Last week I was scrambling.
Typically by this point in the 8 week publishing cycle, I already have all the content planned for the upcoming issue of Gritty Faith.
But this time I had holes.
I didn’t understand why. You see every single time it just falls into place. I don’t go looking hard for contributors, rather I trust that the right person with the right story will be ready to share it… and God will prompt the connection.
So last Tuesday, I was sharing my reservations with my mom. Trying to sort out how to best fill this next issue.
Add on top of this I was really nervous as I was gearing up to release my very first art collection for sale on our website. And between the combination of the two, I just wasn’t sure I had it in me. I began questioning if God was still providing.
And then, less than two hours after that worry-filled chat with my mom, I got a text.
Someone close to the project had been working on my behalf during the very moment I was fretting… and I had no idea. She had a contributor for the magazine that was ready to share was it a good time? (Ummm, yeah!)
And then in her next text she out of the blue mentioned she adored the painting I posted on Instagram that morning.
What?! She adored the art that I was planning on offering for sale the very next day that I had not yet told anyone about? Talk about an affirmation.
Now, just one week after stressing out, I am working on the Issue 5 layout with overflowing content and have sold a healthy number of paintings from my first collection.
Often, when it feels like we are doing it all alone is actually when God is working the hardest on our behalf. The way He moves mountains usually involves a lot of moving pieces and people that we do not always see. He is not only softening our hearts for the work He is prompting us to do, but He is working on the hearts of others to help us with our work.
Hanging by my bed is a version of this quote from Susie Larson,
"May you find a moment of peace and quiet tonight to thank God for all that is right in your world. May you have the presence of mind to release your cares and worries to Him. May you have the gritty faith to grab a firmer grip on His promises to you. And may you wake up in the morning knowing that you’ve gained ground even during your sleeping hours because God is always moving on your behalf. As you entrust your whole self to Him today, He’ll get you where you need to go tomorrow. Sleep well tonight.”
I could go on and on about this quote but this phrase right here is the gold today: Knowing you’ve gained ground even during your sleeping hours because God is always moving on your behalf... the weight that phrase takes off my shoulders gets me every time.
It’s a reminder that this big audacious dream is not all up to me. I can take a break. I can rest when needed. I am not working alone.
He is working on my behalf.
So whatever it is that you are struggling through today, that problem that you just cannot see the light on, know He is working on your behalf too.
Assign it, delegate it, and quite micromanaging it. God’s taken on the task.
And if you feel him working on your heart, prompting you to help another, share your story, or open up in a new way, listen to it. Chances are He is trying to use you to fulfill someone else’s need.
Faith Over Fear.
When will this be over?
How many times have you asked yourself this lately? When will life go back to normal? When will this be over?
When Angie was fighting her abrupt battle of cancer, I cannot even tell you how many times I asked myself that same question. When will life go back to normal?
When will I no longer have to triple check that no one in my house is sick before swinging in for a quick visit?
When will we no longer have to time our outings based on the best days of health in between chemo rounds?
When will we no longer have to have lengthy conversations at bedtime to calm our kids fears and anxieties?
When will we be able to just be normal again?
When will all of this be over? And the reality is, it still isn’t over.
Even when it was over. Even after the last chemo treatment, and her last breath, and the last prayers as she entered the gates of heaven, it still was not over.
It just transitioned. It morphed from one strange feeling to another. Life has never been quite the same as it used to be.
It will never be over. Because the old normal no longer exists. It was rewritten by a new normal.
In life there are so many times where we transition into something different. A new job, a new baby, graduation, marriage, even divorce. And often all of those changes bring a shift with them that comes with a sense of hope and excitement for potential.
But not when you had no control over the circumstances. Not when your change was brought on by something you never in a million years wanted to happen.
This time right now is odd. Everything feels uncomfortable. We are trying to abruptly fit ourselves into boxes that we never expected to be in. Trying to express our love and empathy over phone calls and video chats instead of with a hug. Trying to do business in unconventional ways instead of face to face. Trying to teach our children remotely from a kitchen table with their siblings instead of in a classroom with their peers. It all feels forced and awkward and we ache for things to just be normal once again.
But it is in this space of hard things where we really find out what we are made of. It is in this space where we develop gratitude for the things we once took for granted. Here we actively seek out joy and hope instead of expecting it to show up in front of us.
