Plan B {The Time Our Vacation Re-Routed Us}

Plan B. It’s not usually what we wish for. Plan B is the plan we go to when what we really wanted falls through. Plan B is settling for something less. Plan B is second best. Leftovers. Plan B means that something went wrong.

One of my favorite quotes is “God laughs when you make plans.” I heard it first when I was a kid, but it’s become my life’s mantra. Life with two teenage girls and working in ministry doesn’t always go the way I planned. In fact, I never planned for girls and I never planned to work in ministry. God laughs at me a lot!

I’ve learned in my four decades on this God-created earth that most of the time my plans are not nearly as good as what God has planned for me. Sometimes His plans don’t seem as good, or as fun or as rewarding as what I think I should be doing. But I have also learned that going with the flow is a lot less stressful and following as the Spirit leads is a whole lot more rewarding than doing things my way.

My family had planned a trip to the panhandle of Florida for months. We planned to spend two days basking in the sun on the white sand beaches, playing games together in someone else’s condo and unplugging from social media. Ahhh…

But, God had other plans.

Hurricane Michael rerouted our plans from the panhandle of Florida to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, a place my family had never been. Turns out no matter where you are, God is still working. And He still uses you if you are willing.

We enjoyed time at the beach, fresh seafood and unplugged family game night. We took all the pretty beach pictures and stayed up late laughing (and fighting over bed space). We took a spontaneous trip to the French Quarter in New Orleans. But we also had our eyes opened to just how small our lives are and just how much hurt there is in the world.

I normally do not take any cash with me anywhere anymore. But I had read ahead of a restaurant we wanted to try that took only cash, so I visited the ATM before we left town. And for some reason, I decided I should take more than I would need for the restaurant. I mean, you never know.

But God does.

God knows there’s a man on the New Orleans streets waiting there to entertain you to make a living. God knows there’s a woman driving desperate in Gulfport, Mississippi who humbles herself enough to stop you to ask for gas money. God knows there’s a man riding his bicycle outside the shopping mall who’s hungry for breakfast. And God also knows He’s blessed you enough to be able to give it to them since they asked.

Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. -Jesus

Luke 6:30-31

My husband wonders aloud, “Do we just have a sign on our foreheads that says we’ll give them money or something?”

I like to think it’s Jesus whispering into their ears and pointing our way. I like to think His face shines before mine and people know it’s a safe place to be human. Maybe those people won’t use the money for the reasons they asked. It doesn’t matter. It’s a lesson in obedience, a lesson in giving, a lesson in life that things don’t always go the way you think they will go. Vacation plans change. Life gets messy. But God is always there. The Spirit is always leading. We are always on the mission field no matter where we originally planned to go. I am convinced that we were exactly where we needed to be at exactly the right time.

Plan B can be beautiful. And if we are taking God with us, it’s always His Plan A.

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Misfortune: A Lesson In Humility

They say that bad luck comes in threes. I am unsure why they say that or who they are, but ok. If that’s true then I am done.

Busted hot water heater. One.

Leaking sunroof. Two.

Vehicle dead in the middle of the road. Three.

All in less than two weeks, so if we’re sticking with this theme maybe I’ve got something else up the road in week three. <pauses. prays.>

In reality I’ve been prepared for all of it. Emergency fund in place just for such a deluge of ‘unlucky-ness.’  Yep. It’s been drained. I think I actually heard it scream for mercy as I transferred the funds out of it to pay for my sunroof repair this morning.

I do a lot of reflecting when things like this begin to happen. There’s got a be a lesson in all the madness, right?

I’ve really been arrogant these last two weeks. Truly. I’ve been acting like these inconveniences have been a personal attack on my busy and comfortable lifestyle. I have honestly questioned why in the world God would allow these things to happen to me. I tithe. I minister. I do good deeds. I should be rewarded and safe-guarded. I should continue to be comfortable.

So, my bestie comes to pick me up (Thanks!) today to take me to pick up Harvey. (That’s my car). And I found myself doing nothing but complaining to her. She was, as all good friends are, a good listener and just let me vent about how inconvenienced I was. I had spent my morning stuck at home car-less and held hostage by the painters who had come to finish repair from the hot water heater damage.  As I was talking to her I realized how ridiculous all those complaints sounded when I said them out loud.

