Fuel Your Walk Friday

Fuel your walk with some Jesus and Joe.

I love Jesus and I love me an iced cuppa fresh cold brew halved with vanilla almond milk, so I recently started something new on my blog called “Fuel Your Walk Fridays”. What better way to combine the two and perk up the beginning of your weekend, than to “Fuel Your Walk” with some Jesus and Joe. Once a week, I will be posting a little snippet, thought, or questions to ponder in relation to your walk with Christ. So grab your favorite mug, pour yourself a delicious cuppa Joe and get comfy as you let these questions percolate in your mind:

In His Word, 1 Timothy 6:12 says to Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Living in a world fraught with unrest and strife, how will you continue to fight the good fight of faith? In your life, what does fighting the good fight look like to you? And in the midst of that fight, how will you be a light for others?

Copyright © 2021 Aimee Phillippi

Who He Is and Why We Can Trust

Being abandoned by my father in my early teen years, shattered my heart into a million pieces. This trauma taught me that it wasn’t safe to trust and I’ve grappled with it ever since. I want to trust my Heavenly Father with childlike faith, but there’s this part of me that won’t let go completely. Day by day, He’s showing me I can trust Him more, and He’s slowly healing pieces of my broken heart through my writing. He gave me the idea to dive into His word and see what it says about who He is and why we can trust Him. Here’s what His Word says about who He is-

Our Heavenly Father is:

*Love

The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.] -1 John 4:8 (AMP)

*The God of all comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God. -2 Corinthians 1:3-4

* Never Changing

I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. -Malachi 3:6

*The Prince of Peace

Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] -John 14:27 (AMP)

*Good

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! -Psalm 34:8

*Our Healer

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. -Psalm 147:3 (AMP)

*Trustworthy

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? -Numbers 23:19

*The Truth

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:6

*Our Forgiver

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32

*Slow to anger and rich in love

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. -Psalm 145:8

*Accepting

Therefore, [continue to] accept and welcome one another, just as Christ has accepted and welcomed us to the glory of [our great] God. -Romans 15:7 (AMP) ?

*A God of justice

And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice. -Psalm 50:6

*Gracious and righteous

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. -Psalm 116:5

*Always with us

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. -Joshua 1:5

*Our Helper

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

*A merciful and compassionate God

For the Lord your God is a merciful and compassionate God; He will not fail you, nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.- Deuteronomy 4:31

*Wise

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. -Jude 1:25

*Gentle

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. -Matthew 11:29

*Faithful

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation] and will protect and guard you from the evil one. -2 Thessalonians 3:3 (AMP)

*Our Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. -Psalm 23:1

*Giving

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not 8perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

*Kind

in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— -Ephesians 2:7-8

*Our Protector

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. -Psalm 32:7

After seeing this list, are you asking yourself the same question I am? How can we not trust Him fully? He is an amazing God!

Tested to Purify

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. -1 Peter 1:6-7

When the storms are raging all around us, and the trials are piling up in heaps, how to we hold onto our faith and how do we count it all joy? These are the questions I am asking myself right now.

If faith is believing even when we cannot see, and we are supposed to walk by faith, not by sight, maybe I’m just not seeing yet. Yet is the key word. I may be blinded right now to what’s up ahead, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Maybe, just maybe, He has something waiting around the bend that is far better than I can imagine. This is faith and hope and I’m going to hold onto it. Just because I can’t see, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. He knows the plans He has for us, and He tells us that they are plans to prosper us and not harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. We can clutch onto this piece of Truth. But, that isn’t to say that we aren’t in the fiery furnace right now or that it’s easy to hang onto our faith.

As the hurricane of life sweeps in, He tells us to continue to be faithful. How though, when it’s all so heavy and it hurts? And then when we become flooded with doubts? One way we do this is by nourishing ourselves in the Word and soaking up His teachings, so that we can keep putting one foot in front of the other in a Christlike manner. His Word is refreshment for our souls. We read and we memorize. We tuck His words deep into our hearts so we don’t forget them. His Word is a lifeline to the One who carries us, the One who is hope.

We put our hope in our Father and we realize that He is doing something bigger here-He is training us and growing our faith during these times. And if we are afraid of the unknown or we can’t see a way out of the flames, we rise above our fear and we choose to trust. We make that choice and act as if we trust, even when it appears that the dark clouds will never make way for the sun to shine again. We continue to stand firm in Him, trusting that He knows what’s best for us and that He has our best interests in mind. Because He does.

