A God that provides

I will confess upfront that I don’t know how to begin or write this blog post. So many things changed so quickly that every time I thought about writing I stopped…overwhelmed at the thought of attempting to summarize even a portion of what I was experiencing. The longer I waited…the longer the list got…the more daunting it felt…and then it was easier to just avoid. I’m breaking the cycle now and going for it.

I have spent these last few months in awe of the way God has shown up in this transition 27cebb510da807eaa58fdd5462145c4bprocess and how it has been confirmed over and over that Seattle is the place for me right now. Things I needed were abundantly provided for and (at times) it has actually been difficult to believe and recieve. I found myself holding my breath afraid that the slightest disruption would cause everything to unravel.

I don’t know if you remember this post from the summer about stepping into the unknown (It’s been a long time, I understand 🙂 ) but I’ll recap. I had been drawn back to Seattle since the spring of 2013 but due to some large obstacles, uncertainties and things I didn’t want to let go of I stayed in the Netherlands. I told God that “If He wanted me back in Seattle…HE needed to move me back”.  And boy did He ever…but it took me stepping out in faith and making a bold decision to move before I knew where all the pieces were going to land.

So, I booked my ticket and took a deep breath…apprehensively ready to face the checklist involved with in an intercontinental move. The big ones:

  1. Moving: Packing, Selling, organizing and shipping my stuff – UGH
  2. Job hunting from abroad: Updating my resume, searching for positions and with any luck interviews – DOUBLE UGH

I will be honest and say that I had resigned myself to the fact that I might find some job prospects from Europe and maybe even have some phone interviews…but practically speaking it would be difficult to actually land a job before I was physically present in Seattle. I did trust that God would provide the right place in the right timing, I guess I just assumed some practical boundaries on that timing. Silly me.

In preparation for the impending job search I dusted off my LinkedIn profile and began reaching out to old connections. I searched Craigslist and other job sites. I was internally connected to a few positions at Philips in Seattle but roles that didn’t seem like the perfect fit. LinkedIn, in its helpfulness, would send me opportunities I might be interested in…in China…and California…and a few in Seattle but again nothing very inspiring. One day there was a banner ad for an engineering position at Starbucks. Really? Why does Starbucks need engineers? It was something that seemed more like a click generator rather than an actual position.

My curiosity was piqued and through a little internet hunting I was able to find the original job position on the actual Starbucks website. Hmmm…this could be a legit job posting. I guess Starbucks needs engineers? Strange.

So, I tuned my resume and submitted all my info into their web based hiring portal – also known as the black hole of time and energy since the response rate from these things is abysmal.

To my surprise they contacted me. I guess someone does read these submissions. 🙂 After MANY Skype interviews over a few weeks…they made an offer for a role as a Senior Equipment Development…and I accepted…5 weeks before I was scheduled to leave the Netherlands.

It all moved so quickly but I felt complete peace about the role. I just didn’t really believe it was real.

This position is a fantastic fit for me…technical and relational. Starbucks is a very dynamic environment and, from my experience so far, they really do care for their employees. And it turns out, they need engineers…DESPERATELY. Next time you stand at the counter look beyond the barista and your foamy beverage…they touch a tremendous amount of technical equipment. And now one of the people developing that equipment is ME.

Coming home with a job was already a HUGE provision but this is where God blew me away. Do you remember me telling God that if He wanted me back in Seattle He needed to move me back? In making that statement I felt stubborn and selfish but I was also exhausted. Life had just knocked me out with a 1, 2, 3 combination and I didn’t have the energy (or desire) to make that step on my own. If this was a direction He wanted me to move I needed the door opened…I needed something.

Well…my new position at Starbucks included a relocation package that took care of EVERYTHING. Packing in the Netherlands, moving, unpacking in Seattle, flying, translating my medical documents. EVERYTHING. I was honest with them. They knew I was coming home either way but they wanted to do whatever they could to make my experience working here as positive as possible. Crazy.

God not only opened the door, He kicked it in off its hinges.

OK…I guess Seattle is where I need to be.

I never would have found this position if I hadn’t already made the decision to move back to Seattle.

I RISKED into uncertainty first and took a step. The initial 2 months after I bought my ticket were extremely difficult. But I trusted and it felt as if God was encouraging my faith and trust by completely blowing me away in this move.

I am going to end this by saying that God ALWAYS provides. Not always in the way or the time we want  but ALWAYS in the way and in the moment we need. In this phase of my story the provision was exactly what I wanted and needed. It doesn’t always happen like this. I have other parts of my story that were definitely NOT what I wanted but I recognize in hindsight were what I needed. Or years of praying the same prayer that never seems to be answered…where God seems silent.

