By faith

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out without knowing where he was going. By faith he lived in the land he had been promised as a stranger. He lived in tents along with Isaac and Jacob, who were coheirs of the same promise. He was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah received the ability to have a child, though she herself was barren and past the age for having children, because she believed that the one who promised was faithful. So descendants were born from one man (and he was as good as dead). They were as many as the number of the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore. ~Hebrews 8:8-12 (CEB)

It is hard for me to relate this passage. I don’t have the long family history, those stories that tell me who I am. It is hard for me to understand what it was like for Abraham to leave all he had known, to leave his family behind and step out on faith.

I have a confession to make. I never ever thought twice about leaving all I had known or my family to move 6 hours away after I finished college. I didn’t consult with God whether I should go or should stay. I just went. I wasn’t thinking of my future much less of children and grandchildren when we packed up the moving van and headed to east Tennessee.

Now that I have lived away from immediate family and half raised my family with only my husband to help out, my view of family has begun to change. The examples laid out for me had been get married and move off. That is what my parents had done and their parents before them. The whole idea of living in an area surrounded by extended family is completely foreign to me. But as I have gained friends who have that family history, stories and support, I have begun to understand just what it might have meant to leave all I had known behind.

In Abraham’s time, it appears that he was a well established “city dweller” living in his family estate. Here was his inheritance. Here was his history. Here was his support. God called to Abraham, asking him to give up the security he had. God wanted him to have something more. This was a new concept to look to your Heavenly Father for your inheritance. When the Jews heard this story, they knew what sacrifice Abraham was making, what dreams he might be giving up. They understood the risks that Abraham was taking to head out from an established home into the wilderness to roam. Abraham believed God when he said that he had something more in mind for him than Abraham had for himself.

I am at a point in my life where I feel that God is asking me to let go of what I have banked my securities in. He has something more in mind for me than the little niche I have carved out for myself. Can I have the faith of Abraham? Can I blindly go where He calls me to go? Can I believe enough in a promise to find something more than I hold in my hands now? Abraham did.

Heavenly Father, give me the strength to stand up when You call. Guide my steps so they go with a purpose. Keep me from wandering too far from Your promises. I believe the scriptures when they say You have my good in mind. I claim this day all the promises You have for me. Amen.

The church

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers. This power is conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength. God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future. God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way. ~Ephesians 1:18-23 (CEB)

This excerpt from Henri Nouwen’s book, Bread for the Journey, really makes me stop and remember how crazy mixed up I was in college. I never really lost my faith in God but I really struggled with the rest of the package. I have never really known how to word what I went through in my heart other than to say I had lost my faith in “religion”. I have since understood that the community of believers is not perfect but that we still need that community:

“The Church is an object of faith.  In the Apostles’ Creed we pray:  “I believe in God, the Father … in Jesus Christ, his only Son – in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”  We must believe in the Church!  The Apostles’ Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.

Often it seems harder to believe in the Church than to believe in God.  But whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers.  God has given us the Church as the place where God becomes God-with-us.”

Heavenly Father, as we struggle to live in this world with people so different from ourselves, help us to come together through You. Help us be in communion with one another, all of us forgiven for our sins through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Walking on water

Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone. Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land. Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” They were so frightened they screamed. Just then Jesus spoke to them, “ Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “ Come.” Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!” Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “ You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” ~Mattew 14:22-31 (CEB)

It is interesting to remember that the disciples found themselves in that storm because they had obeyed Jesus and got into the boat in the first place. Obeying Jesus didn’t keep them out of the storm. In this case it caused them to be in the middle of one. But if Peter had never gotten into the boat, never had faith enough to step out of that boat and attempt to walk where no human had ever walked before, he would not have been in the place to find himself in the arms of Jesus. Being in the arms of Jesus isn’t such a bad consequence I am thinking.

In an attempt to help my son through a storm a few years ago, I asked him, “What was the worst thing that could happen to us if a tornado did hit our house?” His reply was that “We would die.” “Then where would we be?” I asked him. “Heaven”, he said.

Sometimes when I think of the worst case scenario, the worst case might actually be the best case. In the arms of Jesus is the best place to be. If my stepping out in faith brings me straight into his arms is that really a bad thing?

Heavenly Father, may I have enough faith today to step out into this storm called life. In obeying You may I find that it actually brings me closer to You. Amen.

A mustard seed

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. ~Luke 17:5-6 (NRSV)

Have you ever thought about what it means to have faith like a mustard seed? I have always been fascinated with that parable since I was a child but I haven’t before now really ferreted out just what it means to have “mustard seed faith”.

So many times people continue to act on the terms of what they really believe, not in the terms of what they profess to believe. Just because you say with your mouth that you believe in something but if in your heart you do not believe your actions soon will go where your heart has been all along. With only minor adjustments here and there, we always live up to what we feel in our heart but rarely do we live up to what we profess.

The only way we can grow in genuine faith is to put into practice what little faith we have. We have to have faith to begin to grow in faith. “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Roman 1:17) So faith as tiny as a mustard seed is all we need to grow into more faith. The reason that the kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed is because it grows in us and around us.

