Tag Archives: trust

Happy Little Trees



Noah and I were finishing up the day with an episode of “Chill with Bob Ross” on Netflix.

Bob’s canvas was covered with a mix of Titanium white, Prussian blue and Midnight black across the top for the sky, and a slightly darker version of the mixture for a pond beneath it. He had just blended it perfectly and it looked beautiful and serene. Bob is a genius. Everything he paints turns out top-notch and he does it in a way that calms us, with his kind, encouraging words. In this episode he even had a tiny bird perched on his finger while sharing memories from his childhood. He has a way of lowering your blood pressure in just one episode.

Even though I know he is going to do something incredible, when he takes that metal painting knife covered in a dollop of midnight black and drags it right down the center of his masterpiece, I’m sure for a moment that he has completely ruined it. That this episode is certainly the one time he regrets what he has done and we all feel sad. But then he starts fanning the paint out, a little to the left, a little to the right, and continues it to the bottom of the line of paint. It turns into one of his happy little trees. Even then, I think, Are you sure Bob? Right in the middle of the water? Trees don’t grow there. I don’t think this is right. I keep my eyes glued to the screen and watch him as he then grabs a different brush and starts fanning a darker shade of paint southward and it turns this tree in the middle of the sea into this tiny edge of a snowy forest on the side of a pond, complete with reflections on the water. I don’t know how he does it.

As I was questioning Bob, the questions and doubts felt familiar. I have asked God the very same things. I see my life or the lives of the people I love and how things are going great, pretty smooth and pretty easy, when He suddenly drags the painting knife right down the middle in a harsh shade that doesn’t seem to go with everything else, and I start to question. What are You doing? Things are good, why do You need to add this? What is the purpose? There is no way this can turn into something good. This is the one time You have made the wrong move.

But, of course I’m wrong. He knows what He is doing. Every single time. It doesn’t always turn into a happy little tree so quickly, but it gets there eventually. Sometimes even the finished product doesn’t look like we think it should. But we aren’t the Artist. He is the One with a plan, and all the steps along the way to see it out.

If you are finding yourself in the middle of your fresh, seemingly misplaced, line of harsh paint right in the middle of your easy-going canvas, this is to remind you that you aren’t alone and that often these steps are needed to get the result we will really want the most.

Trusting is hard. But when you can remember time and time again how faithful and right God has been in your life, and then remember all the times you have heard your friends and family talk about how God came through for them, and then recall the stories written in the Bible, where we see God showing up over and over – our trust can grow a little bit more. He has a good track record and I promise He knows what He is doing.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

A God we can count on


2 Samuel  24 :10  “David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

Four months. After a simple basketball injury, tearing his ACL and his meniscus, my in-great-shape husband underwent a seemingly simple surgery that we thought would be followed by a seemingly simple recovery. I thought a couple of weeks would be the maximum recovery time needed, but his physical therapist thought otherwise.

He said there is a real possibility that it could be four months before my husband is able to return to work.

I won’t lie, it was tempting to freak out. While his job is great and a definite blessing from God, it provides nearly no “sick days” and what little they do give disappears at the end of the year. So he had two weeks of vacation leave he could use, and after that, we were on our own.

So I started counting. In my mind, I remembered our savings account (thank you, Dave Ramsey, and my dear husband who doesn’t like to waste money), not to mention the gazillion church friends and family since then who have insisted on helping financially, and with dinner and in other random ways – (we LOVE each of you!). I was able to remain calm, knowing we were going to be okay.

Counting it all up made me feel secure.

David tried something a little similar in 2 Samuel 24. He chose to comfort himself by counting all the military guys he had at his disposal.

He was even advised that this was a bad plan by his wise friend, Joab. Joab knew that regardless of the number of men, God could provide whatever military force they needed.

But David didn’t listen. He had all the men who were fit for fighting tallied up, and between Israel and Judah combined, there were 1.3 million able-bodied men.

Then David’s conscience got to him. He saw what he had done as sin.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I had never thought of counting as being sinful in any circumstance.

David says to God, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (v.10)

Counting wasn’t sinful, but not trusting God was. By counting his guys, David was ultimately trusting in his own power. He was trying to be self-sufficient, and he knew that God prefers quite the opposite.

God wants us to trust Him. He has shown us over and over again how trustworthy He is, both to others in biblical accounts and to ourselves in the past.

David knew how God had already provided for him, from the very beginning – saving David from a lion and a bear, winning the fight against Goliath, and blessing David’s reign as king. And somehow he lost sight of that for a minute, and became immersed in figuring out his own capabilities.

He forgot to trust in God.

Thankfully as soon as he realized what he had done, he quickly turned to God and repented for not trusting. David was a man after God’s own heart.

My first inclination in most circumstances is to see if it is something I can handle on my own. It’s easy not to worry when I can see I’ve got the resources to take care of it.

But if I don’t, that’s a different story. Worry creeps in and gets comfy, making itself at home.

I have a lot to learn from David.

