Driving Free

Author: Kate Franken

I couldn’t breathe. Every muscle tensed. My face turned hot and clammy. I could see myself driving off the bridge. I wanted to slam the brakes and runaway. And then, in my head, I saw all the cars hitting me from behind.

I wrestled against what I felt, despite its intensity, and steered myself off to the side of the highway, once I gradually made it over the bridge. And there I sat paralyzed with fear, trying to breathe. I eventually pushed myself back out onto the highway, knowing people were expecting me. I drove with trepidation, fearful of another panic attack.

Kate Franken Driving freeThis moment is so vivid for me, the feelings of having no control pulsed strong. It, among other panic attacks, sit locked in my memory, ready to haunt me whenever I drive bridges, busy highways, and always the freeway.

When this anxiety first surfaced a little over two years ago, I immediately tried to make sense of it. I however couldn’t make sense of it on my own. I didn’t understand people that had panic attacks. I didn’t understand how I could go from a fearless to a fearful driver almost overnight for no obvious reason.

Fortunately, over time, I made my hidden pain known, despite the overwhelming sense of shame the anxiety invoked. A friend with a biblical counseling repertoire and a brother pursuing a medical doctorate degree, have helped me piece together the root of this affliction. The year prior to the start of the panic attacks, I experienced a number of (small) incidents on the road in which control felt stripped from me. One was a near accident, in which the van in front of me hit ice and swung wildly over both lanes of the highway on a narrow overpass. I had to press forward and pray the van stayed in the other lane as I passed.

Twice, I was in a car that was rear-ended. Another accident occurred when a motorcyclist hit my rear tire as I pulled out from a store parking lot one night. I had looked both ways and had seen nothing. From my perception, the motorcyclist had come out from nowhere. It was questioned post-scene-of-the-accident, whether the motorcyclist had a headlight because none could be found in the pictures of the wrecked motorcycle. These occurrences combined have potentially given me a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Enemy ruthlessly attacked me in my weakness. I sought to get rid of the Devil’s foothold. I attempted the remedies for driving anxiety a Google search had rendered and the suggestions put forth by friends to no avail.

After a solid year of pushing myself to combat my fear, I gave up. I was tired of the panic attacks. They showed no sign of leaving. Back roads became my main means of going anywhere distant. I resigned to the belief that this affliction was my thorn. Like Paul, I had to accept that it wasn’t going to go away.

This mindset crippled me all the more. I’m certain the Enemy was wearing his evil grin as he saw me sink deeper into despair. But this is not where this story ends, for the Author of Freedom would not just let me be. He’s been faithful as I’ve endured this trial, using it for good. Great is my gratitude for all that He has shed light on as I’ve reached for freedom.

Driving free Kate FrankenI learned that fear and anxiety come about when we don’t trust that God is good. We are not living in obedience to God when fear and anxiety have a hold on us. For a professed believer, this can create feelings of shame, and thus the natural inclination is to believe a lie, to believe I can have both fear and anxiety and believe that God is good. But fear and anxiety will never loose its grip until you’re honest about your lack of trust in God. It’s when we are honest, that the Holy Spirit can then address the root issue.

My natural inclination to be self-sufficient and strong hinders me. When we are weak, He is strong. We need to lay down our fear and anxiety, and give it to the Lord. We can walk in the light when we stop pretending we’re not scared.

I  was impacted dramatically with the wisdom Apostle Paul imparts in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

When I resigned to my anxiety being my thorn forevermore, I had quit hoping. But it’s only with a hope in God that we can prevail against the Enemy’s schemes. It is only when we hope in Him that the best stories of freedom are written.

For too long, I wanted to ignore my affliction, thus I wasn’t praying about it. We need to be relentless in our communing with Our Lord, to have greater truth spoken over our lives. Each time we get on our knees and seek Him, our world is reoriented as it should be, with Him at the center.

The freedom I now experience allows me to travel over bridges and busy highways fairly painlessly. I’m steadily regaining my ability to drive on the freeway, after a year’s absence. Knowing where I’ve been and where I am now, only God could have freed me from these chains. He is the one to seek if we long to be free.

