Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fiction Friday: Girls of the Covenant

Summer Camping (Mis)Adventure, Part II: S’mores ‘n More

Catch up on part one and the intro to this exciting series before you read!

“I still don’t understand why we have to – Oh my gosh, that bug’s ENORMOUS!” Miriam shrieked, jumping back and using Rachel as a human shield.

Rachel’s face lit up, and she squatted down to get a closer look. “Ooh, you’re a little Hercules beetle, aren’t you?” she cooed. She picked the insect up by its hard carapace and put him (or her) on the shoulder of her pink shirt.

Tammy laughed as Miriam watched the beetle with horrified fascination. “You don’t seem like the type to be into bugs, Rachel,” the tall girl said. “I thought you’d hate this whole camping/hiking thing.”

“How can anyone not love them?” Rachel asked. “They’re pretty and intricate and tiny. Only God would put so much care into making something most people never see.”

“That thing’s twice the size of a quarter,” Miriam muttered. “I’d hardly call that tiny.”

“Found another pet, sis?” Leah asked, catching up to them on the trail.

Rachel plucked the beetle from her shirt and proudly displayed it, looking like she was ten years younger than she actually was. “An Eastern Hercules,” she said. “I’ll have to take a picture when we get back to the campsite – I don’t have one of those yet.”

Dinah peered around from behind Leah’s back and giggled as the beetle rotated its spiky legs and Miriam squeaked, jumping to hide behind Tammy.

Sara stopped at the bend in the trail ahead and looked back, rolling her eyes. “Are you guys coming, or am I going to have to hike by myself?”

“Coming,” Leah answered for them. She started after the purple-haired girl, with Dinah following close behind her. Apparently the small girl had decided that Leah, the quietest member of the group, was the safest person to stick to. Rachel came next, hardly watching where she was going as she scanned the trail and the nearby trees for more interesting insects, the beetle once again stuck to her shoulder. Tammy came next, with Miriam still using the tall Asian girl as a shield to protect herself from any unwanted nature.

The hike was beautiful, the packed-earth trail winding through the trees uphill, skirting ravines with creeks bubbling through rocks, as well as deeper valleys filled with giant trees that had stood for decades. They were almost even with the tops of these behemoths from their position on the trail along the valleys’ edges. Everything was cast in a cool green light from the sun filtering down through the dense foliage. It was silent, with the exception of birdsong and the sound of running water. They were far enough into the forest that they couldn’t even hear the roar of traffic.

An hour into the hike, Rachel’s search for bugs was abandoned in favor of chatting up the young, attractive park ranger they’d stumbled across.

Leah rolled her eyes. She was continually amazed by her little sister’s ability to find men to flirt with, even in the middle of the woods. It was probably a super power. She would be the first to admit that her sister was attractive, but she couldn’t understand why Rachel felt like she constantly had to be the center of attention. She was pretty and smart. Why couldn’t she see her value for herself, instead of looking for it in other people’s reactions?

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of sliding earth and rocks and a soft scream.

Leah spun around, expecting to see Miriam backing away from a butterfly or something, but instead she saw nothing. Older sister instincts kicking in, she did a quick headcount. Rachel was to the right of the trail, deep in conversation with the ranger, with Miriam looking on, one eyebrow raised. Sara and Tammy were both staring up into an old oak tree, apparently fascinated by some kind of wildlife perched in its branches. Dinah…

Where was Dinah?

Leah raced towards where she’d last seen the small girl, leaning to one side of the trail, watching something in the valley below. Apprehension twisted in her gut when what she saw only confirmed her fears: the leaf-covered gravel at the side of the path had been ripped away, leaving only dark earth.

“Dinah?” she called, creeping forward carefully to look down over the edge, dreading what she might see. Something in her voice, some of her fear or worry, caught Rachel’s attention, making her jerk her head out of her flirting and hurry over. The other girls, terrified understanding dawning on their faces as they grasped what was happening, followed.

Dinah hadn’t fallen all the way to the valley floor, thank God. She was huddled on a ledge about ten feet down, looking so tiny in her green sweater. She looked up at the sound of Leah’s voice. “I’m okay,” she said weakly. But when she tried to stand, she grimaced and collapsed back against a tree trunk. She sank back down to the ground, cradling her ankle.

