Sometimes it’s my kiddos who get the wheels in my brain turning. Sometimes they even teach me a thing or two although I hate to admit that part. Earlier this week my oldest was telling me about a friends testimony that used the parable of the mustard seed. It had made a story he had heard often in Sunday school take on new light and invigorate his faith.

This, of course, meant that I had to take a look at this often sited parable to see if I saw anything new, as well. I needed to remind myself of the strength that comes from a tiny seed.

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32 NIV).

The tiny mustard seed grows quickly. It digs deep and strong roots. It can become a vibrant tree that adds to the vitality of the soil. It gives the soil nutrients that protects it and other plants from pests and weeds.

Later in scripture Jesus chastises the disciples for having a small faith and that even the faith of mustard seed could move mountains. Mustard seeds are very small, no doubt, but they are mighty. To become the deep rooted, life giving tree it becomes, it takes a faith that is nourished, strengthened, so that it can grow and develop into the strong plant it has the potential to become.

We all have that potential. We all start with a small faith that is immature and needs nourishment. We all have the potential to become deeply rooted and strong.

I often feel like my faith is small and insignificant. I wonder if I could move the mountains in my life. The truth is, I can’t. God can. It takes a deeply rooted faith, trust in God to move the mountains. Mountains of shame, doubt, illness, fear and so many more plague us. He gives us the strength to move through and over them. I want faith like a mustard seed. I want to continue to nourish my roots in Him to grow strong in faith.

How about you? Is your faith able to traverse mountains? Is it like a mustard seed? How do you deepen your roots? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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I’m sick. For the last several days I have been nursing a nasty head cold. Cough, congestion, and fatigue have plagued my days and my nights. My eyes just want to stay closed, and I need to take out stock in Kleenex. I have loaded my system with Airborne, vitamin C, essential oils and a decongestant. None of this has made the road to health any quicker. I think I’m missing something.

When I”m sick, when someone I love receives a diagnosis, I head to the internet. I research best options in all forms of healing. Eastern methods, Western methods, drugs, tinctures, alternative options are all on the table to restore health. When it comes down to it, I just want to feel better. I want health restored.

I often forget the power of God in healing. I know it cognitively. I even pray for restored health. Do I believe it? Do I trust God to restore health and bring healing? Do I declare it for myself and loved ones? Honestly, not very often. These scriptures remind me what I have been missing.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”  (Jeremiah 5:14-15 NIV)

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 30:17 NIV).

I do think God has given us many ways to bring health and healing, but there is one I need to lean into more. I need to remember these promises are for all of us all of the time. I don’t need to wait until I deem the health issue severe enough to offer the prayer of faith. This needs to be my first course of action not my last. I have seen prayer make a difference. I know the promise is true. Do you?

What do you do when you are sick? What is your first course of action? Do you declare the promises of God? Do you take to the internet? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Have you ever gone bowling and used the bumpers? When in use, they raise up and prevent the ball from going into the gutter. The ball will bounce off the and move back toward the center. It may do this multiple times down the lane. I have been thinking a lot about the bumpers or guardrails in my life.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a good friend about guiding our teenage children. She used the analogy of a guardrail to describe limits and boundaries we try to put in place to keep them safe. She noted that similarly, God puts them in place for all of us.

Countless times in my life, I have bumped into the rails and been nudged back on the road. I’d make poor choices. I’d distance myself from others. I’d push the limits. Why didn’t I crash? Why didn’t I go careening into the ditch? Why, because unbeknownst to me, there were guardrails in place.

Some of my guardrails are prayer, Scripture, church, and people who hold me accountable. When all of these are in place, staying on the road is fairly easy. When one these starts to slip in my practices, I start to drift to the edge.

13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. (Matthew 7:13-14, MSG).

Choosing life with God isn’t easy. There are limits and boundaries God has given us to help us stay on the road. These limits tell us how to treat each other, how to treat ourselves, how to be in relationship with others. Keeping my guardrails in place helps me stay within the boundaries we are given. It’s not easy. Clearly, it is easy to drift. The key is not to drift off the road.

What guardrails do you have in place? What practices keep you from drifting off the road? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Labor Day is a day when we are to rest from all our labor. Many have picnics and gather with families. We rest. We prepare for the new school year. I thought I would pause and reflect on what Scripture says about work.

Not all of us are able to find joy in our work, but when I focus my work on God, I change my heart and my attitude towards the work. If I’m lucky, I may show someone else the love of God.

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23 NIV).

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3 NIV).

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. (Ecclesiastes 4:9, NIV).

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:910 NIV )

We are called to work and to serve God and others through our work. Everywhere I go, every person I encounter, and every moment of work I do, is for God’s glory. It’s my opportunity to show others and myself the love of God. This Labor Day I celebrate that I labor for God.

