Doing Hard Things

Choir is a required course of the curriculum at Highlands Latin School. Every student, kindergarten through twelfth grade, participates in choir. As you can imagine, not everyone likes choir. Not every person enjoys singing or aspires to be a singer. It can be a challenge to motivate such students. However, I see the value in maintaining this curriculum requirement for three reasons:

Number one, and most importantly, we are commanded by our Creator to sing. He made us musical beings so that we may worship Him with song. All creation sings the praise of its Creator. As His people, why would we not pursue excellence in doing so? Over and over in the psalms we are commanded to sing. 

Sing to the LORD a new song;
Sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
(Psalm 96:1–2)

Read Psalm 150 and feel the importance of our musical praise. If you’re breathing, you’re without excuse!

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with tambourine and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flute.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Everything that has breath shall praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD! 

Number two, there is great value in training our young people in how to collaborate with others and to effectively deliver the result of their work. Exhibiting professional stage presence, maintaining poise while under pressure, following a leader, and even the ability to stand still for long periods of time greatly benefit anyone desiring to be an influential adult.

Finally, can we put a price tag on the value of doing hard things? Adulthood is a daily grind of doing what we must do, not simply enjoying what we want to do. Too often in our society we hear sentences begin with, “I don’t feel…” or “I don’t like…” or “I don’t want…” When we train our young people to have the mental strength and the physical capacity to do hard things they don’t feel like doing, we are preparing them for life. 

To learn how to do this, we look to the best possible role model: Jesus Christ. He showed us what it means to do the hard thing. “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Christ is the inspiration for every action we take, large or small. 

What are the hard things in our lives? What do we not feel like doing? May we lean into our union with Christ for the power to persevere. Through His strength we can do hard things, even sing in a choir.


What is fate? 

The dictionary describes fate as an “inevitable and often adverse outcome, condition, or end,” “the circumstances that befall someone or something,” or simply, “final outcome.” Fate is a word that gets thrown around when facing a negative conclusion. In fact, my friend and I often make this statement when discussing such things: “Lord, spare me this fate.” For example, when someone is behaving in an ungodly manner and we understand our own potential to head there… “Lord, spare me this fate.” 

Not all adverse outcomes, however, are the result of ungodly behavior. My mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and I have found myself pleading with the Lord to spare me this fate. The thing is, God has already ordained my steps. His specific plans for me are “formed of old, faithful and sure” (Isaiah 25:1). They were written before the world was founded.  

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him… (Ephesians 1:3,4) 

So why bother praying about such things? Well, God’s plan for my life includes prayer. I am commanded to be in fellowship with my Creator. I am called to pray. Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Prayer is not an option for my life as a follower of Jesus Christ; it is a lifeline. Prayer is a place of sweet communion, established by God, orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, and satisfied through Christ. Prayer changes me. 

As I plead for my fate, I lay down my will and pursue His instead. In other words, I surrender. In a culture that says, “never surrender,” I gladly wave the white flag, understanding my Savior knows best for me. The waving of that flag isn’t passive. No, it’s incredibly active. It’s calloused knees from kneeling and tired bones from a good and faithful fight. Am I stewarding my body well? Am I doing my part to prevent cognitive decline? Fight. Pray. “Lord, spare me this fate.”

It’s a beautiful duet we sing. I work and pray. God ordains and answers. I surrender. He is glorified. This is the very reason for my existence: His glory. “Lord, grant me THIS fate.”

I’m Not Panicked

Every morning when I greet my daughters, they seem to have changed from the night before. Something happens during their sleep. They awaken more matured from their rest. It feels like a magic trick that I cannot figure out or a time warp that I cannot slow down. 

We are one inch from starting college visits. How did this happen? I remember being eight months pregnant and riding home with Patrick after purchasing the baby crib. I mentioned the distant day when the baby would outgrow the bed. This thought hit us so keenly that we both teared up. We hadn’t even met her yet! Well, that graduation to a “big bed” came and went. Twice. 

I know time is fleeting. I’m trying to treasure these days with my girls. I breathe in these moments and strive not to forget them as they pass. I also know that each new stage of life brings exciting adventures and strengthening challenges. And though I pray my guts out for my daughters, I’m not worried about them. I’m not panicked. 

I know now the same comfort and rest I knew then, when I would leave my newborn in that crib each night: my God is sovereign. He is in control. He is their Maker. He is their Owner. And by His good and gracious providence, He blessed me with the humbling task of raising them in Him. How could I ever doubt His plans? How could I not surrender wholeheartedly to whatever He has already chosen? 

Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him,
Because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your favor, Lord, be upon us,
Just as we have waited for You. (Psalm 33:20–22)

Thank You, Father, for Liliana Gabriel and Sabrina Raphaelle. My heart rejoices in You because I trust in Your holy name. 

Christ Be Over Me This Day

I’m in the middle of my first teaching of Gratefulness Matters. Fifty-seven precious women are taking this journey with me. I hope to have the full study, with video teaching sessions, available this fall. For now, enjoy this simple rhyme taken from Session #5, in which we ponder what it means to be grateful for our oneness with Christ.

