I’m taking a road trip … and I’d love to meet you.

Oh, hi. Want to have coffee?

No … but seriously.

I’d love to hang out with your small group, or your church group, and have coffee, talk about “I Don’t Wait Anymore” and hear about your life.

I’m planning a road trip for 2017, and I need some help figuring out where to go. I’d love to see as many of you as possible! If your town would be a good place for me to drop a pin, drop me a line in the form below, tell me about your group and let me know where you are and how to get in touch with you.

The safety of the unsafe.

Heather and I were sitting there at the table, hands curled around cups of coffee with homemade pumpkin spice, my feet kicked up in her purple chair when he came running in from the living room, sock feet slipping on the floor, out of breath, eyes wild.

And he buried his face so deep in her shoulder that I wasn’t sure he could even hear her questions.

“What’s going on? Are you scared?”

He was stock still, arms vise-gripping her neck, but somehow she still managed to take a couple of sips of coffee with her free arm while he hung there. We waited.

And then we realized what was happening.

There was a clown on TV.

And for a 9-year-old in a world where creepy clowns are on the loose, that’s about the worst thing that could happen.

It was a clown that was juggling or something, one that had zero ill will toward this little guy in Heather’s house. It couldn’t have been safer. It was hard to imagine that in this kitchen, where the pumpkin scent was mixing with french toast casserole and the dog was lazily drumming her tail against the floor under the chair that this sweet kid could be having a moment of total, all-consuming terror, as if that clown was going to bust out of the TV and end up in the kitchen.

But he was. He was scared. And I felt for him.

I’ve been that kid.

More times than I can count, I’ve been gripped to my core with a fear of the wrong thing.

It’s not been too long ago, the last time I remember having that kind of sock-footed ragged-breath fear. It comes sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes when I wonder if I’m going to lose someone I love or if I’m going to make the wrong decision or if I’m failing at the thing God asked me to do.

I look at the ifs.

And like a storm, fear comes roaring in.

*****

Many times have our struggles in life been referred to as storms, and many times we’ve been told to keep our eyes not on the waves, but the One who controls them, from the story in the Gospel of Mark.

A storm came on, the disciples were about to die in the boat, so they woke Jesus up, He said “peace, be still” and everything stopped.

Remember He’s in control, remember His peace to calm your fear of the storm — that’s the way I’ve often looked at that.

But what if it’s really fear that we use to fight our fear?

J.D. Greear said in a really great message last month that he’d gotten in a debate with his daughter over “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” In the book, Mr. Beaver had said that Aslan, a lion and king, wasn’t safe, but he was good. And that didn’t make any sense to his daughter. How could he be good and unsafe?

“Here’s how I’d describe it,” J.D. said. “They say that at high altitudes like Mt. Everest, storms can come on suddenly. In the space of a few seconds, the temperature can drop 30 or 40 more degrees, accompanied by severe, gale force winds. Imagine that you were caught in such a storm. The wind effortlessly sweeps away your equipment. You hear the fierce howl of the winds and feel the deep, penetrating cold. You know that death is just a few moments away. But just when you are about to give up hope, you notice a small opening in the side of the mountain, leading to a regressed cave. Inside that cave, another traveler has made a fire and is preparing a meal. As you sit by the fire, sheltered from the storm, you can look back out into the storm, marveling at its awesome power. That storm may no longer be a threat to you, but you still feel a hushed sense of awe before its power.

That was the disciples after Jesus made the world stop that day on the sea.

Hushed awe.

In Mark’s storm story, Jesus was bigger than the storm on the sea — He was the storm on Everest.

The far bigger storm.

He was the storm the disciples could marvel at with trembling while held in perfect love. They were in the all-powerful hands of this infinitely unsafe and infinitely good cyclone of a Savior, watching His power from a crevice in the side of Everest.

The disciples had just thought they were going to buried at the bottom of the sea. Then Jesus stopped their world, their storm, their death on a dime. And then they were really afraid.

Who. Is. This. Did you see what He just did?!

It was when they looked straight into the eyes of the Person they feared more than the storm — the good and unsafe Friend and all-powerful God of the universe — that the storm didn’t matter anymore.

