Tag Archives: faith

When life disappoints, God remains faithful

Every January I ask God to give me a word to focus and guide my growth for the year. This year, God gave me the word “faith”, which I found interesting because to be honest, I thought I had worked at increasing my faith the previous year! I have to be honest, I was a bit concerned when I realized this was God’s word for me because increasing one’s faith is not usually accomplished through ease and comfort. God simply doesn’t mess around when He wants you to grow and as I suspected, the year has been ripe with faith growing opportunities. This past week brought another one…

For over a year, I have believed God had given me a very specific promise. I faithfully leaned into and prayed around that promise. In fact, friends and mentors prayed and believed with me. This week, it seemed time to act on the promise I was certain I had heard. I stepped out boldly and faithfully.

And I was told no…


It was audacious (but not unreasonable) request, so the no was not entirely surprising. At least not from a human point of view…But God does surprising things! And so I had fully expected a “yes”! I expected God to move in amazing ways to fulfill the promise I’d been given!

So had I heard incorrectly? What just happened?

I spent the next two days trying to make sense of what had just happened. And honestly being sad over the loss of what I had believed was to be mine! I was disappointed and somewhat disillusioned.

And then God showed up, just like He always does.

I spent time praying and talking to God while driving home from having dinner with a dear friend. I was simply being honest with God about my emotions and my confusion. And then I looked up and saw a rainbow…the ultimate symbol of God’s faithfulness to keep his promises.

That rainbow led me the entire way home. And it got me thinking about God’s promises. God promises us a lot of things! He promises to fight for us (Ex 14:14), and to give strength and power to the weak and weary (Isaiah 40:29). He promises that all who believe in him will receive eternal life (John 3:16) and he promises freedom from sin (John 8:36). He promises to comfort us (Psalm 23:4), deliver us (Psalm 50:15), and to never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:8). He promises to work all for our good (Romans 8:28) and to complete the good work he began in us (Phil 1:6).

However, despite all of the things God DOES promise, there are many things he doesn’t. He doesn’t promise a house, or a spouse. He doesn’t promise children or your dream job. He doesn’t promise a reliable car or money to buy the newest iPhone. He doesn’t promise fame or even respect from others. He doesn’t promise ease or comfort or protection from suffering. In fact, God promises we will have trouble and go through hard times! He just promises to be with us through them!

My word for the year is “faith” so I thought I’d be learning about and growing my faith in God. And I am. But more than that, I am learning about God’s faithfulness. You see, faithfulness is part of His very being and His very character. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Even when life feels confusing, God is faithful. Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”

So I still don’t know what will come of the specific word I believed I was given. Maybe I heard incorrectly. Maybe God will reveal an even better way! As usual, it isn’t about me and my desires; it is all about God, his character, and his will for me! So in what ways has your faith been challenged? Are you confused, disillusioned, or disappointed? The good news is God is faithful to keep His promises. We can rest assured in that and must remind ourselves that what He promises is always better than what we thought we wanted in the first place!

Ever Be…or Not??


Bethel’s worship song, “Ever Be” has been one of my favorites for over a year now. But have you ever had a moment while singing a favorite song where the words take on a whole new meaning? Almost as if you had never actually understood them before? Yeah, that happened to me this week.

Your love is devoted,
Like a ring of solid gold.
Like a vow that is tested.
Like a covenant of old.

Your love is enduring
Through the winter rain
And beyond the horizon
With mercy for today.

Faithful you have been.
And faithful you will be.
You pledge yourself to me.
And it’s why I sing,

Your praise will ever be on my lips,
Ever be on my lips.
Your praise will ever be on my lips,
Ever be on my lips.

We so often talk about the importance of trusting God and continuing to praise Him in the midst of life’s storms. And certainly we must trust and praise God when tough times come. He is a Comforter and Redeemer of all the hurt and pain and trials and tribulations of life. However, the irony is  when all hope is lost and everything appears to be falling apart, it is often easier to trust God and praise His name than at other times. In the darkest times we have nothing to cling to BUT God. It’s also easy to praise God when life is going well.

But what about the “in between” times? You know, those times in life when nothing truly tragic is happening, but life still isn’t going the way we want it to. You’re thrilled to have a safe, warm house, but it isn’t what you want. It needs new flooring and the bathroom needs remodeled and the kids just put another hole in the dry wall. You’re super proud of your family, but the kids just won’t stop arguing and 5th grade math has you feeling like an idiot. Everything is going really well at work. You have a job you really enjoy and find meaningful. But you really want that promotion and fear you’ll never get it.


I think I spend a lot of time in this “in between”. I think we all do. And though my praise for God so often waivers, He remains faithful through these times just like any other. His love for me really is devoted and tested and enduring. He has indeed pledged Himself to me and He always keeps His promises. He is worthy of my praise all the time – when He’s all I have to cling to, when life is better than I could imagine, and when I’m in the “in between”. So the question is will I praise Him? Will His praise truly “ever be on my lips” even when I’m simply not getting my way? Will I continue to praise Him at all times, choosing to trust Him to work all things for my good, and be my great Redeemer. Will I acknowledge He is the Giver of all good gifts and my truly devoted loving Father? I long to! And the best news is God is as great in mercy and patience as He is in love and kindness. But our praise is literally music to His ears and He deserves it always. So may it truly ever be on our lips.


Experience Still Changes Everything

So I might be obsessed with Mat Kearney. But I don’t believe it is entirely unhealthy. I’ve loved his music for over ten years. Three years ago I wrote this blog about my first Mat Kearney concert. A year ago I re-posted it after my second Kearney concert. Now I’m reposting it for a third time after my third concert. I can’t help it…I just really like him, the music, and the lessons I learned as a result. 


