There’s a plan, and it’s better than you can ever imagine

In the past, I’ve used this blog to talk about getting through hard times, share words of encouragement and (hopefully) reach someone, anyone who is in need of comfort.  I’ve talked about job loss, a lot, because its the path I have been down recently.  Today I want to celebrate the end of that season and all the growth it had to offer, and how God’s hand was on every part of it.  

 

A few days ago, I found myself sitting in an office, discussing a position that I would consider a dream job for this age and season in my life. And it seemed like it was almost a dream. I was offered a position. I promised to think about it for 24 hours, and went home, stunned, wondering how my resume had even gotten into their hands and thanking God.  I told my husband, who had been supportive through the past 8 months of transition, but it still hadn’t sunken in for me.  

I start tomorrow and the pieces are coming together.  There was the piece of the puzzle where God warned me about the roller coaster ride of transition that was to follow but instructed me to trust in Him and that something great was coming. That was then followed by being laid off from a job that I had unhealthily put my everything into.   Devastated I sat on the couch, cried, and asked God why this was in His plan.  

There was the piece of healing, of tremendous growth and learning. It was the piece where God told me to call my church and ask if there was anything I could help them with during the week.  I thought it was to stay busy, but He had different plans.  There I met some wonderful people, gained friends and wisdom and grew into a person who wasn’t dependent on a job or people’s opinion to feel good.  I found joy, I found peace in the midst of trial, I found my voice, I was reacquainted with my passion and purpose, and began trusting the One who made me instead of the feeble work of my own hands.  I was comfortable, secure in who I was without a paycheck, without a title, by just listening to the voice of God in my spirit and actually believing, trusting that the things He promised me (and all of us) are true.  

There was the piece where I was told that somehow they had my resume (someone I served for turned it into them), and that my name had come up in prayer by people who didn’t even know me, for the position.  And the fact that I know this is the position, for which I’m equipped at a time such as this.  

I’m a different person. I’m changed forever because I know who I am without the opinion of anyone else but Him.  And I know this is where I’m supposed to be because there is peace.  The position, the timing, the way it happened, and where I know I’m going in life, the pieces all fit together.  But I won’t do it by myself.  I won’t fall into an endless cycle of performance.  I trust that no matter how big the task, that my God will equip me and lead me to do what is right, and I’ll do it for Him.  

I feel truly blessed today, and still a little stunned by God’s goodness.  You see, even when you can’t see clearly in the dust storm of chaos, remember, God has a plan, and its the perfect one for your life.  You just have to learn to listen for Him and to trust that He will lead you down the road you are supposed to go.  And then you’ll get to the spot in that path where you see just how great He is, and how much He cares about you. 

Game Changers

I’ll be the first one to admit that I used to put God in a box. There was a season in life in which I saw him as the Ruler-in-the-sky who sometimes came down to do a few miracles in other people’s lives, but mostly just judged me for my sin or sat above just watching us do our thing here on earth.

There was also a time that I used to believe that God could do wonderful things in other’s lives but all the stuff, the miracles in the Bible, the way God was infused in their everyday lives was just that- back in the old days, not happening now for whatever reason.

Game changers- (def.) something that radically changes a situation.

You know, those things that push you to view something you’ve been ingrained in for so long from a different perspective that completely changes the way you perceive things.  I’ve had a few of those on this road.

Questions like:

  • If God is the person who made me and cares for me personally as a Father, then why wouldn’t I give Him at least 1 hour on a Sunday to praise Him and thank Him for all He’s given me (which is really everything)?
  •  If I cheer for a team or get completely pumped and excited over a new musical coming out, then why don’t I express my love for God in the same way? Doesn’t he deserve my best?
  • If God does miracles, then why do I assume that miracles from the big to the everyday can’t happen in my life?
  • If Jesus died for my sins and literally bore the weight of  them (and everyone else’s in the past and the future) so that we could stand forgiven at the throne of God, then why am I still walking around like I’m guilty, condemned, etc.? He already paid the price.
  • If God made me and then gave His only son to bear the weight of my sins and die for me, then how am I showing that appreciation?  Is my life a reflection of that gift I was given?  Am I really honoring God and what He has done for me by putting Him anywhere but the top of my list of priorities in life?
  • If God was personally involved in speaking guidance and providing for people on an everyday basis in the bible, if He sent his Holy Spirit to give us guidance then what changed between then and today?  Why am I limiting Him to what I believe or am told when I can just look to the Word for who He says He is and what He says He can do?
  • God is the mapmaker, he knows what is to come in my life and in the world, so why am I looking to the world to help me make my decisions? Shouldn’t I be looking to Him for guidance?

 

These are just a few of the “game-changing” revelations I’ve had in my life thus far.  They’ve completely changed the way I view things.  I started to see how God was so much bigger than my box I put him in.

I think we all have a box of some sort. Mine was, the one where I’d talk to him every so often and I knew I loved him and knew what He did for me, but I didn’t really realize the magnitude of how He has given me and everyone else everything we’ve had, or how He carried me through the hard times and knew me before I was even born. I didn’t realize that He wants to be a part of our everyday lives and designed our lives to be that way, not just a prayer in your greatest hour of need, but a Father who you can go to every day.

