Category: Encouragement


“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”   James 1:19-20 (ESV)

I have been so angry lately.  At my husband Jax, the kids, my friends…

I have always had a short temper.  I remember one time in school when a friend ticked me off, someone asked what my problem was and my friend said, “don’t worry…that’s just Nicole.”

Which, oddly enough, didn’t make me mad!  I took pride in that fact and practically wore it around like a badge… the yes-I-have-a-short-fuse-so-you-had-better-not-mess-with-me badge.   But once I’m mad?  Oh, just leave me alone for a little while to cool down and I’ll be fine.  I have even told people that!  It was just who I was – there was no changing it, just deal with it.

My Dad had a short fuse, I have a short fuse.

Short-FuseAs I got older and settled into a career, I never really thought much of my temper.  There weren’t a lot of times I found myself really angry and if I did, it was in a setting where losing your temper was just unprofessional.

But when I got married and started having kids…

well, there’s another story.

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I have been a Christian now for nearly 20 years and although I have heard the verses:

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.”
Proverbs 15:18 (NASB)

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”
Proverbs 14:29 (NLT)

“A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.”   Proverbs 12:16 (NLT)

“A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.”   Proverbs 29:11 (NASB)

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)

and all of them resonated with me.  Clearly I was that fool, and I swore I would memorize those verses and make a change.  Then three seconds later…

woman-going-crazy

A friend of mine, a wonderful, sweet, Godly, gentle, woman shared her story with me.  She had a terrible temper and yelled at her husband and her kids often, but once she came to know Christ it all changed.

God, in His power, removed that from her.  Once she was filled with the Spirit, she immediately stopped acting out of anger.  She is one of the kindest, gentlest women I know and I can’t even imagine her raising her voice!  But even as I heard her story, I thought…

“Huh.  Well, that certainly hasn’t happen to me.”

I’d like to say that I felt my anger was justified, that my anger is ok…but I know that’s not true.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”     Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

As I have read, learned and studied this verse, what I have noticed is that so many of these Godly characteristics have eluded me.  I have so longed for many of them and are, in fact, the distinguishing traits in others that I admire and envy most.

Gees, I am sinning all over the place here!!

I have loved this verse so much that I made a point to memorize it and teach it to my children.  I knew I needed to learn how God fingerprints us and how His Spirit changes us.  Hoping, that as I wallpaper my mind with this verse, it would help me be more like Christ — that just knowing these fruit of the Spirit might rub off on me somehow.

Uh…no.

I am afraid I am one big fruit mess.

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But as I mentioned, recently I have been feeling so much more unappreciated, that my husband and children don’t care and clearly don’t know me… that I am only here to serve them and when is it my turn?!!

Little things have been setting me off over the past few months and I am becoming more and more angry, resentful and lashing out.

Last night I got angry over an expectation of things getting done around the house while I was gone that, of course, didn’t get done and I lost it.  I was done.  I didn’t even want to talk about it because what was the point?  So I went to bed.

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”   Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)

When I woke this morning I had totally forgotten what I was so angry about until I realized that I don’t even think I said goodnight to Jax.

I immediately thought to myself:  “Oooh!  That worked pretty well!  So this is what I need to do…no fight, no lost temper…  Just don’t deal with it, go to bed and it will be all good in the morning!  Cool.  That is so much easier!!”

But that is so entirely not God’s plan!  You see, it’s the small details that matter.  Ephesians 4:26 continues…

“and give no opportunity to the devil.”   Ephesians 4:27 (ESV)

God brought to mind, in the middle of my not really liking my husband so much, what might happen if that was the road I chose.  He allowed me to see a very clear picture of how our life would continue, how things would get worse and worse until that breaking point when we wouldn’t know each other any more, or we would hate each other and stay married, or worse.

I found myself, right then, at a crossroads.

crossroads

I grabbed my Bible and started reading through the Genesis account, yet again, and re-read the story of Cain when this verse stopped me…

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.'”   Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV)

Praise God how He works in our lives!!

I must take control of my anger and change my responses.  And instead of seeking fulfillment from such sinful creatures as my husband and kids, I need to find my satisfaction and fulfillment from the only One who can provide it!  What kind of example am I to my kids when I allow sin to rule over me?

This needs to stop now.

No, I don’t want to tell Jax that I’m sorry.  At all!  I don’t want to admit that I’m a fool and have allowed the devil to have a foothold in my life…but I must.  For the good of our marriage, for the good of our family, for the good of my relationship with Christ.

