What To Do With All The Feels: A Lesson On Lament

Last week I shared my feelings with you. Not my sugar-coated, this has all been so fun feelings. But my sincere acknowledgement that some days have been hard. Some days have gone well, and sweet family memories were made. But other days everyone’s emotions have run high, and things have been….interesting…to say the least.

Now I want to turn to scripture to examine what we can do with all those “feels”— all those spiraling feelings.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, there is a poetic style of writing that shows up again and again when God’s people need to lay out their pain. They are songs of sorrow called “lament.” It shows up in books like Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Lamentations, and the minor prophets. Nearly a third of the Psalms are songs of lament. In these you will find a pattern of protest, petition, and praise. The authors lay out their sorrow to the Lord, then ask the Lord for help, and finally you will see an attitude of praise or trust based on their knowledge of what they know to be true of God.

In Psalm 22, King David, described as one after God’s own heart, but no stranger to pain, writes:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

By night, and am not silent.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed….

You who fear the Lord, praise him!…

For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one;

He has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”


David presents his brokenness and humanity to the Lord, and with the frequency at which it appears in scripture, it does not seem to be something God frowns upon. In psalms such as chapters 13, 88, and 102, David asks the Lord to hear his cry, answer him, and restore him. Also take note at how David reflects on Israel’s history for assurance that his Lord is still to be trusted. If this same God was able to part the sea and provide food in the desert, surely David can trust him now.

A few years back I heard a sermon on lament where a pastor from Detroit referenced the 3 Rules of the Dysfunctional Family.

  1. Don’t feel
  2. Don’t talk
  3. Don’t trust

Lament, on the other hand, teaches us to feel, to talk, and to trust. Lament teaches us to bring our anxiety, our confusion, our questions, and our despair to God, rather than running away and withdrawing from him. It teaches us just how healthy it can be to cry out to God and lay out all that emotion; all those feels.

The key however, is not ending the conversation after “feel” and “talk.” We don’t merely unload and walk away. That’s when we remember the character of the God we serve. We remember that he is good and compassionate and just. We remember all the times in our lives he has already proved faithful. And because we can be confident in who he is, we can trust, even when we’re still in the waiting; the pain; the unknown. We choose to be like the psalmists, who take time to lament but ultimately choose to trust.

One of my favorite Christian authors/theologians/leaders. We were apparently thinking along the same lines.

The truth is, we could probably each write our own song of lament at this point in time. We’ve all lost something. We’re all grieving. Whether it’s senior years, class trips, end-of-year goodbyes to our students, or sports seasons. Sisters’ weekends, family vacations, baby showers, or weddings. Maybe it’s lost wages and layoffs, postponed doctor’s appointments, hugging loved ones, or a sense of security……and maybe even your sanity.

While we wait in this unknown of how long and how bad, we can lean in to our Heavenly Father. On the especially bad days, we can accept those emotions and offer them up in petition. And then we can rest in the knowledge of a sovereign God who is big enough to handle both our feelings and this heartbreaking situation. We can echo the heart of David when he says,

“But I trust in your unfailing love;

My heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”

-Psalm 13: 5-6

And we can rest in the knowledge that we serve a God who is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

As for me, I’ve gotten it all out. I’ve had my moment and accepted the situation at hand (as much as one can, I suppose).  I’ve asked the Lord for discernment and to help me bring a sense of peace to my little people at home. And I’ve raised up the white flag on homeschool. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in my household. But with what now looks like a lengthy stretch that my children will be out of school, it’s what is needed right now. So by golly, if I have to homeschool, I’ll at least do it well.

Let’s continue to pray for each other. Let’s continue to feel the emotional ups and downs and not feel ashamed. Let’s continue to extend grace. Let’s continue to talk to one another and to our God. And always, always, let’s continue to trust him to carry us through. ❤

Grace and peace to you all this week,


An Update and My Object Lesson

Sometimes life hits so fast and so hard. And just as I’m launching a 5 part series on trust, one of the greatest object lessons regarding trust smacks me square in the nose.

It left me wordless. Fingers paralyzed to type anything of sense. Some days it was enough to breath in and out and shuffle through the duties before me, let alone to sit down and let my mind creatively flow with text.

Then there is always the dilemma of what is too much to share. I want to develop a platform of genuine faith and honest emotion of the rawness of life’s ups and downs. But I also want to protect the privacy that those so precious to me deserve.

