Monday, April 28, 2008

Unchosen . . . Joy

The days of elementary school imprinted on my heart a desire to be chosen. As the captains of the week made their selections for whatever sport we happened to be playing at the time, I hoped with each passing moment that I would be the next person selected. Not being a great athlete, I relied solely on my relationship ties to get selected. And that didn't always go so well.

In the classroom, I wanted my teachers to select me to be the narrator (the character with the most lengthy passages) in everything we read. I hoped that my reading abilities would make me stand out as the clear choice for the role.

Fast forward twenty years. A jury summons arrived in my mailbox. And with all my being, I had ZERO desire to be chosen.

I realize that's not very "American." I recognize that it's my civic duty to vote and to serve on a jury. But I have this control issue and want to be able to go about my day without having to be "released" by someone for bathroom breaks and lunch breaks. I want to be able to plan my week, not wait each day to see if both sides are done presenting their evidence.

So this morning (a/k/a the date of doom), I woke up dreading the task at hand. I prayed that I would be as lucky as I was two years ago. On that day, when all the court assignments were made, I remained in the unassigned general jury pool and was allowed to read a book for half of the day without ever stepping foot into a courtroom or having to answer voir dire questions.

Imagine my chagrin this morning when not only was my name called, but I was assigned to a criminal district court and asked to complete a questionnaire that indicated the case might involve the aggravated sexual assault of a child. Upon completing the questionnaire, we were told to return about three hours later.

Most of the jurors were delighted upon hearing this news. They took the opportunity to stroll around downtown and grab a bite to eat. Meanwhile, I headed back to my office to work. And pray. I prayed for the defendant to plea bargain. Selfish, I know, but that's what I did.

We reported back at 1:00 for the official roll call. The bailiff made jokes and then announced that he had news. He thanked us for our "service" and told us that all the cases set for today had been pleaded during the interim. Woohoo! I shouted a praise, which a passerby might have confused with someone being acquitted of a horrendous crime. I was that relieved to not have to go through the process.

So, for today, I'm okay with not having been chosen--to serve on a jury, that is. And I am reveling in the God who hears me and taking comfort in His promises--that He has chosen me as one of His own.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My Little Trooper

(Annie sitting on my unmade bed and modeling the cap I won from the Golden Retriever booth at the Dog Show last month.)

On Wednesday morning, I took Annie to the vet to have a cyst removed from her neck. The minor surgery went well, but the recovery hasn't been fun for either of us.

On Wednesday night, we had another round of storms, which sent Annie marching throughout the night despite the fact that she was still somewhat drugged and couldn't walk in a straight line.

The next morning, all seemed well. She kept down her food, so I started her on the pain medication. Big mistake. When I came home from work and took her outside, it quickly became obvious that she wasn't feeling well. I won't go into details because some of you may read this after eating a meal. Suffice it to say that we made numerous trips outside that evening, and then she proceeded to get me up every two hours during the night so that she could go outside and be sick.

Friday morning, we went back to the vet to get some answers and some relief. Apparently, her sensitive stomach doesn't tolerate pain meds. So, she's on some other pills to get her digestive tract back to normal. She's getting back to her normal self, slowly but surely.

In the meantime, I've played the game of second-guessing myself. Was it a smart idea to have her cyst removed? After all, she was totally fine before the surgery. Will she have any lasting effects from the pain meds (i.e., did they do any permanent damage to her insides)? Who knows. All I know is that this game doesn't produce answers, only more fears and concerns. So, I must live with what's been done and make the best of it.

I also now have a greater appreciation for working moms who take care of children in the middle of the night and then have to get up and go to work the next day in spite of the sleep deprivation. Thankfully, I have the weekend to catch up on the lost sleep from Thursday night. And, I guess I'll store this week's little "parenting" adventure with the one I had last fall in case I ever need to draw on them in the future.

