Who's the Nut?


Who's the Nut?

I first started to develop my passion for nutrition when I was in college.  I took my first nutrition class while attending the University of North Dakota.   As an athlete I realized that I had no clue about nutrition and that my high school and college coaches knew even less than me.   I know from personal experience how we fuel our body has a major impact on how we look, feel and perform better.  

When I was in high school I was one of the top hurdlers in the state of North Dakota.  My goal was to win the state championship in the 110 meter high hurdles as a senior.  I had bulked up over the off season because I was dedicating more time in the weight room to getting stronger for football.  As I came into the track season my coaches told me I was too big to compete at a high level and they told me to cut some weight.   They gave me no guidance on how to lose the weight and I had no idea where to even start.  

At the time, I figured the best way to lose weight was just to restrict calories.   Instead of eating a normal lunch, I would have a diet coke and a small bag of chips.  It worked, from a weight loss perspective, but it was a disaster on the track.    Running the hurdles is very precise and it got so bad I couldn’t even finish a race because my muscle coordination was off.   As the track season progressed I just got worse.  My coaches couldn’t figure it out.  They thought I was overtraining. 

As I look back now, my poor performance was 100% due to the inadequate nutrition I was putting into my body.   This was my first exposure to how fueling my body can make a huge difference not only in performance, but also in my health.

I have become a student of nutrition and have been learning more and more about how we can live our best life through what we fuel our body with.   As I continue to learn more about nutrition, the more passionate I become because I know good nutrition can solve the majority of the health problems our world faces.   In fact, I have become so passionate about nutrition, I often times am labeled as a health nut because of the way I eat.  


It’s not unusual for people to ostracize me for what I choose to eat or choose not to eat.   It has been something I have had to deal with for over 20 years.    Instead of encouraging and supporting people who take good care of their health with ideal nutrition and regular exercise, people label them as health nuts and disparage them for being extreme. 

So here is a question I want to ask you.  Who really is the nut?  I am the nut for wanting to put foods into my body that makes me feel good?  Am I the nut because I choose to love to eat foods that will love me back?   Or is a person a nut because they choose to eat foods that make them sick, have type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and forfeit their health because of a toxic diet.    Eating processed and fast foods causes physical and mental sickness.  Look at the world around us and how sick we have become.  I think that is nuts.   Your health is your life.

So if being healthy means that I am nuts, than I will wear that label proudly.   So if you are wondering if you qualify as a health nut.  Here are 10 ways to know if you are a health nut.

·         You eat kale and broccoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner

·         You know what seitan, tempeh and kombucha is

·         You get goose bumps when you walk into a health food store

·         You think eating processed foods should be a punishable crime

·         Your fridge is 90% fruits and vegetables

·         At dinner parties you show up with gluten free crackers and homemade hummus

·         Get up every morning at 4:30 to make sure you have time to work out.

·         You would rather stick your hand in your blender than eat fast food

·         It takes hours to grocery shop because you read every label before you buy it.

·         You spend as much money on food as you do your mortgage. 

·         When you are stressed you emotionally eat broccoli.

Obviously, you don’t have to be that extreme to be healthy.   All you really have to do is toss the junk food out of your kitchen and replace it with real whole foods.   You need to find a way to run, bike, swim or lift weights.  Just move and sweat every day.

I don’t know about you guys, but I love to feel good.  Here are some of the benefits of being a health nut:

·         I rarely if ever get tired

·         I maintain a healthy body weight

·         I get by on less sleep and have tons of energy

·         I have excellent mental clarity and focus

·         I have a sense of well-being and fulfillment

·         Eating healthy makes me feel invincible

·         Improves digestion and improves my quality of sleep

·         Makes me feel good

·         It makes me happy.

The choice is yours.  Come join me as a health nut.  You will truly discover what real health looks and feels like.  You will realize how good your body is supposed to feel.  We must be the change we want to see in the world.  By changing the way you eat and exercise you will achieve the health and body of your dreams.   Come on, let’s get nuts!

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

Health Coach and Personal Trainer


One Percent Better


One Percent Better

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."   Romans 12:12

Tackling change can be a daunting and an overwhelming undertaking sometimes, especially when you are embarking on a body transformation.   In fact I think it can be so overwhelming, people don’t even try, or at the very least they give it a shot, but quit if they don’t see immediate results.

