Unforgettable: When God Writes The Story

wordoftheyear2018

I love words. I’m the girl who sits and reads the dictionary during her leisure time.  Yes, the paper copy. When I hear a new word, I almost always look it up and practice saying it over and over again.  Sometimes, as with a popular song, I will get a word stuck in my head. The poetry of it is melodious to me. I know. I’m weird.

It should be of no surprise then, that God uses words to mold me into who He wants me to be. As if He is allowing me a sneak peek into the grand story He’s writing for my life, these words hold a theme of what He will allow and walk me through.

The concept of choosing just one word to meditate on for an entire year is not new, but I still love it. I begin to pray about it around November (looking forward to a new year anyone?) and begin to reflect on what God brought me through with the word he gave me previously. I’ve been given “intentional” and “trust” the last two years. Both of those words proved to refine me in ways I didn’t plan.

I thought “Intentional”  would remind me to be a better friend. You know, be intentional about how I spent my time with others and invest in those I cared about. Turned out God wrote that word on my heart because he wanted me to be more intentional about the time I spent with Him! I could not have survived a broken heart without all the time I spent in the Word and praying. Intentionally seeking my one true love. Jesus.

Trust. This year my husband spent 10 days in 2 different hospitals with a traumatic injury that almost took the use of his arm. The days and weeks and now months after the injury have been nothing short of a challenge. Learning to live with the pain, the limited use of his arm and the lingering question on whether the dead bone used to replace the one he lost will ever ‘come alive’ or not, all of that takes a whole lot of trust in a God who has our best interests at heart.

This year I also began a new full-time director position in children’s ministry at our church. The stretch marks and bruises from that alone have left me questioning what God has gotten me into. And I realize it’s all part of that tiny little word He wrote for me. Trust.

Since the last two years of my life have been so challenging, I hesitate to choose another word. But I realize that the words God uses to write my story allows me to focus more on a reason for the challenges and not just wallow in the suffering. And since I tend to be a carefree spirit and want to do things my way, I know that God has given me this word for 2018:

Discipline.

It really doesn’t sound like a fun word at all.  God will even back me up on that one;

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:11

Not enjoyable. Sounds like just the kind of year everyone wishes for! While the work and discipline may not be easy, afterward comes the peaceful harvest.

Being disciplined with my money yields a more secure future for my family and sharing wealth with those who need it more than me.

Being disciplined in my time with the Lord nourishes my soul to better be able to minister to those around me.

Being disciplined with the food I put on the table provides a healthier life for my family and loved ones.

Being disciplined with my time leaves me more time to do the things I love to do, like write, read and spending time with my family.

Discipline is not enjoyable, and to be honest I wish my word was different for 2018. But I am also looking forward to what the fruits of that labor will be.

“Intentional” helped me better understand the characteristics of God.

“Trust” helped me better understand that he is always there, even on my darkest days.

Who knows what ‘discipline’ will teach me this year. I won’t know until a year from now. But it is guaranteed that if I continue to let God write the words, the story will be unforgettable.

 

What word has God given you for 2018? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

 

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Details: When God Gives You A Pickle

Distraction. We all struggle with it.  So many things demand our attention every day. Work. Kids. Relationships. Some of us are involved in so many activities there just doesn’t seem to be time for work, kids and relationships. Our devices intended to make our lives easier sometimes are the most distracting things in our lives.

Have you ever felt that way?

I am certain that God never intended for us to live like this. God never wants us to get so bogged down with so much that we can’t pay attention to the little things.

God pays attention to the little things.

I am reading chronologically through the Bible. Some of the Old Testament books are not very good bedtime stories. I find my thoughts drifting off and wishing for an easier read. When I got into Exodus and God is giving all the instructions on how He wanted the Temple built and the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant, I literally stopped, groaned and said aloud:

“Why do all of these details matter?”

And God answered, “Because details matter to Me.”

Now, it’s not every day that God answers me right back, but it’s not unusual when I take the time to dig into His word. It is so important to get to know my Heavenly Father and His character. That’s only possible by reading His autobiography, the Bible.

So, I wasn’t surprised that He answered me so clearly and I wasn’t surprised with His answer. But, it’s had me thinking ever since.

God is in the Details.

