Category Archives: Faith In Everyday Life

Control: Who has it?

IMG_0153My life is out of control.  Can you relate?

My good intentions are sabotaged with the demands of daily life. The unexpected takes over. My husband forgot to tell me about a change in his schedule, Mom wants to start a new project, or the dog gets sick on the living room carpet. You know what I am talking about. We all experience similar interruptions daily.

Interruptions are not necessarily a bad thing. Some are fun. Some are frustrating. Some provide surprising opportunities to witness through our words or actions. I get that. But a series of interruptions that has gone on for months has crippled my plans. As soon as I negotiate one crisis and began to settle into a day or two of normalcy, the next mini-calamity arrives. Nothing really bad has happened. I have to admit that many of the interruptions in my plans have become blessings. The point is that MY PLANS ARE NOT HAPPENING.

So how have I responded to this reality?

1. Gripe: All this did was to make me and everyone around me miserable.

2. Get angry/throw a temper tantrum: A bad idea (see above).

3. Laugh it off and say, “That is just life”: This approach was the easiest, but it left  me frustrated. I suspect God has been testing my obedience to his direction for me to write because writing is the one thing I consistently have not been doing. Well, sort of. I write all of the time for myself, but God is directing me to write for others. My lack of productive writing time has led me to question whether God really wanted me to share my writing. 

4. Use small segments of “found time” better: In theory this should work well. In reality, it only somewhat works because my days have been jam-packed. Normally the only “found time” I have is when I am drained at the end of the day.

5. Seek God’s direction: Well duh! Why did I not do this first? Finally, I reached the best solution to my frustrations with the unexpected happenings in my life. I have quit hitting the panic button–well most of the time. A peace overtakes my mind when I remember to ask God what I am to do, when I am to do it, and how he wants me to achieve his project.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

I resolve to daily give God my projects and my schedule. What area of your life do you need to relinquish control to God?

Wisdom

Am I willing to do what it takes to serve God well?

I recently examined my attitude toward serving God. Am I just serving at a surface level? Do I love God enough to do exactly what he tells me—no more and no less?

I love God and want to serve him most of the time. But sometimes I yield to the human temptation to take things into my own hands.

When “self” takes over I experience dissatisfaction. One would think I would learn, but I lightstock_150776_medium_sandra_ (1)continue to make the same selfish, human mistake. Why is this? I am sure God loves me and desires for me to successfully serve him.

When God told Moses that Bezalel was to build his tabernacle, he gave Moses the following information about him.

“I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.” Exodus 31:3

When I accepted Jesus, I was filled with the Holy Spirit. But I lack the next item—wisdom.

How do I fill myself with God’s wisdom? I daily spend some time reading Scripture, but my meditation on God’s Word, my seeking to hear the Lord’s message, is lacking. I perform the required reading of a Bible passage, but I too often do not seek to listen to God’s wisdom. I have my idea of what the passage says. My schedule must be kept. I have things to do and places to be. What a selfish attitude!

Spending unrushed, dedicated time in God’s Word and communicating with him in heart-felt prayer are essentials for possessing wisdom.

Lord, create in me an unquenchable desire to seek your wisdom daily.

3 Reasons I Could Not Write It

When Millie approached me to help write her autobiography, I was surprised. Reasons not to get involved readily flashed through my head.

  1. I am not qualified. I am not a published author. Why would she approach me? Yes, I had a blog I wrote on a somewhat regular basis, but that was not a qualification for writing a book.
  2. I do not have time. My elderly mother consumed most of my spare time. Ray and I were starting a long overdue remodeling project. My leadership roles at church and in Bible Study Fellowship filled several hours each week.
  3. Writing does not come naturally for me. I have to work to get the ideas down. Then I revise and revise and revise. Only once in a while do I write a piece that demonstrates decent writing.

For me to ghostwrite this book was a speculative, frightening venture.IMG_0841

God promises if we follow his instructions he will enable and provide. He did. The book is completed and published — an astounding accomplishment.

I would like to say that I had unwavering faith and confidence in God’s provision throughout the project, but I did not. It was a struggle. However, my need for wisdom, words, and organization were met beyond my wildest imagination.

God teaches that we are strongest and most fulfilled when we rest in his strength. That is when God’s glory is evident, and the human effort is only a faint shadow.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9

God made it possible to have Millie Young’s story of faith and service to her Lord and Savior told.

Will I?

IMG_1407Three or four times a week I exercise my niece’s border collies because I know how much the dogs love playing in the middle of the day when everyone is away at work.

One day last week, the dogs had been running around chasing the Frisbee for several minutes.  All was going well until I let it sail as a gust of wind blew. It landed in my brother’s small utility trailer. I chuckled and wondered which dog would go into the trailer and pick it up. None did. They looked at me then back at the Frisbee. I walked over and encouraged them to go after it. The older male decided it was safe and retrieved the toy.

IMG_1408How often am I like those dogs? God’s command is reasonable, but at the moment it is a few inches out of my comfort zone. Like all good Christians say they will do when they are being asked to do something they really do not want to do, I pray with the hope that I misunderstood God’s direction.

The dogs stood looking at a task that I knew had a simple solution.  I wondered if I am like them. Do I stand and look around for someone else to do the work God has given me because I do not know how to handle the task? Or am I like the dog, who with a little encouragement, followed a command to act in that situation?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  James 1:27

Will I obey God in the current challenge he has given me? Will I step out of my comfort zone and act?

As the Storm Rages

IMG_6201I was abruptly awakened from a deep sleep at about two this morning. Thunder was bombarding us as the sky was dancing with lightning. I checked all the windows to be sure no rain was pouring into the house, I crawled back under the sheet, and I felt a tentative wet nose on my arm.

