MILESTONES

STONES

Milestones serve two purposes for me:

  • Mapping out the journey ahead. When planning a trip, a project, or even just my day, I set out markers that let me know I’m making progress. Sometimes this looks like a to-do list. I’m pretty good about this exercise because I love to check off things I’ve done. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve even been guilty of adding things I’ve done to the  list just so I can fell the rush of checking it off. This type of marker keeps me focussed and eliminates distractions so I don’t get lost on my way
  • The second purpose of a milestone is for remembrance. How far we have come? What twists and turns, valleys and mountain tops, rivers and gulches have we made it through? Sometimes a task on my journey seems difficult and endless. Each step forward seems inconsequential to the whole. But if I set milestones on the journey I can look back on, then when the going gets tough and discouragement becomes my companion, I know that with consistency and perseverance I will get to the goal.

I need to visually see that I am making progress. Without these trusted tools, I feel I’m treading water. . .standing still. In the New Testament Jesus instituted baptism and The Lord’s Supper as reminders of His faithfulness. He understood we need reminders for our journey. I’ve been thinking of setting markers of my faith journey with God. In the Old Testament, we find our heroes of faith setting markers. Most often these took the form of an altar built to remember God’s faithfulness. I think this might be a tradition we should resurrect in our homes and churches.

I was blessed to be part of a simple ceremony when a young man completed a recovery program. Friends gathered for food and camaraderie in celebration of the impact this young man had made on their lives. Each was asked to bring a stone inscribed with a memory dear to them and the guest of honor.  As each presented their stone, the tears flowed. The stones were received with hugs and tears and were set in a pile. As the last stone was set, we gathered around this dear one and prayed for his future as he departed. We asked God to be with him and to use our stones to remind him of his commitments, of his progress, our love, and of God’s presence. As he left, suitcases were loaded along with his precious stones. I have a feeling those stones will be present in his home for a lifetime. Remembrance.

Life isn’t easy. The journey includes many hurdles we have to overcome. As I look back, my stones would represent the times He has taught me to trust Him more.  They would be my markers of increased faith in His faithfulness to me: when I thought I could not go on, when my burden was too heavy to bear, when my sorrow overwhelmed and threatened to pull me under, when enemies surrounded me, when I was lost and confused, felt rejected or failed, when my heart hurt and felt it would burst (or at least drown in my tears). Oh He has been faithful to gently put His arms of love around me. He has been the lifter of my head and has set my feet on a solid rock.

I’m thinking of adding a pile of carefully selected and inscribed stones on the front porch. I want them to be a sign not only to me, but to my children and to all who enter in, of the faithfulness of God.

images-1

LOCAL CUSTOMS

welcome-to-our-home-1205888_1920 2

Families have traditions for all kinds of things; so do communities. It  has been fascinating to see the commonalities and the divergencies of local cultural as we settle into our new locale.

Some of the common things we’ve noticed include:

  1. Pride in their community. When we lived in Montpelier, they touted that they were the center of the universe. Here in Lascassas/Murfreesboro, they raise statues to the fact that they are the dimple of the universe.
  2. Sports fans abound everywhere. The local Cracker Barrel carries the local team duds and paraphernalia. Big, bright, orange jerseys have made their way into our wardrobe. Given Central Tennessee has at least two SEC college teams, an NFL team, and an NHL team, we are full up on the sports front. In Richmond, they cheered passionately for a favorite team from DC or North Carolina. But here in Nashville, they just cheer for home teams.
  3. There are streets and/or suburbs that everyone argues over their pronunciation. You’ve got to get with a true local to get the scoop. We have finally learned how to pronounce the name of our city–Lascassas (as if figuring out how many “s”‘s it needed weren’t enough).  Just think of the most southern, drawling way possible to say it….LASS CASS US–emphasis on the second syllable.

