A Decision to Get Back on Track

(excerpt from Love is Not An Emotion)

All my life I knew and believed my life was filled with God-given purpose. My mother and grandmother told me so—and I believed them. But nearly five years into my marriage, I found my life going nowhere. I felt misplaced and somehow knew there had to be more to God’s plan for my life.

My husband, Blaine and I both recognized a void in our lives and concluded, we were not where we should be. We thought if we stayed where we were—in every area of our lives—physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially—

we would miss God’s plan.

We began to listen and watch for His perfect will. We sat on our couch in our tiny mobile home that sat in my parents front yard, and prayed together. We asked God to put us where we were supposed to be because we felt in our hearts we were stuck.

The next morning we headed to work in separate cars. We each had a 40-minute commute. I was listening to the local Christian radio station. I heard a job announcement at a ministry in another state and my heart leaped. I believed that was the job God wanted for Blaine. I called the radio station and got the information. The next day he mailed his resume to them. They called him. He went for an interview and shortly after that was offered the job.

Five weeks from the night we prayed, we packed our son and few belongings in a U-Haul® and set out for the most amazing adventure. We both served in ministry and it turned our lives right-side up. It pointed us in the right direction—God’s path for our life.

That was more than 20 years ago. We’ve experienced so much, and God has taken us on a continual adventure. We’re still on His path. He never let us miss a beat as long as we were willing to come alongside Him and walk with Him on the path to our destiny.

I’m not saying the journey has been perfect. We’ve gotten ahead of God, at times, or perhaps made a wrong turn, but as we listened to His voice, He helped us stay His course.

Even when you make a wrong turn or step off His path for your life, if you will run to Him and allow Him to redirect you, He’ll set your feet back on the right course and turn you in the right direction.

If you look back, you’ve probably experienced this in your life. What extremes did the Father go to in order to touch your heart, grab your attention and communicate His love for you?

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A Downpour of His Presence

Growing up with only sisters in the house did little to prepare me for a household of boys in my own adult world. When my first son was born, we lived near my mother, who tried to kept us in fresh dresses and bows.

When my oldest son was a toddler, I took great pleasure in letting him play in the puddles of the rainwater leftover from a summer’s afternoon downpour. Scan_20150619 (26)

When my mother came over and saw him in the water and mud, her first reaction was, “Didn’t you just give him a bath?” I replied, “How many times do you really get to play in the mud puddles?”

She laughed. “Yes, enjoy it because they grow up too fast.”

I am thankful for the times I remember to take the opportunity life gives and live in the moment.

There are seasons in my life when I really didn’t do that. I enjoy remembering the moments when I took the time to let my son splash in the mud puddles.

Sometimes life gets messy. We can choose to avoid the mud puddles—or we can take a moment and experience the thrill of being God’s child—savoring in the adventure of something new after a downpour of God’s presence.

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,” and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.” (Job 36:5-6 NIV).

Take some time today to experience the remnants of his glorious presence today.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” ~John Ruskin

Restore Your Joy and Dream Again

Sometimes when I look at a small child, I catch a glimpse of the potential God put inside of them. I can imagine who they might become. As a young girl, I dreamed of becoming a writer. Even before kindergarten, I liked to print my numbers and letters in my best penmanship. I spent hours writing stories and poems. I loved that feeling07041995 Bryce of an ink pen in my hand and the continuous flow of black, blue or sometimes purple ink filling up the pages.

But life happened! (Perhaps you know how that is.) In spite of participating in my high school newspaper and yearbook, and having a poem published in a book before I graduated high school—my dream of writing died.

My dream of writing died.

I married the summer before I turned 20, eventually quit college and took an administrative position at an insurance firm. With strong administrative gifts, I believed the creativity escaped me as I became a responsible adult. I no longer had time to write and journal. I buried the desire to put words onto paper for the world to read deep inside my heart.

Thankfully, God had a plan, and He put me in position where I was required to draw on the gift of writing again. I began to see and eventually believe the dream was still in there—and the ability to do what I once was passionate about began to rise to the surface from deep within my heart.

That was many years ago. God gave me the opportunity to experience all aspects of writing, editing, planning and development while serving churches, ministries, authors and book publishers. I have a passion to see the truth of God’s Word touch lives through the written word. I think books! God even made my dream a reality of being a published author through a series of events that were quite unexpected.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit, (Psalm 51:12 ESV).

Don’t give up on the joy He wants you to live your dreams. Refuse to allow anyone to steal your childhood dreams with words of discouragement and doubt. Dreams God put in your heart make you who He created you to be.

If you’ve given up on those dreams, they are not destroyed—just forgotten. They are still within you and God has the power to restore them.

When you trust God to take your life and do with it what He purposed, He will restore your joy and make your dreams a reality in His time. Just trust Him!

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Learning to Rest

New seasons can be difficult sometimes, and transitions into that new season can be even harder. When my husband accepted a new position that required a move from the beautiful, sunny Arizona to the cool climate of Indiana, I knew the next few months would not be easy. Looking back now, it beach chairs pensacolawas the most difficult move in our almost thirty years of marriage. The mountain of challenges erupted with loading the truck for the physical move and finally exploding into 18 grueling days in a hotel room with our dog, while almost everything we owned sat in a moving truck because of delay after delay in the close on the Arizona house.

Every plan I hatched dwindled into nothingness.

We prayed. We asked God for His will and His plan—and not our own—even though I really thought I wanted that house. We finally let go of it all, lost the purchase of the home in Indiana and rented a home for the next year.

