Deer and Cardinals: A Reminder of God’s Fulfillment

I didn’t manifest this. I didn’t write this down every day in a journal for 7 years. I didn’t hustle for this. I didn’t even dare to pray for this, y’all. I could tell you the whole story, but what it comes down to is this: I —my family— was given this. By God Himself. Being able to live at Camp Zephyr has been such a gift to my family, and has taught me so many valuable lessons. I’m sharing one with you today.

When I am outside, at Camp Zephyr, I am in a state of being I never thought possible. I am at peace. My kids roaming, and exploring the amazing trails. I am playful. I’m spontaneous, and can go from one trail or plan to the next in a heartbeat. My desire for productivity ceases. I have no to-do list other than to play and explore and be with my children, and I intend to repeat that continuously. 

I never knew this could exist. My whole existence before Zephyr revolved around to-do lists, goals, and other people’s expectations.  And was coupled (or crippled may be a better word) with LOTS of anxiety.

But here? In the middle of nowhere? I can breathe. I can step outside our RV and instantly see the lake, deer, rabbits, and cardinals. My kids can join me, and I’m not mad about it. I don’t have this constant desire for “me time.” I look forward to coming home, and I enjoy staying there. I no longer want to escape. I want to linger. I want to explore. Go deeper into the woods with my kid’s muddy hand in mine. Who knows what’s out there?

I feel like a door has been unlocked to my heart. There was a longing. There was always a longing. A longing for the country.  A longing for space and stillness. A longing to rest.

But I hardly voiced it. Maybe a few times I talked about living out in the country, just to get shut down by the reality of our circumstances. You better believe I never asked to live at Camp Zephyr. That was something I never thought would happen. But you know what? My kids asked. Every day when we were at Camp Zephyr last summer, they asked us to live here. There’s a reason (well, many reasons) God instructs us to be like the children… they ask and they ask with faith. But me? It was barely a whisper in my soul… but God heard it. He heard it and He continues to hear the whispers of our souls.

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Last summer, I was sitting in my sister’s, Rachel, backyard in Virginia. I had flown there the night before. We were drinking a quick cup of coffee before starting our road trip to Texas. Her backyard backs up to a forest, so wildlife and trees and NATURE are plentiful. We happened to see a deer and cardinal in her backyard that morning. And in that morning, I said (probably with an ache in my voice), “I wanna live somewhere with deer and cardinals.” 

Fast forward a few months later. I’m talking on the phone with Rachel, and she asks how living at Zephyr is going. I start going on and on about how I love it, and how I see deer and cardinals every day. She stops me mid-sentence, and says, “Sister! You got your deer and cardinals!” Y’all I had completely FORGOTTEN about that statement I made in Virginia months ago. When Rachel reminded me of that full circle moment, I lost it. I cried on the phone, and she cried on the phone, and we were reminded of the goodness of God.

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He longs to fulfill those whispers. He longs to bring us closer to Him. He fulfills those whispers to share His goodness. To show us just how big He is… and in my case, I think He fulfilled the whisper also to show me that He fulfilled this longing. Not me and my efforts. Your whisper might not be deer and cardinals, but God knows it. He can fulfill it.

I continue to be amazed. Who am I? That you are mindful of me?

Be Thankful: Even When It’s Hard

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I distinctly remember this night from one year ago. I remember that it was last November simply because of how fitting this revelation was for this timing… A time when we tend to shift our gaze off of ourselves, and focus on giving to others. A time when we appreciate the blessings we have, and stop mulling over what we don’t have. Although, that was the polar opposite of my heart that night.

I had been tossing and turning all night. I was wrestling with this voice taunting me in the back of my head. During this time, I had a few friends reach some amazing goals and accomplishments. Goals I wanted to reach, but at the time seemed so far fetched. I was so conflicted, because truly I wanted to be happy for them… And in a sense I was, but at the same time I wasn’t happy for them. I was jealous of them. I was lying awake thinking, Why can’t that happen to me? What accomplishments have I achieved in this life? (Which is such a narrow perspective, y’all. Ugh, so self serving, but I’m just being honest. That’s where I was at in the moment).

So, I did what I normally do when I have trouble sleeping. I prayed. I cried out to the Lord, and revealed the ugliness of my heart to Him. I asked Him for forgiveness, for guidance, for help to refine my heart.

Basically this is how my conversation went: God, you know my heart right now, and I don’t want this bitterness and jealousy within me. What do I need to do so I can actually be happy for my friends?

And then I heard it. That still, small voice. In a gentle tone, He said: Be thankful. That’s it. Two words. Be thankful. So, that’s what I did. I thanked Him for my friends, for bringing them in my life, for their achievements, I prayed He would continue to bless them and lead them. So simple, and yet so profound.

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Y’all, I was in tears by the time I was done. That simple prayer shifted my perspective off of myself, and unto the Kingdom. Thankfulness welled up in my heart for the work being done through my friends for the furtherance of His Kingdom, and truly I was honored to be able to witness their journey.

Friday Fun Facts #11

** This is going to be a different kind of Friday Fun Facts post. Today I have one longer fact to share, but I’m sure you’ll love this post just as much as the others. Enjoy!**

We were at Camp Zephyr this week and we had a blast. While Nathan was hosting Kids’ Camp, the boys and I would go “exploring.” So we’d walk the campgrounds and spend most of that time in the Prayer Garden and the surrounding wooded area.

prayergarden                           boystrail

They tried catching frogs and grasshoppers. The boys got to see dragonflies, bunny rabbits (that they insisted be called “Bunny Foo-Foo”), and swallows’ nests. The first time we went to the Prayer Garden, Noah saw the wooden cross near the water, and that’s how this conversation began:

Noah: “Mom, is Jesus here?”
Me: “Yes, He’s here.”
Noah: “Then why can’t I see him?”
Me: “Because we don’t always see Jesus, but we have faith and know He is with us.”
Noah: “But I want to see Him! Can I pray to see Jesus?” By now my eyes are welling up with tears, y’all.
Me: “Sure, sweetie.”

