God is Love

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Holy Spirit Moves

As I started to wonder what I was going to share this week, I decided I wanted share on observing the Holy Spirit moving a little bit too. Maybe I’m “preaching to the choir” here, but it always leaves me in AWE. And to be honest, it’s one of the biggest pieces of evidence that God is real to me. Like, Real in our lives – actively pursuing us – ALIVE – and the only explanation as to how some of this stuff happens. Watching his Kingdom become overwhelmed with his MESSAGE.

Let me explain a little what I mean: I’m reading the Bible – and what I’m reading is quoted in the sermon. 3 days later, I listen to multiple podcasts from churches all over the country and they all have the same theme for weeks at a time. Quoting the same scriptures even. I hear a good word, I feel compelled to tell others, and they tell me it’s exactly what they needed to hear. I mean! Holy Ghost! I LOVE IT! It gives me a child-like wonder – it’s beautiful and incredible to watch and experience. All of these seemingly separate entities – hearing the same word from God. Which to me, just emphasizes that we are all his church. And, obviously, we’re all tapped in, since we’re all hearing the same thing. I hope that if you have not realized that this happens, that I have pulled away the veil for you. That you may now experience this incredible constant miracle – now that you can SEE it happening. I pray that for all of you, right now. That you may all forever see and experience the Holy Spirit moving through you and others, and live in the child-like AWE and WONDER of how beautiful that movement and unity creates in all of our lives. He is ALL things to All people. God Bless It!

God IS Love

So – one of the things that I have been seeing, hearing, and experiencing is the Holy Spirit almost shouting at us is: Love!

I have heard several pastors declare that this is the year of Love. We are breaking out in Love all over! And honestly, let’s dig in! GOD IS LOVE! AMEN! *Mic drop* 🙂 I almost feel like that’s all that needs to be said. Here’s this message that I’m just hearing all over, and when I go to write about it this week, the first statement that came out of my pen, was GOD IS LOVE! Even I, had not put it all together until I was trying to tell you about it. But, let’s unpack it a little more though, right?

Faith manifests itself through Love – through God- through loving one another – loving ourselves. The year of Love. The year of forgiving and letting go and letting God. We are told to love each other as we love ourselves. And, in today’s world, that’s a TALL ORDER. But, it’s true, along this journey, we need to figure out how to love ourselves. I’ve been told for most of my life, that I have a big heart, but my “big heart” didn’t always have space for me in there. But, over the years, I have grown to love me, and in turn, I have found that I love others even more. And, one of the things that has grown me, that set me free, was realizing that God loves me like I love my kid. And, if you don’t have kids, let me try to describe it: Imagine having someone in your life – that you love SO MUCH- it hurts. You physically ache with your love when you think about it. It grabs your chest and consumes you! It’s overwhelming! You constantly wonder how they are – you want everything to be the best of everything for them. Like, your whole purpose in life is TO LOVE THEM. <—THAT IS HOW GOD FEELS ABOUT YOU!! We are his children. He tells us that repeatedly. We are the sons and daughters, and we have a Father who loves us SOOOOO MUCH!!! And, he loves us so much, not because we deserve it, but because he created us. Psalm 139:14 says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV) Every single one of us, and our lives were written in his book before they came to be. I know my own personal capacity for love, and if my God loves me more than that, I am blessed, and so are you because he loves you too. Now, if you didn’t have great parents or any parents or you don’t have kids or anything – GOD IS ALL OF THAT! He IS love! And if you love him to the best of your ability – he will show you what you’ve been missing out on. Because his word does not return void. He IS love, and he loves you and will actively love you if you let him. He wants to have a relationship with you. 1 Corinthians 8:3 “But whoever loves God is known by God.” (NIV) He’s not at church, waiting for you on Sunday or Wednesday, he’s INSIDE of you. Ephesians 3:16 says “…His Spirit in your inner being.”

Quick search tells me that Love is mentioned 310 times in the Bible, that’s almost as much as Fear Not. It’s one of the bigger themes of the Bible, because it’s God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 and God is Love!!! A year of Love – the year of God! God showing up! God being there and here, and ALL things to ALL people (1 Corinthians 9:22) And let’s be honest, who doesn’t need more love in their lives? Less of me, and more of you Father. More Love. I’d like to pray for you today:

“Dear Father, I pray for everyone reading this, that they accept you. That they embrace you and your love. Bless them in all the work of their hands, in all their lives, and all the lives they touch – today, and all the days of their lives. May they go forth showing your light and your love for all the world to see. That they be consumed by your love, and that they consume others with it. Spread it to all the world. That others may see you through them, and that may see you through me. God bless us all, Good Father. We thank you for all your blessings Father. And may we all walk in your love, walk in you THIS YEAR, and ALL the years of our lives. AMEN!!!”

