Good Endings

I love a good book, especially if it ends well. When I get swept up in the words of a novel, it seems I can hardly wait to find out how it will end, and yet, I hasten to finish it. I mean, when it’s over…it’s over! I can re-read it, but it’s not the same, since I already know the ending. There’s a bit of a let down when finishing a book that has captured my heart. I guess I’ve always struggled with endings. It’s a love/hate relationship.
We are nearing the end of a chapter in our lives this week. Well, it’s more like finishing a book in a volume of books. It’s our last week pastoring a church my husband and I planted eight years ago. I remember the day we moved to the city of Modesto so clearly. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, but it hasn’t always felt that way.
My initial feelings towards Modesto were, ummm….less than thrilling. 😬😉Yet, I knew we were called and I’ve always desired obedience to the Lord. We came to this city excited about what God might do, and terrified about what on earth we were getting ourselves into. We didn’t know a single soul here and we had benchmarks to meet in order to meet our basic necessities. My husband and I agreed we would hold it all with an open hand and trust God to bless it. If things didn’t work out, no shame in that, we would just pack it up and move on. So, we pressed on, seeking Him, meandering through this unknown journey, getting glimpses of God, as He revealed the story of this exhilarating chapter. (“Terrifying chapter” would better describe how I used to feel, but now as I look back at those early pages I see them more as an adventure ride. I’m so glad we hopped on and didn’t let fear hold us back!😄) Honestly, that first year, was harder than I ever could have imagined and also more thrilling than I can explain in a few sentences. To trust God weekly for His basic provision, was a nail biter, but my faith grew immeasurably as I witnessed miracles from living a life surrendered to Him, even when it hurts.

We cashed out 401k’s, sold one of our two cars, prayed tirelessly, reached out to every stranger, cried a lot (at least I did), adjusted to quiet holidays where the only people at the dinner table were the same people we saw every day….our party of five. Those were some lonely days. I eagerly anticipated the next chapter in those early pages, even praying that God would bring us back home, but God is infinitely smarter than I am and when we allow Him, He writes the most beautiful stories through the challenges of our lives. He’s a far better story teller than I could ever hope to be and so it’s best to let the author of life create our stories.

Over time God brought people to The Well that loved us like family. We saw many surrender their lives wholeheartedly to Jesus; an experience that makes the whole journey worth the pain. Life became full of meaning and loneliness subsided. God faithfully filled this chapter with people that will forever be in our hearts. We grew in numbers at the church, but more importantly, we grew in Jesus. Each milestone was so miraculous, we couldn’t possibly take the credit. Christ alone is the Cornerstone. The church became a beacon of light in our community, drawing people in need of hope and healing. While we are still far from perfect, grace abounds at The Well….most of the time. (There is no perfect. Thank goodness, or they wouldn’t let me attend.)😉

This story has unfolded rapidly as I’ve watched our kids grow and thrive, both at church and at school. We’ve experienced the blessing of baptizing two of our kids at The Well, and all three of our children asked Jesus into their hearts during this chapter of life. Kids have a way of making time move at the speed of light. If only I could freeze time….sort of like you can when you put a good book down, forcing the ending to wait a little longer.

It’s Saturday night. Tomorrow morning will be the last time I wake up early to drive to that cute little church on the edge of town. It figures that tomorrow is “Spring forward”…if you know me, you know I’m allergic to mornings.😉🤧 I usually dread when we lose an hour of sleep! Yet, it feels completely appropriate on our last Sunday at The Well. God’s going to catapult us all forward into our next chapters; no more dog earring those pages and saving them until later. It’s time to finish, so we can start anew.

Here’s what I know for sure; He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It won’t be easy, but it will be faith building, hope filled, and soul refining. God will do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine and the pages of our lives will be rich in His stories of grace, healing, restorative power and above all, His love.❤️
I can’t wait to read the beginning of the next book in the volume of our lives, but first, I will savor the ending of this one. I love a good ending.🙏❤️🙌

Phil.1:3-11~3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Advertisements

Grow With The No

I’ve never liked the word ‘no’. It seems to carry a measure of negativity and disapproval. ‘Yes’ feels approving, positive, uplifting and welcoming. I’ve joked about being the “Yes Woman” at church, since it easily falls from my lips when asked questions. Being that I’m a Pastor’s wife and a worship leader, people often come to me with questions. What is particularly comical about this is I usually don’t know the answer to what is being asked, but I enjoy saying yes, and so I do.😉

But, I’ve learned and am still learning, that ‘No’ can be a healthier, faith based, peace-filled answer. ‘No’ protects our time, guards our hearts and can be God honoring. Sometimes a no can be useful for setting boundaries with family and friends. This can be particularly helpful around the holidays, when we need to say no to over committing or risk being burnt out for what is most important, saying yes to Jesus call on our lives.

