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Living in Faith, What I've Learned Lately

Faithful despite the fear

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? (Romans 3:3 ESV)

Our refrigerator helps tell the story of our lives. You can barely see the surface behind favorite photos of our kids, Christmas card photos of friends and families, and magnets representing vacations or craft times.

The side by the pantry sports two yellow stars that my husband and I added in January. Identical stars were probably in elementary classrooms all across America before the COVID-19 pandemic changed so much about our lives in the last few months. But ours aren’t from an old school project. Ours are from our pastor.

In one of her first sermons of 2020, she talked of how people sometimes choose a word as a theme or focus going into a new year. She thought it would be an interesting exercise for us to do as a congregation – receive a word that could be a touch point for our faith this year, and see what we had learned from it a few months later. We all chose a star without looking, praying that the word written there would be something of merit for us.

My word is faithfulness. And the further we get into 2020, the more I see that I would be hard pressed to find a word that better represents what I have needed this year.

  • Faithfulness in God’s direction as our daughter chose which college she’ll attend in the fall.
  • Faithfulness in His leading when I wanted to find a new ladies’ Bible study that works with my crazy work schedule.
  • Faithfulness in His provision when I stared at aisle after aisle of empty shelves when I tried to buy groceries.
  • Faithfulness in His protection as our son completes a 10-week summer internship in California.
  • Faithfulness in His calling as I turn back to writing for Him after years of keeping flash drives full of words and ideas tucked away while I focused on other things.

Some of these situations seem easy on the surface. But the truth is, these – and many other things – have made fear clench my heart and knot my stomach more times than I’d like to admit.

Fear? Of finding a Bible study or resurrecting writing projects?

Yes, fear. The older I get, the more I see that my biggest fears and insecurities often tie to things that seem simple because they’re the things I know God would want me to do. After all, why wouldn’t I feel confident that God would want me to go to Bible study?

My confidence in that is exactly right – because it’s not God who’s making me feel fearful or uncertain. Those confidence-busting thoughts and emotions are coming from the enemy. And they crop up at those times because the enemy knows exactly when and where to push my insecurity buttons to keep me from moving in the direction God wants.

But here’s one thing I know: my God’s faithfulness far outweighs any fears that the enemy might stir up in me. I might falter in my faithfulness to whatever He’s calling me to, but He will never falter in being faithful to me. Even on the days when I let the enemy get in my head too much.

My God will always – always – take away my fears, no matter how big or small they might be. I just have to go to Him in faith and trust Him to do the rest.

Father God, there are so many times when fear grips me so tightly I can hardly breathe. Remind me in those moments that You are the breath of life, the calm in the storm, the balm for my fears. Strengthen my faithfulness and help me trust You more each day. Amen.

Living in Faith, Scripture Saturday, Scripture verses

Scripture Saturday: Romans 15:13

 

Romans 15 13 a

Hope.

It’s something that ties us all together, no matter who we are or what we do or where we’ve been. It’s that little spark inside us that refuses to die, that helps us press on when it seems like all is lost.

It’s a gift from God that grows in us as we learn to trust Him with every part of our lives — the big, the small, and the in-between. The things that affect our family, our country, and our world.

The rest of this verse (which I couldn’t fit on the meme) is, “so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Even on the dark days, we can hold on to God’s promise that He’s in control and that everything is going to be OK. And aren’t we glad He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us remember that? I know I sure am.

Let’s have a beautiful, hope filled day.

Book Love

Book Review: The Discovery

Last week I posted a photo of some books from my to-read stack. Today I’m going to share my review of one of those books, The Discovery by Dan Walsh.

The DiscoveryI’ve read two of Walsh’s previous novels, The Unfinished Gift and The Homecoming. They were both set in the World War II era, so The Discovery is a bit different from those because it’s set in modern times. But – Walsh still shares his love of WWII tales with us because The Discovery actually is a story within a story.

Here’s part of the back cover blurb:

When aspiring writer Michael Warner inherits his grandfather’s venerable Charleston estate, he settles in to write his first novel. But within the confines of the stately home, he discovers an unpublished manuscript that his grandfather, a literary giant whose novels sold in the millions, had kept hidden from everyone – but which he clearly intended Michael to find. As he delves deep into the exciting tale about spies and sabotage, Michael discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.

So … an aspiring novelist, a story set in Charleston, and some spies and sabotage. The combination hooked me from the get-go.

DSC00893 (1)
The top of the St. Augustine, Fla., lighthouse. I learned a lot about World War II spies when we visited a few years ago. Some of those same things were in The Discovery.

You’re about 60 pages into the book before Michael comes across his grandfather’s hidden manuscript. From there, The Discovery alternates between Michael’s present-day life and the story within the old manuscript – which you read along with Michael in its entirety. I felt like the “hidden” story dragged a bit in a few places, but it wasn’t so bad that I wanted to stop reading. I think it was partly because I anticipated some things and was ready for them to happen. But at least I didn’t jump to the ending to make sure things worked out like I wanted.

Basic fiction tools like flashbacks and back story can be tricky to work into a story, and what Walsh attempted here was much bigger than that. But he managed to pull it off and reward his readers with not one enjoyable story, but two. If you’re looking for a novel about young love during World War II that stays more “light” than “grim,” The Discovery could be worth checking out.

Your turn: What good World War II novels have you read? Do you have a favorite author who writes about that time frame?

And … I had the chance to interview Dan Walsh on the Novel Pastimes blog when his debut novel, The Unfinished Gift, was released. You can read Day 1 of the interview here and Day 2 here.

Book Love

What’s On Your Reading Pile?

I’ve been a reader all my life, and always have a stack of books waiting to be my next literary get-away — plus plenty on my haven’t-bought-yet list. I’ll admit it makes me a little crazy and a little sad when I hear people say they don’t like to read. Don’t they know how much they’re missing?!

That’s why I love this quote from J.K. Rowling that I saw online this weekend:

JK Rowling quote
Source: BuzzFeed UK; http://bit.ly/1WZBESB

My sentiments exactly! Whether it’s suspense, romance, sci-fi, dystopian, Western, mystery, historical, or something completely different from the non-fiction part of the world — everyone can find something they enjoy reading if they take time to dig a bit. I’ve said it to plenty of my kids’ friends in the past few years.

TBR pile
What are you reading next?

Me, I’m always looking for another “right” book. Here’s what’s left of my to-read pile at the moment. Since there are only six (two of which I’m partway through), I obviously need to get moving on my haven’t-bought-yet list!

Your turn: I’d love to know what you’re reading or what you want to buy next. Share in the comments and we’ll all have some good books to explore.