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Isa. 40:31 They who wait for the LORD
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Ps. 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him
I have such a hard time waiting. I deplore waiting in long lines, and will skip after-Christmas blowout sales and back-to-school extravaganzas just to avoid them. I hate sitting in doctor's waiting rooms and looking at five year old Golf Digest Magazines. I REALLY don't like waiting for repair people to come - sometime between 12 and 6 pm. And to think I have to wait 1.5 minutes for the microwave to heat water for tea! It's just too much, I tell you.
That's why my eyes always seem to be drawn to the "waiting" scriptures in the Bible. The Lord must know I need patience in my life and He makes sure those verses jump off the pages at me.
You see, so much of life is a "go, go, go" adrenaline rush of accomplishment. Things to do, places to go, people to see...our lives are filled to the brim with activity. We want to take life by the horns and make things happen - why it's the American Way!. What a shock to the system it is when God says, "Wait."
Wait for that ministry opportunity.
Wait for that longed-for baby.
Wait for a promotion.
Wait for a husband.
Wait for healing.
Wait for a new job.
Wait for your God-given vision to come to pass.
When God asks us to cool our heels and wait on Him, we need to remember that His timing is always right. When our desires line up with His will, He will cause circumstances to be orchestrated at exactly the right moment that will bring about that "thing" we are waiting on. His power and His glory are never late, His grace is never wasted, His arm is never short, His love never fails. He is not bound by our timeframe, but excels in surprising us with His goodness - on His own terms, which far exceeds our expectations.
Are you waiting on God? The Bible is full of promises for those who wait on Him. I've shared two: can you add to my list today to encourage others who are in the waiting?
There's a new "jewel" in the Jewelry Box! Pour a cup of coffee or tea and let it speak to your heart today. Then feel free to let me know about the priorities that are challenging you. Plants - or people??
Hey there friend,
Couldn't help but write to you today. Something happened this past week that I just can't seem to get off my mind.
I'll be honest, it's mostly because it has to do with a snake. Now, if you are a stranger to me, you might need to be made aware of my enormous aversion to snakes. I despise them. In fact, it's not just an actual snake I despise, it's the thought of one that is enough to drive me straight to me knees. So, it's no surprise that, that's exactly where I've been over the past two years that we've lived in our little rural neighborhood. Since we know they are on this property, I've just been praying that neither I nor one of my boys run into one. The very thought sends shivers down my spine.
Your's too, huh?
So, we've been on guard on our little rustic plot of land. We've laid out some products designed to keep snakes at bay and we are sure to watch where we are walking and to stay out of tall brush where they could be hiding. We keep the grass cut low and don't leave our garage door up for hours on end, either. (No need to give any critter easy access to the house.) Yes, we've done a pretty good job guarding ourselves.
That's why, last week, when my husband Jerry sent me this picture, I was
You see, he found and (gratefully) killed this sucker when he ran into
it at our office. You heard me right: our office. Not our home that is
in the country, but our office that is right in the heart of the city. No
dirt roads and gravel driveways there. Just a concrete jungle where
wildlife isn't even a part of the normal mental equation. While we were
standing on guard in one place, the serpent showed up in a place we
least expected, and really hadn't even considered he might.
Hmmm. . . sounds like another weasely snake I know. Seems like the enemy of our souls has a knack for finding the unguarded, vulnerable areas of our lives - the ones you hadn't even contemplated that he'd mess with - as the prime spot to show up and take you off guard. While we standing steady and watchfully, being certain to cut him off at one path, he's already started his descent down another.
Lord, today keep us aware - not just in the places we expected him but
more importantly. . .in the places we don't.
Priscilla ought to be proud of me. Back in October, when she asked me to help write on her blog, I promised that I would keep stories about my donkey Flash, to a minimum. And I've kept my word, mostly because I was worried that fame might go to his (already) enormous head, but also I figured that Going Beyond readers might be too high-brow for his silliness. But since Priscilla and her boys love Flash, I thought maybe you might, too - once you get to know him.
See, Flash showed up at our place one day, and then never left. All attempts to find his rightful owners failed, and the temporary shelter we gave him that first night has turned into permanent residence for the shabby dude. Endlessly entertaining, we consider him "yard art," a great conversation piece for those times when you run out of things to say in awkward guest situations. "Hey, did you hear about the time Flash turned up at the gate with a haircut?" But that story will be for another day.
