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Never Under Estimate God’s Purpose

quoteCleaning homes is not something I ever expected to be doing in my sixties. Heck, I had already retired from one job and sold a prosperous LLC company by age sixty.

It’s not that I consider myself above house cleaning; it’s just that the thought never crossed my mind. Apparently it crossed the mind of God and I was assigned to be a house cleaning missionary.

It’s true. Not only that, but God also hand-selected someone I had never before met to work with me in the mission field. Pretty crazy, isn’t it? At my age, nothing surprises me about God and the ways He will use us for His purpose IF we are willing.

THE STORY

A single mom, married multiple times, who didn’t finish college until later in life. A woman broken by life’s struggles; a woman, by the grace of God, who found a secure job with decent wages and benefits to support herself and daughter.

I am guessing many of you have a similar story to share that is filled with shame, regrets and 20/20 vision. It’s that history that gets us to the God-designated place we are today. It takes unplanned events, heartaches and, in some cases, losses to get us to where God wants us to be.

THE WHY

In hindsight, the why is very clear but since glimpses of our future are not made known to us, we impatiently choose to move forward without a God-ordained plan. That is me, even to this day. I want to see the road ahead but when it’s not visible, I forge a path in the opposite direction of what God has planned for my life. It’s what I do and I do it very well.

THE HOPE

Be still my heart for there is still hope for us wayward souls who tend to take the path less taken. The path filled with thorns, burs and barbed wire. The path that ultimately leaves us scarred, wounded and crying for help.

And, then there is Jesus. His mercy and grace beckons us in another direction. A path we never considered, but a path that leads us to still waters; where he can restore us anew.

THE REASON

The life paths and direction God has designed for each of us is as different as our DNA. Our divine purpose on earth is unique because it is eternal based. We can’t see the big picture; we only see what is here and now.

I often ask God the reason I’ve been chosen to be a house cleaning missionary at this time in my life; an age where I can barely step in and out of a bathroom spa tub and scrubbing floors can require knee pads. His answer comes in ways I never imagined.

  • The woman crying in her car across the street from one of our house cleans who willingly accepted our offer to pray with her because her mother was dying.
  • The widow who looks forward to our visits because we make her laugh.
  • The busy doctor and PA with small children who continually show gratitude and thanks for the service we provide.
  • The grandmother who acquired custody of her grandkids because of family addiction issues and needs a sounding board.
  • The single father who needs help with housekeeping.
  • The single mom at the corner store who needs encouragement; so, we left her a goody bag.
  • The guy who noted the name ‘My Magic Mop’ on our vehicle and his laughter when I replied, “I ride the Magic Mop to work.”
  • The retired military man, a widow, who needs help with cleaning.

THE MISSION

To remain sensitive to the needs of others and continue to joyfully serve in the mission field God has placed me in at this time in my life. There are days I come home sore and tired. Other days, I come home exhilarated by the small victories, the challenges I’ve overcome and the new friendships acquired.

Never under estimate where God places you at certain times of your life.

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Opposing Views

opposingviewsI believe it’s a pretty fair assessment that posting our opposing political views serves no purpose but to vent our mindset on the situation. Let’s be honest, based on the Facebook posts I am seeing, you aren’t going to change or persuade anyone’s mind on their political views.

My circle of friends encompasses many that have a political or religious viewpoint that differs from mine. I’m certain you find yourself in the same amphitheater. We cheer on those who support our opinion and cause but tend to separate ourselves from those who voice an opposing view. I have noticed it is not unusual for a verbal confrontation or dissolution of friendship to ensue.

This discord weighs heavy on my heart as this passage of scripture comes to mind,

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (RSV) Luke 12: 1-3

We must live without any real secrets, because they are eventually going to become public—now, later, or when Jesus’ comes. We will be on full display when we stand before the Lord. The reality of our public persona and true self will be revealed.

 “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Luke 12:53

So, while we all sit back as judge and jury on current political events, let us take pause of our own personal life. What hidden and unrevealed hypocrisies lurk in the shadows of our past? It’s a question that requires serious contemplation because, one day, we will be required to give a full account of our life.

When the big books of heaven are opened and your soul is required to give account for your time on earth, how will it read?

I sincerely pray the proclamation of your life reads: “It is well with my soul.”

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Unexpected Grace

hated_math_1200x627

With all the current mudslinging going on in the political arena, it’s refreshing to post some inspiring news about people who touch our life and often go unmentioned.

