11 Ways I am Going to Make this Summer Great

Summer 2016

Refe_5726228e14678_7TBMSCADG1
  1. I am going to be purposeful. I woke up this morning and realized that two days of summer were already gone. I want every day to count. We only have 63 days or so of summer and I already used up two without being purposeful! Days don’t have to be full just be filled with purpose. Purpose to laugh. Purpose to relax. Purpose to engage. Purpose to recharge.
  2. I am going to include the kids in as many things as possible. Usually my summers are filled with work. I work from home so summers are not normally relaxing. I spend my summers hiding in my office or yelling at the kids to stop yelling! LOL! I have a treat this year and don’t have to live by a work schedule. I am going to include the kids in as many things as possible. Trips to the fruit stand. Walks to the mailbox. Dinner preparations. Late night movies. This may be my last summer to have my 3 boys home like this.
  3. I am going to eat as clean and natural as possible and spend more time on meals. I am not a fan of cooking. It isn’t my spiritual gift (Can I get an amen?) but summer time is a great time to enjoy fixing meals for the family. Get the kids involved. (See #2) I am going to look for new recipes and fix meals that might take a little longer than normal. I will eat fresh foods that will give me energy. This is a great way to recharge for the new school year.
  4. I am going to plan fewer things and spend more time on those things. I tend to go overboard on filling our schedule when I try to be purposeful. (See #1) Being purposeful doesn’t mean busy it means planning things that mean something. I am going to limit myself to 7 things on a list a day. (This is crazy!) This includes cleaning and errands. I want to take each day slower so that I can enjoy the things we are doing.
  5. I am going to simplify. When I clean I am going to purge our things. I am not going to add to our clutter. I want to have fewer things that mean more.
  6. I am going to be aware. I want to really listen when my kids are talking to me. I want to smile at strangers and help those around me. (This may get me in trouble. I will keep you posted.) I want to live in the moment and enjoy every event and day of the summer.
  7. I am going to fill my mind with scripture. I want my mind renewed before next fall. I know that the only way this can happen is if I fill it with scripture. I am going to read the Bible. I am going to listen to the cool English dude from the Bible app read scripture to me while I am working around the house. I am going to listen to uplifting songs. I want to heal the broken places in my heart and mind this summer and the only way to do that is to wrap them in truth, God’s Word.
  8. I am going to relax. I am going to give myself permission to do some things that I usually don’t make time to do. I am going to read. I am going to get my toes done. I am going to take a bath. (For the record, I do bathe, I just don’t get to soak and enjoy a bath!) I am going to sit by the pool. These things will recharge my mind and body and help me be a better mom.
  9. I am going to put my inner manager on hold. Things don’t have to be as orderly during the summer as they do during the school year. I am going to put my inner manager on hold and just enjoy events without the spreadsheets. (Yes, I have heard this can be done. I haven’t personally experienced this but it is a possibility.) I don’t always have to take charge. I can just sit under the umbrella and see what happens when I don’t take over.
  10. I am going to embrace the bumps. Things will not go as planned. I understand this. A crazy person told me that the best vacation they ever took happened because of a canceled flight and all their reservations were lost. Who knows? Maybe that crazy person is on to something? God might be hanging out in the bumps this summer. He might meet me at the intersection where my plan falls apart and His plan takes over.
  11. I am going to put my expectations on hold. I am going to wake up each morning and give my day to God. I am going to ask Him to fill my day with joy and peace. I am going to relinquish my expectations and live with expectancy. I am so excited to see what God has in store for me this summer! Summer 2016 here I come!

20,000 Opportunities to Mess Up!

Moms Quote

Proverbs 10:19

 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

There is some controversy over who uses more words in a day. Historically it has been reported that women use around 20,000 words and men use about 13,000. Statistics are all over the place now. What isn’t controversial is that we use A LOT of words in a day. I feel stressed already thinking about 20,000 opportunities to mess up, just today!

Right after Cliff died, I was given a job at Seffner Christian School by my friends Roger and Jody Duncan. They knew I needed help and there was a HS teaching position open. They allowed me to work part-time and all three of the boys were on campus with me. It was such a blessing.

