A Physical Move In My Faith Walk

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“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”-Hebrews 11:1*

I sat there in total disbelief.  I knew I had heard God right, but it bore repeating to my heart again.  “Move, God?  Are you sure?”

It was 2008 and we had been married for three years.  During these first few years, Randy and I had a chaotic newlywed period.  He was a bachelor and at age forty-three he married a widow with three children.  The oldest child, who was severely broken by her father’s death, had been a challenge for the first years of the marriage with drugs, running away, and inappropriate behavior.   The middle son was a growing teenage boy who needed assurance, guidance, and direction.  And the youngest boy was open for an adventure.  We also had suffered some losses of family members and Randy’s job and now this.  Both Randy’s father and sister had serious health issues and we lived over four hundred miles away.

I knew what God was asking and I had a peace about it, so I shared it with Randy.  He was stunned by the suggestion, but after a little time to reflect, we did it.  Keep in mind there were many challenges in moving from Coppell, Texas to Mandeville, Louisiana.  But when God is in charge all the pieces fall into place.

Randy found a job immediately.  We put our house on the market in Texas (during a real estate downturn) and sold it quickly at the asking price.  Our middle son was a freshman in high school and loved his football.  We agreed Randy would move down to Louisiana, start his job, and find us a house.  I would stay behind with the children until after football season.  Randy found our house and we bought it with a counter offer.  The boys moved with us to Louisiana and our daughter stayed behind (she had met her future husband and was still working through some issues).  We were in Louisiana for six months and then we lost Randy’s dad and sister in May and June of 2009.

In looking back, one might ask, why would you make this huge life-changing decision?

It was SO much bigger than a physical move.

It was what God asked of us and we responded.  We put our faith in Him to make the way and give us the vision.  It was not always easy.  We had to be flexible in making new friends, learning a new area, and focusing on the boys’ transition into new schools. The process brought about laughter, tears, and sometimes anger.  It also benefited us as a family to bond together and tackle situations as a team.

We have been blessed for the ten years we have lived in Louisiana.  The people we have met, relationships built, new cultures experienced, new areas of the country explored, and the growth in our walk with Jesus.  Sometimes moving out of a comfort zone makes the zone bigger and the foundation stronger.

No regrets and no disappointment.

The physical transition opened up the reality which was we had moved in our faith.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Goals For 2018-NONE!

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“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law, he meditates day and night.”-Psalms 1:1-2**

No disappointment.  No unfulfilled promises.  No guilt.  I have decided to tackle setting goals for 2018 in a different way.  Not going to do it.   BUT, I want to start a new habit.

If you Google search ‘how long does it take to start a new habit?’ there are hundreds of responses anywhere from one to eight months to build a new habit.  This is based on many variables including the person, behavior tendencies, and surrounding circumstances.  The key to building a new or “good” habit is to repeat the habit daily and be accountable (journal, partner, small group, etc.).  So what is my 2018 habit?

Devotion

I was challenged to pick a word for my focus in 2018.  I prayed and wrote down several words which I thought “needed” me to dedicate my time and effort.  No one particular word was screaming at me, until a few weeks later when I picked up my bible.  It is titled “Women’s Devotional Bible-New International Version” but the word “Devotion” is what was glaring in gold color to me.  Lightbulb moment and yesssss, my word was chosen.

I have decided to use this word as my theme for the year; in my quiet time, writing, relationships, and in my health and wellness.  I’m excited to see where this assignment will lead me.

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary* describes devotion in three different ways:

  • 1a: religious fervor: piety
  • b: an act of prayer or private worship —usually used in plural during his morning devotions
  • c: a religious exercise or practice other than the regular corporate (see corporate 2) worship of a congregation
  • 2a: the act of dedicating something to a cause, enterprise, or activity: the act of devoting
  • the devotion of a great deal of time and energy
  • b: the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal her devotion to the cause
  • 3obsolete: the object of one’s devotion

Most are familiar with devotion pertaining to religion such as reading devotionals, praying, and bible study.  I am intrigued by the second definition-the act of dedicating something to a cause, enterprise, or activity.  That’s what I am talking about, living out devotion daily in all my circumstances.

  • Devotion to my God
  • Devotion to my family and friends
  • Devotion to my job
  • Devotion to my volunteer efforts
  • Devotion to my writing
  • Devotion to my health
  • Devotion to my hobbies

How am I going to tackle this endeavor?  I will ask myself three questions before I invest any time in a particular activity:

  • Does this activity fall into one of my categories (listed above)
  • Would God approve?
  • Is this a beneficial choice for someone?

The first two questions are obvious but I want to make sure if I am investing my time, talent, and energy into an exercise, I want it to benefit someone, including myself.

I know the reality; this will be a challenge, and I will make mistakes and neglect it some days.  What excites me is I have a game plan and if I implement it every day, hopefully, I will make it part of my natural routine.  Bring on 2018!

