Walk by Faith not by Taste and Smell

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Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1a NLT

A little over 15 years ago I leased a horse for the summer with hopes of buying him (I did buy him and owned him for 11 years).  I had 2 horses in the past when I was really young and it had been years so it was a new exciting adventure and a great way to release stress in a really emotionally draining job.  I tried to get out and ride 3 times a week to get the practice and bond with him.  That summer we went to the mountains in what seemed like every other weekend for a day ride also.

Bruno was a very steady easy-going horse that never seemed to startle even if a bird flew out from the grass underneath him.  He was also very patient because there were many days that I’d tangle the halter as I was walking out to the field. I could see him let out a deep breath on those days and stand patiently while I tried to get the tangled mess on his head.  He was also great because he came when I called his name (he was very treat motivated).

Sometimes my friend and I would ride on the tracks, through the fields, on the highway and once we even went into town and through a drive thru to get a pop.  In November, Marsha and I decided to ride down to a walking trail and see something new.  This was what seemed like a very easy ride.  We took our lunches and headed down the road to the trail.

The only thing I really remember about that day is that at an auction, I had purchases a new saddle bag for short rides and she had found some weird crocheted hat for her horse and we had both decided to use our new purchases.  The reason I don’t remember anything else is because of what happened at the end of the day.

I’ve been told that on our way home, we were galloping down the street and Bruno ran past Marsha and Diamond without me on him and he was bucking.  Here’s what I can tell you.  We never took a cell phone with us when we rode but that day Marsha had hers.  I was unconscious and the only call that any person in the area could make due to no cell coverage was the one 911 call that connected.  I spent a couple of weeks in the hospital in an amnesia state with a skull fracture and my mom and sister rushed down from North Dakota to care for me.

When I was released from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day I still had no memory of the accident, couldn’t drive due to a seizure, had a traumatic brain injury causing me to have no filter between what I thought and said, couldn’t go back to work, had no sense of taste or smell, and the doctors didn’t think I’d get some of my life back for at least a year if at all.  But GOD – he had different plans.  Before Christmas I got my drivers license back without having to redo all the testing, began physical and speech therapy, and started back to work on a very part-time basis in January.  Yet I still couldnt taste or smell anything.  Even though the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist told me this would be permanent because it must be a result of the skull fracture, it never crossed my mind that it would be a problem or permanent.

I continued to eat my favorite foods because I knew I loved the taste.  I bought my favorite lotion scents, candles and even new perfume because I wanted to have the things I loved.  I learned to eat by texture and even joked that I could easily do Fear Factor and win because I could eat anything.  It became a way of life yet I still knew God would heal me and I expected it so I kep eating and buying the things I loved.

A couple of years after the accident a friend and I went to a Joyce Meyer event in Denver.  I was sitting in the crowd when during prayer time she had us touch the part of our body that needed healing as she prayed.  I knew instantly I was healed!  I didn’t have a ovewhelming sense of smell but I just knew it and told my friend I could taste and asked for a piece of candy.  Ironically or not so ironic one lady had a Bit O Honey and gave it to me.  It was very subtle but I knew and I was excited to eat actual food and taste it.  It wasn’t until we had left the evening event and were driving home that my smell came back and boy was that a shock.  You see on the drive home we went past onion fields and a feed lot. Can I just say YUCK!  My thankfulness for complete healing sadly flew out the door and I wondered why God didn’t heal my sense of taste and not my sense of smell.

As I’ve been sitting here in God’s waiting room, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to live by faith.  I don’t see his answer to my prayer.  What I see is a lot of closed doors and little hope.  As I’ve been crying out to him, he reminded me of this experience.  This is what it means to live by faith.  To go through the practice even when the reality isn’t there.  I never considered back then that eating foods I like or buying lotion and candles because I remember how much I loved them  was an act of faith.  I did it because I knew I liked it and even if I couldnt’ taste or smell, the reality was they were part of me and I knew I’d enjoy them.

The Amplified version says “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality (faith perceiving as real fact what is not reveled to the senses).  He reminded me  in the waiting room it takes faith.  We may not see the outcome or the answer but we have to hold on.  Sometimes it’s doing daily even if we don’t see it.  Sometimes it’s as simple as eating your favorite food even if you can’t taste it because you know it tastes good.

