Keep Calm and…

IMG_8116Just days after I read Tish Warren’s chapter on lost keys and began composing last week’s blog offering, I lost, not my keys, but my driver’s license, credit card and insurance card. They were all wrapped up in a $20 bill and tucked into the back pocket of my jeans so that I could stroll purse-free through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the peak of the season.

Steve and I waited in a long entrance line, then chose a quiet trail. It was nothing short of idyllic. We stopped at benches and swings along the way and even nestled into a particularly vibrant patch of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes to take a few selfies. My husband/photographer had us up and down a couple of times, making sure we caught the perfect pose.

Once we returned home and headed back to our responsibilities, I started moving in my typically too-fast manner to catch up from our indulgent morning. Ten minutes later I reached into my pocket to retrieve those very important bits of plastic and my $20 bill. Nothing. Certain I had simply returned them to my wallet on auto-pilot, I took a look. Nothing. Car? Nothing. Wildflower Center? (Oh, my, so many spots where my pocket could have spilled!) 

As the tension so fully banished by a walk in the park slowly threatened my peace, I remembered Tish Warren’s warnings and exhortations. Thanks to that timely read, I turned to prayer and refused the panic. After all, my time and money belong to the Lord. Do I really believe that? If so, any loss of either belongs to him as well. And so, after more searching and a call to the kind folks at the Wildflower Center (who found nothing), I interrupted Steve’s work. He prayed with me, and we began to look together. Then, there they were, IN THE TRASH. In my haste, I had taken the bundle out of my pocket before we ever made it from the car to the house. Then I’d picked up—in the same hand—the map and flier provided by the park and no longer needed. I tossed out the whole collection together.

Whatever made me look in the trash, I do not know. Well, actually, I do know. And the hallelujahs of the finding were almost—not quite—worth the discomfort of the search. But this I also know: trust, secured at least in part because Tish had reminded me of God’s sovereignty and the reality of NO NEED TO PANIC EVER, brought the calm that brought me to prayer that caused me to take a look in that recycle bin while my valuables were still on the top of the pile.

Keep Calm and… is a popular poster and tee shirt phrase these days. I’m not sure we have good reasons to keep calm without the Lord who loves us. But, with him, we have every possible reason. And that’s enough to think about for today.

 

 

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I Forgot!

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I had a tough day. Not tough by global standards, mind you. I still had clean water and plenty to eat. Not even tough by normal standards. I wasn’t sick. My husband still loved me. My kids were doing well…But it was one of those days when the world overwhelmed me. A busy week had worn me out. I had a few hard issues to face, and business conflicts, and, by golly, my printer wouldn’t even work! By mid-afternoon, I was in bed weeping, then slept for a good long while. I had forgotten—

  • That, while it really is okay to cry, and to be sad on occasion, there’s an infinite Source of joy and support standing right beside me, available if I’ll just stop to notice.
  • That our troubles really belong to Him, and he’s able to handle them all the time.
  • That prayer truly does change things, within and without.
  • That sometimes all we need is rest, and quiet, and a moment to remember…

They say, whoever “they” are, that the best way to learn something is to teach it. In a way, I teach when I write. I have learned these lessons before, but on that difficult day, for a few painful hours, I forgot them. Perhaps you forget them now and then as well. So, here are a few reminders, for both of us, blogs I wrote long ago based on the words of writers I respect:

‘Hope you’ll take these reminders to heart, both today and on the next day that life threatens to overwhelm you. We serve a mighty God, and he can handle whatever comes our way. We may have pain or hardship or even just plain old irritation, but even then we can take a breath and let our spirits rest in him.

Sandy

puppies sandy jametiene Reskp via unsplashI want to tell you a story. It’s an old one, but I was astonished to discover that I’ve never shared it here before. Last week a friend asked, “Have you ever had a dog?” and it all came back to me…

Our children were small, and our first dog, Springer, was very old. We’d heard that getting a new dog while the old one was still relatively healthy would be good for old and young alike. So, one sunny Saturday morning, we put a new leash, an old water bowl and two very excited kids into our minivan and headed out for a long drive to the pound. The experience was not what we expected.

  • Disappointment number one: most of the dogs available that day were chow mix, and the ASCPA would not allow any family with children to adopt them.
  • Disappointment number two: the adoption process had changed in the decade and a half since we’d gotten Springer. It required extra paperwork, an evaluation process, and a second trip weeks later to pick up the selected puppy. I understood their reasons, but I can still see Tony, standing there forlorn, with leash in hand, asking, “Do you mean we won’t get to take home a puppy today?”
  • Disappointment number three: the only puppies available were going to grow up to be big dogs, very big dogs. (Somehow, this didn’t seem to bother my husband, but this was not our agreed upon plan.)

As disappointments mounted, my enthusiasm waned. Tony, Elizabeth and I were shown to a small cubicle where we could play with the most likely canine candidate while Steve filled out forms. And then, I kid you not, I got dizzy—like “I think I might pass out” dizzy. Steve had to be called to the cubicle so I could step outside for some air.

I sat out on the curb with my head on my knees. As I waited for my head to stop spinning, I prayed that God would intervene. A few minutes later, confident that the risk of passing out was gone, I looked up and saw a most beautiful sight. There in the parking lot, a woman was walking away from her car, carrying a basket of tiny tawny puppies. I stepped into what felt like a God-orchestrated Disney screenplay.

“Excuse me, ma’am, are you about to take those puppies into the pound?”

