You Can’t Hide From Jesus

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If I’m honest, I was pouting. I know I’m blessed beyond measure, but things hadn’t been going my way.

It was two weeks before Christmas, and I needed to buy stamps from the post office for my Christmas cards. The older two kids were with friends, so Grace and I headed out to check off some errands. I was completely engulfed in my thoughts.

We finally sold our home. After it being on the market all summer with not much action, we took it off to pray about it and re-listed it a month later. We got two offers within four days. The best was only $4,000 off our asking price. We were thrilled and relieved all at once. But unfortunately it wasn’t as simple as we’d hoped. The appraiser refused to use 2015 home sales in his competitive market analysis and was forced to look at sales over a year old.

While that may seem like no big deal, over a year ago the home prices were much lower. So the appraisal for our home was $24,000 lower than the contracted price. If you haven’t sold a home before, you may be confused by now – but just know the bottom line – we had to lower our home price – a lot!

Meanwhile, my best friend was in the hospital. When I say best friend, I could interchange that with sister. Our mothers were friends before we were born; we couldn’t remember a time without each other there. She had Stage 4 lung cancer (a non-smoker) and was having a hard time breathing. While we thought she just needed some extra oxygen or maybe a lung drain, the doctors told her there wasn’t anything else they could do and suggested hospice. She died two days later. And the morning after her death, I found out the home appraisal news.

Needless to say, I was a little miffed – frustrated that God hadn’t answered prayers like I wanted. I walked in the post office with Grace, took note of the line and sighed. Couldn’t you at least give me a short mail line, Lord?

I got at the end of the line, counting the people in front of me, while Grace walked to the card corral to touch every single card. “Mama, what does this one say?” She’d walk the two steps to my side and hold out a card for me to read. An older gentleman and his wife finished filling out the information for their package and got in line behind me.

In front of me, a thirty-something lady turned to look at me, then positioned her body so she could keep watching. I offered a weak smile, clutching the stack of Christmas cards needing postage and shifted my weight, uncomfortable under her gaze.

Normally, I pray for people to be drawn to me because they see Christ in me. It gives me a chance to start conversations about Jesus. But I wasn’t taking the bait today. Really, Lord? Don’t you see? I’m done. I’m mad. I’m beyond sad. And I don’t feel like talking.

I imagine God sighing and shaking His glorious head at me.

“Wow. You sure do have a lot of cards to mail.” The woman spoke up. Shaken from my thoughts, I nodded and smiled, taking notice – real notice this time – of the woman in front of me. She stood with a tattered coat and one single red envelope. One.

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My gaze shifted from her one to my 70-ish or so Christmas cards. “Carol, you are sending cards to the people who love you. People you call friend. People you could count on if you needed them. And you could have sent more. Do you realize how blessed you are?”

Before I could even respond to the Holy Spirit’s voice in my head, another woman finished mailing her package and started chatting with a friend she hadn’t seen in a while. You know those people who have really loud conversations so everyone in the room can hear them? Yeah. It was some of those people. And remember my mood? I was not amused, but couldn’t help but listen.

“Girl. I’ve never been better!”

“That’s great! You look so good. What’s different? How’s your job going?”

“Oh, it’s good. I don’t have to pay Daddy’s car payment anymore so that’s good. But I’ve been going to church up the street at the big white one on the hill. And I’m tellin’ you something. My life is changed. I poured out a full bottle of whiskey yesterday – right down the drain. I don’t need it. I’m a new person!”

I continued to listen to this woman right across the aisle from me share how God had changed her, when the man from behind bumped into my purse.

“Oh, excuse me,” he said.

“You’re fine,” I told him.

The women walked out continuing their chat outside.

“I got so excited listening to that woman talk, I wanted to get all up in that conversation. I went to raise my hand and bumped you,” the man explained.

I think he was the one who finally jolted me out of my gloomy mood. No matter how frustrated I was with my situation, Jesus was all around me. In front of me, reminding me how blessed I am. Beside me, showing me how He can change the unchangeable. And behind me, reminding me to give Him praise. I couldn’t hide and pout.

I turned to face the man behind me and look him in the face. “I know what you mean,” I told him. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Can I get a witness?”

“Oooooh, yesssss!” The man told me. His wife looked over his shoulder and said, “Hallelujah!”

You see, no matter what you are going through, God is with you.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2

Life isn’t easy. But God will carry you through the bad times – even when you try to hide. Friend, I don’t know what you are going through, but I’d love to pray for you. Leave me a comment or use my contact page to shoot me an email. You are not alone.

