You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst

There is a song we sing at church sometimes called “Be Not Afraid“. It begins with “you shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst”. I find that reassuring. It is especially reassuring to me during difficult times. It is poignant as well, since I actually do live in a desert climate. You see, Jesus is always with me. There are some days, when I get so caught up in the issues of the day or week, that I forget He is with me. Even then, He is here.


If you are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, downhearted, or even apathetic, please remember that no desert is infinite. Deserts end, mountaintops are reached, storms and floods end. Perseverance is a challenge. But we can persevere. Even though our deserts continue today, along the path there are and will be some shaded areas and oases. These moments of respite, and supportive times with understanding people do help us endure, don’t they?

Remember the title of my blog is Believe Anyway. I picked it as a reminder to myself and others that no matter what, it is essential to keep believing. I encourage you today to Believe Anyway. Reach out, open up, offer support or ask for support from those who care. Remember, too that it is in giving that we receive. So if you feel alone, help someone. Volunteer somewhere. It will give you new direction and purpose. There are so many people in need, and it is good to fulfill a purpose outside of yourself or your own problems.

In the song I mentioned, there is this verse: “if you stand before the powers of hell, and death is at your side, know that I am with you through it all”. In very difficult times, I can find it difficult to FEEL that this is true. However, in my heart of hearts, I still KNOW that this is true. Does it work that way for you as well? What do I mean by that?┬áSometimes feelings precede knowledge. Sometimes knowledge precedes feelings.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones”. (Proverbs 17:22)

So during our tough days, if we try to find something that makes our heart merry, it is good medicine. It could be something as simple as gazing at something beautiful in nature like a flower, bird, or tree. It could be making some cookies to a shut-in, or just a neighbor. It could even be something like cleaning a room, organizing a cupboard, or planting some flowers! If our hearts become a little merrier, the sorrow will lift a bit, and we will be strengthened. If we haven’t been able to sense God standing near, we may be quite surprised to realize that He is there!

Indeed, we shall not die of thirst. He is the living water. We are not alone. Be not afraid. I do not know how my situations (or yours) will work out. What I do know is that He will be with me through it all. Many years ago, a friend of mine reassured me with these wonderful words: “God not forget”. He was right. God does not forget. He sees our skinned knees. He picks us up; we pick each other up. We know how to be like the Good Samaritan. We know how to be like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son. Others know how to do that for us, too. We are in this together. We are not alone. I wish you love and hope today. See this photo ~ it is desert and lake and forest, all in one. God is good. All the time.

Wildflowers along Bartlett Lake, Tonto National Forest, near Phoenix, Arizona.

Wildflowers along Bartlett Lake, Tonto National Forest, near Phoenix, Arizona.

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Good things take time

I lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help

I lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help

I have been reading Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success“. I am always on the lookout for insight, succinct sayings that can serve to propel me, or my students, or my loved ones forward on the path of life. Over the past few months I have had some emotional knockouts. But you see, even though my hope and optimism dimmed, I knew there just HAD to be a reason to keep believing.

John Wooden wrote “Patience is the ability to wait and calmly persevere. We all grow impatient, but some people have more trouble waiting than others do. We tend to forget that all good things take time.” (p. 123). The time spent on perseverance is worth it.


I have been giving that some serious thought this week. CALMLY persevere. So I prayed about that. I asked God to give me the gift of being calm. I could think of all kinds of reasons to worry, obsess, and think of negative possibilities. But you see, all of those earthly worries cannot withstand God’s grace. That does not mean that huge problems will magically go away. (Oh sometimes I wish they would)!

Instead it means that I can choose to remain calm, cling to Him in the storms, ask for endurance and strength. Some days, weeks, months, and even years are difficult and traumatic. Even lengthy battles end. Sometimes they end well, sometimes we lose.

Andrew Wyeth:Field

Andrew Wyeth:Field

Our vigilant Shepherd will always love us. If we listen for His voice, He will always guide us through the difficulties. He will lift us out of the brambles when we stumble. It is easy to think we are to take on the entire world. We cannot rescue everyone from the brambles. We can encourage, we can suggest that they listen to the Shepherd who is perfect. We can model the behavior. Patience is called for, because each of us listens and learns differently.


How could I forget to apply that to life? I intuitively know that each of my students learn differently. I attempt to customize my tutoring sessions so that the students can learn to the best of their ability. Well, guess what? Life is like that, too. When a loved one is struggling and not learning from past mistakes, what does that mean? It could mean they need to learn it in another way. Sometimes we must detach.

Today, just for today, I am trusting that peace and growth will continue. I realize downturns will come. But do you know what? Today I can accept “reasonably happy in this world, and supremely happy in the next”. Sail on my friends, promises await you. Have a very blessed day.

