Monday, December 29, 2014

The End of Another Year

This final week of December is filled with reflection on the past year and anticipation of a new year. The Christmas season is behind us and celebration plans for the new year are in full-swing. Facebook feeds are sprinkled with remembrances of the year. Television programs are doing year-end reviews and reminding us of the top stories of 2014.
photo courtesy of

Reflection on the past is a good thing. During this past week I was reminded not of something that happened this year, but something that happened exactly three years ago on the 26th of December. In an effort to maintain some privacy I won't share the event on this blog, but I will say that a God-timed moment reminded me of how good He is.

Three years ago I made a decision to take a step out of my comfort zone. What happened after that decision set off a chain of events that, had I known what was coming, I might have opted to hibernate and leave well-enough alone! However, what happened was both wonderful and downright painful. For the record, my decision was morally neutral--neither right or wrong. But it did open me up to some new experiences which grew me up spiritually and emotionally.

This blog was birthed during those difficult days and I chronicled some of the ups and downs right here. Someone once asked me if I could go back and change things, would I do it? My answer then (in the midst of the difficulty) was no. And my answer now is still a resounding NO!

This God-timed moment a few days ago reminded me...

of my FREE WILL, given by God. God doesn't sit up in the sky moving me around like some chess piece on a game board. Sometimes my life would be easier for Him to make those moves for me, but He gives me a sound mind and sense to seek His will and make my own decisions. Whether my choices are good or bad, He still uses my choices to accomplish His will for my life. It's amazing what He can do! 
Genesis 50:20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

that God has a PLAN for me and it's a good one. I've written about this many times on this blog. Going back to the first point: no matter what I do it's not going to "mess up" my future because God already knows before I do what my choices will be. So even when my life looks messed up beyond belief, I can trust that God has everything all figured out. Will He "fix it" for me? Uh... well, not necessarily. It depends on the situation. I need to take responsibility for my choices and pay the price for whatever my part is in my current situation. But He will be there to walk through it with me. Anyway, God can redeem ANY situation if I seek Him.   
Jeremiah 29:11-14 "For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’"

of God's merciful LOVE. Like any parent who loves a child regardless of their behavior, God loves me even more than that. His forgiveness is there when I seek it. God's mercy and blessings are there for me when I run to Him. 
Lamentations 3:22-23 "The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."

WAITING on the Lord is never a waste of time. This is a big one! As someone who likes to keep busy, waiting on someone else is not easy for me! But, this is a lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me during this period. Over and over again God reminded me to Be Still and Know that He is God (Ps. 46:10). He wanted me to cease striving and stop trying to be independent. God wanted me to stop trying to be my own god. (gulp) Instead, God kept hammering home this point of "get to know ME and trust ME." It took a lot of time, but that lesson finally took hold. I finally learned to Be Still and to wait and to trust Him. I learned, as Psalm 37:4 said, to delight myself in the Lord and trust Him for the desires of my heart.
Psalm 37:4-7a "Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him."

There were many, many lessons learned during these past three years. Waiting on God and trusting Him has been worth it. I've seen God do some amazing things! I expect there to be many new lessons to learn in the coming year as I continue to be His student, the daughter of a King, and His beloved. Here's a toast to the past and to the coming new year! 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thankfulness. . . 'tis the season to share it

As we inch closer and closer to Thanksgiving, we are reminded that the season is more than just family get-togethers and meal-planning or the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. I enjoy reading posts on Facebook and blogs from people who share all the things for which they are thankful.

Today I sat in a church service with people who have been my family for more than 20 years. We've grown up together, laughed together, grieved and cried together, and worshiped together. Each year we take time near Thanksgiving to allow anyone who wishes to share an opportunity to publicly say what it is they are thankful for.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting. 
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.  
Psalm 107:1-2a

It's a sweet time to hear how God is working in the lives of others. It strengthens our faith to hear how God has provided during the year.

