What are your plans?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I love plans. I thrive off plans. They give me peace and a sense of direction.  I am not really a “spur of the moment” type of person. Now my husband is completely the opposite.  He floats through life, catching the wind as it blows, excited for where he might land.

Let me give you an example: on our honeymoon I made “plans” and got us into the bridal suite. We stayed there the first night but my husband thought it would be fun to take a ferry to the nearby islands the next day. It was fun. But since he didn’t get a motel reservation we ended up spending the night in our car on the ferry because there were zero rooms available. A convention was in the area. That went over well.

It is also the same with directions. I use to constantly have to do everything exactly by the book. As the years have slipped by I have realized that not everything has to be done according to some unseen book. Yet, general directions are given for a purpose. Without reading the directions my husband decided to build a swing set in the backyard. After he was done he realized that a couple of pieces were not connected properly and that there were extra parts he wasn’t sure what to do with. He looked at me with a sheepish grin and said, “Perhaps I should have read the directions.”

Throughout the adventures of our lives together we have seen the importance of both aspects. And we have changed some viewpoints that we thought were cemented in our personalities.

When I was a little girl my parents moved many times. I didn’t question their purpose or decisions; I just went for the ride. I never knew that there were occasions when they didn’t have definite plans or that they were not always sure about the future. I was just a happy child and simply trusted that whatever they decided to do would be in my best interest. (Of course I didn’t analyze it at the time.) Later in life I discovered that there were times that their only option was to trust God and not themselves, as they entered into the next chapter of their lives.

Unfortunately we are not given a map for every choice we make in life. We are not told to go here for 2 years, then take this job, marry this person, put your kids in this school and perhaps go on a mission trip during this season…blah, blah, blah…

In fact James 4: 13-15 states, ” Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you out to say, “If the Lord WILLS we will live and do this or that.” (ESV)

We often ask “Lord what is your will?” God says that HE has a plan for us. HE holds the plans for each of our lives. And he states that HIS plans are for our good. There are times I have mentioned to God that I just wish he would hand over those plans. It would be so much easier to navigate through my life if I could simply look at the plans.

Instead he desires for us to trust him and relax in his goodness just like I trusted my parents. I didn’t have a care in the world, except maybe what my new school would be like or who my new friends would be.

He doesn’t always give us a complete picture regarding our future. Sometimes it might start as a desire that begins to stir in our hearts, a thought that crosses our mind, a dream that we had the night before or a longing that cannot be quenched. As soon as we pray about a decision and take a step in that direction, the stirring becomes more evident and doors of opportunity begin to open to make the desire a reality.

The Psalmist states, ” The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take.” Psalm 37:23 (TLB) 

He delights in OUR steps! It is like parents that watches their toddler take his first step. They watch him with eagerness and anticipation. And when the child falls they pick him back up and encourage him in his next step.

If God gave us everything at once we wouldn’t need his hand of guidance. We would become self-sufficient and may not seek his advise for direction. We would lose communication with the one that loves us more than anyone can. He created us in his image. He desires that we seek him. He desires that we commune with him. He desires that we dig into his Word (the directions for this life) and get to know him, personally.

He doesn’t give us a bunch of dos and don’ts. He gives us relationship and guidance and comfort and peace and direction. And as much as he delights in our steps he asks us to learn to delight in him. Like I mentioned earlier, he created us in his image. He wants a two-way relationship with us.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord: trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37: 4-5 (ESV)

Do you recall the game, Marco Polo? One person closes his eyes and says, “Marco”.  The others say, “Polo”. Even though the person who is “it” cannot see the other players he follows the voices until he is able to tag another player.

Though not completely the same, it is what we are doing. We may have a blindfold on in life, yet we listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow his lead. When we come to the place where the Holy Spirit leads doors begin to open for us. As we fellowship with the Lord we learn the sound of his voice. He may call us down another path as we enter our next chapter in life.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NIV)

It is similar to the children of Israel that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The spirit of God led them by a pillar of cloud during the day and fire by night. (Exodus 13:21) That same God leads each of us in our lives, as well.

Listen. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? Is he calling your name? Is he leading you in a new direction? You can trust that what he starts in you he will surely complete. (Philippians 1:6)

One day as we look into our past we will see the many doors we traveled through that led us directly into God’s arms. We will be thankful for the doors the Lord opened and the doors that sometimes felt slammed in our faces. We will be grateful that the Lord in his goodness, ordered our steps and grateful that we obeyed his calling; and extremely grateful that he picked us up when we fell.

