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perseveranceThere is nothing worse than being in limbo.  I’ve been there many times it’s no fun.

You can see the “next” thing in your mind. You have already moved on mentally from where you are and being stuck there physically feels like being imprisoned.

In retrospect though, I can see that in those times there was some unfinished work that needed to be done before I moved on.  Of course it’s much easier to see with hindsight.

The one thing you don’t want to do is take matters into your own hands and try to force things to happen before their time.  I’ve tried that – it’s not pretty.  You can read about it in this blog.

Most of the times that I have been in a prolonged waiting period it has been for one of these three reasons.

1. There was something I still needed to learn before I was ready for the “next thing” 

Waiting is often a character building and testing time.  It is easy to shine when we are getting exactly what we want and desire but in those times when we are waiting we are developing character that will help sustain us once we get there. Ask God to show you exactly what He wants you to learn in the limbo time.

2. Someone else needed me right where I was (and it wasn’t all about me – imagine that!?!) 

It could be that you are in a holding pattern because there is someone right where you are who needs the hope that you have.  Look for opportunities right where you are to finish out that season strong.  I remember longing to begin FTGI and start ministering to women but I was stuck working in a job that didn’t give me much time to devote to it. Praying on my drive to work one morning I felt God whisper – start right where you are.  When I got to work a young girl and I started chatting and she asked if we could meet for coffee because she thought she could learn from me.  Ministry was right in front of me and I was overlooking it, anxious to move on.

3. Whatever I was moving on to was not ready for me yet.

My daughter’s adoption always comes to mind when I think of waiting. When I was “ready” to have my baby already and so “done” with the waiting, I still had a year to go. Now I know it was because she had not even been born yet.  Thank God that in His providence He did not grant my wish for it to happen sooner.  There is no doubt that she is my child and I would have waited even longer just for her!

Sometimes it’s one of these, sometimes two and it could be all three but know that there is something being accomplished in your waiting time and it is not in vain.

Let patience have it’s perfect work (James 1:4) One day soon you will mount up with wings and FLY!

You can’t rush God.  I’ve tried. strength, strong, depression, anxiety, stress, waiting, courage, heart

Patience is not one of my virtues.  Most people don’t like to wait but some are more impatient than others. I run with that crowd.

As much as I don’t like waiting I have come to embrace it, knowing that in those times when we feel like we are in a holding pattern, we are actually gaining something invaluable – STRENGTH.

My husband works out on a regular basis doing WEIGHT training – and sometimes he drags me along. I don’t like it, but I do it because I know that I will gain strength from it. If I choose the weight myself I usually go for the lighter, easier option.  When my husband comes along he always makes me increase the amount I am lifting.  He explained to me that unless I am pushing my muscles beyond their normal limitation I will not be accomplishing anything but conditioning.  If I want to build muscle (strength) I have to push myself and increase the weight to a somewhat uncomfortable amount. This causes the muscle fibers to actually tear.  But what happens after that is amazing. After the workout the muscles fibers heal and it is a scientific fact that they come back bigger and stronger!

There are times in my life when the WAIT training I have had to endure seemed endless and beyond my normal limitation. When all I felt was torn down and ripped apart it was hard to imagine that I would ever feel strong again. That is where patience and endurance come into play.  The word of God tells us that if we are patient and endure we will receive all that we have been promised.  It seems that patience is a requirement of the waiting period. In my experience, I have never been granted deliverance from a waiting period until I have learned to patiently endure.

Of course there are times in life when we have to fight for a breakthrough but more often than not I have had to wait for the breakthrough. Knowing that my heart was being strengthened in the process was a comfort.

Do you find yourself in a holding pattern? Be brave and wait patiently for the God to reveal all that He has planned for you.  And in the meantime take courage that you are getting stronger every minute!

I grew up on Long Island.  Although I have lived on the west coast of Florida, which boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches for the past 20 years, Jones Beach will always be the most beautiful beach to me because it is home.

If I close my eyes I can feel the gritty sand in my toes and hear the seagulls and the waves crashing to the shore. As a little kid I would play on the shore line, building sandcastles and jumping over the remainder of the breaker waves as they rolled up towards the beach.  As I got older I became more adventurous and learned how to ride the waves in as they broke.

