As most of my friends already know, my husband and I went on our first mission trip this summer to Costa Rica. We went with a group of 24 people from my old hometown. Before our trip, I knew 2 of them (including my husband), but after spending a week together – I now am blessed with 24 new friends. The icing on the cake!
Our purpose was to reach out and teach children about the love of Christ. There was a lot of planning, preparing, and of course praying beforehand. The week in a nutshell – amazing, humbling, filling, life-changing.
As we ended the week, the group stayed at a resort to ease ourselves back into ‘our’ world. Needless to say, I think we all felt some guilt. After spending time with kids who basically had nothing, I learned that ‘things’ don’t provide happiness. But when it comes to God’s love, the truth, spending quality time with others, family and friendships – those bring everlasting joy.
We were all packing our things late on Saturday night because we were having to leave for the airport at midnight. After I unzipped a little pocket that was in my makeup bag, I realized that I almost forgot to do something that I had planned on doing earlier in the week! It was something so little, but it was kind of a big deal to me.
A while ago, a friend had given me this tiny figure of a person praying. It has been sitting on my bathroom vanity at home all this time as a reminder to give all my concerns to God and to pray for others.
Before I left for my trip, I thought – what a perfect reminder to share with someone else! So, I shared my idea with my friend who gave it to me, and she thought it was a great idea!
Well, here I was in this room – feeling disappointed that I had forgotten about it. It dawned on me that I could leave it for the cleaning lady. Then I remembered that I still had a paper that had our memory verse typed in Spanish, so I quickly tore it off and placed it with the ‘prayer warrior’ and left it by the sink in the bathroom.
You know, I will never know if this meant anything to her at all. I’ll never know if she took it and threw it in the trashcan, or if she picked it up and thanked God because she needed that message. All I know is that God wanted me to do it, so I obeyed. He provided everything that I needed, and he will do the same for you!
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7
When you hear the word ‘McDonald’s’, what is the first thought that comes to your mind? Would it be those delicious fries, or are you one that loves to eat a Big Mac? Although those fries are very close to being my top choice, the first thing that comes to my mind are actually people.
McDonald is the last name of one of our first neighbors that we met when we moved into our neighborhood – years ago. The ironic thing is that the owners of a local McDonald’s franchise moved into the house next to them.
Every time we would mention our neighbors across the street, our kids would always ask us if we were talking about the ‘real’ McDonald’s, or if we were referring to the people who owned McDonald’s?” It was one of those conversations that we would repeat over and over again. Then laugh about the fact we had the same conversation – AGAIN!
Both neighbors have always been such a blessing. Although we never became close friends, we have always looked out for one another. We’ve met in the middle of the street many times to share health concerns or simply talk about the weather or what was happening in our neighborhood. So pleasant – so thankful.
A few years ago, this gentleman and his wife started coming to our church. His name – Ron McDonald. He has a sense of humor that you wouldn’t believe. He’s one of those people that captures your undivided attention when he tells a story. What a gift.
One Sunday morning, Ron shared this story with us. He and his wife were out working in their front yard. Ron said that one of the owners of McDonald’s (our neighbor) pulled up in front of his home one day. Although they had never met, she was stopping to compliment them on their hard work they were putting into their yard.
The owner reached out her hand and introduced herself, and then Ron told her that…well, that he was Ronald McDonald. I can’t begin to imagine the look that was on her face! From what I recall, he didn’t get much of a reaction from her, but I believe the conversation ended soon after that.
The last group of people that comes to mind are several wonderful McDonald employees that I have come to know. I have this horrible habit. I go through McD’s drive- thru almost every morning to get a large diet coke for the day. I know that it’s something that I don’t need, but I do it anyway.
After seeing these people day after day, they not only know my car, my order, but they also KNOW my voice! I may only see and talk to these people a few minutes every day, but that’s all it takes for them to recognize my voice, know who I am and what I want!