Don’t quench the Spirit

1 Thessalonians 5:19 “Do not quench the Spirit.”

My mom is constantly reminding me not to quench the Spirit. And it’s true. Don’t quench the Spirit. This means when the Holy Spirit moves you to do something – Do it. That’s what this blog is all about – literally. I’m not a writer – but the Holy Ghost is. So here we are. Here I had thought that I had this next week’s post all figured out, but then as I woke up this morning, the urge to post it now just wouldn’t stop. So, double dose this week. Also, you never know what small gesture is going to change someone’s life, in a small way or in a very big way. Let me share a quick story about something that actually happened to me.

I had been working somewhere a while back. And I had a desk job that didn’t really have me interacting with a lot of people. A lot of leg work and paperwork. But there was another gentleman that worked in a different dept across the way, who also had a desk job, and not a lot of interaction with others. We occassionally would see each other, he seemed friendly enough. Anyway, time went by, life was happening. And one day, I saw him in passing, and he just looked off. Just kind of not the same. And, although I didn’t realize it at the time, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me shake it. My day was going by, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about him. Something was off. And so, a little before lunch that day, I went over to his desk, and said, “Hey man, I know I don’t know you that well, but you look like you need a hug.” And with a surprised look on his face, he says, “Yeah, I do.” So, we hugged, and I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I came and sat with him for lunch. “Sure.” We started chatting, and he starts telling me about some stuff happening in his life, nothing seemingly huge to me, life stuff. We continued to have lunch, became fast friends. Just chatting. Then, a couple months go by, and I come over to sit with him at lunch, and he says, “I have something to tell you.” And, he informs me that a few months ago, he was going to kill himself. He had it all planned out, his wife was going to be gone that weekend. He picked up his favorite meal that he was going to prepare, his favorite drink, and he was going to end his life that weekend. And, he says, “And you know what happened?” My mind is reeling! I’m trying to take it all in. And, I’m like, “Omg, what?” and he looks me dead in the eye, and says, “You. You happened. You came over here, and gave me a hug.” And we started crying, and hugged again. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t imagine him not being here. Now, we no longer work at the same company, but we’re still friends, and I get to hear about his kids, and his grandkid(!) and see the joy in his life. And the joy that I have because of that, the encouragement and reinforcement to reach out to people. To me, it was just a hug, but to him it was literally a life line. It was just reaching out, where I was at, and taking a chance. He could’ve just as easily shut me down, and I could’ve just as easily not reached out. But, I’m so grateful that I didn’t. He is one of the best people I’ve ever met, that I’ve ever had the privelage to get to know. I wouldn’t take it back for the world.

Some people are called to go. Some people are called to go-where they’re at. You never know what people are going through. You never know what one small thing is going to change someone’s life. This one was in a big way, but maybe someone just needs a friend, to know someone cares. We are called to be the light of the world. That we live so that others might see Christ through us. No man left behind. God doesn’t throw anyone away. Maybe he’s calling you. To make the gesture. Calling you to Show UP!

Isaiah 61:1-3 says:
The Lord God has put his Spirit in me,
    because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken,
to tell the captives they are free,
    and to tell the prisoners they are released.
He has sent me to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness
    and the time when our God will punish evil people.
He has sent me to comfort all those who are sad
and to help the sorrowing people of Jerusalem.
I will give them a crown to replace their ashes,
    and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow,
    and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness.
Then they will be called Trees of Goodness,
    trees planted by the Lord to show his greatness. (NCV)

The Lord has filled you with his Spirit, to comfort the broken hearted. You know, one of my favorite songs says, “Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness – that is who you are.” Because he lives within us, that is who we are. If He is all these things, so are we. He is the breaker of chains. He sets us Free! He keeps ALL of his promises. He works miracles! He IS THE WAY! And the LIGHT OF THE WORLD in Darkness. A whole world of Darkness, we need to shine HIS LIGHT! To comfort those who are broken. To reach out. Thank God he saves you from you! Get tucked into his glory! Be his light for others, in a world so dark, share his light. Galations 5:6 “… the ONLY thing that counts is faith expressing itself through LOVE.” The world needs more love, and God’s got it in overflow, to flow through you.

