A New Pair of Glasses

peroxisomal disorder @ freetosurrender.com

Olivia rocking her new glasses

Olivia likes to throw things. This is fine when we’re in a contained space, but we now live on a 500-acre farm and happened to be meandering through it when she threw her glasses out of the stroller a couple of weeks ago.

Robert and I must’ve had our eagle eyes on the other five little girls that are under our charge, because neither of us witnessed the glasses throwing incident. So, we ordered a new pair, and Robert and Olivia made the drive to Fort Worth to pick them up today. When they got home, the next two hours went something like this:

I put Olivia’s new glasses on.
She threw them off.
I put them on.
She threw them off.
(Repeat too many times to count.)

Olivia expressed her frustration by screaming, crying, and turning red. I bottled mine up and unfairly erupted on Robert later.

Eternal Glasses

Apparently, we both needed a new pair of glasses. Olivia is far-sighted (she sees objects that are far away more clearly), but I can be very near-sighted at times. I tend to magnify the things that are right in front of me–the here and now, the tangible, whatever seems most pressing–and forget that God has called me to look at things through eternal glasses.

“…While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”–II Corinthians 4:18 (KJV)

Temporal vs. Eternal

Pastor Eddie Trice–who officiated our wedding and is like a second father to me–defines the word temporal as “subject to change.” So many of the things in my life that cause stress, anxiety and fear are temporal. They are subject to change.

My new glasses allow me to see that whatever is eternal is all that really matters. God’s character is eternal. His goodness, His strength, His power and His faithfulness will outlast any problem I could ever face. God’s Word is eternal. “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”–Isaiah 40:8 (NLT) That means that God’s promises will endure. His plan for my life, and for Olivia’s, will persevere to the end. The name of JESUS is eternal and is higher than anything on earth. “… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth …”–Philippians 2:10 (NLT)  My relationship with God is eternal. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”–Philippians 1:21 (NIV)

The frustrations of daily life, impossible circumstances, broken relationships, sickness and disease, even death–ALL OF THESE are subject to change. They grow dim in the light of eternity.

When I close my eyes to the world’s way of thinking and put on eternal glasses, I begin to see …

  • MIRACLES where I saw impossibility
  • OPPORTUNITY where an obstacle once stood
  • A MOMENT TO SERVE instead of an inconvenience
  • THE CHANCE TO GROW rather than a reason for frustration
  • A BIG GOD, not big problems

Let’s put eternity’s glasses on. Surrender our own way of thinking for His. Magnify God instead of circumstances. Close our eyes to doubt and open them to faith. Look up!


Thanks to Robert Chapman, Chris Gilliam, Crystal Mott, Brandon Pelton, and Katy Skogberg for playing on the recording of this song.

More Real
by Crystal Mott and Holly Chapman

I walk away, and I close my eyes
Try to escape, the fear that I face
I need to find, strength to get me through this fight
So, I close my eyes and I can only see You

You’re more real than the air that I am breathing
More real than the pain that I am feeling
More real than impossibility 
So, I close my eyes and I can only see You

I’m in the dark; don’t know where to turn
I’m so confused
Can’t anybody tell me what to do
‘Cause I can’t seem to find my way
I close my eyes and I can only see You

I close my eyes, I walk away
I get lost in Your love, Your embrace
All the pain is stripped away
I open my eyes
WITHOUT FEAR

Holding on and Letting Go

holding on @ freetosurrender.com

At times it feels as if we are hanging hazardously  from the edge of a cliff; in those moments, the only salvation is found in releasing a precarious grip in exchange for the steady hand of the Savior. 

This is is the story of my “Isaac life”–the only way I know how to describe the spiritual phenomenon that allows us to simultaneously hold on and let go.

When you have a child with a serious medical diagnosis, the world and human instinct tell you to hold on tight. SEARCH for answers. DO something. HOVER to protect what is fragile. And I did those things. I scoured the internet looking for an obscure clinical trial or study. I made a mental list of everything a good mother should do and checked it twice. I fretted over every sniffle, cough and low-grade fever.

Sarah Struggled Too

Thousands of years ago, another woman reacted to a difficult situation in much the same, desperate way. She was Jewish, and I am a random mix of Dutch, Irish and Cherokee. Her access to health care was beyond limited, while I have the benefit of modern medicine at my fingertips. But the God we serve is the same then and forever, and He still keeps his promises today.

When Sarah, couldn’t conceive, she took matters into her own hands. In offering her servant to her husband, she accepted a counterfeit to God’s promise. This is often the result when we choose to control things that belong in the hands of God. But God’s grace was sufficient then, just as it is now. Isaac was miraculously born, despite Sarah’s interference, and God’s promise to Abraham would be fulfilled through him.

Abraham’s Sacrifice

Then God asked for the unthinkable, and Abraham found himself trekking toward a mountain with a knife in his hand, as his teenage son trailed alongside. Abraham’s words to his servants are the key to faith that holds on while letting go.

“Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”–Genesis 22:5 (NLT)

Words of Faith

Not just I, but WE. “WE will worship there, and then WE will come right back (emphasis mine).” Abraham had been asked to sacrifice Isaac–his only son, and he was willing. He chopped wood and loaded it up. He went so far as to tie his beloved son up, raising the knife high overhead. But before Abraham ever climbed the mountain to sacrifice Isaac, he spoke words that revealed the depth of his trust in God: “WE will come right back.” Abraham let go of his promised son and surrendered him fully to God, come what may. But the totality of his surrender was matched by the strength of his faith in the God who keeps promises. And God did keep His promise.

Holding on to the Promise

God has been gracious to whisper many promises to our hearts concerning Olivia. Robert and I  hold tightly to those promises, even as we remove our own hands from the situation–surrendering her to our trustworthy God. At times it feels as if we are hanging hazardously  from the edge of a cliff; in those moments, the only salvation is found in releasing a precarious grip in exchange for the steady hand of the Savior.

I’ll write more about the promises that we hold on to, but today I’d like to ask you to stand in prayer with us for Olivia. Below, I’ve written a short  prayer that will probably be followed by many more in future posts to this blog.  If God has stirred your heart in faith, will you pray? If you know others who would also pray for Olivia, will you share this post?

 He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.–Romans 4:20-21 (KJV)

Father,

I thank You for your goodness and that in You, there is no shadow of change. God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–You come through for your people today, just as You always have. I pray that You would strengthen our hearts with faith so that we are fully persuaded that You are able to perform your promises in our lives. Teach us not to stagger before your awesome words but to hold firmly to them and to You. I ask that You would teach us to know You better so that You are greater in our eyes than the problems that we face. May we understand your Father-heart for us and comprehend the length, width, height and depth of Your great love. Father, I thank you that your promises for Olivia are certain and that her future is secure in You. Thank you for your good plan for her life and that your purposes triumph over Satan’s plan to kill, steal, and destroy. I declare that You are Healer and ask that You bring wholeness and health to every part of Olivia’s body. Thank you for the sacrifice that Jesus made in dying for Olivia’s salvation and for the stripes that He took for her healing. I place my faith in the work that was done on the cross so long ago. As You show yourself strong in and through Olivia’s life, I pray that people would come to know You and that Your name would be lifted high. I entrust Olivia to your care, knowing that Your love for her is greater than I can fathom. As others join us in praying for Olivia, I ask that you would be faithful to fulfill your promises in their lives too.

In Jesus’ awesome name, Amen. 

To read Olivia’s Story, click here.

 

 

Cliff Jumping and Free Falling

Cliff jumping and Free Falling

The doctor said, “There is no treatment for this disorder. Children may survive to school-age.”

She was talking about my only child, and I felt like I was being pushed to the edge of a cliff.

Rewind the clock a few months, and I’m sitting at a keyboard, writing a song whose lyrics describe the coming day in the doctor’s office astonishingly well. Back then my only concern was learning to navigate the world of new-motherhood, and I knew nothing of the rare medical diagnosis that was in our future. Still the words flowed freely …

At the end of the road that I’ve been on
Open ahead, I’ve reached the edge
Looking down, I hold my breath.
Nothing left to do but jump or run
Every other option is long gone
My heart beats fast
I turn my head
The path behind me looks so easy
The cliff before feels so high.

It’s a song about faith vs. fear, and trust that jumps instead of retreating. You see surrender is not a symbol of weakness but a sign of courage. In His grace, God fills–literally injects–us with courage and we choose to place our confidence in Him, lest fear overtake us. “… Perfect love drives out fear,” and we can find that love both at the top of the cliff and also in the free fall (I John 4:18).

I wanna free fall, Your love catches me
Your love catches me
Your love catches me

Cliffs emerge in all of our lives, whether in the form of a crisis or an impossible dream, a trial or a bold risk. In all cases, the choice is simple:  jump or run.

Count the cost of the jump, the price is high
Everything I’d lose fills my mind
I gather courage, take a step
Turn my back on the lie
That if I lose my life, I won’t survive
Come up to the edge, I fix my eyes on You
The world behind is quickly fading
Feel the rush, I take the plunge

Jumping is trusting. Trusting that God is who He said He is–trustworthy to the core. That He is GOOD, no matter what. And that He is in control and has our ultimate good in mind.

I jumped off my cliff in a doctor’s office and spoke the first of many faith-filled words:  “I understand what you are saying, and I am not in denial of the facts. But God is bigger.”

Life since then has been far from easy yet full of peace. There is joy and strength and beauty to be found in the free fall–especially when Jesus is doing the catching.

And it’s nothing the that I thought it could be 
‘Cause the ride is full of twists and turns. 
But I know You’re always here with me. 
I’m not alone when I reach for You.

*Thank you to Robert Chapman, Chris Gilliam, Crystal Mott, Katy Skogberg, and Brandon Pelton for playing on the recording of this song. 

Click here to read Olivia’s Story.