He Did It Again

For the first time, I gave God control of a situation. I don’t mean I said I gave it to Him and then kept trying to take it back by worrying about the outcome. I mean that I told God what I would like and then said it was up to Him. It feels so freeing!

You would think I would have learned to do this by now. All the times God worked everything out the right way, and I would still try to make it happen to my standards. What do I know about the future and all the moving parts that need to fit together? Nothing.

When I first moved to the Atlanta area after college, I wanted to work in sales. In the meantime, I decided to get a job at a hotel front desk. I drove around the area all day with my resume. On the way home, I passed one more and decided to go there the next day. The next day “happened” to be the day the newly hired manager and several other important people were visiting there and I was hired on the spot. I worked there for 2 years.

When that job wasn’t working out, my father in law called his friend at the publishing company he worked for on the day when the sales and marketing assistant “happened” to give her 2 weeks notice. I went for an interview and started on her last day. I was with that company for 5 years.

Three years ago, I decided to get a job again after being home for years. The day I stood on my driveway telling my best friend my intention, she “happened” to have heard about a job that morning. I had an interview the next day and was offered the job.

Never think God is not in the details. Never think He doesn’t care about your life.

A few months ago, I posted on Facebook that I was hoping to find something that I could do from home around my kids’ schedule. Any time I would think about it, I got excited because I KNEW God would come through. I KNEW the right thing would fall into my lap, because God had done this before. I wasn’t going to chase around the wrong things and worry about the future like I have done other times.

The years between my jobs were fraught with fruitless searches and being told that I was overqualified or wouldn’t be happy in those jobs. I didn’t want that again. I wanted to trust that God has a greater plan for my life than anything I could dream up myself.

My girls started school August first, and I got a message the night before from a friend. She remembered me saying I want to work from home and asked if I would be interested in being her assistant. She is a real estate agent and started my training today. I will help her with leads, scheduling, and any other office work she needs me to do so she can be out in the field.

Once again, God knows what is best for me. When I get out of His way, He has room to work big. If you let Him, He will do the same for you!

Dropping Wisdom

The book of Proverbs is a fountain of knowledge. You know you are going to learn something whenever you open to it, right? Many verses I have heard before, but one just seems to be put in there for me. Just today.

Proverbs 23: 4-5 says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.┬áCast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” Can we all agree that these are the truest of true statements? As soon as you think you have it all figured out, poof! It vanishes.

First of all, why do we wear ourselves out to get rich? Why do we think it is the only measure of our worth? I know it is quantifiable, so maybe that is part of it. We think, “As soon as I have X amount of dollars, I will be better. People will like me.” No, they won’t if they didn’t already. And having X amount of dollars won’t make life easier.

I like the next part: do not trust your own cleverness. We do this all the time. “OK, I have it all figured out. With my super duper plan, I will have all I need.” No, we DON’T have it all figured out and never will. That is the point of life-it doesn’t fit neatly in a box. Life is messy and unpredictable and that is why we need a sovereign and merciful God. HE has it all figured out and we need to just go along with HIS plan.

Verse 5 says that when we even glance at riches, they fly away like an eagle. I love that visual! It is so true that counting on anything in this world, anything earthly, will vanish. They literally mean nothing in the long run. We have a hard time with that as money seems so fun. “If I have money, people will come to me. I will be needed and important.” No, we will be used and discarded once our money is gone.

The only thing that matters in this life is how we treat people. Money is nice, but only if we use it properly. When we use it to bless others, our lives are enriched. If we live life with an open hand, where money comes and goes, we will have the greatest reward: peace.

What I struggle with the most, especially right now, is planning. I trust my own cleverness. Oh, I throw in prayers for God to help me, but I don’t like to wait for His timing. Or I assume that since what I want is good, that it means God will grant it. Of course, I know that God needs to be at the center of all I do. I want Him there, but I want to call the shots and say when things happen. It is a constant power struggle.

So, day by day, I am slowly learning to let go. A few years ago our family began letting go of our finances, but I was still holding on to MY plans and what I wanted to do. I just need to let go of that and let things happen when God wants them to. He knows best!

What are learning to let go of when your instinct says to hold on tight?

