Where Have You Been?

Goodwill Tent

I have a bit of an addiction. I love thrift shopping. I have been known to plan shopping trips around the closest Goodwill (and Starbucks), and I frequent the one down the road from me quite a bit. It was on a rare occasion that I recently managed to drag my kids with me. Usually, what I hear as I scour the many hangers looking for someone’s cast-offs for a hidden treasure is groan after groan from the Marshall Monsters. But on this day, I heard squeals of delight as my daughter happened upon the above tent. For my little girl, it was a must-have. A place to hide from her brother. Camp out with a book. Hide her most precious of toys.

For me….well, it was a reminder of all the tents in which I have hidden in the last few months.

The tent of a demanding internship that had me consumed with work day and night.

The tent of schoolwork that had me plugged into my computer into the wee hours of the morning.

The tent of “busy-ness” that had me grasping for any ounce of alone time!

Tents of impatience. Tents of hurriedness. Tents of to-do lists. Appointments.

Tents of despair. Loneliness. Criticism. Self-doubt. Disappointments.

Tents that had me wondering-where in the world was I going? Where had I been?

Tents I tried to pitch all by myself. Without any help from Him. Placing Him at the bottom of the to-do list. Until He was wondering where I had been.

Yes, I was busy. I was overwhelmed. Depleted. Wordless. Exhausted. Lost.

Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him. 1 Chronicles 16:11

But, not once did I remember this? Did I call to Him in my weakness to ask for His strength? Did I call on Him for rest when I was tired and weary? Did I call on Him for wisdom when I needed His words?

No, I pitched my own tent. Like an 8 year old girl. Camped out with my will, while God desperately yearned for me to let Him in.

And, while it took a heart wrenching wake-up call, and some grief…I finally came out of hiding. I got out of my tent and I called on Him.

And, finally the words came again. The ones locked inside all those tents I pitched. The ones that had covered my weary heart. The ones I desperately needed to cry out to God. The ones for strength, guidance, wisdom, and grace.

So, what tents are you pitching today? Where have you been hiding? Come out. Call to Him. Tell Him what you need. He will give you the words. He will give you the strength you need. He will give you rest. All you have to do is ditch your tent.

His Everlasting Arms

392846_2869414380915_29234574_n

The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are around you. Deuteronomy 33:27

It’s 10 in the morning. The kids are home again. The snow has pushed them outside of their routine, inside the house, and after only two hours they are bored. Cranky. Hungry. Frustrated. And everything in between.

And in desperate need of a break.

But, only one of these kids can actually express that. Can tell me he or she is bored. Cranky. Hungry. Frustrated. And everything in between.

Instead, this one simply grunts, kicks, screams, punches, and lays in a heap on the floor.

And both of us are in desperate need of a break. Some time apart before both of us explode.

“Hun, you have to use your words. If you are hungry, or need help you have to let me know so I can help you.”

Then this boy who needed a break from his boredom, his crankiness, his hunger, his frustrations, and everything in between…reaches out and gives me what we both needed-a hug!

One of those hugs that warms your very soul. The clinging-of-the-neck-I’m-not-letting-go-of-you kind of hug. The kind that says “I’ll always help you. Always have your back. Always love you. Always accept you.”

So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm. Isaiah 59:16

While I sat on the bedroom floor with my smallest child, holding on for dear life, I was reminded of this-God wants us to hold Him this dear as well.

When we wake up with a case of the crankies, He wants us to reach out to Him and hold Him tight.

When we need help, and can’t find the words, He wants us to call on Him.

When we are agitated, frustrated, and everything in between. When we want to lay on the floor and kick and scream. When all we really need is a hug. He wants to be the one we reach for. He wants us to hold tight to His promise that these trials, and these feelings will not last forever.

Hold on. Cling to Him. So we can be reminded in those everything in between moments that He will always help you. Always have your back. Always love you. Always accept you. Always keep you safe in His everlasting arms.

Weary, Worn, and In Need of Peace? Ask…

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. Psalm 121:7

FullSizeRender-2

“Ms. January is base. Now you can’t get me!”

Each week prior to our Wednesday night lesson at church, our children have a time of play. Their favorite game it seems week in and week out is a good, old-fashioned game of tag, and each week I am named the “base.” The place children run when they want to be safe. To escape from the things that pursue them. Try to get them. Make them run away, scared.

“Ms. January is base. Now you can’t get me!”

Base. Defined as the part on which something rests or is supported. Also, a structure on which something depends.

