Friday, March 27, 2015

Waiting...

Waiting...and waiting some more...waiting...

Meeting my son's family today in Alabama - our half way point. I'm so excited as I anticipate reunion complete with grands, hugs, and kisses. We arrive at the motel only to find out...there's been traffic issues and they are still three hours away. Ugh! So not what I was hoping and anticipating for today. Those hugs and kisses are now on hold...as I wait.

Consider the following situations: waiting on a ride at an amusement park or in line at the grocery store, waiting for a certain letter in the mail or on a judge's decision, waiting for a loved one arriving home from the military, waiting on a doctor's report or a relationship to be reconciled, etc. You get the picture? I'm sure we can all agree...at times waiting can get pretty uncomfortable. Sometimes it might even feel gut-wrenching painful.

While I'm waiting, I think about how God uses such moments (Yes, right now, he's allowing me to think about this!) to help us grow and mature. During these seemingly dreadful times we can become anxious or we can be still and focus upon "more." What happens if we use those moments to focus on God, his mercy and grace, or his will? As I sit here waiting, (I'll admit, I've passed the anxious stage at this point!) I take a deep breath and I wonder what tragedy God might have saved my family from and I stop to thank God for keeping us from the many unknowns in life. It's true, we have no idea what all he saves us from!
I recall the verse in Isaiah (40:31), "but they that wait upon the Lord..." and somehow I see how a time of waiting can be good for me even though at times I may feel much differently. When we wait on God to bring our hopes and dreams to reality, to bring our trials and stormy nights to an end, to work out our impossible situations, to answer our prayers for healing, etc., we can be assured something good will come out of it. After all, another verse reminds me that "...all things work together for the good."

So, if you're in a waiting period right now, I invite you to join me. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and think about the big picture that we sometimes don't take the time to notice. God is faithful. Let's use this moment in time to rest, refocus and gain strength and maturity for the road ahead. And when my family gets here, I'll jump up and down with excitement. I know you too will be relieved, excited and  grateful when your waiting period comes to pass. Let's rejoice together. Let's see God in EVERYTHING! It's a challenge, but so worth it. Blessings upon you and yours as you wait...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

TO DO LIST


It doesn't matter what's on the agenda for our day, maybe a it's trip to the doctors office, another usual day on the job, home-schooling children, lending a hand to a friend, or maybe the first day of a much needed vacation. No matter what we've planned there are a few things we need to remember:

1. This is the day the Lord has given us...let us look at everything we do as worship unto him.  (Ps. 118:34)
Maybe sometimes we forget that God has given us so many promises in his Word...and they apply to our every day. Let's do everything today as unto him (cheerfully)...and be blessed. 

2. Our steps are ordered by the Lord. (Ps. 37:23)
No matter where we go...we won't be alone. He's ordered our steps and will be right there with us regardless of the circumstances we may face. Even if we feel like we "mess up" someway, he can make it right if we let him...be confident in this.

3. If we'll be conscious, we'll see him in our day. (Jer. 29:13)
Even though we know we're not alone, sometimes it's easy to miss God moments in our busy days. LOOK FOR THEM! It can be the simplest things! It can come from just about any source: nature, relationships, conversation, etc. Let's keep our eyes open today; "life" happens but so does GOD...be delighted when he does it just for you.

4. Be helpful to someone today...somehow, someway. (Luke 6:38) 
What a difference a kind word, smile or touch can make in the day of someone who is having a bad one. Let's go an extra step out of the way, take a risk and reach out to someone. BONUS* - see if God doesn't bless you in return...let's be sensitive.

Yes, I'll be right there with you as I keep these thoughts in the forefront of my mind. When you have one of those "God moments" today, I'd love for you to come back and tell us about it. Sharing is caring! Be encouraged today and walk in blessings and the love of the Lord. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sunshine & Roses (Clear As Mud part 2)

Wanted to follow up yesterday's post (Clear As Mud) with another part. Just like those dark, storm-filled, rainy days come and leave us with muddy puddles, soon and very soon the sunshine peeks from behind fluffy, white clouds and begins to dry up the "messy."