About 3 weeks into school, one of the Smelly Monster’s teacher asked me to stop by during lunch. There was a problem. Uggg. Just what I needed, more problems! I got all worked up and stressed out as I walked to see the teacher. I had prepared a speech for the teacher explaining why the Smelly Monster was having issues adjusting. My Smelly Monster’s first-year teacher asked me to sit down and she took the chair behind the desk and I had to sit in one of the tiny kid seats on the other side of the desk. Not a fun seat to occupy as many of you know. She proceeded to share with me how disappointed she was in my Smelly Monster because of the really bad language he used. I was mortified. We called the offending Smelly Monster into the conversation and I asked him what was going on.

His excuse was that I used that bad word all the time at home! I thought I would die right there. I was so embarrassed and knew the Smelly Monster was just making that up. I didn’t use curse words at home. I was the Pastor’s wife for Heaven’s sake! After further conversation and a lot of coaxing, I was able to get my Smelly Monster to whisper the bad word so we could figure out what was going on. If I thought I was embarrassed earlier, I really wanted to die after he told me the word that has caused him to move his bumble bee all the way down the behavior chart and get sent to the principal’s office!

Crap. The word was crap. The problem was that I really did say that word all the time at home! (Probably still do. Don’t tell my mom!) We both apologized to the indignant first-year teacher and walked out with our heads hung low.

I learned a very valuable lesson that day about my words. Even though crap is only a level 2 bad word, it still caused hurt and held consequences for both me and my Smelly Monster. As a side note, here are the bad word levels created by Smelly Monster #3. He is a trip!

Level 1 – Words that are mean that we can’t say. (Stupid, shut-up, idiot…)

Level 2 – Gross words that we aren’t allowed to say. (Fart, Crap, poop,)

Level 3 – Words that are bad but are used in the Bible. (Hell, damn, ass)

Level 4 – Really bad words that we can’t even list and don’t even spell when someone else says them.

Here are some lessons I have learned due to my propensity to get myself in trouble with my words:

  1. Take a deep breath. I KNOW that I use that for #1 on every issue. However, it works! It is scientifically proven that deep breathing brings more oxygen into your bloodstream and helps all of your organs function better, especially your brain! Psalm 46:10 reminds us to stop and be still and let God remind us who is in charge.
  2. Let it go. This is one of my goals this year. I don’t have to have my say. I don’t have to have the last word. I don’t have to share my opinion. I rarely regret NOT saying something. Daily I regret words I did say. Proverbs 10:19 reminds us that sin lives in the midst of many words. The fewer words we say when there is an issue, the better off we will be. (Ecc. 5:3, Prov. 6:2)
  3. Don’t jump to conclusions. So many times, I don’t hear the entire matter out and jump directly to the conclusion. I allow my emotions to take over and say hurtful and uninformed things that don’t lift up others. One of the Smelly Monsters recently told me that I never let him finish when he is explaining a situation. I felt so bad. This is an area I need to change. Proverbs 18:13 says that those of us that answer a matter before we hear it bring hurt and shame to ourselves and others.

My dad died several years ago but I can still see him in my mind and hear his voice as he would try to get me to think before I would say things. He would say, “Evona, Proverbs 17:28. Even a fool is counted wise when they just keep their mouth closed.” I’m still working on that!

 

A Thankful Perspective

Ok, so it happened. I am not happy about it but this is life. I have to wear Tree and Blur (1 of 1)reading glasses. Buying cute stylish glasses only slightly dulls the pain of having to wear them. I don’t know when it happened but recently I found that my arm wasn’t long enough. I have been moving things further away so that I could get my eyes to focus but my arm suddenly isn’t long enough! The hardest things to read right now are medication directions. I don’t know whose idea it was to put so many tiny words on a bottle but they are impossible to read. Smelly Monster #3 needed cold medication. I picked up the bottle and squinted to bring the words into focus. I had pretty much decided that I knew how much to give, when the little Monster tapped my shoulder and handed me my glasses. He might have mumbled that it wasn’t in his best interest to be overdosed because I was too proud to wear my glasses. Kids! However, as soon as I put the glasses on things looked entirely different. They came into focus. My perspective changed. I was no longer squinting and holding the bottle 2 feet away trying to figure out the dosing. I could easily read the directions. (Just in case the Smelly Monster Grandma reads this, I was right and wasn’t getting ready to overdose the Angel Monster!)

