Risk Becoming Overwhelmed

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Summer is a hard time for me as I remember the loss of my nine year old nephew, Philip. He died from a very rare case of PAM- primary ambeobic meningitis contracted from lake water. The hot humidity in the air feels like a slap in my face every time I walk outside and feel the sting of reminders. Memories can overwhelm me.

Recently, my sister in law (Phil’s Mom)  posted a quote she found written in his last science report for school.

He penned these words,

“To me, science is so complicated that when I try to figure it out, I feel like I could get amnesia. But I am still so interested in why things happen that I enjoy the risk of becoming overwhelmed by it.”

This summer God has given me Phil’s own words to comfort my own heart and gain wisdom for the future! 

 

I must begin to risk becoming overwhelmed 

 

Risk becoming overwhelmed when I am  sad and don’t have all the answers ….

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3

Risk becoming overwhelmed when I am afraid and fear I don’t have words to comfort my family…

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants–from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

Isaiah 59:21

Risk becoming overwhelmed when I am mad my resources seem limited….

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:19 

Dear God-  

Even as I write these words, my fingers and heart tremble because at times, I am so scared.

Help me run the risk of daring greatly in this life, when I don’t have all the answers, when I seem to be overwhelmed with uncertainty.

Help me trust your overwhelming power, peace and joy that will enable me to live for your great kingdom purposes.

Release my hold on my small plans to play it safe in this life-

Oh God, help me risk becoming overwhelmed…

 

Thank you Phil- I will always love and remember you ! You will always be my precious nephew!


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Go ahead and get in the Ocean of His love !

Foot Selfies in the Sand-

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During the summer, social media is popping with pictures of sandy shores, foot selfies in flip-flops with an aqua blue ocean in the background.

Friends of mine are arriving at the beach and relaxing while watching waves roll onto the warm sand. Recently, I learned something shocking about a few friends of mine.

They NEVER swim in the ocean while at the beach!

WHAT? My Floridian mind could not comprehend what I was hearing! I wondered why they would sit on the beautiful shore but not experience the cooling waters of the sea? They feel completely safe on the sand but don’t like the feeling of the unknown lurking in the water.

Why aren’t they in the ocean ? Simple answer from both:

Fear of Sharks

Here is an interesting statistic on sharks from an article called Why you Shouldn’t be Worried about Shark Attacks-

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“Although most Americans know in their brains that their chances of being bitten by a shark are slim, they remain more fearful of sharks than, say, collapsing sand holes, which statistically kill more people at the beach.”

Can you believe more people die from collapsing sand and sinkholes that shark attacks?

Even though we perceive the sand to be safe, it is the very area where more deaths occur. We all have “safe places” we have created in our mind. “Safe places” whisper to our hearts, ” if you will just stay here, nothing bad will happen to you.” This is an empty promise that paralyzes our faith.

Where is your safe place- your shark free zone?

 Is it a place of emotional , spiritual  or physical protection?

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What do you need to really make you feel safe in the uncertainty of life?

The truth is that no specific person, place or behavior can guarantee our safety. Life is full of the unexpected and unplanned events, even in the places we feel are “safe.”In Mathew 3:9 Jesus warned the people, “Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.” In other words, don’t think that a certain religious background or person other than God can keep you safe in life. God’s love for us is our true protection.

God’s love for us is like  an ocean of  protection surrounding us, even with the unknown lurking below. 

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Be reminded from Psalm 103:17

“But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–“

 

The truth is that fear, be it exaggerated or realistic, limits all of us in life. Fear limits us from enjoying fun activities, beautiful surroundings and wonderful new experiences. Sometimes fear fools us into believing that we can magically avoid pain and sorrow if we just play it safe in life! I am certainly not encouraging reckless or dangerous behavior, but I am challenging myself and others to really begin to overcome the limitations of unhealthy fear.

 

What fear is holding you back today?

Maybe it’s not the fear of sharks but what is keeping you from diving into a new opportunity or brand new relationship? For me, it is often the temptation to play it safe by avoiding conflict or hard conversations with others that keeps me on the shore of fear. As I write this blog, I am dealing with a fear of confronting a situation that has been bugging me for a long time. I tend to stuff negative feelings way too long in an effort to not hurt someone else. By the time I confront the person, I am not as effective in my conflict resolution as I would have been if I would deal with things quickly!