Jesus said no, a lot. No, it wasn’t His time yet. His family and closest friends anxiously anticipated the moment of truth; when His glory would be revealed. No, He wouldn’t use violence to overthrow the Roman Empire. His kingdom would be lead by love. No, He couldn’t stay with His disciples any longer, for He had a greater call on His life. He knew His purpose and nothing would stop it from coming to fruition. Jesus was not about bringing us happiness, but holiness.

This morning I was reading in Luke 12 and Jesus warns about division we will face while on this earth. Yuck, I don’t like division. I much prefer unity, where everyone gets along, works together, and plays nice. Why can’t we all just get along, like an episode of Friends; where every issue is resolved in a 30 minute TV show? Jesus answers this simply, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? NO, I tell you, but division”. What? Another no? I thought Jesus is the Prince of Peace? Well yes, He is, but the peace He offers is internal, not always external.

Jesus comes into our hearts, when invited, and offers peace when there is chaos swirling around us in our lives. We don’t get to live in a perpetual Disneyland, where we live happily ever after all the time, but we can tap into the Prince of Peace, when everything and everyone around us seems out of whack. He is our peace that surpasses understanding, when the trials we face are anything but peace-filled. But experiencing His peace often starts with a NO.

No, we won’t always have peace in our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, if we are saying YES to Jesus. The very nature of following Him will lead us through troubled waters. It requires laying down our lives for His purpose and plans…that is going to rub people in your life like sand paper. Often, friends and family won’t even know why our faith annoys them, but it will. It’s going to cause friction and some pain; maybe a lot of pain. Don’t lose heart my friends, that sand paper is going to refine you into a finely crafted masterpiece for Jesus. How lovely and exquisite you will be to your Heavenly Father as He watches you persevere through the trials you face. He won’t just be a casual observer; He will be with you, carrying you when necessary.

Has God told you ‘no’ recently? You want peace in a relationship and He’s saying no. He’s doing a work in you and/or in them and you just can’t see it yet. Hold onto Jesus and trust Him to get you through the unknown. No, you can’t have that promotion or job, because God’s got grander plans for you. No, you won’t have the physical healing you desire, but He will give you spiritual strength and passion that will inspire many people to follow Jesus; making you a redwood tree among a field of ferns. Ferns are pretty, but they can’t withstand drought and they will never grow tall; there is no distinguishing between them. You’re going to stand out. Think of the remarkable view you will have, stretching to new heights, as you experience growth like that. The pain of the no will be worth it with immeasurable growth as you press into Jesus.

No, don’t settle for less than His best, not in relationships, not in your work, not in your heart, not in your life! Don’t lose heart with the ‘No’s’. Thank Him for what He is doing through the No….He’s got great plans! God is preparing you for what is right around the corner from that no. Grow with the no. You can do all things through Him!

Luke 12:51~”Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? NO, I tell you, but division”.
John 16:33~33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jer.29:11~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.

Two Faced Clowns

Growing up I had a clown doll with two faces, popular in the 80’s. One side was a happy face, the other side was sad….though it looked more angry to me. That doll was the cause of many nightmares. There was something creepy and duplicitous about it having two faces. I mean, which was it? Happy or sad? (Even the happy face looked evil😳). It was kept safely hidden in my closet until it was finally given away. No more two faced dolls.

I’ve experienced the same kinds of duplicity in people, on a grander scale. It’s always unnerving when you encounter people that say one thing but demonstrate entirely different behavior. Their words don’t match their speech. There are those that are gifted in manipulation, if there is such a gift, and they use it on unsuspecting targets.