And the joy part. This is where I stumble. How do we consider these trials joy? And how do we feel some joy in the inferno?

For one, we keep our eye on the prize. We will have trouble this side of Heaven. This is a given. Yet, Heaven is our reward and we have to continue to persevere and run the race for Him. We have to sacrifice our comforts now, by accepting the pain and suffering, and knowing that we will be blessed beyond measure later. We remember that this agony we are enduring in this moment will be nothing compared to the joy we will experience when we receive the crown that He has for us. So we look up and keep our focus on what is waiting for us. We can do something else though, too.

Phillipians 4:8 tells us “…whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” We think about the things in front of us that are lovely and praiseworthy and true and right. These are things that can give us joy now.

And worshiping Him in the pain will also bring us joy and peace. We raise our hands, crank up the Christian jams and we sing and dance through the pain and frustration, rejoicing in Him. He will comfort our hearts and give us the gift of joy, despite our circumstances.

In 1 Timothy 4: 8-10, Paul writes to Timothy, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” Then he states “This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our HOPE is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people.” The struggles will be there. He says that, but so is He, because where He is, our hope lies. And He never wavers.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. -Psalms 112:7

Snipped and Pruned

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. -John 15:2-6

When I was younger, I hated my hair. Then, I grew to love it. It was usually long, and always curly. Growing up, I’d hear the typical straight-haired comments- “Do you know how much money I spend at the salon to get hair like yours, getting a permanent?” or “You’re so lucky to have that kind of hair.” After I got married, and because we were trying to be frugal, I began letting my husband cut my hair-yes, I know-pretty shocking. I previously spent an upward of $65-not including a tip, just for a decent cut. Realizing my husband could do a better job than most stylists, I slowly began to trust him with my precious curls.

Well, about a week ago, I decided I wanted it a few inches shorter. I was tired of washing it, tired of styling it. It always ended up in a messy bun anyhow.

Sitting on the stool, he began hacking away like Edward Scissorhands. I realized I didn’t even care if he chopped too much off. This was pretty huge for me. Any other time and I would be constantly feeling and looking to make sure he didn’t cut an extra millimeter more than what I had instructed him. Tonight was different though. As the ringlets fell to the ground, it was as if a weight was dropping off of me and I just let it happen-without the worry, without the control. I let go and let whatever happen, happen.

Then, it dawned on me. This was symbolic of me dropping the weight of my life-my will, my ideas about how I think I should live, how we should raise our family, and instead, surrender to His will and what He wants for me and my family. It was about acceptance, surrendering to what is and where He has placed our family temporarily. That simple moment was about letting go and accepting right now for exactly what it is.

And as I sat there, I began thinking about how I’m in this season of pruning. God is in the process of trimming all of the dead branches to make way for the new shoots, the new fruit that he is beginning to produce in me. As He does this, I’m feeling a bit empty and bare. He’s stripping me of all I thought I was, in order to become more Christlike. It’s as though I’m being stripped of the bark to allow the good clean wood underneath to be used. Like when a log cabin is built, if the logs aren’t peeled first, the wood will begin to rot. It will decay. My life was once like this. It was in a state of decay because I wasn’t abiding in Him. and I didn’t even realize it. I was swimming up stream, getting caught in a vortex, and I couldn’t get out. I was getting nowhere, but I continued to live like I thought I knew best. This is self-will, my friends. And self-will never got me to where I truly wanted to be.

What I thought made me me, maybe wasn’t really me at all. Once, this social worker with a career that I worked so hard to obtain, running in this perpetual rat race, striving to be this super mom by chugging coffee all day long in order to fuel this fatigued body that was slowly breaking down, I was only sleeping three to five hours per night at most. I was the mom trying to make sure our girls got a top-notch education at a private Christian school, aiming to throw them Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, stressing about the perfect Christmas, making sure they were in the right after school activities. It was always about having the best and trying to be the best, but I see now that I wasn’t really living for Him at all. I was striving and striving and I didn’t need to.

