What Is Your Faith In?

More faith is required on that freeway then in believing in His existence, His love and His plan for our individual lives.

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The 4 lanes of speeding vehicles seem to flow uninterrupted in one direction, each filled with people who have no thought as to the faith required to be there.

     Every time I visit Seattle I am amazed at the amount of faith required just to get there. Every day thousands of individuals place themselves into a “tin can” and travel at 60mph on a freeway that uses little white painted lines to separate them – keeping them in line. Really? Think about that – what have they placed faith in? Faith in those little white lines, those other “tin cans” filled with distracted, fallible people; but yet they stand in hope that they will change lanes, travel forward and reach their planned destination with no problems.

     Many of those same individuals openly say that they have no faith in God as they speed down the freeway. However, more faith is required on that freeway then in believing in His existence, His love and His plan for our individual lives.

     With little thought we walk throughout our day – walking in faith. Just to mention a few – we turn on the shower expecting water, we put in the key and expect the car to start, or we lock our doors expecting to keep everything safe. On a larger scale – we place our faith in our jobs to provide, our health to stay strong, our family and friends to always be there. So why do we question faith in God?

     If that is you – simply look around – the very fabric of nature shouts of faith in a creator who designed her. From the galaxies in the heavens to the cells within your body; everything shows that intricate precise planned design.

     Simple faith is what drives you to believe you can survive on the freeway – it’s that same simple faith that says YES there is a God – Yes He loves you and Yes He has a specific planned design for your life. So my question to you is a simple one – What is your faith in?

     A simple response is all it takes to bring you to a new beginning where His planned purpose will begin to be seen – a new place where you will find the certainty within, knowing that Christ paid a price on the cross just for you and that you have an eternal place prepared for you.

     Next time you merge onto the freeway consider what your faith is in.

Hebrews 11:1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.(LTB)

 

 

Where is Your Trust?

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     Fear has become a constant whispering companion as destructive acceleration surrounds us…global warming, earthquakes, famine, increased hate and violence as well as the rumors of a possible approach of nuclear war. It is so easy to “buy in” to that fear and panic, that “be prepared” mentality that is erupting all around us. Here – in the midst of this chaotic surge – is our place to walk in a different spirit.

     It is now that the LOVE of Christ is needed to dispel that fear. It is now that FAITH in Christ can shine in the darkness – teaching and building hope in the confused. It is now that the HOPE in Christ within us must stand firm, declare and encourage in the midst of what is seen.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.              Psalm 91: 1-6 (ESV)

     Let these words infuse in you today the strength to stand firm. Find rest under His wings – find peace in His refuge as you trust in Him. Remember in HOPE the goodness of your God, remember in FAITH you are called to proclaim that goodness, and remember in LOVE all that Christ did for you and those around you.

     Fear not what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears – look only with your Spirit to the promises of His faithfulness. Breathe easy today as you walk in peace in the midst of this storm, finding refuge in Christ – for there is where your trust dwells.

Who’s In Your Boat?

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The darkening clouds began to swiftly swirl around them as the waves surged. The sea had been tame as the short journey began but now waves crashed over the bow and threatened to take their lives. They had seen His hands do many miracles – how and why was He sleeping as they struggled in the midst of this aggressive storm? Waking him from his slumber brought rebuke – first for their lack of faith but then of the very wind and waves that threatened their lives. Quickly the tumultuous sea became still as they stood astonished at His authority.

As we walk through life’s journey we are also surprised by storms that threaten our lives – some mild, some crashing the bow and some that have begun to sink our boats. How we respond – How we get through it depends on WHO is in our boat.

     All of us – in the midst of the storm begin to falter, question and grow weary. However, if we know Jesus is our rock – our salvation – our hope; we know He is in our boat. He is always there for us and has our back! Going down with the boat is NOT His plan! We need to wake up – look up – and with faith reach out for His hand.

     It’s not in our ability to silence the storm. We only need to look to Him and He steps in. He rebukes the winds and waves – He calms the storm.

Matthew 8:26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Fight – Forward

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When we are weak and weary

where do we find that strength to stand up again?

What does it mean to be strong?   To be strengthened?

Somewhere deep inside of us is a HERO. The “I can do it” spirit waiting to keep on moving, keep on taking the front line of battle. This warrior is destined to win and the war cry of “Fight Forward” erupts.