Sara was the first to slide down the slope, catching herself on tree trunks on the steep decline. She squatted down next to Dinah and eased the girl’s sock and shoe off of her injured ankle, then lightly explored the joint with her fingers. Tammy was the next one down the slope, followed by the ranger.

“It’s swollen, but not purple,” Sara said, looking up at them. “I’d guess a light sprain.” She quickly looked over the rest of Dinah’s body, checking for other injuries, but all she saw were a few scrapes. “You okay, other than the ankle?” she asked.

The other girl nodded and swallowed hard. “I don’t think I can walk, though,” she whispered.

“Let’s get you up, then,” the ranger said, reaching for her.

But Dinah shrank back from him. “Don’t touch me!” she snapped.

Everyone froze. Quiet, shy, gentle Dinah was yelling at someone?

Then Tammy stepped forward and knelt beside the injured girl. “Is it alright if I carry you?” she asked quietly.

Dinah nodded, avoiding everyone’s gaze as she clambered onto Tammy’s back, wrapping her arms around the taller girl’s shoulders. With Sara and the ranger’s help, Tammy was able to get Dinah back up to the trail, and then back to camp.

Rebekah stood up from her crouch beside the campfire. “Hi, girls, how was the – Dinah! Are you okay?”

“She twisted her ankle,” Miriam said, hovering as Rebekah helped ease Dinah off of Tammy’s back and into a camp chair. Dinah’s face was flushed and she was avoiding eye contact, clearly uncomfortable at being the center of attention. Sara dragged another camp chair over and carefully settled Dinah’s injured foot over the arm, elevating it.

Rebekah’s eyes darted around the campsite, at the tent they’d worked so hard to set up, then to the burgers she had roasting over a painstakingly-made campfire. “It might take us a minute to pack up – “ she started, but was interrupted by Dinah pulling on her arm.

“I don’t want to go back yet,” she said softly, but with a stubborn set to her chin.

Sara stepped up to the smaller girl’s defense. “It’s just a light sprain. She’ll be fine if we keep it iced and elevated and watch for any major discoloration.”

Now everyone gawked at Sara, and she blushed. “My dad’s a paramedic, okay?” she growled. “I’m not totally useless.”

Rebekah glanced back at the ranger, who nodded. “I’m working on my emergency medicine certification, and I’d say that she’s absolutely right. If it takes a turn for the worse, just let us know down at the office.” He nodded at them one last time, then took his leave.

Rebekah looked everyone over, biting her lip in indecision. Everyone was wearing the same stubborn expression. As much as they’d complained about the trip at the beginning, none of them wanted to abandon it now. She sighed, then smiled tightly. “I hope you managed to work up an appetite on the hike, because we’ve got burgers and then more s’mores than you would believe!”

 

When they finally piled into the van the next day, they were worn-out, dirty, and still sticky with marshmallow grum. But each girl was wearing a proud smile, and no ipods, cell phones, books, or video games made an appearance. Instead, the girls decided to find out more about their new sisters. Rebekah, watching in the rear-view mirror, had to fight back tears.

“So, Rebekah,” Miriam asked, pushing her curly hair behind her ear. “What’s your family like?”

The older girl smiled. “Well…”

Do I Measure Up?

By Anita Martinz (originally posted to Flickr as Makeup brush) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you ever play this game?  The one where you say to yourself, “If I could pick just one physical feature to change about myself, what would it be?”  I go back and forth between getting rid of my stomach pooch, making my teeth whiter, or having flawless (and tanner) skin.  To be honest, that’s probably just my short list.

But why do we as girls obsess over our looks so much?  Recently I’ve been reading articles on the beauty-body industry for one of my classes. We’ve discussed reasons such as wanting to impress a significant-other, transforming one’s outside to match the way they feel inside, or for self-worth and confidence.

And while I do think those things are part of it, I KNOW that any solutions we talk about in class will not get at the root issues.  We can blame the media, peer pressure, or men in general for the way that we obsess over our looks and the scummy way we may feel in comparing ourselves to others.  But that will NEVER change unless we find wholeness and beauty in the fantastic and mystifying way that God created each of us so uniquely.  Let’s consider…

Each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

God created very good things (Genesis 1 & 2) including mankind and womankind.

The Lord delights in his people (Zephaniah 3:17).

Are you catching this?  The God of the universe who carved out the depths of the Grand Canyon and paints majestic sunsets and dreamed of hundreds of kinds of butterflies, also made you and me as the pinnacle of creation and in His image (Genesis 1:26-27).