Have you had any game changing thoughts?  Any ideas that just rocked your world and how you saw your life?

There’s a Difference

Looking back, 6 months ago I would have never told you I’d be here. Where’s here? Writing a book, following my purpose, knowing what I know, living in joy, in peace. There in clouded misunderstanding all I could see was a failure, someone who needed a job to define herself, someone who said she trusted God but could barely see past blinding fear.

I’m not there yet (are we ever?) but I’m starting to see the difference. The difference between saying you know something and actually knowing it.

I’ll give you an example.

I said I trusted God, but yet I was flying through my list of backup plans, looking for signs and feeling utterly lost as to who I actually was. In my mind I did intellectually understand the concept of trusting God, but my heart was still focused on the fear. Let me give you a little revelation about fear: its having faith, but putting your faith in the wrong things. Faith in your own plans, even if you say you trust God. Fear is placing your faith in the “what ifs”.

Trust in God is so much more than intellectually knowing about how you should trust in Him. It’s believing it in your heart and spirit and acting it out. Its defaulting to relying on Him instead of your own plans. Its getting up every morning and saying “Not on my own time, but on Yours” as you wait for the opportunity He has for you or “Not my plans but Yours” when your mind wants to find out another way to ease its mental friction over the fact that at the moment, you are uncomfortable with your situation.

There’s others:

Forgiveness
Prayer
Repentance
Love

I could go on and on. It’s important enough to write a book about. Its more than just getting it, its doing it, believing it in your heart which will show through your actions and living it out step-by-step through your actions until it becomes part of your everyday thoughts.

I’m going to spend some time on these differences throughout the next few weeks. Exploring what it really means when you say or “know” you repent, forgive, pray, love.

And I’ll be honest. Do I still struggle with the trust thing?  Of course. But I do know now what it feels like to walk it out, at least in some areas everyday and I plan on doing it for the rest of my life.

Eucharisteo: Unwavering Joy in Thankfulness

There has been a message on my heart for awhile, growing, provoking my thinking, it has to do with giving thanks eucharisteoYou’ll find this word in quite a few instances preceding major events or miracles of Jesus in the bible:

The Last Supper

17 And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, Take this and divide and distribute it among yourselves;

18 For I say to you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine at all until the kingdom of God comes.

19 Then He took a loaf [of bread], and when He had given thanks, He broke [it] and gave it to them saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

20 And in like manner, He took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament orcovenant [ratified] in My blood, which is shed (poured out) for you.

The miracle of loaves and fishes

“He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks to God. Then he broke the bread and gave it to the disciples, and they gave the bread and fish to the people.” Mathew 15:36

And the word got me thinking…

Eucharisteo means to give thanks (its often associated with the eucharist or communion)

from the root word eucharistos- grateful, thankful

Charis- grace

Jesus embodied this in everything he did. He gave thanks and then performed the miracle, He gave thanks for the smallest thing of breaking of bread at a meal. And He said that whenever we do those things, those small things, to give thanks.

Some people are motivated by money. Some by fear or by need of acceptance.

But shouldn’t we be more motivated by the creator of all?  The one who made us and knew us by name before the foundation of the world?  When we make room for Him by being thankful whenever we do the simple things, the things we usually take for granted, we open ourselves up to Chara joy, joy that goes beyond things that eventually break, and money that eventually stops satisfying or relationships that may let you down.

I often find myself caught up in where I’m at in the moment, what I’m feeling, thinking or what my circumstances may look like. But those feelings, what I see in the natural, is not always the truth. If I’m depressed a happy event can still have a grey cloud over it, but that doesn’t mean the event is not happy. But when I choose to look at life with eucharisteo as my backboard, I see it differently.  I see 6 months of unemployment as a training ground, a God-willed refinery of myself and a preparation for what is to come. Without this time I would be caught up in a stressful job with condemnation of my every move and I sure wouldn’t be writing a book or growing into the person I need to be in order to go where I need to go next.

Eucharisteo helps me see things differently- water beads coming off of my dog’s snout are suddenly beautiful even when accompanied by wet-dog smell, hot sun beading through the windows in the morning causing me to be sticky with sweat wouldn’t have been my ideal scenario for waking up, but I’m thankful that God made the sun to warm me and the rays that cause leaf shadows to dance on the wall opposite my window.

Without eucharisteo I saw things as bad and good, the bad a curse and the good a blessing, but God is a good God and He made everything on the earth. Who am I to get caught up in the cranky heat wave that rushes through my mind and body? Who am I to question job loss and call it a curse, when really if I open my eyes I can see the possibilities in the future and I know that God is working through it.

Eucharisteo, blessings.

Eucharisteo, giving thanks.

Eucharisteo, joy beyond measure.

Eucharisteo opens up possibilities to see God in the role He intended- not as a intervene-when-I-feel-like-it judgemental overseer, but as a Father- the one who provided you with everything and everyone in your life, the one who walks with you everyday and cares for you personally.

