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.

Faithful Strides: Day Seven

"They left everything and followed Him."  Luke 5:11

“They left everything and followed Him.” Luke 5:11

Day Seven
3 miles
Today, I woke up to an approaching thunderstorm. Undeterred, I popped in my “walking” workout DVD and walked happily along for what equated to three miles in the comfort and safety of my living room. As I did this, apparently in a camp ground just a short traveling distance from my home, a tornado touched down sending thousands of people scrambling for safety and others simply huddling together no doubt praying for God to keep them safe. As I turned on the news and listened to the reporters I was saddened by the reports that two people had died from injuries sustained at the camp ground during the tornado and several more people had been injured and taken to hospitals nearby. As I walked today I set out to keep a specific scripture in mind until I turned off my walking DVD and the storm had safely passed by and I heard the awful news story, at that time I sought out a scripture which could help me to make since of today’s events. This one spoke to me, “They left everything and followed Him.” Much the same way as I comfortably went about walking along with my walking DVD blissfully unaware of what was happening just miles from my own home, so too can we all get caught up in the comfort of our own little worlds that we have created for ourselves and we can forget that there are others around us who need our help, who need our time or who simply need our listening ears and sturdy shoulders to lean on. Some of us may be the ones who need those other people who are blissfully living unaware in their own little worlds. Whichever end of the spectrum you may find yourself on, look up to God today and ask Him to show you where you are needed even if that may take you outside of the confines of your comfortable life.
I was at an amazing bible study last night led by one of the men from our church and he was leading our group in a discussion about whether or not we are truly willing to be led by the Holy Spirit. We may shake our heads and quickly answer, “Yes! Of course!” whether we consider ourselves Christians or not, however, when you really think about it, are you? Are you honestly ready to do what the Holy Spirit may be calling you to do? What if He called you to leave your home and all of your belongings and take your family and a little bit of food and just head in a totally opposite direction to live a new life? What if He called you to go back to college at the age of 64? What if He called you to offer your favorite outfits from your closet to someone who you just met just because that person needed them? What if the Holy Spirit was calling you to quit your job and stay home with your children or to quit your job and move into a lower paying position just because He knows that’s where you are supposed to be? How many of us would truly be willing to give up the life we have become so accustom to and so comfortable with to whole heartedly follow the Holy Spirit. I too, struggle with this very same thing. I fear that if I gave up complete control of my life to God and say, “Your will be done!” I might not like what may come, and most of that used to center around my children and the “what if’s” of speaking that simple phrase, “Your will be done!” Only as of lately as they are growing and becoming young men I have been able to release myself of that and say, “With Faith I trust you, Father.” This is because I know that no matter how many times I may try to convince myself that I am in control of whether my boys are safe and sound or not by calling to check on them or texting them, ultimately, God is in control and I need to simply have faith. As I am slowly learning to let go of my boys and trust that God has them in His capable hands so that they can become the men He is calling them to be, I am learning, too, to let go of more and more control and to let the Holy Spirit truly lead my life. Today, as you walk, whether outside completely aware of your surroundings or whether inside blissfully unaware of what’s just outside of your door, keep the scripture from John 5:11 with you, “They left everything and followed Him.” Then listen for the small voice stirring inside of you, that’s God’s Holy Spirit, where is He calling you to go next? What is He calling you to do? And what small steps can you take to being able to fully let go and let God?!

Faithful Strides: Day Six

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid; for the Lord your God goes with you."  Deuteronomy 31:6

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid; for the Lord your God goes with you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Day Six
2 miles
Do you know how well I know this particular bible verse? So well I can sing it. That’s because for months while volunteering at a weekly Wednesday night program for kids at church the music director used to play a video of this particular bible verse set to song that the kids and all of us teachers and leaders used to joyfully sing to help the children learn the bible verse and memorize it. I can’t imagine that anyone, not the children or the leaders, has ever forgotten this bible verse because we all enjoyed singing it over and over again so much. This was the bible verse that walked with me today, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid; for the Lord your God goes with you.” This verse continues to stay in line with the bible verses that we have been taking with us on our walks of faith. “Take Courage!”, “Stop doubting and believe!”, “All things are possible to one who believes.” Combined with these previous promises from our Heavenly Father, adding this one on helps us to build upon the courage we are growing during our faith walk. Think about it, God is fully equipping us to face the challenges of our lives. He is waking us up and saying, “Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams!”, “Don’t sit around and make excuses as to why you can not!”, “Don’t doubt what I can do for you in your life if only you believe!” We are walking with God every day of our lives. That’s a pretty powerful and mighty ally to have at your side. I love the story I recently watched on a news clip that was posted on Facebook about a woman who was fighting to protect a young woman and her newborn baby from a possible would be attacker and the entire time that she fought to keep this man from the lady she repeatedly said, “By the power of God you will not harm this woman!” God was with her providing her the strength and courage that she may have never even known she had.
Today, as you head out for your faith walk, take the promise from Deuteronomy 31:6 with you, “Be strong! Be Courageous! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord is with you wherever you may go!” And with that promise, think of all of the things that fear or doubt has been holding you back from doing, pray over those things and ask God if they are things that He is calling you to do and if they are, trust that God is with you and He is able to help you not just do those things, but He will help you accomplish those things victoriously.
“Be Strong! Be Courageous! Walk with God!”

