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And I know He watches me…

I don’t like birds. May seem like a random bit of information. And, it could even seem a little strange, since as a child I used to watch them. Study them. Wonder where they were going. Had been. What their behavior said about them. However, I also remember walking to the school bus and getting pooped on by a bird. I remember getting attacked by one as my brother and I walked through our neighborhood as kids. I don’t really like the gulls who think I packed all those sandwiches on the beach for them.

No. I don’t like birds.

Yet, a bird is the subject of one of my favorite songs when I used to sing in high school…before I ever knew God. Two are tattooed on my hand to remind me of this song, and it’s corresponding verse:

“What is the price of two sparrows-one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Matthew 10:29

But, I hate birds.

God. He has a sense of humor.

For two summers, I found the time to enjoy my front porch. I wrestled with some hard stuff there. I cried many a tear. Screamed many times at God.

And, was visited each summer by a bird. Tiny little sparrows. No. I ain’t lying.

Yes, during those times when I felt distant from Him-much like a forgotten sparrow that had fallen to the ground-I have watched one of these lonely birds calling to someone in the distance. Pleading desperately on my porch railing, as I pleaded desperately for it to just fly away. For any ole bird out there to hear its call. To come help him so he can fly home, to where he or she was going. Or was supposed to go.

Two years later. I sit again. On this porch. Watching this squeaky little bird That I just want to go away. And, I stop for a minute and remember God’s promise in Matthew 10:29. In that song I used to sing so long ago: His eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me. 

See, I had just asked Him: What is the point of all this? Why did all this happen, and when the heck are you going to give me any answers? Are you ever going to listen? 

I had been wounded. I had been attacked. I had felt abandoned, like a lost bird, and I didn’t understand it. And I needed his help, and I felt like he was silent.

Sometimes I feel like a wounded sparrow desperately calling out, and no one hears me. Yep…not even Him. He won’t give me the directions, and sometimes He isn’t telling me where to go.

When, in fact…He does. His Word. The very One that said I would never be forgotten in the first place. So, I opened my Bible, turned to a page at random and read Jeremiah 30 and 31 finding some of His promises:

“I have wounded you cruelly, as though I were your enemy. I will give you back your health and heal your wounds. In the days to come you will understand all this.” Jeremiah 30: 14,17,24

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3

Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble.”  Jeremiah 31:9

He is telling me to trust Him. To stop worrying, and he promises he won’t leave, He won’t drop me on my face, even though it feels like I am suffering down here.  He will pick me up when I fall, and he won’t ever let me go. He loves me.

I may feel like a lost bird some days. I may feel like that sparrow on my porch howling for someone to please come get me. To hear my little shriek down here below.

I may “feel” like he isn’t listening, but just like he gives flight to those birds. Gives them a place to land. Watches them, and won’t let them fall. He won’t let me either.

His eye is on this little sparrow, and I know He watches me.

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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Need an answer? Don’t Google it…

“I saw it on the internet.”

“I don’t know. I googled it.”

This. This is how we get our answers to many of life’s problems. To the things we don’t know.

I am of the generation who had to research via encyclopedia. Trying to find out information on anything took more than 30 minutes; sometimes even days, and if the World Book didn’t write about it, well you had to trek to your local library hoping to find an actual book that was written about it. Then read it.

These days you can pick up your trusty phone, ask Google and she (or he) will come back with a number of “hits” all about your chosen topic in a matter of seconds. Problem is…most are not based on fact. And, many…many are definitely not family dinner conversation worthy.

We decide what’s right or wrong based on what we read on websites, or see on YouTube.

We can determine our level of “cool” based on what everyone else is doing on social media, or what our friends tell us.

We look for “signs” from Insta-worthy quotes.

We can even ask our “friends” for recommendations on the best places to go, the best movies to see, even the best way to handle a nasty co-worker, or a salty spouse; and get a ton of advice. Some probably really great. And none at all the same.

Instead, we either listen to the wrong voice, or simply just give up.

Rarely do we dial up God about something. You don’t hear in our daily conversations “Oh, I read the Word, and this is what it said about that.”

I have asked God recently over a number of months the same question. I have prayed the same prayer over and over. I have come away not hearing the answer.

Searching instead for a sign on the internet to solve my problem. Hoping Google will provide me with some answer. Ready to give up, because I came up empty each and every time.

Until, I opened up His Word, and was given the answer that I needed.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. Psalm 23:1-2

See, I had been hanging on to the past. To the hurts of the past. To those who had harmed me. To those who had mistreated me. Used me. Manipulated my compassionate nature.

I was no longer in that place physically. Yet I was still living there in my mind and heart. Looking for answers and healing from worldly devices.

When it was right here in His Word all along.

Those people are not here, where I can rest in a green meadow if I so please. Walk across a bridge, through a path, and meander by a rock-strewn stream if I desire. Those people didn’t come with me.

