Monthly Archives: December 2015

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.

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TALK! TALK! TALK!

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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!

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CAN I REALLY TRUST GOD?

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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.

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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).

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