"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trusting God

So just in time to test my skills at "really living and trusting God" all my planning for this weekend got changed due to my husbands being sick. I did pretty good for the first couple of days. Better attitude for serving him. Yeah, a minor victory. However, the past 36 hours I haven't been so faithful with the good attitude, trusting and watching for God thing. Then I was reminded through my devotional book (who knew there was a devotional book written just for me?) That the Lord knows what we need to draw nearer to Him. We should go through each day LOOKING FOR what He has prepared for us. To quote the devotional "Accept every event as God's "hand-tailored provision" for my needs. What? Accept that all my planning was for nothing?
Well, that's not exactly true. My planning just had to be adjusted and even more so my heart and attitude had to be adjusted. I'm reminded that God, Immanuel, is with me. This is not a surprise to Him. He has a plan and I just need to watch for it and join in. Okay, now I'm getting a little excited to see what He has in store for my "adjusted" plans for our anniversary celebration. Thanks God. I'm glad you are with me, even when I act like a spoiled brat and have a fit. I'm over it and I'm waiting and watching!
Have you ever felt like that? You just think you are really "on to something" and then that something changes? Hang in there. God is a very patient teacher. He, is Immanuel. He is with us. Matthew 1:23

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Invitation

If you haven't caught on by now, I don't want to reach the end of my life and be haunted by what "might have been." I want to know that I truly lived ALL of my life, experiencing all that God intended for me. If you feel like that why don't you join me in the journey.

Like this morning, the day really started last night when my husband got sick. His restless sleeping kept me awake and my thoughts in the dark of night headed down a negative path. We have anniversary plans for the weekend which I am really looking forward to but I began a pitiful journey of whoa is me. My weekend is messed up. Wow, how self-focused and pessimistic is that? In the first place, I'm not the one who is sick. Secondly, who says he won't be better in a couple of days. (We don't leave until Saturday) and lastly it's just plain, IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT ME!

My morning reading took me to Colossians 3:12 "Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (NIV) Wow! Talk about getting hit right between the eyes. First, I was reminded that I am one of God's chosen people and He dearly loves me. Which reminded me that He has a plan for all my days, even my anniversary weekend. Secondly, that I have a choice on how I want to "get dressed" this morning. I can choose to be full of self-pity and crabby or I can choose to trust God. Third, I'm reminded that God would have me choose to be dressed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Hmmm, if you'll excuse me now, I've got some work to do. My husband is sick but still working and his co-worker called in sick. I feel a substitution coming on!

Want to join my in my learning to live life to it's fullest? Check in here. Share your thoughts and life lessons so we can all learn together! Now as I said, I've got work to do!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Friend of God's

Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me, when I call?
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me, it's amazing (Who am I Lord)

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

This song has been going through my head since Saturday morning. It just makes me smile.
IT IS TRUE. I am a friend of God's. John 15:15 says, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (Jesus talking) Wow! I remember the day my husband "heard" the Lord tell him that He was his "friend." That He wanted to "play" with him. It changed his life. I've spent the past couple of days humming this song and actively remembering that God is my friend. That He wants to do life with me. That includes laughing and enjoying my day.
Can you think of a time when you remembered God is your friend? Think of that today. Tell me your story.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How many empty jars?

The question of today is how much of God will I allow in my life? This morning I read the story of the widow who was about to lose her sons to the creditors. She cried out to Elisha the prophet. He said, "How can I help? Tell me, what do you have in your house?" Isn't that great? He asked her what she had! He didn't tell her to do a long list of things, hard costly things. FIRST, he asked what she had. Well it turns out she only had a bit of oil. She was really down to the bare minimums at home. Elisha heard what she said and then he told her to go to her neighbors and ask for empty jars and don't just ask for a few.... Hmm, she was instructed to go to her neighbors and ask for help. What a novel idea. Why is it we don't ask for help when we need it? Pride, fear or lack of knowing the people around us? So once she got the empty jars she was to take them home and pour oil from her jar into the empty jars. It doesn't say she argued with him or even asked him how she was supposed to fill more jars with only a little left in her jar. It just says she and her boys did it. The Bible then says when there was not a jar left the oil stopped flowing. At that point she went back to Elisha who told her to sell the oil, pay off her debt and live on the rest. The oil did not run out until ALL the jars were full. How many jars did she get? We don't know. All we know is that she asked for help, received instructions, followed instructions and lived with her boys!