What are you holding on to?  Where is your faith being stretched?  What actions do you need to take even if you don’t see the evidence that the answer is coming?

Prayer:  Father, you ask us to have faith. Some days my faith is strong and I hold on to your promises even if I don’t see the reality.  Other days honestly my faith is weak.  Help me to hold on and have your assurance even when I don’t see things happening in my timing.  I want to have the conviction of their reality even if I can’t see it with my physical eyes yet.

 

 

 

 

Waiting or Training?

boxing gloves

Do you not know that in a race all runners run but only one gets a prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

I Corinthians 9:24-26 (NIV)

Sometimes God’s waiting room is more his training room.  I often think of waiting as just sitting or standing until its my turn but that really isn’t the case when it comes to God.  My son started boxing this summer.  Everyday Monday – Thursday he trains.  When I asked him if he’d like to take boxing he asked me if it would hurt.  I was brutally honest and said yes, imagine being punched in the face by someone as hard as they can hit you over and over.  He decided he didn’t want to box until his best friend also signed up.

They haven’t put him in the ring yet and he may never compete.  I asked how they decide which kids compete and was told that at first they just train.  They run every day, jump rope, lift weights, do squats, learn the basic foot work and punch the bag.  They train until they master all the basics. Then they will get in the ring to see how they do and if they feel like they are ready they add them to the more competitive training letting them box other kids.  If this happens they add another hour a day to their training but for now he trains for 1 hour a day 4 days a week to learn the basics and get in shape in hopes of eventually getting in the ring.

God doesn’t just put us in the waiting room to sit and wait.  Tyler isn’t just waiting to get in the ring he wouldn’t last very long. He is training 1 hour a day.  Right now God doesn’t just have me sitting here waiting for him to open the door, he is training me.  I’m learning and practicing faith, trust, humility, patience, turning over control to him and I’ve reorganized my priorities to align with Gods.  I’m going deeper in the Word, learning thankfulness and how to keep my thoughts focused on the good because that is what is magnified in my life, praise.  Some days I have felt sorry for myself or wondered what magic thing I need to do so that God will open the door.  What am I missing?  What am I not doing that I should do?  Who should I talk to that I haven’t?  All the things that go through other people’s minds when they are waiting.

Rather than waiting we need to think of this time as God’s training room.  He’s preparing us to go to a new level.  I’ve heard it said before that sometimes we repeat lessons that God is trying to teach us because we don’t change or learn.  I don’t want that to be the case with me. Just like I don’t want Tyler to get thrown into the ring without knowing what to do and be prepared for what he will face God doesn’t do that in our lives.  Each lesson we learn is training to go farther.  Sometimes the training is long but it’s for a specific purpose.  It’s important to remember Ephesians 2:10.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  We are training because God has something for us to do.  Are you training or waiting?

 

Personalized Pray:  Father I want to see this time as training because I know you have a purpose in my life.  I don’t want to just sit and wait but I want to learn so that I can go to the next level and be all that you have planned.  Train me today so that I can say I have gone into strict training and accomplished all you have set before me.  Amen

Using our Tools

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  (Proverbs 3:5) NLT

This past fall here in Colorado it was terribly windy.  I don’t mind the wind because I used to live in Wyoming and North Dakota so I’m used to it.  I have some really great wind chimes that I’ve hung up so that I can take advantage of it also since I love the sound of the chimes.  What I have discovered though is that the wind somehow creates a draft through my garage that keeps blowing my laundry room door open.  It was an easy fix on laundry day because I just propped a basket full of clean clothes by the door in hopes of keeping it shut when I left for the day.  When I am home and have all the laundry put away thought the door won’t stay shut if the wind is blowing.  While I was doing devotions all I could think about was the door opening and the mice from the garage coming into my house.  I hate mice and have traps set all over the garage as a defense against them along with all the dogfood, dog treats, birdseed etc in sealed plastic storage bins to not entice them to stick around.  Still I think about why can’t the door stay shut and what might come in!

