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Climbing Into Faith

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In April of 2007, I learned about a goal my near-60-year-old parents had made for themselves. Living all of their lives at just a few hundred feet above sea level, they wanted to visit my family in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and climb America’s Mountain—the 14,110-foot, Pikes Peak.

I doubt they were surprised by my silence on the phone as I took in their plans. You see, my parents don’t usually set big goals for themselves, particularly ones that require physical exertion. The trek up Pikes Peak is a serious 13-mile journey. It’s not for the faint-hearted. (And at nearly 60, I wondered what kind of physical condition my parents’ hearts were in!)

With their approval of me tagging along, our talk and preparation for the Big Hike began. Early September came before we knew it, and my parents, a cousin, and a family friend arrived in Colorado Springs excited for our adventure.

The experience we shared through the next two days was awesome! After 14 hours of hiking, we were all sitting in the visitor’s center at the summit, drinking hot chocolate and eating donuts baked at 14,110 feet. My husband met us there, too, to drive us down the Peak—about an hour ride.

Now that I’m back at 6,000 feet, living in the foothills of the Front Range, and my parents are at home along the Mississippi River, I’ve been reflecting on our journey and how it correlates with faith in our everyday lives.

Here’s what I’ve learned about climbing into faith.

Difficulties are inevitable. On a 13-mile hike, we knew to expect a few hardships. Blisters, sunburns, inclement weather—you name it. A number of difficult situations were possible.

Knowing this ahead of time allowed us to prepare with faith. We whole-heartedly believed that one way or another, we could all get to the top of Pikes Peak. We put our faith in God and believed He would carry us through to the finish. Living with faith is a choice.

You can be prepared, but you may still get wet. Each member of our group packed a rain poncho, knowing that afternoon showers are common on the mountain. Sure enough, a few hours into our hike it started raining and hailing. We covered ourselves as well as we could, but that didn’t keep water from hitting our faces, trickling down our arms, and seeping in through our waterproof boots. We were wet, even though we prepared to stay dry.

Our faith had to go beyond our own preparations. Taking precautions is important, but they can’t be the source of our faith. Faith belongs in God for our life journey, not in our plans.

Doing life with a group allows for safety, encouragement, and fun. As we walk through life, including hikes up mountains, there are benefits to walking with other people. When my family was trekking through hail, rain, and a muddy trail, we pulled and tugged at each other’s ponchos so they’d cover our backpacks and us as well as possible.

After still getting soaked, my mom looked a bit discouraged. All I could do was tell her that we were close to our destination—Barr Camp. I really didn’t know how much further we had to go, but I thought it must be close, and my mom needed to hear that we were almost there.

It was good to go through the difficult and wonderful with other people. Going through life with other believers strengthens our faith as we depend on one another for help, encouragement, and hope.

Occasionally doing life alone brings opportunity for contemplation, reflection, and one-on-one time with God. During the second day of our journey, my cousin and his friend took off at a speed greater than I could keep up with, and my parents were moving a bit slower than I cared to, so I spent part of the day on my own. It was wonderful!

Without the distraction of conversation, I paid more attention to all that was around me. My spirit was refreshed by time alone with God and His creation. It left me declaring again that my faith rightly belongs in Someone unseen. Keeping time for the Lord and ourselves lets Him remind us why He’s deserving of our faith.

Going after a goal that seems almost impossible makes you stronger and helps you believe you can do that or more again. When we started the trek up Barr trail, we couldn’t help but have a few doubts regarding the unknown ahead of us. But when the trip was over and we saw that we all reached the summit, we started talking about the next Colorado 14ner we could climb together. With one successful hike behind us, we believed we could do it again.

Experiences—good and bad—highlight God’s involvement in our lives, demonstrate how He cares for us, and have the ability to bolster our faith and hope for the future—even a future that brings uncertainty with it. Faith grows the more we use it.

Getting out of your comfort zone brings views like none you may ever experience again. My parents had been to the top of Pikes Peak via the highway and railway rather easy routes. They wanted to see Pikes Peak in a new way and chose to get out of their comfort zone to do it. Because they jumped onto a trail with which they were unfamiliar, they were in a great position to stretch their faith and see God in new ways.

The experience we had on Barr Trail can’t ever be recreated. We may hike the mountain again, but the views will be different next time. Taking steps of faith that lead out of our comfort zone often bring once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

"It’s the object of our faith that’s most important." That’s a quote from my pastor, Steve Holt. Our journey up Pikes Peak was successful because our faith was in God. (And it would have been successful even if we hadn’t reached the summit.)

Our faith was never in our abilities, the weather, or our months of preparing. Had it been in any of these things, we would have been greatly disappointed at one time or another. Because we trusted the Lord, we made it through terrific moments and trials. We learned more about each other and ourselves. And we grew in our relationship with God. The object of our faith must be God, and no matter the details of our experiences, in the end, where we put our faith will matter more than anything else.

I’m giving my parents a book detailing hiking trails in Missouri for Christmas. I hope that with each step they and I take on future trails, we’ll climb higher and higher into a faith-filled relationship with God.

Marty Kasza loves to hike in the Colorado mountains near her home. She can’t wait to do more of it once her two young daughters (and baby on the way) are ready to hit some serious trails with her in the future. For now, she and her family take a relaxed pace on the easy paths and find great enjoyment in being together in the midst of God’s creation.

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Marty Kasza loves to hike in the Colorado mountains near her home. She can't wait to do more of it once her two young daughters (and baby on the way) are ready to hit some serious trails with her in the future. For now, she and her family take a relaxed pace on the easy paths and find great enjoyment in being together in the midst of God's creation.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Climbing Into Faith

by Marty Kasza time to read: 5 min
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