This makes me think, how many jars would I get if the Lord told me to do that? When would I decide I had gathered enough? The flow of oil only stopped when she couldn't receive anymore. God invites us to grow our trust in him. To do that we need to gather empty jars for him to fill. Matthew 13:58 says, "He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." WE limit God. Check out the story of the widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7. In what areas of your life does God want to grow your faith? Go get some empty jars!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today I was reading in Mark 9. You might know the story. There is a man who's son has been demon-possessed "since childhood." First it struck me how full of love and hurt for his son that father probably was. He was probably desperate. He was willing to take his mute son who had seizure-like episodes into public and been seen and probably talked about if it meant possible healing. So he took his son to the disciples, as Jesus was on the mountain with Peter, James and John, but they couldn't heal him. An argument ensued. And when Jesus asked what was going on the father of the boy spoke up and told of his son's plight. Again, I'm struck by the father's determination to try to get help for his son, no matter what. The disciples had already failed to heal him and the situation had turned into a public spectacle. The father finishes his summary of the child's problem with "But if you can do anything, take pity on us an help us." (Mark 9:22b NIV) Then this well known conversation takes place. "If you can?" said Jesus. "everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me over come my unbelief!" (Vs. 23-24)
"I do believe, help my unbelief." I know just what he meant. I believe God is all-powerful, able to do anything and knows everything. Yet, I fuss and stew over the most "daily" of things. How will I ever get all my housework done and have food ready for company? Will I every be able to stick with an exercise routine? And of course there are the more "important" things. How can/should I be helping my dad take care of my mom with Alzheimer's? Or will Mark's injured knees allow him to do his job? That "fussing" is a sign. A sign of my deep down belief that God, the God of the universe really cares about me enough to handle my every day situations, enough to handle me.
The truth is, He does and He can.
My prayers have changed recently. When I talk to God now I continue to tell Him everything but I very sincerely add, "I believe Lord, help my unbelief." In this honest confession the Lord is helping me to grow in my faith. It's mind boggling. I can't even believe without His help!

Monday, May 10, 2010

We Have ALL that we Need

"Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end..." I Corinthians 1:7-8a NIV

It is an amazing thought to me that as children of God we do not lack any spiritual gift. In Christian circles there are a lot of different theories on "spiritual gifts" and I don't need to debate any of them. The truth is I witness these "spiritual gifts" nearly every day.
I have friends who didn't give up on their baby when they doctors recommended that they abort him because his brain wasn't "right" and he would never have a good "quality of life." That baby is now 3 1/2 and while he learns slower than some children, he learns, laughs, talks, walks and makes us all smile. His parents were given spiritual gifts to strengthen them through their challenges and help them see God in their daily life. My father and my father-in-law are living out their spiritual gifts of love and commitment to their wives, serving them as their health fails. I've heard both of them say that the Lord helps them daily even thought they have never given this kind of care before.
My list could go on and on when I stop to think about the people in my life who are living examples of living out their faith by the gifts of patience, wisdom, strength and love. I'm sure you can think of people in your life as well. My question is do we realize that we have all that we need in our every day life? Or do we just think our God is there for the "big" decisions/situations.
Corinthians goes on to say that God has called us into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, who is faithful (I Cor. 1:9). Fellowship is daily living. Doing life together. So are you doing life with the knowledge that God has given you all that you need to live your life?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ordinary People

While reading in Matthew it struck me again how ordinary Joseph and Mary were, an engaged carpenter and a teen-age bride to be. Then their world changed. You know the story. Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant and he knew that he had not slept with her. Scripture says, "he had in mind to divorce her quietly." He didn't immediately stop everything. It says he had in mind...but after he had considered this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream....When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him...." So first off when his plans got changed (and not just a little change) he didn't get all upset or excited and immediately quit. It says he "had in mind", he "considered" - he thought about it. Later it says an angel spoke to him in a dream and when "he woke up" - he slept on it. But when he knew he had heard the Lord, he "did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him." No debate is noted, just obedience.

My new friend Arlin has done it again. He just speaks my language! He's a fellow Iowan, husband, dad, grandpa, business-owner and farmer. Yesterday he shared this
I find for me anyway it is way too easy to miss the opportunities God brings my way because I am on a mission of my own. Places to go, things to do, people to see, not really focused on what God may be doing around me. The book (
Bruce Wilkinson’s book “You Were Born for This”) challenges that. I am about half way through it and already I see things I need to change to be more intentional and more focused on joining God. He wants to use us to perform miracles for the people in our patch. He wants to use us to make a significant difference in the lives of those around us. But it doesn’t happen accidentally. It happens when we make ourselves available, tune in to the Holy Spirit, and walk in faith with Him to make it happen. That last part is one that I sometimes miss. It goes to the idea of taking risks because of faith – being willing to move outside the comfort zone to engage with another person trusting that God will show up and make that interaction valuable. Every interaction is a divine appointment. Some of those are designed to be miraculous – where we are led to say or do things that we would never do on our own because we follow God’s leading through the Holy Spirit. Are you living a miraculous life? Do you wake up wondering who God will touch through you today? I encourage you to pray about it and live that way. God has chosen us – people – to be His hands and feet. He reaches and touches people through people – not just pastors and priests – but ordinary folk like you and me. We are God’s vessels to make a difference, and often those differences are for eternity. How joyous that day will be when we enter heaven and find out how God used us to make an eternal difference in the life of another. Are you willing to let God use you like that? I hope so! He wants to desperately! (emphasis mine)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rebuild the Walls