His love offered in outstretched hands became even sweeter because fear became so much greater.

What kind of love is being offered to us when the power of a terror-filled, life-threatening, hair-raising storm is held in a mere whisper of the God who invites us into a relationship with Him, one that’s even more secure than a quiet kitchen with pumpkin-spice coffee and french-toast casserole?

What happens when we can bury ourselves with abandon and total trust under the arm of a God who with a word could wipe out anything that could hurt us? What kind of life can we have when we know nothing can snatch us from His hand … and we really know who He is?

Life abundant.

We see our storms.

We look at Him instead.

And like a lion, life in all its fullness comes roaring in.

*****

i dont wait anymore

“I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book, now at Barnes & Noble and other retailers. Check it out here.

It’s the story of shaking off broken dreams and expectations to see God for who He really is and follow Him to something better — to a far better story.

You want in? I’d love it if you’d come along.

(And if you’d like to read a free chapter, feel free to hop on over here.)

A season I didn’t ask for.

We fight for the ones we love.

Where we fail … there is plentiful redemption.

And where we hope … there is a story with an ending worth the fight, a story worth staying in the race for, a story bigger than the one that ends with a headstone.

And there’s a God who’s worth our unwavering gaze.

img_6946

(Follow @gracefortheroadblog on Instagram)

*****

It’s early. It’s dead silent.

And it’s colder than I was ready for.

The first slightly chilled breezes of autumn are curling around the house in the dark this morning, and it’s enough to make me reheat my coffee twice before 6 a.m. just so I can curl my cold fingers around the warm mug.

I run a little cold most of the time. I’m a fuzzy socks in July kind of girl. I’m a sweater-in-August kind of girl. And once autumn starts tumbling into winter, I’m a write-indoors-in-fingerless-gloves kind of girl.

And as my fingers wrap around my coffee this morning, I think, it’s coming.

And I think no … I don’t want it.

That’s dramatic, I know. But it never fails that when the very first signs of winter’s cold, dark tendrils start to curl around my life this time of year, I start to cling to the sun like it’s the provider of my every need.

Sunlight seems pretty basic.

But even it isn’t everything.

And if God thinks I need something different than what I think I need, then I have to unclench my fingers and let it go.

This past season — the year I was 35 — a lot of things have happened that I’ve had to gather up in my heart and think about, pray about, cry about with God. Fighting without, and fear within. It’s felt at times like the enemy came rushing in like January, ferociously cold and unrelentingly dark.

There’s been Syria, presidential candidates, hurricanes, children set on fire.

I squeeze my eyes shut. How long, Lord? The whole earth groans.

And even in the battlefield of the few square miles I walk around, there has been hurt so far above my capacity to understand or fix, coming at a speed I haven’t been able to handle. I’ve laid awake at night wondering how much more, Lord? and what in the world do I do? Why do the problems the world dishes out just seem deeper, more brutal, more far reaching these days?

At times my humanity has slammed up against the brokenness of this world like plates at a Greek wedding. At times I’ve made things worse when my intentions were to make them better. At times I simply didn’t have enough to give.

It’s a season I didn’t know was coming, but if I had, I’d have said the same thing to it that I did this morning to winter.

No … I don’t want it.

Yesterday afternoon at the park, I was reading up on the hill above a tennis court, and I watched as a coach stood on his side of the net with an entire cart full of tennis balls, hitting them at the student on the other side as fast as he could pick them up, sometimes while she was still swinging at the last one.

And I thought … I feel you.

Our enemy doesn’t play fair. And there have been times lately I feel I’ve crumbled under his volley as things have come my way that I didn’t know how to deal with.

But there on that hill, hearing ball after ball hit the racquet, I sat in Psalm 130, breeze rustling the pages.

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!”

The people who walked before us, they’re no stranger to the depths — the psalmist, who wrote this as he was walking up to meet God from the low places; the men and women of Hebrews 11; Corrie Ten Boom, who of her time in a German concentration camp wrote:

“I’ve experienced His presence in the deepest darkest hell that men can create. I have tested the promises of the Bible, and believe me, you can count on them. I know that Jesus Christ can live in you, in me, through His Holy Spirit. You can talk with Him; you can talk with Him out loud or in your heart when you are alone, as I was alone in solitary confinement. The joy is that He hears each word.”

