Allowed to Take Comfort

I don’t know if it’s my personality.

I don’t know if it’s the writer in me, determined to experience any pain that comes my way because “all of life is research.”

I don’t know if it’s my desire to fully acknowledge painful things because ignoring them can create an unhealthy mental state.

But for some reason, I sometimes don’t allow myself to accept comfort.

And I’m not really talking about comfort from other people, although sometimes I just nod and smile and refuse to let their words sink into my soul, or even to ruminate in my mind.

Actually, I often find myself unwilling to take comfort from the deepest source I have—God’s Word.

If I take comfort, am I being fair to the honest questions of others—and myself?

If I take comfort, can I still deal with my painful emotions in a healthy way?

Most of all, if I take comfort, will I somehow sell short the Truth I need to learn through this?

But I’m learning that I’m allowed to take comfort.

When my brain is spinning with all these incredible, deep questions about theory meeting reality and I can’t quite seem to grasp the answers, I can take comfort in the One who knows every answer. Some of the answers I will find in time, and some I won’t discover until He tells me—either on this earth or when I see His face.

It’s okay. After all, I serve the God who commands the morning, and causes the dawn to know its place (Job 38:12).

When my heart is broken and floundering in pain, I can take comfort in knowing that my God has walked through every kind of pain there is—even death—and will walk with me through mine (Isaiah 43:2).

In my hardest suffering, I may even envy a stillborn child (Job 3:16), as long as I also remember that my Redeemer lives (Job 19:25).

And surely, when I turn to the Truth of the Word to find comfort, then the only Source of Truth—Jesus Christ—with not allow me to be misled.

He is the one whose wisdom set the courses of the stars (Job 38:31-33).

After all, what is comfort but hope and rest? And I am supposed to find hope and rest in Jesus.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

-1 Peter 1:3 NKJV (emphasis mine)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

-Matthew 11:28 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ is my greatest comfort.

And, yes, I am allowed to accept His comfort without doing a disservice to either my emotions or my intellect. He offers a transcending comfort. It doesn’t remove the pain or the questions.

It’s simply stronger than they are.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Anyone else noticed a similar phenomenon in your life, this inability to accept comfort and rest?

I Am Thankful, 2019

It’s been a long year. (People have always said that time flies as you get older, and I had started to see time speeding up a bit in my late teens and early twenties. Then 2018 and 2019 came along and set me back, so I guess I’ll have to start over. But I digress…) It’s been a kinda hard year in some ways, and I’ve hardly had a grateful heart every day.

But I am grateful to be alive, abiding under the shadow of the One who holds my breath in His hands.

And to list some specifics, I am thankful this year for

  • My book published! A dream come true.
  • A church I love.
  • Cool opportunities to sing with my church choir outside the church walls.
  • The fact that Middle Tennessee is finally feeling like home.
  • A vacation in the Smoky Mountains, our first since the fire in 2016.
  • A visit to St. Augustine Florida.
  • Fun movies. I’ve acquired a couple new favorites this year.
  • Sleep. (Don’t worry: I’m not becoming a grown-up. Just an adult.)
  • Two of the best sisters a girl could ask for.
  • Friends who actually seem to love this slightly crazy writer.
  • The Word of God, without which I wither in a very painful way.
  • The fact that God does meet me where I am, and loves me unconditionally.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

