Faith not fear

This is such a hard lesson. The “norm” has us wanting to be like everyone else. We want to fit in and fear that we don’t. This leads to other fear and as the punches keep coming, it is hard to stand in faith alone.

I have thought a lot about this on some level over the last 5 years. I talk often about the black cloud that followed me for years. It had consumed me in all that was going wrong and I had no focus on anything going right. It was a really hard life to live in.

I found the light and slowly over a 6 week Bible study found myself coming out of the darkness and sharing that light with everyone. Bad stuff continued over that time of living in the light and eventually, I lost time. I started putting other priorities first. I started saying that my lessons for Sunday School & Youth Group were enough. I had to prepare myself and learn it so that was good enough.

I stopped talking to God as much and eventually that black cloud caught up with me this last year again. It did not consume me but oh how it tried. Fear is there all around us every day. Fear of finishing a marathon has definitely has rode beside me this last year. Fear that my daughter will not find Godly friends and will not find that path that will lead her to a much better place.

Fear that I’m not good enough in anything!- marriage, work, mom…

I’ve returned recently to spending more time in God’s presence. Not that I didn’t talk to him or read my Bible, it was just sparse recently. You start to think you have it all under control (we are not in control) so you just talk and study less- I mean things are going good right?

This study that I’ve been doing has really spoken to me about the broken path and how to get back on the God- given path. About living in faith not fear. Something that really stuck out to me today that brought me to this post is “God does not tells that fear goes away- he tells us to be courageous, live without fear but does not say it won’t be there.” We need to stand up in our faith, live with God (He IS with us All the time), and know fear may be there but through faith (trust), know that God is taking care of it so we do not need to live in that fear.

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

I Wish (a note to my daughter)

Some days, I sit here and think about the choices you are making. Yes, all of them but the small ones really. Like when you decide to dress a certain way to impress or feel you can’t leave the house without make up. I want to scream at you (in the most loving way) that you are beautiful the way you are. I want to tell you that you don’t need to wear that to impress some boy.

I wish that I could say, I walked down the path that you have and trust me when I say you don’t need to. I have done things that I am definitely not proud of to impress “the right” people. I’ve only got hurt sweetie. The people who truly love you, love you in what ever you are wearing. They love you with no make up or not having to be someone that you think you should be for them.

People are hard my dear girl and if you spend your life trying to please them, you will feel empty and alone, even if you are with a lot of “friends”. I’d love to tell you that God is the only one who can make you feel not alone and give you the security that you are looking for and that if you could only put your full trust in Him, you would truly understand what that means.

I get how hard that is because I’m still learning how to do that. I have spent so many more years trying to please others and not myself or the Lord that I try to serve. When you find the right person or even friends, they will make you feel like you accomplished something great together, not something dark. They will help you to shine light one to others. They will help you to look at this hurting world and go I need to show others that God does still exist.

They will light up the room when they see you and you will do the same for them because you are full of happiness and not full of trying to please.  When you are so focused on pleasing others, you forget yourself and feel rejected when they don’t do what is expected them to do. It hurts so bad and you don’t see His light shining through, you see hurt and heartache. Again, I wish I could tell you I’ve been there and you understand that it is true. That you could know that just because I am 23 year older than you does not mean that I don’t understand or that today’s world is different.

Yes, hunny, it is. I know it is and it scares me too but it does not mean I haven’t been there. It just means that we each had different struggles to carry. Each may be different but all relative.

I love you my dear daughter. You are very special and you will be a star shining bright for the world. Just know if you are happy with yourself because God made you who you are- very unique, just like me. People may not like you but who cares, God loves you. I love you. That is all that really matters and you let your light shine through who you are sweet child.

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

God Speaks

I know I’ve talked about this before. I’ve been struggling a lot with finding time for my Bible lately. Running and strength training has taken up a lot of my spare time. I’ve been extra tired again too. Stressed, to say the least. But fear has been creeping up in a lot of different ways. God keeps talking to me about fear though. When starting the training for the marathon or maybe even during the pre-training, the song Fear, He is a Liar by Zach Williams kind of seemed to be my theme song. Every time that I would hear it, it would speak to me.