While I have already counted our own resources and I can’t really un-count them, I have decided not to worry regardless of how things go. If every appliance we own stops working all at once, and if Shawn is told it will be twice the time off, I will know that I can still trust God to take care of us one way or another.No matter what.

God has proven himself trustworthy to David, to me, and to you. Thank you, Lord!

Take a couple of minutes to make a note (mentally, in the comments section, on the back of a receipt, or otherwise) of some of the ways God has already proven himself faithful and trustworthy to you. I’d love to hear about it!

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

What I learned about fear – Ecuador, Part 1


This is part 1 of a 6-part blog on our 2 weeks in Ecuador this summer… I would love for you to take this journey with me through this blog 🙂

I am pretty much afraid of everything. Water, heights, the dark, deer, owls – you name it, I have some level of fear of it.

So making a move from my safe, comfy home in Barboursville, WV, for two weeks in Ecuador, brought with it an entirely new list of things to fear – forgetting our passports and missing the trip, flying, spearing, malaria, being detained in Ecuador, kidnappings, the bus driving off the side of the mountain,  natural disasters, etc.

Our flight was from Charleston, W.Va., to Atlanta, which took less than an hour. Not scary. I was proud of myself. Then after a 9-hour layover, the fears came flooding in.

Noah, waiting to board the plane in


Occupying ourselves during the layover 🙂

At the last second there were “mechanical problems” that were fixed in 5 minutes. (Does that mean it was a tiny problem, or did they do a not-so-thorough job at fixing whatever problem it was?) Then we had problems with our boarding passes, and literally had them thrown to us to get us on the plane as quickly as possible. Being the last ones on, everyone else was happily seated and buckled in, while we were scurrying around the plane searching for carry-on space.

Then came a good hour of flying, with the sun setting and glowing all pretty, and all of a sudden, turbulence and the blackest, meanest clouds I’ve ever seen up close, and several hours of flying left to be done.

I was rather confident I wasn’t going to make it out alive, and began praying pretty hard and preparing to meet Jesus in person. Somehow during that time, God brought me peace.

Our group after arriving in Quito, Ecuador…

we were so tired

All these other things I had been afraid of before didn’t make me panic after that. We landed in Quito and took a 2-hour bus ride to the city of Ibarra, and stayed there for a week. I had peace and enjoyed each minute.

Then we took a 5-hour bus ride to the city of Ambato. A couple days into that city, we were awakened early to the sounds of loud, angry Spanish-speaking voices in the lobby of our hotel. That was followed by the sounds of banging and glass breaking. Then silence.

Fear came rushing back. I honestly don’t know if I have ever felt that scared in my life. Not knowing what the voices were angry about, and not knowing that the glass was just the porcelain basins of the lobby water jugs rather than the glass walls and windows, compounded with not knowing how to call the police – I was a mess. Crying and praying hard.

Some of our group helping to clean the

hotel lobby after the scuffle

Turns out, it was a scuffle in the lobby between a hotel guest’s drunk friend and the owner of the hotel, not a group of mafia-style men out to get all American Christians staying in the hotel (as my 5 a.m. mind led me to believe).

I know I have blogged many times about fear. And I like to think that one day I will have it all mastered and will not need to keep learning lessons about this, but until then, hopefully someone else can be learning along with me.

Fear keeps sneaking in. But God gently reminded me, again, that when I am afraid, I am not trusting Him.

Whether it’s about our safety, or my fear of not making a difference while on the trip, if I truly believe God is who He says He is, I won’t be afraid. I have no reason to.

God is big, powerful, limitless, loving, and because of this, I can’t fear.

Do I trust Him? Do I believe that whatever happens, God will use it for His glory? Yes. Ultimately when I think it through, that is what I want – His glory.

While a perfect flight, health and a great trip sound wonderful, God’s glory and His plan are what matter most.

Even if difficult things in life happen (malaria, lost luggage), I don’t need to fear, because I am never alone.

God reminded me that His sovereign will is what will happen on the trip, and that is what I wanted and needed to hear. Thanking Him for His peace

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord


God is good, all the time


Noah cracks me up; he gets his sense of humor from his dad. There are times when he says something so funny, I have no words. I just laugh and look at him, then say, “I love you.”

Once, after I said that, he laughed and said I just love him when he’s funny. He was kidding, but it made me wonder why I say  it so often during times he makes me laugh or does something sweet. I do love him then, but I also love him even when he is being obnoxious, or in a mood. My love for him isn’t based on what he does. I just love him all the time.

There is something our awesome worship leader says at church frequently: “God is good, all the time; and all the time, God is good.”

It is true. Often I hear other people, and I will say it myself, after something goes really great in my life and we talk about how good God is. Like, getting extra money that was needed, or a surgery going well, or making it home safely. And He definitely gets the credit for all those things, and I am extremely thankful for each one of them.

But I have to make certain I know He is good even when…

Even when money doesn’t come, or there are complications, or car trouble. God is good.

His good isn’t proven by His actions. He defines good. All the time.

