Tag Archives: believe

The WOW Walk

When our boys were crawling babies and old enough to start noticing and exploring the world around them, Mike would often pick them up and carry them, through the house, outside, in malls or restaurants, just about anywhere at any random moment, and show them things up above their vision. Since they spent their entire day on the floor it was almost impossible to see or know what was up above.wow-walk-1He let them touch clocks, pictures, candles and other things hanging on walls. He showed them flowers, plants, leaves, trees. He let them look out windows, took them into closets and pointed out items on shelves and walked them in restaurant lobbies to let them see whatever was at eye level.

Every item seen or touched was prefaced with, “Wow!  What is that?” Then he would name it and add a simple explanation, “That’s a clock. It’s round. Watch that second hand go. That’s pretty awesome isn’t it?”

Watching their precious faces light up at the discovery of some new wonder was priceless as they absorbed the novelties of their world and every tiny discovery in amazement.

These ‘Wow Walks’, as we came to call them, resulted in Jon’s first word, not being DaDa or MaMa, but “Wow!”

Our nine month old crawling and exploring grandson was with us last week. The first thing Mike did when Asa was comfortable with us holding him, was take him on a “Wow Walk.” He had quite a few of them while he was here, to the point where if he was fussy, his mom or dad would ask him, “Asa, do you want Grampy to take you on a Wow tour?”

The answer was a big smile and outstretched arms. His way of saying, “Yes Grampy, take me, take me.”wow-walk-2As we age and mature, we often lose this childlike sense of wonder. The responsibilities, problems and heaviness of our existence on this planet can easily mire us down, into negativity and despair; things once new and exciting as a child become commonplace. We can see a beautiful sunset, without celebrating it, walk past a rose without smelling it or look at a rainbow without contemplating its mystery. We begin evaluating others through eyes of cynicism or mistrust and miss moments of joy and beauty in everyday life.

Why are we reminded by Jesus to remain, not childish in behavior, but childlike in faith?

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). I believe He knew how quickly the belief and wonder could fade; after all, He was here, walking as one of us, when He said this.

He also came to return that sense of amazement to life. Not just a, plodding along, trying to keep our head up and survive, sort of reality, but abundance (John 10:10).

Is the wonder and joy of life far from your grasp? Do the problems and struggles you face keep you down? God can lift you up.

Let Him lift you from the floor of limitation. Trust him as a small child trusts a loving grandfather. Reach for Him with outstretched arms. Allow Him to carry you higher and show you great and marvelous things. Lift up your eyes, believing there is much more above and beyond where you are right now.

Don’t settle for a ‘Woe Is Me’ walk through life.

Make it a ‘WOW’ walk!

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:17

“The thief comes but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2     

“But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

O Me Of Little Faith

mustard-seedI awoke at 3:42 AM in a heart racing panic and find myself at this place more often than I care to admit. It weighs heavy in the back of my mind, no matter how I try to push it away, the unknown haunts me. What will become of my son when we are no longer here? With the passing of every year, every birthday, his and mine, the question looms larger.

So I guess it’s confession time. It’s time for me to admit, to say it out loud; I don’t trust God in this. My re-occurring fear and worry prove it. I’m convinced no one will take care of him as well as I do, after all I Am Mom and have invested most of my life here. Other than Mike, who else will care enough to do that? I don’t know and the not knowing eats at me, plagues me and some days, consumes me.

Trusting God with a child is a tall order for any parent.  We are so hands on, heart invested, all in, with our kids and it’s easy to default back to a place of worry. But a child, who needs continual, life time supervision and assistance, elevates investment levels to exponential heights. So often I feel like the dad who brought his son to Jesus and cried out, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” Maybe Jesus understands this parental desperation more than we know. He healed the boy in spite of dad’s wavering faith. And that gives me hope.