Have you had any interesting parenting adventures? If so, I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Late Bloomer

Two and a half years ago, I hired a landscaping company to add color to my flower beds. Something a little more than just green. The landscaper chose ballerina bushes for one side and promised that they would bloom beautiful pink blossoms. Spring 2006 arrived, but the pink blossoms never did. Spring 2007 came and went without a sign of the pinkness. But alas, spring 2008 ushered in this amazing display of color:

I don't know what made this spring any different from the two prior ones. The bushes seemed to think this was their year to burst forth and put on a colorful show. And I'm glad that they did.

These late bloomers remind me a lot of myself. My teenage years were a struggle because I didn't bloom when others my age did. But eventually I did. In my own time. And the funny thing was that it took another four years post-blooming for people in my class, the same ones I had worried were staring at me during all those difficult years, to even notice the difference. It made me realize that we were all preoccupied with our own struggles and comparisons.

Somehow I doubt that the ballerina bushes engaged in any such comparison over the past couple of years. They simply grew at their own rate and bloomed in their own time.

They serve as a little reminder for me that I shouldn't be comparing my spiritual walk, my financial status, or anything else in my life to others. Because God may have a different growth rate planned for me. Just like those ballerina bushes.

What areas of your life do you have trouble leaving out of the comparison game?

Monday, April 21, 2008


This weekend, I reveled in the God who sees. Not who "saw" (past tense) but who "sees" (present tense). That was the theme of our church's second annual women's retreat. And it couldn't have been more perfect.

When my prayers go unanswered, I often wonder if God truly sees me. Does He see my desires? Do I matter to Him? I know the Sunday-school answer to these questions, but I struggle with believing the Truth about God's character. That He is omniscient and sees the tiniest of details, like the number of hairs on my head, as well as the huge desires that scream from my heart.

With a topic like that, I'm thankful that we had author Mary DeMuth at the helm leading us through our three sessions: (1) He sees your past, (2) He sees your secret fears, and (3) He sees your hectic todays. I've been a fan of Mary's since last year when I "met" her through my friend Tina's blog. I've even read some of Mary's books. But this weekend was the first time I got to meet her in person and put a spoken voice with her written words.

As I mentioned to Tina, I knew that Mary's writings were authentic, but I thought she might withhold just a little of herself when speaking before a group of women. Thankfully, I was wrong. We got the "unplugged" version of Mary as she bravely shared her story--a story filled with numerous hurts that have been covered by God's grace. To hear Mary's story and see her today, one can't help but believe in our redemptive God and know that He sees it all and redeems it all.

Retreats often appear to be fun getaways, and this one was to an extent. But it also opened my eyes to some heartwork that needs to get done.

And yet, even with a four-day weekend, I managed only to dip my toe into the pool of what God wants to teach me and instead chose to immerse myself in housework the rest of the time. Mostly because I can see an immediate difference after I vacuum and mop the floors whereas heartwork is a process, often without instant results. So now I have shiny floors to reflect my disobedience and my urge to run from God's call to sit at His feet. And somehow their shininess isn't as attractive as I thought it would be.

Ever have the urge to run away after a retreat? I have to wonder if maybe that's why they call them retreats.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Song for the Weekend

Songs like this one make me want to be a songwriter. To set to music the words in my heart. If you haven't heard this song, click on the title and take a listen.

"You Are Everything" by Matthew West

I’m the one with two left feet
Standing on a lonely street
I can’t even walk a straight line
And every time you look at me
I’m spinning like an autumn leaf
Bound to hit bottom sometime

Where would I be without someone to save me
Someone who won’t let me fall
You are everything that I live for
Everything that I can’t believe is happening
You’re standing right in front of me
With arms wide open
All I know is
Every day is filled with hope
You are everything that I believe for
And I can’t help but breathe you in

