The Irrational Dilemma of Being Stuck

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When I was about 10 years old I went to the mall with my family. I remember being on the 2nd floor and stopping to peer over the railing down to the main courtyard with my dad. We were waiting for my mom to finish shopping. As I watched the people bustle below me, I pressed my knee between two of the retaining bars as many children often do and I left it there. It was then that my mom came out of the store. But when I tried to pull my knee out from between the bars it wouldn’t budge.

I was stuck.

In my 10-year-old mind I panicked. I frantically started pulling and tugging and twisting around trying anything to get my leg free from its unexpected prison.  When I couldn’t free myself my thoughts escalated into irrational scenarios.  Surely the fire department would need to be called in. Mall managers would yell at this little kid for making such a mess and ban my family forever. And my parents surely would refuse me my allowance for causing them to have to pay for the damage.

My face began to get hot from the embarrassment. There seemed to be thousands of  people walking by. I had no doubt they were thinking that I was so fat and stupid. How else could someone get their leg stuck?  I could already hear the kids at school calling me names when they got a hold of the headline, “Girl Gets Her Fat Knee Stuck at The Mall. Emergency Amputation Performed on Sight.”

Tears started to burn my eyes when my Daddy placed his hands on my shoulders from behind me and calmed me down. He said, “Stop moving. You’re just going to hurt yourself. Extend your leg gently and try to pull it out.”

I argued with him a little bit and told him that it was going to be stuck there forever. There was no way that doing what he suggested was going to work.

“Trust me,” he said calmly.  My daddy was always so calm even in the midst of his daughter suddenly facing leg amputation. Such a good quality. Wish I had more of that.

I did what he said and lo and behold, my knee came out with ease!  It was a little sore, but I was so thankful that the news crew hadn’t arrived yet that I didn’t care.

I looked around expecting a crowd to have gathered behind me to jeer and mock me while I was stuck there feeling so vulnerable.  To my surprise there wasn’t a single person pointing fingers. There wasn’t anyone there making fun of me. But there also wasn’t anyone there feeling sorry for me either. Despite all the lavish delusions that went on in my head, the whole episode had gone unnoticed by everyone except my Father.

Do You Ever Feel Stuck?

I haven’t learned my lesson very well.  My knee isn’t trapped between bars at the mall, but I still feel stuck sometimes. Things I think should have happened by now haven’t.  Things I think I should have overcome by now just seem to keep nagging at me.

It’s easier to let our minds race with damaging and irrational thoughts and let panic overtake us. allowing that leads us to believe we will never get unstuck. All the tugging and twisting trying to free ourselves from unexpected stuck-ness only causes us to hurt ourselves more and remain stuck. And that is exactly what the enemy wants.  You can’t do much to advance the Kingdom if you’re stuck.

Maybe you’ve been stuck deep in debt and you feel like you just might drown.  Or maybe you’ve lost a close relationship you thought you’d have forever and you’re stuck in the hurt and grief. Maybe life happened before you could finish your degree and you are feeling underpaid and underappreciated. It could be that you are stuck in sin or an addiction and you just can’t seem to find your way out.

Are you hurting yourself more by tugging and twisting trying to figure things out on your own? Are you making the situation worse than it actually is by listening to the voices in your head? Or are you being still and listening to the direction of your Father to help you out of your sticky situation?

So How Do I Get Unstuck?

Here’s what I have learned in my years on this planet. Life is sticky. It’s not always easy to wipe away the messes that catch us off guard. In the moment it seems like the pulling and the tugging are the right things to do. But that only hurts us more in the end. If we could just learn to Be Still and listen for our heavenly Father’s instruction on how to get unstuck, we would save ourselves so much heartache.

Ask for a way out. There is no debt, no loss, no sorrow, fear or injury that can leave you stuck forever if you seek His glory through the pain. Even when things seem impossible to overcome your Heavenly Father is waiting there to help you find your way out.

Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Asking for help is easier if you know the person you are asking.  Be still and know… We can’t get to know anyone if we’re constantly on the move. It used to be so hard for me to be still and I am a work in progress with that one. Being still doesn’t mean sitting in a quiet room and not doing anything.  It’s sitting at His feet and seeking His face. It’s wanting the Truth more than anything else and finding peace within that. Being still is bathing in the Word and soaking up what God speaks to you through it. And then trust Him! Get to know your God through prayer and ask Him to reveal ways to become unstuck while you are being still and He may astonish  you!