“Ok. I’m done complaining,” I said. And she casually changed the subject to remind me I needed to write. She has this way of encouraging me through conviction. I am not sure how she does that, but I appreciate and hate it all at the same time.

I came home to a finally quiet house. I sat in my favorite chair and prayed. I caught up on my Bible reading and of course, because He’s a good teacher, God kept showing me in 2 Chronicles one word over and over.

Humble.

It’s not a very popular word these days. We believe we are entitled to things simply because we think we are good. We think the world needs our brilliant ideas, our contributions and our time. But let me just remind you of something.

It’s not about you. It’s not about me.

Nothing we do. Nothing we say. Nothing we give or take away is for ourselves. It is all filtered through the hands of our Creator and then turned right back for Him to receive the glory.

So, when I find myself in a flurry of misfortune I have to remind myself that it’s all meaningless if I don’t praise the One calling the shots. I can’t complain about a busted hot water heater if I have been provided hot water, a luxury millions in this world cannot afford. I can’t express disdain for a leaky sunroof when God sent the rains on a dry land and *bonus gave me a reliable car. And I don’t want to talk about the car dead in the middle of the street because honestly, it’s car number four at our house. Four. As in, we-only-have-three-drivers-and-four-vehicles four.

I am abundantly blessed and all I could do was complain.

Father, forgive me.

 

 

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Simple {Having an Expectant Heart}

Simplicity.

I’ve always believed that less is more. Fewer activities. Smaller houses. Closer friends.

So, why is it a surprise then, when God shows up in the most humble ways?

Lately I have been amazed at how God has been responding to me. And if you are in a place where you feel like God has forgotten your hurt, maybe it’s time to get back to basics.

My heart hurts a lot. I know a lot of people who are hurting and God has wired me to practically feel physical pain when those that I love share their hurt with me. I’ll be honest and say that can become quite burdensome if I don’t keep it in check. I retreat a lot. I go off by myself a lot. I am not at all uncomfortable spending an entire day in solitude.

It’s during those times when I am still that I can hear God the loudest. Notice I did not say that He speaks the loudest when I am still. I believe He is always there waiting to say something, I can just hear him better when I am still. I draw up on Psalm 46:10 a lot. I have to.

Because when I am still I notice. I notice when He answers me.

I have two teenage daughters. (Prayers are always welcome on my behalf). They are loud, busy and always moving girls. They are always playing music too loud, running off somewhere or engrossed in the latest YouTube craze. Each one has a flair for the dramatic and have their own theater and dance outlets. They are priceless beauties and I am losing my grip on them more and more each day. As it should be.

Imagine a typical evening at my house when each one in their separate rooms have on their own favorite song. I don’t know about you, but if my favorite song is on, it ain’t at a low volume.

So it is with my girls.

What happens if I call to them? Do you think they would hear me? Do you think they would notice my voice?

Of course not. They continue dancing in their bedrooms or (and I have no idea how she does this with her music on let alone in the quiet) continue to work her Pre-Calculus homework.
I have to go directly to each one of my children, tell her to turn the music down so I they can hear me.

Do you need to turn your music down?

God’s not going to yell to get your attention. He’s just not. He’s a still small voice that speaks whispers into the hearts of those who are listening for it. He’s working every single moment of every single day and He delights in giving you your hearts desire.

But, can you hear Him? Do you see Him working?

What is so cool about God is that He’s God, but He doesn’t boast about it. He’s so complex but so very simple. He could move mountains. He can heal the sick. He can mend broken hearts. But He’s not going to be obvious about it. He’s a bit of a seek and find kinda guy. You gotta be looking for His handiwork in the every day.

I needed God to show up today. I needed a reminder that He’s still here even after a long week. I headed to my quiet space and told Him that.

And this is how He responded. This is the whisper into my heart.
Why do you need me to show up if I am always there?

It was so simple. And I was reminded of the beauty of that truth. He is always there. In everything He created.

So, then I just wanted a simple reminder and confirmation. And you know what the Creator of the Universe did? He sent me a tiny bird to dance and dazzle me in the treetops.

Simple right?

But I was looking for it. My heart was expectant.

I think sometimes we don’t get what we ask for because we don’t expect God to follow through.

Why wouldn’t He?

Why would your Father give you a snake instead of what your heart desires? (Luke 11:11)

We aren’t looking for it. We are too busy on our devices or we’ve got our music too loud. Or our calendar is too full to just be still.

