Visit

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I’m joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday. One word prompt. Five minutes. No editing. Lots of women. All of us writing on that same word.

Today the word prompt is … Visit.

Visit has often been thought of as a social call – you know the kind. You go stay with a friend or family member for a period of time to catch up on life. Those are often looked forward to and anticipated with excitement.

Looking up the word, visit, in the dictionary, I discovered this definition … “to go to for the purpose of official inspection or examination” (dictionary.com). Now that is a visit of a whole other color and probably not as eagerly anticipated. These would include the likes of dentists, doctors, teacher conferences even.

Yesterday we had an unexpected visit to go pay. It included an unscheduled ride and in our minds, one which could have been avoided had things worked out differently or  had we been the ones to do the planning.

So we may have done a little grumbling, probably a lot of out loud complaining even. Just being honest. But off we went to our visit.

On the way home from our visit, we were singing a most different song. No complaining. Only praise. Only gratitude.

The visit was not of our choosing. The visit was not convenient. The visit was tiring. But the lesson learned yesterday ….

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

God was with us, guiding our steps, while we were yet totally unaware. He knew where we needed to visit and exactly who we were to visit. He was protecting and making provision behind the scenes.

 He works everything.

For the good.

Even the hard visits.

 

Today I am joining … Five Minute Friday and Fellowship Friday and Everyday Jesus and Faith Filled Friday and Dance With Jesus .

It’s The Same Storm

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Winter storm "Juno" hits Boston*

It has truly been a hard winter. I look out off my back deck and the snow is about as high as our deck. The thrill of snow and days off has worn thin. If you don’t believe me, just take a trip to the supermarket.

It was just a normal day. No storms predicted. No snow was falling. It wasn’t even that cold out. People were angry on the road. Grumpier in the store. I could not wait to get home and quickly announced, “I may be doing PeaPod until the summer.”

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We laughed about it and then this observation was made … “Yeah, the winter has been hard. But it’s been hard on everybody.”

We noted that while the majority of people were exhibiting irritability, there were still those who were not. And so we wondered …

  • Could it be that the stormy winter gave people permission to be irritable in public?
  • Could it be that they were grumpy all along but kept it under wraps?
  • Could it be this was the new “them”?

I’ve been thinking about this for days now. And yes, I do realize I have probably been cooped up in the house way too long. But then, the “crazies” are out there and I’m holding out for spring, remember?

It was then a familiar passage of Scripture came to me, along with a children’s song I learned in Sunday School.

It’s the story of the two builders – one builds his house on the sand and one on the rock. A storm hits and we know the outcome. The one on the rock stands firm. The one on the sand “fell with a great crash” (check it out for yourself. The story is in Matthew 7:24-27).

Here’s the thing I missed all these years. Or maybe it was because the rock and sand foundations were always emphasized. But this week as I read, I realized the same storm hit them both.

Same storm.

Different outcome.

Scripture describes the storm exactly the same way for each of these builders – “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house” (found in verse 25 and verse 27). It wasn’t that one experienced a drizzle and one a hurricane.

It was exactly the same storm.

No matter what we experience in life, we will not be the first to have experienced it and we will not be the last. There is nothing new under the sun. I fully get that the details of our situations can vary yet there are more similarities than differences.

I sat wondering, what is the difference? Why can some go through difficulty and remain pleasant while others become as unreasonable as all get out?

And there, before me lie the answer. It was in red – the very words of Jesus Himself –

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice……” (verse 24)

It is in the practicing of His Word, intentionally living out each day according to the way He has set out, that we are able to stand the storms of life with joy. It is not solely in the hearing. One must apply His Word, actively living it out, day in and day out.

In good times and in bad. In joy and in sorrow. In abundance and in want. In sure times and in the uncertain.

Storms will come.

Take that one to the bank.

But how we each come through is entirely up to us.

Put His words into practice.

 

Today I am joining … Thought Provoking Thursday and Coffee for Your Heart and Woman 2 Woman .

Photo Credits: * © Paul Weiskel/Demotix/Corbis

Wednesdays With Winnie

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We are blessed when we have people in our lives who teach us lessons which impact our lives. We are beyond blessed when the person teaching us those life impacting lessons also happens to be your mom.