Being the unhandy person, I decided to really check it out and fix it.  It looked like the latch wouldn’t sit flush with the strike plate and stay shut.  I measured with my thumb (I didn’t have my tape measure) and determined that they are off just enough so the latch won’t pop out to hold itself in the strike plate.  I took out my hammer and an ice pick that I found and tried to open up the area so it would shut.  It didn’t work… Surprise! So I took off the strike plate to see what the issue was and yep, they didn’t line up.  A hammer and an ice pick wouldn’t remedy the problem.  I needed real tools.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually probably have all the necessary tools because I inherited a 6 drawer Craftsman tool box full of tools from my great-aunt.  The problem is I don’t know how to use them.  That’s the reason I resorted to a hammer and ice pick and eventually a sock to keep the door shut.  Now, I’ve lived in this house for 21 years and have never had this problem before but I thought I knew what the problem was.  Mysteriously the door quit lining up and since I couldn’t fix it, I knew I needed a plan to save for a new door frame and door along with the money to pay for someone to fix it.

A couple of weeks later I had a friend from out-of-state stop by for a visit who is really handy.  I mentioned the door to him, told him what I thought the problem was and asked him to look at it.  He looked at it and told me to go by some WD40 because the latch was sticking.  Guess what?  That’s another tool I already had on hand but it never crossed my mind that the fix would be something simple.  Sometimes our problems, worries and fears don’t require a major purchase and tons of investment because that is what we might think.  It just needs to be in God’s hands we need to trust him with the solution.

So many times in our Christian life we do the same thing, or at least I do.  I try to fix problems on my own.  Jesus has given us all the tools we need to keep the mice out of our lives.  Those horrible dirty things that make a mess and breed entire families of poopy little creatures.  For some of us that is worry, fear, pride, greed, unforgiveness or ___________(you fill in the blank).  We already have a fully stocked tool box to help us but maybe we are too lazy to get the right tool  (my tape measure by the way is in my bedroom, I just didn’t want to go back there to get it) or we don’t use the tools we have.

The Bible is the direction manual for every tool – prayer, scripture memorization, Bible study, what true love looks like, humility, forgiveness, trust, etc.  The Holy Spirit is the battery power for everything, peace in hard times and joy that only comes from God.  Instead of going for a quick fix like sock to keep the door shut, we need to learn how to use the tools we already have.  When the times are good and the wind is calm, set up the habits that will keep the door of fear, anxiety, worry or ____________(fill in the blank) shut so when the storms blow you are ready with the tools you need.

Trust! It has been the main tool that I’ve learned to use these last 17 months.  What tools do you need to pull out and learn to use or sharpen up so they aren’t dull?

Personalization:  Lord help me to trust in you as I’m sitting here in your waiting room. I know I can’t do this on my own, I need you to get me through this.

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Trust

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Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My victory and honor come from God alone.  He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.  O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him for God is our refuge.  Psalms 62:5-8 NLT

A few years back I went to a year-long leadership training.  There were probably 40 of us from across the state who were chosen to attend.  We met 2 days at a time every other month.  One month we attended a team building session up in the mountains for 3 days.  This retreat was half way through the year where we talked about trust and did exercises and activities around trust building.  One of these activities was rock climbing.  We had such a diverse class where some had climbed before and others like myself never had.  The first thing we learned was how to hold the ropes and practice belaying.  We worked in teams of 5 practicing how to tie the ropes and how to hold the climber because we were the safety net.  One climber and 4 people holding the rope including an anchor who had the end of the rope tied around them so if the climber fell , there were 4 people to stop the fall before they hit the ground.

I wasn’t worried about the height but more worried because I thought it was arm strength that I had to use to pull myself up the rock.  What I learned was it is a lot of leg strength and being able to look for your next foot and hand grip while going up.  It wasn’t just finding a rock, grabbing it and pulling yourself up.  It was looking for your next hold and moving slow and steady.  When it was my turn, I had the strongest grip I could get and began the climb.  It was slow and steady always looking for the next spot and knowing that the people below wouldn’t let me fall.  I wouldn’t fall because I was holding on for dear life.  When I made it to the top I was so proud – look what I had accomplished.   I did it, I didn’t slip, I didn’t fall, I didn’t give up.  I did it all by myself and my team below didn’t have to catch me.

What happened next was the hardest part of the day and the biggest lesson I’d learn about myself.  There was only one way down the side of that rock.  Did I mention down?  All the practicing we had done before really came into play but the problem was I had to do my part as the climber.  I had to let go and lean back.  Are you kidding me?  I am holding onto this rock for dear life.  I got up here by myself and I wasn’t about to let go.

