The Journey Between Knowing and Believing

Sometimes it’s a short trip….and others? Well, the Bible doesn’t tell us about the Israelites spending 40 years in the wilderness for nothing…

I’ve always seen the journey as my head-heart connection. I knew the Bible told me over and over how much God loves me…. I desperately wanted to believe that truth. But somewhere deep, deep inside, a part of me found it too good to be true. Life told me love was earned and performance was everything.

What changed you ask? Of all things, a long weekend where His love was poured over me… again…. and again…. and again. A weekend of women selflessly serving and sharing His Word – His Truths – His Love. A weekend with ZERO distractions. A beautiful weekend of bridging the gap between knowing and believing.

That weekend? It’s called The Walk to Emmaus

“The walk to Emmaus is an experience of Christian spiritual renewal and formation that begins with a three-day short course in Christianity. It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.”

For more information, reach out to fellow members of your church or visit The Upper Room

As with all things, there’s so much more! It’s been seven years since that pivotal weekend…and in that weekend, I began a true relationship with God. His timing is so impeccable! The year after I was diagnosed with cancer, I challenged myself to #write31days in an effort to recap the mighty ways in which God has moved in my life. Journaling has been an integral part of my faith journey and sharing those thoughts with readers is just a small part of my commitment to glorify God and share His goodness.

Where are you? One thing I know (and believe!) is that regardless of “where” you are…. God is still there! A relationship with Him, and more importantly, His love is never ever based on how good you are… you get His unconditional love no matter what…. and a relationship with Him only requires your willingness to allow Him in. I read a great article from CBN on the Promised Land and the possible why’s for when we find ourselves in the wilderness.

As we enter this season of thanksgiving, my prayer is that you can slow down, avoid distractions, and enjoy the rhythms of God’s Love and Grace.

#write31days – Day31

imageDay 31…wow…I did it! I had some technical issues yesterday, but here we are.  Around the World in 80 days comes to mind…except it’s 2 years (almost) in 31 days…looking back at all the pages, that’s a lot of life! That’s a lot of learning! But as hard as 2013 was, I can see now it was the perfect preparation for the year to come and I am thankful each and every day I learned enough to be able to see and share God at work in 2014.  Life is so much easier when we accept God’s love and mercy and grace…it’s there – HE’s there – waiting…all we have to do is ask.

Learning to lean into God and take an active part in a relationship with Him doesn’t necessarily change life events, but it certainly changes the way we see life events.

And yes…there is more to the story…the beginning of a new chapter…the beginning of Embracing the New Norm I wrote about originally…how perfect! As we enter November – a month often focused on giving thanks – I think is the perfect month to continue sharing… yes, I have stage IV metastatic breast cancer… but I am oh sooooooo thankful!!!!!

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#write31days – Day 30

imageYes…I’m behind posting!  But I’m getting there…

While I’m sure the first few weeks of my parent’s vacation was hardly what they expected – overall, I really enjoyed them being here – especially on simple days and I think they enjoyed the time as well.  Whether it was breakfast at iHop,  getting a haircut, or being serenaded by my stepdad in the car…I really enjoyed the time together.  Heck, they even taught us how to play pinochle! My stepdad loves FOX News, so I also learned a good bit about what was happening in the world…

One of the things they did while visiting was to look at housing options – the cost of living is crazy in California and since my mom retired in JAN’14 (yes…my 81yr old mom!) they would be living on a fixed income and were excited at the thought of being close to the rest of the family again.

As you’ll read…things rarely go the way you might expect and my parent’s visit wasn’t an exception.  The visit was supposed to be for one month – then it was postponed another three weeks to help me after my dad’s passing – then it was postponed again… and then it was another “go” moment… and God prepared the way for another move.

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#write31days – Day 28

imageLast night was the first time I resisted writing…June 2014 was a different season… a season coming to a close… a time where the freshness of learning to truly lean into God was at the forefront of each day… a time where I wasn’t juggling an onslaught of emotions and demands… and so it was a tender time and still is to a certain degree.

God is always so gracious! Last night was also the perfect opportunity to backtrack a bit in the journey – a time to shift focus to my sweet sister and lay the foundation for the integral part God would have her take in the upcoming season.  And in the process remind me of His goodness and faithfulness to walk alongside me…even in retrospect.

So I started writing about my sister and how God began strengthening our relationship on a spiritual level – which, by the way, I thought was pretty darn good before!  Even today as I think back…there is such a sweetness that brings joyful smiles and tears all at the same time… a memory to be treasured for a lifetime.

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#write31days – Day 27

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We’re all familiar with Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow:

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

It’s so true! Although my daughter was ill and spent Mother’s Day weekend in the hospital, April & May 2014 were low-key in comparison to the prior year and I was truly thankful!  For the first time ever, I could just be a mom without the weight of a job (and deadlines!) looming over me.