Christ be over me this day, not just in what I do or say
But over my being in the deepest sense, in this war, my one Defense
Christ be poured out through my skin, through each failure, through each win
In every influence I possess, may they see His righteousness
Christ be glorified by my life’s song, if I am loved or I am wronged
May He be seen, may He be known, through my tender, gracious tone
Christ be obvious in me, my only truth, my identity
May His glory be not dimmed, for I have kept my lamp trimmed
Christ be not only my future hope, but here and now in the daily scope
Where my time counts and is ticking away, Yes, Christ, be over me this day

The Light of Night

In the dark of night, when my eyes are open, all the trials of life seem amplified. The heart turns moronic when left to its own devices. I know this is true because I’ve experienced it hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. God’s word confirms that my heart isn’t to be trusted. 

The heart is more deceitful than all else 
And is desperately sick; 
Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9) 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
And do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) 

Watch over your heart with all diligence, 
For from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23) 

The psalmists often view the night as a time for worship and meditation. Perhaps they also felt the fragility of their own hearts in the dark and understood they needed to seek the Lord to recover stability. 

l will bless the LORD who has advised me; 
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. (Psalm 16:7)

When I remember You on my bed, 
I meditate on You in the night watches. (Psalm 63:6) 

LORD, I remember Your name in the night, 
And keep Your Law. (Psalm 119:55)

My eyes anticipate the night watches, 
So that I may meditate on Your word. (Psalm 119:148)

Night and day are the same to God. He’s not affected by emotions or fears. He is a constant source of stability, comfort, and strength. His provisions cease not simply because the moon replaces the sun. 

Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; 
You have prepared the light and the sun. (Psalm 74:16) 

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, 
And the light around me will be night,” 
Even darkness is not dark to You, 
And the night is as bright as the day. 
Darkness and light are alike to You. (Psalm 139:11-12) 

I want to view the night in this way: a time to rest and to be with my King. I love falling asleep whispering His exaltations. And should He stir me for earnest, fervent prayer, may I enter the battle with Him as the warrior He is shaping, not the defeated former self. There is great light in the night when I fight right!

My friend Sandy used to call my nighttime activity “prowling.” We joked that a little man named Prowley ran the nightshift for the gears in my brain. She’d often say, “Put Prowley away, honey, and go schreep.” 

Be gone pestering ponderings. 
Away with you, mental wanderings. 
I sigh but say goodbye to the howling of prowling. 

Because I have better things to do with the night. 

To declare Your goodness in the morning 
And Your faithfulness by night. (Psalm 92:2) 

Come Away

This December has been one for the books. We added some extra things to our plates which we will not be doing again next year! We live and learn. Always. The Lord seems to be teaching us new lessons concerning our priorities. 

This time of year always creates a frantic feeling for our family. But underneath the sirens of stress there is a soft whisper. Peace is mine at any moment—in any scenario—when I come away to the King. The One who knows me best and loves me most is ever ready to meet with me and quiet my noise.

We will debut this new worship arrangement of Away in a Manger at the Highlands Latin School Choir Presentation on December 15 and then sing it again for our Christmas Day Worship Service at Harbour Shores Church. May the truth of these lyrics silence the noise for you this December, reminding you that you too can come away to the King.


Amy Branson Fata © 2022 Portion Music

Away in a manger a baby did lie
In Bethlehem city on one starry night 
The gift of salvation from heaven above 
Fulfillment of ages and promise of love

Away in a stable a Savior was born
The gift of compassion to all those who mourn
His mercy so tender, His wisdom so deep
A Shepherd to guide the poor wandering sheep

Come away, come to the manger
Come away, come to the King

Away in a manger the hope of mankind    
All prophecies answered, each wonder and sign
The promised Messiah incarnate come down
We battered and bruised Him with thorns for a crown 

Away on a hilltop “Let’s crucify Him!”        
The cry of the scoffers and my voice within
My anguish, my darkness, my wretched estate
Are all I could offer as He changed my fate

Come away, come to the hilltop
Come away, come to the King

Lord, let me give more to You than Calv’ry’s weight
I forsake my envy, my groaning, my hate
I run to Your manger, I kneel at Your cross
I bow to Your Lordship no matter the cost

Come away, come to the Savior
Come away, come to the King
Come away, come to the Savior
Come away, come to the King 
Come away
Come away

Gratefulness Matters

A new study is coming in 2023! I’ve been working on Gratefulness Matters not only in my writing, but also in my heart. I’ve come to realize that something I run low on is gratitude. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I totally realize how blessed I am! I am overwhelmed with God’s goodness at every turn. But does gratitude shape how I navigate my day-to-day living? When frustrating scenes arise, is my heart inclined to groaning or gratitude? Is my mind quick to claim injustice or surrender to my sovereign King’s verdicts? 