So my Noah closes his eyes and starts praying. Timothy follows suit once he sees Noah praying and squints his eyes shut and fold his hands. You better believe I was praying to see Jesus too!

Noah (opens his eyes and sighs): “Mom, it didn’t work.”
Me: “Well, honey, sometimes when we pray for things, we have to wait for God’s timing.”
Noah: “We have to wait! But waiting is hard!”
Me: “I know, but Noah, I promise one day we WILL see Jesus.”
Noah: “Ok! Then I’ll wait!”

And just like that goes back to running and playing. Oh, that I would have faith like my 4 year old. Psalm 8:2 “Through the praise of children and infants You have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”

Don’t you love the lessons we learn from our children?

Not A Pretty Post

I have to warn you before reading this… this is not a pretty post. Not one bit of it. It’s dark and reeks of death. The only reason I am posting it is because I feel that it may help some people better understand what it’s like to battle with depression. It really is a battle for one’s soul. This was written about 3 weeks ago, and praise the Lord, since then I’ve had a good 3 weeks. Honestly, a couple days after this post I was able to feel more balanced and quite “normal”. So just know I’m doing great now, but for those of you who may be curious on what’s it’s like to fight with depression, this gives you a look at about a 5 minute window when depression won for the moment:

depression-1 Photo Credit: denvercounseling.com

It feels like the walls are closing in around me. It can start with something small. Like today, I feel like I got nothing done, and didn’t get everything on my to do list done so therefore I feel like a failure. I feel like if I can’t even watch my baby and get my house cleaned then what good am I?

I hate that when the baby is in bed and I stop for one second on the couch that my mind instantly goes to that familiar place. It’s not a good place, but it’s at least a place I know. In some sick way I find comfort there. In the darkness. In the midst of my lies surrounding me… eating away at my soul and my joy. Telling me I am failing at every aspect of life: a follower of Christ, a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur, a housekeeper, a daughter, a sister… the list goes on and you get the point.

And it all started because I stopped. This is what happens when I stop. When the house gets quiet. And I hate it. But this is my life, my everyday life. There is this looming cloud of darkness that threatens me all day long and as soon as I let me guard down when no one else is around me, it overtakes me. The darkness seeps into my mind, heart, every vessel of my being and I hate that I can’t shake it. I hate that these disease called depression has this power over me.

My family deserves better. That’s how I rationalize my thoughts of suicide and my dreams of death. While some people fear death, I embrace it. I welcome death. Really, my family does deserve better. They deserve a mom that is able to get through the day without crying over not completing her to do list. A mom that doesn’t lose her patience and her temper. A mom who isn’t irritated every day. A mom who can manage to keep the house clean and the laundry at least in 1 pile instead of 17 piles scattered throughout the house. Most importantly, my kids deserve a mom who wants to live, and right now I don’t. Right now I want to die. I want to take ever single pill in that bottle of Zoloft and just go to sleep for a very long time. Then my family will be free of me and can find someone else that can do life much better than I can.

I warned you! I know, my heart hurt just reading this! I actually forgot I had even written this a few weeks ago and just stumbled upon it. Without even thinking, I was editing my poorly written document that I had even password protected in an attempt to hide. I seriously had no plans on posting this, but here we are… This is real and this is a part of my life.

Again, I’m really doing a lot better now, but you must know I am not the only person in your circle who feels this way at times. I am thankful that I always have my God to turn to for strength during these times, and honestly knowing He has a purpose for me is what gets me through these dark times. I’m also blessed with family and close friends to lean on during these times, but I know this may not be the case for everyone. I want to encourage you, if this is you, please get the help you need. Talk to a counselor, your physician, or even a trusted friend, but stop trying to do this on your own. We were created for community and relationships… to do life together, not just the Facebook-worthy parts of life, but the messy and grimy parts too.

So let’s get real. I would love to help you any way I can and join you in prayer as you or a loved one fights a mental illness. Comment below and please know I am battling in prayer.

Jesus is Waiting for Us

This past Sunday, as you know, was Easter Sunday. I know, I didn’t post anything profound on my blog on Sunday nor did I post a cute family photo of my entire family all dressed up on Facebook. I’m terrible about stuff like that. If I even feel like there’s pressure to do something I tend to run away from it… which is probably why I’ve never sent out Christmas cards and missed about a third of Thank You cards from our wedding (I know, like I said, it’s terrible, and I’m sorry to everyone who did not receive a card! I actually did write them all, but found a huge pile of unmailed cards about 4 years ago.). ANYWAY, back to Sunday…

As we are nearing church, I asked was talking to the boys about the meaning of Easter and how Jesus is alive.

Noah: “Mom, is Jesus at church?”
Me: “Yes, He is.”
Noah (voice getting excited): “Is He waiting for us?!?”
Me: “Oh honey, He’s always waiting for us.”
Noah: “Come on, Tim! Come on, Dad! Jesus is waiting for us!”

After dropping the boys off at childcare I headed to our Prayer Group with this conversation on my heart. My main focus during prayer was that I would be able to have my son’s enthusiasm when I enter in God’s presence. I prayed that prayer not just for myself, but for all believers. I think that sometimes, as adults, we can get desensitized to the miracle of the resurrection. We forget that when we are coming to church, we are not just checking off a box on our to-do list. We are coming before our Maker. We are coming before our Creator. We are coming before our Savior. That is something to be excited about!