How many blessings have I missed because I wasn’t expecting the simple but looking for the extravagent?

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Expect More From Your Children This School Year

I write a lot about seasons and how I love Summer so much I could probably squeeze it to death. And with the end of my children’s Summer break coming to an abrupt end next week, I’ve been clinging to it with white knuckles. But, I also know that all seasons serve their unique purpose. There’s a rhythm to it all. A cadence and melody. And if it were Summer all the time I am sure I wouldn’t appreciate it like I do.  But I’ve never been able to disprove that theory so I may never know.

My family eats outside on our patio almost every night in the Summer time. I love the informal nature of it. We eat. We linger. We enjoy our time as a family while we wait for the lightning bugs to come and dazzle us from the tree tops. Some nights we’ll spend hours out there laughing and talking. Some nights we rush through it.

Tonight we talked about how great this Summer has treated us. We have a new driver in the house with more freedom. Summer camps and long overdue family reunions. We’ve relaxed. We’ve played. And we’ve worked hard too. (VBS anyone?) We’re satisfied with how we’ve lived our life the last few months and looking forward to what the next season will bring.

It’s our last year in middle school and the ever important Junior year of high school. Neither one of my beautiful girls is looking forward to the busyness or the workload. It’s my blog and my girls, so I can brag without restraint that they are both straight “A” honor students. They work hard.

But they also know that is what I expect from them. I don’t expect all A’s but I do expect them to work hard and to do their best. The end result is that they are well rounded kids respected among their teachers and peers. They each have their own interests in choir, dance and theater and they both do well.

That’s not enough for me.

I’ve been thinking about the lives we lead today. Too busy to breathe some nights and we collapse in bed anxious to do it all over again when the sun rises. We program our children with dance and theater. T-ball and academics. We expect straight A’s and accolades.

Do we expect them to know Jesus?

When given the choice between recovering from the busy week on Sunday morning and sleeping in or treating Jesus like He’s part of every season in our life, what do we choose?

We are charged with truancy if we choose not to send our children to school.

What’s the penalty if we choose not to take our children to church?

If we don’t send our children to school, they fail and can’t go to college.

I won’t say that if we don’t go to church we can’t go to heaven, because that’s not true. But if we treat church like it’s optional how can we expect our children to think a relationship with Jesus is a necessity?

There is no Jesus season. He’s not around only at Easter and Christmas. We can’t take a break from His presence in the Summer time just because we went on a beach vacation. He’s always there. On the first and last day of school. On the ball field. At the dance recital. During the opening curtain call. We don’t get a Jesus break because He never takes a break from us.

I’d rather my children fail in school than to fail in realizing that their most important relationship is with their creator.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6

 

 

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How I Escaped From Prison

I’ve spent the last few months in prison and now that I have finally escaped, I never want to go back.

Maybe prison is too strong of a word. Occupied? That might be bit better. That’s a bit more dignified. Whatever the appropriate word, the truth is that I have been under siege.

The last couple months have been a whirlwind of musical rehearsals and performances, end-of-the-year school activities, dance recitals, birthday and anniversary celebrations and in the world of KidMin, getting ready for the annual VBS.  I feel like I have crammed a year’s worth of life into the last 2 months.

I became trapped in the prison of tomorrow.

Have you ever been there? It’s not your typical prison, so it’s a subtle incarceration.  There are no bars and the walls don’t close in on you. At least, not at first. But the longer you are there the more suffocating it becomes until you find yourself gasping for air and you’re sure that you won’t ever escape.

It’s a prison of the mind, this prison. It leads you to believe that whatever you are doing today is not as good as you will have it tomorrow. Tomorrow is always better than today. Tomorrow all the rehearsals will be over and you will finally have more time. Until tomorrow finally comes and you have performances. Tomorrow, after the performance though, you can go home and rest. Until tomorrow comes and you need to get ready for your daughter’s birthday. And so on.

It’s an arresting cycle. This prison of tomorrow. There is no escape.

Unless you come to realize that today is, in fact, yesterday’s tomorrow.

My Escape Plan

It was Monday morning. I was busy getting ready for the first day of Vacation Bible School. The Preschool Ministry staff and so many others had been busy since January getting ready for this day. 6 months of planning and here we were, poised and ready for a great week. But, while I was brushing my teeth, all I could think about was Friday.