The God who provides

The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. – Deuteronomy 28:12

Finally, time to share with you the story of my Christmas miracles. Oh, our great, good, good Father who provides. I’m just going to jump right in today because I have been dying to share this with everyone, and because it’s a bit of a long story, but it’s a good one.

In September of this past year, my husband and I were deep in the throes of struggling to not even make ends meet, our ends couldn’t even see each other. This past year had been a year of adjustment. Some stuff just had not panned out in our lives, and we’re were trying to figure out how to live on one income again. During this time, I had started my ladies bible study, and I had really started going to my newfound church regularly. But, for four months of the year, April through July, I had also been garnished. When my husband quit his job, I was literally served within the week. Great. So, we survived that, by the skin of our teeth, and then, August was kind of looking up, but one night early September, I had a massive snit about money, and in my anger, applied for a second job. Took me a whole 15 minutes, and after I completed it, I just went on with my life. Didn’t even really think about it. Whatever. I did it out of spite. 2 days later, I get a phone call. They would like to give me an interview. Wow. Job opening hadn’t even closed yet. Well, I come to find out, they wanted me to be a checker, not a stocker, but again, I don’t really care, we are HARD UP for money. So, this is like mid-September. I interview, they accept, they give me my starting wage, and tell me that they’ll call me soon for training. Bills are piling up, I’m stressing, no one is calling. 2 weeks go by. Please come in and fill out the paperwork (W2s, etc.) Ok. So, I schedule it for a Friday, and that Friday morning, while I’m at my regular job, I get a phone call, from the Sheriff’s Dept. We have paperwork for you, please come pick it up. I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding. So, when I get off my regular job. I go to my new part-time job to fill out my W2 stuff, and then I leave there to go pick up my paperwork from the Sheriff’s Dept. and low-and-behold… I’m getting a continuation of my garnishment…. Suhweet. But, to be honest, that was the most chill and accepting I have ever been of a garnishment. Look at this, in my anger, over a month ago, I now have a job that will at least make it so my garnishment isn’t nearly as devastating as it would’ve been…#Godshowedup. And, I literally started at that second job, just in time, that as my first garnished check hit, so did my first second paycheck. *Ok, so here you might be thinking, coincidence. But this is just the intro 😉 So, fast forward a little bit, my second job paychecks are almost identical to what I’m missing out of my regular job’s garnishment. So, I also tell my boss, I’m moonlighting, just in case he gets a phone call from my current employer, asking for a reference. *Remember this part. K, So, there was September & October. Also, in this time, I’ve started listening to podcasts of sermons (which the first day of podcasts is an interesting story I’ll share sometime ;)) And, between podcasts, regular sermons, and my jobs, it’s on my heart to tithe. I’m not a tither. Although, ever since I was young, I’ve occassionally given the “two mites” that the widower gave (aka – anything I have in my wallet when the basket shows up.) And God has always given me money that week, in some crazy way, shape, or form. So, here I am, man, I should really tithe. I can’t afford to tithe. Back and forth. Stumbling across sermons that randomly go off on tangents about tithing. Ugh, can we say, internal battle. This doesn’t make sense. I’m dead broke. Christmas is coming, start tithing now? Finally, the day after Thanksgiving, I do my first real tithe, pay any bills I can. And, I forget about it. Going on with my life…. Fast forward, 6 days, and I get a phone call. *Please note, I have told no one that I tithed. No one. The phone call is from a lady that started attending my bible study group in August. She’s heard some of my struggle. She works for a non-profit, she had tried to steer me toward some different assistance programs, but not much luck. She calls me because, her non-profit, gets people -especially at Christmas-time – who would like to bless others. Would I be interested? Ummmm, duh. But, I politely say, “Yes, of course.” I’m thinking, you know, small stuff. She starts saying, to make a list of needs, like laundry soap, groceries, etc. Then, she says, make sure you put down some bigger stuff too – like maybe you need new tires? Or one of your bills paid? Also, please put down some stuff you would like to gift people for Christmas, like toys for kids, or whatever. Then, after I make a list, she’ll give it to the people, they’ll review it, and essentially, you’ll get whatever they feel they can provide. I’m not kidding, I was sporadically crying the rest of the day. I couldn’t believe it. I made a list. My car needs repair, pay my electric bill, trash bags, toys and clothes for my son and nephews. All of it. I mean, I wasn’t trying to be greedy, so I didn’t get too crazy, but if you don’t ask, you won’t receive, right? I gave her the list, the next day (7 days from the day I tithed…) And, I shared the good news with my husband. Who did not receive it well, to put it nicely. He does not approve of “hand outs”, well, I felt it was a blessing. Guess that could be a marked difference to feeling like you’re in God’s hands, versus not being there – yet. So, another week goes by. No news on the blessing front, but I’m not worried, whatever I get, I get. God will provide. Then, here we are, about a week and half later, and she shows up to bible study, and tells me we need to talk after. So, we complete our study that evening (which was a crazy spirit-filled time!!! Full of Blessings and Overflow of God in our lives!) And, after it’s over, and she gives me back my list. And says, we’ve paid one of your bills (which was a beast of a bill! :/) I start crying, a little. Then, she says, here’s a card for groceries, and some cash for one of the gifts you listed, and a gift card for you (because we noticed that you didn’t put anything on the list for yourself). And, I have some stuff in my car for you. Then, she literally gives me a gigantic bag full of laundry soap, and toothpaste, and shampoo/conditioner, and, and, and…. And Then, she pulls out another gigantic bag full of gifts for my son and my nephews. And, I’m crying as I’m writing this. I just couldn’t believe it. I tithed, and God blessed me 9x what I gave!!! Just when I needed it. Now, I know, this was just in time for Christmas, and I do not expect this kind of blessing all the time, but talk about #Godshowedup!!! WHAT?!?!!? I’m hugging and crying and I just can’t believe all this stuff! AND WE ARE NOT EVEN DONE YET! I go home, and start bringing all this stuff inside, and my husband cannot believe his eyes. I’m through the moon! Just flitting around the house, restocking everything, we were on our last trash bag, here’s a whole roll. We were down to two loads of laundry soap, here’s a 3 month supply. We were down to the last of the toothpaste, here’s a tube for everybody. My husband had been out of shaving cream for a minute, and here was his brand and particular shaving cream. Are you kidding me? Then, that evening, we had one of our most fruitful discussions about God and his blessings, more than ever before. ❤ This was a Tuesday. Then, I walk into church on Sunday, and one of our church members walks up and gives me cash, and says she was asked to give it to me by someone else, Merry Christmas! WHAT?!?!? Sorry, I don’t have better ways to depict my shock and awe at all of this. We have now reached my tithe at tenfold. Then, I walk into my job the next day (my regular job) and my boss takes me aside and says, that starting in January, he has found quite a few jobs and projects he would like me to work on, and that these would require overtime. He asked that I figure out how much overtime I needed to not have to work my second job, and he would try to make sure he found enough work to accommodate that. I was just on Cloud Holy Spirit (I would say Cloud 9, but we totally know who’s pulling the strings here). And, my last garnishment payment, was the Friday before Christmas (Merry Christmas to me!!!). I mean – look at ALL OF THAT!! Just look at it! All of that! To me there is no other explanation. And please believe, that’s not even all of it. This blog, this blog was started because I was looking every where for new inspiration on how to make money, and although, I have no belief that this blog is going to be a money maker – I started it on my ONE day off between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The ONE day, that I had other plans and had requested off, and then God had everyone cancel their plans with me that day, and the one thing I did do got over really early. Which was not lost on me, since I had told God that morning, IF I have time, I’ll do the blog today, and he wiped my calendar. To talk to all of you! To share my stories. My stories of this ladies’ bible study – which is growing! Stories of ministering to others, where I’m at. Stories of #Godshowedup!!! Because he does. He has. He always will. He’s our God of more than enough. God of overflow. God of Blessings! I’m so blessed to share this with you, so blessed to be a daughter of THE FATHER. So grateful! And looking forward to seeing you here again next time. Because, God shows up, will you?

