Soaring

eagle

“Those who wait…hope… trust in God, will find strength.
They will soar with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”

We are in a season right now that seems unrelenting.
If I gave you all the details it would be too exhausting to read.
However, some quick points for context:
The landlord of the home we rented sold it out from under us with little to no warning, creating what seemed like a chain reaction of events. In the middle of rushing to pack up our home, trying to sell our actual home we owned, my busy travel schedule, tax season, homeschool and a baby due Aug 7… my dad called to tell me my mom and fallen at the gym.
She broke her left femur and right ankle, leaving them in a new reality of wheelchair life and needing to sell their home.

Again, the real exhaustion is in the ever-compacting details, like 60k+ of uncovered medical bills my parents are facing etc, but I’ll spare you the rest of that stuff, because while I could go on and on to explain the challenges and difficulties, some never faced before and some that paralize my heart with heaviness, I want to focus on God instead.

I’ve been thinking about (more like arm wrestling with) this scripture in Isaiah 40:31 quite a lot lately.
Mostly, what it means to “soar with wings like eagles.”

Technically speaking, soaring occurs when an eagle has enough wind resistance to deflect the wind downward so they can be lifted.
It’s not in flapping their wings and trying harder.
In this verse in Isaiah, we are told that waiting on God, hoping and trusting Him, can allow us to soar like an eagle does.

The part I’ve been trying to remember lately, is that this soaring experience only happens in the face of enough resistance (or opposition) to make it possible.
So when I’m feeling overwhelmed and wanting to “flap my wings” as it were, it’s only in the waiting and trusting and moments of being still that I seem to soar over the resistance and experience this strength that goes beyond my exhaustion.

I’ve asked God many times in my life to grow me, help me Know Him more, lead people better, etc…
And so today I’m remembering, that when we want to experience God and know Him more, His word tells us this is how He works, during these seasons of resistance that seem overwhelming… how He orchestrates through hardship and brokenness to show and teach us these truths.

We don’t know how and can’t see it yet, but we have absolute confidence that God is at work. He always is.
We believe we will praise Him on the other side of this and see that He was accomplishing something greater through us that we couldn’t do on our own. I believe it.
We are being provided for by a loving God who even in these seasons is showing us how richly blessed we are.

Ironically, I’m reminded by these lyrics I wrote in a much easier time:
“I’m trusting in You, You always come through, You prove it to me over and over and over again”

I’ll blog more about this later, but for now…

Waiting… Hoping… Trusting… Soaring!

“Forgive? Where’d you get that crazy idea?!?”

I posted part of this story on twitter yesterday:

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 10.53.46 AM

NOTE:  The hashtag is courtesy of my friend Carlos Whittaker and his new book “Moment Maker” – check it out!

So, It was the strangest way to start my day to say the least. But it was a moment maker for sure.

First, you need the back story…
As I pulled up to Anytime Fitness, there was a guy outside, desparately trying to get someone’s attention to let him in.
He had gone for a run, leaving all his clothes for work in the gym and his key fob was broke.

He had been trying to get the attention of a man inside that could clearly see him, but pretended otherwise. Keep in mind, it’s a SMALL gym with no where to hide. He was 100% being ignored.

So when I let him in, he bolted to the showers to clean up and head to work, as he was now late.
But in passing the gentlemen that had been ignoring him, he said,
“Hey thanks for ignoring me! I’m late for work now, you could have at least come to the window so I could explain, I’m obviously not trying to rob you.” (his words verbatim)

I remember the tension I felt when it began, but thinking how angry I would have been
if someone ignored me and I was late. Anyone would be!

That’s when the real fight began.

The older gentlemen (72) wasn’t hearing it and as the intensity grew, so did the name calling.
They were all up in each other’s faces.
Sometime during the escalating threats and shoving is when I stepped in.

Let’s be honest. His anger at being locked out and not helped back in was justified.
It was 9am, in a very public area and in broad day light. Not a scary situation at all.
But the gym is the worst place to have a non-testosterone induced civil interaction.

So once I had them separated, the one guy hit the showers and that’s when the older gentelemen decided to unload on me, all his reasons for not letting him in. So loud he was. So loud.
I tried to explain if he could reverse the roles he would understand why the guy is angry.
But he wasn’t hearing it. He just got angry I wasn’t picking his side. Ugh.

After his 3rd time coming across the gym to vent, I finally gave him the best advice I could think of…
“Look sir, you need to let it go, forgive him what he said, say your sorry, you were afraid & you hope you didn’t mess his day up.”

He replied, “I’m 72 yrs old!!! I’m NOT saying I’m sorry and forgiving him, he called me a blankety-blank-blank this is his fault!!!”

I replied as respectfully as possible,
“You are older and wiser so maybe take that approach, say your sorry and y’all will both have a better day or you can have a bitter day and ruin yourself”
He still would NOT let it go.

SIDE NOTE: picture me out of breath and doing awkward cross-fit excercises during this conversation.

Finally… The conversation drew to an end when he replied,
“Forgive him, HA! Where’d you get that crazy idea from?!”