As I think back through this year, I am ever so grateful to see how God has worked in my own life and my family's life. At the beginning of this year I was part of a Bible study called "Believing God" by Beth Moore. It was no coincidence that I was deep into this study when I needed to believe God for some miracles in my own life and that of my family. My faith was stretched as I came to a point where I had no answers of my own and had to simply trust God to work things out. This quote from Streams in the Desert really illustrates this point well:

Remember, the very time for faith to work is when our sight begins to fail. And the greater the difficulties, the easier it is for faith to work, for as long as we can see certain natural solutions to our problems, we will not have faith. Faith never works as easily as when our natural prospects fail. George Mueller

As I came to the end of my own resources and natural solutions, I turned to God and asked Him to step in and take over. I have watched Him work in surprising and wonderful ways. 

Yes, I give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Surely your goodness and unfailing love 
will pursue me all the days of my life,  
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
 ~ Psalm 23:6

I was reading the 23rd Psalm this morning. This one is so familiar it's easy to just breeze through it, but I've learned that when I read the more familiar passages it's a good idea for me to slow down and try to read it as if for the first time. Just let it soak in.

When I got to the final verse of this passage, my eyes rested on the word pursue. I immediately thought of what that word means to me. As a single woman, I want to be pursued--not like a game, but to know that the one pursuing really wants me. 

That pursuit brings a sense of confidence and security with it. My pursuer, Jesus, really does want me.

In other Bible versions the word used instead of pursue is follow. I'm not sure that word carries the same weight in my mind. I rather like the idea of the Lord pursuing me.

The Hebrew word for follow/pursue is actually radaph. Some of the words used to describe the verb are: Chase, Pursue Ardently, to Run After, to Dog, to Follow Earnestly. I've linked the word to the lexicon if you'd like to read the definition more closely.

So Jesus chases after me ALL the days of my life with His goodness and unfailing love. Wow! Just wow!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

From Me to We

An interesting thing has happened in the last month. My vocabulary has slowly changed from saying I and Me to Us and We. I'm not sure exactly when that happened, but it evolved slowly.

After several decades of doing life solo...

   After years of waiting and wondering...

      After many years of praying and trusting...

God has allowed a very special man to come into my life. That's how my vocabulary changed from saying Me to We.

It's a rather unusual thing of which to take notice. Most people would probably never consider such a change as significant. However, when one [namely me] is used to always riding off in the sunset like the Lone Ranger ALL. THE. TIME. doing whatever I want to for years on end, it is a curious notion to stop and consider someone else.

On this blog which I have called The Maze of Our Lives, I have always tried to write about the things that I learn about life--the things God is teaching me. I've been rather quiet the past few months, though. Amazingly, I still have visitors stopping by this blog (thank you).

One of the reasons I have blogged less and less is that my life has been changing. Since May there has been planning a move for a family member, the actual moving/road trip, and part-time caring for a family member. That's in addition to a full-time job. And then there is this other new thing: dating.

Both of these circumstances have taught me things about relationships. Allowing people into our everyday lives can present challenges to the status quo. Each situation has taught me how to be patient and understanding. I have been learning to prioritize my time and consider others needs ahead of my own. Each situation has also enriched my life as I step out of the bubble I've lived in for so long.

Paul's words to the Philippians is quite fitting. He's reminding them to be more like Christ. Paul says in chapter 2, verses 3- 5...

"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.   
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus."

Jesus surrendered his privileges in order to serve others. And the point of it all...

To shine brightly with the love of Christ so that others can see...

" is God who is at work in you, 
both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13).

I have been blessed by these changes and am grateful to have watched how God has worked out all the little details to make these things happen for His good pleasure. I hope through these changes that I can shine brightly for others to see Christ at work!

Monday, July 7, 2014


Photo Source Unknown

I was amused by this cartoon featuring a beloved cartoon character. Anyone who ever watched this cartoon will immediately recognize the truth in how the coyote always seemed to defy gravity. He was lighter than air until he looked down at the ground miles below. At that point, he fell like a rock down, down, down until he hit the ground. Eventually the coyote walked away from the fall and chased the road runner again.