Linking with Holley Gerth

Surrender

Our pastor got up Sunday and preached about how Jesus came for each of us. He said many powerful things, but the word that keeps going through my head since then is the one he had us write down next to our notes: surrender. Then my devotion the next morning was about surrendering as well.

I get it.

I need to surrender. I like to make plans. Don’t we all? Things have been going on in my life lately that are not in my control-as if anything really is. Since the ideas I have for my future are good and God honoring, I was assuming they are what HE wants. I tend to put my thoughts and desires on God.

The other day, God threw a “wait” sign in my face. Before I go barreling down the path I am on, I need to stop. If this is what God wants, it will happen. He may have something better for my family and I.

No matter what plans I try to make, I need to always hold them loosely. They aren’t mine, because everything is God’s. My future is His. My family is His. My intentions need to always reflect that fact.

The word “surrender” needs to always be on my heart and be something I am willing to do. If I can surrender my plan to God, He will honor that and bring me to the best path. He will use me to glorify His name. However, if I still go along with my original plan, disaster may happen. At the very least, I may be left out of God’s will and not receive the blessing He had for me.

My plans may sound best for me, but what do I know? I didn’t create the universe and put stars in the sky. I didn’t make the ocean and animals and all of mankind. I certainly don’t coordinate everything that happens every second of every day. That is all God, and I am all His. I am all in. I surrender.

As I was working on finishing this, Ecclesiastes 11:5 was my verse of the day. I can’t think of a better way to put it! “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”

All to Jesus I surrender. How about you?

Linking with Holley Gerth

Chasing the Right Dream

When I was a kid, I had a dream. My family would spend weeks of summer at my Mimi and Papaw’s house in Tennessee, which I loved. Those were the best days! We roamed the woods, creeks, and hills with cousins. We went barefoot as often as we were allowed. We swam in the pool and waded in the creek. Life couldn’t get better than that!

My dream back then was to make it to this tree in the middle of a field. I would look from my grandparents’ house, out past my aunts’ houses. I would gather up a cousin or 2 and some snacks and head on an adventure. We would go down the hill, across fields and creeks and head in that general direction. Despite my wonderful sense of direction, (I could SO find my way out of a paper bag….but not much else), we never made it there. Nevermind the fact that I didn’t know what I would do once I made it there, I just wanted to go. See this lonely tree up close.

Aren’t you glad your dreams change? Looking back at my childhood makes me smile, but it would be sad if I stayed that same little girl. If I never got beyond the dreams of childhood, I would never have become who I am today. If I never pushed myself to do bigger things, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things God put before me. And if I hadn’t laid this dream down at the right time, I wouldn’t have found new dreams.

Maybe this is an exagerated view of life. Maybe you are thinking that of course you have different dreams now than when you were a kid. However, I think many of us have put ourselves in a box years ago, and we are still trying to uphold that view of ourselves. We wanted to be in a certain occupation as a child, so we think that is what we are supposed to be. Or we thought we would have a family by now. In big and small ways, we still identify ourselves by what we thought in our younger years.

If you are still hanging on to something that hasn’t happened, it might be time to let it go. If you have been striving to meet that goal, it may be that it wasn’t meant to happen. If your life isn’t going the way you planned, maybe your plan is off. No one will hold it against you if you change it some or find something new altogether. The only person that might be offended is you.

Dreams are meant to be held gently and with hands open. They are meant to take off or wait until the right breeze comes along, but they can easily be crushed or smothered. And sometimes, when we aren’t looking, another one lands on our hand. It is just right for us and has found a home. Let’s hold onto that!

Linking with Holley Gerth

The Backside of a Cross Stitch

I don’t usually daydream about prostitutes.

While reading the beginning of the book of Joshua, and then flipping to Matthew a few days later, I had a vision about Rahab. She was a prostitute and was in the line of Jesus.

In the book of Joshua, spies were sent out to figure out how to take the city of Jericho. They hid in Rahab’s house while she sent the Jericho army off on a wild goose chase. They stayed hidden until it was safe to escape. She arranged for her family to be saved when Jericho was destroyed in exchange for her help. Because of her faith in God, not only were she and her family saved, Rahab literally was part of Jesus’ family. She married Salmon of the tribe of Judah and was the mother of Boaz. Boaz married Ruth and they were the great grandparents of David!