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

For more on how to get unstuck through reading your Bible, click on the Bible verses above or click here.

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When You Miss Out

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Photo Credits: Denise Gibbs

I missed the rainbow.  While all of my friends seemed to catch it’s glory, I missed it. I was busy working at my computer before the storm, and I turned it off to avoid a power surge as it approached. When the worst of it blew over, I kissed my daughter on her head and told her she could again find me back at my computer, working. Avoiding the blessing.

Apparently it was a blessing seen for miles and miles. Vivid in splendor. Spanning the rain-drenched skies with it’s reminder of God’s promises.  All of the Facebook posts of it’s beauty were envy provoking. Taunting like a school-yard game.

I missed the rainbow.

The sky outside seemed perfect for one.  Through my open blinds I even said to myself, “I’ll bet there’s a rainbow somewhere right now.” But I chose to keep on working.  I chose to keep my head down and ignore the reminder that God is awe inspiring and the producer of all beautiful things.  I chose to remove myself from the pleasures of the promise. A promise that God is always good and faithful, even through the storm.

It makes me wonder how many other times I have done that.  How many other times have I ignored God’s prompting for Him to show me something glorious and I chose to remain in the mundane? All I needed to do was go outside my little box of a house.  All I needed to do was stretch my legs a little and I would have been left speechless by my Creator.

My heart aches to think of the times I have ignored Him when all He wanted to do was bless me.

Oh, how I pray to always be aware of You, Lord! May Your glory span the heavens and reach down to touch me on the shoulder and whisper in my ear;

“Child, come and see the beauty that I have in store for you today!”

And may I never again miss the rainbow.

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Some Thoughts About the End

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When I pulled into the driveway after dropping her older sister off at Kindergarten for her first day of school and stopped the car, she said with such a precious pout, “I miss Abby too much!” My youngest daughter, Lucy, was barely two-years old. I scooped her up into my arms and we went inside to cuddle and miss her sister.

That was over nine years ago when she was barely two years old. I remember such sorrow on her face as she realized she’d be alone all day without a playmate. I remember how the day seemed to stretch forever. Six hours. The longest the two of them had ever been separated. The longest the two of us had ever been separated.

We passed the time with cuddles, books and a little Barney. I don’t remember much more about that day other than how long it seemed that we had to wait to be able to reunite with my oldest child. I couldn’t wait to hear all about her first day.  Did she like her teacher? Did she meet any new friends? What did she do? What did she eat? Did she play outside?

It was like waiting for molasses.

And then I blinked.

Today that sweet 2-year-old missing her sister on her first day of Kindergarten graduated from elementary school. Nine years of science fair projects, forgotten homework, math assignments and field trip forms passed by faster than the first 6 hours of their elementary school lives. It’s amazing how you don’t see it happening while you’re in the middle of it, but when it’s over you are flooded with memories too many to count.

She kept finding my gaze today as I sat there in the assembly and watching her spread her little wings. She wanted me to cry, because let’s face it, that is something I am really good at. And she thinks it means I love her if I do.  But I couldn’t.  Not while watching her laugh with her friends and stand up to be recognized for all she has been able to accomplish since the first day we walked through those doors 9 years ago and we started this journey. How can a mother cry when she sees her child so happy, well-rounded and blessed?

Because it’s not really the end at all. It’s just a chapter in her life. And she’s just been handed the pen to write the next one.

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Lucy after her 5th grade graduation
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A Description of What It Felt Like When I Wandered

Wandering

Wandering

 

The sound of sirens screamed above my head warning me that something dreadful was approaching. Like many times before, I walked along a narrow path in the wood. There were no signs of a storm. No wind. No dark clouds billowing in the distance.  The sun, warm and yellow, filtered through the trees.

“Probably just a test,”  I said aloud to the peace in front of me.  There was no one in my way. I was carefree and glad to be wandering on my own. The birds dashed, dived and called to one another overhead. The flowers seemed to radiate colors never seen before. It was an exquisite afternoon and I was drawing in every quiet moment.

“There is no way there’s a storm coming. Not when the sky is immeasurable blue.”

I ignored the warning and continued on my way.  If I had really been in danger I thought it would have been obvious. The sirens would have kept going or rain would have begun to fall. But the noise calmed itself and seemed to fold away, and with it any thoughts I might have had of being harmed.