I’ve thought a lot about faith. What is it? How does it work? What should it look like in my life? Honest questions from a girl who grew up in a church culture equating struggle, disaster, illness, and tragedy with a condemning lack of faith; feeling failure and shame whenever my sunshine, lollipops and rainbow life disappeared behind onimous black clouds for a season. Understanding what it means to really trust God has been a huge re-learning process for me.

I’ve seen His unlimited goodness and faithfulness through the years, in both the easy and hard places of my life,  but realize I’m still lacking when it comes to radically abandoned trust. I’ve also lived long enough in my Heavenly Father’s amazing grace to understand we are always in process. Every day and every situation brings new opportunities for my faith to rise to higher levels.

An infant isn’t a full grown adult one week, one month or even a year after he is born. He grows incrementally day after day, over the span of many years. And we don’t condemn him for it. A twenty year old will not have the wisdom and experience of a seventy year old. Full maturity comes with time and age. We know instinctively this is the natural order of things, yet we Christ followers can beat ourselves and others up when we are not spiritual giants overnight.

Wayne Jacobsen (thegodjourney.com) put it like this: “I like the process of God winning us to trust. It’s not that we should trust Him or have to act like we trust Him even where we don’t. God wins us…I think life puts us in different points of extremity..but those opportunities when He says, “OK, we’re going to go deeper here, you’re going to get to learn to trust Me more”…I think all of my days I’m still going to find myself in places going, “OK, my trust doesn’t extend here yet, but God let it.” Maybe that’s the Author and Finisher of our faith, He’s going to grow it into a reality…the faith I live in today was not mine to produce but [grew as] I cooperated with Him.”

When Jesus calls out his followers with, “Oh, you of little faith,” we see it as a negative, a criticism, a scolding, but maybe it was more of a reminder than a rebuke.

After all, He said we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to throw a mountain into the sea (Matthew 17:20). A mustard seed is slightly larger than a grain of sand. That’s tiny!  Could He be telling us we don’t need as much as we think, we just need to exercise what we already have and watch it produce? After all He does the work, the miracle, the impossible. We just do the believing.

There’s a tension, a balance, between planning for the future and worrying over it and our manual for living, the Bible, addresses both. Proverbs 6:6-8 tells us to consider the ant who stores up and plans for the days ahead. Jesus tells us to consider the lilies who don’t fret or toil but are clothed in beauty by the Provider of all things (Luke 2:27-40).

While we plan as much as possible for Jon’s future, we must trust God with the rest. We do our part and believe He will do His, because He always has. Today, I absorb what Apostle Paul stated in Philippians 4:6-7, into my heart, mind and spirit, “Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ.”

So Lord, today, I give Jon and his future back to You. Once again, I lay him at your feet and     place him in Your capable hands, knowing You have a good plan already in mind for him. I thank You for it, even in my inability to see or control it. I may need to do this again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, Father, but I offer my mustard seed faith to you, thankful for Your patience while it grows into larger trust I have yet to obtain.

Lord, I believe. Please touch those places in me where I don’t believe, those areas filled with doubt, worry and fear. I give them, along with my son, to You and thank You for never giving up on me but continuously calling me into Your amazing faith, trust and peace.

Today I choose I choose Faith.

Today I choose Trust.

Today I choose You!

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

Luke 12:27 “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Grandmother Faith

Asa 2-12-2016 One week ago our grandson, Asa Connis, pushed his way into the world and added a brand new dimension to life. After sixty years, I’ve finally joined the Grandmother Club and I’m still trying to understand the overwhelming love I feel for this tiny guy when I haven’t met him yet.

According to Google maps he is five hundred and seventy two miles away from me, but the evidence of his awaited arrival, streams daily onto my iPhone screen, giving me faith to believe he finally exists and hope for the day I will soon meet him.

I’ve received a sound clip of his first cries and a picture of him in his first hour. I can scroll through my phone for more pictures; him bundled up in his car seat, sleeping in little footie pajamas, wearing the little hat we bought him, curled up in a classic fetal position in his newborn diaper, and a heart melting video of him sporting hiccups on his dad’s lap.