Gratitude is a game changer. You’ve heard me say a thousand times in Truth Matters that our union with Christ is a game changer. Both are true! In fact, one helps the other. Only through my oneness with Christ will I ever begin to live with gratitude as my attitude. 

How about you? Are you mindful of your gratitude only when Aunt Suzy asks everyone around the Thanksgiving table to say what they are grateful for? Or does gratitude reside in your every thought and deed because of Christ? We are called to operate with thanksgiving not only for our good, but also for His glory. 

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  (Colossians 4:1)

Keep an eye out for this new study… because Gratefulness Matters.

The Ultimate Escape

When David is overwhelmed by his circumstances, he wishes to escape.

He writes,

Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
     I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
     I would lodge in the wilderness;
I would hurry to find a shelter
     from the raging wind and tempest.
(Psalm 55:6-8)

I have to admit I have felt this way this week. Life is overwhelming at present. I find myself deeply grieved, losing sleep, and not wanting to eat. I feel this way not because of busy schedules, but because loved ones are struggling, the world is full of crooks trying to rip me off, my body hurts, the future is uncertain, and on and on. 

When life is overwhelming, escape is an appealing option. But I’m encouraged by how David regroups:

But I call to God,
     and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
     I utter my complaint and moan,
     and he hears my voice. (Psalm 55:16-17)

David understands that he can’t flee his circumstances, but he can flee to the Lord. Instead of wallowing in the mire of self-pity, he calls out to God. This is the ultimate escape. The same is true for me. God’s comfort is the only way out of my despair. 

David continues,

Cast your burden on the Lord,
     and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
     the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)

There is no need to escape the circumstances He has purposefully orchestrated for me, for He has promised to use them for my good. Instead, I escape my grief by seeking Him. 

I flee to Him.
I call out to Him.
I exalt Him.
I take comfort in Him.
I trust His sovereign hand.
I enter His rest.

The last line of Psalm 55 says it all. David simply declares, “I will trust in you.”

Meaningful Scars

Excerpt from Truth Matters, (Week Four, Day One):

To die to self is to put your sin to death. The truth of the matter is this is a daily endeavor. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:11-12). Just as we need daily bread, so we need daily forgiveness and cleansing.

The concept of falling in sin reminds me of a time when my husband was videoing our three-year-old daughter running ahead of him down the sidewalk. She fell and scraped both of her sweet little knees. Watching the replay is cringeworthy! Of course, the story ends with her running back to her papa’s arms.

Likewise, our heavenly Father sees us when we are running in the wrong direction. He knows the fall is coming, yet He allows it. Why? For our sanctification. Our repentant sprint back into His arms ends with more than comfort. Christ’s atoning work on the cross means forgiveness and healing and restoration are ours! This beautiful fellowship we’ve been granted with the Father is our grandest reward.

Both of my spiritual knees are scraped up from sin. Though my scars are ugly, there is also a rich beauty in them because they serve as reminders of His forgiveness and mercy. These tumble marks represent wisdom gleaned! Spiritual scars are meaningful. Nothing is wasted with our good and gracious God.


This weekend, I had the honor of watching my closest friend’s fourth daughter get married. I’ve known this angel since her adolescence. She’s always been beautiful. She’s always been faithful to the Lord. She’s always loved His Word. She’s always served others with a joyful spirit. These things seem to come naturally to Caroline. What a blessing! Most of us fumble around trying to develop such disciplines. 

It is normal to find Caroline listening to a sermon or studying Scripture. It is normal to find her lending a helping hand to those in need. Smiling while accomplishing whatever task is before her is also normal. And now her smile will be met by her handsome groom every morning. His presence in her daily life will quickly become her new normal. It’s a fairytale ending for a princess who has faithfully waited for this good gift from her King. 

The newlywed days are a wonderful season of life. It is a season I remember fondly. Making a home with the man I love is utter delight. Building a life together from the ground up is a treasure. And, twenty-six years later, we are still making a home and building a life. 

Last week I sent Caroline a card with the acronym S.W.E.E.T. She probably didn’t need these friendly relationship reminders, but my supporter-advisor personality couldn’t help myself. 

Say yes whenever you can. (Ephesians 5:22-33))

We is better than me. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

Every day, pray together. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Every time you’re annoyed, instead of grumbling in your spirit, pray a quick thank-you for your mate. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Today this is easy, but plan to always love him more than you love yourself, even when it is not easy. (Philippians 2:3)

There is nothing SWEETer than a relationship built on Christ. When two people determine to make Him their highest affection, the selfless actions above become norms. It is normal for me to say yes to Patrick’s dreams and suggestions, to consider myself his teammate, to pray with him, to thank the Lord for him, and to love him more than I love myself. Of course, I fail from time to time, but that is also normal. And guess what? There’s a normal grace for every failure. 

Congratulations to the newlyweds! May today be the day you love each other least, and may your love for one another be surpassed only by your love for Christ. 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (1 Thessalonians 5:28)