Some of the differences include:

  1.  In Richmond, the RIVAH and the Outer Banks were big doings. No one here has a clue what that is all about.
  2. Seafood abounded in Virginia…the closer to the shore, the more likely it was to be on the daily menu (even part of your breakfast menu). In Tennessee we like seafood, but steak is the meat of choice (we are closer to Texas where beef is the ONLY choice).
  3. The houses in Tennessee are all bricked all the way around. It is just standard regardless of the size of your home. In Virginia, siding and a Williamsburg influence was standard–dormers optional. You might get a brick front, but you’d be hard pressed to talk a builder into including brick on all four sides. I might mention that builders here are also more customer focused. We showed up to find they had painted the entire inside of our home in my colors, built us a Christmas closet because they heard I had a lot of Christmas decorations, enlarged the patio because we had mentioned we love to live outdoors, enlarged our driveway because we have three cars to park, upgraded my hardwood and even put it in my closet, and gave me a custom island that I’d shown them a picture of. . .just because (no charge). The builder stops by fairly often just to make sure we still love our home and there’s nothing we want him to do. Who does that? Business is just done differently in the Boro.
  4. Virginians fly flags–cute, celebratory flags on their front porches, by their mailboxes, in their gardens. In Tennessee you erect a flag pole and fly the American flag AND the confederate flag–they are Southern to the core. It’s about the Mason Dixon line, not about a war. In Richmond, they were still fighting the Civil War; they even burned confederate flags. While Tennesseans don’t fly a birthday or Christian flag by their door, I’ve noted my Christian friends have carefully selected a meaningful verse of Scripture or a verse from a hymn and have had it engraved on rocks in the garden, carved into a wood sign or cut out of metal for the walls. And, many have had their choice created in those rub off letters they can put on their walls. My next door neighbor chose “He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.” It just touched my heart. So I’m looking for the Holy Spirit to give me my special verses to add to my home–I have just the right spots all picked out.
  5. Virginians pride themselves in their ancestry. There’s a hierarchy of First Families of Virginia. And, if you aren’t in that bloodline, well. . .you are just a “come hither.” You may have money but you don’t have bloodline. Here in Tennessee they are rednecks and proud of it. The uppity folks that come from elsewhere are considered money grabbers; they don’t know anything about real roots and family. It’s not about money, it’s about commitment. Neighbors and friends may not be in your bloodline but they can most definitely be in your “family.”
  6. In Virginia everyone has those stickers on their cars that are nothing but three letters. No one in Tennessee would have a clue what that was all about.

All of this made me think about heaven. What will be the commonalities there to life here? What will the new customs be like? For starters:

  1. There won’t be any hospitals, rehab centers, urgent care facilities. The medical community will be out of work.
  2. There are no cemeteries; no funeral homes. Praise God!
  3. There are no clocks there. No rising and setting of the sun for He will be our light.
  4. There won’t be any race issues. We’ll all be born of the same Father and love will abound.
  5. There are no jails, no police.
  6. Money won’t be an issue. The streets are made of gold so even the street sweepers are sweeping up gold dust.
  7. Praise God we won’t have elections. No commercials, no placards in yards, no billboards. We’ll all just praise the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In fact, there will be no politics. We’ll just do things His way.
  8. There are no slums. Mansions abound
  9. There’s no night there. We won’t need to sleep 1/3 of our life away.
  10. Everyone will know everyone. And we’ll have an eternity to sit and chat. How fun will that be?
  11. There will be beautiful music everywhere–praise music! So Music City. ..get ready to be replaced.

I was shooting for a top ten–I’ve always been an overachiever. Share your local doings. And what would you add to the list about heaven?

images-1

A New Beginning

 

planet-581239_1280I’ve been reported as missing….from my blog. Actually, I pushed a pause button on all activities unrelated to moving our household to Tennessee. This was a long and arduous process, and I am pleased to report that we are happily ensconced in our new home, surrounding by amazing neighbors and life-long friends. We’ve found grocery stores, doctors, and a new church home. WHEW!

So what does this new beginning look like for this writer?

a.  First, I had to find a place to meet with God.  My morning room didn’t exist in this house and I sold my chaise lounge. Since the weather has been beautiful, I just took my Bible, devotional material, pen and notebook outside. When winter comes, we’ll have to rethink all of this.

b.  Then I needed to find a place for me to write. We nixed the dining room to create an office for me. Downsizing requires compromises.

c. I needed dedicated time to write. Since I’m an early riser, I am up hours before my household. So obviously I had the time.

