Tag Archives: Win Today

The One Thing I Know

Riding on the back of a motorcycle is a lot like life.  You have to hold on tight, stay steady, keep your eyes forward and don’t panic.  If you freak out and cause the bike to crash, not only will you cause serious injury to yourself and the driver, but also to everyone around you.  It doesn’t matter how scared you are, just keep looking forward and hold on tight.  Don’t make any sudden movements.  Don’t start crying.  Just breathe.

I rode on the back of John’s motorcycle during the Blessing of the Bikes at Kensington Church several years ago.  John decided to sell his motorcycle that day.  Not because I freaked out (because I didn’t), but because Michigan roads, and people who text and drive and don’t pay attention, could all too easily take him away from his family.  Thankfully, we walked away unharmed that day, but we really didn’t enjoy the ride.

I wish I knew then what I learned on Labor Day 2019.  It would have been a much more enjoyable ride.  Josh Isenhardt spoke at Kensington Church on Labor Day and his message was called “One Thing“.  He encouraged us to add one thing, one small habit, that would change our lives over the course of the next year.  Here’s that message:

And here’s what I wrote to Josh 18 days later:

Hi Josh, I wanted to thank you for the message you gave Labor Day weekend at Kensington CT. “Discipline” is one of my top 5 strengths on Strengths Finder, so I couldn’t imagine what small habit I haven’t already incorporated into my life at 47 years old and 25 years following Jesus. So, as you walked off the stage and the band came up, I asked, “Lord, what’s my action step?” And clear as a bell I heard in my head, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” And then the band started singing “Jesus, I will trust you. I know you never fail”, which I took as confirmation that I heard Him correctly. So, since that day, every time I start to get anxious, even just a hint of anxiety, I repeat to myself, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” and it’s made such a big difference. I know I would have been in tears many times over the last 18 days, but because of that little sentence, He takes the fears away. Thanks so much!! -Beth

In Josh’s message, he recommended the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and I bought it.  I’m about 1/2 way done, and it’s so good that I keep wanting to quote about every other page.  Instead, I’ll just quote one thing and let you buy the book (or grab it from the library) and read it for yourself:

“Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold.  The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed.  You need to be patient.” – Atomic Habits by James Clear, Chapter 1 summary (pg 28)

We need to keep on keeping on.  If we do, we will hit critical mass and we will break the plateau.  But we have to keep moving forward.  “3 steps forward, 2 steps back” actually works out to 4 or 5 steps back because we’re erasing the power of compounding.  Think of it like taking money out of your IRA instead of keeping the money there and letting the interest compound.

Beth Moore’s 2019 Simulcast, called “Strong Sisters” was on September 28th.  If you know Beth, you know she had a whole lot to say that day, but one thing really stood out.  I’ll paraphrase her:

“At what point will we stop doing what keeps un-doing us? … If we’re about to freak out again, are we grabbing hold of what Christ died to give us?”

Wm Paul Young, the author of “The Shack“, said something similar when interviewed by Chris Cook on his September 18th podcast of “Win Today“.  Paul said:

“Who am I without my brokenness?  I’m more comfortable in the prison that I know than the freedom that I don’t know that Christ offers me.”

I immediately asked myself that same question.  Who am I without my brokenness?  Who am I if I don’t freak out when I’m overwhelmed?  What would it look like to be okay?  To move on?  To hold it together?  To press on?

Last week the toilet overflowed twice in 12 hours.  The only reason I wasn’t freaking out was because I kept repeating one thing over and over again, out loud, as I cleaned up the mess:  “Thank you Jesus for indoor plumbing.”

When I woke up the other morning, this song was running through my head.  I’m so thankful to Smile.FM for playing music that stays in your head and pops up at just the right time.  Guess what the song is called?

Here I am
In a river of questions
Can I pour my heart out to a listening ear?
I see this life
Its valleys and mountains
And I think of all the roads that brought me here
I’ve questioned my reasons
The life I’m living
I’ve questioned my ability
To judge wrong from right
I’ve questioned all the things that I’ve ever called certain
My race, my religion, my country, my mind

But the one thing I don’t question is you
You really love me like you say you do
You really love me like you say you do
Hold me
Hold me

I’ve questioned significance
Meaning and relevance
Does the work I’m doing really matter at all?
Well I’ve questioned my friendships
Alliance, dependence
Who will still be here when I fall?

Only one thing doesn’t change
Only one thing stays the same
All I know at the end of the day is your love remains

-Paul Colman, The One Thing

October 19th is my 48th birthday, but I’m no longer on Facebook, so I won’t be posting this there like I have for the last 5 years.  It’s funny.  I found that Facebook was one thing that I really didn’t need.

Jesus is my one thing.  He doesn’t change.  He stays the same.  His love remains.

The Best is Yet to Come

Is there any way to fully capture the feeling of falling in love?  Any way to adequately describe it?  To really do it justice?  It stirs the soul.  Joy-saturated energy rises up from somewhere inside and overtakes you.  In that moment, you can conquer the world.  You can take on any obstacle.  You can overcome any fear.  You can be fully alive.

I just listened to “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” by Switchfoot from their film and album, “Fading West” and that’s exactly what I felt.  Fully alive, overflowing with that joy-saturated energy.

I always enjoyed Switchfoot’s music: “Dare You to Move”, “Meant to Live”, “This is Your Life”.  Good songs.  Great anthems.  Powerful lyrics.  Strong.  Motivating.

