Taco Bed Becky

SONY DSCGod started teaching me very early in life about change. My parents were foster parents. From that day when I got off the bus from first grade to find that I suddenly had two older sisters, I began to realize that change was a part of life and people would be coming and going from then on in it. Actually, I got the part about their coming into my life that day…the part about them leaving it didn’t really sink in until later.

My extended family wasn’t Ward and June Cleaver stable. They were more Smokey Mountain stable–rock solid and comfortably immovable, beautiful and a little bit wild around the edges, full of the kind of surprises that make you glad to be there and happy to be a part of it. They were big in number and in stature, loud in laughter and with a work ethic that just wouldn’t quit–everything from hoeing corn to shelling peas, picking up sticks for a bonfire, playing softball or badminton,and seeing who could find the best hiding place was a contest that ended in a good-natured joke. In my innocence, I didn’t realize everyone didn’t have that kind of stability.

Because we lived out in the country with no street lights (easier to make sure you weren’t being followed), my parents took in children from emergency rescue situations as well as some who stayed with us for years. I lost count of the number of times I rolled over in the morning to find a face I didn’t know looking back at me. As the foster children began to come in and out of our home, I learned the value of stability in life and how it was our responsibility to give that gift to each one for as long as they were with us. There were no favorites in the house–the rules were the same for all of us. For some, it was the first time they had ever experienced that kind of love. For us, it was just normal. Stability in fragments. It’s quite a concept.

Somewhere along the way, I managed to get a bit mixed up about the concept of stability, however. I truly didn’t mind the additional people in the house–I was used to large numbers of children because I had a WORLD of cousins and all the neighborhood kids were regularly in our yard, anyway. I was ok with change…as long as it didn’t involve ME or my stuff. Everything had a place and was in it. Woe to the one who moved it.

I began to set such store on keeping “things” as they had always been that I actually pitched one of the biggest fits you’ve ever seen when my parents were finally able to purchase a new mattress for me and my sister. Our old one was pitiful. We would roll to the middle and the edges would creep up a bit like a taco every night. My parents were doing a good thing in trying to change it, but you’d have thought they were trying to kill me from the ruckus I made. They prevailed. We got the new mattress…and the world did not end. We actually slept better. Change. It happens…and sometimes, it’s for the good, I thought then…as long as there isn’t too much of it. (grin/grimace)

I thought about that this morning as I stood over my sink looking out into the rain-soaked yard. My life has been chock-full of change now for as long as I can remember. Over and over, I’ve had to re-learn the taco-bed lesson as God has moved people and places and things all over my world. We’re facing a lot of it right now. You probably are, too. People we love are ill or hurting and the number of situations about which we have no control in our lives mounts daily. It makes the stability of relationship with God even more important. He has no favorites and the rules are the same for all of us…whether we follow them or not.

All of this “disruption” makes me glad He already knows what’s going on and what is to come. I trust Him to do the right thing for me…even if it makes me uncomfortable for awhile. As I mentally ran through a list of changes we and our loved ones are facing right now, I suddenly asked God to please not let me be Taco Bed Becky–hanging on to those things that need to change in order for His best to be evident in our lives. I’m so grateful that He is my stability among the fragments. I need that today.

And I’ll be praying that for you, too.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (HCSB)

Ahhhh, stability…without stagnation. Now, there’s a concept.

Grace & Peace!

 

 

Liberated in the Jiffy Lube

I had hoped God would speak to me. I hope that every day. (Some days I hear Him right off and other times, I seem to need some not-always-so-gentle prodding.) ANYWAY! Awhile back I was reading my Bible while waiting for the mechanics to replace my blinker light when it happened. (and MY, doesn’t that make me sound all super-spiritual?! HA!) The fact is that I rarely make stops of this kind without taking reading material along, but I didn’t think about getting the light fixed until I was actually on the road that day, so I just took my small pocket Bible from the console in with me. I was in multi-tasking mode: as in “how many things can I get done on this one trip to town” mode, so while I really wanted to hear from God, I wasn’t expecting Him to get too personal in the Jifffy Lube.

There were 2 men ahead of me when I sat down, so I expected to be there for a little bit. I opened the Book and started to read in 1 Corinthians. I hadn’t read very far at all before I was scrambling for my notebook and asking to borrow a pen. Some days, God gets loud with me. It was one of those days.