But months went by and I didn’t write a single word. WHY? Had I suddenly determined I wasn’t created to write? Was I fearful I’d fail or that nobody really cared. Truth be known, I fell prey to procrastination. “Tomorrow,” “next week,” “after this or that” became the excuses played out in my mind as God gently reminded me He had a plan for my life. Truth be known, I wasn’t that busy. I was a procrastinator. It is amazing how I can fill those hours with wasted activities.

So this morning, I came before the Lord and said, “I need a new beginning with you.” He reminded me that in the beginning He created (Genesis 1:1). During these months God has given me lots of ideas of how to share His truth and plan for our lives. So, I’m going to step out today and start creating.

What does creating look like in my little corner of this big universe?

  1.  Activating my blog and professionally participating in social media outlets.
  2. Hiring a professional editor to rework my current manuscript so I can present it to an agent and publishing houses as a complete and professional work.
  3. Developing a leader guide and group study questions.
  4. Tackling the writing 365 devotions for a companion year-long devotional guide.
  5. Exploring ways to share God’s truths with children, teens and young adults.

Have you heard the voice of God calling you to begin or renew a work? Lay down those excuses and patterns of procrastination. Join me and let today be the day of new beginnings. It’s not New Year’s Day or even the beginning of a new month or week. It’s just a new beginning with your Creator–for He is inspiring you to create ways to minister to others and to tell them of His love, mercy, and grace.

Time to rise, take up our beds of slumber, and walk in newness of life with Him. Just do it.

images-1

 

 

 

OWN YOUR STORY

sword-790815_1920When you think about your past, what emotions reach out and grab your heart? Do you struggle to keep those feelings inside? Do you fear that others may think less of you if they knew your past?

If this is you, then your story owns you. You have allowed it to define who you are, to shadow all that you could be. It has shackled you and your future.

Why do we do this? Fear? Pride?  These are not words that we should have in our vocabulary as Christians. Christ died to set us free that we might be “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). By the mere definition of a conqueror, it means you may have been in a battle, but you were the victor. You won. You have faced the enemy and his plans for destruction in your life and you have overcome (I John 4:4). Now that’s a story to tell not hide–it’s your story.

Did you come from poverty? Were you raped, an addict, pregnant out of wedlock, had an abortion, adopted, suffer with depression, consider/attempt suicide, divorce, commit a crime and have to do the time? Did you lose a job or a business or maybe file bankruptcy? These things do not define you so why are you allowing them any place or power in your life?

What’s your story? As long as you hold onto it and try to conceal it, you infuse it with power it does not deserve to have in your life. But when you take off the glasses of self and put on His robe of righteousness, your story becomes your testimony of His power and grace to you.  It’s how you became His child. It’s about His redeeming power. According to the Word, we are all sinners saved by His matchless grace. My sin and your sin drove the nails into His hands and feet. The price has been paid. You have been set free. Cast off the shackles and live in victory. Victors shout about it. They rejoice. So let your shame turn into music. Let today be the day the tempo in your music changes so you cast off those shackles and put on your dancing shoes.

You’ve given Him your heart and trust Him for your eternity. Try giving Him your past and watch Him turn your story into His story and use it to impact the hearts and lives of others..

images-1

TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS

As the clock number blog graphicstruck midnight we launched into a new year–2016 is here whether we are ready or not. Many have endured loss, heartaches, hurts and trials that meant they were eager to close the door on 2015, while others had a very successful year and cause for great rejoicing. As we face the new year, some enter it with trepidation while others rush forward eagerly. Regardless of our circumstances and mindset, we each have 365 days stretching out before us. Some of us won’t be given all 365, but for those who are, God admonishes us to number our days and to focus on gaining a heart of wisdom.

WISDOM IS A HEART STATE. Wisdom is not a head full of knowledge. Wisdom is knowledge in action–right action. So we can’t sit around hoping wisdom is going to show up; we have to apply our hearts to learn, to grow, and to properly exercise God’s truth day by day. Wisdom isn’t some lofty state you will arrive at one day and be able to set up camp for the rest of your days. Wisdom is the judicious application of knowledge moment by moment, day by day.

