Caught Off Guard

Are you ever caught off guard? It seems to happen frequently to me, but God is never caught off guard. That is comforting to me — the One Who loves us and knows all and has our best in mind is NEVER surprised! He is ready, and has the answer, for those unexpected turns.

When life throws things at us, unexpected things, we have a choice in how we respond.  Our response is an indicator of our heart condition… and God has had to do some heart surgery on me.  I’m so very thankful He loves us no matter where we are, and there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more!  He also loves us enough not to leave us where we are, praise God!  He has more for us, great things, unimaginably great things… (1 Corinthians 2:9)

When unexpected things happen I usually have a whirlwind of thoughts — sometimes I have sudden thoughts, loud thoughts, thoughts with attitude, prompting me for a now response — in fact pressing me for one!  It’s only taken me about 40 years to realize when I am being pressed, prompted, pressured for a “right now” whirring, stirring, have-to-get-it-out response — that demanding kind of prompting is not God!  That sounds so simple, and so obvious, but I have responded poorly in the past to those types of situations many more times than I would like to admit — sometimes to my loved and adored family who had nothing to do with that unexpected kink in my day.

But enough is enough — for us who have accepted Him, we are King’s sons and daughters, representing Royalty, and it’s time to represent Him in how we speak, how we act, and, yes, how we dress!  So here I am, putting the enemy on notice, “Hey, you, enemy of my soul, I’ve got your number, I recognize your mode of operandi, and I’m making sure others are aware of your stupid little schemes!” I hope my experience in this will help you choose more wisely.

We have choices to make… every day… all day!  Will we complain about the person who treated us rudely?  Or will we smile at them and even pray for them, realizing they could be walking through a very difficult time?  Will we be the light in someone else’s day?  Or will we help make them feel worse by rolling our eyes or responding in a wrong way?  Will we (women) put a tank top under that blouse that tends to flare open or will we teach our daughter to do that?  Will we encourage our sons to seek girls who have modesty?  Or will we applaud the “flaunt whatever we can” attitude that seems so trendy now?   Will we honor our parents or will we treat them less than honorably by our words, our tone, our attitude, or our body language?   Will we take vengeance in our own hands or trust that God, Who knows EVERYTHING about the situation, has the right response that considers ALL.  Besides… His Word says vengeance is His — might NOT want to take something that doesn’t belong to you (aka stealing). So could taking vengeance actually be stealing from God Almighty… just a thought.  Or do we think we are better at our life decisions than The Lord is, putting our own self above Him?   Will we be “me” minded or “others” focused?  These are choices we make daily whether we recognize it or not.

Little Lilli (6 years old), who left this precious note for her mom, really gets it.

If Jesus was standing right there beside us would our choice be different?  The thing is… He is with us if we have accepted Him!  Oh, and being Royalty has HUGE benefits… peace and joy and blessing… and it also comes with responsibility.  We are His Ambassadors here on earth.  Jesus is represented by us…  Are we representing His Kingdom well?

The day is coming when we will know His thoughts on that.  When THAT DAY comes, will we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” and receive His rewards, or will we be caught off guard (Matthew 7:21) because we didn’t take the time to truly have a close personal relationship with the Lord and live for the purpose He created us for?

I am so thankful that God is more concerned with how we finish, and that we finish, more so than how we start. It’s never too late to start as long as we have breath in us!

Liar, liar….

Liar, liar pants on fire… it would be easier to know who’s lying if their pants were indeed on fire!

When I was going through separation and divorce in recent years, the lies and betrayal were so rampant, it affected my ability to believe anyone or anything.   The person that I had known the longest, the one I had been through the most with, the one who knew me most intimately, had betrayed me deeply. Needless to say my tendency and ability to trust were greatly diminished.

Marriage and family are sacred to The Lord.  After all He created both.  John 10:10 says that the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy… The enemy wasn’t just after my trust with my spouse — that was really a means to an end — what the enemy really wanted was to kill my trust in The Lord… because losing that trust would affect not only me, but my current and future relationships as well.   The failure of my marriage shook my confidence like nothing ever had, and I needed to rebuild, to rebuild my trust not on me, not on my ability to survive, or on my spouse or my family, but on Him.

It was in this time I found what would become one of my favorite verses in the Bible — Numbers 23:19: God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should change his mind.  God isn’t the liar or the one who causes others to lie! The enemy is THE liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

I knew deep inside that my help comes from the Lord, however, that betrayal made believing anyone and trusting in anything feel so foreign to me.  In fact, my whole life felt so strange. Areas where I had felt confidence, where I knew what to do, were wrought with such deep hurt and pain.  Doubt became my new norm, and I listened to wrong thoughts about me and my situation, and cried and worried and cried more.  And even worse, my sons were witnessing me — this strong mom of theirs — collapse and emotionally bleed out.  I could not stop crying… I got to the point that I even prayed, “Lord if my kids can get through this easier without me here, please call me home.”  It’s not that I wanted to die, but I couldn’t bear my sons seeing me hurt like that, completely broken.  I believe this is why God hates divorce… He knows how hard it is on His kids.

It was at this low point I really started reading and listening to praise music, looking for hope.  I knew something had to change.  I was somewhat isolated (avoiding people on purpose) due to my roller coaster of emotions.   Thankfully, I had several Godly girlfriends that would call to check on me and encourage me that brighter days were ahead.  I was emotionally wiped out, and I just wanted to wake up on a brighter day.