God Bless.

 

 

 

 

A Blogger’s Testimony

We all have a testimony to share and I thought a fellow bloggers was worth passing on to others. He speaks from his heart. Too often we forget the joy we discovered when we became a follower of Christ. Hearing the revelation from another believer is inspiring. And the video that follows was uplifting as well. Be blessed.

I’m going through a season of growth at the moment and have been asking God to reveal those things that I lack spiritually when it comes to salvation and embracing everything He has for me in Christ. I’ve been a little confused in the area of Holy Spirit baptism, because although I often feel ‘filled with […]

via My Holy Spirit Baptism — Perfect Chaos

Happy Mother’s Day

I have a slight change in my blog as Mother’s Day approaches.

I just want to say Happy Mother’s Day to those who are anticipating children, to those who have them at home and underfoot, to those whose children have grown up long ago and to those who have lost their children through tragedy and loss.

And Happy Mother’s Day to those that wanted children and never got the opportunity to have them on this earth. To them I ask that the Lord would reveal to them the great influence they have had in people’s lives who may not be their child but whom they’ve loved just the same.

During this time I also wanted to joyfully relive a couple “mommy moments” of my own. Of course the joy is because most of those “mommy moments” were many yesterdays ago. Just kidding. But seriously, now I get to watch my four grown children go through similar things with their own children. And I also have the opportunity to have a younger one at home to do it all over again. At home or miles away you really never stop being a parent.

My first child was born when I was 19. I look back and realize how incredibly young I was. I made a comment once that I felt like people looked at me and assumed that I was a pregnant teenager. “Well”, said a friend, “you ARE a pregnant teenager.” Hmm, I guess I was. Nineteen is that weird age when you are no longer a kid, but not considered an adult, yet old enough to die for your country.

Then when I was pregnant with my 5th child I was on the opposite side of the spectrum.  I was the older mom, the one considered “high risk”.  I recall standing in line at a check out counter when this little girl, maybe 6, looks up at me and asks me if I was a grandma. I was pregnant, but not with my grandchild. I was hoping her mom would quickly complete her transaction.

As a parent you can be guaranteed that your children will use their ability to embarrass you. Some incidences you simply want to run and hide. Others are more light-hearted, like when one of my sons convinced me that he could sit by himself in the front row of the church when he was around 9.  He leaned back in his folding chair (we didn’t have pews in that church) and fell during the service making a loud crash while also knocking over the chairs beside him. I sat quietly in my chair. The thought that rushed into my mind was, “boy I’m glad that’s not my kid“. It wasn’t intentional but I didn’t get up or even move. Some nice lady got up and helped him as I innocently sat seemingly oblivious to the incident. Oops.

As a mom, I’ve endured the sleepless nights of a newborn, of a sick child, of a loud slumber party (when no one slumbered) and waiting up for a teen not home yet from the dance.

There was never much “down time”.  I have had the opportunity to go to wrestling matches, swimming practices, baseball and soccer games, gymnastics, dance and cheer amongst other events. One summer we almost lived in the van going from practice to practice and then from one game after the other.  Of course there were concerts and the Christmas programs and birthday parties. I volunteered for EVERYTHING it seemed.

And then there were accidents. They each had their share but I was in the emergency room the most often with my second son, from getting attacked by a neighborhood dog which included many stitches, being hit in the eye with a paint ball gun (we thought he might lose his sight) to busting his arm which needed a couple of surgeries. And as they got older I got the call regarding car accidents (which fortunately was never major) and the call about a broken down vehicle when someone needed rescued.

There is emotional heartache that goes along with motherhood too. Several times the kids would come home saying someone was mean or said cruel things on the playground or someone was left out. And it was hard watching your child try so hard on the baseball team but rarely get to play. As they got older there were relationship dramas and sad breakups. I have walked with them through many disappointments. Sometimes they kept things hidden that eventually came out later in life.

One of the most difficult moments that I recall as a mother was when my six-year-old Facebook-20170509-123217was lost in the mountains of Colorado when we had gone on a family camping trip. I was horrified. It took Search and Rescue and what seemed like forever (but was only a couple of hours) for him to be found. I counted it as one of my worst days and best days.

But there were also precious fun times. The most memorable times were those that were the least expensive, like when the kids would gather around me in the evening as I read to them and more recently listening to my youngest talk about her plans for her future. Then there were road trips, hiking adventures, watching movies together or just talking around the fire on a cool night.