After I saw this cartoon I immediately thought of Peter when he stepped out of the boat to take that gravity defying walk on water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33). Peter stepped out in faith, but when he took his eyes off Jesus he immediately began to sink into the water. 

I don't have any great revelation to share here. This was just another reminder to me that sometimes Jesus asks us to "defy gravity" and step out in faith, trusting Him. When those moments come, we just have to keep our eyes on Jesus and trust that if we sink, He will be there to pick us up.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You Love Me Anyway

I was driving home from work and listening to the radio. I listened to a few songs then changed the channel. A song came on the radio that I've heard many times before, but as I listened closely to the words it brought tears to my eyes. Good tears.

"But, You love me anyway."

Isn't that what we all want? We just want to be loved for ourselves, in spite of our faults, our imperfections, our poor choices, our dumb quirks, our lies, our jealousy, our pride, and so on.

There is only One who can love me that perfectly. Only Jesus can love me when I keep making the same mistakes over and over, when I keep doubting Him, when I ignore Him and put other things ahead of Him.

"It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known."

Yes, Jesus does love me anyway. Just let that thought soak in to your soul.

I was reminded of the Apostle Peter. He loved Jesus with all his heart. Yet, when it came right down to choosing between  his own life and Jesus, Peter chose to save himself. Not once, but three times. Peter...well, I can't even imagine how he felt after that. I can only fathom the depths of despair running through his heart. Peter must have felt lower than low. How could you truly love someone and then--to use current vernacular--throw them under the bus when their life depended on it?

The best part of the story is that Jesus loved Peter anyway. Then He gave Peter an opportunity to openly profess his love for Jesus publicly. At the Sea of Galilee Jesus appeared to the disciples while they were fishing (John 21). After Jesus cooked breakfast for the guys, he asked Peter three times, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Did you notice Jesus used Peter's former name when He asked this question? (Interesting.)

Jesus loved Peter anyway and Peter went on to do great things in Jesus' name. Jesus also loves me and you anyway--no matter what we've done.

Watch the official video of "You Love Me Anyway" by the Sidewalk Prophets

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Time to Cry and a Time to Laugh

I was driving down the road recently and suddenly remembered that I forgot to take something to alleviate the pain in my foot. Twenty minutes earlier I was in my house and preparing to resume my shopping adventure after I made a stop at home to change shoes. But, as my memory is not quite as good as it used to be, I was distracted and forgot. I was already several miles from my house before I realized that I'd forgotten to take that ibuprofen before I left. {sigh}

I started to reason with myself. Okay, maybe the pain isn't bad enough for me to turn around and go home. I decided to just deal with it and be careful to not overdo it.

That's when a thought popped into my head. The purpose of pain is to warn the body of a problem. I was reminded of stories I'd read in the past people who are born without the ability to feel pain. Sounds wonderful, right? You might think so, but the problem is that they are susceptible to serious injury. The person who is unable to feel pain would not realize it when they grab a too-hot skillet or when they twist an ankle and keep walking on it until it breaks.

As I was processing these thoughts my mind recalled another kind of pain: emotional pain. There are many times I would have given anything to not have to feel grief, heartbreak, or hurt feelings.As I compared emotional pain to physical pain, it seemed to me that there were a lot of similarities. Both types of pains are indicators that something is wrong and requires attention. Just as the pain in my foot reminded me to walk carefully and take it easy, emotional pain should be an indicator to attend to whatever is causing that pain.

The trouble with the emotional pain is that society is uncomfortable with it. So, we're taught to shake it off, dry up the tears, and be tough. Carry on! Be a trooper! As with the physical pain, we seek ways to mask the emotional pain with some sort of pain killer. I won't go into all the ways we (as a society) tend to cover up the emotional pain. I think you get the idea. The point of this is to remind myself and others that emotional pain is a normal part of life.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us that there is...
A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.

Remember Hannah? She was the childless woman in the Bible who felt years of emotional pain. Being childless in those days was considered a disgrace. It didn't help that her husband had another wife who was able to give him children. Hannah deeply desired to give her husband a child and she prayed about it for years. She cried and she even refused to eat. Each time she went to the temple, she prayed about her heartache. Hannah was so distraught that she became outwardly emotional about it as she talked to God. The priest was observing her from a distance and thought Hannah must have been drinking because she was that upset as she prayed!