It was a process to get to those brighter days, and I (not God) was the one who needed that process.  A big part of that process was getting connected with a ladies’ small group (Bible study), which began a journey that helped me move from “Oh, help ME” prayers to “help them” prayers, and moved me from being more of a “pew sitter” to being in the game.  As my prayer life grew, I started praying, talking to The Lord like a friend, telling Him what I was worried about.  I learned to lean on Him as Jehovah Jireh, My Provider, as The One Who will never leave me nor forsake me, as the One who would perfect whatever I was concerned about according to Psalm 138:8.  Numbers 23:19 became the mortar that held me in a place of trusting The Lord when I didn’t “feel” like trusting. This verse was a reminder that The Lord IS MORE THAN WORTHY of my trust.

You see, we can rely on God’s Word, because He doesn’t have the ability to lie. He said, “Let there be light,” and light became.   His Word says He will never leave us or forsake us, and He won’t. We are the object of His Love, His great, unending, amazing, unconditional, flawless, and yes, Fierce Love.   He has provided everything we need, but we don’t get that by default, for we can only have what He has for us  when we are truly connected to Him and put Him first as our Lord and Savior.   I had done the “Savior part,” but had not been living my life in a way that reflected that He was actually my Lord.

You see, being my Lord means He, not my spouse, not the kids’ sports schedules, not work, not me, is first.  It means He has supreme authority, that He calls the shots.  I was really letting life call the shots and felt like the tail was wagging the dog. My days were full of “good things” — family things, necessary things, and urgent things, and at the end of the day I was exhausted. Many times at the beginning of the day I was exhausted.   I was living life “stretched like bubblegum over a car,” without consistently charging my batteries.

Lose the Bubblegum!

Living that ” Bubblegum stretched life” is not God’s best for me, you, or anyone else.  And if that sounds even remotely like the life you’re living, there is absolutely a better way!

Let’s revisit John 10:10:. “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”  Let me point out that there are two plans in the verse above: 1) the thief’s plan to kill, steal, and/or destroy what you have, and 2) the Lord’s plan has which is an enjoyable life with abundance, meaning more than enough of what you need. James 1:17 (NLT): “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, Who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”  Now, just speaking from a logical standpoint, receiving a gift from someone implies a relationship.   In other words, if we don’t know each other, it would be safe to assume you won’t be getting a gift from me.   In fact receiving a gift from someone usually implies a close relationship because that is how we (people) do it.

God’s love for us is so perfect, and so vast, and so unfathomable really, that He gave us a Priceless Gift in Jesus Christ while we were far from Him.  He has other gifts in mind for us too, Priceless gifts that money cannot purchase — His Peace, Joy, Love.  These gifts can only be unwrapped in His Presence, which is experienced when we are really connected to Him.

Do you believe or want to believe God has amazing things for you? Or that God is good, and He has a good plan for your life? His Word promises those things, and He is the only One Who never fails to deliver on His promises.  Are you willing to take a step towards God and believe He will perfect the things you are concerned about?  What is our other option?  The double W’s — worry and wrinkles? He is more than worthy of our friendship and our trust.

Sometimes we have our foundation shaken, and the hard places in life do that. They shake us. For me that shaking revealed some things about my priorites.  I wasn’t living truly relying on Him — I thought I was — but my choices said otherwise.  I can tell you I am glad I decided to rebuild trust, trust truly founded on The Lord… and the place it has led me to is peaceful, joyful, and not based on circumstances.   Circumstances come and go, but the peace of God and the joy of the Lord can be experienced regardless of the circumstances.   God has shown me, experientially, that when I put Him first He takes care of the things that I used to strive for so desperately.

Wherever you are in your relationship with The Lord, whether just considering your options, looking for your purpose, or already walking in His Purpose for you, there is more.  I want to encourage you to come closer to Him, be intentional about seeking Him and His Way of doing things, and expect Him to show Himself strong in whatever you are facing.

We were put in this time in history for a reason…. seek Him and His Way and experience being Fiercely Loved!

From Procrastination to Purpose

Do you ever procrastinate? I do! I sometimes tell myself it’s because I’m unsure of what to do next… other times it’s because I’m distracted by what seems urgent, but really is less important. And still at other times I tell myself it’s because I don’t have time, or time to do it right. I have had a desire to make a difference and help others for a long, long time. My mom planted those seeds a lifetime ago, telling me God created me for a purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) confirms this — “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.”

The Lord has plans for YOU too! Plans that are good, and have hope, and an amazing future we can’t even begin to grasp! Good, hope, amazing future… yes, that’s for you! I hope that sparks hope or at least enough curiosity that you will stay tuned… because my story is proof that God Almighty, the Creator of our Universe, cares about all our concerns, even the small details in our lives.

It’s not too late… it’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters most! As long as you have breath, it’s never too late to stop procrastinating and seek and find His Purpose… the Purpose He created YOU for. In that Purpose you will find true joy… joy unspeakable… because YOU were designed for that Purpose, custom designed! So let’s do this… it’s time to stop procrastinating…NOW is the time…. not tomorrow! We only have NOW! None of us is promised even the next breath so what will you do with this breath?