But I wanted to share an update and testimony on my journey back to Seattle. I know that my faith is encouraged by hearing how God works in people’s lives and my prayer is that this does the same.

Blessings,

Lynnea

Choosing the adventure

It was not easy for me to make the decision to move back to Seattle.

I like my life in the Netherlands. I have great friends and colleagues. I like my work and developing coffee appliances. I feel fully supported by the health system and have gotten used to not worrying about costs or coverage. I enjoy the freedom of visiting interesting cities for a weekend. I have grown quite fond of the relaxed lifestyle and spending hours sitting at a café drinking coffee/beer. I love my apartment and am settled in Groningen.

There are definitely some difficult things but my life here is very comfortable and honestly…really good. I could have chosen to stay.

But there was something deeper in my spirit moving. It was as if God was presenting a choice between staying in the Netherlands and returning to the US. I know that I had complete freedom to choose either one.

I could stay with what I know and what is comfortable. I could continue to travel and explore. I could continue walking along the secure path in front of me.

OR…I could risk.

In that same deep place in my spirit I have a feeling that there is somethingGod Adventure bigger and more beautiful waiting in Seattle. Not necessarily from a travel/life perspective but from a hopeful, heart transformation, redemption perspective. Something more meaningful. The potential for pain is high but also the potential for beauty. It will require a tremendous amount of courage to face all the unknowns and there is no guarantee it will be worth it. But that’s risk right?

And it is my choice.

I have NO IDEA what my life will look like in Seattle. There are many things I am looking forward to and many things I am not. But I bought my ticket and I’m choosing the adventure a midst all the uncertainties. I feel God inspiring me to a life bigger than the comfortable one I have in Groningen. So, this decision is a step of faith.

Only time will tell how it all plays out but you guys are along for the ride. 🙂 God prepared me through my journey with the tattoo. I risked a lot by fixing a day, facing my fear and trusting God to fill in the practicalities. I am so glad I did because it worked out better than I imagined. Now God is building on that faith experience. I am risking much more with this move but I trust that God’s faithfulness will continue.

In the end…life is too short to stay comfortable… I’d rather choose the risk and adventure.

Blessings,

Lynnea

More than you can handle

In the past couple weeks I have been confronted with the phrase “God wont give you more than you can handle” from a few different sources. Friends on Facebook. Comments on blogs. Adrian Peterson’s response to the tragic loss of his son. The best was this article entitled:

Confronting the Lie: God wont give you more than you can handle by Nate Pyle (www.natepyle.com)

It is a common Christian response especially in the face of tragedy but as Nate points out in his article…this idea is Bullshit…and not even biblical. The bible does not say we will never be given more than we can handle. In fact it often says the exact opposite. Here is an excerpt:

 This particular statement, that “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” isn’t even in the Bible.  There is a statement that sounds like it.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”  But notice that verse is about temptation.  That’s it.  You won’t be tempted beyond what you can stand up against.  This text is not saying that you will not experience more than you can bear.  That idea just isn’t Biblical.  If anything the exact opposite is true.  Look at this text.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Cor 1:8,9, emphasis mine).

Later, Paul will write it is when he is weak that the strength of Christ is seen.  In other words, when we can’t do it any longer.  When we are fed up.  When it has become too much.  When we have nothing left.  When we are empty.  When it is beyond our capability to deal with it.  Then, in that moment, the strength of the God of resurrection will be seen.  Until we get to that point, we rely on ourselves thinking we can handle it and take care of the problem.

Amen brother. And I can say from the past year and a half the process of being pushed out of my capacity into Christ’s is not pleasant and feels like I am being given more than I can handle…because I am…just not more than he can handle. This is where I need to quote Nate again because he describes how I’m currently feeling so well.

Don’t hear me saying I am rejoicing because of the last couple of weeks.  I am not.  Not once have I danced around our house shouting, “Yeah suffering!”  Instead, in the midst of pain and hurt, I am actively expecting God to do something.  I don’t know what.  I don’t know when.  But I am expecting the God of resurrection to heal us.  I am expecting God to restore us.  I am expecting him to redeem this situation.  I am expecting him to do this and so I will be actively looking and waiting for him to do something.  I believe expectant waiting can only happen when we exchange our feeble platitudes for an authentic faith that engages God with the full brunt of our emotion and pain.  Only then can salvation been seen.

Once again…amen. We can wait expectantly together because our God is faithful.

