Dealing with Roadblocks

Last Saturday my friend Libby and I hopped in the car and headed to her church. Boxes of my books were in the backseat, and I was looking forward to speaking and sharing Becoming A Peaceful Mom. She was eager to gather with the others who helped organize the event to finish last-minute details. Excitement and anticipation for what the Lord had in store filled our hearts.

And then we saw the roadblock. Today was the “Mutt Strutt”, an event that draws hundreds of people and their dogs. We drove up to the police officer and asked if we could pass through somehow . . . No. We asked him about other street approaches to get to the church  . . . All have roadblocks in place. We explained about the event and how others would soon be driving up . . . I’m sorry. Of course, we had to see for ourselves, so we dashed around. All were blocked.

At the first roadblock, our frustration took form with self-determination to find a way to the church. We could not change the circumstance. We sighed a lot 🙂 and just maybe I went around one roadblock to park the car. And we prayed—We vented our questions, Lord, how do we get there? How is everyone else going to get there? How are we going to get these boxes up that hill that’s a couple of blocks away?  . . . Then our prayer shifted—God, you’re so much bigger than this. You have the way through. Show us what to do.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41.10)

How you ever noticed that God’s help doesn’t always look the way we think it should? Libby jogged up the hill while making calls and soon walked back down toward me with a plan. We grabbed as many books as we could carry and began to walk uphill. Uphill among the walkers and dogs. . . Did I mention it was really humid?

(One of the walkers who offered to help carry books.)

As we panted, laughed, and our clothes began to stick to our backs, we praised God that he is good and is not surprised by any of this. We prayed that each woman who was trying to come would not be hindered by the roadblocks.

We got to the church, as did the rest of the team, 15 minutes before the event was to begin. We were sticky, dashing around, focused. And then the women began to arrive. God filled the newly accessible parking lot and then some. Mostly, He filled out hearts.

Do you ever feel hindered by a roadblock?  Or one roadblock after another seems to clutter your path?

No roadblock prevents God from fulfilling his plan.  Ever.

He goes before you and before your child. He walks with you. He leads with a plan, and hopes we seek him and then follow him.

Whatever you face, face it with God. Invite him in to the circumstance. Invite him to lead. Unload your worries and be filled with His peace. No matter how weak in faith or overwhelmed you feel, praise him for he is our faithful God.

Becoming Faith-Strong

img_0896I have that upper arm flabby skin that when I wave, the lower skin has its own wave going on. Ugh! I know the solution is exercise, so, I lift weights some-times, but not enough, nor often enough–and I’m a wimp when it comes to push-ups. Ah, if only such hard work wasn’t required!

I wonder if sometimes we think that growing in faith in God works like this—I need to work on trusting God more. I need to try harder to believe God. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10.17) We receive the gift of faith from God, as we receive Jesus as our Savior. God grows our faith as we engage in relationship with him. Simply, walk closer with him. To believe God more, get to know him more and talk with him more. Invite God to help you, to show you how. He responds. He graces us to experience his faithfulness, and he grows our muscle of faith.

img_1071When I read this, my lungs inhale hope and exhale relief. “That’s right, that’s right” echoes like a refrain on a hard day when doubt or discouragement battle for position in my head and heart. Other days, “So true, so true” whispers as testimony to a small victory or encouragement in the day. This is one verse that I use to help me know God and know He is faithful and know that He is growing my faith in him STRONG as I mess up or struggle in a circumstance.

img_0884And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2.6-7, NLT)(italics mine)

You and I believe in God. And many days we believe God—We look to him, trust and depend on Him. We have faith that He is the fullness of all that the scriptures tell . . . And then we live those days when we don’t look to Him. We look elsewhere—at our self, the other person, the relationship, the circumstance, or the history, and we end up believing one or more of these. We place our faith there. A sinking feeling weighs our heart down—yet, God is with us. He wants us to see our weakness, give it to him, draw closer, and grow strong.

We become faith-strong as we practice and exercise our muscle of faith.

img_0882Dear God,  
I have realized that I spend a lot of time thinking, fretting, worrying about people or outcomes or how to make something happen. You are LORD. You are sovereign. And You want me, all of me, all of my heart to trust you. I need your help to lay down unhealthy patterns of thinking and doing, to lay down fears—and to be still and absorb the peace of your faithfulness. Search my heart that I can unload all to you now. And fill these spaces in me with You. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Faith to Expect God’s Faithfulness

IMG_0474Yesterday at my local YMCA, I sat at a machine determined to lift the weight 20 times. To my left was a couple, probably in their late 30’s. The man stood and faced the woman who was seated to perform the weight machine’s motion. (I don’t know what 99% of the machines are called, or I would name it for you.) He quietly encouraged her, not looking away from her face. I glanced to see that she was trying to move 20 lbs multiple times. “Aw, sweet,” I thought as I pushed my machine’s bar back and forth. Then they switched places, and she stood to face him as he adjusted the weight to a much higher amount. The woman’s eyes were locked on him, as though she was reading his face. Then she pointed up toward a wall. My eyes followed, to read “faith.” Again softly, he replied, “Yes, I pray every time. It’s the only way I can do this.”

Okay, wow. Wow. 

His focus is not merely on what he can or cannot do. His focus is God and what God can do. “It’s the only way…” He involves his walk with God in lifting weights.

IMG_0475Imagine if we invited God in to more of the ordinary segments of our day. He’s given us abilities and strength to use throughout our day; he’s with us always – so, what’s different about inviting him? Well, when we invite a friend to join us, we’re aware of her presence and are intentionally present to her. When we invite God, our awareness of his presence is affected, and he responds to our mustard-seed faith step. Our heart says, I want you to be with me, and I want to be more aware of you.

Each prayer is a step of faith to believe God. He waters our mustard seed and grows our faith to expect his faithfulness.
. . . “God, bless our time in the car together. . . Please give us a fun and intimate time around the supper table tonight. . . Help me stay alert in this meeting; I’m exhausted.”

Imagine if our children witnessed this . . .
“As we drive to tennis camp, God, help Sam remember to drink water and help him learn the stroke that he’s frustrated about.”
“Please bring Frannie a friend to play with at the pool today.”
“Lord, as Mark interviews, give him your peace and your words to say.”

IMG_0445Imagine if they prayed like they see and hear us pray.
Imagine God’s glory.

Talking with God settles in our soul and becomes more frequent as our relationship with him deepens, as we know him better. A great way to know him better is to pray. The more we practice talking to God, the more we will talk to God. The more we talk to God, the more we experience him. The same is true for our children.

Dear God,
Help us seek to know you better. Thank you for strength and courage to take steps in faith to invite you in to the ordinary segments of our day. Amen.