I had it all backwards. See, I thought my identity lain in what I accomplished, but once those things were ripped from me and I drove myself into the ground too far for my health to bounce back, He kept me down so I could learn to have faith in Him-especially in the trials, to find my identity in Him-not in the world and not in my accomplishments, and He taught me and continues to teach me to trust Him more fully. I’m learning that my sole purpose in life is to love Him and love others like He does-His way, not mine. And despite the trials, His way is so much better. I’m home with my kids, homeschooling them and teaching them about Jesus daily. My husband has a work from home job, so we can travel and live wherever He wants us. I have less stress in my daily life and I’m healing. Our life is much simpler. We no longer own a lot of “stuff”, but we have Jesus, we have each other, and I’m slowly regaining my health. It is just enough and I have His peace, which far surpasses anything this world can give.

Even with all of the hardship we have experienced, we are extremely blessed. I see these blessings more frequently and more abundantly when I step aside and He is able to work, but this requires me to pick up His cross daily, and die a little more to myself. It’s a conscious effort and decision I must make every single day to turn my life and my will over to Him.

So let us continue to abide in Him, surrendering completely to His will. For only He can produce the fruit we truly desire. And only He can make us more like Him each and every day, But, and it’s a humungo BUT-we must continue to do this big thing-remain in Him. If we remain in Him, He will keep producing the good fruit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Because apart from Him, we can do nothing. My efforts on my own, have proven futile.

Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit -John 12:24

Let Him be Our Ice Bridge

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. -Psalms 62:5

This piece goes out to one of my dearest friends, who is needing some hope. I pray that this may speak to her, and that I can be a vessel, spreading His love to those reading this.

There are times when all we have left is that sliver of hope. That teeny tiny flicker of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel, feels so far away. We need Jesus all the time, but these are the times we need Him the most-the times when instead of trying to let the problems swirl in our minds for hours on end, driving us mad because we don’t have the answers-these are the times when we need to reach for Him. And we can ask Him to fight for us. If we can’t fix it and we don’t have answers to these huge mountains of problems, we reach for Him. We hope in Him and we wait in Him. We can thrust our load upon Him and He will carry it. He will fight for us because He is a BIG, BIG God who is for us, and not against us.

It’s those times that we feel like we are going to break, that we put everything we’ve got into grasping hold of Him and not letting go, because He is the One who will sustain us. If all we can do is whisper softly-“Jesus, help me,” we do that. We hold onto the hope of the His Word and meditate on it day and night, because it is alive and powerful-sharper than any two-edged sword. We hand over the load we can’t fix, and we rest in Him. We wait upon Him, having faith and not allowing the fear to overtake us. When I am weary and I am worried and I am burdened, I imagine taking those worries and problems and dumping them into His Mighty hands so I no longer have to hold them. Then, I close my eyes and picture myself curled up in His palm, resting in peace, and He gives me comfort, because He is all I need.

And then we trust in Him, even when we don’t understand. We trust Him with all our hearts, and do not lean on our own understanding. Jesus says we do not understand right now what He is doing, but someday we will. In the winter, ice bridges form over the rivers here in Alaska. When crossing a frozen body of water, we have to trust that the ice bridge will hold us and get us over to the other side. God is that ice bridge of faith and even though we don’t understand what’s going on underneath the surface, we trust that He will keep us from cracking and tumbling into the frigid waters of fear and despair. He will hold us up and get us to the other side, but there is something else we can do too.

We can serve. Whether this be calling a friend to listen to how their day is going, picking up a few items at the grocery store for an elderly neighbor who can’t get out, or praying fervently for a family member, this gets our minds off of our problems. It not only blesses another, but it blesses us with joy in the process.

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. -Psalms 62:8

A Father to the Fatherless

And he will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ -Psalm 89:26

My earthly father failed me. He failed me hard and I haven’t been the same since. Walking out that door at the age of thirteen, he turned my world upside down and I have never looked at it like I once had. A life where I felt safe and secure, suddenly became painful and scary. And it wasn’t like he just disappeared completely. He was still “around” after the divorce, but he chose not to parent me. The man I was supposed to be able to depend on, left me high and dry numerous times. He wasn’t trustworthy. The amount of pain, rage, and sadness I felt from him leaving, haunted me for years. One day though, something changed.