Blessings,

Lynnea

I’m not going to fake it

“Principles are what people have instead of God.
To be a Christian means among other things to be willing if necessary to sacrifice even your highest principles for God’s or your neighbor’s sake the way a Christian pacifist must be willing to pick up a baseball bat if there’s no other way to stop a man from savagely beating a child.
Jesus didn’t forgive his executioners on principle but because in some unimaginable way he was able to love them.
‘Principle’ is an even duller word than ‘Religion’.”
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

This quote came across my Facebook news feed this week and I had to re read it a few times as the message sank deeper into my heart. At first pass I thought…What?! Aren’t principles good? Shouldn’t we stand for right and wrong? Shouldn’t we have those lines that we wont cross?

The second read I thought well, I guess principles are our own construction of right and wrong. They can become rigid. A list of shoulds and should nots to adhere to. Fundamental behavior rules that we accept as true as we construct our own moral framework. We replace God with our own ideas of how to act. And when something falls outside that framework we judge it and cast it off without looking deeper into the heart.

The third time through I stopped at “Jesus didn’t forgive his executioners on principle but because in some unimaginable way he was able to love them”. He didn’t forgive these people who had beaten, humiliated, and executed him because he SHOULD. Because a moral code told him to. He forgives them because he honestly LOVES them. He can see in their hearts. He can see beyond the behavior to the pain and the wounds. He can see their need for a savior. And even though they are taking his life he responds with compassion and forgiveness.

WOW…that is some kind of love and it’s there for all of us.

This is the point where I’m like Yea! Thank you for loving me that much! Thank you for your grace and compassion and forgiveness!!

And then there is a voice inside me that goes “Because I love you…go love others with the same sacrificial love”

Eeeerrrkkk (squealing brakes 🙂 ) It’s one thing for me to receive that love but to offer it to hardest to loveothers? That costs something. That costs A LOT. That costs EVERYTHING. However, if it’s been freely given to me…shouldn’t I freely give it? Yes. But let’s not pretend it’s easy. I have been in a very difficult healing and forgiveness process and I will admit to days where closing my heart and giving in to anger/bitterness seemed like the easiest way forward. My heart was hard. My pride was hurt. My sense of justice was screaming. My principles shattered. I knew deep in my soul that love and forgiveness were the only way to bring freedom into my life but I didn’t see how it was humanly possible. And honestly it wasn’t humanly possible but I had hope it was divinely possible.

So, this was my prayer “God, I’m hurt and angry. I confess to an extremely hard heart and not much hope for true forgiveness. I know you ask me to love this world like you do. To offer compassion and forgiveness to hurting people. There is nothing in me that wants to…BUT there is a small crack in my heart for you to work. I need you to honestly do this because I can’t and I’m not going to fake it.”

Deep in my soul I felt something like this “Thank you for keeping a crack open…I’m not asking you to fake it…I can and will do this. Trust me.”

It doesn’t happen immediately. In fact it is a slow, agonizing process but that crack is widening. Much like a rose going from a tight closed bud to a flower in full bloom. Every day brings almost undetectable changes but add them up and transformation is more obvious. The hardness is softening. The ice is melting. A miracle is happening. Authentic love and forgiveness are replacing anger and self righteousness. The impossible now feels more possible. And all I can say is Praise the Lord…I’m not faking it!!

Happy Monday,

Lynnea

So, what about the ants?

I often get asked about my faith and why I believe what I do. How do I know God exists? Isn’t “religion” an old fashioned idea? Aren’t we just physical beings responding to programmed biological impulses?

It is difficult to answer these questions because faith is so personal and nothing I can ever PROVE. So I speak from my experience.

– I believe God exists because I can’t look at the beauty, diversity and complexity of this world and think it happened by accident. All the details. Everything working together. I don’t necessarily believe the earth was created in our equivalent of 7 days but ultimately I’m OK with not knowing. I’m thankful every time a sunset or an alpine lake takes my breath away…or I’m in awe of how intricate the human body is because it helps me to remember how awesome God is.

– I do not believe we are just physical beings…balls of hormones and biology wandering this planet with only a need to evolve and pro create. For me that is too simple and is actually a cop out from taking responsibility for your own behavior. “Biology” made me do it. I’m programmed that way I can’t help it. That might be part of the story but I think we are so much more than that. I look at this world and I see pain and heartbreak…joy and passion. Why do we need community or crave relationships? Honestly, I believe there is a deep longing to be loved and accepted in each one of us…we just have different ways of going about meeting that need. Relationships. Success. Sex. Since we live in an imperfect world this need will never fully be met and that can cause pain. And again everyone does something different with this pain. They can bury it…pretend it doesn’t exist. Numb it with work or alcohol. But I believe this basic need is there in all of us and I believe it can only be met by a relational God.