We are accumulating a massive amount of evidence Asa has arrived, in texts, updates and FaceTime calls. Though I have not felt the weight of him in my arms or seen his adorable little face with my own eyes, I know my grandson is here.

Because we live in a physical reality, we often have trouble believing something not yet seen or experienced. Faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 1:6). Some believe if God can’t be seen He doesn’t exist, yet place great faith in what can be physically seen, but not fully trusted.

We trust the driver coming toward us in the other lane will stay there, the airplane will remain in the sky and take us safely to our destination, the grocery store will have needed food when we pull in the parking lot, and our paycheck will arrive at the end of the week.

We trust the pill the doctor gave us will make us better, the water coming out of our faucet is safe to drink, the repairman will show up to fix our hot water tank and the roof overhead will remain intact during the next storm.

We trust in so many temporary things, but fail to trust our Creator and Eternal God.

There are those who sincerely set out to disprove the existence of God but found it impossible to do so. Lee Strobel, in his book, “The Case For Christ,” and Josh McDowell, in his book, “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” both explain how extensive research to disprove the reality of God led to their transformation from atheist to believer. Unlike these men, though I’ve never seen God with my own eyes, I’ve believed in Him most of life.

There is overwhelming historical proof He came to Earth through His son Jesus, and for those with open hearts, evidence He exists is all around us. For me, He shows up in numerous ways everyday; in the intricate designs of nature, in the laughter of a friend, in the quiet thoughts and impressions downloaded into my heart and mind, in His written Word gifted to us as a life manual, and in the miracle of my precious new grandson.

Jesus said to His disciple Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe” (John 20:29). If seeing is the only way to believe, then true faith is absent and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). If you love someone you want to make them happy and steadfast faith makes God happy.

 
In this life I see in part, the things of Heaven and Eternity are obscured, as if I’m looking through a distorted mirror. This often creates a faith crisis. 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells me, “for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Bottom line, God simply desires a life of total trust from me, even and especially when, I can’t see clearly. My trust demonstrates I understand how much He loves me and how He has my best interest in mind. Always.

God has set a date (Psalm 139:16) when I’ll leave the boundaries of this earth and go home to Him. I will finally see my Savior face to face (John 3:2) and the faith, I’ve struggled to hold onto through all the storms of life, will finally become sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

For now, I’m seeing my grandson through a glass screen, but a trip is planned and soon I will see him face to face. I’m excited.

So I press on, looking forward to the time I see little Asa and eventually, one day, my Heavenly Father..

..with unwavering Grandmother faith.

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5
“We shall behold Him
O yes, we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory
We shall behold Him
Yes, we shall behold Him
Face to face
Our Savior and Lord..”
~”We Shall Behold Him,” Dottie Rambo~

“It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ;
One look at his dear face, all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.”
~ Hymn, “When We See Christ,” Esther Kerr Rusthoi, 1941~

Jon’s Octopus

Basic CMYKJon was fourteen years old when we visited Catalina Island off the coast of California. Our friends, Earl and Pat, had moved to the island from Maine when Earl took the job of maintenance overseer for a large girl scout camp located there.

Summers at the beachfront camp were noisy and chaotic, with hundreds of girls and camp counselors arriving constantly in one to two week shifts. But winters were long, quiet and lonely; a good time to visit, and since we were homeschooling, the boys and I planned a six week stay during the winter of 1994.

From the day he arrived, Jon decided Earl (or Pa, as the boys and every other ‘grandchild’, related or not, called him) was going to take him fishing in the ocean.

“And I’m going to catch an octopus,” he declared to all of us.

“It’s really hard to catch an octopus Jon,” Pa told him, “they live way, way down, too deep in the water to get on your hook.”

But every day Jon kept insisting and reminding us, as soon as Pa took him fishing, he was going to catch an octopus.

