Hurricane Wisdom

There’s a peace that comes from knowing that God can calm the storms.

I received an anxious text yesterday from my daughter who is attending college in South Georgia. She said that Irma is heading straight for them.

While we are all still glued to the television and reeling from all of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, in Texas, a new hurricane has been busy forming and growing. Hurricane Irma is already stronger and bigger than Harvey was and is marching towards the United States.

I texted her back that she had plenty of time before Irma makes landfall and it may not even strike her area. She texted back that they were watching the path on television and that it was headed for the Georgia coast.

I pulled it up on my computer and looked at the models. The hurricane’s path depends largely on what’s going on with the jet stream when it collides with it. It could go into the Gulf of Mexico. It could hit South Florida. It could hit Savannah or the Carolinas. There’s no way to know at this point.

As I continued to read the article, there was an interview with a lifelong Florida resident. The wisdom of her words really struck me. She said that she doesn’t worry about these things too much. She said that she had water. She had her music and she prayed.

If any people in the entire US are hurricane veterans, it would be the Floridians. Their state has been slammed by hurricanes more than any other. They know what to do. They know when to evacuate. They know when to stand fast. They know how to rebuild. I suspect many know very well how to pray.

They have learned all of these skills from experience.

My own child was raised much closer to the North Georgia Mountains than the coast. Hurricanes are for the most part, a foreign concept. She doesn’t have the benefit of the experience of the woman who was interviewed from Florida.

I thought about that lady long after I read her quote. I thought about how our lives are often overrun with hurricane types of situations. Sometimes it’s just those outside bands of wind and rain. Sometimes it’s the flooding. Sometimes it’s the full force of the hurricane and sometimes, there’s another one that follows closely behind, like Irma.

But, when we live out our faith and keep our eyes focused on Jesus, we know we will survive. We can even get to the point where we can say that we don’t worry about it too much; we just pray. But, that kind of faith takes years of walking with Jesus and knowing that He will sustain us.

Deep, enduring faith takes time, but it’s worth it. The peace that comes from knowing that we worship the God who can calm any storm, is absolutely priceless.

A hurricane reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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Keep Planting

Never stop planting. You never know when the seeds will sprout.

When I arrived at church on Sunday, one of our praise team leaders asked me if I would be willing to help him with something. This guy is amazingly talented. He said he wanted to get a bunch of people to help with the praise and worship song and he wondered if I knew it. It was called, “Uncloudy Day.”

Oh yeah, I knew it. In the years that I attended a small, country church that was at the end of a dirt road, we sang it often. I had many fond memories of the music at that church and I readily agreed.

Right after choir practice, our pastor’s wife asked if the choir would be willing to help her. A man that we had been praying for, is in a rehabilitation facility for a spinal injury. He’s a man of deep faith. He had a really tough night, the night before and asked if we would be willing to sing the hymn, “Victory in Jesus,” for him to be videoed and sent to raise his spirits. We all readily agreed.

Once again, my mind recalled that small childhood church, where we sang that hymn often.

I wonder if my mama could have possibly known that over thirty years later, because she took me to church, that I was able to participate in the singing of two different songs at a completely different church, in a completely different town than I grew up in. I wonder if she could have possibly conceived that her obedience to God in raising her children to know Him, would allow her child to one day join with others to sing songs of praise to lift up a struggling brother in Christ and help him with his struggle.

We sometimes forget that parenting is Kingdom Work. When we fight to get our kids to church and wonder if it’s worth it, when we fight for that family meal when we can say grace and eat together, when we see our adult children stray off the path that we have taught them and wonder where we went wrong, let me assure you, God is there.

Yes, it’s worth it. As parents, we are called to be obedient to God and teach our children about Jesus. We are simply seed planters and let’s face it, not all of them will sprout. But, the good news is, that over a lifetime, we have the opportunity to plant thousands and at some point, they will not only sprout, but grow deep roots, because we have a God who is in the growing business and His abilities are limitless.

Two old hymns reminded me that we should always keep planting. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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

Praying for Texas

This picture was too good not to share.

Last weekend, Hurricane Harvey, one of the most destructive hurricanes in American history, came ashore in Texas. The destruction has been devastating. It’s almost impossible to fathom what some of those Harvey victims have been through, yet the Texans’ response to the disaster may have the power to unite us all.

Texas is a notoriously red state and has always done things a little differently than the other forty-nine states, something most Texans are proud of. Houston, one of the hardest hit regions of the state, is a spot of blue, with a mayor who is a democrat.