It’s That Time of Year

It’s that time of year…

  • …when stores play the lousiest Christmas songs known to man, interspersed with a few good ones.
  • …when I put on a black velvet dress and sing in my church’s Christmas concert.
  • …when a trip to the library turns into Christmas shopping because one sister was home (and we’ve got to take opportunities when we get them).
  • …when I actually pay attention to the promotional emails from various online stores where I shop occasionally.
  • …when a sister caught borrowing clothes from my closet is likely to get screeched at because she might accidentally uncover a gift I haven’t wrapped yet.
  • …when the list of cookies we want to bake is longer than the list of people we have to give them to.
  • …when we pull out all the Christmas lights and see which ones still work (and which ones the “elves” tangled the worst).
  • …when inflatable Christmas decorations lie like dead things in people’s yards during the day.
  • …when I oooh and aaah over the seasonal-scented Christmas candles (or, conversely, almost die from the overpowering scent if it disagrees with me).
  • …when I hunt at six different stores over the course of a month looking for a special, seasonal ice cream flavor.
  • …when we save all the shipping boxes for wrapping gifts.
  • …when scraps of wrapping paper are apt to be found in the oddest places.
  • …when the first person downstairs in the mornings gets the privilege of plugging in the indoor Christmas lights.
  • …when I research Christmas carols so I can sing all the verses.
  • …when Mom strictly forbids me to check emails for her.
  • …when I play Christmas music as if no other kind of music exists.
  • …when I put on a red dress to go see The Nutcracker ballet.
  • …when I eat way too many sweets and promise myself I’ll “be good” after New Year’s.
  • …when I read a Christmas story or two.
  • …when Dad has to make multiple trips to the store to pick up some last minute item we need for baking.
  • …when I sing of white Christmases knowing full well my southern location probably won’t see proper snow until January.
  • …when I ponder the first two chapters of Luke and Matthew again.
  • …when every day closes with lighting the Advent candles, reading a Christmas devotion, and singing a Christmas carol around the piano.
  • …when we drive around to look at light displays and shake our heads at the houses in our neighborhood who didn’t even hang a wreath.
  • …when we rejoice in the birth of a Baby in Bethlehem—because one day He would die on a cross for us.

Aye, ’tis truly the most wonderful time of the year.

What little things, either lovely or annoying, shout “Christmas” to you?

-Miss Darcy

I Am Thankful, 2018

I am thankful for…

  • All my needs met. I have a middle-class American lifestyle; literally every one of my physical and material needs is met.
  • Books. An endless source of new knowledge, and also entertainment.
  • Church. Sometimes I think the Church in America is so broken. But even in its brokenness, God somehow still uses it to draw me closer to Him. After all, it’s His Church, not mine, and we Christians need one another.
  • Dierk. He’s the main character in my novel, The Crown and the Axe, and by saying I’m thankful for him, I mean his whole story. I’m just so grateful that God lets me write stories. They’re not perfect, but they are mine, and I love writing them.
  • Everlasting life. Much as I enjoy this life, it’s good to know there’s something far-and-away better after I die.
  • Family. We weren’t created to do life alone. Hence, family. Far too often, humans twist the gift of family into a curse. But it was meant to be a blessing. And mine is.
  • Good friends. Friends that give encouragement and laughter and even a gentle rebuke or a pointed question when I need it.
  • Home. We associate “home” with a certain place, and I daresay that plays into it. But there are four people who make a place home for me, and we can make home anywhere.
  • Ice cream. Because I believe in being thankful for, and delighting in, little things.
  • Justice. Isn’t it good to know there is such a thing as just and unjust? I mean, can you imagine how the world would function without it? Disaster.
  • Kids. I’m so grateful for the children God brings into my life so I can love on them.
  • Love. From God. From family. From friends. I’m so rich in this blessing.
  • Music. (And the sense of hearing so I can enjoy music.) I think God created music to speak to our souls in ways that words can’t. And when you match powerful music with powerful words… Perfection.
  • New places. Wherever God brings me, He always brings good things and good people into my life. I enjoy it!
  • Order. I’m thankful the sun rises every morning and I can count on it. Can you imagine a world without order?
  • Peace. God’s peace is like a bedrock. You can plant your feet and not be moved.
  • Quiet. We weren’t made for constant noise and busyness. Sometimes we do our best growing in quietness.
  • Righteousness. Through Jesus Christ, I am clothed with spotless righteousness. Is that not an awesome, breath-taking truth?
  • Scripture. We’re lost without it.
  • Truth. In a world where people can’t tell good and bad apart anymore, I’m thankful Truth is something beyond mere human wisdom.
  • United States of America. Despite her flaws, I love this country dearly, and I’m grateful I was born here.
  • Variety. Sameness in people and things would actually be easier. But variety is more fun.
  • Written words. The beauty and power and creativity in written language never cease to fascinate me. Besides, it’s a gift God gave to only one of His creations—mankind.
  • Xmas. That is, CHRISTMAS! My absolute favorite time of the year. I’m so thankful Jesus came to redeem us, and I love celebrating it with music and lights and food and gifts. The season officially begins in our house tonight!
  • Yahweh. The Lord GOD, Creator of the heavens and the earth, who is yet mindful of me. I could never thank Him enough for all His goodness.
  • Zo-ay. (Sorry, had to borrow from Greek here.) Zo-ay is life. I am so grateful for this life God has given me. It’s a little bit crazy, but it’s good.

