Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Summit or Plummet

Have you ever looked back at an experience and thought "Oh, so that's what that was about!" I had one of those "A-ha" moments on my recent trip to Colorado. First, some backstory: last year my friend Jennifer and I thought it would be great fun to drive to the top of Pikes Peak (well, maybe not "great fun," but at least something someone visiting Colorado Springs should do). When we arrived at the start of Pikes Peak Highway, however, we discovered that it had closed 10 minutes prior. Our adventure was thwarted.

So, this year as we looked toward our trip, we knew that our drive to the summit of Pikes Peak was a must. Once we arrived in Denver, we picked up our new friend, Krissy from Seattle, and informed her over lunch of our afternoon plans for adventure. She was game. In fact, she probably wondered why we were so excited. After all, it was only a 14-mile drive.

When we arrived at the toll booth that marks the beginning of the journey up Pikes Peak, we were greeted (I use that term loosely) by a woman who barked information about the drive time to the top and the time we must begin our descent. We paid our admission, drove on, and wondered why she had such a stern tone in her voice. After all, it was only a 14-mile drive.

About this time, I started recalling a conversation with my mother just a week before. Sitting in my kitchen, Mom urged me to reconsider the drive up Pikes Peak. She had a tone of great concern in her voice that gave me a moment's pause. Had she had a premonition, or what? I had blown it off ... after all, it was only a 14-mile drive.

I soon realized that this was unlike any road I'd ever driven. I thought of drives through the winding roads of the Smokies, trips up and down Lookout Mountain, and even the few times I'd held my breath on the hairpin curves of the W road of Signal Mountain. They were nothing compared to this. This was much more than a simple 14-mile drive.

Jennifer and Krissy switched between exclamations regarding the beauty of the view and the condition of the drive. I remained firm in my growing terror regarding the drive. My hands clenched the steering wheel, and my eyes never veered from the road ahead of me. Mile markers would tick by ever-so-slowly. Mile 6 ... Mile 7 ... "You've got to be kidding? We're only halfway there?!"

Finally we reached Mile 14, four miles from the summit of Pikes Peak. We could go no further because of the weather, but that was more than okay with me. However, when they said the road closed at mile marker 14, they meant it literally. I don't know what I was expecting -- a cul-de-sac, perhaps? -- but the two-lane road came to an abrupt end. Now what?

I sat with no idea how to maneuver the car to face the other direction. Was I supposed to back down this mountain? The only way I could fathom turning around was to post each of my friends on the edges of the mountain road (and thus, the edges of the mountain itself). In about a nine-point turn (an inch this way, an inch that way), I had the car pointing toward our descent. I knew, however, that I could not drive us down. It was beyond my capability, so now what?

Thankfully Krissy saved the day. "Do you want me to drive down?" ... "YES!!!" After the necessary photo taking, she took the wheel and we began our descent -- at 30 mph. Now that doesn't seem speedy to you, but on that road and in the state I was in, it felt like we were racing down the mountain at a Daytona 500 pace.

I fell apart. I mean it. I was shaking, sobbing, and if I could have assumed the fetal position in my seat, I would have. I was terrified! My mother's warning kept playing through my mind. "She was right, she was right! I should have never driven up this mountain."

Krissy noticed my reaction (How could she not?) and asked, "Am I driving too fast?" "YES!" Jennifer replied (my hero). So, Krissy slowed our pace, and we slowly wound our way down the mountain. Gradually my breathing steadied and my tears dried up. By the time we reached the bottom, I was relatively composed. We shared a few laughs about the experience, and we were on our way.

Yet, I couldn't stop from wondering, "What was THAT about?!" I knew it was a significant experience. So, I asked, "What WAS that about?" Call it a prayer, I really wanted God to give me some clarity on why I had such an extreme emotional reaction. Was it about fear? Hmm ... yes, of course. Control? Yes, that too. Fear of losing control? That sounds about right.

I like to be firmly in control ... of situations, of plans, of my life. As I drove up that winding, narrow road, I realized how little I am in control. Sure, I can steer the car and try to maneuver the turns, but there was ice, wind, gravel, and oncoming vehicles that I had no control over. There was no guardrail to offer a boundary or an assurance of safety.

I also tend to push myself. I felt like turning around at mile 12 (okay, mile 7 if I'm going to be perfectly honest), but I didn't want to let anyone down. I didn't want to be a wimp. But, in pushing myself, I completely ignored what I needed and drove myself to a place of panic. Completely afraid (and embarrassed by my fear).

I see that I cling to control and face my fears on my own. I also see in that scared, sobbing woman descending from Pikes Peak how it's working out for me. Not well. I can't control my destiny or conquer my fears; I can only give them over to God, who has the power to comfort, to assure, to lead, and to empower.

Am I glad that we made the drive up Pikes Peak? Yes. Would I do it again? No (well, maybe...) . Did I enjoy the view? Let's just say that I'm thankful we took those pictures so I could finally see just how majestic the view from the summit really was.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Captivating Response

So many friends prayed for me and for the recent Captivating retreat I attended. Thank you! It was an amazing time, and I think I enjoyed it as much as any other woman there. As Stasi Eldredge, the retreat's key speaker, writes below, "Jesus LOVES to be asked. And women came to Frontier Ranch hungry and thirsty and asking for a deep encounter with God. And He answered." I've included her entire e-mail below because I can't say it any better than she can:

“Thank you so much, for the most incredible and impacting weekend of my life.” “I got a glimpse this morning, for the first time of how God sees me. He saw me as beautiful! I was beautiful! I’ve never, ever, felt that way before.” “It has awakened me to realize and be the woman that God created me to be. It has given me a glimpse of what a HERO my God is!” "I don’t have words...God came for me...He saved my life this weekend.”