So “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” ~Proverbs 4:23 (NRSV)

Heavenly Father, take this small seed of faith that I have planted in my heart. Please water it and encourage it to grow. Feed my heart and give me strength so that I may bloom for You. Amen

Anchored in love

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. ~Matthew 10:19-20 (RSV)

When I am anxious about some upcoming event I have a tendency to over prepare. If I find myself needing to defend myself, I wonder how to respond.  Turmoil causes me to lose confidence and creates a debilitating self-conscious.

In Matthew 10 I find words from Jesus telling me to not worry about what I should say and to trust that when a moment arises that He will send the words and the wisdom that I will need. It is not the words I seek to express myself that are important but that I remain deeply anchored in Jesus’ love, secure about being a child of God and remembering that I am here for His ultimate plans. When my heart is connected to Jesus, I can be assured that I will have the words when I need to speak.

Anxiousness is a sign of distrust. If I can trust God to be there for me in all my moments, than I will not over prepare. Over preparing does not make the situation any better. Over preparing makes me rely on myself. When I rely on self it just tends to cause me to lose my confidence because I have taken my sights off God. What a good reminder that as long as I put God’s words in my heart I will find the wisdom I need when I need it. Security is never in self. Security is found through Jesus.

Heavenly Father, help me to keep my eyes on You as I go about the work that needs to be done today. May I find through Jesus the confidence I need to face this and every day. Amen.

Best laid plan

But now, says the LORD— the one who created you, Jacob, the one who formed you, Israel: Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched and flame won’t burn you. ~Isa. 43:1-2 (CEB)

I am a planner yet there are days where the best laid plans get interrupted. Once in a while those days turn into day after day of difficulties and darkness no matter how much I long for lighter loads and light paths. Then there are other times where everything is going just as I planned and I should feel on top of the world when suddenly I find myself hanging on by my fingernails over a cliff. It is good for me to realize in these moments that I am not the only person to find myself in the darkness, with difficulties, or disappointing surprises in the midst of faithful sunny days.

When I read Mark 6 I find that Jesus has encountered rejection in his hometown. This is the first missionary venture with his disciples. It comes after the death of John, the feeding of the five thousand, walking on water and the healing in Gennesaret. Just in chapter 6 alone do I witness one end of the emotional scale to the other, Jesus experiences great sadness, great miracles as well as great disappointments all in a short period of time. Talk about an emotional roller coaster!

Compared to Jesus and the disciples’ lives, my life may seem a bit steadier. The peaks and valleys a little more subdued than what they experienced. However, I do live through those periods when nothing seems to go my way, the winds of life are blowing against me and I am working hard but gaining no ground. This is the same place the disciples found themselves as they strained at the oars against adverse wind. Just as Jesus appeared to them he appears to me in the midst of my terrors: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid” (Mark 6:50) My storm can be over the moment I choose to recognize Jesus.

Such experiences can be used to sharpen my ability to see God at work in the midst of my life if I will let it. I am not alone when things are not going my way, just as I was not alone when things were going my way. Everything I experience is an opportunity to pay attention to God’s presence and to call for God to work in my life.

Heavenly Father, help me to remember while I am in the midst of the storm to look up to find Your face for I know that once my eyes land on You the storm begins to settle. Take my hand this day as I walk along. May I hear Your voice nudge me this way or that as I pursue Your will for this day. Amen.


In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will. We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. We know this because God knew them in advance, and he decided in advance that they would be conformed to the image of his Son. That way his Son would be the first of many brothers and sisters. Those who God decided in advance would be conformed to his Son, he also called. Those whom he called, he also made righteous. Those whom he made righteous, he also glorified. So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him? ~Romans 8:26-32 (CEB)

My son has been running around for 3 or 4 mornings singing his “Happy Day” song that he made up. It is sappy but his happiness makes me smile. His dance makes me laugh. I relax. I wish I could say this was his everyday song. Unfortunately there seems to be more mornings than not, that are not quite so happy. I told a friend of mine I am just riding that happy wave and enjoying his cheerfulness but if I could figure a way to bottle it I would save some of that cheerfulness for days that seem to be lacking its share of cheer. If only I knew how to flip that switch “on” for him when I wanted to.

Do you know the switch? It shows up in many forms, the running switch, the mood switch, or the healthy eating switch. When my running switch is on I am thrilled to run every day. When it is switched off I have to force myself to go out. Sometimes I don’t even quiet make it out the door. When the healthy switch is on I love rabbit food. When it is switched off junk foods of the worst kind call my name. Then there are my own moods. Some days I wake up and I feel like the sun is shining inside of me. The world sees bright before I even have stepped into it. Then there are days with no rhyme or reason that feel like a fog has rolled in deep into my soul. Every fiber of my being just seems to ache.

