A Journey of Faith

Monday, April 30, 2012

Let go and let GOD...

Oldest duckling and I had a mother daughter outing today. We are still visiting family west of home, and in the town they live in is a sweet little water front area with a bunch of little artsy shops, so we walked and shopped and talked. It was a nice, relaxing time, just the two of us.

In one of the shops I found this little treasure. I was looking for something for a friend, and this happens to remind me of that friend. It is something she has told me often, when I am agonizing over some little (or not so little) trouble, or worry. Just let go... let GOD do what HE does best. It is so hard to do that sometimes. I have always been rather independent, just doing what needs to be done, usually on my own to some extent. Sometimes letting go of control, letting even GOD take over, is scary. It leaves us feeling uncertain, unsure if things will turn out 'right'. But GOD knows the big picture, and even if it doesn't turn out our way, if we give it to HIM... if we let go, it will turn out HIS way, and that is the right way.

Did you ever do the 'trust fall'. You know, where you stand with your back to someone, or a group of people, arms crossed in front of you, and fall back? Trusting that they will catch you? I was never good at that. Well, not the falling anyway. The catching I could do, no problem. Because when you're catching, you're in control. When you're the one falling, there is always the possibility that the one catching won't catch you. Scary. Even if it is someone that you know that you can trust. Letting go and letting GOD is like that. You know you can trust HIM. Especially if you know scripture. HE tells us over and over that HE will never leave us, that HE loves us, that HE will take care of us... if we put our trust in HIM. We have to take that leap of faith, cross our arms, and fall, knowing that HE will catch us. Every time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More than just a little different

Sometimes it really hits me how differently we live our lives, how strange we are to others. We have chosen a lifestyle, and a set of values that is so different from mainstream society in many ways. We don't send our children to government schools, we don't allow our children to watch tv shows with suggestive themes or scantily clad characters. We try to live our lives, and make choices that honor GOD. That often means that we have to explain to people why, for example, our teen aged daughter doesn't date, or our preteen son isn't allowed to watch a show where there are half naked girls dancing suggestively. It means that we have to explain why we don't use GOD's name in disrespectful ways, or why we don't make plans for Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings, because we are in church at those times. Sometimes it is hard not to feel embarrassed at our differences, but I try to picture GOD looking at us in those moments and smiling. I try to picture standing before HIM and hearing HIM say "well done My little girl, you stood up for your belief in Me". I know that we don't always do things the way HE wants us to, I don't think anyone does, but I hope that we are doing enough of the right things that our lives are pleasing to HIM. Even if it does get a little awkward at times trying to find that fine line between having to be a part of the world, and trying to prepare our hearts and souls for HIS kingdom.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Purple Trees

Something has been rolling around in my thoughts lately (that happens a lot). Have you ever felt crummy... lonely or sad or angry or just plain... restless? Someone asks you if there is anything that they can do to help and you decline? Maybe you don't want to bother them, maybe you don't want to 'get into it', maybe you just don't know what to ask for in the way of help. And then you feel worse, because what you really need, what will really help you, is contact with caring people. GOD made us to need each other, HE designed us to crave fellowship with other believers, to thrive on connections with those who love and respect us. And when we deny others that opportunity to help, that important connection is weakened. We don't do ourselves any favors,  in denying others the opportunity to help us, we deny ourselves the healing that is right there... if only we would accept it.
When I am feeling blue, and lonely, and empty, I often just try to sweep how I am feeling under the rug. I put on a happy face (or try to) and pretend that I am just fine. But then I end up feeling worse, because I am lonely and craving that human contact and reassurance that I am loved and respected. But here's the thing (this is what has been rolling around in my head), how can anyone be that support that I need if I don't tell them how, or even if, I need to be supported? It's like trying to color a picture blindfolded. Oh sure, it can be done, but you might end up coloring the trees purple, or the sky brown. You probably won't stay inside the lines, and it sure won't turn out to be your best work. It would be so much easier to go into it seeing what needs to be done, and knowing what tools you need to do it. Isn't it the same with helping someone in need? Knowing what needs to be done and what tools to bring to the job is essential. So why do we hold back that vital information? Why is it so hard to just be honest and say 'you know, I would love to have you help me, this is what I need...' I think it would take great courage, but I also think it would be so worth it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's a big big world