The Bible reminds us that...

   The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose
       spirits are crushed. (Ps. 34:18)

   He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. (Ps. 147:3)

   The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
        and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. (Is. 61:1)

   Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that "they were crushed and overwhelmed 
        beyond their ability to endure" but they learned to rely on God during this time.
        And he goes on to say in chapter 4, verses 8 and 9 that...

       "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, 
               but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  
               We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed."

To be perfectly honest, my first reaction is not to embrace the pain and allow God to truly heal the emotional pain. More often than not I lean toward feeling overwhelmed and crushed. I want Him to take the pain away. I want it to just go away. God could take it away, but He may want to use the pain as part of the healing process. If I seek ways to mask or avoid the pain I may delay healing.

As I was drafting this post, I read the following quote in Streams in the Desert...

"God seems to use the pressure of pain to trample out the 
fulfillment of His promises and thereby release the sweetest juice 
of His winepress. Only those who have known sorrow can 
fully appreciate the great tenderness of the 'man of sorrows.'"

It's comforting to know that Jesus understands our emotional pain. He wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. He also experienced the pain of rejection. So Jesus can certainly relate to any sort of pain you or I may experience.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Absence and Disappointments

I haven't done a lot of writing lately. The last time I posted on this blog (about six weeks ago) I alluded to some things going on in my life that kept me busy, but also some things that were testing my faith.

I have written only a little in my personal journal. Friends on Facebook may have noticed that I don't write/post as often there either. The easy answer is to say that I have gotten out of the habit of writing. Truth. But I've also been struggling to put words to what's been going on inside of me lately.

Each time I think to myself that I should write, I procrastinate and avoid thinking about it. I busy myself with anything else. I suppose avoidance is the main reason I haven't been writing. 

Today I decided to go back to the beginning of this blog and read the first post. It reminded me why I started this blog. I felt as if God was leading me to share things that I was learning as I journeyed through my life. Writing was as much for my own benefit (therapy) as it was for anyone else. I had no idea whether anyone would ever read my blog anyway.

You see, when I started this blog I was recovering from a broken heart over a failed relationship. To maintain some privacy, I have never mentioned that fact before on this blog. I also didn't want my blog to be all about that. I chose to write in general enough terms so that anyone going through difficult circumstances could relate.

The broken heart from two years ago has healed--mostly. I still struggle at times. I won't go into what's happened in the past two years because you can read previous posts on this blog and figure that out. To sum it up it has been a time of waiting, of learning, of praying, of more waiting, and this cycle has continued. 

During these past two years my relationship with Jesus has grown exponentially. I once had a spiritual mentor ask me if I had known what was going to happen before I met this guy, would I still have gone through with it? The answer then was yes. The answer now is still yes. Pain and all, Jesus is still worth it and He's made use of everything I went through.

Two months ago marked the two year anniversary of when that relationship officially ended. Something else changed about that time. This guy, who I still considered a friend, completely disappeared from my life. I had limited contact with him and we did not live in the same city so we never saw each other. However, without any explanation, he suddenly cut off all contact with me. 

Why should I care? Trust me. This doesn't make any sense without all the back story. But, having that door finally and completely closed like that was like a mild earthquake in my life. Yes, earth-shattering describes it. You see, I did not get the closure that I desired, that I had sincerely hoped and prayed for.

Yes, I had fervently prayed for some closure with this man--to clear the air--and had hoped to see that come to fruition. We had been good friends and I wanted to see that friendship return. When that door closed--and God allowed it to be closed--it was upsetting. After pondering my feelings of why I was so upset, I finally came to realize that my feelings were hurt. Not just by this guy, but by God. The truth was that I was disappointed in God.

This disappointment caused me to emotionally shut down in God's presence. Oh, I still read my Bible, I continued to read devotionals and attend church. I even prayed...some. Frankly, I was demoralized. I had lost some confidence and hope in God. When I was believing in Him for something I thought was a good thing and the answer I wanted did not materialize, it shook my faith. 