“Ms. January is base.” Really??

While these kids may run to me to keep them safe for a minute or two. While others in my line of work depend on me for support and direction, on most days, I feel more like those wimpy, snow-covered branches, than anyone’s base. Anyone’s safe place.

Weighed down by the demands of parenting. By children who do not always listen, or even respect the one who takes care of the home. Weighed down. Wimpy. From the demands of looking out for the needs of others. Tired. Weary. Feeling more like a doormat than any darn safe place.

And on some days, I would like to find my own “base.” A place to run from the daily pressures. From the things, people, and demands that chase me down.

When I don’t want to support anyone, or have anyone depend on me. When all I want is peace. A little time to rest on someone or something else for a change. A break form everything that has weighed these wimpy branches down.

While running away sounds nice, God has something else in mind.

God is base. Now no one can get me!

He wants to be my safe place. My support. On whom I depend.

My base when I can’t strike a balance between discipline and letting kids just be kids.

A safe place to run when the first thing I want to do is slam the front door and disappear for days. Where no one needs my help. My support. My advice.

But, I don’t have to run to find his safety. I don’t have to hide or disappear to find his support. His help. His counsel. His advice. His peace.

All I have to do is ask.

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

So, that is what I did. I went to Him and asked for peace. For Him to be my base, so no one could get me!

See, my untraditional work schedule. The time at night away from my family. Schoolwork into the wee hours of the morning. All of these had worn me down. All I wanted was a day of rest. No obligations. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Just peace.

So, I asked him for it. In the middle of a flurry filled morning that meant the next day my home would be full of anything but “quiet,” I asked for peace.

Maybe a snow day isn’t your idea of peace. Weighed down branches full of snow may not be ideal. And for me, they usually are not either. But, I claimed the peace I asked for the morning before. I claimed the patience I wanted him to give me with my children. And, sure…snow mazes, cookies, and snow cabins made from Lincoln Logs meant I had plenty to do, I enjoyed the time just being the support, the “base” that one little boy had missed, and needed on this day.

No bickering. No fighting. No need to apologize for my lack of patience. No need to run.

Just peace.

From the one who gives me a safe place to plant my feet each time I ask. Even if it is a snow-covered (now maze-covered) front yard.

He Wants to Be Your “Friend”

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and He will give you all you need.” Matthew 6:33

IMG_0227

A few months ago, I wrote about the phone addiction I witnessed while in line at Starbucks. At that time I disconnected from the constant need to keep scrolling through endless updates, and navigate my day with my nose buried in my mobile device.

And, I was doing pretty good. I had finally resisted the urge to spew every one of my wayward thoughts on-line for all my “friends” to see. I was pretty sure that my hiatus from constant status updates, email checks, and tweets had its impact. I now had the strength and willpower to let all the negativity that clogged my newsfeed go. I had learned to run to God with my problems instead of Facebook.

I think it’s OK to download again, I said.

I can limit myself, I said.

I can make sure the negative things I see don’t affect me. I am sure they won’t alter the way I see and love people, I said.

I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

The realization that I was once again turning to all my “friends” again wasn’t in any way earth shattering. It all began with what almost became a simple “I’m feeling sorry for myself, and I’m all alone” status.

Until that voice said to me: “January, what are you doing? Do you really want to go there again? I’m here. Talk to me.”

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:12

If I call on my greatest friend, he will listen. But, I had stopped calling on Him lately. Instead, I was relying on every “like,” and comment of agreement to confirm that I wasn’t alone. That someone else was listening. However, with every comment, I realized…I was still alone. There are still some things all my “friends” just couldn’t possibly understand.

The truth is, I wish I could say I only had that one moment of Facebook weakness, but that’s not the case.

See, I had quickly gone back to the mindless scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh throughout my day just as quickly as I had deleted the whole mess in the first place. Until I had spent more time on the couch scrolling and refreshing than playing and engaging with my kids.

Until I began the frequent eye-rolling at posts that quickly turned to judgment and condemnation. The judgment and condemnation which is so unlike the example I am supposed to be of Christ.

Until my days were filled with gruesome, negative, and cruel news stories again, and nothing at all to lift my spirits.

Until I once again began my morning reading Facebook posts, and not my Bible.

Until I started telling all my “friends” about my problems, and not once talking to God.

I had done it again.

I certainly wasn’t practicing what I had preached months ago.

And, I had once again sunk into a wave of negativity, judgment, and whoa-is-meing that was not at all becoming.

Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving. Proverbs 4:15

This is not to say that Facebook is an evil thing that must be avoided at all costs. There are some inspiring posts and stories out there. Friends I follow just for this reason. I have family, former co-workers, and high school classmates that I enjoy catching up with, and then other “friends” whose witty posts give me a much needed laugh. And, who can enjoy a football game without a little friendly rivalry?

But, honestly…for me? The constant scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh is a trigger for me. A trigger for my insecurities. A trigger for my past to come back to haunt me. A trigger for my often critical view of the world and people, and one more reason for me to say that I don’t have time for God.

One more reason for me to think I am all alone. That all my “friends” don’t care, don’t understand, don’t get what I go through day in and day out, don’t….whatever. When really the friends that do care, are saved in my phone contact list. The ones whose emails, kids’ names, addresses, and hidden insecurities I actually do know. The ones who I can actually call, say “I miss you. I need you right now. I feel alone and I’m having a crummy day,” and know they will come running to first sulk with me, and then tell me to suck it up, because we all have those days.

And, then there is that other “friend.” The one who has no Facebook or Twitter account, yet knows exactly when I’m alone and need support-whether its 11 at night or at 4 in the morning. The friend I have in Him. The comfort and peace I can find in Him to which no scrolling and refreshing, or hundreds and hundreds of social media “friends” could ever compare.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

Saying Yes to a Little Rest

photo-53

It is useless for you to work hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest for his loved ones. Psalm 127:2

There is a phrase I have heard many times during my years in both lay and pastoral ministry: You can be doing many “good” things, but they may not all be “God” things.

Lately, I have been doing many “good” things. So many that my calendar has not one day on which something is not scheduled. I am going to school. Training to mentor women in crisis. Mentoring in my community. Spending a weekend away with my husband. Visiting my brother.

I certainly believe all of these “good” things are also God ordained.

But in the midst of this hustle and bustle, I have also done some not so “good” things.

In my busyness I have rushed my kids and family. Snapped at my husband for helping me, because it seems to be something I can’t allow anyone else to do. I have yelled at everyone in this house to clean up, to hurry up, to get up…well, because I am fed up!

In thinking of all these “good” things I need to get done. All those “good” things swimming around in this already overcrowded brain, I have lost the ability to add much else, which means minor distractions have made me come undone. Like jump across the table in a meeting with duct tape undone if that co-worker makes another noise. Like snatch that chip bag from my son’s hands undone if he chews any louder!

Yes, not “good” things at all.

“When all of life feels like an urgent rush from one demand to another, we become forgetful. We forget simple things like where we put our car keys [GUILTY!] or that one crucial ingredient for dinner when we run into the grocery store [Stark-raving mad GUILTY]. But even more disturbing, we forget God. We say with our mouths that we are trusting and relying on God, but are we really?” -Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes

And, as I hold onto the end of my rope, and my overcrowded calendar. As I snap at my kids. As I snicker at co-workers, and contemplate punching my husband (Oh, admit it….you do this, too!), God gently whispers, You forgot something, January. 

You forgot to rely on me.

So, then what does he do? He gives me a sick child. He gives me the ability to choose my “best yes.” To rub the burning hot head of the moaning and groaning little boy on the couch, or the demands of my overcrowded schedule.

He gave me no choice but to drop off a few appointments from my calendar, delegate some need to do tasks to others, and spend some time with Him, and the one who needed my time the most.

While He didn’t reveal in these last couple days all the answers to my doubts. While I don’t know what is to come, or what He has planned yet, that much needed time of rest, of prayer, of time bonding with my blue-eyed boy will make me better equipped to handle the week to come.

To slow down and enjoy my kids.

To go away with my husband without worrying about the state of the house.

To appreciate the enthusiasm of a co-worker in the next meeting.

To look forward to what God has planned after this last week at work, instead of looking at the mounting bills on the kitchen table.

To remember God’s nudging to take time for Him. Time for the ones who are most important to me.

Not just when I want to tape my co-worker’s mouth shut, or deck my husband. Not just when I can’t do one more “good” thing. Not just when I’m at the end of my rope and fed up.

But, making sure that one of my first answers of “yes” to Him, is just simple time of rest.

Lord, I Am Just Worn!

I’m tired and worn. My heart is heavy. -Tenth Avenue North

I have shared before how much I may seem to thrive off this crazy ability to manage an insanely busy schedule. This is something many believe I can make look easy. Juggling the hats labeled mom, taxi driver, student, assistant, pastor, mentor, wife, and counselor, I often get asked the question, “How in the world do you manage it all?”

