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I’m thrilled to have my friend Heather Khym guest blogging for us today! You’ve likely heard Heather on the Abiding Together podcast. Read on for a beautiful reminder about building our lives with Christ as the foundation. —Lisa

Last year we had the amazing experience of building a new house that we hope to be in for the rest of our lives. I’ve watched so many Chip and Joanna Gaines renovations, I felt like I was ready for my honorary design certificate and to get started on my own project. In the midst of my excitement, I underestimated how many important decisions needed to be made before we got to the fun design part. The most important of which was laying a strong foundation so we could have the security and confidence that it was going to last.

One night, a few months after we moved in, my husband woke to our alarm beeping because the power had gone off. On his way back to bed, he glanced outside and noticed there was a huge storm. The trees were bent over with the wind, our entry lantern was erratically swinging back and forth, and our neighbors were outside with flashlights because the storm had damaged their house. My friend later told me that she woke up with the sound of the wind hitting the windows so loud that she thought they were going to shatter. Do you know where I was? I was fast asleep. I didn’t hear a thing. Our house was so strong and insulated that it was completely unaffected by the severity of the storm outside. I was safe and cozy in my bed without a care in the world, because we had prepared for the storms before they even happened.

As a part of our preparation of the home, we had written scriptures all over the wood framing when it was being built. In the basement, I had written the scripture from Matthew 7:25: “The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.” It reminded me that building our home on a strong foundation is important, but building our life on a strong foundation—with the Word of God as our anchor—is vital.

We have all experienced suffering and trials throughout our lives, especially this last year. We have been overwhelmed with change, disappointments, sufferings, losses, and pain. On top of it all, leaders and institutions we trusted have also let us down. There is only one who has been and always is steady, secure, trustworthy, and safe: Jesus. He is the unchanging One, faithful and good, and He is strong. He truly is the only foundation that is firm and worth putting our hope in.  

It’s so easy for our priorities to shift, and when they do, we have an opportunity to reestablish Jesus as our foundation. We can do this through recommitting our life to Him, through prayer, drawing close to Him through the Sacraments, and through His Word. In recent years, the Word of God has been my most crucial weapon against the tactics of the enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). It has been my daily reminder of where my hope comes from, of the goodness of God, of His plans for my life, and that He truly has won the battle against the enemy once and for all. It has also been the protection and power that I declare over the storms of life.

When we place our hope in anything other than Jesus, we will end up disappointed. When we build our life and place our hope in Him, we can rest easy that He is going to take care of us in the midst of our joys and sorrows. Of course a life built upon Jesus doesn’t mean the storms stop. Jesus clearly says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” A life built upon Jesus means that we are not alone in the trouble, and the One who is with us is bigger than the trouble. Not only is He strong, but He has the power to change trouble into something beautiful.

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Heather has more than 25 years of experience as an established evangelist and speaker. She attended Franciscan University of Steubenville where she studied theology and catechetics and met her husband, Jake. Currently, Heather speaks on a variety of topics, leads conferences, retreats, and women’s ministry, and has a successful podcast called Abiding Together. Her passion is evangelization, discipleship, and creating an environment for people to have a personal encounter with God. She lives in British Columbia with Jake and their three teenage children. Follow Heather on Facebook and Instagram

Hello, my friend.

Full disclosure here- I can't call myself a “hurricane survivor” because my little tribe and I escaped to the great north instead of remaining in Florida during Hurricane Irma. But my beloved town, St. Augustine, most definitely has weathered it, along with so many loved ones who stayed. And since life still can feel upended even when you escape out of the path of the wretched storm, I'm going to share some lessons I'm learning from this current whirlwind. Forgive any poor writing or nonsense, and chalk it up to the fact that I am typing on a laptop that is covered in a film of whatever sugary treat was fed to my child who watched movies on said device hour upon hour in endless traffic yesterday. The stickiness is a little bit distracting.

One thing I've observed is that the whole concept of paying it forward is on display in the most beautiful way when we are in the midst of crisis. Families that lost everything and relied on help during Hurricane Matthew are now opening up their doors and serving pancakes and coffee, clearing debris, and offering to do laundry for people who are currently suffering. They are living out 2 Corinthians 1:4, taking the encouragement they've received and then letting it overflow into others' lives.

Difficulties can truly bring out the best in us, drawing us together as political, racial and economic differences fade to the background. Driving home yesterday (along with half of the state of Florida) was pretty much insane. Highway 95 was a parking lot, and I started to wonder if Waze was to be trusted when we were the only car directed down a deserted road with a sign for “Farish Deer Processing in 6 miles.” After twelve hours of this ride, things took a turn for the worst at an iffy rest stop overloaded with garbage and way too many people. Lines for the restroom were too long, and for the life of me I could not figure out why a very loud woman was just wearing her bra and leggings. Kids were screaming, chaos was reigning, and I started to feel a little unsafe and very stuck. In the midst of this, a little act of kindness made such a difference. The young woman in front of me in line observed my daughter Charlotte's desperation for the bathroom and had us go first. I know- such a little thing. But it instantly stopped my critical assessment of the “sea of humanity” in front of me, and caused me to look someone in the eye and notice her goodness.

'Connection happens when we have honest conversations with people who look and think differently that we do, step out of our comfort zones and offer small (and large) acts of kindness, and recognize that most people are longing for and dreaming of the very same things we are- strong families, safety, belonging and love.'

There is no doubt that distance demonizes. Face-to-face, we are much more likely to recognize all that we have in common-if we slow down and really look. We are wired for connection, and if we are able to look past the things that make others different, we are able to grab hold of each other in little ways and offer hope and encouragement and love. I connected with a young woman in line, someone I will probably never see again, and I was better for it.

This interaction, and an interview with Dr. Brene Brown that I listened to as we drove, made me think about the way social media can get in the way of genuine connection. We all observe things being posted on social media that would likely never be said directly to someone's face. We are emboldened by the “distance,” and send pot shots or snarky comments across the web. We feel safe to do so.  What Dr. Brown wisely observed is that social media is great if we use it to connect, but it is a horrible place to process your pain. Unfortunately, social media seems to be the place that a lot of people work through their emotions, political convictions and prejudices. This is, honestly, a horrible place to have “conversations” that really need to be had face-to-face. When I post that I am “praying for Florida and my loved ones who are facing the hurricane there,” it's not a helpful or life-giving comment when someone replies that perhaps I should pray that my senator would acknowledge the effects of climate change. Facebook is the wrong place for this particular conversation. It simply causes alienation and builds walls.

Our country is more polarized and divided than it has been in decades. We can look to politicians, hoping and praying that they find a way to work together and bring change. But real transformation and bridge building is going to occur on the local level. It happens when we have honest conversations with people who look and think differently that we do, step out of our comfort zones and offer small (and large) acts of kindness, and recognize that most people are longing for and dreaming of the very same things we are- strong families, safety, belonging and love.

With gratitude for small acts of kindness, and prayers for homes and power to be restored in Florida~

Lisa

Lisa Brenninkmeyer
Founder and Chief Purpose Officer
Walking with Purpose

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