Heart notes

I keep note pads–usually sticky notes–almost everywhere I might sit down or rest my house, in bags of books, in my purse, the truck, or wherever else I can think of being. You never know when you might have an epiphany, right? Me? I’m actually planning ahead for mine, and as long as it will fit on a sticky note…or twelve!…I should be just fine. (grin)

Sometimes my note pads get filled up with reminders of grocery items I forgot to grab, chores that aren’t on my regular list, people I need to contact, prayers, and anything else that might help me clear my mental path and allow me to sleep without interruption when it’s time to do so. Many times, I will be doing a chore and need to stop and write something down before I move on or forget that thought. My favorite thing, however, is when I wake in the night and scribble madly in the dark–a tiny blurb to help me solve a problem, that missing link to make the point as I teach, or something that “neeeeeds” to be incorporated into a blog post…or a life.

Such was the case several weeks ago as I recovered among remade beds and laundry, reclaiming my house after a long and lusciously luxurious weekend of having friends with me in my home. Scheduled to speak just days after they left, I was ready for God to complete whatever it was that He was doing before He finished letting me in on what He intended me to say to these women who were kind enough to invite me to speak at their retreat. I had the second part, but not the first, and instead of giving it to me in one fell swoop, God seemed most content to send it along in drips and drabs…while I was doing laundry, sitting at stop lights, and finally (!) in the night, when I filled most of a newly unwrapped stack of heart sticky notes found on a nearby bedside table.

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Over the course of two consecutive nights, God and I filled up 13 sticky notes–IN THE DARK!–in no particular order and in remarkably straight lines, although the handwriting won’t win any prizes. A couple of them had nothing at ALL to do with the speech I was preparing to give, but I thought most of them would probably fit in there somewhere…and so it was…except for the one which simply said “chairs!” and this one…which says,

“Remind me to live in faith instead of frustration

I knew right away that THAT one was just for me.

I rarely worry and I have seen God be my Provider so many times that my most typical question is a “how” or “when” and not an “if” where it concerns something that must be supplied by God alone. That “how and when” part is what gets me, though.

Like most people I know, I want it how I want it and I really want it right now. (Anyone else relating to this?) The problem with that, however, is that God is rarely on my timetable and, since He knows everything, He has ways to do things that won’t ever even cross my mind. I THOUGHT I was being patient, so I knew this was a prayerful request for His assistance during this waiting time. It also served as my reminder to exercise my faith and not allow the frustration of His delayed response to overcome my assurance that He is my Provider, my Protector, and my Portion. After all, if He intended me to speak to those ladies, He would surely tell me what to say!

Knowing these kinds of things is the bedrock of my faith. Everything else is just window-dressing. On the side of my fridge is my bumper sticker which reads, “Jesus is life…the rest is just details.” It’s still true even though it IS written on a bumper sticker and attached to my fridge with magnets.

When I draw closer to God and make a point to be in close communion with Him, everything else WILL show up as and when HE decides it is time. MY part is to carefully choose my attitude no matter what I face…and now I have both a bright red and yellow bumper sticker AND a heart-shaped sticky note to remind me to raise my faith above the levels of my frustration when I’m called to practice my waiting skills.

Maybe they will remind you, as well.

Grace and Peace!

Found objects

I was really blessed this past week to have friends who stopped by and wandered around the yard with me. There’s always something else to do when you have a yard and mine is total proof of that statement! The autumn and end of last year was supposed to be a time of clean-up and prep for Spring, but that didn’t happen–at all!–so I’ve had plenty of tasks to keep me busy this Spring. Along the way, I’ve “found” several new delights.

IMG_20180428_133626944_HDRThe hydrangeas in the back that only gave me three blooms in season last year suddenly started blooming like mad in late December and continued right up through the first hard frost, so I never got them trimmed back. Right now they are loaded with blooms on the old wood and it is entirely possible that they may take over my house before the summer ends.

There are blueberries on almost every bush and I spotted some blackberries blooming near the edge of the woods. My newly planted herbs and tomatoes are setting up nicely and I am ever so glad to have the debris piles burned back…and now, started over!

IMG_20180502_170042955_HDRAs we wandered around to the front, my friend Jaybrena was entertained to see that I had decorated my front porch with an old iron floor grate. She said she had done her best to avoid those as a child and we laughed at how it had gone from something slightly scary to becoming an item of interest. I guess that’s the case with a lot of things in life. The more we grow, the more we know…and it’s always fun to see something in a different light and give it a new purpose, right?

