Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It Was by Faith…


I’ve been thinking lately about things that get in the way of our dreams, goals, work we’re trying to accomplish, and even relationships. Sometimes it’s not necessarily an obstacle that gets in our way, it’s more nerves…because stepping out in faith can do that.

Taking that first step out of our comfort zone not knowing where the second step will lead is unnerving. The more steps we take, the further we get from the safety of our zone, and that can be frightening.

I want to step out in faith, but I want to stay within reach of the place I’m used to.

Picture a baseball player trying to steal second base. When he sees he’ll be out at second, he tries to get back on first before the ball gets thrown to the first baseman and he’s tagged out.

That’s me trying to step out in faith. I want to get to the next safe place, but if I can’t get there I want to know my position in my comfort zone is secure.

The problem is, I can’t have it both ways. I can’t stay safely in my comfort zone and still step out in faith. It doesn’t work that way.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 ESV
The note for this verse in my Bible says…
Faith is a settled confidence that something in the future—something that is not yet seen but has been promised by God—will actually come to pass because God will bring it about. (Crossway ESV Study Bible)
The ability to take that step in faith comes from our faith in God Himselfbelieving God is who He says He is, knowing that God keeps His promises, and having the confidence that God is in control in all circumstances. {Tweet this}

The book of Hebrews is filled with examples of faith heroes—people from the Old Testament who walked when God told them to walk, stayed when He said to stay, and obeyed even though they couldn’t see what was ahead.
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Hebrews11:8-9 NLT (bold mine)
It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. Hebrews 11:27 NLT (bold mine)
More than 15 times in Hebrews 11, great stories of moments and journeys start with It was by faith, and it has me asking myself how my It was by faith story will read. How will yours read?
By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Hebrews11:33-34 NLT (bold mine)
Their weakness was turned to strength. They didn’t walk in faith because they were already strong. God gave them strength because they trusted Him and took that step. And He will do the same for us. {Tweet this}

Our stories are not yet complete. All of our By faith moments make up our journeys, and our By faith journeys will be great stories to be told.

Where are you in your It was by faith journey? What’s keeping you from crossing your comfort zone boundary?

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: K. Rath]


Saturday, September 17, 2016

There is Only One You

When my daughter was little, she loved VeggieTales. The was the last line of almost every movie was…

“God made you special, and He loves you very much.” 
~ VeggieTales

I heard it over and over and over. The other day, it came to mind, not because we were watching it (although, I still enjoy a good VeggieTales now and again), but because I’ve been thinking a lot about how we compare ourselves to others.

God made each of us unique in our own way—how we look, how we think, our talents, what our passions are—and though we’re different, each one of us is special. Because that’s how God made us.

But the temptation to look at someone else and compare myself to her is so great. You know what I’m talking about, right? We compare our looks, accomplishments, how our kids act, our past, our strengths and failures, and so many other things, and it makes what we have look like less. It makes us think of ourselves as less than.

My friends, God does not compare His children to one another. And He doesn’t want us to do so either. {Tweet this}

If He wanted us all alike, He would have made us that way…little cookie-cutter people with the same looks and interests, the same talents and accomplishments. But He didn’t because He loves each of us the way we are—the person He made us to be.

God made you special, and He loves you very much.

Each of us has a place in this world and a purpose. But when we start comparing and trying to be someone we’re not, we end up in the wrong place, and our purpose gets muddled.

So, what do we do when we’re tempted to compare ourselves to someone else, wishing we were like them?

Instead of comparing, what if we looked at how we complement each other? You have talents I don’t have, just as I have interests that aren’t your cup of tea. Sizing ourselves up against each other takes something away from each of us—we start to judge each other and think less of ourselves.

Instead of comparing, what if we cheer each other on? Encouraging those close to us in what they have to offer, and making the decision not to judge those we don’t know. And not thinking less of ourselves because someone is able to do something that we aren’t, or has something that we don’t.

Comparing can bring out the worst in us—jealousy, envy, spite—none of which God intended for us to be consumed with. But we live in a fallen world…and we will fight this temptation.
  
But the truth will always be the same—God made you special, and He loves you very much.

There is only one you and if you try to be someone else, we don’t get to see the one special you God created. And the world misses out. {Tweet this}

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Reminder to Persevere

 
A few days ago, I was texting with a friend. We were briefly updating each other with what we were dealing with, and at the end of her text to me she wrote one word. 

Persevere.
  
She knows it’s my word for the year. But somehow, I keep forgetting it.

It was the word God whispered to me before the year started, and the word I complained to Him about. The word alone implies struggle, and I was already tired of struggling. I asked for a different word. I offered to keep last year’s word—Renew. But, my word for this year is Persevere.

And somehow, the word itself escapes my memory. It happened when I was speaking to a group of women earlier this year. I could remember the past years’ words, but drew a blank when it came to this year’s word. Luckily, my friend was sitting close and reminded me…Persevere.

I’ve asked myself why I keep forgetting this word and I come up with only one answer—I’m knee-deep in the persevere trenches, and that leaves little time to think about it.

To persevere is to hold on and keep going; to continue steadfastly in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement. (Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com)

In my own words, to persevere is to lean in close to God no matter what comes, knowing that He is leading, guiding, and walking me through every step of the way. {Tweet this}

Disappointment, discouragement, and weariness will come, but with my focus set steadfastly on Him, they cannot consume me. Each trial draws me into a closer relationship with Him and brings me out stronger on the other side.

I need this reminder to persevere. It helps me look back and see how my endurance has been strengthened. And it encourages me to hold tight, press on, and keep moving forward.
  
It’s a good thing to persevere. 

Or as James tells us…
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NIV
In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Fresh Out of Amazing {Book Review}

Summer is coming to a close, and I think I’m ready to see it go. Over the past weeks, it’s been one thing after another—multiple unexpected expenses, appliances at the end of their life span, and a week-long stomach virus while on vacation. And that’s just a few of the things that have been going on.

One at a time, they are annoying inconveniences. Together, they add up to one long summer, and it’s left me feeling weary and worn out.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of joining the launch team for Stacey Thacker’s new book Fresh Out of Amazing. What perfect timing because that’s how I feel—fresh out of amazing!

I’ve followed Stacey’s blog for years and read Hope For the Weary Mom, which she co-authored with Brooke McGlothlin. So, I already knew Stacey’s encouraging voice and looked forward to reading Fresh Out of Amazing. I was not disappointed.

Jesus knows what is happening in our lives. He comes to us and does not leave us the same.
- Stacey Thacker, Fresh Out of Amazing

Stacey shares deep from her heart and points straight to Jesus. She reminds me that I’m not alone in my daily struggles, nor am I the only one who feels the weight of what I think is expected of me.

Just because I feel the weight of people’s expectations doesn’t mean they actually have those—or any—expectations of me.
- Stacey Thacker, Fresh Out of Amazing

I know the emptiness of feeling like I have nothing left to give. Maybe you do too. Stacey writes of hope and encouragement in those desert places in our lives.

God’s Word has the power to resurrect and revive our lifeless hearts.
- Stacey Thacker, Fresh Out of Amazing

When I’m trying not to worry about what appliance is going to stop working next and the financial aspects of replacing them, or how to adjust to unforeseen changes in life, I know God is in it all. I’m comforted by the fact that He goes before, walks beside, and watches over me.

God is in the details of our lives, and in those details He shines bright. 
- Stacey Thacker, Fresh Out of Amazing

If you’re feeling fresh out of amazing, treat yourself to this book, and share a copy with a friend. Chances are she’s feeling fresh out of amazing as well…and thinks she’s the only one.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: freshoutofamazing.com]