FF July 4

Let Your Faith Take a Turn

The neat thing about faith is that it is always taking turns.  If you ever feel it stop moving, it is time to stop and let it move.  I’m in a moving season.  My faith has started to take a turn.  It’s like standing in front of an IMax screen and getting ready to step inside.

Part of what leads me to move has to do with friendships, the words I read, quiet moments.  Funny enough, exhaustion that brings me to spend most of day laying on the couch also brings my faith to move.

I’ve been writing a book about time.  As I have been wrapped up in my thoughts about time and eternity, I am being moved by what time really means and how that meaning ought to drive how we live life.

Emily P. Freeman shared an article by Ed Cyzewski about the contrast between a salvation moment and a life long conversation with God.  We are converted throughout our lives as we learn what it is to abide and to receive the life and transformation that God slowly brings. It’s not that we have a ticket that we can either protect or lose. It’s that God’s passionate love is pursuing each of us right now, and we can choose to either abide in it or go about our own business. 

We can abide in Him or we can go about our own business.  It may feel like an easy answer to choose to abide in Him.  It’s an easy Yes.  But in the hundreds of little choices you will make today, will you choose to abide in Him?  The decision is easy, the action point is harder.

I’m reading a book called Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.  She tucks in a few lines that speak to my thoughts on time and how it plays into our long term life.  What if the [bible] passage you are fighting to understand today suddenly makes sense to you when you most need it, ten years from now?  It has been said that we overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten.  Are you willing to invest ten years in waiting for understanding?

I think we are meant to live like there is no time.  We are meant to live and move and breathe in a place and a space of depth.  Where we are not lassoed in by time constraints, judgmental time lines or frozen by time.  I think we were meant to live in the light of eternity.  Where there is no time.

 

FF June 6

Walking & Talking on Mountains

I was walking in the sun with my daughter training for our summer mountain climb.  We were with about ten other women on what we affectionately call Trash Mountain.  In Florida, we have flat and, when we want an incline, we go to the local trash mountain.

There we were, sweating bullets in groups of two and threes, hiking up and down the sides of the man-made hill.  As I held my daughter’s hand and walked, I listened to the conversation ahead and behind me.  I leaned into my own conversation with my daughter and thought about the magic taking place.

There is something profound that happens when like-minded women gather together for a purpose.  Without any agenda, the conversations run deep on Trash Mountain.  The words shared mirror the seasons of parenting and speak of children still small and others taller than their mamas.  The conversations speak of concerns only women know.  The conversations dig up past experience and contemplate the future.  The conversations echo and resonate among the group of hiking ladies. I walk with my daughter and ponder the beauty and depth taking place.

Women have an uncanny knack for seeing more than meets the eye.  I see this gift at work as women on this mountain walk and talk.  As I hike with my daughter, I want her to be invited into the depth.  I want her to hear the thoughts of women as they talk through motherhood, education, the beginnings and ends of things.  Of times past and times to come.  I am proud of her when she enters into the conversation in her ten year old way.

This is the beginning of her introduction to womanhood, to motherhood and to friendship.  In this community, she will find in herself the knack to sense the needs of others.  She will become attuned to how needs can be met through walking and talking along side another woman.  She will understand why women gather for a purpose.

She will understand that, while she is young, she has a lot to learn from the mamas around her.  She will know unity and community well enough to enter in even as a girl.  Over many walks and talks, she will understand that she has both much to learn and much to give.  She will take in the value of becoming wise and in giving freely.  And, someday, when her path has stretched over many years, she will continue the walk and the talk of mamas.  She will continue to share and love and embrace the magic of hiking with like-minded women on mountains.

If you like the idea of hiking on mountains for a purpose, check out thefreedomchallenge.com.  You may find yourself in Machu Picchu in the the Fall of 2017. 

FF May 30

Being Impractical Has Its Gain

There is a voice on the inside that speaks through your heart.  The voice is wiser than your own.  The thoughts expressed are higher than your own.  This voice doesn’t have any motivation beyond love.  The voice always knows the way, always speaks the truth and always points you to the light.

The voice gives you inspiration and insight.  There are many things that will be accomplished in a lifetime, but the voice particularly speaks to the great adventures that were written for you before time.  You can think of the great people you know and you can think of the great people throughout history.  Both the small and the larger than life live out a dream that the voice once began to speak about deep within.

There is a woman who heard a voice.  Against all practicality, she walked to a home in Bethany where Jesus was having dinner at a table with a handful of followers.  She brought with her a beautiful alabaster jar filled with a fragrant essential oil.    With faith and love tucked in her soul by the voice, she poured the oil or perfume over Jesus’ head.

There are so many reasons why her act of kindness was against practicality.  It was probably late in the day when she began to walk; maybe it was sunset or perhaps night.  Not the best time to start a journey.  The alabaster jar of oil she carried was worth a year’s wages.  Whether the jar was a gift or whether she earned the money to purchase it, the idea of giving it away was a big decision.  As to her act, she probably knew it would not be understood by some or all.

