Tag Archives: grace

Be Bold!

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“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” -Basil King

The above quote is probably one of my new favorites. It speaks of such power and faith- be bold! and mighty forces will come to your aid… Basil King was a clergyman born in Canada, so I have to assume he meant be bold in the name of the Lord, and He will come to your aid. That’s just my assumption.

I’ve decided to make weekly posts with little tidbits such as quotes or photos here and there which all reflect my end of the week concept or idea. I hope that’s not too disappointing, but with church commitments, family time, community obligations, work and two doggies to keep me on my toes, I feel this is a more appropriate use of my time.

Be bold… I struggle between being boldly self-confident, and being an arrogant jerk. I could pass the years telling you how many people have misinterpreted my confidence (sometimes feigned!) for arrogance or an “I-think-I’m-better-than-you” attitude. I’ll come right out and say that my personal beliefs and convictions are just that- mine, personal, and convicting. I’m sharing them with you all out of a sense of being called by God to do so. I do not expect that everyone I encounter will agree with me. I do however expect them to respond with the same respect I give their expression of beliefs or opinions.

That being said, please feel free to respond in a respectful and informative manner! 🙂

The thought that’s been bouncing around in my head this morning is how can I be bold in the name of Christ? And I decided that God will present the opportunities for me and all I have to do is act upon them. It may be in a conversation to my husband (please don’t mistake this for something it isn’t- I fully believe in Biblical submission of a wife to her husband) about some aspect of our marriage. So many couples fail to communicate out of fear or self-consciousness, or guilt. I challenge you to be bold! Boldly and bravely communicate with your spouse, or significant other, because they don’t know our hearts and minds like God does; we have to TELL them how we feel.

It may present itself as a service opportunity. There are so many times that I’ve passed up an opportunity to “get my hands dirty” in service because I was afraid of failure when I should have accepted the challenge with tenacity. Mighty forces will come to your aid! you don’t need to worry about the things you don’t have because God will supply you with all of your needs, and see to it that they are sufficiently met for all of your tasks.

It could be in just talking to a friend (or a complete stranger) about your faith. We are called to share the love of Christ with those around us and to deliver the Gospel message to those who have never heard or known. God has entrusted us with his word! That is an enormous responsibility, and we fall short of God’s grace daily. So strike up that random conversation, tell others what you believe, ask questions to which you don’t know the answers, and give where there is an opportunity to give.

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have” 1 Corinthians 8:12

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 1 Corinthians 9:8

Stillness

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2013… the start of another year of growth in faith, maturity, wisdom, and hopefully, my sense of humor!

First things first- hello! So much has come to fruition in the past several months that blogging has gotten put on the back burner. I hope I haven’t completely lost my audience, because I don’t feel as if this blog is finished yet, although I don’t intend to keep at it forever… that being said, I have several blessings for which to be thankful, the most recent being my job. I not only secured the substitute teaching position, but as usual, God surpassed my ambitions and desires and led me (quite unexpectedly, and without pursuit on my part) to a full time job as a Teacher Assistant! Praise God and his marvelous provision.

The extra income came at precisely the right time because the car, or Sophie as I’ve come to call “her,” hasn’t been feeling well recently and her days are numbered. I trust God completely with the situation though, because blind faith aside, I’ve seen God’s care, guidance, and provision prove true again and again in real and tangible ways. More to come on that story, I imagine.

So that’s what is new. I’m currently dwelling in a period of stillness. Not the stillness of apathy,  or indifference, but the stillness of obedience and God’s peace. There are seemingly lots of external stressors that, by all earthly standards, should be causing me to be in a frenzied panic. But as I keep telling people, I feel stress, but it isn’t distress, it’s eustress; it’s a positive energy, and the fatigue of working in a school full-time, and being so busy- even outside of work- I don’t have time to dwell on the negative.

