Saturday, December 31, 2016

year in review

2016 was just so awful that I made the decision, repeatedly, not to record much of it. I have a one line a day journal that I did not fill in this year, except for maybe on the kids' birthdays - and maybe not even then. This year has been overwhelmingly hard and as the year comes to a close and everyone else is speaking out with how hard this past year was it makes me feel a little bit better to know that this has been an awful year for a lot of people - it makes me feel less alone.

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

I don't even know where to start with writing a review for this year - the year stated out with Grayson's 2nd hospitalization in twice as many months. Not a great way to start the year.  My husband lost his job at the end of the summer and we were days away from being evicted - but God provided a new job for Daniel, right in the nick of time, and we didn't have to move. Daniel had another episode of major back pain, which was super scary. Grayson had major surgery this year, which was really hard for me to deal with, but Grayson recovered so much more quickly and easily then I thought he would. He goes in for a minor surgery again on Wednesday and I'm feeling a little bit more emotionally prepared for this. I also started homeschooling this year and in the fall not only Josiah but Eli as well and that has been hard. 

One of the down-sides of not keeping track of this year has been that it makes it harder to count the wins. As I look back on this year I wonder if I have really grown at all, and it is hard to remember all the way that God has brought me.

Here are a couple that I can remember:

Grayson got sick and didn't need to be hospitalized. That was an important moment for me. It was a relief to know that he wasn't going to have to be hospitalized every single time he got a bit sick.

I got my very first ebook published on Amazon. It is a Bible Study called Along the Way that I wrote with my best friend for her small group. You can buy it for 99cents using the link above.

I sent my very first book proposal to a real live literary agent and he had some really helpful things to say about it. I expected a rejection, and that is what I got but it was the most kind hearted rejections I could ever hope for - so that was something.

I offered my photography services this year and a few friends took me up on it! (actually way more than I thought - which reminded me that I have the best friends) and it felt super-good to be reminded of why I love photography, and that I don't totally suck as a photographer. If you're interested in seeing some of my sessions here is one for my best friend and here is my favorite session of the season.


A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on
Both of my best friends and my little sister and I went to go see Bethel in concert. It Was Amazing.

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on
I drove all the way to Midland, NC by myself to spend some time with one of my favorite authors and proved to myself that I could get out of my comfort zone - waaaaay out of my comfort zone, and not die in the process.

Untitled Here was a big win: Daniel got a pool membership to the neighborhood next to ours and all of the kids learned to swim by the end of the year. It was a terrific way to spend a really hot and kind of boring summer. Another great thing that happened over the summer was that I got to spend a lot of time with my two best friends. We hung out with our kids at the pool and just enjoyed being together and sharing our lives, and our lunches.

We also got to spend a record number of days with my side of the family! We saw them twice over the summer, once in Atlanta and once here in Augusta. We also saw all of the cousins at my oldest nephew's High School graduation. We also met up with my sister for a last minute trip to Ikea. Which was a lot of fun.

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We went to Hilton Head beach for the day. Which was a lot of fun!

Next year I plan to journal more. I'm going to try the bullet journal thing - so if you have any advice or favorite blog posts about it send them my way. It would be nice to be able to remember more of the wins, even if they are small.

Here are a few favorite blog posts:
What I learned this fall - mostly I learned that you can't control what season you are in.
An invitation - day 1 of my 31 days of blog posts on the topic of choosing brave.
Brave in my smallness - where I wonder if I will ever learn to be content with where I am.
When I forget everything I have learned - mulling on the ideas of duty and delight
When my prayers are lame - thinking about Jesus and the lame man.
This post where I write honestly about what it feels like to be homeschooling right now. 
Here is our year in review in pictures:
UntitledJanuary 23, 2016 we got a morning of snow. It had all melted by the end of the day!

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We went to the zoo with my small group.

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Beth turned 15!
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Emma turned 13 and is now officially a teenager. 
Emma raised enough money to go to the State Capitol with her school group for Junior Georgia Youth Assembly where she wrote a bill and went through the process of trying to get it passed. She did a terrific job! I am just so proud of her.
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Katie-Abigail started middle school. Emma is in her last year of middle school. Beth started high school. 
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Happy Father's Day!
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Grayson's Birthday!