We were there several weeks before Earl finally had a free day for fishing. They packed a lunch and eagerly climbed into the boat along with Jon’s younger brother, David, and a neighbor, Ken, the caretaker of the yacht club located a few miles down the beach.

Jon told Pa and Ken as they left the shore, “I’m going to catch an octopus now.” Ken replied with the same explanation Pa had given.

Everyone was trying to lessen the disappointment that was coming, in spite of Jon’s insistence.

They left in the morning and in late afternoon I heard Jon running up the beach to the house shouting, “Mom, Mom, I caught an octopus! Mom! I caught an octopus!”

I went outside to meet him. He was grinning from ear to ear. Jon has always had a huge and slightly quirky imagination so I figured he was fantasizing in his head again, pretending he had caught one because it’s what he’d wanted so much.

Earl met me halfway to the dock with a giant smile on his face. “Well, you’re never going to believe it, I still can’t, but Jon caught an octopus today.”

“You’re kidding.” I was stunned and delighted all at the same time. “I thought you said it was impossible?”

“I’ve been fishing in the ocean for years and never have I or anyone I know, caught an octopus. “ Earl looked as amazed as I felt.

Turns out they were a few miles off shore when Jon felt a tug on his line. He reeled it in and to everyone’s (but his) surprise there was a baby octopus clinging to the string.

Jon got his octopus!

That was twenty one years ago.

And I’ve never forgotten it.

When I read, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7), or “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), I’m reminded of a God who cares enough about a fourteen year old special needs kid to send a baby octopus from the depths of the ocean to his fishing line.

In the hard times, circumstances and struggles of life, when you feel as if God isn’t listening and He doesn’t care about you or the details of your situation…

..remember Jon and his octopus.

God knows.

He sees.

He understands.

He cares.

Keep believing for the impossible.

Keep trusting.

You never know what could be surfacing from the depths of despair, just for you.

My New “I Don’t Get It” Box

box copyI now own a virtual “I Don’t Get It” Box. It was delivered to me over the weekend after a conversation I had with a good friend. She’s had a tough year and great loss.  We talked about  faith, and how it processes us through life circumstances that are more than difficult.

Sometimes stuff happens that doesn’t fit into our neat and tidy theological boxes. We can’t check them off our doctrinal lists. Things happen that we can’t explain and we have no idea which  (thought-I-had-this-all-figured-out-already!) category to file them under.

After this conversation with my friend, I woke up the next morning with a picture in my head. Some people call them visions or awake dreams. Call it whatever you want, but I saw me with a long line of people stretched out endlessly behind me, standing in front of a huge box inscribed with a large glowing font that said,

“I Don’t Get It.”

Everyone in line, including me, had a piece of paper in hand. I had written on the paper, parts of my life I question, things I don’t understand and circumstances I have faced or still face that are confusing and seem to have no answers.

I stepped up to the box and threw my paper in. When it hit the bottom the font on the front of the box changed and began to flash in bright neon over and over again,

“Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST ME….”

I may not ‘get’ many things but I get this message loud and clear. I don’t need to analyze, understand, explain and figure everything out.

I can’t know everything because knowing ALL would make me God. Wasn’t that we could be like God by eating the only off limits fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the original lie of the serpent?

Man fell for the deception. He believed it. Do we still?

God wants our trust. He wants us to believe Him. It’s all He’s ever wanted. So I lay aside my need to know and simply trust..

Because God,

I believe You are good.

I believe You are love.

I believe You are faithful.

I believe You are merciful.

I believe You desire only the best for me,

Today, no matter what happens, how I feel, whether I understand or not, I throw it all into my “I Don’t Get It” box and…

Just Trust You!

 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye

We said goodbye to our dear friend, Harold, recently. He left this earth to take up residence in his eternal home.

It’s hard to say goodbye.tree

In my saddened state, I’ve been thinking about death, as we are prone to do when someone we love passes from this earth.

