Tag Archive: guidance


Sydney got braces yesterday…and she wants you to know that they hurt.

A lot.

She’s ten years old and doesn’t have all her adult teeth in yet, so she has what the orthodontist calls “2×4’s”; braces on the front four teeth then bands on her back two molars for the orthodontic headgear.

Ouch.

I had to wear headgear when I went through those crazy-snaggle-tooth-ugly-middle-school years so as I watched them place the bands on her teeth and then eventually how to put the headgear on, oh it brought back memories.

YIKES! …but check out the Atari!! Mmmm-hmm, word.

Yup.  My teeth hurt just watching it!

After we left the orthodontist, I had Syd practice putting the headgear on.  She was struggling greatly with getting the tips placed into the tubes correctly and she became more and more frustrated.  She tried over and over and over again with zero success.

Her muscles stiffened, her grasp became more forceful and her eyes squinted as she tried desperately to make it work.  My stomach twisted in knots just willing her to get it, to no avail.  My heart broke for her knowing that she had to get this, she had to figure it out.

Syd was on the verge of tears when I finally told her to stop.  “Say a quick prayer,” I said. “Ask God to guide your hands.  Ask Him to help you get it in and to calm your nerves.”

She immediately closed her eyes.  I was hoping she would pray aloud but as she leaned back, her face loosened.  Her shoulders fell, her arms relaxed and her hands gently cradled the headgear.  Her face was at peace and beautiful.

After several minutes, her eyes sprung open and she lifted the headgear, placed it into her mouth and slid it right into place.

“Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me; O LORD, be my helper.”   Psalm 30:10

“And the LORD will continually guide you…”   Isaiah 58:11a

God is amazing.  He works so mightily in our lives and we don’t even recognize it.

If He will work through a little girl struggling with something so insignificant as an orthodontic device, how much more will He do in your life?

“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”   Psalm 48:14 (niv)

When the weight of this world knocks you down and you feel like you can’t go on, He will never leave your side.

“He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”   Proverbs 28:26 (niv)

Our puppy Wilson has a “developmental disorder.”  I’m sure of it.

 

  • Is easily distracted and frequently switches from one activity to another
  • Has difficulty maintaining focus on one task
  • Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to
  • Struggles to follow instructions.
  • Dashes around playing with anything and everything in sight
  • Is constantly in motion
  • Has difficulty waiting for things he wants

Wilson is a six month old Pit Bull Terrier mix who is full of energy and life.  When we first brought him home, walking him was no short order.  He was full of curiosity and wonder dodging from left to right unsure of which direction he wanted to take.  He pulled on the leash determined to go his own way, or would come to a dead stop and we would have to tug him to get him moving again.

He tripped over himself and us, eager to go one way then would get distracted by a new smell or rustle in the brush and do a 180, spinning on his heels heading the opposite way in practically the same motion.  He relied on his nose to guide him and continually found himself on a different path than the one holding the leash.

How often do we find ourselves in the same predicament?

We dart from one thing to the next, excited and curious, longing to do God’s will but unsure of which path to take.  We head down one road then find ourselves chasing an enticing smell or exciting noise down another.  We pull and tug desiring our own way.

It is so easy for us to be moved by our feelings or circumstances and take a path based on them.  But when we travel that road we often find ourselves confused, lost and unsure until our Master whispers our name and gently calls us back to His side to turn us in the right direction.

We have a guide through this world.  Someone who looks out for us.  Someone who wants only the best for us.  Someone who possesses unconditional patience, love and forgiveness offering it freely and abundantly.

It is when we trust in Him and follow His lead that we will find the protection, confidence and peace we desire.

“For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”   1 Peter 2:25

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”   Psalm 32:8

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

I traveled along the Blue Ridge Parkway this past week.  It was the most beautiful and calming stretch of road I have ever traveled.

The expanse of highway travels along the Appalachian Mountain range, through Virginia and North Carolina, at a comfortable leisurely 45 mph pace and offers no distraction of cellular service making it impossible to ignore its splendor.

It is filled with amazing peaks, stunning vistas and gorgeous views.

It entices us to jump; to soar in God’s promises and His word is heard in its echo:

“they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”   Isaiah 40:31

And while we stand upon the mountain, our adversary uses those close-up magnificent views to turn our focus upon the rugged, daunting mountain set before us. He reminds us we are incapable and unable to walk the path that lies ahead:

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…”   Isaiah 64:6

One minute we are on an incredibly spiritual high; we know what God has planned for us, our steps are sure and strong, the path ahead is exhilarating and clear enabling us to sit a while in His presence.

“but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”   Proverbs 1:33

Then at the next turn the shadows appear; our footing is slow and apprehensive, the darkness drifts in and the path ahead is questionable.

 

Each corner appears sharp, unsure and cold and we begin to doubt.  We question if we are on the right road after all; incapable of seeing through the forest, unable to decipher the way.

But we can trust in God’s promises.  Light will appear once more and the shadows will run.

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”   2 Timothy 1:7

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”   Psalm 40:2

Are you in the midst of a shadow?

