That Wasn’t What I Expected, Lord…

That Wasn’t What I Expected, Lord…

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Lord, I was confused for quite some time about that answer. “Yes,” would have made perfect sense, and I felt prepared to accept the blessing that I requested. And I was prepared to thank You for it.

But You said, “No,” and it came out of nowhere because I thought all signs were pointing to You responding to this prayer the way I hoped.

I felt blindsided, Lord. And You are very well aware of that because I told You several times. And then I asked several times, “Why, God?” And I did not sense an answer.

I began to realize I was in need of a heart check. I prayed that You would adjust my attitude to one of gratefulness, not one of bitterness. And while You were probing my heart, my eyes needed an exam as well. I needed You to clear my vision; to help me to focus on the many blessings in my life, instead of what I thought was missing.

Lord, I know in the future there will be more unforeseen responses to my prayers.  Remind me that whether or not I understand Your reply, it will be good. It will be right. It will be the answer that allows Your, “All things work together for those who love the Lord,” promise to be on display in my life. Lord, help my definition of good to be in alignment with Your definition of good.

Lord, from now on, help me to invite You into my heartache instead of shutting You out. Help me to acknowledge and appreciate Your Presence in my pain. If I intentionally listen for Your voice, my heart will be open to new and exciting lessons about Your restoration and redemption.

Lord, I am grateful for Your blessings. You bless me with more than I deserve and more than I could ever earn. You generously give to overflowing out of Your deep love, even though I too often zero in on the empty areas because of my short-sightedness.

You take no delight in my distress. You are willing to teach, guide, and love me through disheartening moments. You come alongside me. You never barge in and insist that I instantly proclaim Your plan as better than mine. Instead, You tenderly offer Your enlightenment, as I process the pain and revitalize and regain trust in You.

Lord, You have promised hope and a future to all Your children. Help me realize that if I am trusting You with my future, it also means believing that You know what You are doing in my present.  Replace any lingering feelings of lack and loss with Your perfect peace.
In Your holy name, I pray. Amen.

Be Courageous

Be Courageous

Just a quick thought I wanted to share with you –

We’re told many times in the Bible to be courageous. God doesn’t tell us to feel courageous. He says, “Be courageous.” Often it’s more about us doing that thing God has asked us to do even though we might still feel nervous or fearful. Courage is doing it anyway. Do it knowing that God will show up and help you through it. Do it knowing that the world’s response is much less important than the obedience you’ve shown in doing it. If you’re waiting for a feeling of courage to come before you step out of your comfort zone, you’re going to wait yourself right out of an opportunity to do something great.

Does God Care About Our Happiness?

Does God Care About Our Happiness?

Friends, this is my July contribution to devotableapp.com, a website I write for monthly. Check them out on their website, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter for daily inspiration!

A quick internet search on, “Does God care about our happiness?” displays titles of blog posts and articles that provide positive, negative, and “somewhere-in-the-middle” answers to that question. Some declare that God definitely wants us to be happy. Some assert that our happiness is likely not on His list of top concerns. And others make the case that He absolutely does not care if we are happy or not. 

Personally, I am going with the “somewhere-in-the-middle” answer.

Am I saying God does not want us to be happy? Not exactly. Don’t get me wrong. God cares deeply about each one of us, and Zephaniah 3:17 says He takes great delight in us. I certainly do not think He wants us to be unhappy!

I AM saying that in general, we have become a society that places our happiness (which is a feeling that wavers and waffles) as way too high of a priority. Statements such as, “I’m just not happy anymore,” “You no longer make me happy,” and “I just can’t remember what it feels like to be happy,” often precede unhealthy, self-centered thought patterns which can result in selfish, destructive decisions. It is not our spouse’s, kid’s, co-worker’s, friend’s OR God’s responsibility to make us happy or to keep us in a happy state. That is an unfair amount of misplaced pressure to put on anybody! 

I AM saying that joy and happiness are not the exact same thing. It makes me happy when I wake up to sunshine, breakfast in bed, or an encouraging message. My happiness may be affected if I wake up to dark skies, complaints, or a sharply-worded email, but I have a choice about whether or not I remain joyful in the midst of it all. Our temporary circumstances frequently seem to dictate the level of our happiness, but trust in an everlasting, eternal, and enduring God brings genuine joy.

I AM saying, “Friends, let’s be aware of what we are truly seeking!” If we seek happiness, our fickle feelings will prevent us from reaching the point we are striving toward. But knowing God is in control, and that He is willing to walk with us through anything we face brings a joy we can depend on to be an anchor in our life throughout all situations, even disappointment or disaster.

Enough about what I am saying…what does the Bible say? In God’s Word, it tells us that being in His presence and remaining in His love produces joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And John 15:10-11 says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

If we change our internet search and our focus to instead wondering what God truly does care about, we will find His concern is not whether or not we feel happy, but rather that we are seeking joy in His presence. That is definitely a joy worth searching for. 

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Years ago, whether our family was arriving home after a week-long vacation or a day-long excursion, our kids could accurately predict that the words out of my mouth as our car pulled into the garage would be, “Home sweet home.”

I have always loved going away. However, when it was time for a family trip to end, an undeniable joy would grow inside of me as our car neared our house. As much as I love family time in exciting locations, and even though these trips provide treasured memories to reminisce about, the truth is, I love being home even more. I feel comfortable, content, and cozy. I feel “at home.”

My husband and I have four children and two daughters-in-law, and all six of them are in varying stages of their college or career pursuits, which means “coming home” has an entirely new meaning these days. 

When our adult children come to our house to stay for a day or two, they open the refrigerator for refreshments and are aware that they are more than welcome to use any household items. It feels natural to them as they “make themselves at home,” and I would not have it any other way.