What if you had a different perspective on your body transformation?  What if you just tried to do one thing 1% better today than you did yesterday?   If you are like most people your first response is that it will take way too long to see results, I want results NOW.   If you had that thought, ask yourself this question, “how is the quick fix approach been working for me so far?”  If you are like most people I am guessing it has gotten you to the point where you are frustrated and sick and tired of losing and regaining the same weight over and over again.

So why not try a different approach.  The long term sustainable weight loss approach.  The approach of  trying to get 1% better today than I was yesterday.  What does that look like?  Maybe you are chronically sleep deprived because you don’t go to bed until 1am every morning.  Maybe that 1% is starting to go to sleep 30 minutes earlier.  Is that going to rock your world?  Probably not, but it’s a start and over time you can work on getting to bed a little earlier and before you know it you have fallen into a better sleep pattern.

Try These 3 Things to Get 1% Better:

1.   Focus on one thing at a time.  What is one area that is holding you back in regards to nutrition, movement, mindset, your spiritual life or recovery?  Tackle one area at a time and just focus on that for a couple of weeks.  Once it becomes a habit and you don’t have to think about it anymore move on to the next habit. 

2.  Set a realistic goal.  What happens often times people set too big of a stretch goal and they can’t sustain it and they give up too soon.  Your confidence level should be a 9 or 10 that you can do this habit every day.  If not, you bit off more than you can chew.  Set yourself up for success.  For example if you are eating one serving of vegetables a day, don’t try to jump to five servings, just see if you can add another serving over the next two weeks.  Get 1% better.

3.   Enjoy the process.  Making changes can be hard, but really it’s about the journey and not necessarily the end result that is the most important.  See how much you can learn about yourself and your body in the process.  Think of the journey as the destination and the process as the goal. 

Change is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight.  Love yourself where you are, but continually seek self-improvement.  Be patient with yourself and know there are going to be plenty of bumps along the way.    The most important thing on your journey isn’t what you accomplish, it’s the type of person you become. 


I like to focus on this scripture when my patience is being challenged.  “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  Romans 12:12

Focus on getting 1% better in one area of your life and you will be amazed with the transformation that takes place.  I would love to partner with you on your journey of getting 1% better.  Reach out to me at troy@troyismir.com to start your transformation today.  

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

Health Coach and Personal Trainer


Are You Dense?

Are You Dense?

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”  3 John 1:2 

I think we have all heard these statistics before.   In fact we have heard them so much I think we have become numb to them because being overweight has become normal.  7 out of every 10 Americans are overweight.  4 out of every 10 Americans are obese.  1 out of every 2 Americans has some type of chronic disease such as heart disease or diabetes.  Currently there are 30 million Americans living in the United States with diagnosed diabetes, costing the US healthcare system 245 billion dollars.   One of the main reasons that disease is so rampant in the United States is due to the over consumption of processed foods.   

I think most everyone knows that eating sugar and processed foods isn’t very good for them, but so many people continue to consume these foods.  One of the reasons for this is that processed foods are specifically designed to be addictive.    Processed and packaged foods are also readily available at the grocery store and heavily marketed to kids and adults alike.    As a nation these processed foods are being over consumed, but it is leaving our bodies literally starving for nutrients.   We have it backwards in this country.  We eat a lot of food, but get very little nutrition.  We actually don’t need a lot of food, but we do need a lot of nutrition. 


That is where eating foods that are nutrient dense comes in.    Nutrient density refers to a food that is relatively rich in nutrients for the number of calories it contains.  It’s getting the most bang for your buck so to speak.  This is true both literally, getting the most nutrients and energy per calorie, and figuratively, spending your hard earned dollars on foods that leave you satisfied and sustain your metabolic needs.  It’s a fact that purchasing foods that keep you satiated and nourish every cell in the body keep you from wasting money on expensive packaged snacks, fast foods, and unhealthy foods that lack the ability to provide what the body needs.   

In order to get your hijacked taste buds back, start eating foods that are very nutrient dense.  Here is a list of some of the top nutrient dense foods you can consume.   