One such person is my longtime friend, Charlie, a retired engineer and owner of every foodie appliance on the market not to mention being an expert gardening by Google guru. He enjoys sharing his infinite knowledge, (at least what I believe to be infinite), about making home-brewed beers, sauerkraut varietals, roasted coffee beans and a plethora of ways to smoke meats and cheeses…and so much more.

Charlie grew up in Louisville and relocated to Michigan after college. In that transition our friendship blossomed and he became what I describe as a friend in all seasons. I can consistently count on him to be there whenever there is a need. It’s an unearned, cherished friendship not taken for granted.

Recently Charlie attended an autumn dinner celebration at my home and brought a bountiful variety of sauerkraut for us to taste.  True to form, he shared his usual myriad of information about everything imaginable but it was what happened after dinner that captured my attention.

Olivia, my middle school granddaughter, needed help with math homework.  From the get-go I was useless. Poppy and her mamma threw up their hands even though both were math minor graduates. And then, there was Charlie. The engineer I knew to be a whiz at math, even by today’s new math standards.

My heart swelled with appreciation as I listened to Charlie patiently coach and instruct Olivia in how to solve each math problem. I was reminded why I chose him to be a lifelong friend. It was a moment that substantiated the benevolence of mankind if we take a moment to part the waters of our bigotry, hatred and animosity of our political differences.

With homework finished, a very tired Olivia headed home with a heart full of gratitude for someone who took time to touch her life in an unexpected way. It was just homework to us, but to my granddaughter, it was much more than that.  It was the unearned, cherished help from someone in a time of need. In that moment, I caught a glimpse of the unmerited grace that Christ shows us every day of our life. It may not be help with a math equation, but it is most definitely help with a life equation.

Today’s Prayer:

Thank you, God, for using Charlie to illustrate the true meaning of your grace in the most unexpected place and time. I pray that each of us takes time from our busy life to showcase those individuals that touch the lives of others and go unmentioned.

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Stuck in the Mud

stuck_in_mud

Sometimes in life we find ourselves in a mud pit spinning our wheels and getting nowhere.  No matter how much effort we put into moving forward in life and overcoming challenges we are stuck; we’re in a funk and can’t get to where we need to be or want to go.

I’ve been immobilized in mud many times for many reasons and there key questions to be asked when that happens.

  • Am I secretly coveting the life of someone else?

How we see another person’s life is one dimensional. We don’t know what’s going on in the shadows. It’s futile to desire the lifestyle, job, wealth or relationships of others. If you choose to do so, the only place you will go is the mud pit.

Looking from the outside paints a deceptive facade of what chaos, agony and personal pain this person may be suffering on the inside.

  • Am I waiting for someone or something to change life for me?

If that is your mindset, you will remain in the mud pit. Only you with God’s help can bring change. If you want to get moving again then shift your life into four-wheel drive. That requires you, not others, to assume responsibility for your emotional, spiritual and physical well-being.

What does that require?

  • Refuse to play the blame game. What has happened in the past is just that, the past. Your focus should be the future.
  • Switch it up and change your routine. A change of venue is a powerful tool to change your mindset and see life from a different perspective.
  • Stop making assumptions based on past experiences. Realize you are empowered to forge new experiences, change your course and choose your fate.

 

  • Have I invested in mud flaps?

If you are spinning your wheels in mud, you’re going to need some mud flaps to keep the backlash of those who have no interest in YOUR destination but are quick to offer opinions, judgment and their point of view. Mud flaps guard our vision from the dirt and debris that life throws our way. They keep us from being directionally challenged so we don’t end up in the mud pit.

I got mine for free by asking God. The set includes: Guidance of the Holy Spirit (guidance), the Word of God (intervention), Prayer (road-side assistance) and fellowship with other Christian believers (support). It’s a free-standing offer that I highly recommend.

  • Have I learned to say no?

Don’t be afraid to rearrange your priorities a bit and make “no” a more commonly used word in your vocabulary. The ability to say ‘no’ reflects you are in the driver’s seat of your life and empowers you to avoid the mud pits and navigate life according to God’s plan.

There are times that God deliberately places us in a mud pit to reform and transform us for a greater purpose. When we stop focusing on our circumstances (stop spinning our wheels) and focus on Him we find rest, encouragement and renewed passion.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
(Ps. 32:8)

If are currently in a stuck in the mud season of life, I encourage you to fully, completely, and absolutely surrender your own will and seek God’s. Let go of the lies, shame, worry, doubt, comparing yourself to others and take hold of your grace-filled pardon.

Dare to dance to the unique rhythm God has fashioned for your life and invest in mud flaps.