Flash has many endearing qualities. His soft brown eyes and white muzzle are able to express his deep thoughts about life, which he'll reluctantly share over a carrot or apple. Somehow I think he knows quite a bit about the world, borne of his experience with life on the lam before finding us, and life in the back woods and open pastureland since taking up residence here. Affectionate and sweet, he is a sucker for an ear scratch and a good brushing.
But Flash is far from perfect. Like most of us, he has his issues. For instance, he is self-centered and thinks that everything is all about him. He is convinced that the cute mares across the fence are in love with him, and thinks that the whole reason we live in Texas is so that we can house him. He lets us know, in no uncertain terms, when he needs something. We can hear his impossibly loud braying from a quarter mile away. Sometimes he just brays to remind us that he's there, as if we could forget.
One thing that Flash has a hard time dealing with is change. Not long ago his barn privileges were taken away, and he retaliated by sneaking back in and destroying the sports equipment that took over his stall. He did this many times, and we never could figure out how he got in. He's stomped on boxes of Christmas decor that were temporarily set by the gate, waiting to be stored, and made a nuisance of himself when new fences were being put up. He likes things just the way they are, and doesn't like when they change. I guess he's just stubborn that way.
Like Flash, I find that I balk at change, too. I become comfortable with the status quo and it makes me a little nuts when things start to change. It seems like just when I'm getting used to where God has me and what He has me doing, along comes a new plan of action. Something that's just outside my comfort zone. It's a little scary! And just like my silly donkey, I'm having to learn to trust that Someone has a bigger plan than what I can see. I'm learning to rest in the knowledge that God has things in control - and I have no reason to fear. In the same way that we've given shelter and care to Flash, my heavenly Father is sheltering me and caring for me, even as He calls me on to new seasons in my life.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." What an awesome promise!
How about you? Are you in a season of change? What is your response when God asks you to do something that is just outside your comfort zone? What have you learned about God when you've had to step into new areas of life? I hope you'll share.
For freedom everywhere, we remember and honor the men and women who have given their lives in service to their country. Thank you.
Glad you're back today!
Mostly because if you haven't seen my cute brother Anthony before (I'm totally biased), I'm dying to introduce him to you. Last week, he was over and I cornered him before he left. Told him he had no choice other than to answer the "single girl" questions you've been wanting some answers for. He's the only one of my siblings who has yet to tie the knot. I wanted to know WHY!
We had a pretty good conversation that I think you'll enjoy!
PS. . . you can find more out about Anthony's incredible music ministry at www.anthony-evans.com. He's got a great new recording that you've got to put on your Ipod - Undisguised.
Have you ever had one of those moments in which anxiety over something threatens to overtake you? You know, when your palms sweat, your heart pounds, your vision gets blurry and your thoughts become confused? Maybe an upcoming event has you in a knot, or the demands of work and family are overwhelming, or you've just had some bad news. I've experienced those moments many times...mostly while I'm driving, for some reason. My fingers grip the steeing wheel as I try and work through my worry.
I happened to pull out the study guide for "Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed," the other day, and I loved the comforting words in the first week of lessons.
George Muller said, "The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith. The beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety." Our anxiety always stems from a desire to control and indicates that we have ceased to trust the Lord. When we are depending on the Lord to handle the people and circumstances in our lives, the outcome will be an existence virtually free from worry, anxiety, and fear. Peace will begin to flow like a river in our everyday living. Jesus put it this way:
And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don't worry about these things, saying, "What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?" These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs." Matt. 6:30-32, NLT
The lesson went on to have me rate my level of anxiety in several areas. Finances? Check. Weight? Check. Health? Check. Your future? Check. Check. Check.
And then there was a question that burned right through me:
What does your level of worry reveal to you about your faith in God in each area?
Then I read this:
Controlling people, circumstances, and outcomes has become too exhausting for me. I experience intense anxiety when I try to be in charge of more than I'm meant to handle. Trusting God lifts our load, and sweet peace and rest become available to all who will relinquish control and allow Him to do what He does best - be Himself - the Source and Sustainer of our lives.
