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 🙂

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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 🙂

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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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Everyday Beauty

Yesterday was one of those days when I felt like I ran around in a circle all day long, getting nothing accomplished. I had computer software issues all day and when I finally got them cleared up, the task I was originally asked to do was completed somewhere else.

It wasn’t as if any kind of tragedy struck. In the grand scheme of things, I probably won’t even remember it a year from now, but it was frustrating enough to give me a headache. Maybe you have had days like that?

When I got home, I got a cup of tea and grabbed my writing journal. I always keep it close by and I jot down all sorts of things in it, from ideas for posts to Bible quotes, to quotes from Pinterest, and sometimes when I’ve had a tough day, I read back through it.

It’s a road map to the places I have been and there are recurring themes that remind me where I’m going and why I’m here. As I read through it, I felt myself begin to relax. I read line after line about God being light and my day slowly slid back into perspective.

But, then I came across a quote that made me stop, because I had the perfect visual to go with it.

Sometimes it’s almost impossible not to see God.

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing something beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The temperatures have cooled and the leaves have begun to fall, and that quote made that photo immediately pop into my mind. There is beauty in the everyday because God is always with us everyday. Sometimes it’s easier to see Him than others.

Sometimes I need reminding. Today that reminder came from something I wrote down over a year ago, something that God knew even then, that I would need today. Isn’t that amazing?

Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Choosing to See the Bright Side, Watching for God | 2 Comments

The Wisdom in Looking Back

Sometimes the best reassurance about going forward, comes from looking back.

I picked up my cell phone and saw I had a message. I smiled because it was from the daughter of a dear friend of mine from high school. I had messaged her on Facebook with some questions about off campus living because she went to the same college my daughter is attending.

When I read her message, it struck me what a gift true friendship is. Her mama and I are getting ready to celebrate our thirty year class reunion next fall. It sometimes takes my breath away when I stand at a crossroads and I look back and see how God was busy at work in ways that I couldn’t possibly comprehend at the time.

This isn’t the first time she has answered my questions, this sweet adult daughter of my friend. When I think back to our high school years and all the things we used to talk about while floating on a raft in my parents’ pool, the idea of us having adult daughters never even came to mind, but God knew.

God knew way back in our teen years that her daughter would help mine. I stand both amazed and humbled at the reality of it all.

I recently ran into an old college friend while out shopping. She was with her daughter and they were getting ready to visit the college campus my daughter is attending. I told her to feel free to text her and ask to see her dorm. A week later, she texted me to get her number.

Keep in mind we haven’t had a sit down conversation in years, but she’s always been one of those, “if you need me I’m here,” friends. I was happy to offer and she was comfortable asking.

When I look back at my college years and she and I were young and just getting to know each other, our adult daughters would have never entered my mind. But, God knew.

We sometimes find ourselves in uncharted territory and we sometimes forget that for God, there is no uncharted territory. He knows where we’re going even when we don’t and He calls on us to trust Him and His plan.

Sometimes the best way to do that is to look back. When we look back on the path we have traveled, He was always there, intervening and working in ways we couldn’t have possibly seen or understood. Looking back at His grace and mercy can remind us and reassure us, He’s at work now too.

A Facebook message reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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Blinking Cursor Inspiration

“Be still and know that I am God.”

There are times when I can’t wait to sit down at my keyboard and string together the words that will tell the story of how God has shown Himself to me in one particular way or another. There are times when I can’t write down post ideas fast enough, in the journal that I always keep close by.

Those are the times when I feel absolutely certain that I am doing the work that God has called me to do.

There are times in my life that have been the same, those times when I’ve prayed for a long time about something and waited patiently on Him and then suddenly the pieces fall so perfectly into place in a jigsaw-like puzzle that could only have been created by God.

It’s those times I know that I have made the right decisions and choices and I know I am where I am meant to be.

But, then there are times that I sit at my keyboard and the cursor blinks. I sit and I say a prayer and I can think of nothing super inspirational to share. I can think of no mountaintop experience from my day and I wonder if I’m doing what I’m supposed to. Did I hear Him right?

I have had those times in my life as well. The relationship gets hard. The job gets difficult or boring. The new dog becomes a lot of work. The kids are struggling in the places that I know God directed them to. And again, I question myself; did I hear God right?

