Two years ago, my husband, Ken and I decided it was time to invest in a new mattress. Actually it was well past time to replace our old mattress but the choices online to select a new mattress were overwhelming and the idea of going to a store and laying down on different mattresses to test them out made me uncomfortable. So we just kept putting it off.
Finally, we had to make a quick trip out of town and ended up staying in a hotel with a really comfortable bed. I felt like I’d slept on a cloud all night! So before we checked out I pulled the bedding off to read the labels on the mattress. I won’t mention the brand name…but memory foam…was the secret!
So the research began to find that mattress and get one delivered to my home sweet home. When I was placing the order I saw that I had the option of one layer of memory foam…or TWO layers of memory foam. Well….if one was that good…two must be even better! So I went for it! When the delivery date arrived we were so excited. And it was beautiful when the guys were carrying it in. They took off the covering and placed it on our bed frame and carried away the old mattress. And as Ken was saying….’you better come look at this’…I rounded the corner to see…that mattress top came up to my armpit!
Let’s just say I have a stepladder by my bedside now. And we laugh often about our TWO layers of memory foam! Especially when we slide down out of bed in the morning! The wisdom in this story could be a better more thorough research, or busting out of my comfort zone to go lay down in the middle of a public place to test drive a mattress or two…but for us the wisdom in this story is that of Proverbs 17:22. “A merry heart is like good medicine.”
The other day I walked in on a conversation that my husband, Ken, was having with our daughter, Abby. I don’t know what prompted this topic but I overheard him tell her that if there were certain things she wanted to have when we were gone that she should let us know so we could be sure to make note of those in our will. It’s natural to want to leave things to our children that will have value and be meaningful to them. We want to leave things to them to be remembered by after we’re gone.
But the most important things we can leave our children with long after we’re gone… are not things. Tim Tebow said it well. “Inheritance is what we leave behind. Legacy is who we leave it in.” Teaching them to be kind and generous, loving and faithful is a responsibility we should never take lightly. We don’t just teach that character to our children and grandchildren. Any relationship that God allows us to have with others gives us the opportunity to teach and encourage and inspire.
I love this verse in 2 Timothy 2:2 that says, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Whether we have children or not we have a responsibility to pass on the truth of God’s faithfulness, His goodness and kindness. So they can pass it on as well. That can change the trajectory of a nation! Now that is leaving a legacy.
I am positive that as soon you hear the word “detour” you are remembering a time when you were on your way somewhere and you met up with that dreaded sign sending you in a different direction than you intended to go. It usually takes us out of the way and sometimes to unfamiliar areas. And didn’t we plan our travel to arrive at our destination at just the right time?! So….NOW we’re going to be late!!!
That detour is almost always there to keep us safe. It’s there to help us to avoid danger. But it is SO unexpected. And it throws us off our schedule! Have you ever taken the detour and discovered something beautiful along the way? That’s happened to me before. Once I got passed the whining and complaining and stressing over being late – I began enjoying the new scenery that I’d never seen before.
And so it is in life. We have our plans set for our education, our career, our relationships. We move in the direction that we believe we are supposed to go. We set our plans in motion. And, along the way, we hit a roadblock. Or we are detoured in another direction. We can get upset and sometimes we have reason to be. Some detours are painful or even tragic. We find ourselves on a different path and it’s unfamiliar and we may even feel unprepared for it. But nothing is ever a surprise to God. He has a plan for us and His ways are higher than ours. In fact, sometimes His ways will detour us into greater, more fulfilling blessings in our lives.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” I believe that it’s good to have a plan. But I’ve learned that I respond better to detours in my life when I hold my day planner loosely. When God is orchestrating the detours we can be sure it is for our destiny.
Sometimes I hear someone say something that intrigues me so much I jot it down so I can come back and think about it some more at a later time. Such was the case recently when I had the opportunity to hear an artist named “Leeland” sing a couple songs and share part of his story. This is what he said: “Create a secret history with God that no one knows about.”
Woah! I’d never heard that before. At first, my reaction was – why would I want to hide my history with God? But what IS a secret history with God? A secret connection…that NO ONE knows but God…and me. That intimacy only happens when we spend time alone together. Psalm 91:1 (NLT) says, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Spending time, or living, in the shelter of God leads to finding rest in His covering or His shadow. That secret place…the more time I spend there with God…the more secret history is written between us. No one else needs to know it.
What is the benefit of creating a secret history with God? Unshakeable faith. Unexplainable joy. Unexpected kindness and gentleness. And love. Love that goes far beyond what you and I are capable of on our own. It is not something we share with words. Others will witness it by how we live. And they will want it too.
I don’t remember the last time I cleaned out the junk drawer in our kitchen. The owner’s manual for my first Keurig (which has been replaced TWICE) is a strong indication that it has been a while! The stuff I found in there was unbelievable. Random stuff. Things I hadn’t thought of or used in a very long time.
I didn’t set out to have a junk drawer. It just happened. Something I held in my hand and decided not to throw away found its way into a drawer. And I just kept doing it. I’ve been maneuvering through several years of stuff to get to the saran wrap and sandwich bags. Things I use nearly every day. Based on the amount of stuff I threw away when I cleaned it out the other day I’ve been collecting junk for quite some time.
It’s entirely possible that my heart has a junk drawer. Things I’ve experienced and have never quite gotten over. Conversations I’ve stored away that bother me when I have moments to think. Emotions that haven’t been dealt with and sneak up when I least expect them. It’s exhausting. Storing things up that God did not intend for us to keep shuffling through like an exploding junk drawer…or sometimes more like a treacherous minefield.
