Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This…

mama says
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Today I am heading to Wooster, Ohio to share my testimony at the Stonecroft After Five group.  It seems like the few days leading up to when I speak are always difficult.  Typically my back starts giving me fits.  Then there is always a little chaos thrown into the mix of some sort whether it is mine or someone’s I love.  This time some depression is edging its way in as I am still grieving the loss of my brother in October.  To ride in the car today for over seven hours with my back the way it is I have a good reason to call and cancel.  One might question if I’ll be able to walk by the time I get home tonight. Mama said there’d be days like this.

However, I find that just like anything else in life serving the Lord will have its obstacles.  There will be roadblocks in my way at times and frustrations to the point I want to just give up.  Fortunately I know where all of the trials and struggles are coming from and it’s not from God.  I have never been disappointed when I pushed through and served God despite the storms raging around me.  For instance, the small group of single women I lead during the years I was going through my divorce and doing the single mom thing was one of the biggest blessings I’ve had in my life.  It was also during the most horrific time of my life.  If I would have allowed my sorrows, tiredness and depression to overtake me at that time I know the huge joy I would have missed had I not been obedient and served.

There are some who choose to sit back and give up before they even try.  I’m sure you know who they are in your life as they are the ones who are always blaming everyone else for their shortcomings.  They enjoy having a little pain in their lives so they can wallow around in it saying, “Woe is me!”  You know who I’m talking about don’t you?  Are you one that is going to let a little thing like back pain or chaos to stop you in your tracks?  I’m not trying to minimize pain and its debilitating powers.  I’ve been there and got the t-shirt.  However, pain or no pain…sickness or not…we can all be useful in serving God.  It may not be driving seven hours to go speak.  However, it might be dropping a note of encouragement to a friend or saying a prayer for someone you know needs it.   It’s a choice we all make how we will spend our days.  The last time I checked God was not making my decisions for me, nor was my husband or anyone else in my life.  We are all given the freedom to choose if we will have victory or defeat every day when our feet hit the floor.  As Christians, we are all on an even playing field with the same Holy Spirit ready and able to give us guidance and power for our lives.  It’s just merely up to us to make the decision as to who’s driving…us or Him?

So today I will be found starting my day at the chiropractor followed by singing praise and worship songs all the way to Wooster.  I know God is calling me to speak and tell other women that they too can press on through life’s muck and find the beauty in a life of serving God no matter what chaos rages around them.  Will there be hard times?  Yes.  Will we feel like not doing it sometimes?  Yes.  Will chaos spin around us as we try to stay on the narrow path?  Yes.  Will we be blessed for our perseverance?  YES!!

Life is what you make it.  The choices are yours.  How will you make your life count for today?

P.S.  By the way, please remind me of this blog post the next time you hear me say I’m not doing something I should be because I am too tired or in too much pain.  I’m only human.  Mama said there would be days like this…as my friend Cyndy says, “Unfortunately Mama was right.”  Be blessed and remember…get out there and be a blessing!

James 1:2-4  (NIV) Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

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Black Friday, Cyber Monday…Where Is the Best Deal?

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Were you one of those who were out all hours of the night trying to get a deal on Black Friday?  I personally prefer sitting in front of the fireplace with my laptop and a cup of coffee waiting for the Cyber Monday deals to pop up on my screen!  I’ve saved about $90 just this morning in three purchases already and I’m only on my first cup of coffee!  I didn’t have to fight the crowds, knock anyone down, or lose sleep.   I didn’t even have to get out of my pajamas!  For a person who hates to shop…life is good!We have all looked for a way to save some money at one time or another—even the wealthiest of the wealthy.  How do you think they got that rich?  It doesn’t come by paying full price for everything!  Sometimes this idea of getting the best deal flows over into other aspects of our lives as well.  Some don’t see the need to work for the deal.  The truth is that if someone gets a deal and saves a lot of money they have typically worked hard to find the deal and moved fast to get there before everyone else.  If you see a successful CEO in a company, chances are that person started at the bottom and worked their way up to where they are today.  Most people aren’t handed the top position without a lot of hard work and proof they can do the job.

As I was reading my Bible this morning, the scripture in Ephesians 1:17-20 struck me.  It reads, “…I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength  he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…” 

Wow.  Many of us reading have accepted the Lord as our personal Savior, but do we know Him like this scripture says we can?  Paul is praying for those he is writing to for wisdom and revelation…enlightenment so that they can know the riches of their inheritance and incomparably great power for those who believe.  It’s not just a little power here and there.  Paul describes it as the same mighty strength God exerted when He raised Christ from the dead!  That’s powerful!

There is not a deal in any store or on the Internet that begins to touch the deal we get with God when we believe.  First off, it personally cost us nothing.  On the flip-side it cost Jesus everything.  If we ask God to forgive us of our sins and come into our lives as our Savior we immediately are His heirs and will receive His power into our lives.  However, Paul–a man after God’s own heart–knew the secret.  He was praying for those who had the free gift to receive the wisdom and revelation of exactly what that meant in their lives.  He knew its true value—he had done the homework.  Although the gift is free…we have to work to understand what we have in it.

