Blessed Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Hello Throne of Grace friends! Our blog has been hijacked today by my super fun, super godly, super real friend and sister-in-Christ, Amanda. I’m going to give her a quick introduction and then let you get to know Amanda for yourself! I know you’ll love her!

Amanda and I go WAAAY back to the elementary school days…well, maybe even before that! We grew up in the same little church in southern California and have fun memories of church musicals and vacation Bible school. Then we ended up getting to be roommates in college for two years. I love that we had that time together as young adults as we were both so challenged in our faith and grew so much in those days. Here is a photo of Amanda and I and our other 2 college roomates – Josie and Becky. Amanda is the one on the far right:

photo of LSM roommates

Amanda calls herself an “Amateur Woman”, as opposed to a “Professional Woman”, which I love. It perfectly describes the way she lives life without pretenses for the love of life itself! Amanda has married to her college sweetheart – yes, I got to witness the relationship from its inception! – for the past 13 years. They live in Irvine, California with their two sweet and beautiful daughters, ages 9 1/2 and 6. Amanda is a solid Bible teacher, freelance writer, former MOPS coordinator, creative seamstress, fantastic cook, and has recently added encouraging speaker to women’s groups to her long list of useful skills. I could keep going but I’d better let Amanda take over…Enjoy!

Blessed Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The place on earth where I am happiest is a shallow stretch of the Big Sur river adjacent to river site 127. I lie in my inflatable boat in 12 inches of slowly-flowing water, a damp paperback in my hand, a cold drink tucked against one corner of the boat. The sycamores and redwoods are my walls and archways. The water on the stones is my music. The blue sky is my roof.

On our annual late-summer camping trip, I make it a point to get into my boat and find a sunny spot on the river as soon as we have camp set up. Sometimes the kids play around me. Sometimes they take off with their daddy for the rapids up the gorge, and float past me, bound for adventures downstream.


A few weeks ago, you could have found me in my boat in the late afternoon, drifting slowly; no need to tie my boat to a tree as in year’s former, because the drought has lowered the water level. Late in the day, sunshine is scarce on the river, so I cherish the moments when I drift into a warm place, and hope I stick. One afternoon, after feeling a bit shivery as I floated through the shadows, I ran aground in just such a place. I took care to hold very still so as not to dislodge myself. I was happy, but a precarious kind of happiness, knowing all the time that one false move could send me downriver.
Five minutes into this delicate bliss, my band of merry boaters came loudly toward me: Jeff, our two girls, and our 10-year old friend Oceana. Oce was ahead of the others.

“Don’t touch me!” I called out. “Nobody come near me! I am finally in the perfect sunny spot and I don’t want to move.” Oce looked at my curiously. Then came Sophia, my eldest. “Don’t touch me! Don’t dislodge me,” I screeched as she held out her hands to me. Again, a curious look, slightly wounded. Down went the rest of the family. Peace was again restored to the river.

About 15 minutes later, the sun shifted and I began to shiver. So I lifted my head to get up and realized something. I was totally and completely wedged in my spot. On the downriver side of my raft, I was hemmed in by a rock and two big logs, forming a triangle-shaped dam. No matter how I had wiggled, no matter which of the kids had bumped into me, I wasn’t going anywhere. No wonder the kids were looking at me funny.

Had I ever so much as lifted my head out of the bottom of the boat, I would have seen this, and felt secure. And I would have received the disruption of my family with open arms.

What a fascinating metaphor. How often do I become reactive and irrational because I let fear or insecurity rule over me?

* My husband makes a thoughtless remark (simply because he’s distracted, trying to be funny, or just being, well, male), and I allow myself to question his affection and devotion.

* A friend fails to return a phone call and I imagine ill will on her behalf and fear the loss of the friendship.

* A week of high demands from my kids and I begin to imagine myself a slave, a drudge, a woman with no sense of self, no life of her own. The classic martyr.

* A flash of doubt runs through my mind and I fear the loss of my faith, and disqualification from my life work and ministry.

Were I to lift my head in any of these situations — look at my Father, see the Big Picture of my life — I would see that I am wedged tightly in a dam of goodness. It is built of solid stones and strong timbers.

My husband chose me and will keep his vows.  I have solid friendships with safe women, not perfect, but built on the wise principles of the Bible, the best relationship manual there is. I am a competent, not perfect, mother, and my life is full and rich with mission and purpose both in the walls of my house and outside of them. And running under all of it is the strength of the faith handed to me by generations, which I’ve embraced since I was a little child. And under that, the love of God, which was mine before I breathed my first breath. He has promised nothing will shake it. He is the Rock I am blessed to be standing on, hemmed in by His love, goodness, and wisdom.

How much less reactive, how much kinder and happier I would be if I remembered how secure I truly am, and stopped treating small disruptions like earthquakes. This morning, I am tired. We are home from vacation and there is no more river to lie in. My girls had a sleepover last night during which the favored game was Musical Beds. There will be a lot of demands today, probably tears, definitely reactivity. I hope I manage it well.

