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Whose plan are you following?

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A few weeks ago I hosted my annual end-of-the-year Sunday School Class Party.  After spending many hours and lots of $$$ preparing for the party, things did not go as planned.

 

1.  Had Ginny (The Mother-in-law, but I knew this one).

2.  Wednesday before the Friday night party, I get a text from my son saying he and his entire family were coming for the weekend and arriving Friday afternoon.  That’s 2 adults and 4 grandkids added to the mix.

3.  Drama.  I don’t know what happened yet, but some kind of drama happened in youth group [I know that surprises all who know youth] on Wednesday and half the group did not show as a result.

4.  Some of the ones that did show did not want to participate in planned activities.  Grandchildren wanted to participate in ALL the activities.

5.  Isn’t that enough?

You know what?  Life is that way sometimes.  No matter what we plan, God is in control of what happens.  He knew all about what would happen at the party.  He is in charge of any results from the party.  I did my part by planning, God will do His part in the hearts of the students and others attending.

 

Best laid plans. . .

Most of us like to have a plan in place.  Plans help us feel ‘in control’ of our lives.  They do, that is, until things go awry.  I know some people who freak out when they have their plans usurped.   I know others who make no plans to avoid disappointment.  God doesn’t mind us making our plans, as long as we don’t leave Him out of the loop or raise a fuss when He has other ideas.

 

Trusting His plan gives life balance

His Plan.

Fortunately, God has a plan.  These are some things we can know about His plans.

 

►His plans never fail.

“…I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” Isaiah 46:9-10

 

►His plans include my good.

“11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

►No matter who governs me or my country, God is my ultimate ruler.

“For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations” Psalm 22:28

Knowing the above, I feel safe, even when my plans go awry.  I trust that God had a purpose in it all, and that He will carry that purpose out, whether I am aware of it or not.  I think we need a reminder of this, especially as those in the USA face the upcoming election.  No one can get in office unless God allows it for His reasons.  This helps me to know that:

 

►A person cannot cheat his/her way in.

►It’s not the end of the world if my candidate is not selected.  It is in God’s plan, and the end of the world will be when He declares it.

►I don’t have to be swayed by circumstances.  I know who has me in His hands regardless of the circumstances.  I know Him.  I trust Him.  That determines my attitudes and actions, not circumstances.

 

I hope as the world seems to have turned upside down, you will place your trust in the only place where it is safe.  Then I hope you will join me in determining to rise above the fray and bring a breath of fresh air into a sticky situation.  My hope is in God, not Obama or Romney.

 

How about you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

 

 

The Power of Words

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What if what I wished for was not what I wanted?  — Me

 *****

This post could turn into a liturgy of unanswered prayers to thank God for, followed by a country song to that effect.  However, that’s not what I meant when I thought this thought.  My focus here is on the words we speak.  For example, I used to wish my husband would change an aspect about himself that I didn’t like.  Well, he has changed, but that’s not what I meant.  I wanted him to keep doing things, but I wanted the attitude to change.  I guess I should have been more specific when I prayed about it?

  *****

Just fix it please!

Sometimes we don’t totally think through the things we think we want.  We don’t look at the aftermath, the unintended consequences, or God’s wisdom and timing in His plans for our life.  We don’t even know what we really want, we just throw out a generic “help, change it” because we’re stressed or worried about something in our life.  As we have discovered in the last few years, you can’t just wish for “change”, because it might not be the kind of change you want to have.  In a way, this is a very shallow form of thinking where we look for a way out of the pain of today.

  *****

And fix it now!

Have you ever wanted something, even asked God for it, and then set about making it happen yourself?  I think we all have.  We want it and we want it now.  When we go ahead of God things just don’t turn out like we envisioned them.  God may have wanted that for us too, but the timing was not right.  So we move ahead of God and wind up losing that thing we wanted or realize it’s not what we really wanted at all.  Sometimes we miss the best God has for us because we won’t wait.  We go ahead and finagle answers for ourself.  God says, “Ok, if that’s how you want it…”.  He gave us free will and won’t force us to wait.  But how many more blessings would we receive, how much less pain, if we would only wait on His timing?