Just when we think we are at the lowest place, the most helpless and unusable – we reach down inside of our spirit and are able to pull out that one tiny bit of hope to rally – to take the hill one more time, to rescue the other one that lays prone before the enemy’s attack. That hope, that strength doesn’t come from us – it is from the Spirit of God. The story Brave Heart is a great one to ruminate over – His purpose wasn’t about him, his desires or needs – it was for a greater (much greater) cause.

Being on the front line requires us to take hits now and then, some are minimal and we keep moving forward. Some require us to be carried for recovery to the rear. Then there are those that are near fatal and require major homeward bound recovery, rehabilitation and re-purposing of what and where we thought we were going. During each of these we must reach inside, dig deep, pull from our faith and trust in Christ. Here we find strength, to be strong enough to stand up again and overcome.

Often, we too, whine and complain about “our” weaknesses, inabilities, and needs – when what God is asking from us is to look outside of ourselves and see what He is calling us to. His desire is for us to be the Hero for someone else, to bring glory to His name. When we chose to see Him only – respond, rise up, and fight forward for others – then all our stuff will fall away. When we dig deep inside, we will find the ability to stand up, take the next hill, and rescue the broken before us. At that time, we will walk in faith toward the fullness and abundant life He has for us. Will our lives miraculously be healed or made whole? Probably not, but it’s in this place we will find strength – we will be strong – not in our own strength but in His.

Every human spirit has a place where they can reach inside to “keep moving forward” but there are times that just like the energizer bunny – the batteries must be changed. We can accept that, wait on the Lord and those He places in our lives for that purpose or we can wallow in this rough spot and lose hope.

My choice, my cry is one of faith in a God who is good to me ALL the time – and I shout “Fight Forward”.

Ps. 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)

2Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

A Day of Miraculous Multiplication

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     With anticipation I unlocked the door to the auditorium. Last night a large crew of “little elves” and I had prepared for what looked to be our most successful year for our Holiday Helps program. The food boxes were overflowing, the oversized chest freezer was cram-packed with turkeys, the toy tables were stacked high and we still had a closet full of extras. Plus in the center of the room stood a 6-foot-tall mountain of donated clothes in every size possible waiting for those who would partake in this year’s “blessing”.

     Every family was scheduled, so there was plenty of time for mom, dad or grandparent to shop “free of charge” for Christmas gifts and the ability to load up leaf-bags full of clothes for each child in their family. Each would also go home with a holiday box brimming full of food, complete with a turkey. The love and hours of preparation for this project began way back at the end of August, and today was the day!!

     The doors opened and the morning began as I had planned, with each appreciative parent that was scheduled appearing as if on queue. But schedules are meant to be broken when it comes to God-appointed appointments, and mid-morning unscheduled people began to show up, each with broken lives and humble stories. I could not say no – I knew HE had sent them and was asking me to believe! Today was a day to stand in faith, and not turn any away, trusting in His ability to provide.

     The anticipation of something miraculous was stirring and seemed to crackle in the room.

   The door rattled as the wind blasted it shut and a timid young woman walked in. I was drawn to her hopeless stance and approached her. She hung her head and looked up at me, “I heard you might help me. I have twin 3-year- old girls and I have nothing for them. I don’t have an appointment, but if I could just get some clothes?” I was overwhelmed with her humility and reached out to hug her, “we have plenty, let’s shop for them”, I encouraged. For the next hour, with tears spilling from both of us, we found toys and clothes that were just perfect for her twins. How perfect was the miracle that waited.

     We sat on the floor digging through the mountain of clothes. We sorted, and resorted, looking for the correct size. Then with great joy the young mom pulled out a beautiful, brand new Christmas dress the exact size for one of her daughters. But slowly that smile began to change. I watched the smile slowly go out of her eyes as she realized, “but which one do I give this to?” “Let’s keep looking, maybe there is another pretty dress” I spoke with more faith then I felt, and within my mind I quickly sent up a request for God’s hand to provide. As I saw her shake her head in hopelessness I declared, “Let’s just take a minute and ask for one”. The shock was obvious – she didn’t have a concept of a Father God who would hear her – much less provide for her – but she humbly conceded as I sent up a quick prayer. Off we went in search of more clothes for her girls; by now she was on one side and I on the other of our mountain of clothes. Suddenly, I heard a gasp and a shriek, which catapulted me around the pile to her side as she sat dazed – laughing and crying, with the matching dress in the same size, for her other daughter, clutched to her chest. That day changed that mother’s life – she saw very clearly that she has a Father God, who does care, hear and provide in twin-size ways.