So I'm reading Nehemiah and it strikes me that this story reminds me alot of current events. If I have my facts straight God's temple has been rebuilt in Jerusalem - these days we Christians are his temple. However chapter 1 says those people are in "great trouble and disgrace". The walls meant to surround and protect the city of Jerusalem as was the custom of the day are broken down and the gates have been burned. I think we have allowed many of our "walls of protection" to be broken down. As I see it, we (Bible believing Christians) have steadily allowed other influences change the way we live. These influences, again in my opinion, fall into primarily two categories, entertainment and tolerance. My husband and I went to a movie last week. I was struck by the fact that all but one of the advertisements for upcoming movies were revolving around sex outside of marriage, with the exception of one. That one, although I can't remember the story line I remember that it was an explosive, violent type. That's our entertainment? Really?

When I think of tolerance, I think of "social issues." Now I have to say that I'm not a learned person when it comes to politics, social justice and/or war. However, it doesn't take a scholar to know that our nation is having trouble. I could point out specific things that I believe we've gradually allowed to permeate our lives that have effectively "burned the gates" to our souls but I'm sure by now you've already thought of some things. With those gates open, our souls, our hearts - the center of who we are is open to infiltration. But God is a God of restoration. The book of Nehemiah reminds us of that. Nehemiah himself when made aware of the situation started with prayer and prayer continued throughout the project. The enemies made fun of them and planned attacks but they continued to work as a unit and to pray. Nehemiah told his people to trust in God and get to work and they did.

Today we have an opportunity to join together with people all over the nation and pray. The "enemies" have tried to stop this day of prayer claiming it unconstitutional. It's not. It's time to be reminded that we need to do what we need to do. Don't worry about the other guy. Do what you know to be right, what the Lord is asking you to do, whatever that is. Today I believe it is safe to say a great place to start would be to pray. Pray for our nation, your state, your city, and yourself. Pray for God to restore, protect and teach us to live as the Body of Christ so we can draw men to Him and not drive them away. Sadly, I've heard people say they are ashamed to call themselves Christians publicly because of all the nasty things that other "Christians" say and do. It's true there is a lot of judgemental words and actions said and done by people who call themselves Christians but let's not let that stop us from doing what is right. "The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!" Nehemiah 4:20 I'm sounding the trumpet! If you hear it pray. Pray and don't be ashamed. Join with Christians around the nation publicly or privately. Don't be antagonistic. Don't put down others for not praying or being opposed. Just pray. God is a God of restoration.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I've done alot of reflecting this week. Last weekend after the wedding we attended we got to stay and worship with our old friends. Their new worship leader not only led worship but told his story. As the quote at the head of this blog says, it's often through our stories that we see God. I needed to hear his story. He spoke of a less than ideal childhood humanly speaking. However, it's apparent as he tells his story that he knows God protected him all along the way and has a purpose for his life. I'd like to tell you that after his less than ideal childhood, when he dedicated his life to Christ everything turned around and it's been "picture perfect" ever since. However, like many people can say these days, the loss of employment and therefore income can cause some very real stress and hardships. But God has a plan.

This is one of several things he said that really struck me. "As American Christians, we are totally uncomfortable with wandering. The American nature is to have purpose, drive, destination, mission, vision, constitutions, declarations. The American temperament gets prickly when our lives and our plans get waylaid by things we didn’t plan. Things we didn’t set out to do. We are at A. We want to get to B. Show me the straight line of how to get from here to there. We are never comfortable or content with “here.” We always want “over there.”
 Hmmm, the American temperament...my temperament, "gets prickly when our lives and our plans get waylaid by things we didn't plan." You'd think that by the time you are as old as I am you would expect that things probably won't go as you planned. Somehow I seem to forget that more than I remember it.

For the entire past week, my devotions, random talks I've heard and several of my conversations have reminded me that God has a plan. There is no randomness about my life. My life is something God has planned. "your eyes saw my unformed body, All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16 NIV The moments that I am able to fully grasp that are the most amazing moments. I am filled with joy, peace and love knowing that God has me right where He wants me. It's my desire to live, trusting that more and more each day. When I do, I forget about "me" and enjoy my life, appreciating those around me so much more. I am truly blessed. I know that's a Christian cliche' but in my life, it's really true.