Choosing Peace

Jesus will always get us safely to the shore.

Yesterday my daddy was scheduled for a heart procedure. Between him and my mama, my family has been through a lot of heart procedures. He had a minor heart attack over twenty years ago. My mama’s and my daddy’s hearts have taught me a lot about faith. They have taught me not to panic.

Interestingly enough, Mama sent me a text yesterday morning that included her daily devotion. She felt that it was a message straight from the Holy Spirit and felt led to share.

The verse was Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

The writer then went on to recount a conversation she had with Corrie Ten Boom. She said, “There is no panic in heaven, only plans. The Holy Trinity has never met in an emergency session; God has not stepped down from His throne; Jesus has not left his right hand and the Holy Spirit has not stopped interceding for you.”

The devotion went on to say that anything contrary to that truth was lies.

I thought about those words all day long. When my children were little, before they could swim, we had a pool in the backyard. I always told them if they fell in, not to panic. The pool was not that big. All they had to do was get to the side. They could dog paddle or open their eyes and walk, but never panic. Panic would make them drown.

Perhaps I knew that truth because it had been shared with me. My great uncle used to come and visit us in the summer for a few weeks. He loved to fish in my parents’ pond, but he didn’t know how to swim. One day he was fishing and he fell out of the boat. He told my mama about it long after the fact. I think she almost passed out herself, before she weakly asked him how he got out.

He told her, “Hon, I got on my hands and knees and crawled to the shore.” The man clearly did not panic.

I always remembered those words, so much so, that I passed them on to my own kids.

If we remember not to panic, Jesus will always get us safely to the shore. We have an enemy who will desperately try to steal our peace, but we are called to remember that peace is a gift from the Holy Spirit. It’s ours to guard or to forfeit.

We always have a choice.

A later text from Mama told me that when the doctor came to see Daddy, his heart was actually back in rhythm. They didn’t have to do anything after all. I could have worried all day, but what would that have accomplished?

I might have missed a blessing. We are called to choose peace. A text reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

PS My daughter is coming home from college next week. I’m going to spend every moment possible with her so I won’t be posting. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Building Christian Character, Choosing to See the Bright Side, Trusting God | 1 Comment

Hope Wins

As long as we walk with Jesus, hope wins.

Last week, I got to watch the annual country music awards. Being a country music fan, I usually watch at least some of the show. This year I was very interested to see how they the stars of country music would deal with the tragedy in Las Vegas. As a rule, country music artists tend to be a people of faith who regularly talk about and sing about Jesus.

How do Christians respond to tragedy?

I knew I was in the right place when the very first performer, Eric Church, sang “Amazing Grace.” What other genre of music would do that? Then they led into the 90’s song, “Hold My Hand,” by Hootie and the Blowfish, but they all came together.

They sang of peace, love and harmony and holding hands.

I don’t know that any genre of music has ever taken a blow like country music took. I wrote in an earlier post about how amazing the response was from the fans at the Las Vegas shooting, how they fearlessly rescued and cared for one another. Surely Jesus was among them.

Carrie Underwood began the monologue by acknowledging the tragedies that have struck the country music family this year. She then said,”So tonight, we’re going to do what families do: come together, pray together, cry together and sing together too.”

What would our world look like if all of our families did that?

Later in the show, she sang a tribute to all of the fallen and the song chosen was an old hymn; “Softly Tenderly Jesus is Calling.”

As a society, we like to use terms like, people of faith, or believers. We don’t talk about Jesus nearly as much as we talk about the church and all of its failings. We tend to equate the church with Jesus. We forget that it’s made up of broken people. Jesus is perfect.

The Bible tells us there is power in Jesus’ name.

As I watched Carrie Underwood singing the hymn I sang in church as a child, and all of the audience standing up in silence as she sang, “Ye who are weary come home,” I was reminded of the hope we have as Christians.

Yes, this past year has been rocked by tragedy all over our country and our world, yet as always, Jesus is calling us home. He’s calling us to rest in Him and walk with Him while on this side of eternity and then invites us to stay with Him forever on the other side.

This year’s award show reminded me that no matter what, if we walk with Jesus, hope wins. Perhaps you needed reminding today.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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Watching for Divine Intervention

God is always at work, whether we see Him or not.

I just finished doing a Bible study on the Book of Esther. It’s a short book packed with intrigue and action. It’s the kind of story Hollywood would love to tell. Although I never noticed it before, God is not mentioned in the entire story, yet Jewish historians made sure it made the Hebrew Bible.

Why would they do that?

There’s a lot of commentary on the reasons, but it seems to me that the truth is hard for any believer to miss.

The king at the time, got rid of his queen. He then, rounded up all of the young, unmarried local girls to find a replacement. Esther, a Jew, was one of the many, but the king just happened to choose her. Esther fasted several times throughout the book, something God often looked favorably upon. When the Haman was going to kill all of the Jews, Esther went before the king even though he didn’t call for her. This could have meant her death sentence, but he received her favorably. (Another coincidence?) He then offered her whatever she asked for.