How do you celebrate Labor Day? How do you labor for the Lord? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Prayer nudges from the Holy Spirit are easy to miss or overlook. They are opportunities for us to participate in the work of grace, healing, safety, and miracles. I know I have missed many of the opportunities given to me, but I’m learning to listen more closely to the nudges.

It was a strange dream. I don’t remember most of it. At the end, I was in a car that was about to be in an accident. The driver hit the brakes and I went flying forward. It was so strong that it jolted me awake. My first thought was, “Wow, that was intense.” I began to wonder if there was a meaning in it since now I was wide awake. Then I thought about a car accident. Mine? Someone else’s? So, I started to pray. I prayed for protection for my kids, husband. I just kept praying even though I didn’t know who I was praying for.

Throughout the day, my oldest son kept popping into my mind. I had this unusual worry about his safety. I prayed some more. Anytime he came to mind, I prayed for his safety. I was listening to the prayer nudges.

When he got home that evening, the first thing he said as he came through the door was that he was almost sideswiped twice. He said one was really close. He had to break and swerve to get out of the way. I immediately started thanking God for his safety and for the nudges to pray for him.

Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (Ephesians 6:15-18 MSG).

Prayer is a powerful weapon we have. It brings change. It creates miracles. We don’t always see the difference it makes, but it makes a difference. Sometimes the prayers on our hearts are the Holy Spirit nudging us to participate in the Holy work of God. What a gift we have in prayer.

How do you respond to prayer nudges? Do you notice them? How is prayer making a difference in your life? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Striving is that constant pursuit of more. It’s more than goal setting. It’s an internal drive that propels you forward in spite of yourself. It’s a bit of a paradox. It has it’s positive side. It pulls you up when you fail. It reminds you that there is more. It helps you climb the mountain even when the terrain is rugged.

Striving also has a negative side. The pursuit of more can pull you off track. It can drive you in unnecessary directions. It can push you to look for more when more isn’t needed. It’s more than simply dreaming about a career change such as my desire to be a behavioralist like on Criminal Minds. Let me explain.

My striving looks like this, “Maybe I should pursue another degree? Maybe this certification will head me in the right direction? If I attain this level, then I will have what I need.” On the surface these don’t sound negative. What makes them negative is what is underneath it all, my motivation. You see under these pursuits is another voice in my head. This voice says, “Maybe another degree will get you recognized, maybe this certification will allow others to see who you are, maybe if I reach this level I will have value.

Yep, my striving centers around not feeling valued, not feeing worthy. I tell myself that another degree might allow me to do more, a certification might give me validation of what I know, My striving is so others will see me as valuable. These are lies that I have believed long enough.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosperyou and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV).

God shows me that striving His way has purpose. His way reminds me that my value is intrinsic. He created me with value and I don’t have to seek it through others. When I stay close to Him and His purpose, my value is felt and known.

How does striving impact your life? Is it God’s way or is it filled with lies? How do you stay close to God’s purpose for you? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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As a teen, predators in my life left me feeling worthless. I desperately wanted to be liked, but didn’t see anything in myself worth liking. It was an internal battle that I kept to myself. I didn’t share even with my closest friends. I didn’t trust that they would still be around if they knew the truth. I didn’t trust that family would still love me if they knew I wasn’t perfect. This lead me to want to wander off the path of perfection I tried to hold myself to attaining. But, something kept me tethered to the path and kept me from wandering too far. I was saved by faith.

I was very active in a church youth group. We went on mission trips to Tennessee every summer. The mission trips taught me to think beyond myself. They gave me hope and purpose. These experiences introduced me to the Christ who loves unconditionally, who offers grace to even me. This foundation of faith kept me tethered to the path that assured me life had a purpose even when I felt worthless and unworthy. I was saved by faith.

You got me when I was an unformed youth, God, and taught me everything I know. Now I’m telling the world your wonders; I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray. God, don’t walk off and leave me until I get out the news Of your strong right arm to this world, news of your power to the world yet to come, Your famous and righteous ways, O God. God, you’ve done it all! Who is quite like you? You, who made me stare trouble in the face, Turn me around; Now let me look life in the face. I’ve been to the bottom; Bring me up, streaming with honors; turn to me, be tender to me, And I’ll take up the lute and thank you to the tune of your faithfulness, God. I’ll make music for you on a harp, Holy One of Israel. When I open up in song to you, I let out lungsful of praise, my rescued life a song. All day long I’m chanting about you and your righteous ways, While those who tried to do me in slink off looking ashamed. (Psalm 71:17-24 MSG).

I often ask God why He saved me? Why did I stay tethered to the path? It was so I would tell the world of His wonders. It was so I could tell others about unconditional love, purpose, grace and hope. I was saved by faith so others could know love, hope and purpose. Once you know love, hope and purpose you have to share it with others.