I’m taking the challenge. I want to see Him as the God of small things and big things, the God of my everyday and as God the Father. I hope you will join me in actively searching out things you are thankful for everyday and also looking at everyday occurrences through a eucharisteo lens.

Note: Much of this has been inspired by Bible study and by reading a book called 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I encourage you to pick the book up, I hope it will change your life as it has changed mine. 

One of those days

Sometimes life just feels heavy. You know, like what you need, what you have been waiting for, is just on the other side of the door, but shoved against that door is a towering pile of rubble that is cemented to the ground, impossible for you to move. There are days when I feel so overwhelmed like that. Days when it seems like it will be next to impossible to get a job, or get to where I need to be to do my purpose in life. I’m having one of those days.

As if getting a job weren’t hard enough, my mind starts to think less of myself. Laid off. Unhireable. Not experienced enough. Failure.

I know what I am capable of as far as skills and knowledge, but sometimes I feel like I will never be enough, I’m just a cast off. These days usually come after getting another “Thanks but no thanks” letter in the mail (which I check multiple times a day) or hearing absolutely nothing at all. Days like these I don’t feel like the cream of the crop, but simply another face in the herd of cattle in the feed yard.

And it was in one of those moments today when my mind had all but crawled into the fetal position that a small voice inside of me said, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) And I have to remind myself, God is in charge and He provides everything for us, not just spiritually but materially too.

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or gather the harvest into barns. Yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Matthew 6:26 (God’s WORD translation)

So I pick my soul up off the dirty floor dust it off and remind myself, I am a child of the Most High God. Nothing will stop Him from giving me the job I am supposed to have. Not my “laid off” status, not any other person, nor anything. Now the challenge is to take this to heart, everyday, no matter what.

10 Things

Maybe its the gray mist that hangs low in the sky (or just that my windows make it look like its foggy), but I feel so inspired today. I used to be the type of person who would grumble at any sign of bad weather (anything below 50 degrees or above 78), but I feel like the past few years has given me a new set of eyes. Now when I look outside I see how wonderful fog really is, how it clings to the treetops I am filled with wonder and joy.

Lately our pastor has been teaching about renewing your mind, and a major part of transforming your mind away from an old way of thinking is by meditating on the good things. Our pastor challenged the congregation to write down everyday 10 things we are thankful for. I love this idea because it helps me to be more positive and if I stick with it, it will ultimately change the way I perceive things. So, today in an effort to be disciplined I’m sharing these 10 things I’m thankful for (the first being fog). 

10 Things I’m Thankful For

1. Beautiful fog to inspire me (see above)

2. Being able to choose what I eat for breakfast. (Some people don’t even get breakfast)

3. Having enough gas in the car to get to the places I want and need to go.

4. Good people everywhere who choose to be the change in others lives

5. The bounty of this earth (It’s amazing what this earth produces)

6. A playful puppy who greets me at the door every day like I’ve been gone FOREVER. She gives me instant joy.

7. A spirit of learning. I love to learn and I love that I am blessed with a hunger for knowledge.

8. The hard-working spirit my husband has as he goes throughout grad school so he can provide for us in the future.

9. The sturdy walls of this house that shelter me while I sleep

10. People who love us for who we are.

 

There you have it- my 10 things for today. It feels kind of silly sharing them with the general public, but I truly am thankful for even the smallest things I have because I know where they all come from.

The next step is that throughout the day I will meditate on the things I’m thankful for. And not meditate like, sitting on the floor, legs crossed and clearing my mind of everything, but more like turning these thankful thoughts over and over in my mind like a smooth stone in my hand, so even if and when things go askew I will have only one thing on my mind: Him.

What are you thankful for today? Let me know in the comments below.

Blessed

I believe that God blesses us in many ways. As our Provider, He blesses us with everything we own from the shoes on our feet to the cars we drive. He blesses us eternally and spiritually, and in ways we cannot even imagine. But I also believe that God blesses us with time.

Time is a valuable thing, probably more valuable than money. We are only allotted a certain number of days on this earth and time is the vehicle in which we live out our days. Some people work hard to “get rich” but if all anyone ever did was work, they may be rich in money but have no time to enjoy the rest of their lives.

I may not be blessed with a job at this moment and that’s ok, because I’ve realized that I’ve been blessed with something way more precious. Time. Mountains of time, and yet, just enough time. Time to work through things, time to grow and learn and time to give to my family and church. And while I do look forward to getting back the daily grind, I also love the fact that I can pick up my bible and read for 3 or 4 hours, or that I can write to my hearts delight, or serve others and gain so much more understanding about my future and my purpose.

I believe in tithing of all the increase God gives me (10% of my income), but on unemployment that’s not a lot. Then I started wondering if tithe and offerings went above and beyond monetary giving. Couldn’t the expectation for some mean giving time or other resources too? So I decided to give what God has made me rich in and that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Giving my time to the church has blessed me one-hundred fold. I learn so much there, I have new relationships now and a support system, and serving the higher cause gives my heart so much joy.

Someday when I reach Heaven I know God will ask me what I did with my time. Was I a good steward of the time I was given? I hope my heart and my actions will prove that I did my best with the time I was blessed with.