No Question About It – YOU ARE WHERE YOU ARE FOR A REASON

My husband and I decided to grab dinner out  recently – on a Friday night, and it was one of those times when neither one of us could decide what sounded good to eat.

Because it was getting to the point of total frustration,  I even suggested that we stay home and just have a bowl of cereal! Sometimes it’s just not worth it – know what I mean?

We first tried a local restaurant. It was packed, so we drove on to the next town where there is an abundance of choices! After ruling out every place we passed (Arggggh!),  we finally agreed on Texas Roadhouse.

As soon as we walked into the place, we spotted some friends we hadn’t seen in a very long time. It was such a blessing! They were almost finished eating when we arrived, so they joined us at our table so that we could catch up.

We had just ordered our food when a man walked by our table and attempted to tell a waitress  that he had something stuck in his throat.  I’m telling you what – it was like time stood still.

This little waitress asked him a couple questions, then began to pound him on his back. My husband  called 911, and then one of the customers jumped up and began to do the Heimlich. It wasn’t working.

 It was such a frightening  moment to think that someone might lose his life – right there in front of us.

He was taken out by the EMS crew and appeared to be ok – he was breathing, at least. When our waitress brought us our food, I could hardly take a bite. Other customers requested to be moved to another section.  I just kept thinking about that man, and how in a blink of an eye – he could’ve been gone forever if someone hadn’t been willing to help him.

The next morning, we had an appointment with a car salesman (Bill) in Indy. We’ve known him for 30 years.  He actually sold us our very first car!

As we finished up,  he introduced us to this young man – the finance guy.  You know, the one that everyone dreads talking to when it comes to purchasing a vehicle?

Our conversation began with  the normal small talk, and then somehow blossomed into this incredible discussion about his upcoming wedding and how important it was for him to have the ceremony  in the church. I do believe we DID talk about finances – somewhere in there.

Before we headed out, my husband shared with him about what happened in Texas Roadhouse Friday night. The guy looked up at us with this “deer in the headlight” kind of look and said that he was there, too!

Turns out that he and his fiancé were sitting not too far from us and witnessed the whole thing!!!! Isn’t that CrAzY?! I’m telling you what, it gave me chills as I listened to him describe his version of the guy jumping out of the booth to help save someone’s life.

After Friday and Saturday’s experience,  I have NO DOUBT  that we are all placed where we are for a reason.

Timing is everything. God is amazing.

Bright Spot of My Day.

Bright Spot of My Day.

Found this photo that I took in January. Will never forget that walk.

It wasn’t your typical cold, snow-covered January day in Indiana. It was a clear blue sunny day. No snow. No winter coats.

Memorable…

The same day that I walked that country road and spotted this beautiful bird, I later witnessed a dear neighbor being rushed to the hospital. How ironic. Both were – one-of-a-kind. Both made you stop what you were doing, and appreciate life.

Priceless.

Music to My Ears

Heard this song, “Here and Now”, for the first time the other day. Boy, did it ever stir up a mixture of emotions. Music is good that way. I love it.
The words made me think about those moments that took my breath away – in a good way. Moments when I KNEW that God  was there, and that there was  no doubt that it was a time for me to marvel at what He created – not for anyone else, just for me.
I’m sure if you would take time to think about it, you would have several come to mind that you could share, too.
These are my favorites….
When you realize that you ARE in love…
When your child is born and placed in your arms to hold for the very first time….
When a large group has gathered for support and prayer after a tragedy, and silence and sincere reverence for God OVERPOWERS the fear of the unknown….. …
Last, but not least, that moment when you realize what the Lord has done for YOU, regardless of your  mistakes…..because He loves you – UNCONDITIONALLY.
 “HERE AND NOW
HERE IN THIS MOMENT.
HERE AND NOW,
I TURN TO YOU.
ALL IN MY SEARCHING HEART
HAS LONGED FOR CAN BE FOUND
‘CAUSE YOU’RE IN THIS MOMENT…
HERE AND NOW.”
What beautiful words……..”Here and Now”, by Paul Baloche

Trash Talk

Have had this on my mind for about a year. This is NOT meant to be a negative aimed at all men. I KNOW that there are several out there who have their act together – unless they have me totally fooled – which is possible. Haha.