I remember hearing God firmly declare “I am your Father”. It was at that point that I realized I needed to stop looking back and instead look up to the One who has always been there. He is our rock and He will never forsake us. Our Heavenly father will strengthen us and help us. He will uphold us with his righteous right hand. He is not human, like our biological fathers are. And He will not harm us, like humans can.

Chasing his own selfish dreams, my dad caused me a lot of damage, including the need to have control in my life. It has taken me years to forgive my earthly father and trust my Heavenly Father. I’m still learning. I’m learning to surrender each part of my life to Him because He is ultimately in control. I’m learning to let go slowly and pry my fingers off of each thing that I hold dearly. And it’s scary to loosen my grasp. I don’t have to grip everything so tightly though. I have to consciously remind myself that I am safe and that surrendering my life to Him doesn’t mean I’m going to lose my life, rather, if I hold onto my life, I will.

I am not the teenager I was the night he left us and my Heavenly Father is not my earthly one. I have to remember that He wants what’s best for me. Actually believing this is one of the things I struggle with the most. But, He is love, even when He allows hardship and trials in our lives. In fact, by allowing trials in our lives, He is being a loving Heavenly Father, whether we see it at the moment or not. He is making us more like Him and this is a most loving act. Using trials to prune and shape us into who He wants us to be, He is helping us to become our best selves. He has our backs. And, He is always with us. He is for us and not against us. It is ok to let go.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. -Matthew 10:39

Running on Empty but Full of Grace

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. -Matthew 14:17-21

Yesterday was a tough day. I’ve had a lot of those lately-days where hanging onto Him is all I can do. Today though, He poured out the blessings. Since our second move in two months-the first across the country, and the second just last week, money has been tight. We were unprepared to replace things once again lost to toxic mold and although we have a stockpile of canned food that we were trying to save in case of an emergency, we were running low on our typical supply of fresh meat. With just $20.88 left in our budget to purchase meat for the next ten days, I’ll admit, I was stressing a bit. It’s so easy to do, isn’t it? The world tells us that we have to figure it all out on our own, that we have to meet our needs in our own strength, but guess what? This isn’t true-because He knows just what we need and He is the Great Provider. He not only cares about our every need, He is our biggest need. And when we keep the faith and we trust Him even during the most trying of times, when we run to Him instead of our addictions or our distractions, we can be sure that He will always be there for us, filling us up with His love. He showed me today that He had us. I didn’t need to stress. I didn’t need to worry. He had us and He has you too.

He intervened today at the grocery store in a most peculiar, but incredible way. I have no doubt whatsoever that it was Him. When my husband ran to the store, I told him to just grab one $11 pack of chicken and we would somehow make what we have stretch. God had another plan though and he blessed the socks off of us. Typically, I would buy about $110 worth of chicken for our family of four, for a two week period. We needed a few other things to get by for the next two weeks as well, and twenty dollars just wasn’t enough. I was so wrong, because about twenty minutes after my husband left, I got the call from the parking lot. 

He called to tell me that as he had meandered his way toward the seafood department at Fred Meyer-still several feet away from the poultry section, an employee, out of nowhere, asked “Sir, are you looking for organic chicken breast?” A bit confused by how this man would know this, my husband looked around to make sure the worker was talking to him. The man was looking straight at my husband, while holding up a package of chicken breast, stating that it was currently 49 cents a pound. My husband told the man, that yes, actually he was looking for organic chicken, but he was perplexed by the price (it’s normally $6.99 a pound). The man stated that today is the sell by date and so the chicken would need to be eaten or frozen by tomorrow. My husband asked how many he had and the meat department employee answered “eleven packs.” My husband, humored by it all and oh so grateful, with a huge grin, later told me “I came for $11 worth of chicken, and He gives me 11 chickens instead!” Only God can do that. And the total cost of the chicken and few other grocery items he picked up? $19.88! Exactly $1 less than what was left in our budget!

That wasn’t all though. God did something else. I wanted to buy our girls some new colored pencils and erasers for school, but with extras we had to purchase due to the move, there was just no money to get them this paycheck. As my husband walked out of the grocery store, he found $12 rolled up on the ground outside. It was as though God dropped the perfect amount from the sky to be able to purchase the school supplies.

