Cuz ya gotta have faith, uh faith, uh-faith-uh

Maybe I’ve got a sign on my metaphorical back that says “Stretch Me.” Maybe God has something big in mind ahead of me and my spiritual muscles just need to jump some more hurdles and do some more high intensity workouts. With multiple repetitions. But this walk of faith seems to keep throwing me curve balls.

Or some other reasonably appropriate sports analogy.

I was asked recently to speak at a Bible study about Faith and Trust. I smiled and thought, “Great. I have all these challenging things I’m facing right now. But God will resolve them before it’s time for me to speak about this at the Bible study, and then I’ll have some great stories about how He met me in the challenges.”

And then some time went by, and a little more, and things weren’t resolved yet.

I still have some time before I am supposed to speak, but not seeing resolution, I began to wonder if maybe I should be looking to learn a different lesson.


{Although this is the Hubs and the Bear, I think it could also easily be a picture of God and me. The walk of faith, one step at a time…}

Alongside just being hopeful that something cool would happen for me to share, you’ll be glad to know I also spent some time actually preparing for the talk. Along with reading other writers’ discussions of faith and belief, I began taking special note of how Jesus spoke about faith, and what God said to His people as He instructed them to have faith in Him as they were moving toward the Promised Land.

And isn’t the Word so amazing in its ability to do this: a verse I’d read in perhaps every English translation of the Bible, and memorized and pondered for years jumped out at me with fresh meaning again.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” {Heb. 11:6, NIV}


“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” {same verse, NKJV}

This must mean that if I am supposed to speak about faith, I am supposed to speak about the process, and not the end result. Because faith is being sure of what we’re still hoping for. Faith is trusting that we are going to see something that we don’t yet see.

Who hopes for something they already have? {Unless they’re waiting on a bunch of boxes that are sailing across the ocean with most of their worldly possessions inside…I suppose that was having faith that they would make it here.}

We hope for what we don’t yet have in our hands. We hold on, and wait with hope, for something that hasn’t happened yet.

And faith is the stuff that keeps us holding, keeps us trusting, gives us a sense of knowing — it is coming. It will happen. He is faithful.

One of the big areas where we’ve been challenged to trust for a long time now, and where we’ve been especially holding on to faith recently, is in the area of finances. Part of the Hubs’ salary comes from the missions organization he works for, but part of it he raises himself. {In case that doesn’t make sense, that basically means a team of awesome and generous people financially support us, often on a regular basis, to make our ministry possible. [The same way we were supported as missionaries in Scotland and South Africa.]}

Each month the numbers are different, and each month I get the same sense: the Lord wants us to trust in Him. Although it feels like it’s a harder way to live than going out and getting a nine-to-five with a consistent paycheck, I consistently sense God saying You are where I want you. I want you to keep trusting Me.

Not long after the Hubs and I married, we decided to add an additional percent to our tithe each year we were married. So it increased from 10% to 11% to 12% and so on. We’re now at 14%, and though the first ten always goes to the church, we subtract our gifts to Compassion (sponsoring a child) from the other 4%, and then consider where the rest should go. Because our income is different every month, and we have to know the full amount to calculate the 14% and deduct the Compassion gift, we usually wait until the end of the month to figure it all out and write a check.

But a while ago I started to get a little uneasy about that process. God clearly demonstrates His desire, throughout Scripture and in no uncertain terms, to be first in our lives. From the beginning, He was pleased with Abel’s offering because he brought the firstfruits of the harvest. He told the people of Israel that the firstborn of all Israel was His — the first lamb, the first son. And in exchange for the first son of every family in Israel, He accepted the Levites as His set-apart people…I’m going off on a tangent now.

Where was I?

All of these firsts make a lot of sense to me. Because giving God the first means that you trust Him for the rest. If the first lamb that your sheep gives birth to is given to God, you are trusting that God will bless that sheep to have more lambs, which will provide for your needs in the future. If you give God the first fruits of the harvest — the first crops, for example — you are saying you trust God that you will be able to harvest the rest of those crops, and there will be plenty for you and your family.