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Friday, December 30, 2016

brave when you run out of words

I have a vague idea of what I want to say here on this blog, but lately I have felt like I have totally and completely run out of words. Right this minute my boys are reading over my shoulder, complaining about the cold outside and wanting batteries for their walkie-talkies and the perpetual refrain of "I don't know what to do." Even though Christmas was not yet a week ago. Sigh.

Yet here I sit anyway. I handed over the baby to the biggest sister and said - take him outside, I need to write for a bit. Because I may not be at the point where I can blog 500 words a day but I can write a few. I might not be able to spend hours on a book but I can tap out a few words here.

And here is what I am here to say - I feel all out of words. It is the hum that has been at the back of my head, a fear thrumming in the background - I feel like I have lost my words. Where are my words? I do not know. I am all out at the moment. I have totally lost momentum, as I often do. So what am I going to do? What is the brave thing here?

Here is how to choose brave when I feel out of words - remember: I have not run out of words for the rest of my life. They will come back. They always do. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow. It might not happen when the kids go back to school. It might not happen when I expect it, and the words may not be there when I want them to. It's okay that when I turn inwards to think about all the writing projects that were jostling for attention a month or two (or day or two) ago - they're all gone. It really is okay and they really will come back.

There are two big kids reading to little siblings in the room behind me. I'm trying to keep my thoughts from flying out of the room, getting lost in the noise behind me. The dog comes and licks my hand and I'm trying not to loose. my. mind. But I'm still here. Still writing. Even though I just had to get up to take one of the baby's ball from the dog's mouth. Ugh.

The first brave thing is to believe that the words really will come back. Here is the second brave thing. Keep showing up. Keep writing. Even if it is just this - to say I don't have much of anything to say and I'm struggling with all of this. I'm going to keep writing even though I don't have the energy within me that I had before.

Yesterday I realized something about my life - about the things that make me feel really happy and satisfied. Writing is part of it. Yesterday I wrote a blog post that was nothing particularly remarkable but I was so happy that day. I let go of the results end of the whole writing thing and the desire for comments or blog numbers and just enjoyed the fact that I am writing. I am writing on my blog again and it makes me happy. It makes me feel the most like myself - which I know I have said so many times that you are probably sick of it. But it is the truth.

So here I am. Saying let's keep on being brave. When we run out of words we take a breath and smile and say "it won't be like this forever, the words will come back." and then we sit down and write what we can. Let's not freak out or give up. The words and the projects and all of that, it's waiting down the road a bit. Maybe now is the time to focus on reading, or a time to just journal. But keep writing, don't give up. Hold onto hope. Keep showing up. Choose brave.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

choosing brave: in the dressing room

Over the last couple of years I have been asking myself "what would it mean to choose brave?" in many different circumstances - in smallness, exhaustion, anger, when I'm comfortable and when I'm waiting to name a few and esterday I found an unexpected place to choose brave - in the dressing room at Goodwill.

I have been meaning to go out and get new jeans for awhile, my current pair was wearing out, but it's not something I look forward to. I know it'll take forever and it'll be frustrating and expensive. Finally the little hole in the knee of my last pair of "good jeans" was noticeable and I couldn't take it any more. I told the hubs I'd be back eventually and headed out by myself for the nearest Goodwill. I spent awhile sorting through the crowded messy racks getting a range of sizes and headed to the dressing room.

When I was a teenager I was a ballet dancer. There was a time when I could fit into a size four. That was a long time ago though. I am 33 and have given birth to six children, one of which only about a year and a half ago. I'm a long ways from a size four now. And most of the time I can accept that. I have decided that the most important thing for me right now is to be able to nurse my baby and if this is the body I need to have in order to do that well then I'm okay with that. But I tend to have no idea what size I actually am. I don't know - not a size four anymore, not a fourteen. Something in between.

I don't typically dress in front of a full-length mirror and I don't try to stuff myself into pants that are too small so trying on jeans in front of that mirror made me catch my breath. Yeah so not a size four anymore - but this is when I get to choose brave. I get to be gentle with myself. I got to half laugh at myself and say "well, those don't fit!" and keep reaching for the next pair. I didn't even try on a couple of pairs in the smaller sizes I'd picked up. They were half off but oh well, I'm not going to buy anything else hoping I'll fit into it some day. I'm done with that.