As we settled in, it seemed every plan I hatched dwindled into nothingness. I stood and watched as God shut each door of opportunity I dreamed up. Compelled to plan, organize and prepare as many details as possible, I found this new season extremely frustrating. I struggled to hear from Him—not because He was silent—but because my mind flooded with questions of why “nothing seemed to work out.”

Finally, one word began to come up in my spirit: rest!

Over the next week or so as I researched the word, friends sent me texts, Facebook messages and posts about rest without any idea that God gave me that word. He continued to tell me to rest, and I believe He’s teaching me what that looks like. He confirmed it repeatedly through His Word, through messages at church, and even friends and family have encouraged me by sharing things on their heart for me about rest.

I’m not just talking about putting your feet up for a bit, or taking a nap to rest your physical body—although I believe a physical rest can be a part of it. It’s hard not to feel like I need to be doing something all the time. When my body is still, my mind is working.

One of the definitions of rest really struck home with me: to cease from striving. Striving—that certainly described what I’d been doing these past few months while in transition. In my research about rest, I found a book from the 1600s. Although it’s a difficult read, and I’ve not made it through the nearly 400 pages, each paragraph of this book, The Saints Everlasting Rest, pours over my hungry heart and speaks peace to me. In one small paragraph from the heart of the author, Richard Baxter, says:

“They who seek this rest [to cease from striving] have an inward principle of spiritual life. God does not move men like stones, but He endows them with life, not to enable them to move without him, but in subordination to himself, the first mover.”

After a vacation to the beach, I believe the transition was complete. I desire to rest in God. I believe He’s calling us to a higher place of rest. For me, it’s a place where I need to let go and relax. It’s time to really allow Him to call the shots and give the direction without ideas coming from me. It is difficult to stay still and only move when He moves me, but I want to completely surrender—even in the smallest little detail—to the plans and purposes He has for me.

A Promise to Pass Safely Through

I lived just hours from the Tahlequah River in Oklahoma, one of my favorite summer adventures with aunts, uncles and cousins. One year  Grandpa and Grandma went with us. Grandma had never learned to swim was extremely fearful of the water. I remember her putting those big, full, orange life jackets around her neck, arms and legs as she joked with us. She was quite a site to see.

There were summers when we got very little rain and we had toScan_20150619 (16) drag our canoe across the rough, pebbled, shallow places in the river. Other years the water rushed dangerously fast. Every once in a while someone would capsize and others on the river would stop and help.

The first year my husband and I were married, we camped on the river with another couple and with plans to canoe the following day. In the early hours of the morning, an unexpected storm blew through our camp. The water was so heavy, the tent collapsed. It was cold and miserable.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior, (Isaiah 43:2-3 AMP).

The next morning we gathered what was left of our campsite, packed up and made our way to the river to spend the day in the warm sun, canoeing. The sudden rain caused the river to rise substantially, and the water rushed past at a faster speed than any of us had experienced. Halfway down the river, we came upon a father with his young son.

They were trapped in the rushing water.

I remember the concern on the father’s face, and the fear on the little boy’s face. Then the relief and thankfulness after my husband and his best friend freed them from the tree branches and pulled them safely back to the bank.

There are seasons with little rain and our life ebbs and flows gently. Then a great storm comes along—sometimes in the middle of the night while you’re camping—and turns everything in your life upside down. Your first response might be to panic as the water rises to overtake you, but rest assured, the Lord your Savior, promises to be with you. He promises the waters will not overwhelm you and you will pass safely through as you hold tight to Him.

“If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream.”

Francis Chan

Jesus’ Joy and Laughter

Jesus came to earth and lived a human life. The Bible is clear that he was fully God and fully man. Jesus was flesh, conceived and born of his mother, Mary. He grew and developed from an infant and became a man. He bled and died. In every way that you and I are human, he walked the earth and experienced it just as we do. He wept when he learned that his friend, Lazarus died. So it’s safe to say he experienced the full range of human emotions—including laughter.

I believe Jesus had a sense of humor.

Although traditional paintings of him depict a sober, prayerful man, I cannot imagine people were drawn to him unless he demonstrated light-heartedness and fun. Children wanted to be around him. Thousand followed Him just to hear what he might say.

We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”  (Psalm 126:2 NLT).

Like you and me, He was created in the image of God. He certainly demonstrated the character and nature of God. His teachings demonstrated some exaggerations that were funny for his day—a camel going through the eye of a needle, a blind man leading a blind man, or hiding a light under the bed instead of using it to light your home. Perhaps he was being sarcastic, like we are sometimes in order to demonstrate a point.

If you never thought about Jesus having a sense of humor, give it a try. As you see him as a person of joy and laughter, I hope it gives you a different perspective in your relationship with Him.

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

Bob Hope

Faith to Rest

 

The theme of God’s rest, the desire to understand it, and experience it, continues to thunder in my spirit. It’s been going through me for almost a year now.

It’s the theme of Hebrews 4. I wanted to share my time of study with you today.

For indeed we have had the good news [of salvation] preached to us, just as the Israelites also [when the good news of the promised land came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not united with faith [in God] by those who heard (Hebrews 4:2 AMP).

The knowledge of Christ’s sacrifice and His rest that comes with it does no good unless faith is added to it.

Knowing the good news is not enough. It takes faith to step into His rest and experience the gifts that come through personal relationship with God.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will not settle for head knowledge about You and Your Word, but allow the message of Your rest available to me to become a revelation in my heart. May I accept and experience your rest today by faith.

For further study see Hebrews 4:1-16.