  • Kale 

  • Watercress 

  • Bok Choy

  • Spinach

  • Brussel Sprouts

  • Carrots

  • Broccoli

  • Cranberries 

  • Strawberries 

  • Raspberries 

  • Blueberries 

  • Flax Seeds 

  • Basil 

One suggestion that I like to make to people is try to eat at least one power salad a day.   Have a big bowl of greens such as spinach and kale and top it off with some berries, broccoli sprouts, peppers and other vegetables you enjoy.  Start gradually by replacing one meal that would normally be full of processed foods and eat a power salad instead.  Eventually replace all processed foods with real food that is nutrient dense.    You will get your health back and drop those extra pounds without starving yourself to death. 

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the original definition of the word diet is “the usual food and drink consumed by an organism.”  However in today’s society the word diet has become a nasty four letter word.  Most people associate the word “diet” with restricting food intake in order to lose weight.  The thought of restriction elicits all types of negative emotions setting most people up for failure before they have even begun to make changes.    My goal is to change this paradigm.   

Diet is what you do on a daily basis to nourish every cell in your body; it’s a lifestyle.  What you choose to put in your mouth moves you in one of two directions; the direction of health and nourishment or the direction of disease and degeneration.  The choice is yours.  You have the God given power and strength to decide.  The good news is that even small changes in your eating habits can yield big results! 

If there is an area that you struggle in, I would love to partner with you on your journey of better physical, mental and spiritual fitness.  Please send me an e-mail at troy@troyismir.com to get the conversation started of how you can live your best life.  

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

Health Coach and Personal Trainer




Just Keep Showing Up


Just Keep Showing Up


I have adopted this mantra for my personal training clients, “just keeping showing up.”  A quote from Woody Allen says, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”  I love that quote and believe it to be true.  So many of my clients have stopped and started an exercise and nutrition program so many times over the years, they come to me lacking self-confidence and full of fear that they are going to “fail” again. 

My first job as their coach is to redefine failure.  Failure to me is when you quit showing up.  When you stop trying.  When you throw in the towel and succumb to that evil voice inside your head that says, “I knew I couldn’t do it, I failed at my attempts to get healthy again.”

Men and women alike are fearful of this change process.  It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and afraid when we get out of our comfort zone.  From my twenty-five years experience as a fitness professional I think coming to a gym and starting an exercise program can be one of the most courageous things you can do, especially when you are very de-conditioned. 

I remember the first time I walked into a gym in Bismarck, North Dakota where I grew up.  I was a scrawny little ninth grader who had this dream of getting bigger, faster and stronger for football.  Me and my buddy decided we wanted to join a gym and there weren’t too many options in Bismarck at that time.  We decided that a gym called Third Street Gym was going to be our gym of choice.

I will never forget that experience.    I was a little nervous in the first place, and as I walked into the gym, the first thing I saw was a guy lifting biceps.  His arms were significantly bigger than my legs.  I took one look at my friend and I knew he was thinking the same thing.  We were so intimidated by this guy, we turned around and walked out with our tail between our legs. 

Thankfully, we got the nerve to go back to that gym a couple of days later and decided to join.  That guy who intimidated us, turned out to be one of the nicest guys.  He actually helped me and my friend learn about strength training and how to lift properly.

I have been showing up in the gym now for the past 36 years.  I just keep showing up, staying fit and strong.  That is what I want to challenge you to do.  Keep showing up.  Get out of your comfort zone.  I believe one of the best things you can do to overcome any fear you may have is to hire a qualified personal trainer/coach. 

Why go it alone?  Why struggle to try to figure out exercise, nutrition, stress management, supplements, movement and improving sleep by yourself?  One of the best things I have ever done was to hire a business/life coach.  It has changed my world.  She challenges and encourages me at the same time. 

I would like to think that is what I do with my clients.  I challenge, encourage and inspire everyone that I work with to be their best. 


I train people for performance and for life.  I help people get healthier, fitter and better in all areas of their life.  I help people get stronger physically, mentally and spiritually so they can live life to the full. 

2nd Chronicles 15:7 says, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”  Just keep showing up.  Your efforts will be rewarded.  You will see results. 