Breathe again
Feeling all this life within
Every single beat of my heart
I’m the one with big mistakes
Big regrets and bigger breaks
Than I ever care to confess
Oh but, You’re the one who looks at me
And sees what I was meant to be
More than just a beautiful mess
Where would I be without someone to save me
Someone who won’t let me fall
You are everything that I live for
Everything that I can’t believe is happening
You’re standing right in front of me
With arms wide open
All I know is
Every day is filled with hope
You are everything that I believe for
And I can’t help but breathe you in
Breathe again

Feeling all this life within
Every single beat of my heart
You’re everything good in my life
Everything honest and true
And all of those stars hanging up in the sky
Could never shine brighter than You
You are everything that I live for
Everything that I can’t believe is happening
You’re standing right in front of me
With arms wide open
All I know is
Every day is filled with hope
You are everything that I believe for
And I can’t help but breathe you in
Breathe again
Feeling all this life within
Every single beat of my heart
You are
You are
Jesus, You are
You are everything

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Behind the Music - Finale

How should I end this week of blogging on music? What would make for a great finale? Like those in concert that bring the audience to their feet, cheering for more.

Initially, I thought I'd close this week with a look at several music venues that add another dimension to the live music experience. I thought about how amazing it was to see The Mavericks and Pat Green at Gruene Hall where you can literally stand within sweat-droplet distance of the band. I remembered how grandiose it is to hear performances at Bass Hall.

I also thought about the cool way that music carries through the wind at outdoor venues like the Coca-Cola Starplex (n/k/a Center) in Dallas; Southpark Meadows in Austin; The Backyard in Austin; Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre in Englewood, Colorado; and the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, as well as the one venue I have always wanted to have a reason to travel to--Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

But I soon realized that as unique as the venue might be and no matter how much ambiance the venue might add to a live music experience, it pales in comparison to the memories that are made with your fellow concert-goers.

Were you one of the many who camped out in freezing temperatures the morning that Elton John tickets went on sale in Lubbock, knowing that you couldn't depend on a ticket broker because there were no ticket brokers in Lubbock?

Has the anticipation of an upcoming concert kept you awake at night?

Have you stood in line awaiting the start of the concert only to realize that you might have counterfeit tickets? Or that you had lost your tickets?

How many times did you successfully sneak a camera into a concert and take pictures without the camera being confiscated? Did you have the camera ready when Sarah McLachlan appeared on a side stage and stood ten feet from you? Did you regret innumerable times that the disposable contraband camera didn't have a zoom lens?

How many times have you wished that you had hand-held, high-quality recording equipment to capture that unexpected jam session in the middle of a familiar song? Or to record the conversation on the ride home from the concert as you reminisced for miles about the set list?

I can't create the perfect musical finale here. But I know that if you're a concert-junkie like me, you've heard your fair share of fantastic finales. I hope that this will take you back and let you relive those. And maybe get your lighter out and hold it illuminated above your head as you listen to your favorite song, just for kicks.

Got a favorite memory of a finale or the wait to get there? Please share.

Setting the Tone

Today on my writers' group blog, I posted on the way music conveys tone--something that I struggle with in my writing. Check that out and let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Behind the Music - Part 2

It's been fun reminiscing about concerts this week. Now for a slightly different slant--the writing behind the music.

Growing up, I listened to country music almost every day. And although I had a somewhat discerning ear that allowed me to pick out hit songs, I didn't delve into who had written the music or pay that much attention to the words. I focused on the beat. Was it catchy? Was it somehow different from the rest of the songs on the radio?

Once I started listening to Pat Green and Sarah McLachlan, I noticed the difference between singers who are also songwriters versus those who simply sing music written by other people. There's no doubting that some musicians, like George Strait, have made it very far in the music business by choosing songs suited for their voices and have seldom, if ever, written their own music.

Maybe I am creating a difference in my mind, but it seems to me that the singer/songwriter musicians have a stronger connection to their music because they've written it. It's easier to convey authentic passion for your own story than it is to conjure it up for a story about someone you don't even know or a situation that you haven't even experienced. And that difference comes across in a powerful way in a live concert setting.