I remember the agony of discovering the person we were partnered in ministry with was not who we thought he was. My husband and I had blindly trusted, hoping our pastor ‘friend’ would be an honest, God fearing person, but we were sadly mistaken. It was not the first time we had encountered duplicitous behavior in people, but it still left us reeling, uncertain of what to do next. The entire experience left us with a terrible aftertaste, particularly towards pastors….which is amusing, since my hubby happens to be one. The truth is, it’s not a pastor problem. It’s a people problem, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Our ‘friend’ would smile from the platform and then plot against us behind closed doors. He would project sincerity and kindness, but we saw another side. There were all kinds of ‘secret meetings’ discussing how to control what we said and did. At the low point I was told I was not allowed to baptize my closest friend, we could not send out prayer letters to talk about our upcoming move to Modesto, and we received a certified letter informing us we were to remain silent about anything we considered an injustice, or we would not receive our paycheck. In addition, there was a sum of money voted on by board members and promised, that was never given to the new church we were planting.  It was God’s money, not ours, but he withheld it.  Not exactly a display of Jesus love. It.was.awful. How could this be happening? Our hearts broke and doubt was planted in the brokenness. Doubting people and their motives would be a process to overcome. Who could we really trust?

Jesus. We could trust Him and Him alone. Jesus experienced many betrayals while walking this earth. The religious leaders were often the most two faced, presenting themselves as righteous, but secretly plotting, manipulating and justifying their desire to see Jesus destroyed. In the end, it was one of His 12 closest followers that would betray Him. Jesus response was one of love in spite of the ultimate deception, leading Him to His death. He didn’t focus on Judas and the betrayal. When He was beaten, whipped, carried His cross and nailed upon it, He did not plead His case, nor did He point out the injustice, as evidenced in His words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He focused on His purpose and offered forgiveness. Jesus never wavered in who He was and what He was called to do. He demonstrated how to handle duplicitous people and injustices. Keep loving, keep forgiving and keep moving forward toward His purpose and plan.

We ended up leaving our church tattered and bruised, but not defeated. The why’s and seeming injustice of what we had just encountered, would have to be laid down, in order to move forward. There were many moments we wanted to carry our hurt, bitterness, and grudges a little longer, but the weight of it was to much, like carrying around giant boulders.   It drained us of energy, distracted us from our purpose and kept us from grabbing onto God’s goodness.   So, we dropped our boulders and reached up.  God had called us to a new adventure and He used the pain to catapult us into His plan. The Well, our current church, was birthed out of our pain. God can work all things to His good, if we stay surrendered to Him.  He blessed us beyond our imaginations as He brought beauty from the ashes of our pain.

God knows us inside and out. There is nothing hidden from Him, which is both comforting and sobering. At the end of the day, we all have a little two faced clown in us. Our actions don’t always match our words and thoughts. We are all works in progress and that’s ok. He can shape us and mold us as we get honest about the hidden truths in our hearts. He’s good at making masterpieces out of ugly, messed up, fractured clay. Rest in His truth and He will begin to reshape your life into something beautiful.

Have you experienced the hurt of two faced people? Don’t lose heart, dear ones! Jesus understands that hurt. He can empathize. Take your hurt and confusion to Him and lay it down at His feet. You will feel lighter and free as you let go of the boulders you have been carrying. That new freedom will catapult you into God’s best plan for your life. He has something amazing in store for you, just keep trusting and delighting in the One that never changes. Press on toward the goal that is in Christ Jesus! He will guide you and shape you, making your insides match your outsides.

If you struggle with your own duplicitous behavior, get honest with Jesus and the people in your life. God sees all and knows all. There is no deceiving Him. Don’t be a two-faced clown. You will be missing out on the intimate relationship you can have when you remove the costume and makeup, getting real with Jesus. You can do ALL things through Him!

Psalm139:1-4~You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

Romans 8:28~And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Psalm 37:3-6~Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Phil.3:14~I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Here’s Your Sign

ROCKS.  I saw a variety of these bright yellow signs throughout the canyon as we wound our way around narrow, steep roads. There was no other warning, just ROCKS. How funny. Clearly, there were large rocks along the steep canyon. Everyone could see that, so it seemed silly to boldly state what was already self evident, and yet there they were, one after the other. Thank you Captain Obvious.😉

Immediately I thought of the phrase, “Here’s your sign.” Like, duh, there are giant boulders here, in case you couldn’t see them, hanging from the cliffs above. They may fall, causing you and your family to plummet from the cliffs edge down to the valley below, likely causing you to erupt in flames. 🔥 Survival is unlikely. Yes, that’s where my brain goes when I see ROCKS signs.😉

