When You Feel Alone

Sometimes I feel completely alone.

I’m not talking about times I’m by myself; sometimes I need that. I mean that even with my husband, daughter, family, friends, and co-workers, there are times I still feel alone and lonely.

Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

When it feels like there’s no one to talk to.

No one who understands or has time for you.

No one who cares what you have to say, or is interested your dreams and goals.

I’m not trying to throw a pity party here, but let’s face it—sometimes the course of life leaves us feeling alone in this world.

Friends turn.

Children stray.

Loved ones pass.

Marriages crumble.

Loneliness is a part of life—a part we don’t understand. In fact, sometimes I wonder why it seems like God wants me alone.

Perhaps it’s to draw me closer to Him so He can be the center of my life.

Not unlike He’s done before…

Joseph must have known loneliness as he sat in prison for something he didn’t do, wondering if he’d see his father and brothers again. But God never left him.
But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Genesis 39:21 NLT
Moses was surrounded by the Israelites as he led them from place to place in the desert. And yet, his wife and sons were not with him; they were living safely with her father, Jethro. And now the very nation he led to freedom was turning on him. But Moses knew God was still there.

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!” Exodus 17:4 NLT
David was alone and on the run from Saul, having had to leave behind his family and best friend Jonathan. But he knew God was there to answer and guide him.
“…will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.”
And the Lord said, “He will come.”
Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?”
And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.” 1 Samuel 23:11-12 NLT
Certainly, Jesus knew what it felt like to be alone and to have others turn on Him, even those He considered friends. But He knew His Father was with Him.
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. John 16:32 NLT
We may feel alone and lonely at times, but just as God was with Joseph, Moses, David, and Jesus, He’s here with us too.
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5b NIV
God wants to draw us close and promises to never leave us, no matter how alone we may feel. 

Maybe the question is whether we’re leaning into His embrace, or struggling against Him.

Has there been a time in your life when you felt alone, despite who was around you?

In Christ,

A Little Bird Named Albert

“There’s a baby bird in the egress window,” my husband said Saturday morning, “and I don’t think it can fly out.”

My daughter and I ran to the basement window to see this for ourselves. Sure enough, the cute little guy sat in the cushion of leaves in the window well. My daughter immediately wanted to save it. Deciding it was a “him,” she named him Albert.

We watched Albert through the window, before doing anything, to see if his mom would come back. And she did.

She didn’t sit in the window with him, but she was never far away. She brought him food and she stood on guard.

She sat on the fence outside my kitchen window while I baked chocolate chip cookies. And she chirped. Over and over. Chirp (pause)…chirp (pause)…chirp.

Albert kept the same chirping rhythm. Chirp (pause)…chirp (pause)…chirp.

We decided they were communicating…
Mom?...I’m right here…Mom?...I’m right here…Mom?
…Albert scared and crying out, while his mom let him know she was there and hadn’t left.

My daughter said it reminded her of when she had an MRI and I stood next to her throughout it, with my hand on her leg. She couldn’t talk or move, but the couple of times I moved my hand, her leg twitched, as if to make sure I was still there. And I rubbed her leg to assure her I hadn’t left.

Throughout the day, we watched Albert as he attempted to fly out…without success.

We wanted to scoop him out, but like his mom, knew that he would eventually fly out on his own. So, we cheered him on.

Again, we realized how the mom-child relationship isn’t all that different. Sometimes, as moms, we can’t rescue our kids, but we can stay close and comfort them.

They will get themselves into predicaments that they have to figure out how to get out of, and all we can do is support them…and love them. So, Albert’s mom stayed.

First thing Sunday morning, we checked through the window. Albert was still there and looked like he’d gotten used to his new surroundings.

I went on to do other things, but received timely updates from my daughter. She was sure he was looking at her through the window. Maybe he was feeling supported and encouraged by her too.

And then…
“Mom, mom! I got to witness it!” she yelled as she ran to find me. “Albert got out!”

And he did. After the night’s rest, he was strengthened and refreshed…and he flew to the edge of the barrier to the window well. We couldn’t help but be proud of the little guy.

We snuck outside and watched as he sat on the edge chirping. Then, we spotted Albert’s mom, with breakfast in her beak, but still able to answer his cries.
Mom?...I’m right here… Mom! Look, I did it!...See? I knew you could do it!
We thought we were being sneaky, watching from a distance, but moms have a good sense about things, and we figured she was on to us. Albert wasn’t going to eat breakfast until we left.

Albert was gone when we checked back later, probably off somewhere with his mom. We were happy for them...but at the same time, we kind of missed the little guy.

Linking up with Unforced Rhythms, Soli Deo Gloria, Winsome Wednesday, #TellHisStory, Coffee For Your Heart, #EverydayJesus, Thought Provoking Thursday

When Facebook Starts to Depress You

Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook news feed and wondered why you felt kind of down?

Maybe you got on to quickly check in with a friend or to post a note and picture about what you’re up to. But, you find yourself scrolling…a quick “like” here…a brief comment there…and you notice something has changed.
Your thinking has changed from That’s a great picture of my friends, to That looks fun. I wish I could do that.
What beautiful scenery! turns to I’ll never get to go there.
I’m glad she finally got to visit there. becomes Must be nice!
You get the picture. (no pun intended)

Social media has its place. Keeping up with friends and family and sharing pictures can be great. It’s fun to see what others are doing, right?