I didn’t want to think about tomorrow – well, to be honest…. I didn’t really want to think about much of anything.  But the prior year really taught me so much about who God is and I really enjoyed resting in His arms without my faith being tested.  I was still battle weary and even though I knew in my heart more challenging times with my dad lay ahead, I didn’t want to think about it.  And if I didn’t think about it? You got it – I wouldn’t worry.

It’s easy to sit on this side of yesterday and see things so clearly, isn’t it? The trick with worry isn’t so much not thinking about unknowns; it’s looking to God with confidence He knows our unknowns.

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#write31days – Day 26

imageFor those that don’t follow my blog, let me introduce you to Lucille – my camper!  Silly as it may seem, I even have a blog dedicated to her restoration / facelift.  I purchased her in late 2012 and planned to have her settled in the country by mid-2013… well, if you’ve been following the #write31days, 2013 didn’t exactly lend itself to “me” time let alone getting a camper moved!  So here’s the link to Lucille’s story… My Someday Getaway [click HERE] – you can also get there by clicking on the “Jesus makes me a happy camper” photo in the sidebar below.

Ladies group - writing Scripture before new flooring - literally STANDING on His Word! Ladies group – writing Scripture before new flooring – literally STANDING on His Word!

Lucille and I have a unique relationship – and yes, I’m quite aware of how odd that sounds, but it’s true!  My purpose in purchasing Lucille was to have a place where I could truly be still with God – away from the dailies of life – a place where I could rest in Him, and open myself to the words He scribed on my heart.  But it wasn’t just for me… little did I know she would become a place of rest for weary souls…as you step over the threshold, all who enter are literally surrounded and standing on God’s Word.

And don’t let the enemy fool you…Lucille didn’t need to be in the country or finished to be a sanctuary for this weary soul.  During 2013 and most of 2014, Lucille was parked at a storage facility…behind a Chinese restaurant with an often overflowing dumpster and beside other campers… not exactly what one would describe as serene, huh? Oh but it was!

I guess you could say Lucille is my WAR ROOM – and if you haven’t seen the movie, you’re missing out!  I can immediately shut my mind off to the noise of life and zero in my focus to God.  Everyone needs a Lucille – a war room – a space where distractions stay at the door and you enter into His Presence

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#write31days – Day 25

imageGod fuel – a term I’m sure used by others before me…the thing that keeps you going when you have nothing left in the tank…not even fumes of perseverance to tap into.  That place where you’ve reached the end of yourself, willingly given God the reigns, and start to see Him work wonders.

That’s where I was in the six weeks leading to my resignation.  I was pouring what little I had into God and in return He was pouring into and through me so that I could meet numerous demands.  No longer was I fretting over every detail of my dad’s declining health…I made a choice…I chose to trust God to provide for him, just as He was providing for me.  No longer was I a basket of nerves walking into the office…my focus on God kept me calm and available for Him to work through me in meeting requirements of the job and not be rattled by excessive demands.

It was as if an incredible weight had been lifted – no doubt, the days were difficult, but I wasn’t trying to lead and manage every minute detail…I Laid it at the Cross – and left it there, where God could take over.  Thinking of Laying it at the Cross reminded me of a post from earlier this year…

Lay it at the CrossAt some point, most believers have experienced the opportunity to physically lay cares at the foot of a cross – for me, it was a very powerful experience – so powerful, my daughter made me something very special – a shadow box where I can write and leave cares at Jesus’ feet.  Now, take a moment and look closely at the box…granted, this is the original  photo, but it’s still looks pretty darn empty today – speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I look at the cross every single day and yet I hold onto so many cares troubling my heart.  A pattern of unbelief I didn’t recognize before.  Yesterday I pulled out the ONE item I wrote and placed at the foot of the cross – it was a prayer to God over my work situation last year – in the weeks that followed, I left my corporate job and God blessed my obedience and trust in Him more than ten-fold.  You see for me, I only know I’ve really laid it down (and left it there) when I experience perfect peace in the days and months (or years) following.

Perfect peace – that’s the result when I truly leave something in God’s hands.  It’s incredible!  And the scripture is so true – He will sustain you… He provides the God fuel you need to get through every difficult season.  I may not put tons of pieces of paper in the box, but I am consistently laying cares at the cross.  I’m incredibly grateful for the lessons He so patiently began reinforcing in me – I still get stubborn, but more readily say “Here, Lord” with truly open palms.

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#write31days – Day 24

imageThe connection between knowing and believing can seem so elusive at times… what I often refer to as the head-heart connection.  It doesn’t work…not for me anyway…to only have knowledge.  

