WHAT FAITH IS.

Bible

Faith, like true faith, not just get up and go to church on Sunday, is one of the hardest things to do.  I have learned, faith is not frilly and fluffy raise your hands and sing “Hallelujah!”  Faith is not “God is so good,” which, yes He IS good, but faith at the very core is believing He still is good even when nothing else makes sense around us. Faith, at the very foundation of what faith is… is… well… hard.

Faith is… still believing through tears of prayers unfulfilled.

Faith is… dropping to your knees when you barely know how to stand with all of life’s weight on your shoulders.

Faith is… believing in a God, Savior, King that you can’t see, but knowing with all your heart He exists.

Faith is… trying with everything not to doubt, yet trembling in fear, and needing just a little reassurance sometimes that God hasn’t forgotten us.

This morning, I read the story of Gideon, and was so relieved to see, here he was, this normal average guy God used in a big way, who went on to become a hero of the bible, and even he still had doubts in his faith. Here he was, a weak man, the least important member of his family, and God still called him a “mighty warrior.” He doubted he had what it took to conquer a calling God was asking of him. He doubted so much that he even tested God. This weak man tested our strong God. Whew, the courage… But sometimes (cough cough, all the time for me) we need that reassurance that, yes, indeed, God IS with us.  God is WITH us.  God is with US.

What is God calling you to that you know deep down He is stirring in your heart, yet you don’t know if your faith is strong enough to conquer?  Are you moving forward in faith like a super Christian, or are you shaking in your boots like Gideon was?  I know for me, it has always been the latter when I have felt God ask me to accomplish something for His kingdom, as strong as I try to be in my faith always failing miserably. But here’s what I took away from reading Gideon’s story in Judges 6-7 this morning that I want you to be encouraged with as well.

God uses the weak.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon with His instructions to rescue the Israelites from the Midianites, Gideon was quick to remind the Lord of His incapabilities in Judges 6:11-16. “Lord, how can I save Israel? My family group is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family,” Gideon said questioning this whole mission. What was God’s response?  Simple and sweet. “I will be with you.”  The Lord doesn’t take excuses. He even calls Gideon a “mighty warrior.” Because the Lord knows that while we are weak, He is strong. And really, that’s all that matters. Not how capable we are. Not how much we have up our sleeve to help us, or the big army behind us. Not all the money in the world, or the fanciest of gadgets. Not thinking we are strong. Nope, God calls the weak, because it is in our weakness, His strength is made known.

We don’t need the answers of how.

When Gideon was being called to um, conquer the impossible, he didn’t have all the answers of “how” it would happen.  He even questioned God through offering a sacrifice, just to really make sure that this was HIS calling and that he was hearing from the Lord correctly. But often when we are called to conquer the impossible, God does not reveal the game plan of how it’s going to go down. All He simply wants is for us to trust and be secure, not doubting, as He responded to Gideon with only one simple phrase, “I will be with you.” And what I love is after his sacrifice, God threw in a few exclamation points to reinforce His point that He had Gideon’s back: “Calm down! Don’t be afraid! You will not die!” (Judges 6:23) How often do we need those exclamation points to reinforce God’s seriousness when we want to overreact at the things He asks of us.  We don’t need the answers of “how” it will all go down, we just need to trust the One leading us.  And calm our butts down. Exclamation point.

It’s OK to test God about a calling.

Even after Gideon’s sacrifice where God confirmed his calling and spoke to him FACE TO FACE, the night before he defeated the Midianites, Gideon still questioned if the Lord was really going to be with him in his upcoming battle.  So Gideon tested Him, not once, but TWICE, with a challenge. And each time, the Lord showed up and showed off (Judges 6:36-40), reminding him yet again, YES GIDEON. If the Lord’s mightiest warriors are known to question the Lord, I say that’s ok for us average warriors too.

God likes to keep it simple.

Often times I find myself thinking in order to conquer the circumstances swirling around me, that it requires a complicated prayer or a complicated action plan to gain the victory. But then I’m reminded, all God used for David to take down a giant was a stone.  And for Gideon, God tore down his army from 32,000 soldiers to simply 300 soldiers to conquer the Midianites. Um, hello, I would have been shaking in my boots a little bit with such a small army behind me. But while he might have had a small army, he had a BIG God. And why would God cut his army to so small? Because God wanted the credit for the victory, not in the numbers of a large army thinking they saved themselves (Judges 7:2).

Victory is found through shouting.

