The path we cannot see

It has been said that hindsight gives us 20/20 vision, but what are we to do when we are in the space of difficulty and blind to the path in front of us? What are we to do when we feel hopelessly trapped, and cannot find our way forward?

There are seasons and situations in our lives that threaten to overwhelm us. They last too long and hurt too deeply. They wear us down to the place of brokenness, and we loosen our grasp on the hope that anything will ever change, that anything can be redeemed.

And we forget.

We forget that God is working all things towards our good. We forget because when life doesn't feel good, it doesn't seem good. We forget that we only see the smallest part of the workings of an omnipotent God, and He has not lost control of any detail of our lives.

For centuries the enslaved Israelites were living under the cruelty of the Egyptians. Each hopeless moment passed as the one before. And then one ordinary day a hesitant leader shows up with his rugged staff and a…

Hope will rise

I’ve been in that place. That place where hope is dwindling. That place where dreams of change seem to lose all of the prayers I’ve blown into them, and they float empty to the ground. And I feel alone. Alone and empty holding onto my deflated heart with vague wonderings of where my miracle is. I have been there. I have been there with my brokenness. I have been there touching the pieces of my sorrow thinking that God could have stopped this ache, but he did not. And I’ve wondered if he sees me. I’ve wondered if he knows, if he might care how deeply I hurt. In grade school, I had to memorize scripture verses for a portion of my Bible class. Occasionally we would be allowed to pick the verse we wanted to commit to memory, and on one such occasion I cleverly chose the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” I never knew the context that surrounded that verse. I had always assumed it was written around the time that Jesus was going to be crucified, because who isn’t going t…

How brokenness can lead to thankfulness

I am flat on my back watching the rotation of the ceiling fan give off a low hum. Around and around and around it spins. My mind is following. I tilt a bit to my side to release the ache that is beginning to form near my spine. Blessed relief! For now. I think about the dishes in the sink, and how I had to skip my workout this morning. Then there’s that pile of clean laundry on the floor beside me that promises to wrinkle if I don’t fold it soon. The bills need to be paid, counters wiped down, floors cleaned. The list grows and I wonder how long I will allow myself to lay in this pain free position before I tackle it. It has been six weeks since I noticed the dull pain in my back. What started as an annoyance has turned into an ache that keeps me from falling asleep at night. I have tried ice and heat, chiropractic manipulation and TENS units, steroids and muscle relaxers. It still hurts, and my frustration is growing. My body can’t do what I want it to do. I wonder if I …

Even if. . .

I remember the accident.  I remember it like it happened yesterday.  I remember it because it was a day that changed me.  In truth, it changed a lot of people.  It was August 11th, 2004.  It has now been 14 years since my little girl, Emma Grace, came face to face with death.
I was working in Chicago that day, and called home during a break to check in on my husband Chad and our two young girls.  Emma, our oldest, had celebrated her second birthday 5 days earlier and Rylee was 6 months old.  
When Chad answered the phone I knew immediately something was wrong.  “Nancy, Emma fell and hit her head.  Her eyes keep rolling back and she is in and out of consciousness."  I could hear the panic and fear in his voice.  
“Keep her awake!  Don’t let her fall asleep,” I yelled in desperation.  I heard the sirens in the background.
Looking back, I can remember that surge of fear and the anxiety, but my mind was focused on the distance that separated us.  I knew I needed to be there for my f…

The path to surrender is the road of the cross

It was early, but the birds were awake to witness our departure.  I'm sure they sang like they did every other morning, but I was in no frame of mind to hear them.  The sun was throwing pale yellow rays through the fronds that hung over the uneven road to our neighborhood known as Colonia Becklin.  And just beneath the height of the hanging coconuts grew a Plumeria tree displaying Nicaragua's national flower.

I wonder, sometimes, at how the earth still spins and pushes forth beauty when a world can stop short, caving in from the weight of sadness and disappointment.

Our home for the past year, with its concrete walls and leaking roof, its dusty floors and roach filled kitchen, stood in stoic silence as we passed by for the last time.  Our call to missions wasn't suppose to the end this way, this soon.  The guards had given us a bored, sleepy wave when we drove through the gate.  We were one of many missionaries who had lived in that neighborhood.  I doubt they remember ou…

To know, is to love

A few months ago I was asked to consider speaking at a ladies' gathering.  My initial reaction was curiosity, but that was quickly followed by nervousness and finally dread.  I gave a quick verbal decline, "Thanks, but no thanks."

It was my mind that held onto the idea, turning it over and looking at it closely.  What could I possibly say that people want to hear?  Who am I that people would care to listen?

I pump detergent into a tattered blue sponge, and began to wipe clean the pile of dishes in the sink.  From the window I look over our fence to see the backyard of my friend Maria.  She reached out to me before I moved into my house six months ago, and in the midst of that crazy, busy, strange time, I felt a flicker of hope for acceptance and belonging.  I wonder what would Maria want to hear?

I rinse and stack and wipe down counters.  My phone pings; a text from one of my sisters.  I dry my hands to send and receive a few messages back and forth, then return to the …

The gift of fathers

I'd wake before the sun, and follow the hallway into the yellow light that was thrown from the kitchen.  My bare feet padded across the cool linoleum floor and stood waiting until I was invited up onto his lap.  There were remnants of runny eggs streaked across the white plate before him, and a lukewarm cup of coffee that I knew from experience tasted more like sugar and cream.  When he left for work, the mug would remain in my possession; a gift for early risers.

The remembering of him during my childhood flows in and out of my mind.  Moments emerge and collect into categories.  My adulthood analyzes, organizes, assigns.

We didn't have a lot of money, but we were never in need.  My Dad would leave us early in the morning to drive 18 wheelers until late in the evening.  Mom nurtured us kids.  Dad provided for us.

Before I reached my teen years, he managed to work as a truck driver and go back to college.  After graduating, he began to pastor a church and for decades he never t…