Will you grab my hand and head in to the ocean of love with this simple prayer ?

a repurposed heart

Dear Lord,

I know that I have been playing life safe by __________________________________. I confess that I am only truly safe in the protect of your love for me.

I ask that you would replace my need for human safety with your spirit of protection over my life that reminds me to trust you, to obey you and know you are with me.

Help me to let go of my fear and trust your love for me by _____________________________________________________. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen –

 

 

Prayer is always the best shark free zone possible !

 

A Practice of Prayer recycles pain

Prayer recycles paina repurposed heart

What was your plan that hit the can?  Was it a lost dream, marriage or friendship? As women it is so easy for our emotions to make us feel trashed with the fear of failure and insecurity of lost relationships.  Today, will you consider opening your hands and letting go of trying to be in control of that plan?

I know it hurts but be encouraged!

God’s purpose will be accomplished in you and through you, regardless of this situation.

Admitting to painful emotions is the first step unraveling their power.

Following my mother’s death, God revealed to me that I had to get my heart in the right place –

 In a figurative sense, the recycling bin of prayer is the place for my heart to seek healing changes not a trashcan. I began to view my prayer time as the place where I would sit to sort through my painful emotions with God, one by one. With tears streaming down, it was not a pretty process but it was life giving.  Most counselors will agree: You can’t heal from it, if you won’t deal with it!

Here’s my simple recycling prayer:

God I feel_( insert emotion)_________________ about (situation _________________________ because.( insert your feelings about the situation)

Help me to trust you with this!

 

I found the practice of confessing my painful emotions before God gave me the ability to see answers in his word.  When I admitted I felt helpless, God’s word told me God would hold me together.( Ps 57:1-3the message) When I admitted I was lonely, the words of Jesus seemed to whisper, I will never leave you or forsake you!

 

Is there a deep hurt that you have never admitted to God? Don’t be afraid to pray a recycling bin prayer before the one who can change your heart. I am a friend to remind you that God is not afraid of any hurt you give Him.  It is in the messy emotional state of feeling trashed that we often find the message that will change the world by faith.

Prayer Practice for Parenting: Using verses in a prayer as if spoken by God to your heart.

I found a letter I wrote myself during my grief counseling.  I was hurting over the ways I watched my children struggle through this painful situation. 

As their mom, I was afraid of all the ways I was failing them with the pain of my own grief.  They were too young to understand that their mom was almost paralyzed by the hurt.

My counselor told me to write the verses of comfort into a letter to myself, as if God was speaking directly to me-

The statements were based on scriptures but put in first person form-

This practice helped me personalize many of the promises of scripture in a deeply meaningful way.

Maybe you need a little parenting pick me up from the Lord?

Parenting in this day and age is a daunting task. Without Christ, it can be an near to impossible mission to raise children to walk with God in a really challenging world. I was just reading these words spoken by Jesus to his disciples,

Mathew 19:26- Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Is there an impossible situation you are wrestling in your child’s life? Are you secretly worried that a weakness in you will damage or limit God’s work in your child’s life?

I am so grateful for this reminder from the heart of Christ himself that my impossible parenting task is possible to God. As I focus on God’s power and not my own, my heart can rest in the security of God’s work in the lives of my children.I pray you will hear the words of your Father in heaven spoken to you today.

Here is an example of my prayer that I wrote.

Maybe you can take the same challenge and write verses in prayer form as if spoken to you by God?

Dear One-

Why are you so downcast and discouraged? It is I who formed and made your child in the secret places of your being. My heart for you today is to rest. Come to me with all that you hold onto, your fears, your doubts and I will give you the rest you are longing to find. I will carry your load for you. Will you stop fretting and trying to do my job in your child’s life? Only I have the power to create change by the work of my Holy Spirit. Take Heart. Do not be afraid or discouraged. I am doing a new thing. You may not see it with your eyes, or hear it with your ears. Your mind can not understand what I have planned for you but it is a wonderful plan to prosper  you and to bring you hope. My blessings are generational as I bless to the thousandth generation.

Rest today knowing your child’s future is in my hands.

 

 

Don’t Quit!

After one week spent launching my blog, I sat frustrated before my husband.

Okay, so the kitchen was dripping in dirty dishes (whoops!).

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The unfolded laundry was mounting in wrinkled little piles around my family room (wince), The only thing I saw folded were my husband’s arms held across his chest with an unsympathetic look on his face.

I knew I had become a little a lot excited about writing and clearly didn’t have the appropriate boundaries in place yet.