The other day I was driving to lunch with a friend of mine. Thinking ahead to the menu I said out loud to her, “I want a pickle.”  It seems random. I know. But she went with it and agreed that I should have one with my lunch.

We arrived at the busy restaurant, found our table and briefly looked over the menu. The sandwich I settled on came with a pickle. When the waitress brought it to me, wouldn’t you know that sweet, benevolent detail-oriented God of ours brought me two pickles!

I truly do not believe that was a coincidence. It was a small detail to remind me He’s listening to my heart’s desire.

Last Spring, my husband was in a traumatic accident where he cut off his left elbow.  We waited in the hospital for over a week for doctor’s to detemine what should be done. Finally, it was decided that my husband would need a cadaver’s elbow to save his arm. Of course, all that was available in the entire country were left elbows.  Exactly the detail we needed!

Notice The Details

I think that God wrote all of those details in the Old Testament because He wants us to know that He cares about the details. If God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow then His detail-loving character hasn’t changed.

And He wants us to notice.

He wants us to notice the extra pickle or the fact that He provided the exact missing piece. He wants us to notice the little things He does for us so that we will trust Him with the bigger things.

How to Notice the Details

It’s easy to see God when He heals a friend of cancer or provides at the very last minute the funds you didn’t think would be there. God is still in the business of showing off, and I love that.

But, maybe you find it difficult to see Him in the details.

One way to see Him every day is to realize that He’s there. Every. Day. He’s what set this whole cosmos in motion, after all. If He can do that, He can put an extra pickle on a plate.  Begin to notice the beauty around you. Put down the phone and listen to your children laugh. Look out the window and marvel at all the tiny things set in motion before you in that very instance. Breathe in creation.

Another way to realize God’s love for details is to realize His desire to satisfy yours. An extra pickle isn’t a coincidence if you know your Father knows you wanted one.  He’s a good Father, and He promises that if you ask it will be given to you. Luke 11:9  That includes pickles.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Luke 11:11

But the best way I know to understand and begin to notice the details around you is to spend time with Your Father.  Dig into His word and learn about His character. Make a point every day to learn something new.  You notice things about others when you spend more time with them. That includes your Heavenly Father. Find a quiet place and pray. Talk to Him throughout the day and make sure you thank Him each night. When you take the time to be still and get away from your distractions, it’s easier to know that He is God.

Knowing God means recognizing His subtle reminders that He’s got not only your biggest worries, but also your detailed desires in mind.

 

I’d love to hear from you. What are some ways God has shown off to you through the details? Join the discussion in the comments below this post.

 

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Hope Among The Mess

I took this picture not knowing the meaning it would hold for me less than 24 hours later.  It’s a picture of my 12-year-old’s daughter’s room. As is.

Can you just see her life in there?

One glance at the picture and you can see who she is.  She’s a free spirit. A lover of pink. A dreamer of Paris.

She’s also a mess.  That’s why I took the picture.  I took it to remind myself that one day she’ll grow up and move out and she’ll take the whole messy pink bundle of girlish charms with her. Her laughter. Her smile. Her joy. It will all grow up and move out on me one day. And I want to remember it all.

As is.

I chose not to fuss at her this time for the way her room looks, but she fussed at me for taking the picture. She fusses at me for a lot of things these days. She is twelve after all.

The next day I learned that someone else’s child was shot and killed at her church in Texas. Dozens more were killed simply by doing what my family does more than once a week–going to church.

I am so thankful to still have that ‘one day’ to look forward to.

Anytime tragedy strikes it causes us to reevaluate our lives a bit. Do your loved ones know that you love them? I mean, really? Have you done enough to teach and mold your children? Has your life made a difference to those around you? Are your priorities in line?

Perhaps tragedy makes you feel angry or frustrated.  Maybe it causes you to spring into action to help those who are directly affected by what happened. Or maybe it happens so often that you have become desensitized to it. I know that has been my reaction many times, I am almost ashamed to admit it.

Somehow, this one hit home for me. I’ve lost track of the number of disasters and unspeakable acts of violence this year alone.  But the news of innocent children murdered sitting next to their mothers? It’s too much. It’s too raw.

So, I look back at the picture I snapped the night before. I can practically breathe in the fragrance of my daughter. I can almost see her sitting there at her vanity doing her hair. And I can’t help but wonder if tragedy is around the corner for me too.