So my blog went dark for a season. Most of you in the busyness of your own agendas probably didn’t take notice. But for those of you who did, that is why. I have a heart for this ministry but my family is also a ministry, and my family will always come first.

Most recently we faced the parenting challenge of telling our kids about a hard transition. We heard desperate pleas and saw tear streamed faces, but our decision had to hold strong. It’s been one of the harder moments of parenting to date. Our kids only see the present pain which is directly in front of them; the struggle and inevitable discomfort which accompanies change. But my husband and I see the future pain and risk from which we are protecting them.

There is so much we can’t explain to them; so much they should not be allowed to be exposed to or asked to carry. They should not be forced to see the full ugliness of sin or our fallen world and asked to carry the burdens of an adult. They need to be allowed to be 7 and to be 5. They deserve a childhood.

We’ve provided what answers we’re able, but for the rest, we simply ask them to trust us. We’ve asked them to have faith that they have a mommy and a daddy who ultimately want what is good for them. That we love and cherish them and at times have to make hard decisions which protect them from that which they cannot see.

Oh how God challenged my heart later that night. After tucking my daughter into bed and assuring her that though it would be hard, I would hold her hand tight through the process, God began to prick at my spirit. How much is our walk with our Heavenly Father like that?

We seldom fully understand why he asks us to walk through the deep waters. We do not always understand the present pain and suffering. I don’t understand any more than my children why we were dealt this trial.

But God cannot, or does not choose to, always tell us why. Like my little children who deserve to be just that, God knows that there are times we deserve to be his children. Some things would be too much weight for us to bear. While he, on the other hand, has already been willing to bear all the weight of sin on our behalf. In the same way God didn’t tell Job of the spiritual battle at play behind some of his suffering, and in the same way that God’s original plan was to spare Adam and Eve from the knowledge of the evil which existed in contrast to his goodness, there may be times God chooses not to tell us all the “whys” for our own benefit.

Who of us has the mind of God? And who of us can expect that we can understand the grand happenings of this life in the way our Majestic God can? It’s not that it is wrong to seek to understand, but there are moments God simply asks us to trust him with a childlike faith, ultimately trusting in his goodness and provision. Blindly and loyally trusting, one step at a time.

That is the season in which I find myself presently. Faith not shaken, but blindly trusting my Heavenly Father. Knowing this upcoming season of change and transition will continue to be hard, but knowing I can face anything with him holding us as family. How glorious to serve such an intimate Savior God who does not leave us nor forsake us.


Stories of Trust: My Dream Deferred

Growing up, our church had the tradition of reading The Tale of Three Trees every Christmas. If you haven’t read it, you should.

Book Cover- Trees

I was always drawn to the 3rd tree. In the story, the 1st and 2nd trees had more material ambitions. The first tree wanted to hold beautiful treasure; the second wanted to be the strongest ship in the world. Ah, but the 3rd tree, all she wanted was to grow so tall that whenever people looked at her, they’d look up and think of God. My little girl heart wanted so badly to glorify God; to point to God in everything I did.

Sadly, in the story all three trees get axed down and thrown into lumber yards.

I seem to be finding myself sitting in the metaphorical lumberyard as well. Nothing has quite gone as planned so far, at least not in regard to how I thought I’d point to God.

As a girl, I always imagined I’d bring glory to God through singing. I didn’t have any grand aspirations of fame, or even earning an income through music, but I thought I’d always use that gift of voice for Him. A shy little girl who hated speaking in front of people, singing was a platform for me to share my heart for God. I would carefully select songs that conveyed truths I found important to share. During my teen years, God opened so many doors for me to sing at church, school, and in the community, it made sense that I’d continue to serve God in that way.

From the moment I graduated high school, went to college, and began to spread my wings, however, God seemed to frustrate all my attempts. Every time I knocked on that music door, it seemed to slam shut or creak irritatingly. Nothing seemed to work out. I was either too young or not classically trained enough or wasn’t friends with the right crowd or people dragged their feet on promises made….and so on and so on. At one point I was so humiliated by certain feedback regarding my apparent lack of expression on stage, I almost gave up singing altogether.

