Safe in Papa’s Arms©

Dear friends meet my grand girl.  She was born Sept. 20th at 8:05AM after a long, hard labor.  Her name is Aviah (God is my Father) Eden (Delight)… She is absolutely beautiful. We are in love.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  This one shouts to places down deep in my soul. “Papa” (my husband) is holding Avi.  He holds her close to his chest, making sure that she is safe and secure. She has no fear, or worries.  There is nothing to be anxious about. She pays no mind to the struggles or cares of the world. She has fought through much to be here.  She has come to this place to be held by strong arms that care deeply for her, so deeply that they would lay down their life to protect her.   In the stillness she rests for she is aware that she is being held safe in her Papa’s arms.

It is where the rubber meets the road in the world with my own Papa God.  His arms hold me tight, so tight that nothing can take me down.  Anything that might attempt to will meet up with Him.  He will move heaven and earth to keep me safe in His embrace.  He lays down His life for my own.  He holds me close to His chest, his heart beat soothing the worries and cares of this world.

I am His delight, just as sweet Avi is David’s.  One day she will know it full well.  But for now she rests, just being held letting life unfold before her.

This is the sweet spot in this walk with my God.  It’s where the cares and worries of this world lose their power to steal my joy.  It’s the “be still and know I am God” place where He becomes the strength in my weakness.

The more I am held, the more I am aware of how truly He carries me.  I want to be like my sweet grand girl.   I want to be carried by God alone. I want to rest in the stillness of His embrace, knowing the sheer delight that fills His soul…  I am loved…deeply loved

©copyrighted: 2011, Julie L. Todd

In the Waiting Room©

It’s early morning.  Other than the usual noises that accompany these surroundings there’s a stillness in this hospital waiting room.  My second born lies behind closed doors waiting for her labor to bring forth her sweet little girl.  Babies are born in their own time.  No matter how much you long for them to enter your world they come, for the most part, when they are ready.  We have yearned for this day to come and even though we are a step closer, we sit here waiting, the hours ticking by.

I think it might be the hardest part of this life sometimes, waiting, that is.

In the quiet I feel the anticipation and the longing for the hours to speed by.  I ache for this season to be over, for a new life to begin.  But to everything there is a season…a time to be born, a time to die, a time to rejoice, a time to mourn.  Why is it that these seasons seem to take forever?

What is it that makes the waiting so hard?  Is it the anticipation or is it the longing that yearns to be birthed?  Is it the weariness of the trial I face, the hopelessness that taunts my soul?  It tries me to the core sometimes.  In those moments its easy to wonder if things will ever be different.  Why do I have to yearn for things and to only be put on hold to wait? Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, it says. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall walk and not faint.

Sometimes I feel like life is one big waiting room.  Oftentimes I ache with the longings that wait to be birthed.  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life Proverbs says.  Everything has its season.  Fine wines become delicacies while sitting on a shelf.  Appetizing cheeses are aged in cold cellars.

I’ve never been one that sits still easily as I anticipate things to come.  Yet in the midst of these holding places God seems to use these places to age things to perfection in me.  In the uncomfortable, cramped places magical things happen inside such as caterpillars becoming butterflies.

Waiting seems to be a thing with God.

Joseph waited in prison, falsely accused.  David waited in hiding, anointed as king, yet on the run.   Noah waited for God’s promise to show up while building a boat, taunted by people around him.  Abraham waited from tent to tent for 25 years.  John waited on an island. Jesus waited in obscurity for 30 years. Seasons of waiting have their perfect work.

In these places where I yearn for things to be different the impeccable work of the soul finds its place. There’s something supernatural that happens in the process that often isn’t made known until the day dawns.  It’s then I can often see a glimpse of what was going on in the unseen places where things were being aged in me.

Joseph woke up one morning in prison.  The warden came to his cell, unlocked the doors and set him free.  He walked into Pharaoh’s presence to interpret a dream.  Pharaoh recognized that there was something different about him.  Once the dream was interpreted the Pharaoh said to Joseph there was no one as wise and discreet in all the land as he.

Something happened to Joseph in his waiting room cell.  Something happens to me in mine. Lost places that hide away in my soul make their way out into the light as God becomes the one I desperately need.  I find my heart yielding to trust Him as I realize that without Him I am nothing.  I begin to find the sweet spot of His embrace.  This place where time seems to stand still begins to have its perfect work in me.

He brings me out of these seasons of life when all is set in place, when what is needful has been done.  New life unfolds before me.  I am emptied of the strength that has carried me on its own.  I find Him there, meeting me with His.  I find that I can run and not grow weary. I can walk and not faint.  For in this waiting room of life His power has been made perfect in my weakness.

©copyrighted:  2011; Julie L. Todd

Riding the Rapids©

I’m out of sorts these days.  Entering the workforce after 25 years of being at home will do that to a person.  I find myself constantly stunned at this fork in the road that showed up out of nowhere. The verse in Proverbs pretty much sums it up.  “A man makes his plans but God orders his steps.”  In my wildest dreams I would not have imagined things to happen the way they did.  I find myself wondering if God sat back waiting in anticipation to unveil His surprise.  He does seem to enjoy unexpected unveilings and “just at the right moment” rescues.

I’ve never been too good with uncertainty.  You won’t find me watching many action packed thrillers.  I will always ride the carousel over the roller coaster.  I love solving puzzles and reconciling bank statements.  I prefer to have a plan with an alternate plan in mind.  I would choose a rowboat instead of a canoe on a mountain river any day of the week..though I learned much on my one ride down the rapids.