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AMEN: So Be It

Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful [Amen] God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

amenThis is a powerful scripture. Think about it. In this verse alone, we are promised God’s faithfulness and steadfast love forever. What’s the catch? Only that we love Him and keep His commandments. That’s a pretty small request when you consider what you get in return.

‘Amen’ is a Hebrew word that is used three ways in scripture. The above scripture is a descriptor of God’s character as being true, faithful, unchanging.

When used at the beginning of a statement, as in the following scripture verse, it is an affirmation/confirmation of fact proclaimed with certainty.

“For truly [Amen], I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matthew 5:18

The usage of ‘amen’ (most familiar to us) is at the end of a prayer or spoken as a statement of agreement: May it be fulfilled. It is this representation of the word amen that I share with you today; the ‘so be it’ at the end of our prayers.

What is your ‘so be it’ today, this week, this year? When you close your prayer with amen, what do you believe God will do for you?  Notice, I didn’t say, what you hope God will do. To use amen at the end of a prayer or request to God indicates you are expecting God to act on your behalf, to give favor and work things to the good of what He has purposed for your life.

Let me be clear. Amen at the end of your prayer doesn’t release an appointed heavenly genie to make everything happen according to YOUR plan. Amen is based on the plans GOD has ordained for your situation. If you are a child of God, you can be assured that the outcome of your ‘so be it’ will be established on His steadfast love, faithful character and in total accordance with His life plan for us.

He is forever faithful.

The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassion’s never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

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Autumn’s Last Hurrah

leavesThe leaves lazily drift from the tree branches and graciously land on the green grass; some are carried away by the lake’s water current. The wind seems to whisper autumn is coming and watching the squirrels gather acorns is confirmation that a season change is forthcoming.

The smell of fall is in the air and the crisp, cool evenings are a gently reminder that jackets, sweatshirts and hot beverages will be welcomed at the Friday night high school football games. Raking leaves, bonfires and visits to apple orchards become weekend ritual to those of us living in Michigan.

It’s the last hurrah of summer; the last boat ride around the lake, one last chance to catch that big fish before summer’s end, planting mums and decorating the porch with pumpkins and corn stalks in preparation for Halloween trick or treaters.

As I stack the outdoor patio cushions in the storage bin, I can’t help but wonder what season changes are like in heaven. Will there be seasonal venues? You know, I would like to experience summer right now and so we visit a summer venue. Or when spring strikes our fancy, we make visit to see all the tulips, crocuses and daffodils gardens.

God took great care in creating the beauty of earth for our enjoyment. I find it hard to imagine that in His New Heaven on Earth it will not be filled with the seasons we love most.  Mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, rain forests to the explosion of nature’s most intimate secrets. It is ours to discover.

You may live in a different part of the world than me. Yet, the amazing design of God’s creation allows us to enjoy a different view, different perspective and different seasons of His creative process.

So, as I experience the joys of autumn in Michigan, you may be splashing beneath a waterfall in another part of the world, swimming with dolphins, hiking a summit or snow shoeing in some remote area of the world. It’s all good.

Inhale and rejoice in the season. For me it is autumn. This means the smell of burning leaves, roasting pumpkin seeds, caramel dipped apples, hanging Indian corn on my front door and carving pumpkins…and so much more.

You will never repeat this day. Enjoy it, embrace it and make a memory.

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Maybe Later

Pop-noworlaterups on electronic devices have become a way of life. From software updates to renewal notices to you left something in your online shopping cart…the list is endless. The alerts are always followed by the question: Now or Maybe Later?

I tend to go for the ‘Maybe Later’ option. Who has time in their busy life to stop and take care of something you can postpone until another time? The alerts continue to pop-up on a regular basis, some even ask in how many days or weeks I would like to receive a reminder. I pick some date in the distant future and move on with my life.

Did you know that Jesus sends pop-up alerts?

It could happen while reading God’s Word, during a devotional, a sermon heard, words spoken or the death of a loved one. It’s a warning that tugs at the soul to get things right with God before it’s too late.

“…Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

We believe there is plenty of time to get things right with God and ample time to ask forgiveness and accept God’s generous plan of salvation for our life. And then, without warning, the pop-up offers expires; we die.

Every minute 105 people die worldwide and those statistics are only deaths that can be documented. If you’ve been choosing the ‘Maybe Later’ option for accepting Jesus into your life, you might want to reconsider. The offer expires at death and we all fully aware that death can happen at any time without warning.

Are you ready or have you been ignoring all the pop-up messages God is sending you?