You Had No Idea

You had no idea that the smile you gave me helped me feel more comfortable in this space. You had no idea that the meal you paid for reminded my husband and I that God cares about the little things like getting a night out when we really didn’t think we could afford it. That text you sent first thing in the morning? You had no idea that I had tossed and turned all night worrying over something I had no control over and your note just said, ‘God knows…and He’s got this.’

Often when we feel that little nudge to do something that seems so insignificant to us – we have no idea what the other person is going through – or how God will use that simple, random act of kindness to change the course of the day and maybe even a life!

What we are carrying and walking through is no surprise to our God. He knows every challenge, every burden, heartache and pain. And God has a plan. We don’t always understand the ‘why’. In fact, most of the time, we don’t. But those brief little moments in our day when God sends someone or something to remind us that He is right here with us, He planned those little moments to help us focus on His amazing greatness and to remind us that He knows.

Jeremiah 29:11 is such a beautiful promise from our Father God. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

Oh, we may have no idea…but God does. And that is more than enough for us today.

Content vs. Completion

“I grade students on completion – not content.” I’m sure the blank stare I gave the teacher after that comment left her wondering if I even understood english. This was my girl’s first year in a new school and I was at my first parent – teacher conference of the year…and officially concerned about her educational future. Well, she survived that school year and so did I.

That was the year I began to intentionally teach her that whatever we do – we must make an effort at it. When I was growing up I remember being told, ‘you only get out what you are willing to put in.’ I’m not sure who gets the credit for that one because a number of well known people have put their own spin on that thought. It’s true to a point. We should always give our best effort. Because anything worth doing…is worth doing well!

Don’t confuse doing your best and always going above and beyond as measurements of success though. There are times when God really just needs us to show up and let HIM do the work. Like when a friend is going through something hard and they don’t need you to do ‘all the things’…as much as they need you to just sit with them and listen to their heart.

Psalm 143:10 (CEV) reminds us, “You are my God. Show me what you want me to do, and let your gentle Spirit lead me in the right path.” Following God’s lead every day is the best way to be sure we are fulfilling our purpose with content and completion.

Parking in A7

Whenever I fly out of the airport I always park my car in Long Term Parking Lot A. A is for Abby. Once my beautiful daughter, Abby, was born I made it a habit to always use that lot because I knew I would never forget which lot I parked in! Because A is for Abby.

The last time I found a great parking spot right next to the covered bench marked A7. As I was standing at bus stop A7 I was thinking about how I would remember A7 and I thought about what the number seven means to God. He rested on the seventh day. And hey…my word for this year is REST! How sweet to have that moment of remembering the journey that I’ve been on this year to discover all that God wants me to learn about rest. And He brought me to a front row parking spot at A7.

When the shuttle bus arrived to take me to the airport terminal, as soon as I boarded, the driver said, “A7. Remember you are parked at A7!” In all my years of traveling I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a driver quite like this one. He clearly loved his job, loved people, and wanted to help everyone start and end their trip remembering where they parked their vehicle. I love that!

Imagine if everyone we meet today went out of their way to help us. What a day we would have! Now we know that we will most likely encounter people who are having a bad day. People who are struggling themselves and just don’t have the energy to help someone else. But what if WE made it a point to help others today in whatever way we can? If we want to affect change in the world around us, it has to begin with US!

Colossians 3:23 (GNT) says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” THAT is the key!

Eye Contact

The voice over the loudspeaker said, “Folks, this is a completely full flight. Every seat will be occupied so as you make your way through the cabin look for the person avoiding eye contact. That’s the person you want to plop down beside.” I chuckled and I was not alone. Those chuckling around me were the ones who’ve been there. Done that. Look out the window. Scroll through the cell phone. Anything to avoid looking at people who are walking down the aisle of the plane looking for a seat….the middle seat…next to me on the plane.

Looking someone in the eyes invites connection. It’s the first way we tell someone “I see you”. And if you couple that with a smile…well, you might as well pat the seat next to you and say, “come and sit with me for a while”.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus never avoids our eyes. One of my favorite verses about Jesus is in Matthew 9:36 (ESV). “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” It might not be boarding a full flight making us feel harassed and helpless. Today, it might be a work meeting, a school assignment or presentation. There might be a looming doctor appointment or an upcoming conversation with a family member or friend that has us worked up, frenzied, anxious. If that is the case just imagine that Jesus is sitting there, looking at you with eyes of compassion. When your eyes connect you see that smile and a pat on the seat next to Him…and know that He is inviting you to come…and sit for a while.