God’s admonition in this Psalm is that we need to recognize we don’t have forever. We must make every day count. How will you number your days this year? Maybe you need a visual–e.g., 365 stones in a bucket or beans/kernels of corn in a jar, a notebook with 1-365 pages waiting for you to journal what you are learning and how it is changing your actions.

I wish I could tell you I’m wise and always exercise wisdom in all my actions. I don’t. But I want to learn and to grow. Joshua 1:8 tells us to get into the Word for as we meditate on it day and night, it will help us observe what the right thing is to do–for in doing so we will have prosperity. I hope you’ll join me in pursuit of God’s wisdom for this year.

So rather than just wishing you a Prosperous New Year, I want to give you the tools for getting to next January 1 prosperously. Find your strategy to number your new gift of 365 days. Memorize and make real Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 90:12 in your life this year. Daily find gratitude and record your blessings. One friend suggested writing down at least one blessing on a 3×5 card each day this year. Be creative and put your jar, book and/or box of blessing notes/cards/stickies where you will see it each day.

Determine with me that this is the year we will not only count our days. . .we are going to make them count for the Kingdom.

Happy New Year!

images-1

 

 

PERFECTLY IN-SYNC

CHARGE2My youngest son is a geek in the truest sense of the word. He moved way beyond techie before he was ten years old. Truth be known he is way too smart. I’d like to tell you he got it from his parents, but there’s just no way that happened as is evidenced by our latest saga over the cords that link our I-phones to power.

By way of background, my husband is an E-Bay junkie. Whatever we need, he searches until he finds it for the cheapest price possible–even if it has to come on a slow boat from China. So when I left my I-phone cord in a hotel, he went on-line and found about a dozen great cords for less money than one would have been in the Apple store.  When they came, we had long ones and short ones in a variety of colors. It wasn’t long til I realized they didn’t really work–at least not all the time. I’d plug my phone in at night expecting it to be fully charged by morning only to find out it didn’t sync. FRUSTRATION. I began to get error messages that told me this cord was not an approved device and may not work. Well, I’d already figured that out. And, it wasn’t long until we began to have all sorts of problems with our data syncing between our phones and our PC. Updating apps or uploading pictures became impossible.

So it’s Christmas Day and we could hardly wait for the youngest to arrive. Before I could finish my welcome hug, his dad whisked him away to look at our problems. It didn’t take him long to announce that it was the cords we had been using–those cords I’d been fuming about for months. It seems they are not only cheap and incompatible, they are charging cords, not syncing cords. They looked the same, they connected, but they didn’t work. They were great lengths, bright colors and abundant–but they couldn’t and didn’t get the job done.

Have you ever been frustrated and felt your prayers aren’t getting through. It seems your life just isn’t in-sync with heaven? I realized that sometimes we approach our quiet times with the desire to just recharge our battery. Indeed it might be enough to get us through the day. But are we taking the time to truly sync with God’s will–His plan for our day/our life. Are we ready to tackle the day on our own once we’ve gotten a little recharge or are we completely synced with Him–ready to do His will vs our own.

It’s a simple analogy that has had me looking at my quiet time with renewed fervor. There must be time for God to sync our hearts with His–there must be time for the Word to take root in our lives. Prayer is important–we need to charge our spiritual batteries. But the Word is the lamp unto our feet and the light for our path (Psalm 119:105). Sync up.

images-1

TALK! TALK! TALK!

christmas-1010749_1280

Morning talk shows. Late night talk shows. Afternoon talk shows. Sports talk. Money talk. Movies. Documentaries. Books (silent talk). Teacher lectures. Mom chats. Kid chatter. Calls, texts, face-to-face. So much talk–from everyone–all the time. So what’s all this talk about? It boils down to sharing–sharing what’s inside us with those around us. . .with the world.  It can be information, excitement, disappointment, dreams, anger. . .silliness. It’s all inside and it all comes out at some point or another as talk. This past year as I’ve studied personalities, I realized that each personality type has a talk style. My husband tells anecdotes (jokes)–it’s his speech pattern. My personality engages in self talk. We aren’t narcissistic–just our speech pattern. Some speak in dissertations or love offering advice (even when they have no clue what they are talking about)…just their speech pattern.  Realizing this has given me cause to pause–to listen to others to see if I can identify their speech pattern–a clue to who they really are. I’ve loved listening. I’ve heard hurts and disappointments turned to triumph, wiped tears, received encouragement and love, listened to jokes and passions with renewed interest. It’s a new way I’ve found to love those around me.

