Faithful Strides: Day Sixteen

"Who dares despise the day of small things..."  Zechariah 4:10

“Who dares despise the day of small things…”
Zechariah 4:10

Day Sixteen
1.75 mi.

It’s been a little while since I posted my last blog as I have been trying to become accustom to life with my new job which takes up quite a huge chunk of my day, but definitely in a good way. I am enjoying my new job and I am thankful to God everyday for providing this for me. I am now working on getting into a new routine which would involve walking in the evenings and on Saturday mornings. Which, by the way, I so enjoyed my early Saturday morning walk and I highly recommend it to anyone who is in need of a renewing and fresh start to their weekend.
As I have begun working, more and more I have found myself beginning to stress out a little about my weight and my size as I have tried to make sure that I get some sort of daily workout in, but this morning as I was spending time alone in God’s presence, I heard Him speak to me and tell me, “Child, worry less about your weight and size and instead relish and delight yourself in the joy of the small things, the everyday things.” And that’s what I know I need to keep my focus on as life begins to become hectic. Beginning with giving thanks to God for the gift of a three day weekend this weekend to giving Him thanks that my boys are home every night safe and sound and that my family is happy and healthy.
As you walk today, take time to give thanks to God for even the smallest of things that He blesses you with, for as you do so He will reveal to you all of the major blessings He has given to you as well and before you know it you walk in a new kind of joy and peace which can only come from God.

Faithful Strides: Day Fifteen

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference." The Serenity Prayer

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
The Serenity Prayer

Day Fifteen
1 mile
For the next few days I feel like it is definitely time to turn the focus away from me and my own problems and focus more on the things that are going on around the world. As I woke this morning in the peace and quiet of my house to get ready for work I took a moment to listen to the news and it was so very disheartening to hear about the protests which continue to go on following the deadly shooting in St. Louis, Missouri. Then I listened to the tragedy which is taking place over in Iraq with the ISIS group taking aim at women and children Christians forcing them to renounce their faith and convert to Islamic beliefs and when they won’t they are killed on the spot. More and more these days the world feels like a boiling steam pot just waiting to blow it’s lid, and more and more I feel like I am getting smaller in the wake of it all and that my prayers are becoming less and less effective. Of course, as I thought this I heard God speak to me and remind me that that’s exactly how the devil wants me, wants us all, to feel. He wants us to feel like our prayers are falling onto deaf ears, because then if we believe that then ultimately we then have to believe that God is not real and we turn away from our faith. This morning, as I prayed about all that is going on in the world and I asked God just how I, as one person, can make a difference I heard Him speak to me once more and say, “Child, pray bigger, pray faithfully, and pray out loud. Let the world hear you pray for them and pray for the world, one new person at a time.” That took me right back to my other blog that I have called, “The Progressive Prayer Project”. The idea behind the “Prayer Project” is that whenever you come across someone you feel needs to be prayed for you pray for them, whether you know them or not, then you hand them a card (or some sort of souvenir) to let them know that you prayed for them, then you ask that person to pass on the card and pray for someone else. The idea being that we all genuinely and sincerely pray for God to show up in someone else’s life and one by one, person by person, we can bring the peace and the love and the joy that is God back into this boiling steam pot world and we can begin to find healing and renewal in a better world. As I walked today the words of the Serenity Prayer stayed with me especially as I thought about and listened to all the wrong and all of the evil that is going on in the world. As you walk today take the words of the Serenity Prayer with you and then ask God to show you how you, too, can make a difference in this hurting world and listen for Him to tell you just how you can do that. Then follow God’s calling and be the change that you want to see in the world. The change that I want to see is for people to love one another, for us to share the love of Christ with those who need it all around us, and by sharing Christ’s love this world which has become so violent and so out of control can come closer to knowing true peace and joy for this generation and for generations to come.

Laughing through it all

"All things bright and beautiful; all creatures great and small.  All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all." A familiar church hymn

“All things bright and beautiful; all creatures great and small. All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.”
A familiar church hymn

