After the Landslide: This is the Season to Shift

Last week, I left you in the midst of my story of the changing landscape. The landslide has brought me unprecedented stillness.

Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

Stillness is not sadness. This stillness comes from inexplicable joy or unprecedented pain. Stillness comes from something much bigger than yourself. Stillness flashes out of the unfamiliar and brings the promise of peace. Stillness comes from raising white flags and embracing the fullness of surrender. You receive this humble mercy not because you chose it, but because it chose you.  

Love chases us. God changes the landscape to bring forth in us quiet reverence. The stillness dawns awe. World stopping awe. You acknowledge that you are too small, too loved, to have control. A humble, restful environment forms in your mind and spirit as stillness and awe collide. The landslide does its work as you realize that every right step you have taken is a wilderness in comparison to the Creator’s hand at work.

This is the soft, gentle, raw space where you graciously relinquish your wearwithal. The view of oneself as a resource shifts to a God who is the source. You stop and acknowledge that even your own breath is an act of God. The urgency that once existed to run the race well is replaced with a desire for slow growth amid a God that is the author of good timing.

The Backstory

My landslide came through a landscape that I believed was good. And it was. Practical, reasonable plans and hoped for outcomes that were years in the making. Effort, time, money and care towards specific ends. Love, prayer and consideration of the best paths for my kids, myself, my family.

We all do this. We ask for help to see our gifts. We develop skills, use resources and take the next step with discernment and care. We celebrate wins and we seek understanding in disappointment. We pursue godly things with clean hands and a pure heart.

But then comes a shift. God chases us. If we are not intentionally soft hearted, love chasing us may be interpreted as havoc or axe throwing. In the stillness, however, we can experience awe.

For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great and mighty and awe inspiring God.

Deuteronomy 10:17

Interlude

I will stop here for a brief moment to share some hard-earned wisdom through the voice of the great Aslan.

Child, said the Lion, I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.

The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis

I had three shifts in a row. March, early June and the rest of the summer. In some ways, I would like to share the story of March and of June, but they are not my stories to tell. Almost two decades ago, I was offered forgiveness for revealing someone else’s story. Moreover, my profession is grounded in confidentiality. I do my best to pull the reins in when the story is not my own.

Hence, I can’t include all of the details of the landslide. In brief, the landslide shifted the path of my daughter, son and my husband each in different ways. I will share some of my shift.

The Summer

In June, we landed in Utah for a road trip in four states. I found myself sick with Covid the day after we arrived. It’s hard for me to know what to share about my experience. Foremost, some of you have lost precious loved ones to Covid. You are still grieving. Second, this virus is highly politicized. Our opinions are as wide spread as a swinging pendulum. My goal is to share my experience for the purpose of emphasizing God’s chase after me in order to shift my mindset; for the purpose of encouraging you to examine yourself and ask God for any timely shifts.

At the point of my sickness, I had already experienced the disappointment of March and June. On our trip, I was isolating in hotels and cabins getting sicker and sicker as the days passed. As we left the beauty of Idaho, we passed into Montana. Eric and I walked into the emergency room in the first town that had one. After an exam and a chest x-ray, they released me with meds. By the time we reached Wyoming a few days later, I could no longer breathe well. I called 911 from a cabin in the middle of the Grand Tetons National Park.

As I lay in the hospital in Jackson, Wyoming with Covid pneumonia, bronchitis and an oxygen tube up my nose, I felt the extent of my disappointments of the last few months. I felt the power of His hand as it wiped away my plans and designs for my life and my kids. I grieved. I had been crying in desperation from being so sick over the last week. The realization of the grief came to pass in the hospital.

The Realization

I no longer wish for my own plans or even to make them. I no longer wish to take the reins or take the lead. I simply want him to see my utter surrender and let him design and plant the garden. I simply want to walk the path as he speaks it.

This is the miraculous beauty of stillness and of the landslide. The space in which we live our lives opens up. The land in which we walk becomes a field again. We return to sacred words. Your plan is better than my plan. Your ways are higher than my ways. Your love is greater than my love. Isaiah 55: 8-9. We can melt into the new landscape and simply wait for him to plant and grow what he, the “I AM”, chooses. 

