Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It happened… AGAIN!

It happens everywhere… It happens at the bank, in the hospital, at parks, restaurants, in waiting rooms, and at school programs.  It’s all types of people in all seasons of life… nurses, neighbors on lawn mowers, people walking by with dogs, the gas station attendant, frazzled mom’s dropping their kids off at daycare, and lost teenagers to name a few.

The list seems to be endless of people that I cross paths with that pour out their hearts and life stories to me in strange places.  Last night it was at the grocery store and I was in a hurry.

My son conveniently forgot to tell me (or maybe I missed it as he says) that he needed me to make “Chicken Enchiladas” for his Spanish class today.  The only problem was that I didn’t have all of the ingredients I needed.  I also had a busy night of errand running ahead of me.

When I entered the grocery store I was rushing.  I was glancing at my list, marking items off, and flying through aisle by aisle systematically.  HE found me in the frozen food aisle.  I was looking for popcorn chicken with no luck.  We were the only two spanning this area of the small store.  He was pacing the floor looking into the glass cases frantically, which was making me nervous.  If I could only find the blasted chicken and get out of there I knew I would feel better. 

I rushed hoping to sneak on to another aisle before he engaged me in conversation.  “How are you doing tonight Ma’am?”  I was friendly and cordial, but continued to move down the walkway looking for my lost chicken.  I was about to throw in the towel for this long lost item when he spoke again. 

“I’m ready for this year to be over, how bout you?  I smiled friendly not sure what to say when he continued on… “I lost my mom in April and this has been a hard year.  I talked to my mom every day about EVERYTHING. It’s been really hard.”

I felt a little uncomfortable for several reasons.  One, this man was alone and I didn’t want him getting too attached to me.  Two, I didn’t have my wedding ring on.  I haven’t been able to wear it for a few years now with all of my flare ups with my health.  My hands swell and it won’t fit.  I didn’t want to be advertising availability by accident.  Three, this man was pouring out his heart and sharing his hurt with a stranger in the frozen food aisle…why did he choose ME? 

It was another divine appointment as I call them.  A meeting of sorts set up by God.  I was unprepared.  I didn’t engage him completely in conversation about God, but I feel I conveyed God’s love through my responses.

I responded to the man with “Wow, it must be hard especially with the holidays coming up.”  He said, “Yeah, Mother’s Day was really bad, but it’s getting better now since I moved here… my kids are really helping me a lot.”  I left him with this… it wasn’t anything super spiritual or fancy.  “Take this holiday season to focus on your kids and I’m sure that will help a lot.”

Maybe I could have said more.  It was an on the spot, spur the moment meeting, and I wasn’t studied up (not that I needed to study or I do before I meet with people).  Despite my shortcomings, I believe God moved.  God spoke peace, hope, and love through imperfect ME.

I made a commitment to God a long time ago.  I offered myself to Him as a tool to reach others however He desired to use me.  I am available, ready, and willing.  I consider myself to be on call for God.  When He needs me to be an instrument to show His love to others, I want to be there. 

Some times I feel ready and other times I miss the moment.  I try to walk spiritually aware each day to the whispers of the Holy Spirit directing me. My goal is to be a light for God daily reflecting His love to others no matter where I am or what I am doing.

A verse comes to mind that reminds me of this…
“In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven” 
Matthew 5:16 (NCV)

I love how the Message version describes this…

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”  
Matthew 5:14-16

I love the descriptive words used here… “We are lights to bring out the God-colors in the world”… “We are going public with this…” We are “light bearers” and “light stands” meant to SHINE!  Love it!  That’s exactly what I want to be for God.

As I am doing my best to shine brightly for God, you know what?  These “divine appointments” started happening all the time.  It still catches me off guard and surprises me.  Some how these people know “I” care.  It’s amazing to watch God work right before my eyes.  It boggles my mind.  I don’t use fancy words or pour on the scripture… my approach is totally relational.  It’s just ME being me… hang ups and all and some how God uses my imperfections to reflect His love to others.  He is very creative!

