Monday, July 28, 2014

Deep, Simple Faith

Funny, the other day I was driving to work and listening to a devotion, when the question popped into my head, "What is faith?"  Wow, did that one boggle my mind most of the day.  Yes, I write about it and I know the feeling I get when I experience faith in something, but I really wanted to better understand what God said about faith.

I searched and found our verse for today.  So many powerful words for us to explore.  "Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Faith, confidence, hope, assurance . . . all words for us to consider.  We can hope for so many things.  The other day, we were travelling and I hoped for a safe flight.  I hope for good health. I hope for nice weather.  Yet, the type of hope that breeds faith is something much deeper, much broader.

The hope that I believe God is sharing with us is the hope for where deep faith comes from.  The hope that there is something bigger and better than all of us - the hope for eternal life.  True hope that when things are difficult around us, that God is there with us to guide us down a path that we can't see at the moment.  Faith is that strong level of hope that whatever God says is the right thing to do, I will do with faith that His will is much greater than mine.

I have to admit, there are times when my faith waivers, that what God is asking me to do, I just can't "see" that end result - so I don't proceed.  There are times when God may be tugging on my heart to reach out to a stranger with a kind word, a small gift, etc.  Yet, due to my own personal misconceptions or anxiousness, I don't.  I have many ways in which I need to do better in Christ's vision for my life.  If I had deep, simple faith all the time, I wonder what my life would be like?  How much more fulfilled would my life be than it is today?

Stepping out in faith can be a scary place to be - stepping out in God's plan for us can be terrifying.  What if I fail?  What if I don't come to the results that He is expecting from me?  Yet, if I don't do anything, how will I ever know?  I need to listen to God more, and to have the simple DEEP faith and confidence that what I hope for, what God wants for me, is real.  I need to have the great  blessed assurance that although I can't see, God will do great things.

What about you?  Is there a plan that God is tugging on your heart?  Is it time for you to step out in faith that God knows better than we for our plan?  It's hard to have such deep faith - but I know that if we have that deep faith, He will not let us down.  He never does.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (NIV) Hebrews 11:1

Monday, July 21, 2014

God's Provisions

Another beautiful day in New Hampshire.  Our Dear Lord has provided a wonderful summer for us - full of sunshine and warm breezes.  As I sit under a huge mapel tree in our backyard, I praise God for all he has given us.  In NH, as in many other regions of our nation, the winters can be brutal.   We enjoy it, for a few weeks, but then many of us long for days like today.  I find it amazing how God created all of this - just for us.

Above is some of the bounty from my garden.  It's not a tremendously big garden, but this year, it has given us many wonderful veggies - from zucchini to peppers, from beans to eggplant.  Yes the tomatoes are right around the corner.  There is nothing more satisfying than a salad made from the harvest.

Yet, as I was reflecting on all of this, I couldn't help but think back to creation.  It still amazes me how God, with a blank canvas and a palette, created such beauty.  Yes, the seas and the animals, the sun and the moon, each one of us along with all we can accomplish.  Yet, the vegetation - the trees, the plants that provide for us, well, that just blows my mind.  God's bountiful blessings can be see in so much around us.  For me, it's about taking the time to sit, to stop, to appreciate His goodness.  Today is one of those days - to appreciate the world around me.

Life can bring us many emotions every day.  Happiness, sadness, pain, hope, joy, hurt, etc.  The multitude of emotion can be overwhelming.  I know there is much out there to create difficult moments.  People need prayers today more than ever - and we should be providing those prayers for them.  Yet, we can also rejoice with them - in God's goodness.  You see, as He provided the heavens and the earth, He will also provide for all we need - health, comfort, joy, guidance.  He will see to it that it is exactly what we need.  Just like the tomatoes and zucchini!!  He provides days like today - with the sunshine and the breeze, to remind us of His goodness, of His power & strength, of His path for each of us.

Remember, the beauty of our world is NOTHING compared to the beauty that is ahead of us in our heavenly home.  Yet, until we see our Maker, let us enjoy what He has created - and remember - that His provisions are with us in all we have in our lives.  If you need a prayer to bring you closer to God's provisions, please email me or comment on my blogspace.  We can always use a prayer to help us get closer to what God has in store for us.