Then about 10 years ago I felt God tugging at my heart to go into ministry. I can still remember the exact chapter I was reading in a book and the precise spot I was sitting on my couch when I told the Lord, “Okay, I’m in.” So in tandem with being a mother, I directed the energy I had left toward women’s ministry. Zeal in my heart, fire in my soul, I set out on my journey for the Lord. Surely that was how I would bring glory to Him!

Yet a decade later I am lacking any direction.

I’ve read oodles of books by Christian women, many of them in ministry, and I am always amazed at the apparent ease with which their path guides them into teaching, preaching, writing, nonprofit ministries and so on. Two ladies in particular graduate college, decide to start up a blog and next thing they know they’re reaching tens of thousands of women through a bona fide non-profit. Another lady decides to write a book, as if it’s so easy to even get published in the first place, makes friends with a nationally known speaker, and the  next thing she knows, she’s part of another nationally known women’s ministry. I can’t even find a niche in my local church while big things seem to just fall into others’ laps. It’s hard not to be left feeling a little dumbfounded or to question your calling altogether.

“Am I missing something, Lord?” tree 3- confused

Earlier this summer I was having some much needed quiet time with the Lord, perusing through some old journals. Suddenly my heart stopped when I came across a poem I’d entirely forgotten about, written 4 years ago. Somehow it still seemed so relevant to my heart’s current condition:

The 3rd Tree

Girl of eleven wished to be that tree.

Heart pure and sweet, with a zeal for the King.

“May all I do point to you.

May I grow tall and free so they lift their eyes to you.”


Then life had its way and cut her down.

They spit, they mocked, they pushed her to the ground.

“Maybe I’m not enough.

Perhaps I heard wrong.

Maybe I’m not called.

Maybe I’m not an appointed one.”


Dreams lay dead in the lumberyard.

A broken spirit blackens her soul.

But the King so sweetly raises her head

He dries her tears and comes to make her whole .

“Don’t you know the rest of the story?” he whispers.

“Don’t you remember that tree did bring me glory?”


Still your heart, sweet child of mine

Wait on the Lord.

Still your heart, little child of grace

Let the Sovereign One sit on the throne.

You see, as our story of the Three Trees concludes, it does not end with the trees rotting in the lumber yard. The tree who dreamed of holding treasure became the manger in which Christ lays at his birth. The 2nd tree who dreams of being a strong ship becomes the fishing boat who carries Jesus and his disciples through a storm.

And as for the third tree, who lays in that lumber yard the longest, she gets put together only to have the nails of Christ’s crucifixion pounded into her. Sounds real nice, right?

Yet thereafter, every time people looked at her, beams formed into the cross, they would think of the Savior God.

I wish I could say that I have reached that beautiful ending. That I could tell you, “Aha! This is what God had planned all along and why so many things seemed like dead ends along the way.”

But I can’t.

The truth is, I’m still in the part of the story where I’m laying in the lumberyard, wondering what in the world God is thinking. Too often we only hear peoples’ stories once they can be wrapped up nicely with a pretty bow. But I think it’s important to share about the time in-between.  The waiting. The uncertainty. Otherwise we’re left with a false sense of how easily everything is supposed to go.

Only God knew how badly my heart needed to hear the truths I penned in that poem all those years earlier. More than ever, when we’re in the valley, when we’re in the waiting, we need constant reminders of God’s truth. I need only to wait on the Lord and let Him sit on the throne. As for the rest? I guess that’s part of the adventure of life.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 13: 5


Stories of Trust: Disrupted Plans

So far in my faith walk, God seems to present me with themes, or teaching moments, that span over several years. Hopefully that isn’t a sign I’m just a slow learner.

I can remember in high school God poking at all my wounded places until I would fully surrender to Him. Giving over those false idols and footholds that would mar His image. All of me for all of Jesus. But these past few years there has been a running theme of “Trust”. Trusting when everything seems so uncertain. Trusting God to be enough. Trust.

A couple years back, already in my theme of “Trust”, I mentioned to a dear friend that I didn’t understand how things could be so easy for others. Their plans all seemed to align so well in life and they were just where they pictured they’d be. That hadn’t exactly been the case for me. The title of my blog should really be called The Girl Who Runs Into Another Wall; The Girl Who Feels Aimless; The Girl Who Finds Another Roadblock. Take your pick.