When you think of Jesus, you think about the Israelites, but his lineage includes a Canaanite. Through her daughter in law, Ruth, there is also a Moabite. Earlier in the Old Testament, Tamar tricked her father in law, Judah, into fathering her twins, Perez and Zerah. Perez is part of Jesus’ family. And who can forget Bathsheba? She was taken from her husband by Kind David. Whether or not these women did the right thing, they were in Jesus’ lineage!

When I think of these ladies, it brings to mind my cross stitch. The end result is beautiful-at least the front. No matter what the front looks like, the back is a hot mess of knots, extra thread, and weird lines. None of it looks like it belongs or makes sense.

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To me, that is God’s sense of humor. We can try to make sense of His choices and how He weaves His story together, but we will never get it. It isn’t like a puzzle where, once pieces are put together, it becomes clear. No, God likes to take different screwed up people from different places and put them all in a grand story.

If everyone in Jesus’ family were alike and all from Israel, everyone else would feel like they don’t belong. And if they all started out as upstanding citizens, anyone with a past would feel unworthy. But God says, “You are all welcome in My family. I will clean you up and make you worthy.”

Next time you feel like you are the backside of a cross stitch, flip it and see the beauty God is putting in you.

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Linking with Holley Gerth

Tale of a Mule

Yep, I’m a donkey. And not a funny donkey side kick. More like a stubborn mule who plants her feet where it is comfortable while chewing on grass. Nothing is getting this girl out of her comfort zone!

Psalm 32 tells us that God will teach us the way we should go, watch over us, and guide us. The very next verse is verse 9 and says, “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” Ouch – the truth hurts. Anyone else hear that and picture God behind the mule, pushing it from the rump, but the creature won’t budge? It is a rather comical thought that makes me giggle.

Really though, the verse makes me sad when I think about it seriously. God has all these great things out there for me, but how many do I miss out on because I am stubborn? Not trusting God is at the root, but I should know better by now. When He leads me down a path that is unfamiliar, I should be excited (or at the very least, not dreading it so much.) He wants me to bless others and be blessed as well, but I don’t always allow that.

So, there I am, the mule with no understanding. I am clueless and have to be led around. How sad. Is Jesus there in front of me, luring me another step forward with a carrot? “Just a little bit forward. That’s it. Good girl.” That is unacceptable to think that God’s great creation (me!) won’t listen and trust her Master. I don’t want to diminish all God has done in and around my life and say, “Well, this time is different. He won’t come through.” HE ALWAYS COMES THROUGH!

No matter what. God has my best interest at heart. He wants to use me. This time, I will take off the bridle and follow Him without trepidation.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Who We Are Made To Be

Over the weekend, I told the girls about what happened in Paris. The 7 year old wasn’t too affected by it and pretty much went on her merry way. I hope she stays that way for years. The 9 year old was a different story, and I knew that going in. Through her tears, she told me she was glad I told her before someone at school did.

Early in the week, Lauren asked me if the king had been killed. I told her no, but he had been at one of the events. Her mind was trying to process what happened.

Wednesday night at bedtime, I could tell she was upset. I asked her why, and she mouthed “Paris.” We got her sister to bed and then went to talk in her room. We talked through her sadness. Big fat tears kept rolling down her face. I talked to her about how she should look for the good people in these situations and focus on them. She nodded. I told her (again) that she is going to do big things one day with her huge heart. She always nods when I say that. I explained that it is hard being so sensitive, but it is what is going to make a difference.

Then I told Lauren the story of when I was in high school and a good friend lied and really let me down. It hurt so bad. My Dad told me my trusting nature is one of the best things about me. It makes me who I am. The next day, my Mom told me I am too trusting. The truth was never lost on me: the big things in our lives that are the best parts of us may also cause us lots of pain. Sure, I am often let down, but I see the best in people. I give them chances.

Lauren will grow up sensitive to pain and she will cry and be heartbroken more than others. I know that feeling well. But it will be what shapes her, pushes her, and defines her. All the feelings will be worth it.