So what will you do for the New Year? Sets some goals?  I challenge you to go a little deeper and pick some action, which if you commit to accomplishing, then perhaps, we can all make a contribution to improve ourselves and bring joy to our communities.   Merry Christmas ya’ll!

*https://www.merriam-webster.com/

**The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

 

His Voice

 

This is the last day of writing for 31 days straight!  The last prompt is “only” and I think about if only I had not accepted this challenge.  This past month has opened my eyes to the fact I can write without lamenting for hours on the perfect piece.  I can write from the heart and feel good about my message.  I hope you have enjoyed it too. I will be taking a small hiatus and will be back to my blog soon.  Thank you for indulging and supporting me in my writings.  Blessings!

//I looked out at the audience and shuttered.  I was holding my breath and praying my legs did not buckle.   I had been asked by my church to give my testimony to thousands of people over four services.  The church staff thought my story, about my relationship with God and our church after my husband’s passing, would be hope for others in their grief journey.  I had doubts.

If only I had practiced more.  If only I was not shaking.  If only I had more confidence.  If only.

I took a deep breath and prayed a silent plea, “Lord help me” and came out on stage to thunderous applause.  The lighting was in my eyes so I could never see the audience, but I could hear them.  The words flowed from my mouth uncontrollably.  I answered the questions confidently and shared my testimony.  And it quickly ended with a huge sigh of relief and accomplishment.  Now only three more times!

It was not me up on the stage speaking; it was God using me to communicate His story in my life.  I give Him the glory of the experience.  If I had succumbed to the “only’s” I would not have been able to share and let others following a similar path know they are not alone.  This is what God wanted me to share; if we turn to Him ONLY, He will never leave us.//

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”-Romans 8:31

Taming The Tongue

 

The prompt today is “cut”.  I have chosen to “cut” the distractions out of my life which steals my joy and peace.  I am so thankful for God guiding me in this needed action.  Blessings!


//No more. I made my list of items and actions which needed to be removed from my life.  I could no longer continue with the toxic emotions inside of me when something made me angry.  And lately, it seemed everything made me mad.  It was time to cut and purge the negativity.

I loved to argue and have the last word.  In hindsight, I bet I was obnoxious at times when I felt I had to prove my point.  Years of living with this mentality wore me out and I could no longer thrive in this manner. One of the items for review was my interaction on social media.  So many of my “friends” would post completely ridiculous arguments and statements and I felt I NEEDED to respond. Nope.  I made the decision I would only post uplifting and encouraging items on my pages.  I would not fall into the negative trap of arguing and offering up snarky comments.

When I feel like snapping at someone, I give it to God.  I do feel a peace come over me and the anger subsides.  Spending time daily with Him has helped me immensely in this area.  I am learning to prioritize the important life happenings and not dwell on trivial and petty items.

I have learned to cut out the extra anxiety around circumstances which I have no control over.  This is what is beautiful about God and His plan.  He knows what is happening now and in the future so I will let Him handle it and I will live to honor and worship Him.//

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”-Proverbs 15:1-NIV

The Firsts

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The prompt for today is “date”.  The picture depicts a date between two people, but I wrote this before the picture was available.  As you read, I wrote about “date” differently.  Blessings!

//I remember dreading the “firsts” after my husband died.  In the initial year, as a significant date approached, I felt the ache in my heart, the uneasiness in my stomach, and a thousand thoughts flying around in my head.  I would take deep breaths and clear my mind because I was so fearful of the unknown.   The first date was his birthday, then our anniversary, kid’s birthdays, and then the holidays.

The good news is I survived.  But the anguish up to a particular date was the worst.  It was not the actual day, but the anticipation of the date.  I believe it is all a process and is something which has to be experienced by the individual during their grief journey.  When my pain became so unbearable, I would press into God for comfort and strength.

All of my “firsts” were stepping stones to equip me with patience, empathy, tolerance, and spiritual strength allowing me to support others in their grief journeys.  My losses ride along with me like baggage and move through this life as part of my journey.

I thank God for putting all the right people in my path the first couple of years  to support my kids and me as we experienced our “first” dates.  I like to share my story so others who have suffered a loss can turn to God and find hope and strength in His love.//

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”-Isaiah 40:31

Budget Foodie

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Today’s prompt is “eat.” My mouth is watering right now as I imagine some smoked brisket, hearty gumbo, or a ginormous pizza.  But I digress and instead will share my thoughts around food and family.

//Food.  God did it perfect when He blessed us with this delicacy.  I could be referred to as a “foodie” because  I love to try new recipes, restaurants, and flavors.  But I am definitely a “foodie” on a budget.  So we cook A LOT.

I love fresh ingredients and watching the cooking channels to learn new concepts, mixtures of flavors, and of course, PRESENTATION!  Who does not like a pretty plate of food?