There’s that saying, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” It’s really resonating with me right now. God is developing my patience, but more so, I feel He is building upon my understanding. Not understanding of any one thing in particular, but of all aspects of my life; my marriage (this is the biggest area of growth), my faith, of course, and my new job. I have found that all of these periods of waiting for military related things have helped me to strengthen my patience and have given me discernment in all of the aforesaid areas. I know what God’s peace is NOT- I think we’ve all felt and experienced that turmoil before. It’s the feeling that no matter what you do to stay afloat, life keeps trying to drown you. And if that is the opposite of God’s peace, then I know what to stop dwelling on. I don’t have to know the next step, because God already does, and He promises He will catch me if I fall.

When I was in 8th grade, my dad was my principal at a small k-8 school in Northern Illinois. My dad liked to take advantage of every opportunity to have a teachable moment via assemblies or pep rallies. (or so it seemed to me) One specific motivational activity came to mind. The group was based out of one of the area high schools and it was called B.L.I.N.D. It stood for Building Lasting Impressions that Never Die… and seeing as I still remember it in my early twenties, I’d say the organization has lived up to its name. Anyway, we had all gone to the gym for various team building exercises; the trust fall, the “how do we get all the people across the ‘river’ making only one trip at a time” game, and numerous others. The time came for the final challenge- a blindfolded maze walk. The B.L.I.N.D. guides led all of the blindfolded students outside and placed our left hands on a rope. Our task was to follow the rope to the end of the maze, without peeking. But, if at any point we became exasperated and determined we couldn’t complete the maze, we were instructed to stop, raise our hands and ask to be led from the maze. Easy, right?  So I took the rope, and started to walk along, letting the rope guide me through the maze. I could hear people all around me, mere seconds into the maze stopping and asking for help. Seriously?  They had barely even tried! I kept going, confident I could find my way- after all,  I had the rope stretched out before me. Logic said if the rope went from beginning to end, then following it would ultimately get me to the exit. I kept walking. More and more people fell out. I couldn’t believe it!  Where was their perseverance? Where was their iron will? I had the courage and conviction to keep going- I was going to get through that maze! Pretty soon, I noticed that my footsteps were the only ones I could hear… had every one given up? How long was this maze? Did they forget, and leave me outside, blindfolded and alone? I walked a little slower, less and less sure of my steps. My confidence in my ability to find the end of the maze dwindled and at last, I stopped walking. I wondered if turning around and going the way I had come would get me back to the beginning… I didn’t want to be the last one left in the maze, but I certainly didn’t want to give up… I heard a guide say, “Remember, if you need help finding the end, just raise your hand and one of us will come to you…” I had disappointed myself. Not only had I stopped walking,  but here I was about to ask for help, to be led out of the maze.  I hesitantly raised my hand, wondering what the repercussions of giving up would be… a guide came to me and she asked, “do you need help?” My cheeks flushed as I admitted my own defeat. “Yeah… I think I missed a turn or something…” She said okay, and took me by the arm and lead me away from the rope. After we had taken a few steps she instructed me to remove the blindfold. When I took the bandanna from my eyes, I turned to look at where I had ended up, wanting to see how close I had come to finding the end of the maze. I was convince I had gotten close, and was still disappointed in my decision to quit. But as I turned to look back at the rope maze from which I had come, I was shocked to see that I’d been Tricked! Fooled! hoodwinked! Bamboozled!!! It wasn’t a maze at all! It was a giant loop around the asphalt basketball courts! I had been walking in circles… arrogantly, self-assuredly, and blindly walking in circles. I looked at the few of my classmates who were still trudging forward, determined not to seem weak in asking to be led out… and I remember thinking… wow, my pride caused me to look like a fool to all of these guides watching me. And I started to feel something like pity for the few stragglers who hadn’t yet gotten the point of the exercise. All I had to do was stop, admit my own ineptitude and ask for help.

It was hard for me to ask for help that day, and it still is difficult today. I don’t like seeming weak or incapable to my peers, my coworkers, my friends, especially not to my husband… but that’s what we are, isn’t it? We’re all just blindfolded students on a journey to learn to ask for help when we can’t find our way. It’s not about the end of the maze, though that’s what the rope (and society) tells us. It’s about humbling ourselves and casting aside the arrogance and insecurities that keep us walking in circles, and that prevent us from experiencing the fullness of God’s peace.