So I lift my head today and look up. I say “Thank you, Father, for making me secure. Hem me in on all sides.”

Wow! Thanks, Amanda! I definitely needed to hear that today! I hope you all were as blessed as I was. Let’s pray together that the Lord will give us His eyes to see the places where we feel precarious, and instead see how we are “stuck” in Him!

If you enjoyed Amanda’s devotion today, you can find her blog, Scraps of Soul, HERE. If you have the time, be sure to check out one of my very favorite posts she’s written, called In Defense of Martha, where Amanda brings a fresh perspective on the Mary and Martha story from Luke, chapter 10.

As I mentioned, she also does speaking engagements in the southern California area. She might be perfect for your next MOPS or women’s event. You can contact Amanda through her blog, or contact me if you’d like a list of her Fall speaking dates.


The Climb Out – Part 2

Coming down off a Valentine’s high?

Or was your day not all hearts and roses?

Even in the best of marriages, our expectations can fall far short! Whether it is diaper disasters, exhaustion from shuffling kids all over town, schedules that don’t seem to jive with our spouse’s, family drama, or even some of the heavier burdens of financial stress, medical issues, and the way our sin messes with our marriage – our God can handle it all!

I’m excited to have Holly back with us today to share Part 2 of a special marriage message. If you missed yesterday’s post, you can “meet” Holly and read Part 1 HERE. Now back to the story (I’m going to backtrack just a tad)…


What do you do when you look at the partner you have chosen for your forever and you don’t know if you can even make it to tomorrow?  It’s binding, blinding and suffocating. Sometimes it feels as if there is no way to climb out of a hole that deep.

You know how we’re doing it?  Very slowly, on our knees.  We decided one afternoon that our family was worth fighting for.  Our kids deserved so much more than what a divorce would give them.  So instead of packing a bag, we picked up a phone and asked for help and then got back on our knees and got to work.   The work is hard and sometimes quiet.  I am selfish and don’t like change.  When I sat and listened, the still voice of Jesus whispered to me that if I started to love my husband the way He did and listened to what He had to say in His word, I would be free from all the pain and the disillusionment would be lifted off my veiled eyes.  I needed that.  So, I started a transformation from the inside out.   A painful, introspective transformation, where I had to admit what my faults were and what I had been contributing to the breakdown of the relationship to my children’s father.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like looking at my faults. Even worse, I don’t like thinking that my stubbornness, selfishness or lack of empathy would point some of the blame in my direction.  What? It’s my fault too?  Ugh.

I don’t know about you but it’s hard for me to show my husband love when I really just want to ignore him or talk him to death, telling him how he can show ME love.  I have to set him straight right? Isn’t it my job to tell him what he is doing wrong and how he can fix it? Well…no.  I had to admit it to myself.  Pointing out his faults hasn’t worked, not in 17 years and I can’t imagine that will ever change.  Isn’t that the definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?  I was going insane and I needed to try something different.

I really had to step back and figure out what I could change about my marriage.  Since it was my fault too (I guess…) what could I do differently to stop the feelings of suffocation and pain?  It goes against my nature to do that, so it was hard, even to just think about it.  What did I need to change?  The way I react to the actions of my husband.  That was it.  I realized, after introspective chatter and discovery (and prayer), that in many situations I was over reacting because of past history or something that I couldn’t let go of.  I discovered I’m really good at holding onto stuff that needs to be let go.  I’m not so good at recognizing that it needs to go.  I wear circumstances like badges of honor and use them to my advantage.  How awful.  How selfish. That’s no good. Enter change, stage right.

It’s really true what they say about not being able to change other people.  I can only change myself.  I do not want to act selfishly.  I do not want to put the blame on others where it doesn’t belong.  I do not want to hold on to the past so it smothers my present.  Those are the things I am working to change.  I am a work in progress.  So is my marriage.

The Climb Out_3

My husband and I are not out of the valley yet, but the difference now is that we are holding hands, helping each other to find the best foot holds to climb up and out.  We take small steps every day. Sometimes they are backwards, but mostly forward. We talk. Communication is key.  We are still not very nice sometimes.  The change is that we are listening differently. Our intent is to offer help to each other and to understand, not just to get our own point across or to be “right.”  If you are always “right,” if you always “win” the argument, then your spouse always looses and who wants to be married to a loser?  We remember to look up.  If your focus is on the waves threatening to drown you, they will.  Change your focus to what can save you and you will be saved.  We pray.  And pray some more. It helps us work from the inside out. We try and picture ourselves in 30 years.  What do we want to see? Children and grandchildren sitting by our feet, with the one we chose for our forever sitting close beside, wrinkled fingers touching.  Holding hands with the one who understands me best of all and has stuck by me anyway.  That thought of that future gives me hope.  One more foothold that helps me hold on in the hard moments.

