This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground,but streamscame up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.Then the Lord God formed a manfrom the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.(The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adamno suitable helper was found.So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
to Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Adamnamed his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.After he drove the man out, he placed on the east sideof the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Every single week we go, every Wednesday, and I question why we do it. She has so much fun and enjoys the water so much but as it gets more intense, so do we. God led me there one day and told me to sign her up. It costs 80 bucks a month and that's a bill, but for some reason I cant stop it. I have come to the conclusion that its not the swimming we are both there for, its the lessons we learn. I have learned more about myself and the spirit of God in a few months at swimming class, than in any other thing or person or place in 30 years. And as an added bonus, Grace learns to swim.
Before we got into class I gave her a pep talk in the car. Grace, don't be so hard on yourself okay? Try to remember that you are here to enjoy yourself? And we pay the teacher to teach you, you are not supposed to know how to do everything. Please don't be so hard on yourself. okay? ok. Every single word that God has been saying to me these past few months.
Every week I watch as she does her usual routine there. They get in the water and do some fun things to kinda break them into the pool, create excitement. Then they get down to business and do whatever skill they are working on to and from the platform in the middle of the pool. And today was a reminder that my daughter is every single bit a part of me, and has all the amazing qualities that I posses and also the not so good ones. Shes me.
I watch her start out strong, confident. She gets to about the middle of the pool and looks back. And from the moment she questions herself, hesitates and loses her bearings she is flailing about in the middle of the pool, panicked and scared. No, terrified. She starts bobbing up and down and looking for something, anything that would save her. She gets back to the platform and she screams "I cant do it!!" which is followed by more tears...and frustration. And I believe this behavior is the physical manifestation of the greatest thing God is trying to break me from, and it is presented to me in physical form. Her teacher grabs her and holds her tight while she catches her breath, turns her over, tells her to relax and gently nudges her to resume the rest of the way, on her back. And all the while I hear God whispering to me...YOU cant do it either, my darling, without me.
I caught myself today just broken hearted watching my own flesh and blood, my own heart, suffer this horrible self worth, questioning everything she does and panicking with no way to save herself. I watch her as tears stream down her face and her shoulders get tense. I watch her from the glass, I want so badly to punch through it and grab her and shake her until she realizes how beautiful she is. I want to throw her back into the pool and tell her to try again, but never to stop. Don't stop Grace, don't stop in the middle and look back. Don't lose your sight. Don't hesitate. Don't be alone. Look for your teacher, shes right there and when you feel like you cant swim anymore, she will see you and save you. You don't even have to ask, that's her job.
I don't want her to trust in herself alone. I don't want her to trust in the pool. I don't want her to trust in her arms and legs. I want her to trust in God. I want her to put less emphasis in self confidence and more value on God confidence. And that's why we go. Every single Wednesday we get up and I anticipate her in situations where she loses it, and I treat each and every moment as an opportunity to point her to the Heavens. And sometimes we cry together...every time we talk about how great she is. I hold her tight and tell her shes going to make lots of mistakes and shes not going to know how to do everything...and that's ok. In fact, that's the way its supposed to be. If we had all the answers and all the knowledge the there would be no need for a God. He is everything. Hes everywhere. And hes never going to leave you.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22 :6
and that is walking, no running, full speed ahead to our Lord. Our Savior. That's it.
I never want Grace to think her self confidence is what fills her up. I don't want her to believe she can do all the things that every other kid does. I want her to know that she was fearfully and wonderfully made by our creator who has given her special qualities to achieve his purpose. And she is supposed to enjoy it! I caught myself today finding glimpses of joy in the journey that he has me on and wondering why in the world I have not stopped to enjoy more, the place right where I am.
I wondered myself today why its so hard for me to enjoy my life if I don't know all the answers. You know those interim periods where God has you in a place of need or in a place of silence. The place where you look around and you have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow. And you finally raise up your hands to the Heavens and say, okay...I'm yours. I finally have no answers.
We are not supposed to know how to swim. That's why we have a teacher. That's why we have a God. To lead us, guide us, equip us, and redeem us in all things. I never want to instill in my girls that they are enough on their own.
They will fail.
They will fall.
They wont know how to do things.
I want thier hearts to hunger for God. I want them to turn to him first. I want them to live in grace.
Grace, my heart hurts for you. I watch you every day in all the things you do and I just pray. I pray that you would see that you aren't meant to be perfect and in your own time, in Gods time, all that he has for you will come to pass. You will be confident in riding your bike kiddo, not because you wake up one day with the ability, but because your daddy and I take you out whenever we get a chance and let you fall. And then we put you back on that bike and tell you to keep going. And every single moment we are walking right next to you. Our hands are helping to hold you up, and Gods hand will always be on you when we are long gone...And you will be confident that you are safe in Gods hands and be more brave and more sure of Him, and less sure of you. And that will mean that you will walk a bold life with no fear of the deep waters under you or the roaring storms above you. And if he never let you fail sometimes, you would never know the deep love he has for you and the redeeming power he has.
Keep swimming Grace. Dont stop. Dont look back. Thats where the past lies. Keep your eyes focused ahead and enjoy the ride. And when you feel tired or scared or helpless or hopeless, just ask God to wrap his arms around you...and show you the way.
I will never forget the day my husband walked into our apartment, crisp uniform and tight haircut, with a hand full of papers and a look on his face. I don't really remember the words he used or the tone in his voice but I will never forget the feeling that came over my body. The fear.
I am going to war.
I wish I could say that we were so young and naive and unseasoned, but that wouldn't be true. I had already experienced alot of pain in my life up until this point, a lot of trial. This was one I never knew I needed so bad.