But that is where the whole point of the exercise came in – TRUST.  I had to trust that I was 100 feet in the air and the people at the other end of the rope were going to catch me and do the job we’d trained for letting me down gently.  When I let go guess what?  They did.

It was at the point though of letting go that I really understood something.  Trust is hard.  Trust has to be developed.  It takes building relationships and knowing the person to trust them.  We couldn’t have done this exercise at the beginning of the leadership training.  It wouldn’t have worked.  It changed a lot of things.  We became really good friends, we met for dinner, I attended some of their weddings and we still talk.

I also began to question if I really trusted God.  Would he catch me if I fell?  Would I let go of my own things trusting him to be there, have it, or catch me?  Maybe the bigger issue is did I really know who God was?  Had I really developed that relationship and do I know his character?  I know in my head all of it but was it really in my heart?  Did I believe it applied to me?

Do you believe it applies to you?  If your holding on to a cliff for dear life right now – what is God asking you to do?  What do you need to let go of?  What do you need to trust God for?  Do you really know him enough to trust him?  Have you read the scriptures and actually personalized them for you?

Right now the Woman’s Bible Study that meets at my house is personalizing scriptures and sharing them to encourage each other.  Each of us has a different issue that we are struggling with but we are taking the Word and making it personal so that it goes just from head knowledge to our heart where we are really knowing God.   When the time comes and trust is all we have, I want there to be a stong foundation so we can let go.

My personalization of today’s verse:  Because I trust in God, I pour out my heart to Him. He is my only hope and I must wait on him.  He gives me victory and won’t let any enemy reach me.  I won’t be shaken because he is my rock and my refuge.

camp hale Where we climbed at Camp Hale.

Ready for Battle

captain-america shield

A final word:  Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against fresh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT

When I was in high school I sang in a Fine Arts competition through our church.  The song I chose was  The Warrior is a Child by Twilla Paris.  I have to tell you I love the song, it really spoke to my heart and has become my theme over the years.  It’s funny because I never really saw the connection between this song and Ephesians 6:10-12 until I found myself in the waiting room of life and God’s plan.  I would love to be able to tell you that everyday I get up, put on God’s armor and am ready for everything that comes my way.  Many of the days the shield of faith, the belt of truth, and the shoes of peace are the first things I put on and I never leave home without them.  Someday I hope to say that but there are days when the circumstances I see with my eyes and the promises of God don’t line up.  Like the 210 jobs I’ve applied for, being turned down and the weeks I get 4 rejections and my unemployment has run out.  Nope they don’t line up and my shield has become heavy so I’ve laid it down for a  minute and a minute was all it took for the thoughts of doubt, fear, worry and hopelessness to hit their marks. – Shot in the heart which then made me lose my shoes of peace and my belt of truth.  I even dropped the Sword of the Spirit.  There I stood – a warrior who was wounded in the fight and thankfully I went running to my Daddy who helped me put back on my truth belt at the same time he reminded me of my sword.  It didn’t just automatically happen.  I had to make a choice even though I didn’t feel like it.  I read scripture and began to sing praises to him.  I can’t say that instantly my game reset and all the armor was back on because that wasn’t the case.  The more I thanked and praised him in song and remembered his promises and faithfulness to me, the armor came back.  At one point I had one shoe on and one shoe off – Peace – No Peace.  Peace, no peace and I ran around like that for half of the day.  My shield of faith was more like paper, then became cardboard, tin, steel and finally like Vibranium (Captain American’s shield…I have a 9-year-old son).

Guess what?  When my faith is strong, both shoes are on – TOTAL PEACE.  Everyday I have to fight the darts thrown at me.  Some days all the armor is up and ready, other days it’s not secure. On those days I have to really chose to read God’s Word, sing praises and keep my mind focused on God’s faithfulness.

I’ve even created a little notebook that sits by my chair.  I call it my Ebenezer Stone (God’s Faithfulness) based upon Lamentations 3:20-24.  In it I have written as many things that I could remember about God’s faithfulness in my life.   For me that means answers to prayers, healing, provision and anything good he has done for me. On really hard days I pull it out and read it remembering all he has done.  It bolsters my faith because if he has done this for me in the past, why would I think that he has changed his mind or character and decide to stop being faithful.  Sometimes the waiting is hard. It may be silent or scary when I don’t see God working in my time-table.  I want to encourage you today to remember his faithfulness and bolster your faith by writing it down so you can see it, because it is during that time that you will find peace.  Then you will be able to stand ready to fight or continue to wait for God to move.