I had to take a moment today to interrupt my Faithful Strides posts to bid a very sad goodbye to a wonderful comedian and talented actor, Robin Williams. It’s tough to hear such a story because you wish that you as one single individual could have said or done something to help him. Something that could have spoken to him before he decided to take his own life which would have made him stop, turn around, and believe for a better tomorrow. I always try to tell my boys, if ever, EVER you should feel like taking your own life is the only answer wait, because you never know what miracle could be awaiting you in the very next moment. My heart goes out to the family, friends, and loved ones who were close to Robin Williams, may they know and understand that so many of us all around the world mourn your loss with you. Depression is an honest and true illness that isn’t so easy to overcome, I know because I have dealt with it myself and I have seen and supported friends who have also dealt with it. If you are like me you want to lead people to Christ and rest assured that in Christ they can overcome their depression, and that can be done. God wants only the best for us all. He wants us to be happy and to live a joyful and peaceful life in Him, the devil, however, is always just behind us stealing the peace and joy that God has so freely given us and the truth is that for some, it is hard to see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is hard to believe for a better next moment when so many other moments have not seemed any better. As a Christian woman I send up my own personal thoughts and prayers for the family, friends, and loved ones who Robin Williams left behind to grieve him. I pray that God will heal their aching hearts, that He will speak peace and joy into their lives, and that He will restore them and bring them true hope for their future. Today, the world mourns the loss of a great comedic actor who’s talent has made so many laugh themselves to the point of tears. Today, I get to share my own personal story of how his comedy, ironically enough, helped begin to heal me when I was also in the midst of a deep depression. I was newly, once more, a single mom following the very nasty and hurtful end of my relationship with my youngest son’s father. I had spent months in a very deep depression because of that spending my days writing a story I had simply come up with, my only source of nutrition were the little miniature sized Reese cups which I’d eat two or three whenever my stomach rumbled which as the days marched on happened less and less, consequently I went from a size 8 at the time down to a size 4, I usually ended my day with a “drink” or two after the kids were tucked into bed at which time I would continue my writing. One night, following a particularly rough day, I was in my bed, both of my boys had by then crawled into my bed as well and were sound asleep, and I was exhausted and sad from all of the crying I had done that day. I looked up at the television that was in my bedroom and saw that Robin Williams was on doing a stand up routine. I hadn’t seen this before so I unmuted the television and began to listen. At first I giggled here and there, but as he went on with his routine, I began to laugh, genuine, belly filled laughter which I hadn’t done in a very long time and I can remember thinking to myself that if I could laugh even after the emotional day that I’d had then I was certainly on my way to healing, and that very night, watching Robin Williams and laughing as I did was, for me, a big first step towards my very own healing. Thank you Robin for the years of laughter and for the amazing talent that you so freely gave to us all. God gave you to us but for a short period of time yet in that time you managed to touch so many people who you never even knew you’d touched, May God bless you and may you rest in His loving presence from here on.
If you or someone you know has been battling depression, realize that it is a genuine and honest illness and that treatment can help. Pray for God to lead you to the healing and helping hands which can help you or that someone you know to battle this illness. God created us in His own image, but He knows better than anyone that we are flawed and hurting individuals and that we need Him far more that we may ever fully express. Let God’s love heal you, let Jesus walk with you in this tough journey, and let those around you who love you help you to find healing and hope for your life. Don’t wait, if you are depressed, reach out to someone today and take the first steps toward the better life that God has in store for you. How can you know that God has a better life in store for you, He already told you so in Jeremiah 29:11. Let that passage be the first of many which help lead you to finding your way out of your depression.

Faithful Strides: Day Fourteen

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for..."  Hebrews 11:1

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for…” Hebrews 11:1

Day Fourteen
2 miles

Faith, it’s a hard thing to keep. Especially when things have been so bad for so long and you’ve simply grown accustom to believing that things will never improve and that this is where your life is meant to be. It’s certainly far easier to simply stay put and believe for far less for your life, then you never have to face disappointment, but that is not what our Father in Heaven calls us to do. He states right here in Hebrews 11:1, that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for.” Faith is speaking positive affirmations over your life both in the present and in the future and then believing those affirmations will come to pass. Faith takes a lot of strength, a lot of courage, and a lot of work on your part. I know because it takes a lot for me to keep having faith especially when the devil seems to come against me harder and harder every day. Fighting to keep me from my destiny. I heard a preacher say once that the closer you come to reaching God’s calling for your life the harder and stronger the devil will come against you offering you more and more temptations, bringing about deeper fears and stronger doubts, he is a skillful enemy well equipped to steal what God has told us is already ours. Happiness, joy, peace, prosperity, and blessings, these are just a few of the things that God has already promised us can be ours, we simply need to have faith for them. Today as you venture out on your walk, keep the scripture from Hebrews 11:1 with you and whatever it is you are believing God do to in your life, keep believing, have faith, and hold tight to God’s promise that He will bless you and He will come through for you so long as you keep having faith.