Hmph.

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“If we would be angry and not sin (says one), we must be angry at nothing but sin; and we should be more jealous for the glory of God than for any interest or reputation of our own.”   – Matthew Henry

 

Related Articles:
Dealing with Anger  (www.ubdavid.org)
Crouching Like a Lion  (www.ccwestside.com)

I’ve been going through Genesis the past couple months reading and re-reading stories, choosing one Bible translation then switching to another.  And regardless of how many times I’ve read the Genesis account, or all of Scripture for that matter, God always reveals new truths… even through those old stories we heard over and over again as kids.

Sunflower_Flannelgraph2

This morning as I started reading through the story of The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), I had to laugh.  You see, it took place after the great flood when all the people of the earth were all together and spoke one language.  It was here that someone had a brilliant idea to construct a city with the greatest sky scraper ever; something everyone could see, an awesome achievement and focal point of the city, a wonder of the world…

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.'”   Genesis 11:4

What’s so funny about that you ask?  Well, it just struck me the gall of some people… doing something so outlandish, like building this massive tower, to make sure they wouldn’t be “dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Doesn’t that just sound like a dare?  Yeah…what do you suppose God will do in this situation??!

 

A dear friend of mine has Trypanophobia.  It’s not what I would think of as a typical fear most girls have like spiders or snakes…  it’s the fear of injections or hypodermic needles.

She hates them.

She even had a discussion with God about them, acknowledging her fear but making sure He understood there was NO WAY she could deal with anything that had to do with needles…just don’t even go there.

Or, in other words…

I_dare_you

Not too long after my friend had her ‘discussion’ with God, her daughter became very sick and was eventually diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  Which means that the one thing which brought such trepidation to my needle fearing friend, is now the one thing she must have intimate knowledge of.  She must keep them in her home, in her purse, at her side, in order to inject her daughter daily to provide the insulin her daughter needs to survive.

Like the people building that tower to make sure they wouldn’t be “dispersed,” God clearly had other plans.

“…the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth…”   Genesis 11:8

Now don’t get me wrong, we can’t change or coerce God’s plan for our lives by sending out a dare… if that were the case, then my ‘don’t even try to let me win the lottery’ would have ended differently and we certainly won’t doom it by admitting our weakness or fears.

But it is God and God alone who is in control and He has a fantastic, yet sometimes difficult, way of teaching us that.

Don’t dare God.  Let Him dare you.  Admit you need Him in your life, to take control of it and work through it.   It is only through our weaknesses; our addictions, our mistakes, our fears…that He can be seen most clearly.

 

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I know you’ve asked that, because I have too.  It is so hard for us to imagine that God; Creator, Healer, Guide, Father, Provider, Comforter, Savior… would care enough, or have time enough, to work in our lives let alone through us.

names-of-God

If any of you know me, you know that I’m an early riser.  I commonly start my day very early in the morning, and on the morning of Thanksgiving wasn’t any different.

When I woke and went downstairs, I checked my phone and saw that I had missed a text from a friend of mine.  I went to return the text but decided I needed to wait a while…it was only 4:30 for Goodness sake… and so I typed in my response but waited a few hours to send it.

And also, if you know me at all, you know that I don’t believe in coincidence or luck.  I believe everything happens for a reason, and that it is always God’s plan.

But it doesn’t always feel like it.  So often it seems like God’s not working in our lives at all…maybe things aren’t moving or changing the way we would expect if He were really involved, but why would he bother with measly old me?!

Oh don’t get me wrong, I know God uses us, His Word tells us as much…

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”   Philippians 2:13  (NIV)

“God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”   1 Corinthians 12:6  (NLT)

but it just doesn’t seem like it.

Doesn’t it seem like we’re the ones pulling the strings, making the decisions?  We’re doing all the work!  We have to live our lives in a way that shows others we’re Christians (Matthew 5:16), we have to follow God’s rules (John 8:31), do good deeds (1 Timothy 6:18) and display God’s character (Galatians 5:22-23).

fruit of the spirit piece made for a friend 032

But that’s exactly what the devil wants us to think…he wants to convince us that we are the ones in control and calling the shots.

“For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”   John 8:44

The devil wants us to believe that God’s hands are not actively working in our lives; that He has stepped back and is allowing us to make our own decisions, that He’s only there when we need Him and that He does not affect (or care about) every choice we make.