He hears.

I read on.

“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.”

He knows we all fail, that to this tangled, broken mess of a world, I daily contribute my own brokenness.

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.”

But that … that line. Twice.

My soul waits for the Lord, more than it waits for the sunlight. More than it waits for the thing that I think will scatter the dark, warm the cold, bring relief.

“O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”

Because in Him, there is steadfast love. There is plentiful redemption.

There is hope.

While we wait, we pick up a racquet and keep swinging. We talk to Him, like Corrie Ten Boom did. We tell Him how much this hurts, but how much we want to keep our eyes fixed on Him. We fight for the ones we love, the ones who don’t know Him yet, the ones who don’t have the strength to fight for themselves. We fight to do right by everyone, to pull those back who are rushing headlong into death, to comfort the hurting.

But where we fail … there is plentiful redemption.

And where we hope … there is a story with an ending worth the fight, a story worth staying in the race for, a story bigger than the one that ends with a headstone.

And there’s a God who’s worth our unwavering gaze.

With our eyes fixed on Him, it won’t matter if the morning ever comes, if the sun ever rises. I dare say we won’t even notice.

The sun can’t even begin to compete.

*****

i dont wait anymore

“I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book, now at Barnes & Noble and other retailers. Check it out here.

It’s the story of shaking off broken dreams and expectations to follow God to something better — to a far better story.

You want in? I’d love it if you’d come along.

The days I’m an expensive date.

Why would I not trust Him? If my God is the One who splits seas and lays out bread – if that’s the God who has me in His hands – why would I worry?

taco

(Follow @gracefortheroadblog on Instagram)

*****

“You don’t have to buy … “

That’s all I got out before she cut me off.

“What you ordered is $3. You’re a cheap date,” my friend said with a grin.

On pretty much anybody’s scale, that’s a beautiful price, the American dream served up in two soft taco shells. I felt like somehow I — or she — had found a glitch in the matrix, like we’d won at the free market. I loved this lunch already.

Not to mention that my friend is a great storyteller … also wise.

As we sat down, I bowed my head over that bargain wonder and thanked God for the way He gives us what we need every day … wisdom from others, and tasty chicken tacos with easy-to-scrape-off iceberg lettuce.

“You know you could’ve asked them to leave that off, right?” she asked with another grin.

Yeah, I did.

In the moment though I just didn’t want to be high maintenance. I was grateful for her hospitality. Sorry about that mound of reject lettuce on the tray …

We talked about work, friends, family. We talked about dogs. And a little while later, after she told me about how her daughter’s basset hound chewed up all the door stoppers in her house, she asked me how she could pray for me.

And I thought for a minute. What do I need prayer for the most?

I need to know what to do next.

Over the past seven years, life has been quite the nail biter of a roller coaster at times. It’s been great. It’s had high highs. But it’s had a lot of unexpected twists. Move overseas, love it, lose the visa and come home. Move overseas again planning to stay for years or even decades, can’t get a visa, come home nine months later to write a book instead.

I was very much okay with the twists, though there were a lot of emotions with pretty much every one. But all of a sudden, I’d hit another one of those clearings where the path disappeared and I pulled up from running to catch my breath and look around. The book is on the shelves … and so is my passport.

Where from here?

I don’t know.

“I’m okay with not knowing what to do past tomorrow,” I told my friend. “I don’t mind taking it one day at a time. I just need to know if I need to just keep doing what I’m doing, or if I need to be making some different long-term plans. Do I need to start looking for something else?”

Passion-related questions … like where does God want me to invest my life? And in whom?

Adult-related questions … like several part-time jobs, or one full-time job? Can I support myself writing? And what do I do to keep medical insurance?

She leaned forward in her chair and smiled.

“Are you really okay with not knowing?”

I took a deep breath and let it out. And I smiled too.

