Don’t Worry About Tomorrow – He’s Got It.

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Yesterday – late afternoon, I drove to a nearby town to run a couple errands. My first stop took longer than I anticipated, and I still needed to go grocery shopping. I pulled into the parking lot of Meijer, and just sat there with the car running. I was sick Thursday and Friday, and I still didn’t  quite have my mojo – know what I mean?  After looking over my long list, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I put the car in drive and headed home.   

As I drove home, I started to stress out about my decision. There’s only so many hours in a day, and so many days in a week to get things done. Did you know that? Haha.  I kept thinking that I just should’ve MADE myself get the shopping over with, then it would be one less thing to worry about this week.

As I turned west and then came to a stop – I was blessed beyond words with such a beautiful sunset. I actually pulled the car over and just watched the colors change in the sky. It was absolutely stunning. I just sat there and thanked God for that moment, because I had no doubt that he wanted me there to enjoy it. I would’ve totally missed it if I had made myself go into Meijer.

Have you ever thought about where God wants you? It’s so easy to get so caught up in maintaining a schedule or routine  between work, activities with your children, taking care of your family, trying to stay on top of the laundry, meetings, and of course grocery shopping, that we forget to take the time to seek out where God wants us to be.  

I’m so thankful that – for once – I DIDN’T get something done on my list so that I could be where he wanted me to be, and I was blessed. I know that he’s  waiting to bless you, too.

HE MAKES EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL – in his time.

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fall 2011 036Do you have a favorite season? Your first thought might be related to a particular sport. If we were talking sports, then mine would definitely  be football season, but that’s only because I absolutely love fall!

Fall time in Indiana is beautiful.

Right when summer is coming to an end, you’ll begin to notice a few trees (here and there) that have a handful of leaves  that have changed from green to red. A couple weeks later, you may see a tree f-i-l-l-e-d with brilliant orange, bright red and/or yellow leaves. It’s almost like magic.

Then there’s the change in weather.

The air becomes so pleasant – cooler and crisp, minus the summer’s extreme heat and humidity that once smacked you in the face and made you sweat before you even made it to your car. You not only want the windows wide open in your house, you turn off the air and drive with them down in your car.

So refreshing.

Instead of wanting to spend time in the water, at the pool or in the lake, you’re spending time with friends at a football or soccer game or around a bonfire.  I can smell the fire now. I  love it.

On the other hand, it is my husband’s least favorite season, mainly because it makes him think about what comes next  – winter. He also finds it somewhat discouraging that everything that he worked so hard on (outside) to look nice during the summer – turns brown and ugly and dies.  

Change of any kind, and the result of it, can be pretty difficult, confusing and frustrating –  agree?

We purchase all types of products and invest in workout programs to make our appearance look nice, then all of a sudden – none of it makes a lot of difference as we see wrinkles form, and then the body begins to take on a whole new shape regardless of how many times we run, walk, or do our sit-ups.  Funny, because I remember the day when I thought that only happened to ‘old’ people. Well, here I am. It does happen. Ha-ha.

Then there are those  unexpected events that catapults your life into a whole new direction. Just in the last couple of years,  I have had good friends either lose a job, a friend,  a parent, a spouse, and even a child. Those are all seasons of change that make you question “Is this really happening – to ME??”

I recall that feeling of uncertainty very vividly when I had to say goodbye to my mom almost 18 years ago, and then a few years later – my dad. After a while, and it did take some time, I finally found my purpose in life again when I was reminded that there is one thing that we can count on to always remain the same  – and that would be what our amazing God has to offer. His unconditional love, his promises and grace, his expectations and his perfect plans for us never changes. What a comfort.

No matter how ugly life may seem at the time, never forget that he makes everything beautiful – in his time.   

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

Ecclesiastes 3:1- There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

 

 

 

Searching for Strength

On those days when you are weak – where do you go to find that strength that you’re yearning for?

Stop believing the lies – stop playing the game.
Go to His Word, and you’ll not be the same.

“Because He bends down to listen I will pray as long as I have breath!” Psalm 116:2

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9-10

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

 

“When all my strength and hope is gone, your love is like a rock that I’m standing on.” ~ Third Day

He Will Provide

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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

Friends, Fries and Faith

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

Got faith? Prove it.

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…was…CRUSHED.

 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.”

 

 

Better Late than Never.

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?”

Ouch.

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.

 

 

 

Pick your battles.

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 committedthen we will have something to celebrate.  

Heaven.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

What’s the Message?

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

 

WHAT Was I thinking????

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)