I cannot count the hours I have spent praying for my kids. I would go into their bedrooms and cry out to God regarding a trial they were facing or simply pray for their futures. It broke my heart when my oldest left the house so quickly. It was hard to take when I waved goodbye to my second born as he left to Afghanistan, promising he’d return. It was heart wrenching to watch my daughter choose to join the Army and be stationed so far away. It seemed unfair to say goodbye to my youngest son as he hurriedly left the state as soon as he graduated.

Where did those moments disappear? That is what being a mother is all about. Loving your children through so much from the moment they are conceived until, well, forever.  It’s about cherishing the moments we have together and then having the wisdom to know when to let go.

Fortunately for me I have the opportunity to have a younger one at home so I can enjoy the laughter and the heartaches all over again. And fortunately for me I have grown children that are a joy to visit and a joy to watch as they parent their own children.

Whatever part of this life you find yourself in today…Happy Mother’s Day.

“May your children rise up and call you blessed.” Proverbs 31:28

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PS: Happy Mother’s Day to my mother who taught me how to be a mom and is still teaching me the wonderful qualities of motherhood.

 

A Thankful Attitude is Powerful

Count your blessing name them one by one.
Count  your blessing see what God has done.
Count your blessings..name them one by one
Count your many blessings,
See what God has done.

This was a chorus I used to sing in Sunday School when I was little. But it never gets old. It is so important to be thankful about what you DO have instead of grumbling about what you do not have.

Philippians 4:6-7 states, “Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and THANK him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

In dark moments it is always important to remember what you’ve come through; what God has already done for you. Thank him for what he HAS done and then thank him for what he WILL do. In fact, it might be a good idea to mark several of the monumental moments on a calendar and actually celebrate that victory in your life as a constant reminder of what God has done.

The prophets of old did the same thing.

Abram (who later was called Abraham) built an altar of remembrance after the Lord appeared to him in the land of Canaan promising to give that land to him and his descendants.

Joshua built an altar of 12 stones taken from the middle of the Jordan River and then placed them in their camp. They were built as a reminder to their children of how God parted the waters for them.

Also a celebration can represent a time God showed up. For example, Passover Seder is celebrated in the Jewish faith. It is a reminder of the time the angel of death passed over the children of Israel and their people were brought out of slavery from Egypt.

There has been circumstances when I felt God had done a miracle for me. He had parted the waters, so to speak. I wasn’t clear how he was going to take care of a situation, but  somehow he did it.

Every March I am reminded how easily our house got sold. It seemed near impossible. The place needed a lot of work to go on the market. We were in the middle of moving to another state. We weren’t sure how to take care of our house while living so far away and dealing with the new chapter that was presented to us. Our only hope was to run across someone who was willing to buy the house, as is, and preferably in cash. And within a shorter time than I expected, that is exactly what happened!

When any discouragement might arise I am reminded of that moment and I am thankful.

There is POWER is thankfulness.

Think of Paul and Silas in prison in Acts 16. They weren’t in a prison that had cable TV, free education and free medical. They had been beaten and were in shackles.I presume their surroundings were pretty raunchy; maybe rat infested and filthy and of course no inside plumbing , no electricity, no amenities at all.  But when they began singing praises; rejoicing in the Lord, in the midst of their dilemma, there was an earthquake. The doors broke open and all the shackles fell off .

God loves to rock the earth for you in your praises and thankfulness. It is there that the things that hold you back, the things that bind up your life are broken off and you can rise in victory.

Not only did Paul  and Silas get out of prison but the prison guard wanted to learn about God and he and his family were saved. The guard took them to his house, fed them and cleaned their wounds. On top of that, the authorities realized the mistake in arresting Roman citizens and apologized.

Has the enemy of your soul attacked you? Are you feeling down and out, frustrated and discouraged? I am telling you that any demon of darkness that is harassing you is dealing with a citizen of heaven. Not only can being thankful and rejoicing break you out of your prison, but you can be restored.

Why would the reference in Philippians state “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice”?  Is it because it holds an important key of deliverance?

Psalm 22:3 states,”Yet you (speaking of the Lord) are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”(NLT) God seems to move at the praises of his people because that is where he dwells.

I recall being in church listening to praise music and worshiping the Lord. Yet I was feeling a bit guilty as I had just heard that Christians in other countries were being killed for their faith.

But the Lord reminded me that to stop worshipping is exactly what the enemy of darkness would want. That praise is actually a weapon, as it ushers in his glory and breaks bondage and sets people free.

Choose to be thankful.
Choose to rejoice.
Chose to be free.