This last year, I have read through numerous comments on a particular popular meteorologist’s Facebook page, of which I have been a follower.  There is no argument here that she is absolutely beautiful.  

What disturbs me is this….

I’ve seen MANY comments from men that have thanked this person for a great forecast, and worded it as if SHE created the beautiful day?! Ugh. Please. I read comment after comment  about her sexy  feet/toes after she posted a picture of her feet. I remember reading one guy’s comment that said “We want to see the rest of you!” (You can bring me a trashcan anytime now because the thought of it all makes me sick.)

Not too long ago I was asked what one “super power” I would want to have, if any.  Believe it or not, it was the ability to read people’s minds/thoughts.  Well, I think with the help of modern technology, unfortunately – we’re almost there.

I guess I lived in a sheltered world prior to the Internet, Facebook and Twitter. Whatever  you want to call it, I want it back.  I’m not sure I WANT to know what others “like” anymore.

I realize that it is my choice whether or not to read something, but I have to wonder  – where does it stop? WHY don’t these men, several  who were married, see that what they were saying (for the world to see) was wrong?!  Doesn’t anyone even care anymore?

Yes, I DO know how men think (I am married and have 3 sons), but I also know what God says about lust and what he says about marriage. Even if these people don’t have a clue or care about what God thinks, where are some morals?

Hey, we all have our battles and temptations, both men and women. We all fail – myself included. But it’s so disheartening to see so many abuse and trash that freedom – something that was intended to be a gift.

Say Whaaaat?

I absolutely cannot sleep…Had this on my mind from yesterday and thought I would share. I hope I don’t regret it!
I was sitting in my car, waiting on the traffic light to change yesterday afternoon.  I decided to check a text message I had sent to my son (Travis) a few minutes before –  prior to driving. I absolutely stink when it comes to new technology (haven’t had my phone very long), so I wa…s pretty proud that I used my voice to send a text message. 
 
Let me tell you what, ALL pride got thrown out the window in a matter of seconds as I read my message. My phone TOTALLY misinterpreted what I said! 
In between laughing out loud (seriously, with tears streaming down my cheeks!) I yelled at my phone –OH MY GOSH! THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID!!!! I quickly tried to send another message before the light changed, so once again I talked into my phone – hoping that it would finally get it right.
 
Let me tell you what, yelling at your phone doesn’t work.
This is what I was trying to say:  “I just went to the eye doctor and they’re closed for a staff meeting.” Instead it said this: “I just went to the high doctor and their clothes for a staff meeting.”  High doctor?! Their clothes? What?!
My last message (that was supposed to correct what I said)  ended up being this: “Lowes did not close.” Yep. I have NO clue what I even said now, but it had NOTHING to do with Lowes. Haha.
A few minutes after I sent the second message, my phone rings. It’s Travis. He NEVER calls me unless it’s an emergency. I couldn’t even say hello because I was laughing so hard at this point.
All I could hear him say was “Mom? I just need some clarification….”  I said “I BET you do!” He figured that ‘high’ should’ve been ‘eye’, but wasn’t sure how Lowe’s fit into the conversation. I told him sorry, I didn’t have a clue! Oh. My. Goodness. All of this may not even be funny to anyone else, but it was a fun and funny moment for me.
Travis later sent me a message stating that he thought this would make for a good story.  Kudos to him for attempting to make his mom feel better.  I don’t know what I would do without my boys.
This little phone fiasco made me think about how often we either send the wrong message, or we’re simply misunderstood.
 