Faithful Strides: Day Thirteen

"Those who seek me will find me."  Proverbs 8:17

“Those who seek me will find me.” Proverbs 8:17

Day Thirteen
1 mile
Last night I began to take a good, long look at who I have let myself become and who I really am. Like the post I put up yesterday, I felt like it was time for me to peel back the layers upon layers of labels I had acquired over the years so that I can begin to get back to who I truly am I feel certain that then it will be so much easier for me to find who God is truly calling me to be. This morning as I walked I felt an overwhelming since of calm and I could hear God telling me to just be “Me“. Be the woman who didn’t care what the world’s opinion of her was, a woman who wasn’t out to win any personality awards or to get an approving grin from passersby. Simply be me.
Today, as you take your walk, try to remember who you were before you acquired your own labels and let God help you be the best you that you can be. Today as you walk, all I challenge you to do is keep this scripture from Proverbs 8:17 with you, seek Him every waking moment of your days, and be uniquely the beautiful, funny, awesome, silly, amazing, caring, welcoming, genuine you that God created you to be. And wear your unique “you-ness” with your head held high, Child of the Most High King.

Faithful Strides: Day Twelve

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"  Luke 12:25

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Luke 12:25

Day Twelve
1 mile
As my week begins I have made a promise to myself to walk everyday for the next two weeks without missing a day. I am doing this to get in the use of my more free time over these next two weeks before I begin a new job. I am very excited and very nervous about starting my new job all at the same time. I think that so much of my anxiety comes from the fact that for the past 10 years of my life I have worked jobs which have allowed me to be fully there for my boys. In fact, lately my whole life and world has been shaken up as so much of my identity has begun to shift and change. It all began when I left my job as a preschool teacher, then it was perpetuated when I sold my van. So much of who I defined myself as was peeled away from me when I chose to do those two things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret leaving those things behind at all. They were the things that helped to make me who I was and I will always have fond memories of them, but I knew that God was calling me to step outside of my comfort zone. Then as I began to look for a new job and a new vehicle I think that I became concerned that perhaps I would never again find out who I am supposed to be. I realized then that I had let myself become consumed with the labels that I had given myself. To add to that, as my boys are quickly growing into men and needing me less and less, I also am beginning to see the label of “Mommy” get peeled away and replaced by “Mom”. I am thankful to be the mom of two such amazing young men, but at the same time I find myself looking back and wondering where all that time went and how it got away from me so quickly. I can hardly believe that my boys are already so grown and that I am facing letting them go and that before I even know it I will be seeing grandchildren. Seeing all of these labels being peeled away from me has been quite tough and has made me realize that I hadn’t even noticed how much I had let myself become identified by those labels. I’m glad that this is all happening because I have been learning so much about myself in this whole experience. It has even become a growing sort of personal project for me. Over the course of this year (my 40th year) I have begun to make it a point to write down all of the labels which have previously defined me as well as the ones that currently define me. I want to peel away all of those labels so that I can truly get to know who I really am and who God is truly calling me to be. I feel like this will help me to grow closer in my relationship with God as well as become more aware of who He has created me to be.
As you walk today, think about who God is calling you to be by beginning to understand first who He created you to be. Take away all of the labels which define you, and ask God to reveal to you who you are. I have learned that going forward I can not let myself be defined by what job I am working or what vehicle I am driving or what house I live in, but rather I need to stay grounded in who God created me to be and all of the other things in my life will be mere bonus blessings which He gives to me.

Faithful Strides: Day Eleven

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust."  Psalm 25:1

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.” Psalm 25:1

Day Eleven
2 miles
Today’s walk was replaced by a very intense 45 minute workout cutting my grass. Your walking workout can come from anywhere, it doesn’t have to be just taking a walk. Today the scripture I kept with me was the declaration from Psalm 25:1, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.”
I had a job interview last week and as I walked out of the interview I felt like it had gone well and I felt quite confident that I would have had a job offer by now, but alas, nothing. I have no idea yet where it is that God is calling me to, but I do know that no matter how hard I may try to take the reins from Him and control this ship that is my life myself, the more He will come back to remind me that ultimately I am not in control nor have I ever been in control. For some, this may be a tough truth to swallow. Not being in control of anything let alone something as important as your life can be an extremely frightening concept to grasp and some may even fool themselves into saying, “Well, I love God and I worship and praise Him, but I AM in control.” I applaud you on having such confidence and in accomplishing all that you have, however, I ask you today to stop and take a look around this life that you have built and try to imagine it all simply being yanked out from under you. Yes, it can happen to you, it can happen to anyone. Today as you take your walk (or cut your grass) take the time to acknowledge God for truly being the one in control of your life. Thank Him for seeing you to where you are now and thank Him for all of the blessings that you have. Then ask Him how you can be a blessing to others. You never know, He may be calling you to help someone else get “control” of their own life. Raise your head high and keep it there as you walk tall with pride for all of your accomplishments, then lift yourself even higher as you remember that you are God’s blessed and beloved child and He is always in control, wherever this life may take you. And if ever your own life should suddenly be yanked out from under you or turned upside down, remember the words from Psalm 25:1, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.”