It’s fairly easy to refer to scripture or post-it notes or daily Devotionals for reassurance, don’t you think?  It’s the putting into practice that can often be the real challenge.  Let’s look at Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Now, if you asked me what I thought about that verse before mid-March 2014, I would emphatically agree with scripture saying, “why yes!  of course! I believe it with my whole heart!” Well…maybe not.  Maybe I wanted to believe it with my whole heart, my head rationalized the scripture to be true, but when push comes to shove, actions reveal what we really believe.

When God whispered “go” in early to mid-February, apparently I wasn’t 100% convinced it was Him and not me.  On sooooo many levels it would be easier to cut bait & run, but as I’ve mentioned before, I struggle with a pride issue: I don’t quit – and certainly not before I feel good about it…in other words, I like things on my terms.

Thankfully, we serve a mighty God who is merciful & gracious – a God so loving to teach us He is trustworthy and faithful.  Yes, it took me a few weeks of His reassurances and really pressing into Him to make the connection between knowing and believing 

  • YES! God has a plan for me
  • YES! His plan includes prosperity
  • YES! His plan will give me hope
  • YES! His plan provides a future

I didn’t have a clue what the future looked like, but God reminded me of His faithfulness to ALWAYS provide for my needs…for the many times I was laid off due to economic circumstances, my family never went without and a job ALWAYS came along before the bank account went dry. So why should I question Him now?  I shouldn’t. I needed to trust Him…and that’s exactly what I did.

Do I get it right and trust completely the first go round? Ehhh….not so much, but I’m learning.

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#write31days – Day 23

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As I mentioned in Day 22 – I was learning to trust God on a totally new level and armed myself in the office with post-it notes, words of encouragement calendars, and among other books, Jesus Calling.  God used these devotinals to become very personal with me! He fortified me for battle every day using a book sold to millions – how did He do that? Well, apparently I’m not the only one struggling with being human!

Here are a few of the devotions…

Jesus Calling: February 21

Trust and Thankfulness will get you safely through the day. Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining: those “sister sins” that so easily entangle you.  Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me. It is a free choice that you must make thousands of times daily. The more you choose to trust Me, the easier it becomes. Thought patterns of trust become etched into your brain. Relegate troubles in the periphery of your mind, so that I can be central in your thoughts. Thus you focus on Me, entrusting your concerns into My care.


Jesus Calling: February 22

You need Me every moment. Your awareness of your constant need for Me is your greatest strength. Your neediness, properly handled, is a link to My Presence. However, there are pitfalls that you must be on guard against: self-pity, self-preoccupation, giving up. Your inadequacy presents you with a continual choice–deep dependence on Me, or despair. The emptiness you feel within will be filled either with problems or with My presence. Make Me central in your consciousness by praying continually simple, short prayers flowing out of the present moment. Use My Name liberally, to remind you of My Presence. Keep on asking and you will receive, so that your gladness may be full and complete.


Jesus Calling: February 26

I am leading you, step by step, through your life. Hold My hand in trusting dependence, letting Me guide you through this day. Your future looks uncertain and flimsy–even precarious. That is how it should be. Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things. When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine. This, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion: doubting My promises to care for you.

Whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, repent and return to Me. I will show you the next step forward, and the one after that, and the one after that. Relax and enjoy the journey in My Presence, trusting Me to open up the way before you as you go.

The last devotion still gets to me…”worry, is an act of rebellion: doubting My promises to care for you.”  Ouch…it still stings…and often today I find myself asking the same question:

“what’s it gonna be?  Do you believe God’s promises include you Ms Carr? Yes. or.  No.” Yep… It’s that simple.

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#write31days – Day 22

imageThe odd thing about pride is that you don’t (well…I didn’t) realize how it’s like self-applied handcuffs and a blindfold, and then throwing yourself into a deep, dark pit.

However, that’s when you have a divine opportunity to see God right in front of you…waiting to help…if you ask.

I was truly in the “do or die” moment…the “do” was taking the biggest leap of faith I could possibly imagine and banking everything on the assurance that God specializes in cliff-catching.  The winds of change seemed like a category five hurricane…I would either crash into the stormy sea below and drown or God would catch me.

Spoiler Alert! He caught me! He showed up and taught me what it looked like for me to take the armor of God into the workplace…meeting me exactly where I was and leading the charge.  The workplace was my most challenging battlefield and I needed constant reminders surrounding me! Folks may have thought I’d skipped right over the edge of the cliff into the abyss…and honestly I had – I took the full on leap from what life was trying to steer on my own to what could be by allowing God to step in and lead.  Those constant reminders I mentioned???? Not an exaggeration….and yes…if you look closely, that is a Keurig in the background between the monitors…what can I say? This gal enjoys her coffee!image

 

I’m so thankful I have this photo because I never ever want to forget this time in my journey…it was pivotal to God taking me to a totally new level in my relationship with Him.  And once again, He patiently taught me what it was like NOT to seek approval from man.

Just you wait…2014 was equally as crazy, but now I was learning to use my crazy deflector shield… GOD!

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