Things will likely never go back to the old “normal” because by the time we are through, we will no longer fit into that normal. The old routines will no longer be a comfort for we will have outgrown that space as we enter into our new normal.
Nothing will ever be exactly as it once was, but there are ways to seek joy as we grow into our new surroundings.
Sometimes things are not as simple as black and white.
Right now things are really gray.
Both light and dark.
Both overwhelmed and grateful.
Both sad and joyful.
Both anxious and hopeful.
Both fear-filled and faith-filled.
Both depressed and happy.
It’s ok if you are both right now. It’s ok if you feel like you are on a pendulum swinging between all of the emotions.
It’s ok if you are struggling to maintain joy one minute and stunned with gratitude the next. It’s ok if the fear is sneaking in. It’s ok if you are overwhelmed and underwhelmed all at once. All of this exists inside us and that is ok.
The message we cling tightly to is not “faith instead of fear,” or “no fear, just faith,” but rather the message we stand on is Faith Over Fear. Over as in greater than. Over as in above. Over as in on top of.
No matter what fears or darkness you are wrestling with today, know that this message is for you. Faith Over Fear means our faith is greater than any fear. We are putting our trust in God above everything else. Our God is on top of whatever fear situation we face.
Living with Faith Over Fear does not mean the fear is eliminated. We know the fear is very real and has seeped into every one of us, but we are choosing to cling tighter to our faith than our fears. Living with Faith over Fear is not about squashing the fear into non-existence. It’s about acknowledging it and choosing faith over and over and over again.
What you choose to feed matters. Feed the light. Feed hope, joy, kindness, happiness, empathy. Feed the things you want to grow and you will see your faith rise above your fears.
Wherever you are at today, it is ok. Know you have a community of people here walking with you in faith and rooting you on to the next right thing.
Let’s live with Faith Over Fear.
The other day, I was speaking to my girls about their story. I was encouraging them to start journaling about their days.
Their response… “But mom, our day is no different than any other kids who are stuck at home and doing schoolwork online.”
And although they were right, I reminded them about Anne Frank and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Did their lives really look that much different than that of their closest friends at the time? Probably not. They each likely knew many, many others in the same impossibly difficult situations that they faced. They were just ordinary kids, facing extraordinary circumstances – but we remember them because they wrote it down.
We remember their story, not because it was outstandingly different from the others during the time, but because they captured it for us in such detail that we finally understood what they all faced.
Day by day, the most significant global event in our lifetime is unfolding. For most of us, we do not realize the magnitude of it. Many are spending their days, safely tucked inside their homes, watching movies, reading books and living at a slower pace. Yet, even this is worth capturing.
Journaling about these difficult times, what your day-to-day activities look like and what emotions are running through you has value. Your words will one day help another gain perspective as they face their own struggles. Your words paint a picture about this moment in time, the good and bad, as it unfolds in front of your eyes.
Today, I encourage you to begin to document your story.
Here are 5 simple ways to do so:
1. Start journaling. Free flow words about your day and how you are feeling. It doesn’t have to be structured or pretty, just start.
2. Create. Dig out a blank canvas, piece of paper, or even a broken-down cardboard box. Lay out the emotions and challenges you face through paint, collage or pottery.
3. Create a bullet gratitude journal. Simply bullet out 10 things you are grateful for every single day. It can be as simple as a cup of tea to end your day or a phone call from a friend.
4. Take photos. Document what you house looks like during this time. Is it tidy and neat? Chaotic and messy? Take a photo of your dog curled up on the couch or the spring buds sprouting on your trees. Photography captures the fine details we tend to miss in the everyday.
5. Interview your family and friends. Connect through a video call or letter. Ask them fun easygoing questions about their favorite things or get into deep conversation about their life and their greatest joys, challenges and heartbreaks.
These are just a handful of ideas of how you can capture and share your story. Even though almost everyone in the world is facing this epidemic right now, each of our stories are vastly different.
Your story is worth capturing, it is worth documenting and keeping for future generations. Your story can only be told by you. It’s time to seize it.
Hi! I'm Jessy, one of the co-owners of The Norway Center Store and co-authors of the book Faith Over Fear: Walking Angie Home. My husband Kyle and I live in an old general store, converted to residence, with our three kids, Ally, Charley and Rad and our German Shephard dog. You will usually find me with paint on my clothes creating my next repurposed piece.