When You Hit a Brick Wall


I was reminded of a Scripture after falling apart at my computer, crying and carrying on like a spoiled brat not getting her way. The words came to me like a whisper:

“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10 NIV.)


Let me explain: I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. It’s tucked so tenderly within my heart, and I know God put it there. It’s something I believe He’s called me to do, so I will keep writing as He keeps leading.

And yet, He’s put other things in my heart that I don’t want to waste: I love talking (big shocker there for anyone who’s spent five minutes with me!) and encouraging others, and I love to create graphic art; taking photographs at the lake with my hubby and hurrying home to upload the pic so I can add under that bold sunset sinking into the water, “God is faithful.”

So when I prayed and felt led to do something with those photographs, got all my legal ducks in a row, and tried to flip the “Open for Business” sign on my little ecommerce shop, I was crushed when nothing came together. All that work and nothing to show for it.

Of course I did what any struggling entrepreneur might do when she hits a brick wall: I cleaned the house. Nothing helps to brush aside frustration and disappointment like a sparkling toilet.

But what I learned this morning while spending time with God was that when something gets too hard (trying to get this business up and running) or the wait is too long (also known as being a writer), I try to pass the time by either finding a shortcut or getting involved in something else. I like the feeling of accomplishment, looking back at the day and feeling like I did something. Yes. Even if it’s a dust bunny free living room that will be swarming with them in a few hours. (I wish they’d stop having parties at our house!)

Sometimes it’s as if I’m not even wandering in the wilderness, waiting to see God’s miraculous move in my life, but hitting that brick wall wherever I turn; I can’t even wander.

I finally realized when this happens, God is hemming me in, pulling me back, drawing me closer. Not to stop things from happening but to help me regain the right perspective, the right focus. To keep my spiritual eyes locked onto what’s really important:


You and I may feel at times that we’re walled-in, and no matter what we do we can’t move forward. But if we will just learn (please help us, Lord) to breathe, relax, and trust that His plan is going to happen and will be so much better than anything we can force to come together, then we will have all the strength we need to stand, to wait, and to move forward when He calls.

And we’ll also have the grateful, joyful heart we need to truly appreciate His miracle when it happens, when He opens the right door in that wall of ours.

“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10c NLT.)

 “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 28:7 NLT.)

(Photo from Pexels.)

The Suitcase – Letting Go

heavy suitcase

Hauling around past failures, regrets, and hurts in a ridiculously large suitcase (of course it’s large, there’s a lot of that stuff, right?) is exhausting. And just when you think you’ve got a good grip on it and can handle it, or maybe you’ve figured out how to hide it so you can forget about it, you find yourself tripping over the contents that have spilled out in an ugly display at your feet.

You hear laughter.

What in the world is going on? What are these painful things, these ugly memories doing all over the place? You loaded them up a long time ago and stashed the suitcase. Somewhere. In your closet or maybe in the basement where you store all the musty things from your past you hope to forget.

But there they are: the very details of your past glaring at you. They’re not forgotten at all but were merely hidden. And as you bend to pick them up and shove them inside, ONE MORE TIME, you realize this is like the millionth time you’ve done this and the simple act of touching these things again and hurrying to get them out of sight is absolutely draining.

Tears are landing in fat plops on that big failure of yours; the one where you think you let everyone down. And you feel sick to your stomach when you shove the memory of someone who unknowingly crushed your spirit back into the suitcase. What is it? A photograph? A note; the careless words used lightly, still weighing heavily on your heart? You’re not sure what it is, you can’t even see it because everything is a blur, but you can feel it in your hands. The pain is still very real. You give it a good crumple and thrust it back in the suitcase.

Your face is soaked and your heart is aching all over again as you shove all the garbage back where it belongs into the suitcase you plan to hide again. Only now, you can’t even close it.

Somehow, there’s more pain.

You fall to the floor in a heap and sob. You don’t know how to handle it anymore. There’s no one who sees all that you try to carry or all that you’re trying to hide. And now, it’s too full to close and too heavy to move.

