Monthly Archives: July 2018

The Importance of Firsts

A few years ago, a friend and I happened to be on vacation in Colorado at the same time. Since we were both traveling alone, we agreed to meet up and do some things together out there to make it more fun. While we were there, he encouraged me to make a list of things that I was doing for the first time. That sounded like fun, so I did.

We met up in Denver and quickly made our first stop together at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, CO. There we encountered hundreds of beautiful free flying butterflies, which gave us ample opportunities for taking some great photos. I had not been in a place like this before, so this was a first for me, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Colorful Butterfly

One of the beautiful butterflies we saw at the butterfly house.

After that, we drove up to Estes Park, where I had never been before that trip. We got up before dawn and went down to the lake to photograph the sun coming up over the mountains. I’m NOT a morning person, and I’m pretty sure that my no-makeup, I-haven’t-had-any-caffeine-yet appearance scared him to death when I answered his knock on my door. Needless to say, I had never gotten up before dawn just to go take photos! We were well rewarded for the sacrifice of sleep, however, and I was glad that we had done it.

Later, we went for a hike. I believe our altitude was around 8,500 feet if memory serves me correctly. I’d never been hiking at that altitude before, so we took the appropriate precautions against altitude sickness. We enjoyed the hiking, but we also enjoyed stopping along the trail for photo ops (we’re both shutterbugs) and admiring the beautiful scenery. However, that afternoon, a thunderstorm developed. Let me tell you, a thunderstorm at that altitude is quite fearsome! We got pretty good and wet in spite of our gear, but I didn’t mind too much. I was having too much fun with all of these first time experiences.

White Indian Paintbrush

White Indian paintbrush

Our trip into Rocky Mountain National Park let me experience more firsts: My first time seeing wild elk, my first time into that beautiful park, my first time making a snow angel in July, my first time experiencing true tundra, and my first time at an altitude of over 12,000 feet. Now I know what people are talking about when they talk about “thin air”!

Tundra Flowers

Flowers growing in the tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park.

I experienced many other “firsts” while we were there, and it was fun to celebrate them all, whether they were big or small. But do you know where else “firsts” are celebrated? In the Bible. Here are some examples:

  • The firstfruits of someone’s labor were offered to the Lord as a sacrifice. (Nehemiah 10:35, 37)
  • The first born was celebrated and given to the Lord as an offering. (Nehemiah 10:36)
  • God is to be our first love. (Revelation 2:4)

There are also people who went first in some way:

  • Adam was the first man. (Genesis 2:7)
  • Eve was the first woman. (Genesis 2:22)
  • Andrew was one of the first two disciples to follow Jesus. (John 1:36-40)
  • The Samaritan woman at the well was the first in her town of Sychar to put her trust in Jesus. Her faith caused many others in her village to put their faith in Him as well. (John 4:7-30)
  • Peter gives the first sermon after Jesus’s ascension and 3,000 people came to Christ. (Acts 2:38-41)
  • Stephen becomes the first martyr for Christ who is recorded by name in the Bible. (Acts 7:54-60)
  • Lydia was the first woman named to put her faith in Jesus because of Paul’s preaching. (Acts 16:14) She became a supporter of his ministry.

These are just a few examples, but you can see from them the significance of “firsts”. I think the most important first of all, however, is this one:

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Without His great love for us, we would not have the capacity to love Him or each other. Isn’t that amazing? We don’t have to fear that He will reject us because He already expressed His love for us on the cross; Jesus went first. All we have to do is accept His gift, and our natural response will be to love Him and to love those around us. Won’t you accept His love today? If you already have taken that step, why not ask Him to show you how you can experience His love in a new way today? He would love to create a new list of “firsts” with you.

The Need for Speed

Speed 2

It was early in life when I discovered that I had an apparently inborn need for speed. My theory was why walk when you can run? I loved having the wind in my hair, and the faster I went, the better. When I got older, my best friend and I rode our bikes regularly at a nearby state park. There was one long downhill stretch where we were able to hit speeds of between 35 and 40 mph. What a blast! I started riding horses, and I loved galloping across grassy fields, pretending that I was aboard Secretariat in one of the Triple Crown races. I loved fast roller coasters, fast cars and fast motorcycles. The faster things went, the happier it made me!


Maybe you get motion sickness just thinking about some of the things in that first paragraph – my apologies if you do. However, don’t you agree that we all like to get things quickly these days? We don’t like to be stuck in slow traffic when we’re driving. We like to be served quickly at restaurants. We order items on the internet and have them shipped to our homes in a matter of just a day or two. Speaking of the internet, don’t you just hate it when you have to wait…and wait…and wait for a page to load? (I don’t know how we ever survived the days of dial-up internet connections!)