"The land produced vegetation:  plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bering fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.  And God saw that it was good."  (NIV)  Genesis 1:12

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Reaping What We Sow

It's blueberry season in New Hampshire.  Yes, one of my favorite times of the summer.  I find it so fulfilling to be out amongst the blueberry bushes, typically with other die hard blueberry pickers, appreciating the little gems we are all picking.  I so appreciate the great farmers who tend to these bushes, ensuring that each year we are blessed with such goodness.  As I was picking my bucket of happiness, I couldn't help but think of these bushes that were sowed many years ago, and how we were reaping the benefits of what was sowed. 
This led to thoughts of what WE sow in our lives.  Yes, I have a wonderful garden in my backyard that my husband helped me greatly to grow beautiful vegetables.  Yet, I'm talking about what we sow with our words and our actions.  I thought over the past week, and realized that there were times when what I sowed was definitely not what Jesus has taught me to sow.  Think for a moment what JESUS sowed.  Think about his journey on our Earth on how His words and His actions sowed incredible greatness.  His words pierced hearts and souls every day.  His actions, His miracles, changed lives - changed OUR lives.
Although we may not have the abilities of Jesus, we do have an ability to sow words and actions that help people, not hurt people.  We have the ability to step back and to evaluate words that we want to say or actions that we want to take BEFORE executing them.  I don't know about you, but I know that there are many times when I wish I hadn't responded with sarcasm, with biting words, with body language that isn't positive.  How do you know that what you are "sowing" isn't what Jesus would?  I notice when the person I'm speaking with loses their smile, loses their enthusiasm, and may even respond back in anger.  They have a right to- I was "reaping" what I had "sowed".  I hadn't sowed words of kindness, of generosity, of patience.  I didn't receive it in return. 
Taking back what we sow is difficult.  When what we sow is good, we want it to cultivate, to grow, and we pray that the words will reap good things.  When what we sow is bad, we want to remove it right away - and that's not always possible.  What is possible is to ask for forgiveness, both with the person and with God.  He can help us - He can guide us - out of the poor choices and into His grace.  Yes, His wonderful and amazing grace - that helps us out of the hurtful words and into forgiveness. 
I know I am going to work on sowing better words - sowing better actions.  I am going to work on less sarcasm and more sunshine.  Would you like to join me?  Let's think about what we want to reap - and how we can sow in Jesus' image.  Next time you grab a handful of blueberries, I hope you think of reaping and sowing!!  I know I will.
"Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."  (NIV)  Galatians 6:8

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Small Victories in Christ

There's an odd picture I'm sure you are saying to yourselves!!  I don't blame you.  Yet, there was nothing else that came to mind as I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you today.  I titled this blog entry as "Small Victories in Christ."  Big or small, I know that my Lord has been with me on this journey - a journey that I never thought I would be able to attain!

When I was diagnosed with cancer many years ago, one of the side effects I had with the chemo was not being able to sleep.  A few Tylenol PM and I was able to find rest.  Yet, with some of the trials and tribulations I was going through, I found myself relying on the pills for rest - greater than my own will.  As the years passed, the amount that I needed to take grew and grew.  When life found a way into my head during the darkest of evenings, I found my way to try and see what I could take to find relief (and sleep).  Maybe some of you understand my peril.  Not being able to sleep night after night is not only frustrating, but totally debilitating.   Therefore, I tried whatever I could to be able to sleep.

I won't share all the details, but one evening in particular, I had taken what I could find and my family became a blur to me.  They asked me questions, and I didn't answer coherently.  It was scary for them and a "wake up" call for me.  The next day found my husband and me at the doctor, looking for answers.  After the sleep study, it was diagnosed that I had chronic insomnia.  My mind just couldn't shut off.  We finally found the right recipe of prescriptions and for the most part of the last 7 years, I take a pill a night to sleep.  

Last year, I made a commitment that I would try to begin the journey to get off the drugs.  Yes, a year ago!!  I found one excuse after another to not take the step.  There were hurdles with the children, there was too much work, there was my accident with my ankle, there was . . .  Until two weeks ago.  I'm not sure what happened two weeks ago, other than God pulling on my heart saying - NO MORE EXCUSES.  I had already taken the big step with a daily migraine medicine that I wanted to get off of and was successful.  Yet THIS - my lifeline to a good night's sleep??  I started.  First, I cut my pills in 1/2.  And I still slept.  Then the next step was a 1/2 pill every other night.  Although the nights I don't take a pill are a bit restless, I keep moving forward.  The last three nights?  No pills!  I may be calling victory a little early - but I am so happy to have moved forward in this journey.

What I have come to realize is that I had to give the fight over to God.  As my eyes are drawn to the last few paragraphs, I notice what has been the problem over the last few years - "I", or correct grammar, "me".  God needed to enter my thoughts at night, my worries needed to be handed over to God, God needed to be on this journey with me.  The good news - HE IS!!!  He is in every bit of life's journey with us, the good and the bad.  Those deep thoughts still try to find their way into my mind at night, but God is there first - putting up His shield to defend me.  I know I have a way to go on this journey to a GOOD night's sleep without my crutch, yet, I do know that having God on my side gives me the fighting chance!  How blessed I am to have someone like God to take the journey with me.  

What do you need to give over to God, completely?  What worries can God handle for you?  What does it take?  Simple Faith that God will be there when we need Him the most - whether it is in the light of day or in the dark of night.  He is always there - for you and for me!  Let Him take the journey with you - and maybe we all will sleep better!!  

"But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves."  (NIV)  Luke 21:14

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.