I would never berate a friend or one of my children for not fitting into any certain size,  I'm done with the shaming self-talk. In the dressing room there is no should. There just is what is. I'm not going to loose weight by feeling bad about my body - been there, tried that, it didn't do me any good. I'm not going to become a smaller size by wishing I was a smaller size or telling myself I should be a smaller size. I would love it if a year from now, or six months from now, I found myself here again because these pants are too big. But I'm not. I am here now, in the body I have now dressing the body that I have now and not the body I wish I had or think I ought to have.

Sometime choosing brave means self-control and making a healthier choice. Sometimes choosing brave means being gentle and not pouring on shame. It means sending every single pair that doesn't feel comfortable into the reject pile because there is something spiritual about wearing a pants that fit and sometimes gaining five pounds grows your soul. And I am 100% done with shaming myself.

So here I sit in the most comfortable pair of green jeans (this is the first time I have ever bought colored jeans! Because I'm choosing to live out the truth that I am not 100% beige)  They are a size bigger than the ones I've been wearing and I guess for right now this is my self-care.  I am done trying to shove my muffin top into clothes that hurt me and I am done with shame in the dressing room.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

a year later

One year ago I was filling out the paperwork to take my oldest son out the public school around the corner. It was the school my other kids had loved, but it just wasn't working for Josiah. He was coming home telling me that he was a bad kid. He was stressed out and his already explosive behavior was getting worse and worse. I had been thinking about homeschooling him for about a year.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I had no idea that in the middle of a lot of other hard things, like the baby being hospitalized and needing surgery, changing churches and what feels like about a million other things being hard and going wrong during the last year, homeschooling would be the hardest thing I have done, maybe ever.

I was homeschooled, Kindergarten through twelfth grade, I thought I knew what to expect. I didn't. And since I'm being honest here, there have been plenty of days that I have wanted to drop him off at school and just be done with it. I have stood at the kitchen sink, ready to give up, again and again and again. But I believe that making decisions for the right reasons is every bit as important as making the right decision so I have plowed ahead into the next day, believing that this is the best thing for my family, at least for now.

For me, the reason I'm homeschooling is so that I can be with my boys, so that we can "do life" together and in the middle of life, we do school. That's my intention, but it hasn't always been my reality. Some days we would do school all. day. long and I'd get to the end of the day and feel like I was doing the opposite of what I wanted to do.

Today we went to the park and I watched my boys in their imaginative play and I thought this is what I have been working so hard for. There is still a lot that they still need to learn, but there is a lot that is going right. This last year has been so hard. Moments like these make it worth it. When they play together well, when they resolve conflicts between the two of them peacefully. When they are silly and kind and listen well. This is what I wanted.

I'm trying to figure out how to have more days like these as we move forward into the New Year. I want our homeschooling to fit my family, not the other way around. I am a homeschooling mom but it isn't the only thing I'm doing with my life right now and I am hoping that our days will reflect that more and more. Homeschooling takes up a lot of our day, a lot of my patience and energy. It takes up a lot of my kid's time too - but in the end we want them to learn how to live well not just do school well.



 




Thursday, December 15, 2016

Enough

Y'all I have at least a dozen blogs posts rattling around in my brain right now, they're getting crowded, elbow to elbow, bumping against each other but homeschooling (and the lack of being able to blog from my phone) have made it tricky to find the moment to sit down and let it spill out... till right now. This can't wait. The boys are in the kitchen eating apple slices and frozen yogurt tubes while I'm half-heartedly making a box of mac & cheese for their lunch and sneaking in this quick little note. Because it has to be said. Right here, right now. Before it goes away.

Contentment. Right here and now, right where I am. This is enough. This life. This craziness. All of it. I'm not in love with all of it everyday, some days more than others, but I am okay with it. Really. And who I am, the smallness of it, the bigness of it, the quiet, the trying to be heard amongst the din both in my house and online. I'm good with it. I have faith that I'm on a journey and my life won't always look like this, and it is going somewhere and that this stage matters... at least most days.