However, my peace lies within the knowledge that my child knows Jesus. She teaches me about Him a lot when she doesn’t even mean to. Does she stumble sometimes? Yes. Does she have a lot more to learn? Yes. I pray protection over my children every single day.

I know that God can allow some horrible trials to strengthen His people. None of us are immune to tragedy, but my child is immune to death.

This is what gets me through horrible news stories. The promise of eternal life for those that know Jesus like my child.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t mourn over this tragedy or losing someone they love. It’s not even my child and I have wept. I’m saying that there is hope. Hope for grieving parents and a grieving congregation. Hope for a town that suddenly finds itself thrust into the national spotlight and making a mark in history for all the wrong reasons. There’s hope for a nation that just can’t seem to heal before another tragedy strikes.

You’ll find that hope nestled in the random picture I took of my daughter’s messy room. It’s sitting on her dresser. Do you see it? It’s a Bible. Between the two pink covers lies every answer to every problem you’ll ever face. It’s comfort. It’s hope. And it’s sitting in the midst of the mess we’ve made, just waiting for us to return to its promises.

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My Journey To The Other Side Of Heartbreak {See Ya 2016!}

 

2016, I’m over you!

Typically, I couldn’t care less about a calendar year and don’t anticipate much a new one. But this year, I feel like I should ceremoniously rip December from my desk calendar and prominently place January 2017 where everyone can see it’s shiny newness.

Poor 2016. It’s not your fault.

It’s just that I walked through a whole lot of hurt with a whole lot of my favorite people. Including myself. The sudden and mysterious death of a parent. The death of an old friend. Divorce. The break-off of an engagement. Serious injury. Financial strain. And my personal experience of losing a very close decades-old friendship that I thought would last a lifetime.

Maybe you were dealt a similar hand this year and you can relate.

Hurt.

I could easily feel helpless walking through all of that. And I did. I still do, sometimes. But looking back I can see who I was in January 2016 and who God has stretched and molded me into using all of those trials. If 2016 has anything going for it it’s that I learned more than I ever have about leaning into Jesus for my healing, guidance and strength. I am humbled beyond measure by His mercy and grace and I am learning to set aside the idols that get in the way of His will for my life.

I have been beaten down, bruised and broken.  But never abandoned. Even in the midst of all the hurt I never felt my Savior let go of me. Even on the days when my grief was crippling, I learned to focus on the One who was calling to me among the crashing waves. Every day is a new lesson in remembering to clothe myself in the full armor of God, but trusting Him to be the one to fight my battles.

One word to change my life for 2017

2016 was the toughest year for me emotionally that I can remember. But I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.  I know when I am under fire it’s because I am being refined like metal. All my impurities will melt away transforming me into something more precious.  I am promised an abundant life in Christ and it is in Him that I choose to stay.

Perhaps you are one of many people who will choose a word to guide you through a new year.  I chose ‘intentional’ for my word in 2016. I had a much different idea of the word at the beginning of the year! I thought it would help me build intentional relationships with others. Instead, I found myself being intentional with my prayers, my quiet time, my thoughts and putting on that armor every. Single. Day. Or trying to.

I didn’t give much thought to my word for 2017, but I didn’t need to. God promises that he will work all things for my good and bless my abundant life. Heartbreak is never easy and no one asks for it, but sometimes God allows us to walk through it for the ‘soul’ purpose of getting to know Him better and learning to trust Him more.

That is why my word for 2017 is TRUST

Trust that He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Trust that He will deliver His promise for good. (Romans 8:28)

Trust that His dreams for me are way better than anything I could imagine for myself. (Ephesians 3:20)

Trust Him to heal me and to restore me. (Psalm 147:3)

Trust that the journey He brought me through in 2016 has prepared me for His plan in 2017 and beyond. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I never thought I’d be thankful for my heartbreak or that I would ever be able to turn my hurt into praise. Still, some days are easier than others.  But it’s because of those promises in Scripture that I am able to find hope. In good times and in bad. So, while I know my journey isn’t over (I am still breathing after all), and I know that the year is long, I can feel the Lord’s strength within me and that still small voice cheering me on through His sustaining power in 2017!

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Peace {How I Found It With A Wish}

I lost an eyelash this morning.  Not really a big deal. But I lost an eyelash this morning and it taught me a huge lesson on what really matters.