What bothered me about the signs was that they focused on the obvious looming catastrophe without any alternative route. They kept me focused on what might happen, should the giant boulders decide to cascade down the mountain onto our mini van. Nothing about that repeated reminder left me feeling safe, secure and relaxed. The more I focused on the word ROCKS, the more I imagined them tumbling towards me. Some of us don’t need yellow, bold print signs to think about the scary trauma that could unfold…my imagination does that all by itself. It’s easy to see danger lurking around every corner, but way more fulfilling to keep our eyes focused on The Way, The Truth, and The Life. He is our One Way sign that guides us through tumultuous, turbulent, narrow roads of life. We don’t have to drive it alone. He’s with us through every nail biting, exhilarating moment.

Life lived out pursuing Jesus can feel like driving on the edge of steep cliffs with rock signs all around. We know Jesus encountered all kinds of rocks along His journey, usually in the form of people trying to block Him from His purpose, but nothing and no one can stop God from accomplishing His purpose and plans. No boulders, no road blocks, no falling rocks, NOTHING.

If we keep our eyes on the One Way, He will guide us through all the craziness this life has to offer and we will do so keeping our love, joy, hope and peace in tact, because, if He is for us who can be against us? Let me repeat that, if He is for us, who can be against us?!? Seriously, there are zero road blocks for Jesus. If He wants something for you, He will obliterate any obstacles in your way…like Wreck-It-Ralph, only bigger and better.😉

As we keep our eyes focused on His way, we become reflectors of God’s grace, hope, and love to those around us. In a sense, we are walking signs for Jesus, either declaring His power and love at work in our lives, or just more rock signs, warning of impending doom and gloom. There is something powerful that happens when we reflect hope in what appears to be hopeless situations.

I have dear friends that experienced a giant boulder two years ago. Their daughter, Candice, went to be with Jesus after a long battle with cancer. It was a boulder so big, it took unimaginable strength and courage to navigate. She fought hard and reflected God in all she said and did, pointing to Jesus through her journey of pain. In response, her parents have done the same. They surrendered to Him, their driver in this life, and have allowed Him to take them along this difficult journey, trusting Him in their pain, and moving forward. They shine brighter for Jesus than most people I know, like giant reflectors of His love to others that are headed down that sharp turn toward the unknown. Such love, courage, and hope. Their deep commitment to follow Jesus through the steep cliffs of grief and loss, motivates me to travel well for Jesus.

I’ve had countless road blocks in my life, gone down dead ends, headed the wrong way, felt that rocks were falling and like frogger, I tried to escape peril along the journey, but God has never failed me. As I’ve learned to keep my eyes on Him, it’s become easier to navigate trials, and stay on task. I want His way to be my way.

Are you having trouble seeing God through the ROCKS signs of life? Maybe He is being diminished in your mind by perceived road blocks you see ahead. God has a purpose and a plan even through the pain and chaos. He works all things to the good as we trust in Him. Call out to Him. Invite Him in to your circumstance, and let Him drive the rest of the way. It may be that you’ve been headed down the wrong road and you’ve gotten lost, without knowing it. That’s ok, He is an excellent guide that longs to bring you back to His plan and purpose for your life. His signs are all around. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear Him calling. You’re going to make it. Don’t give up! Get back on course. Here’s your sign, ONE WAY. You can do all things through Him!

 

Romans 8:31~What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

John 14:6~Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Deut. 31:6~Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Jer.29:11~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.

Pliable Arms

Matt.6:10~…Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

His will vs. my will. It’s an ever present struggle. There’s a song that comes on the radio called “Thy Will Be Done.” Yesterday I was imagining myself swaying with Jesus to that song, dancing and twirling to His lead. He moves forward, I move back. He moves back, I move forward. It was a beautiful image, and all at once, the picture changed. I was sitting on a chair across from Jesus arm wrestling, getting frustrated that there was no possible way of me winning. The image is ridiculous, wanting it my way, and fighting against the pull of God’s plan. It’s like an infant wresting a 300 pound linebacker, only I’m infinitely smaller and He’s infinitely bigger. While arm wrestling matches with God are laughable, I still find myself prone to resisting. Of course, God doesn’t force us to do anything, but He places circumstances into our lives to press back against our will; always for our benefit and His glory.