Fishing

“…Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be a fisher of men.”” – Luke 5:10

So, as I prepared for the week’s post, I realized in my excitement to share my blog, I’ve gotten the word out and told all these people, and now – What? All of the sudden there was this pressure. Ok – here’s your audience – what have you got to say this week? And although I have many stories to share of how #Godshowedup in my life – somehow none of these seemed like what the Lord wanted to say this week. I saw this last sentence with a little trepedation, since I don’t know some of my readers as well, and don’t want to lose you before we get started. – But all along this journey, particularly this blog, I’ve been trying to be in-tune to what the Spirit is “saying” to me. Not in the sense of audibly “hearing” a voice, but in the deep stirring. A part of me-that is not me. A sense that doesn’t feel like my own. Like, I want to tell you all about my Christmas miracle(s), or about one of my family’s major trials in 2017, but as I prepared this week, none of these or any of the other laundry list of things I have to say seemed “right”. So, I started praying about it. If not those, then what? I’m listening to podcasts, I’m at my Ladies’ Bible Study, I’m reading through the Bible every morning, and nothing – ok, no pressure. You haven’t been self-promoting and reassuring everyone that there will be weekly posts *rolls eyes.* By the way, please sign up to be a “follower” – you’ll get 1 email each week with a notification of a new posts.

