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Move, girl!

Hmmmmm……looks like they finally moved that thing. How many times did I ask for that very same thing to be done?

Wow! Really? I put that request in years ago, and now it’s finally important to someone?

This is how it begins. A blast into the past. Recounting all the hurdles I had to jump. Lamenting over things He had already gotten me through. Just not in the way I wanted. Then wondering why in the world that “assignment” was so hard for me?

In high school for two spring seasons, I decided to join the track team. Somehow, during that first season this short girl was encouraged to try the 100 meter hurdle race.

In high school I was also persistent. I didn’t give up easily, and even though I trained painfully to clear that bar, I missed it each race. Tumbling to my feet, onto the ground. Humiliated and defeated.

I needed a new assignment. A different race. I needed to move.

My perseverance and persistence has not faded since high school. Which means I still painfully work to clear hurdles from my path. In ministry. At work.

I get frustrated each time I don’t clear that bar. Upset each time I fall. Each time I hit a road block. Crying out for help in my suffering because surely if He called me here…well, I should not be set-up just to be knocked down. Humiliated. Defeated.

They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over the Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew for sure God had called us to preach the good news there. Acts 16:6-9, MSG

Move, girl! This isn’t the place for you. You belong in Philippi.

I had to move.

He had a different place for me. A different assignment. And, he set up some roadblocks where I was for a purpose. Just like he prevented Paul and Silas from preaching in Galatia and Bithynia.

He had to get me to Philippi.

And if I stayed comfortable where I was. If I stayed happy where I was. If I never fell over another hurdle, or had someone or something block my path-I never would have moved.

Move, girl!

So, I did.

Which means…who cares who moved those darn pictures? It was not my assignment. Who cares who blocked the way at work? I was never meant to stay where I was. It was no longer His place for me.

He gave me a new assignment. He sent me to a new place. To tumble over some different hurdles I am sure. But…when he says, “Move, girl!” He will also provide the way for me to clear them, too.

Move, girl!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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One Word: Surrender

Surrender

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Isaiah 43:18-19

Oh, the promise of the New Year. A chance to make changes. Try something new. Correct all that was wrong with the past year. Time to make a list of new goals, most of which will be deserted by February.

It’s for this reason I began a couple years ago to chose just one word that would shape each new year. One word that God had laid on my heart to live out in my life. This past year, the word laid on my heart was perseverance. And, as begin to reflect on 2015, I have to ask myself if I really allowed this word to transform me? Did my actions and choices live up to its meaning?

Honestly, I didn’t embrace what it would mean in my life. Instead, I let illness and the dark days of winter sink me into a mild depression. I let criticism make me lose focus on my purpose, and instead fulfilled the purpose others had for me. I didn’t take care of myself, so consumed with taking care of the needs of others. I started things, and never finished them. I came close to giving in, and plain quitting, because it seemed easier than pushing through. I lost faith. I quit praying. I left too much undone, and too many words unsaid. I became a cynical, unloving, and angry woman. Taking every slight and hurt to heart, until I was a shell of the person I used to be.

And, as I sit here reflecting on that word-perseverance-I begin to wonder how I failed to allow it to transform me, and I realize I probably never had an idea what it meant in the midst of change and adversity. The word, perseverance, means much more than endurance, finishing, or not giving up. This is how it is usually defined, but most don’t know that it has another meaning as well: “grace to the end.”

His grace. His purpose. His leading in my life despite adversity. Living my full potential each and every day. Knowing He will sustain me and push me through to the end.

But, why was actually doing it-persevering-so difficult?

Because, I couldn’t let go. I held onto resentment, guilt, the past, my hurts, and my failures. I couldn’t persevere and keep running without letting go. Without complete surrender and release of all that held me back from my purpose.

So, this year…I will surrender. Let go. Endure life’s difficulties knowing I am His. Embrace who He has made me to be, despite popular opinion, or any uphill battle.

I will surrender to His will for my life, keeping in mind a few things I must let go of along the way. Making a few vows. Choosing not to settle for anything less than His purpose, and releasing anything that stands in the way. Despite difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

I will surrender the tendency to let the darkness of this world consume my mood and thoughts, but will be the light in that darkness. As well as one in my home. At work. In my community.

I will surrender the need for perfect children, and allow them to make and learn from their mistakes.

I surrender my need to please. I will embrace who God made me to be, not what others would like me to be.

I surrender the desire to run from the past in an attempt to forget it. Instead, I will give back to those who shaped it. Forgive those who maimed it. Teach others the lessons learned, and know that this past has made me who I am today.

I will surrender my fears. Those irrational ones that keep me from truly living. Face the unknown. Finally take steps to fulfill a dream.