How are you sharing your story with others? How have you been saved by faith? How are you singing God’s praises? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Doing life together is what we are called to. We are meant to be in community. We are meant to spur each other on toward love. I, however, am not very good at it. For me, it is very one sided. It’s easy to be there for someone else. That comes naturally. It’s reaching out myself that is more challenging.

I tend to keep struggles, difficulties, pain and the like to myself until I can’t hold it in any longer. I may share with my husband, but even then it has been building for awhile. I’m more likely to post about a struggle here than call a friend. In fact, I can go months without calling close friends or my sisters. In my head, I know we are in this together, and I would drop everything for them. Reaching out myself is a work in progress. Admission is the first step.

It was an extremely hot and oppressively humid day. It was even too hot to golf. I called my pal. My heart knew I needed connection. It was the perfect day to spend two and a half hours floating down the river. Endless conversation filled the time. The crabbiness that started the day faded away. She let me share all that was weighing heavy on my heart. She reminded me of the goodness of God. She holds me accountable to what God is calling me to do. I can only hope that I do the same for her. I hope she knows we are in this together.

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV).

We are in this together. We are to spur each other on toward love. I let busyness and the “to dos” take over until I’m too exhausted for other people. Then weeks go by without connecting. I miss out on an important part of nurturing the soul. Life is draining. It becomes difficult to keep moving forward. We need each other for a multitude of reasons. We need to be in this together.

Who are your go to people? How often do you connect with them? Is it in person or digital? Do you have others to encourage you and hold you accountable? How do you stay connected? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Really God,” has been a phrase coming out of my heart over and over again these last weeks. It’s very similar to the question of why God except that I had stopped asking God why things happened to me. “Really God” is more of an exasperation. It’s an astonishment. How could there have been so much I didn’t know or understand about my past? While this knew understanding puts a lot of missing pieces in place it does leaving me saying, “Really God…”

I started down this road to clean up a few pieces from my past that I knew were still unresolved. My physical and emotional health were not where I wanted them to be and knew it was time to deal with my father’s alcoholism. Uncovering a sexual assault that wasn’t in my conscious memory, but plenty of physical signs were there, has left me saying, “Really God.”

As pieces of this came back to my conscious memory, I was asked, “What is the purpose of experiencing this?” At the end of every session, I am invited to give all of this crap to God/Jesus and receive something from God in return. This time I was asked to listen for what God’s purpose is in having me experience this. It was very clear. Stop the cycle, and not just for me and my family but all who would listen. Really God

This Psalm from David is a plea for deliverance from suffering. Not only did God deliver him, but here is his response.

Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
    and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
    give glory, you sons of Jacob;
    adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
    never looked the other way
    when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
    he has been right there, listening. (Psalm 22:22-24 MSG)

David worshipped and told everyone of his experience. It’s a tall order to suffer greatly and then tell everyone about it. Truth is, it’s more than that. This isn’t an invitation to whine and complain about what happened. This isn’t holding grudges or wanting others to suffer because of what was done to me. This is about seeing God in the midst of the assault, and knowing I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t forsaken. I’ve been given a purpose. We all have. When any of us allows God to enter into our suffering with us, we find peace. Over time we also find grace, forgiveness and mercy. To be honest, I’m still working on those. As much as my heart as been broken, I know God’s promise is true. I have a purpose. You do too. Look for it.

How has God been with you in suffering? How has God shown you the purpose of your pain? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Seeing God in others can take on many forms. As a young girl, I learned from my church family that God is filled with love, mercy and grace. My mother taught me that Jesus was my friend. I could talk to Him at any time. This was a great foundation to begin my relationship with Christ.

As I got older, I began to experience other Christian views. Views of right and wrong. Views that said I had to believe and behave in specific ways or God would harshly judge me. I began to feel judged by God. I started making choices that a “good Christian girl” wouldn’t make. Feeling judged turned into a blanket of shame. I inflicted myself with a pile of should’s. I allowed the shame and judgement to cloud my love of self and others.

Seeing God in others in an authentic way reminded me of the Character of God. They showed my how God is there in the midst of their struggles. They shared how love transformed their hearts. They bared their flaws and how faith brought them through the difficulty. They gave me the gift of seeing who God is rather than focusing on the should’s I had bought into. God’s character is unchanging. God is love, grace, mercy.

“God has lost track of me.
    He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
    And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind. (Isaiah 40:31 MSG).

Authentic Christians helped me lift the shame and see the gift of a God who relentlessly pursues us, is there when we stumble, and gives strength we we are weak. Seeing God in Others in an authentic way renewed my faith. Reflecting on it now reminds me that Christ in me is what others see. I want others to see the character of Christ not a bunch of rules that bring shame and hurt. I want others to see grace, love and mercy through me to point them to the Source.

How have others expressed God to you? Have you seen the Character of Christ in others or a pile of should’s? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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