And then, this Wednesday, at service – we listened to a talented congregation member share on obedience. Specifically, the story of Simon Peter letting Jesus use his boat. Good stuff. Amen. I went up after the service and shared my blog address with him – since, after all, my blog is based on obedience and listening to the Holy Spirit. So, I was a little tempted to share some of his message – but it still didn’t seem like “it.” So, I’m thinking about it, time is getting closer, Saturday morning is less than 12 hours away, and as I get ready to take my son to his piano lesson, I decide to start a new book to read off my shelf. And, I pick Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur. *Disclaimer – never read a book by this author, and I’m now only a few pages in, this is not a recommendation here, yet.* And, as I’m reading the Introduction- which I NEVER do – Here is the story of Simon Peter and Jesus and the boat. And the Holy Spirit goes, “THIS!!!” Not this book, but the story, the concept, all of this, how we got here and what this means. And peace and understanding washed over me. This is tomorrow’s post. Dig deeper. Unpack it. So, I pray that while I’m talking to “everyone”, the Holy Spirit is talking to you. Because, I believe that the Holy Spirit is using my gift of gab as a “mouthpiece”. Every time I get ready to write like this, I pray that it’s what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to someone *because 1- I had no aspirations to ever be a writer 2- I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. But here we are. And thank you to everyone who has been an encourager so far ❤ . Lately, the Holy Spirit has had a lot to say, so much so that it is consuming, I’m constantly compelled to sit down and write new things- I have a whole laundry list of things to tell you guys, but I’m trying to pace myself and you. I don’t want to be this overwhelming notification in your inbox and burn all of us out – but I did feel the need to tell you all that. So – here we go. Obedience. The story of Simon, Jesus, and the boat, and You.

Fishers of Men. Luke 5:10 says, “… Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be a fisher of men.” Luke 5:1-11 is the complete story – if you would like to read those 11 verses real quick. Here, Simon has toiled all night, trying to feel his family and the village – No pressure – and they have come up empty-handed. So they’re washing and mending their nets for the next evening. They’ve docked their boats. They’re done. They’re frustrated. You’re tired, and all you want to do is go home, and call it a day. AND they have to end their day by telling everyone else that their day is going to be rough because there are no fish to eat. I’m not jealous, at least when I have a bad day, I don’t have to tell a whole mess of people that I let them down. So, they’ve toiled all night for nothing. They’re packing up and packing in. And here comes Jesus (#Godshowedup ;)) Now, Jesus is trying to get a little relief from the throngs of people who are following him, and “pressing against him”. He’s been healing, teaching, and preaching for days, like non-stop. Old School celebrity with a paparazzi. And he’s by the lake, and he’s sees these 2 boats at the shore, and he decides to see about getting on a boat to create some space between himself and the masses. He picks Simon’s boat, and Simon agrees Jesus can use the boat. Even though this means more work for Simon – since he will have to re-“dock” it when Jesus is done. Then, Jesus again, asks for a push. Simon again complies. (Please remember – he’s exhausted and has had a terrible day.) And, I’d like to note here, Jesus gave a sermon here, and that’s not what’s written down, or even noted what it was about, because apparently it was not as important as what was happening right now. The story of Simon. One of my notes from Wednesday – in your emptiness, it’s your heart that matters. Simon’s heart’s in the right spot. He’s exhausted, but serving Jesus. So, Jesus gets done teaching, and tell Simon to do one more thing. Take your nets and boats back out – into the deep and cast them back in…. Excuse me?!? He literally just worked all night, he just got done mending them, and washing them. And Jesus is like, By the way, do it again. And Simon does, but he notes, “We have worked hard all night.” – but, if you say so. So, I can just imagine here, this group of men, rolling their eyes, dragging their feet, and slowly going back to their boats…. deep sigh. And, #GODSHOWEDUP!!! FISH! So many fish! Fish to overflowing! I can just imagine that every single fish in the lake jumping in their nets. They were so full, their boats started sinking. Because we have a God of overabundance! A God of more than enough!!