But I know for a fact, that’s not true.

in his heart silver compass

A few days after Thanksgiving I met with that friend who I texted and she said to me…

“You were doing God’s work the other morning and you didn’t even know it!” she told me.

With a grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye, she continued…

“The morning of Thanksgiving I woke up at 7:14am.  I knew I needed to get up but I didn’t want to so asked God for just one more hour.  At 8:14am I got your text.  8:14!!  Exactly one hour later to the minute!!”

Awesome.

God is always at work and involved in every moment of our lives.  Don’t think for a second that He doesn’t care about you or that you don’t matter.  Because you matter so much to Him that He will work through you to send a text to a friend at exactly the right time she needs it.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”   Luke 12:6-7

And rest in the fact that God is always in control.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”   Proverbs 16:9

 

 

Have you ever wondered where God is?  When things you pray about don’t ever seem to be answered.  When other people’s prayers are answered quickly and you’re still sitting there listening quietly… patiently… and all you hear are…

I have.

Many times.

One of my best friends is a friend from childhood.  We share crazy memories from grade school to high school to college.  We were in each other’s weddings and have made it through multiple births together. She was one of the first to know about my conversion with Christ, when I finally accepted Him, and she was there when I was baptized in Believer’s baptism.  This dear friend later also accepted Christ as her Savior and although she lived a distance away from me, I continued to try to encourage her and disciple her in her walk with the Lord.

But it was hard.

The Lord gave me very strong Christian friends in my life (including my hubby) to disciple and help me.  An amazing church family and so many opportunities for my faith to grow.  But my friend’s story was different.  Her husband wasn’t ‘religious’ so going to church at all was difficult for her.  She was surrounded by non-believers and it seemed God hadn’t placed, really, anyone around my friend to help her in her Christian walk and it broke my heart.

alone

All I could do was pray for her, and I did.  Constantly.

I prayed that God would soften her husband’s heart and give them a longing to find a good church or to place Christians in their neighborhood.  I prayed that once her babies were in the picture, God would give her a sense of obligation to raise those babies knowing Him.  But most often I prayed that God would just place Godly Christian women in her life at work.

I sent her devotions and encouragement through the years, shared with her all the ‘I Spy’ opportunities where I saw God working in my own life, but it was clear that the life she was leading was not the one I had hoped for her as a follower of Christ.

I prayed for my friend for so many years…

prayer_hands_gold

then I stopped.

Oh, once in a while I would think about her and say a little prayer hoping that she could experience the same type of relationship that I have with my Savior…but it seemed like all of it was useless.  She was still in the same place she was so many years ago…still such a baby Christian; not being fed or discipled.  It had been too long.  Maybe this is all God had planned for her.

But is it?

The Bible shares a story about a woman who suffered unanswered prayer for twelve years!

TWELVE YEARS!

“And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.”   Mark 5:25-26

How do I know she prayed this long?  Because of the testimony she has with how she reacted to Jesus later in the story.

But think about this poor woman.  She had crazy health problems!  Come on girls, can you imagine having ‘Aunt Flow’ visit for twelve years?  And this wasn’t just a short, unannounced, knock-knock-surprise-I’m-here-for-the-weekend visit.  It was a CONSTANT TWELVE YEAR flow!

kevin

NOT.EVEN.FUNNY.  I really need to stop complaining.

And on top of that, because she had this discharge of blood, according to Jewish law she was considered unclean.

“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity.And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.   Leviticus 15:25-27

What does that mean?  This poor woman, suffering so much health-wise, couldn’t even be comforted.  According to the law, she could not be in contact with anyone and couldn’t even live in the town with her family and friends.  She was ostracized.

But what does she do?  Instead of ending her prayers and dumping her belief… instead of giving up and thinking “Oh gee, Jesus is here… why bother?  Maybe this is just what God has planned for me.”

No, she trusted.

“She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’ And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.   Mark 5:27-29

hem

I recently heard from my dear friend.  She finally got a cell phone so we are able to text whenever we want now.  (We will certainly be keeping the cell phone companies in business!)  Woohoo!!

After we caught up a bit on the goings on in our lives, she told me this:

“I have to tell you something I don’t think you’ll be surprised by.  I work with some amazing Godly women.  I swear one friend was sent by you somehow.”