That's why, during the Clear As Mud days, we have to have a pre-determined plan: to stand. (Eph. 6:3) We can't wait until we're in the middle of a dilemma to decide which path we're going to take; the course and goal must already be set in our minds. We must have a made up mind not to quit no matter what comes our way; yes, we will keep running toward the finish line even with muddy running shoes. With that mindset we'll always come out with sunshine and roses. II Timothy 4:7, " I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:" should be our life goal.

God is on our side, he allows the rain and muddy puddles as well as bright sunshine and beautiful roses. He is cheering us on each day, but we must do our part: having a made up mind. Only we can control our actions and make choices to walk in the right direction...let's do so wisely.

So, remember the "bright sunshine and beautiful roses" days are just around the corner. He has promised that "this" won't last always. He has wonderful plans for our lives. Hang in there! Oh, right now, no matter what kind of day we're having, let's all grab our most precious vessel; it'll need to be ready to display those beautiful roses for all the world to see. We'll need it soon enough. We all have a purpose and can make it...through mud puddles and on to glorious sunshine.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Clear As Mud

Some days my motto seems to be the catch-phrase "clear as mud!" Nothing seems to be going as planned, schedules are off because you didn't hear the buzzing alarm, maybe you can't find your other shoe or the car keys. Can you relate? Maybe the car won't start or the dog got away. You know, your day starts off in a whirlwind and seems to go down-hill from there. I'll be honest, I have those days. Life.

Yesterday! I didn't hear the wake up call and when I finally did, I woke up with a nagging headache. Oh, and it was Sunday I might add! While I still managed to be ready on time, I felt like I was reeling to-and-fro and frazzled to a frizzle when I finally settled in for the ride to church. "Uugh! I hate days like this," I mumbled quietly to myself. OK, am I the only person with a disheveled, dysfunctional brain on some days? It's alright to admit it, my friend. Life, pain and stress have a way of doing that to us at times at times, doesn't it? Thank goodness God sees us right where we're at!

It's on these days that we feel quite messy. How in the world can I be a good witness for Jesus? How can I be effective salt and light? How can I touch a life or make a difference? How can I teach a Sunday school class when I'm so rattled? And for me, how can I be part of a praise-team when I can't even follow the words and chord chart?! Yes, it can get rather messy. It's at such vulnerable times when the enemy sneaks in and tries to tell you untruths. Be aware! He's already defeated!

We have blessed hope. I John 4:4 says, "Ye are of God, little children...greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."  God knows there are days with mud puddles included that might catch us off guard. Yet, we are still his children. He still cheers us on. He still loves us...even when we're rattled. He gives us hope and courage to keep pressing on. And, yes, he can still use us to shine brightly for him...even on those days. Don't doubt him! We are victorious!

Do you have a friend or family member who needs to be encouraged? Jump into that mud puddle with them! Don't be afraid to get messy! And while there, remind that special someone that God's with them too...even in the midst of a muddy mess. Now, my question to you...have I made this clear as mud?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Share My Special Day


 
Another year of life has passed for me...and today I turn another year older. What better thing to share today than the fantastic fact that God gives us a special gift EVERY day. Before you help me blow out all those candles on this birthday cake, let's pause to remember that God gives us the gift of "life" each day for a reason. When we wake up and put our feet on the floor each day, we have a choice to touch a life with God's love. Besides loving God, this is the only major purpose of us waking  up - to touch a life, to show and share God's love with another. Each of us have our own unique way of making a difference in the lives of those we come in contact with. No one else can touch that certain person like we can. Are we willing to take on that responsibility? Before we take a bite into that delicious piece of cake, take my hand and let's make a pact to reach out and make a difference in someone's life today...and every day hereafter. Let's allow God to have free reign in our hearts and lives. There's no telling what he can do through us if we'll be sensitive and available.
Now, enjoy that tasty bite. Then let's bow our heads in prayer and thank God for this priceless gift he's given. Let's ask him to order our steps and help us recognize every opportunity he presents throughout our day. Can you imagine me not opening one of the special gifts given to me on this special day? What a waste! No, I'll open every one with thanksgiving and excitement! Let's all grab our God-given gift and open them together right now...go out and make a difference in someone's life today. Remember, it doesn't have to be something monumental...little things often mean the most. Let's spread the love of God today...and every day. Happy Birthday to me...thanks for sharing this moment with me.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Coach Knows