Again, you hear some sort of sickening laughter.

Your head hurts and things are so blurry. The truth is even blurring. What was that you just thought a moment ago? No one sees you and all you’re trying to carry or hide?

That, my friend, is a lie. And you know who the father of lies is, don’t you? The enemy is the one who finds joy in your pain and laughs when you’re down. (Don’t be surprised if you notice a bunch of rocks hidden among the contents of your suitcase…each one is a lie meant to weigh you down even more.)

If the enemy can keep you slumped over and discouraged over your past, he’s going to do it. If he can stop you from letting go and moving on, well, he’s going to do that too.

The truth is GOD SEES YOU. He knows all about your suitcase and every article down to the most minute stitch of material, every crinkle on the papers and photographs, and every word on every note you’ve tried to ball up and forget. (Yes, He sees those rocks too. He crushes those lies into a fine powder and brushes them aside, right down the gutter.)

You know, God is the One who gave you the suitcase. Not so you’d carry everything around or stop and open it to relive the moments that have hurt you, remembering past conversations that cut you, or those so-called failures of yours.

Actually, those “failures” have drawn you closer to God so can you really call them that?

God will help you hang on to those important things. Those things that shine with truth. Those things that have made you stronger and have helped you become the person God wants you to be.

God didn’t give you the suitcase so you’d stash it somewhere, but so you could pack up all of that stuff and hand it over to Him. He’s the One who can carry it all. He’s the One who wants to. For you.

That’s how much He loves you. And that’s how much He wants to free you so you can move on to live the abundant life He has for you.

Hand it over, my friend. All of it. And let go.

“When he [the devil] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44c NIV.)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV.)

 “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV.)

A Soaring Kite: Being Used by God


I remember landing a job with a tiny book publishing business many years ago. I was thrilled, believing it would give me more insight into the whole business of writing and publishing.

But my first day on the job was a real eye opener. I had a pickup truck and the two owners needed their only employee (that was me) to move some furniture from their office back to their house (they also lived together). And I was told this sort of thing would probably happen again.

I drove home that day feeling used. I wasn’t hired because I have a deep respect for writing and would take publishing books seriously.

I was hired because they needed someone with a truck to move their furniture.

Being used is an awful feeling. Your mind starts out in a hot air balloon, dreaming about the possibilities of an opportunity or relationship only to have reality come along like a prehistoric pterodactyl (okay, so that’s not reality but you get the point), shredding your balloon and sending you plummeting down into a forest of briars. You survive, of course, but you walk away bleeding and pretty banged up.

And you tell yourself it’s never going to happen again. You will not allow yourself to be taken advantage of again. You’ll pay more attention next time. You’ll think things through. You promise yourself to stay on the ground and avoid the hot air balloon ride of dreaming big about such-and-such or so-and-so.

So you take a seat on a rock overlooking a cliff and you watch as others begin to hike in all sorts of directions on rocky and grassy paths. And you shake your head as you notice others climbing aboard their hot air balloons. Maybe you even say a little prayer for them. After all, you know what it feels like to be used and how hard the fall hurts.

You decide you’d rather sit on this rock all day (all week, all year) and play it safe than risk something painful like that again.

But what if Someone wants to use you for something awesome? What if there is Someone who doesn’t want to hurt you but wants you to experience something greater than you can dream and lift you higher than any hot air balloon ride?

That Someone would be God.

He’s been teaching me something lately:  At the end of all of my dreams, all of my past and painful experiences, all of my let downs and past failures – at the place where all of those things collide with my total surrender, the throwing-my-hands-up-in-the-air and admitting, “I don’t know how to figure my life out or fix things or what I’m supposed to do, Lord” – in the middle of those things crashing together, God can make sense out of all of it and use it. And He can use me.

It’s like He can tie our broken past and experiences and use them like the tails on a kite. Those things we thought were a waste of time or too painful (or too embarrassing) to use and should be stashed somewhere are the very things He can use to keep us humble and draw us closer to Him. And they are the very things He can use to help us soar.