I am one of those persons who is beyond blessed.

Truly.

I always knew as a kid she was special as my friends always loved her. And this is saying something, as she also worked in my school! Now as an adult, I am coming to appreciate the depth of her character in leaps and bounds.

Mom possesses this amazing ability to look beyond circumstances to the good. It is not the same as positive thinking. Mom always frames it within the context of God’s goodness and His ability to get us through all things.

Over the years as difficulties hit, I have heard her say {countless times}, “This time tomorrow {{or next week or next month}} it will all be over (or finished or accomplished}.” She always helped us to see that in God’s time, He would get us through the situation and it would become a part of our past. She made us realize there is no situation which God cannot change – in His time, in His way. Our part was to hold on.

It was a perspective which looked beyond – beyond what was occurring, beyond the pain, beyond the difficulty to the possibility of what lay waiting for us.

Beyond, as defined by dictionary.com >> “on, at, or to the farther side of; farther on than; more distant than.” But I stopped in my tracks as I read this one >> “outside the understanding, limits, or reach of, past.”

In the middle of those definitions, I found the truth mom already knew –

When life is beyond our comprehension, beyond our endurance, beyond anyone’s ability to help – we look beyond to Him.

These last few months, mom and I have shared some life experiences which we never would have, or could have, anticipated. Each time we leave the house, one of us says to the other, “We’re going on our adventure for the day.” {{smile and laughter follows}} And it truly has been an adventure to which our God has been more than faithful to us.

You may be wondering why I am sharing so much about my mom. To answer that, I must tell you she is the most incredible woman and today is her birthday.

Her 80th to be exact!!!

God has not only blessed her with long life but with a sharp mind which is still intact, a love for my dad and our family which is fierce, a sense of humor which keeps us all laughing till our eyes squirt and our sides hurt. She has more wisdom and understanding in her small five foot frame than a room full of people put together.

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Happy Birthday, Mom! There will never be words to express the depth of my love for you. You truly are the greatest influence in my life as you have always pointed me to Jesus. You never gave me permission to give up or lose hope. Your faith and trust in God has been contagious for which I will forever be grateful. Thank you for continually being a living example of looking beyond!

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
(Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

Or in the words of my friend, Winnie the Pooh –

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Today I am joining … Tell His Story and Three Word Wednesday and Wedded Wednesday and Works for Me and Coffee & Conversation and Women With Intention .

All The Places To Go

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We all live life hoping we fulfill God’s plan for our lives. It would be wonderful to hear a voice from heaven telling us what we were to do with our lives. And when. But such is not the case.

Every day we face so many opportunities and choices:

  • which career should I pursue?
  • who should I marry?
  • where should I live?
  • which church should I attend?
  • where should I give my time?

9781496406118_972894In his book, All the Places to Go, John Ortberg explores the topic of choosing wisely each day. He defines an open door as “an opportunity provided by God to act with God and for God”. In the midst of all the opportunities He places before us, God’s primary goal is to change us as people so that we reflect the character of Jesus in all we do.

The book addresses the following:

  • How Will You Know?
  • Open-Door People and Closed-Door People
  • Overcoming the Fear of Missing Out
  • Common Myths About Doors
  • Door #1 or Door #2?
  • How to Cross a Threshold
  • What Open Doors Will Teach You – About You
  • The Jonah Complex
  • Thank God for Closed Doors
  • The Door in the Wall

We truly never know where the doors we walk through will lead us. The one truth we can count on is that the door will be a gift in our life, for God has prepared every opened door specifically for us. Open doors lead to adventure and purpose in our lives because we join God in His journey.

This book was an encouragement and inspiration to me. I felt myself infused with hope that as I looked for opportunity, my eyes would become trained, in a sense, to see what God was placing before me, an ordinary person. This is a wonderful book for any person desiring more for their life – more opportunity, more experiences, more of God.

But what a gift to know that open doors are not reserved for the specially talented or the extraordinarily strong. God can open a door for anyone.
(page 7)

God can open a door for anyone – for me and for you. And if we walk through it, we just might find ourselves doing things which will count for all eternity.

****Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I am disclosing this as required by Federal Trade Commission.

 

Today I am joining … Literacy Musing Mondays and Book Nook .