 


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

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Listening to the Father

There is a small passage in the Bible that has stood out to me for years:

But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.’”~Samuel 15:22

While we no longer live in an era of animal sacrifices to atone for our sins (thank you Jesus), this verse is still applicable. God desires obedience from us. It is a beautiful offering. We live in a world that jokingly encourages, “it is better to ask forgiveness than permission,” and we are tempted to exchange the truth for a lie. We find ourselves drawn to living for momentary pleasures, and forsake pursuing the enduring beauty of a disciplined life.

Obedience Britney BradleyWhen I knowingly sin against my Lord, I shamefully think to myself, “I can ask forgiveness for this,” which really means that I am choosing disobedience now and then beg for forgiveness later. Oh the conviction that floods over me when I put off obedience and choose to sin. This passage in 1 Samuel has opened wide my eyes. God desires that we obey His commands. Why disobey and lament later? Don’t I know that He loves me? Don’t I know that He desires relationship with me, not the disconnection that disobedience brings? Don’t I see how hurtful my sin really is?

These are the questions I find myself going over and over again in my mind and heart. Let me tell you, friends, it is EXHAUSTING. However, when I am choosing spiritual discipline (reading the Word of God and speaking with him in prayer) light begins to shine on the disobedient heart. As a mother of three I deal with disobedience daily, and when I draw near to my Savior, it becomes quickly apparent that the misbehaviors of my children offer a glimpse into my own heart. However, on days when I have gotten “behind” and “have no time” to spend dedicated to Christ, I become blinded by my sins. When I am blinded by my own sins, I become infinitely more frustrated with the sins of my children, because my heart is not properly oriented. I become quick to forget that I am just as sinful as my three children combined toward my heavenly Father who knows and loves me.

britney bradley obedience (2)The Lord teaches me much about my own sinful heart by allowing me to see the same rebellion in my children. It amazes me how hurt or insulted I feel when I am sinned against. When my kids do not obey me, and I am not close to Christ myself, I forget how offensive my sins are towards God, and I lose sight of how obedience to Him is GOOD for me. I forget it is one of the ways I show my love for Him.
Readers and friends, I want to challenge you with this. If you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior, please do not use him as a genie in a bottle, only asking favors of him or complaining to him. He is so much more than that. Please consider the importance of obedience to the perfect Father in your daily life decisions. Who better to trust and obey than the One who loves you and has given His all to claim you as his own? I am motivated by this challenge myself, and I pray that choosing obedience will bring you into deeper relationship with Him.


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

At the Door of Obedience

My adult life has not been marked by a lot of risk. That is, up until the fall of 2015. After 14 years of working for the same employer, things had come to a head at my husband’s job at a martial arts school. One evening my husband came home and revealed a troubling situation that had unfolded at work. There was only one thing to do. Through uncertain tears, I told my husband I just wanted to be done. It was no longer the right thing to stay at this job. My husband looked at me with agreement and said, “Okay, I’ll quit tomorrow.”

obedience martial artsThat night, he stayed up in the wee hours of the morning, trying to meet the unknown with hope, he began the search online for other job opportunities. Jobs for martial arts instructors in the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) aren’t exactly ripe for the taking. North Carolina was an option, but for people who are planners, not risk takers, the thought of moving across the country terrified us.

Obedience through Faith

God was calling us both to radical obedience and to have faith in His unseen plan. We are typically the kind of people who plan out our next move, months, if not years in advance. But in this situation, we had to obey without any clear direction in mind. We hadn’t premeditated my husband quitting his job. We didn’t have the next move lined up. We couldn’t rely on our own strength. We had to obey and trust God that He would show us the next move. I found myself leaning on God’s strength like never before. This was definitely a whole new level of obedience for me.

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV)

My husband went to work that next day, informed his boss he was quitting and would leave enough time to train a replacement. Because of this unprecedented move, the way things went down at his work went differently, which was good, but it meant my husband spent the next week on the phone, exploring what might be our next move. It was terrifying. We both felt sick to our stomachs. The future we had planned on seemed to have evaporated, and now we had no idea where God would place us. Then God opened a door and my husband secured a position as head instructor at a martial arts school, not in North Carolina, but just 45 minutes away from home.

Trusting God for an Unknown Future

Each step of the way, God called us to have faith and obey. He opened one door after another but only one door at a time. In this journey, God gave us one clear direction but only for each step. It wasn’t obvious how all the steps would connect, how each would help my husband’s career goals or secure the needs for our family in the future. We just had to obey and move forward in faith.

When the panic attacks started. I tried to embrace this new level of faith in God for me as we faltered into an unforeseeable future. I remembered, Abraham had also been called to obedience without being able to see the future.

