disappointment

In the past few weeks situations have come up where it looked promising, we were hopeful for a positive outcome and then slowly, little by little the situation crumbled.  We found ourselves surrounded by dust and crumpled hopes.  Another step forward, another step back.  We wondered if we were even moving at all?

Disappointment is not the enemy for us, allowing it to develop into a sense of hopelessness is the enemy.

Whenever a moment of disappointment comes it is an opportunity in disguise.  I can choose to wallow, whine, and pout that I didn’t get what I want or I can choose to ask God to show me the lesson I need to learn.  I am able to choose whether I want to grow through the disappointment or refuse to move from my situation until it goes “my way.” However, if I am wise I will remember Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration.

God knows my heart, my desires, my fears, failings, and frustration when things don’t go the way I think they are supposed to go.  I know that God’s plans are not my plans and His plans and purposes are so rich and full, and incredibly more than I could ask or imagine.

 Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:19-21)

I will always face disappointment.  It’s part of life this side of Heaven. I also know that I can turn to God and find what I need to face that disappointment.  Psalm 31:24 says it best,  Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord. 

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smells

Have you ever noticed that some people have a personality that attracts others, while other people repel those around them?

When we speak, when we are silent, when we act or when we do not, we are leaving a fragrance behind.  Sometimes it smells sweet, fresh, and enticing, other times it can smell like a high school boys’ locker room- dank and even putrid.

As believers we are to be an attractive fragrance for the lost and for the found.  Encouraging people by our actions and our words to turn to God, keep walking with Him and learn more about Him.

When we allow our foul attitudes to come out and be spread around it pushes others away from God instead.

We, and I especially, are in danger of leaving a smell behind that is not worth breathing.  I am to be the hands and feet of Christ, I do not want anyone to miss out on the Amazing Grace of God because of my actions (or inaction) toward others.

I have posted this poem before, but I believe it bears repeating– for me and maybe for you.

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15

 
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What are you sowing?

As an “older” adult I find myself striving to surround myself with people who are positive, encouraging, supportive, and forgiving.  I have learned that how a person acts impacts those around them in ways that are not always overt.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace (James 3:17-18 HCSB).

I work in a non-Christian setting and while there are those who are believers near me, there are many more who are not.  I overhear sarcastic, biting comments about other people that are hurtful to me.  I recognize everyone has a bad day from time to time, but that does not mean it should become a way of life.

As the next generation grows into adulthood I wonder, how much sowing of discord will occur because of them? Sure we all know amazing, talented young men and women, but I also know we can sadly make a longer list of people who are more likely to stir up trouble, say hurtful things to make themselves seem bigger than they are, and in general enjoy the destruction they leave in their wake.

A wise youth leader once said that “What we leave in our wake is our legacy.”

I want what I sow and what I leave behind to be words that encourage, challenge-yes, but I want to leave behind those who have been built up by my words and actions to know how special, precious, loved, treasured, and prized they truly are to the world.

These are the seeds I want to plant in the hearts and minds of those around me.

What are you sowing?

 

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ready or not…

These past few weeks have been full of times when I have wondered what God was up to in our lives.  We would take a step forward on a path we were sure He has set us on, only to come face-to-face with an obstacle which seemed like an immovable mountain.

We would pray, seek wisdom from Godly friends and family, we would wait, wonder, and I would struggle with worry and anxiety– only to see the very obstacle vanish with a puff of smoke.  Our path would be clear once again and on we would travel.

Until the next obstacle.  Repeated action of prayer, wisdom, wonder, wait– fight off worry– then POOF it would be gone as well.

My husband and I have watched obstacle after obstacle disappear before our eyes and we have seen God show up in ways we never expected.

We stand at a threshold now.  Waiting to step into the next part of the crazy, wild, amazing, awesome, breathtaking, inspiring Faith Journey that God has planned for us.

I am grateful for the hands that have held us up in prayer, spoken with wise words, listened with discerning ears, and asked the right questions.  Our Faith continues to grow, to dig deeper into God’s word, to remember His promises, and to hold on to the way He has held us up in the past to find hope for the future.