I don’t think you have to be a scholar, go to Bible College, or have read your Bible a hundred times through for God to use you.  I think He is only looking for a couple things… your willingness and availability

You don’t have to do anything fancy… just let Him SHINE through you and He will do the rest.  You will be amazed at what God can do through a willing vessel.  Ready, set, go shine brightly for Him and watch Him work in remarkable ways. 

Living to leave a legacy,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Adventures...

Have you missed it?  Don’t miss out before it’s too late!  It happens fast and if you aren’t looking, it’s over before you know it.  For years I missed it.   I must admit I walked with my head to the ground distracted, busy, and overwhelmed with life.  All I had to do was lift my head up, open my eyes, look around, and peace would come.

What monumental event am I talking about?  …the FALL COLORS of course….The beauty of God’s creation.  It’s gorgeous!  I don’t know how someone could lift their eyes up and look around outside during this season and NOT see the handiwork of God.  It’s amazing!

Well, for some reason this year was different for me.  Maybe it’s because we took our fall break to go visit my husband’s homeland… MICHIGAN.  He wanted to show the boys all around where he grew up and expose us to the “true” fall colors... brighter, richer, and bolder colors.  Fall comes sooner there. 

I guess this year I looked a little closer at the colors since of course it was the whole point of our trip.  It was stunning!  The pictures I took couldn’t adequately capture the beauty I beheld.  The colors were astounding!   The views were jaw-dropping.  I kept asking my husband to stop so I could take more pictures.

We camped while there and it was beautiful!  We were right by the water.  The only down side was that it was COLD.  We had a heater to stay warm at night, but day adventures were a bit frigid for me.  We limited our boys media time while we were on the trip which about killed them.  I think sometimes a simpler lifestyle is better.  When we can slow down, enjoy the scenery, and connect one on one as a family… it’s good and healthy. 

Limiting media at times allows us to gain a new perspective.  It gives us time to re-evaluate.  Is media adding to or taking away from our family?  Media isn’t all bad, but I think scheduling regular breaks from it helps keep things more balanced.  It helps us find other things to do like… talk to each other, read, play board games, go outside and be active, and be creative just to name a few. 

I learned from this trip that we need MORE media breaks… more time to connect with one another.  I am only going to have these boys for a short while.  I want to make this time count!  I want to help them learn to connect their hearts with God and their lives with others.  In order to help facilitate this, media is going to have to become LESS of a focal point in our home.  I know it will be a challenge, but well worth it in the long run.

While in Michigan we visited old friends and one of my husband’s cousins.  The boys got a great taste of hard work and the simple life while at cousin Roderick’s house.  Their eyes got big when they were asked to help cut and stack firewood for their winter supply.  Al’s cousin and his wife live off the land… they cut wood for the winter for heat and cooking on their wood stove, grow their own vegetables & herbs, milk goats, and care for animals… It’s a working farm!

While the boys helped cut wood with Al’s guided instruction, I was asked to cook up some Sloppy Joe’s on their wood stove.  I didn’t quite realize how primitive it was until I asked if we could turn the burner up on the meat to cook it more quickly.  The lady of the house assisted me with a smile.  She leaned down gently to open the door below the stove revealing bits of wood and ashes.  She stoked the fire, blew on it with a special stick, and positioned the pan in a new location.  The heat was up!  WOW… I never did this before… cooked on a wood stove.  This was an experience I would never forget. 

Later we even hand cranked our own ice cream to add to our dessert.  It was a very eye-opening experience for us.  The simpler life seems to be a slower pace enabling more quality, family time.  Don’t worry.  I’m not ready to sell everything and move up to northern Michigan into the deep woods… yet.  I’m just seeing that there seems to be some positive elements to this kind of lifestyle.

So all in all it was a good trip.  Despite the cold, frigid temperatures we got to spend quality time together… talking, eating, exploring muddy roads in the country, visiting old friends & family, and making some new friends.  It was fun!  We made memories that will last a lifetime!  And this year I can honestly say I didn’t miss it…the beautiful canvas of God’s creation displayed right before my eyes.  Breathtaking!


There is still time to catch the colors if you hurry.  Run outside the minute the sun comes out and find a patch of trees… take a few moments to get lost in the beauty of God’s creation.  You may never be the same!

