As night fell I couldn’t see where I was going, my phone was dying and my GPS kept leading me down the wrong roads. I remember reciting Psalm 23, as I drove.
Finally arriving at a little cabin in the woods, I walked into a room full of girls around my age and this one particular girl who Sarah (my friend leading the retreat) had spoken a lot about named Katherine Wolf.
As Katherine spoke about her near death experience, I sat still without taking a breath, it was intense, but she had this uncanny faith that made me wonder “how could she have so much faith when she has been through so much pain?”
I didn’t understand it, but it struck me deep, “there had to be more to this Jesus than I currently understood, He had to be more real than I had yet experienced.” Holding onto “Jesus” is one thing when life is going well, but then remaining in that after almost all has been lost was profound to me.
The word “hope” was not a word that informed my life, for me it was more like “hide and survive”. Hide from the pain and just try to make it through life.
But 6 years after that retreat, I sit here in LA privileged to work with Jay and Katherine Wolf and their ministry Hope Heals.
I never thought about the truth that Hope can actually heal you. It’s true and may look different than it does for Katherine, for me healing is more emotional than physical, it can also be mental or spiritual.
We all need healing in one way or another and the good news is, there is healing to be had.
Katherine and Jay’s story is an AMAZING book now. It is such a testimony of a God who does not leave us in the dark, even when all seems lost.
Katherine had her greatest moment of despair in brain rehab as she told God that everyone’s life would be better if she was gone, if she would have died, she said “Jay could marry a normal women and James could have a normal mommy,” but before that thought could fully land she was struck by a “dispatch from God” that went something like this…
Katherine, I am God you are not. There is a purpose in all of this. Just wait. You’ll see. There is no replacing you. Jay could never, ever marry a woman as amazing as you. James could never have a mommy like you. Think about what this will mean for his life. Mommy’s stroke will always be a part of his story. That is a gift to him. It will inform his life. Let him consider it pure joy as he grows. All of this will teach him in ways beyond anything you could say or do.
Trust Me. I am working out EVERYTHING for your good. Don’t doubt this truth just because you are in the darkness now. What’s true in the light is true in the dark. I know you can’t fight this. That doesn’t matter. All you have to do is be still and let Me fight for you. I will complete the good work I began when I gave you new life. I will carry it on to completion. Believe that. My nature is to redeem and restore and strengthen. This terrible season will come to an end. You will suffer for a little while and then I will carry you out of this.
You will see My goodness in the land of the living. Lean into this hope. Let it teach you how special you are.
Katherine has a bunch of favorite passages of scripture, but two that give me hope are…
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.
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It was exactly two years ago when I had this thought that Atlanta was not my ending spot. I am not sure I gave it a ton of space in my brain at the time, but it stuck. You know those revelations that are defiantly from God that just don’t leave your head, it was one of those….. I always thought I would move overseas to be a missionary. I knew the power of God’s grace and Jesus on the cross and I wanted to share it with people!
It was maybe a month later that California entered my brain. I had not been to the LA area in about ten years (or so) and had only been there once at this point… to be very frank it was in the middle of my party decade and I was so drunk I have almost no recollection of the entire trip!
Well, until last December!
I ended up back in LA with work and we were going to a Bible study led by Judah Smith in a really nice hotel in Beverly Hills. When we walked into the lobby, I had this little flash back and a thought came to my mind out of no where. “I have been here before, ten years ago partying and now I am back here for a Bible study.” I got completely overwhelmed at the fact that ONLY GOD could do that. Only He could take a party girl, who was literally picked up off the street so drunk and carried back to her hotel (I don’t even remember what happened to me because I was so intoxicated) and turn her life around in such a way that she would return for a BIBLE STUDY.
As we walked into the room with three hundred other attendees, we sat down and I started to look around. I noticed that these people reminded me of myself when I first walked into Buckhead Church kind of wondering about God. As tears kept falling down my cheeks in this hotel ballroom, I couldn’t really control myself. The weird part was, no one else was crying because what Judah was talking about wasn’t sad at all. I think I was crying because I knew where these people were: they were curious, they were hungry, they knew something wasn’t right with life and they wondered if it had anything to do with God. I have been there, that was me just seven years ago. I understood them and they might understand me. “What if I could play a tiny part in them understanding who Jesus really is?” I thought to myself.