In view of this extensive list of my blessings, feel free to remind me of it if I get to whining anytime soon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

I Will Praise Thee, Lord

(I wrote this a few years ago, but some of it is convicting me anew these days.)

I will praise Thee, LORD, for Thy goodness to me.
My cup cannot contain the joy Thou givest.
From the chains of sin Thou hast redeemed me;
Thou hast set me free to rejoice.
Thou hast ransomed me from the kingdom of darkness
And brought me to dwell in Thy light. 

With infinite wisdom Thou leadest me,
And with love Thou directest my paths.
Thy love for me is deeper than the ocean,
Demanding my devotion with its all-consuming flame. 

O LORD, my heart is Thy temple.
And what is a temple for?
A place to burn sacrifices my heart shall be.
My desires, my needs, my weakness, my strength,
All shall burn on the altar for Thee. 

So may my life bring glory to Thee
Through Thine own unfailing grace.
Thy mercy extendeth beyond my vision;
Thy peace hath given me rest.
With all my soul I praise Thee.

-Miss Darcy

Moving Out

Our house is a disaster. Because this weekend is the big move. Everything into boxes to be stored until we close on our new house near the end of February. Good-bye to Rocket City. Hello to suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee.

Yes, I’m excited about it now. Moving has a certain element of fun. It’s packing that is no fun at all. I’m looking forward to making home in this new place God has called us to.

Meantime, we’ll be staying at a cabin in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee. Very pretty location.

And… No internet access at this cabin. I’m actually thrilled about that. I have a real love-hate relationship with computers, and I think it will be grand fun to ignore e-mail and social media for a month. It’s gonna be good for my head. (And if I surprise myself and get desperate, I can always scare up a coffee shop with WiFi, I suppose.)

I’m planning days of reading books (my suitcase is heavily laden with research books and novels), writing and editing my own stories (word processors work without internet), working on some crafts I’ve meant to do for a long time (time to use up some scrap fabric), washing dishes (therapeutic for me), and playing games with my family.

And maybe, just maybe, some sweet time with Jesus.

See you again in March!

-Miss Darcy

Sold Out

I think I’m going to ramble today. I have a lot to catch up on. Like why I haven’t written a post in nearly two months.

Long story.

Remember when I wrote about moving last summer? (Wow. Hard to believe that was at the end of August.)

We didn’t move. Turned out that job wasn’t a good fit for Daddy, so he resigned after four weeks.

We still knew it was unlikely Dad would get a job here in Huntsville. The town has changed since we lived here several years ago. So we didn’t unpack.

Which turned out to be a wise decision. Dad got a new job, this time on the south side of Nashville, Tennessee. That was November. We finally got our house on the market December 22nd. We had a contract on the 31st.

So now, finally, we’re set to move. The house closes the last day of January. We’ve picked out a new-to-us house in Tennessee. I’m surrounded by boxes and things that need to go in boxes as I write.

That’s the “Reader’s Digest Condensed Version.” Here’s the inside story.

When Dad quit that first job in Tennessee, we had half the house packed. My mind was totally geared for a move.

Then our takeoff was aborted. After we were about fifty feet in the air. The difficulty of the mental shift kinda surprised me. Yesterday we were moving, today we’re not. Okay. Wow. Readjust. We can do this.

