The Birth of Faith

After the death of my plan!

Faith Banner by Caleb Frink

After our college visit experience (The Death of a Plan) my heart is bruised. Grieving is a process. Even grieving the loss of a plan can be traumatic. I feel anxious. I want my kids to trust God but allowing the process to happen is very painful. What if God doesn’t answer like we want? What if we are not asking for the right things? What if I am getting in God’s way? Faith is so hard sometimes. I find it is easier having faith when it doesn’t impact my kids.

A speaker at our church (Randy Teegarden) told a story about his son. Around the age of 7, their son attended VBS at their home church. The culmination of the week was a drawing for a bike. Each night the kids could say verses, bring their Bibles, invite friends and so forth and get their name written on a piece of paper and put into the jar for the drawing. The speaker’s son did all the right things that week. He was able to get his name in the jar multiple times, but so did many other boys and girls. However, his son was convinced that he would win. The boys prayed about the bike. He talked about the bike. He dreamed about walking down the aisle to accept the bike. The speaker and his wife were very concerned that this would shake their little one’s faith in God if he didn’t win. During the story Larry leaned over to me and asked me what I would have done. I immediately said, “I would have gone to Walmart and bought a bike for him just in case he didn’t win and have it waiting.” Larry laughed because he knows me so well. I turned my attention back to the speaker as he finished the story. He said the night of the drawing came and his son was so excited about the bike that he even had a place in the garage cleaned out where they would keep the bike. The speaker and his wife were sick. It was a nail biting wait as the VBS culminated in the drawing. The VBS leader reached way down into the jar and announced that the speaker’s son had won! At that point in our service the speaker went to the side room and brought out the exact bike his son had won. It was loved and used but it was real and sitting on our stage. I embarrassed myself by having to wipe tears from my face that day and even now as I type this out. Oh, to have that kind of faith and to allow God to work that kind of faith in my kids.

  1. Faith takes action. I believe that many times God is waiting on us to do our part. The speaker’s son brought his Bible, learned his verse and invited friends. James 2:14-26 I really like this part.
  2. Faith takes trust. Faith and trust are two different things. I absolutely KNOW God can answer my prayers. The issue is…. do I TRUST Him with the answer? Luke 11:9-13 I don’t like this part.
  3. Don’t go to Walmart. This is just a good life lesson. LOL. We are called to action. We are called to trust. We are not called to manipulate things to work out the way we want. We are to rest in God’s plan and allow God to teach us (and our kids) lessons. No buying bikes at Walmart and keeping them in the garage just in case! II Chronicles 14:11

I am not sure what the conclusion will be to our story of faith. However, my deepest desire is to live a life of grace that models God’s love for those around me. I want to point them to Christ. I don’t have what they need to heal their heart and bring back their joy but GOD DOES!

What kinds of situations have you experienced that required you to step back and trust God with the solution to your problems? Were there verses that helped you through? Share your thoughts and verses with the community.

SCF 001: The Death of a Plan. The Birth of Faith.

Still Choosing Faith Podcast

Today we are talking about The Death of a Plan. The Birth of Faith. It can be very stressful and scary when a plan falls apart, especially a plan we thought was God’s will. We have to go through a process of grieving and letting go but the outcome of that pain gives way to the birth of something great… Faith! Listen as we look at 3 things we need to see while grieving our plan and 3 things we need to acknowledge when faith is born.

The Death of a Plan

What a magical time we had touring the campus. The sheer size of the buildings and facilities was enough to inspire awe. The commitment to Christian excellence immediately put my momma’s heart at peace. “This is a place where I can feel comfortable leaving my Smelly Monster,” I thought. From that point on not one thing went right. Credits won’t transfer. Financial aid award letter is wrong. Shortfall is more not less than what we expected. Major he is interested in will take more than two years to finish adding an extra year on since he is a sophomore already. Seriously, the list really does go on.

Hello God! Our plan seems spiritual. Serving God full time. Our plan seems reasonable. Christian college for a mature 19-year-old. Our plan seems exciting. A move to a new part of the country broadening his life experience. Our plan seems safe. It is a renowned Christian college. Our plan seems Grave stones practical. Stay at home for two years then finish out the last two years away. Our plan won’t work. Whatttttttttttttttt?????

Sometimes it takes the death of “our plan” to give God the space to allow the birth of faith in our hearts. In the spirit of authenticity, I have to share that I hate this principle. I lean more toward the principle of “God blesses planning and hard work,” which is very true. However, our spiritual life isn’t static. It doesn’t stay still. God knows where we are and what principles we need right when we need them. There are times that the only way we can exercise faith is to have all our planned options shot down. I am learning a few key things during this season.

  1. The death of my plan doesn’t mean God is going to swoop in and walk on water to fulfill MY plan. It means I need to trust HIM for a new plan. I should trust God enough to rest in the promise that He has a plan for me. (And my Smelly Monster) Jeremiah 29:11
  2. This is hard and it stinks. Sorry. I know that isn’t really a spiritual response but it is authentic. Trusting God when there doesn’t seem to be a solution is really hard. I have found that it is even harder when the plan includes my Smelly Monsters. My spirit animal is a momma bear.
  3. God is good and wants what is best for me and mine. Just like I don’t always give my kids what they want and don’t give into their requests, God is parenting me. He knows what is best for me in the long run. His best is a way better plan than my human solution to things. Matthew 7:8-10

God knows our hearts. God knows the big picture. God loves us wildly and without any reserves. Let’s rest in his arms and mourn our plans but find comfort in the assurance that His plan is bigger, better and best.