The most recent song that has taken over is The Breakup Song by Francesca Battistelli. Another big song on fear. Today, I decide I’m doing my Bible study no matter what and grabbed my Jesus Always  book by Sarah Young. And today’s date is all on fear. How God is with you through all things, has already gone before you, knows all and how you shouldn’t pick up fear as a hitchhiker on the way.

I have been living in fear lately. Fear that I won’t make it in my marathon training. Fear that my one daughter will do something that she can’t come back from. Fear that my oldest will not get it figured out with the future in-laws. And the list goes on.  Sometimes, it feels that if I try to let go and live in the moment that, that is the moment it all falls apart. But you know that is the evil one just working on you. He is telling you that if you don’t live in fear (with him) that all will break. But that is not the truth. God is with you through everything. Every last thing.

A friend of mine recently gave me encouragement for my runs that when focusing on the children in Africa isn’t working to focus on how Jesus gave his all for us on that cross. It is a whole nother level when it comes to imaging great power to get through.  I always end up saying, God this is you, this is your work, please help me to finish it for you.

Lord- you took up the cross, which I’m sure was scary- at least for most people it would be down right terrifying but you did this in our honor. Help me to take up my own crosses of fear that I’ve been facing and know you are beside me so there is nothing to fear. Be with anyone reading this right now struggling with their own fears to feel your love inside of them. Thank you for being so strong and mighty and going before us as you do. In your Name, Amen

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

It’s not about me

That statement is so loaded for me on many levels. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve realized my running is not about me. At least the marathon training part. The base camp training, I thought it was. Many of runs had the I can’t mantra and what was I thinking starting this. I am an injured person could never run a day before 3 years ago and that start was awful. I’m the slowest in my group and I just don’t know that I can do 26.2 miles. I mean seriously what was I thinking.

Then my first 1/2 was upon me. I was terrified. I went to this meeting a couple days before the race. It was the kick off party for world vision and the speakers talked from their hearts about their why. I was so inspired.  I was going to do this race not for me but the kids- I’m passionate about kids. The 1/2 got downgraded to a 5k, which was a bummer since I was finally siked enough for it.  But it was perfect for my training so I let it go. I had a friend tell me I inspire them and they want to run next year with me.

The next day at yoga, I found out that I was part of the reason someone decided to push themselves farther and do the marathon. I realized that although I’m slow and I’m not skinny, that I’m inspiring others to go farther and do better. This is totally NOT about me.  Last night in Bible Study, there was a verse that we reviewed. And it was another reminder that my job here isn’t to think only about me and I want but how I can help the world. (Think David)

I’m going to sponsor a girl through World Vision to have that constant reminder that this is not about me at all.

I’m going to leave you with this Bible verse today as it has really spoken to me recently:

Jeremiah 6: 16 This is what the Lord say:

Stand by the roadways and look
Ask about the ancient paths:
Which is the way to what is good?
Then take it and find rest for yourselves.
But they protested, “We won’t!”

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

A common way that we sin

1 Corinthians 8:12- You are sinning against Christ when you sin against other Christians by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong.

This about this verse for just a minute. Meditate on it and tell me what comes to you. It is important that we all understand that each verse in the Bible speaks to us as different parts of our life in different ways. We do don’t all get the same interpretation as the next person. They will be similar but will mean something different.

God gives us each our own paths and what is His calling for one is not His calling for another. Again, some people may have a similar path- such as a calling to be a Pastor- but they don’t have the same road map at all. That is why we each have our favorites to listen to. One may draw me in more while the other is driving you.

So now to what this verse made me think of today. Stephen Hawkings passed away recently and wow all the judgment on that man for not being a believer. It is not our place to judge him and maybe this is a bad example as according to him, God had no leading in his life. But I still believe God was there. He was a miracle- he was not to live as long as he did and his brain- wow! Okay, so I wish he could have seen God in his life here and maybe he did before he left this earth but we do not know God’s judgement on him so we must not judge. Do not bully someone after they passed.

Okay so now on to what else came to mind while reading this verse for me. Social media really as a whole. News stories with a response section as well. I’ve seen how much these things light up with responses because people strongly don’t believe the same way as another person. Every single one of our presidents are great examples on this. Now I’m not saying we don’t have a right to discussion on the topic but we judge the person’s path while discussing what they are doing. We need to stand up to a change that will affect the greater mass in a negative way- yes. But all the name calling and bullying that goes on with it- is what NEEDS to stop.