Faithful Strides: Day Ten

"Show me the right path, O Lord, point out the road for me to follow."  Psalm 25:4

“Show me the right path, O Lord, point out the road for me to follow.” Psalm 25:4

Day Ten
3 miles
And just like that, I’m down to 90 days to go.
Today as I woke up and got ready to walk I kept wondering just where it is that God is calling me to go these days. More and more these days I do feel like God is calling me to go some place else and to open myself up to doing even more new things and I don’t want to miss any opportunities that he is calling me to experience. Funny thing, today, after finishing my walk I sat down in front of the television to eat my breakfast and drink a cup of coffee before I came in to blog and on the t.v. was a show called “House Hunters International” and in this particular episode there was a young American couple who had just taken the big leap of moving to Belgium. I watched as they went and checked out three different apartments that they wanted to rent and as they went along the apartments went from tiny, cramped, and inefficient to more spacious and modern yet more expensive. By the time the show reached the point when the couple was deciding which one to go with, I felt certain that they would quickly eliminate the tiny, cramped, and inefficient apartment, but to my surprise they actually chose that one. Why? Because they wanted to save their money and use it to travel and see more of Europe together, and just like that, Viola! a light bulb went off in my own mind. My life should not just be about all of the “things” I have accumulated over the years neatly (or perhaps not so neatly) displayed for all to see and envy, my life should be about saving the money, opting for a smaller space, making due with less stuff and enjoying time spent with the people I love. Lesson number one taught to me by a show on HGTV. But wait, there’s more to this. I also felt myself thinking, “Wow! What a big leap they are taking leaving the comfort and the familiarity of their homes and families to move abroad to a place they had never even visited before.” Then I thought back to yesterday and my toying with the idea of putting in an application for a job which would potentially move me and my boys only about and hour or two away from our hometown. I put off filling out the application for the job for fear that I might get a phone call for an interview and then what if they offered me the job. (Picture me nail biting my way around this decision) Today as I watched that young, adventurous couple taking such a big leap of faith and moving so far from home I thought to myself, how can I, at 40 years old, be such a scaredy cat?! Isn’t it time for me to let go? Isn’t it time for me to embrace the places that God is calling me to go and the things that he is calling me to do? Didn’t I just say yesterday how I didn’t want to get to Heaven and open up a door that leads to a room filled with unopened gifts? And, again, Viola! lesson two taught to me by a simple thirty minute house hunting show on HGTV. God sure can speak to us in the most amazing and unexpected ways. Today as you continue on your walk of faith with God, ask Him to show you where He is calling you to go and what things He is calling you to do, and if you think that those places and those things seem overwhelming perhaps kick back and watch a few episodes of “House Hunters International” and listen for God to speak to you, too. He has already well equipped us to do all which He is calling us to do, all we need to do is step out and have faith.

Faithful Strides: Day Nine

And let us not grow weary of doing good."  Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good.” Galatians 6:9

