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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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Blessings in the midst of weeds

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So let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Dandelions. Those wispy flowers that can grow in the most unlikely of places. One which most see as only a common pest. A weed. Yet, to another a sign of joy and happiness in the dark and dreary mountain of obstacles in our way. A blessing for the one who chooses to stop and take in its overlooked beauty.

The dandelion is also said to be a symbol of perseverance. However, often in the midst of walking in the gardens we nourish as ministers of His word, we may lose sight of the beauty before us. All we see are the weeds.

Sometimes in the middle of doing, planning, and being the hands and feet we are called to be as ministers of His love and grace, it can be hard to see the lives and people who have been touched by it. Instead it seems all we have encountered is one more battle, uphill climb, or discouragement after another.

Enough to want to give up.

In my role as a children’s pastor, the fruit of all the seeds planted weekly can be tough to see peeking through that soil. When you can see the flowers sprouting physically before your eyes, having fun, smiling, and reciting verses and stories taught to them over the years, there are also times when it is difficult to see through the weeds of disobedience, disconnect, and complacency that plagues this garden, too. The weeds that grow around carefully planned lessons and programs to hopefully encourage them to engage and draw closer to God, seem to only grow taller among criticism, “should have done this that ways, and “could have done that betters.”

Some days it is hard to see the blessing over the weeds. Some days you start to desperately look for an exit. But, you continue to say “yes.” Be obedient, anyway.

And, I continued to be obedient to Him as I made calls, texts, and emails to schedule gift delivery again this year for our annual participation in the Angel Tree ministry. As I watched all the gifts trickle in. Saw them all pretty and wrapped in front of the tree. Ready to bless families of those behind bars. I began to see the weeds again. The calls not returned. The preparation. The work. The late nights. The discouragement of those who just couldn’t offer redemption. Planting seeds of love and grace I was certain I would never see bloom.

The weeds grew taller. I wanted to give up. Maybe even not sign-up next year. I couldn’t see through the weeds, and I needed an exit.

Some blessings can’t be seen over those weeds. But, you get up. Show up, because He says to. You continue to say “yes.” To be obedient.

You work in that garden once again, and finally you see it. The blessing. In the flesh. Standing before you. Blessing you.

As I reached for the gifts for those who had come to take them home to their children, I realized what stood in front of me was what I would have missed if I had stopped being obedient. If I had let the weeds stop me from doing His will.

Here was the gentleman we had been showing hope. Here was the woman we had been blessing through it all. Whose kids we reached out to each year. Blessing me.

Thank God He removed those weeds.

So, if you two happen to be reading this. Thanks for being obedient. For bringing encouragement to a minister who was deeply discouraged. For reminding me that His light and grace does shine through all those weeds in this garden. That redemption is real and standing here right before us.

You are the blessing in those weeds. Thanks for reminding me of the reason I continue to say “yes.”

So, to anyone stuck in a garden you have sowed, over and over. Unable to see your harvest because the weeds of doubt, insecurity, envy, and fatigue are too tall-I pray this Christmas you will be given a dandelion of hope among those weeds. That you are blessed by something or someone that helps you see past the muck. That encourages you to continue to say “yes” to God. To continue, even when you want to give up.

And, if you have been blessed by someone-return it. Show them the grace, love and hope given to you. Bursting forth among all those weeds.

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back-given back with bonus and blessing. Luke 6:38, MSG

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in On Purpose

 

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Keep on keeping on…

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past, and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.                                                                                                                                                             Philippians 3:13-14

Lately, life has been an uphill climb. Each climb up the path God has purposed for me has led to a face to face battle with some unexpected and unwelcome boulder.

Usually, these burdens come along once the climb becomes too smooth. Seems too easy. When all those pieces finally get put together, and everything has fallen into place. We get complacent. And we think all is good.

Not so these days.

One day it is the boulder of rejection. Hurt. Doubt and lack of faith in what God has called me to do. In my emotions, I want to quickly turn away and run back down that hill. Yell that they are all right. That I am not good enough. That I don’t know what I am doing. That God really did call some kind of dummy.