Lamentations 3:20-24:  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the lord never ends! His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness, his mercies begin a fresh each morning.  I say to myself, The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him!

Sit down and remember his faithfulness.  Write it down, share it with your family.  His character hasn’t changed.  He won’t lie and he will always be faithful and love you.  Sometimes we need to remember the past so we can press on in the future.  Strengthen your shield of faith because if he has done it before he promises to do it again and that will give you the shoes of peace to face whatever situation is coming your way.

 

army boots

Arm Yourself

armor

A final word:  Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against fresh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be ale to resist the enemy in the time of evil.  Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In additional to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.   Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT

So many times I have read these verses, heard sermons on the importance of the armor and even seen pictures in Sunday school of the armor labeled with names.  It has really been  during this extended waiting period that God spoke to me and made these verses personal.  I hope this encourages someone today because it’s during the waiting time that we need to be diligent in putting on the armor and making sure we are ready for battle.

My desire is for you to be strong and use the mighty power I have given you.  I have not left you defenseless but given you all the tools you need to fight the spiritual battles and attacks you face.  You are powerful when you wear my armor but defenseless when you don’t.  Stand firm with the belt of truth – the truth that I love you, I’m here with you, my blood is enough and you are forgiven, my promises are true and they will happen. My word is true.  Wear the breastplate of righteousness – have integrity in all that you do because I will honor you in all when you honor me even when others can’t see you, don’t argue or hate your decisions because of it.  Stand firm with the shoes of peace.  My peace that passes all understanding.  Peace for hard situations, peace in rough times, peace in fearful battles, peace in my love, peace in my plan and trust in me.  I also give you a shield of faith – faith in me, faith in my promises, faith in my love, faith that my plan for you is good.  This shield makes all your other tools more powerful, more effective and guards you in the battle from all attacks.  Use the helmet of salvation to protect your mind, to keep your thoughts focused on me and use my Word as your sword.  It is the only thing that will destroy the enemy.  Pray ,surround yourself in prayer before, during and after the battles.

My questions for you today.  What pieces of armor are you stong in right now?  What pieces do you need to pull out of storage, polish and oil up as you are facing battle?  Today I had to pull out my sheild of faith and polish it up trusting that God has a plan for my good even when I don’t see him moving and won’t leave me high and dry.

Prayer:  Thank you for preparing me for battle.  For giving me all the tools that I need to be strong and stand firm.  Many times I don’t utilize all the armor you’ve provided and then I get caught off guard by the lies the devil sends my way – doubt, fear, insecurity – because my shield of faith and belt of truth have been set down.  Help me to remain strong and vigilant to have my weapons ready at all times so that I can fight for you.  Amen

oil cans

Going Deeper

Little Girl

(1) O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.  My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. (8) I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.(Psalm 63:1 & 8) NLT

It’s kind of funny – I have two pretty big dogs and they both want to be lap dogs.  Evey night my 9-year-old son wants to play Uno.  He is constantly making up new rules to change-up the game that the 2 of us play.  Mind you I don’t always know the new rules until I’ve had to draw a card.  One time we had to roll a die to see how many cards we had to draw if we couldn’t play.

Every time we sit on the floor both dogs want to be right in the mix.  Titan, my pit bull, who walks around with his security all the time tries to walk between the 2 of us over the cards wagging his tail messing up the decks and hoping to get us to throw the ball.  Little Girls on the other hand wants to sit right next to me touching me.  Sometimes she lies on the cards or lays on my  leg pinning me to the ground (did I mention she is 155 lb English Mastiff?)  just to be near me.

This morning as I was praying and really trying to hear from God about some challenges in my life she was laying there and dept hitting me with her paw to get me to pet her.  It’s really hard to focus on being quiet and listening for God when your dog’s paw keeps hitting you.  If you have dogs especially if they are or think they should be lap dogs you know what I mean.

Little Girls paw

I was like… Seriously (in the most irritated tone ever)?  I need this time with God, how can I focus when she won’t let me be?  That’s when it hit me.  Tons of self reflecting questions.  God, am I like this with you?  Do I just want to be so close to you that like my dogs I won’t give up because I have to be with you?  Have you touch me?  Follow you all over the house going from room to room so I can be with you?

