Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chances to Love Are Often Overlooked

"If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die.  Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?"                                                                         Esther 4:14

We truly love God only when we obey him as we should, and then we know we belong to him.
                                                                                                 1 John 2:5

Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see.  None of this comes from the Father.
                                                                                                 1 John 2:16

I didn't want to go. 

I had barely slept the night before and had to crawl out of bed at 7:30 to make a rehearsal.  I had been in town since eleven this morning and it was quickly approaching three.  I had not eaten lunch and was ravenous. On top of that, it was hot outside.  I really didn't want to go, but I had made the commitment to show up and help hand out school supplies to the citizens of our small town.  I consoled myself by deciding to only stay for a little while.

I parked my car under the one tree providing shade and headed to the pavilion.  Immediately I saw former students who ran up with quick hugs and big smiles.  Originally I planned to hand out the boxes of crayons as the children filed past filling up their new bookbags, but I noticed the largest group of children standing around the two lone teenagers painting faces.  Even working as quickly as they could, they were bogged down with more than they could handle.  I offered my services and joined them.

Two hours flew by!  I laughed and painted, talked and painted, listened and painted.  From homeschoolers to an autistic student, from Pre-K students to seventh graders, they all agreed they were eager for school to start.  Smiles lit up their faces as shared their anticipation with me.  They loved school for lots of different reasons--teachers, friends, even some favorite subjects!  (Math was easily the favored subject, though science easily took second place.)  Excitement and enthusiasm caused eyes to sparkle and smiles to quickly appear.  I was mesmerized!  I fell in love with the three little boys wanting white spotted dogs painted on their faces, the two boys wanting a Spiderman face,  those wanting to be ferocious tigers and the little girls who wanted kittens and butterflies to grace their flawless skin. 

In the midst of this, I saw God.  He was packing bookbags, hugging children, talking with mamas and daddies, giving hope to those who are hopeless.  Brown hands handed out  packs of paper, creamy hands held out crayons, freckled arms lifted tent poles.  His vision was being carried out by His beautiful body of believers. 

And He planned for me to be a part of it--in spite of my reluctance--"at such a time as this".  I am so blessed,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Waiting for Him

Several years ago, God led me to resign from my teaching job to be a stay-at-home-mom.  At the time, I was the main bread-winner.  My husband was substituting while he looked for a permanent teaching position.  I was confident that he would easily find a job.  After all, God is the one who led me to quit my job.  As the weeks turned into months, I began to fret.  Then, to add to the worry, our school system announced a hiring freeze.  How was my husband going to get a job?  Where would he get a job?  There were no postings in surrounding areas for his particular field.  I panicked!  Fear clutched my heart, and I began to doubt my decision to resign.

Immediately, in my anxiety, I began to call upon the Lord, reminding Him that He was the reason I no longer had a job.  I had been obedient in doing what He had called me to do.  How could He leave us stranded like this?  I poured it all out--my fear, my anger, my uncertainty--emptying it all out before His throne.

Then, spent from all the intense emotions, I stopped, and I listened.  I waited.  My soul began to quiet, my fears were calmed, my anger was gone.  I did not have an answer; my husband did not have a job, but I knew that God was in control. 

Two days later, the system that was my husband's first choice posted a job for his field.  It was a very small school system, with only one high school.  Usually the only way to get into that system was to wait until someone retired.  Teacher turnover rate was very low.  The odds of getting a job in that school was slim to nil.  He interviewed and was immediately hired. 

I learned something incredibly important through that experience.  And though my head knew what the Bible said, my heart had not known these truths as easily.  This incident sealed it in my heart forever:  What I see and what I know in my head is not all there is!  God is in control and He is working in a realm and in a way that I cannot fathom.

God has not forgotten me.  He has not forgotten what He told me.  He has not called me to do this thing and left me to deal with it on my own.  He has a plan!  While I am waiting in obedience, He is fulfilling that plan.  My answer did not come when I quit my job.  (That would have been great for my nerves!)  My answer did not come when I called out to Him in panic (though He did remind me to trust Him and to wait).  My answer came in His timing because He was still preparing that place.  Some would claim that we were actually waiting on people to make decisions and to create the teaching position.  And, yes, we were; however, all of that was part of God's plan.  He knew what had to happen.  He knew what the Board of Education wanted and needed.  And He was at the intersection of our needs and the BOE's needs.

My lesson was to keep believing that God is faithful.  God has a plan for me (and you!!), and He has not forgotten it.  My lesson was to continue in obedience because God is still causing it to happen even though I cannot see it!  What my eyes see and my head knows is NOT all there is.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 says "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you," says the LORD.

While you are waiting in obedience, God is getting everything lined up.  In the waiting, He is asking if you truly trust Him.  You fret because you want the answer NOW, but He is not ready to reveal it yet.  Take a deep breath.  Listen.

I hear Him asking, "Do you trust Me?  Do you trust that My plan for you is better than what you can even begin to imagine?  I AM true to My word.  I AM your provider.  I AM trustworthy.  I AM faithful.  I AM your key to unlock those closed doors.  I AM working on your behalf.  I AM.  I have you, my child.  I love you, and I see you.  I have not forgotten you.  I have not passed you by.  I have not left you alone to wither in the darkness."

In the good, in the trials, in the waiting, He is working on fulfilling His promises.  He reigns!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flooded and Stalled

     Months have passed since I have put pen to paper, fingers to computer keyboard.  Busy, busy with all the doings of a busy wife and mom, loving daughter, home-business owner, and fledgling actress, I have dried up and crumbled into a big heap of dust.  I have run too far, walked too long, strayed too far from my roots, my sustenance.  And in not pouring out my overburdened heart and soul, I find myself flooded and overwhelmed with fears and worries, much as an automobile starter can be flooded with gasoline, so that I am literally stalled and unable to start. 

     Today I refused to go any further without  a much needed break.  Pressures still pile on from every side, but I took advice and followed the lead of Jesus.   I walked away to a quiet place and prayed and read from my true Sustenance.  Obligations abound, but I needed Peace.  Worries pressed in, but I sought Hope.  Fear threatened, but I turned to my Rock.

     Taking this little bit of time to pull away for quiet restored me as though I had plunged from the highest cliff into the deepest, coolest waters.  It is quiet here.  My soul is restored.   
I do not focus on those constant demands.  My cellphone is off.  My email can wait.  I will respond to those texts and Facebook comments later. 

I needed Jesus.