What a perfect example of how important it is to keep a routine with God. What a difference it makes when you make it a ‘habit’ to talk with him – every single day. When you make it a priority to spend time with him….in his word and in prayer, you not only will be able to hear and recognize his voice, you will know what he wants. Listen for his voice….and follow.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” ~ John 10:27
I filled out an application to serve as a junior church teacher last year, and along with the application I had to submit my testimony. I was a bit nervous because I had never actually put it all together – and certainly not on paper.
It was quite the challenge. It made me think – how on earth do I put into (limited) words everything God has done in my life?!
A testimony is something designed to help others see what God is all about and what amazing things he can do, but it also makes you realize what the Lord has done in your life – and appreciate it! If you’ve never taken the time to think it through and write it down, I want to encourage you to do so. You won’t regret it.
This is mine…
Even though I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, I was very fortunate to have had Christian friends sprinkled throughout my life. I will NEVER forget when a dear childhood friend told me (when we were in elementary school) that the neighborhood boy that we both had a crush on would NEVER consider marrying me because I didn’t go to church.
I knew in my heart that I loved God. Wasn’t that enough?
My friend shared the truth with me in love, and she’s one I’ve always been able to trust to tell me the truth ever since. As I became older, I met more friends who would invite me to their church or church activities. I never could get a handle on what I truly needed to do to become a Christian, but what I did understand was it sure felt good to be in church and to have friends who would pray with me.
It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I realized what I was missing—a relationship with Christ. My roommates and I were invited to a Campus Crusade for Christ retreat.
It was then that I finally realized that He would forgive me for ALL of my sins. (Even all those stupid choices I made in high school!) It was during this time that I not only began a relationship with our Lord, I also met the man to whom I have been married for almost 30 years!
We have been involved in various forms of ministry for most of our married years, until two years ago when he stepped out of the ministry.
When he was preaching from the pulpit, I found my ministry was working with children. Although I was blessed and learned so much through those years of ministry, (Believe me, even though you are the teacher, YOU are the one who learns many lessons when teaching children!) it wasn’t until the last two years that I FINALLY stepped out of my comfort zone to let adults know how strongly I feel about my faith – about our God.
I realize there are many negatives connected with Facebook, but one positive is that it has allowed me (and others) to share many personal stories, hoping to encourage others in their walk with the Lord, or give them hope, period! With that being said, I am so thankful that God never gave up on me and continues to teach me through all my life lessons, although many are difficult ones.
Believe me, no matter what your past is, God still loves you. He DOES have a plan for you….a PERFECT plan. He’s just waiting on you, just like He waited on me. If you’re still breathing, it’s not too late.
Jeremiah 29:11 “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.”
Ever wonder if what you have to say makes a difference? If a child’s words can rock someone’s world, then why question the weight of yours? Believe me, it doesn’t take a degree to make someone qualified to speak the truth and change the course of your day.
Many years ago, when our three sons were young, I remember having ‘one’ of those mornings. If you have kids, then you know what I mean! Don’t recall what all happened, but whatever it was – it caused us to run late for church.
My husband had left early for Sunday School (he was the teacher), so I had to gather the troops on my own along with getting myself ready. One of my pet peeves back then was being late. I can’t tell you how many times I backed out of something because I knew I wouldn’t be on time.
Well, that particular morning, I let my emotions and frustrations get the best of me. After seeing the time and realizing that we were r-e-a-l-l-y going to be late, I gave up and told the boys that we were going to stay home that day. Just didn’t see the point. I’ll never forget hearing these words come from my 3 year-old:
“We’re not going to church? You mean, you don’t want us to learn about Jesus?”
Needless to say, I made sure that we made it to church that morning.
Frustration and expectations cloud things up so that we can’t ‘see’ the point of trying anymore. Pastor Steve Poe said this: “The person who cannot see the ultimate becomes a slave to the immediate.” So true.
So thankful for God’s plan and that he continues to wait on me – even when I’m running late, or worse yet – when I’m heading in the wrong direction.
Next summer, my husband and I will celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Where does the time go?
I think back over the years, and I remember so vividly some of the things he would do or say that would ignite my little temper or send me into the ‘cold shoulder’ mode. Some of those memories are actually funny now, but some are….umm, not. Ha-ha. I am so grateful that God has changed most of that – thankful God has changed me.