So as I approached the Christmas story I thought it might be interesting to see what God had to say, “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'”

God sent His messenger. First He wanted us to know we need not fear. He wanted us to know His message was of good news. He wanted to share the joy of heaven with mankind–to bring great joy to all people. And the best way for Him to do that was to send us Christ the Lord–God Himself. He wanted man to find Him–gave signs and instruction to look in a humble place.  And His message brought about great praise in the heavens as we see and hear the excitement of the angels celebrating God’s announcement of the birth.

I recently heard someone say that small minds talk about things, average minds talk about other people–but great minds talk about ideals. Great minds see problems, but they see that a difference can be made and they get involved in trying to make it come about. God saw a world lost and undone. No doubt heaven’s talk was of finding a way to save mankind. That Christmas on that hillside, God heralded the beginning of His plan. Talk about a great mind and great talk. What a wonderful example He gave us all. There was compassion in His first words as He told them not to fear. There was a plan given–the unfolding of the salvation plan. First steps–find Jesus. End result–peace.

As you gather with friends and family this year, listen to the talk around you. What will your talk center on? Will it be talk of peace. Make sure it includes telling others about the baby in the manger.

Merry Christmas!

images-1

 

CAN I REALLY TRUST GOD?

dirt-171156__180

Loving my first born took me by storm–she took my breath away. I never knew you could love anyone that much–I loved her with complete and total abandon. And then the unthinkable happened. She was diagnosed with a rare cancer at three months of age and died just before she turned sixteen months. Those thirteen months were a hell no mother should ever have to endure. Burying her was like watching the worst nightmare of a movie only to find you have the leading role. You wake up each morning and the heartache and pain roll over you like a tidal wave threatening to pull you under.

You pray for another child knowing in your heart they will never fill her shoes, take her place or fill this gigantic hole in your heart. But you need someone to hold, someone to love. And when God blesses you with that little bundle of joy, it is as if God gave you the greatest gift–the gift of hope and renewal. He was a promise I could learn to love again–live again. But every day as I looked at him, I held my breath. Would he be all right? Would God take him, too? God blessed us with three little boys and a little girl. What a special gift each of them were to us. But the thought of losing one of my children consumed me. I loved them with every ounce of love a mother can have because I knew how precious they were. But I held my breath. I’d never take them for granted a day in their life. I saw the potential for a cloud in the sky even when the sun was shining as if turned on high.

Overprotective became my motto. I’d sit in a rocker by their crib or keep their bassinet next to my bed where I could lay my hand on their chest just to make sure nothing happened to them in the night. One gurgle or peep and I was there. If there is a protective measure to ensure they didn’t fall or take a bump, I was there. Let them struggle at school and I’d draw a sword. Yes, I’m the mom who decided to work in their school because I couldn’t bear to be very far from them. You don’t even want me to unveil the panic in my heart when they learned to drive.

My conversations with God were reflective of my heart. “Lord, you can have all of me, even my life–but don’t touch my children. I couldn’t bear it.” I trusted God. . .with my life, my eternity, our finances–everything–just not with my children. After all, He took my firstborn. It was a trust breaker. I wish I could tell you that a couple of months of this attitude and I grew out of it, but fear has gripped my heart every time the phone rings. If they developed friendships that I thought may hurt them or took up dangerous activities (like wrestling), I was in panic mode. How could I sit in a stadium and watch someone wrestle and potentially inflict pain on my precious son? It made me panic and run out behind the auditorium where I stood in the rain nauseated and crying. Yes, I was one of those moms.