We had been married just a few months when good friends invited us to take our canoe out on the rapids of the Chattahoochee.  I was used to lakes and slow-moving rivers.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  My husband an avid kayaker was accustomed to more intense waters, the more the rushing the more the thrill.  He assured me this would be a calm, fun ride.

I boarded the canoe and prepared for my first trip down a mountain river.   I knew enough to know when to paddle and that was about it.  Most of the trip was uneventful and enjoyable, that is until we came upon a10 ft. water fall.  Suddenly I wanted out.

I was told we would paddle to the river bank, portage out and carry the canoes down.  I didn’t have a clue what that meant. The noise of the water pounded in my ears.  What if we didn’t make?  I couldn’t risk it.  I insisted that my husband let me get out of the canoe in the middle of the river to walk my way over.  There was no way I was going down that waterfall.

He let me out, paddled over to the side and got out of his canoe.  I began my trek across the rocks.  Immediately my feet began slipping.  The stones were covered in moss, leaving me unable to walk across.  There I was stuck in the middle of the river because of my own fear.  I begged him to come back and get me. He got back in the canoe, paddled back over, told me to get in and do exactly what He said.  I did.  We reached the side and carried our canoe down past the waterfall to enter the water again.

I learned to listen and to trust him for the remainder of the ride.

Fear often gets the best of me.  It’s easy to allow the feelings of instability and insecurity to move me into control.  Control tries to convince me that I am safe. Yet the truth is control only leaves me stuck in the river, unable to move.  It convinces me that I can trust myself more than I can trust God.   Because I do not trust God to take care of things, I must.

There came an opportunity in Peter’s life that no human being had ever experienced. Jesus invited him out.   He was the only disciple in the boat who was willing to ask.   He trusted Jesus to do something extraordinary with him.  He stepped out to walk on water.

Everything was going great until he looked around and allowed fear to invade him. Immediately he lost sight of his trust in Jesus and began to sink.  Fear stole the confidence that had minutes before mounted up inside Peter inviting him out to the adventure of a lifetime.

It all begins with trust.  Trust removes the need for control.  Control is based on what we can do, while trust is based on what He does.

He is the God of the unpredictable.   He invites me to trust  not in the what I see Him doing but in the nature of who He is.  I find myself there again these days in this new path I now walk.  Will I trust Him in this adventure to sort it all out?  He is after all the God of surprise endings.  Maybe I’ll get to watch that Red Sea part after all.

©copyrighted:  2011, Julie L. Todd


The Unseen Meets the Seen… ©

As the song played in the background the words washed over me reminding me of truths that get so easily lost amidst this crazy life.  “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” I need to be reminded.  Some days it feels like the earth is spinning all by itself.  It’s hard to see His hands wrapped around it all.

This quote says it well.  “Often in these training periods we focus on the impossibility of our circumstances instead of the greatness of our God.”- John Bevere-

It’s hard to walk in the seen world with an unseen God.  I’ve often wondered what it would be like to stand in front of the Red Sea as it parts straight through the middle.  I try to imagine standing outside Lazarus’ grave as he is called out from death to life.

Some days I’d just like to see, really see what’s going on behind the scenes of this habitat in which I live.   It’s in those moments I am challenged to believe that God truly is being God in ways my eyes do not yet perceive.  My trust is summoned some place at its core. If I could just gaze upon something.  I find myself asking, does God really have my whole world in His hands?

Life just doesn’t often look the way I think it will.  Things don’t go in the direction I expect them to go.  God seems to enjoy throwing curve balls.  At least they appear like curve balls to us.  But in His world He’s not trying to get us to strike out.  He’s trying to get us on base.

When David lost his job we thought it was going to be one of those cut and dry times.  We had heard a desire rise up within us as we prayed.  In our logical minds we determined we’d just get our names out and doors would open up before us.  After all we were following a God-birthed longing we both shared.  Surely the path would take us out to walk right into our destiny.

But God threw us a curve ball.  Resumes and cover letters were sent out, yet not one door opened.   Instead of a walk into our destined job, God made an appointment with us for restoration of places lost.

Much has been accomplished in the heavenly realm while the earthly realm looks puzzling to the naked eye.  There has been more going on here than one can readily see.  Those who have a front row seat can testify that a transformation is taking place in front of them. Who knew it wouldn’t be about the job?

God is into every minute detail of our lives.  It’s becoming more evident to me as we walk these days..

I see it in the small retirement account that has carried us these last months.  We had no idea money that the company had been putting in for us would be vested until the paperwork came.

I see it in the gift cards and cash that have come anonymously in the mail.  They have offered refreshment and sustenance.

I see it in His unseen ways of this past week.

August 31st was the day David and I set aside back in April.  We had determined we would go after the area we had felt led to search.  If nothing happened by the end of August we would gather once again to ask what God, what next.

The day before our chosen day I went on my first job interview in 25 years.  God orchestrated a conversation in my ZUMBA class two nights before with a woman I had chatted with on several occasions. I’d never asked her where she worked.  That night I did.  Before the night was out I was telling her that my favorite outside job had been working for a doctor.  As I finished she told me she was hiring a part-time office staff position for her family practice.  Yes, she is a doctor and no, I had no idea.

At 8:05AM on re-evaluation day I was awakened with a phone call offering me a job.  As I hung up the phone it hit us, God had already evaluated things for us.  God’s concealed plan had made its way into our known world.

It does something to my heart to watch the unseen world makes its way into the seen.  I grasp more deeply the verse that reminds me to put my hope in God.  For I am reminded that in His unpredictable world He waits for the just the right moment to show up.  I see the twinkle in His eye as my mind awakens more deeply to my reality. This God who loves me so, truly does have my whole world in His hands.

©copyrighted 2011, Julie L. Todd