“Then it will all be over and I can finally relax.”

I don’t know about you, but it’s precisely in the times when I think I’ve got it going on that God whispers something very contrary into my heart.

“Why do you keep wishing your days away when I created you for such a time as this?”

It was in that moment that I was finally released from the prison in which I didn’t even know I was being held captive.

In that moment I realized that every messy, busy, exhausting day is a day that I was created for. And each one of those days adds up to a whole lot of yesterdays. Not tomorrows.

Tomorrow is never promised.

Today collects the sweet memories. Today builds the Kingdom. Today is when we are living, loving and laughing.

If we are living in the freedom of today, we unlock the shackles that hold us back from living our best life.

For such a time as this. The sleepless newborn nights that when we blink disappear into anxious teenager days.

For such a time as this. The jobless, penny pinching, leaning into God for every provision months that grow us and stretch us into fruitful and trusting children of God.

For such a time as this. When the death of a loved one scars our hearts and grief bleeds and spills into joy.

For the lonely times. The sad times. Busy and overwhelmed times.

There’s purpose in all of it.

If we choose to live liberated in each day we are given, in each moment we breathe. If we remember the whisper, “For such a time as this,” it will be impossible to become trapped in our own personal prison of tomorrow.

Carpe Diem

…Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

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Thoughts While Doing Laundry

It wasn’t a bad day. The travel was easy through 240 miles of roundtrip rain. Traffic was light. Lunch was even indulgent and the conversation was spirited.

I am just very impatient.

I want things my way most of the time. I want things when I think they should be done. I don’t like to percolate.

My faithful blog followers know that my husband suffered a traumatic injury last year. That’s over 365 days for anyone counting. It was very hard and miraculous all at the same time. We look back and marvel at the ways God got us through that time. (Read about it here.)

Hold on to that thought. That whole God part. Because I sometimes forget it.

Today was a one-year follow-up appointment. We took off work and drove the 2 hours to Nashville.

I’m not sure what I had expected at the appointment, but whatever it was I didn’t get it. I must have thought the doctor would ask to waltz across the floor with us when he got back the x-rays and that confetti would fall from the ceiling. No doubt they’d break a champagne bottle and throw wreaths around our necks.

I was ready to celebrate.

But that’s not what we got at all. Instead the doctor came in, handed us the x-rays and shrugged.

“It’s still in place,” he said about my husband’s donated elbow.

That’s it? That’s all we get? Just that it’s still there?

Ok, so I need to back up a bit because most people would think that’s a win. And it really is. It’s not a step backward and I am thankful.  But for the surgery to be declared a success the allograft needs to “come alive.” Meaning it needs to transfer blood and marrow and begin to act like my husband’s own bone. If it doesn’t, it can deteriorate inside his body and we’re essentially back where we started a year ago.

Right now there is no evidence that it’s doing what we want it to. But there is no evidence against it either. So, there’s that.

If I’m telling the truth I was surprised by all of this. Isn’t a year long enough? Shouldn’t we have answers by now? Can’t we just. move. on?

What is it that you are waiting for? A baby? A new job? Restored health?

I’m there. I get it. I want to never have to see those people at the doctor’s office again. I mean they’re nice and all, but…

All of our anxiety and disappointment stems from a lack of being still. We forget that God is there in the waiting too. He’s not off in the weeds looking for the answer. He’s got it in His mighty hand while we cozy up to Him and wait for him to reveal it to us.

I imagine it as a Father who has the perfect gift for His child. He’s picked it out months in advance and just can’t wait to give it away. But if He doesn’t time it just right it spoils the surprise. It spoils the excitement and loses a bit of it’s glory and awe.

There are lessons in the waiting. Endurance. Perseverence. [sigh] Patience. And Trust.

All of those things are virtues the Father wants to bestow and develop in us and we miss out if we’re the child begging for the gift to be given before the right time.

The anticipation of what He can do in our lives while we wait should be enough for us to always want that white space. We cheat ourselves. We cheat God when we try to move faster than His perfect plan.

Apparently, we have two more years to wait for an “all clear.” This was news to me.

So here I am tonight. Catching up on laundry. Ignoring the dirty floors and wishing I had something more fabulous to cook for dinner. Here I am living my life one more day in the ordinary of our new normal and snuggling up to my Heavenly Father just waiting for Him to show me what spectacular treasure He’s got hidden behind His back.