To which I said,
“Sir, you are talking to a guy who reads the Bible and gets advice from Jesus on this kinda stuff… so… ”

He smiled angrily, muddled some words under his breath and walked off.

I couldn’t believe I said that. But it’s true.
Forgiving someone in that moment is counter-everything that seems natural or what you probably see on a daily basis.
People are quick to anger.
But if Jesus is who I look to and want to be like… he doesn’t give a lot of options 🙂

So I thought it was all done until I went to get my keys to leave.

I specifically remember where I left them.
But yes… you guessed it.
I recall seeing him pacing around where my keys were as his wife sat in the running car waiting.
He came in and out a couple times… I thought maybe he wanted to say something but he didn’t.

15 min later, I go to get my keys and they are GONE!!!
I looked everywhere, but I knew exactly where they were.

I called the owner and continued looking around not wanting to believe the worst…
But 15 min later, said gentlemen of 72, pulls back up to the gym and brings me my keys back.
Hahahaha… I laugh typing this cause it feels like a citcom episode or something.
He said he felt bad, and didn’t mean to.
Hard to believe, as his car was outside RUNNING when he came back in and did all the pacing around.

But nevertheless, I told him no big deal and I’m just glad he realized he had them.
We shook hands and I told him to make the best of the day he had been given.
I said don’t waist it on this kinda stuff.
I could tell he had calmed down and seemed remorseful, but he just nodded, said he was sorry and left.

I don’t know what the rest of his day was like.
I do know his anger won, but what did it win him?

Right or Wrong… he chose to fight, defend, get angry and bitter…

What would have happened though, if before the guy left the gym, he went to him and said,
“Hey I’m sorry about that. I was afraid being in here. I should have let you in. I hope I didn’t make you too late for work.”

The fight would have been diffused and shut down.
He would have shortly after experienced the FREEDOM that comes with FORGIVENESS.

Both men had incredible power in that moment.
It’s the power we all have access to but forget about in the heat of a moment.
Responding in love. Offering forgiveness or asking to be forgiven.

Love and Forgiveness can accomplish so much more then hate, and in the end we find it was our own selves we were setting free.

“Yeah Casey, but that’s crazy, you don’t know what they did and what they deserve!”

You are right, I don’t. And I don’t put this into action near as often as I should.
I only know the power of what forgiveness can do.
And it is always an option. Hard to say and I pray I’m not tested in typing that 😉

But I learned a lot watching that fight go down.
His response has been my own too many times, and just like him, I lock myself in chains of anger and bitterness.

My prayer is that I won’t just forgive, but forgive quickly.
Seems appropriate, seeing how I stand loved and forgiven right where I am.

Who’s ready to Dance? :: Home made music videos for family time

So cool to be featured on WordPress main page @freshly_pressed

Casey Darnell

“Me Without You” – by Toby Mac   *This was part of a daddy-daughter date

We have a fun thing going the last several years of making music videos.
They keep getting more involved as I get better at IMovie but mostly we make the motions up, then randomly drop what we’re doing, flip the iphone around and press play on iTunes.  It’s that simple.
I posted more below but here’s a few reasons why we do this:

ONE.   It’s silly FUN and a super easy activity to do with your kids.
TWO.   My wife is Canadian and her family all lives there, so this is a way to keep them involved.
THREE.  Ava helps me lead these kind of songs at Lighthouse Family Retreat,  so it’s a learning moment for her, making the BIG picture connection with what her dad does, the content of the…

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When You Get Knocked Down…

basketball stuffing

Yep… I am #20 in this picture.
This epic moment is one of many that would happen in my basketball career.

I was 5’1″ until 9th-10th grade with arms the size of a broom stick, as you can see here.
And sadly, this moment in 7th grade, left me flat on my back, embarrassed and humiliated.

Moments like these leave you with options… mostly quitting options.
But for me, greater then my desire to quit, was my desire to overcome.
Even in the times I hit the ground so hard I blacked out, “I believed I could fly!” 😉

However, when I look at this, I see how it represents a lot of things in my life both then AND now.
The times when life shuts you down and blocks your attempts and good intentions.

Reality: These times are a given, a promise really… THEY WILL HAPPEN.

In the end, it’s what you do next that matters.
Stay down -or- get back up?
Learn from it, make adjustments and let it grow you -or- Let defeat define you and give up.

We all have pictures like this, whether in a storage bin or in the back of our minds, we all have them.
And they’re much more then funny pictures to instagram on #TBT (Throw Back Thursday)
For me, this one is a glimpse at one of the many “David and Goliath” moments I would face in life.

However, there’s good news!
The moments of rejection, the giants and dream blockers don’t get the final say in what we become in life.

That belongs to God.
He is the master designer, gift giver and purpose accomplisher.
He doesn’t forsake us.
Not in these moments or the one’s I would face later on and write songs about like “When the Waters Rise.”

So how about you?
‘Cause it’s not a question of “will you get knocked down,” but when…
I sure hope you get up.
I hope you trust your creator and don’t give control over to those shot blocked moments and give up.