As I looked into my husband’s eyes, I saw his frustration at my lack of prioritization in the home.

With one deep breath of humility, I told him I was really sorry for letting things go. I knew I had to keep my family first and any form of ministry second. (But this blogging thing is just so fun!)

I saw a smile return to his face and a look of love return to his eyes.

Whenever you are in the process of learning something new, expect a few set backs and slip-ups. You wont get everything right all at once.

Plan to say “I’m sorry, I am in a learning process…a lot! 

Just don’t quit!

After our discussion ended, I slumped onto the couch. The truth is that I really struggle with fear. I fear letting my family down and not knowing how to meet everyone’s needs, including my own   This kind of fear leads me to feel discouraged … I begin to hear a voice that tells me I can’t do anything right! That voice gives me the kind of give up quick, quit, call it off, don’t try discouragement.

I didn’t even have time to begin to pray when my seven year old daughter Faith jumped on my lap playing a game on my iPhone.

She spoke slowly …

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

I almost fell off the couch. That was the last verse my mother wrote in her prayer journal. I felt like I had just heard a verbal answer from heaven as Faith played her Bible app game, reciting the verse of the day. She just wanted to practice reading but, in my heart, I knew God had used her—had even used the iPhone app—to get a message to my heart. Secretly, I also felt I had a little wink from my mother in heaven telling me not to quit too!

Is God reminding you to stay encouraged and strong when you see your greatest personal limitations?

If you are anything like me, wanting to quit is often an attempt to reduce my fear and self-doubt , especially when I see a weakness in my own personal ability. I think it is critical to realize that fear and discouragement go together. The verse speaks to both ! Don’t be afraid or discouraged! The solution is found in the peace of God’s presence that goes with me into my failed plans and restores my purpose.

In my case, planning and time management are difficult areas. My failure to have it all together when I am learning something new makes me want to quit instead of learning how to cope with multiple responsibilities.

Inadequacy can cause a heart to want to quit!

Confusion can cause a heart to want to quit!

What about you? Is there some new thing you are trying to do? Are you feeling tempted to quit ?

Remind yourself of the words in Joshua 1:9 and be encouraged.

Don’t be afraid as you stand in the peace that God is able to do more than you can dream with messy, hard stuff.

For an idea of how to reclaim your joy today with this truth, read the part 2 post! 

 

Feeling Trashed? Day 3: The gift of imperfection

a repurposed heart

Friend-

I wish we could sit down and you could see my heart that has stopped longing for perfect plans …. I  am learning to embrace the gift of my  imperfect life. I don’t like this process anymore than you do but I am finding so much more joy in living in the truth of my human state. I desperately need God no matter how many years I have served him. I will never arrive at the “easy”part until the gates of heaven open for me. ( and honestly, on a bad day, I can’t wait!)

It is only when we feel trashed, when we realize we don’t have it all together, when we weep for our broken state that we find God’s power in a new way. It is such a relief to finally realize I don’t have to pretend.

You don’t have to act perfect or look like you are perfect or try to be perfect! ( whew)

My husband and I  helped run the Celebrate Recovery program of our church. Step one was to realize we are not God, to admit we are powerless and that our lives have become unmanageable. I know this sounds crazy, but the people who began to take this step were able to run with freedom in life! I was one of those people! Praise God! I was honored to be counted among the broken souls that cried out to God with their whole heart for help! Truly, these men and women are some of the most trustworthy and true saints, reaching out to others with the healing they have received.I learned a little secret about hitting the bottom of an emotional trash can –

When we hit the bottom, there are big hands to hold us and lift us up!

To fall before God on our face and admit we don’t have it all together is a gift. Scripture says ” Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” Even today, I am wrestling an area of my life that makes me feel trashed. It is not the intensive grief I had when my mother died, but every day it makes me feel like a failure. I sat in my living room tonight and began to admit- Oh God, I don’t have this all together! I totally admit that I am powerless to change if you do not help me! I woke up this am and finally feel the first wave of freedom as I know the Lord is coming to help me. I also confessed this area of weakness to my husband and asked for his help.

In this place, God will usher in the power of HIS spirit to do work in the deepest broken parts of our hearts.

Another gift is the opportunity to dare greatly in the fight for our faith. Will you trust and not give up ? Will you walk away from the struggles and let them consume your joy?

It is my deepest prayer you will put on your big girl panties with me and learn to fight back!

Take that! Pow! Bam! Biff! Let’s give it to those emotions that try to break us down !