My ducklings and I are setting off on an adventure tomorrow morning. We are headed west to visit my brother and his family.This will be our third trip to their home, and the thing that struck me the most on the last two trips was the sheer size of our country. I mean really, it's enormous !!! I had never really thought about how big this world is that we live on, until I spent almost 15 hours driving across a small (relatively speaking) part of it. Then, the other day I saw something that made me think in amazement... we are so small and insignificant, and yet, our LORD loves each of us so much that HE became us to save us from ourselves. The video is by Louis Giglio and it's called How Great is Our GOD. I found it on you tube after a friend asked if I had it. It is this amazing video about how tiny our planet is in relation to the rest of the universe (there is more to it than that, but that is the part that got my brain spinning). He showed how tiny we are in relation to our sun, then how itty bitty our sun is in relation to some of the other stars that we know about. It was amazing to see the comparison. But what is really amazing is when you stop and consider that any one of us is a tiny, little, minuscule, insignificant speck in this enormous universe that GOD created just for us!!!!! And to think, HE knows the 'hairs on our heads'. HE knows every day of our lives. On those days that I am struggling, on those days when I am on my knees before HIM, begging for relief from fear and pain, HE is right there. In this unimaginably vast universe, I have HIS undivided attention, because I am HIS little girl. I have some dear friends, people that I know are there for me, but they have their own lives, their own to do lists. GOD doesn't. I am HIS to do list. If I am hurting, or needing HIM, HE is there. Unconditionally, undivided, unfailing. I consider myself blessed that, even if I don't always have sunshiny days, HE will still be there.

Friday, April 20, 2012

In the Garden

It's garden season! What a blessing to be able to dig into the soft earth, with shovel and toes :) What a joy to push each little seed into the earth, knowing the promise of yummy dinners full of the bounty of GOD's providence. I planted two peach trees this week, and 15 raspberry bushes. I also planted 1/2 a pound of pea seeds, lettuce, and swiss chard. Soon potatoes, onions, carrots, beans, more lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers will join the garden 'family'. It seems that a garden is a lesson in trust.We trust that that tiny little seed, which really looks like a small bit of nothing, will grow and thrive, and that good food will soon appear. Isn't that a little like our trust in GOD? We put that tiny seed of faith in HIS garden of grace, and we trust that it will grow and thrive, and that soon some good fruit will start to appear in our lives. HE promises that if we have just a tiny bit of faith, we will be able to accomplish anything in HIS name. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20  This passage has always confused me. I mean really, could we really move a mountain? But I wonder if maybe what HE meant was that with faith in HIM, things that seem impossible, well, they aren't. If someone had told me a year ago that by now I would have helped run a Sunday service, and would be playing the piano occasionally for Wednesday night, or that I would  try my hand at writing a sermon, I would have said that there was no way. That I wasn't capable of any of that. But I have done those things. Not by my power by anyone's stretch of imagination, but by HIS.
Often, when I am working in my garden, I think of (and of course, sing) hymns. Sometimes it's This is My Father's World, or In the Garden, or Hymn of Promise. There is something about sitting in a patch of dirt, feeling a warm breeze, singing to my GOD, that makes the world seem right.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Man vs...

Today I was ironing and watching Man vs Food (for those who haven't seen it, it is a show on Travel Channel. The host visits different restaurants around the country and samples the food. He also takes on various challenges offered by some restaurants; involving either huge amounts of food or incredible hot and spicy foods). As he was describing one of the dishes being prepared, my mouth started watering. Then I realized that whatever it was looked gross, and was almost entirely made with ingredients I don't like. Then it hit me, it wasn't the food that sounded good enough to make my mouth water, it was the way it was being described. And I thought, isn't that what satan does? He makes a life separate from GOD sound appealing. And many people buy into his lies. Just as some people will run out and try the foods described so enticingly, many people run out and live the life that satan makes sound so desirable. He makes partying, carefree living sound better than the self control and careful decision making characteristic of the Christian life. He makes living for ones self sound like a better choice than putting others needs first. He is good at this, after all, he is the king of lies. But our GOD is the king of truth. HE is the truth, and the way to eternal life. So how do we tell the difference between the truth of GOD, and the lies of the enemy? The first line of defense it simply to know HIM. Know HIS word, know HIS character, and know HIM. Spend time with HIS word, and spend time in prayer with HIM. If we are filled with HIS truth, and close to HIM, we can discern the truth and discard the lies.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Who is my family?