And then, what, verse 8 – Simon says – “Away from me, for I am a sinful man.” Simon says the same thing we all do when God calls us. Not me, Lord, you must’ve meant someone else. I’m not worthy. Yep, you’re right, you’re the first mistake God has ever made. He totally meant the guy next to you. I mean, you would know better than God, that you’re not worthy….. Wrong! He doesn’t make mistakes. He’s calling you. He’s calling all of us. To be closer to Him, to follow Him, to do whatever it is he’s asking you to do. Please believe, I’m with you. I’m not worthy. I’m a sinner. In almost every sense of that word. I’m not proud of it. But, I’ve repented. And God has washed away my sin, as far as the East from the West. Completely. Wholly. It’s gone. And, I’m a new creation in Christ. And I am. I wouldn’t even recognize the old me – and neither does God. What matters is now. What matters is what I’m doing now. From here to the rest of my life. The past is gone, and if you repent, and you try to do better, try to follow God, try to be obedient – that’s what matters. Your heart. You’re trying. Because, how did Jesus respond? “Oh, you’re a sinner. My bad. Nevermind. I’ll get someone else….”? Nope. He says, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will fish for people.” Don’t worry, Simon, I will show you the way. And then, Simon became one of Jesus’s favorites. The same Simon who became Simon Peter – who was one of the original 12. Who wrote 1 & 2 Peter. Same guy. If he did it for him, he will do it for you. For me. For anyone and everyone. He did it for Paul, who was a murderer. Who wrote a decent amount of the New Testament. He washes us white as snow – not muddy snow – not kinda clean. Totally, completely – without blemish. Like it never happened. How empowering. How encouraging. How great is our God?! And what does he ask in return? To try. To be obedient. To follow him. To try to have a relationship. Because he’s already done his part. He died for our sins. He established a way. We just have to step in, show up, be available, listen, read, engage. He’ll be there. Waiting. And it will be incredible! ❤

I hope this encourages you. I hope it speaks to you. I hope it helps you understand – that God is waiting for you. He wants to show up. He wants to show up in such incredible and moving ways that you won’t be able to keep it to yourself. You will become a fisher of men. You will want to share the Kingdom. No man left behind. He wants you, and me, and her, and her, and him, and EVERYBODY! He’s waiting for you to step up, step in, walk in Faith, with Faith, by Faith. All of it!! He’s here. Waiting for you.

Plans, plans, plans…

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. – Proverbs 16:9

I know, the plan was to post once a week, and it still is the plan, mostly. But yesterday morning, when I woke up to this brand new 2019, this was the verse from my Bible app, to start my year. Which, is a great scripture, and one to remember for many occasions, but it vividly reminded me of when God really showed up the first time, after I started going back to church. Little background leading up to this story. I had recently gotten married and graduated from online college, I had a career that I was very proud of, and I had recently accepted a brand new role in a small company in a rural town from where I live. I thought, everything was going great. My new job paid bank, we were getting ready to sign on a house, we were already making great and glorious remodeling plans, it was going to be A-MAZ-ING!!! And we were thrilled! And quite literally, the Friday before we’re going to sign papers for the house, to move, and I get pulled into the CEO’s office, where the Corporate manager proceeds to eat me and the Plant Manager alive in front of the CEO. And, ends the session, informing us that in a month, one of us (the Plant Manager or myself) will no longer be here…. WOW. Now, I personally, have never even been written up at work. I haven’t even had a hard “talking-to” in years, let alone this degree of … whatever that was. I am, for the first time in my life, rendered speechless. As I leave the meeting, and go to my desk to gather my things, the Plant Manager pulls me aside and says he’s pretty sure it’s a ploy to get rid of him (he’s older, he costs the money a lot in insurance for meds, etc.) I just look at him, and say, “Don’t worry about it. I’m leaving before the time is up. I can find another job, you need the insurance. Joke’s on them.” And that was it. My career just blew up in my face. I left a job that I had been at for 5 years for this, and it just blew up. The house – pointless. All of it. I go home to break the news to my husband. Fast forward a little, I get a job as an entry level factory worker at a company my dad has been at forever (and loves, and has been trying to get me to come to.) Fast forward again, I try to move up and it once again blows back on me. I just cannot win.