Faithful Strides: Day Five

"Instead He is patient with you..."  2 Peter 3:9

“Instead He is patient with you…” 2 Peter 3:9

Day Five
1.25 miles
I was back out on my same walking route this morning after taking the weekend off due to feeling a bit under the weather. I figured that it was better to take a short break and rest rather than to push myself and risk becoming sick. At one time in my life, I would have completely given up on my quest to complete these 100 days of walking just because I had taken these past two days off. I would have convinced myself that I was silly to have even begun such a huge goal and that I was even more silly to think I could ever finish it. Like so many of us, I can be my own worst critic, especially before I had matured in my relationship with Christ. These days, however, I have a peace which I didn’t used to know. It seems to grow more and more in me as I grow in my faith. I can remember a time when I wondered what in the world that peace must feel like whenever I read about it in scripture and in my devotionals. But now, I am blessed enough to understand that peace, and one aspect of that peace is being patient with myself. Like I said, in the not so long ago past I would have simply convinced myself that it would be far easier for me to simply give up on this quest just because I missed a day or two. That’s because I was listening to the devil’s ranting and raving trying to make me believe that I could never accomplish anything. That’s what the devil wants us all to believe, because if we could all sit around in a constant state of depression and self-pity then we would never find time to be blessings to others, we would never find time to praise God, and we would always be in cahoots with the devil giving him what he wants most, our belief in his lies instead of believing in God’s truth. I have learned that God’s truth was given to us as a gift and as a weapon to keep us safe from the devil. Have you ever watched Harry Potter or The Hunger Games? (Thank you by the way for such amazing writing J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins). In both of these movies the main characters are sent “gifts” which can heal or protect them as they come against the trials they are about to face, the bible and God’s word is just like that. Imagine yourself as Katniss waiting in the middle of this ravaged and haunting forest that is your life having already been scarred by the events which have taken place around you and wondering how you are ever going to make it out of the forest alive when all of the sudden a tiny parachute is dropped from the sky and attached to the end of that parachute is a bible. This is God’s gift to you, your weapon and your armor to not only get you out of whatever “forest” you are in alive, but to get you out victorious! Walking for 100 days in faith is quite an audacious goal for me and one that I could easily beat myself up for when I miss a day or two or I could simply choose not to finish, but I figure if God is being patient with me, shouldn’t I also be patient with myself? Today, I walked with the scripture from 2 Peter 3:9, “Instead He is patient with you…” Be patient with yourself in whatever goals you are trying to accomplish and see yourself as your Heavenly Father already does, as His child, beautifully created in His very own image.

Faithful Strides: Day Four

"All things are possible to the one who believes."  Mark 9:23

“All things are possible to the one who believes.” Mark 9:23

Day Four
1.25 miles
Can I be honest with you today. I forgot to walk out of the door this morning with a scripture in my head. I lost my focus, I admit it, I’m human and hopefully (not hopelessly) flawed. So, as soon as I came home and got ready to write on my blog today I sought out a scripture that would best suit all that was going through my head as I walked this morning. My mind ran wild, this morning with questions and hopeful predictions for my future. For instance, I wondered if I would ever be able to afford a nice, newer model car and just pay it off in full in say two years time. And I wondered would people think that I was being obnoxious if I created business cards and handed them out to everyone telling them that I have now self published my first book and they can find it on Amazon, or would that be acceptable? I wondered what my house could look like and how much more at peace my life would be if I cleared my home of all of the unnecessary clutter that I have lying around collecting dust and I lived a simpler life, again–Yep! These are just a few of the goofy and off-the-wall things that float through my head when I walk sometimes. I also thought a lot about how hard it is increasingly becoming to see my boys grow into men knowing that all too soon they are going to be ready to go out and conquer the world on their own, and as any good mother should, I need to let them do so. With supporting love and a faithful heart and with the wisdom God provides me when they come seeking my advice I know that I will have to let them go and just knowing this has often made me sad, but many, many times I have heard God whisper to me to let them go and see what blessings I will receive when I do and I don’t doubt that. Just as the scriptures from yesterday and the day before spoke to me, I need to “Take Courage!” and “Stop doubting and believe!” Now today I have a new promise to keep with me as I walk through the remainder of my day, “All things are possible to the one who believes.” And so from now on I vow to believe with my whole heart that my boys will always be safe and healthy and happy and blessed wherever God may call them to go and I will believe that they will be back home to visit more often than not and before I know it they will be bringing home wonderful wives and beautiful grandkids who shall call me…”GamMa!” 🙂
Today, as you walk through your day, think about what things you may be dreading. Perhaps like me you are not at all anticipating your children leaving home or maybe you are facing the possibility of divorce and you aren’t at all looking forward to being single again or maybe your loved one is going to be heading overseas with the military and you are not looking forward to them leaving and the time that you will have to spend apart. Whatever you may be dreading that you know is coming your way, face it with the promise that God gave to us through His son Jesus, “All things are possible to one who believes.” Today, take courage, stop doubting, and believe!