In the political climate that we have been living in since the last election, one would expect that Texans would be at each other’s throats, blaming each other and the federal government for their woes. If you would have watched a newscast a week earlier, you might have thought that Texans would use this opportunity to show what racists they truly are.

The media would have us believe that we are so divided as a country that all the we care about these days is fighting with each other. We are divided on religion, politics and race. We are divided on whether old statues should stand or be torn down. The casual observer would think that there’s very little great about America anymore, that we care more about our personal opinions and feelings than anything else.

Yet, when an unimaginable disaster struck, the state of Texas became a shining light of hope for all Americans. No one has shown the slightest concern over skin color or political affiliation. What they have shown is an unending supply of compassion for each other. People have turned out in everything from fishing boats, to canoes, to kayaks and dune buggies. Their desire to help one another has been nothing short of amazing.

In Dallas, people waited in line over half an hour just to donate supplies to the victims, people they would never even meet.

The pictures being shared on social media make me both sad and proud. There’s even a “Pray for Texas” banner on Facebook. Turns out we can use social media for God’s purposes as well as destructive purposes.

And the Texans’ response to their disaster has inspired the rest of the country to act as well. My tiny little town in Georgia, is sending a truck load of supplies and most of the rest of the country is acting as well.

There’s an old song that goes, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” It seems to me that Hurricane Harvey has started a fire no one could have dreamed of, but I pray that it spreads. I pray it encourages all Americans to do the right thing and help one another, to stop spreading hate on social media and start spreading prayer.

Who knows? This country could have a great revival. Let’s all pray for Texas and watch what happens.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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Blessed Relationships

Relationships built on Christ will always find a way to bless us.

I have a dear friend, Bill, who always says that relationships that are built in Christ are different from any other relationships. He says that they tend to grow stronger over time and can weather distance and separation simply because they are blessed by God.

Last Sunday morning, I was saying a prayer for my daughter. She’s away at school and this mama was missing her terribly. I prayed that God would bless her and her roommates and that she would have a productive and happy day.

Right before my church service started, I received a text that she and her roommates were attending a church service. I can’t say how happy that made me. I knew that they are all a little homesick at this point and there are few ways to find peace better than worshiping God.

I said a prayer of thanks.

When I was leaving church, a friend of mine who was also my daughter’s Sunday school teacher at one point, asked me for her address. She wanted to send her a treat to school. My heart was once again, filled with gratitude.

When I returned home and sat down at my computer, I had received a message on Facebook, from a sweet lady who we used to attend church with. She and her hubby had retired and moved away. My kids always loved seeing them at church each week. We were sad to see them go. She just wanted me to know that they had relocated to the same town where my daughter is attending college. She wanted to me to give her, her cell phone number in case she ever needs anything.

I read the message with tears in my eyes.

I had been feeling low. I decided to pray about it. Not only did God respond, He did so in a way that used people He had planted in our lives all along our faith journey.

He did so in a way that I couldn’t possibly miss. He reminded me that He’s always there, no matter how far away He may seem. He reminded me that He’s always in control. He reminded me that my friend Bill is right.

The relationships that God plants, will always find a way to bless us.

Perhaps you needed reminding today.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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

Wisdom from Paul

Our Christian walk is a life long journey.

My pastor is doing a series over the next few months on the Paul’s letters to the Romans. Apparently, this single book has inspired many Christian leaders to do great things, including John Wesley and Martin Luther.

He started this week’s sermon on how the church during Paul’s day was divided up into two groups. One group was the Legalists who believed if they followed God’s law to the letter, they would be counted righteous and be saved.

The other group was the Fatalists. They believed there was no way they could possibly follow God’s law so they didn’t even bother to try.

Of course, they were both wrong. No one is perfect or can be perfect. But, does that mean we shouldn’t even try?
It amazes me how thousands of years later, humankind has changed very little. Don’t we still tend to fall into groups with those attitudes?

There are those who go to church on Sundays and follow the rules, who are convinced that they need to do nothing more. They have earned their salvation. Then there are those who believe they have done so much wrong in their lives that they can’t possibly get it right. They think that salvation will always be out of reach just because of their nature.

Both groups are as wrong today as they were in Paul’s day. Both groups discount the gift of grace. Since grace cannot be earned, the Legalists have it wrong. Since grace is an undeserved gift, the Fatalists have it wrong.

With that in mind, where does that leave those of us who just hope to stick close to Jesus on our journey here?

Hopefully, it just reminds us some truths we should all hold close. Grace is a gift freely given that we should give thanks for everyday. Our walk with Jesus is an everyday deal not a one time shot. We will wander. We will stumble. We sometimes get completely lost. Even so, we can be forgiven.