I sent a text to my dear friend Sarah and said “I am really feeling I am supposed to move here. Kinda crazy but I just have more peace than ever. Will you help me pray? Love you! Like whoa” and her very calm and always encouraging response was “Oh Lindsay, I sense that for you too! It’s exciting, yes we will pray”
I prayed. God confirmed. I prayed again. God confirmed again. He confirmed in real tangible ways, and He confirmed in hilarious, ridiculous, impossible random ways. He confirmed and I decided to go!
My eyes are wide open and pointed at Jesus because when I look away from Him, I start to shiver, I start to question, I start to get sad at all I am leaving. But when I look up, when I think back, when I remember who I am going with and all He has done for me, I know this is the right step. I then get excited to watch Him write the story. Putting the Pencil Down is not just a blog name, it seems to have become the very theme of my life!
And for those who are interested in keeping up with the story He is writing, you can check in on a more daily digest of sorts at www.lindsayinLA.com (ps. nothing there yet!)
As a little tribute to starting my 37th year TODAY, I wanted to write out the 36 things I learned in my 36th year of life hoping they might just help you!
In no real order–
- Going to coffee with a guy doesn’t mean you have to marry them! (so don’t freak out like I did)
- Embracing how God designed you is one of the most freeing things you will ever do!
- Writing out your prayers is powerful because you can go back and read all God has done! Your eyeballs might just bug out of your head when you realize just how faithful He is!
- God has purpose in pain!
- God really does care about the tiny details of your life!
- Replace the lies you believe with TRUTH (in scripture) even if you have white index cards hanging up all over your house!
- Staying completely silent for 2 entire days IS strangely AMAZING!! #silentretreat
- TRUST that if God wants you somewhere He will make a way!
- God can and will love difficult people through you.
- Prayer works, I have NO idea how, but it does, so pray even when you don’t “feel” like it, actually especially when you don’t feel like it!
- Do what you are good at and ask someone to help you do what you are not good at! It’s ok, none of us are good at everything!
- It’s ok to hire a cleaning lady once and a while, SUCH A GIFT! Even if you are single and live in a 600 square foot loft! 🙂 #noshame
- Scheduling a “Date with Jesus” by putting it on your calendar once or twice a week is unbelievably healing for your soul!
- Christian dating books aren’t as cheesy as I thought.
- Keep walking in the direction of your dream, wait on God’s timing and enjoy the journey, He will show you and your eyes might just pop out of your head again!
- Following Jesus will take you places you never even thought about, aka the girl who hates cold ending up in Alaska for a week. #funny #kinda
- If you ask God to show you your weaknesses, He will!
- Do what you love even if you don’t get paid for it!
- Just Keep Going! You never know what is right around the corner.
- God births vision out of suffering, I have no idea why or how, but He does, watch for it!
- Being negative wont’ help you and honestly probably won’t make you any friends.
- Rest is OK, actually it’s GOOD!
- God knows the future, you really don’t have to figure it out!
- Comparison and jealousy hurt the heart of God because He made you and He wants you to be fully YOU and let that person be fully them!
- We don’t fight against flesh and blood, but instead evil spirits, so realize there is more at work than meets the earthly eye and the battle is always won on your knees.
- God is kind and really is for you!
- Fear of man will prove to be a snare and probably slow you down and prove to be a stumbling block in all God has for you!
- Don’t rely on anyone except God, love people, spend time with people, enjoy people, celebrate people, but rely fully on GOD, He knows!
- God will surprise you, pay attention and always give Him credit!
- God is always with us, ALWAYS.
- Scripture has power. Read it, even when you don’t fee like it, especially when you don’t feel like it!
- Worry doesn’t help anything or anyone! It just doesn’t! So stop wasting your time!
- I can rock climb! WHAT WHAT! and I enjoyed it! #whoknew
- Going to dinner by yourself can be super enjoyable!
- Get your sticky fingers off the plan and watch what God does!
36. Do what only you can do while you can do it! Enjoy the season of life God has you in! There is always a next, always a desire awaiting to be fulfilled, but “if you have to move an inch to be content you will never be content!” (I just learned that one last night, thanks Anna!)