He tells us to seek His kingdom first and then what? All these things will be added…

So I had a strong sense of conviction that we were putting our tradition in front of God’s command, which was very Pharisee of us. It seemed clear that we ought to immediately give that first ten percent, our tithe, and then we could calculate the other four at the end of the month, our offering.

But here’s where things got challenging. Since we’d been doing it our way for a while, we had our February amount to give on Sunday. And we get paid a significant part of our salary at the beginning of the month. So we were about to pay the February amount, and then go ahead and heap in the March amount, too. Which was like doubling things up at once. Yikes.

I just clearly sensed the whisper of the Lord about this — trust Me. Let go.

This post is getting kind of long, {Hello, word count tipping the scales at 1,184} so I’m going to pick up on this story again tomorrow. But to sweeten the cliffhanger, I want to say in one sweet section of the story to come, for perhaps the first time in as long as I can remember, the Hubs looked at me and said, “You were right.” It was a big deal.

Will we trust the Lord and give? Will the Hubs feel differently and veto my conviction?

And can I ask you: Are you being challenged to have faith right now? (If not, do you think there’s anything wrong with that?) If so, what’s keeping you holding on?


P.S. Do you have any clue what that title was trying to allude to? Am I a nerd? Or OLD?

For When Your Soul-Boat’s Rocking

I‘ve pondered for a while that night in the boat, when the disciples were so afraid of the wind and the waves and Jesus was asleep on a cushion. That was the time they woke Him up, shouting,


Least it went something like that. Maybe if they were Pirates.

{I imagine that if the disciples were teenagers it would’ve been more like:

“Uh, Rabbi… DUDE! OMG! We are NOT ROTFL back here. OMG! Don’t you, like, care? OMG! HELLLLLP! K THANKS.”

And if Jesus was a present-day teenager He might’ve replied:

“OM-Me. Whatever dudes. Why are you such pansies? Do you have, like, no faith? Fo rizzle. I’ve got this under control. A’ight, waves, chillax. K thanks. Wind, TTFN. See, dudes? Sweet n breezay. “}


Swiftly getting back to the real version…

Jesus’ response to the disciples always seemed a little harsh to me:

“Why are you sissies afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Okay maybe He skipped the sissies part.

But I’m guessing there were some serious waves, and there was some serious wind, to scare the pants off a group that included some seasoned fishermen.

{By the way this story is in Mark 4, in case you don’t like my version.}

Those brothers were scared. Fo rizzle.

This crazy little thing called life has presented me with some scary possibilities. And, even recently, I’ve just plain been afraid.

Weak-willed and worried — and maybe even losing sleep but I think the baby is mostly to blame for that.

But when I remember the God who hasn’t let me down yet — the One who has always been there, always demonstrated His love — I realize why fear is an amateur response to the scary stuff.

The disciples were right in bringing their concern to Jesus — there is never anything we shouldn’t bring to Him.

But where they were off beat was in questioning Jesus’ care and concern for them because they were experiencing hardship.

We’ve all been promised trials and tribulations. But we’ve also been promised the peace that will carry us through — the walking-through-that-shadowy-valley-with-my-head-held-high, fearless kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.

But when it’s hard, it’s hard not to ask: Don’t you care, God?

That seems like a familiar response in my own heart when the storms are raging with high seas and my little soul-boat feels tossed about.

But His Word reminds me what Paul and Barnabas told the believers in the early church:

“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22, NKJV)

And I remember His sovereignty over all:

Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it? (Amos 3:6b, NLT)

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies have sworn this oath: “It will all happen as I have planned. It will all be as I decided.” (Isaiah 14:24)

So how do we rightly respond, when the waves are high, when the ship is tossed, when we are afraid and have no idea how it is all-gonna-be-otay?

Job said, “The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20, NLT)

Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (Luke 1:38)

The Key Word that ties it all together? Trust.

