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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

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

Watching the end of the run

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This week my Mother-in-law, Ginny, is with us again.  Seeing her yesterday was rather shocking because she has gotten worse even in the short time since Ginny last yearwe saw her last!  Physically, she’s rather zombie-like at the moment (that could change any time).  But she’s in the mental mode where I have to remind her to drink or eat and she can’t do even the simple things without help.

 

Watching someone Die

It is one of the most difficult things to watch someone dying, whether slowly or quickly.  I have done this many times in my life, and it never gets easier.  You watch as the “life”, the part that makes the person who he or she is, slowly fades out.  You can see it best in the eyes.  The body begins to die the moment we are born, but when the soul and spirit of a person is trapped inside a mind and/or body that can no longer function, you know physical death is eminent.

In some ways, watching others die around you is a rite of passage of sorts.  It comes to everyone, and we all await our turn.

 

The Good News

The good news is that when someone dies in Christ, they pass through death into life everlasting.  This makes watching death easier in many ways for those of us who believe.  We know it’s only a temporary separation.

 

Entering Death Valley

Entering Death Valley (Photo credit: Frank Kehren)

Watching someone Die

There is another way we have to watch people “die” at times.  I have a family member (well more than one) who keeps making bad decisions.  We are born with the tendency to make bad choices; it’s called a sin nature.  However, as we grow, we should learn the consequences of our bad decisions and begin making more and more better ones.  The child learns that fit throwing gets discipline, so they learn to ask politely and accept the answer (well somewhat ;] ).  Once you touch something hot, you learn not to touch it again.

But some people seem set on a path of destruction.  I’m not talking about the besetting sin, or a sin that plagues

Eye death

Eye death (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

all of us in that we continue to struggle with it.  I am talking about someone who consistently makes bad decisions or self-sabatoges.  Watching someone in this mode is not fun, especially if it is someone you love.  You can see the cliff as they run toward it.  You try to warn them.  You weep as you see their steps running ever nearer to certain destruction.  You weep as they self destruct.  You weep in your prayer closet as you take them before the Lord.  In the end, God gave them free will, and they must make that decision.

My Soul is Sorrowful unto Death

My Soul is Sorrowful unto Death (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes you can help them put things back together when they finally get to the end of themselves and realize there’s a better way.  Sometimes, they have to touch that hot stove again and again and again before they finally get there, if they ever do.

 

The Good News

I have also watched God turn people around many times.  These people often seemed as if a hopeless case, and yet, God stepped in and softened their heart.  He used their poor choices (sin of rebellion) to teach them about Himself until they finally got it and turned around from the cliff to the path He has chosen for them.  They begin to grow and flourish and watching this is just as beautiful and brings almost as many tears as watching the other.  This time, however, they are tears of joy and hope.

As long as there is hope, we can survive anything.  We can persist through unimaginable things if we have hope.  I can tell you that there is always hope in Christ.  Things do change.  People do change.  Life goes on.  We grieve for those we lose, those who don’t make it, and we keep going until it’s our turn to step over that threshold into the shadow of death ourselves.

 

 

Have you had to watch someone die?  Have you watched some self-destruct through their own bad choices?   Has that ever been you?  How did you get through it?  Have you seen God do a work in someone’s life when the world had given up on them?  Do you have hope?

 

 

Truth: It does a body good!

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truth

truth (Photo credit: Erick-Pardus)

Communication, the premise of this blog, cannot happen when based on a lie.  How can you have any sort of real communication when one (or both) parties approach it with a lie?  In other words, one or more person hides the truth and the real meaning behind the attempted communication.  Sadly, the person embracing deceit often has no clue they have done so.  They believe the lie to be the truth.  In the current political maelstrom in the US, both sides have believed lies and called them truth.  Thus, the breakdown of any real communication between parties (or even individuals) regarding politics religion  economics parenting pretty much everything.

.

Malachi 2:17

You have wearied the LORD with your words.  Yet you say,  “How have we wearied Him?”  In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”

In reading this passage this morning, my first thought was my country and it’s trajectory toward destruction.  Everywhere I look, I see people saying that “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them.”   Evil is not good in the sight of the Lord!  And yet, my country (and many others) have called evil good.  These are some phrases I’ve heard that show this:  {Some are direct quotes and some are put together from several statements and implications}

~*~

“God is a God of love, and He just wants people to be happy.”

“A woman has the right to choose what happens in her body.”