You may have heard this stuff before, but I think it’s something that we need to frequently be reminded of.  We are God’s beloved children, and while it’s easy to get distracted by the world, that fact ought to change how we view ourselves.  Our worth is not caught up in what our society currently deems to be beautiful (have you noticed how fast that changes anwyays?!), but in God’s unconditional love for us.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we can’t care at all about our bodies.  After all, He did make them.  I know I rarely leave the house without mascara because otherwise my eyelashes are practically transparent.  But I can’t let my appearance be my focus or I’ll be trapped in self-absorption.  Ultimately I know that there’s nothing I can do that will increase or change God’s love for me.  And really, His is the only opinion that matters.

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Walking in Darkness?

Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys his servant?
If you are walking in darkness,
without a ray of light,
trust in the Lord
and rely on your God.
But watch out, you who live in your own light
and warm yourselves by your own fires…

Isaiah 50:10-11

Beautiful Things

Photo by Bethany Brown

Ever wonder if God can make beauty from your junk?

I was pondering that very question on my way to work this morning with the above, rather blurry sunrise (one of those that Tiffany says is God-copyrighted, ie. too beautiful to photograph to full justice, not to mention taken on my cell while driving, which I do not recommend) and listening to the Gungor song “Beautiful Things.”

If that doesn’t inspire those of us with junk, I don’t know what will.

This is especially real to me as I’ve been having to do some things lately that are scary for me. I did some of them today as a matter of fact. And I’m constantly reminded that not five years ago, I would have been utterly incapable of some of them. Yet here God is enabling me to do them now.

But still, the problem keeps popping back up in odd places and I wonder … can God really finish this conflict once and for all?

And here’s what He reminds me:

And when I bring you back, people will say, ‘This former wasteland is now like the Garden of Eden! The abandoned and ruined cities now have strong walls and are filled with people!’ Then the surrounding nations that survive will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted the wasteland. For I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I say. Ezekiel 36:35-36

If you’re life feels like a wasteland and you’ll never be able to beat the baggage you carry with you, remember that when God promises, he goes hard after them, even when it takes some time. Watch for what he will do with your ashes. He’s already doing so much with mine. For he the Lord has spoken to you dear girl and he will do what he says.

Summer Plans Part II

By Dunduff (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ever wish God’s plans were as clearly laid out as the plans for a grand castle? They may not be as easy to see, but they’re just as beautiful, which is a little easier to see looking back.

Back in June, I wrote about my uncertainty about my summer job. Now, three months later and a bit into fall semester, I’ve been able to reflect on my experience.
My work this summer was an unexpected blessing and opportunity. I worked with a summer reading program in a small, rural community about forty minutes away from my hometown. I was a mentor to eight elementary-aged children from Monday to Friday for eight weeks. Much of my summer consisted of read-alouds, art activities with LOTS of paint, mealtimes in which I spent more time cleaning up spilled drinks than actually eating, and learning cool tag games like “Giants, Wizards, and Elves.” We even had a lice outbreak toward the end of the program! Ugh!
More than any of that, I enjoyed myself. I was able to get to know my community better, develop some new friendships with some really awesome people, and I was able to help children improve their reading and creative skills. I think my favorite part was that I had the chance to take part in doing something for my community.
At the beginning of the summer, I was afraid that I wouldn’t like my job, that I wouldn’t be good with children, and that I wouldn’t be able to really contribute anything to the program. Throughout the summer God surprised me by providing ways for me to grow and stretch myself and to impact children’s lives, children that He loves and cares for.
In every situation we can learn and grow. There are people all around us, young and not-so-young, who we can impact. It’s not always easy to try to do things we feel unsure about or to try to work in unfamilar situations, but it is often in those places that we learn the most and God surprises us with opportunities to develop new friendships, learn new skills, and make an impact in the lives of others.
As another school year starts and new classes and new teachers can sometimes be scary and intimidating, think about ways you can grow and impact others, and remember that God is with you. As you think of ways, let us know what you come up with!

I was in Love….

Photo by Bethany Brown

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

I was in love.

Well, I thought it was love anyway.

It was the start of my sophomore year of high school, I was looking and feeling way better than I did my freshman year (Anyone else’s awkward preteen years stretch into the early teen years? No? Too bad…) and I just knew that this was going to be THE year…the year that I finally got the guy.