When it came to praying and asking God for anything I had come to a place of thinking to myself, What's the point? Why should I pray? He'll just say no again.
It reminded me of the time I asked a simple favor of a supervisor and I fully expected a yes based on our relationship and the fact that I rarely asked for favors like this. However, this one time I got a no. It was surprising and disappointing. It made me rethink my relationship with that supervisor and fearful of asking for favors ever again.

Where this situation with God was concerned, in my head I knew that I wasn't thinking correctly. But, my heart was disappointed and confused. My relationship with Jesus had grown to a point of knowing what to expect of Him. So when I didn't get the answer I expected, it was very confusing. I began to question everything that I had been through the past two years and I questioned my intimate relationship with Jesus. It really has been a time of soul-searching.

Then one day a few weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook and happened to see a quote from an author that I follow. It said, "…the miracles in the authentic Gospels are about love, not power...Although Jesus’ miracles were far too selective to solve every human disappointment, they served as signs of his mission, previews of what God would someday do for all creation." The quote came from a book titled Disappointment With God by Philip Yancy

That was it! Seeing that quote and book title helped define what I'd been feeling for several weeks. I bought the e-book and have been reading it. I have found myself nodding in agreement over some of the things I'm reading. I've also found myself very convicted as I realize that this whole life isn't all about me. This has forced me to look at this world from God's perspective and imagine His disappointment with these people He created and how we always fall short. Imagine His disappointment with me! Wow. Talk about turning the tables on the situation!

I won't pretend that everything is "all better now." I am still working through all of these issues with God. I am still healing and learning and processing. And I have to remember to keep my hope in Christ and not in the outcome of a particular request. 

Keeping it real...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Faith: Let's Take a Test Drive

Faith seems to be the theme running through my life during the past few weeks. I've been learning about what simple faith means from a variety of sources. And even in the midst of the academic portion of learning, I'm receiving some hands-on training. It's pretty much like God is saying, "You've got the facts now so let's give this puppy a test drive!"

Consequently, I haven't been blogging lately because of these tests of faith. Processing through these events have taken a lot of my mental energy. I've also been using more of my free time to pour into a lovely group of single women. In return, they have been pouring back into my life. What a blessing! I'll put in a quick plug for the (in)courage community groups. If you aren't part of one, you really should join! 

So I have been pondering some things in my heart much like Mary did after she observed the reaction of the shepherds and heard what the angel said to them following the birth of Jesus. She was quite amazed to hear what these people had to say about her son and wanted to preserve these things in her mind.

The things I'm pondering are not nearly as great. But, as I grapple with this issue of simple faith and apply what I'm learning to present circumstances, it does leave me to wonder at times what is happening. 

I think testing is probably an accurate way to describe what's going on. I've written about testing in previous blog posts, but I have a new level of appreciation for it now. 

You see, I've been sincerely praying for answers to several issues close to my heart. It seems that those issues which are most important to me--translated as I've been praying extra hard--have actually gotten worse. So the more I prayed about them, extended my faith, and trusted God with the outcome, it seems the farther away from an answer I've gotten. 

I think it's no coincidence that the more I dig in and trust God, the harder it's gotten. Satan wants me to become discouraged and give up on God, to think He's not listening. But, as a spiritual mentor of mine pointed out recently...

Faith takes possession 
by anticipation of 
God's provision.

I am believing God will provide an answer. When? How? I don't know. It's His agenda and not mine. I have to be okay with the sovereignty of God. But I will keep praying.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Expectations vs. Reality

"I've done everything you've asked. So you can give me what I want now."

Have you ever said anything like that to God? My guess is probably not in so many words. Naturally, we know better than to be demanding in that way. Right? (You're nodding your head right now, I hope.) But, maybe we secretly do expect God to respond that way.

