Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bring the Rain

"I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain.
You, who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain?

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain."
~ MercyMe

If we can just learn that going through trials brings us to a better place.  It is such a difficult concept to grasp.  We tend to get dramatic and think we are "gonna die"!  But there are so many examples of this.  Without taxing my brain too much, here are a few examples of trial leading to glory:

the passing of a baby through the birth canal
rain produces flowers in spring and snow in winter
the fire purifies the silver to make something beautiful
the potter molds the clay to his will and makes something useful

If we could just see the difficult moments as moments of victory, knowing that it is evidence that we are moving toward a better place.  In our human-ness we tend to think we will be in this place FOR-E-VER....

May I suggest?  Don't look down.  Keep alert.  Watch for moments where God shows you He is with you and He cares.  Sometimes we are so busy feeling sorry for ourselves we miss His miracle!

I know I have found it in the extraordinary service of a waiter; or a patient accounting clerk on the phone; or the random call from my son.  I also have been shown that God uses me in the same way.  Yes, even me!

I will never forget the lady at the speed networking meeting I was running.  As I darted around from table to table, making sure everyone found a spot, there were times I would touch someone's shoulder to get their attention or pat a back as I passed by.  In the whirlwind of it all, I didn't realize until after the meeting that God used me.

The lady came up in the hustle-bustle of cleaning up after the meeting.  She was teary-eyed, which is VERY uncommon at a business meeting.  But I have seen that look before.  Her eyes were sad, lonely, hurt.  And she said to me, "You will never know what your touch meant to me."

I was kinda caught off guard because, like I said, this is unusual conversation for a business situation.  And honestly, I didn't remember touching her at all.  But God gave me the grace to put my hands on her shoulders again and look her in the eyes and say the right words of comfort.  This was another human being, crying out for someone to notice her.

I never knew her name.  In fact, I don't think I ever saw her again.  But that memory keeps me in check sometimes, helping me to keep my eyes open for other wounded people in need of any small kindness.

As we experience the rain, the peace, the joy, the glory, we can truly be thankful that God has His hand on our shoulder.  And because we have experienced His unending love, we can extend our hand to others.

So as we move through life today, rather than being self-absorbed looking for our answers, let's see how we can give to someone else.  I always feel so fulfilled when God lets me be an ambassador for Him.  It makes all of my personal rain smell sweet.

Dear God, I always want to be thankful for the life that only You can give.  Help me to be better than selfishly thinking of only my problems.  Give me Your eyes to see the need of others and the courage to speak, smile or reach out as You would have me to do.  Thank you for all You have done so that I can boldly come to You and make my petitions known.  Your eye is on the sparrow so I know You watch over me. Amen. ~Me

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Things Change

If you live in the northwest, you have probably heard the saying that if you don't like the weather, just hang around a bit and it will change!  The web-footed ducks here in Oregon definitely keep winter clothes around all year and some keep the shorts and flip flops going all winter.  One must be prepared for all weather at all times because it changes!

That's what I want to talk about today....that things change. 

Not many people know that Troy Aikmen, former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, wrote a kids book called Things Change.

As a young woman I was very taken with Troy Aikmen of the Dallas Cowboys.  While on a first trip to NYC, he was the guest at the Regis and Kathie Lee show.  I actually got to see him but my efforts to get an autograph or photo were thwarted by my excitement of seeing him.  As I jumped up and down and waved at my friends over at the coffee shop across the street, I completely missed my opportunity for any interaction!  Later in the show Troy went out into the closed off street to pass the football with Regis.  The staff came hurrying back into the studio saying they had to throw Troy into the closest cab as the crowd outside mobbed him!  (Personally, I understood their emotion.)

Anyway, that book has some very poignant messages in it, not just for kids but for all of us.  For example:  Did you know that Troy Aikman was born with club feet?  He had to wear casts on his feet and legs for the first couple of years of his life, having them changed at intervals to allow for growth spurts.