Another time that we hate to wait is when we need or want something from God. These times can be when we’re waiting for something rather small, but sometimes our need is great. We cry out to Him over and over again, and still we wait. My friend, if you are in that place today, I want to tell you that you are not alone. Even the Psalmists often cried out to Him for help, as in these verses:

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. (Psalm 22:11)

But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. (Psalm 22:19)

Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. (Psalm 31:2)

Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior. (Psalm 38:22)

Some seem to need God’s help even more urgently:

But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay. (Psalm 40:17)

Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord, to help me. (Psalm 70:1)

…May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. (Psalm 79:8)

I have been in that place of waiting for God when I had an urgent need. I didn’t hear anything from God; I didn’t see Him moving on my behalf. I was even afraid that maybe He hadn’t heard me, until I remembered one of my favorite verses: Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! (Psalm 116:2 NLT) Yes, He listens to our prayers, even when we don’t have the answer yet.

I grew to learn that there are blessings in the waiting. The same Psalmists who called out for God’s quick response to their prayers also knew the importance of waiting for His response:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5)

Waiting may not be easy. When I’m waiting for anything at all, I want to know how long I have to wait. Amazon will tell me how long I have to wait for my package to arrive, but God doesn’t usually tell me how long I’ll have to wait for His answer. I have found that my faith actually grows during the times of waiting. Here are some verses to encourage you if you are in a place of waiting today:

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:26)

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7)

You are blessed when you wait for Him. Waiting for Him is good. Your God will hear you. Those are promises that He makes to us, and He never breaks His word. We can trust Him in the waiting. Here are a couple of suggestions to help you through the waiting:

  • Remember times before when He has shown Himself to be faithful to you. He’ll be faithful again.
  • Continue to pray and share your heart with Him about your need, but trust that He hears you and is answering, even when you don’t see it yet.
  • Reach out to other believers who can help you keep your eyes on Jesus as you wait for His answer. If you know someone who has been through a similar need that was met by God, borrow courage from his or her story.
  • Ask others to pray for you as you wait. Ask them to lift up your need to Him but also ask them to pray that your faith will be grown.

His answers are always worth the wait. Take heart, dear ones, and trust Him.

God’s Amazing Provision

Liz, will you give me $100 today?”


Will you give me $100 today?”

That’s how it all started. I was new in my faith journey. A single parent of three small daughters, I didn’t have $100 to give to the Lord, even though I wanted to. I had bills that had to be paid and there was no margin in my budget at that particular time. I knew I had heard Him clearly, but I just didn’t have the money, so I let the offering plate go by without putting anything in it.

Still, I knew that question was lingering on the table, and it was tugging at my heart. I so badly wanted to say yes but didn’t know how I could. My checkbook was in the car, so I went out to the car between that service and the next as I continued to wrestle with God over His request. I explained to Him my financial situation, even though I knew that He already knew it.

He said, “I know, but will you trust Me?”

I was finally able to answer yes to that question, so I wrote out my check with joy and happily dropped it in the plate during the following service. I felt a strange sense of peace, even though I didn’t know how I was going to juggle my bills.

After the last service, I was talking with a friend in a casual conversation when he mentioned that he had seen an envelope with my name on it in the church office. I made my way to the office to see what it could possibly be, as I wasn’t expecting anything from anyone.

I opened the envelope and my jaw hit the floor. Within the envelope was a check, made payable to me, for $100.

Thank you for trusting Me,” He said.

He had given back the $100 that He had asked me to give Him, and I was amazed. This was my first real experience in trusting Jesus to provide for all of my financial needs, and He definitely provided what I needed.

There have been other experiences of his lavish provision over the years, like the way that He provided money through a friend for me to attend an out-of-state church conference that I had signed up for in faith. Or the way He provided a dishwasher for me through another friend when mine broke down and I had no means to repair or replace it. Or the way that He provided for my children to go on a school trip to Washington, DC.

God makes many promises to us in His Word regarding providing for all of our needs:

13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. (Deuteronomy 11:13-15)

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:27-31)

17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17)

God even promises that if we will trust Him financially, He will “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10) Wow! I want that kind of blessing!

What step is Jesus calling you to take today to trust Him with your finances? Is it to believe that He will provide for all of your needs when you see no way for them to be met? Is He calling you to tithe regularly? Is He calling you to be a blessing to someone else?

