navigating the fog

Living in the Northwest for the past six years I’ve grown accustomed to fog. It’s a normal morning greeting living in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. And I love it. Many of my friends know of my childhood fascination with fog. I loved flying because the plane would take me through the clouds – and I knew that clouds were simply fog that was in the sky. Growing up in South Dakota I daydreamed of living on the fluffy balls, but was always disappointed when it was foggy because the reality never held up to my imagination. I couldn’t sit on the fog or make fog snowballs to throw at friends.

Yet years later, when I moved to the Seattle area I was once again enamored with fog. Thankfully I had moved past wanting to live in the clouds, but was now captured by the beautiful views it created among the mountains.

However there was a quality of fog that I didn’t have much experience with until moving west – the lack of visibility it provides. In South Dakota I remember the fog lifting nearly as quickly as it fell. But it’s different in the Pacific Northwest – especially in the outskirts of Seattle where the fog settles among the mountains.

If I want to leave my house on foggy days then I’m forced to face the consequences and drive in limited visibility. Most times this isn’t a big deal. I turn on my fog lights, brake earlier and am more alert to my surroundings (what I can see of them). But there are days when the fog is thick and it’s difficult to see more than 10 feet in front of the car. Those are the times I slow way down. I don’t stop, though, because that’s what causes accidents. I keep doing the only thing I know to do – I move forward.

As with driving, sometimes life feels as if we are walking through the fog. It can be so thick we can’t see far down the path that lies ahead of us; sometimes we can only see the length of our arm. These can be scary seasons when we question which way is forward, how close we are to a ledge, if there is danger ahead, and if we are alone in the journey.

But just as with driving, we must keep moving forward. One step at a time. While we can’t see the path ahead, we can see our next step. And once we’ve taken that step we can see the following one. We must keep moving forward, doing what we know how to do.

In 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 it reads, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” (The Message)

It’s a scary proposition to trust so completely in God that He will not only lift the fog, but keep us safely on the path when we can’t see. Who knows, the fog may actually be a safety net for us, keeping us from seeing the big dangers that surround us! As verse 13 encourages us, what we must do is trust, hope and love. This is all we need to do during our foggy seasons. This is our moving forward one step at a time.


peace in the chaos

Five months ago I boarded a plane to visit a dear friend from high school who now lives in Costa Rica as a missionary. I had little expectation for what the trip would entail aside from sun, fun and adventure. What I got was all of that plus a major catch-up session, deep conversations about faith, memories that still come to mind and a friendship fortified through new experiences.

I’ve thought about this vacation often since returning to the States and how to best share it with others. This blog seems the natural outlet, but I’ve had a difficult time putting my experiences into words. How do you adequately describe seven days of unplugging from American culture and technology? How do you process the genuine friendliness that strangers extend? How do you share the impact deep conversations with a close friend have on your life? This is where I’ve been stuck spinning my wheels. And as I spin, time passes and the trip is further in the rear view mirror. There comes a point that it seems so long ago that it would be useless to share. And yet I have a driving sense to share.

Which brings me to this: over the next several weeks it’s my commitment to you - my family, friends and extended friends - to share about what I learned about people, culture, life and faith while in Costa Rica this summer. I realize it was a short trip and that it may seem odd that it impacted me so much - but I can’t explain it and so I must share it.

While many moments stand out and there are many I think about often, one has continued to surface several times since returning, simply because of where I live and the culture with which I’m surrounded. Being so close to Seattle and getting into the city multiple times a month, while simultaneously working for a large, busy, event-driven church, my life is often consumed with noise and activity.

On one of my last days in Costa Rica, in the midst of downtown San Jose, with horns honking, people walking and all manner of life happening around us, my friend and I visited a beautiful, old church. We took our time looking at stained glass windows, artwork and even sat on one of the pews near the altar for a quiet moment with God.

I took several long, deep breaths to rest and silence my mind and soul, paying close attention to God and what He was saying to me. What I felt brought a smile to my face: Even in the middle of a busy city, overflowing with life, you can find peace with Me if you quiet yourself and remove yourself from the noise and focus. I am that close. You can have peace in the chaos when you turn to Me.

Peace in the chaos. That is what I constantly seek. In the busyness of work; in the running here and there; in the explosions of relationships and life, peace in the chaos is my heart’s cry. And there God was, telling me exactly how to find it.

So as the city moved around me I stopped. I breathed. I listened. I found my pathway to peace in the chaos.