– Isn’t religion an old fashioned idea? Well, you’ve got me there. I don’t like “religion”. Because, honestly, I don’t often see a lot of love and acceptance in the message they share. I hear rules. Do’s and don’ts to get into heaven or stay out of hell. Judgement. It often doesn’t resemble the Jesus I know. But if you want to talk to me about how to find freedom in love, compassion, kindness, grace and mercy…that’s my religion. That’s what I gunny-optimistic-ant-comic-pebble-magnifying-glass-human-fine-idea-picsstake my life on.

So, what about the ants? A response that I have gotten is for me to look at the ants. They just go about their business purely programmed by biology. They don’t love. They seem to survive just fine executing the tasks they were created for. They create armies and wars. Aren’t we just big versions of that? Aren’t you putting too much significance on our existence? Interesting argument. Honestly, I don’t know what the ants have to do with me? I can’t speak to their experiences. They might survive purely on biology. I have no idea but either way it has no bearing on me. I can only speak to my human experience. And my human experience involves emotions. Hearts longing for love and acceptance. For intimacy. We are relational people. And I believe that need for intimacy is ultimately met in a loving, relational God. But I’m not asking you to agree with me.

Blessings,

Lynnea

Photo: www.funnyasaduck.net

Fear of the Pain

I’ve decided that the next few “Storm Survival” posts will center around my experience with healing wounds…both physical and emotional. These difficult seasons often involve wounds. Wounds we have from the past, wounds we have given ourselves, wounds others have given us, wounds from circumstances. This past year I have been on the receiving end of some pretty deep blows which brought me to a very raw place. The type of rawness/hurt that made me want to take my heart, tuck it away in a locked box and throw away the key. It will be safe there. But healing doesn’t happen in the box. Healing happens when we allow the “healing process” that I wrote about on Monday. Which means keeping our hearts exposed and accessible…this can be vulnerable…scary and down right hard. I think the fear of the pain and uncertainty involved is what can keep people from engaging the process and true healing. It is easier/safer to choose the box and protect our hearts from further hurts.

If you follow this blog you will know about my recent physical wound which is teaching me so much about healing. After the accident I knew I would need stitches and my colleague took me to a local general doctor or “Huisarts”. From my experience they don’t actually DO much except act as a gate keeper for the rest of the medical system. Typically, I show up for a 10 minute appointment…they ask me some questions to determine the nature of the problem…and then if they decide it is severe enough they will refer me on to a specialist. I was fully expecting to have the cut evaluated and then be sent to a hospital to have the stitches put in.

WELL after the doctor evaluated the wound, and gave me the “You’re very lucky” speech, he reached for his suture kit to clean it and put the stitches in.Helium pain

WAIT! Hold up…YOU are going to do this? Now?! My brain was racing. I wasn’t quite mentally prepared and nowhere in his kit did I see any anesthetic. YOU are going to put stitches in WITHOUT giving me any pain medicine?! Ummmm. I have had stitches before and they numbed the area so well that I couldn’t feel it for another 6 hours. Now, NOTHING!! Crap, this is going to hurt. This is going to hurt A LOT! Immediately, the fear of the pain gripped me. OK, deep breath…I don’t have much of a choice. Another deep breath and I closed my eyes…it should be over quickly.

And you know what? It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had built it up in my head. My imagination was so much worse and the FEAR of the unknown and “what could be” ran away with me. It wasn’t nice. And, yes, it hurt but I needed it for healing and apparently I didn’t need anything to numb the pain.

It made me think of all the things I can allow FEAR to build up in my head. And how often I think I NEED something I don’t. I am not saying that healing deep emotional wounds is the same as getting stitches. There are things that can and probably will really hurt…but for me the healing on the other side is worth it. And we don’t do it alone. I’m learning to trust more and more that God really is who He says He is. He wants nothing more than to heal our wounds. Honestly, it can sometimes be hard for me to know how to relate to an invisible God ESPECIALLY in a crisis. But He has been faithful over and over. Part of my healing this year has come from learning how to trust Him completely and learning that He really will keep me from going down. He really will! He loves me more than I can imagine and has spent the last year and a half showing me what that looks/feels like. It’s been incredible. And as difficult as this season has been I wouldn’t want to go back. I LIKE the person I am…and THAT is freedom.