 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Hebrews 11:8

Opportunities would emerge then the door would slam shut. It was discouraging, disheartening. Until December of 2015, when an opportunity to buy a local martial arts school opened up. It was very unexpected.We thought that door had closed. It looked promising, but how would we manage the financial end of purchasing a business? Was it God-given or a fool’s foothold?! Could we risk again? He unveiled the path. Just one way. So united in love and faith we said “yes!” and walked through the door.

obedience YesI worried during this time that the bottom would just fall out from underneath us. I found hard questions circling all the time. Could my God be trusted? Could I trust Him with our future? What would become of us and our two little girls? Even after we bought the school, our fears didn’t just disappear. We wondered how we would pay the bills each month. Yet God provided the exact right staff, as well as new students for our school.

May 1, 2017 marks our one year anniversary of being owners of our own martial arts school. It’s been an exciting, frightening, and victorious year for my husband’s career. It’s also been a life changing 20 months and a spiritual journey of obedience as we’ve trusted God to provide for our needs.

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

This verse doesn’t mean difficult things won’t happen or we won’t have struggles, but it is a comfort to know that God has an endgame in mind and has provided everything we need as we hope and trust in Him.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

Dreams from the Threshing Floor

At the beginning of the year, I was challenged to pray about a word to set the tone of 2016. I prayed, and to my delight and dismay, God put the word “Yes” on my heart. Terror and exhilaration encapsulated in three little letters. I am a goal-oriented woman. My dreams are well known by those who love me. Now, half way through the year, I am still unsure what this “Yes” year means specifically to me. In fact, I have simultaneously been experiencing a season of restlessness without clear direction in sight. God and I have been wrestling through many doubts, and confronting untruths I have believed about myself. In short,  He has been making me uncomfortable. At times, it has been painful; and yet, I trust Him entirely.

A wise, God-fearing gal pal in my life reminded me the story of Gideon and his fleece. The book of Judges, in the Old Testament, unfolds the telling of a man who God allowed to experience unrest and in turn, trust.

Judges 6:11 begins with Gideon beating out wheat in a winepress. Now we must become aware of the fact that a winepress is not where wheat is threshed; he was there because he was hiding. Hiding from the Midianites. He was terrified of his enemies, so much so, that he sacrificed productivity for security. In his moment of weakness, an angel of the Lord showed up, and called him out. The angel addressed Gideon not with shame but with titles such as “mighty man of valor.” From my perspective, Gideon was behaving cowardly, but God sent a messenger to sift through the lies he believed in his heart. Gideon said “I need to hide.” God said otherwise.

Reservedly, Gideon proceeds to question God’s plan. God intended Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites. God had a plan. A big plan. One that would cause Gideon to cling to His goodness and trust Him entirely. However, Gideon, bless his heart, continued to come back at God with fears and doubts. Gideon says, in verse 15 of chapter 6, “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Of course, Gideon’s apprehension did not phase God.

As I read further into chapter 6 of Judges, I began to see why my friend thought of this story in regards to my own wrestling with God. Gideon had already been called out by God. He had been affirmed as a man of valor. And yet, he still needed proof of God’s word. He audaciously came before God with a test of faith. As a harvester, Gideon was used to the threshing floor. It was a big, open space used to separate wheat from the chaff. In his line of work, the threshing floor was the place where the wheat would be refined. In verse 36, Gideon comes before God with a wool fleece on the threshing floor. He wanted God to affirm him again in his calling. Make the wool fleece dewy, but keep the ground dry. And the next morning, when he arose, God did just that. But this was not quite enough for Gideon. He then asked God to allow the wool fleece to be dry, and the ground to be dewy. When the next morning came, sure enough, God did just that.

God allowed Gideon to approach him boldly, again and again. He allowed unrest and uncertainty in Gideon’s life to be laid out before Him on the threshing floor. I know now, that in this time of “Yes” and unrest, this is what God is calling me to do. I am to come to Him at my own threshing floor. Here God is allowing me to bring forth fears, doubts, and the uncertainty of my dreams and future. Here He is separating the chaff of doubt and fear from the wheat of my faith.

This threshing floor of dreams and life is the place I am called to go to so I can meet God, be brutally honest with Him, and seek discernment on His will for my life. As God continues to lead me into new dreams and who he already knows me to be, I can ask Him to show up repeatedly, and He will.


