The 1 Thing You Have Got to Know… When You are Looking for Answers

The day our 6th child is born, a straight line wind rips through and tears trees in the woods straight out of the ground.

We name the baby born in a storm, we name her Shalom.

Her name means peace in Hebrew.

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We name her Shalom and she is born the day a storm mangles all our countryside, tears the roofs off a half a dozen barns, and Shalom means wholeness – and what if she never finds that in her storms —wholeness and peace and rest?

When we gather the kids to introduce them to their baby sister, our firstborn son, Caleb, looks up at his dad and says what every parent of a newborn wants to hear when they announce a baby’s name: “You’re kidding right?”

What? Kidding over a Hebrew name? Or kidding that us Voskamps aren’t known for shalom? Known for wholeness and completeness and peace?

Ah, but the boy knows it and I readily confess it – I have been known to wrestle hard with God.

My lips may have said yes to God’s grace of the Messiah – but my life has said No to God’s gift of this moment – the laundry basket dumped in the mudroom, the brothers bickering over a bike, the soup burning on the stove.

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I may want Christ – but to be crucified?

I may want to be in Christ – but to be inconvenienced?

I may want to be rescued – but to be refined?

My word to God, it has been a divided word– Yes and No.

And heart divided against Him cannot stand. And she who lives with fork tongue to God, she pierces her own heart.

I have known storms – and haven’t let peace birth in my heart.

The wind has blown hard. And I have not moved.

But every moment my inner heart is saying No to the God of the universe – I am say saying Yes to the enemy of my soul.
We are always saying yes to Someone.

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Shalom, our peace child, peace born in a storm — when she wasn’t quite 8 months old, Shalom wakes one night in our bed in this wailing cry, hair all damp and curled to her forehead in fear.

So I draw all her wracking sobs up close.

Anxiously, her fingers find my face. Hardly catching her breath between sobs, she brushes her fingertips along my lips, touches my cheek. Like fingertips tentatively feeling along the embossing of Braille, again and again, she lightly reads my face. All she needs to touch is my face —

And I keep whispering to her assurance: “Shalom… Shalom…”

And there it is in the dark: Yeth?

And I sit right up in bed. Is that Shalom talking? So I whisper it again: Shalom?

And this little bundle pulls herself up and she cups my face and she says, “Yeth?”

Just a breathy, whispery – YETH.

In the middle of a very dark room, she says her very first word — YES. Shalom, peace, the child born in a storm – her first word is YES.

She needed no holding, no rocking, nothing else to fill her.

Just to feel for a face. Just to feel all this love. That was enough for her to say Yes.

Peace isn’t the absence of the dark. Peace is the assurance of God’s presence in the midst of the dark. And when we want peace – we only need to say yes to God’s purposes.

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The boys are scuffling. I have no idea where my wallet is. I may or may not be losing a bit of my mind.

And I look around at the counters and the laundry and I can’t find any peace because I forget Peace is a Person, not a place. And I can feel it in me – my yes to the enemy with all these voices in my head: “You are such a loser! You are such a mess! You are such a failure.”

And it comes surer, right in the midst of the domestic dark, this divine doxology –

In Me you are not wrecked. You are rescued.

In Me you aren’t a mess. You are made new.

In Me you aren’t ever a loser – you are lavished with love.

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Why it so hard to believe what He says about you? Why it so hard to say yes to His yes to you?

Why not say Yes to the way He loves you in every Moment?

A life contemplating the love of Christ is the catalyst to acting out the love of Christ.

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And if we want more Yes to God actions in our life — we need more Yes to God contemplations in our life.

Yes to the blessings and yes to the ugly and yes to the beautiful and yes to the love and to His will and to the saving sovereignty of God in this moment who can’t stop serenading with His grace. In our dark, just to keep whispering our breathy, child-like yes.

In the Old Testament, the word “to will” is abah. “To will – to intend, to choose” — to decide your yes — abah. To make your will agree with God’s Will – that is how we say yes to God.

The Word abah, it’s there in Isa 19:20:

If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.

If you are abah, willing and obedient – if you say yes to God – you shall eat of the land. There is no yield in our lives, until there is Yes to the Lord in our hearts.


Abah – “to will” – it literally means “to breathe after” or “to long for.”

We are saying yes – to whatever we are breathing after.

What do I breathe after? Some kind of success? Some kind of status? Some kind of Pinterest loveliness?

Why doesn’t my soul pant after God like a deer panteth for the water?

My first word in the dark, in the storm – it could be that word that brings peace: Yes, God – Yes.

Because this is the thing:

Biblical scholars have noted that the letters YHWH represent the sound of breathing — aspirated consonants.

God names Himself — -and He names Himself that which is the sound of our own breathing. He names Himself that which is our very breath.

God names Himself that which is to be our very will — our very yes to Him.

As long as we are breathing – our lives are meant to say Yes to God.

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It could be like that:

Our hearts are like water and the Holy Spirit is like the wind – and at the slightest breathing of the Word of God, the whole of a life might  respond.

The whole of a life can become the breath of Yes to God.

These moving, expanding circles of obedience and surrender and yes to God

reaching further and further out into the world for the glory of His Son.






…. and my own yes to God — more of His endless, One Thousand Gifts … thanks be to God for all of these blessings:

hot chocolate around a campfire  {#4147}

sweet cherries! {#4148}

a younger sister who shows me how  {#4149}

finding that lost ring! {#4150}

#10 on the NYTimes, 46 weeks… thankfulness could change the world in Jesus’ name {#4151}

son home from serving at Bible camp! {#4153}

two more days in July  {#4154}

picking sun-warm zucchini {#4155}

this amazing song we just keep listening to … {#4156}

{Please consider clicking off music slider just below top nav bar to hear a truly unforgettable song. RSS readers can view video here… }


Take July’s Joy Dare? Make it a month of Freedom from grumbling!

Thanks is a word that takes us before God and into the joy of our true homeland…

Print it for the fridge and dare everyone in the family to find these 3 gifts from His hand each day:


Click here to print July’s Joy Dare! Put it on the fridge! Dare the Kids! And begin this week — this month-– right!

Count three gifts a day, 1000 gifts in 2012 (and be entered to win the NikonD90 camera?)

Thank-you is a word that can change you, your world — the whole world!


Each day of July, either share your gifts on on Twitter {label with #1000gifts #JoyDare so we can find you!}, or with us in the gratitude community at Facebook , or on Pinterest (#1000gifts).

Each day, 3 people will who share their gifts via Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest will be randomly selected & entered into a drawing for JOY BASKET: a gift card @ Amazon {100$} & {signed copies of One Thousand Gifts, the photographic gift book, the DayBrightner, and the family gratitude journal} Give thanks to Him in the assembly!

Join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts?

Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — Just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.

Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!

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