It is tough to give REAL practical tips for this that don’t sound cliche but I’ll give it a shot:

  1. Don’t do this alone. Find friends or a community to surround you. If you have some deep pain/heart ache try working with a counselor. We’ve all got wounds and we can’t heal on our own. We need community.
  2. Pray A LOT. He will be faithful to answer just don’t be surprised if it is not how you expect
  3. Read the bible – learn the promises it has for you. My favorite this year:

    Don’t Panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need for fear for I’m your God.
    I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

    The poor and homeless are desperate for water,
    their tongues parched and no water to be found.
    But I’M there to be found, I’M there for them,
    and I, God of Israel, will not leave them thirsty.
    Isaiah 41:10, 17 (The Message)

Blessings,

Lynnea

 

I will KEEP remembering

This blog has been a bigger blessing in my life than I anticipated when I began writing. Sharing my journey has helped me make real connections with people going through similar trials. It has helped me know how many people are supporting me around the world which makes me feel less alone and isolated. Another thing I have appreciated, as I hit the 1 year anniversary of various milestones, is that it has captured my thoughts and feelings through this year. I can look back and read posts about my surgery or feeling scared before my first chemo infusion. I can relive some of the grief from lost dreams because I have chosen to be honest in this forum. Being able to look back helps me to look forward and that will be the topic of this Storm Survival post.

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post titled: I will remember. That was not a good season. That was an especially bad day. I was just starting chemo and it was going…well as good as chemo can go…but life outside of cancer had just become excruciating. I was broken. I was overwhelmed by everything that was coming at me. I didn’t have the capacity to deal with or process things that I needed to. I spent a lot of time in bed or on the couch in a daze. Breathing seemed to take too much effort. But I chose to write a post about remembrance. I believe in a good and faithful God, who is bigger than my circumstances, who has worked miracles and loves me more than I can imagine. A God of redemption. When my life was falling apart I chose to lift my eyes and remember the works and miracles of the past. His character hasn’t changed just because my life circumstances are hard.

I re-read that post…remembering all the pain I was feeling in that moment…and thinking some things have changed…some things haven’t. I had no idea what was in store for me over the next year when I wrote that. I had no idea what would still be stripped away and what I would need to surrender. I had no idea that God was actively training my heart to rely ONLY on him because the biggest tests were coming and I would be forced to my knees like never before. I had no idea that I would be able to point to practical examples of God’s protection of me. That I would be pushed completely out of my capacity into his and he really would sustain me…through the most difficult season I have ever faced…and am still facing.

I am not the same person I was a year ago. Only by God’s grace I am a better version of myself. This year has been scorching but it is solidifying who I am as a woman and a child of God. But the act of remembrance is one I need to renew and struggle with every morning. It wasn’t just a nice thought a year ago but the beginning of a continual process of calling to mind God’s faithfulness when my life circumstances want to pull my eyes down to my own hardships. This is an excerpt from my post a year ago:

Psalm 77
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion? ”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.

11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

At this particular moment I feel like I am living in the first half of this psalm (vs 1-10). Where my spirit is grieving and weary. It is difficult to be comforted or to find the strength to carry on. Sleep is hard to come by and it is impossible to know what to do. Except remember. I will choose to remember the ways God has worked in my life and the power/miracles he has displayed throughout time. This is not overly spiritualized my heart is still heavy…but I know my God. I know he is the giver of life and redemption. I know he can move mountains and pray fervently for transformation and provision.  And with this remembrance comes the peace of knowing it will not always be this way.

Once again…Psalm 77 by Kristin Serafini

I would love to say that after a year all my struggles are in the past. Unfortunately that is not the case. I am, however, in a different place. I have my moments of grief but I don’t feel like I am trapped any longer in the overwhelming, emotional cycle of the first 10 verses. It is easier for me to see and hold on to how faithful God has been through the generations and in my life. Again, note that I said easIER…because I still have to fight against my pride and desire to control things. It is not easy for me to truly let go but I am learning every day that that is the only way to true freedom. There is a mountain being moved in my life. It is still in process and in general it isn’t fun but God REALLY is moving a mountain. So I will keep remembering…I will keep clinging…I will keep hoping.

Practical tips:

  1. I have a list of the very real, very practical ways I have seen God provide and protect me this past year. When I doubt, when I am scared, when I am losing hope I read it. I remember the faithfulness of the past and wait expecting the same for the future…even when I can’t see the path yet.
  2. Sometimes “remembering” is hearing someone else’s testimony about how God has transformed their heart and life. Everyone’s story is different but hearing the ways God has worked helps keep me going. There are so many but here are a few I would recommend “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom (This book will give you an amazing perspective on what Thanksgiving is), “Blood Brothers” by Elias Chacour (Finding God’s hope for reconciliation in a difficult region), “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken (Read this one with a box of tissue…but definitely read it)
  3. Once again with the journaling. 🙂 Nothing tells you how far you have come like a record of where you have been.
  4. No other practical suggestions except do what you can to get up every morning…it wont always be like this.

Here’s to surviving another week,

Lynnea