Here’s what I read:

Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Sosthenes our brother:  To God’s church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus, that by Him you were enriched in everything—in all speech and all knowledge. In this way, the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Check out verse 7, where Paul says “so that you do not lack any spiritual gift.” Does that sound like you? It doesn’t sound like me. I must have missed something, because I most definitely do NOT have every spiritual gift. Read it again. Did you see it that time? Don’t worry if it didn’t jump out at you quite as loudly as it did to me…you probably don’t have some of the same issues I do: ones about trying to be perfect and ending up more than a little frustrated in my determination to do all things…and do them well…and being frustrated because I can’t really manage it some days. Most days. Every day? Oh, so it’s not just me? Well, let’s look at it again.

Ok, who is Paul talking to in this passage? See verse 2. “To God’s church at Corinth” (that’s them). “To those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints” (Oh, yes! We get added to the mix!) and then, “with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (See! We get included again! Confirmation that this applies to me and you right when and where we are!) THAT is really great news for both of us because it means that I (we!) don’t have to do it all by ourselves. That’s what the church is for! It means that when we gather together to worship as a corporate body of Christ–no matter where we’re located!–and we each use the gifts that we’ve been given, then we won’t be lacking in the spiritual gifts that are needed to function right when and where we are! I don’t have to do it alone! Neither do you!

And if that isn’t bringing you some of that grace and peace from verse 3, then I don’t know what will! Whoever you are, wherever He finds you, know this: you are loved, you are blessed, and He wants to be yours. There’s freedom to be had here! There’s grace to be applied! There’s abundance to be enjoyed! There’s a church near you that needs you AND your gifts!–and there’s more to learn even when you’re you’re sitting in a Jiffy Lube!

 

Making a list and checking it…

I’m not a worrier by nature, so it surprised me more than a bit to wake really early the other morning with an anxious feeling about some of what is going on in our lives right now.

I know God is in control. I also know that I’m not and–like most anxieties?–mine seemed to stem from that. (grin) In all truth, I don’t want to be in control of everything…just the parts about which I have questions! (bigger grin!)

Anyway! I woke up early with all of these questions and concerns running through my brain, so I did the only thing I knew I could control about them. I prayed…and then I opened up my Bible.

God led me to several different verses that He’s shown me over the years about HIM being the One in control (as a reminder, I’m sure!) and then to two verses I’d written on note cards for a teaching opportunity earlier this year.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”  Genesis 15:1 (NKJV)

Did you see the connection in those verses? HE is the reward! When we seek Him, we GET Him! That’s huge!! It ought to make us really excited and more determined than ever to seek Him every day–whether we’re anxious or not!

As I thought about this, I started making a list of what I KNOW about God and who He is–things I’ve personally seen Him do/be  in my life. I grabbed a simple 2-column steno pad all lined and easy to fill…

What I KNOW about God: Holy, Righteous, Perfect in every way, Loving/Loves Me, Gracious, Kind, Patient, Saving, Comforting, Doesn’t always reveal plans ahead, Provider…

You know what? I got stumped about half-way down the first column. I mean my mind went completely BLANK and I thought, “REALLY, Becky?! This is the best you can do?!” So, I stopped and prayed, “God, this is really pitiful! BUT, if I only knew THIS about You, then that’s enough. It’s still enough to trust You with this–enough to trust You with everything.” And then…more came to mind…and then more.

Soon, there were 2 filled columns and still more favorite things to write down about God, so I went back to the first column and started to fill in the empty spaces on the lines. Every time I got stumped again, I’d pray again. I started looking through the Psalms–not to copy David’s lists, but because I know David really knew God and we all feel more comfortable knowing we aren’t the only ones to feel things like fear, glory, anger, and peace with God. I didn’t find anything “new” there, just reminders of how my life has been a lot like David’s…and yours.

Pretty soon, there were only a few small blank spaces left on the page, but there weren’t any left on my heart. I was in full out praise mode…and oddly enough, ready to rest again.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Are you struggling with decisions, details, disasters or just holiday angst today? (grin) Start making your own list and see what happens. I’d love to see those! Feel free to share them with me! What made your list?

“People with their minds set on you,
    you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
    because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
    because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.” (The Message interpretation)

Well, it sounds simple…

Well, it sounds simple.

“Then Joseph, being roused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife…”  Matthew 1:24 (NKJV)

Yeah, it sounds simple…but I’m betting it didn’t feel all that simple. That’s the way of obedience. On one hand, it is exactly what you’d expect–you hear and then you do. On the other hand…well, we’ve all been there. We’ve all been there more than once. “Hear, then do” more typically looks like “hear, then think/rationalize/make excuses/make possible alternate plans/talk to other people/get their opinions/wonder why God can’t or won’t do it that way/worry a little about why He’s doing it this way/ask again to make sure you heard it right the first time/ wait a little bit longer…to make really sure/long road/long sighs/long faces…

(PSST! Hey! Anybody else out there? or is this just for me?) Yeah, I’ve done that…at least a time or two. If you’re going to tell me you haven’t…then I’m probably going to have to have a little chat about truth-telling with you a bit later, too. Either way, we humans tend to take the simple thing and complicate it…regularly.