Then there are the other days - do you remember being that starry-eyed teenager? I don't know about you but I remember thinking that all I needed to be happy was a boyfriend. I could not wait to have someone notice me, and want to talk to me for hours, and hold my hand (sigh). And then once I had the boyfriend all I needed to be happy was to get married... and have a baby (or two), and then for them to get to be school-aged and less of a hassle (I really truly miss those hard, humble years) and then I realized that I was always wanting the next big thing and I stopped.

Until I realized that I am a writer.

Then it started all over again. I thought - oh I will finally be happy when I have a blog, with X number for followers, but that morphed into I will finally be happy when I have a book deal, or I will finally be happy when I am published. On this journey towards becoming a published author (did I just say that out loud? Yes I did.) There is a huge temptation to think that somehow to be published will be to be satisfied. I don't think so. There will always be something else, someone who has accomplished more, who has succeeded at a greater level than I am currently. Some next best thing.

The way I see it is like this - how will I feel if I accomplish all of my goals? I imagine myself packing to get on a plane to go speak somewhere and to sell my books and then I imagine coming home to a sink of dirty dishes. How will I feel then?  Well, I think there will be that temptation to wish I had bigger sales or better reviews or invitations to speak and this place or that. I imagine there will be the temptation to compare myself to someone farther along, bigger or better and I hear God's spirit encouraging me to learn this lesson here.

So I come around to this word "enough". I'm tempted to say "I am enough" and in a certain sense that is true, what God made when He made me is good. Sin has a way of turning that image of God into a fun-house crazy-snap-chat-filtered image sometimes but that little piece of the image of Himself that God placed into me when I was being formed, it's always there, even if it is kinda hidden. I keep asking Him - who do You say that I am? I want to be her as clearly as I possibly can be.

But I also have to say that God is enough - He is the one who satisfies my longings, and my identity is found in Him, he has set the boundaries for my life and I want to say with the Psalmist that they have fallen in pleasant places. I want to be like Paul who said that he had learned the secret of contentment, he had learned that he could have a lot and he could have next to nothing and it didn't rock the boat of his self-image. So I could be the next Ann VosKamp or for better or worse the next Jen Hatmaker, or the next Beth Moore or I could continue on as that sweet lady in the back row that just a few people know but they are loved by her - and it wouldn't make a difference.

That is when I am stopped right in my tracks. Really? It wouldn't make a difference? Not to me, not to God? Really? Really. Even when these kids are driving me CRAZY and I feel like one small drop in the ocean? Even then? I don't know who it is that God made you to be but I God made me to be a writer, and I want to be a writer because I believe that that is who God made me to be, not because that is who I am trying to become. I want to be a writer out of the overflow, not out of striving. I want to write because, for whatever reason, God decided that this world needed yet another writerly soul on it and I am one of them. I am not trying to prove anything, not even to myself. I am not trying to earn an identity, it was already given to me. I already have enough. I already am enough. At least that it what I am telling myself today.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Brave the Bible Study - Week 2 recap

Today I woke up to bad news about a close family member who is currently in the hospital and no internet. Today we wandered around a bit - wandered through Target, and the Library and the park. It was a day of wandering around, which was maybe a good way to prepare for this study on Hagar and her wandering through the wilderness.

I don't know about you but I can totally relate to the idea of wandering through a wilderness. During those seasons I feel isolated. I feel lack, scarcity, I feel like I'm wandering around without direction or purpose. That is why I turn to the story of Hagar when I need to be reminded of how God responds to me in the middle of my season of wilderness.

When I feel invisible - God sees me. When I feel like no one is listening - God hears me. 

When I am in the wilderness and everything around is just sand. This is the space in which God works. He makes the wilderness into a garden. He takes a valley of dry bones and make them into an army. When all I have are ashes that is the space in which God does amazing things.  I would challenge you to respond,  in the middle of your wilderness, with worship (here is a link to my Spotify worship list) find some space in the middle of you quiet or in the middle of your loud, by yourself but especially with your brothers & sisters and worship. 



Here is the Live video from Facebook... or a link to it or something...




Here is the link to the homework for next week. See you there!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What I learned this fall



The model volcano is finally as done as it's gonna be. The kids are in bed and I finally have a few moments to share what I've been learning lately...

What I learned this fall is you can't control the seasons. I know that this probably seems obvious. But it has been a struggle for me.