My husband travels – A LOT. He actually has an apartment in another state, and I was able to spend 2 weeks with him there this summer. It was that first night when I brushed my teeth that I began to realize something very important.
When I reached for ‘his’ toothpaste tube from the vanity, I noticed that it was rolled up from the bottom, which “I” never do at home. When I was looking for something in the pantry, I noticed that his way of organizing was much different than mine.
It was during those two weeks that I was reminded how very different we are, yet my husband is willing to accept me as I am – at least for the most part. Such an incredible feeling – almost undeserving.
The same with our relationship with God. There is so much that we don’t know or realize about Him. There are so many times when we complain, react, and behave in such an unloving way, yet He continues to love us – just the way we are.
The good thing is that one day we’ll all be able to finally comprehend what He has done for us. We’ll have all the answers to our questions. We’ll discover that it was worth staying committed to Him, although some days were difficult.
But until then, we need to trust. We need to forgive. We need to obey his commands. We need to serve. We need to appreciate the unknown. We need to stay committed – then we will have something to celebrate.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
Don’t you just hate it when you have just enough information about something, that it makes your thoughts AND emotions go wild and crazy?!
Just happened to check to see if we had any voicemail messages on our phone the other night, and was SHOCKED to see that we did. Like – NO ONE calls us at home anymore.
We chose to keep our landline when my husband was in the ministry. But now, the only calls we receive at home are telemarketers. UGH…
As I listened to the message, I began to feel ill. Seriously. Even though It was short, there was just enough information given to make me worry – worry sick. It was a message from our local police department saying that they needed our assistance. That’s it. That’s all it took for my emotions to kick into full speed.
I didn’t want to call them back – I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to know…. Been there?
We soon learned that there had been an emergency situation in our town, and because my husband was still on the list of chaplains that offers counseling, we were contacted.
Although my heart was heavy when I heard about the situation, all my frightening thoughts and questions that had filled my brain were put to rest – just like THAT. I sat on the edge of my bed, and I thanked the Lord that everything that I conjured up in my mind was wrong. Thankfully….
Fear of the unknown sure can be a scary thing, but remembering to have faith in the one who knows our future is a comforting thing.
“Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31: 6
We all have ‘that place’ that helps us clear our thoughts.
My place is definitely anywhere – out in the country.
I recently took a walk on a country road with my husband, and we talked about – everything. He asked me what I thought about last week’s sermon at church, and I asked him what he thought was in store for us in the future. We talked about each of our sons, and even enjoyed some time of just being quiet.
No phones. No Facebook. No computers. No distractions.
Although those times don’t happen very often, I cherish them with all of my heart.
After we turned around and headed back home, he pointed out some poison ivy foliage that was turning red. It was incredible! I asked him if he knew for certain that it was poison ivy. I just couldn’t believe that something like THAT could be so beautiful.
So, the curiosity got the best of me, and I walked up and rubbed my hand on the leaf and then touched my leg. I told him NOW we’ll know FOR SURE if that is poison ivy! After the shock wore off of his face, he told me he could not believe what I had just done. Honestly, I even surprised myself.
Isn’t that how sin is in our lives? Boy, it can be so intriguing. It’s presence draws you in, and you just can’t seem to pass it up. Soon your curiosity gets you, and you cross that line of temptation. Then you know….you know without a doubt that you just allowed sin to control you.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” ~ Corinthians 10:13
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” ~ Matthew 6: 13
And I praise God for this….
“My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.” ~Psalm 62:7
“You are always fighting for us
Heaven’s angels all around
My delight is found in knowing
That You wear the Victor’s crown”….
(My new favorite song, by Darlene Zschech – Victor’s Crown)
Started to pour some cereal into a bowl, and realized that I had opened the box up on the wrong end. Too late. There it was right in front of me…. Life – upside down.
Made me think of a story a minister shared last Sunday. His sermon was about marriage. He talked about a couple that was married for many years – many (supposedly) happy years. One day out of the blue, one of them admitted that he had “fallen out of love” and wanted a divorce. A life…turned upside down without any warning. How does that happen?
