Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Tag: fortitude

My son flexing

Go Ahead and Flex

My son flexing at age 4

Three pull-ups. Some would see that as a challenge. While others would say, that’s not even a warmup. What’s next? My son’s New Years’ resolution was to do three pull-ups when he was ten years old. It took him two years to accomplish his goal, but now he’ll do fifteen to twenty rapid-fire as if they were nothing. 

Flexing doesn’t come easy. The body must first break down to build muscle. As the muscle fibers repair themselves, they heal back stronger. Faith can be the same way. When life throws a challenging crisis our way, our faith can flounder, doubts creep in, or in some way we break down, but then God lets us know He’s been by our side all along. Sometimes it’s easier to see how He sustained us after we’re through the worst. With experience, we can see His fingerprints on our lives, guiding us through difficulties. Our spiritual muscles grow, and we come out stronger in the end.

My son flexing at 16

“What if the circumstances you are asking God to change are the very circumstances God is using to change you?” – Mark Batterson

Like physical exercise, we, too, become stronger with each spiritual workout. As we develop the faith to climb over each hurdle, our recovery time will shorten. Problems that at one point seemed insurmountable will begin to appear smaller.

It doesn’t always mean the difficulty level will lessen. Significant challenges will still come. But when we look back on the struggles God has already pulled us through, we’ll know we can stand firm on the solid rock of Jesus and face fear, knowing that nothing in this universe or the next can separate us from God’s loving arms.

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Dudley's on Mt. Monadnock, NH

Harder the Hike, the Better the View

Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire is not for the faint of heart or the occasional Sunday stroller. I’m usually up for an adventure, and it was a gorgeous day, so we Dudley's on Mt. Monadnock, NHstruck out with the kids and some friends and headed up the mountain. The boys did great until we were about ¼ of the way up the first peak when they began to complain. “How much further?” “Are we there yet?” “My legs hurt.” Now I said the first peak because it is a double summit mountain. Once you get to what you believe to be the top, you realize the trail keeps going, and there’s another peak hiding behind the first. At this point, I’m mentally siding with the boys. I didn’t own hiking boots, and my sneakers were done sneakin’. I thought I was in pretty good fitness shape until the muscles in my ankles began to hurt from adjusting to the uneven ground.

My husband being the optimist said, “Look, we’re almost to the top.” We kept moving. Part of me wanted to turn around. We’d been hiking for over a couple hours, and we still had to go all the way back down. I wanted to protest or complain, but I didn’t want to ruin the trip for our friends or allow the boys to see mom give up.

At last, we reached the top, I remember ignoring the aches and pushing my legs up View from Mt Monadnockthe final steep climb. It opened onto a rocky plateau. I stopped to catch my breath. Not because I was winded, but because the view was so spectacular. From the peak, an endless patterned carpet filled with greens, yellows, oranges, and reds spread out before us. A vast expanse of clear blue stretched above us, and when we looked east, we could see a cluster of tiny rectangular sticks that comprised of the city of Boston.

One of our boys stared wide-eyed and said, “Wow! Look at how great God is.” That made the entire trek for me. The hard climb, the achy muscles, the pure exhaustion, all forgotten as we gazed out at the splendor before us.

The harder the hike, the better the view.

For ten years we used to run a small group at our house weekly. (Now that I’m wiser we’ve learned to rotate houses.) There were days where I’d come home from work exhausted. The kids would be at each other, and I still hadn’t fed them dinner or set out food and chairs for our small group. I would rub my temples with one hand and hold my phone with the other ready push send on an email to cancel the group for the night.

But, thank God, I didn’t hit send.

Those nights we’d have the most incredible group, filled with breakthroughs, people opening their hearts, and Godly revelations. This happened at least a couple nights a semester, and every time it would be a remarkable experience.

There is evil out there that wants to keep us from experiencing God’s joy. It will attack us in big and small ways, but don’t relent. Keep pushing through. There is something spectacular for you to see but the devil is doing his darnedest to block your way.

If you’re exhausted and spent, uncertain whether you can keep going, you may be steps away from a breakthrough. Let the devil know you’re onto his trick, and you’re not backing down. You’re going to keep hiking because God has planned an amazing view for you right over the next peak.

“God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.” – 2 Samuel 22:33 (NLT)

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three paint brushes

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I said to twelve, six-year-old girls this two paint brushesweekend at my niece’s art-themed birthday party as I taught them how to paint a pink flamingo. (My niece loves anything pink.) I also emphasized this concept when I used to teach elementary art students. I wanted them to understand it wasn’t okay to say something negative about anyone’s project.

What some see as ugly, others find to be beautiful.

  • Artist Vincent Van Gogh only sold one of his paintings during his lifetime. While alive, Van Gogh was considered a failure as an artist. Yet, according to Widewalls auction results, Vincent’s paintings, Portrait du Docteur Gachet, sold for $75 million, and estimates the value of his painting, Starry Night, is now well over 100 million dollars. If only Van Gogh could see the price tag now.
  • Dr. Seuss’s first book, And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected twenty-seven times before he bumped into a friend on the street who happened to work for Vanguard Press and told him to send him a copy.
  • Thomas Edison was deemed a “difficult” child by his school teacher who believed Edison’s brain to be “addled.” His mother pulled him from the school and decided to teach him herself. Edison became a famous inventor holding over 1,000 patents including the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and the movie camera.

Many of us deal with naysayers, rejections, and failures, but I want to shout, “Stay the course!” Charlotte Gambill in her a book, The Miracle in the Middle, writes about how many people quit in the middle when fear and doubts seem the greatest. But, it’s in the middle where our character and strength are forged along with a deeper trust in God. I wish Van Gogh could see how the raw emotion displayed in his bold brush strokes created a new era of post-impressionism. I’m thankful that Dr. Seuss didn’t give up on writing because I’m not certain my children would have enjoyed learning to read if he had. And, if Thomas Edison believed what his school teacher thought of him, we all might be sitting around in the dark.

There is beauty in what you do. Don’t stop believing in yourself. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “He (God) gives us everything we need for life and for holy living.” We have what it takes to fulfill our purpose, so turn a deaf ear to the naysayers. Sometimes it just takes time to find the right “beholder.”

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