And that’s when I saw it. Like something out of storybooks a different and more alluring path was suddenly revealed to me. In all my years of following this same path never had I noticed the tiny segue tucked under the vines and underbrush. I stopped and looked around to see if there was anyone else who noticed this sudden revelation. This secret garden filled with enchantment. But it seemed as though it was just for me.

A wave of excitement took me over. It was something that looked so inviting and promised to offer adventure that my usual way never had. I was full of curiosity and time seemed to stretch like a sleepy cat, so I chose to wander away from the things I knew. I told myself I wouldn’t stray for too long. I’d just walk a little ways down the path and turn back to my familiar surroundings in a few minutes.  I just had to see if I could find something better heading a different way. I took a deep breath and began my journey down a path that lead to anywhere. It felt so good. It felt like an adventure. Doing something different than what I have always done. Going a different way. There was no telling what I might find!

It seemed to smell sweeter. The earth dark and fresh with life. It felt soft beneath my feet. Comfortable. New. I was alone but felt like the whole world needed me to do this. The whole world needed me to discover promises of something better.

Suddenly, a cool breeze rustled through the canopy of branches and gathered around my shoulders. I shivered at the dramatic change in temperature and thought it would be best if I turned around to head back to my old faithful path. But I could see a clearing up ahead and I let the temptation of the rush of freedom under an open sky overwhelm me. So, I walked even farther down the unfamiliar path. Twisting and turning my way into satiated oblivion.

High on exploration, suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks.  An eery darkness fell and I could feel something lurking. Something so perfectly intriguing. Something obscure. Something heavy and powerful. Magnetic and inhuman. Something was watching me.

I wasn’t alone.

Rolls of thunder began to call in the distance begging me to turn back. I looked over my shoulder to see how far I had walked down this unmarked road and my stomach lurched. It was dark behind me like a curtain had been pulled. A veil shielding any light that may have once been there. Panic shot up my veins when I realized I had wandered too far.

I was lost.

What I had thought was a path was simply a fabrication in my mind. All of it’s beauty and allure suddenly vanished and I couldn’t believe I walked that far and never realized there was nothing special about it at all. I felt empty and foolish. Hopeless. There was nothing to show me where I had come from. Nothing to indicate how to get back to what I knew was safe and would lead me home. Fear sped through my spirit like a freight train. I didn’t know where to go, or which way to turn. Frantic and scared I began to run back in the direction where I thought I had come.

Straight into the storm I had denied was building.

I kept running blind just hoping that whatever force that had been minding my steps was not continuing to follow my every move. I knew I was wrong to have wandered off the road marked before me and I was desperate to be back on that path. I didn’t care what it took to get me there, but I didn’t know where to turn and there was no one around to help me. The distress over my isolation crashed with the streaks of lightening in the sky.

There was nothing left for me to do but to fall to my knees and endure the heartache of weathering a storm. I cried out for someone, anyone to save me. I begged for shelter and mercy from the unrelenting rain. Wind tore through me and I feared it would rip me apart. Lightening struck a tree and firey fingers fell around me like darts. It looked like a war zone. It felt like an attack. Angry at myself for not heading the warnings. In disbelief that I had allowed something to pull me away from my straight and narrow path I yelled through the unforgiving downpour.

“Lord, save me! Fight this storm for me, Lord! Forgive me for my wandering and rescue me from myself!”

You won’t believe me when I tell you but all of it is true. My sweet savior came to me immediately and quieted the storm swirling around me. He lifted me out of my own muck and mire and set me down on dry ground among the path marked out just for me. He took my hand in his and said, “My child, I have heard you. Now come. Follow me.”

With tears streaming down my face and my heart bursting with gratitude I looked at him and said:

“Lead the way.”

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The Warning Signs of Motherhood

Mom with Daughters

They warned me. I have no one to blame but myself for this.

They may not have been able to warn me about the time my 3-year-old pitched a fit so enormous it woke the entire childcare center at naptime. As if suddenly possessed with a burning passion for furry monsters, she screamed and kicked all the way down the endless hallway over my old Elmo doll.  It was mine from my high school days and she never paid any attention to it. Until I started a new teaching job and tried to leave it for other children to play with. They don’t warn you when you’re snuggled in a hospital bed with your sweet cooing baby how they will one day be the cause of your life’s most embarrassing moments.