I was writing to someone who I hoped could take a look at my writing and told them that November is my most productive month of the year and I hoped I'd have something substantial to show her by the end of the month.

Yeah, so I have spent basically zero time doing any substantial writing. I guess I hadn't taken into account how emotionally exhausting Grayson's surgery would be for me. I guess I hadn't taken into account how time-consuming homeschooling has been. So I'm looking at this season as a big chunk of basically non-productive time.

So here I sit, looking back at this season, feeling a bit disappointed but as I sit with it I am slowly learning this - you can't control the season you are in. I can't make this season be what it's not. It has been all kinds of intake but it has been not a lot of output. I guess I'm just going to have to be okay with that at this particular moment. I want my literal harvest season to be my spiritual harvest season but it doesn't always work like that. Sometimes things need to just sit a bit longer. Sometimes you have to be patient a bit more. I feel like this is the lesson I come around to again and again and again. I just have to be faithful in the space I am in and trust God to move me on when it is His time.

Other things I have learned this fall - Facebook Live is kinda' harder than I thought it would be. I did my first virtual Bible study meeting on my Facebook page this month and it was exhausting. I basically sat on my couch and did nothing the rest of the day. I am learning a lot through this study - mostly about myself. If you would like to join our study we are just a tiny little group of women, mostly moms, taking a few moments to sit with God and the stories in the Bible. At our last meeting we talked about Hannah who grew brave in her asking. This Thursday we'll be talking about Hagar who was brave in her wilderness. (Click here to download Week 2 homework).

I also fell in love all over again with doing photography sessions. You can see some of my latest work over on my photography page. It has been a real joy to get to go do these sessions. I had forgotten how much I really love photography so it has been nice to remember that.

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

I love doing these "Read - Watch - Listen" re-caps and have been looking forward to sharing this one all week.

Read 
I was blessed with a copy of It's Not Fair by Melanie Dale. The subtitle of this book is totally awesome "Learning to Love the Life You Didn't Choose" and this is exactly what the book is about. It's about when life takes a left turn (and it feels like the road heads off a cliff) what now? The book is like getting coffee with your funniest friend. I was laughing and crying by the end of the first chapter. It's not a lot of heavy lifting theologically but sometimes you don't need a pastor or a therapist when it all hits the fan - what you need is a girlfriend. She co-habitates the dark spaces of grief and disappointment with tons of grace and humor. Not everyone is going to love it, but I did. I really really loved it.

I started reading a few other things which I'll be sure to write about soon(ish).  I finished a fantasy novel a friend gave to me and re-discovered that I actually do have more time to read, hidden in the little corners of my life, than I had given myself credit for so I'm hoping that in December my "books I've read" list will be longer.

Watch 
This has been a month of watching. We watched Nerve at the beginning of the month and it was so good. Daniel had seen this with my oldest girls and they were excited to see it again with me. The ending is just so redeeming.  As soon as we got home from the hospital after Grayson's surgery I got a massive cold and ended up in bed all day one Sunday. That day I watched the entire first season of The Crown on Netflix. It is so beautifully produced. The plot seemed to move really slowly and some of the episodes lacked drama, but in a culture that tends towards over-dramatization I think a series like this is a good one. I heard that there is another season coming out and I will definitely be interested in watching that. Also on Netflix I watched Mission Blue. You can watch the trailer on YouTube here. It is a beautiful, eye-opening documentary on oceanographer Sylvia Earle. On the theme of life in the ocean, we also watched Finding Dory this month. I didn't have high hopes but was pleasantly surprised. I've also been watching the Netflix series Chef's Table. My favorite episode so far has been episode 2 with Dan Barber. I watched the Netflix movie Tallulah. It is rated TV-MA and has a mature scene at the beginning and had some salty language but it all felt very appropriate for the circumstances they were in and at the end of the movie I was glad I'd watched it. It was so emotional. We also watched Sing Street. You've got to watch the trailer  on YouTube. I thought it was a family film but it really isn't. It's rated PG-13 and totally deserves that rating. Over Thanksgiving break we watched Into The Woods - we watched it twice and you will find most of the females in the family singing the songs from it at random times. I wasn't sure my kids would go for a musical - they totally did and I have a feeling that someone will find this movie under the proverbial Christmas tree this year. This weekend my oldest and I went out to see Arrival and it is absolutely the best movie I have seen all year. It was everything I hoped it would be, plus a little. I was worried it would be too scary but it wasn't. It was weird, but it was beautiful. And Amy Adams was amazing.