But, He sure did.

He had never left me. He had come with me. He was simply waiting for me to let all that other stuff that I left behind go, so He could do something greater here.

I didn’t find that answer on the internet. Because it wasn’t going to give it to me.

I found it by looking around at the beauty He had placed around me. The place He had put me. I found it by praying. By listening. By surrendering my need to fix the past, and focusing on one truth: His Word.

Which provides the answer every time. Google can’t hold a candle to that.

So, need an answer today? Don’t Google it, or expect Facebook to provide it…ask God. Or even better-open up His Word, and read what He has to say about it.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Only One can “fix” them…and it’s not me

“Well, we can’t wait for you to work your magic on this one!”

And, yes. Sure. I couldn’t wait either. But, magic? Was the idea that I had magic dust in my pockets to make people do what needed to be done, destined to deem me a failure?

What was the “magic?”

The “magic” was the thought, and a common misconception that counselors, or anyone else in a helping profession, including doctors, pastors…are known to “fix” people. That it is their sole responsibility to fix what is broken.

See, that comment about “magic” made by a colleague at that particular time, though surely meant as a compliment, placed undue pressure and responsibility for me to do all the “fixing.”

I need to fix this kid. I need to ensure he/she makes good choices. Makes progress. Is changed.

I absolutely have to guide them from taking the wrong path. I have to make them listen. Behave. Never err from where I am pointing. Tame the impulse to act or speak without thinking.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to work my “magic.”

To “fix” what was deemed broken. Wave that magic dust in my pocket, and have everything and everyone fall neatly into place.

And, I can’t handle that pressure. I am bound to fail. Miserably. Magic dust and all.

He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

He holds the “magic.” He holds the answers. He protects. He takes on that responsibility. And, while I like to think I hold all the magic to make change happen. To know that they will always make the right choice. I just don’t.

I do have something that is pretty magical. I have the reassurance that God will restore and repair what needs to be fixed. My job isn’t to do it on my own. It’s certainly not to take all the credit. To manipulate someone to listen to make myself look good or “magical,” and make anyone here honor me and my supposed success (or failure).

My job is to offer prayers for each child’s “fixing.” To ask Him to provide me the words that will touch a tender heart. Ask Him to show me how to come along someone who needs a little “magic” to help them handle tough stuff. I don’t get the credit. I ask for the Father to work His magic, and I watch and praise Him while He does His work!

So next time you find yourself trying to fix everything or everyone that is broken.

Next time you feel the pressure to be the perfect parent, raising perfect kids, who make perfect choices, only to realize you are failing.

Next time you find yourself trying to figure out why that individual got burned on a hot stove again. Why those kids just won’t listen. Behave. Do what is expected.

Next time you expect someone to wave a magic wand, remember the one who truly fixes. And pray that folks will come to seek Him for their “fixing.” Call on Him to restore the broken, because he is the only one who can “fix.”

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2018 in Grace, You Make All Things New

 

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Your “good” name

A good name is to be chosen over great wealth. Proverbs 22:1

“Oh, you’re January!”

This could be a statement that fills you with a sense of dread. Hmmm…what did they mean by that?

Thankfully this time, the comment was made in the local Starbucks that I frequently visit many mornings. The one that knows me by name and drink. A new barista had greeted me this day. And, since I am usually all smiles and conversations when I come into this place (because, well…I am picking up my liquid courage), I knew I could rest easy.

She had heard about THAT January.

The one with the “good” name.

I am one who believes that reputations should not proceed people. One, you never know when someone speaks about a person whether it’s out of good intentions, or bitterness and ill-will. Two, sometimes even with “good” names, we all have “bad” days.

However, when we represent Christ, our names are not only ours, but His. The world is getting a chance to meet Jesus through our words and actions. Through our name. Do people light up when they hear or say our name? Or do they scowl, and grumble?

I think this passage from Job 29 represents what I want people to think when they hear mine:

“Men and women listened when I spoke, hung expectantly on my every word. After I spoke, they’d be quiet, taking it all in. They welcomed my counsel like spring rain, drinking it all in. When I smiled at them, they could hardly believe it; their faces lit up, their troubles took wing!” Job 29:21-24

When they hear or say my name I want them to think of Jesus. To think of mercy, compassion, and love.

I want them to remember my “good” name.

It’s never too late to make sure someone remembers yours!

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2018 in Like Jesus Does

 

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Me, of little faith

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me! Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:29-31

“Are we walking on the ocean?”

“Well, not ON the ocean…unless we are Jesus.”

Of course at the time I thought I was pretty witty. Until I was schooled by an even sassier, younger version of myself who broke it down for me…like only a preteen girl can do!

“Um, no honey! Jesus said, ‘Why do you have such little faith, Peter?’ Don’t you know we can walk on water, too!”