Sometimes the command sounds simple, but the follow-through actually is complicated. I think that was the case for Joseph. I’ll bet the follow-through changed him. I’ll bet he heard a LOT of unsolicited advice and opinions over the years. I’ll bet he wondered about a lot of it…for a long time…and yet, he obeyed…as soon as he heard and woke up–and maybe even while he was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

I think that may be one of the reasons why God chose Joseph to be His Son’s earthly father. Joseph already had that obedience thing down and you can’t model what you do not know. God knew Jesus would be obedient when the time for the hard choices came–Jesus is GOD, after all, and this was part of the plan, but I can’t help but think that having that Joseph-obedience right there in front of you all the time was both a blessing to God the Father in heaven and to Jesus-God-with-us right over there in the living room! I want that kind of faith. I want that kind of obedience to mark my life. I want more of HIM and His choices and less of me and fewer of mine. (I’ve seen how well they work out.)

Sounds simple enough…doesn’t it?

So, what are you waiting on where you are? What do you need to do–right now!–that sounds simple, but feels complicated, and is STILL what God told you to do? Trust? Go? Stay? Be? Choose? Yes. We have to choose obedience. There’s only one other option…and it really is that simple.

Grace & Peace! (and quick obedience!!)

Waiting…

Potential“but when the fullness of time had come…”  Galatians 4:4 (KJV)

“But when the set time had fully come…” Galatians 4:4 (NIV)

“But when the right time finally came…” Galatians 4:4 (GNT)

No matter what translation of Scripture I’m reading, I love those words written by the Apostle Paul about the timing of the birth of Jesus…the One I call Savior. That makes them special. They were written after about 400 years of silence from God…yes, that’s right! That deliberate silence from God meant 400 years of waiting time for God’s people. It can’t have been easy. People came and went on this planet. They lived whole lives never knowing what we know now. They had no other choice but to wait. That sounds really harsh, doesn’t it? (Don’t worry about my offending God with that statement…He knows.)

Those words tell me that everything was finally in place for every single prophecy (over 300 of them!) about the Promised Messiah to finally begin to come true. They also tell me that

  • God was in charge back then just like He is now.
  • He has a plan and it is for my good–and yours!
  • He was particular about the details of the plan on purpose.
  • There were people who needed to be in the right places and in the right positions before the plan would work like it was supposed to work.

Those words carry hope. They cradle the thought that God had been busy on our behalf and was finally through preparing our Best Blessing ever…and that timing was EVERYTHING in order for it to actually BE the best blessing ever. Important words. Instructive words…

Those words also make me crazy sometimes–especially when they apply to MY life today because I’m not always the world’s best wait-er! (Who is?!) As an adult, I totally understand the need for waiting…I just don’t always fully embrace the concept personally! (You, either?! ha! Imagine that!)

What I do know, however, is that the same list of statements under my first paragraph are just as true today for MY life as they were when God was waiting to bring His Son into the world to save us…and those details that we’re all waiting to fall into place in our individual lives today? Well, once He has those in place in a way that will bless us best or teach us most, our wait will be over about whatever we’re praying over or holding our breath on now, as well.

Whether His answer is a “Yes!” or a “No!” or a comically rhetorical”What were you thinking when you asked Me that?! (because, YES, God has a sense of humor and sometimes I think we’re allowed to see the possibilities without the pain as a way to grow us up a bit!)…whatever it is that He’s chosen for your answers and my answers, it will be just what we’ve needed all along.

Welcome to the Advent Adventures!

 

 

His face

 “The Lord bless you

and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

I ended my last post with these verses. They haven’t ended it with me, yet. They keep showing up and rolling around in my brain like some wonderful gift. I keep thinking about those words:  “his face” and they kind of melt me.

It’s considered cross -cultural, I think, that when you’ve been abandoned or disavowed or just disapproved that the symbolism for those who feel you’ve outstayed your welcome is that they turn their back on you. Sometimes that’s just figurative. Other times, it actually happens physically.

These verses show the other side. They’re beneficent, encouraging, hopeful, and personal. They are grace. They are life-giving. They are possible.