You can trust Him. He longs to bless you. He is faithful!

Adventures in Rock Climbing

A few years back, a ministry group from the church that I attended went rock climbing together as a team-building exercise. I am blessed to live about an hour’s drive from the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, which is a premier destination for rock climbers throughout the country, and that was our destination that day. I had never been rock climbing before, but I had always thought it would be a lot of fun to try it, so I was excited.

When we got to the intended spot, we were not the only ones there; two other groups of people would be climbing up the same rock face that we were climbing. However, there was plenty of room for the three routes that our group would have the opportunity to climb as well as the routes that other climbers would take on the rock face. After some set-up and lots of instructions from our group leader, Todd, an experienced climber and mountaineer, our group began climbing. I watched while person after person attempted the challenging climb and met with various levels of success. I joined in shouting encouragement to the climbers until it was finally my turn to climb.

In order to climb, we each wore a harness that was tied into a long climbing rope and we wore special shoes for gripping the rock face. Each climber had a belayer whose job it was to apply tension to the rope when the climber was not moving and to release that pressure so that more rope was available to the climber while moving.

As I stood at the bottom of the rock face, it looked awfully big. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to the top or not. I also was a little nervous; there was just one relatively thin rope holding me to the face of the rock. My belayer, Lindsey, encouraged me to head up about ten feet and then to just let go and hang there. This allowed me to trust the rope and trust that Lindsey could hold me if I were to slip off the face of the rock without plummeting to the ground. That was good to know!

Rock Climbing 1

So, up I went. The climbing at first was fairly easy for me. It was easy to see where my next handhold and foothold would be, and I climbed fairly quickly to a good height. Before too long, though, I got to a place where I was stuck; I couldn’t see where to go next. I had to be careful to hear Lindsey’s voice amongst all of the voices that were calling encouragement and suggestions not just to me, but to other climbers as well.

Will you listen for My voice amongst all the other voices trying to get your attention?” Jesus whispered. “Will you look to Me and Me alone when you don’t know the way?”

From where she stood, watching my every move, Lindsey could see another handhold that was invisible to me. I stretched towards it, not knowing if I would lose my grip altogether. “Trust me to catch you,” Lindsey called. “You can do this!”

Will you trust Me when the next step is stretching?” Jesus asked. “Will you trust Me to catch you if you fall?”

Rock Climbing 2

I am not in top physical shape, and climbing was demanding. My muscles in my arms and legs were tired from all of the exertion and I was breathing somewhat heavily. It was at that point that I came to the lip in the rock. Jutting out away from the rock face just a bit, it would require me to lean slightly backwards in order to navigate it, and this gave me great pause. I trusted Lindsey and I trusted the rope, but this felt like too much for me. I clung to the rock wall just under the lip for a long time as an inward battle raged. “You could just stop right here. Nobody would blame you. You’re tired and you’ve already made it higher than some of the people in your group. Why push yourself?” came the internal voices.

Lindsey and the others shouted encouragement as they could see that I was in quite a dilemma. I began to pray as the fear was continuing to rise in me. “Perfect love casts out all fear. Perfect love casts out all fear,” I repeated out loud to myself. I knew that the fear was irrational. Then I silently prayed, “Lord, I’m scared. I know that fear does not come from You. I know that You will not love me any less if I don’t make it to the top, but I’m so close now, and I want to make it. Will You help me?”

I am with you,” He said.

Rock Climing 3

Peace settled over me. Gathering all the courage I could muster, I began to reach for my next hold. Lindsey again began calling directions to me, and very soon I had passed over the lip – without falling or losing my grip – and I made my way to the top! The fear was gone; there was just exhilaration. I heard cheers of congratulations from below me, and I grinned from ear to ear.

Look behind you,” Jesus whispered.

I turned my upper body and head to look away from the rock face, and I gasped in wonder. I had the most amazing view of a beautiful forested valley and the limestone ridge that ran along the opposite horizon of the sky. Incredible!

If you had stopped climbing below that lip, you would have experienced something good, but you would not have seen the fullness of all that I have for you,” Jesus whispered.

Still smiling, I began to rappel down the rock face until I was safely back on the ground. After everyone had climbed, we went to a nearby restaurant and sat together as a group, and we shared our experiences of climbing and what we had learned. I was amazed that Jesus had been so fully present during my whole climb. He had taught me lessons that applied to my walk as a Christ follower, not just to rock climbing. They are lessons that still serve me well today.