After being married for almost 30 years (GASP!), I never dreamed that I would get anything out of a sermon about marriage. I’ve never been interested in marriage seminars or retreats, because….well, I’ve never thought that our marriage needed it. I mean, why try to fix something that isn’t broken, right?
Same with wellness checkups. I used to think they were SUCH a waste of time and money, but now I’m beginning to see their importance – even if you feel healthy. Prevention is everything.
So now I’m thinking….Why should it be any different with marriage?
Back to the sermon. Although we both laughed at some of the things mentioned that individuals tend to do WRONG, I began to realize that he was giving examples of things that “I” do – things that could possibly damage my relationship, or worse yet – crush my husband’s spirit. All of a sudden, it wasn’t funny anymore. I thought “Oh My Gosh! He’s talking about ME.”
This is one example that he gave that stepped on my toes so hard, I thought Mark was going to have to carry me out of the church! He said that “If you are on your phone or computer when your spouse is trying to communicate with you, you need to stop – now.” Ouch.
The majority of the sermon was teaching us healthy ways to handle conflict and how important it was NOT to avoid it. In his words: “You can’t avoid conflict because marriage is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.” – Timothy Brock. So true.
I admit that I hate conflict, and I have always done everything possible to avoid it. Sometimes that can be a bad thing, especially when you aren’t totally honest about your feelings with someone, like that couple mentioned above. He obviously was unhappy for many years, but neglected to say a word – either to protect her or perhaps he just wanted to avoid conflict.
Funny thing is that the next point made was to always be truthful about your feelings; don’t lie to protect your loved one. Tell the truth. Ouch.
As I took notes, I realized that NONE of this information will make a difference if I/we aren’t willing to take the time to communicate. Texting is a great thing, but nothing can replace talking to someone – face-to-face. If you have your nose glued to your computer or phone (or whatever else it is that you’re SO obsessed with), all the information in the world won’t help you or your marriage.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a sad illustration for someone to use one day about a good marriage that ‘unexpectedly’ turned south. Doesn’t matter if you’ve only been married for 2 years or 50, what are you willing to do to prevent that from happening?
In case you have forgotten….
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Have you ever looked back at a decision or choice that you made, and you think….”WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING?!”
Me neither! Haha. JUST Kidding.
Of ALL the quotes that I have ever shared or seen, this one really made me stop and think. “Do not follow your heart. Follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit.” (unknown)
Thinking back about some decisions I have made in my life, I remember some that were simple and some that were – much more complicated. So many of those times, I was absolutely confident that following my heart was the sure way to go. Sometimes that worked, and sometimes – not. If you are married or are a parent, or if you are breathing…then you can relate.
How quickly we forget how those crazy emotions and feelings can persuade us into thinking “Surely this is what God would want! I KNOW that he wants me to be happy, so…..! I KNOW that he wants nothing but the best for ME and my family!” Way to go, self.
One thing that I’ve learned is this: A quick solution (decision) may give instant relief, but that peace that you feel may only be temporary. Who lives for temporary happiness?
I remember when my mother, who was an alcoholic, would want just ‘one more drink’ Only one. Maybe it was something that helped for the moment, but ‘that one’ only lead to more. She was a beautiful woman who was miserable. She loved life, yet she hated it…. and herself. Confusing, I know.
Unfortunately, she allowed alcohol to be her God. She went to it for peace, for comfort, for strength and for happiness. I’m not judging – I’m just sharing what I saw firsthand. I only share this information so that hopefully it will help someone else. I loved my mom, but I hated her addiction.
So, now I have to ask myself this question (and challenge you to search YOUR heart): What am I allowing to be on the throne of my heart?
Here are a few verses that explain exactly what He expects from us and how it is…..
“You shall have no other gods before me.” ~ Exodus 20:3
Jeremiah 17: 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
So, WHAT do ya do?
1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing…”
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5
“Lord, help me to remember today that I am more than just a sum total of my feelings. I am Your child made to walk in Truth. Guide me as I process my feelings and reactions with the protective covering of Your absolute Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst
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.