Carol

Girdles Aren’t Just for Grandmas

12027818_10206322387810315_393383868364492679_nMy son, Colin, started playing football this year for the first time ever. He is fourteen and is already over six feet tall, so people have been advising him to get into football for a while. This year, our family moved to a new school system and Colin started high school, so it seemed like the thing to do.

I’m learning lots about positions and plays and yellow flags and uniforms. I had no idea all the pieces and parts a player must wear on the field. The first week Colin came home with his uniform, I learned he wore a girdle. A girdle!

He asked, “Mom, do you even know what I girdle is?” Instead of telling him there was one in my panty drawer, I just nodded my head with uncertainty, wondering why a football player needed smooth curves. You see, I knew what a “granny girdle” was – a torturous contraption to squeeze the ever-lovin’ life out of you. I knew you didn’t sit in them for long periods of time or the oxygen would shut off to your brain and you could faint. I knew you couldn’t eat seconds wearing them and probably should order a salad. I knew you shouldn’t attempt to put one on in front of your spouse for fear they would see you shouting, hopping, swearing and stomping.

But this was something completely different. Colin’s girdle is like padded underwear. It is an added layer of protection between his body and the elbows, knees and helmets of other players.

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Today, I was reading Priscilla Shirer’s book Fervent. And in it she talks about the armor of God. In referring to the “belt of truth,” she says, “Based on the history of what first-century soldier’s gear was like, think of it like a girdle, worn close around the body, with all his other pieces of armor tucked into it and held together by it.”

When reading that, I immediately thought of Colin’s football girdle and how it provides protection from hits. Paul tells us about the spiritual armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. Ephesians 6:13-14 NLT

The belt of truth is that girdle – an added layer of protection from the hits. It’s at the center of us. Truth. It’s what holds all the pieces together.

God’s Truth.

So, if you feel like you are in a battle or maybe you feel like the bottom man of the dog pile on the football field, and the weight of it all is more than you can bear. Strap on your girdle of Truth.

God will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
He has plans to prosper you, not to harm you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
He who began a good work in you will finish it. (Philippians 1:6)
God loves you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
God will work all the events of your life together for His good. (Romans 8:28)
God will fight for you. (Exodus 14:14)

So stand firm. And that hard thing. That thing that feels like it will consume you – it won’t. God won’t let it.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Put on your girdle. They’re not just for grandmas anymore. It’s the Truth.

Carol

Preparing a Plan of Attack

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There are two ways to do just about anything – carefully plan or wing it.

Most of the time, I’m a carefully-plan-it kind of girl. I love making lists. I used to write out menus by the month. When planning a vacation, I’ll spend hours online finding the best places to stay, recommended stops along the way and highest rated restaurants. When my kids have a birthday, you can be sure I will create a Pinterest board and hunt the Internet for the cutest party ideas.

When I’m presented with the opportunity for a date night, I search movies and read reviews. I poll Facebook friends for best places to eat and search my closet for just the right outfit.

But somehow when it comes to my prayer life and dealing with those situations that seem impossible, I find myself winging it. Satan will throw me a curve ball, and I wildly swing my bat hoping to make contact.

Today, as I was reading in 2 Samuel about David trying to defeat the Philistines, I found good advice for creating a battle plan to overcome the obstacles in my own life. First David asked God, not his friends on social media, for direction. (Ouch. Let’s move on.)

“…so David inquired of the Lord, and he answered…” 2 Samuel 5:23 NIV

David asked God first IF he should attack the Philistines and then HOW he should attack. God responded, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees.” (2 Samuel 5:23) The Hebrew word used in this verse for “circle around” is sabab. It means, “To go around, surround, encircle, engulf.” It can also mean, “to change direction, to be surrounded, to change.”

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God gave David a plan of attack, but he gives us that same plan. When trials come our way, often we come straight at them and are knocked backwards from the blow because we aren’t prepared. Instead, we need to establish a plan of attack for any obstacle – for your failing health, for your marriage that grows stale, for your mounting bills and empty bank account, for the addiction you’ve been hiding, for the loss of your closest friend.

Friends, it’s time we fight back God’s way. We need to sabab our issues with prayer. Circle them. Engulf them. You see, because its only through prayer, praise and thanksgiving that we can “change direction.” You are not defined by the series of events that have happened in your life.