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The Dramatic Pause: Life With Teenagers

I had such a busy day sprawled out ahead of me. Staff meetings. Orthodontist appointments. Rehearsal. Dance class. And the little thing we like to call ‘work’ was mixed in the middle of it all. Praise God for whoever invented the crock pot.

I rushed out of my staff meeting early to pick my teenager up for a routine orthodontist appointment. I expected to drop in and drop out and be done in under an hour. But, of course they were backed up with patients today. No worries. More time to waste on social media.

When my daughter finally emerged from her good old-fashioned tooth straightening, I was ready to send her straight back to school. There were still miles to go before I could sleep.

But she said, “I’m hungry and I’ve missed lunch at school.”

“So, eat the lunch I packed for you this morning. You can eat it in the car.”

<Enter dramatic pause>

“You were hoping I’d take you out for lunch weren’t you?”

Teenagers always seem to have a way of planning everything around food. It’s never “Who will be there?” or “What time should I be ready?” It’s always, “What will we have to eat there?” I am very certain that my children ask me, “What’s for dinner” more than any other single question and at multiple times during the day. I suppose they think I may change the menu or worse yet, forget to feed them.

But she got lucky today. I was hungry myself and there was nothing waiting for me back at the office. So, I let her choose a place that I could drive through and send her on her way.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I was gently reminded that these times are fleeting. I will not have many more precious moments and requests for a lunch date before my beautiful girl goes off to college in a couple years. So, I seized the moment and offered to dine-in. She gladly accepted the invitation. I know it was more to avoid returning to AP History class, but a mother can pretend that her company is appreciated even by her 15yo daughter.

I am so glad she accepted my invitation. We are both so busy. It felt so good to spend an uninterrupted moment with her. It was there sitting across from my baby girl as she dove into a pile of greasy french fries that she took my breath away. I had forgotten how gorgeous her eyes are. God gave her the most amazing colored eyes speckled with greens and blues, all trimmed with a deep indigo rim. One day some undeserving boy will look into them and sweep her off her feet.

But not today. Today when I asked her how she was she answered with the generic, “Fine.”

And then followed it with another dramatic pause. She’s good at that.

Whenever she starts a sentence with, “Soooo….” I know I am in for a very long discussion.

She was very troubled by something a friend of hers had trusted to her. It was between sips of her Dr. Pepper that she spilled some very heavy information to me. She kept telling me about the situation and I just listened and tried to offer advice when she asked for it. I couldn’t help but think how very lucky I am to have a daughter who is a). Willing to be seen eating french fries with me and b). Still seeking advice from me in her teen years.

While she was talking I remembered back to when she was a doll-baby and she’d talk and talk and talk to me about the most random things. And I think because I listened to her when her biggest problems involved imaginary friends, she can trust me even more now when her friends are very real.

Let us never discount the importance of even the smallest things in our children’s lives. For if they can trust us with the small things, they will be more likely to trust us with the big ugly things later. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my kids trust me with the big ugly stuff than to trust the rest of this world.

I am so very glad I took a few more moments in my day to eat lunch with one of my most favorite people. It eased a bit of her burdens to talk some things out. And if the truth be told, it eased some of mine too. I’m not a perfect mom. I mess up a lot. I yell at my kids and forget to sign permission forms, etc. But I like to think I got it right today. In the middle of a crazy Tuesday, I took the road less traveled by way of a fast food restaurant and it made all the difference.

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Three Reasons Why Failing In 2018 Will Be Ok

Raise your hand if you have already messed up on the changes you decided to make in 2018.

Really?! You too? I thought I was the only one!

I don’t make resolutions anymore for this very reason. I make things easier and choose just one word or theme to focus on to improve my life. Seems so simple.

Turns out, I can screw that up too!

So here I am, being so very human and feeling like I can’t do anything right. I can’t even go a couple days without slipping back into my old comfy place. The place where nothing grows. I’m beating myself up about how much discipline I lack.

“Lord, I’m such a failure! I can’t even make it a week without failing!”

I felt like giving up. Already.

What’s the point? I set out to do something and I didn’t do it. Barely even a week into the New Year and I wish I could start over. I wish I didn’t have a blemish already.