I will dance in the rain.

I will intentionally put those “I’ll pray for you’s” into practice.

I will surrender the need to see life through the lens of my smart phone, and immerse myself in each and every glorious moment. Seeing life through my own eyes.

I’ll learn to love my own company. Call an old friend to catch up. Dress up- just because.

I surrender my insecurities, my fear of rejection, or of being misunderstood. I will say what needs to be said. Even if it hurts. Even if it is scary. Even if it is hard.

I will surrender my selfishness, hate, and regrets.

And, I will love-without abandon. Despite obstacles. Despite disagreements. Despite differences. Even if it is complicated. Even if it is messy.

I will surrender negativity, and anything or anyone that may creep in to cause me to lose my peace of mind, my faith, my sense of self. I will surround myself with positive people. Those who encourage me and push me to be better.

I will embrace distance that keeps those I hold dear far away. Knowing it is necessary for growth, opportunity, and change that won’t happen in the four walls called “home.”

I will surrender my fear of failure. I will try new things-not giving up when they don’t come easy.

I will surrender the belief that the world is full of evil, and choose to remember all that is good and true. Seeing this good in others, even when it seems hard to find. Even when I have been hurt. Even in the midst of tragedy.

This year, I will find the strength and peace to let go. To release all that holds me back from Him. To simply surrender.

The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20, MSG

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2016 in You Make All Things New

 

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That Brick Wall Was Meant to Be Climbed

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I am sure you have had one of those periods in life. When you are skating along and everything seems to be going great. You feel confident in the direction in which the Lord has you moving. Then-BAM! WHACK! You slam right into the makings of a brick wall. Or two.

A wall of defeat, maybe.

Maybe it’s a wall of criticism. Or self-doubt.

Hurt. Grief. Loneliness. Sin.

Regardless of what that brick wall may be, it begins to slowly tear away at any progress you have made. Making you feel that instead of moving ahead, you are now starting to move backwards.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you the path to take. Proverbs 3:6

This is what I had been doing. I had been letting Him lead me. Allowing Him to show me the path. I had a renewed sense of passion. Of purpose. I had a vision, and a plan I felt in my heart was truly His.

And then…it happened. I hit that wall and started staring at all the bricks that stood in front of me. The bricks that wanted to prevent me from staying the course.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. John 10:10

And, that’s what he tried to do.

See, all those bricks of defeat, criticism, self-doubt, hurt, grief, and loneliness are all the bricks that the devil tries to throw at you when you are headed in the right direction. The bricks that make up the wall that Satan tries to erect in your path to veer you off God’s chosen course.

With each roadblock, there is a brick on the wall which reads what Satan wants me so desperately to believe…

You are not good enough. You are not making a difference. You are not getting through to them.

Turn around. It’s too hard for you.

God has left you. You will never make it past this point now.

Just give up. You don’t have any other choice.

But, when those walls start looming in front of us, we do have a choice. We can give into Satan’s lies, or we can hold our heads high. Climb over those obstacles. Keep moving. Know that God has not left us. That He guides each and every step of our course.

With His strength and favor we can climb those walls. Chip away at those bricks. Move forward and keep going, no matter what obstacles lie before us, so that we can reach the glorious destination he has charted for each of us.

For the Lord, your God, will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you or abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in On Purpose

 

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He Is There…Do You Believe It?

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“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This is the message that was posted on the projects that our children worked on this weekend during VBS, and it’s the verse from Matthew 28:20 that was the focus of two short nights. As God prepared my heart each nightly service, I couldn’t help but ask myself this question:

Do I cling to this promise when I am afraid? When I am filled with doubt? When I face the many trials of life?

No. I don’t. I forget that He is always with me. I sometimes forget Him entirely and focus on me, myself, and I.

What? But, you are a Pastor? Right. I am, but I am also a sinner, saved by grace, and I still have my fair share of wrestling matches with the devil.

See, God blessed me with two inspiring weeks in which His presence was profound. God blessed me with a number of people who took much of the stress that comes with large events like VBS from me this year. He had given me the peace to finally let some things go.

But, the devil knew this. He knew I was beginning to be reminded of God’s power, and so he picked a few more wrestling matches with me.

Just like Joseph, who was pushed into a well by his jealous brothers, I was pushed into a well of fear and doubt. But, instead of responding like Joseph, humbling myself and believing that God would bring me out of this well, I placed my faith in my own strength, and out of control feelings.

When the devil began to attack me with his messages that I’m not good enough, I’ve got it all wrong. I am doing nothing right. I didn’t respond as Joseph did in that prison, remembering that God would deliver Him from hurt and pain, but wallowing in my own prison of pity.

