang and danced along with “My Lighthouse” and I was inspired. I knew what my first painting would be.

There it was, an unfinished lighthouse that I had started over 6 months ago. Two weeks after I met Connell I bought some canvas, some paint, and brushes. I started the painting right away, but intimidation and fear of mistakes left the canvas untouched for weeks at a time. I would pull the canvas out and stare at it in 20 minute increments and then put it back. Every couple of months I would get inspiration for one portion of the canvas and I would work on it. But today I would finish it.

I finished my painting on the day the storm roared and raged louder than ever. I finished it on the day when I frantically searched through the CDs for my song. I finished it on the day that I praised my God and King at the top of my lungs, in my car, with tears streaming down my face. I finished it on the day that I truly understood the lyrics “you are the peace in my troubled sea.” I finished my painting on the day that I decided, no matter how big the storm, that I meant every word I sang, “My lighthouse, shining in the darkness, I will follow you.”

I reflected on my painting and everything that lead up to its completion. I started to see God’s hand in it all. These things might seem like minor coincidences to you, but to me they are reminders that God has gone before me in it all. I decided to record the lyrics of the song in my journal. I didn’t have the song on my phone so I went onto youtube and watched the official music video. Then I saw it, the publish date of the music video was on my birthday.

Now more than ever it felt like my song. A song I could Irish dance to. A song I could sing. A song that inspired me to paint. A song that reminded me of the faithfulness of my God in the storms of life. A song that reminded me of the prayer I boldly prayed back in February. A song for peace and comfort, praise and worship. A song that reminded me that God is the fire before us, He is the brightest, and He will lead us through the storms. 

photo 1 (3)  
Safe to Shore by Liz Eastlake