That’s when God reminded me of three things to make a do-over not only possible, but Biblical.

God Doesn’t Work On A Timeline

He’s eternal. There’s no 2018 on God’s time. There’s no New Year to celebrate or agenda to keep. Sure, he separated the day from the night and set the Earth into a rhythm of 365. But that was for our feeble little human minds to help compartmentalize our lives.

If we’re living for eternity, then a couple days in January when life got a little nuts and we lost focus of our goals is a mere speck compared to God’s grand scheme of things.

And since He doesn’t have a timeline, anytime is a good time for a fresh start.

Psalm 102:12

God is Omnipresent

It doesn’t matter if you’re at work or in the car on the way, God is there for your turn-around. I used to tell my kids that God is everywhere, even in the bathtub. They used to think that was silly, but God has shown up in big ways many times while I was in the shower.

There’s no place like the present to get a do-over. Don’t wait to get home from work, vacation or even to finish reading this paragraph. If you need a fresh start, take it now! God’s here. And He’s staying here. He’s waiting for you to make the move.

Psalm 139: 7-10

God’s Mercy is New Every Morning Not Just On January 1st.

This one is my favorite. Nothing screams “fresh start” like a beautiful sunrise. Early morning dew.  Crisp, clean air.

And, oh so many nights I have gone to bed feeling deflated, defeated, exhausted and discouraged only to wake up feeling refreshed and hopeful for a new day. I am not a morning person and I never will be, but I have found myself clinging to the promise of a new day more times than I can count. It helps me to know that however I failed today, I get a clean slate in the morning. Every day of the year.

Lamentations 3: 22-23

So, we’re only a few days into a brand new year and I am bound to screw up another 364 times. But I know that our God is always there ready to give fresh mercies whenever we need them.

Forever and ever. Amen.

 

I’d love to hear from you. Check out the comments and let me know how God is working already in your life in 2018.

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Unforgettable: When God Writes The Story

wordoftheyear2018

I love words. I’m the girl who sits and reads the dictionary during her leisure time.  Yes, the paper copy. When I hear a new word, I almost always look it up and practice saying it over and over again.  Sometimes, as with a popular song, I will get a word stuck in my head. The poetry of it is melodious to me. I know. I’m weird.

It should be of no surprise then, that God uses words to mold me into who He wants me to be. As if He is allowing me a sneak peek into the grand story He’s writing for my life, these words hold a theme of what He will allow and walk me through.

The concept of choosing just one word to meditate on for an entire year is not new, but I still love it. I begin to pray about it around November (looking forward to a new year anyone?) and begin to reflect on what God brought me through with the word he gave me previously. I’ve been given “intentional” and “trust” the last two years. Both of those words proved to refine me in ways I didn’t plan.

I thought “Intentional”  would remind me to be a better friend. You know, be intentional about how I spent my time with others and invest in those I cared about. Turned out God wrote that word on my heart because he wanted me to be more intentional about the time I spent with Him! I could not have survived a broken heart without all the time I spent in the Word and praying. Intentionally seeking my one true love. Jesus.

Trust. This year my husband spent 10 days in 2 different hospitals with a traumatic injury that almost took the use of his arm. The days and weeks and now months after the injury have been nothing short of a challenge. Learning to live with the pain, the limited use of his arm and the lingering question on whether the dead bone used to replace the one he lost will ever ‘come alive’ or not, all of that takes a whole lot of trust in a God who has our best interests at heart.

This year I also began a new full-time director position in children’s ministry at our church. The stretch marks and bruises from that alone have left me questioning what God has gotten me into. And I realize it’s all part of that tiny little word He wrote for me. Trust.

Since the last two years of my life have been so challenging, I hesitate to choose another word. But I realize that the words God uses to write my story allows me to focus more on a reason for the challenges and not just wallow in the suffering. And since I tend to be a carefree spirit and want to do things my way, I know that God has given me this word for 2018:

Discipline.

It really doesn’t sound like a fun word at all.  God will even back me up on that one;

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:11

Not enjoyable. Sounds like just the kind of year everyone wishes for! While the work and discipline may not be easy, afterward comes the peaceful harvest.

Being disciplined with my money yields a more secure future for my family and sharing wealth with those who need it more than me.

Being disciplined in my time with the Lord nourishes my soul to better be able to minister to those around me.

