Taking Faith on a Dare

Are you a sucker for a dare or a challenge? I wish that I could answer “no” to that question, but sadly and all too often the answer is “yes.” In my younger days, tackling a challenge usually meant that I would get myself into some sort of trouble. There was that time that I had to prove that I could ramp a BMX bike like my younger brother and his friends. That one landed me on my head – literally, complete with a ride in an ambulance and a luxury, all-inclusive stay at our local hospital.

More recently, the dares and challenges that I accept would be considered “good for me.” I fell for that 30-day plank challenge that was all the rage on social media. Nailed it! Back in 2007, I was goaded into running a half-marathon. Crushed it!

No, I was not a runner. No, I don’t enjoy running. Yes, I get a deep sense of satisfaction when I push myself to achieve goals that seem just out of my reach. In this sense, my stubborn streak could be seen as both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, we could be calling 9-1-1 or on the other I could enjoy toned arms and abs of steel for 30-days.

Of all of the dares and trials that come our way, none are more challenging than the ones Satan throws in our ways.  When Satan scorches our paths or litters the road before us with shattered dreams or lines our trails with broken hearts, he’s goading us. He’s taunting us with his demonic version of “I bet you can’t.” I bet you can’t fight the diagnosis. I bet you can’t overcome the disability. I bet you can’t survive the loss. I bet you can’t pick yourself up.Satan’s subtle insinuation is that we have to pick ourselves upin order to win his wicked wager. And, when we play into his hand – we lose hope and our faith is rocked and he wins.

Yet, how often do we play right into his hand? How many times do we first react to hurt and loss with I can’t imagine?Or I can’t handle it?Or I don’t want to go on?Defeat is frequently my initial reaction. Then typically my stubbornness takes over with its best impression of – imagining, handling, and going on.I can put up a great front, but all of that putting on a front takes a toll. 

There was a point during that half-marathon challenge when I didn’t think that I could take another step. I was tired to the bone. Each step was heavy and required deliberate effort to continue. Then, I turned a corner. Literally. I came around one corner and I could see the finish line. It was about a mile or so away. Even so as soon as I saw it, I knew that I could make it. 

I had found my second wind. I felt lighter. Stronger. Confident. Hopeful.

When Satan tries to wedge doubt into my heart, I need a second wind. (And a third and a fourth ad infinitum) And that Second Wind stands ever ready. When we let down our fronts and take on the Holy Spirit for our guidance, strength, and comfort – We become a little lighter We are stronger. We are more confident. We find hope.

We turn a spiritual corner. We can see the finish line. We are reminded that we don’t run this race alone. When we allow the Spirit to guide us, we’re empowered to take Satan’s dare. When we turn to God as the source of our Second Wind, the finish line practically moves itself to us. 

Each time we put our fate in the hands of the Father when the prognosis is poor; each time we put our faith in the resurrection of the Son in the face of our broken hearts; each time we seek the comfort and strength of the Spirit when our own spirits have been deflated – Satan is defeated. 

With the holidays upon us, we are especially sensitive to Satan’s goading. Our lives don’t mirror a Norman Rockwell painting and the differences are glaring. Yet, we still tend to carry a belief that our lives should be picture perfect – if only for these few days between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

As I approach this season, I am seeking the Second Wind. This is a lesson that I’ve learned the hard way – I can’t handle the holidays (or most other days for that matter) under my own strength. And – neither can you.

Father, thank you for sending your Son to double down against Satan’s double-dog dares. Thank you for your Spirit to be our Second Wind in order to face our challenges and trials.. For all who are struggling – especially at this time of the year – please keep your Spirit close.

More than anything during this holiday season, thank you for the many blessings both past and present. Thank you for memories of loved ones to fill the empty chairs that fill our earthly tables. Thank you for the promise of a heavenly table where empty does not exist.

SDG

Does Anyone Remember Me?

It’s the start of the holiday season (unless you hung your Christmas lights before Halloween, in which case you are in full swing). Families are gathering. Friends are reconnecting. News is being shared.