Whale Watching With Jesus

See what great love the Father has lavished on us… 1 John 3:1

In the summer of 2014, two of my daughters and I went on a vacation that took us from Kentucky to New England, into Canada, and then past Niagara Falls on our way back home. It was a wonderful trip and we saw many amazing things along the way. The highlight of the trip for all of us, however, was on the day that we went whale watching off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I have long had a fascination with humpback whales in particular, and I had never seen one before this trip. I prayed for weeks in advance that we would see humpbacks on our trip, something that was in no way guaranteed. I only had that one chance to see them on this trip, and I didn’t know when I’d have another chance to see them. I even asked my friends to pray that we would see humpbacks.

The day of our whale watching cruise came, and it was a spectacular day. I could not have asked for better weather. Clutching my camera, I felt my excitement growing as we boarded the boat and started off into the coastal waters. We hadn’t gone very far when our guide for the trip spotted a seal and then a finback whale off the starboard side of the boat. Dang it! I was seated on the port side and couldn’t see them. I doubled down on my prayers, just in case Jesus had forgotten that this was the day of my trip. Soon, a pair of minke whales appeared on the port side. I could see them and got a photograph or two, but I still longed to see the humpbacks.

After what seemed to my eager heart like an eternity, whales were spotted again. Humpbacks! At last, my dream was going to come true, and my prayers answered. However, they were again on the starboard side of the crowded boat with no way for me to get to the railing for the best view. I knew the captain would turn the boat so that those of us on the port side would be facing the whales, so I just had to be patient for a few minutes, and there they were. These magnificent creatures were feeding using a bubble net technique which was incredible to see. Although the captain was careful to keep us at the distance required by marine law, they were close enough that I could smell the fishiness of their breath!

We motored on to another spot where our guide hoped we might see more whales…and the reward was beyond anything I could have imagined. We saw DOZENS of humpbacks! We witnessed every one of their behaviors such as tail slapping, fluke slapping and best of all, breaching. Our guide chatted over the PA system, telling us which whales were which and facts about them such as their age or how many years they had been known to be in that area. She explained the behaviors that we were witnessing so that we didn’t miss any detail. It was incredible, and my heart was so full it felt as though it would burst with joy.

Humpback 14 (800x637)

Finally came the time for us to turn and head back to the port. As we went along, the guide continued to talk about what we had seen that day. She said that on each trip they take, someone would ask them if it had been a “good” trip. She said that what we had seen that day was beyond anything that they had ever seen before. She was amazed at how many different whales we had seen and how many different behaviors we got to witness. She said that humpbacks are typically loners; they don’t travel in pods like some other whales do. This made what we had seen extremely rare, and she said, “I really don’t have any explanation for it!” I just smiled, because I knew exactly what explained it – the goodness of God in response to dozens of prayers to see humpbacks.

Humpback 29 (800x640)

Isn’t His love lavish? Let’s face it – a prayer to see humpback whales would probably not rank very high in priority among the things that people pray for, yet He knew that this small thing would bring me great delight. Psalm 21:2 says, “You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.” Matthew 7:11 says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” It amazed me that He loves me so much that He would answer even this small prayer in such extraordinary style.

He loves you that much, too. What would bring great joy to your heart today? Ask Him! You can trust that He will answer you at the right time and that His answers will ultimately bring delight to your heart. I would be honored to pray with you if you would like; please leave a comment or message me, and I’ll join you in prayer.

Humpback 23 (800x641)

Refuge Under His Wings

Sometimes – often when we least expect it – life throws a curve ball. Something happens that causes us deep sorrow and grief. Perhaps a loved one passed, or maybe a relationship that was meant to be for life ended, or some other significant loss was suffered. These types of events can leave us at a crossroads in our faith, and we are left to decide how to handle it.

Very early in my walk with Jesus, a woman at my church gave her testimony, and it was as if the Holy Spirit whispered, “Pay attention, Liz; you’re going to need to know this.” She talked about how an unforeseen tragedy hit her life and she was left with the choice to either lean into God or lean away from Him. Her story of leaning into God in her sorrow and the subsequent redemption that He brought really stuck with me.