Sadly, probably not.  I can get busy in my own plans or go the day and not think about you.  Maybe I should be more like my dogs in my pursuit of you.  Maybe even in my irritation God had just given me a very practical paws on lesson of what my desire and life should be like when it comes to my relationship with him especially when I’m in the waiting room.

It’s during that waiting  room time, that when I focus my thoughts on him and learn the lessons that he has for me that in spite of what is going on around me I have peace. I have honestly found that when I try to go deeper in God and really focus my thoughts and time on him that the old song we used to sing in church becomes a reality.  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”  My challenge for you today is to go deeper and turn your eyes on Jesus no matter what is happening around you, because the peace and clarity of thought will help you see things in a new light.

Personalization:  Even when I feel like I am in the desert, there is no relief in sight and my soul thirsts for you, I know that you hold me in your strong hands. (Based upon Psalm 63:1 & 8)  

 

Titan’s Ball

Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.  I Peter 5:7 AMP

titans ballMy dog Titan loves his black ball.  He carries it around in his mouth everywhere.  He wants you to throw the ball and he brings it to you but when you try to take it from him, he won’t let you have it – yet he comes repeatedly to you with the ball.  Sometimes he half gives it to you, but when you get a hold of it, he tears it out of your hand and growls. We do this everyday – every time I sit in the chair.  When others come over he takes the ball to them and drops it nicely in their laps wanting you to throw it.  They will once or twice,but he keeps bringing it back.  He isn’t their dog so they keep dropping the ball on the ground and I say “Titan bring your ball”.  He will but once again it’s a struggle; he wants it thrown but not by me, so he pulls it away and then takes it to the guest.  When he finally decides I can throw it because nobody else will, he drops it in my lap and sits patiently.  I always throw it and am happy to toss it most of the time but I won’t fight him for the ball.

He gives it to me but quickly takes it away so he can walk around with it in his mouth.  He may even drop it down the stairs for himself so he can play and chase it.  When he can’t find the ball he comes to me and wants to sit on my lap for scratches and love but if he has the ball he occupies his own time with it.  It’s funny how I am so much like my dog Titan – when he carries his ball around in his mouth all the time.

Titan is sometimes a perfect picture of how I am with God.  I have problems or worries and I may tell him about them.  He’d love to handle them for me yet I won’t give them completely to him.  I wrestle him for them.  BUT, I’ll tell my friends and family all about my problems hoping they will do something to fix them but they can’t.  They can offer me advice but if I’d take it to God and let him have it—He would handle it.

How often are we like that with God?  We have our worries or habits that we hold onto.  They take up our time. They are our security blankets and we keep them close to us or bring them to God but won’t let Him take it.  We hold onto it firmly like the death grip my dog has on his ball.  When we decide to give them up or we can’t “find’ them, we come to God for love.  Unlike me, God never tires of us coming to him to sit on his lap, lay at  his feet and spend time with him.  I challenge you today to think about what habit or worry is occupying God’s time in your life and to bring it to him without the death grip.

During my time in God’s waiting room I’ve been learing this lesson.  Taking my worries to God.  With human eyes I should have tons of worries and be in a panic at home hiding under my blanket and crying but I keep casting my cares on him.  It doesn’t come easy, it is a conscious decision that I have to make daily to cast my cares on him.  I love though what this verse reminds me of.  He cares and watches over me.  Today I want to challenge you to drop the ball of your cares and worries in God’s lap and see how He will handle it.

Prayer:  God you tell me that I can bring all my cares, fears, worries, and concerns to you no matter how big or small they seem to me because you care for me affectionately and you watch over me.  I don’t have to worry unless I chose to so today I chose to NOT worry but to let you deal with it all. 

All or Nothing

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.  Proverbs 19:21 English Standard Version

pikes-peakWhen I was in my 20’s and shortly after I moved to Colorado, my friend and I decided we were going to go hiking.  We were both young and we lived in the state where tons of people hike so why not give it a try.  I wanted to embrace the Colorado spirit so why not.  Now neither of us had really hiked or even walked a lot before so it would have made more sense to begin small – a short hike in Rocky Mountain National Park 1 hour away would have been the perfect choice.  (Remember though I’m not perfect and we were in our 20’s.)  So just a day or so (maybe even on the drive there), I bought some hiking gear including shoes and socks and a really cute hat to wear and off we went to drive to Colorado Springs.  Our goal was to tackle the most well-known peak in Colorado.  Yup – Pikes Peak!