If you are ready to take a chance on yourself and re-write your story on a total health transformation, please reach out to me at troy@troyismir.com.  I would love to partner with you and create new possibilities in your life.

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

Personal Trainer and Health Coach


Three Keys to Leading Like Jesus


Three Keys to Leading Like Jesus

I have always admired the quiet leaders such as Tony Dungy and Bud Grant.  I loved their stoicism on the sidelines.  They never lost their cool and always stayed even keeled regardless if they were winning or losing.  I understand we all have different personalities.  Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves and others you can’t tell if they are ahead by 20 points or down by 20 points. 

I have always considered myself a lead by example kind of a guy.  I am not a big rah rah get in your face, give me two more reps fitness professional.  Don’t get me wrong, I will get the most out of you and push you out of your comfort zone, but I will do it in a way that shows compassion. 

I think great leaders use love as our weapon.  All of my clients know I deeply care about them as human beings first and foremost.  I not only want them to get healthier physically, but spiritually and mentally as well. 


In my faith and fitness class I teach at a local church I had a participant who shared with me some real difficult personal issues he was dealing with.   We have been able to talk before and after class as he shared some of the personal battles he is going through.  I have built trust with this person as he has shared some of his darkest struggles with me. 

As I was talking to him after class the other day he shared with me that the only reason he was coming to my class, was because of my leadership and compassion for people.  The physical workout was more of a side note.  That comment really blew me away.  I was simply leading my class and investing my time in listening and getting to know each and every one of my participants.   He said he always feels listened to and encouraged.  

Whether we know it or not, as leaders, and as in this case as fitness professionals, we can have a huge impact on people’s lives.  As faith-centered fitness professionals we can have an even greater impact on transforming people’s lives all for the glory of God. 

I have been doing a great deal of praying and meditating lately.  The biggest prayer that I have been asking God for is to work in me and through me so people can see the love of Jesus in me.  My prayer is that I can be the type of leader that Jesus was. 


First and foremost we have to be spiritually fed ourselves.  Matthew 6:33 is one of my favorite verses.  “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” If we neglect our own quiet time, time in the Word and prayer, we will be spiritually starving ourselves.  If we aren’t in a good place spiritually, it will be really challenging to be there to encourage and inspire others. 

But seek first his kingdom and his rightousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
— Matthew 6:33

My morning always start with time in the Word.  I don’t care how early I have to get up.  Often times it is between 4am-5am.  I try to get at least an hour in every morning of prayer and Bible reading, but that doesn’t always happen.   Even if you can spend 10 minutes alone with God every morning that will change the trajectory of your day. 


The second key is to walk the walk.  To lead with integrity.  To practice what you preach.  Proverbs 10:9 says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”  That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, it means that we have to be honest with people and sometimes be very vulnerable with them.  Let people know we don’t have it all figured out, but that we are doing our best.   People respect us when we are authentic and real. 

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
— Proverbs 10:9

The third key is to submit yourself to the Lord.  Allow Him to work through you.  If you try to lead under your own strength and power, it will only lead to exhaustion and stress overload.  Trust me I know.  I am really good at that.   When I am exhausted and overwhelmed, I know I am trying to do things under my own strength and that never turns out good.

I saw a quote the other day that says, “Your work is to relax and allow.  To relax and allow.  No matter what.”  Doesn’t that take the pressure off of us?  Let Jesus work in us and through us.  That’s what makes a powerful leader.    John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  That is such a powerful image and a great one to live by as leaders. 

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
— John 15:5

Of course leading like Jesus is no easy task.  It takes a great deal of energy, selflessness, compassion and time alone to get our own cup re-filled.  But when you realize all of the potential people we can impact through this leadership style, it is worth investing every ounce of ourselves into leading like Jesus. 

Imagine the possibilities as fitness professionals if we all moved towards leading like Jesus.  Not only would our clients get physically fit, but more importantly they would get more spiritually fit.   My prayer is that as leaders we seek first the kingdom of God, lead with integrity and allow God to work through us.  The world will be transformed one client at time. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

Health Coach and Personal Trainer



I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (A Tribute to My Dad)


I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (A Tribute to My Dad)

It will be 11 years on January 25th since my father passed away.  Dad, you are dearly missed.  You planted seeds into my life many years ago that now are starting to come fully into fruition.  You were a true man of God with a servant’s heart.  Your greatest saying, “Every day is a gift, so you better make the most of it,”  is something I will never forget and try to live my life by. 