Are you unable to see the way out?

God promises to guide and to lead.  Trust in His timing, take rest in His plan and you will again feel sure-footed and secure.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   Jeremiah 29:11

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…”   Philippians 1:6

 

Has God given you a promise that you aren’t sure He can fulfill?

Have you seen Him work and verify the calling He has made on your life, only to find yourself question and doubt whether it will come to fruition?

In who have you placed your trust?  Are you relying on God’s promises or your own ability?

There are so many stories in the Bible of God revealing His plan, and in response hearing an “are you out of your mind?!”

Sarah:
“The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?’  Genesis 18:10,12

The Shunammite woman:
“’At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.’ And she said, ‘No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.’”  
2 Kings 4:16

Moses:
“’Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’   But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’”  
Exodus 3:10-11

Gideon:
“And the LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?’ And he said to him, ‘Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’”   Judges 6:14-15

Sounds familiar.

I have felt God’s strong presence and calling in my life to write.  He has provided many stories of amazing provision and proof of His existence that I long to share with those who don’t yet know Him, as well as to help encourage and realize His movement in the lives of those who do.

I have been filled with an unsettling beyond anything I’ve known.  An awareness of the path He wants me to take and yet the road stands before me; a path filled with light as well as shadow, straight, sure ground and questioning, uncertain curves.

I find myself shoulder to shoulder with those who have come before me, echoing their mistrust, questioning the One whose promises we are to rely on.  But no matter the make of the road or the curves that lie ahead, I will blindly follow while likely questioning the whole way, but in the wake of those who trod before me,

I will take one more step forward,

and trust that His plans are better than my own.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

I was approached about being part of a band about a month ago, and if any of you know me AT ALL, I love to sing and I absolutely have no problem standing on a stage.  SO…when the offer came, I didn’t have to think very hard about the answer.

“But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.”   Psalm 106:13

I went to the first practice at the Madison Music Foundry; a real music recording studio, and I was like a little kid at Disneyland.  It was so cool!

I met the other band members there…three of whom I already knew and played with on the worship team at church, and three I hadn’t met before.  We made our introductions and when the guys started playing, I was awe-struck.

Steve “BigDaddy” played bass and tried to simultaneously play the trumpet which doesn’t work, but when he was able to wail on that horn he sounded like Dizzy Gillespie!  Sweet.  And when he sings?  He’s got so much soul, you need to question his upbringing…and his moves??  White boy has got some moves!

Greg, who I typically see playing guitar, was boss on drums hitting a stellar beat…and watching his face light up when he played was infectious!

Tom “TK” on guitar, has mad guitar playing skills and can improvise like a magician.  He has so much fun and so easily adds riffs and calls to a song, he makes a great song howl.

Now, I thought I was in amazing company watching these church boys kill it musically, but when I met the other guys…  whoa.

Pedro doesn’t say a lot…but clearly speaks through his guitar.  His fingers expertly fly over the strings and seriously plays like Jimi Hendrix.

Will was jamming on the hand drums and tambourine, but when he started singing?   Wow.  He has the sound and timing of Michael Jackson.  It was awesome!

But Dex, the coup de grace, the ringleader and bossman… plays crazy beat on the drums, writes his own music and lyrics, has a chocolaty smooth island voice and can rap…  aaaaahhhhh, heaven.  But when he pulled out his harmonica and started playing, I think my knees buckled.

 

Oh, such sweet sounds from this amazing group of musicians…I was waaaaaay out of my league.

“Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!”   Psalm 150:4

It was so fun, to just jam and sing, although everyone else was doing all the work!  You see, I don’t play much of anything, saxophone a while back, but don’t have a horn anymore…so now I just sing and reap all the rewards of being surrounded by gifted players.

These guys were amazing, and although I had at least heard most of the songs before, I didn’t always know exactly how the beat dropped or how the lyrics flowed, but they were so forgiving of the silly-little-star-struck girl standing awkwardly by her mic.

It was a true blessing to be part of this amazing group, and I was so excited when I came home from practice I could hardly stand it.  I learned a couple new songs that I totally loved and was eager to learn more.  My kids were excited, my husband too… in fact, the first thing he said was:

“You’re in a band.”

Even the girls at work were excited and “wouldn’t miss” seeing the performance!!  Unbelievable.  This is something I had always wanted to be part of.  Something I had always dreamed of…and now I had the chance!!  How could God provide even more of my dreams?!!

Amazing.

Over the next few weeks I noticed that practicing was a lot more time consuming than I had expected.  I essentially had to learn all of these songs over again – but this time the harmony part, and there were several songs I didn’t know which raised the ante a bit.

I had to prepare for my writer’s conference in July with a book manuscript and proposal to write, and I’ve been asked to sub at work much more frequently which the money will help immensely for my trip.  However, I quickly realized I had gotten myself in way over my head.

When I said yes to the writer’s conference, I prayed a lot over it – seeking guidance and council.  But over the band, I just jumped right in.  I had always wanted to sing in a group and I saw this as another amazing provision and gift from God…but as the weeks went by I found myself starting to not sleep well at night.