We had a great plan, drive down, spend the night, get up early the next day, hike, eat dinner, do some shopping, come back to the hotel sleep and then drive home.  Sounds great right?  We weren’t going to do all 26 miles for the hike.  No we were going to be smart and just hike up and catch the Cog Railway down.  13 miles was our goal. People had told us it would take a couple of hours and that the switchbacks at the beginning were the worst.  We laughed – we were taking the trail not doing the highway up so it couldn’t be that bad.

We woke up at 4:00 so we could be there ready to start by 5 a.m. and get to the top by lunch, ride the rail down and have time for shopping, sightseeing, and eating out.  When we got there, we saw a group of military guys starting out, a few people on bikes and some runners.  Piece of cake we thought.  Now what we didn’t do is any research before we left or take into consideration that there is almost 10,000 feet difference in elevation from the top of the Peak to where we live.  From the trailhead to the top you climb 7,510 vertical feet over the 13 miles.  Yes, the switchbacks were a killer winding like a snake up the mountain.  We had to stop every 100 feet  or so to catch our breath but we had a goal (NOT a realistic one), but we had one.  We were passed by runners and even people on bicycles and when we made it to the 6.8 mile rest stop it was after noon.  When we stopped to eat lunch we thought we can make it to the top by the last train down at 4:30 only 5.2 miles to go.

It was starting to get cloudy so at least we would stop hiking in the blaring sun.  While resting we asked a few more experienced hikers what the rest of the trail looked like and if they thought we’d make it before the last train.  “Oh yes,” they said but as the clouds began to come in they mentioned that a lot of the last part would be above the timberline.  That meant we would be the tallest things up there.  Then we heard the roll of thunder in the distance.  As we packed up and started back up the trail we began meeting hikers who were coming down.

In our minds and by the feel of our bodies, we thought we had traveled a great distance and were almost to the top.  We asked a hiker coming down how further.  About 5 miles they said.  We’d only gone about .2 miles!  Onward we pushed until we met the next group.  We told them we were excited to get to the top as this was our first try at Pikes Peak.. They asked us if it was worth our lives as the lightning and thunder were getting closer?  Let’s be honest, we were getting tired, it didn’t mean that much and getting hit by lightning was NOT worth the risk so we turned around and headed back down the 7 miles we had come.  Can I just say that hiking downhill is way harder on your knees then hiking uphill.  Getting down was also much quicker than heading up.  When we reached the bottom, we still had time to ride the Cog Railway so we drove there, bought roundtrip tickets and took the easy way to the top.  The last trip up wasn’t very crowded so we stretched out, put our feet on the seats across from us and enjoyed the beautiful ride up to the top.  We talked, laughed, drank water, and ate trail mix looking at all the scenery while listening to the driver talk about the history, the trees and point out interesting facts.  Honestly this was the way to go, that is until we reached the top.  Remember we had hiked 14 miles earlier without any preparation so when it was time to get out and look around the Peak, the full effect of the hike could be felt in our legs.  Wobbly sore muscles greeted us as we tried to stand up but we made it to the top.  Not how we expected to but we did it and we had a great story to tell!

cog-railwayThat adventure had been almost 20 years ago but God reminded me of it while I’m sitting in his waiting room.  My expectation as a first time hiker was not realistic but I didn’t care, it wasn’t about my expectation, it was about a fun adventure.  When my goal didn’t match my preparation level it didn’t matter that I had to turn around and reach the top a different way, we had a blast doing it and a great story to tell.

Why should the waiting room be any different?  God reminded me that sometimes I am so hung up on the perfection of my expectation that I lose the lesson.  This blog is a good example of that.  I felt stirred in my spirit 15 months ago to blog about the lessons I’m learning while I wait but I didn’t want to start it because I was nervous.  I had jumped into a hike that I was totally unprepared for but I couldn’t even take the first step with a blog because….. well…… my expectation was it had to be perfect; It wasn’t and didn’t have to be, I just had to obey.  When God asked Moses to raise his hand over the water at the Dead Sea, he obeyed  (Exodus 14:21).  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t know the outcome of being thrown into the fiery furnace, they just obeyed (Daniel 3).

