Tag Archives: Following Jesus

Faith / Fear…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Phillippians 4: 13

“For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”


This week at swim team practice we are talking about how God calls us to pack our faith rather than letting fear drive our actions.  Faith inspires hope, strength, tenacity, commitment, purposeful effort, and joy. Ultimately, it brings success. Fear comes in a variety of forms, but each one keeps us from fully becoming who God means us to be. For me, the balance of faith and fear is a continuum on which I travel each and every day. Where I am on that continuum determines my behavior. Do I choose to pack my faith to trust God’s Grace? Or, do I fall into the temptation of letting fear take the wheel?

On the pool deck today, we unpacked the word ‘fear’ to acknowledge the traps that it sets to keep us from reaching our full potential.  The most obvious form of fear is the gut wrenching fear that physically makes us tremble with anxiety. In my role as a coach, I see this type of fear as an athlete tries something new or when an outside “mental” force weighs heavily upon them as they try to compete. However, this type of “terrified” fear is not the fear that I routinely see.

The type of fear that I see most is the nagging fear that causes us to give into the temptation of “disengaging”. This is the fear that whispers, “Don’t go to practice today. Just stay home and have fun doing …. instead.” Or, “Don’t give your best effort today during the workout because it’s easier to just mess around and not take a chance by doing something hard.” Or, “Don’t listen to coach, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Just do your own thing and have fun. That’s better than being ‘all in’ and sacrificing for the team.”

The increasing prevalence of this type of fear weighs on my heart. I saw it all of last year as I substituted in our local middle school in addition to seeing it as a coach. I’ve worked with kids in some capacity for more than two decades, and I view this as a growing challenge that threatens our young people’s ability to do hard things in order to accomplish something greatly meaningful. I do not mean to lay this burden only on our kids, as I believe that I (and many other adults) sometimes fall into this trap as well. What concerns me most is society’s growing acceptance of walking away from hard things in order to selfishly make our own lives easier.



I believe that the Bible is very clear that we are called to be courageous, and to continue to journey into and through hard things. Two of my favorite Old Testament verses speak to this.

The first is 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.”

And the second is Psalms 37: 23-24, “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.” 

Being courageous does not mean never feeling fear. Being courageous means that you answer God’s call to continue to move your feet with great effort despite the fact that you feel fear. It is the faith-filled choice to believe that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Salvation is free, but walking with Jesus takes intentional faith that often comes in the form of work.

We are asked to live by faith as we draw from Jesus’ well of love and strength to persevere through Grace. Grace does not mean that we get to disengage and do whatever we want. Grace means that when we choose to commit to the hard journey that God calls us into, that Jesus will provide the strength and endurance that we need to finish strong!

Each day, I pray that I can see the world more through Jesus’ eyes than my own. And, each day, I watch a huge amount of unrealized potential be wasted because of that nagging fear that temps us to do the easy thing instead of the right thing. I know that God has a plan. My faith tells me that I serve a good, good Father who is all powerful and loves without end. And, I continue to pray that He can use me to walk in faith with courage and obedience when fears knocks at the door.

Where are you on the faith / fear continuum today?

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Today Matters…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Psalms 118:24 and 29

“This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

and

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”


Monday we celebrated my favorite farmer’s birthday. That, along with several other things that God has recently put on my heart, reminded me of the need to realize that today matters. I have a bad habit of trying to “be ahead of the game” – of thinking and doing all of the things today that do not need to be thought about or done until tomorrow. I have a related but additional tendency of wanting to “fix” things. I habitually struggle to trust and have patience. This combines with my farming philosophy of never wanting to let my animals or those whom I care about down to create a desire to get ahead of where I am meant to be. In short, I am so focused on tomorrow that I miss out on today.

This is something that I have been very intentional in thinking about over the past several months. I’ve begun noticing the repetition in God’s Word that asks me to trust and be patient. I have heard the whisperings of the Holy Spirit reminding me that our God is a God of the present and that He loves me and is with me. Jesus reiterates over and over again to be patient, to not worry about tomorrow. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously and He will give you everything that you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Jesus’ words written in Matthew 6: 33-34) Sometimes, I just need to sit and let those words sink into my heart.