As far as Basketball is concerned, I did eventually move on to singing, but not before finishing strong my senior year.
5 years after that picture above, and a lot of blackouts, black eyes, sprained ankles and injuries later…

photo 4
(Marietta Daily Journal Athlete of the Week)

photo 3 photo 2 photo 1
(Named MVP of our State tournament, averaged 23 pts a game, including a 4 point play at buzzer)

photo 1
(Me with my coach, the Governor and some other state officials… baggy khaki’s optional)

I made it my aim to let God use me with basketball.
I worked hard and committed it to Him, claiming His word in Prov. 16:3 and Prov. 37:5.
Then I graduated and basketball lost its luster.
God used the character those days developed in me and I discovered His dreams, greater then my own.

Remember, it’s what happens after you get knocked down that matters most.

I HATE discipline, but I LOVE my kids

A story of Discipline:
I recently witness a young boy nearly be hit by a car in a parking lot.
The mom yelled STOP to her child repeatedly, but he ignored her and took off, followed by the sound of screeching tires, as the car turned the corner and didn’t see him.

Everyone around saw what almost happened.
It was a terrofying moment.

However, I quickly realized it was the same child I had seen in the grocery store earlier, loudly acting out in disobedience to his mom’s repeated request.

This mom had seemed to let the child have the steering wheel in the store that day, letting him do whatever he wanted.
Now there could have been endless reasons of what was happening in her life personally that day, so I’m not judging her as a parent or for her displaying a lack of anything etc… We’ve all been there and NONE of us are perfect.
Least of all me.

But it was learning experience nonetheless.
I saw it as a missed opportunity to instill respect & obedience in a “safer” environment, that nearly resulted in a catastrophic conclusion later on.

And I get it. I have 2 kids, one who loves to pick the most in-opportune moment to act out and do anything but obey.
And everytime I’m faced with a choice.
Let my child win and give them whatever they want to be quiet or risk some mild embarrassment and go through the inconvenience of disciplining them.

I hate disciplining my girls.
I dispise it every time, cause I never feel “good” after.
I don’t like spanking or disciplining this little one that I LOVE so much.

There is no immediate joy or satisfaction in disciplining.
I usually wrestle with failure as a parent & guilt for at least the next hour… or week!

I know, I know… I’m sewing seeds in her life for her own good later on, but I hate the feeling of breaking her heart.
The same daddy who catches her and keeps her safe is now expressing disappointment and I know she feels the separation her disobedience has caused.

When I say “STOP” it might be as simple as needing her to not complain or keep sassing her mom.
Maybe she’s running down our wooden stairs in socks without holding on or leaving toys out… EVERYWHERE!

But what if that same “STOP” demands her immediate obedience to SAVE HER LIFE!!!

Am I more concerned about hurting her feelings or saving her life in that moment?
Does she hear my voice and obey it, no matter what her viewpoint is or her evaluation of its “fairness” at that moment?

Personal application:
Often when disciplining, I walk away feeling broken by the conviction that God has been whispering those same disciplines to me. Through the pains of life I learn and grow and though sometimes seemingly unfair or unjust I have to learn to trust He is aware of what is best for me in my life and knows what I need more then I do.

Often it’s the wooden spoon of life moments that are saving me from much greater pain and consequences…
Just like I explained to Ava again earlier today and probably again tomorrow.
The pain of a spanking or whatever form of discipline for that moment is far less then the pain of what “could” happen in her disobedience.
She’s only 6 but I believe she is learning the early lessons in life, that the wages of sin, ultimately is death.
And that’s a lot to take in. Our disobedience today resulting from a sin nature that began long ago.

But she’s learning this in little doses… via discipline.
For her now it might be the death of going out for icecream or having her baby doll taken away.
Maybe the death of going to play or something she really wanted to do today.

I’m not perfect and I’m full of dumb thinking and am trying my best,
but I can’t shake the reality that a mother nearly watched her 5 yr old pay the ultimate price for disobedience.
I almost saw the result of NOT disciplining unfold at it’s worst.

Seems heavy right? Absolutely.
But if we don’t teach them who will?

I remember my dad always told me,
        “Casey, the world will punish you a lot harder then I will if you don’t listen to me.”
I knew He was protecting me. Didn’t always agree or like it, but I believed him.

And now years later, it’s funny how you hear your parents voice again when talking to your own kids.

And so I hate discipline… But greater then my hate of it, is my LOVE for my daughters.

I’m tearing up as I type this, because I have dreams for her as does God for me!

So with every discipline, I pray she makes the bigger connection.
She one day will make the connection of my discipling her being a result of my great love for her.

However, my ears also keep hearing the Father’s disciplines in MY life as well.
That I’ll trust Him the way I want Ava to trust me.
And remember that He loves me and is protecting me as well, always wanting the BEST for me too.

I know this is a touchy topic, but how do you deal with this in your home?
Anything you’ve learned or is this a polar opposite way of thinking for you?
I’d love your thoughts!

Here’s some thoughts to encourage us:

Hebrews 12:6-11

“For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.

Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.