This past weekend I watched a livestream of a singles conference from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. They had several good speakers, but one in particular said some things that resonated with me. She talked about life plans. As a young adult, she'd mapped out her life, but it seems as if her expectations did not meet her reality. She was still single when she'd planned to be married with children by now.

Imagine these scenarios:
  • You studied for a career, but ended up in a different profession. 
  • You had intentions of moving to a particular house/neighborhood/city, but ended up in your 3rd or 4th choice.
  • You were sure you would be married by a certain age, but find yourself still single.
  • You would have 2 or 3 children by the age of 35, but your house is still empty.
  • You planned to travel abroad or be a missionary, but somewhere along the way those dreams are still unfulfilled.
You get the picture. If you haven't imagined your own scenario by now, take a few minutes to think about it. We all have these great plans, but sometimes life doesn't align itself to match our plans. Sometimes these plans are really good things, yet hopes and desires remain unfulfilled.

The thing that really struck a chord with me was when the speaker talked about bargaining with God. It's easy to fall into this perception that if I'm doing all the right things--pursuing God, putting God first, reading my Bible regularly, praying--that it's a given that these expectations would be finally be fulfilled. You know, Do this + this = That. That's the way life works. We have a sense of entitlement after we've done "all the right things" so we think to ourselves, surely now that I've done these things, God will finally give me my heart's desires.

Another week goes by...
           Another month goes by...
                      Another year goes by...

and that desire still hasn't been fulfilled. Then what? We start to question God. We start to question ourselves. We compare our lives to others. We may even try to manipulate circumstances, make changes, or simply take over and do it ourselves.

The speaker shared this quote from John Newton:

"Everything is necessary that God sends our way.
Nothing can be necessary that He withholds."

This quote is profound, yet makes me uncomfortable. These things that I find "necessary" may not be necessary in God's design. I'm still processing that thought. But what all of this reminds me of is a simple Bible verse that God continues to put in my path, and has done so quite a lot lately.

For I know
the plans
that I have for you.
They are plans for good
and not for disaster
to give you a future 
and a hope. - Jer. 29:11

(I broke up the verse this way to cause the reader to stop and consider each of these phrases. I recommend reading it several times this way.)

Most of the time I've stopped reading right there at the end of verse 11. But last week Im my devotional reading the next two verses were tacked onto this. They really stood out to me:

In those days when you pray, I will listen.
If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. - Jer. 29:12-13

Yes, God has plans for me. He knows the plans and they are good plans. He knows exactly when to unfold these plans for me. In the meantime, I need to keep working on really knowing the One who is in charge of those plans, praying to Him. God is listening even when it seems He isn't. I just need to keep looking to Him. It's there that I will find my Hope. My hope is not in the outcome, it's in the One who is in charge of the outcome.

Linking up with

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Difficulty Equals Opportunity

"Every difficulty and every temptation that comes our way,
 if we receive it correctly, is God’s opportunity." 
[Quote from Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings.] 

I read that quote this morning during my quiet time. Hmmm. Something to think about.
Difficulty = Opportunity. 

Oh yes, I think I'd like to get in line for some of that opportunity--two extra scoops, please! Sorry, my sarcasm is showing. Honestly, difficulty is not something anybody looks forward to.

As I sit here, I'm processing what's already been a difficult week for my family and it doesn't show signs of letting up any time soon. Thankfully, there have also been some wonderful moments this week.

The devotional went on to talk about how David's run-in with a lion was an opportunity for God to show David that God was with him and through God he could face whatever came his way. When these "lions" come into our own lives we should recognize it as an opportunity from the Lord, "no matter how fierce it may outwardly seem."

So it appears that the "lions"we face today help us to face the "Goliaths" of the future. I don't know whether these current difficulties are lions or Goliaths. I suspect they are a little of both. When I've gone through difficulties in the past they sure seemed like Goliaths in the moment they were happening. Then sometime later, when a new difficulty arose, I looked back and thought, "that was nothing compared to now."

Shortly after reading this devotional, I listened to a sermon by Charles Stanley. His message was about having courage in the midst of a difficult time. Funny how the Lord orchestrates these things! He used Paul as an example of someone who had courage to persevere despite many difficulties. One would say he had to Endure (my One Word for the year 2014). Ah-ha! Then the phrase that popped into my head during this message was...