Christians get a bad name for doing this. The ones who like to say someone is finally rotting in hell because they didn’t believe- what??? Or that another person is going to hell for living their lifestyle that is definitely not a calling for them. Or they call them names based on some biased opinion. Those who cast the first stones…. We need to stop doing this. Yes God has his set of rules and yes we need to follow them but when it comes to our paths and interrupting scripture, we each have our place and we shall not judge or tempt the other person into doing what God has called them to do. We can only follow our path and share Jesus’s great love with others. Can you imagine being able to walk His path and be as kind and loving as He was when on this earth? It would be so beautiful. Yes, we are sinners and would never be able to be as perfect as He was/is but we can strive every day to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

Mortality

Over the last week or so, I have watched a friend go through the hard times of watching her mom in the hospital and eventually her gate was open to walk with Jesus. Her family was close by and it looks like they made so many wonderful memories in the hardest of times. Many times I found myself crying even though I never met this family because I understand so well what they are going through.

I remember that summer before thinking mom had a look in her eyes like she knew her final days were coming soon. I told my husband, we don’t have long with mom, maybe 6 months. He said, “Really?” and didn’t see what I saw but knew that we were close and sometimes I just know these things. Right before that Christmas, I remember thinking that she didn’t look well again- she just had this look in her eyes that I could see her time was coming. She ended up going into the doctor because of this cough and he officially told my parents it wouldn’t be long.

She celebrated Christmas with us and we got her into the nursing home after. She wasn’t doing well. She did her best every day to show us she was okay though. She hated the breathing tube so took it out of her nose often. She also tried to be stubborn with doing stuff for herself but they installed an alarm on her bed that went off if she tried to get out on her own. She couldn’t breathe well and it was really hard for her to even walk to the bathroom.

We colored and played cards when she was up for it and visited often. I knew she was hanging on for something but knew it wouldn’t be long. Easter came around. I saw her that morning on my way to the inlaw’s home. I told her I would be back after the others visited. I knew everyone was coming and with our family that would be crowded in that nursing home. I gave her a big hug, she didn’t have much in her hugs in weeks. She smiled, she was so happy for everyone to be coming.

I stopped back to the nursing home, I heard mom had such a wonderful day. I came into the room and she could barely move. I knew it would be soon. I gave her a hug and she just hung on. It was her strongest hug in a very long time. I said, “it’s okay mom, you can go see grandma and grandpa. I’ll be okay”. She shook her head yes and just held on for a few mins more. She fell back to sleep and I left.

I called my sister who was the contact for everything and I said you call me the second you hear. She was like what do you mean? mom was so good today, she laughed, told jokes, and so full of life. I said, Kathy- it will be soon. I explained what happened tonight and she was a bit baffled but knew I was probably right. I got the text first thing the next morning and I jumped in the car and went straight out there. She was barely breathing and passed so beautifully in front of the few of us that were there. My sister who was travelling still, said she saw a light in the rain and knew what had happened. She was close. It was so beautiful.

It is so hard to lose a mother but also so hard to watch them suffer. My prayers are going out to my friend’s family. I pray that they find comfort in knowing that she led a good life and will be going onto her eternal life free from pain. My love goes out to all who have lost someone close to them or going through anything similar.

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

A Fairytale

I was once asked, a long time ago, how could I believe as it sounds like a great story similar to Santa Claus. At that time, I was a bit thrown back and really wasn’t sure how to answer other than saying faith. Sure I’ve seen several things going around since then about how I would rather believe and be wrong and nothing happen than to not believe and be wrong and sentenced to a miserable afterlife. Sure that is great and all but here’s the thing, this friend is a great atheist friend of mind who needs facts.

She is an excellent person just never knew God. This question has haunted me for years. Anyone who knows a Christian well, knows that they love the opportunity to share and have been called to do so. So, when they haven’t been able to answer a question the way that they felt they should, it tends to bother them.

I have been reading Ezekiel off and on recently. The first chapter, you try to figure out what exactly he saw. It sounds like straight out of a movie with the 4 heads part man and part beast. But, it also leads to the thrown and the Lord. I would love to sit and analyze this out with a drawing one day. But when you read what he is called to do, it is not fairy tale story.   In fact, many would think he was crazy for listening to God in such a way.

