This Weary Heart Of Mine

krista and gia

This Valentines Day, I watched while you indulged in gourmet chocolates from a tulle wrapped box, and how surprised you were when a beautiful bouquet was awaiting you on the counter… I saw the sweet valentines that are still covering your refrigerator, and the dishes you ordered from your favorite restaurant…

But that’s not what Valentines Day had in store for me this year…

My Valentines day left me blind-sighted and broken-hearted.

BUT before you decide not to read another word of my sob story, and before you come to your senses and realize your time could be better spent reading someone else’s (far more eloquent) words… I wanted to share with you something God brought to light about this weary heart of mine.

It started when I awoke to hear my daughter whimpering in her bed. When like any parent, I instinctively made my way to her side only to find that her sheets were sopping wet around her. Still groggy and disoriented, I can remember sweeping her up in my arms and making my way to the bathroom to get her cleaned up.

Moments later, after her cries had settled and her flailing limbs were wrapped in the warmth of a towel, I held her close and whispered the sincerest apology – knowing full well that both of us were opposed to baths before sunrise, and before the coffee had been brewed!

It was around that time that I fully expected my usually rambunctious toddler, to break from my arms – NAKED and running towards the living room squealing in delight at the thought of her triumphant escape!

… But she didn’t. Willingly she would stay, wrapped in my arms, the weight of her head resting deliberately on my chest.

Alarmed, I held my palm to her forehead checking for a temperature… she never flinch.

When it became apparent what she was doing the tears instantly welled in my eyes! My precious little girl was listening attentively to the sound of my heartbeat! Likely for the first time since she was born!

I studied her as she listened and saw the familiarity the sound of my heart brought, the comfort she found in its unending rhythm, how captivated she was by it’s strength...

… STRENGTH?! How could that be? My heart was weak and shaken – a far cry from the strength it possessed all those years ago!

But as I watched her listen intently to each beat I realized, not only was she the only person who truly knew the sound of my heart, but that to her, it was still as recognizably strong as ever! Even after all this time, and even amidst my current brokenness!

As I held her head close to that weary heart of mine, there was no resisting the tears that swept down my cheeks…

I was overwhelmed with gratitude knowing that My heart … MY GOD had never failed me!

Overwhelmed knowing that even when our hearts are crushed and our spirits are most feeble, that there will always be a part of us, up until our very last breath, that will remain strangely strong! That even when we feel we can’t endure any longer, that there will always be something alive and thriving deep within us, even still.

Like a soothing lullaby from our Creator, each beat makes sweet promises that if He was able to preserve our heart through the pain of the past, that He will indeed sustain it through the paralyzing uncertainty and fear of the future.

While the cruelest hand the world can deal may succeed in taking every material thing I have worked so hard for… while it may unapologetically and cold-heartedly tear the ones I love from my grasp, and crush every dream that I have fought so courageously for…

There is NO denying

the enduring power,

and undoubtable strength,

of this ever weary heart of mine!

“Come to Me with all your weaknesses: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Rest in the comfort of My Presence, remembering that nothing is impossible with Me.” Luke 1:37

“When anxiety attempts to wedge its way into your thoughts, remind yourself that I am your Shepherd. The bottom line is that I am taking care of you; therefore, you needn’t be afraid of anything. Rather than trying to maintain control over your life, abandon yourself to My will. Though this may feel frightening—even dangerous, the safest place to be is in My will” Ps 32:1-4

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If You Trust God, Why Are You Still Talking About It?

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I have my Dad to thank for some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

Growing up he taught me you could never be too picky about boys or cars (and that Ford’s were out of the question!) He told me to find a man who loves his mom, and that “you are only in trouble if you get caught” the night he spotted me out of the corner of his eye, piling hoards of toilet paper and silly string into my car all while making empty promises that I was “NOT going t-peeing!”

But one day his light-hearted encouragement changed to a different tune.

I remember the night he sat across from me in a dimly lit restaurant. He knew full well what was going on in my life at the time, but had invited me out that night because he wanted to hear it from me!

My words were almost apologetic, though there was nothing I could take back even if I wanted to. I was just a girl whose life in no way resembled the dreams I imagine my father had hoped for me all those years ago…

And for that I felt like a failure.