I love this quote!

“It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; …who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  Theodore Roosevelt

 

When fear yells, You will fail again! Tell fear that failure is a part of learning to have victory!

When anger rages, You are not enough! Tell your anger, God is enough, I will dare greatly to trust Him!

When sadness cries, You are powerless to be helped! Tell sadness God has all the power you need!

I pray like a  heroic women of the faith that you will dare greatly to yell back at your emotions with the truth.

We must get in the ring of the emotional fight and place our confidence in Christ who has already won our war.

And friend, if you need a girl who knows how to throw a big punch to your emotions, look no further. I have been known to do a little fighting back in my day. I am ready to remind you that God will give you the power to conquer the pain of failed plans !

You may “feel trashed ” with emotions but I assure you, you are most definitely God’s treasure –

Feeling Trashed? Day 2: God’s heart for you!

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 My child, I see your heart and I desire to know you in your inmost being. Before time began, I called you by name and you were mine. I created you will a specific purpose in mind for your good and  my glory. When your heart is broken, when you are battered by this world and full of troubles, don’t throw away your confidence in my care and concern specifically for you. Didn’t I tell you, in this world you would experience many troubles?  Take heart my beautiful child, I have over come the world….Take your heart and place it in my loving hands that will never leave you or forsake you. For I am the watching you and you will forever be shielded by my righteousness, held close in my hands…

Loved with an everlasting love-

(words of love complied from scriptures as if expressed directly by our heavenly Father)

Feeling Trashed? Day 1 : When my plan hits the can!

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FEELING TRASHED? When my plan hits the can! 

 

Feeling trashed is a slang expression describing a painful emotional state with a mix of anger, sadness and fear.

Has there ever been an unexpected circumstance that left your heart feeling trashed?

My heart shattered when an autopsy revealed that my ten-year-old nephew died from contracting an ameba from our lake.  As the media frenzy ensued, life felt littered with mixed emotions of hurt, confusion and shame. Five months later, my precious mother Joyce died unexpectedly. This final blow of grief left my heart feeling like a worthless mess tossed to the bottom of a trashcan! This was not what I had planned for my life!

As I hit an emotional bottom, I cried out to God for help.

 

After three years of recycling my pain before God, I learned a few secrets about feeling trashed. Will you consider having a little trash talk with a Christian girl who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty anymore? Let’s dig into the truth of this together.

 

Our Plans hit the Can!

Dearly loved women of God experience the pain from failed plans.  Our plans must be held with open hands in an uncertain world. Precious friend, I had to learn the hard way that my plan for my life is not God’s purpose in my life. As women, we plan to be the perfect wife, mother and friend. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

 

Elizabeth Elliot was a missionary to Ecuador that endured the painful loss of her husband, Jim, speared to death along with four other missionaries. Left widowed as a young mother, I am sure this was not the plan she dreamed for her life. She would learn first hand that God could do more than she imagined with her pain.

   What was your plan that hit the can?  Was it a lost dream, marriage or friendship? As women it is so easy for our emotions to make us feel trashed with the fear of failure and insecurity of lost relationships.  Today, will you consider opening your hands and letting go of trying to be in control of that plan? I know it hurts but be encouraged! God’s purpose will be accomplished in you and through you, regardless of this situation.

Admitting to painful emotions is the first step unraveling their power. 

Repurposing prayer:

God by the power of your spirit, I release my plan that I hold so dear in my heart. Help me to surrender to your eternal purpose for my life and give me strength. Amen..

Does God protect a heart of compassion ?

It’s late and everyone is asleep.

I know in the morning that my husband will face a situation that could radically alter our family security. Almost to the day that we launched the Freeride 836 fundraiser, a work related situation has threatened us. Corporate changes aren’t family friendly. At first I was nervous about the contrasting situation- On one hand, we are raising thousands of dollars for an orphanage. On the other hand, a change at work was taking money from our family.( a lot of it!) Faith in God has a way of presenting me with contrasting situations

Does a situation or person have the power to undo the blessings of God in our life? Even as Christians, when we face hard questions, it can be difficult to live the reality of faith. I felt this situation was directly from the enemy of our souls, distracting us with fear to rob our blessing.

Will God’s blessing still stand when my resources seem to be taken away from me?

Trying to riffle through these thoughts, I find this verse that begins to recycle my growing fear. I believe it is time to take my heart of fear out of the trash and place it in the safety of God’s recycling bin of truth.