We always complain about technology, but people can certainly be complicated and difficult to operate, too! (Myself included.)
Life can be so mentally exhausting sometimes, can’t it? All that time that we basically waste trying to figure things and people out. Sometimes I just have to remind myself to STOP expecting this place to be like heaven.
 
One day….and perhaps it’s as soon as tomorrow, we will FINALLY get to be in a place where we won’t have to search for understanding anymore.  I praise God for that promise.
Revelation 21:3-5 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
That’s a message we can count on.

He’s My Rock.

hearts 001

Driving down the road, and suddenly you wonder if you even checked to see if the light you just passed through was green. 

You’re having dinner with a friend,  and as they share details about something  they are experiencing (good or bad), your mind…..drifts….off…….

Sipping on your coffee, reading your devotions, and all of a sudden you realize that you just flipped through a couple pages and have NO clue what you just read….

Amazing how we can get SO consumed with thoughts about what happened yesterday, or about stuff we will be facing tomorrow, that we totally miss out on opportunities, lessons and blessings that are right there in front of us – today. 

Just had an amazing week in Leland, Michigan. It was as close to what I would consider a “spur of the moment”  vacation as you can get, and was one of the most relaxing weeks I’ve had in a very long time. A lot of time to think, and a perfect time to reflect.

Walked on the beach, listened to the waves, LISTENED to my husband (truth!), collected rocks, spent quality time with my brother-in-law and in-laws, took pictures, ate ice cream almost every night, gained 5 pounds, played with our nephew’s children, shopped, laughed, went boating, had a wonderful tour of the area by a local pastor and friend, and of course – watched the sun set.

The only thing that would’ve made the week a better one would have been if our three sons and our daughter-in-law could’ve been there, too.  Hopefully, next year….

One afternoon, we spent time on the beach with some family members and with some friends of the family. All the kids were collecting rocks on the beach. It was fun listening to them  as they pointed out their favorites.

 One 4-year-old (friend of the family), Julia, had me look through her collection, and we “oohed” and “awed” at the sparkly ones. PURE  fun. I even collected a few myself and made a shape of a heart in the sand with them. I loved that afternoon. It was like time stood still.

The last full day that we were there,  Mark and I ended up at another beach than the rest of the gang. Everyone was kind of doing their own thing, so we decided to go out on our own. We basically walked the beach, picked up a couple rocks and admired the view for the last time.

 Later that day, when we got back to the house, my mother-in-law (Dottie) told me that Julia had found a rock that she wanted me to have, so she had Dottie put it in her purse to bring back to me.  

As she pulled it out of her purse, I suddenly felt this HUGE lump in my throat when  I discovered that the rock was in the shape of a heart.  The ironic thing about it all is that I had found a heart shaped rock that same day, too, on another beach.

I have no doubt that this little girl had watched me make the heart out of my collection the day before. Sigh…We really have no idea who is watching us, do we?

Although she will probably never understand how much I appreciate her gift, I am going to be mailing her a thank you card with the rock I had discovered that same day. One act of kindness that taught me what it takes to be a good friend…to be a good wife….to be a loving follower of Christ….to be a good example. Love God, love others.

 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” ~ Psalm 139:1-4

My chains are gone…

Have you ever had a song that you LOVED, but didn’t know half the words? I remember loving it when this one song would come on the radio – years ago. Funny thing is – I had NO CLUE what the words were (other than “Chain, chain, cha-a-a-ain”), until today. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even know the title.
 
“Chain of Fools”, by Aretha Franklin….
“Chain, chain, chain  (Chain, chain, chain)  
Chain…, chain, chain  (Chain, chain, chain)  
Chain of fools  
For five long years  
I thought you were my man  
But I found out  
I’m just a link in your chain  
You got me where you want me  
I ain’t nothin’ but your fool  
You treated me mean  
Oh you treated me cruel”
 
How can this song – one that has such a good beat, be filled with such a sad message? I am so grateful that we are meant to be  SO MUCH MORE than a weak link in someone’s chain/life.
Actually, there are probably many songs that I mumble through,  but THESE words I DO know….