Let’s just draw this line without further description and say “letting go” was not my strong suit. But you know where this story is headed–they grew up. They have become strong, independent, capable men and a woman. They no longer need me to cluck over them like a mother hen. In fact, they outgrew that clucking before they hit double-digit birthdays. But I didn’t. Even if I was smiling on the outside and acting like I wasn’t obsessed, when my son tells me he’s bought a new motorcycle at age 32, inside I’m a mess. I have completely worn out the carpet by my chaise lounge. . . dented it in praying for my children. Because, you see, as they took the reins of their own lives, that’s the only control I could exert–I could move heaven on their behalf.

God has been faithful and has put a hedge around my children. But the work He wanted to do was inside me–and boy, did He have His work cut out for Him. He needed to teach me about faith and trust. He’s had to teach me they are His children and not mine. I’ve had to come to the place where I acknowledged He created them and has a plan for their lives, that He is as faithful to them as He has been to me, that He loves them even more than I do, that He will draw them to Himself–I don’t have to preach at them, that He can work in their hearts now that I must refrain from sharing my opinions (and I must be honest and admit I still have some work to do in this area). He’s been working against all odds to build faith in me–a complete faith that includes even my children. It’s taken something just under 40 years.  The deeper or more painful your hurt, the bigger the scar that stares at you day by day. Taking my eyes off that scar and placing them on Him with full trust has taken a lot of testing–painful testing–James describes them as trials.

Is there a part of your life where you are struggling to trust Him? Put it out before Him and ask Him to help you. He will. I must tell you indeed it is the trials that build our patience–which looks a lot like faith and trust. It’s been a rough road learning to ‘Let Go and Let God.” These cliches can roll off the tongue; but when it comes to putting them in practice where your fears and hurts run deep, it’s a whole different story. Each of us must take our own journey of faith. God isn’t satisfied with 95% of your faith and trust–He is going after that one little part of your heart you’ve reserved for your control. It will probably hurt as He gently wrestles it away from you and begins to show you He’s got even this. But in the end, that faith He is building in you will bring you the sweetest peace.

images-1

THE WAITING GAME

rings-566180_1280Standing in line at Walmart to return a string of lights ignited my impatient heart as if it was a rocket. Upon arrival, my #8 place in line might as well have been on the moon as there was only one customer service representative.  It didn’t take long to determine she had no interest in moving this line along. After ten long minutes of watching her struggle to help the woman at the front of the line, she left mid-transaction and a new gal took over for awhile. Before me stood four cash registers crying for a representative to help speed this line along. Just to our left six female customer service reps stood talking to each other about their weeekend. And to our right, one young male representative spent over 15 minutes chatting amiably with an elderly woman as he held her new cat house. I began to fantasize he would take her purchase to her car and return to rescue us from this line. The clock on the wall ticked and after 45 minutes my internal clock was going bonkers. We had not moved one inch in this line and no one was rescuing us. I knew we were a thin cord away from my finding a manager and giving him or her a piece of my mind. Then reason arrived and I realized I didn’t have any gray matter I really wanted to leave at WalMart. So I took a deep breath and maintained my #8 place in line. With a little effort, I diverted my mind to more productive uses and lowered my blood pressure in the process. It was obvious I wasn’t going anywhere in the near future, so I might as well make the best of it. Maybe I’d just make a list of all the things God has done for me this year and praise Him. No doubt He would pay closer attention to me than any manager to a complaining customer.

I’d been patting myself on the back these past two weeks as we waited on word from our prospective buyer for our home. They had called late on a Friday afternoon to say they were removing the contingency off the contract and that all the paperwork would come on through on Monday when the banks opened. Believing her at her word, we set out for Nashville to select a neighborhood, a lot, and a floor plan so we could get a contract in place for our new home. After all, it would take 150 days given the holidays and impending bad weather at this time of year to build the house. Since we had to make a trip there anyway, we decided it wouldn’t hurt to clear the house of all the boxes we had packed–just get this stuff a little closer to its final destination instead of having it underfoot. And the weather was good at the moment which we couldn’t count on at the end of December/January. So my husband drove the truck packed with our belongings and I followed in our car. We accomplished all the things we set out to finalize, but the paperwork hadn’t come through from our buyer. When we returned home on Saturday, we discovered our buyers had hit a snag in financing. Now what? Start marketing the house all over again? Are we to continue waiting on this prospective buyer or are we waiting on another buyer? It didn’t really matter. . . we were thrust into a holding pattern. CHOICE! Would we throw up our hands in despair. Maybe a rant or two would feel good especially if we could stomp our feet a time or two. You know the feeling.