After we talked, I prayed. I prayed more about protecting Lauren’s heart and giving her peace than anything else. Then she prayed. Through her tears, her sweet voice prayed for Paris. And she said, ” Thank You for giving us more good than bad.” The words and moment were so profound, I finally let loose the tears I had been holding back.

God is good. There is bad in the world, but God is bigger. And He is the good we need. Let’s focus on Him and who He made us to be.

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Linking with Holley Gerth

August Changes

As it is August, my life is changing again. From volunteering to writing a book, God has been bringing something new to me each year. Some years I search frantically for the wrong thing. This year, God got ahead of me for a change!

Since we have some big expensive home repairs that need to be done, I once again pondered a job. In my mind this summer, I tried to figure out what days I could work and wondered about what I would do all the days the kids have no school. And would I need after school care? My thought was to get the girls in school last week and then start looking.

Well, a week before school started, I was talking with my friend for a minute and told her I decided to get a job. She had just heard about one that morning. I had an interview the next morning and was offered the job. I started this past Friday!

It was totally God. My new boss told God, “Bring me someone who loves You and loves kids.” He brought us each other. I pick up lunches and take them to a school. I serve those lunches, clean up, and bring the dishes and leftovers back. It is four hours a day when my girls are in school. (This is good because my second grader asked me who was going to take care of them if I work. Bless her heart.) I get holidays and summers off!

This job is such a blessing and was dropped in my lap. I didn’t hunt and stress myself out. It came at just the right time.

I am beginning a new stage in my life. While I will miss my volunteering days (and volunteer buddies) terribly, I need to be around people more. I am thrilled to be able to contribute financially again (and so is my husband), but the best part is feeling I am right where I belong. Right where God wants me.

If you are in a time of waiting and praying, know that God has the right thing planned for you that will be revealed when you are ready. Don’t push for it sooner so you, too, can be right where God wants you.

It is the best place, after all!

Linking with Holley Gerth

By Your Side

You tell me when to push on

When to keep trying

And to not give up.

You show me when to pause

When You need to go ahead of me

To work things out for me.

You tell me when to rest

When I am too weary

To accomplish what You have for me.

You always know what is best for me

As You see the whole picture

And I only see the inch around me.

I can’t speed up

Blow past

Ignore You.

You speak in a still small voice

So quiet I must be in tune with You

To hear Your voice.

You nudge me so gently

I can mistake it for something else

Or someone else.

If I am not in sync with You

Every day

I will miss Your best.

I never want to miss what You have for me again.

Lord, help me not get ahead or behind.

Let me stay right by Your side.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Embracing God’s Plan for Right Now

Why can’t it be easier to let go and let God? Why do I insist I know the best way? Why do I find it difficult to allow God to work things out?

Well, I am human. I want to see that things are happening. I like progress and pats on the back. I don’t want to be seen as lazy. We are told to work hard from the time we are kids.

You know what? Sometimes the hardest work is doing nothing. When we feel God is saying, “not yet,” restraining ourselves is difficult. It takes effort to pull back and wait for God. When we want something accomplished now, the last thing we want to do is stop. It can take all of our self control.

That’s what God is waiting for sometimes. When I flit from one step of my plan to the next, I am missing out on what God is trying to bless me with right now. When I try to do things in my own strength and time, it will never be enough. I must stop and figure out what God wants.

God tries to get my attention. I get so caught up in what will happen, I forget to enjoy what is happening now. Having a short sighted view is not what God wants for my life. He wants every day to be full.

I need to get to the point where I rely on God to guide me. His ways are always best. I have to learn to let God lead me. I want to wake up in the morning with anticipation of what God is going to do through me and what He is going to teach me. Not what He is going to do a year from now, but today.

We all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. We want our success to resemble that line. However, I know when I look back, I can see that I wasn’t ready for instant success. I needed the preparation God had for me. I never like the delay at the time, but it is always necessary. I never arrive at my destination until the exact right moment.

I know I could have enjoyed the journey more. I should have appreciated the process, because it is all out of God’s love for me.

That’s what I am going to do this time.

**Disclaimer: I am mainly writing this to myself, but I hope something sticks with you as you read it!

Linking with Faith Along the Way