But, instead…I get back up. I climb the next hill. Keep on keeping on, as our youth pastor frequently says. I repeat these words as I climb that hill once again that God has purposed just for me.

And, then…here we go again! Another boulder. This time-pain. Crippling pain. Want to stay in bed all day pain. Ready to crawl under a table and cry out in defeat pain.

But, I remember my purpose. I remember my call. And, I get back up. Climb the next hill. Keep on keeping on.

Until another one comes. The next boulder. Knocking me down. Until I am helpless. Literally can’t breathe. I am ready to wave the white flag of defeat. Tell God that I just give up. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t get back up. I am tired of being knocked down.

I am worn out. I am hurt. I am dead tired. I just want my bed, and some sleep. Someone to believe in me. Have faith in me. I don’t want anymore boulders in my way.

I am done.

I know I need to lift my eyes up. But, I’m too weak, life just won’t let up. And, I know that you can give me rest. So, I cry out with all that I have left. (Worn, Tenth Avenue North)

And so I cry out. My God! My God! Why do you continue to allow these things to happen to me? When will things get easier? When will I sleep again? When will you remove these obstacles? Why have you forsaken me!

What a baby!

Didn’t Jesus cry out similar words to the same God? Sure, he did. Yet, he also climbed that hill. Carried a much larger boulder than I ever will. Suffered pain I could never imagine, and gave ALL of himself for ALL of His people.

So, certainly I can get out of bed tomorrow and once again keep on keeping on. And, maybe instead of seeing only boulders in my way, I can praise God for the morning sunrise that greets me as I wearily drive to work.

keep-on

For the kids that can look at mommy and know that for just tonight, mommy really needs a moment of peace and harmony.

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Maybe this morning, the climb will be easier than yesterday or maybe it won’t, but I won’t be alone on that climb.

So God,

Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn. I want to know a song can rise, from the ashes of a broken life. And all that’s dead inside can be reborn, cause I’m worn. (Worn, Tenth Avenue North)

That’s my prayer. That I continue on this journey you have chosen for me, even though it may be one rocky climb. Lord, help me to see that you can mend all the brokenness that comes from all the shattered bits of my heart these boulders leave. I pray that I remain faithful in moving forward despite these boulders daily, and continue to keep on keeping on.

And, let us run the race with endurance God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in On Purpose

 

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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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One Word-Perseverance

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I like to think I have a way with words, with at least the written words that express my thoughts, my emotions, my desires. However, sometimes choosing just one word becomes a little more daunting.

Last year I joined a group of women in an on-line bible study in which I participate in choosing one word to live by for the year. This one word would replace any resolutions that would certainly be broken by the second day of January. Deciding on the one word that would define my year was not too complicated, but living it out was often something else entirely.

It is said when you choose this one word that God will reveal how exactly He plans for you to live up to it. And that He did.

While I did prove at times to be far from fearless, I also learned to understand…

Letting go is fearless. Admitting defeat is fearless. Admitting your faults and being transparent is fearless. Telling your story, as ugly as it may be is fearless. Forgiveness is fearless. Asking for help is fearless.

Faith in the midst of doubt is fearless. Embracing the twists and turns of life is fearless. Parenting is fearless. Love is fearless.

This year, this one who thinks she is so great with words, has had a tough time finding the “one.”

Until I lay in bed for the third week of an illness that quickly turned into pneumonia. Gasping for air. Tired. Weary. Worn. More sick than I had ever been.

Crying out for God to just give this weary girl some rest. Cursing Him for not providing the healing He had promised. Angry because the mission He had set out for me couldn’t possibly be fulfilled in this bed. On this couch. Gasping for breath. Tired, Weary. Worn.

Ready to give up on Him altogether.

Ready to give up…something that comes so easy to me.