No matter where you are today or what you’ve done before, these words are for you. God wants a personal relationship with you! He WANTS to turn His face toward you and be gracious to you. He WANTS to give you peace–peace that lasts forever, not just until the next crisis arrives.

That means you’ll have to look at Him, too, of course. It means you’ll have to see past all of the misconceptions and half-truths and preconceived notions passed as fact by those who don’t really want to do the work of getting to know Him. It means you’ll need to dig deep. It means you’ll have to go to the Source and ask Him to come in. He can do that. He will do that…if you ask.

It isn’t complicated. It does have to be deliberate. You have to choose it–NO ONE just falls haphazardly, or by heritage, or by just being a good person–into a personal relationship with God. It is simple, however. You’ll need to acknowledge the vast gap between who you are and the perfection that is Him. You’ll have to recognize that you can’t make up the difference on your own. You’ll have to see yourself for what you are: someone with sin (and if you’re like me, a lot of it)…someone who has missed the mark…repeatedly. You just have to ask Him to get rid of that sin and make you whole again.

Be ready, though. Asking this isn’t temporary. It will change you. Completely. Forever. He will rock your world in ways you can’t currently imagine…and it will be amazing.

It’s worth it. HE is worth it. The peace is worth it.

These verses are more than just an ancient blessing. They are prophetic. When you ask God to come into your life and be in charge, these words will leap to life and this will happen:

  •  The Lord bless you–with a new heart and a clean soul!

  • and keep you–forever! Never alone again. Always in His care!

  • the Lord make his face shine on you–able to know the Almighty and experience His pleasure in you! He values you! He loves you! He made you on purpose, so He’s already on your side!

  • and be gracious to you–grace = unmerited (unearned!) favor! Who couldn’t use more of that?

  • the Lord turn his face toward you–He will let you see Him! He will be personal with you! He will choose to have a relationship with you that will surpass anything you’ve ever experienced.

  • and give you peace–long past this holiday season. His peace is for a lifetime…and our world needs this now, more than ever. It can start with you today. Just ask.

NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 30

SONY DSCI’m not exactly certain, but this may have been the most relaxing Thanksgiving of my whole adult life. It started off with a driving trip with my husband to see our Mississippi family, supper and catching up with my sister and her family, and resting in the open home of friends…and that was just day one of our little trip. The rest of it was all about shared food, laughter, catching up and loving on our extended family.

It was wonderful. We were busy, but didn’t try to fit in anything that wasn’t about family on this one. It was what all holidays should be about, but so seldom are. Yes, we loved on a couple of friends and were well-loved in return, but honestly…well…they’re actually family of the heart, so it still counts.

Hey! Did you notice? We made it. Today is the very last day of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2015!

That doesn’t mean we’re all off the hook tomorrow! It means that now we’ve had a whole month to practice and we should be much better at this as we go forward! (You didn’t think I’d let it slide that easily, did you?!)

Here’s some of what I’ve learned this month:

  • It is possible. You can actually set your mind to let go of your “right” to complain every single day.
  • Choosing to participate in this has been a very positive thing for me…and more than a few others, as well! When we focus on being more positive, people are drawn to that and want to participate!
  • You can never have too many people who are choosing to focus on the positive things in life!
  • Encouragement and positivity are contagious–and courageous!–choices in a world so often focused on only the sensationalized negativity that passes for news.
  • Small ideas still matter. What seemed like a single, simple conversation among friends in October mushroomed into something much, much bigger than we ever expected.
  • Sharing our experiences–whether they are our radiant successes or our less than stellar results–brings us closer, deepens relationships, and makes accountability fun.
  • Knowing that you’re not alone in something that may seem impossible at first is pretty good motivation to keep working at it.
  • I’m STILL the most blessed person I know…and I have the family and friends to prove it.

I’d love to hear from you about what you learned this month, about your best days and your worst ones, too, along with how you see this extending out into your future. I’m still excited about this “experiment” of ours and I’m looking for ways to make it even better next time, so share away, please! If you’ve got a focus for December that you’d like to share, please feel free to do that, as well–we’re always up for more blessing!

I’ve been thinking about how I’d like to end this post and I keep coming back to one of the most beloved blessings in Scripture. I’ll share it with you here and pray it for all of us in the month ahead as we celebrate the One who came to bless us best: Jesus, the Christ…no longer a babe in a manger, but seated at the right hand of God making intercession for each of us even in this moment.

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”   ~Numbers 6: 24-26 (NIV)

Grace & Peace! (and still no complaints!)