Many of us are looking for the blue-light special religion.  We accept the free gift of salvation because we know we want it—it’s a deal. The price has been paid in full for us already by Jesus’ death.  However, some of us take that for granted and aren’t always willing to do the rest.  By doing the rest, I’m talking about doing the research—you know, getting to know and understand God’s fullness.  We aren’t any less “saved” if we never do anything else after we accept the free gift.  However, just as if it were the latest and greatest electronic toy, if we delve in and find out all about it we typically discover that we got way more than we realized when we originally made the purchase!   Paul was referring to the power given to us as believers as being the same power God used to raise Christ from the dead!  I trust Paul’s opinion about God’s power as he was one who truly sought and found God’s mightiness in his life.  Paul knew what he was talking about first-hand and he desired that the church know God like he did.

So don’t take the gift of salvation for granted.  Treat it as the best deal you ever got in this life because it is!  Read your Bible, seek God’s wisdom and pray for revelation and enlightenment on ALL that He has to offer you as a believer in Him.  I don’t know about you but I want to KNOW the God I serve and I want to HAVE HIS POWER in my life in a mighty way.  So as you’re hopping from Internet site to site looking for the next big deal…don’t forget the greatest deal on earth that you already have right in front of you.  Cherish It.  Praise It.  Get to know It.  Embrace It.  And don’t forget to tell the world about It this Christmas season!  Be blessed…and of course…go be a blessing!

Thankful To Be Thankful!

Wow!  What an emotional day it was yesterday!  Our church service was about adoption.   I left wanting to sell everything, move to Haiti, work in an orphanage and never have to see another kid in the world ever suffer again!  Obviously, that’s a silly thought; but nonetheless, I left wondering how God was calling me to help those less fortunate.  Then yesterday afternoon we joined many others in the community and delivered Thanksgiving dinner baskets in our surrounding area.  We saw a lot of poverty.  We saw some we suspect may have drug issues leading to their poverty and dysfunctional homes.  Then we went to a couple of very nice middle class homes.  Homes like what lives next to you and me perhaps—just average Americans.

The homes looked nice on the outside, but for them to be on the list for free turkey dinners, something had to be going terribly wrong on the inside.  Perhaps they had lost a job and been unemployed for months–or even years.  It might be that one of the adults in the family decided they didn’t want to be married anymore and the income of the spouse remaining in the home was greatly less than in the past.  I can relate to that.  Perhaps the main bread-winner was ill and the family was just trying to be there for him/her in their last days.  Maybe that explains the homes in disarray on the inside.  One never knows why someone is “on the list” so to speak.  I was reminded that we could all be “on the list” at any given time for any given reason no matter who we are.  I don’t even have to go to Haiti to find them!

Going from home to home with food baskets conjured up feelings I hadn’t felt in many years.  You see, there was a time when I was a single mom and short on cash.  I remember those who came to my door with bags of groceries because they felt God telling them to come.  Not only did they come with groceries; but they came with stuff my picky children would eat!  God even told them what to take!  I had to swallow my pride to accept them but what a blessing it was to get a little help here and there.  This time being on the giving side instead of the taking side was almost as hard.  I know how embarrassed those on the receiving end might have been.  It’s a humbling experience to be in that place.   I’ve been there.  However, on the giving side, you see those whose families have been turned upside down for one reason or another and a meal seems so insignificant.  It leaves one with a feeling that perhaps your turkey dinner you just delivered was merely a band-aid on a gaping wound.  We actually did nothing to help the family get out of the situation they are in.  We simply gave them one day of hope amidst their overwhelming hopelessness.  Then it’s back to reality.  Does God think I failed?  No.  I know I was obedient to complete my tiny part of the big picture He has for that family’s future.  In Matthew 25:40 (NIV) it says, “…Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  He didn’t say only the big things you do count; rather, He said whatever you do.

Our pastor challenged us Sunday to listen for what God is calling us to do no matter what it might be.  Whether it is to adopt ten children, go start an orphanage or just volunteer, get involved with the local homeless shelter, start a Bible study in our home or simply take a bag of groceries to someone— whatever God is asking us to do , we need to just do it!  Yesterday 225 meals were delivered.  Our family delivered about 8.  It took us about 3 hours to do it.  It’s a good thing that so many other volunteers were called to deliver meals too or we still wouldn’t have it done yet!  As a matter of fact, we wouldn’t be able to get it done before Thanksgiving even working day and night if we had to do it alone.   The one small thing that I can do for God and for others doesn’t look like much.  However, if each one of us is obedient to God when He calls, great things can be accomplished.

I am grateful for a God Who allows me to do His work here on this earth—it gives me purpose.  I am thankful that I personally have had suffering and loss in my life—it gives me compassion and understanding for those I serve.   I am blessed that He doesn’t expect me to do everything needing to be done.  My heart is warmed to know that I have brothers and sisters in Christ all around who are ready and willing to take action at any given time just because God said to!  This makes me part of a family even if my earthly family lets me down or in the case of the orphans—isn’t there at all.  I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to tell me where to go, what to do and how God can use me today.  That gives me power—the end result being a life lived with passion.

What are you thankful for?  Is God using you?  If not, why not?  What little thing can you do to get started on your journey God has planned for you?  How is He speaking to you today?

1Peter 4:10-11 (NIV) Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all…go out and be a blessing!