It’s freeing to finally admit to myself that I’m not capable of making it through a single day in my attempts to “be a good person” on my own. It doesn’t work like that because goodness- righteousness- comes from God, and we can’t receive it until we stop walking in circles and ask Him to guide us to it.

That’s what I’ve been meditating on since the beginning of this new year- I’ve been seeking God’s strength and admitting my weakness. Because even at my best, I am unworthy of His grace, yet he extends it freely to me, and to all who humbly come before Him.

I resolve to quit walking in circles (it’s dizzying, it truly is) and to instead stop and take in the stillness, and let the Father lead me.

God at Work

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God at Work

Once again, I am floored by God’s perfect timing, and moved to tears by His awesome power.

So about the change I was feeling the need to make yesterday… I kept hearing God’s voice, but I wasn’t sure what it was saying. I kept making tiny changes to my whole day- breakfast, dinner, my clothing, the way I brushed my teeth, the foot I put a sock on first, and any other quirky little thing you could imagine.

Usually, I do my 2-3 mile run in the evenings, when it’s cooler, the sun is just setting, and it’s slightly less humid… Well, I was being told to change something. So I went online and found a running club in the area, and I decided to meet up with them to run 3 miles this morning… at 5:00am! I am not in the habit of being a morning person, so it took 2 alarms to get me out of bed. I haven’t been putting in much mileage recently either, but I got dressed, inhaled some yogurt, grabbed my water bottle and run tracker and headed off to meet the group.

It was a good run. I kept up with the leader of the group through the first mile and change, but then sort of started to get wheezy, what with the rain, humidity, and my mild case of asthma… So one of the other runners, Jan kept me company. It was just the two of us, until we met back up with the leader, Amila, around the 3 mile mark. We had talked about how we ended up down here in the area, and the subject came up that Amila was a military spouse as well. The more we talked, I started to piece things together until I realized that our husbands were not only in the same unit, they were working together at that very minute!

WOW! something as small as altering the time I go running opened up a door for a new friend with so much in common, and I never would have met her otherwise! Praise God for speaking to me in a way I could understand and using a common ground, like running, to connect me with someone who will understand exactly what I’m going through when we don’t have our husbands to lean on for comfort and support. God was telling me to move, literally! He told me to get up and go run, and embrace what would come of it! I can’t wait to see what else He has in store.

If that’s not proof that God is living and active, I’m not sure what is.

Me at a track meet in high school… I ran distance so I had a lot of spare time between events.

Just In Time

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Just In Time

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Ok, I did it- the cliché passage from Ecclesiastes… But you know what? It felt relevant today and for whatever reason, I feel like God is calling me to it.

I wasn’t even reading from Ecclesiastes this morning. I was reading from Genesis in my study of the Hebrew words used to describe/ refer to God. Today I learned El-olam, which I read comes from another word literally meaning “to be hidden” or “the vanishing point.” Olam was used to describe God’s infinite, everlasting, and eternal qualities (Genesis 21:33), specifically focusing on the concept of God transcending what we can see and measure with our finite senses.

This of course triggered a waterfall of thought and reading because I found it interesting that Abraham used El-olam to refer to God in Gen. 21 but wasn’t tested until the next chapter when God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. It pulled me in deeper- after a lifetime of wandering around, hesitating to trust and learning to let God be God, and walk by faith, Abraham finally acknowledged in Gen. 21:33 that God knew what was up, so to speak, by acknowledging that God far surpassed what Abraham could perceive on his own. At that moment, Abraham finally put his full trust and faith in the Lord. That makes the entirety of chapter 22 make more sense! Before when I had read it, Abraham comes off kind of callous, almost like he’s operating out of fear rather than faith. The whole time I always felt awful for poor Isaac because he had to have been confused and terrified the entire time. Before, I thought that the “moment of truth” was when Abraham lifted the knife to sacrifice his son and was stopped by the angel of the Lord… Now, I understand Abraham to have had a steadfast trust the whole time; he had already come to that point of absolute faith in God and he was confident that God would spare his one and only son. The test was just to “seal the deal” and prove with finality that Abraham had in fact put God first and foremost in his life.