Then, the king just happened to be unable to sleep one night and he just happened to ask for a book of history where he just happened to read and remember, that Esther’s uncle, a Jew, had saved his life.

Esther’s position in the palace, along with her humility towards God and the king, resulted in the deliverance of all of the Jews.

Hundreds of years later, did the Jews really need to have God mentioned to know that He provided that deliverance?

Perhaps we should ask ourselves the same questions today. What types of things have happened in the history of our own nation that could only have been Divine intervention?

What types of things have happened in our own personal history that could have only been attributed to God at work?

Things from that job offer, to spontaneous healing, to meeting our spouse, to that friend who knows us inside and out and loves us anyway, are those circumstances mere coincidences?

The believer knows that God is always at work whether humanity sees Him or not and certainly whether we acknowledge Him or not. The ancient Hebrews recognized that fact. Maybe we should be more watchful as well.

The Book of Esther reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Watching for God | 1 Comment

Honoring Veteran’s Day

Let's say a prayer of thanks today for all of the veterans out there and all of their families.

Let’s say a prayer of thanks today for all of the veterans out there and all of their families.

This post first appeared here several years ago, but I found the words still pertinent today and I thought I would repost.

Tomorrow we celebrate Veteran’s Day in the United States. It was first commemorated on November 11, 1919 because an armistice or a cease-fire in World War I occurred in the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, in the eleventh month. World War I was known as the war to end all wars. The day was set aside to honor the soldiers who fought in that war and to honor the day that peace had been secured.

Sadly, in 1939, World War II began and the Korean Conflict occurred after that. World War I was clearly not the war that would end all wars. In 1954, President Eisenhower designated November 11th as Veteran’s Day, where all American veterans of all wars would be honored for their service to our country.

According to the U.S. Census, there are currently 21.2 million veterans living today. That seems like a lot, but it breaks down to only about 13% of U.S. adults. That’s a small amount of people who have done a huge amount of work to guarantee our freedom and safety.

I attended a Veteran’s Day Celebration yesterday at my son’s middle school. I have to say that I was moved to tears as the students called out statistics of those who paid for our freedom with their lives. The band played songs of all of the military branches. The chorus sang patriotic songs. Two students read essays. One of them was an Indian immigrant. He pointed out how safe he feels in America. He said in America, when a hundred people die of swine flu, the U.S. goes on alert. Everyone is upset and they make sure no one else dies. In India, a hundred people dying is no big deal. He believes that we value life in this country and that’s due to the men and women in the military who keep us safe and help allow life to have such a high value here. I never thought about it that way.

The guest speaker was a man named Colonel Robert Guy. He is a retired teacher from the school and beloved. He is a West Point graduate and served two tours in Vietnam among many other accomplishments. When he spoke, it was pin drop silent, which in a middle school gymnasium, is pretty amazing.

He said an 8th grader once asked him what the Army taught him. He said he had to give it some thought, but came up with five of the most important things he learned from the Army.

The first was duty. He said that was nothing more than doing your best work to the best of your ability, every single day, no matter what. What would the world look like if we all lived like that?

The second was concern for others. He said you always had to be willing to do more than your part to keep others from falling into the hands of the enemy. In other words, “It’s not about you.” Those are wise words for sure.

The third was trust. In the military you have to trust others to do their job and they must be able to trust you. In life or death situations, this is a no brainer, but what if we lived our civilian lives in that manner?

The fourth was respect, respect for the flag, respect for superiors and respect for other service members. He said if we all respected one another, there would be no bullying and everyone’s self-worth would be in good shape.

The fifth was be creative. No one in any military situation ever felt like that had enough people or time, but they had to figure out a way to get it done and they did. What if we all took that attitude?

I left the ceremony with many points to ponder. I’m so very thankful that these children got to hear such wise words from a true American hero. I’m thankful this day for all of our veterans. Their sacrifice is something we can never truly repay. Let’s all take a moment and say a prayer of thanks for their service. They are real life heroes.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Holidays | 2 Comments

Leaf Lessons

The fall leaves are a beautiful reminder that God is with us.

As I was traveling down the road yesterday, a little grumpy, because I had to drive all the way to another county to pick up some medication for my dog at the vet, I was delighted to see the leaves changing color. I remember wondering just recently, if we would get any bright fall leaves this year. Had it been too warm? Did we not get enough rain?

Our news has consisted of one horrific story after the other lately, so much so, that my first impulse is to tune out. It’s sometimes hard to find the beauty when there’s just so much wreckage. We sometimes wonder if God is still here.

To add to that, my schedule has been incredibly busy, with too much noise and not enough quiet time.