My oldest daughter could beat me at arm wrestling when she was 5 years old. I’m not kidding. 😬💪 For some reason my arms have never had much strength, even though I’m quite athletic. I suppose I could get stronger in that area, but I tend to focus more on my strengths than weaknesses. Consequently, my arm wrestling matches will more than likely end in defeat, which is fine by me, and brings much joy to my kids.😉

In the same way, I want God to win in my stubborn bouts of wrestling Him over plans for my life. I want to have pliable arms that relax and bend to His will, not mine. I’ve tried things my way, and I’d rather lose the wrestling match than go down my own broken path.

My will is all about ME. It’s often self centered, critical, mis-directed, insecure, and….small. I’ve never been a big dreamer, thinking about grand plans for my life. Never in a million years did I think I would be a pastors wife reaching people for Jesus, helping start two churches. Nor did I think I would lead worship, lead Zumba, speak in front of people….or write a blog! My plans were way smaller than God’s plans. In my mind I never had much to say or offer, just a heart tender to Jesus. It turns out He loves using average people for bigger purposes, and so I’ve learned to flex and stay pliable to His call on my life.  In the process, I’ve experienced the richness of His greater plans;  the sweet  fulfillment  of walking hand in hand with Jesus.

As we flex with God’s plan He strengthens us for the tasks He calls us to. Pressing in to Him, rather than against Him actually broadens our spiritual shoulders to carry more than we ever thought we could, enabling us to try new things, overcome obstacles, and live a life of abandon for Jesus.

I want to be spiritually fit in this life, not weak, wrestling with God over His plans for my life. If He tells me to overcome a bad habit, love in spite of people’s behavior, move forward when I’m sitting still, let go when I’m gripping the steering wheel of my life….I want to surrender to Him. No holding back or holding on to things He’s asking me to release. I’m far to weak to handle the challenges which arise out of the destruction of my own stubbornness.

Are you arm wrestling with God over something in your life? He’s telling you to lay it down, let it go, and move forward. If you’ve gotten off track and are feeling spiritually wimpy, press into Jesus. He’s the ultimate personal trainer. He equips us for every good work He has planned. Grab His hand and ask Him to guide you through your challenges. He speaks words of wisdom, love and encouragement….are you listening? Stop wrestling and start dancing, only let Him take the lead. You can do all things through Him!

Jer.29:11~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.

Isaiah 64:8~But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Isaiah 45:9~Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker– An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?

What Ifs…

Hope was teetering on the edge and the cliff was steep. I feared if I lost my grip, it would never be regained. My heart clung to hope….

It had been 3 weeks since my body rebelled against my will. One evening I was leading a high intensity Zumba class and the next day my body felt as though there was an elephant on my back. Movements were heavy and labored. My head felt to heavy for my neck to support, forcing me to prop it up with pillows while sitting on the couch. There was strange tingling in my arms and up my neck, along with unmanageable exhaustion. For the first few days, I convinced myself I must have been exposed to a strange virus, but days grew into a week and beyond. By week two my doctor tried to diagnose me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome….but my gut said no. (This time my stubbornness paid off and I insisted on testing.)

Resisting an “easy” diagnosis, I was sent to a neurologist, a cardiologist, an ENT specialist, a physical therapist, had a multitude of blood tests done, CT scans with dye and without, and an MRI…yet, nothing was found. It was baffling. The “What If’s” became a lion trying to chase me off of my emotional cliff. What if….I don’t get better? What if….I can never care for my family again? What if…there is something REALLY wrong with me? What if…I can never sing or dance again? What if….I become a burden to family and friends? “What ifs” seem to come in bulk supply.

As I lay motionless in the tube, listening to the loud clanking and hammering of the MRI machine, I forced myself to take my “what ifs” to Jesus in prayer. Without making a sound or moving a muscle, I laid it all out before the Lord. My fear, my anguish, my lack of control, every worry, all of it. Almost immediately, song lyrics from “The Heart of Worship” filled my mind, overpowering the machine:

“When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come. Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart. I’ll bring you more than a song for a song in itself is not what you have required. You search much deeper within….your looking into my heart. I’m coming back to the heart of worship and its all about You, it’s ALL about you Jesus”.

Suddenly, I was worshipping, without spoken words, or motion, but with all my heart. It was a powerful worship experience. I felt as if I had exposed all my inadequacies and brokenness to the Lord and I could almost hear Him say, “it’s never been about what you can do for me. Your heart is all I’ve ever wanted.” To be so fully known and so completely loved quenched my fears and slayed my “what ifs”. The truth was if I could never help another person, sing another song, dance another dance, or even move a muscle, He loved me, period. I may have felt physically helpless, but I wasn’t hopeless. My hope was, and is in Him and He never lets go.