And they never mentioned the amount of patience it would take to help my 1st grader with her homework as she struggled with undiagnosed ADD.  The agony and frustration we both felt while my six-year-old would spend hours at our kitchen table just trying to do one ‘simple’ worksheet. She’d have to turn the neighbor kids away when they came to the door to play because she was still doing her homework. How could someone so smart struggle so much with school work? No one warns you of the feelings of inadequacy and concern when you can’t teach your own child but you can command a room full of three-year olds. “She’s so smart,” they’d say. “She’s got a bright future!” They don’t tell you about the times when the house falls silent and all those doubts begin to creep into your mind. Any confident strides you may have made that very afternoon with time managing the homework demons sink deep with sorrowful sighs into your pillow.

But this? Seems even strangers warned me about this:

“They grow up so fast.”

But when you’re in the trenches it’s hard to see the horizon.

“Don’t blink. Before you know it they’ll be grown and gone.”

It’s hard to hear that over your kicking, screaming, Elmo-obsessed three-year-old.

“Cherish the time you have with them now. Soon they won’t want anything to do with you.”

Somehow cherishing doesn’t seem to fit in the same realm as crying over 1st grade math.

And yet here I am wishing I had listened to them.

Both of my girls have milestones this Spring.  I am not sure how I missed this when I signed up to be their mom. Abby Faith finishes middle school, and Lucy will be spreading her wings and flying from the safety of her elementary school nest. This year they stacked the deck against me. I should have seen it coming.

They warned me after all.

I find myself weeping over the most common of scenarios. Like when my tiny baby girl forgets her English book after school. And this time she doesn’t need me to go with her back into the school to get it. I literally sobbed in the car while I waited for her to return. She looked so grown up! But I wiped my tears and gathered my composure before she returned. She wouldn’t understand. And if I warned her now about how this whole Mothering gig goes down, she wouldn’t listen. Just like her mom.

Or when my sweetest baby-faced child suddenly wants to trade in her Disney princess dress-up dress and go shopping for a dress to wear to her school semi-formal dance I lock myself in the bathroom for several minutes and just pray for time to stand still. Tomorrow she’ll ask to go shopping for a wedding dress. That will be an entire tear-stained blog post in itself!

Some days I feel like I just won’t make it. Some days I just feel like it’s not fair at all the way this life works. You pour every ounce of love from the very essence of yourself into someone just to give them away. And you pray that whomever you give them to will love them as much as you do or more.  I want to believe that’s true. There’s got to be some hope in that. But, I really don’t think there’s any love deeper, stronger or more poignant than that of a mother for her child. We loved them first after all. Before a name, a face and a birthday. We loved them first.

So excuse me if I get emotional over high school registration forms and 5th grade ceremonies. Because the time I have with them to do their hair and talk about boys will one day come to an end.

But my love for them goes on forever.

 

 

 

 

 

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Seasons: Trusting The Process

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“Is it just me or does Summer seem like it’s taking forever to get here?”  I said this aloud to myself as if I actually expected an answer.

I love Summer! I love the long days. The heat. And the sound of children laughing as they play outside. I love bare feet. Swimming. I love popscicles and sticky fingers. Ice cold glasses of lemonade. Ahhh.

I love eating outside every night and the fragrance of the grill. And lazy afternoons reading on the porch. I love the magic of lightening bugs and the cadence of cicadas screaming through the trees. I even love how down here in the South the air is so heavy sometimes it feels like a cloak. I know I am in the minority with that one.

Living in Alabama most of my life I’ve been spoiled. My favorite season always seems to last the longest of them all, usually showing up the end of March and fighting to hold on till the very end of September. The heat is always the first to show up and always the last to go. But this year, it seems as though it’s been cooler longer than normal. I’m still hanging on to my sweatshirt.

So when I asked myself that question I didn’t really expect an answer. But, I should know that I am never alone and Jesus can whisper at anytime.

“Why do you always do that? Wish your seasons away? Why don’t you ever stop and enjoy the season you are in right now?”

Ok, so those were more questions than they were an answer.

I didn’t have an answer for Him at all. I just shrugged and pulled my blanket up higher around my shoulders.