But, as I drove along on my unplanned and quite frankly, unwelcomed detour, I began to sense that God had called me to a time out. It was just me and Him in the car and I had no busy excuse not to talk to Him or to listen. I had no excuse not to reflect.

Those pretty fall leaves reminded me that God is in control no matter how dark the season may appear. He could have created trees to simply drop their leaves with the seasons, but no, our creative Creator, made trees with leaves that turn all kinds of beautiful and vivid colors.

Why?

Because He enjoys beauty, just like we do and He seeks to share it with us. We only need to be willing to see it.

After the flood, God told Noah, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22

The seasons are changing; just as the Bible said they would. God is still here among the chaos, He’s still in control and He still seeks us. The question for us to consider is, do we actively seek Him?

When we do, we will find Him. Sometimes we simply have to look around. An unplanned drive and some leaves reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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Wearing the Cloak of Peace

“Be still and know that I am God.”

A little boy who was not feeling well, came into the school clinic last week. When our nurse took his temperature, she found that he was running a fairly high fever. His teacher went and retrieved his backpack and his parents were called to pick him up.

The nurse asked him if he wanted to lie down on the clinic cot and if he wanted a blanket. He didn’t miss a beat when he told her he had one in his backpack. Sure, enough he did. He pulled it out and covered up with it and slept peacefully until his daddy arrived.

The nurse had to physically wake him up.

I thought about that little guy long after he went home. I thought about how he had all he needed to be comfortable until his help came. I thought about how he remembered that he had it and how he wasn’t at all dismayed or worried about his circumstances. He had complete faith that all would be well.

I thought about how often we run into all kinds of problems in our lives, things that can steal our peace.

We have financial troubles and physical problems. We have relationship issues and marital problems. We have worries about our kids and problems at work. We sometimes even have troubles at church.

All of these worldly issues can lead to a load of worries if we allow them to. If we focus on those worries long enough, they can lead to physical issues like headaches, stomach problems, depression, anxiety, or even worse.

But, as Christians, we are called to walk a different path. We are called to clothe ourselves in the peace that comes from knowing Christ; just like that little guy’s blanket, from head to toe.

We are called to remember that there is a plan for us, and that we are loved, and that no matter what comes against us, God is with us. His ways are not our ways. He doesn’t simply react to what the world throws at us. He’s already there and planning for our defense, long before the first punch is delivered.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

On this side of eternity, we are constantly bombarded with peace stealers. The key is remembering to stay focused on the Peace Giver. A sick little boy reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character, Trusting God | Leave a comment

Beyond Kindergarten Faith

How mature is your faith?

I work in the front office of an elementary school. The clinic is located right behind my desk, so there’s a fairly steady stream of visitors most days. There’s rarely anything particularly noteworthy, just things like bumps, bruises, sore throats and stomach aches.

But, a week or so ago, a little boy in kindergarten, came in crying. He was yelling, “I throwed up on the playground!” But, he wasn’t sad; he was furious. After he screamed it the third time, I had to turn my head, so he wouldn’t see me chuckle. I mean this child was completely outraged that he had been sick on the playground.

How dare his body treat him in such a way! Our sweet nurse calmed him down in minutes. As soon as he took a breath, he was fine. He was given something to drink. His mama was called and he went home. The next time I saw him, he was completely back to normal.

That little kindergartner’s outrage stayed on my mind long after his clinic visit. I guess it was an outward manifestation of how adults feel when bad things happen to us.

As Christians, when we get bad news or a bad diagnosis, what’s our first impulse? How do we tend to react? Do we immediately go to God in prayer and ask for strength and courage? Do we acknowledge to Him that we know He’s at work in all of our circumstances, not just the good ones? Does knowing He’s in charge give us a sense of peace no matter what we are facing?

Or….do we tend to shake our fists in outrage when when tragedy strikes? Do we question God? Do we ask why? Do we decide we have been abandoned? Do we find ourselves completely indignant that our lives aren’t filled with sunny days and perfection?

Is our faith mature enough to trust in God’s plan for our lives or do we have that kindergarten faith where we believe if we always do our part, bad things will never happen?

The Bible tells us that, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.” Romans 5:3-4

Rejoicing in suffering is a difficult concept to grasp. I must confess that I’m more likely to react like that kindergartner in the face of tragedy.

Grace, gently reminds me that I am called to a deeper trust and obedience. Experience has taught me that God is always with me and His ways and plans are better than my own.

A kindergartner reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character, Trusting God | Leave a comment

Embracing a Season of Thanks

Living with a thankful heart is a choice.

Last night I had the opportunity to open my door to the cutest little trick-or-treaters ever. There’s been a lot of turn over on my street over the past couple of years and some new young families have moved in. It seems like only yesterday when I was trick-or-treating with my own children and I hold those memories very close to my heart.