IMG_20180503_193438992I think my favorite surprise out in the yard right now has to be the daffodils blooming–late, but beautifully!–out under a tree I can see from my kitchen window. The bulbs were a gift from my friend Audrey and intended to brighten my winter, but they never bloomed inside–or even sprouted greenery!  I honestly wasn’t certain if I was planting them or just burying them earlier this spring! Look at them now, though! They’re showing out and reminding me that my schedule isn’t God’s and that waiting on Him is always worth it.

If you’re waiting on something special today, I want to remind you to stick with it and not lose hope! God is on the move whether or not it seems evident to us and He loves you very much.

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

In the meantime, do your part as well. Look for the good things, try to find a new way to use something you already own, and don’t forget hope even if you have to plant/bury those things that appear dead to you…you just might be in for the surprise of your life to see what beauty God can bring from them. As always, the following verse makes for a good plan while you wait:

“Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually.” Hosea 12:6

Imagine that! God has a plan…and it’s for your good!

Grace and Peace!

What are you waiting for?

Waiting. I’ve yet to meet anyone who loves it…or doesn’t have to do it. We fuss about it and, yet, can’t actually live without it. Outside of Genesis and the garden of Eden, life just doesn’t happen without some waiting, and even there, God still took His time. We don’t like it, but waiting might actually be one of God’s most under-rated gifts to us. In any case, He makes us wait on a regular basis and as one of my favorite quotes reminds me, “God never plows unless He purposes a crop.” While we are often frustrated with the painful plowing, we are probably least fond of the waiting on the crop to arrive. (That’s not just me, right?)

God seems to be trying to teach me something about waiting as I search for more margin in my life because the subject keeps coming back up in my Bible study homework, in conversation with friends, and, today, in a book of essays about doing life well and, because of all of this focus on waiting, even in the movie we chose to watch tonight.

I’m pretty sure that we’ve all made some variation of the following statement: “If I can just get/do/accomplish _____, then I’ll be/feel _____.” All of our fill-in-the-blanks are different, of course, but the sentiment is still the same. We all believe that there’s more to be done before we can fully enjoy the now.

We’re wrong about that.

“NOW” is what we’re actually here for. NOW is when we can love on people, help make a difference, or just relax and enjoy the moment and have a chat with the Almighty. Since we can’t go back and do the past over and we have no guarantee of the future, NOW is what we have to work with. Naturally, there’s a significant link between NOW and Margin.

What I do NOW matters and affects whether or not I’ll actually have Margin later. Take today for instance. It was a pajama day for me. Maybe you call them something else at your house, but the whole point was to relax and just stay in the house. I try to have one on a pretty regular basis. We read, cleaned, straightened, organized, made good food, caught up on a couple of TV shows we like, updated our budget, watched a movie, and took a nap. It was a VERY good day and, once it started to wind down, we talked about our mutual sense of accomplishment in just taking it easy as we worked our way through all of these tasks that, in and of themselves aren’t very important, but whose collective whole have a tendency to make our lives just “better” when we do them.

We also talked about how much better we feel when we take care of ourselves in these simple ways. They make us more relaxed and put us in better positions to take on the bigger things we’ll face in the days ahead. They give us space to enjoy the moments NOW, energy to face the moments to come, and the comfort of knowing we’re better prepared for whatever else those moments bring.

As I’ve been typing here, I’ve also had an old song running through my brain,

“Be strong in the Lord” by Linda Lee Johnson.

1 Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage;
Your mighty Defender is always the same.
Mount up with wings, as the eagle ascending;
Vict’ry is sure when you call on His name.

Refrain:
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord;
And be of good courage, for He is your guide.
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord;
And rejoice for the vict’ry is yours.

2 So put on the armor the Lord has provided,
And place your defense in his unfailing care.
Trust Him for He will be with you in battle,
Lighting your path to avoid every snare. [Refrain]

3 Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage;
Your mighty Commander will vanquish the foe.
Fear not the battle for the vict’ry is always His;
He will protect you wherever you go. [Refrain]

I think there’s a definite link between having the courage to choose living in the NOW, Margin, and waiting on God to show us the next thing He’s got in mind for us. Some of us might have missed that as we’ve rushed or worried our way through our NOWs in our haste to avoid the wait God has installed to teach us lessons that might actually make us more prepared for what He has waiting when we get there. Let’s not do that anymore, ok?

Find your margin in the NOW and let God lead you toward confidently trusting Him more today. Take courage, be strong in the Lord…and make a point of doing what you can to enjoy whatever wait God has you in right now. He already knows the plan, so it stands to reason, He knows why the wait is right for us, as well.

What are YOU waiting for?! (grin) Look for ways to add margin while you wait!