But in the summer of 2014, when I first watched the film, “Fading West“, I fell in love.  Not with the guys (although they are adorable), but with the feeling behind this film.  The breath-taking scenery from all over the world, watching the guys surf monstrous waves, play concerts, interact with fans, each other and fellow bands on tour.  And the music.  Oh, that music.  It lifted my soul.  This was actually the beginning, the spark, of everything that happened in the fall of 2014.  My miracle started here.  If you don’t know that story, you can find it here:  My Story

That particular story concluded on my birthday, 10-19-2014.  And here I am at another birthday.  I always post a blog on my birthday.  Sharing these posts has continued to be a daily joy and I can’t imagine 2017/2018 without sharing a new one with you.

It started in 2014:  Moment by Moment  (all that junk – yep, Jesus redeemed that)

It continued in 2015:  Through Heaven’s Eyes  (what does God see when He looks at us?)

And this was 2016’s installment:  Treasure Hunting  (can we really live every day better than before, or is this as good as it gets?)

And for the entire month of September 2017, all I heard was “the best is yet to come”.  Everywhere I went.  Here are just three examples:

  1. Craig McGlassion of Paradox Church gave a message on 9-10-17 called “Plan for Rain“.  Craig told of hiking the Grand Canyon and finding himself wanting to stop and camp at every turn, so beautiful, massive and enchanting.  Thankfully, Craig was with people who had gone this way before and they encouraged him to keep going because they knew what was ahead.  Every stop was more amazing than the last, and he was thrilled that he listened to them and kept going.  Craig tied that story to our lives today and said, “Our best days are yet to come….  Your best days will always be in front of you instead of behind you….  Don’t be satisfied….  Don’t spend more time reminiscing about what God did than dreaming about what God is going to do.”
  2. I was blessed to be able to attend Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live Simulcast in person in Toledo, Ohio on 9-16-17.  Beth spoke on regaining our vision.  She said that we may have had an “initial vision”, but something happened along the way and we lost it.  Maybe we gained an “unwanted vision” in the process, and saw the darkness in the world and in ourselves, which lead to cynicism.  We wanted our eyes to be opened to good and evil (like Adam and Eve did), but we weren’t expecting to see our nakedness.  We wanted to see grandeur, not gore.  So, maybe we lost our vision.  And now it’s time to “Re-Vision” our future, which may include our original vision, but it will most likely transcend it.  This new vision will probably be harder, but it will also be more meaningful.
  3. And then on 9-24-17, during the first week of the message series called “Leave a Mark“, at exactly 1 hour 15 minutes, Chris Zarbaugh said, “We are incredibly grateful for all the past stories of success and life change, but THE BEST IS YET TO COME.”

So, why all of this encouragement to keep going?  Craig McGlassion put it this way:

“Where are you camping in your walk with God?  When the past of what has been satisfies us more than the future of what could be is driving us, we’re camping.”

Camping.  Yep, I’ve been camping.  Actually, I think of it more as “coasting”.  I’m 46 today and I’m coasting.  If my great grandmother, Willie Katherine Saylors, had lived three more weeks, she would have been 96 years old (February 13, 1908 to January 20, 2004).  So, at 46, if I live to be 92, I’m only half way there.  Coasting?  For half of my life?  Why?

Christopher Cook answered this for me.  On 10-5-17, I received an email survey regarding Chris’s podcast, “Win Today”.  In the process of completing the survey, we were asked to read the story behind his company, which included this statement:

“I was safe and stuck in my very small world, with arms wrapped tightly around every aspect of my life in an attempt to control and prevent further pain.”

Why am I coasting?  Chris said it: “To control and prevent further pain.”  If I stay safe in my own little world, maybe I can protect myself from pain.  But notice that Chris said he did this “in an attempt” to prevent pain.  In practice, it doesn’t actually work.

At the simulcast, Beth Moore took a deeper dive:

“We can so protect ourselves from being hurt that we protect ourselves from JOY….  We think it isn’t worth the risk….  Lord, grant us courage to live.  To really live….  Awake me to the wonder of You, finding wonder in the every day….  Wonder cannot be held.  These are moments.  But they are worth it….  We live in the Now and Not Yet.  The world is a mess, but we’re still called to rejoice in it and to love each other with His Love.”

Back on 5-13-17, I received a “Whole 90 Devotional” email written by Cliff Johnson, our Birmingham campus pastor.  Cliff expands on Beth’s thoughts:

“In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul reminds us to remember not only how we were saved:  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast,”  BUT WHY WE WERE SAVED, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to do.”

I have not only been saved FROM something—like death, sin, hell—but I have been saved FOR something.  God actually has moments waiting for me to boldly engage to advance His Kingdom.  For those of us longing for new stories, this truth should be music to your ears.  Although the journey has been painful at times, sharing the story that God has crafted in me through both heartbreak and healing is part of the future He has laid out for me.”

And that future is worth living for.  The Prophet Isaiah said it this way:

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”
-Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

In 2016, Jon Foreman, Switchfoot’s lead man, did a TED Talk at the University of Nevada called Live Your Song.  Check it out.  It’s nineteen minutes of pure inspiration.  After the first of three songs, Jon encourages us to keep on keepin’ on:

“You matter.  And there is a void in the symphony of life when you are silent.  The pain, the anger, the frustration, the dissonance.  Be brave.  Sing through it.  Be brave and sing the truth, one note at a time.”

Don’t be silent.  We need you.  Fill the void with your song; a song that only you can sing.

And join me in falling in love, letting yourself be overcome by the exhilaration of being fully alive, belting out “Love Alone is Worth the Fight“:

We’re only here for a season
I’m looking for the rhyme and reason
Why you’re born, why you’re leaving
What you fear and what you believe in

Why you’re living and breathing
Why you’re fighting it and getting it even
Let’s go headed down the open road unknown

And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?

Love alone is worth the fight

-Switchfoot, “Love Alone is Worth the Fight“, from the film and album “Fading West

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
– Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)