Life’s body blows hit when we least expect it. The reasons don’t even matter yet the sting is searing, our breath is labored, and we wonder if we can go on. Where is God in all of this? Why now and why me? Why my family?
I found this poem in Streams in the Desert and it gave me comfort and a reminder that the path, at times, will be muddy and hard to see – but He is there!
Our church has been reading through the Bible with the YouVersion app this year. If you have always thought you would like to read the entire Bible but didn’t think you could do it, this is an easy way.
As I read this portion of scripture in March, three things struck me: twelve years, daughter, and faith. Our house has been on the market since June, 2017. I remember praying with the realtor that day that we would trust God’s timing knowing from Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a plan for me. As the months wore on, I was confident that God knew what He was doing and I trusted Him. It was not that we were homeless as we lived in a lovely home. But, there were moments when I wondered “when, Lord?”
As I read the scripture that morning, twelve years lit up in neon because in June, we will have lived here for twelve years. And then Jesus said, “Daughter.” That was me. I am His daughter. And she was healed because of her faith. Faith has been my word for 2018. As I wrote in my journal that morning, I praised Him for His words of encouragement to me. And as the weeks went by and no sale, I thought to myself, “It’s not June yet.”
Last Sunday, a realtor called for a showing for a couple from out of town. We hurried home from church to turn on all the lights and grab the dog. Normally, a showing lasts 15-20 minutes so we decided to just sit in the car and wait…and wait…and wait…for an hour. At that point it was too late to go grab lunch and it was 100 degrees. Finally, the car drove away.
I received a call from my realtor about 5:30 that afternoon and she asked me if I believed that the house was sold. I said, “No.” How about for full price? Again, “No.” Well, it has and it was a clean offer with an acceptable closing date in mid June. And she told me that her father has a rental house that we could use until we find something more permanent. I have nothing lined up for the next part of the journey because I didn’t want that pressure or disappointment. I have trusted God all along that He would show me and He gave me more that I could even ask or think about. If He could do it for Abraham, He would do it for me.
The tears started flowing and wouldn’t stop. And then I realized it would be exactly twelve years.
When we moved here, I found a saying in a devotional that I adopted; “God is rarely early but never late.” As I have looked over the challenges of this last year, I know He is right on time. With the next step, my faith is being stretched once again. He has proven Himself faithful over all these months so I know He has just the right place in mind. Yes, Lord, I will trust You.
I love to read and one of my favorite fiction genres is action/thrillers. The story of Joseph in Genesis captures my imagination in a similar way. The twists and turns of the plot keep me glued to the story wondering what is going to happen next between the good guys and the bad guys. Typically, the bad guys are unknown to the hero but in this story, they are his brothers. Jealousy, vindictiveness, deceit, and cover-up define their actions as we watch them sell Joseph into slavery, ship him off to a foreign country, and lie to their father.
Joseph ends up in Egypt, his problems exacerbate, and he lands in jail. What could be a worse fate? And to top it off, his family and fellow prisoners think he is weird because he can interpret dreams. I’m sure this chain of events was not on Joseph’s “to-do” list.
However, the story does not end with doubt but with promise. Joseph trusted God and even when his future looked bleak, his good work habits, industriousness, and loyalty brought him positive attention. Eventually, even Pharaoh was impressed with the young man and his abilities and appointed him as second in command over all the land of Egypt. Without that authority, when a severe famine hit, he would not have been able to provide food for the whole earth, including all of his family in Israel. God does not make mistakes.
At times, we may question what is going on around us. Life is not fair. It’s too hard. I didn’t sign up for this. We question what God is doing but we can’t even see around a corner let alone months into the future.
God alone is the master of our destiny and all He asks is for us to trust Him. Joseph did not expect fame, nor did he seek it. But God placed him in a position of power for His honor and glory. What is God’s story for you? How is He preparing you for the next step?
