carter caves creek pic one

 

carter caves creek pic one

As my nephew walked along the creek’s edge in search of crawdads or any other creature he could possibly scoop up in his net, I watched from a few feet below.

My own boys – now all grown up – seemed to appear in the form of his innocent little figure.

Stumbling along.

Soaking up nature.

The sight nearly took my breath away.

I’d been to this very place so many times before with my own sons and their friends –

nets in hand, hopping over rocks.

Where did the years go?

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I thought to myself,

“Who needs to skip rocks when life is tossing your heart right across the top of the water?”

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And then I saw it.

It wasn’t made by human hands or even God’s.

The dam was made of sticks and stones and  leaves and mud.

 Beavers had clearly spent hours building this wall

so they could have a place to hold the water……..

carter caves creek pic three

I’d never seen an actual beaver dam so close up,

and I was fascinated.

For the first time in my life I found myself asking,

“Why in the world do beavers do this?”

 They’re already in the water after all.

Why do they need to stop it from moving and store it up?

I did a little reading when I got home, and here’s what I learned:

Beavers love to build their home in quiet water.

I stopped when I read these words, and my heart seemed to be tossed again………………….

right across the top of my rushing-water life.

I suddenly realized that hearts, just like rocks, don’t skip very well when the current is moving too quickly.

And the rushing water of my own world seemed to crash all around me.

The truth is:

I’ve had a summer like no other.

Tears have fallen almost every day for the past six weeks.

I’m calling this my “summer of tears,” and in many ways,

I’ve been trying to build a dam of my own.

I’ve needed a home with quiet water,

because the current of my life has been so far out of my own control.

I’ve struggled daily to build a wall,

and then I’ve tried to hide.

I’ve found it’s safer here behind my wall.

But I’ve found it’s lonely too………………

tucked behind my sticks and stones.

A few friends have dared to step inside my pool of tears; and I’m forever thankful.

Sadness makes for painful company.

Depression doesn’t draw a crowd.

But I’ve learned there’s one thing a dam can never do………………………..

carter caves creek pic two

It can never stop the movement of time.

A dam really only stops the one who builds it.

And, oh, how I have been stopped by mine.

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carter caves creek pic four

I thought of the phrase in Psalm 23 this morning,

“He leads me beside quiet water.”

There’s the difference.

It doesn’t say “He calls me to sit in quiet water”………………..

No.

He longs to take my hand and keep me moving.

I have to tear down these twigs and branches and dried clumps of mud.

It’s time to move again.

I can’t fight time or change or new seasons.

There’s miles of creek ahead, and even though I cannot see the twists and turns that are coming, I know this:

He is still leading me.

Today, I’m waking up and believing for the first time in a long time that that is all I need to know.

My heart skips again and this time I know…………………

it’s okay.

I feel a smile forming on my face as the wall seems to be slowly coming down.

My water is beginning to move again.

It’s a different kind of current.

A quieter one.

And I think that’s what this summer behind my wall has been teaching me.

Water can be quiet and still keep moving…………

and that’s okay.

There’s no current too fast or too slow for Him to handle.

He is always there.

Leading me.

And leading you.

If you need a season of sticks and stones,

then build away.

But when it’s time and with the help of friends,

take those sticks down.

And take His hand.

Feel the gentle trickle of moving water.

It really does feel so good.

Thank you, Lord.

encourage nine

 

Discouraged
………..it’s just one of many adjectives in the English language,
but isn’t it a powerful one?
The dictionary defines it as
having lost confidence or enthusiasm; disheartened.”
Have you ever felt it?
Weakened
Lacking excitement
Sad
As someone who believes in a Living God who has a bigger plan than I could ever possibly see or understand I feel so guilty when I’m overcome with this negative emotion.
I fight it hard.
I try to convince myself that if I just try harder I can rise above the dark cloud that can so easily hang over me.
I’ve battled this adjective my whole life.
It’s as if I showed up on the planet with a little sign hanging around my neck that said,
Hey devil, discouragement is her Achille’s heel.  If you want to bring her down, just discourage her.”
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 I’ve often wondered why I seem to go barefoot almost every single day anyway?
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This summer has been a summer of bare feet and a series of heel-stomping attacks that have nearly done me in.