“What kind are they? How big do you expect them to be?

“Would you mind waiting just a minute?”

“Steve, would you and the children come out here. I’d like to show you something.”

“Would you two kids like to take one of these home with you today, right now?”

“You can reach into the basket and choose the one you want.”

And so, we did. Sandy was perfect—the right size, the right demeanor, just what we needed. She was still with us long after our kids grew up and moved out. She became another living example of God’s grace, of how he cares so very much about even the small “worldly” details of our lives. I’m thankful for Sandy. And I hope her story encouraged you today!

Photo by jametiene Reskp via Unsplash.com

If God Never Did One More Thing…or Are You Tired of Manna?

frog-48237_1280 grumpy pixabay

Every time I re-read portions of the Old Testament, I’m astounded by the way the Israelites got caught in this loop:

  1. Cry out for help. (For example, “Let us out of Egypt!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like parted seas.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re thirsty!”)

REPEAT:

  1. Cry out for help. (“Give us food!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like manna from heaven.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re so sick of eating the same old thing!”)

REPEAT…REPEAT…REPEAT…

But I have grumpy days, don’t you? I feel sorry for myself or evaluate my lot in life and decide it doesn’t measure up to someone else’s. I long for something I don’t have and forget all God has done and all I’ve been given. I’ve seen miraculous provision in my own life, so how am I any different from those Israelites? I’m ashamed to admit that I can get tired of manna too.

I was knocked upside the head by this quote not long ago: “If God never did one more thing for you, you ought to be the happiest person in the world.” (I heard it in a TV sermon, but don’t remember who was preaching.) Oh my, yes! When I step back from my doldrums and recount the miracles in my own life and in those of my loved ones, I quickly realize that any one of those gifts from God should be enough to keep me rejoicing until eternity. How quickly I can forget!

So, today, I want to leave you with this verse, Psalm 42:6, from The Message:

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.”

Has God ever done anything for you? Then, next time you find yourself grumpy or dissatisfied, refresh your memory! I plan to do the same.

‘Love to read your comments here.

Photo from pixabay.com

Wiser Words than Mine

letters-1122421_1280 pixabay quotes

I keep a list of quotes that strike me as challenging and true. When the list lengthens, it’s time for me to share them with you. Here are my favorites from the past few months, credited wherever possible.

Often the work of the Lord itself may tempt us away from communion with Him. A full schedule of preaching, counseling, and travel can erode the strength of the mightiest servant of the Lord. Public prayer will never make up for closet communion.”

“The Christian should never worry about tomorrow or give sparingly because of a possible future need. Only the present moment is ours to serve the Lord and tomorrow may never come.“–Both by George Muller in The Autobiography of George Muller. Whitaker House, 1985, p. 46 and 207.

“God’s plan isn’t something he just threw together.” –Paul Washer in a sermon entitled “Walking with God” available on sermonaudio.com.

“Sin is a process. You arrive there on a journey of small decisions gone wrong…Satan’s goal through sin isn’t to draw you to himself, but to draw you away from God…Christianity is not about avoiding sin, it’s about chasing after Jesus.” –Matt Werner in a sermon at Bannockburn Baptist Church.

“God’s faithfulness in the past needs to motivate our worship in the future.”–Ty VanHorn in a sermon at NorthWest Bible Church

“Following Jesus is more than just agreeing with the tenets of the gospel, it is living and experiencing God living in you.”

“God calls all of us to be Jesus where we’re at.”

“What you worry about most is what you trust God with least.”

Got a favorite quote you’d like to share with me?

 

 

 

 

The Best Things in Life…

plane chuttersnap @ chuttersnap unsplash

The best things in life are almost never the ones we plan. Maybe that’s because then we can’t even be tempted to take the credit. I’ve been looking through an old journal lately. It’s filled with descriptions of the bumps and surprises of life. If I look closely between the lines, I can see God’s hand in both the ups and the downs.

•           August, 2015: Steve and I headed to Colorado for a mountain retreat. (And to attend the Palisade Peach Festival!) Somehow, Steve’s backpack was left behind on the kitchen floor, its absence discovered far too late for us to go back and retrieve it before our flight. But our discussions were better, our rest deeper, because the stack of papers and the work they represented were replaced by an open ended freedom made possible only by our having forgotten that bag. 

•           During that same trip, I discovered that Elizabeth was sick and at home alone. My mother’s heart yearned to go and care for her. My loving husband made it happen. She recovered quickly. Steve experienced an unexpected but much needed silent retreat and spent hours praying and meditating on God’s plans for our family for the following several years.

•           As we travel, we often wind up at an odd but charming little hotel or “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant because of an inner leading to stop. How we delight in those surprises!

I seem so much better at letting go of my control habit when we are on the road. Perhaps that’s because, away from home, I finally come to terms with how little is within my influence anyway. And when I relinquish control, I become much more consistent in my prayer for God to guide me, a prayer I believe he delights to answer.

Where are you on the control continuum? We can’t be on vacation all the time, but we can travel with a great degree of abandonment on this road of life. Do I mean that all preparation and organization should be thrown to the wind? Heavens, no! But there is a place in my heart where I need to be reminded every day that my loving Lord has things well in hand. My greatest responsibility and desire is to seek his plan each day and to turn my worry into trust and all my anxious moments into times of praise.

Join me! Hand over the reins. I think you will find that adventure awaits.

Click here to comment and to join in the conversation!

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