If you are in a hard or troublesome place in your marriage, or with your kids, or even a friend, can I humbly suggest listening to that still quiet voice, opening your ears and your heart to the possibilities of what you may need to do differently?  Sometimes it may be about changing the way you talk or changing your focus.  Sometimes it’s all about getting on your knees.  Maybe it’s about changing your thoughts from the present darkness around you to the hope that simmers in the future.  Sometimes that can be the light that leads the way.  Trust me, the climb is worth it.


Reading Holly’s words today makes me think about someone else who thought the climb was worth it. This Someone climbed the hill to Calvary and is THE light that leads the way. Because He forged the path ahead of us straight to the Father, we don’t ever have to do it alone!

Thank you, Holly, for your humility and vulnerability! In sharing your pain, I pray that you will bring healing and hope to many! I’m excited about how God will continue to use Holly through her new blog, It’s a Matter of Moments. If you haven’t done so already, stop by Holly’s blog HERE and let her know how her message has impacted you! Oh, and be sure to tell her Molly says, “Hello!”

Have a great LONG weekend!


The Climb Out – Part 1

Happy Valentine’s Day! We’ve got a sweet treat for you today and tomorrow – a guest post from my friend and former neighbor (sniff! sniff!), Holly Mora. Holly moved on to the block at a precious time in the neighborhood. We had SIX women all pregnant with babies due within 6 months of each other!

The Climb Out_5

5 of the 6 Expectant Mothers in the neighborhood, September 2007

Holly’s daughter, Ella, and my daughter, Lucy, ended up being born just 13 days apart! Holly and I were able to be a part of a neighborhood Bible study together during our daughters’ first year of life, and it was such a blessing to learn from Holly’s wisdom and be encouraged by her humble and transparent heart. I think you will get a good glimpse into that precious heart this Valentine’s Day as Holly brings us her timely and poignant thoughts on marriage. Enjoy!


My name is Holly.  I am a wife and mother, and I blog about writing and finding your voice and share important moments, along with my friend Jenn, over at It’s a Matter of Moments . Thank you Molly, for letting me share some struggles from my heart with your readers this Valentine’s Day!

Let me ask you something.  Have you ever become painfully aware that your most meaningful relationship has somehow come to a difficult, maybe even formidable season?  Have you wondered at your lowest moments whether it’s worth it to keep trying? Do you choose to hold on and move forward or give up and let go?

I met my husband when I was 23.  After our first kiss, I had the romantic notion that I would marry him but I really didn’t know.  I didn’t know lots of things back then.  Like how hard marriage really is.  That the lows can be just as miraculous as the highs.   They both can take your breath away.  Thinking back, I don’t remember what my thoughts were about getting married, I just remember wanting to.  I wanted to be just with one person always to share a future and a family and forever.  Mike was that for me.

Fast forward almost 17 years and three children.  We have shared many things and made it through this far, sometimes I wonder how.  We both have a mean streak.  We are not very nice to each other sometimes.  Neither one of us really know how to say “I’m sorry” the way the other can hear it.  The burdens of life can be too much sometimes and we can feel it pulling us under.  We don’t deal with stress very well and our life has been one big ball of stress for the past three years.  But somehow, we have made it this far.

When I was growing up, no one ever talked to me about marriage.  The examples of marriage in my life were not happy.  My grandparents were married for over 65 years but they didn’t like each other very much, and we all knew it.  My parents were married for 18 years and somewhere along the way they lost respect for each other and it all fell apart.  Basically I was NOT prepared to get married and be the wife I needed to be.  My romantic notions were not a good foundation for building one of the most important relationships in my life, and that became apparent quickly.

I became a Christian after my first son was born, before my husband did.  The good Lord saw fit to bring him around a few years later.  I wish I could say it was partly my good influence, my kind actions and holding my tongue that brought him to Christ, but alas, I am imperfect in so many ways.  I wish I could say that the first few years of marriage were the hardest but in our case years 14, 15, and 16 have kicked our literal butts.  Our path led down into a valley and wouldn’t let us go.  Financially we struggled and that struggle lead to a strain that created such disillusionment, it makes me cry to just write about it.  What do you do when you look at the partner you have chosen for your forever and you don’t know if you can even make it to tomorrow?  It’s binding, blinding and suffocating. Sometimes it feels as if there is no way to climb out of a hole that deep…


Want to know how Holly is doing it?? The story doesn’t end there! Holly will be back tomorrow for Part 2 and I know you’ll be blessed by both her honesty and her practical words of wisdom. If you, like Holly, find yourself in a valley in your marriage, or know somehow else who is, there is hope from the author, creator, and perfecter of marriage!

May the Lord bring you many little reminders of how much you are loved today!

In His Love,molly