Why is it so hard for us? Why does it rattle us to our very core? We all know death comes. Not one of us escape it.

Yes, I understand the separation and loss, the vast empty place the removal of someone who was so much a part of us creates. But it seems our struggle with death is even deeper than those things.

And it is. Because death was never in God’s original plan for us.  He originally created man to live forever in a perfect body on a perfect earth. In the deep places of our being, we know we were never meant to taste death or experience it.

God told the first man and woman, “Don’t eat of that tree, if you do you will die.” He offered choice. And they chose to listen to the lie. They ate and the journey of life to death on this earth began (Read Genesis 2:15-3:24).

I used to wonder why I should suffer for what the first man and woman did. That was their choice not mine. It’s like the school teacher punishing the entire class for the behavior of one child.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

God hardly seemed fair in dolling out sin curses for generations to come when I never had a chance to decide whether I would take a bite from that fruit or not. If I was in The Garden I would have chosen to do the right thing.

But would I? Would any of us? Do we now?

How many times have I chosen my will over God’s, exalting my selfish desires over His, justifying what looks good to me over His perfect best? I wish I could say never, but the truthful answer is, I’ve lost count.

So God knew man would choose death. He knew it when he created us but did it anyway just as we take the risk of having a child with no guarantee of the outcome. It’s done from of a heart of love. We sacrifice for that child to have every advantage, every good choice and our heart breaks if they choose a path leading to their downfall, hurt or destruction.

But thank God, we are not left stranded, without hope, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:19 & 21).

God came to our planet, took on a flesh suit and became like us to provide a way back to immortality and perfection. He became one of us to rescue us from eternal death. He made a way of escape from the ravages of sin and death through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus, who was nailed to a tree. For you. For me.

Death started and ended with a tree.

The choice returns, but the subtle injection of doubt continues through time. “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1). Do we believe in Jesus or do we continue to believe the lie, the illusion, the trick that we can be our own god, that we can still eat the fruit of a life apart from Him and suffer no consequences?

We all die physically and leave this planet, but believing the truth of who Christ is and what He did for us, assures us that is not the end, only a transition to a new life; the beautiful and glorious life we were always meant to have.

We’ve had to say goodbye to our friend for now, but hope comes in knowing I will see him again when it’s my turn to leave here. Maybe instead of goodbye, I should just say,

“See ya’ later, Harold. Save me a seat on that bench. Underneath The Tree of Life.”bench

1 Corinthians 15:26 ” The last enemy to be abolished is death.’

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

 

                                                                                                        photos courtesy of picjumbo.com

Just Believe!

believeBELIEVE! As I read, I see this word over and over again, from Genesis to Revelation. It’s one of the central themes of the Bible.

Numbers 4:11 “The Lord said to Moses, I have done great things for these people, and they still reject me by refusing to believe in my power.’”

Luke 22:67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe.”

The word, believe, occurs 84 times in the Gospel of John alone, the book where Jesus has more of His own words directly quoted. Why then, is it so hard to believe?

Here are some concerns that whittle away at my belief:

•Physical sight verses spiritual sight – it’s easier to focus on what I see around me than to walk by faith for what I can’t see (2 Corinthians 5:7).

•Wanting and waiting – when I’m desperate for a solution that takes too long or doesn’t come in the way I hoped (Proverbs 13:12).

•Circumstances and stresses – life can be difficult and it’s easy to become bogged down under the weight of my difficulties (Mark 4:19).

•Fear – will I have to let go of the familiar or face an unknown (Romans 8:15)?

More than anything else, God’s heart breaks over my unbelief. He delivers far above and beyond to demonstrate His love and care for me, even in laying down His own life to show He is trustworthy.

What more can be done than that?
I want to believe. I want to let go with total abandonment and trust God with my entire life and everything that happens in it.
I’ve come far but still have more to experience in this total believing thing. Unless He helps me, I can’t get it right.

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). I’m so dependent on You.”