Max Sailing


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Roller Coasters and Jesus

Smiling Christ: Frances J. Hook

Smiling Christ: Frances J. Hook

For the past few few months, I have been on a roller coaster. No, not an amusement park roller coaster, but a multiple life events type roller coaster. You see, sometimes there are many twists and turns on our road through life, aren’t there. I have been overwhelmed. I have been flat out depressed at times, and carefully optimistic at times. I have gone to some support groups to gain some traction. I lost my hope for quite awhile, but not my faith. A group called Celebrate Recovery has been extremely helpful in the past few weeks. They have a broader focus than AA, Al-Anon and the like. They are faith based and they cover the usual various addictions as well as all kinds of other things, too. They have been a bridge from despondent island. (The photo below is by my friend Terri Shirley-Summerhayes, and is at the Jersey Shore).



Recently there have been glimmers of hope once again. We are learning new ways to deal with things. My husband and I have been there for each other through it all. I know, I am not giving details, which doesn’t help you to “totally get” what my husband and I have been helping someone through. I want you to know something, though. It is worth it. It is worth it to insist that loved ones honor their word, even though initially it may have just been lip service. It is worth it to stay strong and say no to manipulation. It is worth it to commit to the right values, the right ways of living and behaving. It is worth it to find the right programs. It is worth it to seek help from people who have been down the road.


When you have been terrified that bad decisions will end up causing someone you love to die, faith and prayer can provide respite for your exhausted heart. Respite is essential for survival when you are going through heck, don’t you think?

It is hard when you are going through roller coaster times and severe heartache to find hope. It is hard to even know what to pray for, other than endurance. But do you know what? Joy comes in the morning, the psalm tells us. We shall be blessed. God has our back. True friends have our back. Even in our times when we feel desolate, and believe no one will understand, we discover that some people do.

The question becomes, will we believe in our own worth? God never ever abandons us. He loves us through it all. In my mind, the perfect example is Peter. Three times he denied Jesus. As a result, Peter was distraught. Jesus built a bridge right to Peter. Three times he asked Peter if Peter loved Him. Three times Peter said he did. Jesus made him all new again. Jesus makes us all new. It helps us to “mount up with wings like eagles”

We, like the dear hummingbird, need sustenance.

We, like the dear hummingbird, need sustenance.

So yes, I have been on a roller coaster. For today, though, I am at peace. I am seated on a bench on the merry-go-round. Life is still traveling in circles a bit. But for today, it is glorious. I am a grateful believer. I am His daughter. My husband is my delightful partner. We shall endure these tests ~ no matter WHAT the one on the path to recovery decides. Our prayer is that this beloved one continues to decide the Godly path.

We are grateful for the goodness and the support God has recently sent our way. One day at a time.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.


My favorite part of this prayer is : “so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever and ever in the next”.

When I went to a support group meeting and hear that part of the prayer, it warmed my heart. Reasonably happy. Yes, that could help us all, couldn’t it?


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What will you plant in your soul

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul”. ~ Thomas Merton


Our days are filled with a series of moments and hours. Sometimes they fly by, sometimes they move slowly, and sometimes we want them to stand still. 1,440 minutes lie ahead of us, beginning at midnight. Some of that time is spent sleeping. The rest of those minutes can be full of promise, growth, learning, change, joy, tears, suffering, friendship, or even loneliness. Will we remember the roses, the thorns, the dewdrops on the roses, or the cardinal in the tree, in full song?

This week, I am determined to be hopeful. I do not want bitterness and fear to be planted in my soul; not today, and not ever. They need to be yanked out by the roots! I do not want poison and trauma to crowd out joy and hope. In order to plant joy and hope, I must be determined to view life through the lens of faith and optimism. Some days that seems like an impossible task. Some days we are whimpering pools of dashed hopes and dreams. But we must arise once again.

Remember Jesus falling repeatedly as He carried His cross to calvary? He got back up, each and every time. He is our example. We must prevail. If we try to prevail in our difficulties, our minds and hearts will get used to doing that. We will be stronger. With God’s promise, we are NEVER alone. Plant promise in your heart today. Hope and joy will be the result.You just watch and see.

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God Can Heal A Broken Heart, but He has to have all the pieces.

There are times in my life when it has felt like my heart did most definitely break. I know that is true for every single one of us. It can be hard to work through heartache and heartbreak. It takes time, and it is difficult to push through sorrow when you are quite certain that your heart may not recover.


It is harder still to watch those we love go through heartache or hard times. You find yourself wishing you had a magic wand to make the sorrow and pain just go away. But there really are no wands for that. There is compassion. There is listening. There is prayer. God can heal our broken hearts, but we must give Him all of the pieces. If the person fights against the healing path, it is hard to hang in there.Giving Him all the pieces means to be willing to move on, it can mean the person must change. It can mean the person must forgive.

When I am lost or heartbroken I go to Him. sometimes I go reluctantly, or with shame. But I go. When I am full of fear and anxiety, I find myself saying “Lord, I am AFRAID, but I believe.” I know, I know…if we believe, why would we be afraid? For me, it is because my heart and head are out of synch! Circumstances that I am facing at the time might be scary, or sad, or even overwhelming. But I admit that to God, and tell Him that although I am having those human emotions that might be shaking me to my core, I still believe. I believe even though my logic and reason cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to resolve a situation, or how to determine what the right strategy may be, I know that HE knows.