And He poured out yet another blessing tonight. New to Alaska cabin life, we are learning just how chilly it is. The wood floors are always freezing cold and slippers are a must. A day ago, my husband showed me that the entire front sole of his slipper had come apart and he was hoping to buy a new pair. I could tell he was bummed when I broke the news that there was not enough money leftover right now to do so. He had attempted to sew through the rubber sole, but I knew they wouldn’t last much longer. God reminded me of two $10 coupons sitting in my Zappos online shoe store account that I was given when they did not deliver my last purchase on time. With those coupons and a $1.00 VIP credit, I was able to order my husband a brand new pair of comfy slippers that cost $27.99, and I got them for just $7.20! He cares about us, y’all. EVERY LITTLE DETAIL. He cares about it all.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. -Matthew 6: 25-33

Riding Shotgun all the Way

We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps. -Proverbs 16:9

We pulled out of a campground in Central Washington with everything we owned packed into a bright yellow school bus and our mid-sized SUV. After months of praying, God opened a door for us to live in Alaska. Having camp hosted at one of our favorite spots all summer long and eager to begin our newest adventure, we headed for the Canadian border. With borders closed due to Covid-19 though, getting there would prove to be a huge challenge.

Like much of our lives nothing went as planned. Isn’t that how life often is though? We think we are headed in a certain direction, the route mapped out in our heads, and then we come to an abrupt stop or we must take a detour. Many times, the detour proves to be a rugged mountain we weren’t expecting to climb. Whenever the terrain is rough and there is a slope in front of us, however, we can count on Him to help us scale it, no matter how steep it is or how unprepared we think we may be to do this next hard thing. We can count on Him because He is our strength and He is our refuge. He is our resting place and we can rest in the shadow of His wings when we need it most.

I need Him all the time, but I most definitely needed Him on this move. He was my strength during this hard thing I still cannot believe I did. And I ONLY did it because He was with me every inch of the way, giving me strength when I needed it most-a time when our big plans were completely thwarted. And anyone that truly knows me, knows I don’t do well when plans change. Well, guess what? Our plans drastically changed.

Despite having all of our ducks in a row and speaking with what we thought was the border crossing three times in the weeks before leaving Washington to make sure our “plan” was kosh, passing through Canada was looking grim. As we stood there at the border at 9 o’clock at night, with our nerves barely intact, all of our belongings in tow, two restless kiddos, and nowhere but Alaska to go, the combative Canadian border officials shook their heads and scoffed at us, stating that our quarantine plan was a “no-go”. Grilling us about why we needed to cross the border, they were not finding our reason to move good enough to let us cross. It was time to pray, pray, and pray some more. We had already put down a deposit on a rental cabin in Alaska, and there was no backup plan in place if they didn’t let us cross. We had to cross, but at the same time, we did our best to put it all in His hands.

As the darkness of the night set in, and we continued to be interrogated for at least an hour and the border agents whispered among themselves about our situation, one officer aggressively questioned if we had the finances to change our quarantine plan. She showed us a list of specific hotels along a another route, telling us that if they were to allow us to cross, the hotel names, nights staying and reservation confirmation numbers would need to be provided right then and there. We were threatened that someone “would come knock” to check that we were there, and told we had to make it through Canada to Alaska in two and a half days, a forty hour drive. Could we do it, she quizzed us? My husband and I looked at each other and nodded that we could, although I was not entirely sure two and a half days was nearly enough time, heck, I was nervous about our original four and five day plan, camping-and we did not know if we really had the extra funds for staying in these hotels. It was a big move and we had budgeted just enough to get us there. The agent strictly stated that we had to have enough food and water on hand to get us through and that there was to be “no recreating”, no camping, no stopping at grocery stores, eating in restaurants or going inside gas station marts along the way. If we did, we faced a one million dollar fine and up to 3 years in jail. And, as if my anxiety wasn’t already sky high traveling during a pandemic with a chronic illness, she also threw in that there was currently an American sitting in jail because he didn’t follow these orders and couldn’t pay the $750,000 fine for going off course. But, after much hesitation and intimidation, they gave us the green light to pass through.

