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My Journal of “Foolish” Faith

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Me. Standing in line at the county welfare office. Embarrassed.

Sure, I knew that programs such as Medicaid and WIC were designed to help families such as mine—those going through a temporary time of unemployment and financial strain—but still. While I didn’t look down on others who needed the assistance, my husband Ted had two master’s degrees. I had one. We were the last people I expected to be accepting government aid. Yet here I was, filling out paperwork requesting state provided health insurance and free dairy products, cereal, and juice for myself and my 13-month-old daughter.

And the fact remained, I was embarrassed. Ashamed. For some inexplicable reason, I’d always viewed myself as above that—until nine months ago.

Rewind to November of 2004.

Little to our surprise, Ted was laid off from his job of five years. The company had recently announced its plans to move their offices from Virginia to New York City. While employees were offered the chance to relocate, no cost-of-living adjustment came with the offer. Squeezing into a studio apartment in the midst of the "Big Apple" wasn’t our idea of fun. So we declined and as a result, Ted found himself without a job and our one-income home without an income.

Despite our knowledge of the impending situation, we hadn’t prepared for it. Ted hadn’t started looking for other jobs. And, as time went by, the leads he followed all resulted in dead ends. Nothing was materializing.

Fast forward to February of 2005.

Still no leads. At least none that panned out. In the midst of it, I discovered I was pregnant with our second child. While we were excited at the news of our peanut-sized Slater, the timing of it left me feeling stressed. We had no steady income, no health insurance, and no certainty of what the future held for us.

Jump ahead two weeks to March 2005.

Colorado. Ted had been talking about it for over a year, even before rumors of the layoff. About moving there, working there, and contacting old friends. Finally the talk became action. He sent an email to friends from grad school, asking if they knew of any jobs in the Centennial State. We received an immediate reply.

Turns out there was a potential job opportunity for him. Problem was, it hadn’t been created yet. It was still in "the works" as they say, with no promise of how quickly it’d become reality.

Even though it was only "talk" at this point, we held on to the possibility of it. Both Ted and I felt our hearts increasingly drawn to Colorado. Inside we starting having a "knowing" that God had a plan for us there, despite the lack of tangible evidence.

Because of this, we took a bold step of faith. Ted felt that he was to stop looking and applying for other full-time jobs. Instead, we both continued to take on freelance work as we waited to see what God had for us in Colorado.

Four months later. June 2005.

Still no definite job in Colorado. Week after week, friends at church asked the same question, "Have you heard anything on the job?" To which we’d answer, "No."

Many times we were asked why Ted hadn’t applied for unemployment checks, which would’ve brought in much-needed income. The problem was, it required him to actively search for a full-time job in our area, which wasn’t what we felt God was leading us toward.

Not looking for another job in the meantime and not applying for unemployment seemed foolish. Irresponsible. But to us, it wasn’t. It was faith. It was having the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.

With each question, with each quizzical look, with each passing day and passing month, I came to realize that walking in faith means we might look foolish. Maybe even to ourselves. That, as we step out and follow the Lord’s leading, not all of the steps are going to make sense or fit the plan our society dictates as the "right" way to go. But "foolish" faith is nothing new. Scripture contains story after story of real-life individuals whose faith in action didn’t make sense to those around them.

Look at Abraham. He waited years and years for his promised son, Isaac. In fact, he was a wrinkled old man when he finally held his wrinkled newborn. Then, years later, God came to Abraham and said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains."

"What?" Abraham could have thought, "Excuse me? What about being a father of many nations? Wasn’t Isaac key to seeing this promise fulfilled?"

Yet Abraham was obedient. He took his son, went up the mountain, and prepared to sacrifice him. Right in time, God stepped in and provided another sacrifice, a ram. Isaac lived and God honored Abraham’s unfaltering faith in Him. Faith that wasn’t afraid to appear foolish.

Then there’s Elijah. First, he challenges the prophets of Baal to a competition. The rules: both teams would prepare an altar. Whoever’s god sent down fire first, would be proclaimed the true God. But Elijah didn’t simply prepare his altar by laying out the sacrificed bull. No. He instructed those with him to pour jar after jar of water on the altar and then he waited for God to send fire. How silly this must’ve seemed to all the Baal worshippers. Surely this prophet didn’t expect a fire to burn after all that? But Elijah’s seemingly "foolishness" was rewarded. Fire came down.

And, what about Jesus? When he arrived at Jairus’ house, there was great weeping because everyone knew Jarius’ daughter was dead. Gone. End of story. But Jesus saw things differently. He told them, "Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Thought His words were ridiculous. Couldn’t He see that she was dead? What seemed "foolish" resulted in a little girl getting up and eating.

Fast forward to August 2005.

Ted and I finally came to a place where we sold our condo, packed up what would fit in our too-small -moving van, and drove to Colorado, even before Ted was actually hired. A big step of faith. Two weeks after we arrived, he finally got the job offer. In the end, our faith saw fulfillment. And Colorado’s been our home for over two years.

Now, when I look back at my time in the county welfare office, there’s no shame. No embarrassment. And I no longer count myself as above it.

While I do hope it’s a season we won’t have to repeat, in hindsight I see how God used the assistance we received for good. How it enabled us to not simply settle for "pretty good" in the area of jobs, but to hold out for God’s best in our lives. And I’m reminded by that season of paperwork, WIC checks, and social workers, that trusting God is never foolish.

Ashleigh Slater is the editor of Ungrind. As a wife and stay-at-home mom, she enjoys moonlighting as a freelance writer, proofreader, and editor. Her writing has appeared in print and online in publications including Marriage Partnership, Thriving Family, MOMSense, Brio, Brio & Beyond, Guideposts’ Angels on Earth, Focus on the Family Magazine, Radiant, Campus Life’s Ignite Your Faith, Focus on Your Child, Clubhouse, Jr., Small Group Exchange, and Sunday/Monday Woman. She spent five years as a media critic for LinC (Living in Christ): Youth Connecting Faith and Culture and two years writing music reviews and artist bios for All Music Guide. She graduated from Regent University with a M.A. in Communication. She currently lives in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri with her husband Ted and four daughters.
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Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

2 Comments
  • I so needed to read this today. We’re going through a season of “feeling foolish” as we follow God’s call, feeling a lot like Abraham setting out on his journey not knowing where he was headed. But God is ALWAYS faithful, and our faith is NEVER foolish or in vain.
    Thanks so much for sharing this testimony of His goodness!

  • A S

    Just want to say thanks for this. I googled “when faith feels foolish” and found just what I needed to hear. We are facing lots of closed doors right now, but I am going to remain steadfast.

Articles

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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Articles

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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Articles

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.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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My Journal of “Foolish” Faith

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 5 min
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