One of my greatest prayer warriors taught me a valuable lesson before she passed.  She said, don’t just read the word, don’t just speak the word, SHOUT the word!  Because faith come from hearing as God’s word tells us in Romans 10:17. And sometimes, in order to claim our victory, we need to hear God’s promises very loudly for it to truly sink in! And Gideon instructed his army to do just that. As they approached the camp of the Midianites, it wasn’t a casual “Oh hello, nice to see you, don’t mind us while we conquer you.” No, he instructed them that they would blow their loud trumpets and SHOUT “For the Lord and for Gideon!” Because the greatest battles of our faith require giving it everything inside of us to believe our victory is waiting on the other side. And with lots of exclamation points.

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TRUTH TO TUCK IN YOUR HEART:

“For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:10

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth; burst into songs and make music.” -Psalm 98:4

“Don’t be afraid of anyone, because I am with you to protect you,” says the Lord.” -Jeremiah 1:8

“Do I need to give you more examples of faith? I do not have time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through their faith they defeated kingdoms. They did what was right, received God’s promises, and shut the mouths of lions.” -Hebrews 11:32-33

PUT IT INTO ACTION:

What area of your life do you need to trust God more where He is telling you to calm down and not be afraid?  Think of that, and starting by shouting the truth’s above over that thing.

JOY IS A CHOICE.

Beach

Sunday was one of those amazing family days for my little family. Working from home, I’ve been really trying to consciously not let myself go into my home office on Sundays, or accept photo shoots on Sundays, to take a truly allow myself a day of rest to enjoy this little family we’ve become.  Working from home, it is always tempting to “oh I’ll just go check my email, or do this one thing to cross off my work to do list” that then sucks me in for a few hours instead spending time with my family like I should be on days off or evenings.

And this past Sunday, was the perfect day. We went to church, came home and had lunch, I did a few errands, then ended our night at the beach with our church family singing worship by guitar and watching others get baptized in the ocean. It was a truly joyful day for us.

Then the next day, something happened that immediately tried to rob of us our joy. It was something so minor, something that shouldn’t have been a big deal but turned into one in our heads.  The more we thought and talked about it, the more it festered upsetting us more.  The more we gave into thinking negatively about this molehill it became a mountain. When finally, I had to say to Stephen, “We have a choice here.  We can dwell on this, or we can think about what a beautiful family day we had yesterday, and focus on the joy we felt that day before this other thing happened.”

Because, y’all, joy is a choice.

And God’s word tells us, even in the trials, we have that free choice to still choose joy. My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need,” it says in James 1:2-4.  Did you see how that equation evolved?  Choosing JOY=PERFECT & COMPLETE in the end.

Though the enemy wants to throw disappointment our way, and surround us in unwanted circumstances, the greatest combat we can do is tell him, “Despite this situation, I’m choosing joy.”  And that means, finding our joy in the Lord because that’s what makes us strong, He tells us in Nehemiah 8:10.  It can be hard to do when you just want to have an ugly cry sometimes, and by all means, sometimes that ugly cry is just needed.  But do it, get it out of your system, then move forward choosing joy even when you don’t feel like it. Because feelings are great followers but terrible leaders, and faith will always steer you in the right direction.Joy-Is-A-Choice

TRUTH TO TUCK IN YOUR HEART:

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him, and he helps me. I am very happy, and I praise him with my song.” -Psalm 28:7

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8-9

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

“Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.” – Psalm 27:6

PUT IT INTO ACTION:

What circumstance are you dwelling on that you should be choosing joy about? What is one baby step you can take to turn your thinking around despite this circumstance?

 

BARA FAITH’S KATE SPADE INSPIRED BABY SHOWER

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To celebrate Bara Faith’s adoption, I threw a belated baby shower for her as a way for our closest friends and family to all come meet her and to welcome her into our family. I drew from the colors in her nursery (those pics to come soon!), but was also really inspired by Kate Spade’s overall branding and colors as I began to discover in all  my Pinterest searching.  I don’t know how I actually planned this in the midst of moving and adjusting to life with a newborn with little sleep, but somehow I pulled it off with the amazing help of my mother-in-law watching Bara Faith while I worked on planning, girlfriends helping to make the treats and food, Etsy, and lots of coffee! Getting this glimpse of party planning gets me so excited for all the birthday parties to come!

One fun thing I had was a hairbow station!  I provided separate bows to choose for headbands, hot glue, and tags for everyone’s name to make her her own custom hairbow she can wear as she gets bigger. It was fun to have something interactive people could do at the shower that had a lasting effect. Now it’s so fun using the homemade creations to coordinate with her outfits of the day.  Which by the way, if you are on Instagram, Bara Faith has her own Instagram account for all her outfits of the day, because after all, I was shopping in faith all these years for a baby girl, and I want to remember all the cuteness.  Watch her grow outfit by outfit by following along here!

Links are at the end of this post below the photos for where I got all the cutesy details!

Here’s the links to where I got a lot of her shower decor. All I have to say is, praise Jesus for the wonderful creation called Etsy! ha!