     But the day wasn’t over yet, and as the hours passed on, more unexpected families appeared needing our help. I knew the answer was to be YES for each of them; the schedule no longer mattered.

     Nearing 3:00 I began to count those who were still scheduled, and realized that we had only packed food boxes for those who had been scheduled. The number of turkeys had also been prepared for according to those numbers. My concern now was growing – we would not have enough! Two of my teen helpers were realizing the dilemma as well, and asked me what we were going to do. Again – my response – “Lets ask God to provide”. So that we did, and then I sent them off to count the turkeys, knowing how many we still needed.

     Hearing excitement over by the freezer, I approached to find both girls, with eyes as large as saucers chattering and now quickly proclaimed how many were left – the exact number of turkeys that were needed for the last group of families coming. It made no sense – in fact, I had to go look and re-count! But there they were just as they had said, on the bottom of the freezer.

   Over the next 2 hours, appointments came and unscheduled families still filtered in – and now I knew we were going to run out; but we gave and gave and gave, and yet the food boxes and turkeys NEVER ran out. As the doors closed and all was finished, one of my volunteers and I lifted the lid of the freezer to find one turkey still there. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she revealed her need to me. That turkey was there for her and her family, as well.

     It makes NO sense, but miracles never do – “whys” will never be answered, but it is enough to know that when we believe – when we say YES and when we love – HE shows up in miraculous ways of multiplication.

A Warrior’s Unexpected “Call to Arms”! (by J. K. Sanchez)

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     The air in the room instantly became thick and hot, her ears hearing only her crashing heart beat; four unexpected words spoken in a sterile environment now bouncing through her head like a ping pong ball – “you have breast cancer”. How she receives, processes and walks through today and the months and years ahead will transform her and impact everyone her life touches.

     The insidious leviathan called “breast cancer” begins to surface, having already begun its rampage within the territory belonging to her. Does she run or fight? Her first responses to this attack are terror, numbness and inability to move. But soon instructions, research and information are received and the sword is offered; now decisions loom. The still surreal question before her – surrender to this monster’s fiery breath or take that sword with both hands, brace her feet and prepare to move forward into the fight of her life?

     This devouring disease looms as a possible destroyer over every woman. There is no discrimination to its destruction – all are at risk. Every year over 200,000 women are faced with this monster’s appearance.   Every year the decision to take up a sword of defense is forced into trembling hands of women of all generations – the single woman, the mother, the career woman, and the retired woman. They all will receive a “call-to-arms” that was never expected. This battle is one that is a life-long sentence! These women may make it through the skirmish, but will live everyday for the rest of their lives with this leviathan and its smoldering breath lurking under the surface; never knowing if it will resurface again.

     Two brave warriors: Cherrie, a vibrant grandmother in her 60’s, and Rachael, a single mother of two in her 30’s, live each day with this lurking monster’s presence, but they walk with positive attitudes of thankfulness. The determination to fight – to lift the heavy sword – is wielded by three powerful words that stand strong within each of them: Faith, Hope and Love – the greatest of these is LOVE.

     Each of my friends and every woman who will encounter, fight, survive or succumb to this insidious disease are already winners, for they have made the stand against it. How the battle is fought is the key – it is the positive attitude within them that knows that they were made for more.

     At 64, the unexpected jolts in Cherrie’s life had adjusted to a soft daily roll. But one morning in March 2011, everything in her life quickly changed. As an exuberant positive person not much could shake her; but as the doctor spoke she barely heard anything past “stage 1a breast cancer”. This was a routine mammogram that now had turned into a tidal wave crashing over her mind. Shock, fear, anger, and tears all flooded unbidden over her, but within minutes the destructive wake stirred a determination as she announced, “Let’s get this taken care of NOW!”

     Her years of experience and research skills immediately kicked into gear. Her first contacts and rapid response came from friends working in the local hospital. They connected her to some of the best cancer specialists and within weeks she was scheduled to have a lumpectomy and begin a regiment of radiation.

     Though her greatest fears were of the cancer spreading or cells being left undetected, she knew her positive attitude had to stay intact.

     Cherrie was overwhelmed with love and support from her daughter, granddaughter and friends; this love became her strength. Shortly after surgery she received a surprise visit from co-workers touting pink roses and champagne to celebrate, cheer her on and stand beside her – just in case she grew tired as she wielded this heavy sword. They were in her corner to fight this fire-breathing leviathan – they knew this red head had enough fire in her to breathe right back at him. Their support, encouragement and love were what helped her through the hardest days. The very best medicine is often found in friends – laughter, love and of course some “furry” snuggles.