Not all of it is good. 

I don’t mean to be the “Debbie Downer” to your holiday season. It’s just that yesterday brought news of another young life lost. Another family is shattered and forever altered. And we know that others are facing difficult news during what is “supposed” to be the happiest time of the year. Families won’t be able to put food on the table because ends just don’t meet. Other families – particularly those dealing with California’s wildfires – won’t be able to put food on the table because there is no table. Families in Florida are still sifting through the debris of Hurricane Michael wondering where their table has floated off to and more poignantly – does anyone remember us?

That is the big question we all ask when we are facing our worst days. 

Does anyone remember me?

I can answer that question with great confidence – YES!  Not just anyone. The One who remembers me and you and everyone is God the Father who created each of us in His own image. The One is God the Son who emptied himself of his full divinity in order to live among us and to sacrifice himself so that we may spend eternity with God. The One is God the Holy Spirit who fills each one of us bringing comfort and peace during difficult times.

Let’s take a moment to remember each other. Share your prayer requests. Say a prayer. Know that each one of our prayers are heard by a loving God.

Father, we thank you for all of the blessings that You continue to provide even in our darkest times. We praise You in good times and bad. we ask that you send your Holy Spirit to fill each one of us during this holiday season. We need the strength, comfort, and peace that only You can provide. We need reassurance that You remember us during our times of need. We pray that your healing touch will be felt by all of those who are struggling at this time. We pray this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.

SDG

Chaotic Musings: Holiday Edition

Chaos is a funny thing. Sometimes it overwhelms me. The cacophony consumes me. Other times, it swirls about me perfectly choreographed so that it comes ever close but never actually touches me. Like a Square Dance caller who yells “Swing Left” at the precise moment when “swing right” would have all the madness crash into me.

(Don’t tell me you didn’t Square Dance in junior high. It’s an American right of passage. Or at least, I thought.) Read more

Milestones!

This week has been crazy with a move from Minnesota to Ohio. Somewhere in the midst of all the chaos, you guys helped this little blog reach a big milestone. Over 10,000 visitors have journeyed through the site.

10,000

“For it is in giving that we receive.” – Francis of Assisi

Each week, I pray about the message to share and then I leave it in God’s hands that the words land where they are needed. I pray that each of you who read the blog finds what you need here – and more. It is an incredible honor and blessing to share with you all.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing with others. Thank you for allowing me to share.

Have a blessed week!

“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.” -Helen Keller

SDG

Here Comes the Rain Again . . .

Raise your hand if you played in the rain as a kid? We did – all the time. In fact, my parents encouraged it. Can’t say whether it was the allure of not having to bother with bath time at the end of the day or the fact that it was cheaper than a “slip-n-slide” that made kicking us out the door so appealing. Or, maybe, it’s just the way they did things back then.

The last time that I recall voluntarily heading out into the rain was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. It was one of those soft, southern rains that sprout up on summer afternoons. No pomp and circumstance of thunder and lightning. No cold front to steal the warm air. I can’t recall what we talked about, but I can remember strolling around the neighborhood and splashing through puddles with my daddy.

Despite it’s questionable PR campaign, I love the sights, sounds, and smells of summer storms. The flash of lightning against an inky sky. A crack of thunder just a little louder than anticipated. Read more

Being a Mom is a Dirty Business

Except for the first Mother’s Day after each girl was born, I’ve tended to write Mother’s Day off as “greeting card holiday.” You could blame it on my cold heart and staunch distaste for anything sentimental, but that wouldn’t be a fair assessment (at least on most days). Read more

Gone . . . but not forgotten

On March 22, 2017 we laid Brooke to rest. It was a day that I didn’t want to begin; yet, I didn’t want to see it end either. The fear was that the end of that day would signal the countdown to the day when no one would remember our Brooke. Over the past year, this momma’s fear has been put to rest. Our family has been blessed time and time again with sweet reminders of how Brooke touched so many lives during her short trip on earth. Read more