Thankfulness is the lens that filters out pride and pity. It sorts through the blurry haze of pain and loss. Thankfulness puts life into focus. Psalms 100 is the go-to Bible chapter for thankfulness. However, before we enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise the Psalmist reminds us to remember that the one we serve is God Almighty. He created us. We didn’t do this by ourselves. This tiny principle should change our perspective and allow us to focus on the bigger picture. When we are thankful we look beyond ourselves and see things in light of eternity.

4 actions that help put things into focus:

  1. Embrace God’s sovereignty. It is humbling and comforting to know that there is someone bigger than me who is in charge. II Chronicles  20:6 We can rest in the confidence that God is in control and that He is actively aware of what is happening. He is God in Heaven. We can be thankful that he has things under control.
  2. Remember that God is always good. Psalm 136:1 Circumstances are not always good but God is always good. His mercy endures even when our perspective is self-focused. He loves us more than we love our children and that is something I can’t even comprehend. We can be thankful that God’s goodness endures in spite of our frailties.
  3. Ask for wisdom. James 1:5 It is OK that we don’t get it. We are not able to understand the ways of God. His ways are higher. Turn to the one who holds the answers and ask for wisdom and understanding. He won’t fuss. It is an act of faith to turn to God for the answers. We can be thankful that we have access to the one with the answers.
  4. Walk in truth. Col. 3:16 We need to be very careful what and who we allow to speak into our lives. We have to make sure we are only giving real truth a seat at the table. The world, our own sin nature and Satan want to speak their “truth” into our hearts and it can really mess us up. We should fill our mind and heart with scripture. Listen to uplifting music. Lean on seasoned Christians. Read books and blogs that speak God-based truth into our lives. We can be thankful that we have the real truth.

The graphic today shows a tree in focus and the background in a total blur. How many times have we allowed our circumstances to become our focus and miss all the blessings that are going on in the background? The tree in the picture is our fear, pain or loss. God wants us to step back and allow the lens of thankfulness to filter and bring into focus his ultimate purpose in our lives.

What events in your life have caused you to become focused on the “tree?” What can you do today to look through the lens of thankfulness and see God working?

 

Seeing Beyond the Obvious with a New Perspective

Our perspective can really distort our vision! I LOVE the mirror at White IW_2016-01-25_191202House Black Market clothes store! It makes me look tall and slender. I want that mirror for my house for sure! I HATE the glass doors going into the church office. They make me look short and fluffy. (Ugg) I can feel so good in an outfit on Sunday morning and with one glance at that reflection, be bummed out for the rest of the day. I DON’T want one of those at my house. I HATE hotel bathroom mirrors. I always have more grey hairs and eyebrows that need plucking when I see my reflection in them. The odd thing is that I can see my reflection in all three of those places in the same day and get different impressions. One says I’m tall and slender and the other says I’m short and fluffy. Which is true? How can I know? I am sure my hair doesn’t sprout greys and my eyebrows don’t become bushy just because I am standing in front of the hotel mirror. The greys are really there! My kids love to use the apps that distort a picture. It is hideous what they do to my pictures. (See picture included above, LOL!)

The point is that our impressions and what we see are impacted by what we are looking at to get the reflection. I Corinthians says “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

As we look and see those around us, we need to remember that we see through a glass darkly. We don’t see with perfect understanding yet. We won’t see clearly until we are face to face with Christ. This should temper our reactions to people and situations around us. Here are four ways I am working on responding well when I see people through my limited perspective:

  1. Look Deeper. I am going to look beyond the outward and try and see what is really going on with folks. Teenagers may handle emotional crisis through anger and moodiness. People can lash out to hurt others because they have been hurt. Quiet people are not stuck-up and rude; they may just be introverts or nervous. Grouchy people may be dealing with health issues and sickness. The list goes on. I am going to look deeper at those around me and try to see the root of the behavior rather than just marking them off the list. I need to look deeper.
  2. Look Wider. I am going to look beyond my small sphere of experience. I find that I look at situations and people through the mirror of my own personal experience and not from a wider perspective. God created us all unique. He set us up in different geographies and cultures. There isn’t a “one size fits all answer to things.” Truth doesn’t change but methods and responses should. God has called us to go into all the world. For me to minister and meet the needs of people, I have to open my eyes and look beyond my comfort zone and familiar settings to see the real need. I have to look wider.
  3. Look Longer. I tend to process things very quickly. I find myself hearing about a situation and making a judgement without spending much time praying about it. I need to stop rushing around focusing on getting things done and really take the time to see to those around me. When my boss is short with me, I need to look longer and see if there is a need I can help meet. When I am stuck in traffic because of an accident, I need to pray for the family that is going to be impacted by the accident. When my kids are angry, I need to look longer and pray that God reveals the root of their anger so that I can help them address it rather than adding to the problem by becoming angry myself. I want to look longer.
  4. Look Higher. I am going to see people and situations as a reflection of God’s amazing grace at work. I want to see every situation as God working in my life. What can I learn through this situation? How can I grow because of this interaction with a cranky clerk? What words of grace can I speak into that stranger’s life that will point them to Christ? I must look higher.

On the day we got Cliff’s cancer diagnosis, I remember walking the halls of the hospital in total shock. I drove home in a blur. I had to go through a drive-through to get food for the boys on my way home. I remember how rude and short the fast food employee was with me when I had trouble making a decision on what to order. The person behind me honked their horn loud and long when I didn’t move right away to the window. What an awful day made worse by people who couldn’t see deeper than the immediate and wider than their own selfish wants.

Dear God,

Please help me to be part of the solution not part of the problem. Help me take the time to see people for who they really are in You. Help me to take the time to love them for Your sake. Soften my heart to see beyond bad behaviors to the hurt and anguish so many people are feeling. Strengthen my resolve to look for a God purpose in everything I encounter today. Help me to speak grace into other’s lives by seeing them as You see them. Thank you for making me part of Your story and empower me to walk worthy of that calling.

Thankful, grateful and blessed. Amen

 

You want me to cut WHAT….. from WHERE??

Devotion on Faith

Amy Carmichael picture and quoteI love to read biographies and stories about famous people. The missionary stories are my favorite. Amy Carmichael and Elisabeth Elliot are my top two favorite missionaries to read about and after. I also love the stories from the Bible. I love to visualize Adam naming the animals (Aardvark? Really?) and the walls of water on each side of the Red Sea as Moses and his grumbly gang crossed over on dry land. I can only imElisabeth Elliot picture and quoteagine how cool it was to watch small David kill Goliath with a sling shot. I love to think about Jochebed spending hours weaving a basket strong enough to use to put her son in and push him off into the crocodile infested waters of the Nile River.

As I dream and use my imagination to experience these great stories, I tend to think that stepping out on faith was easier for these folks than it is today. Our society is more advanced and it is harder to live a sold-out Christian life. Right? It is harder to quit our jobs and do something God has called us to because we have responsibilities and debt. Right? It is harder to be a witness because so many people don’t believe in God. Right? I start thinking this way and it gives me a way to excuse my lack of obedience and faith.

This week I read the story of God’s covenant with Abraham. It was an amazing honor that God bestowed on Abraham and a huge responsibility. In Genesis chapter 17, Abraham and God have another vision-casting session. God is repeating the promise he made to Abraham to multiply his seed and make a great nation from his family. Abraham is probably high-fiving himself all over and enjoying God’s attention. Up until now, Abraham and Sarah have been asked to leave their home but things were pretty normal. Right when Abraham starts getting comfortable with the previous step of faith, God adds a new twist to the story. God changes Abraham and Sarah’s names. God then leans down and whispers into Abraham’s ear that he wants a physical mark on all the male members of the family. CIRCUMCISION! I can only imagine that Abraham said, “You want me to cut what…. from where????” I know, I know… all the guys reading this are cringing. My guys wouldn’t even let me tell them about this blog! Now think, if we have a hard time talking about this today after thousands of years of getting used to the idea, imagine what Abraham thought. It was the first time this concept had been introduced and not only was he going to have to circumcise himself, he was going to have to explain it to his family and servants and circumcise all of them. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t an easy step of faith required of Abraham. Here are some things I learned while studying this story:

  1. Obedience and faith are hard. Imagine the conversation Abraham had to have with his group. I am sure they were sitting around the fire singing uplifting praise and worship songs waiting to hear what God had shared with Abraham after the vision-casting session. Here comes Abraham, “Well folks, I have good news and bad news. Umm, guys, God is still going to bless us and everything but he wants us to, ummmmm, cut a tiny little part off “you know what” to show obedience.” LOL! Not the team-building chat I would like to have with any group, for sure! However, Abraham obeyed… that same day! Genesis 17:23
  2. Obedience and faith don’t require understanding. I don’t see anywhere in the story where God explains why he is asking Abraham to circumcise the gang. He doesn’t give scientific studies or group data on how circumcision will help the new nation. He just gives Abraham the charge and off he goes. I’m pretty sure that the steps of obedience God is asking of me are way easier than what Abraham faced that day, yet I still struggle. Genesis 17:9-14
  3. Obedience and faith are rewarded. As weird and hard as this was, Abraham obeyed. He took action the very day that God talked with him. He didn’t wait to pray about it or Google it; Abraham obeyed. Because of his obedience and faith, Abraham and Sarah conceived at a 100 years old! (I don’t want that, for sure but they did!) Their children were blessed and their family became the mighty nation of Israel. Abraham and Sarah are both listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

As I struggle to obey God in my life, I am actually comforted by the magnitude of what God asked of Abraham. If Abraham can trust God and take a step of faith like circumcision and then talk hundreds (maybe thousands) of guys into jumping on board, I am pretty sure I can take the small steps of faith God is asking of me.

Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know!

Christmas 2015

Frink_Jones_Family_Christmas_Card_2015Recently there was a very difficult situation that involved one of my kids. It was hurtful and painful for the child involved and excruciating for me as a parent. I had to sit back and watch my baby (not much of a baby anymore) be hurt. It took all my restraint and spiritual maturity to respond with grace. When I get stressed or upset, I get a migraine. I could feel the headache right away. Three days later, I was still fighting the headache and the heartache. My initial reaction was to get involved and change the circumstances so that there wasn’t a chance for any additional hurt. Knowing that wasn’t best, I had to sit back and watch things play out. Parenting isn’t for wimps!

During Christmas I love to read about the birth of Christ. I am humbled by the sacrifice made by God and Jesus to provide a way for us to have a way to Heaven. I also love to read about Mary and Joseph. I feel empathy every time I read the story. I can only imagine how difficult the situation was on both of them. It was a horrible stain on Mary’s character and reflected so badly on Joseph that he could have had Mary stoned. I hurt for Mary as she had to keep all the things she knew in her heart. I love that she was able to find comfort with Elisabeth, her cousin.

We jump to Mary having to take a trip just when she was ready to have the baby. I can remember thinking that even a soft bed was uncomfortable right before I was ready to have the boys. Can you imagine riding on a donkey? I would love to have heard the conversation on that trip! Mary gave birth for the first time in a stable with animals and had to put her son in a manger rather than a clean baby bed. As the shepherds came to see the baby, we all wonder if Mary really understood and knew that she had just given birth to her Savior. I love the song written by Mark Lowry named “Mary, Did You know?” It was just performed by Jordan Smith on the Voice. Pentatonix has a great version as well. David Phelps  is still my favorite version.  Listen to the recording below.  The song asks if Mary knew all that was to come for her baby boy. What an amazing thought. Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know!

Mary from the movie The Passion of the Christ

Mary from the movie The Passion of the Christ

Years later, after Jesus has been beaten, humiliated and hung on a cross we find Mary right there in agony watching it all play out. What a horrible position for a mother. In John 19:25 it says, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother.” Can you even imagine? To stand by as the leadership of the day wrongly accuse your son and watch him beaten and then make the walk to Calvary with the cross on his back must have been terrible. The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross was witnessed up close and personal by the one who loved him the most on earth. Boy, that makes my experience pale in comparison!

Christmas is tomorrow. A day of celebration but also of grief. A day that started a chain of events that allowed the reconciliation of man to God at a horrible cost. A wonderful day that showed the immense love God has toward us. How sad it would be for such a wonderful gift to be given at such a great cost only to be rejected. Oh Mary, I hope you didn’t know how much Jesus was going to have to suffer so that we would be able to enter Heaven. Friend, please take time to accept the gift God gave us on Christmas. It will change your life. If you have already accepted the gift, celebrate Christmas and the joy of Jesus’ birth with the shadow of Calvary across your home this year. Keep the focus off of material things and remember what a sacrifice the gift of baby Jesus was for all involved. Remember that we are called to live a life that compels others to want what we have. Merry Christmas to you and yours. I pray you cherish the day together and if you are alone, allow God to comfort you. Oh Mary, I don’t know if you knew, but I am thankful for your Son’s sacrifice for me!

