Tag Archives: faith over fear

accepting Comfort…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Matthew 11: 28-30

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'”


Not a day passes when I do not need comfort. Whether small hurts build up to weigh down my heart, or a single large burden dominates my mind, I rarely go through a day when finding and accepting comfort is not important. In those moments of pain, my brain tempts me to look for logical answers despite the fact that my heart is very clearly needing the comfort of peace. The outcome of my daily experiences tends to be tied to which of two possible questions I choose to ask God: Do I ask “why” something is happening and get stuck at the very beginning, or do I accept the challenge and instead choose to ask “how” we can get through it together?

Jesus tells us repeatedly in the Gospels, “Take up your daily cross and follow me.” Often I find myself puzzled by that message, and trying to meld it together with the above passage from Matthew. What cross is my cross? And, what does it truly mean to take it up and follow him? Is the cross the yoke Jesus reverences in the above scripture? I found clarity on this as I read Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book, Following Jesus. Nouwen points out that Jesus says to “Take up your cross” – he doesn’t say, create a cross or to take up someone else’s. He suggests that our cross is our own pain, our own hurts, and that taking up our cross means that we have the courage to see that pain.

Perhaps as we answer Jesus’s call to pick up our pain, then we are able to yoke it to the healing presence of the cross. There we can accept the comfort and peace of a God that loves first and can sooth our hearts. 


As I think back on my life, I remember all of the times that I said – “I’m tough. I can do this. I don’t need any help. I can suffer through it.” Do you ever tell yourself that? I’m figuring out that when I do this, I hide my burden and honestly try to hide from it. That makes it become heavier and heavier because it surrounds me at the same time that I deny that it exists. Perhaps being tough isn’t the point…God doesn’t want us to just suffer through it. He wants us to pick up our cross so that He can compassionately comfort us as we travel the journey together. When I acknowledge my pain and share it, then I am able to shift my focus. The pain is still there, but it moves to the background because I am surrounded by comforting love that breaks through the fear.

“Perfect love casts out all fear” – my good days are the ones that I lean into that 🙂 Our God is a God of unconditional love, not of fear. At the cross, he accepts our fear and our hurts, and exchanges them for love. That’s where we find rest in Jesus’ yoke, and it is where we come to accept the comfort that lightens our burdens. The pain doesn’t go away, the challenge remains, but we ask “how” instead of asking “why”. As we lift our eyes and ask “how”, we accept our cross and lean into our humble and gentle God who leads us in love.

This week I am leaning in. I am in the process of moving my older two girls into college – one in Indiana and the other in North Carolina. I’m traveling cross-country and leaving pieces of my heart behind with each of the girls. It’s hard. It hurts. But, I know that they are where God called them to be and I am accepting comfort from the abundant love that awaits me as I pick up those hurts and bring them to the cross.

 

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Faith over Fear…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Joshua 1:9

“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


I’ve probably shared this verse before as it is one that I have to be very intentional about. Fear is both very real and very powerful. Sometimes it keeps us from doing the things that we shouldn’t do, but often it keeps us from doing the things that we should. For me, the role that fear plays in my daily life is contingent on the strength of my faith. The stronger my faith, the less fear and worry affect me. Likewise, the weaker my faith, the more fear and worry wear at me.

The key question is: How much do I trust God and his love for me? 

Life is hard. Sometimes things happen that leave doubts in our minds as to the greatness of God’s power and his love for us. 2019 taught me that while I can’t change circumstances, I can choose how I react to them. I am in control of the attitude of my heart. Gratefulness is a habit that is fueled by hope. When hope comes alive, fear falls apart. I think Paul (in his letter to Romans 15:13) does an awesome job of addressing it:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”


Over the past several months, I’ve experienced this on a deeper level. I decided to give my fear about my leg to Jesus. I handed it over in prayer, wiped the metaphorical dust off my feet, and quit worrying about it. I’ve gone back to living – packing my faith and knowing that with God all things are possible. I try to greet each day with an open mind and a steadfast dedication to trusting that Jesus is not just the best coach but also my biggest fan 🙂

I still put in the work that I know will lead to healing, but I don’t let the daily pain and stiffness cause fear and discouragement. Instead, I focus on the freedom found in being strong and courageous. This week, I attained a couple of monumental stepping stones.

  • I rode my horse.
  • I ran a mile on the high school track.

I’d done neither since I fell and broke my leg, and many days over the past 14 months I have wondered if I ever would again. While I believe that time continues to heal my body, I also think that intentionally strengthening my trust in Jesus enabled my little victories. I stopped fearing, and started truly believing. Both riding Dandy and running were physically uncomfortable for my leg, but in my heart I knew that I could do them. I trusted that Jesus would carry me when I fell short, and that brought me a new level of strength and courage. Next time, it’ll be easier and hopefully someday it will become pain-free.