Listen 
I'm attempting to get into the Christmas spirit, especially in the music department. I've been listening to Thrill of Hope by Christy Nockles. You can listen to it on YouTube here. I have loved everything from Christy Nockles - from Watermark to Passion but I think this may be the most beautiful album from her. Maybe ever. I've also been listening to the new Pentatonix Christmas album. Honestly, I think I liked their older one better, but it is still a really good mix.

What are you reading/watching/listening to these days? I want to know!

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman as we share what we learned.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Grayson's surgery

Grayson had surgery at the beginning of this month. He was born with Grade 5 kidney reflux (so his urine would back up into his kidneys and cause infection). He had his first UTI at 2 weeks old which was super scary. He had surgery at 3 weeks old to open a spot in his belly called a vesicostomy. Thankfully he did not have another UTI after that surgery, which was amazing. Kids with kidney reflux typically get a lot of UTIs and it can be difficult to manage. Caring for a kid with a vesicostomy and who was considered medically complex was hard. Grayson was hospitalized a second time in January for a persistent fever, probably a virus. It definitely gave me a different perspective and taught me to be thankful for how healthy my kids have all been!

So the surgery that Grayson had this month was to reimplant his ureters and close the opening the doctor had made a year ago. The success rate of this procedure is very high and should take care of the issue for Grayson. I am so thankful that we had access to such awesome doctors and that his condition was spotted so early on before significant damage to his kidneys could occur.

The best way I know to share about Grayson's latest surgery is through pictures and what I wrote on Instagram during that time...

Grayson woke up to nurse and Eli came into my room saying he'd wet the bed at about the same minute. So I laughed to keep from crying. Grayson cried while I stripped down Eli's bed but thankfully now he has stopped. So we are pacing the living room to the best of the washing machine. And the sone from my childhood pops into my head "I'll cast all my cares upon you. I lay all of my burdens down at your feet, and anytime I don't know what to do I will cast all my cares upon you." and I'm thankful. Thankful that Grayson isn't crying. Thankful for a God who bears my burdens when I don't have the strength. Thankful that I don't have to live beneath the crushing weight of it all for even a minute. Even as I'm holding onto Grayson as we pace this living room floor, God is holding on to me. He is good. He is God. He has got me.
A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on




Grayson waiting to go back to surgery. It was so hard to leave him. He was screaming, I was crying.
It is one of the worst things I have experienced as a mom.




Grayson's recovery nurse, also a friend of mine. Such a comfort!
 




A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

I feel like today has been the hardest day of recovery. Grayson was a restless little sleeper last night and instead of waking up smiling like yesterday he woke up crying. He is off of his IV and medicine routine and is on an "as needed" basis but he has needed them. A lot. It's so sad to see him cry and be so uncomfortable. We just had to pull out the big guns and I was really hoping to be feeling closer to ready to head home. So - good news: all of his vitals are looking awesome and he is down to just the pulse/ox monitor and one little tube to drain any fluids away from his surgery site. Yay for being slightly less tethered. That was miserable. Still waiting: for his output and input to normalize. He's nursing well and has eaten a little but we're still waiting on a normal diaper. So yeah, I think that's it! Thanks to everybody who has surrounded us help us through this tough this. 💜💜💜
A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on



Grayson had to be on round the clock pain medicine for a few days but he gradually needed less and less. By a week plus a day or two post-op he was already totally off of his medicines and has been super happy! He's started walking this week. He's been such a fast crawler that he wasn't interested in walking for awhile but now he has started to really get the hang of it.

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithraider) on

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Virtual Bible Study

A photo posted by faith raider (@faithrphotog) on


So, I feel like I have more or less failed at this this #write31days challenge. I wrote for how many days? Twenty Five? Lame. That's like one week shy of the 31 days. Maybe I'll come back and fill those days in. I have got some of the material for those days... anyway. I am bravely marching forward with my journey with this study. Doing the next thing, no matter what. So I have been doing that Facebook Live thing on my blog Facebook page and today I have kicked off my "virtual Bible Study".

