Thursday, October 15, 2009

you just never know

"Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth."
Proverbs 27:1 (NIV)

Husband with an injured thumb. Son with cold. Migraine. Heating systems that blow cold air. Oldest daughter with flu. Sore throat. Five missed events. Back out of alignment. Daughter hiding brother's school books.

And that, my Friend, just about sums up my last seven days. (Just in case you were wondering why my posts have been sporadic. Sorry.) :-(

Oh, and blue dogs that are apparently orange, as I read on my family room floor this afternoon. :-) (We definitely needed that moment of laughter!)

Seriously, sometimes life is just downright trying. Weeks like these are exactly the reason why Solomon wisely advised his son not boast about tomorrow. Plan as we might, we truly have no control over what does and doesn't happen in our lives.

I find it interesting that Jesus took His advice a step further in Matthew 6:34: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

It can be incredibly disappointing to have to miss out on life happening around us. It stinks to have to stay home and be sick. It can be frustrating to deal with never-ending discipline problems. Add them all together, and you've got one exhausted mom!

The key, I've found, is once again surrender. Sure, I can make my plans for tomorrow. Most often, they will come to fruition. However, life happens.

When I allow my emotions to drive my day—especially days that completely wear me out—I'm going to be miserable.

There's a delicate balance that requires having hope for tomorrow, while also acknowledging that Jesus told us that we will experience trials and struggles in this world. I want to be realistic about what He told us, while also believing God's promise to bless, protect and provide for myself and my family.

And so, when I'm feeling completely and utterly undone, I'm choosing to remember that Jesus never promised me a walk in the park. I'm also trusting that God promised to never leave me, nor forsake me.

"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble."
Psalm 59:16 (NIV)

One of the things I love most about God is that His answers are both creative and personal. Some days, He brings deliverance, while on other days He gives us perseverance.

Friend, God knows exactly what we need on any given day. We just need to remember to call out to Him for help. He will always answer.

Whatever you need today, I trust that God will not only meet your needs, but also shower you abundantly with His love and peace.

Keep pressing into Him and keep LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Still pondering the colorful dog,

Monday, October 12, 2009

grace received

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty."
Proverbs 11:24 (NIV)

Google Maps said that my destination was 58 minutes away, however, I decided give myself a full two hours to ensure that I made it on time. I even mapped out a couple of nearby coffee shops in case I arrived really early.

I was looking forward to my appointment, but also feeling a bit nervous about the drive ahead of me. What if I arrived a couple of minutes late? I had never met Jan before and didn't want to start off our relationship on a bad note.

After dropping my kids off at my friend's house for the evening, I was already thirty minutes into my journey. No problem. I still had plenty of time left.

Until traffic came to a complete stop ten minutes later.

I tried to relax and remember that I had given myself an extra hour. I started to pray and asked God to clear the traffic. It had to let up at some point, right?

And so, at no more than five miles an hour, I s-l-o-w-l-y crept my way towards Washington.

With a half-hour to spare, my cell phone rang. It was Geoff calling to make dinner plans for after my appointment. I told him about traffic and he commiserated with me. We hung up and I continued the painful crawl out of Oregon.

With only fifteen minutes left before my appointment, I started to get worried. I was nowhere near Jan's office. To make matters worse, I realized that I had left Jan's phone number at home on my desk. I quickly called Geoff and asked him to look it up online. No luck.

My appointment time came and went. I started to panic. And then cry. I called Geoff again for moral support. There wasn't anything either of us could do at this point.

My first response was to doubt God's concern for me. Thankfully, however, wasn't going to let me get away with that lie. As uncomfortable as the situation was, I knew deep inside that God was allowing all of this to happen in order to teach me and bless me.

Remembering that my home phone refers people to my cell phone, I began to pray that God would impress upon Jan's heart to call me. I hoped that she wouldn't assume I was standing her up.

Ten minutes later my cell phone. I have never been so happy to hear it ring! Sure enough it was Jan, calling to make sure I wasn't lost. I apologized profusely and explained my predicament.

Jan was so understanding. She made sure I knew where I was going and explained that her next appointment wasn't until 6:30. We would still have plenty of time to meet.

As I hung up the phone, all of my stress melted away. The traffic still wasn't moving any faster, but I knew everything was going to be alright.

At 5:00, I finally pulled up to Jan's office. A full hour after we were supposed to meet. I found her sitting on the porch, reading a magazine while patiently awaiting my arrival.

Although I had never met her before, she greeted me with a warm hug and a big smile.

She then explained that her 6:30 appointment was willing to push her appointment back to 7:00 in order to allow us a full two hours to meet! I was so relieved and thankful, I could have cried.

Never before had I experienced such grace from a person in the professional field. When I missed our 4:00 time, I expected her to ask me to reschedule our appointment. (Honestly, at that point, I probably would have given up, expecting it to be too difficult to make happen.)

Instead, she went out of her way to accommodate me. I have to admit that I still half expected her to make the allowance, but then treat me coldly. After all, that's what others have done in the past. Instead, I was met with kindness and joy. Grace.

Grace received is like a glass of cold water on a hot day. I felt so loved and cared for.

And here I had thought that God had forgotten me! Instead, He wanted me to experience His love and grace in a tangible way.

Thankfully, Geoff gave me grace as well. Rather than enjoy our kid-free evening together, he ended up staying at work late. We finally met for dinner at 8:00. Sure, he could have been cranky (and honestly, I wouldn't have blamed him.) Instead, when I walked into the restaurant, he stood up and gave me a big hug and kiss. Grace.

I feel so humbled when God loves me through those He has placed in my life.

Sure, the Creator of the universe could have cleared traffic and helped me make my appointment on time. Instead, He decided to give me something even better—grace.

God's blessings and gifts are freely given to each of us without strings attached. It's our choice how we respond. Will we simply receive the gift—or—will we allow the gift to change and grow us?

When we choose to share the blessings God has showered upon us, they always have a way of multiplying.
Grace grows and spreads. It not only changes us, if we allow it, but those around us as well. Before we know it, we have a bountiful harvest of God's incredible goodness to enjoy.

Friend, I pray that you experience God's amazing grace today in a tangible way.

May you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He loves you and has good things in store for you.

May we both choose to share God's grace with those He has placed in our lives.

God's goodness and grace keep me LIVING A BLESSED LIFE—I pray you are as well!

Changed by Grace,