Please join the conversation below and share a time that your plan died but God’s plan was better. Sharing God’s faithfulness in your life strengthens our faith!

Being Thankful Changes Everything

Happy Thanksgiving!

As every parent of a teenager knows, the key to a good fuss is the wind up. You have to lean back and take a deep breath before you start because it takes a lot of energy and you can’t show any signs of wavering. Teenagers can smell insincerity a mile away. This tiny window of weakness gives them just enough time to employ whatever tactic they have found to derail the fuss. Smelly Monster #2 usually talks in his Nacho Lebre voice or his Irish brogue to make me laugh.

During a recent trip to “Wally World” on a Saturday (my first mistake) with Smelly Monster #2, I was winding up for a fuss. I was cranky and grumpy AND at “Wally World” on Saturday. Not a good combination. SM #2 doesn’t like it when I pull the cart from the front while he is supposed to be pushing it from the back. In my defense, he only has three speeds: turtle, snail and slug. He was somewhere between snail and In all things give thanksslug that day. I pulled as he was trying to push and we were at immediately at odds. This was the culmination of a day of frustrations. I was over it. I leaned back and took a deep breath. At that same moment Smelly Monster #2’s eyes became as large as saucers. It was like slow motion took over and I looked up just in time to be hit squarely in the head by a 12 pack of paper towels that had fallen from the top shelf. Not sure how to react, we both stood there looking at each other as a second package pelted me on the head.

Parenting tip #27: When you know you have lost the upper hand give in gracefully.

At that point there was nothing else to do but laugh. My favorite part of the story is when SM#2 came around the cart and gave me a hug and said, “I guess we should be thankful that we weren’t in the bowling ball section!”

The Bible says to “give thanks always for all things.” Ephesian 5:20

Ick, gag, ugg! This is not my favorite principle. However, I have learned that a thankful spirit and attitude changes everything. Grief is an overwhelming emotion and it clouds and blurs everything in our lives. Cultivating a thankful, grateful spirit helps us bring things into focus.

Here are 3 steps to cultivating a grateful spirit.

  1. Remember past blessings. Lamentations 3:20-21 The current situation may be painful and difficult but I bet you can list 10 things right off the top of your head that are blessings from your past. Good times with you lost loved one. Happy events with your friends. Simple gifts that lifted your spirit. Write them out and remember.
  2. Notice new blessings. Because of the blur and cloud of pain you are living in, you can miss good things happening all around. Psalm 28:7 God is continuing to give you strength and sustain you. Really look around and notice those current blessings.
  3. Choose to be thankful and grateful. Many times we have to take action first and then our emotions follow. Psalm 118:24 This small choice can change your entire life. Why just survive when you can thrive?

I wonder if God found falling paper towels as funny as my Smelly Monster? I am thankful that we were not in the bowling ball section.

Since today is Thanksgiving take a minute and post at least one thing below in the comments you are thankful for today. I hope you have a great day with family and friends.

Raising Smelly Monsters to be Spiritual Men

Summer isn’t the best time for me to write warm and fuzzy anecdotal stories about the boys. Right now I need a whistle and a referee’s outfit to keep any semblance of order over here. Fun part of this story is that I am “working” from home these days. “Working” you noticed was in quotes. Working might be overstating things a bit. I am working but not for FLVS… Shhhhh please don’t tell. I fit in customer calls and support emails between lessons, camp, taxi service, VBS and a myriad of other activities.

Raising kids at any time is a challenge. I often feel way out numbered and extremely under qualified to fill the position of parent. However, the day sweet, cranky little Micah came into the world I was given the name tag “Mom.” Those years were fun and difficult, priceless and expensive all at the same time. Cliff and I did it as a team. However, the day I had to tell the boys that their daddy had died, was the most difficult of my life. Cliff used the last moments of his life to assure me of his love and give me charge of raising our three Smelly Monsters: Micah, Caleb and Lucas. He had such confidence and trust in his eyes as we talked about how I was going to manage without him, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we were in trouble. I couldn’t believe that it was going to be all up to me.

I spent many hours crying, praying and begging God to change our situation. However, he chose to lead us down that path. Once I accepted where we were, I began to beg God to help me rise to the occasion. Friend, many days I fall very short. God is so full of mercy. He cradles us and comforts us and stands us back up to try again. I learned many lessons hard and fast that first year. God taught me lessons that I in turn “shared” (the Monsters called it lecturing) with the boys.

Our first lesson was one we learned during Cliff’s illness. It all comes down to choices. You can’t control what happens but you can control how you respond. We as a family chose to respond in faith even after God didn’t answer the way we wanted. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Our second lesson was to let go of bitterness fast and often. Bitterness grows, so the longer you have it, the harder it is to deal with. Bitterness keeps coming back. This isn’t something that is a one-time deal. You have to let go often.(Hebrews 12:15)

Our third lesson was to accept responsibility. We waste time and emotional energy trying to find someone else to blame. Life isn’t fair. Difficult things happen to everyone. We must accept responsibility when we do wrong, ask forgiveness and move forward. The fastest way to fail is to blame someone else. (Proverbs 28:13)

Our fourth and most important lesson was to live with a thankful heart. Thankfulness is the key to abundant blessings. I am so blessed to have been given 13 wonderful years with Cliff. The boys are blessed to have had a wonderful father.(Psalm 28:7)

These days things are easier. I have someone to share the load. Daily I am reminded that circumstances change but those principles still hold true. Raising Smelly Monsters to be Spiritual Men isn’t a cake walk but it has its rewards. I know that Cliff is watching and is proud of the progress they have made. We have to remind ourselves daily of the principles but thankfully God understands.

Still Choosing Faith,