In Billy Joel's boxed set, the fourth CD contains recordings of Billy Joel explaining the stories behind his greatest hits. Hearing his rendition of the people he met and incorporated into "The Piano Man," makes the song come alive in a new way. The same goes for when singers take the time at concerts to explain the inspiration for their songs.

It's also interesting to compare the singer/songwriter's interpretation to the one I've created or imposed upon the song. I connect with many of Sarah McLachlan's songs, but not for the reason that she wrote them. And that to me is another sign of great songwriting: it has multiple layers and allows listeners to connect with one of a variety of meanings behind the lyrics.

Do you prefer to listen to singer/songwriters over singers who sing music written by other people? Is there a noticeable difference to you between the live performances of the former versus the latter?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Must-See Musicians

As I thought about which musicians I'd like to see in concert before I die, I realized that age has become a factor in my choices. Not in the sense that "I'm getting older so I better hurry up and see these people," but rather "I'm not sure there are that many artists that I want to go sit in the hot sun or drive to the big city to see." In other words, the laziness factor that comes with aging.

So, with that in mind, for some of the musicians I want to see I've set parameters on when and where I want to see them, and if the parameters aren't met, I'll probably have to leave that particular musician on my list, unseen.

Without further ado, here's my newest list:

#8 = Ruthie Foster [I've heard great things about her from Britta and other friends over the years. Just waiting for Ruthie to come back and play Bass Hall again. Sadly, she's playing downtown at the Arts Festival on Friday, but I'll be out of town.]

#7 = Willie Nelson [I'd love to hear him at Bass Hall, but it would be even better to hear him outdoors in Luckenbach, TX.]

#6 = Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, & Kenny Chesney [I'd love a country musical festival in Dallas where I could see at least three or more of these artists on the same day. I think they only hold events like that in Nashville, so I may have to leave these people unseen.]

#5 = Harry Connick, Jr. [He came to Bass Hall a while back for a fundraiser and tickets were $150 per person for every seat in the Hall. I'd like for him to come back and play a regular concert for regular ticket prices.]

#4 = Michael W. Smith [I think I'll try to catch his Christmas show this year.]

#3 = Jimmy Buffett [I want him to play an outdoor venue in the summer in my area instead of coming every year in April when there are potentially severe thunderstorms or it's 50 degrees outside.]

#2 = Chris Tomlin

#1 = Josh Groban

How about your list? Who would you like to see in concert?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Behind the Music

So what about these particular concerts made me skip class or take off work (depending on the year), in some cases fly on an airplane (which I'm afraid to do), and shell out big money (which I'm not accustomed to doing)?

Simply put, I love live music.

I discovered this in 1997 when a friend introduced me to Pat Green's music. I had listened to a few of his songs on a CD and then went to see him in concert. While I was at that concert, I turned to my friend and said, "Pat needs to make a live album because he's ten times better live than he is on his CD." Thankfully, Pat took my advice (oh how I wish I could take the credit!) and put out his first live album almost exactly one year later. Shortly thereafter, my friend introduced me to Pat in person, and I had the privilege of having dinner with Pat and his band in Amarillo before they played at The Nat Ballroom. I was sold. Hook. Line. Sinker. Long live live music!

Around that same time, the same friend gave me a casette tape with some Sarah McLachlan songs on it. I fell in love with her music as well. Soon, Sarah was at the top of my "Must See Before I Die" list.* And so began the quest to find her in concert. Luckily, she was putting on her Lilith Fair concerts at that time, which meant that I got to see her as well as eight or so other performers at each Lilith Fair--in Austin (1998), Dallas (1998), and Colorado (1999).

