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. 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, quote or question 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:

Oswald Chambers said “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”

How are you praying?

A Way to Praise, Pray, and Ponder

Sometimes it helps to switch up our prayer and praise routine in order to keep us growing and disciplined in our prayer time with God. Click on the links below to download and print my free daily “Praise, Pray, and Ponder Page”. I’ve created two different styles-one for men and one for women. Enjoy!

*These are for personal use only. Permission is not granted to sell my “Praise, Pray, and Ponder Page” printables.

Trust Fall

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to my Father, the Creator of everything on heaven and on earth.-Ephesians 3:14

Are you weary? Are you carrying heavy burdens right now, like I am? Are you struggling with stress or anxiety, even when you try so hard to keep your eyes fixed on Him? Tonight, as I listened to some Christmas music while completing the day’s homeschool tasks, these words spoke to my heart-“fall on your knees”. Fall on your knees, loved one, and come to Him. He wants to fill you with His peace so you can carry on. Take a few moments to bow down and breathe. Press pause. Drop to your knees and spill out your heart. He is the Great Comforter and His ear is all yours.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” -James 4:10

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

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