I was dumbfounded.  How silly of me to think that God had forgotten or that through these years He hadn’t been working…preparing.  If only I had trusted with the same faith as that woman…

“And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”   Mark 5:32-34

God has a plan for our lives, and it’s in His timing when it will be revealed to us.  In the mean time we must keep the faith…stay the course…and trust that all things from Him are good.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!”
Psalm 84:11-12

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not [merely] look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”   Philippians 2:3-4

Yesterday God gave us an amazing opportunity to spend the day at a Madison Mallards baseball game followed by the Rhythm & Booms firework show.  We were treated like royalty, watching the game from the Duck Blind which provided unlimited ballpark food, all the soda and beer you can drink and space to move around and relax during the game without being confined to a stiff plastic seat!

Mallards Game            Duck Blind

Mallards Game

Then just in time for the best fireworks display in the mid-west, we were able to stake claim on some choice real-estate in the outfield!

outfield real-estate outfield

I will squish you!

A bit of fun before the fireworks!

It was sweet.

But early into arriving at the ball park, we heard that MLB’s Hall of Famer Paul Molitor was there signing autographs.  He would be signing until 6:30, so we decided to eat first and then head over to see him.  By the time we got there, the line was very long, it was 6:00pm and we were told that even if we got in line now, it wasn’t guaranteed that we would even get to meet him.  {gulp!}  But we decided to take our chances anyway.  We bought a baseball, stood in line and held our breath.

Based on knowing our luck, and the pace that the line was moving, I figured we might get close but was pretty sure we wouldn’t meet him.  So we prayed, asking God to get us up to him in time, and continued to move along at a snail’s pace.  The clock was quickly counting down and 5 minutes out they reminded everyone that Mr. Molitor had to catch a flight and must leave at 6:30 whether everyone got a signature or not.  {eeeek!} But we were almost there!  Just a few people away at 6:29 and my heart was racing.  “Oh please…” I whispered.

As we approached the table, Mr. Molitor stood to get ready to go but he extended his hand toward us to sign what we brought as they announced to the rest of the crowd that he had to leave and my son’s hat would be his last signature.

Paul Molitor           Paul Molitor

There were shouts of obvious disappointment and unbelief from the crowd behind us and immediately I felt badly.  Oh don’t get me wrong, I was (and still am) so thankful that God allowed us to reach Mr. Molitor and get his autograph, but what about the people behind us?  They wanted something signed too… just one thing… but instead, our large family got four.

It just didn’t seem fair.

Why is that?  Why do we feel badly when others are left out?  Why do we wish we could’ve done more for those who don’t catch a break, when we get one?

Or don’t you?

God made us so that we would love one another.  If we are formed in His image and He is love…then if we truly know Him, it is integrated into our very being to love.  It’s because of His love for us that we are able to love.

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”   1 John 4:8

But because of the lasting effects of sin, our desire to love is muddied, replaced with the idea based on selfishness and pride that we are more important and we deserve more than others.

But that’s a lie!  We can’t let the enemy fool us any longer!  If we say we follow Christ, then we must also say that we are willing to live the way He lived…

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus… who emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, [and] being made in the likeness of menHe humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross… that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW…and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”   Philippians 2:5-6, 8, 10

Treating others the way we want to be treated, showing love and rooting for the underdog.

love like Jesus

“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker– An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands ‘?”   Isaiah 45:9

Have you ever had God knock you upside the head?

I have.

Embarrassingly, more often than not.  Why does it take me so long to get the message?!

doh!

Recently I have been feeling convicted to spend more time alone in conversation with God.

I’ve felt His gentle nudging through little daily (if not hourly) hints… thumbing through a magazine and running across a prayer quote.  Doing my Bible reading and, no shocker here, seeing a verse about prayer.  Pastor talking from the pulpit on Sunday and mentioning the importance of prayer.  My kids asking a question about praying or, like a good Christian Mom, encouraging and reminding them that they should be praying (y’know the whole “do as I say not as I do” thing).  There have even been songs on the stinkin’ radio!  (Come on now, who sings about praying?!!)

Well, there is that one…

Funny…but that is NOT the kind of praying I’m talking about.

God longs to spend time with me and I desperately need to spend time with Him.  He keeps trying to get my attention, pressing sofly, lovingly, but I shove my big but right in His face; “…but I’m busy looking through this magazine.”  “…but I’m too tired to get up early.”  “…but it’s time to relax, I’m going to watch tv.”  “…but I need to get my workout in.” “…but I’m too sleepy, I’m going to bed.”

BUT! BUT! BUT! BUT! BUT!

