Sunday, December 11, 2016
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Sunday, November 20, 2016
A church friend took in two foster girls who had been horribly abused by their own family and the fact they came back with lice every time they visit their family was the smallest of their problems. Don't be afraid. My friend Alison wanted a little girl after having six boys, she was blessed with two girls. Don't be afraid. My friend Tracey signed up with a local adoption agency and after months of silence and agony, she found out she was going to be a mom- almost exactly nine months after registering with the agency. Don't be afraid.
God gave me two precious boys in spite of my deep fears of heartbreak and failure. I was afraid. I knew the grief of parenting and as the oldest of five, I knew kids were a lot of the work. Yet as I completely surrendered every part of my life to God after doing the Bible Study Experiencing God, I heard that quiet voice say, "Trust me." So I did. I held on to the promise that children are a blessing. As Psalm 127:3 says, "Children are a blessing and a gift from the LORD." In spite of my fear and doubts, I would say over and over, "Children are a blessing."
Most people aren't afraid of having kids like I was, but if you have a place you are struggling with fear; my encouragement to you today is to not be afraid. I just read the story of Joshua and Caleb after they had come back from exploring the Promise Land. The people were so afraid of the giants in the land and the hard times, they missed out on the blessing God had for them. Going to a new place, taking new territory, growing a family, starting a business and inviting someone into your heart is scary and hard work. But there is a blessing on the journey.
Joshua encouraged the people, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them." Numbers 14:17-19
Unfortunately, they did not listen to Joshua's good advice and let their fear determine their behavior rather than trusting God. As a result, their kids had to suffer in the wilderness for 40 years. There is no doubt there were giants and hard times ahead in the Promised Land, but the blessings would have far outweighed the work. Don't miss out on the blessings God has for you. Don't be afraid.
As Laura Story wrote in her song, "Blessings."
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe
Sunday, November 6, 2016
where does my help come from?
the Maker of heaven and earth."
he who watches over you will not slumber;"
will neither slumber nor sleep.
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
nor the moon by night."
he will watch over your life;
Sunday, October 2, 2016
While doing what is right ultimately leads to blessings, in the moment, doing what is right is hard. It can lead to suffering, it is inconvenient, it is uncomfortable, it means being different, it requires work, it doesn't always taste as good, it isn't cool and doesn't seem fun.1 John 3:10 says, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God's child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister."
Sunday, September 25, 2016
I struggle with buyer's remorse. Questions like "Did I get the best deal?," "Is this something I even need?," "Do I really like it?" flood my mind when I make most purchases -whether it is a pair of shoes, a new shirt or an appliance. I use a lot of strategies to prevent buyer's remorse. I like to try on clothes with bad hair and no make up - because if it looks good when I look bad- I know it is a winner. I wear super comfortable shoes when I go shoe shopping so that if I like a pair of shoes I can compare them to one I really like to make sure they will be cute and comfortable long after I have left the store. A bigger purchase means I pull out the big guns of research and prayer. I eagerly subscribe to Consumers Reports, read online forums and scour review sites to get an outside perspective. I'll ask friends for their advice and most importantly, I'll pray. My goal is to know and do God's will. I really believe that God will show us His best if we ask him and wait on His response. In my opinion, one of the reasons for the law in Leviticus is to teach us though we are no longer under the law, God has an opinion on seemingly insignificant things like what we wear and what we eat.
Over two years ago, I felt led to give my beloved and well-used silver Sienna van to friends who are missionaries at JAARS. My plan was to wait about six months and buy a another vehicle but when I went to test drive a new van, I wasn't impressed. Why would I pay tens of thousands for a car that wasn't much of an improvement over my previous van? So I decided to test drive a Prius v, they got much better gas mileage and had a ton of room for carrying plants and soccer stuff. But I didn't have a peace about the Prius v either. I knew I would have buyer's remorse if I got it, so I decided to wait longer. I moved on to test driving a Honda Odyssey, Subaru Outback and a Lexus RX 450h and in each of them I felt like Goldilocks, "one was too small, one had bad visibility and one cost too much." I wasn't willing to buy a new car until it was "just right." I wanted that feeling of perfect peace and confidence that I was in God's Will. Like Goldilocks, I know what "just right" feels like when it comes to following God.
After two years of trips to car lots, my family was done. I'd tell them I'd found a possibility on Auto Trader and they would look at me sadly, unwilling to believe that I would ever find one that was just right. The years of car limbo rolled by. I had perfect peace when I gave our friends our van so why couldn't I fill that spot in our garage? School started again and I finally felt maybe it was time. I found a silver Sienna online for sale at a car rental company. It was only a year old and still under warranty and the scratches on it gave it character that I would easily add to. I brought it home and everyone approved. After a couple of hours of paperwork and a promise to fix the scratches, the van was ours! Driving home, I started to wonder if I had done the right thing; "Had I rushed things?," "Was this really God's will?," "Was it really a lemon.," "Could I have found a better deal if I had waited?" As the questions flooded my mind, I could feel God say, "It is the right time, it will all be okay."
My buyers' remorse and genuinely cheap tendencies battled with the peace that comes from following God in every part of life. In my struggle, I held on to, "It will all be okay." The next day, when I picked up my kids from school, my youngest started exploring the van's glove box, as he was looking at things he pulled out a book that I had assumed was the Sienna's owners manual. It wasn't - It was my owner's manual. Tucked in the glove box of this former rental van was a Bible! God wanted me to know that He had picked out this van for me and that He knew what I needed and He would provide. Perfect peace flooded my soul.
Have you had an experience where God confirmed a tough decision?