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I don’t know why I always seem to rush away the spaces I’m in. I have yet to figure out why I am always in such a hurry for my girls to grow up so they can move out of the house, or so I don’t have to keep shuttling them from all their activities or friends houses. And yet, the sight of their beauty as they emerge into women makes me weep. I’m clinging to the last days of elementary school with white knuckles while wishing my eleven -year-old would just grow up and be responsible already!

I’m a paradox.

So I sat there with my blankie around my shoulders and thought of the seasons in my life. So many of them I wouldn’t want to come back around, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

There was the season of job loss and a brand new baby. Young-married and broke. I was far from my family and desperately lonely. But it was in that season that I turned back to Jesus and leaned on Him for the first time in years.

There was the season of a lost relationship that I cried over and suffered the heartbreak of realizing that someone I loved with all my heart would never be a part of my life. But in my weakness I found His strength to move on and find lasting godly relationships that push me and don’t hold me back.

There was the season of financial struggle from personal injury. It was so hard to be patient and wait for healing and redemption. But I found it in that season. I also found joy in how creative He is with his provision for my family.

Each one of the seasons in my life I didn’t like always turned over into something better. Something I could never have imagine for myself or my family. It was during each one of those seasons that He was refining me and all for His glory and for my benefit.

Winter must happen in order for me to appreciate Summer.

Right now I feel like I am in a season of growth through obedience. There are things I want in my life that God doesn’t seem to think is right for me. I am trying to learn to let go of those things to make room for what God has in store for me. I feel out of my comfort zone a lot these days. And I’m learning that it’s not about what I want at all. It’s all about living out His purpose for my life. And even at nearly 40 I am still unsure what that is.

I can’t see the end of the season I am in right now. And I find myself wishing it away like I do a chilly evening. I have to trust through obedience that He’s got something even better for me as this season changes. I have to trust that the stuff I think is a pain to deal with is just preparing my path to a sweet Summer day filled with laughter and joy.

Because it is.

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The Things Jesus Doesn’t Know About Me

Repentence

RepentenceLately I’ve been wrestling with a question that I felt was pretty stupid. I often don’t ask questions like that except to my husband who is always so gracious with my naive spirit.  But even this one I kept close to my wandering heart. I just felt awkward even having the thought. Finally, one night this week I had to try to quiet the rattling in my brain,

“If Jesus was perfect and never sinned, how can he relate to me, a sinner, struggling with repentance?”

In other words, how is it possible that he understands why I do the things I do when I don’t want to do them? (Romans 7:15) How does He have any clue what it’s like to be entangled in sin and not want to be there?

How can He understand my gossip? My lies? My deceit? Insecurities? Doubt? How does He know what it’s like to wrestle thoughts I shouldn’t have or desires that don’t line up with His? I know I shouldn’t. I don’t want to do any of those things. My true desire is to become as Christ-like as I can. But I am human. And so was He. But He is also God.

I can’t compete with that!

Yes, Jesus was tempted with the same things that tempts me and you. Yes, He has felt the sting of betrayal and loss. He took on my sins to save me. But how can He understand remorse? How can He understand true sorrow over things done and left undone?

How can my savior fully understand repentance when He never had to go through it Himself? Wasn’t that the point of Him being sent here to Earth? So that He could understand my every heartbreak?

The conversation with my husband didn’t help me at all. (Sorry, babe!) He didn’t have an answer to soothe my worn out soul. In fact I became a little angry with the idea and started to feel alone in picking up my cross daily. I didn’t want to do it anymore. Pride began to creep in and I started entertaining thoughts of how much easier it seemed to do things my way.

That’s a dangerous place to be. And when you find yourself in a battle like that the best and only solution is to drop everything and sit quietly at the feet of Jesus. Oh, how I can’t wait to be able to do that for all eternity!

Because He does know exactly what I’m feeling. He’s God after all! Omniscient God! He knows every last emotion and thought. He knows my struggles and my pain. He catches every single tear and patches up the rips in my heart. The heart He made and gave to me. The heart He dwells within and calls His own.

It’s when I’m remorseful and sorrowful for the things I’ve done that He ushers up beside me, sits quietly, and lets me weep. He lets me pour out my heart without hesitations and He doesn’t ask questions. He doesn’t need to. He knows.

And when I am too weak to pick up my cross, He carries it for me.