Pay attention. Your story may be the next best seller in God’s story of faith.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20
The calendar rolled over to 2018 at midnight…we have a new year! I like new beginnings — it energizes me to start afresh and move forward. I’m not one to look back much, for a couple of reasons. One, it can be depressing. Two, you can’t change anything that happened. All those woulda, coulda, shoulda dates written in over the months can sometimes be painful reminders of things done or undone.
My word for the year is “faith.” As I pondered and prayed about what word to focus on, faith kept coming up. But I wondered how it differed from hope, my word from another year. Google gave me some insight and it always referred back to the source as the object of our faith. As Christians, that source is God — the beginning of it all. Faith in Him is the way forward.
One way to lend some understanding is: My son promises his two little girls a trip to Disneyland. They have faith (or trust) in their dad to keep his word because he has done so in the past. But they have hope as they look forward to this new and exciting adventure.
As I look over my calendar for 2018, I can plug in a few dates which give me something to look forward to. But those hopes and dreams may change if God chooses to take me on another path. And that is where the faith comes in. It may not be where I want to go, the people I want to go with, or the mode of transportation. But faith allows me to trust my Heavenly Father to take care of His daughter and and I will follow Him.
Forty-four years ago, the famous court decision, Roe vs. Wade, was passed. Twelve days earlier, my first baby was born and I was in the fog of new–motherhood. All the discussion about this hot topic was under the radar for me and I admit, I missed it. It wasn’t until seven years later, the impact of that fateful decision began to penetrate my thinking and I realized that I never wanted to miss something as important as that again.
It wasn’t that I was a bad citizen — I voted. Maybe, I read the paper. But I had a friend who ran for Congress and needed some help getting out the vote on Election Day. I volunteered and was hooked in this wide swath of life called politics. Because my children were school-age, the issues that concerned them, concerned me. As a result, not only did I support the pro-life position but also worked on education reforms in my school district.
I spent twenty-five years in the heat of the battle. It is with a bit of amusement that I watch and note that the millionwomanmarch is creating such a stir. You would think that women never cared about anything before. Ask the suffragettes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries what they hoped to accomplish. Of the 58 million aborted babies, how many women didn’t even get a voice? A fellow at the gym had to get home so his wife could go to the march in Tucson. When I asked him why she wanted to go, he said it was to solidify with other women against husbands who were telling them what to do. (I wondered how he felt about that but said nothing.)
The Madonna’s of the world do not represent me. Ashley Judd will never see me spend any money on her movies again. The angry, resentful, bitter attitudes displayed may make them feel better but I can assure you that it does not speak for all women. We who are older worked in our own ways to make a difference. We did not sit home, watch soaps, and eat bonbons. And the fact of the matter is that it is hard work.
Elections have consequences and fear is surfacing as the primary one for women today. The battle cry is to unite, train women to run for office, disrupt where possible to get the attention of the media, be a pain in the neck. That may get you some scrutiny for awhile but I certainly don’t want my granddaughters to follow in your footsteps.
Lawmakers have to learn the art of compromise which is sadly lacking these days. I ran for a party office and as pro-life as I was, I learned how to approach each lawmaker in liberal California to get their endorsement. We sat down and discussed what was important for each of us…where to give a little to get a little. As a result, every lawmaker always took my call. They could trust that I wasn’t going to yell at them, disrupt the chamber while in session, say and write filthy things on the Internet, or embarrass them.
I have had two chats on Facebook over the last two days with young women that I know — Christian wives and moms — that believe the world, as we know it, is going to end with Donald Trump as President. He was not my candidate but he is now the duly elected President. The one thing I can testify to is that we will survive. When Bill Clinton was elected, I was devastated but I received a fax early the next morning that said, “Never, never, never, never give up,” a quote by Winston Churchill.