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ~ Galatians 5:1

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.” ~ Psalm 118:5

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” ~Psalm 34:4

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

HE is the ONLY one who can set you free….

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood, His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace. “ ~ “Amazing Grace” (Chris Tomlin)

It all started with a child’s picture….

Image

I was reading my devotions this afternoon (same book that I have read out of for about 3 years),  and all of a sudden it hit me what happened exactly a year ago. Shocking – especially when I can’t recall what I did the day before yesterday. Ha-ha! I shared the following story on FB on July 14, 2012. Have to admit,  that day was a turning point in my life – in my faith. There’s not a better feeling then when you realize how real God is, and that He uses people around you to speak to you – if you allow Him.

This is SO cool. Yesterday at work, the court reporter’s 9-year-old granddaughter was in our office. She was looking for something to do while she waited for Kathy, so I asked her if she liked to draw. There is like absolutely NOTHING exciting to do in our office, other than work. Ha! She told me that she liked to draw all kinds of things. So, I asked her if she would draw me a picture. She wanted to know EXACTLY what I wanted, so I suggested a picture of a house with flowers, sun, etc.. She came back later with the sweetest picture, with one added detail. She had two small people at the beginning of what I thought was the sidewalk, but she labeled it “the path”. At the end of the path (she explained) was a buried treasure. Little did that sweet little girl know that she was drawing a picture that illustrated my devotions this morning. In Jesus Calling, it says “Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak. (How true!) Someday you will dance light-footed on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you. It is truly the path of Life.” What a promise! What a picture. Annie, thank you so much for your picture!

 

 

….”And a little child will lead them.” ~ Isaiah 11:6

After being a pastor’s wife for many years, I guess I’ve become sensitive to what people have to say about their church experience. Over the years I’ve heard many complain about the lack of programs, leadership, commitment or involvement of others (in various churches – all over).

I’ve watched people leave a church (forever) because it was always too cold, they didn’t like the music, didn’t agree with the changes, thought the preacher was always preaching about money, or because they disliked some of the people in it.

Their time of worship became a time of turmoil – filled with mostly negative thoughts. Been there?

I understand that sometimes there ARE good reasons to move on, but sometimes I think we lose sight of WHY we are even going. Because of that, I want to share what happened one afternoon in Costa Rica. It was an experience that made me realize the key to loving church – where ever it may be for you. Hopefully this experience will help someone else who is struggling with this issue today.

It was raining, so we got all the adults and kids on the bus and finished VBS! It wasn’t convenient, and it was sweaty HOT, but we managed to complete what we felt God wanted us to do. Needless to say, the next day when it rained, we were THRILLED when we learned that our interpreter somehow obtained a key to a church down the road.

After seeing other church buildings in CR that were similar to what you would see here in the USA, I was a little shocked as I realized that the small building that we were approaching was indeed the church.

It didn’t have stained glass windows, pictures, paintings, an altar, a piano, a baptismal, coffee station, a kitchen, meet and greet area, a bookstore, classrooms, a nursery, a restroom OR electricity. (I’m not knocking those things – just trying to make a point.)

I did discover several things inside that were more important. The pews were FILLED with hearts of appreciation, and there were people who had a desire to learn about God. The building was filled with people who were excited about teaching others about the love of Christ and Salvation. The room was filled with joy as we attempted to sing a song, then laughed at each other’s attempted actions to the song.

No, nothing was perfect about it, but the (right) attitudes made it a joy to be there.

If you are struggling with church, please take some time and refocus….and don’t forget to check YOUR heart and YOUR intentions, rather than focusing on everyone else’s. Remember to hold on to and appreciate His unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness – those things that are of eternal value. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

Costa Rica 2013 with Greenwood Christian Church 139