So who was the guy? He was the one who my made heart flutter every time I saw him walking down the hall (in my direction, or just up ahead…it didn’t seem to make a difference to my heart); the one whose schedule, at least by week three, I had mostly figured out so that I could make sure that, wherever possible, my route matched his; the same one that at least three of my other girl friends were also in love with; but mostly, he was the one that needed me.

You like how I twisted that little scenario?

You see, he and I, we sort of had a history. Well, our families had a history…we went “way back” as they say. His family had been marked by a tragedy years before (which is another story entirely) and it directly impacted my family. Because of that relationship, my heart needed to fix his heart. And it didn’t hurt that I found him to be incredibly good looking!

Now I don’t know about you, but for me there was always an anxious excitement that surrounded the start of a new school year. At my high school, we were in four longer classes a day for the fall semester and then four different classes for the spring semester. Depending on the subject, you could be in a room full of students of the same gender or the same grade or a complete mash-up of all genders and grades. That unknown was always a thrill for me, so couple that with the strange increase in my self-confidence that tenth-grade year and I was just really excited for school to start back!

But when that first day arrived, I had worked it up so much in my mind that I had become a nervous wreck. My tummy was turning in circles! I remember being in the shower that morning just pouring my heart out to God. I told Him everything that I was feeling. He already knew, but it felt good to get it out. I told Him the desires of my heart. He already knew, but it is so nice to have a confidante.

I’ll never forget what happened: as clear as day, right there in the shower, I heard the words, “I know the plans I have for you. I KNOW the plans I have for you! I know the plans I have for YOU!”

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139:16

My God knew all that I felt, the good and the bad. Even more than that, He went before me. He wrote my days out before anyone else even knew of my existence.  He had a perfect plan and I needn’t worry anymore.

I was thrilled and petrified all at the same time to find that my love was in one of my classes that semester. It only fed my expectation that this was my year to snag him! But for every day that passed without so much as an acknowledgment from him, for every one of his absences when he never asked me what he missed out on, and for every group project that he didn’t ask me to join…my hope began deflating.

I will have you know that I graduated from high school without ever going on a date with that guy. He never even asked. But he did teach me something.

I WAS in love…with Jesus.

He lets me know I’m loved every day of my life in one way or another. He is NEVER absent! And He wants to be included in every single teeny tiny part of my existence. He always fills in the gaps where I feel like I’m lacking and He has brought just the right people that I need into my life (including an absolutely wonderful man whom I am blessed to claim as my husband).

As this school year begins, can you trust Him with your relationships (friends, acquaintances, romances)? I challenge you to fall in love with Him so that you can fall in love with all the things about you that He created. And as for the rest? Don’t worry! He’s got a plan.

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Shabby Chic mirror

This Friday, instead of fiction, we offer you a little weekend project to have some fun with. Usually we don’t post these till Saturday, but thought you might like a chance to plan ahead. This is a super pretty one I may have to try myself very soon. Enjoy!

At this point, if you have been following these tutorials, you have probably found yourself a nice little thrift store that you have come to rely on. Well for this post you will need to plan another trip for some simple supplies. Before I get to that let me explain the significance of this tutorial. As I grow up I have begun to enjoy things that look old. Not just anything, but things that still carry  beauty which has been enhanced by the years of its existence. Take the antique mirror for example. It is hard to buy a new mirror that looks like an old one and much harder to make a new mirror look like an old one. We will just have to improvise and  not begin with a mirror, but a picture frame. In this tutorial I will show you how to turn a simple picture frame from a thrift store or even one laying around the house into something that can be compared to one of those antique mirrors.

Here is what you will need:

*Krylon Looking Glass spray paint (can be found at Hobby Lobby, I do not suggest substituting with metallic spray paint)

*Krylon Clear Coating spray paint (matte or glossy, should not make a difference)

*1/4 Cup vinegar mixed with 3/4 cup water

*Spray Bottle

*Protected work space

*Paper towels

*Picture frame (size is up to you)

 

Step 1: After you have covered your work area with some kind of protective sheet, get your frame and carefully pull the glass part out of the frame. For now, set aside the rest of the frame. You will not need those parts until the end. Make sure the glass is clean on both sides. I use windex to do the job

You will need to make sure your vinegar/water mix is ready and poured into a spray bottle. You will need it handy pretty quickly after this step. I put my mix in a used windex bottle that had been rinsed out.