Let me assure you….I don’t.

Sometimes the need to manage it all drives me plum crazy. Until all the hats begin to manage me.

I get tired. I get worn. I get irritated. I get angry. And, I scream. At God.

And I know that you can give me rest. So I cry out with all that I have left.

That cry came just the other day as I was getting ready for an appointment. I had the pleasure of spending a much needed weekend away with my husband. A time away with no plans, no crazy demands, and rest. And, since God seems to have my sarcastic sense of humor, I have since paid for this time of rest upon my return.

On this particular morning, as I prepared to take my son who had broken his wrist for yet another round of X-rays, I discovered I had once again (yes, that’s right-again!) lost his insurance card. In a frantic search for this missing piece of vital information…I lost it.

As I looked up towards the heavens, I screamed. God! Give.Me.A.Break! I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t handle all these things you keep throwing at me! Enough! Got it?

I.Can’t.Do.It.Anymore!

I’m tired. I’m worn. Life just won’t let up.

“Your son may need surgery.” This in the midst of some ongoing critiscm. This before some even sadder news for my family.

So, I find myself once again for the second time in two days looking up and yelling. I’m tired here! I need a break! Can’t you see I am worn out? I am tired of dealing with these things, Lord.

Until God reminds me of something.

As I tell a friend about how my spirit is struggling to deal with it all, her answer reminds me of why He is allowing these things to be thrown at me.

“You’re getting an opportunity to write a “trust check” to God. Now you get to spend some of that trust.”

Um, could I spend it on a spa vacation, please? Well, no. Because as good as that would feel for a few days, those struggles would still be thrown at me. Until I finally start to realize my “trust payment” comes in the midst of all these messes.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

And, I was certainly asking for rest as I frantically searched for that insurance card. While laying on the couch suffering from a migraine. After hearing bad news. After being the target of yet one more critical remark.

Worn. Tired. Desperate. The only time I seem to plead and come to Him lately. Not daily, or on those days when things are actually good.

Trials are going to come. They are just waiting around the corner, and sometimes they come one after the other. But, God doesn’t want us to only reach for Him when we are in the middle of trials. When we are worn down. Tore up. Broken. He wants us to do this all the time.

When we go to Him, he lets us know our struggles will soon end.

When we go to Him, he mends all the places that are torn, tattered, and just plain worn out.

He gives us rest on our good days, and peace on our bad.

Even when we are worn.

My Go To Therapist

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:2

salon_full

There is something therapeutic about spending time in the salon. If the completely selfish date with oneself is not enough to make you feel better, than certainly the head massage that magically soothes a migraine, the silky feeling of a blowout, or how fabulous you look when you first walk out the front door can add to the appeal of a day spent getting pampered for a bit. Add to this a few minutes of talking to your “head” therapist about life, kids, and your daily gripes, a few hours in the salon chair can be a much needed escape from an otherwise crazy reality.

Besides the fact that I was in desperate need of a cut and root touch-up this past weekend, the few hours I spent in a chair, or under a dryer were definitely a reprieve from the dark mood that had taken over my spirit that very morning. I needed to get out of the public for a while, and chat up the stylist, or my “head” shrink for the day.

And, it sure is a good thing I had decided to leave Facebook alone for a while, because on this particular morning, or the entire day for that matter, I certainly wanted to let everyone know what kind of morning I had. I left my wallet AND phone at home, and discovered this after I had pulled into the gas station, on empty, mind you. I was now 15 minutes late, behind a log truck, stuck in horrendous traffic thanks to the arrival of students and parents, and by 9:15, I was fed up with anything and anyone who happened to cross my path.

Once I pulled up in front of the place responsible for my once a month “me” sessions, I could not wait to tell someone about my crummy morning. 

And for about 3 hours I chatted to my stylist about my life, my kids, and my gripes.

Then I thought about something.

I had not once chatted with God about what I was feeling. And, I have certainly never chatted with him for 3 hours!

I cry out to God: yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was deep in trouble, I searched for the Lord. Psalm 77:1-2

While, there is nothing wrong with a little beauty shop therapy, God wants me to communicate and share my struggles with him with the same intimacy and intentionality with which I share them with my stylist. He already knows what my struggles are. He already knows my gripes. He already knows about my kids, my life, and my circumstances.