Me of such little faith. Without even knowing it, my sassy eleven-year old had gotten it right. I was like Peter. Not convinced I could walk on water.

There have been times recently when my faith has been fleeting. When I have fought battles, convinced that God had stopped fighting for me.

When I thought the waves were going to take me under, and I have also cried out, “Save me, Lord!” Hearing. Feeling nothing. Doubting that He was going to deliver me from my mess. From chaos.

Like Peter, I have ventured out at His leading, and become discouraged when things didn’t turn out the way I hoped. Started sinking in doubts if I faced opposition, discouragement, or hurdles along the way.

I began to drown out His purpose and His mission in my doubt.

Me, of such little faith. “Just like Peter, Momma!”

I don’t know what boat you need to get out of today, but I do know this-He is there to save you. To guide you out on the water. He won’t leave you. He won’t let you drown. He won’t let you rock around helpless in the waves. Being blown over by the wind.

He will help you. He only asks you step out of the boat in faith, so that you can walk on that water to the place He is leading you, too.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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What is planted will bloom

It was both bittersweet, and nerve wracking-the day I walked out of the Children’s Church room for the last time on a Sunday as Children’s Pastor. Knowing that the next day I would start another journey of which I am still uncertain, and still leaning on God tremendously to get me through.

Someone asked me how I felt. If I was sad, or would miss it? Both transitions have proven to be quite different. It’s probably why there are so many mixed feelings and emotions attached.

At times I feel afraid. There are times I am still heartbroken. Other times just numb. Clinging to that last ounce of hope that I have been known to hold onto even when others don’t. Change is always hard. Especially when you can’t see the road in front of you. When you know where it leads and who guides you, but you have no idea what waits for you along the path.

But, I was still able to give this answer: “I’m not leaving them behind. Im watching them grow, but in a different place.”

It didn’t dawn on me until later just how profound that statement really was.

Until I sat in Sunday School.

With the teens who I had known, had even taught on Sunday mornings from the time some of them were 5. Now high schoolers. Some close to graduation. All talking about their hopes, dreams, and desires.

Some I had a hard time dealing with as 4th and 5th graders. Many who I thought just weren’t getting the message at all.

Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time! Mark 4:26-29

We plant seeds. But, we can’t really know when, why, or how they will grow.

Many times we can plant a seed, and never see it grow, until many years later. Until those seeds planted at the age of five, have sprouted into soon to be high school graduates.

God is the source of that growth. We just have to be faithful sowers. Never ceasing to continue to plant in the hopes that one day, a desperate heart will hear His Word, and bloom.

Even when it looks like that seed is being choked by thorns and weeds. Not taking root. Not growing. We never stop planting.

We always pray and hope for the harvest. Because there WILL be a season of harvest.

One day we will look out among the kingdom of God and see all the seeds we planted and then left to grow-blooming gloriously in front of us.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2018 in You Make All Things New

 

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Not Today

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I’ll sing the night into the morning
I’ll sing the fear into Your praise
I’ll sing my soul into Your presence
Whenever I say Your Name
Let the devil know not today. -Hillsong

These are the words of a song I heard while driving home on a summer afternoon a little over a year ago. I heard it a day on which Satan had been beating me up badly. “You are not good enough. See, look at what has happened. What will people think of you now?”

I had just found out I was about to become a grandma…and my biggest worry was everyone else’s expectations of me.

But, really I have been here for a long time. Living up to everyone else’s expectations. What I needed to look like. How my kids should act. Who I should be at church. At work. As a parent. How I carried myself. Whether I said “ask,” or pronounced it “ax.” I never thought I measured up to what the world expected, and Satan uses this any time he can.

Not today!

I started posting that message all around me when his voice started to get louder, as the expectations of who I needed to be became too much to handle.

It’s on my bathroom mirror, so when I look into it each morning, see something different than what God sees, and start to pick apart my flaws, my first response instead is “Not today, Satan!”

It is on my coffee pot so I can repeat it to myself before I get my “cup of courage” and the day becomes too crazy. It even adorns the mug I use each morning as I hurry about the house, or spend time in His word.

It is on my steering wheel as I head into work, on my planner while I work; all to keep those all too familiar “not good enough” thoughts that creep up in this particular place at bay as I walk into classes feeling incapable-“Not today, Satan!”

It serves as a reminder that all the expectations that the devil places in my head. The ones that make me feel inadequate, are the world’s…not God’s. He created me. My edges. My weaknesses. My struggles. My mistakes and flaws are made perfect through Him. And, everything the world thinks is a fatal flaw, God will use for His glorious purpose.

They remind me that the devil has never filled my head with anything but lies. Tore apart my soul, and tries daily to strip me of my worth.

He didn’t succeed yesterday. And, he won’t today. No. No. Not today.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Loving Oneself

 

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