If you've watched this and have tears streaming, I'm right there with you. When I watch this clip, tears stream like a river. It's so intense, so real, so inspiring, so....GOD. As I watched this, I couldn't help but picture our Coach (God) up close and personal, right by our side, prodding us on. Isn't that exactly what He does? He knows how hard we're struggling. He knows everything we're feeling on the inside and everything that's being thrown up at us on the outside. Yet, He never gives up on us...He's our biggest fan. Nobody desires to see us win the battle we're facing more than God and He knows there are on-lookers watching to see if we will give up. His plans are so much bigger for us than merely the 50 yard line...He wants us to know that with him right there by our side...WE CAN MAKE IT ALL THE WAY! 
We are stronger than we think...in Him! We're on the ALL STAR team. Press on, my friend. God's got you in His sights...and YOU CAN DO THIS!  The Coach knows...be encouraged.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Change is on the Way

Anyone still dealing with the effects of "springing forward?" Isn't it amazing what moving the clock ahead one hour will do? (Our household is still dragging! Yes, first time ever...we forgot to adjust our clocks Saturday night before we went to bed.) Along with the time change, we're slowly stepping out of winter season and into warm, sunshiny, spring time. Life is always changing, isn't it? I think it's safe to say, nothing stays the same (except for God). That's good news for us!
How encouraging to know that our bodies will eventually catch up with the time change set-back, and we'll slowly trade our heavy, winter wardrobe in exchange for light-weight T-shirts and flip flops. Dreary, gray days will give way to beautiful, breezy spring days. And so it's true with whatever we may be facing on our spiritual walk. If we're trudging through a trying valley, you have this promise that "this too shall pass." Be encouraged that whatever season you find yourself in, it won't last always. Join me as we place our eyes upon the One that is with us through every season and know that He is faithful to bring us through again. While seasons change...God constantly remains the same. Be encouraged, my friend, CHANGE IS ON THE WAY!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Labels...Stop it!



II Corinthians 12:9, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness..."

Most of us can probably quote this part of II Corinthians. As for myself, I've quoted it many times and usually it has involved a desperate plea to my Savior to help me with yet another flaw I found within me. Who wants to be flawed and have weaknesses? I've learned that we often compare our flawed, weak parts with others strong points often forgetting that each of us has a part that we'd rather part with or overlook.
As I was reading this verse today, I was enlightened and so excited! When Jesus (the words are printed in red in my Bible denoting that Jesus said these words) said his grace was sufficient and his strength is made perfect...he didn't even label it as MY weakness. The Bible says "...perfect IN weakness." Hello! A-ha moment.
Whenever something is ours we label it. My mind meandered back to when my children were in school. How many of us have written our child's name on every school supply at the beginning of the school year? Why? It belonged to them! Webster defines "belong" as "be rightly placed in a specified position." Oh my goodness! Jesus didn't place that weakness in your life to remain there forever. He didn't identify the weakness with your specific name. He has plans for us to grow out of it! Yes, it may be a weakness...but it doesn't define who we are and its definitely NOT ours for the long-haul if we allow him to transform us.
I don't know about you, but today I'm stripping the "Steffanie" label off of every weakness that I perceive in my own life and allowing God to be ENOUGH for me. (I can't fix it, but Jesus can.) Want to join me? Labels...stop it! Put up the infamous Sharpie permanent marker...today is a new day.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Editing Service - Free of Charge

"Oh!!! I didn't mean for that to come out that way! I didn't mean to say that! That's not what I meant!" I say with slightly elevated blood pressure and blushing cheeks.  Oh my word, I get myself in such a tizzy sometimes when my wording and tone of voice don't exactly match up with what I'm trying to relate.  I'd be the first to say that I'm not the world's greatest communicator. No matter how many "communication" books I read, still I must confess, I have issues I'm continually working on. And guess what? So are a million other people in the world.  So I'm not alone! Do you find yourself in this category?