Henri Nouwen in his book Following Jesus defines patience as “remaining close to the moment to fully taste where you are so that the seeds that are sown in the moment can grow and lead you to the future.” Have you ever considered ripping a growing seed out of the ground in order to make sure that its roots are okay? That seems like a silly question, but when I examine my heart I see times when I do that very thing. Impatience gets the best of me, and instead of nurturing the soil and allowing the plant to grow, my worry over the future causes me to inappropriately interfere. I forget to trust in the promise of the Holy Spirit. I forget “God’s part, my part, others part” and figure that it’s just better to do it all myself. Nouwen asks an important question,

“What if the future is hidden in the present as a seed in fertile ground?”


The book of Psalms reminds us, “This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” It also reminds us that our God is a faithful God whose love endures forever. There is freedom to be found in rejoicing for today, in living for today, and in knowing that you are right where your loving God means for you to be. I am coming to realize that one of the biggest differences between earthly life and spiritual life is that when I trust that I am where God means for me to be, I don’t have to be anywhere else. I can be still, I can pray, I can be aware (in the moment) of God’s call to love those that He places right in front of me. Most importantly, I can trust that the same thing will happen tomorrow – and the next day – and the next day, until the day that God calls me home to heaven. There’s a lot to be grateful for in the midst of that promise.

It allows me to truly understand that “today matters”. Then, my life becomes less of a list of worries and boxes to check off and more of an opportunity to be present and share love with the gentle strength and confidence that comes from walking with Jesus.

 

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Falling in Love…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Luke 10: 27

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and with all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

and

John 21: 18

“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”


Do you remember “falling in love”? I do. It was the fall of my freshman year of college when I met my favorite farmer. I had many things going on in my life: classes, swim team, friends but he quickly rose to the top of the list. My perspective altered as “I” became “we” and we began our journey together. Twenty seven years later, I still can say with confidence that he is the best thing that Dartmouth College gifted to me 🙂

When we fall in love our priorities change, but perhaps more importantly our hearts change. We discover that others are more important than ourselves. We find the joy of finding joy together. Many of us are also stretched (and blessed) even further as God gives us children to love. As we navigate the years, God uses our families to help us to learn the beauty of unconditional and unselfish love.


I have found love to be the only truly meaningful inspiration in my life. It is the one thing that leads me to places that I have not chosen myself. Sometimes those places are happy places but as I get older I am finding that they can be uncomfortable or even painful places. I allow myself to be guided to them and through them because I love. I think that sometimes we are tempted to let fear inspire us, but I believe that our God is a God of love.

Just as my heart changed when I met and fell in love with my favorite farmer, so it did again when I fell in love with Jesus. I learned that when I love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind; then I am called to love my neighbor in a new way. This new way of loving is a love without expectation of anything in return. It is a love that takes me to places that I don’t always want to go to.

The first time that I read the above passage from John 21:18, I thought of being old and going to a nursing home. I thought of people taking care of me because I could no longer take care of myself. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I hate the thought of leaving the farm and being moved into a nursing home! However, as I read Henri Nouwen’s book, Following Jesus, the passage took on an entirely new meaning for me. When I placed it together with the Golden Rule and really analyzed the entire chapter, my eyes were opened.

Just as our bodies and our minds mature over time, so do our spiritual hearts. When I was spiritually young, I did whatever I liked and went wherever I wanted to go. As I have fallen in love with Jesus, my heart changed and now I find myself stretching out my hands and submitting to where the Holy Spirit tells me to go — even if it is somewhere hard. As Nouwen analyzes the passage from the Gospel of John he says, “When you are in love, when you are really in love, you can be guided to places that you have not chosen yourself. The person who loves can go to places where she or he would rather not go.” Not only that, but “If we are truly in love, our eyes are not focused on what hurts. Our eyes are focused on the person we love.”


In the last 3 weeks, I’ve traveled across the country to deliver my two older girls to college, and also begun my fall coaching tenure. During this time, I have been repeatedly reminded that fear does not spark meaningful change. Fear brings shame, hurt, guilt, anger, loneliness and frustration. Our country is filled with fear, but it needs love. Love is what changes hearts and moves us into meaningful and purposeful places.

We all need to fall in love again with the One who first loved and will continually fill us with the perfect love that casts out fear.

Please join me in prayer for this 🙂

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