My nine-month-old puppy was shaking with fear. After a few soft words, a big hug, and several reassuring pats, he laid down beside the bed knowing I would protect him.

A storm recently hit our family. My nephew was injured in a helicopter crash while serving in the army overseas. Have you had a storm in your life lately—a work layoff, a lost friendship, an accident, a serious illness.  It seems that the storms in life come when we least expect them. We are caught off guard, unprepared.

An old church camp chorus has the line, “With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm and drive the clouds away.” Last night as I comforted my dog, I thought about how I rely on God to give me peace in even the toughest situations.

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:23b-26

How are you weathering your current storm?

 

Washed Clean

Right after a spring rain, the air is crystal clear. The plants have all of the dust washed off. IMG_9466The flowers brighten and lift their faces. All is fresh.

Does your spiritual life need a life-giving spring shower? Is it stale? Is the air dusty with doubt? Does a film of scum cover you behaviors?

We all grow complacent at times. It takes effort to keep focused on God instead of on daily pressures. The things of this world are always pulling us to pay attention to them—to partake in their amusements.

Enjoying simple pleasures is encouraged by God. They can be refreshing when life’s responsibilities weigh heavy on our shoulders.

Today, enjoy God’s love as you meditate on Scripture and pray. Allow him to refresh your spirit—to wash your inner atmosphere crystal clean. Refresh in him.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22

Grumbling Again

imagesYes, I am grumbling again. Things are not going my way. Everyone expects too much of me. Can’t they see that I have needs? I want to do what I want to do once in a while!

Now that I write the words I recently said to my husband, I see how selfish they are. I wasn’t upset with him, but as often happens, the innocent receive the brunt of our frustrating words because we don’t feel free to voice them to the offender for a variety of reasons.

So what am I to do? The situation will not change. I need some time to pursue my interests for a few minutes each day. How can I make it happen? Here is my plan.

  • Seek God’s peace and wisdom through daily prayer and meditating on verses relating to peace in the storm.
  • Purpose to look for the positives in every situation throughout the day.
  • Set aside thirty minutes each day to do what I most want to do that day (read, walk, write, think, just relax, etc.). I enjoy simple pleasures.
  • Do the “I have to” tasks first. Then tackle whatever I can on the “I want to accomplish” list.
  • At the end of the day, celebrate what I did and do not worry about what is still on the “to do” list.

It is too easy to let grumbling take over when with just a little effort the joy of positive thinking can make life more enjoyable. I pray that God will grant me strength to break my habit of grumbling. Will you join me in this effort?

Do not grumble against one another.  James 5:9a

Do all things without grumbling or disputing. Philippians 2:14

Where Is God?

“Where is God? How could he let this happen?”

These questions are asked when disaster strikes. My nephew was in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan last week. Fifteen soldiers were suddenly plunged to the ground. One died. The injuries suffered by my nephew are not life-threatening but are serious. He was stabilized, flown to Germany, and transferred to a military hospital in the United States.

When bad things happen, we are tempted to question God. It is okay to tell God we are not happy with what happened. However, it is essential that we look for how God is working in the situation.

IMG_0335Yesterday I was picking strawberries when I realized that enduring a tragedy is much like finding the ripe fruit. Strawberries grow under the canopy of leaves. To find the ripe fruit one must brush the leaves out of the way. Sometimes it is impossible to see the fruit even though your hand is within inches of it. One must look from a different angle. It is important to find all the ripe fruit or it will eventually rot.

God wants us to recognize his blessings, but we must look for them. Sometimes we have to brush the leaves away and look a little deeper. Often we must look at our situation from a different angle. If we do not find his blessings, they will rot—helping no one. God will reveal his protection if only we look.

My family is thankful. My nephew is alive. He is receiving medical care. His wife and parents are with him. Family and friends are praying for him.

For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.  Mark 4:22

Something Is Missing

2014-05-30 07.37.34The shopping trip had been successful. I placed the sack on the kitchen counter and opened it expecting to find four items. I found two. After checking the receipt, I realized a mistake had been made. Two ink cartridges had not been placed in the sack.

I called the store. The people I talked to were very gracious and willing to correct the mistake. That store will have my business for a long time.

Is there something missing in your life–contentment, joy, satisfaction? Is there a hollow place that nothing is able to fill? The answer is to call upon Jesus. It seems strange to think that letting Jesus guide your life can be fulfilling, but it is true. Too many people believe the Christian life is full of restrictions. Nothing is farther from the truth. Following Jesus’ commands is freeing. True joy is made possible.

Is something missing in your life? Let Jesus make it right.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Disappointment

We all experience disappointment.  Sometimes it is trivial, but sometimes the disappointment is painful. What causes you disappointment?

Here is my list:

  • Not being invited to a luncheon
  • A friend no longer calls
  • Not getting a job I wanted
  • My husband forgets my birthday

imagesThe list could be longer, but I my listing stopped when I realized that the most difficult area of disappointment in my life is me.  I become frustrated with myself for the following:

  • Being late
  • Not keeping a promise I intended to keep
  • Forgetting an appointment or someone’s special event
  • Becoming impatient with another person
  • Not living up to my expectations

Thinking about disappointment can be depressing unless we realize it is okay to recognize our feelings. It is what we do with our feelings of disappointment that counts. We are to be forgiving toward others. But what about forgiving ourselves?

It is harder to forgive self than to forgive others. However, it is important to forgive self. God did not say forgive others and continue beating yourself up. We are expected to correct our behaviors using the power of the Holy Spirit to create new habits or to make restitution. But if God forgives our sins, it is extremely arrogant for us to refuse to forgive ourselves.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13