My husband and I have been pretty diligent about staying out of debt for the last 7 years.  We worked really hard to pay off student and car loans and credit cards.  It took us a good while to get there, but when we did it was very liberating  and we were able to begin saving for emergencies.

We’ve had our share of car breakdowns, vet bills, and home repairs.  Anyone living in the free world experiences these things. But God always provides. Always.

This year though we’ve had a rough go. Our entire air conditioning unit needed to be replaced earlier this Summer giving us a huge $6,000 hit to our emergency fund. We reluctantly paid it but we were thankful not to go into debt and to have cool air. Southern summers are brutal, y’all. (Oh, how I love them!)

We slowly began to rebuild our emergency fund from it’s crippling blow, but life seems to want to beat us up a bit more. Both girls needed braces at the same time. The same. Time!

My oldest started high school along with musical theater and choir and dance and fees, fees, fees!

My husband needs to have surgery within the next few months. If you’ve been living in America the last several years, no doubt you are aware that even if you have insurance your medical bills are nothing short of ridiculous. I could go on since this is my blog and I can.  But I won’t.

Also, because of the extreme drought in the Southeast, my house is slowly settling it’s way into the ground and beginning to crumble around my ears. Just say the words “Foundation Repair” and you see dollar signs flash before your eyes. Go ahead. Say them. Right? Dollar signs!

Last weekend both of our cars, BOTH of our cars died on the same day.  One is still sitting dead in my driveway.

It’s all a bit overwhelming.

So, we pray. And we plan. And we pick up the things that God has put in our path and try to count it all joy.

We look for ways and anticipate how He will provide for us. We give it all over to the one who gave us our home, our kids and our health in the first place and let Him manage it all.

That’s where you find peace.  And you know you have it when you have moments like when you lose an eyelash.

You know you’re supposed to make a wish when you lose one, right? You make a wish and as with your birthday candles you blow it away.

Well, I don’t believe in wishes.  I believe in prayer.

So this morning when I lost my eyelash, as I often do, I paused to think about what I should pray for. I was in front of my mirror so I just looked at my reflection and smiled.

Hmmm… Should I pray away my trials? Should I pray for money to fall from the sky?

But I truly didn’t feel like I should waste my ‘wish’ on those material things.

So, I dug around deep inside my soul to find my purest desire. I drew in my breath and prayed.

“I pray for my children to grow up to know Christ.”

I surprised myself, honestly. It was in that moment when I realized I don’t really need money. Or health. Or even a house.

I need the assurance of spending an eternity with the ones I love the most.  I need to know that when they grow up and have trials of their own they will know they should lean on Christ the way my husband and I have tried to these last few months. I need to know that they are taken care of even in those times when I fail to do so.

Only the saving knowledge of Christ can provide any of that. Along with the peace He so lovingly provides during life’s most difficult trials. And all we have to do to get that peace is pray, trust and wait for Him to send the provisions He has already promised.

 

How has God provided for you during your difficult times? What did you learn from it?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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The Power of Prayer

Let me start by saying that I know this will sound like I think I got it goin’ on. I know. But that is exactly why I have to tell you about it. Sometimes the things that seem the craziest are the very stories we keep to ourselves. And that is the very moment when the enemy wins.  When we don’t share our ‘God winks’, we stiffle the glory that God deserves. The glory that makes those moments even possible.

It hasn’t rained here in my sweet-home Alabama town in many weeks.  We are in a burn ban drought emergency situation.  That is a bit unusual for this neck of the woods.  My house has settled so badly that there is a very large crack in our foundation that will need some serious attention.  Many homes in our neighborhood are experiencing the same thing.

My husband and I were talking about the situation last night and as we were getting ready to go to sleep I said aloud,

“I wish it would rain.”

That’s when the Spirit reminded me that wishing and praying are two totally different things.  One works. The other doesn’t.

I realized I had not prayed about the situation at all.  Not even once had I asked God for rain. So I took a moment and silently prayed for some rain.

Amen.

This is the part where you might think that I am a bit full of myself.  At the very least you might label me a Jesus freak, but I am ok with that one!

I was in the bathroom getting ready for church this morning when my husband came in to tell me that it was raining. Rain was not in the forecast for days! Zero percent chance!

Unless of course you prayed for some rain. Because God is in the business of answering prayers.