Today I basically just dumped the first week of homework in a link on my Facebook page. Nothing pretty or fancy. I talked for a couple of minutes about the format of the study. I talked a little bit more about the format of the study in my previous Facebook Live video. I don't know who to post a direct link to that video but it's on there, somewhere.

Basically it's just three days of homework a week and then we'll "meet" on Facebook Live once a week - on a Thursday around lunchtime, I think. You can watch the video anytime and leave comments with thoughts about the homework. You can ask questions in the comments too or send me a private message.

The plan is to do this virtual Bible Study for 4 weeks. I have 10 weeks (more or less) of material so I might do another 4-6 week virtual Bible Study again in the new year. Let me know if that is something you'd be interested in doing. The study is super-basic and my virtual Bible Study will be super un-produced, because while I looooooooooove a well-produced video series sometimes we just need to be in front of each other bare-faced and honest about the mess of our normal lives. That way we can say "me too - I thought maybe I was the only one."

So I hope that you will head over to my Facebook page and grab a copy of this week's homework. While you're there feel free to tag a friend who you would like to go through this study with.  Next Thursday (God willing) I will hop onto Facebook Live to discuss any questions you had and just my general thought process behind writing this week's material.

Can't wait to hear from you!

Love,
Faith

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

day 25: brave when the walls fall

Read: Joshua 6:12-16, 20

I don't know about you but I am not sure I would have kept going. Day after day of this walking around the city business would be pretty embarrassing to me. I guess it's a good thing that Joshua was an older man by now. He'd seen God do amazing things for His people, now he had to trust Him for a flat-out miracle. I wonder what thoughts went through Joshua's head as he detailed his battle plans to his soldiers. I wonder how it felt to circle the city day by day, waiting for those walls to fall. But fall they did. God's ways may seem upside down and inside out sometime but they are true and trustworthy.

Remember that Jericho wall you thought about the other day? What are you believing for? Do you believe that the God who caused those Jericho walls to fall is your God - right here today in the middle of your own impossible circumstances?

Here is a song to remind you heart - our God is the God of the impossible. Whether it is dry bones becoming an army, or a dry heart finding a place to stop and rest in the middle of the weary desert. Or a wall falling down. 




day 24: brave in my exhaustion

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Here is another post from over the summer. 


I feel like I have hit a wall - as I write this it is the middle of summer break. My kids are all home from school my husband is working overtime doing heating and air. I am overwhelmed and feeling exhausted and angry. 

But God has been calling me to find streams in the desert. He is inviting me to worship right where I am, to take my eyes off of myself and my circumstances and lift my eyes to heaven. He is calling me to remember that He loves me, He is for me and not against me, He has compassion for me, He remembers my weakness (Ps 103:13-14) and He is my strength, my joy, my comfort. Even though it feels like right now all I am doing today is circling the wall, I believe that when the time is right He can cause these walls to fall. 




“"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬


day 23: brave when I've hit a wall

Read: Joshua 5:13-6:20

"I feel like I have hit a wall," I said. It was a chilly November morning as I walked with my best friend, and we chatted about the big fight I'd had with my husband that seemed to come out of nowhere and had no logical resolution, at least not that I could see at the moment. I felt like I had hit face first up against my own personal Jericho wall. I felt like I had come to a set of circumstances that I couldn't control, or even improve and that only God to break through. 

What is your Jericho wall? 
Maybe it is a relationship, a dream, a job, a set of circumstances.

Here is the thing I notice in this story. It doesn't say how exactly this story took place, but I wonder if Joshua was seeking God's wisdom as they drew near the city. When Joshua hit the wall the thing he did was seek God. I don't think he expected a physical manifestation of God to come down from heaven but I think he did go away from the crowd to seek wisdom, and strategy from God. 

This is the first thing I need to do too when I hit a wall. The first thing I need to do is to seek God, seek His  perspective, and ask for His strategy.

How about you? Have you hit a wall in something? Maybe you went through a similar season. I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

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Here is a picture of my husband and I from earlier this fall.