I have been thinking a lot lately about family. I love my family, for better or worse, but lately I have been contemplating what GOD wants us to do in regard to family. When I think of the people that mean the most to me (other than my husband and children of course), many of the ones that I think of are of no blood relation. They are the ones that I ask for prayers from, the ones I tell my dreams and fears to, the ones that make me laugh and cry and think. They are the ones that I dread losing, the ones that enrich my life and make it more meaningful. Not to say I don't love and respect the people I share DNA with, but I can't say that they are family in the sense that JESUS spoke of.
The Bible talks a lot about family. In the Old Testament family is incredibly important. To bear children and raise a family in the fear of the Lord was not only the main responsibility of all of GOD's children, it was considered a blessing. Women who couldn't have children were considered cursed. Hannah cried out to the Lord to bless her with a child. So did Leah. And Sarah. Job lost his entire first family, that was one of the many ways satan attacked him. Abraham and Sarah were promised more descendants than there are grains of sand on the earth. Esther put her life on the line to protect her people, the people to whom she belonged. Ruth walked away from all she knew and followed Naomi because she considered Naomi her family. (Ruth is one of my favorite people in the Bible. I love that she was so loyal, and that her love for her mother in law was so great that she left everything she knew to follow where GOD led her). Yes, in the Old Testament family was the most important thing. But what about the New Testament?

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
   33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”Mark 3:31-35

JESUS loved his family. As the oldest son it would have been his responsibility to care for His mother and siblings after Joseph's death. I don't think He was rejecting His family in this story. I use to. I use to think it was terrible that HE would turn away from HIS mom especially. I didn't like it, it made me very uncomfortable. But I think I had it all wrong. I think what HE was doing was sending us a message that sometimes we need to recognize that our real family; the one HE has sent to build us up, and encourage us, and teach us; doesn't share our genes, they share our hearts. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012


NEVER GIVE UP!!!! HOPE IS JUST AROUND                         THE CORNER!!!!!!      

The message at church today was to spread the good news... and it is such good news!! We can always keep hoping, because JESUS has risen!! When we are struggling, or suffering, or just don't know what is coming next, JESUS is there to walk with us and help us on our way. HE is there to carry us, and to cover our sins with HIS love and HIS blood. So... Never give up, hope is just around the corner!!!!


Friday, April 6, 2012

I had the privilege of participating in the Good Friday service at church this evening. I have attended a few, including a couple as a member of the choir, but this one was different. Maybe it is because I've been changing in my faith lately. Maybe it is because I took part in the service in a more involved way. Maybe it's because HE has been more there to me in the past few months. Whatever the reason, as I stood in line to place my nail in the cross, participating symbolically in HIS death, my mind was a jumble of so many things. All the burdens I have carried- HE takes them all. All the ways I have failed, betrayed, HIM. HE forgives me. HE forgives me. HE keeps giving me so much, and I don't deserve it. MY sin put HIM on that cross. MY sin drove those nails into HIS innocent flesh. MY sin sentenced HIM to a horrendous, tortuous death as a criminal.
But HIS love brought HIM back. HIS love covers me and my sin and my inadequacies and my failures. HIS love  keeps on lifting me up over and over. How can we comprehend that kind of love?
As the service ended, it was quiet and dark in the sanctuary. It felt heavy and somber, but right. Feeling the sorrow of that day so many years ago is hard, but necessary to drive home the fact that before the joy and celebration of Easter, there was the despair and hopelessness of  Good Friday.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Emergency contact