I’ve opened my blog so many times to try to share how I feel,

and I’ve been wordless.

I’ve tossed and turned in bed in the wee hours of the morning.

I’m a firm believer in spiritual warfare,

and I know I’ve been wrestling with unseen forces.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12

I met with my associate minister recently and during our conversation I told him,

“You know it’s bad when you’re at the beach with your husband for the very first time in your whole married life without children and you find yourself searching the Internet for symptoms of a mid-life crisis.”

Tim has been a saint in this summer of tears.

He’s prayed me through many dark nights.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. this morning, though, and I kept hearing the words,

“When the devil almost gets the best of you.”

Over and over I heard them in my head.

Was this it?

Was this the way he would take me down after all I’ve survived?

Would he silence me by convincing me that I had somehow failed,

let people down,

not been enough,

finished my calling?

I tossed.

I turned.

I heard it again and again,

“When the devil almost gets the best of you.”

Almost

Almost

Almost

I’m so thankful that one word was there.

Almost

I woke up and went straight to the Bible.

I remembered my recent attempt at paintball and how I discovered,

after the game had begun,

that I hadn’t checked to see if my marker was loaded.

I found myself crouched and hiding with no way to fight back.

There’s no beating the devil if your reservoir is empty.

And believe me, he’s attacking all of us today.

The wooden barrier became my shield of faith,

but deep inside I knew I needed more to really help in the fight against the enemy.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

I remembered how Jesus,

when attacked by the devil in the desert,

had the same simple reply to every temptation…………..

“It is written.”

If Jesus knew He could only fight the enemy with the Word,

doesn’t it make sense that I would need it too?

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So this morning, I dug deep.

When you’re in a pit,

digging doesn’t seem like the natural way out,

but isn’t it just like God to turn what does makes sense upside down?

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You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them,

because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

I John 4:4

I am from God.

And He is greater than the one who is using every possible tactic to weaken my walk…………

emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

God is greater.

Yesterday

Today

and

Tomorrow

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Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
 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 40:28-31

God isn’t surprised at my weariness.

 He knew I would have seasons of stumbling and even falling face down.

But even in my darkest chapters,

He’s still there.

The everlasting God, Creator of the ends of the earth……………

never tired, never weary…………

always offering strength.

No matter how low I feel on any given day,

I will fly again.

I will soar.

And so will you.

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Then Jesus came to them and said,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Matt. 28:18

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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

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” Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;

do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9
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 At camp two weeks ago we spent the week encouraging one another.

 Giving support

Building up confidence

Offering hope

All week long we filled paper bags with encouraging words we had written to each other and on the last day of camp everyone opened their bag of encouraging messages and read what others had to say to them.

 

encourage eight

encourage five

encourage four

It was so fun watching our team soak up messages written just to them.

encourage nine

encourage one

The power of the written word should never be taken lightly.

Good or bad……………….

our words always matter.

encourage six

I am a lover of the Word and of words.

And today, I finally feel like I can write again.

encourage three

encourage two

It feels so good to break through this season of sadness and say out loud,

“Life is hard, and I’ve been struggling.”

There are so many layers of big things going on in my life right now.

Things that have caused me to cry many days in a row.

But, today, I’m feeling the table cloth that has been spread across my soul slowly being pulled away just enough for me to see the light again.

And it feels so good.

If you’ve ever battled overwhelming sadness or depression,

know you’re not alone.

We live in a difficult time in world history.

A time when anxiety can easily get the best of us if we aren’t careful.

Today, I just want to say “thank you” to all of my friends who have been praying me through this tough season.

I’m beginning to feel the warmth of the sun again for the first time in a long time…………….

and it feels so good.

Be encouraged today.

No matter how difficult life may seem,

God is still with you.

Keep pressing on.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,

not giving up meeting together,

as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—

and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25