One day I realized that in my effort to change the world, it was my effort and not God’s. All the time, energy, and money spent to make a single change can be overturned by the voters in the blink of an eye. He called me to get out of politics and into the role of Mentor Mom for a group called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). What greater calling than to influence the mothers of the next generation for Jesus where real change takes place, than to march in the streets and create chaos.
I hope that one day my five granddaughters will say that their Nana was a strong woman who believed in faith, freedom, and family and fought the good fight every day of her life.
When we moved to Arizona ten years ago, a family member told me to watch out for the monsoons. Being a California girl, I had no idea what we were in for. We moved in late June which is the beginning of the monsoon season..and I soon found out.
Picture this: Clouds begin to fill our clear blue sky, fluffy white at first and then turning dark gray. Winds pick up and the trees start to sway as the velocity increases. As the sky darkens, lightning zig zags while thunder roars in the background. Sometimes those lightning strikes sound and feel like they are right outside the door, while other times, light fills the sky followed by a distant rumble. The rain begins — quickly changing from sprinkles on the concrete to torrents of water running down the street. Then it’s over. The sun returns, the heat increases and drys the ground, the desert is refreshed.
As I thought about the loud thunder that can be heard for miles, there is no doubt in my mind that when the trumpet sounds with the return of Jesus, we will all hear it. Nothing is impossible for our Creator — He proves His power and majesty in the middle of the storm.
It’s encouraging to know that while the storms in my life appear ready to take me down, God is there — not surprised, not fearful, not confused — but capable of everything I need to weather them and move forward on dry ground. I can trust Him for my safety and walk out of the storm ready for a new day.
So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.
My house is normally pretty tidy with things picked up and a clean kitchen to work in. But I hire a couple of girls to come in twice a month to “deep clean.” The other day I walked into the house after lunch and it looked like a whirlwind had hit it.
Because of the holiday, my cleaning girl brought a couple of extra friends to help her catch up on the missed day. All the furniture was pulled away from the walls. One girl was on a step-stool wiping down bookshelves. Another had the kitchen torn apart and was spraying and wiping the counters and cupboards. I heard others in the back of the house making noises with vacuums and mops.
You would think that I was messy and dirty. On the surface, the house looked fine, but underneath the furniture, behind the books, in the nooks and crannies out of sight, dirt and dust lingered and multiplied.
It made me wonder about the state of my heart and life. I can put on a good face and attitude and people observing will think all is well. Not much cleaning up for her to do. But is my heart and mind free of fear, prejudice, frustration, anger, pride, and selfishness? Honestly, no. If I had to clean them up all by myself, I would fail miserably. But God took the giant vacuum cleaner to my life when I confessed my sins and weaknesses to Him and accepted His offer of love and forgiveness. Jesus’ blood cleansed me and gave me life eternal.
Yet, this world still leaves our feet dusty as we walk the roads of life. The news indicates that things are hardly tidy and free of grime. We have experienced a week with the murders of police officers in Dallas, rallies in cities across the nation to protest racism, lies and distortions by politicians. And that is only in the United States. The rest of the world is hurting, too.
We will never live in a perfect world, this side of heaven, but we have help and hope from God’s word, The Bible. When we spend time reading, meditating, journaling, confessing our sins, and praying over the truths that we read, God promises to grow us up into mature people. Just as my grandgirlies had to learn to walk one step at a time, so do we. The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control are a result of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Only then will:
Anger on the streets be replaced with love.
Racism be replaced with acceptance.
Rudeness be replaced with kindness.
Pride be replaced with humility.
Fear be replaced with hope.
Division be replaced with unity.
The disorder and disarray in my house? By the time they left, everything was back in place, the sinks sparkled and the floors glistened. Maybe it’s time to check the corners and pockets of your hearts and minds for dust and grime. Give Jesus the opportunity to clean up your mess and make your life clean and whole, ready to be a light and witness for Him to a darkened world.