A pep talk and sacrifice

The past several weeks have been filled with highs and lows. Days that were stellar and days that were not. I’ve run hard, pushed beyond what I thought I could, was up early and out late, and have slept poorly. I have not been at peak performance mentally, physically or emotionally. As a backstory, I’ve bought and moved into a new house, camped with a large group of friends, celebrated birthdays, led major events, experienced family medical issues, worked full time, dog sat for a week and picked up a freelance copy editing job. That I’ve been busy is an understatement.

All this time I’ve continuously given myself a pep talk that I can do it. All I had to do was just make it through August. As a proper church girl, I reminded myself of the importance to stop and give thanks to God for the oomph to get through each day without collapsing. 

It was early July as I was reading through the Psalms that two verses in particular caused me come to a hard stop. Psalm 50:14-15 reads, “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” I read it over and over: Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God. Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God. Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God.

It naturally lead to the question, have I made thankfulness my sacrifice to God? It’s not only a question of if I stop to express my gratitude to the Lord, but if it reaches the level of being sacrificial in its expression. I found it convicting that just before these verses, God tells us that He is pleased with the offerings that are being presented to Him (vs. 7-13). But they are offerings of things that are already His; they are things that He has given to us so that we can give back to Him. But what He really wants to receive as a sacrifice is us. When it comes to gratitude, it’s not about our actions; it’s about our heart.

"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High." To be transparent, my thankfulness wasn’t at that level. The time or effort it took to express my gratitude was not lengthy or deep or difficult. I’m not positive it’s much better now, nearly two months later, but my heart is tender and attentive to move toward sacrificial gratitude.

I absolutely love what comes next in this passage: a promise of God’s deep love for us. “Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” His care for us, however, is sandwiched between our call to express our heart to Him. As we sacrifice thanksgiving to Him, He will help us in our difficult moments. It is then our turn to again offer Him praise and the glory He deserves.

The big question I am forced to ask myself as I read this passage and write this post with fresh eyes and a fresh experience of calling on God during this difficult season is, have I truly expressed my thankfulness as a sacrifice to God? I’ll be pondering this question for weeks to come and would love to hear your experiences.


pause and plant

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” — 2 Peter 1:5-11 

This scripture has hung in my heart and mind all week. I’ve read it before, but its call to a personal and active maturing captured my attention this time around. How often are we guilty of reading scripture, desiring to grow, but not taking the necessary steps to actual growth? True confessions: I’m guilty.

This passage in 2 Peter calls us to “make very effort.” Not to make AN effort, but EVERY effort. That means it’s up to me. It doesn’t call me to a lackadaisical approach, but a full on pursuit.

I love scripture. It captures my heart, mind and imagination with the stories of how:
- God performed miracles among the Israelite’s (the manna, parting the Red Sea, Abraham and Sarah)

- The promises God has for us today (He’s preparing a place for us in Heaven, He is FOR us and not AGAINST us, He heals the ache in the heart of the hopeless)

-And its call for higher living (love your neighbor as yourself, take care of the widows and orphans, defend the cause of the fatherless)

All of that is fine on the surface. They are nice little stories and sentences that make us feel good and give us hope. I go back to them over and over again when I feel weak or insignificant or maligned. But when I’m being honest with myself (and you), it’s not often that I pause and plant my feet in them, making a conscious effort to live them out in fullness. Sure, in part scripture encourages me and sets me back on the path. But the all-out pursuit isn’t there like it is with a fitness regimen or when I’m planning a vacation or organizing a work event. Those are times when I focus and work hard (“make every effort”) to accomplish a goal so that I’m not “ineffective and unproductive.”

When I think about my faith, what is the difference that keeps me from the pursuit? Me. Like so many, I am my worst enemy.

I write this as much for you all to consider, as for me to grasp. I feel like Paul when he wrote to the Corinthian church about running in such a way to receive the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

I am thankful that as I run the race – as I work at maturing my faith, self-control, godliness, love and the others – it is for something more than just being “better.” I’m thankful that it’s not my effort that saves me (only His grace can do that), but my efforts do confirm God’s work in me. The constant growth keeps me effective, productive and in-tune with Jesus and what His life and death means in my life. It keeps my eyes open to the pain and brokenness that surrounds. It guarantees that I will not stumble, even when life gets difficult. It confirms that I am His – not just in word, but in deed.

So let me ask the difficult question: are you making “every” effort or just “an” effort? Have you paused to plant your feet in the promises of scripture or are you tip toeing across the surface? What is holding you back from the pursuit? I’d love to hear your stories!