Psalms 41:1-2

1Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.

God protects a heart of compassion with His own provision

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He gives protection, blessings and prevents enemies from having their way with you! WOW! Corporate America doesn’t stand a chance against this verse! What’s coming against your heart of compassion? Is it fear you won’t have  job? Lack of faith in your 401K? Distress about your rent for next month preventing your tithe?

I am recycling my fears tonight with the truth that the Lord will protect my husband and continue to provide for our needs. Truth silences the voices that try to whisper worries into my ear. God will not allow the desire of our enemies to control our purpose in this world…

Will you consider this verse too the next time you hear the same garbage from the enemy of your soul?

Will you take time to recycle the fear with the truth of your faith?

Let’s stand together with the truth our lives resting secure in the hands of the one who loves us the most-

Prayer list for Tanzania Orphanage

The inside walls of the Orphan's Heart Compassion Home

The inside walls of the Orphan’s Heart Compassion Home

Joy floods my heart as I envision the little faces of the children who will walk these halls. They no longer have to worry about finding someone to care for them. Warm beds will envelope little bodies, in contrast to nights spent sleeping under bushes in the dirt. The scent of hot meals cooking in the kitchen will  awaken hungry bellies as food is served . Laughter will echo through these hallways. Cries for help are silenced by the provisions in this home.

Strong love grows in my heart for these children who have been rescued and reached by our efforts on the other side of the world. Never will they fully understand how much the Lord has interceded on their behalf to raise up support through our family, a family almost disabled with grief.

Our joy seemed lost with the death of my 10 year old nephew, Phil and mother, Joyce.  Bedtime seemed to untuck emotions as hot tears melted from red eyes . Hearts were blistered with sadness. Painful memories echoed through empty hearts, instead of laughter. We desperately needed  new ways to find joy. I would pray the words of the Psalmist:

Restore to me the joy of my salvation….

Restore to my children the joy of their salvation…

Restore to us the joy of our salvation….

Have you ever hurt so badly, for so long, that your heart cried these same words?

Grief ‘s painful emotion does not  fade quickly. It oozes out slowly from the heart that has been broken with loss. If you have loved deeply, you will grieve even longer. Death can not hide love, it only exposes it’s power even greater. Love stays present in your heart even when the person you love passes away. Love tries to find a way to express it’s self even louder. This is grief at it’s finest.  Strong expressions of love beat hard against the walls of mortality as we pound our fists:

Restore to me the joy of my salvation…

Our God will not turn away from the heart that cries to be recycled from pain. He will listen. He will hear. He will heal.

Psalm 39:12 says “Hear my prayer, lord, listen to my cry for help. Do not be deaf to my weeping.”

God would answer our prayer in a most unusual way. After several years of healing, our hearts were open to live repurposed for others. Through my friend, Shannin Pickle, I was made aware of a need at the property she had purchased in Tanzania. She desired to build a home for orphaned children but was unable to find the funding. Inside, I felt a strange feeling when she mentioned this need. Was there something I could do to help?

Girls who will live at the home when it is completed!

Girls who will live at the home when it is completed!

In my husband’s heart, a dream was stirring too.

 

He came to me one day and proclaimed, “You are not going to believe this but I think God is going to use water sports in my life to save children!” His desire did not surprise me but confirmed my little nudging that God may indeed be at work in our lives to help build this orphanage. I cringed when he mentioned we should do a family kite surfing event…. I inwardly groaned and then blurted out, “Why can’t we do a walk-a-thon like everyone else?”

A kite surfing fundraiser was born that day in the Russell home and laughter began to ring out again. We had a new purpose, a goal to obtain far greater than anything we could pull off without God’s divine intervention. I could not have imagined on that day what joy God would restore to me through generosity to his kingdom. My purpose was no longer to resurrect the past but to give life to others who desperately needed to live. I was going to live repurposed to help others rejoice again.

My son training for kite surfing

My son training for kite surfing

A kite surfing fundraiser. A broken family from grief healing. A God sized dream. A reality!

Little did I  know all those times I wanted to quit fundraising that God already knew that this home would become a reality. I remember every time people would look at me funny and proclaim, “You’ll never raise any money with a kite surfing fundraiser!”God was going to send a divine wind to blow into the hearts of generous people everywhere to care about the importance of these walls that would protect orphans.

Home being constructed !

Home being constructed !

Can you say with me today:

Restore to me the joy of my salvation!

 

Printable Prayer List For Tanzania