  *****

Communication

When we talk to God, to others, or even our selves, it’s important to think through what we say.  We’ve discussed many ways communication can go wrong in this blog, and this is another.  Someone I know (who does this a lot) brought a project over to the house and said, “This is what I’d like to do.”  What she meant is “This is what I’d like YOU to do.”  I make it a policy not to jump in when people don’t specify what they really want (most of the time) because I’ve learned that it enables that other person to make assumptions he or she should not make.  {If you want something from me, come out and ask me.}  Sometimes speaking in generalities works fine, but when we really think we want something, it pays to get specific with yourself, with others, and with God.  This is not for God’s sake; He already knows what we really want.   Awareness of what we really ask for and what that means helps us not to get what we wished (prayed) for when that’s not what we really wanted at all.

 *****

Take It

 ~*~

When a yearning rises up inside

And pulls your heart toward

Just put it in the Master’s hands

And be in one accord.

 ~*~

Those things we want and think we need

Must haves and ‘rescue me’s

Come from a desperately sinful heart

We must seek Him on our knees

 ~*~

And surrender every want and need

to His amazing, well-mapped plan

For He’s the one who knows us best

And has since before time began

~*~

We speak our thoughts and wait

For His blessings in His time

Hands clasped in supplication

as He works His plan sublime

 ~*~

For we know not the future

nor what will cause us pain

So we trust Him to know us better

Our trust won’t be in vain

~*~

Angela Masters Young c 2012

Stop in for some Refreshment

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After giving a lecture to the people who were standing around gawking at a man who had just been healed about how the power to perform this came from the Jesus they rejected and hung on the cross, Peter says this:

 

Repent therefore, and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.  Acts 3:19

 

We’ve talked a lot about repentance here, but today I want to talk about the last part of that verse.   Have you ever felt the need for refreshing?  I know I have many times.  “Life do get tedious sometimes” as my mother used to say, and we get tired in our walk.  At such times, we long for a time of peace and refreshment.

 

Here he is specifically discussing those who are sin-sick and in need of refreshment.  The principle works for all, however, because Jesus is the source of refreshment, peace, rest, and everything else we need.

 

For the lost:

 

Those who have rejected Jesus walk around in the darkness.  They seek to meet their needs in sin, but sin leads to death.  It’s like having a cancer that slowly eats you away from the inside.  I heard recently of a woman who found out she had cancer two weeks before she died.  She had walked around with this cancer around her and had no idea it was killing her.

 

Jesus is the healer:

 

Jesus heals the sin-sick soul.  He brings His righteousness and His refreshment and His healing to the person who turns to Him, the great Physician.

 

For followers:

 

While we have the refreshment and healing that comes from choosing to repent and follow Jesus, we still have a rough row to hoe at times and need refreshment.  Imagine a farmer out tending to his crops.  Those of you who do farm will understand the work it takes to bring in that crop.  It’s long, hard, exhausting work.  When you come in from the field, you need refreshment.  You don’t just think, hmm, I’d like some refreshment; you go after it.  You probably need a drink the most, but you also need sustenance and rest to rebuild you for the work to come the next day.

 

Jesus is the refresher:

 

Esau, after a hard day of hunting, came in to smell the stew his brother, Jacob, had prepared.  He needed refreshment so much; he was willing to give up his birthright for it.  He is an example of a person trying to get refreshment through sin.  It may have felt good for a while, but it was very temporary – unlike his decision to give up his birthright.

 

Jesus is the Living Water: 

Falling Water Falls

Falling Water Falls (Photo credit: dbarronoss)

 

When Jesus refreshes, it’s not a temporary thing.  As long as we’re walking with Him, we will be refreshed.  It’s like having a living water IV.

 

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.   John 4:14

 

Bread

Bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus is the Bread of Life:

 

Along with providing Living Water, Jesus also provides the Bread of Life.  This bread fills us and gives us the strength to keep going.  It refreshes and provides life – abundant life!

 

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  John 6:35

 

Jesus is the Light of Life:

 

Have you ever walked into a dark house and stumbled over something?  It refreshes to turn on the light so you can see what’s in front of you.  Jesus provides the eternal Light that shows us the way.

 

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

 

Refresh

Jesus: He’s the real thing! Refresh (Photo credit: katerha)

Jesus is Everything we Need:

 

Do you need refreshment?  Take a moment to cuddle up close to Jesus and receive the refreshment He offers.  It’s better than anything sin has to offer for sure.  Taste and see that the Lord, He is good!

