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
“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 andnot 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)
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!
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