Being disciplined with the food I put on the table provides a healthier life for my family and loved ones.

Being disciplined with my time leaves me more time to do the things I love to do, like write, read and spending time with my family.

Discipline is not enjoyable, and to be honest I wish my word was different for 2018. But I am also looking forward to what the fruits of that labor will be.

“Intentional” helped me better understand the characteristics of God.

“Trust” helped me better understand that he is always there, even on my darkest days.

Who knows what ‘discipline’ will teach me this year. I won’t know until a year from now. But it is guaranteed that if I continue to let God write the words, the story will be unforgettable.

 

What word has God given you for 2018? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

 

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Details: When God Gives You A Pickle

Distraction. We all struggle with it.  So many things demand our attention every day. Work. Kids. Relationships. Some of us are involved in so many activities there just doesn’t seem to be time for work, kids and relationships. Our devices intended to make our lives easier sometimes are the most distracting things in our lives.

Have you ever felt that way?

I am certain that God never intended for us to live like this. God never wants us to get so bogged down with so much that we can’t pay attention to the little things.

God pays attention to the little things.

I am reading chronologically through the Bible. Some of the Old Testament books are not very good bedtime stories. I find my thoughts drifting off and wishing for an easier read. When I got into Exodus and God is giving all the instructions on how He wanted the Temple built and the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant, I literally stopped, groaned and said aloud:

“Why do all of these details matter?”

And God answered, “Because details matter to Me.”

Now, it’s not every day that God answers me right back, but it’s not unusual when I take the time to dig into His word. It is so important to get to know my Heavenly Father and His character. That’s only possible by reading His autobiography, the Bible.

So, I wasn’t surprised that He answered me so clearly and I wasn’t surprised with His answer. But, it’s had me thinking ever since.

God is in the Details.

The other day I was driving to lunch with a friend of mine. Thinking ahead to the menu I said out loud to her, “I want a pickle.”  It seems random. I know. But she went with it and agreed that I should have one with my lunch.

We arrived at the busy restaurant, found our table and briefly looked over the menu. The sandwich I settled on came with a pickle. When the waitress brought it to me, wouldn’t you know that sweet, benevolent detail-oriented God of ours brought me two pickles!

I truly do not believe that was a coincidence. It was a small detail to remind me He’s listening to my heart’s desire.

Last Spring, my husband was in a traumatic accident where he cut off his left elbow.  We waited in the hospital for over a week for doctor’s to detemine what should be done. Finally, it was decided that my husband would need a cadaver’s elbow to save his arm. Of course, all that was available in the entire country were left elbows.  Exactly the detail we needed!

Notice The Details

I think that God wrote all of those details in the Old Testament because He wants us to know that He cares about the details. If God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow then His detail-loving character hasn’t changed.

And He wants us to notice.

He wants us to notice the extra pickle or the fact that He provided the exact missing piece. He wants us to notice the little things He does for us so that we will trust Him with the bigger things.

How to Notice the Details

It’s easy to see God when He heals a friend of cancer or provides at the very last minute the funds you didn’t think would be there. God is still in the business of showing off, and I love that.

But, maybe you find it difficult to see Him in the details.

One way to see Him every day is to realize that He’s there. Every. Day. He’s what set this whole cosmos in motion, after all. If He can do that, He can put an extra pickle on a plate.  Begin to notice the beauty around you. Put down the phone and listen to your children laugh. Look out the window and marvel at all the tiny things set in motion before you in that very instance. Breathe in creation.

Another way to realize God’s love for details is to realize His desire to satisfy yours. An extra pickle isn’t a coincidence if you know your Father knows you wanted one.  He’s a good Father, and He promises that if you ask it will be given to you. Luke 11:9  That includes pickles.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Luke 11:11

But the best way I know to understand and begin to notice the details around you is to spend time with Your Father.  Dig into His word and learn about His character. Make a point every day to learn something new.  You notice things about others when you spend more time with them. That includes your Heavenly Father. Find a quiet place and pray. Talk to Him throughout the day and make sure you thank Him each night. When you take the time to be still and get away from your distractions, it’s easier to know that He is God.

Knowing God means recognizing His subtle reminders that He’s got not only your biggest worries, but also your detailed desires in mind.

 

I’d love to hear from you. What are some ways God has shown off to you through the details? Join the discussion in the comments below this post.

 

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