In honor of my father’s 11th year since he has passed and went to be with the Lord, I wanted to share one of his most famous sermons, “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.”  This sermon along with many others can be found in the book I put together to honor my father called, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden:  The Inspiring Life Story and Words of Hope from a Palestinian Christian Pastor.

Enjoy these words of inspiration and hope from my dad. 

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior

Personal Trainer and Health Coach


By Pastor Samih A. Ismir

“I beg your pardon 

I never promised you a rose garden 

along with the sunshine 

there’s gotta be a little rain sometimes” 

“We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.  They are the people he called, because that was his plan.”   Romans 8:28

Lord Jesus when the skies grow dark in our lives, help us to come to you not for a pill, but for your abiding and enduring love, for your unparalleled promise that you are with us always. 

One of Lynn Anderson’s greatest hits from the 70’s was “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.”  This popular song put into expression a well-known fact, it stated a profound truth, into each life some rain will fall.  That is the way life is.   

Who of us hasn’t seen the skies of our existence grow dark?   Who hasn’t felt the dark shadows take from our presence a loved one?   Who hasn’t felt the ugliness of an incurable disease?  Who hasn’t feared an unknown future?   

But what do the skies really tell us when they grow dark?  The first thing we learn when the skies grow dark is that problems are a part of every person’s experience.  Here is a great hearted woman who for more than 50 years shared in the life of her frail and aging husband where now she sits in a lonely hospital room and watches him slowly slip away. 

Here is a dedicated and loving father and husband who was with his family enjoying Father’s Day when a man who had too much to drink slammed into their car and in a matter of seconds his wife’s life was snuffed out leaving all of us with the everlasting question, why?  

Here is a high school girl who gives birth to a child out of wedlock.  Fiercely she clings to the child yet deep within her grows the haunting knowledge she can’t provide the financial security or the emotional health the little fellow needs.  What should she do? 

Here is a young executive who had worked hard to arrive at his present position within his company but due to a merger and reorganization he is forced out of a job.  All of his hopes, plans and dreams burst like a bubble upon the surface of his life. 

Here is a young mother of three lovely children who goes to the doctor for a routine checkup only to discover that she has a rampaging malignancy.  I could go on. 

I could go on to point to the homes going into foreclosure, to the down economy.  To the crimes committed daily.  To the winds of pain of loss and grief which come whipping into our daily lives.  But why go on?  You and I know from personal experience that there are times in our lives when the sky grows dark.  There are times in our lives when the rain falls.  I never promised you a rose garden.   

But there is more to life than dark skies, tragedies, heart aches and disappointments.  There is the beauty of the sunset and the evening stars.  People thrill at hearing great music, poetry and drama.  There is the infant’s first awkward step, the adolescent’s first fumbling kiss, and the teenager’s first car.   There is the utterly indescribable impact of a parent’s life as they look into the eyes of their first born child.   

There is more to life than dark skies, there is more to life than tragedy, and there is more to life than rain.  There is loveliness and joy, health and contentment, and there is richness and splendor. 

The second thing we learn when the skies grow dark is that how you and I deal with our problems makes a difference.  It is not difficult to accept life when everything is going well.   When our health is in good shape, when we win the game, when we get a promotion at our job.  We all feel like singing everything is going my way.  But it is a totally different story when we lose the game, when we are forced out of a job, when our health is in shambles.  Then what you and I do is important.  The fact that dark skies come into our lives is relatively unimportant.   What you and I do when those skies get dark is supremely important. 

One person will break down, literally break down.  Another person will become bitter, cynical, and hostile and infect his surroundings with his own misery.  And then there are those among us who become angriest even at God as they shake their fist at God and say what kind of God are you?  I have had enough. 

Fortunately for all of us, there are those who refuse to break down.  There are those who refuse to become bitter, hostile and angry.  Instead they turn inward.  They turn to their inner resources of faith and courage.  The great novelist, Albert Camus once wrote, “In the midst of winter I suddenly discovered an invincible summer within.”  It is this invincible summer within that you and I must turn when our skies grow dark.   