It’s tempting to believe that if we decide to walk with Jesus, that the path should always be smooth and exciting. If we are doing God’s will, shouldn’t we always hear His voice directing us onward and patting us on the head?

If that were true, how would we ever grow our faith?

When we prayerfully seek His guidance and will in our lives and He shows it to us and we listen and go, sometimes He steps back to see if we are willing to proceed in faith. His silence can sometimes make us feel frightened, unsure, or even downright frustrated.

But, the key is to never confuse His silence with absence. He’s always close by. He’s always listening. Sometimes He’s waiting, waiting for us to take that next step in faith, and sometimes it’s that next small step that proves to be a breakthrough that changes everything.

Sometimes it’s that step that brings on the very highest mountaintop moment yet. A blinking cursor reminded me to keep walking, praying, and trusting. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Trusting God, Watching for God | 1 Comment

The Search for Perfection

Perhaps we seek perfection because we are perfectly loved.

Last week, I wrote about how it was still unseasonably hot here in Georgia. It’s October and we were still in the eighties. Well, we had some rain move through and it was followed by a cold front. Last night, our temps dipped into the forties and today we topped out in the sixties.

It was a beautiful day. But, when I stepped outside to get the mail, I heard a little girl complain to her mama about how cold it was. I smiled to myself. It was very windy and the wind was cool. Personally I thought that the day would have been perfect if the wind would have stopped blowing.

Then I caught myself. I suppose we are wired to seek perfection because that’s where we came from. The Bible tells us that we are, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are made by a perfect Creator who sent us His perfect son to show us perfect love.

That’s a lot of perfection. But, we aren’t perfect. We are terribly flawed and we make lots of mistakes. However, we have this beautiful gift of grace because we are perfectly loved.

Isn’t it amazing how easily we forget that gift? We forget about that glimpse of perfection. Instead we search for perfection in the physical world. We look for or try to create the perfect job, perfect clothes, perfect friends and spouse, or plan the perfect vacation. We try to create the perfect body and the perfect house.

Some of us even expect the weather to be perfect or at least to meet our definition of it.

Yet, all of our attempts at perfection always fall short. We simply can’t achieve it on this side of Eternity. One day we will get to walk with Jesus in a place where we will never get sick, or grow old, where there will be no tears, hunger or heartache. We will get to experience true perfection forever.

We tend to forget that we are travelers here and not permanent residents and so we go about trying to create perfection here. It’s not until we learn to be still and acknowledge God and His plans that we can learn to be content. It’s not until we surrender our need to control and be perfect that we get to experience that perfect love.

And then we understand that what we have been given isn’t perfect, but it’s enough because we’re just passing through. A cool wind reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding today.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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Choir Wisdom

When we all do our unique part, we get to be a part of the beauty of His Kingdom.

One of the most difficult things about singing in the church choir is sticking to my part. I’m a soprano. The men sit behind me. They have completely different notes. The altos sit to my left. They also have different notes. Sometimes for extra fun, we have first and second sopranos. You guessed it; the notes are different.

So often, when we begin singing a new selection, I have a tendency to sing along with whichever part of the choir is singing the loudest. That’s not what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to sing my notes. But, I often follow along with what I hear instead of singing my part.

I never was very good at rounds either. It only took a chorus or two of, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and I was hopelessly lost. I would end up doing the other part instead of my own.

When music is written with different parts to sing and they are all sung correctly, it’s beautiful. When those different voices joint together in unique ways to sing the same song, they create something completely different from what would be created with all the same people singing the same thing. It’s a tapestry of sorts, but of voices.

Each voice is like its own thread color and all of the different parts form a musical picture with great depth.

But, it’s not easy, at least not for me.

Singing in the choir has also taught me about our Kingdom callings. We are all called to use our unique talents to help build God’s Kingdom. It’s sometimes easy to get caught up in what someone else is doing and follow along with them instead of doing what we are called to do.

There are seasons when we are called to help others along with what they are doing, but we are also called to use our unique talents and gifts. When we do that and join in with others, we all become a part of a spiritual tapestry which has beauty beyond words.

It’s our uniqueness along with that of others, that makes it work. I’ll readily admit that doing what we are called to do can sometimes be a challenge. It’s a worthy challenge because when do what we are called to do, it creates a type of music greater than that of a symphony.

Singing in the choir reminded me. Perhaps you need reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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