The one who was “fearless” enough to stand in a room of strangers and tell her ugly story, couldn’t seem to find the motivation or strength to complete the simplest of tasks. To follow through on all the things she needed or desired to do.

The one who can fearlessly wrestle monsters, gives up too easily on other things that just seem to hard.

Like the guitar I played for a week, and then never picked back up.

Like all the books I started and never finished.

Like all the conversations I was too scared to have with the people who needed to hear my words the most.

The ideas and goals I have that I never write down, and then never start.

The good intentions and best laid plans I throw to the side when it gets to tough to follow through.

The “clean” eating. The desire to run I wanted to find again. The dream I so want to make happen. The marriage I take for granted. The prayers I never pray. The time I never have. Too hard. So, I just give up or never start.

And, here I was again. Ready to give up because God was making things too hard.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

So, my one word. The one word God revealed to me as I lay screaming at Him. Angry. Gasping for air. Tired. Weary. Worn.

Perseverance.

Perseverance to pick up that guitar and finally learn to play it. Perseverance to get those dreams and goals written down so they can finally be achieved.

To finish that book. To follow through on those best laid plans and good intentions. To make time for God. My health. My family. My marriage.

To fight the urge to give up on people, projects, hopes when they get too hard. Or, to give up on God when he doesn’t answer.

Perseverance to run the race He will set before me. Never quitting. Never faltering. Never giving up.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in You Make All Things New

 

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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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Press On Through the Ride

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18

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Roller coasters. I used to love them. The loopier and faster the better. There was nothing more exciting than the ride all night bracelets at the local carnival. Riding every spinning, dropping, and swinging contraption until the rides were shut down for the night. Nothing like standing in line on a dare to conquer fears on the scariest ride in the amusement park. Anticipating the thrill of what was to come.

Today, I don’t enjoy roller coasters. Yet, I still happen to ride them. These days the roller coasters I get on are of the emotional variety. Still with that same feeling in the pit of my stomach. Still going backwards, upside down, and spinning sideways.

I am a mess. I am a wrecking ball. I must confess that I still don’t get it all.

Yep. That’s me. A mess. A wrecking ball ruled by my emotions. The emotions that resemble a roller coaster ride in my head. And for the most part, I am able to get in line and ride, all while still smiling, and in anticipation of the moment when the ride will end. But, some days, painting on a smile is just too hard. My mood is dark. My emotions get the best of me, and I ride the roller coaster all the way to the bottom. Where I am a mess. Where I just want to cry. Where I find it hard to keep from screaming!

Crying for goodness knows what. And yes, screaming at God. For what he has done and hasn’t done. For not hearing me when I cry out for help. For not providing the answers when I desperately need them.

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? Psalm 13:1-2

Well, looks like I am in good company. If the Psalms of David are any indication, then it’s likely he was riding the same roller coaster of emotions on which I find myself. Yet, he was a chosen king, a man who as a young boy defeated the largest and toughest giant, a fearless warrior, and an ancestor of Jesus. He was also a man who was hated, who was the object of fierce jealousy. Abandoned. Lonely. Jealous enough in his own spirit to commit murder. An adulterer. A mess.

And still called a man after God’s heart. Despite his tendency to scream at God. Despite his tendency to find himself trapped on a roller coaster of emotions, he pressed on. Because he knew that God could handle every single one of his emotions. Which means He can also handle mine.

Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice. Psalm 55:17

Yes, God can handle my roller coaster emotions. He can handle my tears. He can handle my screaming fits. He can handle my uncertainty.

He can provide the strength to press on. Press on when I ride the highs and lows of my feelings. Press on  until I finally get off the ride, acknowledge my mess, admit I just don’t get it. He will give me strength to get off my knees, dry my tears, and turn my screams into praises.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me, he drew me out of deep waters. Psalm 18:16

Press on. When you want to cry. When you want to scream. When you just want to be alone. When you just don’t get it.

Press on. During the dark days. When the roller coaster takes a deep plunge. When you just don’t want to smile.

Press on. God can handle it. He will get you through the ride.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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