Thursday, June 30, 2016

Turn Around: Letting Go of Your Best Laid Plans

If you're joining us from Encouragement Cafe, welcome! It's so good to visit with you.

U-turn by Jordan Nielsen
Flickr.com_97338266_ed37f724df_CC BY-ND 2.0

I accepted a job, against Godly counsel that looked promising in every way: more money, better and cheaper health benefits, a lucrative 401K plan and still close to home. 

Within eight weeks none of that mattered as I found every facet of my life turned upside down. My pride kept me going, holding onto this job that I just knew was right, but screamed, "TURN AROUND! WRONG WAY! DO NOT ENTER!"

Month after month things grew worse, at home and at my job, but I was in this job to stay, like I had something to prove to God, and planted my feet firmly under my desk. Then one day, I lost my footing; literally tripped and fell, head-first into a solid, steel reinforced fire door. Even then, while suffering painful concussive headaches, I stubbornly stayed. Two months later, I surrendered - admitted I'd made a wrong decision - begged God's forgiveness, and let God’s healing process begin.  

When we find ourselves in the midst of disaster—when it's obvious we made the wrong decision, how do we just turn around?

1.       Stop! Make an about-face and turn back towards God.
2.      Set things right. Admit your mistake and ask God's forgiveness.
3.      Step in line. Ask God, "Which path?" and walk on it.
4.      Seek Godly counsel from someone who will keep you accountable to God's will.
5.      Savor God's presence. Develop daily God-time. God alone is our ultimate counselor. Be intentional with reading His Word, praying about your struggles, your intentions, and listen for His advice. He will speak if we listen and welcome His presence into our daily lives.

God did a miraculous healing in my life both physically and spiritually in the months that followed. He taught me about abiding and being still and knowing him as God; God of creation and God of my life. He taught me total dependence on Him for every need and showered me with grace and good gifts.

Are you in the midst of a tough decision? Is it dangling promises and prosperity, but Godly counsel says, "Stop?" Won't you take the time to stop and seek God's presence, ask Him what His plans are for you? Ask, "What's the right path, God?" and walk in on it.  God promises, "I will counsel you and watch over you." What is there to fear?

Abba, I pray for all my brothers and sisters facing a tough, life-changing decision today. May they set aside their own plans, seek godly counsel and most importantly, seek your will for their lives. Shine your Light on the path you’ve chosen for them – the path that keeps them in step with your will. Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How Do You See Good When Bad is All Around?

If you're joining me here from the Christian Children's Authors blog, welcome!

"I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord." Psalm 116:17

Thankfulness awakens us to God's presence. My heart knows this full well and hearkens my spirit at sunrise. Summer night's heat still lingers so I tip toe outside - coffee in hand - breathing in the new day.

The day before proved challenging. Problem popped up like weeds in the lawn and I nearly lost my footing. I'm ready for a new day - one better than the last. So I take another deep breath and a sip of hot coffee and trace the warmth all the way down. Then I open my eyes - Thin clouds hide the rising sun but daylight reveals God's beauty and provision everywhere - and start counting to ten:
  1. A new day
  2. Waking up next to my husband
  3. Morning's first coffee
  4. Pink roses
  5. Yesterdays wet fun draped over the clothes line
In this moment my heart remembers that goodness abounds - even in the middle of a challenges. And I can't stop counting, can't stop noticing all God's goodness around me.
     6. Ripening raspberries
     7. Bluing blueberries
     8. Cooling breezes
     9. Summer thunderstorms
   10. Silence

When we take a deep breath and start counting our blessings - big and small - our hearts resound with praise to the Giver of all good things. We realize how high and deep, how long and wide is His great love for us; how He takes care of tiniest details of our lives. When we do this - take time to count, to reflect, to remember - our faith grows.

These small recollections build our faith so that when those times of insurmountable problems arise we can present them to God with confidence that He will see us through - the One who makes all things work for good for those who love Him and call Him by name.

It's a new day - a new week. We all face challenges, even our children. When we practice counting our blessings (personally and as a family) our perspective changes. Are you or your children facing any challenges--maybe an insurmountable situation that's out of your control? Take a deep breath and start counting to ten, together. Ready?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Spring Cleaning ~ Surrendering to the Light

Pittock Mansion by Brittany
Flickr.com_8707522400_31cfb20015_z.jpg_CC BY-ND 2.0
If you found your way here from (re)fresh, welcome!

"God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5

The days are longer now. Morning creeps in under the shades of my bedroom window at 5 a.m. like a slinking cat reaching its front paws towards me for a morning stretch. My almost-half-century body rises less reluctantly, (yet with a few more kinks than the year before), now that light guides me safely from my slumber.

I face the day with great expectancy with a spring of hope in every step and a few more hours of sun light to accomplish great things. But as I walk from room to room throughout the day, things gone unnoticed in the darkness of winter now distract me in the light of spring. I catch a glimpse of dusty cobwebs hanging from every corner of my ceilings; once-white curtains are now a dingy gray; scrapes and scratches appear from nowhere all over my tired, painted walls. Finger prints mar every mirrored surface and I think something is growing underneath my bed. Surrendering to the light, unable to hide what it reveals, I put aside the great things and focus on spring cleaning.

Saturday, words from a former self spilled over my lips like an overflowing bucket of dirty water. Ooooops! That monster named Unforgiveness had snuck back in under the cover of darkness and drowned me with my own words. How appropriate. passion and my weakness. There they were. My dirty words spilled out for all to hear revealing my heart. I couldn't hide. I couldn't take them back or mop them up. I just ignored the puddle hoping it would silence them.
It's been a few days. Sleep has been restless like trying to ignore the glow of the night light from across the room. Finally, I surrendered to the Light. God's light. The light revealed by His glory. It's just there because He is. It's not a condemning light. He's not shaking his finger at me saying, "Naughty girl." He's just my heart...revealing what was hiding in the darkness...showing me what's in need of spring cleaning. I can't always get those "hard to reach" places where monsters like Unforgiveness live, but God can. I'm letting Him do some spring cleaning because I'd like to get on with the great things He has in store.

What about your spring cleaning? Do you need a little more light?

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through (Him) the Spirit who gives you life has set you free..." Romans 8: 1-2a

"If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:6-7