What are we holding in our hand, or our heart, that God is saying to let it go? Are we maneuvering through some things unnecessarily? Choosing to carry it instead of laying it at the foot of the cross and leaving it there? It’s what we tend to do sometimes. And God is saying – let – it – go.
1 Peter 5:7 (AMP) is so clear. “Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” There’s no room for a junk drawer in His beautiful creation! Let Him have it!
There is something very calming for me to watch ducks on a pond. So gracefully floating around on the surface of the water it looks like they don’t have a care in the world. Outside of snakes, alligators, hunters & oil slicks what could they possibly have to worry about?! On the surface those ducks may look calm, cool and collected…but no one sees what is happening beneath the surface. All the work happens below the waterline.
Actor Michael Caine is credited with saying, “Be like a duck. Calm on the surface but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” I don’t know if they are always paddling like crazy. I’d like to think they get to just enjoy the current sometimes. But the idea of never letting anyone see your struggles, the old ‘never let them see you sweat’ advice, is not healthy. We know this. And yet we almost always respond to the question ‘how are you?’ with a firm ‘I’m fine’…when all the while we are paddling like crazy beneath the surface!
Galatians 6:2 (CEV) instructs us “You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand.” This is how we offer strength and encouragement to each other. Working together we can accomplish so much more. I may enjoy the view of serenity while duck watching but I don’t want to be like a duck. What a unique gift God gave us to be able to work together! Pray together. Help carry one another’s heaviness. Only God knows the great things we can accomplish when we stop trying to hide the struggle and work together.
When my son, Cody, was a baby he was fascinated by ceiling fans. Before it seemed even possible for him to be able to focus his little eyes on anything that far away he would watch the fan swirling around above us. I would sing-song his name and he would look back to me. But, not for long. Quickly his attention would turn right back to that ceiling fan if it was moving. Sometimes I wondered if he was already at work studying to become an electrical engineer. Today, he is still curious about how things works! In fact, he fixes things at his place of employment. So I guess his fascination may have inspired his career path!
As I was leaving work recently I noticed a magnet on the back of my co-worker’s vehicle that read “Stay fascinated with Jesus” and it intrigued me. I’ve seen a lot of messages about Jesus on the back of vehicles but I had never seen that one. And I love it! Immediately I thought back to those early days of motherhood and how Cody could not stop watching the ceiling fans. I could distract him for a few moments but then he was drawn right back to what was moving above him.
What fascinates us? What catches and holds our attention? Is it watching to see what God is up to around us? Is it reading His Word and learning His character and building our faith? God IS moving! We can get distracted by daily activities, by others, by work and by play. Don’t misunderstand me. We are supposed to be alert to what’s happening around us. It’s how we are able to love and serve those around us. But we can never lose sight of the One who holds everything together.
Acts 10:38 (GW) says, “You know that God anointed Jesus from Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Jesus went everywhere and did good things, such as healing everyone who was under the devil’s power. Jesus did these things because God was with him.” Jesus is everywhere – doing good things. Don’t let anything distract you from what He is doing in you and through you today. Stay fascinated with Jesus!
It seemed like everyone I visited over the holidays asked me the same question. What is NEW with you? The thought occurred to me as I hesitated to respond….what IS new with me? The fact that nothing new came to my mind gave me pause. If turning over a new calendar page or opening a new planner for a new year can bring me joy…imagine how much joy I could experience if I had something new and fresh in my heart!
Considering the thought of something new took me to Isaiah 43. The Lord mentioned floods, rivers of difficulty, oppression would not overtake us. Have you dealt with any of those things? Feeling like you are in over your head? Experienced some hard things…maybe you still are. God reminded Israel of so many miraculous things that He had done for them. And then He said in verse 18, “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” God said that those God-sized miracles pale in comparison to what He is about to do. Can you imagine what could be greater than parting the Red Sea?
God is up to something new! And it is up to us to look for it!! I feel the challenge to LOOK for what God is doing…and I thought I would share that challenge with you. Do you feel as though you are lost in the wilderness? Is your soul thirsty for the things of God? God is doing a new thing. And here’s what He said about that new thing…“I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Be on the lookout. God is up to something NEW!
Remember that little song from Sunday School? O be careful little ears what you hear. There were multiple verses in that song and this is one I remember…maybe because it was one I had to especially keep in mind: “O be careful little tongue what you say. Be careful little tongue what you say. For the Father up above – Is looking down in love. So, be careful little tongue what you say.”*
Words are important. What we say can hurt or heal….both ourselves and others. We have a creative ability with our words because we were made in the image of the Master Creator. He spoke…and worlds were formed. My mom would remind me often – ‘be careful what you say’. In fact, the Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
That instruction from the book of Proverbs is clear that we can go either way in what we sow with our words. And what we sow – we will absolutely reap. Today is a good day to decide that we will watch our words….and sow good things. Speak life, encouragement and hope. For what we speak, we shall surely reap!
*O Be Careful, Little Eyes (Songwriters: Traditional / David Norman Anfield)
It is easy to fall into a pattern. We have the same morning routine. We drive the same route to work. We make the same things for our meals. Routines can be helpful. The negative side of routine activity is that it begins to become so second nature that we can become numb to our regular activities and interactions with others.
Think of your routine this morning. Did you do the same things? Say the same hello and goodbye to your family as you headed out the door? Do you remember anything from your drive into work? Numb to our surroundings, our thoughts and feelings, is how the enemy can lull us into a position of feeling disconnected and distracted.
There is a little verse in Psalm 90 that has reminded me often to count every single day as a gift. Psalm 90:12 (ESV) tells us, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Numbering our days, considering that each day will hold fascinations and new things that God is doing, will help to open our eyes to notice the ‘something new’ that He has for us in that day. When we learn to do that we are on our way to a wise heart according to His Word. And a heart of wisdom is a very good thing!