Knowing that Sarah wanted to start a family and after hearing rumors that there might not be a 1999 Lilith Fair, I decided to go all out and travel to California to The Bridge School Benefit in October 1998. (A little background: In 1986, Neil Young and his wife started The Bridge School to assist children with severe physical impairments and complex communication needs. For the past twenty years or so, Neil Young has put on a concert to raise money for this school.) Those two nights of concerts were, by far, the most amazing live events that I have ever attended. The show is all acoustic, and the line up is always incredible. Sarah McLachlan drew me there, but in the process, I got to see all the musicians that I designated as "California" in yesterday's post.

For me, these memories remind me of how fun it is to see that musicians are real people, with facial expressions, who connect with their audiences. And they illustrate the power in seeing musicians perform live.

I have yet to attend a concert where I was the only one in the audience. So what say ye fellow concert-goers: what makes you attend a concert? Are you a live music junkie for whom a recording simply won't cut it? I'd love to know I'm not alone.

(*I am updating my "Must See Before I Die" list, which I plan to post tomorrow.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Musical Mindset (updated)

What has transformed your mind or caused you to think differently over the years?

That's what I've tried to write about each time I post--things that have opened my eyes or my senses in new ways, friends who have encouraged me, and fun events that have somehow left me different than before I attended them. Of course, it goes without saying that God's Word has the power to transform me, and that's why Romans 12:2 is posted at the top of the page, right underneath this blog's name. A little reminder to keep me on track.

But it's not just God's Word that has touched me. Often, God has grabbed my attention with a song playing on the radio. Even songs that aren't religious or spiritual in nature have caused me to see my life from a different viewpoint or have challenged me to think differently about an aspect of my life.

It all started with a little Billy Joel in elementary school, Belinda Carlisle and Tiffany in seventh grade, and quickly progressed to a little bit of everything. I decided it might be fun to compile a list of all the musicians I've seen in concert (not including Broadway musicals). So after culling through scrapbooks and racking my brain, here's my list:

Rush - Austin
The Eagles - San Antonio
The Mavericks - Gruene Hall
Chicago - San Antonio
Collin Raye - Littlefield
Pat Green - Amarillo, several places in Lubbock, Gruene Hall, FW
Jack Ingram - Lubbock
Sarah McLachlan - Austin, Dallas (2X), Colorado, California (2X)
Liz Phair -Austin, Dallas
Erykah Badu - Austin, Dallas
Bonnie Raitt - Austin, Dallas
Natalie Merchant - Austin (2X), Dallas
Lucinda Williams - Austin, Dallas
Dave Matthews Band - Austin, Dallas
Ani DiFranco - Austin
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - California (2X)
R.E.M. - California (2X)
Phish - California (2X)
The Wallflowers - California (2X)
Barenaked Ladies - California (2X)
Dixie Chicks - Colorado
Inidgo Girls - Colorado
Sheryl Crow - Colorado
Tara MacLean - Colorado
Kelly Willis - Colorado
Caedmon's Call - Lubbock
Def Leppard - Lubbock
Elton John - Lubbock & Dallas
Lyle Lovett - Lubbock
Point of Grace - Fort Worth
Joy Williams - Fort Worth
Mark Shultz - Fort Worth
Avalon - Fort Worth
Jim Brickman - Fort Worth
Kathie Lee Gifford - Fort Worth
Phillips Craig & Dean - Denton
Billy Joel - Dallas
Norah Jones - Grand Prairie
Amy Grant - Fort Worth
Natalie Grant - Dallas
Nichole Nordeman - Dallas
Michael Buble - Grand Prairie
Zac Brown Band - Lubbock 2010
Carrie Underwood - Dallas 2010
Billy Currington - Dallas 2010
Sons of Sylvia - Dallas 2010
Chris Tomlin - Southlake & Fort Worth 2011 & 2011
Christy Nockels - Southlake & Forth Worth 2010 & 2011
Hillsong United - Dallas 2011
Green River Ordinance - Fort Worth 2011
Left Arm Tan - Fort Worth 2011
Charlie Hall - Fort Worth 2011
Kristian Stanfill - Fort Worth 2011
LeCrae - Fort Worth 2011
David Crowder Band - Fort Worth 2011
ELEW - Dallas 2011
Josh Groban - Dallas 2011
Shane & Shane - Fort Worth 2011
Phil Wickham - Fort Worth 2011

So that's my list. Any shockers? Any I've left off? Don't be shy. I want this to be an interactive week and to hear about your concert-going experiences. I've got some other musical posting ideas in line, so come back for more later this week.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Straining to See

Today, I ventured to the eye doctor for my annual chance to take the vision chart test. All those years of looking at numbers ruined my perfect 20/20 vision, requiring me to get glasses back in college.