This concert was different from others – although isn’t that always the case? No two concert experiences are ever the same. My friend purchased the tickets and we were well aware it was general admission. What we foolishly did NOT realize until we arrived was that it was an OUTDOOR concert. Oops. A lesson originally learned at my first Mat Kearney concert is that you should never be an observer. No, it is important to be a participant. And so in true form, my friend and I made our way to the front (and as you can see from the pictures that follow, we did pretty well)! Thankfully GORGEOUS weather made an outdoor concert a welcome surprise.

The heart is courtesy of my 23 year old googly eyed, smitten compadre.

And just as we got settled in for the show, I heard someone call my name. I turned around to find my beautiful cousin and her husband sitting right behind us! 


It wasn’t long before my friend also ran into treasured friends and had an opportunity to reconnect with them as well. So…incredible music, incredible friends (and even family!) made for incredible memories. So what are the lessons? Life is sweetest when shared with others. Music moves us but live music connects us and moves us together. Whether family, dear friends, or complete strangers, for a few hours we sing the same songs in a shared moment that simply cannot be replicated regardless of how many dates are on the tour. We really are better together and life is sweeter experienced in community with others. Individual experience matters, but shared memories are magical – they have the ability to deepen relationship, develop intimacy, and pave the way for authenticity.

And yet, in the midst of the shared experience, we also maintain our unique individuality. Each as their own favorite song, their own reason for why it is their favorite, and their own unique way to take in the moment. Some sing along as loudly as possible – forgetting those around them came to hear the artist on stage instead of their out of tune rendition (I may be a singer…guilty as charged). Others close their eyes and quietly take in each note. Some stand. Some sit. Some fight to the front. Some retreat to the back. So honor one another’s unique perspective and experience, for even if you had the same experience, it is still uniquely yours and different from someone else’s. 

The original lesson learned so long ago? It is good to observe, it is MUCH better to actually experience. Below is that original post. I hope you continue to read and find the same courage to attend a concert or two (both literally and figuratively) and to move to the front where you can experience and participate. Rachel – thank you for helping me learn to fight to the front, hold my ground, sing at the top of my lungs, and truly experience.


I’ve been to more concerts than I can count. I love the experience of live music and spent much of my youth chasing my favorite bands around the country. When I first started attending concerts, location was everything. I’d fight and claw and scratch my way towards the front. I’d stand my ground against the jostling and positioning of others. I’d jump and sway with abandon, not caring about what others thought. This changed as I got older. With each passing year, I slowly moved farther back and I progressively became more passive during each show.

Recently, I attended a concert of one of my favorite artists held on a college campus. As I walked into the gymnasium with the student who had graciously secured the treasured ticket, I headed towards the bleachers in the back, as I had become accustomed to doing. I heard her say, “No, Karen, this way” pointing toward the mob standing before the stage. Suddenly the changes I had made in my approach to concerts became apparent! I found myself surrounded by excited college students, and I was suddenly quite aware that I was not one! Insecurities initially overwhelmed me – I’m too old, I don’t belong. However, excitement for the experience soon took over and I found myself no longer annoyed by the student repeatedly bumping into me as he jumped, or put off by the smell of sweat salient in the air.

And then something truly special happened. The artist jumped down into the crowd, breaking the barrier between performer and audience. And I was a part of it all. He realized he’d spent too much time among his adoring fans, and looked right at me as he proclaimed “I’ve got to get back to the stage!” Then he ran past me, actually knocking into my shoulder, as he scrambled back to the stage. At that moment I realized that I would have significantly missed out had I been sitting in the bleachers. I would have observed, but I would not have experienced.


The Bible says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” After my concert revelation, I have to ask myself, “How often do I observe God instead of experiencing His goodness?” How often do I choose to sit on the bleachers in the back instead of standing in the crowd in front?  How often do I convince myself that sitting in the back is really no different than standing in the front when really I’ve missed out on something special and unique and maybe even life changing? The truth is that it is easier to sit in the bleachers. The bleachers are comfortable. It is work to stand in the front. It’s hot, smelly, crowded, and exhausting. But it’s in the front where the possibility of experiencing and even participating in the action takes place.

God seems to be inviting us to come to the front, to fight the crowds, to withstand the discomfort for a taste of what He has to offer. Is it possible that He is even inviting us to participate? What if He jumps into the crowd? Do you want to be in the bleachers or in the crowd with a chance of reaching out and touching Him and perhaps even receiving something from Him or being invited to join Him?

Now perhaps I’ve pushed the metaphor too far, as we are all called to join Jesus in bringing God’s kingdom to earth and because the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of every believer, we can fulfill this calling. And obviously Jesus isn’t a performer on a stage. But stay with me here, at one point He spoke to the masses – some clamored to be near him, some risked everything to touch him, some watched from a distance with skepticism, and some simply walked away. What about Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus? Jesus ate at his house that day! What about the bleeding woman who dared to touch His cloak? She was healed after 12 years of suffering! What about the men whose love for their friend was so great that they destroyed a roof in order to lower him down to Jesus. Their friend was healed in more ways than one! Those who dared to get the closest to Him, experienced Him, and were never the same again. Those people ended up changing the world. Those who kept their distance have long been forgotten and are but an anonymous footnote in the annals of history.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided it is time that I stop sitting on the bleachers just observing. True change happens through experience. Learning about the artist and knowing the lyrics to the songs is great, but can never replace the impact and transformational potential of the experience. In order to truly believe that I am God’s beloved child and to truly comprehend His great love for me, I need to experience Him, not just learn about Him. It’s time I head to the front to fully experience His presence, and to “taste and see”. I hope you join me.