Are you trying to control more than you're meant to handle? Is anxiety threatening to grip your heart and take away your peace? Ask the Lord to lift the load of this burden from your shoulders as you release the ultimate outcome of that situation or person to Him. He will do this for you.
What can you choose to do (or not do) today that will show you trust in God in that situation?
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4: 6-7 NASB
Hey there my friend!
Last week, one of my favorite people on earth chimed in during our conversation about being a single woman. When I read her comment, I chuckled. You see, me and this chick have had lots of chats about her life - and O, what a wonderful life it is. Mandisa, is a fabulous, single woman who has a voice that has captured the hearts of people everywhere. As one of the finalists on American Idol, she amazed America not only with her incredible vocal ability, but her strong stand for the Lord.
So, today, Mandisa talks to us about what her life is like as a single sister living for the Lord.
Mandisa, THANK YOU! I appreciate you speaking into our little community.
PS. . . .Mandisa's book "Idoleyes" is an excellent read. You'll want to grab it right away! Also, you can follow @mandisaoffiical on twitter or catch up with her regularly on her website.
If you don't mind saying: How old are you? Do you desire to be married?
If so, what are you looking for in a man at this stage in your life?
A big, Black, Born-again believer with a bald head and a goatee (the Born-again believer part is the only actual requirement..the rest of it would just be nice!)
Why do you think you've never been married?
1. I'm particular and won't settle 2. My career may be intimidating for some men 3. My weight up until recently has been a detractor for many men. I was abused as a child and weight became a shield for me. My weight physically became a barrier for many men's attraction to me but it was also a symbol of the wall I had built around my heart for "pseudo" safety. 4. My husband is lost and won't stop to ask for directions.
What is the part you appreciate most and the part you appreciate least about being single?
Most: Freedom! Based on my married friends' comments, I am really learning to appreciate the fact that I can live the kind of life I l have without any responsibilities to a husband or children. I'm told that the lifestyle I lead can be taxing on a relationship. The part I like least about being single is loneliness.
What are some things to never say to single women?
"When you stop looking he'll arrive". "You seem like a good catch. What's wrong with you?". "Still waiting for your 'better half'?" "That's why you're single".
How can we as single women encourage other single women?
I think the best thing single women can do for other single women is to be honest about their triumphs AND struggles. Everyone needs a safe place to be able to turn to and who better to understand the difficulties involved with singlehood than other single women?
What do you think are the top two (unhealthy) struggles with single women right now?
Keeping it real: 1. Desire for physical intimacy vs. Desire to be a holy temple 2. Understanding what it means to be pursued as opposed to be the aggressor.
How do you feel about online dating?
Would you consider it? I actually joined a Christian online dating website last year. I think they can be a great tool to meet available like-minded singles. As with anything I believe you have to be careful and to guard your heart but I don't believe there is anything wrong with it (contrary to my mother's point of view)! In the end however, I canceled my membership because my circumstances of being "known" made meeting men online difficult for me. I guess I would prefer knowing that a man was interested in the "real me" and not just the "public me".
How do you protect your heart and date at the same time?
I should preface this by saying that I am probably not an expert in this area, having not "dated" for almost 10 years (not necessarily by choice). Off the top of my mind I would say that it comes down to perspective. I don't believe that godly singles should get their definition of "dating" from societal standards. I believe in purity. Purity of mind, soul, and body. As long as I keep that as my plumbline I believe the process of dating can simply be a way of knowing God's best for my life.
Are single women supposed to sit and wait for God to bring them a man?
While God can certainly do anything, I do not believe that if I sit in my house and wait on the Lord that He will drop my future husband into my lap. I also don't believe in being on the prowl in night clubs. I personally believe that as I walk the path that God has called me to, He will allow my and my future spouse's paths to intersect. I'm not LOOKING but I am not HIDING either.
Are there things you can do to put yourself out there in a good way to let guys know you're interested?
I'm still learning how to do this. I tend to be shy and nervous around men. I have come to understand that if I want a man to approach me, I need to, in some way or another, give him permission. While my first response is usually to immediately divert my eyes and walk in the other direction, I am learning to give eye contact and smile or say "hello." Is it weird that I have a hard time doing that? LOL!
Do you approach them?
Are you kidding me!?! Baby steps Priscilla! Can I get the smile and eye contact thing down before I start approachin' brothas?