Sometimes the hard lessons we learn in the waiting room are about just obeying.  What has God been prompting you to do?  Maybe its to take a step of faith?  Maybe to drop your own expectations of the outcome and trust that God has a better plan?  Maybe it is to really wait for his timing?  I’ve been in this particular waiting room for 15 months and other things I’m waiting on God’s timing have taken over 25 years and I’m still waiting.  One thing I have learned is how to enjoy this adventure in the waiting room.  I’m not so hung up on my expected outcome and timing now as I’ve learned to fully appreciate the lessons I’m learning and to trust that his outcome is going to be way better than I could have dreamed.  I want to encourage you to learn the lesson of obedience, drop your own expectations and be ready to go when he says Go.

Prayer:  Lord, you know that I am planner by nature and want to have all the pieces lined up before I step out.  Help me to remember to trust you with the outcome and to not be upset when my expectations aren’t met.  Your purpose will stand and that is the only thing I can count on.  Help me to learn the lessons you have planned as I wait so that I am ready to go when you say Go.

Competing for a Prize

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!  All athletes are disciplined in their training.  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.           I Corinthians 9: 23-24

basket ball

This week I am memorizing I Corinthians 9:23-24.   This scripture talks about getting a prize, training, and competing.  I remember when I was in 8th grade and I wanted to play basketball.  Now mind you I had played in the 7th grade but wasn’t good.  I shot 2 handed and was slow and out of breath so I sat on the bench the entire season.  I was at a small school so everyone made the team but I hated sitting on the bench.  I wanted to play!

When school started that year and before basketball season started I convinced my friend who was good to help me.  Everyday after school we went to the small elementary school gym next door and I practiced shooting baskets and dribbling the ball only using one hand.  Then I’d run laps and do suicides back and forth across the gym so I was ready because I was determined to play.

I’d love to tell you that I was the star of the team, saved the day and received a college scholarship because of all of my practice and training.  (This is reality though not a 2 hour movie.) What I did accomplish was my goal.  When the season started I got to play and guess what, I even was a starter and played in all the games.  Did I go on to have a great basketball career in high school?  No, I actually stopped playing after that year.  Basketball was not my sport, but I had a goal; a prize I wanted to compete for and I did it.

If I could put this much time and training to get off the bench for a sport I didn’t really even like, how much more should I be willing to train for Christ while I’m in the waiting room and strive to daily carry him to the world?  I’d love to tell you I get up everyday, spend an hour in prayer, do devotions, and memorize scripture, floating through the day as a perfect example of Christ to those I meet.  Again this is reality.  I wake up wishing I had more time to sleep, I do read my devotional most days though.  I try to spend the 9 minutes of my snooze alarm to ask God to help me through the day and then I’m off and running.  Sometimes I get impatient when the check out line goes to slow or the car in front of me stops at the light blocking me from turning right so my son isn’t late for school.  Some days my 2 dogs get more grace than my family and other days it all falls together.

None of us are perfect, only Jesus is.  He didn’t call us to be perfect, he called us to train as we run the race.  Maybe your goal is like mine, to get off the bench or out of the waiting room.  We need to train and take advantage of this waiting time to become stronger and allow God to work on our rough edges and learn new habits to replace the poor ones we may have developed.   As you run today what little steps can you consistently take to get you closer to the prize?  Maybe it’s listening to praise music when you ge ready, setting the mood for the day.  Maybe it’s practicing a scripture, repeating it every day for a week until you have it memorized.  Whatever steps you need to add, try adding one small one today and do it everyday consistently until it becomes a habit and then add another one.  Don’t have the all or nothing mentality because you’ll set yourself up for failure trust me.  I’ll give you more insight into that next post when I will tell you about my little hike.

For today my challenge for you is to take one small step to go deeper as you wait.  Begin your training because the prize we are training for is Heaven.

Prayer:  Lord you’ve called me to run a race.  Sometimes it feel easy and other days it feels impossible to try to move forward.  Help me to remember that I’m running this race for you and that you are training me to be the person you desire me to be. Give me strength in the hard times and help me to move forward, work in me and draw me closer to you.