 

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.  Psalm 34:8

 

Descriptions of Christ  http://www.parentcompany.com/awareness_of_god/doctoc.htm

 

Our choices make us

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Our very lives are fashioned by choice.  First we make choices.  Then our choices make us.” — Anne FrankSignature of Anne Frank

 

When I saw this quote, I had to sigh because it is so true.  As a human being, I usually look for other reasons why my life/body/relationships/other isn’t as it should be.  But, at some point along the way, I made a choice.  That choice often led to other choices, leading me down a path I never intended to go.

 

 

We can think of those choices as building blocks.  What have you built your life on?  What kind of choices make up your foundation?  Every time we make poor choices, we are adding an unstable block.  Too many of those, and you can see the possibility for disaster.

 

Let’s use health as an example.  Every time I choose to eat something not good for me (on a consistent basis), every time I choose to sit instead of move, every time I go on a bad diet and mess up my metabolism, every time I make bad choices, my bad choices will make up who I am.  I am not saying that everyone is responsible for all their health issues.  Let me repeat that:  I am NOT saying that everyone is responsible for all their health issues.  Sometimes things happen that are outside of our control. Cancer happens; accidents happen; we get old; life takes us places we don’t want to go.  But, those things aside, our choices do effect our health.

 

We can apply this principle (sowing and reaping) to other things in our life as well.  Do we choose to be in relationships with people who are not good for us?  Do we choose to get drunk or high and not only harm our bodies but set ourselves up for even worse decisions under the influence?  Do we choose selfish desires over generosity?  This list of questions could go on for a mile or more, but the point is that our choices do make a difference – now and in the future.

 

So, now what?  I’m on this other path, and I want off!  Am I stuck?  While I may not be able to undo everything I have done by my choices, I can begin by making better choices from here on.

 

Bible

Bible (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The first choice I recommend for all is to choose Jesus as Savior and Lord.  With that choice as a foundation, you have a lot of resources at your command.  As you seek to deepen your relationship with your Creator, you will begin to be like Him and make better choices.The second  choice I recommend is spending time in God’s Word.  Proverbs is a great place to find instruction in wise choices.  The entire Bible is a manual in both good and bad choices.

English: Jonah, as in Jonah 2:10, "And th...

English: Jonah, as in Jonah 2:10, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”;watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

–Jonah decided to run from the Lord’s calling.  That didn’t work out so well for him.

 

–Noah decided to obey the Lord, despite the taunts of everyone else in the world.  He lived; they died.

 

–Lot choose to pitch his tent toward Sodom and Gomorrah.  While that may have seemed a rather neutral choice, it was anything but.  His eyes were fixed on his own comfort instead of God.  This choice led to major destruction for his family and tainted the rest of his life.

 

Even when our choices seem to have no right or wrong, they send us in different directions.  It is wise to spend time in prayer before making those decisions so we don’t go in the wrong direction and live to regret it.

 

What choices have you made lately?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related articles

Power over Circumstances

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What a summer this has been 😀  All the grandkids’ alone weeks are finished, 3 more nights of VBS (Vacation Bible School), the Mother-in-law goes back home, and I should have a bit of time for myself, and you!  In VBS this week, we have been learning about God’s power.  Monday, we learned that God has power over all our circumstances.  What a powerful lesson, even for my 4th graders.  My 3 special needs students even joined in when coming up with things God has power over in our lives.

 

God has power over circumstances:

This morning, I was thumbing through my Bible.  A paper fell out that reminded me of one of the times in my life when my circumstances needed some God power.  The year was 2002.  My father had Streptococcus agalactiae, a very resistant bacteria many of us carry in our intestines and/or female areas.  It used to be mostly known as a problem for babies after birth, but is increasingly a problem in older adults as well.  Let’s just say, it’s not pretty.   He also had MRSA in there.

 

Man-eaters

The Strep ate up a heart valve as well as some other areas in his body.  I won’t go into all the details, but it wasn’t pretty.  I was in the middle of my final student teaching for my Master’s Degree at the time as well, teaching all week and heading to Louisville to the hospital on the weekends and working on my Capstone paper when I could.  (That’s another God story for another time.) We almost lost dad three times during this time (13 weeks in the hospital and a 3 month + stay in a rehab facility after to learn how to walk again, etc..