 

The Birth of Faith

After the death of my plan!

Faith Banner by Caleb Frink

After our college visit experience (The Death of a Plan) my heart is bruised. Grieving is a process. Even grieving the loss of a plan can be traumatic. I feel anxious. I want my kids to trust God but allowing the process to happen is very painful. What if God doesn’t answer like we want? What if we are not asking for the right things? What if I am getting in God’s way? Faith is so hard sometimes. I find it is easier having faith when it doesn’t impact my kids.

A speaker at our church (Randy Teegarden) told a story about his son. Around the age of 7, their son attended VBS at their home church. The culmination of the week was a drawing for a bike. Each night the kids could say verses, bring their Bibles, invite friends and so forth and get their name written on a piece of paper and put into the jar for the drawing. The speaker’s son did all the right things that week. He was able to get his name in the jar multiple times, but so did many other boys and girls. However, his son was convinced that he would win. The boys prayed about the bike. He talked about the bike. He dreamed about walking down the aisle to accept the bike. The speaker and his wife were very concerned that this would shake their little one’s faith in God if he didn’t win. During the story Larry leaned over to me and asked me what I would have done. I immediately said, “I would have gone to Walmart and bought a bike for him just in case he didn’t win and have it waiting.” Larry laughed because he knows me so well. I turned my attention back to the speaker as he finished the story. He said the night of the drawing came and his son was so excited about the bike that he even had a place in the garage cleaned out where they would keep the bike. The speaker and his wife were sick. It was a nail biting wait as the VBS culminated in the drawing. The VBS leader reached way down into the jar and announced that the speaker’s son had won! At that point in our service the speaker went to the side room and brought out the exact bike his son had won. It was loved and used but it was real and sitting on our stage. I embarrassed myself by having to wipe tears from my face that day and even now as I type this out. Oh, to have that kind of faith and to allow God to work that kind of faith in my kids.

  1. Faith takes action. I believe that many times God is waiting on us to do our part. The speaker’s son brought his Bible, learned his verse and invited friends. James 2:14-26 I really like this part.
  2. Faith takes trust. Faith and trust are two different things. I absolutely KNOW God can answer my prayers. The issue is…. do I TRUST Him with the answer? Luke 11:9-13 I don’t like this part.
  3. Don’t go to Walmart. This is just a good life lesson. LOL. We are called to action. We are called to trust. We are not called to manipulate things to work out the way we want. We are to rest in God’s plan and allow God to teach us (and our kids) lessons. No buying bikes at Walmart and keeping them in the garage just in case! II Chronicles 14:11

I am not sure what the conclusion will be to our story of faith. However, my deepest desire is to live a life of grace that models God’s love for those around me. I want to point them to Christ. I don’t have what they need to heal their heart and bring back their joy but GOD DOES!

What kinds of situations have you experienced that required you to step back and trust God with the solution to your problems? Were there verses that helped you through? Share your thoughts and verses with the community.

The Death of a Plan

What a magical time we had touring the campus. The sheer size of the buildings and facilities was enough to inspire awe. The commitment to Christian excellence immediately put my momma’s heart at peace. “This is a place where I can feel comfortable leaving my Smelly Monster,” I thought. From that point on not one thing went right. Credits won’t transfer. Financial aid award letter is wrong. Shortfall is more not less than what we expected. Major he is interested in will take more than two years to finish adding an extra year on since he is a sophomore already. Seriously, the list really does go on.

Hello God! Our plan seems spiritual. Serving God full time. Our plan seems reasonable. Christian college for a mature 19-year-old. Our plan seems exciting. A move to a new part of the country broadening his life experience. Our plan seems safe. It is a renowned Christian college. Our plan seems Grave stones practical. Stay at home for two years then finish out the last two years away. Our plan won’t work. Whatttttttttttttttt?????