This got me to thinking about the Bible as a whole and there is a lot of torture, war, anger, and no where near the loving story of Santa Claus. So, then there is Jesus, which I do think can sound very similar to those who don’t know Him. Sure, he saved us from out own sin. And he was a Saint but the torture that He endured is so much more or different than any story that I’ve read.

When I think of Saint Nick, sure there is the story of how he had to sneak around as to not get caught breaking the law but so he could spread the gifts of love and allow for children to have happiness. It is funny how this turned into a tradition of selfishness in many ways when it started so innocent. Jesus never snuck around even though many did not want to hear or believe who He was. He was ridiculed and punished even though He proved himself to be great time and time again.

Maybe this is why I froze on that day, there is so much to think about and how do you explain all of this in a short conversation. And with me, I definitely could make this so much longer with all the account of things not being easy at all but how in their beliefs, the conquered over evil. Okay so maybe that does sound a little fairy-talish but again, what does it really hurt to believe? And what happens if I’m right? I would much rather be here living my life in the name of the Father than questioning anything else.

Proverbs 15: 1- A gentle answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. 24- The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down to the grave.

Proverbs 16: 19-20- Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

Give your praise

before you hit your knee- what a great phrase, have you ever thought about what it means?

It is so easy for us to fall into the victim role- it made not be our mentality per say but we fall into this role without thinking about it. We will think why is this happening to me and then we go straight to prayer griping about our woes. We ask, ask, ask, and repeat.

Now let’s stop and think about the saying. Giving praise does so much for us than we realize. Not only are we recognizing God for all that He does, we are seeing the great things in our life. Our focus begins to shift. We realize that it is not all bad.

A big question is where to get started. Praise doesn’t always come easy, especially when facing something big in our life. We tend to lose focus of the good and only see bad. I like to call this walking around in the dark and only seeing the dark. We forget to search for the light even though it is beckoning just beyond the tree line.

My advise- start with a list (if you know me, you know I LoVe my lists). I would say start really small. We tend to lean towards the big stuff first because we want to just jump. This is overwhelming and yes easy to give up. So write 1 thing down a day, if that is all you can do. Since it is common to start my goals in 3-5s, I would say start there. But do what you can, just remember not to over do it.

You can start at the simplest. I’m thankful for the roof over my head, food on my table, my family and pets. I’m thank to have a job, a car, place to live, and that list can go on and on. Easy enough, write down 3-5 similar each day. As you are going, start looking at more of your day. I’m thankful I made it to work on time and safe. I’m thankful that all my family made it home tonight to eat dinner around the table. I’m thankful for the time I spent with my friend or family member that is hard to see. The more you start to see these things daily, the more light you start to let in and the less dark your world will become.

Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A book that I was recommended to read and is in my amazon cart for my next order is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. My understanding it is about a woman who is finding her way to thankfulness and her recommendations on how to do this & what she experienced doing so. If you get this book, let me know what you think and I’ll do the same as soon as I read it.

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

It is all in how you look at it

Life is so full of ups and downs. There are so many punches thrown our way and it is how we deal with each punch that defines us. Sometimes, it is a simple word. Other times, it may be a physical punch. But most of the time, its the trials that we are facing in life.

A lot starts with our thoughts, which we can control even though it seems so hard to do at times. Do we think the worst possible things? Are we trapped in thinking only bad will come? Or are we trying to look to the future and what that has in store for us. Are we taking each day as it comes?

I was reading in the Pslams today. David struggled so badly with this. He felt God was punishing him for his transgressions. He felt all alone and that so many were out to get him. Through it all he trusted in God, though. He knew that he needed to stay in prayer, praising the Lord, asking for forgiveness and then waiting for the storm to pass.

While David knew so much was going wrong in his life, he never thought this was the end all. He talked to God about all the things that was going on and then asked the Lord to walk with him, to forgive him. It is so powerful to know that someone has your back even if they are not of this world. Having that Holy Spirit living deep inside you is something to give praise to. This was a gift to us when Jesus left this world and I truly treasure it daily. Knowing this, I know I can conquer all the crap that is thrown at me, which lately has been a bit more.

Psalm 145- A psalm of praise of David.

I will exalt you, my God and King,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day;
    yes, I will praise you forever.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
    No one can measure his greatness.