Journeys are this way.  It is never the best time.  There is always cost.  We risk the chance of being misunderstood.

For those of us who have had the courage to acknowledge the voice that is wiser than our own.  For those who have tilted an ear to listen to the voice that loves us more than we will ever know.  For those of us who have begun journeys or who are thinking about beginning.  Remember this.  The woman with the alabaster jar met Jesus face to face because she listened to the voice. Our journeys are always this way.  The voice that calls will always be the voice that meets you.  He will be with you always, even to the end of the age.

 

sometimes rather than look to improve, it is time to disassemble(1)

Get on the Disassembly Line

In a world that regularly points to self improvement, I have been thinking about disassembly.  When we take a look at ourselves, it’s easy to look for the traits that we consider weaknesses.  Those things about ourselves that we think look like a C- or D on paper.  In the midst of comparison and achievement, short comings are easy to focus on.  But, lately, I’ve been toying with the idea that some of those things I put on the D list may just be a part of who I am.

I’ve shared before that I’m not a small talk person.  I will probably bore you at a cocktail party, but definitely not over coffee or tea.  Take me to a big room of networkers passing business cards and I may take a long personal call in the lobby.  I can do small groups or talk from a stage or podium, but just don’t put me in a sea of people and expect success. For a long time, I took this as a weakness or lack of determination or skill.  I don’t anymore.  God made me this way.  I can’t small talk and that’s okay.

The fact of the matter is that God made you and He likes who you are.  Go ahead and be her.  Go ahead and trash self improvement this week.  Disassemble.  Inside of you, there is lurking a gift that is being masked by a weakness.  Throw off your opinion of your weakness.  See right through the hype of self improvement and seek that part of your self that is just waiting to bless your own soul and others.

And, as always, I invite you to share what you found in your soul on Facebook, Instagram or email me at sasha@femmefuel.com.

 

 

lay-1166

A Mother’s Heart is Universal

The wind doesn’t just blow. The origin of its direction and momentum begins with a breath from a maker.  We cannot always see this invisible leading, but it is always there. This leading is the same with our mothers.

Winds carry us, and even turn our direction, when necessary. Winds blow our hair away from our eyes so that we can see what is in front of us. Winds toss objects that were headed for us, away from us. This protection is the same with our mothers.

Winds do not follow maps, but intuitively cooperate with an orchestra that is masterfully playing. Winds arrive and disappear exactly at the perfect time. This intuition is the same with our mothers.

Mothers lead, protect and intervene in their child’s lives. When there is heartache, a mother comforts and supports. When there is pain, a mother mends with wisdom and strength. Where there is victory, a mother rejoices.

With confidence, I can say that a mother’s heart is universal. These qualities of leading, protecting and encouragement pass cultural lines. International boundaries. Shades of skin and belief systems. When a mother cries out for her child, she is heard and felt by the heart of many mothers.

This is why my heart cries for the daughters – – the victims – –  of human trafficking.  There is no other evil that declares its enemy quite as decisively as the sex trade. A daughter is the target of this darkness. The target of this weapon is her unique ability to lead and protect.  This weapon depletes her freedom, steals her hope and breaks her body. My heart cries for these daughters, their mothers and their grandmothers.

This is why we are four generations – – daughter, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – –  standing for daughters who are trapped and living with only a grain of hope.  This is why the four of us are traveling to the Grand Tetons with Freedom Challenge this summer. We are accepting a physical challenge to climb. We are claiming victory for the daughters who cannot yet claim their own freedom.

This generational effort is only a mirror of the strength that has been displayed to me over the years. Who I am and who I hope to be has been spoken into me by the words and prayers of my mother and grandmother. Their spiritual and emotional strength has been matched by their time and resources. Their winds, sometimes gentle and sometimes like a hurricane, have blessed and moved mountains in my life. I believe that the strength of four generations climbing has the power to move global mountains.

If you are a woman, you were made to blow strong like the wind. Your invisible strengths like wisdom and intuition have great power to impact many daughters. Your visible power such as time and resources has immeasurable power to change the lives of many hopeless and trapped daughters.  Your winds can blow for local and global change. Blow, gentle Spirit, blow in us so that even our very last breath is one that carries another daughter to her freedom.

This post was recently shared on Freedom Challenge’s blog.  I encourage you to learn more about human trafficking and The Freedom Challenge.  You just may find yourself climbing for another woman’s freedom.

 

 

cropped-anne-bradstreet-adversity

The unlikely seemingly partners: Joy and Pain by Chris Sweet

I am a notoriously optimistic positive person (the sickening kind).  I hate feeling sadness and grief. I have this weird belief that if I go through a difficult moment in life and I get all sad and stuff that I am a failure at Christianity.  Yup not joking.

