A Straight Path

And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

At the beginning of each school year I’ve always been part of an open house at the school.  Parents and students  come by the classroom, meet the teacher, fill out forms, check out the classroom, and chat with their friends.  This past year I had a unique experience during open house.  As one of the parents was visiting the classroom, she said something that made me do a double-take.   She said that when she knew she was moving to the area she looked up teachers’ websites and read their bios.  When she read mine, she stopped looking.  She said she knew I was the teacher for her child, and from that point on, she just prayed.  I remember thinking at the time how unusual it was for a parent to share something like that. And I remember thinking how amazing it is to see God at work for our good.  After the open house, I pretty much forgot about it until much later in the year.  I was talking to this same parent about her child and some of the things that were going on at school.  She once again shared the story about, as she puts it, “stalking” me on the internet.  I know that God crossed our paths for a reason….so does she.

I realized today that I spend far too much time stressing out about relationships when I should be focusing on the people God has placed in my path.  I realized today that the ALL in Romans 8:28 doesn’t just mean the bad things or the sad things, it means ALL things.

And while I have had this thought a few times recently, today I realized that God placed me at that school so that I would be there to meet this parent, this child, this family.  There were other reasons I was there, other families, other children, other people,  but meeting this family was the thing I was waiting for. Now this leg of my journey is done.  I move on, a little sad, but mostly excited to see what God has planned for me now.  This is God working ALL things together for good.

The first step to finding God’s calling in your life is to seek Him! Get into His word!  Know that there will be opposition and distractions.  Difficult people.  Unexpected problems. It’s up to you to trust God and seek Him.  When you are seeking God, He will show you things you never saw before. He will make it clear to you where you should go.

 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

What is God showing you today? Where is He leading you?

 

 

 

To Have and To Hold…

I have a new job!  Along with the transition to a new place of employment comes the standard things like paperwork and drug-testing.  After completing my paperwork and getting my picture taken for my new ID badge, I headed over to the hospital for drug-testing.  There were a few people waiting, so I took my seat among them.  People came and went.  Conversations sparked and dwindled.  Everything was quiet.

 

Then I heard a noise.  It was a “woooo!” shout as if someone were trying to get my attention.  I looked around but didn’t see anyone.  Then I heard it again.  I thought of Michael…because that’s just the kind of silly thing he would do to me. There was only an old man waiting with me now.  I looked over at him….

and he was smiling.

“It’s my wife,” he said.  He smiled again.  Then she strolled out of her hiding place behind a wall. She did a happy step and sat down.  They were both smiling.  She was almost immediately called back.  

And he started talking.

“We always silly like that.  Playing around. Even after all these years we are still having fun. When I met her, I was dating someone else.  She kept telling my girlfriend to make me stop flirting with her.  I hadn’t flirted with her.  I just smiled at her, and she kept fussing.  Then, when no one was looking, she would smile at me.”

How long have you been together?

“We’ve been married for twenty-six years.  We was together for twelve  years before that.  We both had come out of bad relationships.  So we was careful.  Finally, one day I said to her, ‘ You know, ain’t no reason we not married.’ So just like that, we went and got married.”

He told me all about their children. The youngest, a senior in college.  The middle child, going to grad school.  The oldest, a pastor.  

What sticks with me is that sweet smile that was glued to his face and the twinkle in his eye as he talked about his wife.  This man, around seventy, looks and talks like he just got married. I understand that smile, and for that, for my own marriage, my heart is full of thanksgiving.

Now, as I think about the beautiful wedding my daughter and son-in-law recently shared, I pray that Caroline and Bryan will do whatever it takes to have a marriage filled with love and joy.  The marriage relationship is a blessing from God!  Except for your relationship with the Lord, no other relationship should come before your marriage relationship.  Work together, play together, pray together.  Laugh! Be silly! Snuggle! Hold hands. Talk…talk…and talk some more. In the hard times. Protect.  Forgive. Apologize. Pray.  Don’t ever stop surprising each other. Don’t ever stop being silly.  Don’t ever stop holding hands.  God has given you a precious, valuable gift!  Cherish your gift.  

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The Stench of Sin

The worst odor I’ve ever smelled is a skunk. I’ve only smelled dead skunks. It’s an odor that overwhelms and lingers…and lingers. A few miles from our house is a stretch of highway where we have frequently encountered this disgusting smell.

One night I was driving home from the grocery store. Michael and I were talking, and if I had not been observant, I wouldn’t have even seen it. I was meeting another car on the highway, so light was shining on the other side of the road. Literally two feet from being on my side of the yellow line was a skunk…steadily walking.

I was just a few feet from a stinking mess. I have the feeling that the car I was meeting wasn’t as lucky as me.

Life is a lot like that. We are always just one mistake away from a stinking mess. God in His mercifulness always provides a way out before things get to the point of smelling up our lives, but too often we ignore His way out and dive in headfirst. And what about the lives of others? We don’t often think about what OUR sin does to the people we love. Even after we have moved on from the stench of sin, others are still reeling from the odor.

And just like the stench of a skunk lingers in the recesses of our brains long after we have moved past the skunk, the painfulness of someone else’s sin can linger in our minds. With a sudden reminder, we can be transported back to that moment of hurt. Once again, we feel the pain. Once again, we feel our anger is justified. Once again, we have thoughts of wanting the person who caused this pain to…hurt. Yes, I know…forgiveness is the key. We work through issues for days, weeks, and sometimes years to get to that moment of, “I forgive you.” Then the difficulty becomes not picking that stinking hurt back up again when we have those sudden memories come crashing into our brains.

I struggle with this! Something triggers a memory of how someone hurt me, and I immediately pick that hurt up and nurse it. I cuddle it, gaze at it, and hold on to it for far too long. Then I find myself right in the middle of the stench that held my brain captive for far too long.

How do we win? What is the key? Surely there is an answer!

Do you believe that Jesus gives us the answer? What will it take for us to believe and accept His word?

Forgive. Again. And again. I believe the first time we forgive someone for something, it’s for everyone involved. But when I choose to pick that hurt back up, forgiveness is for me. Don’t allow someone else’s sin hold your life captive. Move on! Forgive. Forgive as often as you have to forgive.

Because you have been forgiven.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – Colossians 3:13

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a]who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!Matthew 18:21-22

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. – Mark 11:25

Out of the Mouths of Babes…

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Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Luke 6:42

Trenton spent a few days with us this week. He eyed my new set of coloring pencils and art paper with excitement. A few months ago I purchased these pencils and paper supplies for my own artistic outlet. I love creating designs and coloring. It’s kind of a stress outlet that I discovered this past year. The pencils are very nice and cost more than the cheap Walmart pencils.

I gave Trenton his own book of art paper and opened the pencil trays. It was a bit awkward trying to take the pencils out of the tray, so I turned the tray over and dropped the pencils on the floor in front of Trenton. Now he could easily pick them up. We drew and colored for a bit…him on his paper and me on mine. He became interested in what I was creating and stood up to get a better look. He took a few steps and, “Crack!” He stepped on two of the pencils and broke them in half. My response was immediate. “It’s ok! I’m not mad. I know you didn’t break them on purpose.” I didn’t want him to think I was angry with him. I also wanted to teach him forgiveness. However, his response was far from what I was expecting! “Well, Grandma, if you hadn’t dumped them out in the middle of the floor, I wouldn’t have stepped on them.”

How often do we so quickly see the faults of others without first seeing our own faults?!  I had only seen my grandson walking carelessly across my pencils without considering the mistake I had made of putting them on the floor to start with.

“Lord, when I am offended or hurt by the thoughtless acts of others, help me to look first at myself.”