In the nearly eighteen years we have been married we have watched so many things happen that were out of our control be taken care of by God.  Sure, some may say it is coincidence, but we have seen the action of God too many times to dismiss it as something trivial.

So, we stand, ready to celebrate the way God has moved in our lives and the lives of our sons.  We stand ready to discover, uncover, and explore this new path before us.

Ready or not, here we come….

But from there, you will search for the Lord your God, and you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul . Deuteronomy 4:29

 

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What He said…

A few nights ago as I tried to sleep my mind started to run the wicked loop again.  I tossed and turned and finally grabbed my phone and started to read through my social media news feed.  I wanted something to distract me, something to help me refocus so I could sleep.

I was stopped in my tracks but the very clear words, “Why are you afraid?” It was a post by a ministry I follow.  I found myself pulled up short as if my mind were a runaway horse whose reins were suddenly caught in the hands of a skilled horseman.

I smiled.  It was as if God Himself wrote the post.  I found further encouragement from the Bible reference being used.  Isaiah 43:1-13.

As a new believer I went to a church service where the worship leaders sang a song that came straight from this passage.  The song is called Victory Chant and it was all I needed to remind myself that I am a child of God and I need to remember what He said about me and my circumstances.

I was immediately settled in my spirit and soon fell asleep.  I have been humming the song since then, reminding myself what God said to me and about me.

In case you need it, here are the verses I am referring to in Isaiah.

Blessings to you.

 

Now this is what the Lord says—

the One who created you, Jacob,
and the One who formed you, Israel—
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are Mine.
I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you.
For I Yahweh your God,
the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior,
give Egypt as a ransom for you,
Cush and Seba in your place.
Because you are precious in My sight
and honored, and I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you
and nations instead of your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north: Give them up!
and to the south: Do not hold them back!
Bring My sons from far away,
and My daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone called by My name
and created for My glory.
I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.”

Bring out a people who are blind, yet have eyes,
and are deaf, yet have ears.
All the nations are gathered together,
and the peoples are assembled.
Who among them can declare this,
and tell us the former things?
Let them present their witnesses
to vindicate themselves,
so that people may hear and say, “It is true.”
10 “You are My witnesses”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“and My servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe Me
and understand that I am He.
No god was formed before Me,
and there will be none after Me.
11 I, I am Yahweh,
and there is no other Savior but Me.
12 I alone declared, saved, and proclaimed—
and not some foreign god[a] among you.
So you are My witnesses”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“and[b] I am God.
13 Also, from today on I am He alone,
and none can deliver from My hand.
I act, and who can reverse it?”

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What’s in your hand?

When Moses stood in front of the Burning Bush in Exodus 3 he gave God all manner of excuses as to why he could not lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.  He told God that he wasn’t gifted at public speaking, what if the Pharaoh didn’t listen to him, what if, what if, what if ?

I imagine that God shook His head at the foolishness of Moses.  It seemed as if Moses forgot to Whom he was speaking.  Moses was talking to the God of the Universe. The God who spoke the whole world into being, the God who set the stars in the sky with a thought, who created the amazing animals, plants, and terrain that surrounded Moses.

Moses was about to be taken to school by the Ultimate Teacher.  Exodus 4:1-5 picks up the story.

Then Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

 The Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” He threw it on the ground, and it became a snake. Moses ran from it, but the Lord told him, “Stretch out your hand and grab it by the tail.” So he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand. “This will take place,” He continued, “so they will believe that Yahweh, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

Moses was challenged to use what was in his hands, the tools that were available to him were tools that God would use to show His glory. God didn’t need something with the glitz and glamour of Vegas, He used a normal, ordinary, simple piece of wood to show His power.

God does need us to be the smartest, the most talented, the most beautiful, the skinniest, tallest, or even the shortest to do His work– He just needs the person who is willing– willing to trust His plan when it makes no sense to the finite mind He created, willing to step out onto the ledge only to see that it is time to fly.

Years ago I was challenged by a pastor who taught on this event to look into my own hands and to see what I was holding.  Was it a gift, a talent, a tool?  What could God do with it if I only trusted it to His skilled hands and infinite mind?

What about you?  What’s in your hands?

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What are you waiting for??

This is not a declaration of foolish faith.  This is a reality check for me- and maybe for you, if you need it.