Jesus won’t put earbuds in or stare out the window or thumb through His newsfeed. The Shepherd is inviting you to come and sit. It doesn’t matter for how long and He wants to hear all about it.

She’s A Runner

I was a runner. Not the marathon kind of runner. Not even the 5K kind of runner. I didn’t care if my clothing was aerodynamic and it certainly didn’t matter if my feet were laced into running shoes. Actually, I was more of a sprinter. Mad dashes were my expertise. I should probably mention at this point that I was about three years old at the time.

Although exhilarating for me, after several harrowing experiences for my parents, including one of slipping through the door of a store and right out into the street, my parents decided a child harness was the only way their nerves could handle taking me out of a stroller in a public open area setting. They took a lot of heat for putting their child on a leash. But it was worth it to keep me from running off and getting lost or hurt, or worse.

That’s what I have to do with my mind. Put a leash on it. Because, unleashed, my mind can race….wildly fast. It can jump the highest hurdles of conclusions. Without harnessing my thoughts, I can chase rabbits down holes my mind has no business going down.

Putting a leash on our minds may look like avoiding certain movies. Not reading certain books. Saying no thank you to some conversations. We may take heat for avoiding some places. But we are responsible for running this race that God set before us. My race isn’t set before you and your race isn’t set before me. Each of us are responsible – to God – for the race that is set before us. And whatever blinders or measures we need to make sure that we stay on course are necessary to run the race well.

1 Corinthians 9:25 tells us, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

As it turns out this race that Paul described and that we are in is not about how fast we run it…only that we run it well.

Conditions Are Right

Hurricane season. Winter season. Beach season. Christmas season. Whatever the season it no doubt brings up memories of the past, plans for the future, and necessary items to be prepared for just such a time.

In my trunk I keep a toolkit for minor roadside situations. It never hurts to be prepared! When I go on a trip I pack a little safety kit! When the weatherman says it could rain today I tuck an umbrella in my bag just in case. If there is the potential for high wind we batten down the hatches around the house. And if there’s snow coming….well, I don’t have to tell you, we’ll just all meet in the bread and milk aisles at the grocery store!

When conditions are right for something beyond our normal day to day circumstances we typically take the time to get prepared, don’t we?! What if we could be on alert for spiritual seasons? Being informed that conditions are right for a spiritual storm…honestly, we have been alerted. Over and over the Bible tells us to be ready…always at the ready. Ephesians 6:13 (NIV) tells us to “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

The truth is every day conditions are right for something bigger, deeper, harder than we are typically prepared for to try to wipe us out! But, we have a whole checklist available in Ephesians 6:10-18 to be sure that we are fully prepared and equipped for all occasions! Let’s take time today to learn it or refresh our minds with what that full armor is – so that we can be prepared. Because conditions are right…

Coming Home

There is nothing quite like coming home. Whether it’s coming home from a vacation or work trip or just coming home at the end of your work day or school day. Home should be a safe place. Peaceful. A place where you can kick off your shoes, take off your makeup, put on your comfy clothes, and totally be yourself! A place where you can rest.

As adults it is our job to create that environment for the ones we are responsible for in our home. Whether we are parents creating a nurturing space for our children, or caretakers creating a safe space for those in our care, we are actually more Christ-like when we make home a place we all want to come back to.

Jesus told His disciples in John 14:1-3, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in Me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am going.”

Even the story Jesus told of the prodigal son is a lesson in knowing that when we are in need of rest, struggling in our day and especially struggling in life, we can always come home.

Until God calls us to our eternal heavenly home and while our physical home may not always be within reach….there is a place of comfort and peace, rest and safety that we can run to any time in any situation…and that is Jesus. Jesus is our home. He centers us. He is always waiting with arms open ready to welcome us. With Jesus, there truly is no place like home!

The Rest

Rest. That’s been my word for 2022. And I’ve spent most of this year thinking about it in terms of the action, “to rest”. I’ve had so many special discoveries this year about resting in the Lord and loved every one of them!

Recently, a friend sent me a little note that read, “did you know that ‘rest’ defined as a noun means ‘remainder’…something that remains over”. Well, I honestly hadn’t thought about it that way! I mean what’s leftover from a meal or a project … typically isn’t all that much. Sometimes we might even think, as we’re cleaning up, just throw the rest of it away. It isn’t even enough to really do something or make a difference. So I did some digging and here is what I discovered: The rest is the balance…the residual…the remnant…the final undivided part. Oh wow!