When I’m disappointed…I forget God’s promise that His ways are higher.

When that dreaded new school year gets closer and closer…my need to control and plan for every setback overshadows His ability to bring our family peace.

When I’m lonely, tired, frustrated, defeated, or offended I forget that He is powerful enough to defeat all of these emotions.

He proved it with His son, and his death on a cross. Yet our lack of faith in Him diminishes this power, and places Jesus on that cross again.

When we think only of me, myself, and I…we nail Him to the cross.

When we can’t forgive others…we nail Him to the cross.

When we let the devil’s messages that we are too little, not good enough, and get nothing right get to us…we nail him to the cross.

God gave His son to remind us that He is there always. In our wells. In our prisons. In our exhaustion. He is always with us.

We have His son and God’s grace to remind us of this. We have an empty tomb to remind us of His power to renew us, and to give us power to win those wrestling matches with the devil.

So, believe it. Even when the devil tries to throw you off track. Even if he calls you back into that ring for another match.

Believe that He is with you always!

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Rejoicing for Unanswered Prayers

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

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A few weeks ago we took a family trip to the National Aquarium-one of the trips we had promised our shark lover for some time. As all museums, aquariums, and tourists attractions often do, a strategically placed gift shop waited for us as we began to exit. A strategically placed shop we had used to bribe our shark lover with just to get him to navigate the crowds without melting into the floor. Ten bucks and ten minutes later, emerges a happy little boy with a new toy frog. A frog he then left in the restaurant on the ride home.

A toy frog I prayed would still be in that restaurant as we turned to make our way back, and as I watched my little guy pout in the seat behind me.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

Some prayers are answered. Just like that. Prayers for toy frogs to magically appear in restaurants. The prayers of a faithful boy as he wishes for no more monsters. Prayers for a successful school year. Prayers for that dinner out to be one of joy.

Some, however, go unanswered.

It’s those that often haunt me. It’s those that allow the devil to creep in and test my faith in Him. It’s those that make me wonder if God really hears me at all.

See, for a while now, I have prayed consistently about one particular area of my life. One situation that has plagued this heart of mine.

And, for a while now, I have not gotten an answer. I have doubted Him. Questioned my worth to Him. Even had a scream at Him in the bathroom, crying, “Are you even there,” and cursing out loud moment with Him. Yet, I can’t help but think that just as every other test and struggle has been a part of His plan and purpose, maybe the unanswered prayers have a purpose as well.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, he will hear us. 1 John 5:14

He hears us. He hears all our prayers. Even the crying, screaming, and cursing ones.

And, He answers them…according to HIS will.

Which means…maybe He doesn’t answer them because that’s exactly part of the plan.

Maybe we are meant to go through these moments. Endure pain. Experience heartache. Have screaming matches with God so we can grow. Embrace life. Become more dependent on Him, and less on our own agenda and will.

Or, maybe it’s not about us at all. What if those unanswered prayers are really meant to help someone else endure pain. Embrace heartache.

All so someone else can go through those times when they are screaming and cursing at God. Through the times it seems He isn’t listening. To teach about the strength promised in Philippians 4:13-the strength that only comes from Him.

The strength to endure pain. Embrace heartache. To pick ourselves up off that bathroom floor, wipe our tears, and thank Him for unanswered prayers.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in How Is Your Faith

 

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You May Not Feel it Now, but You Are a Good Mommy!

Good Mommy post

It’s no secret around here what our mornings have looked and sounded like lately. Our little guy started school a little over a month ago, and while he is in the same building he has been in for 2 years now, this year’s transition to kindergarten has not been easy. A new teacher, a new routine, and sometimes no warning of what to expect have meant that our mornings have not gone smoothly at all. 

What is for most an uneventful trip to the bus stop, has become a screaming ordeal for us.

The anxiety of what the school day could bring that our little boy may not have prepared for, has him panicked and worried before he even gets out the door each morning. These mornings have been filled with screams of terror, and cries of worry. And not just from the five-year old.

“You want to cry now, too. Don’t you?” This is what my husband asks as we complete our new morning routine.

And, yes. He is right. While I may have been able to control the convulsing sobs I wanted to emit at the bus stop, I am having a harder time controlling them now. 

All I want to do in this moment is close my closet door, lay on the floor, and weep.

Why?

Because on these mornings, I don’t know how to help this son of mine. Because on these mornings, honestly? I just want a kid that is “normal.” One whose autism doesn’t have his mom feeling utterly useless.

Because, sometimes….I wonder if God gave him to the right Mommy.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

And, I know all this. I know this is all part of his plan. His will for my life. He certainly knew exactly what he was doing when He placed this child in my life.

But, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel utterly useless, and a little less equipped to be this kid’s Mommy.

We all feel like this as parents a little more than we want to admit. In all honesty, I am not quite sure there are too many moments along this journey through parenthood that I have not felt useless, completely clueless, and dumbfounded. Even though I began my journey at the age of 19, 17 years later, I am not anymore secure in my ability to parent than I was as an unwed, teenage mother.

I don’t have all the answers.

I am completely clueless.

I feel utterly useless.

I question whether God gave these kids to the right Mommy. I even question a co-workers judgment as she reassures me that “Yes, you are doing the right thing. You are a good Mommy.”

Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Do you not see it, January? When you think you are doing it all wrong, I have you on the right paths? I will wipe those tears and assure you that you are a good Mommy, my child.

Do you not see it, Mom?

Do you not see it, Dad?

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? No one can measure the depth of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Isaiah 40:28,29

Do you not see it? 

The moments we want to lay on the closet floor and weep, he wipes our tears and feels our sorrows with us.

The moments when we don’t know how to reach our kids. How to be an understanding parent. How to parent at all. He comes in and gives us the strength and power to get through the next phase of childhood.

He makes a path for us when we see none. 

And, He gives us the power to get off the floor, while gently whispering:

“You may not feel like it now, my child. But, you are doing the right thing. You are a good Mommy.”

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Autism and Faith

 

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Ditching Our Best Laid Plans

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

I am a planner. I plan weekly menus and grocery trips. I plan vacations and day trips months in advance. I prefer to know about parties well in advance. I like to plan for the future, and don’t like surprises. That being said, I am not the most spontaneous of people. Wreck my plan, and it can often get ugly. Wreck my plan, and I can potentially come undone.

As someone who has at one point been a teacher in training, and who has also taught children in our church for the past seven years, I know how important it is to have a good, solid, organized lesson plan. I also know what can occur in the classroom without one. In most cases, it does not pay to be spontaneous with a classroom full of children.

However, as He often does, God is once again teaching me that sometimes it does pay to be a bit spontaneous, less rigid, and more flexible. Sometimes we really must ditch our best laid plans in order for God to work according to His plans.

Each time I teach a class or speak in front of a group of people, I always write down and outline what I plan to share or what I plan to demonstrate to colleagues or students. But, sometimes, I fail. I don’t end up using my well thought out and organized script, and on those occasions when things are conveyed as per my neatly bulleted outline, I never quite seem to get the right message across. The message is lost, not heard, or misunderstood. Somewhere in all those bullets and neat headings I fail to really communicate what it is I want people to hear.

Why is this? Why are my best laid plans not always…well, the best?

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13

Why are my best laid plans wrecked? Perhaps it is because they were my plans, written from my understanding, written for my purpose, my will, instead of the will and purpose of God. Perhaps the message I wanted to communicate, was not the message God meant to be heard at all.

Take this past Sunday, for instance. I had planned another Sunday School lesson for my third through fifth grade class. I had written out every detail. How we would start, where my introduction was headed, what activity I had planned as a group, and how we would close. I had crossed all my t’s, dotted all my i’s, added all my headings, and had each piece of the lesson in organized bullets. I had well-organized, best laid plans.

The only part of this lesson that went to plan was the opening, and even that was quickly transformed by the mere mention of the word “extinguish.”

I had to do the one thing I hate-be spontaneous, and I had to do this by going off-script, by letting God be a part of my plans.

“What is impossible for people is possible for God.” Luke 18:27

I hate surprises, and I believed the ability to trash my plans was just not in me, but nothing is impossible when we choose to rely on God and not our own “organized” thoughts. God pushed me to ditch my plans this Sunday to show me just how awesome a lesson can be if  I relinquished the control I wanted to have of the children and my time, and left the teaching moments up to God. The children in my classroom engaged each other in a lively, open, and honest discussion on darkness in our world. For some of their questions on life, death, tragedy, and tattoos, I did not have all the answers. But in fully relying on God to reveal His truth, and not mine, I was able to supply the answers that He wanted these children to hear.

God’s lesson on being spontaneous may have thrown a wrench in my original plan, but it opened up the desire to be more spontaneous often, to go off-script more, to allow children to teach me once in a while, and to fully rely on God to supply the words needed in every circumstance. To ditch my best laid plans, and to stick to His glorious plan!

Lord, Help me to not get so caught up in the planning and preparation of my weekly message that I forget to rely on you and allow you to work through me. Help me to be reminded that the message I am delivering is the one You want me to share, and not within my own control. Show me how to be more spontaneous in other areas of my life as well. Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Ministry and Education

 

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