He listened intently, nodding in affirmation as I shared about the unfavorable hand life had dealt me, while not saying much in return. Yet the few words he did speak were ones I will never forget…

After ‘surveying the damage’ he asked poignantly, “So what if it gets WORSE?!”

I was taken aback by his callousness.

…Worse?!? I struggled to grasp where he was going with this, and wondered whether he knew that his attempt at encouragement was terribly backfiring.

I stumbled over my words as I searched for the right response to his seemingly cold-hearted question. “Well, I mean… I guess I’d just have to trust God then wouldn’t I?” I said sarcastically as if to dismiss his absurdity.

“Do you trust Him now?”

“Of course Dad!” I snapped defensively, dropping my fork with a clank, not caring who around me heard.

“If you trust Him, then why are you still talking about it?”

(Silence.)

As a side note: oftentimes I question the validity of reality shows due to the fact that, “Who in their right mind would sob and scream in the middle of a restaurant?!?” But then I am always reminded of what occurred next…

The tears flowed freely…the wild bubbling of the lobster tank next to us couldn’t mask the heightening tone in my voice… the ‘ugly tears’ flowed causing my mascara to send trails down my cheeks… and I was forced to turn away and fidget with the salt shaker every time the waitress came by to refill our drinks, only to return to my Sob-Fest once she had left…

My Dad would go on to explain his position and remind me how much he loved me. He even hugged me tightly on our way out, though I stubbornly arched my back in resistance!

He acknowledged that he had made me mad furious… And he was right! 

He was right about how infuriated I was – and whether I liked it or not at the time – he was right about the fact that if I indeed trusted God as much as I said I did, I wouldn’t feel the need to stew in my problems hopelessly!

It’s a tough pill to swallow but he’s right.

If we truly trusted God we’d stop talking about the hopelessness of our situation…

If we trusted God we’d confide more in Him and less in Google. And we would certainly dwell less on the statistics that are, or are not, in our favor…

If we trusted Him we wouldn’t insist on bringing our petition to Him frantically, over and over, as if He didn’t hear us the first time, the second time, the third time…well – who are we kidding? The BAZILLIONTH time!

There is an Italian saying, “Il bel far niente,”  which means, “the beauty of doing nothing” and for years that has been my faith mantra every time my panic takes over and I attempt to do things in my own strength! (Though whether I chant it over and over while rocking back and forth in fetal position, is none of your business! 😉 

This mantra reminds me to stop talking, stop controlling, stop manipulating the situation to work in my favor, and stop excusing my lack of faith under the guise that I am ‘weighing my options’… 

It helps me remember that while I can say the right prayer over and over, have the best intentions, and hide behind the most eloquent blog post, that I can still lack a tremendous amount of faith! And that oftentimes the strongest test of faith is one where God asks you to do absolutely nothing!

In the Bible the Israelites were asked to do the same thing in a moment of complete desperation…

“…Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today…. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm. – Exodus 14:13

God’s only requirement was that they stand still and watch His deliverance unfold!

In Psalm 46:10 again it says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (and in Krista’s Expanded Version – with added emphasis and a healthy dose of God-given attitude – it says, ‘put down the peanut butter, set aside the wine, get your butt off google, and FOR THE LOVE STOP TALKING ABOUT IT and know that He is God!’)

You see, last week we prayed for God to open our eyes…and whether or not we choose to believe it, He heard us. The first time!

He also wanted me to extend the message that He is eternally grateful for all the times we’ve felt the need to  repeat  …er, ‘better clarify’ our prayers to Him in our attempt at helping Him get it right, but that going forward, He only needs us to ‘stand still and remain calm.’

So together let’s lean into the uncertainty of the future, take a deep breath, and wait for the Lord to rescue us today.

And not a thing more!

…though if it takes us rocking back and forth in fetal position, I won’t judge! 🙂

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The Prayer I Have Never Prayed

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Last week I was the picture of strong faith.

I must have put a big smile on Gods face, when early in the week I sat in the same diner where I had once questioned God’s plan for my life (You remember the one: where what I lacked in faith, I stuffed my face with mediocre chocolate cake on the corner of 52nd and 8th)

This time however, I sat in the diner praising God between sips of coffee, and thanking Him for all the ways He has shown up for my family this last year. Even solemnly swearing to never allow my faith to ‘slip-up’ like that ever again!