But sometimes, social media can be too much. In fact, maybe it should come with a warning label...

Continue reading...

What's been your experience—do you find yourself needing to scale back on social media? Please join me at 5 Minutes for Faith, where I'm sharing a few tips I'm practicing.
In Christ,

We All Have a Place

I like hearing about fellow writers’ accomplishments—really, I do. But sometimes, I have to fight the Why do I even try? feeling. Not all the time, but more than I like to admit.

Do you know that feeling? It doesn’t have to be writing, but in general, someone else’s success where you hope to be successful.

We know better, don’t we? But emotions get in the way. Discouragement sets in and thoughts run wild.

Unless…we stop them first. Rein them in and get control.

And change our thinking—because we all have a place in the work of God’s Kingdom.

My work may not be the same as yours and your work may be different from mine. God calls us to different ways of speaking His truth and proclaiming His name and saving grace.

He blesses us with different strengths. He equips us with different skills and talents. He leads us to different places at different times—all according to His plan. A plan we may not see, but know, through faith, is there.

Someone else’s achievement is not about me or what I haven’t done. It’s about Him and what He has called her to do.

My cheering her on is success for God’s Kingdom. My slinking back and quitting enables the Enemy. And I know I don’t want to work to his advantage. Do you?

So, let’s not quit the work God calls us to.

Let’s not miss the opportunity to step out in faith with Him.

Let’s not allow discouragement to set in when we hear of another’s accomplishments—but instead, let’s encourage each other wherever we are, whatever we’re doing.

It’s not my work vs. your work because we’re on the same team—the winning team—God’s team.

So, what do you say? I’ll cheer for you and you cheer for me. We’ll encourage and root for each other…for the good of God’s Kingdom.

Go team!

In Christ,

Rest Is Not Nothing

I'm sitting on the deck this morning, staring out over open land...in the country, visiting family. It's not too hot yet and it's peaceful.

Really peaceful.

So much so that I'm reluctant to go in and get ready for the day, because later it will be sticky again. The sauna-like weather that keeps you inside or takes you to the pool.

I'm not much of a pool person. So, when the others head out, I'll find something else to do...like write or read the book I started. Maybe I'll take a nap, or spend some time with God.

I'm not used to not having to be somewhere, do something, or research and study our new way of life. This would usually make me antsy and uncomfortable.

And it might in a few days, but not yet.

Right now I'm content to sit and write this post...about nothing.

But maybe it's not about nothing—because needing to rest is not nothing.

Jesus rested. And He didn't feel guilty about it.
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:31 NLT (bold mine)
God made us with the need to rest. Jesus knew that. He taught it. He practiced it.

But we tend to forget or ignore it...or think it wasn't meant for us.

But it is meant for us—this need to rest.

For you and for me.

And when you put off rest too long, you find yourself like me, in a chair looking out over open land...not wanting to start the day.

Even if others are waiting on you.

In Christ,

And So It Begins…

We’d been told not to make any dietary changes until we knew for sure, so I’m not sure why I thought I was ready.

I thought it would go like this…
“Mr. and Mrs. Rath, it looks like your daughter has celiac disease. We’ll have the lab results in a few days. You should start thinking about going gluten free.”

So, while we ate one of her favorite gluten filled meals for dinner that night, we happily talked about what that meant.

Yeah, that’s not what happened. (You knew that, right?)

It went more like this…
“Your daughter has celiac disease. There is visible evidence and we’ll have the lab results to confirm in a few days. You need to go gluten free today.”

Today. As in immediately.

I scrounged together something she could eat for lunch, and then it became very real.

We went grocery shopping.

For two hours.

Yes, two hours—because the aisles we perused with interest a week ago now looked intimidating and overwhelming. The shelves towered over me making me feel very small and unequipped. We went armed with an abbreviated list of ingredients to stay away from, but I soon learned just how short and abbreviated that list was.

We strolled.

We examined.

We read labels.

And then we read more labels.

At some point, I bought a Pepsi to get her (and me) through the second hour. Don’t judge. The nurse had given her some earlier, so it was the one label I didn’t need to scrutinize. And she was a happy camper because I let her have pop in the middle of the day, and it wasn’t a special occasion.

Well, unless you celebrate the first day of the rest of your gluten free life, then it’s special.

We weren’t celebrating.

But…we weren’t in despair either.

I don’t remember everything we bought in that maiden gluten free shopping trip, but I know she ate dinner that night…and every night since then.

We also learned a lesson in that first shopping experience—everything has to be checked, regardless if it’s in the gluten free section.

And even if it says Gluten Free.

We learned this with a small container of chocolate ice cream…from the gluten free freezer section…with the words Gluten Free on the front.

But a day later, we read this on the back: This product has been processed on equipment that also processes nuts, wheat, eggs, soy and milk.

Meaning…possible cross-contamination.

By then, I’d learned that most Breyer’s ice cream flavors are gluten free. And for that I celebrated because my favorite ice cream was safe to have in the house…oh, and she likes it too.

So, we dumped the chocolate (which no one in my family would classify as ice cream anyway) and counted it as our first lesson learned.

(To read more about the beginning of our gluten free journey, read: Letting Go of Normal)

In Christ,