Most people don't mind going to the eye doctor, but I'm not one of those people. All the eye testing is painful for my sensitive eyes. The test that requires you to click every time you think you see a paramecium-like figure enter the screen makes me feel like I'm getting a migraine aura. I'm also not a fan of having drops put in my eyes and then an ultra-bright light shined in them. I realize that this is all part of the process of making sure that my eyes are healthy, but it's a painful process that ends up with me not being able to see for a while. Approximately 8.5 hours in my case.

That's right, it takes almost a day for my dilated pupils to return to normal and for me to be able to see detail again. The rest of the time, I can't read things near me no matter how hard I try. And there's no way to speed up the process because my body doesn't process medicines very quickly. (Reminds me of a line from a children's song: "Can't go over it, can't go around it, gotta go through it.")

How often do I try to speed up life? How often do I try to see the future? Daily.

Just a few days ago, the meteorologists in our area pulled an all-nighter as one round of severe storms after another pelted the metroplex. Every few minutes, they interrupted the regularly scheduled evening programs and updated us on the tornado watches, tornado warnings, and the severe thunderstorms warnings. The heightened capability of the radars allowed the meteorologists to detect wind sheers, rotation, etc., giving us advanced warning of the type of weather and where it was headed. But even their radars gave only minutes of warning because the storms' paths and intensities weren't always predictable.

With no Doppler radar to see what's coming in my own life, I get frustrated. But God knew there'd be people like me who struggled with seeing and included a special instruction for times like this: "So we fix our eyes NOT on what is see, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor. 4:18, emphasis mine)

It's a gentle reminder that maybe I need to retrain my eyes on how to see. His way. A little lesson that only the master Optometrist can instruct me on. So much for the eye chart. I think this kind of seeing comes with tests of its own.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Enough of Me

It's always a bit awkward to post pictures of myself; that's why I've done it very infrequently. I promised I'd give you a peak at the magic that Tammy Labuda worked when she took my headshots last month. So, I'm making good on my word. Please direct all compliments to Tammy.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Please Fence Me In!

Spring in Texas wreaks havoc on wooden fences, especially ones that are anchored with wooden posts that tend to rot underground. And because the rotting that is taking place is hidden underneath the dirt, the fence doesn't give much warning that it is about to take a tumble.

In my fence's case, it started waving like a flag blowing in the wind about a week ago. It tried to fall down last weekend, but a tree limb caught it. My neighbor pounded on it a few times, mending it for all of four days. By Friday, it was literally hanging on by a thread.

Enter David, the Excellent Fence Builder as touted by his wife, and two days of beautiful spring weather. And now, after saying goodbye to my tax refund, I have this beautiful new fence anchored with metal posts.

Fences are expensive; it's just in their nature. They are labor intensive and take a truckload of materials. But in the end, they are priceless.

When the old fence was removed, an ugly sight was waiting on the other side of the boundary line. Apparently, not everyone shares the same views on what constitutes trash or where it should be disposed of. If I had to look at that scene every day, I would go crazy. The new fence saves me from that awful fate.

The fence allows me to let Annie into the backyard by herself. I don't have to grab a leash and go outside with her, which is very time consuming.

The fence also provides me with a sense of security. But I realized last night, when only the metal posts were surrounding my house, that I can't rely on a fence to protect me. In the end, the fence is merely a barrier, not my protector.