Don't Give Up!

This was a phrase I heard many times during another difficult time. It was always a sweet reminder to have hope in God, to keep praying, to persevere, and most of all to trust God.

I'll end with the following scripture and a link to a favorite song:

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. 
We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  
We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. 
We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  
Through suffering, our bodies continue to share 
in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus 
may also be seen in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4:8

This is my command—be strong and courageous! 
Do not be afraid or discouraged. 
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Nuggets of Wisdom: HOPE

It's been a while since I've shared some Nuggets of Wisdom. It used to be a regular feature on this blog, but thought it would be a good time to bring it back this week. It's been somewhat of a theme week for me.

Below are a few things I've run across this week that are "little jewels" I have found inspiring and helpful. I'll share the quote and then a few of my own thoughts.

Nugget #1

"When everything seems to be going wrong, refuse to get discouraged. ...The longer you wait for your prayers to be answered, the closer you are to a breakthrough." From Jesus Today by Sarah Young

It's so easy to get discouraged when things aren't going the way we planned or hoped, isn't it? We have hopes and dreams unfulfilled, day after day, week after week, and year after year. We pray fervently for someone and still don't see a change day after day, week after week, and year after year. Little by little the time between our petitions get a bit longer and sometimes we just give up. Then the Lord reminds us to keep praying, to keep waiting on Him, to place our hope in Him. The Lord uses the testimony of someone else to remind you: He Remembers. He hasn't forgotten. Oh, how sweet that reminder is.

Nugget #2

"...there is never a time when we cannot hope in God, whatever our need or however great our difficulty may be. Even when our situation appears to be impossible, our work is to 'hope in God.' Our hope will not be in vain, and in the Lord's own timing help will come." From Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman.

Well, this has been a week in which I needed to hear these encouraging words of hope, of promise, or God remembering me. It hasn't been a bad week at all. Rather it's been a week of sameness. I get up in the morning, go to work, come home, and go to bed. Very routine and sometimes dull. Oh, yeah I've been doing things around the house, on Facebook, some reading, that kind of thing. But sometimes I long for other things, a slightly different life. At the same time, I'm trying to embrace these quiet days of routine as all part of God's blessing. I am continuing to put my hope in God and his timing. I am thankful for that reminder this week: None of this is in vain; nothing is wasted.

Nugget #3

"You may be sure that God will never say to us, 'Stand still,' 'Sit still,' or 'Be still,' unless He is going to do something." From Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman.

I am always anxious to jump in and just "gitter done,"so sitting still and waiting on God to act often feels painfully slow. But, allowing God to work in His time in His way is always the best choice. I place my hope in God. I was talking with a friend with week about this very topic of "being still" before the Lord. This has been a recurring phrase in my life for the past two years. Over and over again, scripture has reminded me that I am supposed to be still in one particular area of my life: my singleness. It's the same one I've referred to above. And that leads me to one other nugget related to all of this...

Nugget #4

" requires us to do nothing at all, while our human nature screams to interfere. In these cases we believe; therefore, we do not act. Wisdom is knowing the difference between the two." From Believing God by Beth Moore.

This quote will require a little background. Faith often requires action such as when God told Abraham to pick up and move or He told Noah to build an Ark. But, sometimes faith means taking no action. A case in point is when Jesus was being arrested before the crucifixion. He could have done something about it, but Jesus chose to trust God's plan.
     When the world screams at me that I need to do something about my singleness, it's hard not to get worked up about it. I mean, I really would like to do something about it. But, I have to keep going back to God and asking Him what what He wants me to do about it. The answer always comes back to: Wait. Be still. God wants to do something in my life and frankly I think He doesn't want to share the glory with me. Ha! But, I can place my hope in God and not in my self. Self always thinks she knows what should be done, but self is often wrong.

So, let me tie all this together...