Living to leave a legacy,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lessons learned from RESTING (Part Two)

What comes to mind when you hear the word….REST?  Slowing down, taking a nap, giving yourself a much needed break, or maybe the ultimate rest…“Resting in Peace”.

Did you know that RESTing can actually be a spiritual thing?   For some resting is required for their physical health, while others may need a spiritual rest to regain their focus and connect more with God. 

A spiritual rest for me is taking a “time out” if you will from the busyness of life.  It is limiting some activities or commitments for a season (how ever long I feel led) to focus MORE on God. 

When I feel run down, spiritually empty, or emotionally drained, I know it’s time.  It’s time to slow myself down and calm my heart.  I want God to have all of my attention.

In my last post I shared some lessons I learned from resting (  
Today I would like to add to my list.

1.      Gives me a fresh perspective
2.      Challenges me to re-evaluate

3.     RESTING refocuses my attention on Him
Have you ever felt just plain dog tired.  You run and run and feel like you can never get a break.  Your mind is scattered with all of the things you have to do, need to you, and want to do some day soon.  It’s overwhelming to think about and there is never enough time to do it all.  Sleep and rest seem like the last thing on your list… and when is there enough time for that!  Your list seems never ending and the stress is through the roof!
Am I reading your mail today?  I must admit I have been there at times.  In fact, I remember a time when my boys were little that I was the poster child for stress… the boys were probably 1 and 2 at the time (they are 16 months apart) and I was stressed out.  They felt like twins at times… I lacked sleep and energy, I needed a shower and desperately wanted some alone time.  I was a weary, tired mommy.  I remember sitting on my couch in a moment of despair, taking a deep breath thinking… “When am I ever going to get a break”…  I was maxed out! 
Almost immediately after my emotional pity party began the doorbell rang.  It was a group of little kids.  The leader with them explained that they were from a church down the road.  These kids were given a special challenge.  If each child quoted their memory verse to a certain amount of people, they would win a prize.  He asked if I would be willing to listen to them quote their verses and sign off that they did it on each paper.  I said sure… my kids were distracted in the toy room for the moment so why not.  I must have been a sight to see with my unkempt hair and unsheveled mommy attire.  The first child started out…
  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
It wasn’t until the third and fourth kids repeated the verse that it started to sink in deep within my spirit.  I am weary… I feel burdened down… I NEED rest.  Wow!  That verse was overwhelming, powerful, and life-changing!  I have been longing for rest, but avoiding unintentionally the ultimate place and person of rest… JESUS.  If I go to Him, He will lift my burdens, and bring peace to my weary soul.  WOW… it only took about 8 kids at my door for God to get His point across to me.  I guess I am a slow learner.
As the dust begins to settle from our running circles in busyness, something incredible happens…in our RESTING we begin to see Him more clearly. 
I don’t why, but it seems like my physical resting is always tied in to a much needed spiritual rest.  When I have to slow down and stop at times, I seem to hear God more clearly.  Not only is my body strengthened, but He breathes life into my spirit.  The word comes alive, His whispers to me are more frequently, and I feel energized deep within.  In the quiet of resting…God shows up!
Psalm 46:10 reminds us of this… God says, “Be still and know that I am God”
RESTING refocuses my attention on Him. 
4.     RESTING prepares me for what’s ahead
I am a planner.  I like to know what is coming up so I can make the adequate preparations to be ready.  I make lists, I have a family calendar, and I even have a weekly schedule laid out on a pretty little dry erase frame I made for the occasion (A Pinterest project win!)
Even though I make plans, everything doesn’t always fall right into place.  At times I think God messes with my plans to remind me that I can’t control everything.  Me a control-freak… never!  I just like to prepare for what’s ahead.  The problem with this is that I don’t really know what’s ahead.  I have a general idea, but there is no possible way for me to factor in unexpected surprises, circumstances that may come beyond my control, family emergencies, natural disasters, or the like, but God knows.


Proverbs 16:9 says…

 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (NLT)



I can make MY plans, but I need to trust God with the details.  He knows what is best for me and what needs to happen when.  He sees the big picture.  RESTING helps me learn to trust God with the details of my life… “What’s ahead”.