So when I went through my recent tragedy and I got depressed. I felt like a failure for feeling depressed.  I started apologizing to God for not being happy through my storm.  I felt again a mess.

But He’s been teaching me about pain and joy being like family members to each other.  These emotions need each other although both really don’t want to hang out with the other because each thinks the other is cramping their style (or swag).   Isn’t that so typical of family relationships?  Often family members love each other but there are moments when they may not want the other there all the time.

Rob Bell, Christian author, says beautifully thatPeople moving towards each other, lamenting together, this is where God is.”   Isn’t that beautiful? As we express sorrow and our pain together, God is present.  We need to know what pain is to be able to recognize joy.  “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”  Anne Bradstreet, poet.

Margaret Manning Shull author and teacher of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries describes perfectly the description of the tug of war for Christians.  She says, “For Christians, ‘being happy’ can often resemble the language of victorious living and resurrection, to the exclusion of Jesus’s matter-of-fact instruction to his followers that in this world ‘you will have trouble, but I have overcome this world.’(1) I too easily forget that many who have gone before me as that great cloud of witnesses did not yet receive what was promised.(2) They, too, lived in a land of ‘maybe,’ and in the bittersweet juxtaposition of joy and sorrow.”

So let’s welcome the full range of emotions as we deal with difficulties and be ok with feeling those feelings.  Brene Brown, best-selling author, says:  “When you numb your pain you also numb your joy.” Sadness and pain have their time and season.   But don’t give up.  Remember God has you even as you are feeling the full extent of loss and pain.  Each difficult time has the potential for you to learn the tools needed for the next difficult event. And when the joyful moments come (because they will) allow yourself to feel that too and appreciate its time with you.  It’s time for us to welcome the dynamic of joy and pain at the family table together.

Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/author/19318-Brene_Brown/tag/pain

http://www.preachitteachit.org/fileadmin/SiteFiles/LegacyUploads/Rob_Bell_Part_3_Lamentations.pdf

http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/for-the-joy-set-before-him

Child-like Faith

By Bindu Adai Mathew

When I was young, I was taught to pray to God, especially when I needed His help with anything. Back then I felt blessed when my prayers were answered. And for the times they weren’t, I was disappointed, but I never recall being hurt or angry with God when things didn’t happen the way I prayed. I always knew he was all-powerful, and I always believed He was all loving. But honestly, luckily for me, my problems never felt overwhelming to the point where I was bitter and angry at God. Or maybe back then, I just had that child-like faith.

Even when 911 happened, I didn’t question God’s sovereignty or His goodness. Even when one of my best friends from high school was murdered by a serial killer in 1999, I didn’t question God’s sovereignty. I was shaken, scared, and I questioned why God allowed it, especially since He had protected me from being there. I still recall the week before she died, we had initially made plans to have dinner and maybe even have a sleepover so we could talk into the wee hours of the night like we did when we were in junior high and high school before I headed back to grad school. But just the day before, she cancelled, and the very night I should have been with her, she was murdered. So while I was upset, shaken, and had lots of questions for God, I still didn’t question His essential goodness.

As I’ve gotten older, in many ways I believe my faith is deeper. I know that He is truly Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent. Yet with that knowledge, there is also a deeper testing of my faith, especially as life’s challenges beat on our souls and hearts like pounding waves in the midst of a storm. In the desert, in the waiting, I often find myself looking up and not just asking, “Why?”  But now my “whys” aren’t just a question. They’re sometimes an accusation.

We know that every blessing comes from God, and when you see movies like “Miracles from Heaven,” our faith is renewed because that is the kind of God we serve:  a God of mercy, justice, and love. It is with movies and testimonies like that when we know that all things truly do work together for good. But yet, each of us know of plenty of other prayers that haven’t been answered in the way we had hoped.  A beloved family member or friend still died of cancer. The couple struggling to conceive continues to remain childless. A marriage that was prayed over never got restored and still resulted in divorce. A wayward child or family member is still lost.

So when we seek God. When we pray. When we stand in that gap and believe that God is good and that He can and is willing, and things still don’t work out, what then? When we experience things in our lives that are contrary to His will, what do we believe then? Is God still good? We KNOW the answer is yes. But we may not always feel that way.

I believe it is when we believe and continue to trust God even when the situation looks hopeless that we then truly grow and we truly experience the miracle we were seeking. It is when our eyes can look past the natural and our hearts are resolved to trust that we see the supernatural. We see glimpses of God in His glory. It is when we focus on God and not just what we want or prayed and refuse to give up our faith that not only does God shine… but we shine. And it is when our faith is not based on what He does or doesn’t do but what He did on the cross and who He is that we then truly experience that life-transforming answer we were seeking.

So during this month, I pray that those April showers fertile your heart… may they wash away your guilt, your anger, your bitterness. May that child-like faith, along with love and joy, bloom into beautiful flowers in your soul that not only last through the month of May but throughout the year.