You are not defined by your diagnosis, your divorce, your size, your upbringing, your financial status or your education.

You are who God says you are. And He says you are chosen. (John 15:16) You are an heir. (Galatians 4:7) You are part of a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9)

Satan will try to distract you and get you off your game. Don’t let him. He’ll tell you you’re not good enough. Don’t believe his lie. Be ready, friends. Arm yourselves for the battle by preparing your plan of attack. You see, in the woods that day when God told David to sabab, or circle around, He also told him to listen for the sounds of marching in the tops of the trees, “because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” (2 Samuel 5:24 NIV)

Don’t be shaken. Don’t be afraid. The Lord your God, the Sovereign Creator of all things will fight for you. Put on your armor and sabab. The battle has already begun.

Carol

Walking in the Dark

When I woke up this morning, it was dark. But knowing I had to get up and jump in the shower so I could get the kids ready for school and out the door, I put my feet to the floor.

I couldn’t see, but I made my way across the room to the bathroom. You see, in the bathroom, I knew there was a light switch. I didn’t bump into anything on the way because I walked slow, moving one foot in front of the other, feeling my way, looking for things that might trip me. I knew there was a shelf along my route.

How did I know? I knew because I’d seen the shelf. I’d placed things on the shelf. I’d had experience with the shelf. I knew Alan was still sleeping in the bed. I couldn’t see him either, but I could hear him – his deep steady breathing let me know he was there.

And after inching my way along, I finally felt my way to the light switch and turned it on. You know what happened when light hit the room? It only confirmed what I already knew in the dark. I could see the bed, the shelf and Alan asleep.

Walking in faith is just like walking in the dark. When we can’t see in front of us, we immediately head to the spot where we’ll find Light. We slow-foot shuffle, feeling our way little by little. We may not be able to see God, but we can stretch out our hands and feel His presence.

Are you struggling with a situation because you can’t see? Perhaps you are scared because you don’t know the outcome. You desperately want to hear from the Lord but you don’t see Him.

Friend, I am with you. I’m looking for Him, too. No one said walking by faith would ever be easy. Just remember to head towards the Light. Because when Light hits the circumstances in your life, it will only confirm what you already knew in the dark. God was there all along.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

 

*Photo credit

Carol

Learning to Be a Mom

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I watched my daughter Grace on the swing set yesterday. Dinner was cooked and waiting on daddy to arrive, so I ventured to the back yard and pulled up a chair to watch my youngest girl. The other two were holed up in their rooms, probably glued to an electronic device.

“Mama!” she yelled, so excited to have my undivided attention. “Watch me!”

I sat back into one of our patio chairs and propped my feet on the tiny plastic picnic table in front of me and relaxed in the evening sun. I watched as Grace swung her legs to and fro, pumping herself higher and higher.

When did she get so good at swinging, I wondered. Just yesterday she was outgrowing the baby swing with the bar to keep her from falling out. I thought of those first few times putting her in the big girl swing and praying she didn’t fall out the back. I would stand with my hands out to catch her if she accidentally let go of the chains.

“Hold tight!” I’d tell her, barely pushing her high enough to catch wind in her hair.

I was thinking of how many times I’d stood in the yard behind the swing, pushing her when she jolted my thoughts. “Mama! Do you see me? I’m almost touching the sky! Woooooooo!”

Without warning, my eyes filled and blurred the carefree girl across the yard. When did she get so good at swinging? I wondered again.

Next year, she’ll be in kindergarten. She’ll be six on her birthday. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I stared in shock at that positive pregnancy test and walked out of the bathroom to tell Alan, “You’re not going to believe this.”

“Waaaaa-hooooooooo,” Grace called out. “Look at me now, Mama!”

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“Wow! You’re great at swinging, Grace! Be careful.” I cautioned her.

“Don’t worry. I just hold on tight to these chains. Really tight. Just like you told me, Mama,” Grace said.

And my hands, in tense fists in my lap, loosened a bit. This is the way of things for moms. We place them into swings when their tiny bodies aren’t big enough to do it alone. Then we stand behind them, coaching them on what to do, close enough to catch them if they fall. In time, we are across the yard, watching from afar as they practice what we’ve taught. We relish in their accomplishments.

Because soon – my breath catches a little – soon, they will leave the yard. God help me when that day comes.

I bit my lip a little, to keep from the ugly cry. “That’s great, Grace. I’m glad you remember. Just don’t ever let go.”

Carol