Do you worry that your success will detour a man from being in relationship with you? Why or Why not?
Yes. Not too long ago I had a conversation with my band (both men and women) about this. The general consensus was that it will take a very strong, confident, and secure man to "deal" with me (as my bass player said!) I think that it is both a combination of my success and my independence. The men in my band all agreed that men like to feel needed. I very simply (and probably very directly) explained to them that I didn't "need" a man. I've been living on my own for 14 years. I've been forced to be independent. I don't think that's a bad thing. But I fully recognize that God will need to chip away at some of that independence to make room for a man's place in my heart. But I also must say that "strong", "confident", and "secure" are all qualities I'd LOVE to have in a husband. If my success causes him to be like that, I say "bring it on!"
What keeps you grounded and confident in the Lord?
Psalm 139:16 "All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be." I haven't just read that scripture. I've lived it. I have seen God do the most amazing things in my life! He has had plans for me that hve blown my little piddly plans out of the water! In the end, He knows what He's doing.
Here in Texas, summer weather has already arrived. With temperatures reaching into the 90's, our glorious springtime is fading into distant memory. We've turned on the air conditioning and the ceiling fans, lowered the blinds and taken on the seige mentality that gets southerners through the sticky hot months of summer. Break out the sweet tea and lemonade, honey, this is going to be a long one.
You can imagine our unhappy discovery the other night, that our upstairs air conditioning unit (30 years old) finally kicked the bucket. We awoke in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat. Ugh.
That was last Thursday. It will take another 10 days for the new unit to be installed. Ten days, people! Mercy.
The first two nights, our son and I stuck it out upstairs with the fans on. My husband took the downstairs couch. It was not a good solution. So we took the mattress off the guest bed and put it on the floor in our home office and our son took the couch. Better, but we tossed and turned - we could not get comfortable or cool. The season finale of a major TV show replayed in my mind every time I turned over. "Wait, did that guy die, or....." It became a nightmare of insomnia and perspiration.
Last night, we considered muscling our king sized mattress down the stairs, but gave up at the thought. So we brought down our son's mattress and tried a different combination of sleeping arrangements. It all begs the question: how DID people live in the south before A/C??
Priscilla wrote that the thought of snakes was keeping her awake. Faith in the God who takes care of the "what ifs" helped her fall back asleep, and I loved that. My problem is much less spiritual: I'm just trying to get comfortable for the next ten nights and need a plan of action in case of insomnia.
What do you do when you can't sleep? Do you have a trick or tip to make your eyelids close? Warm milk, counting sheep, prayer....I welcome your help. Please.
There are snakes in my yard.
Well, that's what I've heard. I've not yet seen one (and O how grateful I am) but I've been told, by those who've been in this neighborhood much longer than I, that I should be aware of their presence. You see, we live in a fairly rural part of Dallas. We love it. It's quiet, kind of country and yet a quick 25 minute dash into the city. It's certainly the best of both worlds and a fabulous way to raise three rambunctious boys.
But the thought of these snakes. . . man, it scares me. Quite frankly, if I'm not careful, the worry and anxiety over it could completely and easily overwhelm me.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like my home is a cesspool of reptiles that are slithering to and fro outside of my bedroom window every day. On the contrary, I've been here on this plot of land for almost two years now and have seen NOTHING. Not one little hint of a snake's presence - and yet I know they are here. You can't live in Texas, near a creek bed with a zillion trees and bushes all over the place, and think they're not. The previous land owners made that clear to us - "You'll be fine, but just teach your boys not to go strutting through any huge piles of leaves, stacks of old wood or otherwise thick patches of greenery."
So, the threat of a snake is always in the back of my mind.
My Mind. . . . the breeding ground for fear gone wild. Fear over things that have not even happened, and prayerfully never will. My mind. . . the part of my body that keeps me up at night for 2-3 solid hours with all the "what if's" it creates and distorts. It asks my imagination to come out for playtime and the two of them romp around in delight while I sit, paralyzed by their activity.
Nothing. . . .
I'm going to enjoy this property and I will let my kids do the same. We'll tread with care, but we will indeed tread. I refused to let the "what if's" spoil the blessings of my life.
Has your mind been playing tricks on you? Over something that you heard could happen but never actually has? How have you be able to combat that in your life? Tell me about it.