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God’s Appointed Seasons

fall-leaves-on-deck

There was not the usual gentle, graceful swaying of tree branches on the lake today. Gusty autumn winds prevailed as if driven by a higher power with a divine purpose. I watched as leaves fluttered to the ground fated for a season of change.

Repeated attempts to clear the avalanche of leaves from the deck proved futile and I gave up. This was a God appointed season change; my continual raking wasn’t going to change anything.

 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—“
Ecclesiastics 3:1

We have two choices when God assigns a seasonal change to our life–take pause or face down. In past years, I would have assumed a face down attitude… “You want to get confrontational with me, God? Well, you got it!” That demeanor didn’t set well with the Master of the universe.

And so, He gifted me with life experiences that fused rebellion with knowledge. It forever changed my view of God’s seasonal changes within my personal life. I now see autumn’s fallen, withered leaves as heavenly compost that conditions the soil of my soul to sprout new growth.

God’s ebb tide for the seasons of our life continually changes.  From the time of our conception, a spiritual blueprint was designed for each of us. It is divinely drafted to meet not only our eternal needs, but to point us in the seasonal direction of our earthly needs.  That’s the beauty of our Lord.

Are you are being tossed and swayed by current life circumstances?

My past life reads like a best-selling novel and certainly not something you would expect from a preacher’s daughter. But God’s grace changed the seasons of my life into something miraculous. I encourage you to trust in the Lord and let Him orchestrate the season of your imperfect life.

 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:30-31

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When Silence is Golden

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To discover peace in the midst of commotion and uproar is absolutely precious. I sometimes fall prey to the emotional abyss others unknowingly heap upon me (or I willingly accept). Silence becomes my golden egg.

There is a risk of being buried alive when we allow our purpose and goals to be driven by the emotional needs of others. It is self-sabotage to ingest a daily influx of someone’s personal garbage that causes us to spout off and speak our mind when silence might have been a better choice.

When confronted with life choices gone badly we feel vulnerable and threatened.  We assume a combative attitude toward those we love when offered unsolicited opinions, opposing views or words of encouragement. In frustration, a verbal warfare is set in motion.

In those moments when our motives seem to be driven by anger, remorse or lack of judgement, it is best to cloak oneself in silence. Silence is not an inherent trait of mankind; it is learned through careful consideration of what we value as important in our life.

I love this quote by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook (movie).

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.”

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!  –Psalms 141:3

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Confessions of a Doing-Addict

ludwig-wittgenstein-quotes-18650Those who know me well will agree I have an exceptionally kind heart and caring nature; that is the good part. Unfortunately, it is my inability to recognize the obvious warning signs of a ‘doing addict’ that causes problems.

Sometimes it takes an epiphany, a thunderbolt moment so to speak, before we hit the pause button in life, inhale deeply and ask, “What does enough look like?” I was about to find out when a thunderbolt moment jolted me to my senses. Perhaps God realized I would never push the pause button; and so, He did it for me.  It was a spiritual awakening long overdue.

An over-giving, doing-addict situation was about to bring clarity about how I valued myself.  Once the haze of deception cleared, my partnership with self-sabotage was revealed. It was MY thunderbolt moment. What internal anomaly caused me to give greater value to the life of others over my own?

I liken myself to an ATM with a dysfunctional operating system that disperses withdrawals carte blanche to anyone who expresses a need. Trust me, random free-loaders aren’t the only ones who are quick to cash in on the fringe benefits of a giving heart; so are many Christians.

Overtime, logic rules and the inevitable happens—the doing-addict goes bankrupt.  Without withdrawal limits in place, energy, happiness, time and money are depleted. I knew it was time for God to restore my operating system. My good-intentions, over-giving energies needed a purposeful balance. My ‘doing addict’ days were numbered.

And so, to gain insight into those situations that trigger my self-destructive choices, I have elected to participate in a behavioral management program that, I believe, will rehabilitate and bring a positive change to my eternal thumbprint.

I wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity as a way to cultivate spiritual growth, redefine my goals and give God free reign to my thunderbolt moment.

With the imminent second coming of Christ, my soul senses the Holy Spirit stands ready to infuse each of us with thunderbolt moments that electrify our souls to God’s eternal purpose for mankind.  Life circumstances may differ for each of us, but when God points a thunderbolt moment in our direction, it is best to embrace it with open arms. It will change us in ways we never imagined.

Motivated by good-intentions, doing-addicts inevitably assume the role of an enabler and react to situations based on their impulses. This presents a problem because to exercise our will over God’s divine direction puts us at risk of spiritual, emotional and/or financial bankruptcy.