Our words leave lasting impressions in the heart of others. Some for the good and some not-so-good at times I'm afraid. I find myself praying for God to guard my mouth and help me to be conscious of how my words might be perceived by others. Will it be offensive? Will it be up-lifting? You see, even though I might mean it one way, the other person may take it totally out of context.  It happens! We're all human! (Remember that when we get our feelings hurt. Maybe it wasn't meant the way we took it.)
A word of encouragement to each lovely reader out there...choose your words wisely. Be sensitive. We must pray that God will help us and edit every word prior to it being out there for the public to hear. In fact, He's the greatest editor ever - and it's free for those who will ask.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Jump in the Freezer

Ever been in a hurry and left a chocolate in your car on a steaming hot day in the month of July? Yeah, or gummy vitamins if you're me!  It doesn't take long for the heat to have a very negative effect on the contents within the package!  You're left with a sticky, gooey mess!  There's nothing you can do to fix these types of mishaps.  Yet, think about the old-fashioned ice tray (ours was blue) we all used before we started getting ice from the front door of our refrigerator. Once upon a time, we took the tray and filled it with water, then transferred it into the freezer and awaited the magical transformation.  Of course, if you forgot to put the ice tray back in the freezer after filling a glass or two, you were left with a tray full of melted ice (water).  However, there was a remedy!!!  Simple.  Put it back into the correct environment (the freezer) for some time and it would freeze once again.
I saw a picture earlier this morning that made me think about this.  The quote (I don't know who originated it!) was "Don't forget you're human, it's OK to have a meltdown, just don't unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you are headed."  Now, in my terminology:  If you leave the ice tray out on the counter, it's going to melt...but that's not the end of the ice...put it back in the freezer! When we have an occasional meltdown, it's OK!  We just have to pause, put ourselves back in the right environment (the presence of Jesus) and He'll help bring us back to the right form.  We don't have to stay in a melted state!  It's not the end! 
Unlike chocolate (or my gummy vitamins) ice can be reformed.  God made us this way as well...we too can be re-formed.  A meltdown doesn't have to be permanent!  So, the next time you find yourself with tears streaming from an unknown fountain of stress or circumstances....JUMP BACK IN THE FREEZER as soon as possible! This is not the end of your story.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Could It Be?

Could it be....? Thomas was the only person ever mentioned who "needed" to see the nail-prints in Jesus' hands. Think about it...Jesus could have been scar-less, but could it be that He allowed the scars to remain JUST FOR THOMAS?! If He'll do something like that for just one person, don't you think He will do the unthinkable for you?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

God In the Details of Your Life



Just had to share. While taking notes during a podcast today, I quickly scribbled into the margin of my paper the words, “I hunger to be taught!” There seems to be an insatiable desire which is overwhelming me more than ever to learn and grow into what God has for me. He is doing grand and glorious renovations within me on all levels. At the end of a completely different podcast, the speaker mentions Luke 12:12 and I quickly flipped to it in my Bible. After I read the first several words, I almost laughed out-loud with joy.  It read: “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you…” 
Isn’t that just like God to see my scribbled note and answer in such a direct way? I took another pen and wrote below my original tiny note the "Luke 12:12."  God's answer.  I love living this life for and with him. So encouraging to know he pays such attention to the details of our lives. 
My friend, when you think nobody is paying attention..He is.  Why don't you try Him and see?  Oh, and don't expect the answer to come in an ordinary way...He's a very extraordinary God!

Have you had this sort of thing happen to you before? Feel free to leave a comment and share your story.  It's all about encouraging one another.