And, he also wants to be my therapist. He wants to be the first person I seek when I need a few selfish “me” moments to share gripes, praises, and requests. 

He wants me to seek Him when I want to blow-up in traffic. He wants me to seek Him when I want to scream in the car on the way back home for my missing wallet. He wants me to lean on Him when I just can’t handle one more thing. He is just as selfish about His time with me, as I am about my “me” time under the dryer. 

No, God can’t touch up my roots, but He can definitely touch up my mood. God can’t trim my dead ends, but he can groom the frazzled pieces of my heart. And, while my stylist may require an appointment for the three hours I spend in her chair, God never requires that I make an appointment with Him, just that I make Him my go to therapist. 

 

For the Days You Just Don’t Feel “It”

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Romans 8:26

“I will admit. Today has been one of those days when I am just not feeling it…whatever “it” may be.”

This begins my confession on Sunday morning to a congregation of kids, teens, and adults, all waiting for me to pray for the remainder of the service.

Now, waiting for a prayer from someone who just said they didn’t feel “it.”

But, wait a minute! You are a pastor! And, you told the congregation that?

Yep. Because I believe in transparency, even though it tends to get me in trouble at times. Because after reasoning with my “monster” who was upset about being in a different room for Sunday School. After watching the same monster throw himself on the floor while singing with that same congregation, I wasn’t feeling much of anything holy.

And, I am sure I was not the only person in that room who just didn’t feel it, either. I just happened to be the one who admitted it…to over 70 people.

Come on. Let’s face it. We ALL have days when “it” is the last thing we are feeling. Even pastors.

We have days when we have been beat up, bruised, battered. When everything has gone wrong, and “it” feels a million miles away. And, yes. Pastors feel like this, too.

Oh, wait. I didn’t mention what “it” was, did I?

“It” is the Holy Spirit.

And, when the world has tormented me. When I am frazzled, exhausted, overworked. When I am complacent, lazy, and bitter. When my kids have fried my last nerve. When I have bitten my husband’s head off. When I feel lonely and confused. “It,” the Holy Spirit, feels so far away.

“Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38

Living water. “It.” The Holy Spirit.

Always with us. Hiding in our hearts. Holy. Sacred.

But, we let the world torment us. Get in the way. Fill the crevices of our hearts with emotion, so that we hide “it,” don’t feel “it.” When we really need “it” the most.

While the Holy Spirit is always with us, we often don’t feel it because we have so much other junk hiding away in our hearts.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Replacing that junk we feel in our hearts so we can feel more of “it.”

Replacing frazzled, overworked, and exhausted with the Spirit of peace.

Instead of feeling complacent, lazy, and bitter, digging deep for the Spirit of faithfulness and joy.

When my kids have gotten on my last nerve, looking within for the Spirit of patience.

When I want to put my husband’s head on a platter, looking instead for the Spirit of self-control and love.

When I feel lonely, tormented, confused, and the last thing I feel is “it,” recognizing God has already placed the strength, endurance, and peace I need in my heart.

By simply recognizing how much I don’t have it all together, how I need His forgiveness, His grace, His strength-He released in me a new spirit.

A spirit to get us through the tough days. Even the days we just don’t feel “it.”

Feeding the “Monster”

Hunter Hungry

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9

Remember that monster I told you lived in my home? The one who is cranky, often mute, and frequently unable to express how he feels? Well, since this monster is our five-year old son, we also must take this monster with us on trips…which means he also must follow us to our vacation destination. Like this week long vacation destination. The one I so desperately needed to relax, reflect, recharge, and unwind, and maybe forget some of my own monsters for a while.

Now, restaurants with our little monster are not relaxing. Whether at home or on vacation. And this night has been no exception. See, our monster needs constant meals. After 20 minutes of eating, he is usually hungry again. While he is declaring his hunger, he is also rummaging in cabinets for snacks unseen, kicking kitchen chairs, grunting, screaming, and cowering on the floor in a ball of anger. Once again, tonight, we have failed to feed our monster at the appropriate times, and he is downright angry. We have waited too long to give him what he craves, and now he is beyond consolable, and unable to cope in this situation. He needs to eat NOW!

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

He isn’t the only monster in our home. The only monster that comes along on vacations. I can be a monster at times, too. Especially, when I have not been nourished as well. When I have not been feeding on the Word of God. I am doubtful when I don’t spend time asking God to calm my fears. I am quick to speak when I don’t take the time to ask God to guide my conversations. When I don’t spend times with him at the start of my day, praying and reading His Word, I can be a total monster for the rest of my day. And, when I don’t ask God for direction, I can also be found rummaging for something that isn’t there, kicking in frustration, grunting, screaming, and complaining.