P.E.O.P.L.E P.L.E.A.S.I.N.G is one of those things, those things I continually seem to struggle with, maybe not on the outside, but on the inside…So much so, I have Proverbs 29:25 “Fear of man will prove to be a snare”, written on a little white index card taped on my bathroom mirror.
And it is not only fear of what others think (aka fear of man) that I struggle with, it unfortunately spills into other areas of my life.
I work so hard to get over it and I do for a while, but somehow I let it sneak back in!
My pastor recently suggested I do a word study on the word fear in the Bible. I think she picked up on my constant struggle with fear, fear of all kinds. I AM SO OVER YOU FEAR. I am kicking you to the curb.
It’s fear and people pleasing that seem to hunt me down! I am about to hunt them down and as Jon Acuff says, punch fear in the face.
Fear is a tactic of the enemy to get us to not trust God. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you, God.” AND the second part of Proverbs 29:25 that I have tapped to my bathroom mirror says, “but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”
Why I forgot to put the second half of the verse on my mirror is beyond me! The entire verse reads, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”
Right there is my answer! TRUST instead of FEAR!
As I was doing my study on fear, I realized almost every scripture I read in the Bible said, fear GOD! I suddenly realized I feared everything else, but God. I know God doesn’t want us to be scared of Him, but rather hold Him with much reverence, KNOWING He is God, as in the God that created the universe! Fearing anything else is saying, I don’t trust that You are God, God! Then of course my prayer life and Bible reading lose their luster because I doubt God and it is this vicious little circle of destruction!
Just what the enemy would love, me to doubt God, His goodness and His love for me (and YOU)!
BUT. God IS LOVE! So let’s just remind the little enemy of THAT fact! God can’t help but love us, because HE IS LOVE!
Oh Lord, forgive me for putting others opinions above yours, how ludicrous!
“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) I might need to write this one on my arm with a sharpie.
God often reminds me that it doesn’t matter what ANYONE thinks of me. This folks, is hard to get through my thick, people-pleasing skull. BUT with Jesus, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
Thankful it is a journey, don’t let the enemy condemn you! You are doing awesome and God is proud of you!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
There is just something about an airport that is very special for God and I.
For many reasons actually but one especially, as it was on an airplane when my sin first flashed across the screen of my mind 6 years ago. I was crying so hard, snot was running everywhere, as God Himself was showing me my need for Jesus.
When I traveled over to Thailand last year, the strangest thing kept happening, flight after flight packed full, somehow a seat would always end up empty right beside me.
I remember being on Asia Air after 4 airplane rides, a lost passport and a night alone in Japan, I was tired and slightly emotional to say the least. I boarded the plane, just thankful I had made it that far. As they closed the door, I looked beside me and smiled as the seat next to me was again empty and I just knew it was God! It was God reminding me that He was indeed with me! I couldn’t stop smiling that whole leg of the trip. I had not really thought about that trip in months.
Until last week as I arrived at the airport on my way to a really great event, I suddenly felt overcome with sadness. I wasn’t sure why at first, but then I just felt old, I felt I had missed out on life, my friends all have husbands, kids, houses, all of these “things” that people our age “should have”. But me, I didn’t have any of “those” yet and it hit me hard that I was going to be 37 soon. I looked up and I said, “Lord, did I miss out?” I felt sad as I got on the train and hung my head, you know that kind of hopeless feeling, that was me.
I then walked into one of those little shops at the airport to get a water and I passed by the stand of “inspirational books” that are usually all about God. I had a flashback to over 7 years ago when I was in the airport and would stop and stare at those books, I didn’t know God back then, but I realized in that moment He was with me back then and He was indeed with me now.
Husband, no husband, kids, no kids, house, no house, God the creator of the entire universe was with me. I got overwhelmed again and shed a few tears right there as a 70‘s love song was playing over the sound system in the store, I then kind of snickered as I thought about this entire situation, it could have been a scene in a movie.
I felt better and boarded the plane with my new book that I bought from the little stand. Staring out the window, I was just thankful to God. As the cabin door was pulled closed, I turned my head back towards the plane and saw the empty seat next to me on this completely full fight, (que: tears) I knew at that moment without a doubt it was God saying
“My dear, I am with you!”
I was just overwhelmed with how real God is and how He can show us in the smallest little ways in our everyday lives that He is indeed with us. We just have to sometimes turn our heads to look!