It is an exhilarating feeling to catch a good wave at precisely the right moment and get a nice clean ride in. But occasionally you can be blindsided by a wave and get pummeled by it because you weren’t expecting it. Sometimes in an attempt to ride a wave you can jump in at the wrong time resulting in being creamed by the force of the current. This is a scary experience.  In a matter of seconds you are being spun uncontrollably and it is incredibly difficult to find your bearings. It feels like the ocean is sucking you downward. If you are not accustomed to navigating the unpredictable activity of an undertow it is easy to panic.  I have been caught in some crazy waves that in the moment have made me wonder if I would survive.

Fortunately like most kids who are raised by the beach, I was taught at a young age how to handle such situations and even though it could be frightening I knew that if I followed some simple rules of survival the wave would eventually subside and I would once again rise to the surface and be able to breathe.

The first rule was HOLD YOUR BREATH AND DON’T PANIC.  The duration of even a huge ocean wave is shorter than the amount of time you can hold your breath. The tendency when we panic is to gasp for breath but if when the wave hits you just hold your breath and don’t panic in time the waters will smooth out and the air in your body will cause you to rise to the surface.

The second rule was DON’T FIGHT IT – GO WITH THE FLOW. Our natural reaction when we’re being knocked around and feel out of control is to fight to regain our footing but this is actually counterproductive when trying to react to a wave. All you will end up doing is completely exhausting yourself.  Instead the trick is to relax your body and let yourself go with it until the wave passes.  The force of the wave is far stronger than you are and fighting against it is futile. If you can calmly wait it out you will soon be released, your feet will find the ground and you will be able to push up to the surface and find your bearings. This is easier said than done when you are being tossed about by the waves!

Some kids (and grown-ups for that matter) having been pummeled by a wave once decided it was not worth the risk and do not engage in the joy of riding the waves. They didn’t learn the survival tips for managing the undertow and so they settle for just playing in the shallow breakers. They are missing out on the exhilaration of swimming in the ocean.  It is an incredible feeling to be carried by the rise and fall of the ocean swells and something thrilling about playing in the vastness of the sea.

Life is often like this. A series of waves, some invigorating and awe-inspiring and others downright frightening and disorienting. But it shouldn’t stop us from engaging. If we want to experience all the joy and wonder that this life has to offer we need to pack up our coping skills and dive in deep.

crashing waves, panic, depression, coping, fear

This is not me – but what a great picture!
photo credit
Young girl in the waves, Jones Beach, New York. July 1951, by Alfred Eisenstaedt.


Instead of playing in the shallow breakers I am ready to dive in.  This is an unedited, first attempt excerpt from a short book I am writing. Stay tuned!

If you are in the swirl of an undertow please know that this too shall pass.  Hold your breath (or since you are not really in the ocean – take some deep breaths) ~ don’t panic.  Before you know it you will be in smooth waters once again. 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. ~ Psalm 107:29

After my first real battle with depression I was talking to the women’s pastor at my church about it.  She asked me if I would share about it at an upcoming women’s conference. I knew it would be hard but I wasn’t prepared for just how hard it would be to move from the safety of a few close friends and family members knowing about my struggles to a wider group of people that I did not know very well.

ashamed woman

The feeling of vulnerability was overwhelming.  I remember when the women’s pastor announced the conference in church saying, “…and Tracey Metzger is going to share about her recent bout with depression…” I felt all the blood drain from my face. I felt dizzy and found myself wanting to run out the back door.

Now I know what that emotion was.  It was shame.

Shame is similar to being embarrassed but worse.  It does weird things to your body.  Embarrassing – is tripping up the stairs or having toilet paper stuck on your shoe as you come out of the restroom.  But shame is different.

Shame is not momentary; it takes up residence inside your heart.  And you don’t want to hide for a moment – you want the earth to open up and swallow you.

My shame came from the misguided belief that if I was as strong in my faith as I professed to be that I would not suffer from depression.  Somewhere I had bought into the misconception that if I just prayed enough or in the right way with enough conviction that I would be able to conquer it. Depression makes you feel like you are doing something wrong.  I’ve actually heard people in Christian circles say things like, “Depression is pride turned inward” which only contributes to the fallacy that the person suffering has control over it.

Depression, when it is a result of a chemical imbalance or mental illness is debilitating and not something that someone can just snap out of.  I believe that prayer helps but sometimes it helps in the form of God leading you to the right medication or doctor.  There are testimonies of people that have been delivered from depression miraculously just like there are people that have had tumors disappear.  But there are also people who need medication and still have rough days just like all the treatments in the world cannot treat some major illnesses.

We live in a fallen world where illness – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abound.  What we don’t need are stigmas and judgments that lead to shame.