A couple of years later, unforeseen tragedy hit my life also, and I remembered this lesson. I knew that I had to decide for myself whether to lean into God or to lean away from Him. Well, I had gone my own way for much of my life, and I already knew that that didn’t work well at all, so I chose to lean into God. I had no idea how God might redeem or restore what had been lost, but I knew that He promised to do just that. Still, I felt like the Psalmist who wrote, “Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.” (Psalm 31:9) Or like Job, who said, “My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.” (Job 17:7)

I didn’t know much Scripture at that time, but I did know Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” One night I was sobbing and crying out to Him, begging Him to be close to me and to save me. Suddenly, I felt a strange sensation. It was as if I could feel feathers touching my shoulders, pulling me to Him. Peace inexplicably settled over me. Comforted, I finally fell asleep and rested in His arms. It was the first decent night of sleep I’d had in weeks. Much later, I learned of this verse:

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

I truly believe that He sheltered me under His wings on that night.

Are you grieving today? If so, take comfort in knowing that Jesus understands exactly what you’re going through and how you are feeling. The Bible tells us that, “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” (Isaiah 53:3 NLT) In both Matthew 26:38 and Mark 14:34, Jesus says, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He knows what it is like to suffer that soul-crushing grief.

If that’s where you are today, I encourage you to choose to lean into Him, not away from Him. Take courage from the following verses:

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Psalm 119:28

You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Jeremiah 8:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

God promises to strengthen us and to comfort us, to bind up our wounds and to give us refuge in the midst of our sorrow and grief. You can pray those verses over yourself and ask Him to show you how He is moving in response to your prayers. In addition, feel free to leave a message in the comments below or to message me directly and I will be glad to pray for you!

My Faith Story: Loss and Hope

Faith has always been an important part of my life. My father and one of my grandfathers were both Presbyterian ministers when I was very young, and the habit of going to church was instilled from the very beginning of my life. I grew up believing that Jesus was who He said He was – the Son of God, come to save us from our sins.

When I was young, I started experiencing what would turn out to be a series of serious losses. My parents divorced when I was 8, and later that year my grandfather became terminally ill. I prayed with all the faith that my eight-year-old heart contained that the divorce and my grandfather’s death wouldn’t happen, but they did anyway. Within the next couple of years, both of my parents re-married, but my new stepfather soon became terminally ill and died. I was devastated by all of these events and didn’t know how to respond to them. However, people around me seemed happy and seemed to want me to be happy, too, so I began to stuff the feelings of sadness and confusion, hiding them down deep, and tried to at least act happy.

At the age of 12 or 13 years old, I went through my church’s affirmation classes, the completion of which allowed me to be a participating member of the church. I could take communion and was able to vote on church matters and so forth. I thought that was what it meant to be a Christian, and I was very glad to have made that decision. However, very little in my life changed as a result of joining my church, and I still carried the sadness and confusion deep inside.

More tests to my young faith came as I entered the eighth grade and my high school years. More deaths were happening around me, and many of these were young people. A classmate was killed in eighth grade, leaving me shocked that death could even sneak up on someone my age. A young man from my church was killed in a tragic airplane crash. My great-grandmother passed away. Others who were more peripheral to my life also died. The sadness and confusion about how to cope with these events became heavier.

When I was 15, I once found myself in need of a ride home. An acquaintance from school offered to take me home, and I gratefully accepted. However, before we got to my house, he took me to a secluded area and raped me. I was filled with guilt and shame at what had happened, so I told nobody at all. I took shower after shower trying to remove the dirty feeling from my body, from my very soul. Nothing worked. I stuffed those feelings of guilt and shame down deep.

Around that time, I joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at school. Down inside, I thought that if I could be a better Christian, these horrible things would stop happening to me. I tried hard to read my Bible, but I couldn’t understand it and found it boring for the most part. I tried to pray more but all I heard from God was a deafening silence. I felt like I was “okay” in God’s eyes as long as I was successful at living the Christian life, and I feared what He thought of me when I wasn’t.

My senior year of high school came, and along with it came another huge loss. A very close friend of mine, Kelly, was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Eve of that year. My heart shattered into even more pieces as I learned this news. My mom and stepdad drove me to the hospital that night. On the way there, we passed a car that had flipped and was upside down on its roof, and yet all four of its occupants were standing next to it, unhurt. I became hysterical and began screaming at God in my pain and anger that He had taken Kelly but not these people. “If that’s the kind of God You are,“ I shouted, “I don’t want anything to do with You!” I quit going to church and quit trying to lead the Christian life. I still prayed when I needed something, but I certainly didn’t expect to get an answer from Him. More deaths happened to people that I loved, but I was so shell-shocked by all the losses over the course of my life that I barely even reacted to them.