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
    let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
    and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
    I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
    they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
The Lord is good to everyone.
    He showers compassion on all his creation.
10 All of your works will thank you, Lord,
    and your faithful followers will praise you.
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
    they will give examples of your power.
12 They will tell about your mighty deeds
    and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
13 For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
    You rule throughout all generations.

The Lord always keeps his promises;
    he is gracious in all he does.
14 The Lord helps the fallen
    and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15 The eyes of all look to you in hope;
    you give them their food as they need it.
16 When you open your hand,
    you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
    he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
    yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20 The Lord protects all those who love him,
    but he destroys the wicked.

21 I will praise the Lord,
    and may everyone on earth bless his holy name
    forever and ever.

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-

What is enough?

This is a question that I often times find myself struggling with. Am I doing enough, should I help more, can I help more, where do I go to help more or am I doing enough?  The funny thing is I often feel conflicted in answering this question. This question was a part of the Church sermon this morning. The answer is whatever God places on your heart is enough.  Okay, so that I get and many times I think that I am doing enough.

So I leave Church and this question feels answered but at the same time I start to question the things that I want/ am doing. Is it too much, am I going too far. Then my heart again goes to wanting to do more. So back to Church I go. But seriously, I am studying the poverty cure and I did go back to Church. Tonight we looked at Rwanda and wow, I mean I remember Hotel Rwanda was hard to watch but that’s a movie. So seeing this and thinking, this was just a few years ago (yes a bit more than that but in relevance to when we look at history) and where was I? Young, yes and definitely focused on myself. I didn’t even have the thought of kids or my future (well my dreamed future) in mind much.

I was trying to survive the high school jungle. Nothing in comparison so probably wasn’t real to me.  So, I sat there tonight, watching this lady talk about her hiding and survival. She kept saying the Lord’s prayer and stopping on the forgiveness part. I’ve stopped there before myself too. Can you imagine forgiving the person who killed your family, your friends, and then boasted about how many they killed? For me, it has gone to the abuse that I endured. I have forgiven but this never met as much to me as I heard her talk about her hate but knowing that she wanted to be close to the Lord.

She asked him to show her His sight in this because she cannot do it. He revealed to her the story of Jesus saying, “Please forgive them for they do not know what they do”. She realized they were blinded by hate and did not know what they were doing and it opened her eyes to pray for them. They were coming after her still and she was praying for them. We can’t even begin to imagine this. But it was so powerful.

This topic opened up so many more topics about what are we doing here? I know my work is not done. There is so much left in me. Maybe I don’t need to volunteer for everything but I have so much more left to be done. His word is so important and I know I need to share it. We started out in Mark 2 this evening. A story I know well. I remember reading and being told it so many times as a kid. I also remember thinking that I don’t know how this relates to me.

The part I want to share with you comes from the study piece of my Bible.

“The friends of the paralytic show a great love for him and a great faith in Jesus. If T-shirts could be printed for these men, a perfect slogan would be, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’ No obstacle- even a roof- can slow them down. But even greater than their love is their faith. Just as we wouldn’t waste time cracking open a nut if we didn’t have hop of finding “treasure” inside, these men wouldn’t have ripped open a ceiling unless they had believed the treasure of healing for their friend could be found inside. In the end, Jesus provides a healing because he “saw their faith” (Mark 2: 5)- the faith of the friends! The beauty of their role doesn’t start with their muscles; it starts with their hearts. – Women of Faith Study Bible

I think trust and faith can be a hard thing. Can you imagine going through the crowds and seeing them getting worse to get to the Almighty? Then, to make the decision to climb up to the roof with a paralyzed man and cut it open? Most of of probably would have said, “we will try tomorrow, hopefully there will be a lesser crowd”. But they knew He was healer and now was the time to do it. How many opportunities do you think we’ve missed to seize the time? God is all around us giving us strength and faith in what to do but I believe we have our blinders on. Can you imagine what would have happened if Moses walked passed the burning bush? God probably would have given him another opportunity but would this be at a time that the story would have went different? I don’t know.

So I leave you with, keep your eyes open wide, keep your hearts open wider, and let the Holy Spirit take over with discernment so you don’t miss your opportunity.

Sending All My Love!
Now tell me your story-