My friend was so sweet and shared the story of a woman she greatly admired. This woman had diligently followed God’s tugging at her heart to start a ministry in one of the least reached people groups in the world. For 20 years, she was told “no”, “not yet”, “it’s too dangerous”. She was given discouragement even by other Christians. But she kept trudging forward. Long into the woman’s journey, my friend ended up becoming a missionary on this woman’s team, the first team to be stationed in that part of the world. But before the team was sent abroad, after all those years of preparation and groundbreaking, the mission organization the woman worked with decided to remove her from the team entirely. They wouldn’t even allow her to serve in the same city. My friend wrote, “She never got to serve with us.”


From our perspective that seems like a huge blow. I’m sure it felt that way at first, but my friend made some beautiful points. One, this woman was in God’s will, despite it being a hard fight. The Bible supports anything but a prosperity gospel. More times than not, those champions of faith—Elijah, King David, Jeremiah, Paul— endured awful trials despite their devotion to the Lord. Easy sailing does not equate with faithful living. Secondly, while it is disappointing through our human lens, the vision God gave this woman was accomplished! Regardless of whether or not she gets to see it through to the end, she did help create a ministry team in one of the least reached areas of the world. And only six months after what felt devastating, God used her to start a team and school in another unreached city. From there, she plans to train individuals to go into more unreached towns. So her removal from the team actually led to the Gospel being more widespread.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul addresses the church in Corinth regarding quarrels between Christian believers. Apparently, there was conflict over which apostle they followed. In our culture, it would be like people arguing over which pastor they like the most. In verse 5 Paul writes,

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grows. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.”   1 Corinthians 3: 5-8

What a poignant reminder. It’s not all about us. We are mere servants. It is God who moves and changes hearts and lives. We are nothing; at least, we are nothing without Christ. This world tells us we are defined by what we do. But God reminds us our worth is not wrapped up in our actions. Our value lies in who, or whose, we are: children of God. So whether we take part in God’s plan by planting or watering, it really doesn’t matter. Just that we show up and do our part.

Ironically, at the time my friend was encouraging me and shared her story about that woman, life was going pretty well for my friend. She had dreamed of being a missionary since her teens. She was one of those crazy people excited by the idea of going to the remote parts of the world, even if it meant danger and “roughing it.” And here she was doing just that: married, baby on the way, and living overseas to love on these least reached people. She was in her happy place.

But later that year her world was flipped upside down. Due to some health issues, she had to uproot her family from international serving to return stateside. She initially felt utter despair; like the rug had been pulled out from under her. Why did God bring her so far along in her dream just to take it away? Yet with each month that passes, she has begun to see more and more glimpses of the beautiful plan God has for her here. She’s now planting the first church among the same people group, only in the States. Some of the families she met abroad have even had connections to the same immigrants she’s met here. It was never the plan she would have chosen and yet she is still doing the very thing her heart always longed for.

Time after time, we see that God disrupts what we view as our perfect little plan. Only later do we see a glimpse of how He was using us for a greater purpose in His plan.

Now able to look on it with a sense or humor, my friend laughed that she had so badly wanted the experience of living abroad and doing the ministry she had envisioned,  it really would have needed to be something drastic to make her change course. She wrote to me,

“Neither my friend nor myself would have ever willingly chose our present locations, but God moved us in order to spread His gospel around. That reminds me of the ‘Diaspora.’ Acts 8:1-4 talks about a great persecution that broke out against the church in Jerusalem. Because of that, the church was scattered and ‘those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.’ Time after time, we see that God disrupts what we view as our perfect little plan. Only later do we see a glimpse of how He was using us for a greater purpose in His plan.”

We don’t always understand why the Lord wills things in the way he does. But that’s not really our job. We merely need to rest, to trust, and go along for the ride.

“Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor?”- Isaiah 40:13

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” – Isaiah 40:28

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”- Proverbs 3:5-6

When we are in the valleys, the waiting, the unknown, we have a choice about what we will do; about who we will become. The choices we make now affect who we become 20 years from now. Will we grow angry and resentful? Or will we allow our faith and depth of trust to root deeply?

More than ever, when we are in that land of exile, we need to be reminded of God’s truths. We need to remember all the times he has already proved faithful to spur us on and to give us hope of his continued faithfulness. So in this short series, Stories of Trust, I hope to remind you, along with myself, of God’s truth. In this way, we can stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around our waist and finish the race strong.

Grace and Peace,


Ephesians 6:13-17

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”