Stick With It

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“As for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from whom you learned.” (2 Timothy 3:14, HCSB)

It is so easy to believe during those times when God is doing something amazing in your life. But what happens when we are in the midst of those average run-of-the-mill days? The days which seem ordinary, unexciting, mundane even?

Tucked away in this small epistle I found a verse which instructs me for those very times:

  1. We continue. This word means, “to remain, abide, to stand firm” (New Testament Lexical Aids). We are to hold onto, gripping tightly to what we already know. It calls for, demands even, that we live with a fierce commitment to those truths we have learned.
  2. We must know well the truths we have been taught. We can adhere to these truths because we know and are persuaded of the trustworthiness of our God. We must know God’s Word so that we are convinced to the very marrow in our bones that His Word is truth. The Truth. May we not feel the need to go in search of “new truths” but remain in the truth we have learned.
  3. We must know our teachers. May we know, without a doubt, those from whom we are learning. May their lives point us to Jesus not only in word, but by the very example and testimony of their lives.

In the middle of those quiet and unassuming days, may we stick with what we have learned and believed. We keep praying. We keep reading God’s Word. We keep showing up for church. We keep serving. We keep giving.

Reading*For it is as we continue that we will find ourselves “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (verse 17).

 

Today I am joining … Testimony Tuesday and Unite and Titus 2 Tuesday and True Story and RaRa Linkup and Teaching What Is Good .

Photo: © Arman Zhenikeyev/Corbis

Can We Give Like This?

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The topic of the sermon – Giving.

The speaker had no idea there was a question looming in my heart and mind for several weeks on this very topic. I was not seeking an answer to tithing, for this was a given (no pun intended) for me. My question went deeper, nagging at me often so I had come to church asking God for an answer, desiring to lay my question to rest.

We all would like to think giving comes easily to us. Probably to a degree, it may. Let’s face it, it is easy to give away that which we have outgrown, no longer use, have plenty of, or no longer like. It is with ease we box those items up and bring them to Goodwill or Salvation Army and take our receipt, for tax purposes. We may even give some items to those who are in need whom we are aware.

But can we give when no one else would ever be aware? Perhaps without changing our status on Facebook or Twitter to state our deed? Can we give when there is no tax benefit to be had?

What if we were to change our perspective, giving solely to an audience of one –
The Only One?

The speaker mentioned three ways of giving:

  1. Giving so as to let go of control. We hold onto control out of fear – fear there may not be enough. The point was made, “When I let go of control, I earnestly cling to the One Who has all the control anyway.”
  2. Giving until it hurts. Our giving needs to be a sacrifice much like the burnt offerings of the Old Testament – giving as an act of worship.
  3. Giving to grow in relationship with God. Put God to the test. In Malachi 3:10, God asks for the whole tithe to be brought to the storehouse. And then says this, “See if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it.” God blesses us with more of Himself. There is no way we will ever be able to outgive the Giver Himself.

In Luke 12, Jesus tells us about the rich fool who comes to Him with the dilemma of dividing an inheritance. In that story, Jesus gives us this word of advice:
“Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” (verse 15, MSG).

We are defined solely by the Giver Himself.

May we not store up for ourselves.

May we give and be rich toward God.

Collection Box at St Patrick's Cathedral

 

Today I am joining … #SmallWonder and Create With Joy and Making Your Home Sing and Playdates with God and Inspire Me Monday .

Photo: © P Deliss/Godong/Corbis

A Light to Guide

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Forest trail with rays of sunshine, Buschandlwand mountain, Wachau valley, Waldviertel region, Lower Austria, Austria, Europe*

 “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105, NLT)

Father, Your Word has warned us that men from among ourselves will rise up with deviant doctrines to lure Your disciples into following them (Acts 20:30). But Lord, our desire is that we would no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. Rather, speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Christ, who is the head (Ephesians 4:14-15). Sanctify us by the truth; Your Word is truth (John 17:17).

(from John: 90 Days With the Beloved Disciple by Beth Moore, page 78)

 

Today I am joining … Give Me Grace and Still Saturday and Sunday Stillness and Spiritual Sundays and Scripture & A Snapshot .
*Photo: © Martin Siepmann/imageBROKER/Corbis