 

 

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Living Without Regret: Or Being Obedient

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#ds509 - Order Here

My morning routine has been anything but these days. With my husband out of town these last three weeks I’ve been the one to get both of my girls out the door on time and in one piece. So, let me just stop right here and publicly thank my husband for his awesomeness in the morning and how much he helps me on a daily basis. I can do it without you. But I really don’t wanna! On top of getting our girls up and moving, he makes me breakfast each morning. I’m spoiled and I don’t even know it.

It had been about 2 weeks since I had eaten a decent breakfast. I could have waited until I got to my office and made me a bowl of the instant oatmeal that has been in my desk for months.  I am sure starving children in China would have been happy to have it, but I just needed some Chick-Fil-A. We all need some Chick-Fil-A. Little did I know that I had a divine appointment waiting for me there.

I drove passed the church where I work and a few miles out of my way to the closest Chick-Fil-A restaurant. I will never understand how that place gets people in and out so quickly. The line is always wrapped around the building. So I drove around the building to find my place in line. As I did, I managed to accidentally cut someone off resulting in them needing to take their place in line behind me. I cringed because my car has a vinyl cross affixed to the back window. Christian’s aren’t perfect, but somehow we have gotten a bad rap for thinking we are. I was hoping the guy behind me wasn’t muttering something ugly to himself about me, or worse, something ugly about Christians in general.

That’s when God suddenly showed up in my front seat and made me real uncomfortable.

I’ve been struggling with obedience lately. Ok. I always struggle with obedience. But here lately God has really been working on me. And not just with being obedient in the big things like moral issues, although He’s pressing hard on me there too. But the little things I’ve really noticed. Like, when my husband asks me to get the oil changed in the car on Tuesday. Tuesday is ladies day and we can save $5. Tuesday it was raining and I really didn’t want to have to go out in the rain to have that done. Plus, I always feel like an idiot because I can’t find the stupid lever to open the hood. I end up having to have the mechanic do it for me. They are always so polite to me, but I know as soon as I pull out of the bay they start talking about how much they hate Tuesdays because they have to deal with mechanically ignorant women like me. But, my husband asked me to do it. We can save money. So I went.

That morning at Chik-Fil-A wasn’t much different. I could feel the Spirit telling me to buy the meal for the guy behind me. No matter what he ordered or how much it would be. He wanted me to bless him. Ok! I can do that! But wait…there’s more!

“And I want you to give him one of those Gospel tracts you found when you cleaned out your car this weekend.”

I already cut the guy off and now you want me to go all Jesus-freak?

I didn’t want to do that. But then I remembered that moment in my bedroom when I was in the 7th grade. I found a tract in my Bible that I must have pulled from church somewhere. I had a million questions about life after death because a good friend of mine had just lost her mom to cancer. I read the tract right there on my bed and met Jesus for the first time even though I had been to church all my life.

My heart started to pound as I pulled up to the window. I was making up excuses why I didn’t need to do what had been asked of me. Maybe I could just pay for his meal and have the girl tell him to have a nice day. Maybe she could just tell him I was sorry for cutting him off. Maybe she didn’t need to tell him anything and I didn’t need to pay for his meal at all.

What if the person at the window thinks I’m crazy? Or what if she’s inspired by my actions and it changes her for the better even if just a little bit?

Or what if the guy behind rejects it or it upsets him? That’s not my concern. I am to be obedient when God asks me to do anything and not ask questions.

But what if he’s already a Christian and could share the Gospel with me? Wouldn’t that be a waste? Then maybe he might be encouraged by my actions to do the same thing for someone else later. Someone else who really needs to hear the Gospel.

None of my excuses were getting me out of the task set before me. So, I told the sweet southern girl at the window that I wanted to pay for the guy behind me and asked her to give him the tract. She didn’t blink. Well, at least that settled one of my fears. She didn’t seem to think I was crazy.

She gave me my breakfast after I paid for both of us and I went on my way. I thought to myself that I’ll probably never see that guy again.

But what if I do and it’s in Heaven? What if my obedience that day shaped his eternity?

Being obedient isn’t always easy and a lot of times it doesn’t feel good. But I read something today that makes it just a little bit easier for me.

“Obedience to Jesus is the only path to no regrets.” -Billy Graham

I have yet to disprove that statement.

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Perfect Love: Why Do You Think You Don’t Deserve It?

I love Jesus Religious Words isolated on whiteValentine’s Day is always a day I look forward to. A perpetual lover of love, it’s a day perfectly designed for me to reflect on not just who I love, but the love I receive from others. Especially the love I receive from Jesus.