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day 22: brave in the fire

Read: Daniel 3 especially notice verses 19-27)

Sometimes I take "hard" and label it "bad". I go through a few tough hours and I say "I've had a bad day." I face something I don't like and I say "too bad for me." Sometimes I can trip myself up thinking that just because something is hard and uncomfortable and pushing me to my breaking point that it is bad.

I forget that God walks with me through the fire to refine me and to burn the ropes that bind me. I forget that in the middle of the fire God is right here with me. I forget that far from abandoning me Jesus is walking right there with me.

Sometimes I find myself fighting against the hard times instead of allowing them to refine me. I freak out in the middle of the discomfort and, let's be honest, pain, because I'm afraid that this pain is here to hurt me, to harm me, to scar me for life. I love that in the verses we read at the beginning of today that the three friends didn't even smell like smoke. I'm sometimes worried that I'm going to have to walk around with the scars of this hard season right on my face but for these friends not only were they not scarred they didn't even smell like smoke. I am claiming that as a promise for me in this season. It hasn't come to scar me, it has come to free me from the ropes that bind me. The pain will birth something new in me if I would just let the pain do it's work. 

Psalm 66:10-12, 94:12-14
Zechariah 13:9
1 Peter 1:6-9
Job 23:10
Romans 5:1-5 
Hebrews 12:11 
John15:1-12
Isaiah 43:1-7
James 1:2-4, 12 
Revelation 3:19-20




Would you be interested in doing an online virtual Bible study? Sign Up for my newsletter for those details when they become available. You can check out the Facebook Live video I posted a couple of days ago. You can also fill out my reader survey. 

Here is a worship video. I went to the Bethel Worship Nights in Atlanta yesterday and this was such a powerful worship song.

day 21: brave in the "but if not"

Today is a continuation of a thought from yesterday. If you haven't read that post yet click here

Read: Daniel 3 (especially notice verse 18)

This is the space I am living in right now - I know God can work in my circumstances but I'm also very much living in the space of "but if not" I am still going to trust him anyway. 

I have some big, in my face, on my heart all day long drama going on in my life at the moment but God is right here, in this space with me. Asking me if I will trust. 

This morning my husband and I had to have a pretty hard conversation about our finances that left us feeling a bit worn-down and world-weary. He moved on to leave for work and I stood in my kitchen making breakfast, with the baby in a sling.  As I ran the blender I could feel my sweet boy curl into my chest in fear at that big scary loud noise. He cried a little as I pulsed the blender. I said "it's okay, buddy. I'm here. I know it's scary. I've got you." And promptly burst into tears because I could feel my Daddy-God saying the same thing to my heart. It's okay, I know this is scary, I've got you. 

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I'm not writing this from my happily ever after. I wish I could write "and then everything worked out just fine" but I can't say that right now. I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know where we are going to end up with our situation. I know God sees me. I know he cares for me. I know He is not surprised by this. I know He is working in this for good. I know He is able to rescue us from us from our money-problems. But if not He is still good. He has still got me. 

But if not are some scary words to speak. But they are the words I need to say right now. I am going to trust God no matter what

See also: Hab 3:18-19, Is 12:2, Hebrews 11:39-40

Closing: Psalm 27 (NIV)

1The Lord is my light and my salvation—

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

of whom shall I be afraid?

2When the wicked advance against me

to devour me,

it is my enemies and my foes

who will stumble and fall.

3Though an army besiege me,

my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me,

even then I will be confident.

4One thing I ask from the Lord,

this only do I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord

and to seek him in his temple.

5For in the day of trouble

he will keep me safe in his dwelling;

he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent

and set me high upon a rock.

6Then my head will be exalted

above the enemies who surround me;

at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7Hear my voice when I call, Lord;

be merciful to me and answer me.

8My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”

Your face, Lord, I will seek.

9Do not hide your face from me,

do not turn your servant away in anger;

you have been my helper.

Do not reject me or forsake me,

God my Savior.

10Though my father and mother forsake me,

the Lord will receive me.

11Teach me your way, Lord;

lead me in a straight path

because of my oppressors.

12Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,

for false witnesses rise up against me,

spouting malicious accusations.

13I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

14Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.


Would you be interested in doing an online virtual Bible study? Sign Up for my newsletter for those details when they become available. You can check out the Facebook Live video I posted a couple of days ago. You can also fill out my reader survey.