This is one benefit of age. Having lived through them, I know the bad moments are just for a time. Not forever. The more I pretend to be “switched on” the sooner I get back to actually feeling the way I want to feel. I think a public speaker put it this way, “Do what is right it until it feels right.” This also brings to  my mind the verse from Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

There are days that the only way I make it through is by trusting God with my whole heart. I believe that He does have a plan for me and that He is working all things for my good. Even my bad moments are used for His ultimate glory. Today though I have my son’s “Happy Day” song running through my head and I have it tucked in my heart for another moment where I find that I might need it.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for” Happy Day” songs. Bring them to mind when my spirit is down. Help me to remember to dance through the bad moments on my way to the good times knowing you dance along with me. Amen.


Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ~1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)

“Special”, my daughter says means that you are different. Being different apparently means there is something wrong with you. God didn’t make us all the same. It would be boring if He did! There is no comfort when you tell your children that God has made us all different.

Sometimes I too find myself longing for someone else’s kind of different. It might be nice to be more outgoing maybe even flamboyant. Some days I think it might be nice to not be so contemplative and analytical. Although sometimes I do find myself more outgoing than others I cannot change the personality that is me.

Henri Nouwen in his book, Bread for the Journey says this about temperaments, “Our temperaments – whether flamboyant, phlegmatic, introverted, or extroverted – are quite permanent fixtures of our personalities.  Still, the way we “use” our temperaments on a daily basis can vary greatly.  When we are attentive to the Spirit of God within us, we will gradually learn to put our temperaments in the service of a virtuous life.  Then flamboyancy gives great zeal for the Kingdom, phlegmatism helps to keep an even keel in times of crisis, introversion deepens the contemplative side, and extroversion encourages creative ministry.”

Nouwen goes on to say that we should treat our temperaments as we do gifts that help us deepen our spiritual lives. God made different people because He has different kinds of service. Instead of looking at how it must be nice to be comfortable in a crowd of people, I should use my contemplative nature as God intends, in service to Him.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for my kind of different. May I use who I am in service to You. Amen.

Because my Bible tells me so


You are my secret hideout! You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of rescue! I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you. ~Psalm 32:7-8 (CEB)

I have a pretty Bible that I carry with me to church. It has a nice compact size that fits well in my purse making it easy to carry with me.

My study Bible isn’t compact. It’s big, bulky, heavy and looks like it has seen some better days. When my son was 6 he knocked over a water bottle and now some of the pages are wrinkled. It is marked and written throughout with thoughts I have had and even some questions that I asked. It now holds a lot of memories. It has memories because I started reading it.

I began really reading my Bible several years ago because I started having questions like, “What does God expect of me?” I got this bright idea that maybe somewhere in my Bible I might find out what God wanted of me. As I read I underlined scriptures that I felt answered this question. Eventually I even found a verse in Micah 6 that actually says “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

As I read the Bible looking for what God wanted me to do and how he wanted me to act, I discovered scriptures that talked about his love for me. Psalm 139 is my favorite of all the psalms. It tells me that He knew me even before I was born. Before my mother even knew me, God loved me. I marked verses that talked of God’s love in pink.

Another thing I noticed when I read the scriptures is that the phrase “Do not fear” repeats over and over throughout the Old and into the New Testament. Whenever I would see the phrase “Fear not” or “Do not Fear” I would put a box around it.

What started out as simple curiosity lead me to discover answers to questions I didn’t know I yet had. “Does God really love me” “where is God when I am scared?” “Can I be angry at God?” “Is it okay to be sad?”

Reading my Bible has taught me when the world seems bigger than me and my problems are too many that God is not just with me but fighting for me. During times like this, I am reminded of my very favorite verse from Exodus 14:13 “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today. . . The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.

Dear God, Thank You for Your Word that lives and breathes in me. Thank you for being bigger than my questions. Thank You for steadying my steps and fighting my battles. Amen.


Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty- handed. He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.” ~ Matthew 1:46-55 (CEB)

Jesus says that our load should be easy and our burden light… but there was a time that I couldn’t understand what this meant. My load was not easy and my burden was anything but light.

I had found myself in a place where I knew I had been saved but I was working hard for everything else. Life shouldn’t be about trying-hard. Seeing who Jesus is is not to make us try harder but to help us learn to let go. What happens when we let go of trying to live right? What happens when we learn to let Jesus work through us?

My  response to understanding what it means to remain in Christ and to letting him work through me is that I grow in faith and overflow with thankfulness. When I let Jesus be who he is through me I find I don’t have to try so hard. When I allow him to work through me the work I am called to do becomes easier. Remembering what he has done for me makes me thankful and gratitude lightens my steps.

The acting and the struggle are in the letting and remaining. When I dare to believe what is truth and decide to live out of that truth, faith and thankfulness are the natural response. If I search in the Bible for an example of how this might look, I can turn to the story of when Mary was told by the angle that she would be the mother of Jesus. We don’t see Mary worrying about what she will do or what people will think. Instead we see that Mary’s response is praise and worship.

I want to live continually in a time and place where I am so in touch with God that I can sing God’s praises as easily as I breathe out air. I want to be so sure of the truth that I cant help to sing of God’s glory. I want a faith that looks like Mary’s.

Heavenly Father,thank You for examples of what faith looks like. Thank You for examples of how to be Your vessel. May Your praises always flow through me to lighten my step. May my knowledge of Your good news lighten the loads I am called to carry. Amen.

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