Readers, How has God revealed himself and planted new dreams when you are in seasons of life that feel confusing?

0752d-sarah2bsquareSarah believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

The Broken, Steadfast Heart

“Adult Medical Emergency! Adult Medical Emergency!” I stared incredulously at the lady calling out these words over the PA system. Before I could regain my composure, a nurse was behind me compassionately commanding that I sit in the wheelchair she had parked and locked into place behind me. Seconds later I was flanked by another nurse who I could tell was making a hundred assessments as she sped toward me with defibrillator in tow. They showered me with a deluge of questions to which I could muster a few cogent answers. I tried to reassure them, and myself, that I was just coming in at the doctor’s request, but medical professionals tend to get right jumpy when you say words like chest pain and dizziness. Especially, when the last EKG came back abnormal.

They rushed me into a triage room and scrambled around me. Helpful, but strangers. I hadn’t told my husband I was going in, because I didn’t think it was a big deal. Now I wished I had. After leaving friends to care for my four children, I had driven myself.  I had no hand to hold but my Jesus was near; He always is.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
-Isaiah 41:10

My children, and the dreams I dream for them were on my mind. Earlier that day, I had tried to teach my four-year-old how to dial 911. It wasn’t working, so I resorted to telling him, “If you can’t wake up Mommy, you run as fast as you can to the neighbors house, bang on the door, and tell them call 911.” A sick mama is not what I had anticipated for their childhood, but God—He sees. He knows. He cares. I am confident that no matter what, He’s got this. Even if I don’t get the answers I prefer.

The nurses in the room relaxed as my blood pressure cuff hissed its release and revealed the numbers they wanted to see. I was given some water and a tissue, because the breaking of the tension also set free a steady stream of silent tears. I wasn’t afraid when I walked in, but their panic made me question if I should be. It made it all too real. I am in my thirties, and there is something serious going on. I held tight to the verses the Lord had used to comfort me since the first tests came back:

“They will have no fear of bad news;
 their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear…”
Psalm 112:7-8 (NIV)

I still don’t have definite answers. They doctors have decided there is no immediate threat, which I am grateful for, but they have only given me possible explanations and more tests. Each new diagnostic is performed, and I pray they do not call back immediately. When the doctor calls, it is not usually due to excellent customer service. Yet even then, even if, it be the doc, the specialist, or the surgeon who calls, it is still news I need not fear. For I love and serve a God who binds up broken hearts, and in the end makes all things new. My hope is not shaken by the woes of this world or the weakness of this body. What waits ahead is unknown to me, but known to Him.

I will not cower from the fear that whispers lies filled with tragic tales. The enemy of my soul attempts to use the unknown to unravel the peace that passes understanding, but I will stand firm on the promises of God. Like Joshua I will be strong and courageous; like Esther I will look for the purpose in such a time as this; and like Jesus when the next day is daunting I will find solace in seeking help from the Father.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Luke 12:25 (NIV)

Being bound by worry is something I found freedom from when I began to follow Christ, but a new layer of awareness came into reality when my husband and I began to attempt to raise these little humans. The adventurer in me that swam with sharks and shared the gospel in closed countries now seeks wisdom before jumping. This does not mean I will not risk, but it does mean I listen carefully to make sure it is God who is doing the leading instead of my own predilection for adrenaline. I hold teeny hands, kiss little foreheads, and pray mighty prayers for these lives entrusted to my care, so placing myself in the path of unnecessary harm is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and our bodies are prone to unpredictable sickness and death.

I put my life into the hands of my Savior in my twenties. I believed He knew if I would or would not marry, and I was rest assured that He knew what work I would do. With each birth of my children I sought Him out and asked Him to watch over the new life He had given. I proclaim, “I trust God with my life. I trust God with the lives of my children.” What I don’t always like to remember is that this also means I trust Him with my death, with their deaths. His goodness covers all the days. He carefully planned the first beat of our hearts, and He knows the day each will beat its last.

“’Where, O death, is your victory?

    Where, O death, is your sting?’

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55

It is abundantly clear to me that our time on this earth is limited and not decided by us, but this I know—heaven awaits. Jesus has already claimed victory over death and there will be a day with no more sickness. Though I hope for many more days, I cling to the word of God daily, so I can be reminded of who He says He is. Who He will always be. It is in those pages I meditate on my deepest hopes and present joy. When the fears for my children creep in. When I find myself holding to the things of this world. I turn my eyes to him and pray He makes me like the psalmist who proclaims, “My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast…” -Psalm 57:7( NIV).