Nadeem was a high school classmate of mine.   He and his family lived down the street from us in the city of Jerusalem.  In 1948, the war broke out between the Arabs and the Jews.   One night we heard the drone of airplanes.   Bullets and bombs were flying all around us.  I remember hiding under a table for safety and security.  The next morning when I got up and went outside I could see about an inch of grey powder from the shelling that took place.  I found out at the end of our street where Nadeem and his family lived their house was destroyed.  His entire family was killed, but Nadeem’s life was spared.  He was rushed to the hospital where doctors had to amputate his arm and leg.  For several months he was in and out of hospitals.   He was able to go on as he drew upon inner resources of faith and courage.  He finished high school with high honors. 

I came to the United States for my education.  He went to the American University in Beirut, Lebanon to finish his education.  He majored in teaching and education.  I remember when I came back to the Holy Land I looked him up.  I found out he had been spending his time teaching in a refugee school in the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem and that same year he had received the honor of being the teacher of the year.   There is a man who had discovered an invincible summer within. 

Dr. Tom Dooley was a great missionary who established missionary hospitals in Laos.  He died at the age of 34 a young man.  In 1959 doctors operated on him for chest cancer and the doctors at that time told him he had a 50/50 chance to live out the year.  How would you react?  Listen to what Dr. Dooley wrote.  “I knew I wasn’t going to abandon what I think is the correct thing to do in life simply because of shadows on a page nor was I going to quit this living loving passion which I have for life simply because of a statistic.  There is still much work to do.   I must continue to do this work as long as God permits me time.”      Cruel circumstances did not thrust Dr. Dooley’s back against the wall rather with the hearty inspiration which comes with his kind of greatness he was able to draw upon inner resources of faith and courage and rise above the dark clouds of his life. 

You may forget everything that I have said so far, but I do hope and pray that you will never forget the powerful fact that the heart of our Christian faith is the insistence that there is not a situation beyond despair, no pain so raw, no fear so stark as to frustrate the gracious purposes of God and that all things work for good for those who love Him. 

It is in God’s love and our response to that love that you and I discover the power to overcome.  The great Apostle Paul expressed it this way.  Who shall separate us from the love of God?  Shall fear or tribulation or nakedness or peril or sword?   He emphatically answers no, for we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.   I am confident that nothing shall separate us from the love of God.  Not because God provides us with a pill, rather because he provides us with powerful promises.  Come to me you who are weary, who are troubled, who are burdened, who are experiencing dark clouds and rain and I will give you rest.  This is where our faith helps us to overcome.  When I say faith, I don’t mean a shallow kind of faith that promises an easy way out of every predicament, I don’t mean a faith that is a rabbits foot or an escape hatch, rather I mean a faith that is rooted in God’s love and promises to be with us at all times. 

I had once talked to a man who had lived through the Great Depression and it must have been a terrible time for many people.  This father told me when he was a little boy his family didn’t have two nickels to rub together.  He had to walk to school every day for two miles through rain and snow.  He had to work when he was a young boy to help the family.  But one thing he said he could tell his son was that he wouldn’t have to go through what he went through.    I felt sorry for that man.  I felt sorry because he was going to deprive his son the opportunity to grow in his faith.   It is when things get tough, that God is able to make something out of us.  Faith doesn’t want us to remain children all of our lives, pampering us with the things we want and the things we need.  Rather faith makes us strong as we stand firm on our own two feet, placing our hand in the hand of the living God who sits by you today and goes with you wherever you go.  That same God says to each one of us, come unto me, you who are weary and burdened I will give you rest. 

I am not going to tell you that life is easy and that our problems are easily solved.  If I did that you would know I am out of touch with reality.  You and I have at one time or another seen the skies of our existence grow dark.  We have felt the dark shadows of death take from our presence a loved one.  We have felt the ugliness of a dreadful disease.  We have gone through the trials of a divorce.  We have endured a broken heart.  We have feared an unknown future.  We have had insurmountable debt.   We have lost a job at the most inopportune time.  We have dealt with seasons of loneliness and despair.   God never promised us a rose garden, but take heart because we have a great God, a God who promises us to be with us always and a God who says to each one of us, be strong and have great courage.