Step 2: Take the clean glass and lay it flat onto the covered work area. Shake up the looking glass spray paint for about a minute and take off cap. Spray the glass evenly covering the side facing up. You do not need to spray too close to the glass or you may get runs of paint. I would keep about one foot distance between the spray nozzle and the glass.

You will notice the shade changing as the paint dries, it should dry rather quickly but don’t let it dry all the way before doing step 3.

Step 3: Before the paint dries completely, wait about 3 seconds when done spraying the paint, then squirt the glass with the vinegar/water mix at least one time. Once again, let there be about one foot’s distance between spray nozzle and glass. This should allow good enough coverage with one squirt. Wait another 3 seconds.

Droplets are normal after spraying vinegar/water mix

Step 4: Get a paper towel and lightly spray the paper towel with vinegar/water mix with one foot distance between nozzle and towel. Gently use the paper towel to dab the droplets. Avoid any kind of wiping with the paper towel, it will take off too much of the spray paint. Just dab until you no longer see the droplets. In place of the droplets there will be blank spots as if you have taken of some of the paint. This is what you want, don’t panic.

Step 5: Once you are satisfied with the amount of paint removed and you have the look you want, let it sit to dry.

Note- Feel free to dab as much as you would like. This is your project and you can remove as much of the paint as want. Just remember the goal here is to have a mirror type affect. Sometimes I push my paper towel down and rotate slightly to rub off a little more paint in some spots, but I do this sparingly.

Step 6: Spray the glass, same side, with the looking glass spray paint once again. This will cover up some of those spots we made bare but will not make them dissappear. It will keep it from being too transparent. This adds to making it look like an antique.

Step 7: The final step is the easiest. After the glass has completely dried, pick up the clear coat spray paint (this will also need to be shaken for about a minute)and spray over the looking glass paint. This will help protect it and keep it in tact. You may do as many coats of this as you would like. Wait about an hour then put that beautiful glass back into its frame. The side of the glass that you painted faces you as you place it back in the frame. It is the side that will NOT be seen.

Please remember that you are painting and working on the same side of the glass the entirety of this project.

On the final product in this picture I put some fabric in the frame behind the glass to give it some flare. You can do this with any fabric you choose. Just cut it down to size and place fabric in frame after glass.

It is hard to tell in this picture but you can actually see your reflection when all is said and done. I will warn you though that this will not work the best as just a mirror. It is mostly for decoration purposes, but it does that job very well. Hope you have fun and enjoy the outcome.

Kristi

 

 

 

Falling In Love: Not Just a Story

 

Ken and Elaine

Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you.

A big Unfading hug to anyone who knows that is lyrics from an old Elvis song. A personal high five to anyone who stopped reading and sang the rest of the song. When I was a little girl Elvis played a lot in my house so you can imagine I have a place in my heart for his music. However, this song is mine. I laid claim on it as the ultimate first dance song at a young age and as you know I am a romance skeptic so I take my ownership seriously. I share this little piece of personal history with you because of what my final post on fairytales is about. It is actual the closest thing to a fairytale I have heard.

Ken and Elaine, a couple at my church agreed to let me tell their story and I sat down prepared to do just that with you. I even asked for a special photo of the couple to share, which they so graciously gave us here at Unfading. However, each time what I wrote never seemed to grasp the emotion of Elaine as she recounted memories of her decades spent with Ken to me via telephone the first afternoon of my research for this series.

Her vivid memories of him escorting her to prom and how the slightly older Ken had to hope the in-laws would sign for a 17 year old Elaine to marry the college boy. She spoke of the importance of maturity in a relationship and that even though they waited a few years before they welcomed their son that it was still hard being young in that life. Yet all the while she remembered everything, even the difficult, with a air of happiness and described the love they shared and still share to this day as awesome.

I wanted to tell you a story, but what Ken and Elaine share is not a story. It is a falling in love journey when two people come together and God blesses what they have together. He doesn’t make it error proof or easy, but if both parties and it took a while for Ken on this one, are willing to committ to God, then he will lead and guide them accordingly.

Ken and Elaine practice the art of courageous committment and true love over time beautifully. The best part is that is not a story, but more like as river flows to the sea some things were meant to be, and if God has it in His plan for you to be a two someday and you are open to His direction then someday you will not be able to help falling in love. Thank you for coming on this journey with a skeptic who now likes to hope that the twirling girl that laid claim to old Elvis still twirls waiting for a the right dance partner.