Tonight was the Maundy Thursday service at church, and there was another 'object' removed from the backpack. It was an 'emergency contact form' that said simply "JESUS" in big red letters. Pastor said that it was something we should have put into our packs at the beginning of our 'Journey to Hope', that when we have an emergency, HE is the first one we should call upon to help us thru it.
I have had an usual thing happen to me in the last few weeks. I was struggling with the Bible study at church, and really having a hard time holding it together. I had gone to the kids' pioneer club meeting and sat upstairs chatting with a few other moms... only not really chatting because I was in a kind of turmoil over this study, or rather, over things it made me think about. Little did I know when I left that evening, two of the moms there decided I needed prayer, and pray they did... that night, and the next day too. The following week at the Bible study I was again having a hard time, and after the study meeting, one of the sweet ladies in the group came up to me and hugged me and prayed over me. Then, last week, another friend recognized that something was said that might be hard for me, and unbeknowst to me, began praying that I wouldn't be hurt by it. All these ladies 'read' my "emergency contact" information and made the call that they knew would bring me help. They didn't judge, they didn't try to 'fix' it by telling me what to do, they just hit their knees so to speak and called on the One who could come to the rescue. And HE did. It is humbling and comforting and amazing to know that HE has put these people in my life, and that when I am having a hard time, they will be there to call on HIM to help me.

LORD, thank You for being my 'emergency contact', and thank You for putting people in my life that lift me up to You when I so need it. I love YOU! Amen

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Betrayal and a Journey

Thru Lent our pastor has been doing a sermon series called "Journey to Hope". (I love sermon series!!!!) As part of the sermon each week she took an object out of a backpack, encouraging us to leave things that hinder our journey to the cross. This week the 'object' was 30 pieces of silver, symbolizing not only the betrayal by Judas, but the betrayal by all of us. How do we betray JESUS? My first thought was "no way! I would never ever betray HIM". But do I? The dictionary defines betrayal as " to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to." Maybe that is not the same kind of betrayal that JESUS experienced from Judas, but it is betrayal nonetheless. JESUS hopes that I will trust in HIM in all things, HE expects that when I have accepted HIM as my Savior, I will walk the way HE leads, and stand up for HIM in all I do. HE hopes that when people look at me and observe my actions, they will see a reflection of HIM. HE expects that as heir with HIM to the kingdom of Heaven, I will make choices in my everyday life that will bring glory to Our Father in Heaven. I have often disappointed these hopes and expectations. I have betrayed HIM with my fear and distrust "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand".Isaiah 41:9-11. I have betrayed HIM with my belief that my weaknesses make me ineligable to serve HIM "And HE said unto me, 'MY grace is sufficient for thee, for MY strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 I have betrayed HIM with my lack of conviction that HIS view of who I am is the only one that matters. "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b.
Thankfully GOD never runs out of patience for us, as long as we are continually striving to draw closer to HIM. "22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" Lamentations 3:22-23
Last night I took my kids to their club meeting at the local church. While the kids had their meeting I sat in on a discussion about the sermon their congregation had heard the day before. The discussion turned to what it would be like when we arrived in Heaven. We talked about our desire to stand in HIS presence, to glory in just being near to HIM. We talked about the physical effects of living in a state of no sin, no imperfections, with brand new bodies. But one thing that still has me thinking is a comment someone made about regrets. When we get there, and look back on the things we didn't do, the opportunities we missed to serve HIM, the person who made the comment said that he would be ashamed. But will we be? Obviously, JESUS wants us to give all of ourselves. But HE knows us, HE knows our limitations, HE knows that we aren't perfect. And HE says HE casts our sins 'as far as the east is from the west', so won't that cover those things we didn't, or thought we couldn't, do for HIM. Our walk with HIM is a Journey, of hope, of learning to trust, of learning to discern. I don't think HE would set us up to fail, and I can't imagine that if we are trying, and learning, and changing, that HE would hold our failures against us. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just can't imagine that HE would want us to feel shame, unless we aren't even making an effort. I think as long as we are trying to live for HIM, we can rest assured that that moment when we see HIM face to face will be one of unimaginable joy and peace and comfort.

LORD, please forgive me for my betrayal of You. Please convict my heart to follow You in everything I do. Please take my backpack away and help me to travel this journey to YOU and with YOU without all those things that weigh me down and hold me back. Thank You for Your unending compassion and mercy. I Love You!!! Amen