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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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Drop the weight, and give it to Him

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Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22

The Olympics. What an inspiring few weeks. Watching athletes who have trained for months, some years in their various talents to strive for gold is amazing to watch and behold.

These men and women, of all races, ages,  and backgrounds have defeated many obstacles. Have shed some heavy burdens. Must train. Practice. Be disciplined daily in order to earn a spot on the most elite team.

Their training happens on the field. In the gym. On the beam. In a pair of skates. The court. They lift weights. They run. Swim laps. Build muscle. Stamina. Endurance. All the human strength possible to achieve the ultimate prize: gold.

My “race” this week was certainly not of the Olympic variety, but I had prepared diligently for it. Done my research. Practiced. Hit the gym, so to speak. Skated in the waters of number crunching. Phone call making. Calling in favors. Crisis management and prevention.

I used my human wisdom. My fancy earthly given knowledge. My human talents, and all my human strength.

Until I hit a brick wall. And all that human strength I thought I had…crashed and broke into a billion worthless and weak pieces.

And, I wanted to quit the race. Not show up. Cancel my membership to the gym. Throw the skates away. Leave the ball in the court, and not worry about who picked it up next.

But…I still had a race to prepare for…even with a crappy attitude. As I slammed down the simple snack that was supposed to drive home the message of “strength” that God’s Olympians possessed. As I grumbled over the pretzel stick and marshmallow that was supposed to represent the dumbbell that my poor, scrawny arms often lacked the strength to lift or carry. As I reluctantly prepared to train future Olympians in His race, I saw it…the key verse for the week:

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

The very same verse that I had tattooed on my arm as a daily reminder of His strength that doesn’t live in these scrawny arms, but in my heart. My soul. My mind.

The same verse that I often forget to turn to when those dumbbells start to weigh me down again.

Those weights of sin. Rejection. Comparison. Loneliness. Fear.

When I feel the weight and pressure of the world and I turn to the wisdom of books, or of others before Him. I realized then, I didn’t need the rest of this lesson plan at all. I was living it. That very day.

Because through my human desire to do it all on my own, my temper tantrum, a simple treat, and tattoo these kids learned about strength not found on the Olympic track.

They learned (well, the ones that were not stuffing pretzels in their ears, or seeing how much of that marshmallow they really could stuff in their mouth….remember…I said kids…) that even Christians have “dumbbells” they carry around. That their pastor had carried some, too-ALL.DAY.LONG. That we are human. That we rely on our human strength. And because of this we will have burdens that are far too heavy.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11: 28,30

Oh, and I told them that, too.

That they didn’t have to carry all that weight around anymore.

And, so they dropped it. And, so did I.

Rejection. Bullying. Sin. Negativity. Disobedience. Loneliness.

And, I for one…feel so much lighter. And a little stronger and ready for the next “race” I know He has prepared for me.

So, I ask you this? What weight are you carrying that your arms just can no longer bear to carry? What are you trying to handle with your own strength? And, why are you still trying to carry it anyway? Drop the dumbbell. Just give the weight to Him.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2016 in How Is Your Faith

 

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My mess. Your mess. His power.

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Spring break. A glorious week away from school. From paperwork. Time to sleep in. Enjoy life with the ones I love. And get away from the demands of home.

We meticulously planned each detail of our small trip away. Each day had adventures sure to please the picky fella that would be coming along with us. We were going to have fun! A blast! The kids would love EVERY minute of it. We would have smiling grins to prove it. Beautiful pictures that depicted the fun and excitement of our time away.

But, what about those that were not so picture worthy? What about all those messy moments we didn’t really want people to see?

 We share all the exciting details of our lives. All the things that are going great. All the reasons we are blessed. The fun things. All the delightful details our social media friends long to see.

We make our lives look effortless. We want people to believe we have it all together. We hide our frowns. Our sadness. Our struggles. Because, who wants to see all that? Because, someone, somewhere may have told us that when we profess to others we have Jesus in our life, then life was supposed to be pretty and perfect. That you should stuff all those feelings you have. Hide the mess you are. Put on a beautiful grin and bear it.

Some may even make you believe that going through struggles means that you somehow failed God. Failed to hold onto His promises. To pray enough. That you did something to deserve it. Or, that by sharing your mess you diminish His power. Your testimony is somehow flawed.

Instead, we fail to be real. We hide the mess our lives can really be. We fail to share our pain because others just are not uncomfortable relating to our mess. It’s easier to smile and be happy. It’s easier to respond to happy.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike. Matthew 5:45

My discomfort. My struggles. My mess. They exist. They have meaning. They have purpose. There is power in the madness. There is glory in this mess. The twist, turns, ups, and downs of what is known as “life,” happen. Sharing them is not something I will apologize for.