“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.”   Psalm 16:7

I was concerned about the loss of writing time, that I didn’t really know the songs very well and stressing over the timing of everything…but I had made a commitment.  I had given my word.

“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”   Matthew 5:37

I finally sat down and spent time talking to God about my concerns and asking for guidance and direction over what to do.  I voiced my concerns to one of the band members and he encouraged and assured me not to stress it and give me an out.  But I was most concerned about Dex.  I didn’t want to disappoint him, because I knew he was counting on each of us.

Praise God how He works…

It wasn’t but a couple days later that an email came from Dex saying that things just weren’t working out the way he had hoped, so he was canceling the gig.

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”   Isaiah 30:21

So I was free.  All God wanted was for me to acknowledge Him…to seek His leadership…and to ask for help.  A weight had been lifted and I was off the hook, but it broke my heart.

Had I not been called to write and had God not orchestrated all of the stories and provision for the conference, I would have totally been able to commit to the band.

But, isn’t it amazing how easily we can be distracted – even by things that seem like an answer to prayer – a long time “desire of our heart.”

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”   1 John  4:1

Even if it seems right, we MUST seek guidance from the Almighty.  We must make sure our will and step is in alignment with His…because it is possible for us to be lured by the adversary…

our longings met by the one whose promises are empty…

who convinces us we are doing fine on our own.

When we truly seek guidance from the One who longs for our attention, He might just allow us to see that those “desires of our heart” have already been fulfilled.

“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.’”   Isaiah 48:17

I am in a band.

I am able to perform weekly, on a large stage, under hot lights, with live mic’s, in a group of outstandingly talented musicians.

And to be a part of a band who plays for God’s pleasure and to worship Him??  Greatest gift and blessing ever…

and EXACTLY what I have always wanted.

The song I fell in love with during my brief stint in a rock band:

I Spy Copps

[IMAGE CREDIT]

My God is amazing.

His love limitless.

His grace boundless.

His protection endless.

After a morning full of chores, errands, lunch and laughter, the kids and I (although in good spirits) still had a few more stops to make before we could head home, and we were fading fast.

We headed over to Aldi, the most affordable grocery store in the nation I swear, but they don’t carry brand name or specialty items or have an extensive produce department, so it would be an I Spy God moment all in itself if our stop satisfied my lengthy list.

True to form, my list had a few un-checked items when we reached the check out, so I was fully prepared to run to the commercial grocery store just down the road once we left.  When I reached the cashier and my items had been scanned and totaled, I realized I didn’t know the pin to the debit card I brought to pay with.  To save on cost, Aldi only takes debit or cash payments, and I had neither.

SERIOUSLY?!!

For a moment I considered throwing in the towel and heading home.  The kids had been troopers all morning, they were tired and I was too, but most of the items in my cart were for the fundraiser that evening, and I was quickly running out of time.

[IMAGE CREDIT]

…and patience.

They suspended the transaction, took my cart back to the cooler, and the kids and I ran to the car to head to the closest bank (according to my gps) 11 minutes away.

Thankfully God had given me a gracious inch of peace about this…there wasn’t anything I could do.  Aldi was the cheapest, there was no other option, so I had to get the money.

“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. “   Psalm 18:30

Thankfully the only other delay was that I’m a bit mental and I drove right past the bank several blocks, then realized it and had to back track back to my destination.  So weird…driving past a bank I had been to hundreds of times before… in a town I grew up in… and the extra five minutes it delayed us didn’t catch my attention.

On our way back to Aldi, I entertained the idea to run to the commercial grocery store first to grab what was left on my list, then head to Aldi, then head home.  I’m not sure why I didn’t…that would’ve made the most sense driving and time wise, but I decided just to head straight back to Aldi’s first.

“The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous.”   Isaiah 26:7

I had no problem retrieving and paying for my items, bagged them, got them in the car and we were off to grocery store #2.  Looking at the clock I was a bit defeated because we had lost an extra 30 minutes of time, but I figured God had a plan.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store, things seemed a bit odd.  There wasn’t much traffic moving, there were some people in cars, but they were stopped and all looking toward the parking spaces directly in front of the store.  I couldn’t make out what they were looking at, but I did notice several squad cars parked haphazardly, lights flashing.

As the van inched closer, we noticed a man in handcuffs being placed into the back seat of one car.  I found a parking spot far away from the disturbance and as we got out, several police officers who were standing outside the car shut the culprit in and the car left in a rush.

[IMAGE CREDIT]

 “…you delivered me from men of violence. “   2 Samuel 22:49

It was at that point we realized that all of the delay, the problems with the credit card, passing and backtracking to the bank, detouring away from potential danger and stopping at Aldi first, was all part of God’s plan to deter us.

To slow us.

To protect us.

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”   Psalm 5:11

Oh, did I mention that this all conveniently transpired at Copps??

[IMAGE CREDIT]

Heehee…


							
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