One night (details shared in a bit) they called the family into a private waiting room and told us his chances were not very good to make it through the current situation.  We all huddled in prayer and praise as we waited.  I had written out Psalm 3 as a prayer for my father:

 

Psalm 3

“O LORD, how my adversaries have increased!  Many (bacteria) are rising up against me.  Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’ [Selah].  But Thou art a shield about me, my glory and the one who lifts up my head.  I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. [Selah.]  I lay down and slept, and I awoke for the LORD sustains meI will not be afraid of ten thousands of (bacteria) who have set themselves against me round about (my body).  Arise, O LORD: save me, O my God!  For Thou hast smitten all my enemies (the bacteria) on the cheek; Thou hast shattered the teeth of the wicked (bacteria).  Salvation belongs to the LORD:  Thy blessing be upon Thy people!  [Selah.]”

 

Journal entry on paper

6/1/2002  “Last night we almost lost Dad again.  His heart was having trouble pumping, his blood pressure dropped.  He stopped breathing and had to be intubated.  They found fluid around his heart and had to open him up in the ICU.  They then rushed him into surgery.  The prognosis was not good. . .  BUT God is ALWAYS GOOD! !  His heart returned to a normal beat, and he’s STILL ALIVE ! !  God has spared him once again ! !”

♫♪Isn’t He good to you!

Isn’t He good to me!

Haven’t things always been the way He always said they’d be!

Hasn’t He done for you  all that He said He’d do!

Isn’t He grand!

Isn’t He kind!

Isn’t He good!♫♪

 

{Me again}

” Yes He is!   He was!   He always will be!

Regardless of outcome or what circumstances look like,

– – – – – – I KNOW MY GOD IS GOOD ! !”

 

Yes, had my dad died, God would still be good.  I am not saying that seeming good outcomes are from God and the others are not.  I’m just saying this is one instance in which God did a miracle and allowed my Dad to live (again – many near death stories with him).

 

No matter what the circumstance,

God is in it.

He goes with us through it.

He has a plan in mind.

He has HIS plan in mind.

He has His Best plan for me in mind.

He is in control.

He has power over all.

What a great place to rest!

 

Do you have a circumstance that looks impossible?  Do you worry or trust when life gets hard?  Do you have God stories about times when God’s hand was obvious in your life?  Have you learned to trust Him despite the waves crashing around you?

 

By the way.  I finished my Student Teaching (not as well as usual, but well);  I checked into a hotel to finish my paper and excelled; and I graduated with my Masters of Education Degree.  The only explanation for making it through all this at the same time:  God’s power 😀  Thanks for letting me share this story with you all.

Among the many issues with my dad is a fun one. Look closely at his eyes. Have you ever met someone with “buffalo eyes”? This is one thing he is in medical journals for. The other we’ll save for another time.

But I need you!

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Tonight, I sit here just resting from the quiet and the stress of the week with my #2 granddaughter.  I get a few days off before I get my grandson, so I will be working on VBS and writing, writing, writing.  This week I did not get any writing done at all.  I did more the week I had the Mother-in-law and the #1 granddaughter at the same time.   I adore my #2 (my Rissa Roo).  She is, however, extremely needy.  She is #2 of 4, and often gets the short end of the stick.  Since the advent of her 2 yo sister, she has taken up baby talk.  This is one of many annoying habits, but it is one that compares to Chinese water torture nails on a chalk board.

I have tried many tactics to eliminate this habit (at least around me), but to no avail.  We did make progress this week, but it got to the point where I had to turn away from her and tell her she could choose to talk baby talk somewhere else or choose to play with Grandma.  The point was to show her that her choices are her choices – a habit if you will – and she has the ability, at 8, to make better ones.  We had a few hour long sessions with tears and more, but in the end, she was doing much better.  The thing is that this child is so needy.  She is also bossy.  Along with that and some other quirks she has picked up as a bid to get attention (unconsciously), something has gone wrong.