Instead, we looked at each other and said, “God’s got this. He knows where we need to be and when we need to be there. He has promised to lead, guide, guard, protect and provide for us. Let’s trust Him with this.” So we took a deep breath and found that faith and trust is a good place to dwell. The Lord has assured us we need not be anxious for anything but simply to pray and trust Him. He says if we wait upon Him, He will renew our strength and we will mount up with wings like eagles(Isaiah 40:31). While our faith in the economy, the real estate process, our buyer, etc. isn’t very high, our faith in God is at an all-time high. Faith isn’t faith until it’s tested.

That Sunday morning’s message was on Paul’s journey in Acts 16. He had set out for Phyrgia and Galatia, but the Spirit did not permit him to preach in Asia. Then he tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit did not let him go there either. My husband and I looked at each other. Was this message for us? Over lunch as we discussed the message, we felt comforted that even the Apostle Paul didn’t always know where God wanted him to go next. The important thing was that he made himself available to God — wherever/whenever. And God led Him and used Him.

Are you feeling anxious over little things that cause you to wait? Are major life changes or choices looming overhead causing anxiety about your future? Is God testing your patience? God didn’t promise us He would lay out our life’s plan like a roadmap and send us off to complete it. Instead He said, “Come, follow me. I will lead you. I will be with you” (Matthew 4). He promises us that patience will have a perfect work and we will be wanting for nothing (James 1).

While the control side of me likes to know all the details and have a plan I can execute, I’ll gladly trade it in for the promises of my great and gentle Shepherd. So if you find you are anxious in the waiting, find a quiet place, if only in your mind, that you can fill with praise. God promises us that if we keep our minds focused on Him, He will keep us in perfect peace. Why? Because we trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

So next time you are forced to wait, thank God for the opportunity to build strong muscles of faith in you. Our faith pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6).

images-1

 

The First Thanksgiving Parade

WIKIPEDIA:

The American tradition of Thanksgiving

Saying grace at Thanksgiving dinner. In some American Christian families, either the head of the household or an honored guest often recites or improvises a special grace on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, while the others observe a moment of silence. In some households it is customary for all at the table to hold hands during the grace. 

 

At our home, we go around the table and each person tells what they are most thankful for that year. Sometimes it’s a new baby, a new job, a new love. I’m always truly thankful just to have them around the table. It’s my definition of love and evokes special memories of family. As I thought about offering grace as a thanksgiving to the Lord, I was reminded of Scripture that declares our God is a God of grace. It’s not just something we offer up to Him at mealtime–it is a divine attribute He uses to describe Himself–He is full of grace.

 

As Moses huddled in the cleft of the rock, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Holy One, God placed His hand over the opening to protect Moses from the impact of His holiness. I’ve played this scene over and over in my mind asking God to show me Himself in new ways. Somehow through all these years I overlooked the fact as God passed by that He spoke audibly, “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6 KJV)

 

Here we see a record of the first parade–a Holy parade–the Holy One passed by as Moses strained to get a glimpse, and he heard the declaration of God graciousness, mercy, longsuffering and abundant goodness and truth. In the presence of such greatness, Moses’ response was to fall on His face and worship–He gave thanks–grace.

 

So as you and your family watch the parade on TV this year, let your mind also think of that first parade–a parade of His goodness to us. And may you and yours join Moses in worshipping and thanking Him for His goodness and grace as you gather around your table. My prayer is that He will pass by your home with a declaration of His grace, compassion and great mercy toward you and yours.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING~“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all His works.”  (Psalms 145:8-9 KJV)