I spent the next twenty years of my life trying to “fix” things. I tried to control my circumstances, which of course I couldn’t do. I tried to pretend that everything in my life was normal, but it wasn’t; I was still a hurting and broken person. I tried to find answers in spiritual ways but only found things that left me more empty and confused than I had been in the first place. I even attended a Billy Graham crusade and went forward to “rededicate” my life to Christ. That was followed by a brief return to church, but it didn’t last. I kept all of the pain and confusion in my life buried as deeply as I could and tried not to think about it.  I felt hopeless and alone.

At the end of that twenty years, I was a mother to three young daughters and was on the brink of a second divorce. I was doing some deep soul-searching, and cried out, “God, how could you have let my life turn out like this?” This time, I heard an answer: “Remember, you kicked Me out of your life.” I was immediately taken back to the night that Kelly died and the horrible words I had shouted. I was filled with remorse, and begged Him to forgive me for that. I promised Him that as soon as I could, I would find a church where my daughters and I could attend.

I found that church a few months later, and for the first time I started hearing stories about a God who loved me and sacrificed everything to make a way for me to be with Him. This God was not distant and uninvolved; He was intimately involved in every detail of our lives. I wanted that. I began asking questions and trying to reconcile why my experience of God had not been like the experience that so many people around me were having. As I began sorting these things out, it suddenly hit me one night that the reason my experience of God was so different was because I didn’t know Him. I knew OF Him, but I had never had a relationship with Him. I was dumbfounded, but my next reaction was to thank Him for having preserved my life to the point that I could have that realization.

The next couple of months, I peppered my friends at church with my questions about God. I began to really hear His voice and realized that He was drawing me nearer to Him. I started asking Him to show me why He had allowed so much pain and heartache in my life and what He was doing during those times, and He showed me clearly how His heart had broken for me and how He had longed to hold me close during those times. He showed me that He had protected me in those circumstances from much worse than what I had actually experienced. I began to trust more in His heart for me.

A key moment during that time came with the tragedy of 9/11. As I watched the planes slam into the twin towers and watched those towers collapse, God allowed me to feel His heart breaking over the tragic events of that day. I felt as though the tears pouring down my face were His tears. I was amazed that He would show me His heart in that way, and I was amazed at how much He cared.

A few weeks later, I walked into church on a Sunday morning when I knew my pastor was going to offer people a chance to pray to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. I knew that there were people who were praying that I would receive Jesus for myself that day, but I didn’t feel ready for that step just yet as I made my way into the auditorium. I still had so many questions about God that I thought I needed to understand first. However, God had other plans for me. As my pastor began his message that day, he was telling the story of a kid who was so good at hide and seek that nobody could find him, and he stayed hidden for hours. An adult who was watching the game wanted to yell out the window to him, “Get found, kid!” Those words inexplicably cut straight to my heart. I knew that I was that kid in hiding, and I could choose to stay in hiding for the rest of my life and to never be known or I could choose to step into real community and real relationship with Jesus. All of a sudden, it felt as though I could not breathe one more breath until I had Jesus in my heart. I waited anxiously for the message to be over and for the prayer to be offered. I wanted Jesus to not just be around me, but to live inside of me, and I could scarcely wait for that to happen.

Finally, my pastor led the prayer, and I prayed it. I have never prayed more earnestly for something in my whole life. I surrendered control of my life to Him and asked Him to lead me and guide me from that day forward. As soon as I said, “Amen,” I inhaled deeply and filled my lungs with air. It felt like there was a whole different kind of oxygen in the room that I had never breathed before, and it satisfied like nothing had ever satisfied. Immediately I felt a physical warmth in my heart, and as I sat there while the service ended, the feeling of warmth spread throughout my body. I was a bit afraid and prayed, “What is happening to me?” Immediately came the answer: “I’m washing you from the inside out.” Oh, what a relief!!! Finally, I had found what would wash the stains off my soul. The guilt, the shame, the confusion, the pain…all of it dissolved and melted away. There was only peace and joy in that moment. I felt light and free in ways that I had never experienced previously.

It has been almost seventeen years since the day I gave my life to Jesus. In those years, I’ve experienced some of the greatest joys of my life. I’ve also experienced the deepest heartaches that I could ever imagine. Through all of the highs and lows, though, Jesus has been with me. He has never once left me. I hear His voice as he leads and guides me. He celebrates the victories of my life with me and he cries with me during the heartaches. He is transforming me into the person that He made me to be. I certainly don’t follow Him perfectly, but even when I’m at my worst, He is still there and He still loves me. I am so glad that I stepped out and “got found” by Him.