     Now 5 years cancer-free, Cherrie knows that love was the reinforcement she needed every day, “To be with those who were positive and loved me unconditionally kept my hope up. ”

     This destructive tsunami hits new women every day, but from one warrior to the next, Cherrie’s advice is “above all else try to remain positive, it is frightening but necessary to be optimistic. Put your trust in your medical team BUT ask questions at every opportunity. If you need help – ask for it! The people who love you sometimes don’t know how to help – so tell them.” And with a smile and some sweet levity Cherrie advises, “be thankful for Lane Bryant push up lingerie – I am!”

     Rachel, a 34 year-old mother of two with no risk factors, was unprepared to hear the results of the recently found rapidly growing and painful lump on her breast. As the doctor diagnosed, “It’s an invasive aggressive cancer”, the words sounded as if a death sentence had just been handed to her – this aggressive cancer could mean less then a year to live. Within weeks, armed with firsthand encouragement and research, she chose her best option for surgery and a double mastectomy, lymph-node removal and implantation of expanders were accomplished.

     Life as she had known it had come to a screeching halt – surgery, weeks of chemo and a myriad of medications took over her life with her biggest fear looming in front of her – her two young sons without a mother.

     Rachel lives a life that is positive – always looking at the best in life and others, so it was time to focus that positive attitude on the fight of her life.

     Family stepped up! With her sister’s ability to research healthy options in every arena and help with her boys, as well as her mother’s strong shoulder and prayer warrior spirit – she found the fuel that helped her make the decisions to fight this leviathan. The onslaught of support through kind words, prayers, and gifts of all types overwhelmed her with love and hope that she would complete this journey.

     With months of pain, medications that made her sick, loss of her hair, setbacks, surgeries and more surgeries, as well as living through months of hormone inhibitors which made her feel dead inside, this young warrior responded, “Giving up was never an option or a thought.  No matter what I am facing and going through, God has given me this life and it is His to give and take away. My goal is love, truth and kindness – even on the hardest days.”

     Now only months since her last medications, she thoughtfully responds, “I am still often tired, but grateful for each day with my sons. I’m lucky to be alive, even though I still have pain and hard days.”

     She thinks often of those who unexpectedly helped her in many of the little everyday ways – providing meals, finances, occupying the boys, and a myriad of thoughtful gestures. She is filled with joy as she sees the example of God’s grace having been walked out in her family – seeing them come together, reconcile differences and support both her and each other has been an unexpected blessing.

       Life is never the same and this battle is never really over. Once you have cancer it is always lurking. The thoughts that ring loud and clear from Rachel are “before this, the world and life felt so big – full of wonder and possibilities. Now I don’t feel that way. Hopes and dreams are simple now, but I have deeper peace and security. I’m able to be more honest and direct. My relationships are all simple because I’m at peace with others and myself. I don’t place expectations on anyone and I allow myself to have weakness and space to rest.”

     Rachel’s thoughts for those beginning and fighting this battle are to walk daily with “Focus- Laser focus! Focus on what is in front of you right now. Whether it is a person, a project, decision, pain, recovery, gift, blessing, sunshine, or storm – all you have is right now. Soak it in. Also, every step is temporary, whether good or bad. Pain comes and goes and healing takes its place.”

     Though cancer takes over every thought in this journey, it is not what defines these women – they have not chosen this battle and have no control as to how, why or when it attacks – but they do have a choice; how they respond to it.

   Loving support and prayer are the covering and glue that seem to hold together as well as strengthen body, mind and spirit while these warriors trudge through this darkness.

     Human beings are able to pick up, move-on and overcome so many horrific obstacles in life because of three seemingly small words: Faith, Hope and Love. Faith that there is a God bigger than all of this, who loves us and is the ultimate one in control; Hope that our life (our story) is not finished yet, and that there is still a promised future waiting for us. And the greatest of these – love. A love that will change, support and bring life, growth and strength to the atmosphere that surrounds us. Love is the adhesive that is the key to any type of recovery.

     Let’s come along side these fighting warriors with faith, hope and love; bringing some small strength to them as they fight this insidious leviathan. For we know not if we may be the next warrior in need of strength to lift the sword in the fight of our life, as its lurking presence may beckon our own unexpected call-to-action.

 

Photo courtesy of : saphatthachat@freedigitalphotos.net