All because I didn’t feed the monster.

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk, so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment. 1 Peter 2:2

To face the demands of or daily lives. To love others, fulfill our purpose, and navigate the circumstances that turn us into monsters, we have to feed our bodies. Not simply our physical bodies, or our stomachs, but we must be fed spiritually. This isn’t something we routinely indulge in at three times a day, but consistently and frequently. It means asking God to feed us with patience while we wait in traffic in the morning. It means seeking God when we are afraid of what’s next, so he can nourish us with reassurance and peace. It’s thanking God for all He has done even when all we want to do is complain, so he can fill us with praise in our hearts.

So, what happened when our little monster was fed? He certainly didn’t resemble the raging and screaming ball of fury that results when his poor little soul gets hungry. He was happier, more at peace, a little less anxious, and much more willing to try something new.

And, God wants us to feel the same way-nourished by His Word, at peace with what he promises to provide, or what he already has, and full of a happy, joyful, and thankful spirit.

Nourishment that can soften and ease even the toughest of monsters!

Peace in the Noise

“But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk 2:20

Some days are just anything but peaceful. From the time the alarm lets off it’s annoying buzzing, to the time the TV is finally shut off and the house is awash in utter darkness and silence, the world surrounding me emits one noise after another. Stealing my peace. Drowning out my thoughts. Wrecking my mood.

At work it’s the telephone that rings, or the ping of the new email that has arrived. It’s the beeping of the printer that is broken for the one hundredth time, or the sound of the overhead paging system.

At home, it’s the dogs howling and barking outside, or men on the roof next door. It is the bird sounds, “potty” noises and awful squawks that come from the mouth of Hunter, our five year old. It’s the 30 minute long wails that then erupt when you ask the squawking five year old to stop making those “potty” noises. It’s the bickering between siblings, the “Mommy, can I’s,” and the “Mommy, he/she dids.” It’s the call on the phone to remind us of an appointment tomorrow, the sound of Peppa Pig on the TV, the ding of the oven timer, and goodness….does that dog ever stop howling?

Yes, some days just are not peaceful, and on those days I want to find the highest cliff, and shout to the world as loud as I can to just SHUT-UP, and STOP MAKING ALL THAT NOISE!

Not only does all this noise steal my peace, rob my thoughts, and wreck my mood, but it also means I have less time to listen to God.

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Finding time to simply be alone, away from all the noise, is tough, especially on these days. Especially when my bathroom hideout has been exposed, and I can still hear the “Mommy, can I’s,” and “Mommy, he/she dids,” from the outside of that door. It’s hard to find five minutes when you are staring at the still ten things left on your long to do list. To find time alone when you are rushing from work, to the bus stop, back for an appointment, to church, and all the stops in between. And it is hard to find quiet when the iPhone is vibrating or chirping, the kids are fighting and yelling…and, why is that dog still howling?

Yet, I am challenged. Throughout the Bible we are told of busy people who have been called to do God’s work making time to be alone to pray and talk to Him. To seek peace in the noise of the world around them. We have Moses in Exodus 33. There is Elijah in 1 Kings 19, and of course, Jesus, who left his disciples on many occasions in search of peace so he could hear God.

Certainly, I can find a little time for this peace, too, even if that means I have to get a bit creative with my time.

It means keeping a devotional in my car to read when I am stuck in traffic, or to read before I even leave my car at work. It means I invite God on my runs, and spend time praising Him for the beauty around me, or praying for endurance. It means that I can shut the email off at work, close my office door so I do not hear the beep of the broken printer, and open my Bible.

We can’t drown out all the noise around us. We can’t turn off every voice, every scream, or even the howling dog. And if you are like me, most of the time we can’t find the “perfect” time or the “perfect” place to spend time in complete quiet and peace. But, we do have small opportunities to find peace, to keep us from letting the noise steal our peace, rob our thoughts, or wreck our mood.

I mean, really. Think about it. While climbing to the highest cliff to scream at the world may seem like some type of freedom, and not to mention great exercise, with all the noise, would the world really even hear my plea for everyone to “shut-up?”

No, probably not. But, God will. God hears us. In a world filled with noise. When the phone is chirping a new notification, when the kids are fighting, when the dog is still howling, he hears our cries and praises, and gives us a moment of peace in the midst of the noise.