I was preparing the preschool lessons for my church this week. The children were to learn about Jesus and Matthew. You’ll remember that Matthew was a tax collector, which back then were hated by the Jewish people. They were often dishonest, but they were also employed by the despised Roman government. Not a very popular bunch. Despite his lack of social appeal, Jesus hand-picked Matthew to be one of his closest friends. A disciple.

What an amazing love! Jesus doesn’t care if you are the most popular one in your group, the best dressed or even if you have it all together. He’s not waiting for you to become something better. Something cleaner. Something more devoted. If he was waiting for any of us to be perfect before he showered his extravagant love on us, none of us would ever receive it! We can never be good enough for Jesus. But we also can never be bad enough for him to reject us. If we wander off, he still seeks us. He always wants us. What JOY we can have in that!

Stop waiting to be perfect in order to allow yourself to be perfectly loved.

Jesus can handle your sin. Remember, he overcame it on the cross. Jesus doesn’t care about your past. He’s only interested in your future with him in Heaven. Doubts? Fears? Addictions? Strongholds? None of it is a surprise to him and none of it is something he can’t handle. None of it is something he doesn’t want to hold for you. I think the bigger disappointment for Jesus is not our sin, but our thoughts that our sins should hold us back from him. This negates the cross all-together. This makes sin greater than the one who overcame it on your behalf. This belittles his abundant love for us and grieves his heart. It’s a toxic and dangerous lie we buy into all the time. Our mess is never something Jesus can’t clean up.

It’s so vital to remember that we were not created in order to be anything. We weren’t created to be tax collectors. We aren’t here to be moms. Or a spouse. Our greatest calling is not teaching, or crunching numbers, selling real-estate or managing a business. We need to realize we were made for the soul purpose of being loved by our Creator. Perfectly.  That’s all. That’s it!

Why do we complicate it so?

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Observations At The Traffic Light

holding hands

Cold Traffic Light

 

I wasn’t looking for a lesson or asking God to speak to me, He just showed up. What a crazy God we serve. Showing up in the every day like that. He’s so conspicious sometimes. It’s like He made the universe and loves each detail of my life or something.  Gotta love a God like that!

It’s no secret that I do not appreciate cold weather. I try to embrace it, really I do. It’s just that it’s so, well, cold! I’ve really been leaning on God this Winter and praying to find ways to appreciate it. So maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise when I woke up that morning, the sun was shining and I just marveled at the frost patterns on the door of my car. Such delicate handiwork! I stood in awe over the way the sun filtered it’s way through the leafless trees clinging to the cold stoney mountain by my house. I was breathtaken at the way the mist rose silently from the creek as I drove over the bridge taking my girls to school. It was a freezing cold morning and I was enjoying every cold thing about it.

Those are the moments. Those moments when our hearts are open and we can appreciate His goodness. Those are the moments God waits for! It’s then that He takes his chance and speaks.

I was sitting at the stoplight among all the other frazzled and hurried drivers. All of us waiting on the light to change so we could continue to be busy at our jobs. I had my music on and was enjoying the moment, glad to be appreciating the wonder of the cold instead of cursing it. And I thought to my self, “Even the exhaust from the cars around me is beautiful in the cold.”

Have you ever noticed that? Have you ever noticed that when you’re sitting still at a stoplight the vapor just rises and almost seems to envelope everything around it. The mystery is when the light changes and we are able to move again. That’s when the mist disappears.

I am sure there is some science behind all of this. No doubt you could sit down and explain it all to me. But I wouldn’t listen. I don’t care, really. That’s because the lesson I learned that morning is far more important to me.

When I am still. When I am waiting. When I’m not driving around from one thing to the next. That is when I can actually SEE the Spirit move. That’s when I can almost reach out and touch Him.

When the light turned green and we all began to move again, it was as if the mist was left behind. It couldn’t be seen anymore. It wasn’t obvious that it was there. Although, it had to be there or all those cars were not functioning properly. Just like me. I simply cannot function properly without the Spirit there with me.

What would happen if we all just stopped for awhile and took the chance to notice the Spirit and how He moves? What if we just allowed ourselves to become enveloped around and through us? What if we could just be still long enough to hear His voice. What if we cared less about the destination and more about what God is doing here and now?

I think the answers to those questions would change the world and how we live in it.

 

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