… and surely it wouldn’t,  I was much more seasoned now!

Later in the week, I gave some wise-beyond-my-years encouragement to some friends who were lacking in the ‘faith department,’ and gave them some pointers and a Bible passage that I had found just a couple of days earlier.

Verses that God must’ve brought to my attention for them, and so obviously, not for me! Right?!

… After all I was a frickin’ faith warrior!!

That is, until my lease agreement arrived in the mailbox.

I will spare you the details. Just know that there is NOTHING that will elevate a New Yorker’s stress level like an impending lease renewal!

There is only one major requirement for living in Manhattan – other than possessing a piss-poor attitude – and that’s money, money, (and according to my new lease) MORE money!

… More money than the non refundable $8,000 I had to put down on this apartment… more money than the monthly rent I pay that is DOUBLE my mortgage back home… more money for the apartment that has been at the source of my most traumatic posts and my need for therapy, thanks to 1.) Mice (PLURAL) 2.) The pure madness that ensues when one’s child gets the stomach flu and vomits on literally EVERYTHING and you don’t have a washer and dryer... Oh, memories.

I think you would agree, my apartment is NOT worth MORE!

… And those 3 pieces of paper awaiting our signatures, was all it took to throw me over the edge, and spiraling out of control into a fit of faithlessness! And since I am such an overachiever in my lack of faith, it was only fitting that my full-blown panic mode would lead me to question whether God even wanted me in New York City in the first place!

But then I remembered those verses that I had read this last week – the same verses I had humorously, believed God couldn’t possibly have had in mind for me! (Insert: dramatic scoff)

In 2 Kings 6:15-17 there is a story about Elisha and his servant.

When the servant got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

“Don’t be afraid! For there are more on our side than on theirs!”

Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young mans eyes, and when he looked up He saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

Much like mine, the servants faith was shaken out of nowhere! One day he was going about his business (maybe even gloating at the ‘mighty faith warrior’ he saw staring back at him in the mirror…) and then all of a sudden he was crying out in overwhelming fear! And if he was like me, drowning his sorrows one spoonful of peanut butter at a time…

What struck me most though was Elisha’s prayer… a prayer that I had never prayed before!

A prayer for God to open our eyes when we are most fearful, and when we’re struggling see what He is doing in our livesWhen worry, stress, and our lack of faith, have us THISCLOSE to giving up on the life God has so beautifully designed for us (at times, over only silly things like an increase in rent!)

When it seems that the troops are closing in and we feel hopeless at the circumstances ahead of us, a prayer asking the Lord to reveal to us – the even more powerful army – that He has ready to wage war over our dreams, and at times for our mere survival!

We need only look to Him…

It says that, when [the servant] looked up he saw that the hillside was filled with horses and chariots of fire…”

It is when the servant took his eyes off of what was overwhelming him – and looked up – that he became less focused on what was threatening to take him down, and more focused on what the Lord had perfectly orchestrated to make him stand triumphant!

The truth is, these last few days I have stared dead-on at the circumstance ahead of me. The mascara has run… the peanut butter has been consumed… and unfortunately no matter how long I study the lease agreement the number never changes….

In my panic I have contemplated running from the very city that I know deep down God has called me to, and yet never once did I look up to Christ for the comfort and reassurance that I so desperately need! Never once have I prayed for the Lord to open my eyes, and wipe away every last ounce of faithlessness that has been clouding my vision of His perfect plan for my life!

Like Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid! For there are more on our side than on theirs!” So no matter the enormity of the troubles we are up against today, and no matter how hopeless we may feel, Our God has got this! And He will dominate anything that stands in the way of us and the life He has beautifully laid out for us! (… In much of the same way that the Seahawks DOMINATED the Broncos! Sorry, shameless plug! *Cough* GO HAWKS! Alright, back to Jesus–)

…And so I will look to the Lord and pray the prayer I have never prayed, 

“Heavenly Father, Open our eyes…

 And if next time you can remind me this truth BEFORE I put my foot in my mouth, all the better!”  😉

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