Eventually, I release my cares to Him. I stop holding them tightly. Then I keep telling Him, EVERY time I am distraught or overwhelmed….I am OVERWHELMED….but I BELIEVE, Lord. You see, He knows our hearts, doesn’t He? His love endures, and He surrounds us. When we are going through a rough time, it feels as though it is taking forever. But, as our elders told us, “this, too shall pass.”

When we are downhearted, we must believe anyway. He told us “lo, I am with you always”. Yes, even on the rotten days. If a loved one is suffering, reach out to them. Reach out, even if they keep shutting you down.

Today and everyday, I challenge you to pray for the ones going through a hard time. Let’s try our best to connect with the ones who are suffering. Your hand extended to them may begin a chain of healing moments. Be patient. It takes time for the heartbroken to actively heal and make changes, if that is indicated.

I find myself returning to God and saying, “Oh, now I get it! If I had stopped running from you, and listened, I would have felt your peace flooding into my heart. I believe you will heal.” When I talk to God, it changes me. When I let Him change me, my soul sparkles.

As we move through these early days of January, I wish you a Sparkling soul and a heart filled with peace and hope.



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“If you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t see the view.”

I lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help

I lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help

Harvey Mackay wrote If you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t see the view.” Phoenix is completely surrounded by mountains. So as I drive about on any given day, those gorgeous mountains are right there. I might add to Mr. Mackay’s words that if you do not even notice the mountains, the gift of beauty and potential goals will completely elude you. Our days and nights are gifts to us all.

As we move through passages in our lives, it can get scary or it can be quite heady, can’t it? As we come around a curve after climbing a mountain, we fully expect a meadow and place to rest and enjoy the view. We expect to be able to say “Ah, that’s done. Now I can relax.” But, sometimes we have made it through THAT challenge, and now we are aware that there are so many more to deal with! It is kind of like that song we sang when we were kids (The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see). He finally gets over the mountain, and sees another mountain. The song then repeats, like a repeating decimal.

On days like that, we sometimes feel overwhelmed and feel like we cannot go on or do not want to go on. But, if we look around us, and back at the path we have just trod, we realize something. We can realize just how far we have traveled. That is a good thing. If we have handled that, we can handle more. God assures us of that, most definitely. But if you do not feel reassured by Him, there is another way to look at it.

Look at it the way we already look at both exercise, and achieving other goals—like fitness, or paying off debt bit by bit. You see, if you have made it up and down those treacherous paths to the new vista, you are strong. You are stronger than you were before that journey began. Since you survived that journey, and gained strength from it, you can handle the next challenge.


If you do not yet feel excited about the next journey…tell yourself that you will be excited. As I tell my students, it’s just a bit of pre-game journeys. You have spent a lifetime preparing. You can do this. Take those first few steps.

What do you tell yourself when you are giving yourself a pep talk? What gets you going so that you take the next challenges and difficulties as guaranteed ways to give you strength and confidence if you just ‘give it a go’?

What challenges do you face today and this weekend? As for me, there are areas of my life where I need to have more faith in Him, and let go of my worries! Let’s carpe diem today and this weekend. A journey awaits each of us. We’ve GOT this.

i love to go a-wandering along the mountain paths, and as i go i love to sing, my backpack on my back

i love to go a-wandering along the mountain paths, and as i go i love to sing, my backpack on my back

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When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high

She looks as wiped out as I feel when i am swamped!

She looks as wiped out as I feel when i am swamped!

We all go through storms and glorious moments in our lives. Sometimes those moments are all in the same day. Sometimes we are going through so many different things in our lives ~ perhaps because of the stage of life we are in, that the weight of the burdens seems and feels downright crushing. It is hard, really hard, to hope in those times. It seems that every ounce of energy is used to just get through the day.

It is at those times that we sometimes forget to invite God into the fray with us. It is no wonder that our hearts and souls feel lonely. We get on that hamster exercise wheel and just go-go-go, don’t we? We end up depleted. We must plug in, plug into the source of all energy and love. He renews our strength. He sets our feet on high places. He restores our soul.

So if you are dealing with heartache, overwork, underwork, heartbreaking disappointment, or just plain too much (or too little) to do, plug into God. Feeling overwhelmed? Go ahead and cry out to Him. He will be there. He promised. Reach out to Him. Lately I have been feeling some heartache ~ but today I lifted my mind and heart to Him. I stopped trying to just be good old reliable me, taking care of business. I asked Him to “carry my bags” today. I told Him I need to detach from things a bit. By that I don’t mean to stop caring. Oh no, far from it. Instead, I asked Him to direct my priorities–and send His graces. I feel soothed already. How about that?

“The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of the pain, thanking God during the trials, trusting Him when we’re tempted to lose hope, and loving Him when He seems so distant and far away. At my lowest, God is my hope. At my darkest, God is my light. At my weakest, God is my strength. At my saddest, God is my comforter.”

So even in the figurative rain…..SING!





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