This week I am reminded that God asks me to be bold in my faith. As I give him my fear, He replaces it with courage. My girls have this saying, “Go big or go home.” I think that’s essentially what God is telling us in the above verse from Joshua. If you believe, you’ve got to BELIEVE — to live like you trust and be fueled by the hope that comes through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s rarely a comfortable process, but I’m not sure that we ever truly live if we don’t embrace it.

How can you be more bold in your faith this week?

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I am enough…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 2 Samuel 22: 2-3

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”


1991 Florida State Cross Country Champions…

I’ve struggled with confidence for as long as I can remember. Despite making good grades and being a successful athlete in multiple sports, the worry that I wasn’t enough haunted me during my teenage years. I’ve developed ways of dealing with this challenge as an adult, but it comes back to bother me from time to time. We live in a world that prizes performance – medals that hang around our necks or fancy diplomas/titles that demonstrate superiority. It provides a perfect playing field for doubt to thrive in those people that – like me – struggle believing that they have what it takes to be worthy. 

God’s brought many young people into my life over the past decade. I’ve been blessed to play a role their athletic and life journeys. My past experiences allow me a window into many of their hearts as I get to mentor them. The athlete that pulls most at my heart is the unconfident one. I not only see their struggle, but I feel it.

Fear of failure – fear that I am not enough is a terribly heavy burden to carry, not just on the athletic field but also in life.


Monday evening God put this prayer on my heart. I share it today for all those who battle fear on their journey.

Heavenly Father,

Help me to believe that I am enough. That I was enough the day that You breathed life into me, and I am still enough today. Place your love in my heart and help me to hear you calling me by name. Help me to release the worry of falling short.

When you ask me to go, please grant me the courage to go where you ask. When you ask me to stay, give me the patient strength to be confident that I am where you want me to be. Either way, help me to do it with my whole heart – with the trust that You will carry me.

I know that it’s my job to follow your call. Help my heart to truly believe that You will fill the gap when the ask is hard. Place the conviction that I need in me so that I can trust. Bless me with your grace and peace. Hold my hand as we walk the journey.

Lord, help me to give you all of my effort – everything that I have. Remind me to work willingly at whatever I do, as though I am always working for You. I promise to move my legs as you promise to guide them. I promise to seek You and be willing to offer my work as a sacrifice, as I know that you are steadfast in your love.

Help me to run with endurance the race that You have set before me – with a cheerful and confident heart – believing in the power of your love and knowing that you call me your own. That alone makes me enough. Strike away the doubts that haunt me so that I can live in your grace and peace.

In Jesus’ name I pray.

Amen

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What are you LOOKING for?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Mark 4: 21-25

The Parable of the Lamp:

“Then Jesus asked them, ‘Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.’

Then he added, ‘Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given — and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.'”


I think that what we see in our lives is directly related to what we are looking for. Personal introspection causes me to realize that attitude and perspective set the stage for not only how I view each day but also how I chose to experience it. Last winter, I bought a sweatshirt that said Choose Joy on it. I purchased it intentionally as I was going through a difficult time – a time when I had to remind myself daily that looking for the light allowed me to see God’s grace no matter how dark things appeared.

I could choose joy or I could wallow in self-pity and unhappiness.

The choice was mine, and I needed to own it.

The Haymaker Swim Team spent a lot of time talking about attitude on the pool deck this summer. It was a natural out-pouring of where I was in my own life. I spent significant time this winter and spring praying to ask God to fill my heart with peace and hope. I needed Jesus’ light to define my attitude and grant me the peace that brought joy and hope.

I found it when I made it less about me, and more about Him.


I don’t know for sure what my swimmers internalized in their hearts this summer, but I know that God provided the core of our team. He healed my heart as I intentionally placed His lamp on a stand to share with my athletes. We learned to trust as courageous faith called us to finish strong each and every day. I spent the summer watching our team grow in our understanding of God while we built a foundation based on faith and fueled by hard work.

On Saturday we took 49 swimmers to the Championship Meet and brought home 92 individual medals to hang around our necks. In addition, 5 of our relays set league records and brought home another 24 top 8 place finishes. We found victory as Jesus took our outstretched hands and filled our souls with the fire that comes from confident hope. We made Holy Moments on the pool deck and in the water. We made mistakes and learned from them. Most importantly, we did our best to share the love that creates community.

Blessings follow obedience.

I could say many things about the 2019 year, but the message that fills my heart today as I look in faith is:

When we chose to look for God’s light – and set it on a stand to share – then it becomes easy to see the grace that brings the ultimate victory. The more that we see, the more that we can understand the compounding nature of Jesus’ mission.

 

 

 

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