He also was not a football player but a baseball player.  He had been raised in Oklahoma and played baseball, but something caused his family to move during that critical middle school period, and when they moved, the focus was all about football.  The stress of making new friends and changing your primary sport at that age, well, you can only imagine.

But he made the UCLA football team and eventually was drafted to the Cowboys.  But more angst awaited him as his team went 1-15 his first season as starting QB.  To make matters worse, he was injured and did not play one minute of the one game that they won.

Now if we stopped the story there, we would say, gosh, how did he get through all of these extreme circumstances?  Why didn't they just give up on sports when he was born with club feet?  When his family moved and he had to give up baseball, why didn't he just kick the dirt and throw a fit?  Why didn't the embarrassment of the first year in the NFL cause him to quit?


The very next year following that dismal rookie season, Troy lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl win and was awarded the MVP of the Super Bowl game!

I have had what feels like continual ups and downs in my life.  Some of the downs have been extreme.  I have had a failed marriage, a failed attempt at business, a broken heart or two and at times, errant children.  I have felt the sting of judgment from others who did/do not know my full circumstances or the effort it took just to breathe some mornings.

I may have been crazy, but all I knew to do was to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And it did cause some to question if I even cared about the failures that were so obvious in my life. 

You know, in the gracious south, a mother teaches her children:  "Don't stare.  They know where their problem is located."  I definitely knew where my problems were located because every where I went, there I was!

But as far away from God as I would get sometimes, I always ran to Him in my despair.  I knew who the author and finisher of my life was...and I called out to Him during many anguished moments when the hot tears poured and kept my pillow wet late at night.

Though the road has not been the one I thought I would travel, it is still full of experiences, learning and becoming closer to what God wants.  And I can truly say that I like myself so much better than I ever have.

I read one of my friends posts on Facebook that simply said:  " goes on."

It does.  The river keeps flowing.  You can choose to row or not, it's up to you.  But even not rowing is a choice that you make.  To let the current carry you wherever rather than deciding your get to make that call.

Yes, others watch you flounder.  Some are kinder than others about it.  I find that the ones who are kind and cheer me on understand that we all have a past.  (Remember that verse, For ALL have sinned and come short?)  Through it all, I personally have come to revere two precious words:  Mercy and Grace.

I recently found some songs/cds that I had not heard in a while and was listening to them this morning.  One phrase stuck out:  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

That is the God I love.  That is the God who loves me.

Don't give up.  Don't lay down.  Life goes on.  Things change.  Ask God for the strength and direction to row.  His mercy endures forever.

Dear God,  Thank you again for the quiet and small ways that you speak to our hearts.  I love hearing a song or reading a phrase that causes You to fill my heart with words of encouragement and hope.  Thank you for being with me at all times.  Please let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight.  Amen. ~Me

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Want It All !

You know, when we hear "I Want It All" it sounds very selfish.  We can easily imagine a spoiled 3-year old throwing a tantrum and shouting "It's mine" or "I want it!"  It just rubs the wrong way.  Ick.

But my devotion today helps us turn the thought around.

Get an expectation in your heart, an anticipation, that God is going to do something great in your life today. Have an attitude that says, “God, I want all you have for me.”  Today is filled with possibility and promise.

I do want all God has for me.  And He is not limited to just the toys in the playroom such as the selfish toddler we envision.  His resources are all-inclusive!  They were created by and belong to Him!  There is more than enough.

Now mind you, "I Want It All" does NOT mean all that the world has to offer.  If that were true, then I would be buying in to fancy cars, excessive money, power to rule, fans screaming my name and thunderous applause. 

But I submit to you that somewhere back in time price tags were changed.  The value of a life and things has gotten confused.

Think how things have changed....From life-long marriages to living together until the next thing comes along; handwritten thank-yous to terse emails; time spent with your children without electronic devices to every room having a tv and a cell phone for every child!

The fact is, God's way is the complete opposite of the world's way.  If you want to be great in God, learn to be a servant, rather than desiring to be a king.  What?  Humble myself? Exactly.

