Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stop, Look and Listen

I try to write out of my own personal experiences with the Lord. Just today, as I curled up on my bed with my laptop and devotional book in hand, I was ready. Ready to hear from God. Soaking music was playing softly in the background and I was in position . . . postured for Him to speak.

After waiting a few minutes, I didn't hear anything. C'mon, Jesus, speak. I said to myself. I turned up the volume on my computer thinking I would usher His presence in a little quicker if my music were louder. Still nothing. I peeked out of one eye at the clock on the bottom of the screen. Six or seven minutes and two whole songs had gone by, yet I didn't hear the familiar calming voice in my spirit. C'mon, Lord. I know you've got something to say, I prayed.

And what I heard was: Wait. Wait? I thought. I am waiting. I've been waiting. Now come on. Is this as comical to you as it is to me now? Ahhhh . . . how often do we rush into the presence of God expecting him to dish out a word like our local barista dishes out our favorite latte on demand?

We struggle (at least I know I do!) with stopping from the ordinary, looking into the face of Christ and listening to what he has to say. Prayer isn't just us talking all the time. It's really a conversation. God speaks, we listen. We speak, He listens. Even still, it's difficult to cultivate a quiet spirit.

Listen. Just listen. The Father has so much to say. Are we listening? Not to our pastor's words, not to the television preacher and not even to the lyrics of a worship song, but to the still, small voice that is ever speaking to our souls. Can you hear Him? God is always talking, but we talk over Him so much that we fail to hear him. Isn't His voice enough for you?

You've gotten my attention, Lord. Today, I choose to stop, look and listen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Will Come

Driving in the rain to my son's preschool this morning, I was again reminded that Spring is here.  I can hardly believe it.  It seems like only yesterday when my husband and I were braving below freezing temps to pick out the perfect Christmas tree.

This past winter was unusually harsh in Virginia Beach, where I live. Temps often dipped in the low twenties and snow fell on several different occasions.  "I'm not used to this weather!" I often moaned. You see, I grew up here and can count on one hand the times we have had snow in my lifetime. I would open my closet door and long for the days when I could wear my strapless tank tops and flip flops again. 

Now, all of the sudden, it seems, Spring has come. A few days ago, we were in the mid-eighties!  I was lovin' it! Even with today's rain, temps hovered near 60.  It's true, I said to myself.  Spring has come just like I knew it would. 

That got me thinking.  How often when we are in the midst of a crisis, an unforeseen occurrence or tragedy do we think, "I'm never going to recover from this" or "Will this ever end?"  But, no matter how bleak your circumstances, the good news is Spring Will Come!  It has to.  Just like God has ordained the astronomical seasons, so He has ordained the seasons of your life. I love how Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." (NLT) Hear that?  Everything has its appointed time or season. 

I had been going through a difficult season in one of my relationships.  No matter how hard I prayed or tried, nothing seemed to work.  As a matter of fact, things only seemed to get worse. When I read Ecclesiastes 3:1, however, I was at peace.  I knew that God was able to bring an end to that season of strife and misunderstanding.  And He did.  Now, that relationship has been restored.  It's like it's raining love now!

All in God's time.  Remember, Spring Will Come.  Just wait for it.  I know that's the hard part but no matter how much we push or pull, no matter whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow, it is destined that the seasons do change  . . . in God's perfect timing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's Like Being Born Again

Feels Like I'm Born Again

Ok, I have a confession. I don't watch the news. Too many fear-inducing stories. Instead I will scan Yahoo News from time to time. Today, I stumbled upon a news article on about a girl named Carlina White who was abducted from a New York hospital in 1987. The story ends on a positive note with Carlina solving her own kidnapping and being reunited with her birth parents.

The thing that struck me about this story wasn't only the fact that this girl had been abducted from right underneath her parent's noses (that could've been my child!) but what she said at the reunion with her biological family: "I'm so happy. At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand new. It's like being born again," Carlina White told The Associated Press.