Our Christian faith is not a hampster wheel faith that calls us to check boxes and do certain tasks every single day or year, until we are called home. We aren’t saved by our own striving. We are saved by grace and grace alone.

We are saved by the cross.

There are times for many of us, where we may feel more closely aligned with one group or the other, Paul’s message reminds us not to fall into either trap and to stay focused on Jesus.

Perhaps you needed reminding today.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character | 1 Comment

A Call to Church

If Jesus loves the church, shouldn’t Christians do the same?

My pastor was recently recounting a conversation with someone who said she believed in God, but just didn’t go to church. Turns out that she had been to a church where there had been a lot of ugliness and she had left with her feelings hurt.

This, unfortunately, is not a new story. Just about anyone who has been a faithful churchgoer, long enough, has witnessed some bad behavior from people who are members. People are broken and broken items tend to have sharp edges. Sharp edges can cut you whether intentionally or not.

But, we have to remember that Jesus loves the Church. If Jesus loves the church, then who hates the church? Who has the most motivation to destroy it?

Yep, the answer is Satan. Each time a Christian walks away from church, there’s no doubt, demonic celebration.

And for our part, how can we write off every church because of the behavior of the people in one particular church? If a dog were to bite you, would you automatically assume that all dogs are evil? Nope, not if you are over the age of five. You might be more careful around certain dogs, but a rational person would never write off all dogs.

Yet, a bad experience in one church, often has us deciding all churches are bad.

The Bible tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

As people of faith, we are called to sharpen and encourage one another. We are called to bring our collective gifts and serve God and one another. We are called to join together.

How does not participating in church help to grow us? How does not participating in church help us grow others?

It seems to me that our country and its people are divided now more than ever. It seems to me that the only way to reconcile differences, heal, and move forward, is through the love of Christ.

The best way to share that love and light is through the Church. My prayer is that as Christians, we make it our business to keep the pews full.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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The Smaller Stories

We could learn a lot from college freshmen.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about racial tensions in the United States. Every time I turn on the news, there’s some headline about race. There’s constant debate on all of the talk shows about all of the violence that transpired in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The same questions have been asked and argued over and over. Who was more at fault? What did the President say? What should he have said? What will authorities do?

I barely looked at Facebook last week because I was so tired of hearing about it. Hate is ugly. I don’t care what your skin color is and I’ve heard enough about it.

It seems that dark forces are working over time these days to keep our country in turmoil. Make no mistake, hate comes from one source and that source is not God.

As I was pondering all of the ugliness in the headlines, my daughter, who I just dropped off at college, sent me a picture of her and two of her classmates. All freshmen are required to take a First Year Experience class, (FYE).

On this particular day, the wise teacher of her class, broke all of these strangers up into random small groups of three or four and sent them out on a scavenger hunt.

There are few ways to build teamwork more quickly than an scavenger hunt. You simply have to communicate and work together in order to complete your task. There’s just no way around it.

The scavenger hunt eventually led them to the Office of Admissions where a man working there decided to take their picture and post it on Instagram. And why wouldn’t he? There were three freshmen taking a required course and clearly having a ball.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that her group was her and two boys? One of the boys was black and one was white. Guess what? No one cared. They all worked together and got their task completed and had fun doing it.

The entire ordeal was such a stark comparison to the headlines that it really stuck with me. These eighteen year old, college freshmen weren’t debating race or monuments or anything else. They simply joined together and completed their assignment.

It’s not a huge news story to say the least. You won’t hear about it on Facebook or Twitter. Yet, it seemed to me to be a small story that needed to be told, a lesson for all of us.

Perhaps if we all shared more of the small stories of people working together, the bigger ones with the opposite results would never happen in the first place. It could be worth a try.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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Eclipse Musings

God is light.

Working at a local elementary school, I have been completely covered with eclipse mania. We are dismissing our students thirty minutes late today so they can view the entire eclipse with their classes, wearing safety glasses purchased from NASA.

Our phones have steadily rung with eclipse questions from parents. Many children are staying home for the day and many others are checking out early.

One report said millions of people are traveling by the thousands to get a better view of the eclipse. Blairsville, Georgia, a mountain town with total population of 23,000 is expecting anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 visitors.

The event has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse and these people are being called Eclipse Chasers.

Personally, I really can’t understand the hype. Several prominent preachers have come out and said that the eclipse is not a good sign for the United States. They believe it’s a warning from God. Some say it’s a sign of end times drawing close.

