Beyond The Fog

We don't always see where we're going, but we have faith we'll get there
We don’t always see where we’re going, but we have faith we’ll get there

Faith isn’t walking into a fire, certain you won’t get burned.  Faith isn’t blind, either, but it does mean facing the unseen and the unknown with the conviction that we are not alone and the experience will somehow sculpt us into a new version of ourselves.

Faith is easy to proclaim, but when it comes down to it, it can be really hard to live by.  It’s kind of like putting on a blindfold and running down a busy street (if the street is in Phoenix, this would be insane.)  In our minds, we recognize the dangers- we could stumble into a light pole, wander into traffic, get hit by a bus, fall into a ditch… the list goes on.  Would you have enough faith to do this?

When adversity hits, my tendency is to obsess over the facts, mentally travel the possible actions and their consequences, and then I make decisions accordingly.  I rush in and “do” something.

To me, faith is the ultimate trust.  Kind of like running down a busy street blindfolded.  Faith is relying on something other than my own abilities.  Faith is believing that there is hope even when all the evidence I see says otherwise.

What is faith to you?

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If you’re looking for fiction, please stop by next week.  I plan to have a response to another one of Emilio Pasquale’s amazing photos.  Hope you’ll check it out :)

Between Faith and a Hard Place

02-20 Steeple

I recently found myself at a crossroads of sorts; sandwiched between my faith and a desire for freedom from my circumstances.  For many crushing weeks, I’ve wrestled with the rub of choices (mistakes) I’ve made. I’m coming to terms with my life being an “is what it is” situation, for now. I don’t see hope when I look forward, but I’m trying to have faith that God has more planned for me than what I can see. Some days it’s harder to have faith than others, but I take each day as it comes.

In the depths of all-consuming darkness, I came to a realization: rather than focus on what’s missing or what should be, I need to turn my attention to what I already am. It occurred to me that I’ve never depended on anyone to provide me with happiness, so why would I allow someone to steal it from me and disrupt my inner peace? My answer: I shouldn’t- and I have to change this.

I have obligations to keep.  Most of the time, the weight is too much to bear and I want to just sleep, but I can’t allow this to immobilize me any longer.  I can’t let my future to be so burdened by past mistakes that today is lost. In this moment, I see my life is worth more than that. Tomorrow, I may be snared once again by the trap of what isn’t, but I will try to refocus and remind myself that my success/failure is not dependent on only one aspect of my life.

I’m still surrounded by uncertainty, but if my state of mind holds, I hope to return to more regular writing – once a week for now. Thanks again to all the wonderful people (both online and in person) who have encouraged, prayed and otherwise helped me during this low period in my life. You are special to me :)

“Religion”

I love clouds and sunlight photos. That's how God's love makes my heart feel.
I love clouds and sunlight photos. That’s how God’s love makes my heart feel.

My Trifecta writing challenge post on Friday, about a demon led to a church sanctuary by the poor mapmaking skills of an intern demon, was meant to be a funny tale about a beast outside the “comfort zone.”

I think some read more into it than what I intended, which is fine.  Great, in fact.  I want others to relate to my words.  Even more so, I want my words to promote thinking.  What I don’t want is for my words to be made into something they aren’t and then attributed as my thoughts.  So, more fully than I could explain in a comment reply, I’m going to clarify (I hope) my views on religion.

I believe that Jesus died for our sins.  I go to church, but I’m reserved and stay on the outer fringes of the mass.  I enjoy going there to learn with others who are supposed to be of like beliefs.  I grew up in Baptist churches, but in adulthood, I’ve chosen non-denominational churches.  I don’t want my belief in God to be firmly attached to a sect of Christianity; I want it attached to the Bible.

I don’t like the clique feeling of some congregations.  I don’t like when worthiness is based on whether or not you wear a fancy church dress.  I don’t like the looking down perfectly powdered noses to cast judgment on strangers.  I don’t like the insulation from community, whether from non-believers or those in need of a helping hand.  Not every church is like this, but I’ve seen enough to know they are out there.

God’s intent of believers congregating:  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”—Hebrews 10:24-25

I heard a quote on the radio that expressed what I felt more eloquently than I could.  I found the following on Lysa TerKeurst’s blog:

God doesn’t want us to have a religion. A religion is where we follow rules hoping to do life right, and we serve God out of duty because we think we have to.

God wants us to have a relationship. A relationship where we follow Him. And we serve God not out of duty but out of delight because of the realization of who we are in Him.

Biblical reference:  The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”—Isaiah 29:13

When we live with the purpose of strengthening our relationship with God, love just happens.  We have compassion for those ignored by society.  We follow Jesus’ lead and embrace those who have been scarred by sin. (That’s all of us, by the way.  No matter what Christians want others to believe, none of us are free from sin.)

I stumble.  A lot.  Perfection isn’t even on my horizon.  But I find comfort in knowing that God doesn’t expect it.  He expects me to follow not by sight, but by faith.

That, I’m learning to do, every day.

I want to be amazed by the ordinary.
I want to be amazed by the ordinary.

Thank you for stopping by and taking time to read this.  If you have any thoughts/opinions, please share by leaving a comment.  Have a beautiful Sunday!

Finding Color In Gray

photo taken in my yard
photo taken in my yard before a monsoon storm

Most times, it’s easy for me to see the bright side and find beauty in almost anything.  The last couple weeks, it’s required more effort.  My tendency has been to see clouds as darkened, my glass half-empty- basically the negative side of any situation.  Old insecurities have seeped back into my consciousness.

But I’m not giving up.  I know whatever this is will pass.  I’m not sure why this is happening, but I don’t suppose my understanding matters.  I will not be swallowed by the shadows, or stifled by the storm clouds…at least, not without a fight.

Give me the strength,

Provide me the will

To appreciate the small joys,

To gravitate toward the uplifting.

At times, I will rest in the shadows,

But please, don’t let me dwell too long.

I forget to let go and my burdens get heavy-

Remind me again, I don’t walk alone.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  Psalms 42:11

I’ll end this post on a colorful note.  I’m striving for the mood I want, not the mood I have.  Have a beautiful Sunday!

Photo taken on a back road near Fossil Creek, AZ
Photo taken of sunset on a back road near Fossil Creek, AZ

Hills and Valleys

My questions confirmed that this indeed is a drawing of a hill with a gravestone on top!
My questions confirmed that this indeed is a drawing of a hill with a gravestone on top!

It is official:  there was a hill and I’m over it.  Funny…I don’t even remember climbing it. Oh well, I’ve heard that memory lapses with age.  And I’m forty now, so I’d better get used to it.

Now what was I writing about?

Oh, yes.

Each year, when I tack another year onto my age, I tend to glance over my shoulder to see where I’ve been and if I’m heading where I think I should be.  My heart is a fairly accurate compass, but my brain wants to see for itself.

I feel content in our new environment (four months ago, we moved from the desert of Phoenix to the cooler climate of pines, further north in Arizona.) From this horizon, I realize that the last two years had been an emotional valley.  Acknowledging the peace I feel now, I guess my son was right:  I have summited a hill.

But there is no gravestone at the top.

Despite what I imagined forty to be half a lifetime ago, I feel energetic and ready to discover what the next year (or twenty) has in store.  Age may be staking claim on aspects of my appearance, but it doesn’t fool me into thinking the best is behind me.

I may be getting rough in my old age, but I still have blooms in me :)
I may be getting rough in my old age, but I still have blooms in me :)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. (1 Timothy 4:8)