I have always enjoyed Halloween with the carving of jack o’lanterns, all of the candy, and the dressing up in fun and creative costumes. For me, it represents fall and my community at its best. It’s people opening their doors to complete strangers and sharing whatever unique treat they have.

It’s asking and receiving in its simplest form.

It seems kind of appropriate that when we wake up the next morning, we find ourselves thrust into the season of Thanksgiving followed closely by the Christmas season.

November often signals the beginning of a very hectic and often stressful season for many of us, whether it be dealing with uncomfortable family situations, or dealing with the loss of a loved one, or trying to create the Pinterest perfect home and table.

We tend to focus on the physical realm during the holiday season. What will we serve? What will we eat? What will we purchase? How will we decorate? Who will we invite? I won’t even begin to talk about the comparison games that we can find ourselves playing.

But, perhaps the wiser path would be to focus on the spiritual aspect of the holiday season. Maybe we could intentionally make November the month that we actually give thanks for the many blessings we have been given. We could even commit to write down at least one each day. We could commit to more thankful prayers and less asking prayers.

Most of us have far more than we need and have a tendency to take a lot for granted. I know I do.

Perhaps we could spend more time thinking about who were serve than what we will serve. That concept alone, should bring some much needed peace and maybe even joy. Who doesn’t need more of both?

Living with a thankful heart is a conscious choice. It’s choosing to prioritize the spiritual over the physical. It’s choosing to see each day as a gift.

The retailers would like for us to forget Thanksgiving altogether. There’s not much money in it for them. But, there’s something beautiful and deeply spiritual about living with a thankful heart.

Perhaps we should all give it a try.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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A Call to Bloom

This bush looks perfectly acceptable unless you know what its capabilities are.

I have the honor of dog sitting for my parents this week. They have two little fluff balls that require leash walking several times a day. While I was walking them over the weekend, we ended up at a raised bed my hubby made for me. In it, he had planted a hydrangea.

It was a gift from a parent at the end of school year. We were still building our deck at the time and I wasn’t sure where to plant it and so he put it there for the time being. To the casual observer, it looks really good. It’s healthy. It has grown a lot. It came in a tiny cup. It’s green. It survived a very dry late summer.

But, I’m not a casual observer. The wonderful thing about hydrangeas is their huge flowers and this one never bloomed. It could be because it was the first year it was planted. Sometimes it takes a year for a bush to get established before it blooms.

But, I suspect the real reason is that it doesn’t get enough sun in that spot and without enough sun, it simply can’t bloom.

I reflected on that hydrangea long after the little fluff balls were safely back in the house.

I thought about how like that hydrangea, there are times on our faith journey when we don’t bloom. I thought about how sometimes we may be getting established. We may be new to our faith, or we may be in a season of a new calling, or a season of rest where we find ourselves at a crossroads of sorts.

There are times when not producing blooms is certainly expected. God may simply be working something out within us.

But, sometimes we don’t bloom because we are not seeking Jesus. We aren’t actively reading the Bible. We aren’t actively seeking a prayer relationship with God. We aren’t attending church or engaging in Christian community. We may not be getting enough of the Son.

In that case, we need to make some changes. We are called to do more than just get by. We are called to reflect the brilliance of Christ back into the world. We can’t do that if we don’t have a close personal relationship with Him.

We are called to bloom.

A hydrangea bush reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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The Call to Flourish

When we listen to God’s voice, we become unstoppable.

Last spring, someone gave me a hanging basket with several different kinds of plants, planted together. I love growing things and I really appreciated the gift, but I simply didn’t have anywhere to hang it. After thinking about it, I took the basket apart and replanted everything in a raised box in the backyard.

I wasn’t very familiar with the plants and I wasn’t sure how they would do in the spot they were planted. In the back of my mind, I was going to replant each one separately, in its own large pot. But, summer got busy and I forgot.

It rained a lot in June and the little plants took off. They loved their new large space and they thrived right where I planted them. They quadrupled in size. They couldn’t have possibly done that if I had left them confined to their original small pot.

Those plants got me to thinking about what happens when we allow ourselves to be confined. So often, we tend to listen to the voices of people, or the voices of our past, instead of listening to God’s voice.

We let those voices of doubt and fear confine us to a tiny spot, when God has so much more for us. It’s true that we can sometimes do okay being confined, but we cannot flourish.

God wants us to flourish with His plans for us. He wants us to lean in, listen and trust and when He tells us to take that next step or giant leap, He wants us to do it. He might be calling us to simply stick our toe in or He might be calling us to jump off the high dive.

Either way, when we stay in His will and follow His plans, we are in for a beautiful, wild ride.

That ride, that journey, simply can’t happen if we remain paralyzed by things like fear and doubt.

A flourishing group of plants reminded me to carefully listen and then be willing to act. Perhaps you needed reminding too. Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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