Did you see a common thread running through all of these? It's the word Hope.
     Hope is lost when we don't see a future. When we can't see what God is doing, we can't see a future, and it's dark, that's when faith has to kick in. I've used this quote before on this blog and even have it posted in my kitchen:

"The greatest lessons in faith are learned in the dark." ~ Tony Evans

When we are hopeless (or discouraged) we cannot see the future or what God is doing. The future looks dark and God keeps telling us to be still because He knows the plan. You see, God knows the plans He has for us and it's a good one (Jeremiah 29:11). God does His best work behind the scenes. We just continue to look to Him for our hope and our future.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, 
because anyone who comes to him must believe 
that he exists and that he rewards those 
who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jigsaw Puzzles: God Sees the Big Picture

God is always working behind the scenes.

More often than not, we can't see what God is doing all around us. Sometimes we can't see it because we aren't looking. Other times we can't see it because we aren't meant to see it. Often, it's only much later that we can see what God was doing--how all the pieces of that mixed-up puzzle went together.

My family loved to put together jigsaw puzzles when I was growing up. That activity was an indoor winter sport for us. Someone would pull out a 500 or 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, place all the pieces on the dining room table, and begin working on it. It was not unusual for a puzzle to sit on the table for days. Frankly, I can't even remember how that impacted dinner! It didn't matter, though. Every member of the family participated in one way or another--even the occasional guest who dropped by. Sometimes we would walk by the puzzle on our way to do something else and be so drawn in that we couldn't walk away until a puzzle piece was picked up and put in the exact spot it was meant to go. Other times, several of us would sit around the table and chat as we searched for the missing pieces. Oh, how the pace picked up when the end was in sight! Did you ever know someone who hid the last piece just so they could be the one to finish the puzzle!!!

I was reflecting on circumstances this week that just didn't seem to have an end in sight or make a lot of sense. The Lord brought to mind events in my past and how He brought things together--little by little--until the puzzle was complete. Prayers were answered, sometimes above and beyond what I imagined and in ways I would not have expected. And many times God had to take me through some frustration in order to get me to and through those times so that He could answer my prayers and accomplish His plan.

Yes, I was able to clearly go back in time (15-20 years) and see how my life was a lot like those family jigsaw puzzle sessions. Little by little, He was (and still is) putting each piece in place. Once in a while it looked like He had forgotten or stopped working on the puzzle. No, He hadn't forgotten. God was faithful to complete that puzzle. It encouraged my heart as I remembered these things and applied them to my current circumstances.

Each phase of life seems to be a puzzle and I'm anxious to see what the big picture will look like when I'm finished. God's not in a hurry, though. It reminds me of Habbakuk who was frustrated that it seemed like God wasn't doing anything. But the Lord replied to him:

"If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, 
for it will surely take place. 
It will not be delayed (Habakkuk 2:3)."

And Paul reminds us that:

"...we know that God causes everything to work together 
for the good of those who love God and are called 
according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28)."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

(in)courage Communities: Doing Life Together

Life is so busy these days. It's hard to find time to meet with friends in person, but it's easy to find 15 or 20 minutes to browse Facebook. So, why not combine the two?

(in)courage communities are a great place to find other women who share your passion or are in the same stage of life as you. Are you...
  • pursuing a writing career
  • caring for a special needs child or an aging parent
  • transitioning to an empty nest
  • a stay-at-home mom who needs some adult conversation
  • a single, professional woman
  • looking for fitness encouragement
  • in a ministry or looking for Bible study pals

(in)courage has many different communities that meet on Facebook in a closed group where we find friendship, share prayer requests, a love for Christ, and most of all...encouragement. If you are interested in joining a group, visit our community group page today!

And...If you're a single woman, join me at (in)Joy!  It's a fantastic community of like-minded women who desire to grow in God's truth and discover what it means to daily find our joy in Him. This group has been a blessing to me. We learn from each other as we walk in this place of singleness.

By the way, there's no cost to join the group and no commitments required. Just sign up and participate as much as you like. If you'd like to learn more about the groups, visit the community FAQ page.

Registration begins Monday, January 27, 2014. Hope to see you there!!