But where sin abounds (I believe that the all of the ugliness in the world is a result of the fall of man), GRACE abounds much more. Let us pray for more and more grace so that people who are suffering will not feel ashamed and can get the help they need.

This blog was inspired by the various editorials, posts and blogs I have read in response to the passing of Rick and Kay Warren’s son. The only good that can possibly come from this is more conversation and openness about mental illnesses. Praying for abundant grace, peace and comfort for the Warrens and all who are close to them.

The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. ~ Luke 19:10

 What can take away our sin?

 What can make us whole again?

 What can dry our tears?

 What can mend our broken relationships?

What can help us extend forgiveness to others?

 What can heal our bodies?

 What can restore our minds to sanity?

 What can bring peace to a restless soul?

What can cast out fear?

 What can give us courage?

 What can give us strength when we are weak?

 What can give us hope?

 What can redeem all that is wrong in the world?

 Nothing, but the blood of Jesus.

it is finished

embrace imperfectionWhile we’re on the subject of things that don’t define you let’s talk about failure. I am not good at this. Well, actually I’m pretty good at failing I’m just not good at handling it.

I’m sure nobody likes it, but there is a certain sector of the population that has been stricken with perfectionism and they have a particular aversion to failing.  When they fail it makes their skin crawl and their insides shake, causing them to wish that the earth would open up and swallow them.  That kind of aversion. 

Apparently I belong to that sector.

Several years ago I made a bad judgment call.  It led to a misunderstanding and the result was an upset in a relationship that I valued greatly.  I wasn’t the only one at fault, I felt wronged also and the whole thing made me mad at everyone involved. But mostly with myself. I should have known better. If only I had made a different decision. If only I had listened to my first instinct. If only, if only, if only.  But I didn’t. I had failed.

I apologized for my lack of good judgment.  The others apologized for theirs and I forgave everyone involved. Except myself.

This gets really psycho- babble-ish but stay with me here…

I was angry with myself.  I didn’t even realize I was doing this but I projected my own disappointment with myself to God. If I was disappointed in me…then He must be disappointed too. Letting that fester for too long ended up with me feeling very disconnected from Him.  That is not a good place to be.

It was all over a really small incident but that’s what perfectionism does.  It exaggerates and accuses.

Here is how Wikepedia describes it:

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

 As I grew through this process I redefined perfectionism for myself as it pertains to me.

Perfectionism – a personality trait caused by pride in which I think that I am above failing which is not realistic so when I fail as I inevitably do I decide that I will take the place of God and judge myself for my shortcomings therefore negating the redemptive work of the cross.

That definitely doesn’t sound as noble as the first definition. Yet, that is ultimately what I am saying when I don’t extend grace to myself for failure. If God is forgiving and graceful who am I to not extend that same grace to myself? (This works when we judge others too but that’s another blog for another day)

Ironically the one who is Perfect does not expect us to be perfect.  He came to redeem our imperfection!

Failure does not define you.

Just because you fail it does not mean that you are a failure. It means that you are human. Bring your imperfections to the cross and let the redemptive blood of Jesus do it’s work.

Be kind to yourself and embrace your imperfection.

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. ~ Romans 3:24 NLT

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I saw this on a poster a while back ~

You’ve only got three choices in life:  Give up, give in or give it all you’ve got. 

I choose #3.  The others won’t get you anywhere.

For the past few days this verse in Galatians keeps surfacing in my mind.

Do not become weary in well doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up

So there it is.  It’s about determining to give it all we’ve got because we are promised that at the PROPER time ( not our time, uugh) we will reap a harvest!!

I keep seeing hints of fall everywhere even though it’s still really hot here in Florida. But the pumpkins are out, fall decorations are on the shelves…the signs are all there.

The harvest is coming!!

Don’t give up. Give it all you’ve got!


The beginning of the new school year brought back a memory for me of my oldest son starting a new school.  It wasn’t the beginning of the school year, it was actually towards the end, but it was a new school to him because we had just moved to Florida from New York.

I remember sitting in the school administration office with him waiting for his class assignment. He sat so still, trying to be brave but I noticed him chewing away at the inside of his cheek, betraying his nervousness.  It was killing me!  I wanted to scoop him up in my arms and assure him that it was going to be okay and that I wouldn’t sign him up to do something that wasn’t good for him.  But he was in 1st grade and already too old for overtly public displays of affection from his mother! I knew that he was a smart boy and that he would make friends easily and in no time at all would feel right at home. He did not share my confidence.