We crossed the border into a foreign country just after 10pm, in the dark and had to drive another 9 hours to make it to our newly confirmed quarantine location. Although we made it through the biggest hurdle, this was just the beginning. After getting turned around, our 9 hours turned into thirteen, so at that point, I had been driving for a total of twenty hours since leaving Central Washington. We were still 3 hours away from making it to our first hotel stop and it was already 8:30am, just a couple of hours before checkout time. I had our girls in the car and I knew I couldn’t keep driving safely. Starting to get delirious, physically and emotionally, I knew I had to stop. This was not allowed, however, and it would completely throw us off course, not getting us to any of our required destinations on time. This perpetuated my anxiety. I tried to pull over and take a short break to see if I could continue driving, but instead I broke down. Either He was going to have to take the wheel and help us get there, or we weren’t going to make it. There was only one way through and it included Him. I had to make a conscious choice to put my faith in Him over and over again because my anxiety would not let up and I was far from calm. Fiercely praying, I asked my husband and our girls to do the same.

I had to pray constantly and just trust. The pressure of not having anyone to swap me out and drive part way there, the stress of plans being turned upside down, struggling day to day with my chronic illness, along with the time constraint and threats of jail time if I didn’t make it, staying in hotels during Covid, and my own thoughts running wild with “what if’s”, was too much. My anxiety was crippling and it was making me physically ill. I felt stuck, but there was no turning back now, so I reached for the One that I knew would help me. There was no doing this huge thing without Jesus, because with Him, all things are possible. They may not go as planned, not even the second time, but with Him, they are possible.

He didn’t completely take away the anxiety, but He drove next to me every mile of that journey. See, He may not take away the hard things, but He will walk with us-or rather, drive with us. We ended up stopping in places that were not on that list, having to go into a gas station store because we couldn’t pay at the pump, and meanwhile were getting several calls a day from the Canadian Health Authority. I called the Canadian/Alaskan border to let them know we would be late. The border official I spoke with on the phone was shocked we were given just two and a half days to get through and said she would have never given anyone that little time to make it. She stated that she would make a note of our late arrival, although we would still be “flagged”.

On Friday afternoon, the second day, around 4:30pm, we made it to Smithe, BC, and my husband accidentally hit the curb parking our school bus. The wheel immediately began leaking fluid and the tire shop across the street wouldn’t touch it. Again, reaching for Him was it, because my mind immediately went to “it’s 4:30pm on Friday and our bus is breaking down. How on earth are we going to make it now and who is going to have a part to fix an American Bluebird school bus on a Friday afternoon right before close with no appointment?” I called two mechanics. The first said we would not be able to drive it further than a few miles to have him look at it-then maybe he could have it fixed by Monday. That wouldn’t work. The other was willing to look at it right then. This was blessing number one. Blessing number two came when that mechanic fixed the wheel in ten minutes for $25 and we were on our way, something only He could have orchestrated.

After the quick fix, we headed to the second hotel, a day late, only to find out the room was moldy. Because we are highly sensitive to mold after living in a home with toxic mold and getting extremely ill, we had to leave. Being a weekend night, no other hotels in town had rooms available, but we happened to find a beautiful remote cabin just outside of town in a Native village, cheaper than the hotel. Again, I prayed and then prayed some more. We were off course and I’m a rule follower-so the anxiety was creeping in every chance it could. See His hand in it all though? He directed our steps and He had us the entire time, even on that dirt road-that rough terrain, late at night driving seven miles up to a remote cabin in an SUV and a school bus. Once again, He had us. 

On day three, we drove several hours, getting us as far as the Yukon Territory, which had its own Covid checkpoint. Being stopped and questioned-especially being late and not having followed our quarantine route, was yet another anxiety-ridden event. Since we were off course already, our current plan was to drive as far as possible to get to Alaska as quickly as possible. We just wanted out of Canada. Again, we had to stay at a different hotel than we had given to the Canadian border agents.

The next afternoon, being so last minute, as we drew closer to Alaska, I scrambled to find a place to reserve once we made it there. There was just one cabin left in the nearest Alaskan town of Tok that allowed dogs. This was blessing number three. That evening we made it to the Canadian-Alaskan border and crossed without issue. We made it to Alaska, ya’ll! And He made it possible. There is no way I could have made that drive on my own without His help and strength. And our plan to camp, which we thought was a better quarantine plan, was actually not a good plan at all. With temperatures dropping into the 30’s at night, we would have frozen, instead God kept us safe and warm in two beautiful log cabins, cozy hotel beds and hot baths to rest and relax in. It was His plan that prevailed and it was better than ours. Even with the extra hotel stays, He had it covered. When I budgeted our move, I had hoped we had a sufficient amount to get us there, but I hadn’t accounted for the difference in currency. The change in quarantine plan from camping to hotel stays that was required by the Canadian border officials, didn’t stop us from getting to our destination because He accounted for it. With the U.S. to Canadian exchange rate, it was just enough to cover our lodging. Sometimes He gives us just enough. This was one of those times. His plans triumphed and it was all we needed. There are times when we think we know what we need, but He knows better. He knows what we need and we can trust that.