So what? you may say.  The point here is that the child is desperate for attention.  However, the things she does to get attention work against her bringing negative attention instead of good attention.  Of course, all children will choose negative attention over no attention.  In my little Rissa Roo’s case, I have to worry about her because the attention getting behaviors are so bad and so hard to take, even for her grandma who adores her!  I want to help her learn how to 1) entertain herself, 2) accept that she doesn’t need attention 24/7 (it’s never enough) and 3) learn that the negative behaviors are choices that do not work, and so teach her better choices.  She also talks a blue streak and needs to learn that it’s ok to be quiet sometimes, but that’s another story and may have help from her ADHD. 😀

Horizontal communication, that between us and others cannot happen in this kind of environment.  It may take an 8 year old a while to understand, but I know adults who have this issue as well.  They are overly needy and seek to have that need filled in ways that push others away instead of drawing them.  Sometimes, these behaviors are habits, learned early and left over from childhood.  Some of us outgrow these behaviors as we grow.  Others, either because they do not see them or because they don’t know any better, continue in behaviors that effectively cut off their ability to truly communicate with others and thus get their attention needs met.

Vertical communication, that between us and God, can look like this at times too.  We may not see it as ‘attention getting behavior’ (and neither does the child or the adult in the above paragraphs) but it works the same.  Let’s say God does something for you.  You say thank you (sometimes), but not much time lapses before you want something else.  Some people get upset if God doesn’t do what they want in the time they want, forgetting all that God has already done for them.  It’s like God has to prove His love over, and over, and over, and over.  Jesus death on the cross is proof enough, and if we get nothing else, it’s more than we deserve.  Yet we can act like a young child who loves mommy when she’s happy, but tells mommy she’s a ‘bad’ mommy when angry.

The Israelites displayed this behavior, and I believe God used their stories to show us how we do this too–so no judging allowed.  God would do miraculous things for them and as soon as life got a little tough, they would turn away from Him or whine because they are unhappy with the now.  They forgot the big things God did!  We may wonder how they could march across a sea/river on dry land, among other miracles, and ever gripe to God again, but they did.  And so do we if we do not watch out.  I sometimes wonder if it breaks God’s heart as much as it breaks this Grandma’s to see a child hurting and doing all the wrong things to deal with it.  I’m sure this is something He sees way more than I do:  People looking for love in all the wrong places. . . 😦

Do you have attention getting habits that interfere with your horizontal and vertical communication?  How do you keep a grateful heart, appreciating what you get, while not griping when things don’t go that well?  Anyone have advice for teaching this to an 8 year old?  I’d love to hear what you have to say about this topic.  

BTW–the other kids have wrong behaviors too, but they are just a bit easier to deal with and more amenable to correction.  AND I l♥ve my Rissa Roo no matter what she does or doesn’t do.  😀

Ten ways to love: Keeping promises

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The last of our 10 ways to love series is:   Promise without forgetting.

12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.     Proverbs 13:12

 

Have you ever made a promise and then forgot to fulfil it?  Maybe your intentions were good, but busyness got in the way.  Has anyone ever made you a promise and not kept it?  This reminds me of a post over on M3 by Anne Marie Dwyer called “The thought does not count“.  When it comes to promises, the thought does not count!

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

Sure, son, I’ll take you to the ball game.—–Sorry, son, I had to work overtime—-translation:  I got busy at work and forgot.

I’ll pick up the dry cleaning on my way home from work—–Sorry, I forgot—-translation:  Sorry, I forgot because I was thinking about something else.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

I’m sure you’ve all been on both sides of the equation.  It’s easy to promise and not so easy to keep the promise.

When someone goes through a certain mood cycle, this person will promise about anything.  The promises made during this time, while well meant, are worthless because follow through is non-existent.  The promises are to convince me to let her have her way.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

Think teen:

I’ll be home by 10:00; I promise! —  You can trust me; I promise! — I can’t wait because I love you; I promise! . . .

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

When someone makes a promise and then doesn’t do it, it “makes the heart sick.”  I have been there a few times when someone made a promise and then it never materialized.  This is multiplied exponentially when it comes to children.  Since they tend to hear the word “maybe” as, “Sure I promise I’ll do that,” they may need to learn the difference between those kind of ‘promises’ and the real thing.  However, they trust; they think people keep their promises; they are devastated when those promises are not kept.

 

Saying I love you seems simple, but it’s very difficult.  After all,  love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  (I Corinthians 13)

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

So, if you want to show love to another:

Listen without interrupting.

Speak without accusing

Give without sparing

Pray without ceasing.

Answer without arguing.

Share without pretending.

Enjoy without complaint.

Trust without wavering.

Forgive without punishing.  and

Promise without forgetting.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

No one loves perfectly outside of God, but how do you hold up?  Have you learned how to truly love?

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