It’s only a matter of time until He tires of hearing it and takes more drastic measures.

“There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the LORD.”   Proverbs 21:30

The past few months my husband and I have noticed a squeeze on the pocketbook.  That tends to happen this time of year with summer camps for the kids, family camping trips and payments due for next year’s activities, but this year we also have two girls in braces plus the brakes are seriously needing to be changed on the bug…so boy, we have felt some financial pressure.

I’ve found myself not sleeping well at night because of it and heard that little voice lulling me out of my sleep asking me to come talk with Him.  But I wouldn’t come. The pressure continued to build and build our finances getting tighter and tighter, and ignoring the sound of the brakes wasn’t only grating on the rotors but on our nerves.

nervesGod continued to call, begging me to sit a while with Him and unload my burdens, but I continued to ignore Him, trying to figure things out on my own.  We had to do something so we asked our parents for help, which praise God they gladly gave, and we were able to get some bills paid while scheduling to get the car’s brakes fixed the next morning.

That morning as I watched Toddlers & Tiaras and ran on the treadmill, God used the episode to grab hold of my heart.  In this episode, a family with not much money spent  all they had to put their little girl in a pageant.  This lovely little girl did win (whew!!) but her response caught me off guard.  She bawled and when they asked her why she was crying (I’m totally thinking she’s just overwhelmed to have won the title) but through sobs and tears she responded with:

“I won our money back.” 

I lost it right there on the treadmill.

I knew I needed to do more.  This doing it on my own thing wasn’t working…I needed to ask God for help.  I turned the treadmill off, went upstairs and spent time resting in my Father’s lap.  I shared with Him my fears, my unknowns about the future, I thanked Him for His mercy and grace in providing a loan to take care of what we owe and I apologized for running from His call.

When I finished talking to Him, I felt so full, so complete, wondering “why on earth does it take me so long to figure this out?!”

And later, as I drove the bug to the garage, God sent a confirming nudge by playing a song on the radio…

I have heard this song before, several times in fact, but this time it felt as if I wrote the lyrics myself.  It is exactly what I was thinking and feeling…and once again I found myself crying.

I dropped off the bug then got in the van with my husband to take him to work so I could have a vehicle to run some errands.  Our drive was uneventful but as I left his office to pull onto the highway heading home, the van jolted forward engine revving, the ‘check engine soon’ light came on, the speedometer stopped working and I couldn’t go much past 35 miles per hour.

{gulp.}

I laughed out loud when I called my husband to let him know, and to ask for prayer to get us home safely, but it wasn’t much of a surprise that this happened.  It was just more of a reminder that I need to rely FULLY on God and not my own abilities.  It seemed pretty clear that perhaps we should’ve waited on God’s timing; sat in His lap a while, resting in His comfort and protection, waiting to see what He would do.  But instead we acted, He gave us what we thought we wanted and because we didn’t trust Him fully, He forced us to lean on Him.

Now we have one car in the shop and a failing transmission in the other.

Super.

God placed everything in motion and shortly after I got home the garage called with an estimate on the brakes, while a friend came over to look at the van.

And how did God respond when we FINALLY turned to Him for help? It turned out that both cars weren’t as bad as we had expected.  Only the rear brakes needed to be changed on the bug and a couple sensors went bad in the van’s transmission.  All of it could be fixed quite affordably!

Praise Him!!

Did God allow our families to help provide the money we needed?  Of course, they wouldn’t have given it if He didn’t want them to, but would God  have provided for our needs otherwise?  Absolutely.  God wants us to trust Him and His leading.

No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? …”   Romans 9:20

Steal my show!

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”   Proverbs 16:9

Isn’t it amazing how God tries to get our attention?  I was looking for the iPad this morning to use while I ran.  That is the ONLY way to do it, I tell you!!  It’s so much easier to face treadmill torture when I’m able to distract myself with a show on Netflix.  But this morning the iPad was gone.  It wasn’t charging…wasn’t in it’s place and because I had gotten up a little later, I didn’t have the time to look for it.

So I grabbed my phone and my earbuds and headed downstairs to do my running to music.

God moved that iPad.

 

Have you ever had Him grab hold of your heart through a song??

I.LOVE.THAT!

Although it’s much more thrilling when you’re standing on a large rubber belt strapped around a set of motorized pulleys and gears moving at break-neck speeds!treadmill

Ok, I’ll come clean; it’s not so break-neck…only 6 mph, but it still makes things very exciting when God uses the dropped beat and swirling rhythms pulsing through the earbuds to literally take your breath away.

