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

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.

Jesus, take Every Wheel

the car I DIDN'T wreck (Robert did) @ freetosurrender.com.

The only car I’ve ever owned that I didn’t wreck … but Robert did.

I startled out of a deep sleep, trying to remember whether it is better to turn an out-of-control car into the spin or away from it.

Anyone who knows me would not be surprised to hear that I had a dream about wrecking my car. Driving has never been a strength of mine, and my list of mishaps is a mile long:

  • The time in high school when I failed to heed my mom’s advice to always warm the car up on a cold day. Suffice it to say that the small hole I etched into the ice on my windshield was far too tiny to help me recognize and avoid the oncoming van before I turned left in front of it.
  • My run-in with the police. They sandwiched my red ford focus between their squad cars and confiscated my keys because they thought I was involved in hit-and-run. It turned out that I only “almost” hit another car and ran.
  • The golf-cart incident when I was twelve that foreshadowed the many fender benders in my future.

The list goes on. But despite my extensive defensive driving resume, I am not someone who remembers her dreams. So, when I woke up to a racing heart and the sudden revelation that I had experienced this dream MANY times before, I wondered what it all might mean.

Surrendering Control

Almost immediately the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about surrender. It’s another thing that has never come easily to me. I’ve always been the type of person who likes to be in control. Of my life, my future, my relationships, of Olivia’s future … basically everything.
Suddenly I saw my attempts to control my life as the equivalent of a car spinning wildly on a sheet of ice. The effort I make in my own strength is slippery at best. Like black ice, it is deceptive. I don’t know that I am not really in control until it’s too late.

This blog is the fruit of my choice to surrender one more thing to Jesus. I’ve heard God asking me to write it for awhile now and have even been encouraged by a few friends, to whom I gave one flimsy reason or another about why I couldn’t. The truth is I was scared … scared to put myself out there and to become vulnerable to others. Even more scared to write about my sweet Olivia. What would people think of the way we’ve chosen to respond to her diagnosis? Would they label her or underestimate God’s plan for her life?

But if my dream showed me anything it’s that however scary faith in God may be at times, trusting in myself is scarier. I refuse to drive on black ice when I can lean on “the Rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)

So here goes! A blog about trusting God with Olivia .. and with everything else too. May we all learn to trust Him more.

Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.–Psalm 127:1

To read Olivia’s Story, click here.