When God uses us like that, taking all of our messes and pain and lifting us up for His glory, there’s no telling what the view is going to be like. We may be clueless while we’re standing on the ground. But when we lift off and we know God is the One holding the kite string and He’s the One providing the wind, we learn what freedom feels like.

We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to figure everything out. We don’t have to be afraid we’re going to get hurt again.

As the Holy Spirit moves us and flows in and around us, as He leads us and guides us and we let go of control (we’re not trying to grab the string away from Him), we can see that being used by God is actually a beautiful and exhilarating thing.

There’s no noise here. No distractions. We don’t worry about pleasing people or letting them down. We don’t look to them for approval anymore and we don’t stress over things we can’t control or figure out. And we don’t worry that God is going to hurt us.

You see, being used by God isn’t like being used by a person. With a person, he (or she) is going to want something from you without giving you much (if anything) in return. Sometimes he will take and take until you feel completely drained, hollowed out, and empty. But with God, He only asks for you to let go of the kite string and He gives you so much more:

Pure and lovely freedom to experience more of Him in ways and places you never even knew existed.

Don’t try to bury or ignore your past failures and don’t be afraid to surrender them to God and admit you can’t figure it all out or fix it. That’s the very place God wants to meet with you.

And that’s the sweet spot where He is going to use you and lift you to new heights, revealing one breathtaking view.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NIV.)




The Flame and a Wet Blanket


You know if you light a candle and toss a wet blanket onto it that the flame would die, right?

Then why are you allowing yourself to be the wet blanket that extinguishes the Holy Spirit’s flame in your life?

Gulp. I’m writing this for me too.

You see, I’ve been stopping the Holy Spirit from working in my life. I’ve been reading Scripture and praying, but somewhere along the way I lost all of my joy; that wonderful fruit of the Spirit.  I gave in to past failures, guilt, and discouragement. The joy was mine but I forfeited it to my emotions and to any problem that came my way.

When I realized my lack of joy was not only hurting me but was quenching the Holy Spirit, I apologized to Him and asked Him to forgive me. And then I asked Him to help me get my joy back.

What joy am I talking about?

The joy that comes from cranking up some music and singing along, off-key and loud. Better yet, making up my own songs about mushrooms while cooking my breakfast and doing my silly dance.  (If you don’t remember what that is, it’s the dance where I hold my nose and with one arm raised over my head,  I wiggle my way down to the ground…well, not that far…I’m no spring chicken.)

I found joy in listening to a heavy rain falling on our rooftop and in admiring the rust-colored leaves that ignite with color when the sun hits them.  I revisited the joy in a hot cup of coffee, a cozy blanket, and a Christmas book…yes, I’m there already! I’ve discovered joy in listening to my favorite Christmas song (here I go again) while driving during a rainy fall day and later filling the house with the smell of sugar cookies baking in the oven. And I relearned the joy in laughing at myself when I got stuck behind some heavy furniture in the corner of our bedroom while cleaning, tears streaming down my face.

So let me ask you: Do you have joy?  Have you laughed a real laugh lately?  I’m not asking if things are perfect in your life; things will never be perfect on this side of eternity.  But you and I have a choice to buy a ticket and get on Satan’s roller coaster ride of emotions where we only experience what those highs and lows dictate and the lies he whispers in our ears, or we can choose to take God’s hand and go slide on the kitchen floor in our socks with Him until we crack up and are singing praises to Him.

Of course we can acknowledge that the furnace is broken down, the car needs snow tires, and that they’re downsizing at work. Having joy doesn’t mean we stick our heads in the sand and ignore those things.  It just means we take those problems to God and trust Him to handle them and lead us through them.

And in the meantime we get to have joy.  That’s right.  We can watch the flame burn brighter, flicker and dance as we laugh, and the enemy cringe when we toss that wet blanket into the dryer instead.

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NIV.)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV.)