John 14:23 says, “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  Ephesians 2:22 says, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Clearly, God’s Word reminds us that we are to be a dwelling place for our Lord – that He is eager to make His home in us with His Spirit. 

What an unbelievable blessing that Jesus chooses to abide in us and take up residence in our lives. Regardless of the fact that we are unworthy of such a gift, He sincerely desires that our hearts will be His home. Friends, our Lord longs to “make Himself at home,” in us!

What are some ways that our hearts can be a more welcoming place for Him? Are we striving to live our lives in such a way that it will feel natural for Him to dwell in our hearts, as He opens our eyes to His plan for us and uses us for His glory?

As we boldly love Him and bravely live for Him, let our prayer be that we will be a “home sweet home” for Jesus Christ! 

Loving God and Others With Our All

Loving God and Others With Our All

(Following is this month’s contribution to Devotableapp.com – check out that website for daily devotions. I feel very blessed to be one of the contributors!)

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Keep these words in your heart that I am telling you today. Do your best to teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.”

This passage found in Deuteronomy 6 reminds me that God does not think of living for Him and loving Him as a minor matter! He does not expect His believers to categorize it as minor either!

How do we keep it at the forefront, no matter what activity we are engaged in and time of day it is? How do we have conversations about anything else, if we are supposed to talk about “these words” while we are “sitting in our house, walking on the road, lying down, and getting up”? I mean, that pretty much covers everything, doesn’t it?

Loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength and teaching that to our children when we are “sitting in our house,” should undoubtedly be the easiest assignment on the list, right? After all, we are surrounded by the people we love the most! Treating each other in a loving way using loving words is probably pretty easy when life is going smoothly. But when a conflict arises, caused by someone who lives in our house with us, do we handle it in a manner that shows our family that one of God’s highest priorities is also one of ours? If it is, then we will decide to show God’s grace and model His forgiveness. We will demonstrate His humility and display His peace. Family disputes will be settled using Christlike principles, therefore falling in line with the Deuteronomy precept.

Loving the Lord with our all when we “walk on the road,” makes me think of our everyday life and everyday routine. When we are at our jobs, at school, attending the basketball game or the church social, and sitting in on the city council meeting, how do we speak to others? How do we speak about others? Is our love for God and His ways evident in the way we work with others and cultivate relationships in our community? Do our children see the way we treat others as an extension of our Christian faith? If we are loving the Lord the way He talks about in verses 5, 6, and 7, then our love for others (yes even those hard-to-love people) will overflow from that!

This passage also mentions when we lie down and when we get up as times to teach God’s love to our children. If we begin the day asking for God’s presence, love, and protection, and end the day thanking Him for all of the above, then our lying down and our getting up is also following Deuteronomy 6’s command.

Loving with our whole heart, soul, and strength should not only be talked about, but modeled as well. God is exceptional at showing us how.

Loving God and others with our all is quite an assignment. Fortunately, we serve quite a God!

Thank You For Your Faithfulness

Thank You For Your Faithfulness

Lord, You are the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in a world where genuine stability and certainty is unheard of…we are beyond grateful. 

Lord, thank You for being completely faithful in a world where vows are often broken, commitments are frequently backed out on, and trust is routinely betrayed. Thank You for being dependable in a world where plans are often altered and schedules are often adjusted with no regard for who it affects.

In a world that is weak and wavering in respecting absolute right and wrong, Your Word is a solid, steadfast treasure. Your eternal promises are a gift. If You have said it, we can be assured that it will come to pass. It is settled and sure. 

In a world of instant relief, instant rice, and instant replay, etc., we thank You for demonstrating to us a patience that is unmatched. We are thankful that You teach us the meaning of perseverance, what it accomplishes in our faith, and how it enhances our character. 

Thank You for who You are and for changing us to become more and more like You. When we display faithfulness, dependability, patience, and perseverance to others, they are then blessed with a glimpse of Your character in a world that is in desperate need of more of You. Open our eyes to opportunities to develop Your characteristics in our lives. Open our hearts to the desire to seek more of You, so that those traits increasingly become a part of who we are.

We pray this in Your holy name. Amen.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.  Psalm 119:90

Walking Partner

Walking Partner

I might just be the queen of allowing my feelings to get in the way of facts. I have a habit and a history of seeing my life’s circumstances in light of my emotions. However, a lifestyle in which my life’s circumstances are instead viewed by applying the Light of the World’s illumination is a goal I am praying about and pursuing.

Taking stock of what is happening through God’s lens instead of a “how I am feeling today” lens is valuable. And it is necessary. It helps us to confidently react based on the way God helps us see our situation, instead of allowing our emotions to dictate our response.

If I wake up each day and make a conscious decision to spend that day walking in God’s presence, I am much more likely to desire to live in a way that pleases God. One way that will be exhibited is that I will be more likely to react to challenges in a better manner. I will run my reactions through a filter of, “What is a Christlike approach to handling this situation?” rather than an “I handled that impulsively…how do I go back and fix what I did wrong?” filter.

When I think of walking with someone, I realize it is a conscious decision that takes action on my part. I have a walking partner. Years ago, we used to walk more often, but now because of busy lives, our walks have become a once-a-week commitment. We do not just “happen” to exercise together. It requires us to set our alarms, get out of bed a little earlier than usual, and don our exercise gear and walking shoes. Walking with God also requires a conscious decision…it does not happen by chance. We make a choice to take the steps toward God that prove our desire is to be right by His side. That is the best choice we can make each day. It is a choice that grants us an improved mindset and an increased sense of peace.

How beautiful it is to serve a God who is eager and willing to walk through this life with us step by step and to shed His light on our lives.

 

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 ESV

(This is my May contribution to Devotableapp.com –  a website full of encouragement!)