“Because of your little faith.”

It’s like banging my head on the wall..why do I insist on going my own way? It always, always, is much harder. Ugh. I started out my day taking a couple of phone calls, and then diving into a headache-inducing paperwork snafu and dealing with all sorts of other annoying tidbits (in and of themselves not huge, but together, my own mountain). But I did not start out in prayer, nor in grounding myself in the Word of God. I tried to just carry on and “git-er-done” all on my own. The result? Headache, stress, rushing around trying to accomplish a myriad of small tasks, and then rushing out the door and collapsing in stress in my car.

Some days I just cannot get it together. And then I realized that those are the days I think I can accomplish everything by myself. I don’t seek prayers from people; I don’t actually ask for help; and I never even think to open my Bible or pray. How is it we can rely so heavily on our faith, and then forget to use it??

Last night I attended a talk from a retired police officer about the legal use of force. He was speaking to a group of women who all belong to this wonderful organization for women shooters. (https://thewellarmedwoman.com) Last night, I listened as this officer talked to us about armed intruders. He was saying that when we challenge an intruder with phrases like, “Stop. Don’t move a muscle or I will shoot you” we have to command them, not meekly ask them. And he also said we need lots of hours with our weapons, making sure they are in perfect condition and ready to fire; that we spend hours upon hours at the range, getting comfortable with our weapons, and that we develop muscle memory with our weapon. Then he suggested we wear them (as our conceal carry permits allow) and go about our lives, with a smile on our faces. We are aware of our surroundings, we are armed and know how to protect ourselves, and we can enjoy life – and he said, “Smile.” And it made me think.

I have been working my weapon – my faith. I have become familiar with it, developing my “muscle memory.” I have taken care of it. And I command it when I speak of it, to intruders. Right? Well, it seems to me that when I need to depend on the stores I have built up inside of me, I fall flat. I totally revert to panic mode. Which, in the case of an intruder intending to commit bodily harm, would not bode well for a successful outcome, for me. Reacting, through muscle memory, is how our faith should work. If I were to be cast on an island, by myself, what would I do? I would not have my bible or my study to do; my journals would not be with me…what would I depend on?

There are many stories and many people diverge greatly on their acceptance of these stories, but for an example, the Apostle John (and let’s not argue if it is him, John the Elder, etc) is exiled to the Island of Patmos. Patmos means “my killing” and it is believed to be a sterile island in the Aegean Sea. It was common practice for the Romans to banish from their lands people who disagreed with them. We also know they were very fond of crucifixion as a form of punishment. The story goes that while on the Island of Patmos, St. John penned the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelations. It is agreed that this was around 95AD. On that island of banishment, John did not wallow at being on a sterile island (not much grew there; very little flora or fauna) but instead, He listened to God and he wrote the inspired words of God, and shared it with the world. The book of Revelation. Wow. Me? I more than likely would have died.

“When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him,
and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.” Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17: 14-20).

And today, in the light of my dismal trust and poor faith yesterday, I realize that I do have faith. I do. Because I realized that I was wrong in trusting only in myself. I sought prayer from friends and many offered more in the way of help, as well. I performed a task that I did not wish to do, but was able to do it with a thought and prayer of thanksgiving. In my gratitude journal I wrote, “I am releasing my wants and melding them to the wants and needs of my family and the desires for me that God has in store for me.” That is the start of great faith…trusting in the small things. Because truly, my tasks for the day were small things. There were many of them, but they were small. And God is blessing us, over and over again. Truly blessing us. Sometimes we do not see the blessing, because it is clouded by our wants and desires. I know that I need to subsume my desires and wants, and allow God to direct my steps and my future. Because without Him, I wander, I lose faith, and I panic. How silly of me. He is always here, waiting for me. Always.

 

“…nothing will be impossible…”

salt Mark 9-50“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13

We moved, as most of you (my friends and family) know.  For those of you who do not know, we up and moved 3,000+ miles from pretty much all we knew and came to the “Last Frontier” and are endeavoring to make a new life for ourselves.  At our ages, it has been a hard decision and for the most part, difficult.  We have run into so many roadblocks, it seems pretty amazing we can still smile.  Don’t get me wrong, we are blessed in ways beyond measure.  We have our faith and our family and a roof over our heads.  And I know I am blessed in more ways than many people I know.  God is good.