Have you ever felt like God signed you up for something that makes you chew your cheek, or bite your nails, or do whatever it is you do when you get nervous?  Have you ever felt that pang of anxiety when stepping out into a new venture?  The other side of familiar is frightening, a little nerve-wracking at best. But if God is leading you there, (that’s a BIG “if” by the way so you want to be sure about that before you start) you can rest assured that you are prepared and that ultimately it will be for your good.

This morning I was reading Deuteronomy 8 – a great chapter on this topic!! God often signs us up for things that test us and humble us but it is to bring us to a place of tremendous blessing if we persevere and follow as He leads. There is way too much good stuff here to write in one blog so I encourage you to take time to read it if you can.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. ~Deuteronomy 8:7-9

I want to go there, don’t you?

When I was a teenager I would drive my father crazy when I would call him to tell him that my car “broke down” when in fact I had run out of gas. When he would discover that I had been driving on empty he would lecture me about the dangers to the engine when you run it that low. I would love to tell you that I have grown into a more responsible adult, but even as I type this my gas gauge is on empty. (Don’t tell my husband- this drives him crazy now!)

There is an obvious parallel here to my emotional “tank.”  There are activities that fill me up with energy and passion and others that drain me. I can tell when my tolerance is low, my patience is thin and my energy is waning that I am running on empty. If I don’t realize it and do something about it breakdown (or meltdown) is inevitable. And that ain’t pretty!

 I have only just recently started to pay attention to this and here are some interesting things I’ve discovered.

  • Just because something drains me emotionally it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t do it or that it’s not good for me. Some of the most emotionally taxing things I do are the most rewarding. However, if I know that going into them, then I can plan something emotionally filling around it in order to avoid running on empty. For example, if I engage in an Extreme Makeover with FTGI in the morning, where we serve women in a shelter, I need to be careful about what else I take on that day. From experience I know that I will be in a better place emotionally the next day if I pair that activity with a quiet evening connecting with my husband or maybe going to a movie both of which are emotional fillers for me.
  • Just because something is physically exhausting it doesn’t mean that it is emotionally draining. For example, some people (not me) find running emotionally filling. For me, I am emotionally charged after a FTGI Girls Night Out even though I’m usually physically exhausted.
  • When I am emotionally balanced I can endure more physically. I guess that’s a no-brainer but I have had to learn the hard way that if I am not striking emotional balance in my life I feel myself dragging physically.
  • If I am running low and don’t have time to fill up ~ a little bit will go a long way and will prevent running out completely. I remember times when I was low on cash and would only be able to put $5 in my tank but it would at least get me to my next stop.  Sometimes just a few hours of solitude, time to read a little, pray a little and take a few deep breaths does wonders for my state of mind and keeps me going until I can really fill up.

Take a minute to think about the things that drain you and the things that fill you up and make sure that you are finding a balance between the two this week.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13

When Danny and I started dating (for the 3rd time)I knew that there was something different about him.  He had been so consistent in his pursuit of me that I knew I couldn’t just take our relationship lightly as I had with some of the other guys I had dated in between. And that scared me a little. So in order to avoid being alone with him and having to have any serious conversations I would always invite friends along whenever he asked me to go out.  He would come to pick me up and I would have a bunch of people with me and would say something like…”you don’t mind if they come along do you???”  He did, but he never said so.

Then one day he invited me to go lunch to a cute little town called Port Jefferson – on his motorcyle.

He was on to me! And he had taken measures to make sure he could get me alone. It was a defining date for us.  It was a time when we got away from the masses of people that I always surrounded myself with and it was just us – alone. At last he had my full attention. (I think he also enjoyed the fact that I had to wrap my arms around him and hold on tight as we rode- I know I did!)

I can go days, sometimes weeks, when the craziness of life pulls me away from time alone with God – time when He has my full attention.  The passage in Mark 6 describes a time when Jesus and the disciples were surrounded by so many people all the time that they couldn’t even carve out time to eat – I have had days like that haven’t you?

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

We need that time of rest alone with Jesus, when we can talk to him or maybe more importantly just listen.  I think sometimes He longs to take us away to a place where we can be alone just like Danny did when he wanted my full attention. (some things never change…Danny still needs to take me away on his motorcyle sometimes!)

I want to encourage you to take Him up on that invitation.  Get away from all the distractions – even the good stuff and find some time to just be alone with the one who loves you so much and wants that time with you.  You will find rest, even if it’s just some mental rest, and you will feel refreshed and ready to take on all that is waiting for you when you get back.

Wishing you rest today….