Looking back, I wish I had trusted more. My anxiety wasn’t pretty. Despite reaching for Him constantly, I let fear in more than I should have, but I see the blessings He provided in these trials and I have learned to trust Him that much more. My faith is stronger because of this adventure. And despite the ugly anxiety rearing its head on more than one occasion, our girls got to witness us leaning on Him to get us through.

With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. -Matthew 19:26

10 Ways to Stay Anchored to Him

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. -James 4:8

Anchored Action Plan

Anchoring yourself to Jesus is about maintaining a connection and trusting Him, even when you don’t understand His ways. And in order to maintain a connection with anyone important to you, you have to make time for that relationship to blossom. A relationship can’t be expected to flourish if you don’t put in the time. Here are 10 ways to anchor yourself to Jesus so when the storms of life hit, you will rise instead of sink:

  1. Spend time with Him first thing in the morning. I have set aside a time each morning when I first wake up to pray, read a daily devotional, and read a section from my Bible. This allows Him to get into my head before anything else does. It focuses my day and helps me keep my eyes on Jesus.
  2. Praise Him by worshiping Him through song or verbal admiration. I do both. During my quiet time in the mornings, I will verbally praise Him. Other times, I will turn on Christian music and worship him, raising my hands to feel closer to Him.
  3. Shoot prayers up to Him often. Whether it’s a simple “help me, Jesus” or a longer prayer, connect with Him throughout each day. I know I cannot truly live without His help, so I do this often. Sometimes, it’s a prayer to help me be more patient with our girls. Sometimes, it’s a prayer asking Him for help letting go of my anger.
  4. Practice gratitude as often as possible during the day by thanking Him for even the smallest of blessings. I’ve tried to make it a habit to thank Him several times each day for things that can easily be taken for granted-such as my family, running water and food in our cupboards.
  5. Take a break from social media. I’m currently “fasting” from Facebook. Facebook was a huge waste of precious time that could have been spent nurturing my relationship with Jesus and my family. Instead, I was showing a sliver of the reality of my life to many people that weren’t nearly as important to me as the relationships I should have been nurturing. It was a complete time suck and a distraction from my priorities. Becoming less distracted and more present in Him, is when I hear God most. It was actually during this “fast” that He put it on my heart to tell my story through this blog.
  6. Meditate on His Word. Choose a verse and meditate on it throughout the day or listen to a Christian meditation app at night before bed.
  7. Serve. Do something for Him. Use your gifts to give to others and do it joyfully. This can be as time consuming as you make it. Sending someone a card or text with an encouraging word and Bible verse can be done in just a few minutes. Serving is an area I am really working on incorporating more into my life. Not only am I doing something for God, but the rewards of peace and joy are a real blessing.
  8. Talk to Jesus about anything and everything, either silently or on paper. If writing is your thing, do it in the form of a letter or journaling. Have conversations like you are having with your best friend, at any time of the day. Tell Him your deepest thoughts, struggles, and feelings. He loves and cares about YOU! It was during my darkest moments lying in bed chronically ill, that I really learned to communicate with Him and came to know how much I need to keep that line of communication open.
  9. Listen. God speaks in many different ways. In order to hear Him though, distractions must be set aside. When I am distracted, checking out on social media or in a Netflix marathon, I’m not able to hear Him. My mind is not focused on Him and I miss the connection. It is in connecting with Him and maintaining that connection that I hear Him most.
  10. Obey. If He says “move,” move. When I hear Him and don’t listen, it never works to my benefit. Not only am I sinning, I miss the blessing He has for me and the consequences are not worth it. Being stubborn and strong-willed, this has been a hard lesson to learn. I am a work in progress. Picking up His cross and dying to myself daily is a constant challenge.

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. -Psalm 145:18