Spiritual Shock

My stillness initially was spiritual shock. I had been digging and planting on a particular path. I even saw blooms in the growing garden of my life, of my family’s life. But God prunes even the most beautiful blooms. Let that settle for a moment. God does in fact prune beautiful blooms. The things you hold precious or valuable may be cut down or off, moved or changed, by the greatest Love we have ever known or will know.

I don’t know all the answers, but I’ve had a few good conversations. The roots of the tree need to be bigger than the tree. God moves among the less. The shears may be coming at you, but you can move with them. The Father is a good gardener who knows best. (Jo Saxton and Christine Burnett)

Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in “the bitter uprising,” that time of wilderness testing! Even though they watched me at work for forty years, your ancestors refused to let me do it my way; over and over they tried my patience. And I was provoked, oh, so provoked! I said, “They’ll never keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road.” Exasperated, I vowed “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.”

So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as God’s still calling it Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.

These words keep ringing in our ears:

Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.

Hebrews 3:7-12

Once the landslide has come

The stillness resides

What was before is no longer

You can fight against the surrender with a hard heart

Or you can receive truth with a soft heart.

Shift Challenge

Can you relate to stillness and awe? Read Psalm 46.

Do you see yourself as a resource more often than you see God as the source? Read Isaiah 55. In light of that verse, can you trust God as your source?

Examine yourself and ask God if he is asking you to shift.

God prunes even the most beautiful blooms. Is there anything you are holding too tightly? Is there anything that you need to let go of, even if it feels impossible to do so?

How will you respond to the landslide? Once the stillness comes, will you respond with a hard heart or a soft heart? Read Deuteronomy 10:12-22

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Hospitality: How to be Radical with Food and Friends

My purpose in sharing parts of my life with you is to encourage you to do the same. More openness among women. More authenticity. This is the road to personal change and freedom. Authenticity is part of the path for wounds to find healing. Eventually, this same road leads to action and service in the name of love.

I did something fun this week.

I led a book review with an amazing, welcoming group of women called the Salt Book Club. I reviewed a book called The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in our Post Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield. (My husband says every book I read is the same. Whatever.)

My friend Melissa came along with me to the book club. She has an open front door and is an all are welcome kind of girl. Covid slapped her in the face when it came to one of her spiritual giftings – hospitality.

At the book review, she openly shared her reasons for bunkering down for almost a full year. She shared her conversations with her teen about how doing what’s right isn’t something you can see the full picture of when making the sacrifice. And, she shared how God gave her the opportunity to share her home with her brother, wife and two kids after he was furloughed from his job in Texas.

God always provides a way for us to share our giftings and live out our callings.

The author Rosaria leads a pretty radical life in the way of hospitality. She has an open door policy for dinner every single night. She wakes up at dawn for her devotion. She puts on beans, soup and rice and bakes bread. She homeschools and does all the stuff moms do throughout the day.

Around 5:30pm, her “stakeholders” (i.e., girlfriends, soul sisters . . .) plus their families and dogs come over with more food and welcome whomever shows up that night. They invite people who would not step foot into a church and the neighborhood families through the Next Door app.

This is radical to me – plainly because it’s Every.Single.Night.

This book has a few stories running through it. You will learn that Rosaria was previously a professor at Syracuse University, a feminist, intellectual and outspoken lesbian in a committed relationship. You’ll meet her neighbor Hank and his pit bull Tank, whose home is raided for the manufacturing of crystal meth. You’ll get to know Rosaria’s birth family with themes of mental illness and alcohol. You will hear Rosaria’s view on gender roles and how safety should not be the aspiration of believers.

It sounds like a good book, right? It is.

After reading her book and listening to her bible study on Right Now Media, here are five tips on hospitality that you can glean from this book – – and you don’t even have to read it! Nice!

  1. Find your own rhythm of hospitality. God gives us the grace we need for his commands.
  2. You are needed. God uses us in our mess. Be hospitable, even in your weakness.
  3. If you are hiding sin, you won’t practice hospitality. Check yourself! Ouch!
  4. What idols are holding you back from hospitality? Social media? TV? Alcohol? Middle class ease?
  5. Learn to be a host and a guest. We need both to form relationships.

Love you girls!

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