Faithful Strides: Day Three

"Take Courage" Acts 23:11 & Matthew 14:27   "Stop doubting and believe!"  John 20:27

“Take Courage” Acts 23:11 & Matthew 14:27
“Stop doubting and believe!” John 20:27

Day Three
1.25 miles
Today I walked out the door with the past two days of scripture with me. Together those scriptures built upon one another create a pretty powerful mantra to speak over ones life. “Take Courage!” “Stop doubting and believe!” We are all facing some sort of difficulty or struggle in our lives that we simply don’t know the best way to handle. Today, God is calling us to take that walk, even if it’s only to go around the block a few times, and as you walk let the struggles and the difficulties fall away from you with each step that you take. Visualize yourself with this cracked and crumbling outer shell of worry and distress, anxiety and doubt, low self-esteem and even lower hopes for the future, falling off of you piece by piece bit by bit with each step that you take until you begin to see a renewed and restored “you” emerging from beneath the weight of the things that have now crumbled and fallen away from you. Step back onto your front porch, back through your front door with a renewed and refreshed spirit, taking in a deep breath, blowing away all of the negative and inhaling all of the positive and the goodness that God has in store for you. How do you know that He has good in store for you, because He already told you so in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you, they are plans for good and not for evil…” So while you are facing your current difficulties and struggles don’t let your identity become wrapped up in those struggles, let your identity be who you are in Jesus Christ and if ever you should again feel yourself becoming mired down by the worries, doubts, and anxieties of your situations, take another walk, let them all fall from you and remember to “Take Courage!” “Stop doubting and believe!”

Fatihful Strides: Day Two

"Take courage!" Acts 23:11 & Matthew 14:27

“Take courage!” Acts 23:11 & Matthew 14:27

Day Two
1.25 miles
“Take courage!” As I headed out for my walk this morning, having overslept after waking up in the wee hours of the morning to take a pain reliever for my shoulder pain, I was greeted by a heavily overcast day and as I walked big, fat grey clouds grew larger over my head threatening to drench me at a moments notice. Thankfully, the drops of rain turned out to begin very small and light as they fell from the sky and I was just about to make my turn towards home at about the same time that they began to fall. Hooray!! Still, I would have walked in the rain, I’ve done it before and it’s wonderful. I love the rain, I always have. It probably stems from growing up as a kid who had a front porch on every house she lived in and therefore more times than not I could be found with my cousins watching the pouring rain or the approaching thunderstorms from the happy comfort of our front porches. Rain will enter all of our lives whether literally or metaphorically, the rain will come, that is a guarantee in life we can all count on, and when those rains do decide to show up we can choose to either run inside, bunker down, and hide until the rains and the storms pass or we can come out and face them head on. We can choose to dance in the lightly falling rain or we can choose to stay inside and wish the rain away. We can choose to hide from the storms of life or we can choose to stand on the front porch ready and stand in awe of the beautiful power of the lightning bolts and let the rumbles and claps of thunder awaken our sleeping spirits.
As I have been sharing with you all, I have been facing my own storms in life lately and as I am facing them I am learning more and more the importance of standing strong in my faith and in praising God even in the midst of the storms. Well, yesterday as I was riding with my youngest sister, who is also facing some very trying times in her life right now, I was sadden to find that no matter how hard I tried to encourage her and lift her spirits helping her to see the lessons she is learning and just how much more appreciative she will be when things finally do come back to normal, she simply wouldn’t be swayed. My heart went out to her. She just couldn’t see past her problems. She couldn’t enjoy the view of the storms of her life from her front porch. We all have to face them. Like the roots of a strong tree need the frequent drops of rain to help them grow, so too do we need to face the downpours to help us grow. And just as a bad storm can shake away, or even blast away with one quick lightning strike, the branches of a tree, so too do we need to face the storms that allow God to downsize our own lives of the things we no longer need. Through the rainfalls and through the storms don’t choose to sit inside and hide, complaining the entire time that it pours all around you and wishing for the rain to just stop, instead choose to come outside and “Take courage!” Facing your storms head on with God by your side. Take a moment to close your eyes and picture Jesus standing with you on your front porch as the rain begins to fall. Do you think that he would go inside and sit waiting for the rain to pass or do you think that he would reach his hand out to you and say, “Come with Me, child, and together lets dance in the pouring rain and rejoice that I am here with you always.”
“Take Courage!” and Dance with Jesus!