Think about the remnant of believers who remained in Jerusalem. A small group of Jesus followers who refused to be divided, waiting for the Holy Spirit to arrive as Jesus had instructed them to do. Of the thousands and thousands who had been touched by the Messiah, fed by the Messiah, many even healed by the Messiah, Acts 1:15 tells us there were about 120 believers gathered in one place. Despite having watched their beloved Jesus crucified and buried, missing the One who had gathered, discipled and led them the past few years…this remnant hoped…and waited. And when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were changed in an instant. Empowered to preach the Gospel and live lives that showed others what it looked like to radically follow Christ.

And as they went, they changed the whole world! That little group. The rest of Jesus’ believers. The remnant. The final undivided group remained obedient, received the promise and re-Presented the Gospel over and over…and tens of thousands were saved! Today, countless people have become Christians because a small group of people waited and rested in Jesus’ instruction to wait for the gift.

Don’t discount the rest of your time, the rest of your energy, the rest of your ministry and especially the rest of your life. However you have lived your life til now, realize that the balance of your days can be so much greater than your past. Determine to live the rest of them, undivided, for Christ!

Shadow and Light

I see my shadow every morning when I am walking into work. The other morning when I saw it I thought of Psalm 23 and verse 4 that mentions ‘the valley of the shadow of death’. No one wants to go through that place; and yet, we all will, at some point or another, maybe more than once, find ourselves walking through that place. The verse says “even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will not fear for You are with me.”

As I was walking up the sidewalk that particular morning these words began running through my mind…”You can’t see the shadow without the presence of light.” Whatever dark place you’ve been through in your life…maybe you are in one right now…you know it seems almost impossible to see even a smidgeon of light. But it’s there….the tiniest bit of light that reveals the shadow.

The shadow isn’t real. The enemy may try to use it to frighten us; but, the shadow is there to remind us…that God is there with us. He IS the Light of the world. His light in us and around us means that even death – is just a shadow – because as a believer we pass from this life into eternity with God. And He never leaves us for even a second of it!

By the way, have you ever noticed what happens to your shadow the farther away from the light that you walk? The farther we get from the light…the longer – or bigger – the shadow grows. Just another life lesson to stay as close to the Light as we can!

Too Good To Be True?

I saw a t-shirt on sale recently. Full disclosure: I have been duped more than once by special sales that show up in my facebook feed. In my head I know that if something seems to be too good to be true…it probably is! But this shirt!! It was one of my favorite colors. It had a beautiful Bible verse on it. In fact, the name LORD was designed in such pretty colors…and it was less than FOUR bucks!! So you guessed it…I ordered it.

It came in and it was so pretty. And the material was so soft and comfy. So I wore it. For the whole day…I wore it. It was hanging on the back of my bathroom door last week and as I was brushing my teeth, contemplating my fabulous bargain, my eyes fell on the small print of the scripture reference. Psalm 118:14 spelled PSLAMS. P-S-L-A-M-S. Wait…what??!! I can understand misspelling Zephaniah and Malachi….but Psalms?!! And then it hit me…I wore that shirt ALL day!! No wonder it was such a bargain. And I was listening to the voice in my head say, ‘you should’ve known…it was too good to be true!’

But I love this verse from Psalm 118:14. “The Lord is my strength and my song.” And as I stopped talking to myself long enough to spit out the toothpaste…my heart heard the voice of the One I love so much whisper ever so quietly ‘you never lost your song…I am your song…and I have always been with you.’

You see, about 9 years ago, I went through a really dark time. God kept me through all of it and I am so grateful for that! But for quite awhile I wasn’t able to sing without weeping. So I stopped singing. I told a friend that I felt like I had lost my song. As God healed my heart and soul I realized I was able to sing again. I hadn’t thought about that part of my journey in a quite a while. But God used a bargain t-shirt with a misspelled word to bring closure to a very difficult time in my life.

I am reminded that God disproves that concept of ‘too good to be true’ every single time. His goodness and His truth supersede all that we could ever think. He IS our strength and our song. Oh I’m wearing the shirt! Every time I do I will be reminded of His special message to me that morning. And, wouldn’t it be just like God to give me another opportunity to share my faith through a bargain t-shirt and a misspelled name of a book in the Bible?!