I began thinking of the Christian experience. Isn't that just like being born again into God's family? At first, when you realize your sins have been forgiven, you're as high as a kite, happy indeed. Then, you begin feeling "funny," or nervous. "Am I really okay with God now? Did he really forgive me?" "What are my friends and family gonna think about this?" Doubt may creep in. Memories of your past may flash through your mind. Everything is brand new... and can be somewhat scary. But, you feel like a different person. You don't look at people or situations the same. You've been made new and it's a great feeling!

Jason Gray sums it up so well in his song, "I Am New."

If you have been born again, enjoy the experience. If you are "pre-born-again," (not yet a Christian) jump in, the water's great!

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Setback or Setup? Submitting to God's Plan for Your Life

When I was sixteen and a senior in high school, I had my whole life planned out. I KNEW that I would graduate high school 2 days after my 17th birthday. I KNEW I would graduate college just before my 21st birthday. I KNEW I would go on to become a child psychologist, though I could barely stomach the idea of going to school for another four years after undergrad. And I KNEW I would be married by 27 to a loving husband and have 4 kids...3 boys and a girl. I KNEW all this because I had my whole life planned out.

Okay, maybe I'd be married by 28, what's a year here or there? I laugh now at my presumptuous and strict timeline. Who was driving my life anyway? Well, if you had asked me, of course I would have said God was, but in reality, I was. I was making my own seemingly good choices and asking God to bless them...after the fact. Boy, did that get me into trouble.

Not only did I not graduate college at 20, but I gave up my aspirations to become a child psychologist after my first semester. I just couldn't do 8 years of school! I got married at 18 with a 6 week old baby to boot. I worked for a large national insurance company for a while before eventually finding fulfillment at a small non-profit. Three additional kids later (yes, I did actually have 3 boys and a girl!), I find myself pursuing my true love...writing.

Writing was something I always dreamt I would do...later. Perhaps after I had worked as a psychologist for a few years, I thought maybe I'd write a textbook or something. Or, maybe after I had raised my children, I would write a novel.

But God had another plan. Romans 8:28 reminds, "All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes."

Sometimes our setbacks can be blessings in disguise, setups even. You see, after recommitting my life to Christ in my early twenties and giving God full control, I began to see Him working his plan in my life in the most unexpected ways. God has truly blown my mind with the way he works things out for my good. I have been given vocational opportunities that I was way unqualified for, strategic connections I could have never made on my own and a fulfilling life's purpose.

I couldn't have planned my life better if I had tried! So, maybe instead of beating yourself up at your setbacks, LOOK UP! God just might be setting you up to experience your life's greatest mission.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year...New You

Okay, I know I'm a little late but Happy New Year and welcome to a new you! Some scorn New Year's resolutions believing them to be a set up for failure. Others are just too pessimistic to believe for change. Still, others prefer to call them "goals." Whichever terminology you use, I am always in favor of folks taking any opportunity to improve themselves, self included.

Every New Year is a time for us to reflect upon last year's mistakes and successes. Someone once said, "If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't trying." I concur. Think about the goals you made for 2010. Were you successful in completing them? I used to beat myself up about not finishing what I had started. It's one of my own pet peves. Then, I had an ephiphany: whatever progress I made was indeed progress! I hadn't "failed" at completing something, I had succeeded in beginning it in the first place.

So many times it's easy for us to be down on ourselves, always striving, without taking a look at what we actually have accomplished. So what if you didn't lose all 20 pounds you set out to lose. What did you do? You lost 5? Great! You joined a gym? Fantastic. Keep up the good work. The Bible says, "Steady plodding brings prosperity," Proverbs 21 :5a TLB. Little by little, day by day, moment by moment and before you know it, those dreams and goals have materialized in their entirety. Sure, there may be times when we need to refocus, recharge or recommit ourselves, but keep the long term goal in mind. You will make it if you continue to try.

Allow 2011 to introduce you to an all new you. Let this be your year to see those resolutions flourish.

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