Right now, I am remembering these words, holding onto them, savoring them like a quality slice of key lime pie:

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” {Psalm 37: 23 & 24, NLT}

{Doesn’t that taste good?}

Even when the wind is blowing a hoolie and the waves are crashing over your soul-boat’s bow, the Lord, the Lord — He is faithful, and absolutely worthy of trust.

I am preaching these words to me today — just thought I’d share them with you, too.


P.S. Have you had a chance to Come Outta the Closet yet? Please won’t you click over to my last post and answer a few brief questions for me? Preez with brown sugar and bacon on top?

Wisdom, Hope and the New Year Bleh

Listen to the creak of the door — I am opening the honesty box again. Not to tell you about how I am a bit grouchy because I’m sleep-deprived {or that someone once told me what you’re doing on New Year’s day is what you’ll be doing all year long so I was careful not to do any cooking, cleaning, or laundry yesterday} but rather to be honest about the fact that this is not my favourite time of year. It is not.

Not. Not.

When I look around the house and see all these lovely Christmas decorations that need to be packed away, and when I feel daunted by the year ahead and the fact that I don’t know what it holds and the last one was both wonderful and full of wonderful challenges, I don’t always smile.

The New Year feels a little… bleh.

Image 21

But thanks be to the Lord, two things have coincided to assist in changing my bleh attitude. First, the Bible reading plan I’ve been working my way through — The One Year Bible — stretches out the Psalms and the Proverbs so that you get your Psalm on and, have some Proverbial input every day all year long.

That glorious Proverbial input has been a constant reminder to look for wisdom and seek out understanding.

Also, my dear friend Pam is doing a 2012 Romp through the Proverbs, and I’m sharing there today on Proverbs 2.

And a beautiful promise is contained therein: that if you look for wisdom, the Lord gives it. If you tune your ears to it, and cry out for understanding, He will meet you.

And despite the challenges, and even the discouragements of the year gone by, this gives me HOPE. That wonderful anchor to our soul-boats, that hope that doesn’t disappoint, is mine.

I’ve done a bit of snowboarding in my day, the Hubs, much more. He often speaks about the importance of believing you can do it. The minute you think you’re going to fall — when the thought has barely crossed your mind, you find yourself on your bum — kaboonk — with a what just happened and a dern I was cruising till that thought crossed my mind!

It is essential that we believe for better, else we won’t be able to receive better. It is essential that we hope and pray, believing our prayers matter, believing God does move.

I’ve been praying for wisdom to mark my New Year, and funny enough, I think holding on to hope is one of the wisest things I can do.

I may still feel a little bleh — partly because I like Christmas decorations, partly because of fear — but my hope is being renewed. Great things are ahead. God is sovereign over everything.

As I was writing this, I received a wonderful message from my friend Michelle and her words sum it up so well:

This year I am making it my goal, my mission to live my life with the most hope ever. And to leak this hope where ever I go. I say all of this for the reason to encourage you to let go and let hope. There is a grace to leave discouragement, hopelessness and disappointment behind if you will only receive this Hope invitation from Him.

I am hope-full, that God will meet me with wisdom, as a wife and a parent and a writer, a daughter and a hopeful baker of tasty bread this year, but whether I find the wisdom to navigate each area of life, somehow I’m certain the decision to hope can permeate every area, and always for the good.

Let’s Let go and Let Hope this year.


Let Your Life Sing

I like to sing. Not necessarily because I’m exceptionally skillful in that department, but just because it lifts my spirits. I feel a little happier, the load feels a little lighter, when I’m singing.

For a while though, you wouldn’t hear me belting out the lyrics of “When I Fall in Love” {as performed in High School Show Choir} around our house. Because somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I’d become convinced that it probably got on the Hubs’ nerves to hear me squawking out a song, whether the lyrics were from my latest favorite Christian song or a century-old anthem.

Not wanting to annoy him, I decided to hush.

But when I came home from the hospital with our second precious baby boy, I was singing to the rafters again. My justification was that it’s good for babies. It’s good for them to hear music, it’s good for you to talk to them, and in the Tank’s case, it kept him peaceful through a lengthy diaper change and helped him fall asleep.