While we waited to see what God would do next, I felt like life was sort of on hold. A lot of my things were packed. Furniture was in storage. I don’t want to sound melodramatic. It just felt weird.

Then Daddy got the new job. He was away all week; came home on the weekends. We were trying to ready the house for the market. We had to paint over our beautiful colors with a fashionable, dull, soft gray.

Christmas felt strange with our house only partly decorated and Daddy gone in the weeks before the actual day. I didn’t even blog about the Christmas carols I wanted to share.

It was one of those waiting seasons, ya know? A test, so to speak. And I flunked it.

Somewhere along the line, I let my daily Bible reading slip. I still read almost every day, but not with the same focus, the same investment, as usual. And I noticed the problem, but couldn’t find the motivation to change it.

I quit praying much.

Confession: I still don’t have this prayer thing down. Far from it. You may have noticed I write about reading and studying the Bible on here, but not so much about prayer. That’s because I wouldn’t know what I was talking about. That is, I know how to do it. I just don’t have the confidence that comes from experience. I’ve had spells of consistency, but somehow I don’t make time for it regularly. Problem? Yes. Ouch.

I tried to have joy in the Lord, and I did. I tried to be cheerful, and I was. I wasn’t totally miserable. I just wasn’t flourishing.

And by now, I should know better. Been a Christian for sixteen years. Should have the fundamentals ingrained so I can focus on achieving new heights.

Why do I have to walk the same roads I’ve walked a dozen times before? Fight the same fights? How do I get cold toward Jesus? He died for me!

This morning I was on my knees repenting of half-hearted devotion to Jesus. I’m pretty sure I did that sometime last year. And the year before that. Probably the year before that. It’s getting tiresome, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing it again sometime. Ach!

I know part of my problem now is stress. I’m in a coping mode, and things aren’t going to be so vibrant in that case.

Part of the problem is I wrote hardly anything throughout December. That was caused by the stress, but it became a vicious circle because writing is good for my mental health. And I wasn’t making time for it.

Part of the problem is my health. I haven’t cared for my body–way too much sugar, not enough exercise. With my family’s history, I shouldn’t be playing games.

But I fear part of the problem is laziness. (I can’t believe I just said that.) Guess I never outgrew my childhood besetting sin.

Probably, this is more than you cared to know. I’m not real fond of spill-your-guts blog posts because they tend to sound depressing. Sometimes I feel like, in the name of honesty, we share too much. Too much of us, not enough of Jesus.

But I am trying to be honest. They say it’s good for you. And I don’t indulge much, so I hope you’ll forgive me.

Around the beginning of the year, friends were talking about a word for the year. Something inspiring or convicting. Something either you feel is right to choose, or even something God specifically gives you. I’ve never done that.

But this year I have a phrase. Can’t say God spoke to me audibly, but it fits what I’m going through right now.

Sold Out.

Sold out to Jesus, of course. Not to this world’s pleasures. Not to life’s trials. Not to my own whims. But to Jesus.

Do I know exactly what that looks like? Obviously not completely. But I reckon Jesus can show me if I’m willing to take the instruction. Am I scared? Yes, actually, although it’s silly because the best life possible is one surrendered to its Creator. I want to keep my eyes on the eternal Prize.

The New Year is a good time to try again at something you’ve failed before. Thank the Lord His grace is sufficient, and that He perfects His strength in our weakness. I’ve got plenty of weakness.

And I don’t want to end on a depressing note. Because I believe with all my heart that we can have victory in Jesus Christ. I’ve seen it in others, and I’ve experienced it myself.

I want to find it again. And I will, not because of my own striving, but because Jesus is faithful.

I think I’ll be praying for a lot of grace and strength this year. 🙂

-Miss Darcy

I Am Thankful, 2017

I’m gonna try to keep this short and sweet. (Here’s where you roll your eyes at the idea of me writing anything short.)