When I sit down to a meal, I love to take a big bite and savor the taste.  Another big part of eating for our family is sitting down together.  Most of the enjoyment of a good meal is the company.  Presently it is three of us for dinner, and it is a great way to take a break from the hectic world (even if it is only thirty minutes) to say grace, enjoy the food, and connect with one another.

Eating together is not only nourishment for the body but it is also nourishment for the soul.  We will talk about current events, our busy agendas, and funny experiences which happened to us when we are not together.  I remember growing up and mom generally had dinner ready on the table when dad came home and we sat down as a family to eat and talk.   It was a way to re-connect with each other, especially as we grew up and were involved in more outside activities.

It is such a simple gesture  but I believe family style eating is a way to build relationships and traditions to be passed on to the next generation.  It warms my heart to eat a big bowl of gumbo and re-connect with the ones I love.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”-Acts 2:46-47

Beautiful Arrangement

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//Looking at the beautiful arrangement brought a huge smile to my face.  Who does not like fresh cut flowers?  The little bouquet was arranged perfectly to allow each flower to shine in its glory.  I wonder if God looks at us as a big beautiful bouquet.

I personally like an arrangement of different types, colors, and heights of flowers.  Each flower is unique and different from the other because of its color, petals, fragrance, and stamina.  Some cut flowers will last a week or so, others will wilt and shrivel up after a few days.

The human population is like a bouquet.  Each of us is unique and different from our color, stamina, height, and fragrance.  When gathered together in a group setting, we look as a beautiful as a floral arrangement.

I think God wants us to recognize how beautifully He has created us and when we work together how we complement one another.  I like being part of the arrangement which Jesus prunes and God admires us daily.//

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalms 139:14-NIV

Peacefully Disagree

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The prompt for today is “confront”.  It has taken many years to figure out the difference between confrontation and peaceful disagreement.

//In my younger years, I liked to boast my opinions and challenge those who did not think similar to me.  At work, I would challenge co-worker’s ideas and suggestions and list the many reasons why they would fail.  I would anticipate objections and have my rebuttals ready and able.

I had developed a reputation of not being flexible or a team player.  I enjoyed and thrived on confrontation.  I was and still am an extremely competitive person.  I learned some hard lessons in my early adulthood.

I have learned it is not about pushing my agenda, being right, or winning the argument.  I believe God has humbled me in certain situations and the discipline has made a lasting impression. He is in charge, not me.

Some of my inner circle may not agree, but I feel I have grown and mellowed.  I think in my current stage of life, I am looked upon more for wisdom, decision-making, and leadership.  I try to handle these particular requirements with grace and empathy and hope my family and friends see this in earnest.  My intent is to coach and not dominate others’ thoughts and opinions.

Confronting others is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is the way in which I approach it. I pray God directs me and guides me so I can be a blessing to others.//

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”-Ephesians 4:2-NIV

Exit Here

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The prompt for today is “sign.”  It would have been easy to write about signs I have received in my walk with God.  So I decided to share one of my “areas of opportunity.”  Blessings!

//One might describe me as directionally challenged.  Okay, I just heard my husband laugh.  Yes, I admit it.  Road signs and I don’t mesh.  I remember one of my first times driving from Houston to Dallas on I45, I was told to look for the BIG sign which said exit for DFW airport.  I saw it but figured there would be another exit after this one for those of us who were cautious in taking the first exit seen.

Driving to my parents’ house in Brenham from Grapevine Texas was always a story in the making.  Dad would generally ask me “Which way did you take this time?”  I was not lost, but chose a different scenic route each trip and guess what?  I always made it to their doorstep.

Not sure why I don’t do well with street signs either.  It is best to give me the visual landmarks such as “turn right at the McDonald’s and make a left once you pass the big purple shrub.”  I can guarantee I will be there pronto with no turnarounds.

I am so thankful for the legal U-turns.  Generally, there is a U-turn in most of my daily trips.  Inevitably, I pass up where I need to go and need to work my way back to my destination.  You know what?  There must be a lot more of us out there who drive similar, otherwise, why would they make so many legal U-turn options?  Things that make you go HMMMMMMM!//

Global Trot

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The prompt for today is “global”.  Sometimes it is hard to comprehend how big our world is and how we are such a small, but an important part, of God’s plan.  Blessings!

//I love to travel and explore new and exciting places.  There are so many countries I want to visit, I am afraid my life is not long enough (nor my wallet big enough) to accomplish this feat.  I want to experience other cultures, customs, and terrain to see what similarities we have in common.

Going global is also a way to experience God’s majestic beauty.  To see the diversity in the people, civilizations, and architecture continues to amaze me in how awesome is my God.  For Him to create so much beauty and uniqueness is beyond comprehension.  I want to emerge myself in learning and exploring this vast world and grow closer to Him.

In reality, there is no way I can accomplish my bucket list, but with technology, I can investigate and learn about some of the places which fascinate me.  A virtual global trek will be a good substitute for me and assist in expanding my traveling escapades.//

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”-Romans 1:20-NIV