Proverbs 3:5-6 says…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (NLT)


We don’t have to be afraid of what’s ahead if we trust Him!
RESTING can be a time of preparation for what’s ahead.  God may need to teach us a few things so we are ready.  Maybe that might be… learning to hear His voice better, so we can hear Him more clearly in the midst of the raging storms life might throw at us.  It might be learning to dig deeper into His word (the Bible) so we have a place to draw strength from in our times of weakness or we are ready to share His truths with others when given the opportunity.  Maybe God might want to grow our faith stronger (deeper roots in Him) so we are able to stand no matter what we might face.  Life is unpredictable. 
Sometimes RESTING is a great time for God to feed, water, and cultivate godly fruit in our lives.  This process might include some pruning or pulling out deadly weeds that might threaten to suffocate His presence in our lives like… bitterness, anger, un-forgiveness, resentment, jealousy, hatred and the like.  Getting to the roots of these weeds can hurt at times, but the end result is a healthy heart and life connected to the life-giving source of Jesus.
In this season of “Spiritual rest”…
God may be preparing you in the quiet of resting for a new chapter of your life, a new ministry opportunity, a new spiritual challenge, a season of stretching your faith, a leadership role, or more… only God knows what’s ahead for YOU.
REST… soak in His presence.  Listen to His instruction.  Allow Him to remove what is unnecessary in your life and replace those empty spots with MORE of Him.  Invite Him to mold you and make you into the person He created you to be.  Let Him reveal Himself to you in new ways.  Learn to recognize His whisper and obey His leading.
It is in resting that God speaks, directs, transforms, heals, delivers, restores, refreshes, and sets free.  In the quiet of resting, God shows up!
RESTING prepares me for that next step.  We don’t have to face our future with fear.  Just obey God's leading for that next step for YOU.  God will give you one step at a time.  Draw close to Him and when He whispers guidance to you… follow through.  Learn to hear and obey quickly.  Each step He gives you will be a step in the right direction of where you need to be.  Before you know it, you will be amazed at where God takes you.
It all comes back to this passage again…

Proverbs 3:5-6 says…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (NLT)

Trust Him friend in the midst of your season of RESTING.  He is forever faithful!
I read an article recently that has given me a fresh perspective on the whole idea of RESTING.  As I read it, God breathed life into me.  Here are some bits and pieces I have gathered for you to read from it (To the Girl Who’s Tryingat

She writes….
A woman who loves me sat me down about a year ago.   She looked me in the eyes and told me that if I ran around and tried to do every single thing now, that I might burn out. And, even if I didn’t burn out, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the process along the way. I wouldn’t be able to celebrate the victories in life if I was always stressed about moving on to the next accomplishment.
I felt like she gave me permission to slow down, to be ordinary. There was no expiration date on any of my goals. There was no great rush.
She didn’t diminish my gifts or hopes. But, she did say, I’m afraid that you’re going too fast. I’m afraid you’re not resting or finding your identity in Christ alone. She worried that I’d be tempted to place my value in my production…what I did or created in the world. She challenged me to hold metaphorical hands with the Lord and just move forward, making sure to have energy to be in constant communion with God, making sure I had energy to love my people well, and even making sure I had energy to take care of myself.
She then challenged us from her heart of rest…
You being exhausted by the end of the day every day after day does not serve anyone well. I know you’re doing your best. I know you’re trying to live up to the potential people have always seen in you. I know you’re trying to stand out and make an impact and not waste any bit of life. 
I’d love to see you live from a pattern of rest. Not rushing, not striving. Swinging into work, swinging back into rest. Always, always, tethered to the Lord.
You’re going to do great, sweet girl. Celebrate the victories. Take note of all the good. Keep track of your progress, because you ARE making progress! It’s going to be great–and the world will keep spinning when you stop to take a rest. I promise!
I LOVE, LOVE, her heart on this topic… SO inspiring!  I want to live from a pattern of rest.  Not rushing, not striving… always, always, tethered to the Lord.
As I continue to practice the art of resting, I pray you are inspired to try it yourself…
Living to leave a legacy,