  I can live in a state of suspended animation/ suspended life–or I can choose to engage in the life I have, right now, where I am living it, as it unfolds.  

I am not going to get these moments, good or bad, exciting or simple, ever again.  They are only here for the blink of an eye and then they are gone.  I can celebrate where I am or mourn where I am not.  

So I am going to celebrate today –what I am, the people in my life, the choices I made today and the opportunity I may have tomorrow.  Most of all, I am going to celebrate the God who has given these moments to me.  They are mine.  I can embrace them or I can toss them away because they aren’t what someone else may have been given.  I have been given my life, not someone else’s. 

Today, today, it’s all or nothing…


“The Time Has Come” by Hillsong

Found love beyond all reason
You gave your life, your all for me
And called me yours forever
Caught in the mercy fallout
I found hope, found life, found all I need
You’re all I need

The time has come
To stand for all we believe in
So I for one
I’m gonna give my praise to you

Today, today
It’s all or nothing
All the way
The praise goes out to you
Yeah all the praise goes out to you
Today, today
I live for one thing
To give you praise
In everything I do
Yeah all the praise goes out to you

Cause all we are is yours
And all we’re living for
Is all you are 
Is all that you are
 
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Discerning voices

Discernment: Perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding (New Oxford American Dictionary).

Clamoring: A loud and confusing noise, especially that of people shouting vehemently (New Oxford American Dictionary).

Have you ever noticed how loud the world gets when you are actively striving to listen to God? Suddenly it’s as if someone turned up the volume and all you want to do is cover your ears.  It can be hard to hear God and know that it is Him at times like this.  

So how do you recognize His voice? John 10:3 says,  The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. In other words, we will recognize God’s voice from experience, the same way a child knows his parent’s voice in a crowd. The child is with his parent every day, building a relationship, talking and listening to his parent. 

If I am not actively pursuing a day-to-day conversation with God–taking time to be still, to push out the clamoring world, and settle my spirit, how can I hear the Whisper of God? 1 Kings 19:12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. God is not a tyrant demanding my attention.  He is the quiet, patient, loving God, who desires my full attention –not my distracted self.

When I am still, I can discern Him best.  When I am with Him daily, I can hear His correction and His direction. 

Speak Lord, in the stillness

While I wait on Thee

Hushed my heart to listen

In expectancy.

~from the hymn, The Quiet Hour by E. May Grimes 

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sticks and stones

Most of us have chanted the childhood statement:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Those of us who are older know that the adage is quite false.  Words hurt, so do sticks and stones.  It’s a no-win situation.

Recently, a co-worker and I were talking about our new home and the process God has brought us through to get the home. As she listened she expressed her amazement at how God had directed our steps, the ways He “showed up and showed off” from the day we moved to Nebraska until the present.

As we talked I found myself growing stronger in my enthusiasm for what God is doing and how He is moving. Her excitement was contagious.

It reminded me of the Old Testament practice of building an altar to mark a place where God had done something amazing.  The altar wasn’t so much for God to have a place, but for the people to have a place to remember.  (See Joshua 4).

We are forgetful people. We tend to allow the present negative experiences blur the past positive experiences. We forget to celebrate all that God has done in the past which helps us trust Him for what He will do in the future.

As I stood with my friend celebrating God’s movement in my family’s life, we were really building an altar for all that God had done.

My stones of remembrance need to be built up and built on to help me see that whatever obstacles are in front of me are no match for the God of the Universe.

What are you doing?  Are you tearing down the things God has done in the past with your fear of the future? Or are you building an altar to remind yourself that God was faithful in the past and He will be faithful in the future.

Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

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Battle 

Over the next few weeks friends and family will be facing difficult days. I will be praying for them and their situations.  

I know others may be at their side, making meals, and keeping them company, but I cannot– so I will pray.  

For comfort.

For peace.

For healing.

For them to trust God even when they don’t understand what is going on and especially when they don’t like what is going on in their lives.

These are battles I cannot fight physically on their behalf– but I can fight for them spiritually and I will- on my knees.

A saint who advances on his knees never retreats. ~Jim Elliot

Who are you battling for today? 


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