Most of the time I have a pretty good handle on the ups and downs that enter our lives. I’ve called the ambulance four times for Mark in the past 10 years. (Thankfully, not recently.) And when that happened, I put on my big girl panties and dealt with the crisis. Calm, cool, collected. I have had friends comment that I was so in control when making those necessary calls to family and friends.
But recently, another blow was leveled. I had awakened at 2 AM with this foreboding hanging over me. I hadn’t wanted to spend time thinking about something if it was not going happen, but then it did. The worst thing I could do was search google for answers instead of God’s Word. All it did was add to my fears. I prayed and read my devotions and Bible, looking for God to speak to me. But the peace was missing. I kept hanging on to the problem and possible outcome and scenarios. I fell apart at 4:30 AM and all I could say through my tears was, “I can’t do it anymore, I can’t do it anymore,” shaking my head to confirm my words, as I sobbed on Mark’s shoulder.
Tears spent, I got up and dried my eyes. There was no more sleeping for me so I opened my iPad to scroll down Facebook. My eyes landed on the picture posted at the top of the blog. A light bulb went on. For sure, I CAN’T. But JESUS CAN. He didn’t expect me to carry this burden by myself with my measly strength but was there to carry the burden and me as we walked the path forward. I don’t know if you have read the poem about the footsteps in the sand but this is exactly the comfort that I needed.
I look back over the paths I’ve traveled and see the pile of stones stacked up by the side of the road to show the times where God met me in my need. I’m still human but learning faster that I can’t fix it — only Jesus has that power. He’s the one to turn to when the way is bleak because He knows where to go and how to get there. And His plans for me are good.
For a political junkie like me, this is an amazing time. Yet, in the thirty years serving in the Republican party, in some form or other, I have never witnessed anything like it. I know what it is like to put every ounce of my time, effort, and money into a candidate and I know the elation of winning and the despair of losing. However in the end, the will of the voters prevails.
The children of Israel watched God do amazing feats on their behalf, rescuing them from slavery and death. But the farther away they wandered from Egypt, the more they forgot how bad it had been. They wanted what they could see—to be just like everyone else. The desert was a dangerous place and they thought a king would protect them and keep them safe.
The prophet, Samuel, was displeased with this request and prayed for wisdom. God reminded him that the crowd was not rejecting his leadership. They were rejecting God, Almighty. He told them to give them what they wanted. But if you read the rest of the chapter, God also told Samuel the consequences of such a decision. They left a life of slavery to become slaves again — this time to someone of their own choosing.
The Pilgrims suffered harrowing experiences to settle in America to be able to enjoy religious freedom. Now, almost 400 years later, Christians are asking for a “king.” Why? Because of anger and fear? No, we have forgotten who is really in charge. We have traded our trust in Him for our own self-sufficiency and we will find it sadly lacking.
Believers in Jesus — this election is a clarion call for righteousness not cowardice. Pray for wisdom, strength, and courage. Don’t follow the crowd. Satan is just rubbing his hands together in delight over the disarray of the church.
Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.
As each year passes, I keep thinking that I’m going to finally get this right. What good is aging if you keep repeating the same mistakes? And if we try and do it by ourselves, it will be the definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So how do I change the outcome?
First,I can’t change the outcome. Only God can. Reaching out to Him each day for guidance and direction rather than running ahead on my own agenda will result in firm footing on the path He has for me.
Second, I can’t CHANGE the outcome. Because I believe in the sovereignty of God, He is the one that knows where I’m going and has put together the plan for me. I may or may not like it and I can think of a few things in my life that I would like to change. But, for whatever reason, the hard things remain and in the end, He changes me.
Third, I can’t change the OUTCOME. I might think I know where I’m headed but as the verses for today mention, I’m leaving last year and pressing forward into 2016. Thankfully, I didn’t know all the twists and turns of 2015 — I might not have gotten out of bed. But God gives grace and new mercies every day so that my destination will be on His roadmap for this year.
But all of this is good news because the burden for making it through this year is not on my shoulders.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”