Readers, Where do you need to trust God more today? How can you take a step towards doing so?

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

Patience in the Small Things

I did not anticipate writing this week’s post. In fact, I was geared up, ready to write last week’s post on peace, and then life got tremendously busy, and time slipped away from me. For the first time in months, I missed a deadline.  

I’m sitting on my back deck now, writing about patience. It felt like a challenge from God. Write about patience, I could almost hear a good, loving chuckle in the background of that request. For it is goodness and love that sustains us when the small everyday happenings reveal to us how impatient we actually are. That being said, let me tell you about the ways He’s been preparing my heart to write on patience in the last 24 hours alone.

It all began when I started summer school yesterday morning at 0800. I work as a school nurse, and usually one of the perks of the job is the beloved summer vacation. As this is my third summer off, I decided to cram in as much as I could into this summer break.  

9 science credits? Sure! Immunology online and Chemistry in person? Okay! Travel to New Jersey at the end of the summer to see my handsome nephew? Sign me up!

When I opened up the syllabus to my Immunology class, panic overcame me. The exams have to be in person! The final is scheduled when I am already 3 days into my New Jersey adventure! I frantically emailed my instructor, suggesting different solutions to my final exam date conflict. I sent my email in at noon. Over the course of the next 5 hours, I checked and rechecked my inbox, willing a response. It did not come.

Frustrated, I left for the gym for my favorite exercise activities. As I stretched, downward dogged, planked, and child posed my way through yoga, I felt the tension in my shoulders and neck melt away. Breathe in. In my heart, God softly reminded me, “I’ve got this. Don’t you trust me?” Breathe out.

I went to Chemistry class the next day and checked my course email when I returned home.  The teacher responded to my email with a “Yes, you can take this course’s final exam early.”

How many times do I send my prayers like an email demanding an immediate response? How many times do I fret and fluster over things outside of my control?

Then there were lessons waiting for me in wet, cleaned carpets. One of my sweet dogs happened to have several accidents which led to an unanticipated cleaning of the carpet and an appointment with the Rug Doctor. I had to wave a slow goodbye to the leisure filled hours penciled into my head that involved Netflix, a nap, and perhaps some sort of studying. And as I sucked the foamy cleaner into the heavy machine, slowly going over each soiled area, I had to laugh. “You’re writing about patience,” a little sing-song voice hummed. Can I be patient when plans are interrupted?

Now I sit here on the back deck, typing out this post on my phone. I was going to use my Dad’s laptop…I say “going to” because Google Chrome was not updated, nor was his computer.  I stared painstakingly at the wheel of spinning death for the last 25 minutes. Patience, you say? Even when…it’s just a small thing? Even when…a little outburst wouldn’t hurt anyone? Patience even when nobody is watching?

Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

I don’t think God was messing around when He prompted Paul to write these words. Sometimes we face huge, trying moments in our lifethose which cause us to fall flat on our face and seek solely after God. Then there are the moments which are seemingly benign, like my moments above. These small trials are light-lifting used to strengthen and tone our character. They are used to remind us that God is in control, and we are not.  We have the opportunity to freak out and panic, or we can lean into our God, who is always for us, whispering, “I’ve got this. Don’t you trust me?”

~~~

Readers, When do you find it most difficult to exercise patience?

0752d-sarah2bsquareSarah believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

Hope for Spring

It was one of those days in which the rain kept coming.

I stood behind my church’s connection desk, and watched as one of the greeter’s hair soared straight into the air, as the wind swirled and ruffled it to and fro. The drear and drizzle continued throughout most of the afternoon. It was the first day of Daylight Savings Time, and the weather seemed to remind me of how sleepy I really was and that caffeine was not a strong enough remedy for my tired body.

I took a nap in an attempt to satiate my body’s need for rest, and upon waking up, I spotted the most glorious sunbeams pouring in through the bay window. They flickered in and out of the clouds, and when I finally made it alfresco to let the dogs out, the sun stuck. Golden rays of sun created a spotlight on the newly bloomed flowers. The flowers, in saturated hues of yellow, purple, and pink, reminded me of glimmers of hope. Hope in which I so desperately need reminding of today.

Each winter I feel as though God likes to teach me the hard things. Perhaps it’s because I’m forced indoors with my thoughts, and I cannot escape into the Pacific Northwest’s outdoor playground. Or maybe it’s my own internal reflections rearing their head. Either way, it seems as though the past few winters have been riddled with a little bit of gloom. I know I am not alone in feeling this way, as many friends and family have poured out their hearts to me stating the same awareness of life’s difficulties. I hope in God, and I know with Him, I can weather through any storm. Sometimes, however, it feels as though after the storm you are a little worse for wear. A little beatenskin chapped and rubbed raw from the lashing of the waves, but not defeated.

And then there are moments like today: I saw a physical reminder of hope coming. Flowers. So simple, yet striking. God knew I needed this physical reminder of His goodness.

Hosea 6:3 says, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

As surely as the spring rains fall, if we call upon God, He will come. He will answer us. He will provide us with hope in daily reminders of flowers blooming, and in the answers of prayers prayed for many years. God will come and take our bruised spirits and renew us with His strength. He will come and fill our hearts with a longing for something more. He will come and bind up our broken and weary hearts and draw them close to Him. He will come and bring healing, and peace, and calm the turmoil in our lives. He will come to us as the showers, frequently and at the exact moment needed.
Spring is coming. I saw that hope today in the form of a dewy daffodil. Hope is coming. His name is Jesus.

~~~

Readers, What are you looking forward to seeing  happen as spring arrives?

Sarah believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

The New Page

Author: Kate Franken

I was going through school to become a teacher, I remember expressing delight in having chosen a career in which I could embrace change each school year. Change was plausible, whether it be a change in students or a change in grade level. And now, in my tenth year of teaching, I detest September. With the start of each new school year, melancholy begins to loom. I miss my old students, I experience an inner lament for the children from the year before. Together we were a well-oiled machine. They know how I operate. They know the routines. They know my expectations. They get my sarcasm. They know me. The fresh faces of September, however, are haphazard and helter-skelter. Starting anew is just plain hard.

This past year, September’s song of starting anew brought distraught outside the classroom as well. I had just said goodbye to a relationship that I felt with certainty, for the first time ever, would lead to marriage, to a family. I loved deeper than ever before and at many levels. The man I had been in a relationship with had come with children that I embraced, loved, and cherished. It felt very much as though we were already a family, but we weren’t. And I wrestled with the truth that we would not be. Sitting in the midst of hopes not realized, left me discombobulated. As I faced what looked like a desolate frontier in front of me, I had my feet in the mud, not wanting to start anew.

I must hold fast to the assurance that The Lord has purpose in what He is doing. He is still sovereign each time He puts uncharted waters before me. He knows what is best and does what is best. As His servant, I am to humble myself before Him, in seeking to live in accordance with His will. My feet in the mud demeanor just won’t do, if I truly trust in Him. My ever-present prayer is that The Lord increase my trust in Him. I meditate on who I know Him to be. My hope. My rock. My salvation. My refuge.

Perspective shifts when we put our eyes on The Lord and properly esteem Him. No longer do things look desolate or devoid of ever receiving oil. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8) Much joy is found in the midst of deep waters, because it’s in the midst of those deep waters that we see Him. We see Him to be our one and only constant. Through it all, He remains. We see His steadfast love in the innumerable blessings He pours out into today. But we miss this opportunity, if we’re lost in yesterday or tomorrow. Seek Him and see the love and grace He has for you.

We are all errant people, and forget His goodness in a split second. This is true of me in September and other times throughout the year when things seem to be steered in unwanted directions. To diminish the frequency of such, I seek to talk to Him always, to faithfully read His Word, and to surround myself with a community of believers that will point me towards him again and again.

I know I am not alone in this. May we all move forward confidently, trusting His ways, and rest in the knowledge that He writes each of our stories beautifully—flawlessly. We may feel like we’re starting anew, but it’s just simply a new chapter in His book where more of His heroic nature is evident. As rescued people, we can rest in knowing that He is at the helm. With Jesus cast as the hero, hope is written on every page.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

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Readers, What new thing is God asking you to trust Him with? How can we pray for you this week?

Kate Franken is a 5th grade teacher, a lover of books, and a coffee connoisseur. She enjoys a good conversation, chases after her beautiful dogs, and serves as the volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon.