Ellen’s Blog

Waiting For A Miracle


It was mid-April and our stately October Glory still stood as bare and naked as the day I was born. I was beside myself: Was this magnificent maple tree—that was indeed nothing short of glorious in the fall—now dead? Several times a day I would pass by the window that framed her majestic form and whisper a prayer, “O Lord, if it be your will (how could it not?), save this beautiful tree.”

I just couldn’t understand what might have happened to her. Our mild Dallas winter (that was more like an extended fall punctuated with a few summer-like days) had gently coaxed lush green leaves from the branches of all the trees around our home and in our neighborhood —in early March! Everywhere I looked, spring was bursting forth. But not my October Glory. She sat dormant. What was she waiting for?

Come to find out, she was waiting on winter. Bless her heart! (That’s what we say about everything in Texas from decaying plant life to women who have issues that we don’t— or won’t admit to having.) Our October Glory was waiting for it to get cold!

A few days after a freak, late spring cold front, her first leaves peeked out. Steve called me to the window to behold the tiny, tender shoots beginning to appear and said, “Look. She’s okay. There’s a lot going on in there. You just have to be patient.” My mind wondered to all the times I have fretted over things —like this tree leafing out— that were out of my purview but, of course, were completely within God’s. Because I’m rather fond of instant gratification and complete clarity, it’s really hard for me to sit and wait, while God is doing his “God thing”.

What about you? Are you, or someone you love, desperately waiting for renewed health? Are you losing hope that the promotion or job offer will ever materialize? Are you anxiously awaiting a relationship to heal? An addiction to end? A pregnancy to occur? A depression to lift? A child to return? Financial relief? Waiting is hard—even when we have faith—because during the latent period between crisis and resolution, we rarely get to see the miracle while it’s in the making.

This morning our October Glory stands completely outfitted in her new spring attire. She will provide a soothing green shade during our hot summer and will burst forth with orange leaves so brilliant they will nearly put your eyes out come early December. I don’t care what she’s called, she’s always had a mind of her own — and a timetable, like everything else—directed by God.

Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.  — Romans 12:12

Hang on. You can’t see it but the miracle is in the works.

Lord, Have Mercy. What Have I Done?

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On any given day, at any given moment I have doubts. Not about my faith —that has been worked through and is secure. My crisis of confidence centers more often around my performance. This may seem strange to those who see me as self-assured. However, even those of us who have been blessed with clarity of purpose can have a “dark night of the soul” when we hold ourselves to the excruciatingly high standards of the world and the immediate results of our work versus the longer-term effect of our actions and the outcome that only God can produce.

Today my new devotional Lord, Have Mercy, Help and hope for moms on their last nerve officially hits books shelves and is made available for online sale. My books are deeply intimate, revealing my flaws and weaknesses and because I struggle with defining myself as a real writer – I nearly hyperventilated as I reviewed the final proof of my manuscript (called the galley). All I could think was: ‘What have I done?’ As I rang my publisher early the next morning and began my pleading to “stop the presses!” they gently laughed and reassured me that the book was not banal but instead would be a blessing to tens of thousands of moms.

Maybe it was Satan who inflicted such extreme doubt on the project —I can always count on him to show up at the most inopportune time. But actually, I think it was my own narrow definition, my worldly view and limited assessment of what the final product really is and what God can do with it.

The “work” is actually not a book at all but instead 190 days of obedience coupled with God’s capability (which has so far been proven to be awesome and 100% spot on). This alone can turn any ‘What have I done?’ crisis into a ‘Look what He did’ jubilation. Working by faith, I showed up everyday to my computer, Bible at my side, to impart important truths that might encourage and lead today’s busy mom on her mothering journey. During the days of interviews, research, writing, editing—all the way through the cover design—God faithfully answered every prayer. I can see today that my crisis in confidence was due to my inability to think big and see His ability to generate a greater return on my work. This really pains me—because in reality—was this more than a crisis of confidence? Was I not having a crisis of faith?

I have “settled in” (and settled down) that the assessment of my writing performance will be public. The grade on my obedience and the outcome of hearts touched will be a more private affair, one that I can rest in and be at peace with because God’s proven before that He’s got this whole book thing worked out way better than me.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 The Message

Are you having a crisis in confidence today, too? Reconsider the long, long, long-term effect of your actions,  what your final product really is and Who is in charge. The glorious outcome might be far less tangible and more eternal than you could ever dream. There’s far more here for all of us than meets the eye.