I desire to be hemmed in, protected on all sides. And only One can do that.

"You hem me in---behind and before." (Psalm 139:5)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Giving Thanks for Email and NASCAR

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with my friend Sidonie. We met in our freshman college English class and quickly bonded after learning that one of my good friends growing up was her friend during high school. I remember that though she was small in stature, her mind intimidated me. We were kindred spirits in our pursuit of academics and in our obsessive compulsive tendencies.

After our first year, she transferred to a mega-school because our small private liberal arts college didn't offer her major, architecture. I have no doubt that she finished at the top of her class and that she blew many curves. She's simply that smart.

And she's smart-witted, as well. During the years following her transfer to the whooping school, we kept in touch, and she kept me laughing. At first by snail mail and then by email, once that became common. We shared about breakups, new jobs, her wedding, more school for both of us, her husband's deployments, and all the major newsworthy events in our lives. So it seems odd that we allowed fourteen years to pass without seeing each other in person.

But this weekend, she came up from Houston for the big NASCAR race (which she fully admits is an odd past-time for her as an architect) and made the time to see me as well. We had lunch together, and it was as if no time had passed. I caught her using phrases that I use all the time; it was as if we lived next door to one another and talked frequently.

So I give thanks for email, which keeps friends in touch throughout the years, and for NASCAR, which brought my sweet friend Sidonie to my area for a quick visit and will hopefully bring her back many more times in the future.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Misleading Feelings

This week, the days haven't felt like themselves. My community group didn't meet this week, so Wednesday didn't feel like Wednesday. Before I joined this group, I attended a Bible study on Wednesdays at lunch. So Wednesdays just don't feel quite right unless I'm with a community of believers studying the Word. But just because we didn't meet didn't make it less of a Wednesday. It was just my feelings playing tricks on me.

Earlier this week, my mom left for a twelve-day trip to the Holy Land. I'm excited that she desired to go there and had the opportunity to go with a wonderful group. But it's a bit unnerving that she's so far away and in an area that is known for instability. And because of their traveling itinerary and the time difference, I can't pick up the phone and check in with her to see how she's doing. I have to trust God with her and put aside my fearful feelings about her security because there's nothing I can do to change the situation.

Today, a friend sent me a link to a blog that has redefined what it means to write authentically with unabashed feeling. One of the members of the Christian group Selah is named Todd Smith, and his wife Angie started a blog about her journey of carrying an infant daughter, named Audrey Caroline, who will not survive because her body does not have all the organs necessary to live outside the womb. She will be born on Monday, April 7 at 4 p.m. EST. Every word of their unthinkable journey demonstrates what it looks like to run to Christ in unbearable times and to give Him the glory for letting them know and love Audrey. In spite of their feelings, they are believing God and clinging to His promises.

Reflecting on these examples has reminded me how often my feelings cause me problems. They tell me things that do not line up with the Truth of God's Word. They make me sense things that aren't real. They make me fearful of things I can't control. And if I let them run amuck, I would be paralyzed with fear.

I have experienced overwhelming anxiety numerous times in my life. It is grueling. It fed on itself and caused lots of health issues. None of which responded to medication. Probably because the source wasn't medical; it was emotional.

I grew up without my father at home, and I constantly dreamt of burglars (even Amish burglars, which is quite an oxymoron). I felt unprotected. And I still do at times.

I look for all sorts of holes in my life--those places where I feel vulnerable--and pray for God to cover them. But I get fearful that I've left out something. And that I'm unprotected in some area of my life.

All of this boils down to whether I trust God or not. And that's not a feeling. It's a decision that I have to make. Sometimes multiple times in a single day. To believe Him, not my feelings. Because as far as I can tell, He's got a much better track record than my feelings do.

Father, I confess that my feelings often get in the way of trusting You. Thank You for loving me, pursuing me, and protecting me. Be with Angie and Todd and others who are struggling right now. May the Truth shatter their fears.