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Sunday, August 28, 2016
This morning, I woke up thinking about deception, half truths and hidden facts. Maybe it was the unfolding Ryan Lochte situation, the political lies about emails and Benghazi, maybe it was thinking about times that I have twisted a story to fit what I wanted people to believe, maybe it was thinking about friends who found out hidden truths years and decades after a situation.
Truth always comes out. As I have been thinking about this in my life and in my friends' lives, I have realized that lies create a vacuum. Hidden facts, twisted stories and deception create an unevenness in relationships and a hollowness behind a facade of normalcy. Eventually, the facade crumbles, the hole is exposed and the disconnect is discovered.
When I have allowed deception to grow in my life, I hide my sin behind concern for others' feelings and a desire to not face conflict. I find a desire to blame others, and to highlight their imperfections rather than acknowledge mine. The well known story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 highlights this process. David's dishonesty led to Bathsheba's pregnancy and his desire to hide his unfaithfulness led to the mighty warrior Uriah, her husband's death. Though David tried to hide the truth in this situation, a short time later truth was revealed by God to the prophet Nathan. Though David repented, David's lies and deception had long term consequences in his relationship with his children including his son Absalom, his military leaders and his kingdom.
Recently, I have been struck by the timing of when God reveals truth. For King David and Ryan Lochte, the truth came out rather quickly. But sometimes truth takes years to be revealed. A retired minister's wife found out that her husband had been unfaithful multiple times during their forty year marriage only after he retired due to a stroke. A friend found out she had a half sister long after their father died. Another friend found out her "godly" husband had been living a double life for two years. I have recently been struck by the Book of Jude and the blatantness of people who come into the church with the intention to deceive and manipulate God's people. In some of these situations learning the truth had been decades in the making. Why had God waited? Why had God not revealed the truth to my friends at the time? God is truth and all knowing- Why does He allow the deception to continue?
As a believer in Christ, I hold fast to his statement, that Jesus is the "way, the truth and the life." He will protect me from lies and give me discernment in situations that allow me to see the truth even when there is deception going on. It is important that I don't let myself be deceived, I need to be on guard and seek Truth. The closer I get to him, the more peace I can rest in that He will protect me and take care of me.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Sunday, August 14, 2016
I love a bargain and several years ago, I hit the jackpot for two quarters at our local library book sale. Finding The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship in the pile of books for sale brought back memories of my Mom reading it to me and the amazement I felt as the story unfolded before my eyes. Fifty cents later, this book now sits on our bookshelves tucked between Dr. Seuss and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Recently, I was telling my friend Pam about this book as we were marveling at how God brings friends into our lives that we can bless and who bless us at just the right time.
The Fool of the World is based on an old Russian folk tale and tells the story of a young man, the Fool, who though he was neglected by his family, decided that he would marry a princess. The Czar had offered his daughter's hand in marriage to anyone who could bring him a flying ship.
Early in his journey he met a hungry old man; though the Fool only had crusts of dry bread and a flask of water, he willingly shared his food with the old man. Before the meal the Old Man proclaimed, "Let us eat what God has given." Reaching into the bag for their dinner, the Fool miraculously found soft white rolls and cooked meats. After a delicious meal, the old man explained to him how to make a flying ship ending his instructions with this important advice, "Be sure to give a lift to everyone you meet."
As the Fool went on his journey, he picked up an amazing assortment of individuals. One man could listen to all that was being said in the world, the second man he picked up could step across the world in a single step, next they picked up a man who could shoot a target thousands of miles away. Later in the journey, the ship picked up the Eater and the Drinker, individuals who had an insatiable ability to eat and drink. The last two passengers were a man who carried a lot of wood that turned into an army of soldiers and a man who had a bundle of straw that could change summer into winter. When the fool got to the palace, the Czar was not impressed with the simple peasant who showed up in the flying ship. To prevent his daughter from marrying a peasant, the Czar came up with a list of absurd tasks that no one would ever be able to accomplish, like getting the magical water of life, eating a huge meal of twelve oxen, drinking 40 barrels of wine, chilling a glowing hot bathhouse and raising an army of soldiers. Amazingly, the motley crew of misfits the fool had picked up along his journey to the Czars' palace had the exact skills need to accomplish the impossible tasks set before him. In the end , the Fool and the Princess fell in love and "she loved him to distraction."
As a kid, I marveled that all the random people the Fool picked up turned out to have just the skills and resources that he would need to complete the impossible tasks necessary to win the princess. Not only was the Fool blessed because of their uniqueness but they were blessed by sharing their gifts with the Fool. As a grown up, I can look at my life and see how God has put people in my life who have empowered me to complete tasks that I could have never done on my own. I was blessed with supportive parents who helped me and gave me a strong spiritual foundation. He brought passionate teachers and a wonderful 4-h agent to develop and challenge me. He provided friends like Pam who had knowledge and resources that I don't have. I am so grateful for the stranger who set up a college scholarship so that I was able to have an amazing education and make friends who bless me to this day. He opened doors in my career that are amazing. I can now see how He provided just what I needed, often through a journey that was years in the making.
As I look at my life, I can see God's hand guiding my path, introducing me to just the right person, making a way when there appeared to be no way and solving impossible problems. Just like the Fool, on my own resources I have only a couple of pieces of dry bread but God has turned them into an amazing opportunity to bless others. Just as miraculous as a flying ship, God has given us everything we need, we have access to his unlimited power and resources, though our knowledge of him. I love how 2 Peter 1:3 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."
Share this with others and let me know how God has blessed you through the seemingly random people and opportunities He has divinely brought in your life.