Feeling wholly and completely defeated, I make a plan. We’re going to sell our mobile home and move South. Yep. Obviously, life isn’t working out here, it’s time to move on. So, we start making plans. I fix up a few more things and put the house on the market, I make contact with some of my husband’s family, we start looking at the job market. Yep, this is what we’re doing. And, at one point, I’m discussing all this with my brother, and he asks me, if I’ve asked God about this…. Um, no. I haven’t. And, now, I can already sense it, as soon as he said it, God isn’t having this business. But, I went totally childish, well, if I don’t ask – he can’t tell me “No” and I won’t be defying him… Right? Plan moves forward. We are now getting ready to go on “vacation” for a few days to visit my husband’s family, where we’re going to look at places to live, and jobs, and get ready to move! Someone is buying our house at the end of the month. We’re going to stay in South Dakota through the summer, help my folks out on the farm, and then hit the road. We’re saying good-bye to our friends, telling everyone I know that I don’t have much time left, we’re heading south, going to scout it out soon….. And God showed up. 5 days before we are due to leave for “vacation”, this manager from a dept I had been part-timing in pulls me aside, and says he needs my help today. – Ok. The next day, he tells me again, I need your help in my dept. – Ok. Finally, the 3rd day, he again needs my help. – Now, I have noticed that someone in the dept is missing these days, but surely there are other more capable people to help here. And, so I challenge him. “What are you doing? Where’s this other person? Are they sick? What’s going on?” And he looks at me and says, “Let me be honest. She’s transferred departments, and I want you to take this job. I think you would be a good fit. Take some time, think it over, let me know.” EXCUSE ME?!?! I literally leave to go job and house hunting in 2 days!!! But, people, this is a dream job. This is a perfect for me job. This is a “I don’t think I could apply for it and get it job.” – Now, I will say that part of my plan to move south is because this company is so massive with so many seasoned employees, I thought that my chances of advancement were slim to none. So, I go home and tell my husband. And, in his deep love for me, he says, “Well, you decide what you want and let me know. I go where you go.” God showed up. He was there the whole time, but come on, I knew. I knew, somehow, as soon as my brother posed it, that this wasn’t what God had planned, and that some how, some way, this plan wasn’t happening, but I was barreling forward like it was. I sold my house, I got rid of almost all my stuff, I tuned-up my resume, and God threw my a curve-ball. But, everything that has happened since then has been an absolute blessing. My job is great, my boss is great, I have a solid Christian family, I’ve found a growing, thriving Christian church that encourages the fire in me, I’ve started a bible study. I got to spend my dad’s last years with him. I was never supposed to leave. God knew exactly what was up, and he tried to tell me, but I just didn’t want to listen. And what if I hadn’t? What if I had doubled-down? What would’ve happened then? I cannot imagine, nor do I want to. I wouldn’t take it back for the world. ❤ I hope this encourages you, when sometimes it feels like you know what you’re doing, maybe there’s a still small voice that says, “maybe not” or “yes, this is the right path.” Listen. Listen to it. Bend to his will, let him mold you, let him make the arrangements, let him guide you to where you’re going, it’s always better than what you think you know anyway. 😉

Light

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

In my last post, I referred to the fact that there is power in praying scripture over your life. If you do not currently do this, I strongly encourage it, but I also know it takes a while to get used to this concept, if it’s not something you’ve pursued yet. As I, have only started praying scripture in the last 3 years, and really doubled-down in the last year. Let me share the story of how I have figured out how incredibly powerful this can be.