I had a wall hanging for a long time that said, "God will give you the desires of your heart."  And I saw that wall hanging at least several times a day.  Whenever I considered that sign long enough I would take a moment to say, "yeah, God, and here is my list of desires."

But then came the day when my heart opened up my eyes.  And I read it with new meaning and felt genuinely surprised that I had not read it correctly before.  God will GIVE me the desires I should have, not the desires I want!  He will place the desires in my heart.  The right ones.

In the past few years since getting divorced, I have certainly learned this:  If I am living to please God to the best of my ability, all things come from Him.  I might pray or wish for something else or a different answer.  But HE KNOWS exactly what I need to be free.  And if it comes from Him, well, who else would I want it come from????

So many times when it looked bleak and dreary, and I could not see the road ahead, God still used that situation to teach me and bring me out into a better place.  EVERY TIME.  But if I fight and struggle against Him, it just takes that much longer and that much more heartache.

So I do want it all.  Everything God has for me.  I will not question the wisdom of God.  Each day is filled with possibility and promise, but only if I have the right price tags on what is important.  I truly desire for God to place the right desires in my heart.

I am not saying that I haven't questioned God.  But I have been blessed to be able to say that in the worst of life's circumstances, I have called out, make that cried out, to God rather than run from Him.  He is ALWAYS there.

I just wish I would have learned this lesson long ago:  "If it is FROM Him, then it is FOR me." 

Faith is not faith if you believe when everything is going your way.  That is easy.  Faith is faith when you believe and nothing is going your way.  Your friends and family may look at you crazy as you let your light shine from the deepest, darkest hole.  But that is faith, strong and true.  I have had some friends criticize me for being happy when everything else was falling down around me.  But I just don't know what else to do but get up and keep trying.  It's much easier to do when you know God has your back!

Look at each day as a possibility.  Be ready for what might be right around the corner.  Keep your mind and heart open to people and the opportunity to grow, learn, change, help.

Dear God,  I thank you for today.  I ask you to help me check myself at the door and let my heart be filled with only Your ways.  When I am lonely, I want to run to You.  When I am tired, I want to call out Your name.  When things are going well, I want to thank You.  Please help me see You in everything. Help me in the times when I have unbelief or doubt to know that You are watching out for me better than any other could.  I do want all You have for me and I trust You with my life. Amen. ~ Me

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Quick Pick-Me-Up

I am sure you have started out some days full of energy only to find yourself dragging in the afternoon?  That happened to me today.  Waiting too long to eat, racing around and when I finally did stop to have lunch, it was too late.  I wanted to gulp the bottle of Advil...all 100 pretty, little, green gelcaps!

I don't know why we do ourselves!  And so I give my mom a call and we meet at Starbucks for some caffeine and a chat.  I slurped up lovingly my non-fat, no whip, extra hot, peppermint mocha and prayed for a quick relief.  I did pop some Advil, but only two, mind you!

As I dispelled the stressful thoughts (unleashed on my poor mother's ear), I felt the calm return.  Sanity began to take over.  The mind started to clear.

You know how the body miraculously heals itself when you scrape a knee or get a paper cut?  My mind went to work trying to heal the damage from a stressful morning.  And gratefully, my morning devotion came back to me.  Thank you, Pastor Joel!  Here is the short version:

God does not claim to be the God-of-What-Was or the God-of-What-Might-Be.  He is the God-I-Am.  RIght now.  Not yesterday.  Not tomorrow.  He is Enough for Today.  This Minute.  Right Now.

That's better than a mocha any day. 

Dear God, I really and truly love You.  It is amazing to me that I can call Your Name and You are the same every time.  You are always there.  You accept me right where I am.  It doesn't matter where I am, I can call on You.  I don't have to make an appointment, wait for an opening, try back later, be put on hold.  Thank You for your blessings.  Thank You for life, my family, a peaceful home.  Thank You for being You.  (Between You and me, I like the mochas too.)  Amen. ~Me