 

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Beep of Death

communication-1472636_640 There was urgency in the continual beep heard down the hallway. It clearly indicated something was wrong and I sensed it wasn’t good. Overtaken with panic, my steps quickened as I hurried to find the source of the warning signal that pierced the air.

When I opened the door, computer monitors and tangled cords greeted me. I pawed through the jumbled mess and located a thin black box. The back-up drive was no bigger than the palm of my hand and contained years of photos, business documents, e-mail archives and personal data. It was my lifeline in the event damage occurred due to hardware malfunctions, viruses or corrupted files.

As the beep of death resonated from my lifeline all hope of restoration was swallowed into the abyss of digital darkness. Years of effort vanished in an instant.  It was a wake-up call that gave pause to how I had outsourced the back-up plan for my spiritual life.

Computer memory is very different than biological memory. A computer receives and stores information in the form of data. The human brain, on the other hand, takes that same information and processes it into knowledge which is stored as a living memory.

There is an advantage to a living memory over stored data.  When we commit something to memory we are less likely to lose that knowledge. This is especially important for Christians.  To outsource our spiritual life to digital technology is an open invitation to the beep of death.

There is no digital equivalent to physically opening your Bible to read and memorize scripture. It is a process that takes God’s Word from our minds, to our heart, to our lives. His Word become alive within us and is a lifeline that never malfunctions.

Knowledge benefits our life. Information, on the other hand, is merely an accumulation of facts that can overload us with useless information. This type of data clutters our back-up lifeline. The risk associated with fragmented data is the beep of death

The acquisition of more information doesn’t necessarily increase knowledge or wisdom. In fact, the plethora of stimuli and data at our fingertips can invoke a feeding frenzy where information is ingested, but never digested. The influx of information is more likely to bring distractions.

To continually ingest information but neglect to cultivate that information into knowledge deprives us of wisdom.

“The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.”
–Proverbs 19:8

Do you have a back-up plan in place for your spiritual life? At a moment’s notice, a life malfunction could trigger the beep of death and spiral you into darkness. Would you be able to recover?

You are not a Jeopardy contestant; there is no value in useless information. Instead, focus on the pursuit of knowledge so that you may acquire wisdom and seek understanding in all things.

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Call in the Dump Truck

Garage_JunkMy husband, Chris (also known as Poppy), has been unable to park his car in the garage all summer due to my unending collection of soon-to-be re-purposed furniture. So, yesterday, when Poppy purchased a newer car, I asked my oldest grandson, Carson, to help me clear a space in the garage for Poppy’s homecoming.

We swept the concrete floor and moved my massive furniture collection into a truck for a future Goodwill drop. At day’s end, drenched in sweat and dirt covered clothes, the garage door was lowered with a sense of accomplishment. The once cluttered space had been cleared for something of greater value than my curbside finds.

I can’t count the number of times my spiritual life, like my garage, has accumulated things of no value. Life travels present us with plenty of opportunity to pick up curbside finds. With no forethought, we purpose grandiose ideas of how these discarded items can be salvaged or repurposed into something of value. And so, like the stockpile of stuff in my garage, we fill our life with things that serve no purpose.

In an attempt to save the masses (curbside finds), we clutter our life with other people’s problems (curbside garbage).

When Chris arrived home with his new ride and opened the garage, he was amazed at the transformation. Carson and I had cleared a space for something of value. There were a few furniture pieces that we kept, but our selection was reserved to items that showed a promise of restoration.

As Christians, there are occasions we need to call in God’s dump truck and empty the accumulated garbage that prohibits spiritual growth and crowds God out of our life. It might be:

• Addictions
• Work
• Anger
• Pleasure
• Busyness
• Relationships

At the end of the day, when you lower the door of your life, will you have a sense of accomplishment or frustration?

God longs to eliminate the clutter in our spiritual life and replace it with things of value. Are you are ready to open the door to God’s spiritual dump truck and unload your curbside finds?

One thing I can promise, when you ask God to clear a space for Him to park within your life, that space will be filled with things of eternal value; things of purpose.

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Reflections: Golden Years

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As I approach 60, my mailbox is filled with AARP promotional material and long-term health care applications. My prized collection of reading glasses has grown to over 20 pair; and crossing my legs has become a mandatory ritual whenever I cough or sneeze. The grand kids know that lost reading glasses can be found perched on my head and sending a one line text message will take me 10 minutes.

With age, comes a sense of freedom from others opinions or expectations. It’s truly exhilarating to grocery shop in my bikini, wear PJ’s to my dental appointment and cruise past a fast-food drive up window topless… just kidding!

A transcript of my daily conversations are much like this:

Grandchild: NeeNee you wore that outfit yesterday.
Me: Yep, and I might wear it again tomorrow. In fact, I might wear it all week. Mention it again, and I will show up at your school in this outfit.