Exercise: What’s the point?

Photo by Mary Sue Brown

So you’ve probably heard all the buzz about how important exercising is to your health.  It helps prevent heart disease, improves your mood, increases your energy and helps you sleep better! While all these health benefits are important, there is a much more important reason.  The most important reason is that it helps you be the best prepared you can to share the Gospel.

How does exercise help? Well, aside from the gym being a good place to meet new people, it helps you to get ready for a missionary lifestyle.  This doesn’t mean that you need to pump some iron before your next mission trip. We are called, in Mark 16:15, to, “…Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.”  This means we are in the mission field all the time. Therefore, when you exercise, exercise to prepare your body for the rigors of this world so you can share the love of Christ with those around you.  Exercise also gives you a time to be quiet.  If you like to run, try running without music and using that time to pray.  If you like to take walks, try walking with a  friend and sharing what is going on in your spiritual life.

How much exercise is healthy? It depends on your body and your schedule. The recommendations say 20-30 minutes three days a week.  It can be anything you want to do that gets you moving. If you love to dance, try an activity like Zumba.  If you’ve always wanted to be a runner, check out a walk-run running plan.  There are plenty of free ones online. If you like to take your time and stretch, try a yoga class or video.

Keep in mind that, despite its benefits, exercise can become an idol. If you find yourself obsessing over when you will exercise, take a break. Taking a few days off may be better for your mental and physical health than plowing forward.  If you have questions about starting to exercise, check with your doctor or the athletic trainer at your school for more information.

What’s your favorite way to exercise?  How does it affect your spiritual life? Let us know in the comments!

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Work out…your faith

Photo by Mary Sue Brown
Exercise … not just for muscles anymore.

“It will get easier as you get stronger,” she told me as I climbed off the machine.

I groaned. Wouldn’t it be better if it were just easier now?

The machine in question is this mechanism of torture whose name I don’t know (though it works your obliques), but it’s part of the exercise circuit at the gym, where I’ve been working out. “She” is the owner of the gym, who was sympathizing with me even as she signed me up to be tortured more by this card that will keep track of my progress and make the workout harder each time.

Now I don’t want you to worry if you’re not into the athletic thing, because this is not going to be a physical fitness post. Actually that comes tomorrow, which kind of inspired me, but no I’m not going to guilt you about exercise, so don’t worry!

Later that day, my mom and I were talking to a friend who had surgery last year that could have fixed her problem, or could have discovered cancer. She talked about being on the operating table, and how there was nothing like the peace of knowing that no matter which result came, God was with her and had a plan.

Whew. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have faith like that. She made it sound so easy. Effortless. Things you do every day, like pouring a bowl of cereal or shampooing your hair.

And I realized that my obliques aren’t the only thing I need to work on.

That’s when God sent me a picture. I’ve got something coming up in my own life I’ve been pretty worried about. Ok, I confess … I wig out every time I think about doing it.

And in that moment, I wished for this incredible woman’s faith so that I can stop being so afraid. I wished I could choose to just stop being afraid, or else that God would fix my problem with not trusting Him enough and make me brave and ready to do His will no matter what.

And the picture of exercising came into my head. Stretching my faith out to its limits to grab the moments of peace I sometimes find where I feel like it’s all going to be ok.

Push the bars out…Pull them back in for more trust in God’s goodness.

Push…Pull for belief that he has a plan even when I can’t see it.

Push…Pull for patience till the day it all becomes clear.

Push…Pull for comfort and courage in the midst of fear.

Now replace the words “Push” and “Pull” with “read your Bible” “pray” “journal about your feelings, what you’re reading and what God’s saying” “spend time worshiping God” “memorize scripture” and things like it.

The more we practice doing these things, even when we feel like it doesn’t make sense, the stronger we get.

“… Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear,” says Phillipians 2:12. God gives us our salvation by grace, we don’t have to work for it, but I truly believe he wants us to work, even to work out, to get stronger in it after we have it.

And it sure helps to do these things in public so that if we’re not sitting up straight enough, or pushing with the wrong part of our foot, or if we’re tempted to skip a day and each nachos and watch TV instead, someone will notice and help us. That’s why going to church and being in a Bible study are important. That’s how I view Unfading too, as a workout room for us to share as we work out our faith.

So come work out with us! I’m told it’ll get easier as we get stronger.