When I first started going to church again – 6 years ago, I was right back to my old ways. I’m here, I’m singing, I’m sitting in the pew, but I’m still totally doing my own thing when I’m not in this building. And, I can’t say that I was really expecting a lot, I felt like I was going to church for my kid, but also because God had put me here and I grew up hearing the stories of Jonah and Sarah, and was not about to blatently defy God. I believe this went on for about a year. We’re going, my son is loving it, and I’m enjoying the church-folk but like I said, not really seeing where this is going. And, then, one day, something motivated me to stop making excuses and start really studying the Bible. I want to say it was that my son kept asking me all the questions about the Bible, I realized that I really couldn’t answer a lot of his questions – but to be honest, I cannot really recall right now. Ok, so now, I’m a mother of a 4 year old, I have a full-time job, I just recently finished online school, and my career is starting to take-off, and when do I have time to study the Bible? Besides the fact that I’m still doing a lot of this under the radar because my husband is not a believer, and periodically likes to bombard me with questions about my faith, that I do not have the answer to. I reach out to my dad, who is forever excited about buying someone any biblical materials they might ever need. I find a book, that claims to have 5 minute devotionals for your ultimate busy mom. Perfect. My dad buys it, and I start reading it. Slowly at first, not every day, but I’m here, I’m trying. And, as I continue to force this habit, it becomes easier and easier. I started waking up 10 minutes earlier every day to give myself plenty of time for a 5 minute devo. I think it was only supposed to take me a year, but it took like a year and half, maybe a little longer. But, low and behold, when I got done doing that one, now I wanted to read another one. This is now something I continue to try to do. You seriously just have to find something, some way, to get you started. Now, because I’ve read devos, I’ve realized there are certain books of the Bible I want to read, so those have become my morning devos. I have also started waking up even earlier to give myself plenty of time to pray. Also, another habit that I had to originally force, but now, I’m doing it a lot. Sometimes, I have to be careful, I’ve gotten so caught up in prayer I’m almost late for work. It’s wonderful. Deep down in your soul wonderful. It’s such an intimate, holy, wonderful connection. I will probably have several entries on prayer throughout this time. Once you truly figure it out, it is incredibly rewarding and you will realize why there are books dedicated to prayer. Anyway, back to this story. So, about 3 years ago (2 years of devotionals, and about 1 year of trying to figure out how to pray) I realized that I wasn’t praying for myself really. I was praying for my mom, and my son, and my dad, and, and, and ……. what do I want? What should I pray for myself? I didn’t really want to pray for more money, or my career, or whatever, I wanted something open-ended, something that I could leave open to the interpretation of God. What do I want, that you -Almighty Father – want? I pondered on this for a long time. Read scripture. Read devotionals. Listened to sermons. What do I want? Then, one day, it came to me. Matthew 5:16. I want to be a light.

3 1/2 years ago, I started praying to be a light. Originally, it was just in my morning prayers, like right at the end, “and let me be a light, that others may see you through me.” I honestly had no idea what I was doing with that incredibly powerful scripture. Slowly, I started changing. I started wanting to go to church, like really wanting it. I started wanting to read my Bible, more, not just in the morning, I started wanting to do volunteer work to help with missions again. I started really changing. Becoming a new creature in Christ. Fast forward to this year. I walked into a new church that I had started attending a little bit last year (approximately around the same time that Satan started hitting me with blow after blow – please believe that it is not lost on me that Satan did not want me to connect with this church.) and as I’m talking to a Pastor that is just On Fire for God, he looks at me, and says, “You’re a light, sissy.” And I almost started crying. Here we are, 3 1/2 years of praying, and a Pastor just said it to me. Now, he had no idea that I’ve been praying for this, I’ve hardly met the guy but a few times at this point. That was the Holy Spirit acknowledging me. Then, a few weeks later, one of my best friends writes me a Thank You note out of the blue, saying how grateful she is that we are friends, and how she admires my relationship to God – “You are such a light for him.” Wow. She, too, also has no idea that I’ve been praying for this. I have had several people since then, make the same comment, and the entire time, I’ve been keeping this to myself because I’m just in awe of the Holy Spirit acknowledging my prayers. Then, on Christmas Day, I got the one that has inspired me to share this with all of you. When people asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, I didn’t really have an answer, but one of the things that I did tell 1 person I wanted, was some “Jesus clothes” as in – something that referred to Jesus love you, Faith in the cool cross way that they’ve been doing it, etc. Something. I don’t really have any “Jesus clothes” and I wanted some. Well, here I had celebrated with the family and had not received any “Jesus clothes” but, oh well, it’s ok. Not a huge deal. When, one of my best friends says she has a gift for me. And, low and behold, a Jesus shirt. She’s not even the person that I told that I wanted one. And, not only is it a Jesus shirt, here is what it says, “I am the LIGHT of the world, those who follow me will never walk in darkness.” I am speechless. Amen!!! Here we are, 3 1/2 years into this prayer, and the Holy Spirit is just confirming and answering me all over the place. I’m just floored. And, look, here’s this blog, reaching out to all of you. Encouraging all of you. To be a light, to shine for him, to follow him, he will never leave you or forsake you. He will always come through. He has started a good work in you, and he will see it come to pass. So, I encourage you to decide what you are asking God for in this new year. Do you know? Maybe you’re not even that far. Maybe you just need to decide to set aside time for him and stick to it. They’re all steps on the path, but where is your path taking you? I’m choosing to Walk by Faith, not by sight this next year. 2 Corinthians 5:7 I hope you all will join me. God bless you and keep you in 2019!