This is why.

10 years ago when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior…well, I certainly wasn’t happy. My life was a mess. I was lost. Sad. Crippled. I had tried everything. My life wasn’t a slew of smiles, but my photos chronicled nothing but “happies.”

I didn’t call to Him with a painted on smile, or an uttered “good,” “fine,” or “great.” I called to Him in the midst of tears and heartache. In the midst of a mess.

Now, 10 years later…I praise him with for those smiles, for those Instagram worthy moments. But, I still find Him there in my tears. When I am on my knees crying for peace. In the midst of chaos, and the mess that life has handed me.

He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.    2 Corinthians 12:9

The chaos. The weary mommy moments. The mess. The hurt. The loneliness. The real emotions that my struggles create. He is there during all of them. Giving me hope. Rest. Wisdom.

The disappointments. The hard times. It’s part of my testimony. My story. It’s the stuff he allowed me to endure in order to let others know that God still exists in these struggles. This mess. That there is purpose in the madness. That there is a God who gets us through them.

All I have to do is look for Him. To rest in Him. Not to have it all together. Not to plaster on some fake smile. Because it is in the worst of my moments that I have found the most strength. A power I cannot claim as my own. The courage to keep pushing. The wisdom to weather all the storms that WILL rage, no matter how many blessings he may bestow.

My mess. Your mess. They do exist. They will continue. But, He is proof that there is joy that comes when all the chaos has passed. Proof that even when no one else can handle it, or wants to hear it, He can handle the mess my life has become.

He can handle yours, too. If we are willing to be comfortable with what makes us uncomfortable. If we can stop painting on happy, and share the madness that we all know we really feel. If we can reach out to acknowledge that the hurt and pain someone feels, is also something we have felt, too.

My mess. Your mess. Embrace it. Together. And, then sit back and watch His power make beauty out of our wild and thirsty ashes. Out of our broken and beautiful mess.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2016 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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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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His Everlasting Arms

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The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are around you. Deuteronomy 33:27

It’s 10 in the morning. The kids are home again. The snow has pushed them outside of their routine, inside the house, and after only two hours they are bored. Cranky. Hungry. Frustrated. And everything in between.

And in desperate need of a break.

But, only one of these kids can actually express that. Can tell me he or she is bored. Cranky. Hungry. Frustrated. And everything in between.

Instead, this one simply grunts, kicks, screams, punches, and lays in a heap on the floor.

And both of us are in desperate need of a break. Some time apart before both of us explode.

“Hun, you have to use your words. If you are hungry, or need help you have to let me know so I can help you.”

Then this boy who needed a break from his boredom, his crankiness, his hunger, his frustrations, and everything in between…reaches out and gives me what we both needed-a hug!

One of those hugs that warms your very soul. The clinging-of-the-neck-I’m-not-letting-go-of-you kind of hug. The kind that says “I’ll always help you. Always have your back. Always love you. Always accept you.”

So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm. Isaiah 59:16

While I sat on the bedroom floor with my smallest child, holding on for dear life, I was reminded of this-God wants us to hold Him this dear as well.

When we wake up with a case of the crankies, He wants us to reach out to Him and hold Him tight.

When we need help, and can’t find the words, He wants us to call on Him.

When we are agitated, frustrated, and everything in between. When we want to lay on the floor and kick and scream. When all we really need is a hug. He wants to be the one we reach for. He wants us to hold tight to His promise that these trials, and these feelings will not last forever.

Hold on. Cling to Him. So we can be reminded in those everything in between moments that He will always help you. Always have your back. Always love you. Always accept you. Always keep you safe in His everlasting arms.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Autism and Faith, Craving More of God

 

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Together We Have Him

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The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by their hand. Psalm 37:23

I love snow. Well, let me rephrase that. I love “looking” at the snow. I love watching the dense white flakes fall from the sky, and onto the barren winter ground.

All from the comfort of my cozy, warm home.

“Mommy, I want to go outside and play in the snow.”

I only like the snow while inside, remember? So, this question is not always a welcoming one for me.

Because, while I love snow, and I think it is beautiful, walking in it. Having it fall into my collar, and wet my neck. Packing on 20 layers of clothes, and 3 pairs of socks just to throw a few powdery and flimsy snowballs…not so much.

Plus, this one. This little one who so desperately wanted to play in it…can’t even walk in it!

But, I put on 20 layers of clothes, and OK…only 2 pairs of socks, and I went outside anyway.