In the Bible, a guy named Hezekiah was King of Judah and was doing an excellent job at it. II Kings 18, verse 5 says, “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.” He kept God’s commands and was very successful.

But he wasn’t perfect. In chapter 20, some visitors from Babylon’s kingdom stop by for a visit after Hezekiah had been so sick he nearly died. He welcomes them in and shows them every single thing he has in his kingdom.

What’s the harm in this? It doesn’t sound that bad, but it’s possible Hezekiah is doing this in an effort to sway the Babylonian kingdom to his side in fighting the Assyrians, just leaning a little to the side of depending on human power rather than God’s.

Isaiah quickly brings a message from God, saying that Judah will eventually be taken over by Babylon, leaving nothing. While this won’t happen during Hezekiah’s lifetime, it has a devastating impact on his descendants.

Crummy, right? But Hezekiah’s response…

“The word of the Lord you have spoken is good.”

God’s word is good because God is good. He defines good.

Seriously, read this book… So good…

In Jennie Allen’s book, “Anything” (which I HIGHLY recommend, by the way), she talks about her friend Rachel, who had a damaging childhood, with lasting effects into her adulthood. Yet Rachel is filled with joy and love for others, even for those who had hurt her, and most especially for her Jesus.

When asked how she could not feel like a victim, she answered, “You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don’t know the difference.” (page 59)

She knew beauty could come from what seemed bad, and the same can happen from what seems like our bad as well.

We really don’t know the difference, just looking at a situation as it’s happening. Only God does. We have our own ideas for sure, but our scales aren’t weighted the same as God’s. He can see with an eternal sort of vision.

We can be much like a kid would see a good lunch as one filled with Cool Ranch Doritos and gummy worms, but a parent would know that vegetables and fruit and protein are good for helping the child grow and thrive. The parent knows what ultimately is good for the child. God knows what is good.

It is easy to see God as good when we are given the metaphorical Doritos and gummy worms, but He is just as good when we are given the metaphorical carrot sticks. He knows what is best for us, and ultimately what is best for bringing Him glory.

And trusting Him in this, it is the most freeing thing we can do.

If you are in the middle of some crummy stuff, trust God. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. If you believe He is real, and He is good, then you can trust His plan. And that trust can bring with it peace and rest, which is way better than worry anyway.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;

     Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” – Psalm 34:8


Hiking, hillsides, and dads


“…There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son…” – Deuteronomy 1:31

Saturday was such a beautiful day, it seemed a shame to spend any more of it inside than we had to. So by afternoon when we had some free time, we decided to go to the park and enjoy nature. Our idea of enjoying nature and Noah’s is usually a little different. Mine is a walk, or sitting under a tree, reading. Noah’s is soccer, Frisbee, badminton – things that make me tired. So this time Shawn and I decided it was only fair to do both. We did the hike first (genius, btw. After a 4-mile hike, he wasn’t as ambitious with the Frisbee).

The trail we picked was the River Trail at Barboursville Park. Noah used to think it was a little scary, so it is not his favorite. I like that it has very few inclines #gettingbywithaslittleaspossible #lazy. It also has some beautiful spots, like this one. (Right before this picture, I pointed out to Noah how beautiful it was, “I hate this trail,” how that stream of water could be on a postcard or calendar, “the other trails are better…”)

The trails Noah prefers are the ones on the side of the mountains, up and down all over. Once we were geocaching on a muddy trail (never found the cache, btw, so if anyone wants to cheat and tell us where it is, that would be great 😉 . We had climbed up this steep, muddy hillside to check out an area. The trick was getting back down. We couldn’t do it. Noah was scared, and I won’t lie, I was scared too. Naturally Shawn went back down with no trouble, but Noah and I were apprehensive, to put it mildly. Shawn planted his feet firmly in the ground and reached for Noah, placing him safely back on the trail, easy peasy.

In the Bible, Moses reminded the Israelites of the times God also did the same for them. The Israelites had wandered around in the desert for a super long time after leaving Egypt. In Deuteronomy 1:31 he said, “…There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son…” He was recounting all the times God had been there for them. He didn’t want them to forget how they were once slaves in Egypt, but in ways only God could do, he set them free.

Each time God helps us through something, or carries us, our faith in Him should be a little bit stronger. When we see how much He cares, how He rescues in ways that we know can only be from Him, we become more certain that the next time we face something, we can count on Him.

There are so many times God has done this for me. When depression overwhelmed me to the point I didn’t want to keep living, God carried me. When we suffered two miscarriages, God carried us. When my marriage was at it’s roughest point, I was sure it was over. But God carried us.

If you are in the middle of your own desert, questioning if you will make it out, carve out a few minutes right now. Make a list – mental or on paper, whichever works best for you. Remind yourself of the times God has been there for you. The times He has carried you, as a father carries his son. Pick a couple that come to mind and keep going until you feel your faith in God renewed.

I’d love for you to share with me a time or two that God has carried you…

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.'” – Psalm 31:14