Jesus LOVES to be asked. And women came this past weekend to Frontier Ranch hungry and thirsty and asking for a deep encounter with God. And He answered. Jesus came and he was so beautiful. He healed hearts. He birthed hope. He restored beauty. He spoke as only He can to the deep places in a woman’s heart. He revealed Himself and he took our breath away. The worship was glorious...a taste of what is coming.

Thank you for praying. Your prayers were MIGHTILY answered. And we had an absolute blast! After the Wound session on Friday, an unprecedented number of women stayed for ministry – 50 to 60 women. And the women’s team – which includes the women intercessors – all of us had both the energy and the desire to pray for them. And oh did God come! Isaiah 61. Praise Jesus!

I am still speechless myself for the incredible honor to get to do this ministry with God and with the amazing men and women of Ransomed Heart. I can’t wait til we get to do it again! Jesus is so fabulously good. And the more we know of him, the better he gets...So thank you, thank you, thank you. From the bottom of my heart – and for our team and for the 300+ women and their families and our captivating GOD...thank you. Stasi

Thank you again for your prayers! The next Captivating retreat is August 13-16 at Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado. Please visit to learn more about this event.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Captivating 2009


"Heavens, raise the roof! Earth, wake the dead! Mountains, send up cheers! God has comforted his people. He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people." Isaiah 49:13

"God's wisdom is so deep, God's power so immense, who could take him on and come out in one piece? He moves mountains before they know what's happened, flips them on their heads on a whim. He gives the earth a good shaking up, rocks it down to its very foundations." Job 9:1

"He makes the moon wax and wane, putting it through its phases. He draws the horizon out over the ocean, sets a boundary between light and darkness. Thunder crashes and rumbles in the skies. Listen! It's God raising his voice!" Job 26:5

"He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice— His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding. He orders the snow, 'Blanket the earth!' and the rain, 'Soak the whole countryside!' No one can escape the weather—it's there. And no one can escape from God. " Job 37:1

"Look! Listen! There's my lover! Do you see him coming? Vaulting the mountains, leaping the hills. My lover is like a gazelle, graceful; like a young stag, virile. Look at him there, on tiptoe at the gate, all ears, all eyes—ready! My lover has arrived and he's speaking to me!" Song of Solomon 2:8

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger bringing good news, Breaking the news that all's well, proclaiming good times, announcing salvation, telling Zion, 'Your God reigns!' " Isaiah 52:7

" 'For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won't walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won't fall apart.' The God who has compassion on you says so." Isaiah 54:9

"So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause." Isaiah 55:12

(Scripture from The Message Bible; Images from Colorado trip, February 2009)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snow Day: The Sequel

The first week of February we were blessed with not one, but THREE snow days (actually one snowy day, and two additional days off from school as the snow melted). It was great snowball- and snowman-making snow (meet Bottlecap Jr. below). Here are some photos of our fun:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Interrupted by God

Last night I was lying in bed praying for myself. I've been doing that a lot lately. You see, I leave for Colorado on Wednesday morning, and I've been sick the past week. I really want to be well for this trip.

I'm going to Colorado for a Captivating retreat, led by Ransomed Heart Ministries, and I am serving as senior work crew for the event. This means I will be providing leadership to a team of 18 ladies who have also come to serve during the four-day retreat.

Right now I feel like my cord has been unplugged, like I'm running on one battery, like I'm a 25-watt bulb standing in for a 100-watt ... you get the picture. Naps have been part of my daily routine since last Wednesday. Stamina is something I just do not have.

I've been praying -- maybe begging is the more accurate word -- that God will restore me (before Wednesday). So, back to last night...

I was lying in bed praying, when God interrupted my plea. "God, I just can't do what's required of me if I feel this way," I pray (in a very whiny voice). He interrupted me with a memory.

In 2007, I attended Captivating and served on my first work crew only two weeks after suffering a miscarriage. I was completely drained -- physically & emotionally spent. I had no idea what I could contribute to the team, but I knew I was supposed to go. When I applied for the retreat six months prior, God knew full well what my situation would be when it arrived, and still He called me to go.

It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. He was my sustainer, my energizer, my provider, and also my healer. And I not only survived the weekend, I thrived. I focused on others, I poured myself out, and I felt fully alive. His grace was enough. He was sufficient for all of my needs.

Last night's interruption brought my present situation into sharp focus. It's a cold ... just a cold. I have medication, and I will get better. If not by Wednesday, soon thereafter. I can't do this, cold or no cold -- not in my own power -- but God in His Word reminds me, "I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you" Isaiah 46:4 (emphasis mine).

So, I stopped praying for myself, and I started praying for the more than 300 women who will also be making their way to Colorado later this week. I pray for their journey, for their protection, and for their hearts. I trust you to work in me and through me. I trust you to sustain me. Come, Lord Jesus. Come.