Sometimes … sometimes no. Sometimes my eyes burn and my eyelids scratch as I lay in bed wondering if I’m doing a good job of living in the tension of “I trust Your provision today, because You’ve been faithful to provide, and tomorrow I’ll get up and do it all over again” and making good long-term decisions for the future.

Not over-planning. But also not under-planning.

It’s a beautiful tension. But not always easy.

I had one of those moments of struggle earlier this week. I kept waking up, and finally I rolled over and looked at my phone. 5 a.m. I got up, turned on a lamp and went to the couch to read.

The story that morning was of the Israelites waking up to manna on the ground for the very first time. God had told Moses that He was about to rain bread down on them, and they were supposed to go outside and gather just enough of it for that day. They weren’t supposed to save any for tomorrow. They were supposed to trust what He said, that the next day there would be enough all over again.

“But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank.”

Not the best.

They also went out on the Sabbath day and tried to gather it when God had told them not to – He was going to provide for them in other ways instead on that day.

And God was irritated.

I mean, I can’t blame Him.

Just two seconds ago, He epically rescued them from slavery, parted the Red Sea so they could escape their enemies, and then He promised He’d take care of them, love them, lead them and never leave. They’d just been singing about it with tambourines for more verses than an early ’90s Bon Jovi ballad. They’d seen who He was. They knew who He promised to be.

And then they complained about the way He’d chosen to provide for them and tried to take it into their own hands. They didn’t so much like the day-by-day thing.

“Do you ever get that fluttery feeling, that nervousness of having to trust when you can’t see what’s coming?” my friend asked.

Yes. Yes I do.

She had said that day that I was a cheap date … but she was wrong. On mornings like the one where I read about the manna with bloodshot eyes, I’m a pretty expensive date. I want it to happen my way, on my terms, to come gift-wrapped in a way that I like. I’m laying awake in the dark, begging God for answers or direction like a kid begs for a pony.

I want to know how this is going to play out.

I want it to be enough for leftovers for the next couple of days.

I want to be able to gather a Tupperware container with enough manna to last the year, if I’m being honest.

I don’t want to not know what’s coming and how it’s going to show up.

I think I’m entitled to more than I really need. I know how the Israelites felt.

Could God have given them food that lasted several days, several years? Sure He could’ve. But He didn’t.

He gave them what they really needed instead … and that was Himself, and the life lesson of how to look to Him to be what they need.

My friend Heather says that when we don’t know where the next thing is coming from, it can almost be a game to see how God will creatively come through, how He strengthens our faith when we trust when we don’t know what’s going to happen.

She says it makes our heart race … not freak out … when we cling to Him with trust and know He’s got us.

Over tacos that day, my friend said the same thing.

“I think whenever we choose trust over that fluttery feeling, it’s a gift to Him. I think He sees that as a gift.”

I think she’s right.

Because I’ve seen who He’s been to His people for centuries and centuries. Perfectly faithful. I’ve seen who He’s going to be when we finally get to live with Him one day. Perfectly worth it.

I’ve seen Him show up in my inbox, my mailbox, my mornings, my nights.

And as I look back, never once has He failed.

Why would I not trust Him? If my God is the One who splits seas and lays out bread – if that’s the God who has me in His hands – why would I worry?

Do adult decisions need to be made sometimes? Yes. But if I keep that fluttery feeling and everything else in my life – from family to friends to comfort to clothes – on the altar as a gift back to Him every single day, He’s not going to let me go astray. I don’t need to be up in the middle of the night worrying – He’s got that covered. I just need to keep my whole life on the table, look to Him to meet my needs, work, live, ask Him again to lead and provide in the way He wants to, and then go to sleep.

Today, I’m choosing trust. I’m going to look to Him. And we’ll see what happens.

It’s probably not going to happen like I think it will, or think it should. It could be very different. And it could come in very different timing.

But whatever it is … it will be even better for me than I could’ve ever planned for myself.

Like Heather said … it’s exciting to see what will happen when we’re fully placed in His loving hands.

*****

i dont wait anymore

 

“I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book, now at Barnes & Noble and other retailers. Check it out here.

It’s the story of shaking off broken dreams and expectations to follow God to something better.

You want in? I’d love it if you’d come along.