As I pondered it further, I started to wonder how the experience shaped Isaac and his faith in God. Up on that mountain, he was shown ultimate faith and trust in God, but I don’t think he ever really “got” the message. Yes, he served the Lord, but I feel like he kind of missed the point that God made with his father, Abraham, and I’ll explain why.

1.) He hard-core played favorites with his sons, Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:28)

2.) He didn’t trust God to protect him and Rebekah so he lied to Abimelech (Gen. 26:7)

3.) He wasn’t a firm leader within his household; he was repeatedly deceived by both his wife and his son (Gen. 27:1-46; Gen. 28:1-9)

It was as if neither Jacob or Esau had a firm example of the devout and unwavering trust/faith of Abraham, because instead of spending their lives trying to serve and please God, they each sought to win Isaac’s favor, and in the end, it caused them all grief. Jacob was taught by his mother, Rebekah, that rather than accepting the place God had given him and the role he was to play in life, he had to deceive, lie, and scheme to get  what he wanted, rather than be content with the blessings he was given, and trust God to provide for his needs and bless him with his wants. I read further in Genesis, through chapter 32, where Jacob wrestles with God and is left with a permanent limp as a perpetual mental note of his weakness on his own; a physical reminder that he needs God… And while he also served God, I don’t think Jacob ever fully understood either, because he too played favorites with his sons, Joseph and Benjamin because they were his children with Rachel, whom he loved most.

I processed the history within each of those generations of God’s chosen people… God had a plan that was accomplished in the end, regardless of the choices, decisions, or mistakes that those men made. There was season for everything and a time to every purpose, all of which ultimately achieved God’s desires for his people.

This is SO relevant to today’s society. I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with one of my sisters… We were discussing dating, marriage, and  children, and she said something that made me aware of how lost people her age are because they rely on their own strength of will to get by… To paraphrase what she said, “You just have to do what feels right; there’s never going to be a right or perfect time. If you wait around forever, you’ll never do anything about it.” And I thought, wow- I thoroughly disagree, and understand the message God has been trying to drive home the past few weeks. There IS a right time. There IS perfect timing, and it’s God’s, not mine. I don’t want to go through life constantly struggling against my current situation, missing out on the joy of the present time I’ve been blessed with because I’m attempting to fill my life with the things I want or think I need in the heat of the moment. I don’t want to feel like Jacob, struggling for control, and fighting God’s will for me. I don’t want to limp by for the rest of my life, wishing I had just trusted God from the beginning to fulfill his promises.

I turned from Genesis to Ecclesiastes 3:15- “Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.”The footnote after the word “account” clarified verse 15 to say, “God calls back the past.” I understand that the frustration of waiting I’m experiencing, or the unnerving feeling of being the only one to have ever felt like they’re in a limbo situation, holding out for what is yet to come, but stuck in waiting for the time being, is something ancient. It’s been felt and experienced by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… They’ve all dealt with that spiritual tug-of-war with God. Nothing I’m experiencing now is new, or different from what challenged people’s closeness to God back in ancient times. What IS different is that I have their experiences from which to draw wisdom. I’m never going to stop feeling those periods of insecurity, because I’m human. I just can’t let myself forget that God has a plan, and no matter what, it WILL be done. My role is tiny, and insignificant in the vast scheme of things, and to place my part above any others is foolish and ignorant, and contrary to everything I’ve read in scripture. I have a role to play, yes, but it isn’t for me to decide the order in which my scenes play out. That’s God’s job, and I’m resolving to daily offer up to him the control I continually try to seize. It will be a challenge to which I look forward.

Me, at another “waiting point” in my life- Waiting for Mitch to be done with MOS school, and move me down to his permanent duty station