All that being said, it does not mean there has not been, nor does it mean it does not continue to be, a struggle.  All change is a struggle.  But if salt looses its saltiness, it is no longer good for anything and must be thrown out.  Our lives were like that.  They needed to change! And speaking of change, I giggled as I typed that because I was thinking of something my mom told me once, “Always hold on to your clothes, because eventually everything comes back into style.”  She isn’t far off.  I now wear what we called “peddle pushers” or “clam diggers” when I was a kid.  I grew up in the 50s and 60s and we also had all the “flower power” styles going on and lots and lots of them are back (I love my longer “broom” skirts for instance).  Hair styles – long, short, colored, permed.  Been done.  Make up…the Egyptians had the “kohl-eye” thing down centuries ago. Story telling, marriage, family, society…it is in a cycle that repeats itself over and over again.

Basically, it is we who have to adjust to change.  It is not change that is unusual.  There is a series of history books that make an interesting statement in how they are put together.  There is all history prior to the Birth of Christ in one book, and then there is history that has occurred since the Birth of Christ in a separate book.  And history since the Birth of Christ changed; man and his experience on this earth, changed.  God changed us by giving us His only Son.  How we act and react to that singular event in the history of mankind determines how we live our lives, and how we adapt to and take part in, change.

Personally, I am frustrated some days. I wish things were like they were when we lived in our first dairy house.  Our boys were small.  Life was very simple and very quiet.  Well, with young boys, as quiet as that can be, while living on a farm.  It is hard to believe we have been married almost 30 years.  Time has just flown past and quite often I have a hard time grasping really where I am. I just had another birthday.  I am getting to the point where I am fine actually skipping them.  We can just celebrate those other milestone dates and forget the ones in between!  But then I see the faces of my sons, my grandchildren, and I know I am blessed to be where I am.  I have had days recently where I just stood next to my husband, with my forehead resting on his chest.  Standing there, wishing things were a little different, frustrated because they are not, but also so blessed at where we are.  Life is such a confusing mix some days.

When you relocate in such a drastic way, it can be hard because you have nothing familiar.  No friends around for my son, no familiar clerk at the grocery store, streets whose names I forget and driving down I tend to get lost in, and new things everywhere. Your senses get assaulted.  Oftentimes, I look around and because I am in a new city, I am totally confused at where I am, and I actually feel carsick.  My natural points of reference aren’t there (in Southern Cal, the mountains are in the north and the beach is in the south!  The mountains are in the east, and the beach is in the west!).  But still, I know that for some reason, I am where I am meant to be. So I ask directions and find my way.  Our Lord is the beacon that guides through our confusion, bringing us home.

The professional community or the working world here is also very different; it is NOTHING like it is elsewhere. And when you are older and have been taught to do business a certain way, climbing out of that pattern of behavior is very hard to do.  And it is frustrating to step out of our comfort zones to try and make things work, to get work!  I feel bad for my husband and he is pretty much getting to the end of his rope, too.  It is weird, because our lives are so blessed in all things but working.  We wonder where we need to make further changes and what Our Lord is asking for us to do. We search for those changes we still need to make, to have our lives ironed out.

Changing to Holy Silence is hard in a world of distraction, but we both feel called to centering ourselves and also digging in and making this work.  We know the Lord wanted us to come here.  We both prayed about it and talked about it and took our time making this decision, and nowhere along the road did we feel we were making the wrong choice.  Until we actually got on the road.  We have hit so many roadblocks to reach where we are (do not even mention Canada to me) and yet, we can still smile and know we are still blessed. I see my family, that little smile on the face of my grandson, and hear his voice yell, “Gaga-Gaga-Gaga” (his name for me) and I know I am where I am supposed to be.  Continuing this process of change, well, it may make us stretch in ways we never knew we could, but we are already blessed far more than we would have been, had we stayed put and let the world change around us.

We react differently because the world irrevocably changed 2,000+ years ago, when Christ walked, lived, preached, and died among us.  He changed the world.  I can work hard to change just little, old me.  If I work to be still and listen to His Word for my life, I can move mountains.  (He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20).  It is now that we have to dig in and put our “backs into it” in order to be successful and move some mountains in our lives.  Change is not for the meek or the weak at heart; it is necessary, though.  Christ changed the world; I just need to work on being the best me that He wants me to be, wherever I am.

mustard seed mustard seeds