When I looked in the Bible, I couldn’t find a single instance of God blotting out the sun, being interpreted as a good thing. The Bible says that He is light. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

Where does that leave Christians? How do we interpret this eclipse? Should we even try?

As I pondered the significance of it, the answer I kept coming up with was prayer. We can certainly pray for wisdom regarding the entire ordeal. We can pray for the safety of the throngs of people who are determined to travel to see it. We can pray for the safety of the millions of people who have decided to look directly at the sun without the correct protective equipment.

But, perhaps most importantly, we can pray that God uses this enormous celestial event to turn our hearts and minds back to Him. Think of the impact that could be made if every one of those Eclipse Chasers were to pray collectively for peace in our nation. Think of the impact on the entire world if everyone prayed for revival.

Only time will tell what this day means, if anything significant at all. But, prayer is a weapon that we are always equipped with, no matter the circumstances. I plan on using it a lot today. Perhaps you’d like to join me.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy

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Seeking the Easter Eggs

We can be just as delighted about finding life’s Easter eggs today, as we were when we looked for them as kids.

My son is always talking about finding, Easter eggs, in his favorite movies and video games. When he first began talking to me about them, I had no idea what he was talking about. Then he explained.

Easter eggs are intentional inside jokes or inside messages hidden within a game or movie. For example, Pixar likes to place a Pizza Planet truck in almost every one of their movies. The casual observer would miss it. But, those watchers who know to look for it, can almost always spot it.

I am told that the Easter eggs, appear in tons of movies, but most of the time, the audience doesn’t even know it. We don’t see them because we don’t look.

As I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone the other day, I came across a hydrangea. On the day that I took it, I had make like fifty trips to a dumpster, throwing in old shingles, rotten wood and anything else that needed to be trashed. I was hot. There were lots of bugs swarming around and fire ant beds to dodge.

But every time I walked past that hydrangea, it made me smile. It was almost like a little breath of fresh air. At some point, I stopped and snapped a picture of it, simply because I enjoyed seeing it so much that day.

It was grace and beauty in the midst of ugliness.

As I saw the picture again, I smiled and thought of my son’s quest to find Easter eggs. God had sent me an Easter egg, a hidden message that He was there. He placed it there for me to find and appreciate, if I was willing to look.

When I think about it, He places them in my path all of the time and I probably miss them more often than not. But, I’m determined to become a better seeker.

I want to learn to truly appreciate the unexpected beauty of a sunrise on the way to work, and the little brightly colored yellow weed that pops up on my walking path, and the mama who drops off cookies at the office just because. More importantly, I want to acknowledge and give thanks to the One who sent them.

It think when we truly seek Jesus, we find Him everywhere. A hydrangea reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Watching for God | 2 Comments

Finding Peace Where We Are

We are called to walk with Jesus, not to run ahead.

This past summer, my family attended a mission trip. We helped to repair houses for some people who desperately needed help. We spent an entire week with other Christians.

We ate every meal with other Christians and publicly prayed before we ate. We openly talked about Jesus throughout all of our days. We wore crosses around our necks. We visited different churches for our meals and those people shared Christ with us.

We sang about Jesus each night and talked about seeing Him during the day. It was definitely a mountaintop week.

Then, we returned home. My hubby and I returned to work. Our lives got back to normal. Don’t get me wrong; our normal is perfectly fine, but when you spend a week doing God’s work alongside God’s people, normal just seems, I don’t know, kind of pointless. Shouldn’t I be doing more?

I was walking and praying about my frustration when I heard a hawk calling out. He was very close, but I couldn’t see him. I had been running and walking at a very fast pace as I looked for him. I slowed down and I heard him again. This time he was behind me.

When I turned around and slowly walked past a place I had already been, there he sat in a tree at my eye level. I stopped and He just sat there looking at me as if he had waited for me to find him. We stared at each other for a few minutes before he finally flew away.

I marveled at my encounter as I walked, not ran, home, and a thought formed deep inside my heart.

God has put me in this place at this moment for a specific reason. I don’t have to know or understand the what or the why of it. If I live my days focused on Jesus, nothing I do is pointless. When I try to run ahead, I miss seeing Him, just like I missed that hawk. But, when I slow down and seek Him, I mean really seek Him, He will always show Himself and let me know where I need to be.

I might feel like I’m more productive on the mountain top than I am simply walking along the beaten path, but if I trust Him and obey His call, I realize that in the end, that’s not for me to determine. That realization brings me great peace.

Perhaps you needed some peace today too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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