I felt every word of tobyMac‘s song “Steal My Show” this morning.

 

 

I want that.

I want to give God center stage in my life’s production.  I long for Him to be the director, playwrite, choreographer, costume designer and ticketing agent.

To allow Him to use me in any way He wants.  To place the people in my life He wants me to minister to.  To release my grip, take a step back, watch Him work and be ok whatever the outcome.

God used tobyMac’s words to land squarely on my chest to knock me off balance.

If you wanna steal my show, I’ll sit back and watch you go
If you got somethin’ to say, go on and take it away
Need you to steal my show, can’t wait to watch you go-o-o-o
So take it away…

For it’s when we’re knocked off balance that He can be seen.

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”   2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Oh God, give me the words to say and the steps to take.  I give you control…my hands are outstretched and open.  Please use me.  Show me how to behave, teach me Your ways, allow me to see You at all times and trust You in every moment.

worship

med-records

Filing.

Not my favorite job.

Second to pulling.

At a dental office, pulling charts for the next day’s schedules is daunting.  Boring.  Terribly repetitive and mindless work.  But it must be done.

Yesterday as I slowly worked my way around the chart room, one of the patient coordinators interrupted me.  They were quite busy at the front desk and, really, unable to leave their computers for too long so she asked me to pull a chart for her.

I had just put down the pile I had been carrying and was at a good stopping place so it was a welcome distraction.

She gave me the name which, for the sake of HIPAA rules, was ‘Barney Rubble’.  I was in the vicinity of his chart, so I found the it, handed it to her without a pause and headed back to my pull list.

When I glanced at the next name on my list of charts to pull, I couldn’t believe what it read…

BARNEY RUBBLE

Exactly the chart I had just given away…it made me laugh.

‘He will yet fill your mouth with laughter And your lips with shouting.”   Job 8:21

God always wants to make Himself known to us.

And so often it’s not in larger than life, grandiose, miraculous acts… but so subtle that we don’t even notice.

Sometimes He just wants to remind us that He’s there.

But it’s when we keep our hearts and minds centered on Him…that He reveals Himself to us, even in a chart room.

jeremiah29_13

Lent. Really?!!

ash wednesday

So, I have been challenged.

Today is “Ash Wednesday” in the Catholic religion, which kicks off the season of “Lent.”  All I remember (from my growing up years in the Catholic church) about Ash Wednesday was when I attended an Ash Wednesday service with a friend of mine while I was at college in LaCrosse.  I went up front, they schmeared some “ash” on my forehead in a cross shape…and I heard that you would pretty much go to hell if you wiped it off.

Well, I wiped it off and headed out to the bars!!  Not a terribly moving or meaningful experience, obviously.

drink
And, all I know about Lent is that you had to give something up for a set amount of time.  I never understood that.  I remember a dear friend in High school giving up caffeine one time.  That just didn’t make sense to me… why would you do that??

What’s the point?!!

I noticed people referring to Lent on Facebook.  It intrigued me.  Especially after a Christian friend of mine said something about taking part in it.  I always thought Lent was some silly thing Catholics did…that it didn’t really matter…

So I did some research of my own: Lent

“Lent, in some Christian denominations, is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter”

Ahhhh….

“The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan”

Hmmmm…

“The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

okay now I get it

Obviously, many people do not practice Lent, and see it as an obscure tradition that the Church practices without Biblical merit…but according to the Bible, Jesus told his disciples that:

“…the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”  Matthew 9:15

So, we are to set aside time to reflect and thank our Father in Heaven for what He has done for us.  A time for us to sacrifice (whether it be large or small) so that we might be reminded, and reflect upon WHY we have been placed on this earth.

What an incredible chance to show our creator the love we have for Him!!

So, on that note…for this season of Lent…holding you all as my witnesses…I will be taking part in 40 days of sacrifice.

(Lord, please let this time go quickly by…)

I will be giving in to my own self-sacrifice and will be giving up…

Drum roll please!

diet cokeSODA!

Yeah, yeah…baby steps.

Would someone please warn McDonald’s that they won’t have to order as much Diet Coke?!!

To you, that may not seem like a big enough sacrifice…but to me, quite frankly, it’s huge!!  I am interested to see how God will use this time…how He might change me, and ultimately bring me closer to Him.

That’s what I long for, above all…

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