So, at the risk of spraying the Hubs in the face with a bottle of annoying, I decided to wholeheartedly sing. A lot.


And then a funny thing happened. He wrote me a card — I think for Mother’s Day — and one of the things he said was, “I love how you fill our house with music. I love it when you sing.”

I could not have been more surprised. I was so surprised I had to ask him about it.

Doesn’t it annoy you when I sing? You mean I don’t get on your nerves?

The answer was no — and I realized a little lie had crept in, and I’d been letting that little lie tell me what to do, and what not to do. Meanwhile, something was missing from our home — a source of joy was nearly stolen, because un-truth had become truth for me.

I don’t know whether you have an awesome singing voice or the ability to make music with an instrument, but I want you to know that your life can sing.

You have your own lyrics. You have your own gifts. And sometimes fear of how other people will receive your gifts can hinder you from giving them. Fear of what other people will say or think about your art can incorrectly define you — whether your art includes baking or dancing or teaching people how to manage their finances or serving a cup of coffee with a smile.

Un-truth will draw lines, put boundaries around places in your mind and in your life. Un-truth will tell you where you can or cannot go, what you can or cannot do.

But there’s no one like you. And no one can achieve the things you were created for.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And that is the truth.

We are God’s workmanship — created in Jesus for good works, which God planned out before we were even born — a plan for what He gifted us to do with our lives. {Eph. 2:10, my paraphrase}

So what’s stopping you from making your music? Are you letting your life sing?


He Makes Molehills Out of Mountains, Part Two

Yesterday I was sharing the tale of one of the molehills that the Lord turned one of our mountains into. In His perfect timing, He made provision for our rent, our move, and then some. (Some ice cream, to be more specific.)

Not long before any of that great stuff (from yesterday’s tale) took place, we were facing a different mountain. Our gypsy-like movements over the course of our marriage have not been conducive to the establishment of a nice credit line, as it would appear in the eyes of a modern bank, for example.


Allow me to explain why that matters. We got a free credit report and sent it along to a friend of ours who is a mortgage consultant. Between that and our recent taxes, she was able to calculate what we were likely to be able to get, with regard to a mortgage, when we got back to the States. Our hope was to spend a few months with my Mom settling in, and then look for a home to buy.

{Because after all this time, it would be really nice if we could finally start paying our own mortgage, instead of renting, and basically paying someone else’s.}

So our friend ran the numbers and came back to us with a picture that just. weren’t. purty. The numbers were not looking good. I recently saw an advertisement where people could pay that amount of money for thirty-six months to have one room in their home nicely furnished and decorated. Dang. {Who does that, by the way???}

Although it was discouraging to think that our dream of moving toward owning our own home might still be a dream for quite a while longer, we immediately said to each other, “It’s in the Lord’s hands. Maybe He has something else in mind.” And almost in jest, HH said, “Maybe he has a plan to give us a place to stay rent-free so that we can save up and pay down our debt!”

Though it looked like we were facing another mountain of discouragement, we decided to trust God, and just leave it in His hands.

Not more than two days later, I was on the phone with my Mom and she was telling me about how the rest of her Mother’s Day had gone. (I’d called her earlier that morning to wish her a good one.) She’d spent it with her niece/my cousin/my Mama’s brother’s daughter, and her mother/my aunt/my Mama’s brother’s wife, who live a couple hours away.

As we were about to hang up, she said, “Oh, I almost forgot! {Your cousin} mentioned that you guys could think about staying in your Aunt’s house after you get back. They need to do some renovations before they can sell it and she said if you’d be willing to oversee the work, you can stay there for free. You’d just have to pay the electric bill. Just an idea for you to think about.”

I think HH and I got off the phone and just blinked at each other for a minute. We’d just made the decision to trust the Lord about this, and already He was demonstrating His ability to provide when we just weren’t sure how it would come together.

You can still come back from spying out the land with a good report — even if that doesn’t agree with your credit report! God can make a way where there seems to be no way!

And you still ain’t heard nothing yet! So come back tomorrow for another mountain to molehill tale!