A Prison Cell

prison cell

When something takes place in your life that really hurts you in the core of your heart, it can be devastating. You feel trapped in the moment, stuck in the pain.  You try to move past it.  You try to let go of it again and again and wonder why it still lingers, like a penetrating ache in your chest.

You realize the pain has walled you in, becoming a prison cell. At first you find comfort here:  the walls protect you from being hurt again.  They keep people away.  But soon you learn you’re only free to walk around in the confined space, reliving the conversations, the crushing moments, and the devastating blows to your spirit.  You relive each failure in your mind, the guilt and shame wrapping itself around you like the cold, musty air in your cell. And you can’t see anything new, nothing to hope for because the one window is boarded up, leaving only a crack of sunlight to shine through; that sliver of light hurts because you know the world is moving on without you.

You hear muffled sounds of laughter, joy. It stings because you can’t remember the last time you laughed a genuine laugh that welled up from within and spilled out; not the laugh you force because no one knows where you really are and you don’t know how to ask for help.

But maybe you finally do ask for help because you’re so tired of scratching the walls, of trying to dig your way out. You’re lying on the floor, exhausted from picking yourself up.  You cry out from your prison cell only to hear silence from beyond the bars.  You stare and wait.  But no one reaches in.

You fall to your face and beg God to help. You’re too tired to fight the darkness, the depression, alone.  The burden is too heavy to hold any longer.  A part of you breaks open and spills onto the floor.  You can’t do this alone, not this one.  Not this time.

You need God now more than ever and you tell Him. And when you admit it, when you speak it out loud, God holds you and whispers to your heart, “Let Me have it.”

Your first reaction is anger. You want to yell at God, argue with Him that you have already done that.  You’ve already given Him the entire situation again and again and He should know.

But He gently whispers, oh so gently to your wounded spirit, “Let Me have what’s in your hand.”

You notice your hand, the one you weren’t using to try and claw your way out, is tightened into a fist. And when you finally relax it, finally open it, you find a key.

You drop the key into God’s hand knowing you can trust Him and that He will protect you. As He unlocks the door and carries you out and into the light of a new day, you thank Him for rescuing you.  And you continue to rest in His arms as He holds you close and carries you forward.

“O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right.  Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free.”  (Psalm 71: 1-2 NLT.)

When God says “No”


It’s hard when you’re a child and you’re told, “No.” You pout or maybe even throw a fit to get your way.

But what about when God says, “No” and no temper tantrum will change His mind? It can be downright devastating.  Especially when it involves an old dream you’ve been carrying in your heart for so long.

It’s like this dream of yours is so vivid and living in front of you in its own world; no one else can see it but you see it clearly. It’s like looking in at a snow globe and watching this tiny world moving and breathing before you.  It’s so real you know you can just reach out and touch it.

But when you do, you realize this dream isn’t inside a snow globe but a bubble. And as soon as you touch it, it pops.  It’s gone.  This vibrant world, the image of YOU inside this dream living and doing all those things you’ve wanted to do for so long, is gone.

So you learn the painful lesson that dreams are delicate, especially those closest to your heart.

And this one was so close to becoming reality that when you finally reached out with trembling hands…you destroyed it. Now all you have left is the memory of what you did wrong, how you reached out too quickly or too rough, and tears; lots and lots of tears that fall so freely, so violently.  You can’t hold them back and really you don’t want to.  They’re too painful to hold in and the moment so heart wrenching it scares you because you realize something:  You’re angry.

You’re angry at yourself for getting your hopes up. You’re angry for daydreaming about something that perhaps wasn’t even meant to be.  And then this anger creeps in deeper, burrowing into your heart and burning everything it touches, leaving black holes in your spirit, and you find yourself staring at the face of God in your anger.

This moment scares you the most. You don’t want to be mad at God, and you tell Him that.  But the anger lingers and you don’t know what to do with it. It’s too heavy, wearing you down, pulling you down, and you want to let go of it.  But something tickles your ear and reminds you of your pain and your mourning over something you never even had.

