Friday, January 13, 2012

It is well with my soul

In November, we got all gussied up and headed over to an old family farm in Lexington so that Lucas could snap some photos of the four of us. What a super special treat, I’m telling you! We all had so much fun with Lucas. Anna Cate will now tell you that her two favorite things are 1) weddings and 2) photo shoots. I think she would die if she new Mr. Lucas got to do the same time...for a living! We have decided we have to build family pictures into our budget so we can do this every so often. (And if you are looking for somebody super talented and fun to work with, give Lucas a call. seriously, hands down, the best of the best.) And maybe this goes without saying, but all of the pics in this post are ones that he took (and two up there in the header too).


He has no idea what a blessing he was to our family and how much I treasure these photos of the four of us right here, right now, in this sweet season of life that we are in. 2011 was definitely a year I will always look back on with bittersweet memories; lots of laughter, many tears, growing closer as a family and learning to lean into the Lord with each step that I take.


Last week I was flipping through old pages in my journal. I hadn’t read back through things I had written earlier in the year, and I was humbled at just how specifically God had answered almost every prayer I had written on those pages. It certainly didn’t feel like He was answering prayers as we were living out our days in 2011, but looking back I can see His providence in all of it.


My heart has amnesia and I forget the lyrics to the songs that He has already taught me, ones that I thought I knew by heart. I question and I flail and I loose heart. I doubt His goodness and His grace when things don't feel good and circumstances don't work out according to my selfish desires.


Last January, while on our church's women's retreat in the cold, snowy mountains of Hendersonville, I heard one of the ladies speaking about how she claims a Bible verse for each day. So very naively, I decided I'd claim a verse for the year. I landed on Psalm 46:10

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

I think the "Be Still" part sounded great to me and I just disregarded the rest. Honestly, I do. Being still sounded like a great invitation to rest, a welcomed permission to slooooow down. Goodness gracious I had no idea what I was asking. To claim a verse and invite the Lord to show me what it meant.


So I returned home and went back to living life as I had always known it to be. God was part of my day, a quick "hello" in my quiet time or in brief worship as I sang along with the radio, but not part of my whole day. I did not need Him to carry me, to cover me with His grace because my heart felt raw and exposed.


But then He showed up to make good on our deal. He would teach my heart what it meant to know what Psalm 46:10 means. To live it out, in the flesh, to fight and claw my way into understanding what being still and knowing really means.

In the course of the next few months, I came to dread the text from Will that read
Call me asap.
I never knew when the next ball was going to drop:

"Can you talk?
The doctor just called.
It is melanoma.
I won't know how invasive until he sees the pathology report."

Be still and know.

"I'm so sorry sweetie, but Dandy just passed away."

Be still and know.

"My job circumstances have changed and I think now is the time to go off on my own and start my own business."

Be still and know

"It's Caws. She's gone.
It happened sometime early this morning while she was asleep."

Be still and know

As we packed our Christmas decorations up last year, I was so sure that we would be celebrating this Christmas as a family of five. And month after disappointing month, realizing that our desires were not part of God's plan for us right now.

Be still and know


It has been painful. All of it. Some days I feel forgotten and unloved. I feel like throwing my hands in the air and waving like a crazy woman, "Here, Lord, down here. Do you see me? Do you even realize what all we are going through right now? Why, why, and again WHY?"

The pain has made my heart tender, and though not at all what I would pick for myself if given the choice, it has been a beautiful mess because I have grown in an intimacy with Him that I have never known before. I walk around with a throbbing heart that can only find relief in His presence. In being still before Him.


A little verse that I thought would unlock permission for me to relax and rest has taught me so much about my own selfishness. About my own sense of entitlement; how ugly it is and how much that I exercise it on a daily basis. About patience and that waiting on the Lord produces a patience which leads to practicing contentment. And what a rich abundance contentment can be for those who truly find it and can find rest in Him and what He gives.

About living with an open palm instead of a closed fist. In learning to accept the good and what appears to be bad (the things we don't understand) as His love for us.


Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

I had just been focusing on the first sentence, but silly me, there are two more. The greater part of the verse was the part that I chose to overlook at first. That when we are still before Him, we can not help but worship Him, exalting Him among the nations and in the earth.

I can no longer worship on Sunday mornings without tears. His grace is real and it is tender. Slowly I am learning how to sing in praise, It is well with my soul. There is so much more I am still processing from the things He has taught me this past year and I'm sure this isn't the end of all I'll have to say.

As December came to a close and I realized it was time to pick a new verse, you can understand my hesitancy at picking anything at all. In fact, I told Him that I wasn't, and if there was something He wanted me to learn in 2012, He was going to have to make it loud and clear as to what verse it would be.

And wouldn't you know, He did.
And I baulked, stubborn and unrelenting. But He persisted.
Over and over again He would put this verse in front of me until I could no longer argue my point. So now, in fear and trembling, I begin this new year, much like a timid doe stepping out of the forest, just waiting for the shot to go off:

But now, this is what the Lord says
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Isreal: "fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine."
Isaiah 43:1

I know, I know, I can only imagine what 2012 is going to be like.


  1. Hi, I am not sure how I stumbled upon your blog a while back, but I have enjoyed peeking into your precious little family. Thank you for sharing your heart. 2011 was a terribly difficult year for our family as well and so much of what you said resonated with me. Stopping to pray that God will continue to bless and be close to you in 2012. Julie

  2. Another version of that verse says "Cease striving" instead of "Be still". I take that to mean that we need to stop trying to surpass everything with our own plans because His will is greater than anything we could do on our own. It calming and relaxing to know that I don't have to be God and that He is in control. I stumbled upon your blog through a mutual friend :) Thanks for the cute daily docket printable!

  3. This is a beautiful. Thanks for sharing.- Ashley h

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your heart, your family, your struggles, and joys. please know that in being vulnerable, you are encouraging others to persevere in Him. :) I can't find your email address and I have a couple of questions/slight request about a doll. :) would you mind emailing me at please? (fyi: I went to PC and graduated in 2002!) thanks SO much. blessings to you and your family this day and all the rest of 2012! Meredith Ritchie