In semi-random order, I am thankful for…

  • …the stunning truth that the Creator of the galaxies considers me someone worth dying for.
  • …my priceless relationships with friends and family. I may be an introvert and a writer, but friends that exist only on paper and in imagination don’t really compare to friends who breathe the same air I do.
  • …grace. From God, from my family, from random strangers. I make mistakes. I need grace.
  • …the necessities: food and clothing. I also have a warm home, hot water, a car, modern conveniences, technology, and a host of other things. Maybe if I didn’t have these I could justify my complaining. As it is, I have no reason to complain.
  • …language, written and spoken. Communication through language is an awesome gift from God that I usually take for granted. And it would leave a huge hole if it suddenly disappeared.
  • …the Bible. I don’t know how I’d live without this Book. And it’s in my mother tongue. Invaluable.
  • …that I can write. Even if no one else reads it, writing is a deep source of joy to me.
  • …beauty in nature. God didn’t have to make the world pretty. But, oh, didn’t He?
  • …rest. Sometimes I need it desperately, and it is sweet.
  • …music. Music affects the soul in a way words can’t. Which makes it far more powerful than we think.
  • …health. So many don’t have it, and I’ll enjoy it as long as it’s mine.

Under three hundred words. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

Moving … Again

From all appearances, my family is going to move. Again. From Huntsville, AL, to a rural area of Tennessee. Of course, the Lord could work a miracle and we wouldn’t have to. But Dad’s taken a new job, and we’re going.

See, we’ve moved a lot over the years. I have to stop and count on my fingers how many places I’ve lived in … eight. Maybe not so very many, but we’re not a military family. Oh, and did I ever mention that one of the houses we lived in had to be remodeled and we lived in four different places during that year? Well, that’s a long story for another time.

When we moved to Huntsville a year and a half ago, we said, “This is it. Last move. We’re staying here for always.”

Even at the time I had a dry little voice laughing in the back of my head. Sure, sure, you won’t move again. You won’t leave this house until you get married. Right.

So when I first learned there was a real possibility we’d move again, my immediate reaction was to laugh. It was so ironic.

Then I started pouting. I didn’t want to leave our beautiful house, in a beautiful neighborhood, in the ideal location, outside my favorite city (which is saying a lot because I don’t care for cities).

I didn’t want to leave the church we’ve only attended for a little over a year. I love the people; I wanted that to be my church for, well, forever.

I didn’t want to move away from some of my dearest friends. I wanted us to raise families together, let our kids play together.

But the Lord had other plans.

If the Lord wants me to move to Tennessee, then there’s no way in the world I want to do anything else. I want to go where He wants me.

And I don’t want to dig in my heels and make Him drag me. I don’t want to be whining and complaining as if I think He made a mistake. As if I think His gifts aren’t good.

Good things have always happened when we move.

God lets us meet wonderful new people and experience beautiful places. It’s not like He’s even called us to a particularly difficult place. Sure, we’re moving to a new state, but we’re still in the same affluent country. I’m grateful that God has given me gladness about our move.

I’m glad to move to Tennessee.

Am I glad to leave all the people I love in Alabama?

Um, no.

I’m happy to go, but sad to leave. (Don’t look at me like that. It is possible to feel both things at the same time. Mom says the word for such a feeling is ambivalence.)

I’m not saying I won’t cry when we leave. I’m not saying I won’t miss my home and friends dreadfully. I’m not saying I won’t have some difficulty settling into my new home, especially when it comes to finding a new church.

But God is good to me. Has always been good to me. (Even if I had nothing in this world, He would still be good to me because He sent Jesus. But I digress.)

Maybe this move is a gift straight from Him. In which case, it sounds pretty bad to say, “Lord, I don’t want this gift. It wasn’t on my wish list.”

With all my heart, I want to be willing to do whatever He wants.

It might not be easy. But with God it’s never impossible.

-Miss Darcy

Unsheathing the Sword

Last time I wrote, I talked about the Sword of Truth, God’s word. Today I’m going to share four ways that I unsheath that Sword in my own life. I’m no expert, mind you, but these methods bless me.

When I use them. That’s the catch. I have to actually do it. And, short-sighted human that I am, I neglect them. So I’m preaching to myself today.

Daily Practice

If you don’t draw the Sword every day, you can’t expect to get comfortable and skillful with it. So, every day, open the Bible and dig. I like to read a chapter and see which verse or which concept impresses me most. Some days I have to look harder than others. Then I write down the verse, as well as my thoughts on it.

Somehow writing it out makes my thoughts clearer in my head. This also gives me something to read later and think, “Oh, yeah, it was so neat when the Lord showed me that!”

Some days I do Bible study “homework” for the Bible class I’m part of at my church. I have a workbook that gives Scripture passages to read, followed by questions and meditations about the passage. The important thing is to actually have a decent helping of Scripture in there. Devotions that give one verse and a little meditation are fine, but they’re not unsheathing your Sword; they are notes on Sword-technique, so to speak.

Sometimes on Sundays, I only unsheath my Sword at the two church services. I’m not sure if that is perfectly sound practice, but it sometimes happens that way.

Quote It

If you can stop a wrong thought or motive in your mind before it comes out, you’re fighting well. So memorize some verses to divert your mind when it starts wandering down the wrong trails.

Do I always do this? No. But when I remember to wield the Sword this way, it is very effective.

Read for Recreation

You know those times when you haven’t read the Bible yet today, but you’re so tired you think you couldn’t possibly get anything out of Bible study? Or you just feel “down” and you don’t want to read the Bible? Just read it. Not to mine some deep theological truth you’ve never found before. But because there is nothing more wholesome you could read.

Flip to one of the stories you liked as a kid: Jonah, David, Creation, Joseph, The Five Loaves, The Resurrection. Read because the stories are interesting.

Read because the words are beautiful. Try the Psalms or even Job, or one of the prophets. Read for the vivid imagery. If no one’s around, read aloud with expression, to discover the power in the words.

Sometimes, when you’d normally watch TV or thumb through a magazine or surf social media, pick up your Bible and just read. Try a random place you haven’t visited in a while. Or a favorite passage.

Why? It’s like mindlessly hearing a song over and over: you eventually memorize most of the words. If you read the Truth over and over, it washes through your mind, refreshes your soul, and makes a difference.

Pray It

If you don’t have the book, Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore, I highly recommend it. The principle is to find a Scripture verse that applies to your need, and pray it to the Lord. I’ve found this to be so effective personally that it astounds me. (And then, getting short-sighted again, I slack off and start losing ground I gained.)

And you may ask, “Why? That sounds a little odd.”

I don’t completely understand the power of this method. But I think it may be this: When I pray God’s Word, I know I am praying according to His will.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

-1 John 5:14-15

When I pray God’s truth, I don’t waver around in my prayers. I pray with confidence and power. My favorite chapter in Beth Moore’s book is “Overcoming the Enemy.”

But you don’t have to get the book. I have some Scriptures that I’ve looked up to help me guard my mind for Christ. And when I remember to use them, I have much less defeat. Its effectiveness still amazes me.

The references are 2 Cor. 10:3-5, Rom. 12:2, Philippians 4:8, Psalm 51:10, and Psalm 55:22. I have them written on a piece of paper, and I might pray something like this:

Lord God, the weapons You have given me for warfare are not carnal but mighty in You, for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of You. I can bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Lord, don’t let me be conformed to this world, but transform me by renewing my mind, that I may prove what is Your good and acceptable and perfect will.

Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy, help me to meditate on these things.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

I’m casting my burden on You, LORD, knowing that You will sustain me. You shall never permit the righteous to be moved. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

In whatever area you want victory, I promise the Bible has verses for it.

(Disclaimer: I once heard a televangelist preaching that this method may be used for “financial victory” which sounded very much like “gaining wealth.” If you study the Bible enough, you’ll find the Christian life is way deeper than material security.)

So, do I use all these methods every day?

No. One of them every day? Usually.

See, I know all these wonderful techniques for my Sword, yet I don’t always use them. It’s hard to write about it when I don’t practice it perfectly. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. But I hope by putting it up here, I’ll challenge myself to faithfully use my Sword every day.

-Miss Darcy