Builder: I can have that done in 2 days for $$ cost.
Me: So, what you are saying is it will cost twice as much as your quote and take twice as long.

Husband: Did you take a nap today?
Me: Yes, I did and the answer to your ‘real’ question is NO; you can’t have the TV remote tonight because I will be up late watching every Hallmark movie made.

Daughter: Hi Mom, it’s 9 PM; I hope I didn’t wake you?
Me: Of course not, I’ve been asleep for an hour waiting for your call.

Grandchild: You sure have a lot of wrinkles.
Me: I know; thankfully, they are the only thing that doesn’t hurt with age.

With age comes knowledge and there are a few things I have learned. Like memory loss can sometimes work to my advantage, sex is over-rated, control isn’t the Holy Grail and neck scarves do wonders for the fleshy wattle around the neck. The cowboy boots that look so cute on the magazine model won’t look like that on me. Neither will the size zero stretch pants on the mannequins in the junior section of a store.

On a spiritual level, I have discovered life isn’t all about me. I now listen twice as much as I talk, and when I do, something marvelous happens. It generates a call to action based on the need of someone else and fosters an attitude of generosity, pay-it-forward and volunteerism.

And so, as I head to the salon to have my gray hair colored, purchase age-defying make-up from Mary Kay, pack Spanks and reading glasses into a suitcase for an upcoming vacation, I consider what age 60 will be like in heaven.

What characteristics and features will identify me to those I’ve known at different ages in my earthly journey? Will wrinkles, gray hair and reading glasses no longer exist? I can’t help but wonder if we will be given the opportunity to pick our ideal age in Heaven. If that could happen, what age would you pick and why.

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JUST PASSING THROUGH

100917080512+copyI slid my passport under the glass panel to the agent tending the a line at the customs checkpoint.

“What is your citizenship?” he questioned.
“United States,” I replied.
“What is the purpose of your travels?
“I’m here for vacation.”

The gentleman carefully surveyed my picture I.D before motioning me through the international gate. I breathed a sigh of relief as I tucked my passport back into my travel pouch.

The armed soldiers who walked the corridors of the Paris airport made me uneasy. My steps quicken as I firmly clutched my carry-on bag and headed to the baggage claim area.

Paris was my first overseas trip with my husband. He was a seasoned traveler and undaunted by the military personnel that circulated the airport with loaded weapons. This wasn’t a typical scenario at my local Michigan airport; otherwise, I would have never left the comfort-zone of my home to board a plane to the other side of the world.

I wasn’t prepared for the great number of Muslims that populated Paris. Subways and sidewalks were filled with chants, music and attire foreign to me. At one point, a Muslin woman cranked up a DVD player on the subway to broadcast her religious antics. Commuters appeared apathetic to their surroundings. But for me, a cloud of opposition and unrest seemed to hang over the city of Paris.

My feelings would prove true. On the morning of our departure, a group of Muslims protested in front of the US Embassy over a film produced in the U.S. denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

I was overcome with relief when our plane safely landed on US soil.

It was a false sense of security. The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staffers had been killed in an attack on the American consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi earlier that day. Most disturbing was information that US government officials may have had foreknowledge of the attack and engaged in a cover-up.

Since my September 2012 to Paris the world has witnessed an onslaught of hideous massacres, attacks and devastation against humanity. Christians have become the primary target of Muslin extremists at home and abroad.

We’ve grown accustomed to the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’; it no longer has an impact on us. But that is about to change. God’s prophetic scripture is unfolding before our eyes and the world is rapidly approaching a time of reckoning for our immorality and blasphemous rants against the sovereignty of our Creator.

My faith remains unshaken in the belief God is firmly in control over all events and people of the world. I rest in the assurance that Jehovah-Shammah will bring a perfect end to everything He has started.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Continue to trust the heart of God and His plan for the future.
We can’t control the future events of our life, but God can. Jehovah-Shammah walks with us into whatever tomorrow holds because of His great love. GOD IS THERE in your tomorrow and in my tomorrow.

Though the world is in crisis and turmoil among nations is epidemic, do not fear. Our citizenship is in Heaven and our spiritual passport is stamped with the blood of Christ. It confirms this world is not home; we’re just passing through.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. “
Luke 21: 20-22
“When these things begin to happen, stand up tall and don’t be afraid. Know that it is almost time for God to free you!” Luke 21:28

Postscript:
When writing, I keep track of my word count as publications have limitations on the number of words that can be submitted for a given article/story. I was taken aback when I noted that the word count for the above article was 666. Hmmm….????

WordCount_666