Pressure Cookers and Lava Monsters

So it’s been several months since my last post. For the longest time Jonah and I felt the theme of our season of life had been “low and slow”. Like if a crock pot and a pressure cooker had a baby, that would be our lives. Lots of pressure, little progress, lots of pressure, little progress… just when you think you can’t learn any more lessons in being patient… ha! For the most part we had been moving forward one foot in front of the other with our ears to the skies and our hearts on a platter… sounds cozy, right? My healing marching forward, our jobs marching forward, and our family made up of all the things of a Family Circus cartoon strip. We said at the beginning of the year we felt a release to begin to move forward without holding on to the fear of yesteryear… we just didn’t know what it looked like.

It wasn’t until about the end of last month that we really felt a shift in our hearts. Things that had been taking a lot of time were beginning to happen quickly. We put our fingers in the sky and realized that something was shifting in our hearts and in the natural, and we were ready. See, Jonah and I have been through some major transitions in the past year and a half in our personal lives. Transition which caused our hearts both joy and pain. But with this stirring excitement Jonah and I were looking again at the future. Our hearts open to knowing and loving and discovering God and people more deeply. One of the things I’m learning more than before is that discerning the season of life you are in is key to walking out where you are with understanding and intention. Life can be in a holding pattern. God can be working on your heart. Maybe you’re not ready for certain relationships or risks. Maybe you’re just on the potter’s wheel waiting while your heart gets molded and then molded again. Things you are waiting on, being patient on, opportunities you’re searching out… they can all be in the crock pot one moment and then the next you look around and realize, “oh man, the time is now”. It can be a little scary, but when you feel the times changing sometimes it’s best just to close your eyes, nod your head and jump.

And so we did…

And then about two weeks ago I developed a stomach ache. It was simple enough. I thought I had eaten something bad or just caught a bug, but it continued to mount and become more intense. In the interest of sparing you details within a couple of days I ended up in the hospital… admitted AGAIN! My colon was completely swollen and I was in indescribable pain. I felt like the enemy had taken the cheapest shot at me he could. Where I had been experiencing such victory I suddenly felt sucker punched. We had just recently felt this release to really jump into life with everything we had… and now this?

Once again I had to step out of work, step out from my girls, step out of my clothes and back into a stupid hospital gown. Man… I was so mad. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t want to see anyone. I wasn’t made to be sick and I wasn’t about to make texts and calls about “Natalie in the hospital again”, a normal thing. It’s not normal. It’s not my normal. So admittedly I didn’t tell many people. I know! That’s like my rule number one in this journey… vulnerability. But can I just be honest? The wind got ripped out my sail. Several years ago one of my sweet cousins and friends died of an evil cancer she developed from breathing in or ingesting asbestos… how ridiculous is that? So unfair. And here I was with some mysterious swelling in my body and all I could do was fight that evil voice in my head saying “it makes sense”, ” you spent so much time together”, “this is your fate”. Thankfully after several days of treatment I was released to go home. I told Jonah once we were back that I felt like I was in a really low place. Being the husband that he is he just stepped in and began to pray for me. He wasn’t the only one… and I am so grateful! It was one of those ruts you know you shouldn’t try to pull yourself out of alone. So I took a few days off of work, laid back and received the ministry of those I knew were pushing me forward.

It may seem like a strange transition, but if you’re like us you may or may not have seen the movie Moana… like roughly 8,000 times. You know that part where they go to defeat Teka the first time? They had a rough start, but had experienced enough victories to believe that the battle was theirs… then at the last moment Teka power punches the ocean and sends them about 100 miles away from the progress they had made. Maui is defeated and even convinces Moana that she’s not the one, that she can’t do it. In a Disney turn of events Moana’s grandmother (who is deceased) appears on her boat and tells her she can give up if she wants, but asks her one final question,”do you know who you are?” We we’re watching one day recently and when we got to that part Iyla asked me why and how her grandma showed up (stinking smart kids). In my best attempt to make kingdom out of cartoons… which is not as hard as you would think, I said, “Well you know God is good, and He loves us so much that when we get discouraged He sends messages in all kinds of ways to remind us that we can do it.” She seemed good with that answer. And as we continued to watch I laughed to myself because that’s exactly what he does. Three weeks ago I was full steam ahead, two weeks ago I was in a hospital bed and one week ago I was laying on the beach.

Life is crazy! It’s nuts! Just when you think you’re ready to defeat a lava monster you get blasted out of sky… but the end remains the same. He knows the plans He has… and they are good! Sometimes encouragement comes through family, sometimes prayer and sometimes Disney movies. Whatever the vehicle, it’s the message that’s important. We KNOW who we are. It makes me laugh out loud even typing this now. It’s like I told a couple of people last week… some days you feel in the groove. You’re partnering with what’s happening in your life and it’s good. And then the next minute you’re face down in the mud being drug through by the prayers of others. However you get there, know that you’re arriving. Not giving up is just as good as having crossed the finish line already. That’s the awesome thing about walking with God. You could have collapsed in a puddle a mile away from your goal, and the Father still comes up and puts the medal around your neck.

I’m feeling much better now. I had an incredible vacation with my family (screaming sleepless children and all). I conquered having family pictures taken… which I’m anxious to see, and next week I begin some electro stimulation therapy on my face that I’ll be sure to tell you about. Like I said, this is a season of good things happening. Even still I am all too aware of how there are traps planted to steal our joy. You might get knocked down for a second, minute, day… but know I’m rooting for you. The Father is rooting for you and is always casting out the lifesaver ready to shelter you in the storm. It’s one unpredictable life we’re living. And Jesus is always challenging us to focus on the beauty. There is always a plan and it’s always bigger than we think. It always involves more than just ourselves… even in the moments we feel very alone. So today I hope you’re encouraged. I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to post. I have a few more in me that I hope to get out soon. As always know your encouragement is so precious to me and as I watch you from afar I am cheering for you, your families and situations declaring God’s absolute best for you. Until next time…

2 thoughts on “Pressure Cookers and Lava Monsters

  1. You are amazing, Natalie! Thanks again for your transparency and bravery to live life open, honest and full of hope! You inspire me.


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