The back story on us is that we didn't meet on a blind date or at a youth meeting or we aren't high school sweethearts...we met at the worst time of both of our lives. We were both broken, we were both lost. Immediately we clung to each other in hopes that each other would save us from all the pain and heartache. I clung to my husband from day one and held a grip so tight, it was all wrong from the start.
Despite all the sin and pain and torture that both of our souls were going through, we both knew from one special particular moment that this was meant to be and we would stick it out. We were not spirit filled, we were desperate. Each of us desperate for a different life, and found that in each other.
So when my husband told me for the first time that he was going to war, I felt a wave of panic and fear that I couldn't even put into words. The first things that came to mind were,
Hes going to die.
How am I going to live without him?
Why is this happening?
Hes going to die.
Looking back on the last decade of my life, I can now see that satan had a big tight grip over my spirit and used everything he could to torture my already tortured soul into believing that God had chosen me to suffer and this was my destiny. I felt I served a God who didn't even know I existed and had made me different, chosen me to go into the wilderness alone, and suffer, and die.
I began to have panic attacks that would literally grip my body and cause it to shut down. I would go into the bath tub and cry for an hour, my face so tight and full of emotion, I would sob tears of fear and it felt like they were coming from the deepest part of my soul. The fear and panic and paranoia were so deep in me that, its what I lived and breathed for most moments of all three of his deployments.
Each time I had to leave the bus, the first time with no children, watching him pull away with the thought, surely that was the last time I would see him. I have been really asking God to do some real deep digging inside of me and open my eyes to what is the real root cause of all of my fear in life, and he has told me its because I make him my religion, but not my God.
My husband was my God.
Food was my God.
Alcohol was my God.
Cigarettes were my God.
The gym was my God.
The attractive man who payed attention to me at the bar was my God.
My friends were my God.
I was a slave to my surroundings and had lived a life at such a young age of needing so much rescue and feeling so alone and broken, that I got used to the feeling of physical rescue. I had gotten used to the immediacy of a drink and a cigarette and a good song or the great feeling of a workout or a carton of ben and jerrys or a glance and a wink that came my way...
I spent our first deployment in so much fear that I quit my job so I could stay at home and receive my husbands phone calls. He would always call at 530 am my time and that's when I opened the gym I worked at. I quit because I couldn't handle the panic of the phone ringing and me not being able to answer it. I quit because I was depressed and afraid.
After a long deployment of much fear and panic and much sin, my husband came home. And we would do it two more times, my husband has been gone more than 30 months in our time in the military so far due to deployments and training...and God has used each moment to show me how to lean on him only. I have had my husband and the comfort of my routine ripped out of my tight grip so many times, that now I know in my heart it was only for my good.
I remember his third deployment being so afraid again that it was his time to die that I came home from watching the buses leave and called a dear friend who had no words to say. She knew that I needed much more than a simple, its gonna be okay honey. She knew that this deep rooted fear was only something that Jesus could confront. She called a pastor friend and a prayer chain was on my phone, my door was shut I was on my knees and before I knew it God had begun his good work of breaking my chains. The holy spirit filled the room like I have never felt before. Gods love was being unleashed on me like I thought I never deserved or would ever experience. This is when he begun to show me that He alone, was my God.
The first 5 years of our marriage, my husband was my God. I intrusted my whole life to him. I leaned on him and expected him to be my all, my everything. My mood was based on his mood and the state of my soul was dependent on the state of his. My identity was in him, and that is why I had so much fear.
I pray often for God to open my hands up and release the tight grip that I have over my husband and my children, and for me for that matter. And just the other day while I was walking up the stairs, he whispered to me, your so afraid because you think this is your life, that you control it. So whatever you do, is what determines the outcome...
Thank God I am not in charge here. And thank God that every time my husband leaves for war or for the gas station, I can trust God to prepare me, equip me, deliver me, save me and heal me from whatever the outcome is. I have learned that it is better to focus on this moment and thanking him for each. I have learned that the paranoid thoughts and feelings that beat up my mind and body so bad are not from him and he is hurting right along side of me. But the most important thing i have learned is that he loves me. And that love is more comforting than any other earthly love that I have sought after.
If you are a military wife reading this and you are experiencing great fear right now, I say run to your nearest church, run to the bible and his comforting presence. Have someone pray over you, many people pray over you and let God remove the overwhelming sense of panic and fear. Sit and read his word, his promises to you and write them out and put them all over your house and write them on your heart. Ask God to use this fear to reveal a deep new found peace and love, in him.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Ever since I was a little girl I have been drawn to creation...I had a rainbow hanging over my crib and that is one of my very first memories. And ever since Lucy has been drawn to the moon, it has been a pull on my heart to make them some art. And I just knew I had to incorporate a rainbow, Somewhere Over the Rainbow is also a very special song to me.
Lucy, you have your moon...
Grace, you are my sunshine...
And the rainbow, its all of ours...
Lucy has been talking more these days and its so funny because she says "moooon" all the time, she sits by the window, begging us to take her outside to see it. And she has now begun to say rainbow, and I never want to forget that sweet little voice..."maimbow".
Every single time we ask Lucy to say a word, Grace yells in the background, "mommy! she cant! she can only say moon and rainbow!!"
It was a cold and rainy day yesterday and I just knew it was the right time to make them this collection. We made a run to the "art store" to grab some chalk and we came home and finished what I had started in my heart since Grace was born. Each piece has very special meaning and its my hope that it sticks around and will hang somewhere my grand babies will enjoy it someday...
This morning I awoke anxiously waiting to hear from God in my morning bible time that I am absolutely enjoying, and my reading was in Genesis, about rainbows. Tears and joy in those quiet moments together just thanking him that he is part of this art. That he really is the one putting it into my soul to create...I really feel like he is walking right beside me.