So your dream is gone, but all the daydreaming and possibilities remain to torture you. You try to look away, but you keep looking back.  You over analyze all you did, what you could have done better, what you shouldn’t have done at all.  There is even an inward crumbling and you wonder if you’ll ever recover.

It’s in that moment of internal collapse you realize how important this dream is to you. Maybe too important.  You start to ask yourself if you were putting it above God.  Your heart hurts all over again because you’re not sure if you can honestly answer “no” to that question.

But God answered, “No” to your dream. Or perhaps He whispered, “Not yet.”

You don’t know which one but you realize something even more crushing than not getting your way: You’re not the only one hurting in this.  You hurt God.

Were you looking at that snow globe of a dream and seeing His reflection as He stood over your shoulder? Or were you so focused in on seeing yourself inside that you forgot Him?

He was watching that dream even more closely than you. He’s the One who crafted every part of it to perfection because He loves you, not because He wants you to run away from Him to chase that world.  And when you eventually go into that world, in His timing and with His blessing, He wants you to take Him with you.

So where do you go from here?

Tell God you’re sorry you hurt Him, and ask Him to forgive you. And don’t be angry with Him.  He was simply protecting your relationship with Him.  No dream can ever compare to all you have with Him.

Ask Him to help you with those black spots in your spirit. Never hold on to anger or it will burn clear through you.

Ask God to help you see this dream clearly for what it is: A gift from Him to shine as the child He created you to be and to bring Him honor and glory.  (It only turned black and ugly and blew up in your face when it became an idol to you.)

And don’t ever gaze into that world again and forget to look for His reflection. If you do, you may find out it’s no world worth having at all but merely a bubble on the verge of popping.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”  (Exodus 20:4- 5a NLT.)

The Grip


Grip.  That’s the word God whispered to me yesterday.  And since that moment I’ve been asking Him to make it clear because there are so many ways to look at it.

I thought about all the times I went on roller coasters and my knuckles were white and bulging because I had a death grip on the bar just in case the seat belt gave out.  I remember the tight grasp I had on my daughter’s hand every time we crossed a busy street when she was little.  And I remember the strong hold of my husband’s hand when he grabbed onto my own to help me across the rocky terrain of a gushing river.  There are so many ways we grip onto something or someone, but I don’t believe that’s the “grip” God was pointing to.

The idea here is not about what we grip onto, but what grips us.

So let me ask: What has a grip on you?  Something harmful like an addiction or fear?  What are you allowing to dig, claw, and tear its way into your life, into your thoughts?  What’s stealing your time and health because it’s got a death grip on you and it’s all you can think about so you lose minutes or hours of your life or even sleep as it torments you?  What’s killing your smile because you’re allowing it to hang around, to taunt you and remind you of some shame, guilt, or past failure? Do you sense you’re on the verge of some sort of destruction, a break-down of sorts; mental, physical, or spiritual?

As you may or may not know there is a thief who wants to get his claws into you and steal your life away:  Satan.  You have to realize he’s not the little red guy with a pitch fork you’ve seen on cartoons but a very real, very evil being who wants to trick you into walking right into your own destruction.  And he’s going to make you miserable so you’ll hurry along to get there.

You see, God has a purpose for you.  There’s a reason you’re here, and Satan is afraid you’re going to go to God and ask Him.  Satan’s doesn’t want you to know how important you are and how much God loves you. The enemy would rather you wander around lost and confused and feeling alone, so he can get a tight grip on your mind; prying into it and filling it with his lies.  That makes you an easy target.  And then he’s got you.

But you can stop Satan’s tight grasp from cutting off your circulation, keeping you numb or oblivious to what he’s doing.  Ask God to help you; He would love to free you from Satan’s clutches.

With God, He doesn’t want to grip you painfully in some way, to control you and walk you around on a string like some puppet.  Rather, He wants to hold you.  He wants you to know you don’t have to do it all on your own.  He’s with you.

And as your loving Father, God longs for that moment when you slip your hand into His as His little child.  All you need to do then is stay close to Him and hold on tight as He leads you to the full life He has for you.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV.)