Sometimes it takes the death of “our plan” to give God the space to allow the birth of faith in our hearts. In the spirit of authenticity, I have to share that I hate this principle. I lean more toward the principle of “God blesses planning and hard work,” which is very true. However, our spiritual life isn’t static. It doesn’t stay still. God knows where we are and what principles we need right when we need them. There are times that the only way we can exercise faith is to have all our planned options shot down. I am learning a few key things during this season.

  1. The death of my plan doesn’t mean God is going to swoop in and walk on water to fulfill MY plan. It means I need to trust HIM for a new plan. I should trust God enough to rest in the promise that He has a plan for me. (And my Smelly Monster) Jeremiah 29:11
  2. This is hard and it stinks. Sorry. I know that isn’t really a spiritual response but it is authentic. Trusting God when there doesn’t seem to be a solution is really hard. I have found that it is even harder when the plan includes my Smelly Monsters. My spirit animal is a momma bear.
  3. God is good and wants what is best for me and mine. Just like I don’t always give my kids what they want and don’t give into their requests, God is parenting me. He knows what is best for me in the long run. His best is a way better plan than my human solution to things. Matthew 7:8-10

God knows our hearts. God knows the big picture. God loves us wildly and without any reserves. Let’s rest in his arms and mourn our plans but find comfort in the assurance that His plan is bigger, better and best.

Please join the conversation below and share a time that your plan died but God’s plan was better. Sharing God’s faithfulness in your life strengthens our faith!

Being Thankful Changes Everything

Happy Thanksgiving!

As every parent of a teenager knows, the key to a good fuss is the wind up. You have to lean back and take a deep breath before you start because it takes a lot of energy and you can’t show any signs of wavering. Teenagers can smell insincerity a mile away. This tiny window of weakness gives them just enough time to employ whatever tactic they have found to derail the fuss. Smelly Monster #2 usually talks in his Nacho Lebre voice or his Irish brogue to make me laugh.

During a recent trip to “Wally World” on a Saturday (my first mistake) with Smelly Monster #2, I was winding up for a fuss. I was cranky and grumpy AND at “Wally World” on Saturday. Not a good combination. SM #2 doesn’t like it when I pull the cart from the front while he is supposed to be pushing it from the back. In my defense, he only has three speeds: turtle, snail and slug. He was somewhere between snail and In all things give thanksslug that day. I pulled as he was trying to push and we were at immediately at odds. This was the culmination of a day of frustrations. I was over it. I leaned back and took a deep breath. At that same moment Smelly Monster #2’s eyes became as large as saucers. It was like slow motion took over and I looked up just in time to be hit squarely in the head by a 12 pack of paper towels that had fallen from the top shelf. Not sure how to react, we both stood there looking at each other as a second package pelted me on the head.

Parenting tip #27: When you know you have lost the upper hand give in gracefully.

At that point there was nothing else to do but laugh. My favorite part of the story is when SM#2 came around the cart and gave me a hug and said, “I guess we should be thankful that we weren’t in the bowling ball section!”

The Bible says to “give thanks always for all things.” Ephesian 5:20

Ick, gag, ugg! This is not my favorite principle. However, I have learned that a thankful spirit and attitude changes everything. Grief is an overwhelming emotion and it clouds and blurs everything in our lives. Cultivating a thankful, grateful spirit helps us bring things into focus.

Here are 3 steps to cultivating a grateful spirit.

  1. Remember past blessings. Lamentations 3:20-21 The current situation may be painful and difficult but I bet you can list 10 things right off the top of your head that are blessings from your past. Good times with you lost loved one. Happy events with your friends. Simple gifts that lifted your spirit. Write them out and remember.
  2. Notice new blessings. Because of the blur and cloud of pain you are living in, you can miss good things happening all around. Psalm 28:7 God is continuing to give you strength and sustain you. Really look around and notice those current blessings.
  3. Choose to be thankful and grateful. Many times we have to take action first and then our emotions follow. Psalm 118:24 This small choice can change your entire life. Why just survive when you can thrive?

I wonder if God found falling paper towels as funny as my Smelly Monster? I am thankful that we were not in the bowling ball section.

Since today is Thanksgiving take a minute and post at least one thing below in the comments you are thankful for today. I hope you have a great day with family and friends.