Day Nine
1/2 mile
Have you ever woke up, gotten out of bed and everything that you set you hands on or that you set out to do turns upside down. You’re dropping things, you’re tripping over things, you decide to take your walk outside only to find that some strange car is parked beside your house and you suddenly feel like leaving your two teenage boys alone at home still asleep while you walk might not be the best idea? Ok, so that’s kind of how my walking endeavor played out today. I had already set out to go walking and so I walked around the neighborhood only a short distance and made my way back to the house. Once I was back home and was feeling certain that the boys were still asleep safe and sound I tried to put in my walking DVD to make up for the walk I didn’t get to do today only to become frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t get the DVD to play from the beginning and so I put down the remote control, took out the DVD and placed it back in it’s case. Perhaps simply blogging and being an inspiration to others first is what God is calling me to do and then I can try again later to get in my full walk. I do hope that all of you are making great strides in your “Faithful Strides” walking routine. I found myself curious this morning, as so many things tried to come against me, wondering if these were all obstacles purposely being dropped into my life by way of the devil to make me want to give up. As I wondered this my thoughts quickly turned to this scripture from Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good.” It can be so taxing and so exhausting to always do the right thing and as you do always there seems to be one more obstacle placed in your path and always there seems to be one more temptation thrown your way and always there seems to be the voice of the devil telling you that you would just be better off if you simply gave up and accept the circumstances as they are. It’s true, too. I could easily just accept that where I am now in my life is all that I deserve and that I could never have a nicer house and that I could never have a nice car and that I could never be in shape again and that I will always be single. I could accept all of these things and just stay right here in my life, or I could keep pushing past all of the obstacles, all of the temptations, and all of the doubts to reach a higher place in my life. I once read a story, I believe in a book written by Max Lucado, where he talks about a man who died and went to Heaven and as the man explored Heaven, he came upon this door and he opened it. On the other side of the door was a room filled with colorfully and cheerfully wrapped presents which looked a lot like birthday presents. Intrigued, the man turned to God and asked Him, “What is this room?” And God told him, “That is a room filled with all of the gifts that I gave to you, but that you never opened and therefore you never used them.” Funny the things that will stay with you. That story is one of those things that has always stayed with me and whenever I find myself tempted to believe that taking one more walk is fruitless because I really haven’t seen any significant pounds come off or that praying for someone to change or for a situation to improve is pointless because that person or that situation hasn’t changed so far or that giving money to someone on the side of the road holding a sign is ridiculous since I know that very same person is going to be there the next day holding the same sign looking for more handouts, I think of this story and I remember the room full of gifts. When I get to Heaven and come across that room I want it to be filled with nothing but the left over streamers, popped balloons, and tons of torn wrapping paper and empty boxes because I will have used all of the gifts that God has given me to do good in my life for Him and to live the full and abundant life that I know He has already planned for me. Today as you walk think about what gifts God has given you in your life that you can open up and use today? Whatever gifts they are open them, use them to the fullest, and remember not to “grow weary of doing good.”

Faithful Strides: Day Eight

"I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love..."  Hosea 11:4

“I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love…” Hosea 11:4

Day Eight
1/2 mile
Today is Sunday. A day when I typically do not worry about walking since it is Sunday and church is definitely a priority followed by family time and relaxing time. I purposely usually let Sunday’s slip by without giving thought to my walking routine, however today while we were at my sister’s house celebrating her oldest step-son’s 11th birthday party, my nephew, David, asked me to take a walk with him. Now had I had my walking shoes with me I would have walked much farther, but since I still had on my church shoes, I opted to walk just around the block with him. That short walk around the block with him though, was more than enough to let me know that I probably needed to do more to carve out time to come to his house and take more walks with him. This is because my nephew, who is 11 years old, along with his younger sister, Amanda, are rarely allowed to leave the confines of their house to come and spend time with us. Sad, but true. My sister is a bit of an overbearing mom who seriously does not do well when her children are out of her sight. Now, as a very protective mother myself, I can say that I get that. I get wanting to keep your children by your side and in your sight so that you have the comfort and peace of knowing that they are just fine, but as I recently talked about in a previous post, I know that I truly do not have control over my children and that even if they were right there in my sight they could still be hurt. God is in control not me and He loves my boys even more than I love them because after all, He loved them before I even knew them. When I came home I was sorting through a few scriptures that I had set aside to put into a book I am currently working on, I came across this particular scripture which I felt really spoke to the place where my family is right now. “I led them with cords of human kindness and with ties of love…” God led our family to the place where we are right now and He will continue to lead us to where He knows that we are supposed to be, and just as my extremely overprotective sister tries hard to keep her children in her sights always, God is always keeping us in His sights and always trying to make sure that we are safe and sound. God is our Heavenly Father and He is just as protective of us as my sister and I are of our children, and He would never lead us into a situation which He knows would be bad for us. God always calls us to follow Him and to stay in His house, but all too often the devil calls out to us drawing us out of the safety of our Father’s house and into the throws of the world. It is up to us to come back to God’s house and to play safely in His yard. Like my niece and nephew would be just fine if they came to play with my sons at my house or to play with their other cousins at their grandparents house, God will lead you out of His house and into the places where He is calling you to go, but if you should ever find yourself in a place where the streetlight are coming on and the world around you is getting dark, God will call you to come on back home to His safe and loving house. So, tonight, as I wrap up my Sunday with a heart dwelling on my nephew and niece and my sister as well as my Mom and Dad who long to spend more time with their grandchildren, I think about God’s good plan for us and His promise to lead us all “with cords of human kindness and with ties of love…” and I have hope in Him that He will bring us all through these trials victoriously to be a family closer and more tightly knit for having faced the challenges we have been facing with faith and perseverance.