At first I just watched. Watched as with trepidation my little “monster” climbed down the front stairs. While walking on ground that altered his already weakened sense of balance. Watching as he faced his fears. As he turned to reach for my hand. Asking me to face them with him..even if it meant I had to play in this mess after all.

“Let’s dig a maze.”

Say what? Now you want me to take a kid sized shovel and dig up the front yard?

“Hon, why are we building a maze?”

“So, I can walk in the snow!”

Walking alongside and constantly waiting for this one to grasp our hands for help has not always been comfortable. And, it has been anything but comfortable for this sweet boy. Whether it was walking on his knees because his little legs couldn’t make sense of the walking thing. Whether it took many years to navigate the stairs on the front porch, or a slide at the park. Or, whether, at the age of 6, he still has to be carried in the sand or snow because they are too much for his brain and legs to handle at the same time…it has never been comfortable.

Each time he has remained determined. And, has wanted one thing. A hand. Someone to walk with him. Someone to encourage him to find a way out, and to never give up.

Someone to help him dig a maze.

Life is kind of like that. Kind of like a maze. We walk along. We take a few too many wrong turns. We try over and over to get out on the right side. Sometimes we need help. And, sometimes we need someone to help us walk through all the twists and turns. All the ups and downs.

He has me.

But, sometimes, I need someone to get me through the maze, too.

Someone to take my hand, and walk alongside me until I get out on the right side. To encourage me to never give up.

He has me. But together, we have Him.

We have God for that.

He will get me through the twists and turns. When I don’t think I can handle the shaky ground beneath me. When my balance is off. When I just need someone to take my hand and help me dig a maze. He gently reaches in and guides me. When I, just like my little boy, can’t walk the path alone.

He has me.

But, together we have Him.

Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in How Is Your Faith

 

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The One Thing I Can Guarantee Won’t Scare Her

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Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper! It only leads to harm. Psalm 37:8

Many mornings and many afternoons I spend my time wresting “monsters.” On those mornings when our routine is blown, the “monster” is a frazzled and oversensitive 5 year old boy. But, on most mornings, the “monster” I wrestle is the tangled mess of hair that adorns my 7 year old’s head.

The wrestling begins with a reluctant stroll to the bathroom, endures through many a product to reduce said tangles, emits many a harsh word back and forth, and sometimes ends in tears.

On this particular morning, the tears were different. Hayley, my beautiful daughter, as I picked up the brush with more force than I should have…my daughter flinched.

You know…like the someone is going to hit me type of flinch. Why? Where would this come from?

What had all my screams, my pulls on her tender head done to her? My daughter was afraid. And she was afraid of me!

“Fathers (or mothers), do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

I have become the yelling mother. The stressed, overextended, overly exhausted mom who yells and screams over the slightest nuisances.

I am the mother I was afraid of becoming.

I am the mother my daughter is afraid of.

It is no secret that many mother-daughter relationships are confusing and full of conflict. There have been many a book and article written on the subject. My relationship with my own mother left a lot to be desired until I became a mom myself. Until I actually needed her as a mom. As a friend.

In fact, my relationship with my own daughter didn’t begin on the best terms. See, she was a difficult baby. Due to acid reflux she cried through the day. She cried through the night. She cried in the hours between feedings. She cried in her swing. She cried in my arms. She felt every tense and weary emotion I felt, and she screamed while I lay on the bathroom floor having a few cries of my own. For 6 to 9 months, she completely broke me.

Now at 7, she is stubborn as a mule, as strong-willed as an ox, and as angry at times as a bull. And, sometimes she still has the power to completely break me.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

And, now…in this bathroom, I have completely broken her. Because she is scared, and she is scared of me.

Here I am. A mom who can wrestle this girl’s 5 year old brother. Restrain him in the middle of the bedroom floor. Listen to his ear piercing screams. Try with all my strength to keep him from harming himself. I do this with all the calm I can muster.

But, I can’t wrestle a few tangles without getting angry. Without yelling at the child who inherited my attitude and sass. Without igniting fear in my daughter.

My daughter. Who is scared. Who is scared of me.

And realizing this has completely broken me.

For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right.         1 Peter 3:10-12

I don’t know that there will not come another day when my daughter will not completely break me, but I can guarantee my words will never break her again. I can promise she and God that instead of provoking tears while wrestling my morning “monster,” I will wrestle her tangles gently, use my words to soothe her tender head, and use this with all the calm I know I have mustered before. Through His strength and His guidance.

I can’t guarantee she will never be scared, but I can guarantee she will never again be scared of me.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in On Parenting

 

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