“It’s my right as a parent to give my daughter ‘gogo’ juice and parade her in bars and pageants in (a sexual way.)” 

“Since we evolved and there is no God, it doesn’t matter what we do – survival of the fittest and all that.”

“I had to get out of my marriage; I just wasnt happy any more.”

“A real woman knows how to make others pay.”

“God doesn’t discriminate.” 

“What God wants for all of us, above all else, is love.”

~*~

Some of these statements sound really good, right?   Some of them are even true to a point.  However, God does not call evil good, nor does he delight in

Communication

Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

those who do evil.  He wants to save them, for sure, but He does not delight in their deeds.  There is a difference between a person and their deeds.  He may love the person and want to bring them to Himself, but their deeds need forgiveness, not embracing and pride.  God’s love is not a free pass to call evil good and delight in those who do evil.   {Romans 1:32:   who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that they who do such things are
worthy of death, not only practise them, but have fellow delight in those who do them.}

All that to say that embracing a lie leads to broken communication and broken lives.  We cannot truly engage with God or with mankind when we start on the premise of a lie (based on scripture).

Lies have a short and troubled life, but truth lives on forever. — Anonymous

Or, as it says in Proverbs 12:19:  The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences (Photo credit: kxlly)

As I said, with political battles heating up here in the US, the lies fly about like a swarm of locusts.   I wonder if I am the only one who sees the ads with statistics or polls all over them and wonders about their truth?  Anyone who has studied stats knows how easy it is to manipulate them.  The same with polls.  Then we find partial quotes twisted to imply something not the truth.  I think all political ads should come with verification somewhere.  I want to know how the stats were collected, the sample, and much  more to evaluate the truth of the statements.

Going back to our quote, I also see quotes from some of the candidates in the past that have come back to haunt them.  The candidate was either truthful and now wants to cover with lies, or lying and now wants to pretend he/she didn’t mean that.  So how can we find a truth in this maelström of lies?  How can we find ways to communicate with one another?

Lies will come out, but the truth will stand forever.

Have you ever realized you believed something that was a lie?  How do you hold up your beliefs for the litmus test of truth?  Do you rigidly hang on to lies and half truths, or do you seek truth in all your dealings with God and others?  Have you ever felt the communication breakdowns of lies?  How did it feel?  How I long for the day when all truth will be revealed!

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.

How do you see?

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Prejudice

Prejudice (Photo credit: a77eBnY)

Since I’ve told a few stories on my daughter here, I thought I would take a moment to tell you something good about her.   If my daughter has a prejudiced bone in her body, I’ve never seen it.  She doesn’t see skin color, looks, income, etc. when choosing her friends or boyfriends.   Sometimes this puts her in a precarious situation because she doesn’t see the bad in people, even when they’ve hurt her before.  She is always blindsided by people’s bad sides because she just goes in looking at the good in them.

 

The D is much like my mother, who’s naivity caused problems at times.  Being like my mother is a good thing.  I hope, like her grandma, the D will never lose that inability to see things that others turn their noses up at.  She loves 100% and sees the awesomeness in everyone.   That is one of her most endearing characteristics, and goes along with her servant’s heart.

 

English: See Summary

skin color distribution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I wish I could say I was 100% like her.  I never treat people differently, but sometimes I have to fight the instant prejudices that pop up.  I don’t have very many, but I am sometimes a cynic, and struggle with acceptance in certain situations.  I look at my daughter and see this beautiful young lady, so full of love.  I aspire to be like her in this way.  She loves as if she has never been hurt and gives people too many chances, even when they do hurt her.

 

 Prejudice, which sees what it pleases, cannot see what is plain. -Aubrey de Vere

Matthew 7,12

Matthew 7,12 (Photo credit: GlasgowAmateur)

Matthew 7:12   Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Galatians 3:28  2 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

Scripture tells us that we are all the same.  there is nothing that makes one better than the other as far as we are concerned.  While some may reject Jesus, they are just as loved as others.  This is a difficult concept for many.  In the end, we are to treat others just like we want to be treated.  We don’t want others to look down on us, don’t look down on others. . . .

 

Matthew 22:36-40

Multi - Coloured Bodyart

Multi – Coloured Bodyart (Photo credit: humanstatuebodyart)

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

 

This scripture says it all.  If we love God with all we have and love others as much as we love ourselves,  there will be no racism (acting out of prejudice) and prejudice will have no toe-hold in our lives.  This is my goal.

Do you struggle with this or are you an open book like the D?  Do you have any thoughts on the issue?  

 

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