Now, it didn’t rain for hours and it wasn’t a gully washer. It was just enough for people to notice, puddle up and for me to be           awe-inspired by my God while He taught me a lesson about prayer. Which is exactly His point!

Have farmers been praying for rain for weeks? No doubt!

Are their prayers being unanswered? No.

I’m here to tell you that God still answers prayers every single day. Prayers for health and healing. Prayers for mended relationships and healthier finances. Prayers for your children to grow up and thrive. He answers each one, every single one, for our good and for His glory in His time.

I don’t know why He is allowing a drought in my region.  I don’t know what He is accomplishing through it.  But I do know it’s for the good of all who know Him.  And He’s teaching us all something through it if we will just pray and listen.

I also know that as crazy as His immediate response to my simple prayer for rain sounds, if I keep silent on my glimpse of His provision today and how He answered my prayer, and how He hears even me. Sinful, hurting, disobedient little me, the lesson He is trying to teach me about prayer will be lost and His glory won’t shine.

So, thank you, Lord for hearing my prayer and for sending the rains to replenish the earth.

“If you believe, you will recieve whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22

How has God shown you He’s listening lately? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below if you’d like to share.

 

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My Senior Quote and Other Words of Wisdom

“God asks no man whether he will accept life; that is not the choice. You must take it; the only choice is how.”

H.W. Beecher

My oldest daughter just started high school at the same school I graduated from a couple decades ago. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about my high school days these last several weeks. The above quote rests next to my Senior picture in the yearbook for all eternity. When I chose it back then I’m sure I was dreaming of a lucrative career as a blogger. Married. 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. Well, I’m married anyway. And to the boy I was dating when that Senior portrait was taken nonetheless. I suppose some dreams do come true.

Back between the pages of my high school yearbook, I was a Christian. I met Jesus for the first time in my bedroom when I was in middle school so I felt like I had a good idea about who God was and what he wanted me to do with the life he gave me. Go to church. Do a few service projects. Be a good girl. I had all of that covered.  I could live out my life and call upon Jesus whenever I felt like I needed him. Things were good.

But Jesus didn’t die on the cross for your life to be good. Good is decent health, a job to pay the bills and people who love you. Good is average. Midgrade. A ‘B’ at best. Good is the free samples of vanilla ice cream they hand out to everybody.

…I have come that you may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10.

Maybe you have all those good things.  But are you still stressed with too much to do? Do you worry too much about the future? Maybe your job pays the bills but do you still keep striving for more? Discontent?

Do you have some really great people in your life that you ignore too many times or take for granted?

Your health is probably pretty good, but do you take the time for yourself to rest properly, excercise and eat well?

Do you sometimes feel like something is missing?

Maybe that’s because the way you are accepting the life you were given is to try to do things your own way. And that, truly my friend, just goes against the grain of the reason for humanity.  If God created you for the sole purpose of loving you, how in the world can we just sit back and accept life as good? Reading a passage in the Bible here and there. Say a short prayer every now and then. That’s an insult to your Creator.

You were made for a purpose. And yours might be very simple.

Maybe you homeschool your own children and train them up in the way they should go. Or, maybe you work in retail and you shine your light every day to customers who  just want to get high on a good bargain.

Maybe you’re a missionary or a pastor and people seem to put you on a pedastal because of whatever preconceived fabricated human idea that those positions get you closer to God.

Perhaps you spend your days in corporate meetings and make a living handling other people’s money.

All of those man-made positions and ideals are nothing. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how late you stay up, or how much money you make. It’s all nothing. If you are working for the paycheck and for the praise. None of it matters, unless at the end of the day you acknowledge the One who put you there. Unless you can turn back around with the life you have accepted and open-handedly offer it back to the One who gave it to you, nothing you do matters.

What matters is how intentional you make the life you’ve been given. Are you aware of your purpose to glorify God in everything you do?

So, you have a choice.  I have a choice.  God breathed life into your lungs and gave you life without your consent. He made you without consulting you and made you wonderfully and purposefully.  The only appropriate response is to seek His will in every decision and wish more than anything in the deepest areas of your heart to please the One who gave you life. The One who came to give you life and to have it to the full.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Colossians 2:6

 

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The Irrational Dilemma of Being Stuck

 

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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A Description of What It Felt Like When I Wandered

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 Things Jesus Doesn’t Know About Me

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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