Wait for and confidently expect the LordBe strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14 (AMP) 

Grace and Peace!

Waiting

Waiting rooms aren’t much fun. I know. I’m in one right now. There are few seats left in this one and yet more and more arrivals.

I hear the sounds of lots of cheerful conversation going on around me as I type.

A quick scanning of the faces tells me that not everyone is cheerful. Some of these faces are worried. Some are thoughtful or introspective in appearance. There are a lot of cell phones out for updates and games, emails, work…but mainly, they’re out for distraction.

No one likes to wait. Even when you’re used to it. No one.

My own odd entertainment comes as I type this and receive a text from a friend in another state–and another hospital!–to me know that they are prepped…and waiting. (Insert a very small wry grin here!) God is funny that way sometimes​.

We’re all waiting for something. Whether you’re in a hospital or not doesn’t make much of a difference in that. Answers to emails, phone calls, or prayers; waiting for the weekend, the vacation, or just for the coffee to make or the microwave ding, waiting happens to all of us.

So, what do we do with that? What can we learn and share? What can we accomplish while we wait? The answers are as varied as the individual.

I choose to pray and be reminded of this:

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Grace and Peace while you wait today!

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!

 

 

Surprise?

Several years ago I was talking with friends and sharing some of the details of my life.  Apparently, I made the following statement as I did so:  “You can’t surprise God.”

Several weeks later, I received a call from one of the friends.  She told me that she’d been thinking about something I’d shared and she had a really big problem with it.  I asked her to continue.  Her response:  “You said that we can’t surprise God!  I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that!  I like the idea that I am free to make up my own mind and my own decisions on the spur of the moment.  I’m not sure I like the idea of a God who already knows how I’m going to think/decide/respond to things that I haven’t even had happen yet.”

I laughed.  (Yes, I know.  It probably wasn’t really nice of me to do that.)

I laughed because I knew just how she felt, but it didn’t change anything—and I told her that.  God DOES know…and frankly, that’s one of the things I find most comforting about Him.

I don’t serve a God who has to run through multiple options to help me choose the right thing at any given time.  I have a God who KNOWS.  I have a God who is already prepared for me and my questions, my concerns and my mis-steps.  Since He already knows the back story details and all of the future options I will face in addition to the current jumble of questions running through my mind, He doesn’t have to be delayed in His responses to me.  He can guide me in the way that He has chosen as best for me.

Oh, trust me, I’ve taken the other road often enough to know that He didn’t create automatons who are here to simply follow Him blindly.  I’ve also taken the right ones…even the uncomfortable right ones…enough to trust that He always has my best interest at heart.

As we talked I was reminded of all the times God had allowed me the time to process things that He already knew so that I would become more adept at reading His will.  I was reminded of all the ways I could see Him more clearly because I’ve had experience recognizing His fingerprints in my world and the almost neon-like road posts He places to guide us in the right directions.

I find that I am especially grateful for that today.  I need His answers and I love that He not only knows that, but that He’s prepared the very questions that I’m asking!  He’s molding my thought processes and He’s working to make me more like His Son.  He’s in control…and the best part of it all:  He does all of this because He loves me!

No, we can’t surprise God, but He’s in the business of surprising us all the time.  The next time you’re unsure of what you should do, ask Him to open your eyes to see all the ways He’s already prepared the right path ahead of you in order to make it easier in your future.  You just might be surprised at what YOU see!

Waiting…

God is truly entertaining!  Over the past 48 hours, I’ve had 5 different conversations about waiting.  It seems that everyone I know is waiting on something:  people, events, opportunities, ideas, answers…God.

Yes, that’s what it all boils down to:  we’re waiting on God.

Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) has this to say about how we should wait:

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Several other translations have in the words “be strong and take heart” in them.  The concept is the same regardless of which words are used…and just as difficult to live out.

I also made the shocking discovery in each of the 5 conversations that we are universally bad “wait-ers”–and most of us are not that interested in getting better at it!  You know it is true!  The thing that makes me laugh and love Him even more, however, is that God has surrounded us with people who are having the same struggle and we have the opportunity to support each other, pray for each other…and yes, commiserate with each other while we wait!  Once again, He proves that He is a God of grace by not only providing us with His Spirit to comfort us, but by actually giving us people who can relate to our struggle while we wait.  We are not alone!

I think that’s a most gracious gift, because the only thing worse than having to wait is waiting by yourself.  No matter what YOU are waiting on today, know that you are in good company, that you are loved by God and that He really does have all the answers–the right ones!–and those are always worth the wait!

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!