It would be several months before my body started to fully cooperate. The healing didn’t come all at once and to this day I have lingering effects of the injury they found. A tear was found in my cervical spine, which caused spinal fluid to leak onto my spinal chord, causing the bizarre symptoms. It forced me to make a couple minor lifestyle changes, but none of the major “what ifs” occurred. The bulk supply of worries was laid to rest.

Are you carrying a bulk supply of “what ifs” this week? Are you ruminating in fear and worry? Lay it all down at the cliffs edge and fall back into the arms of your loving Father. Life can take us to the edge of what we can handle on our own strength. We were never meant to be strong enough to carry it alone. Jesus is our ever present help in times of trouble. He came as the bridge to carry you across those “what ifs” and comfort you through the unknowns. You don’t have to know what tomorrow will bring, when you know the creator of tomorrow. He’s with you through the cliff hangers, the stormy seas, even in the claustrophobic hammering of an MRI machine. He can give you a peace that surpasses all understanding….all He wants is your heart.❤️ He is with you…are you listening?

Phil.4:7~ And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 46:1~God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 19:14~May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Hiccups & Sneezes

Hiccup, sneeze, hiccup, sneeze…this went on for the next 20 minutes. What is it about my husband getting the hiccups that makes me erupt with laughter? It only happens about once a year, but it’s like a special birthday present when it happens.🎁😆 The combo of hiccups and sneezes was more than I could handle. My sides ached and I couldn’t breathe from laughing so hard. Being desperate for relief from his current situation, he pulled into a McDonalds drive thru to order a drink, in hopes it would cause the hiccups to cease. Here’s where things got interesting…neither one of us could talk, I mean ZERO words could be enunciated between gasps of laughter, breathless, belly aching tremors, where no sound could escape. You can imagine the frustration for the person taking our order.😳 What proceeded was such silliness that it still makes us laugh today. We kept trying to answer her question, but inevitably Randy would hiccup or sneeze, and it all started over again. We genuinely felt bad for the woman on the intercom, who was becoming increasingly frustrated, but we felt powerless by the laughter. It couldn’t be stopped!😆 At some point he was able to recover just enough to respond with his drink order, but I was hopeless. I’m sure I looked a mess when we got to the window…more like I’d been crying than laughing, face red, still shaking with tremors as I painfully tried to stifle giggles. I felt so juvenile. I mean seriously, get it together! But, you know what? It was such a gift. I’m pretty sure God nudged our funny bones and allowed us to find humor that we were desperately needing.

It had been a tough season of ministry. We were hurting, but only us and God knew the full extent of our pain. Our times together had become problem solving, venting our frustrations, and praying for wisdom…it was quite dreary and way to serious. Joy seemed to elude us most days. We had just arrived in Florida for a conference and were hoping God would renew and restore us while there. God knows what we need, so in His divine wisdom he gave Randy hiccups AND sneezes that evening…a recipe for relief. (Well, it’s not for everyone, but it was for us.😉) The atmosphere felt a lot lighter that night. We even began joking about some of the hard stuff we were dealing with. It was glorious relief in the midst of our desert season of drought and pain. It didn’t change our circumstances, but it was a reminder to not take everything so seriously. The weight of the world doesn’t rest on our shoulders. We laid our weights down that night and picked up His joy. It’s lighter and gives us the strength to press on.

Don’t miss the moment by fretting and fuming over what can’t be solved in the immediate. Pray. Start by thanking God for the myriad of blessings in your life…to numerous to count. Ask Him for wisdom, His perspective, and to meet your needs. Then, embrace the moment. Find the funny. It might cause a belly ache, but it soothes heart aches.

Is your life feeling a little dreary right now, maybe way to serious, burdened by the weight of the world? Lay your weights at His feet and trust Him to carry them. You don’t have to have it all figured out right in this moment, or even tomorrow…or next week! God sees the beginning and the end. He’s already got it all figured out. Pour out your pain to Jesus and ask Him to help you choose joy today. I’m praying He will nudge your funny bone. 😉 You can do all things through Him!

Proverbs 31:35~She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Neh.8:10~This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Phil.4:6~Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.