The Lord Made Me Do It…

Something I struggle with in my faith is whether or not there is a “master plan” or if God intervenes in our lives.  I don’t believe God is a puppeteer, but I think He’s there always trying to get our attention.

I’ve moved away from the “master plan” because the God I know through the Bible and just living my life can’t possibly plan for awful things to happen – plus it removes any kind of responsibility on our part if we just blame everything that happens on God – or blame Him for not doing something when things go down.

Today is the perfect example of, what I consider to be, pure intervention.

I have had an insanely busy week.  As the Director of Christian Ed, our annual BIG fundraiser is the annual Basement Sale – and it’s a stressful week of transforming our hall into another thrift shop.  If we didn’t make so much money for our youth, I’d not do it!  So there’s that plus the fact that we FINALLY (after two long years) are closing on our home.

In the mess of all of that, there’s everyday life:  laundry, dry cleaners, shopping for elusive copies of the latest Rolling Stone magazine.  As the week draws closer to the Basement Sale opening, I’m living in a flurry of to-do lists.

“Dry Cleaners” is on my list and it’s usually an afterthought.  However, on the Search for the Rolling Stone, I was reminded that the clothes I dropped off were ready (I usually forget about my clothes for a good week after they’re ready) so I headed over.

Naturally, it’s pouring down rain, but I get out of the car and run in.  There’s a young man with a delivery of laundry and the elderly woman working the counter was on the phone.

“I’ve gotten busy here, so I’ll have to call you back,” she says to the person on the other line.  She hangs up the phone and after a few beats says to the room, “That was my vet.  We thought my cat just had an simple autoimmune illness – I was just told he has feline AIDS.”

It was silent for a moment and the young man was very consoling and sympathetic to her, as he says he’s a cat lover himself.  She was clearly blindsided by the news that her beloved cat would die.  She did not cry, but she appeared disoriented for a moment.

The young man dropped off his order and offered her a hug.  He said he would think of her and her cat and left.

It was my turn.

It took her a moment to take my ticket as she continued talking about her cat and how she couldn’t yet understand this new development.  She took my ticket and went to the back room to retrieve my items.

As soon as she disappeared, I pulled out the fully tied pocket square I kept folded in my front purse pocket.  It was beautiful – and very purple – with a verse of scripture.  Every knot I tied was tied during a time where prayer was all I had left.  So I prayed and prayed and prayed!

She took my money and while I was due only $8.00 in change, she grabbed a $10, $5 and started counting $1 bills.  “That’s too much change, hon!” I told her.  She put the $5 down and continued counting the $1 bills.  “That’s still too much,” I said.  She was clearly distracted.

She gave me my change and I then handed her my pocket square and explained what it was.  I then told her, “maybe I was meant to come here today.”  She agreed and appreciated the gift.  We briefly exchanged our love for animals and then I wished her well and told her I would be praying for her and her cat.

Yep, the Lord made me do it.  He was there with me, guiding me, and cheering me on.  I always wish there was something more I can do, but maybe, from her point of view, it was just what she needed in that moment.

If we open ourselves up to His presence – it can be pretty amazing what we can get out of it.

Image Credit:  Me!  And our incredible Prayers and Squares group at Westmont Presbyterian Church.

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Just a bit…stressed!

If you happened to glance at the tags on this post, they wouldn’t all make sense.  I think most of them are positive words that contradict the “stressed” portion of the post title.

Many good things are happening and it’s leaving me stressed.  To the point of weird dreams!

My husband and I celebrated 15 wonderful years of marriage (we’ve only just begun!) yesterday and we are marking the occasion with a vow renewal at our home in just a few days.  We host a big party or two each year, and this counts as one of them, so we are quite exited!

For whatever reason, though, my subconscious is driving me batty!  I woke up this morning from a dream that only a few invitees showed up – but, as I was trying to figure out why most didn’t show up, I realized in my dream, our event was taking place the wrong day.  Why was everything prepared on the wrong day?  Why were certain key people there when they know it was the wrong day?

I blame my insecurities.  They haunt me every minute of every day.  There are so many times in my life I’ve been energized by the notion of doing something fun – just to have no one show up.  It’s hard not to take that personally.

While I know for sure there will be many people there with us on our special day, my subconscious will continue to assault me with it’s special brand of torture.

I wish I could destroy it.

Image Credit: QuickMeme.com

“How it is…and how it ought to be”

RUSH and God in the same post?  Borderline blasphemy from either side, perhaps?  Despite my three favorite (favoUrite?) Canadians being a “wee bit” on the atheist side of things, I, myself, find a lot of spirituality in their music.  Perhaps that’s what makes a good lyricist  – he sees things his way, but I can also see things my way. (FTR, no matter his stance on anything, Neil Peart is my hero. 🙂 )

Today was a disappointing day.  We’re going through some things in our personal lives that I won’t bore you with – pretty much because it’ll just sound like whining.  Our lives are not perfect, but they’re not awful, either.

I’ve said many times before to folks, the boys from The Great White North pretty much have a song for everything, and this situation is no exception.  “How It Is” came on while I was driving to pick up my boy from his Boy Scout meeting.

One thing you have to understand, the album Vapor Trails, from whence this song came, was born out a great trial in life Neil Peart had to deal with – the loss of his daughter in a terrible car accident and the loss of his wife to a broken heart nearly a year later.  See why I’d just be whining about my piddly problems?

I’m often bringing their music back around to my Christian way of thinking, and damn it if it’s not right.  This situation is how it is.  God’s trying to communicate with us here, and we have to be open to listen.  We didn’t get what we expected, but the answer didn’t change our immediate future – and what a blessing that really is.  It could have been worse, but it’s not.

So, I did my whining, asked God for the night to get over it, and I’m sure I’ll be better in the morning.

I do a much better job of putting things into perspective these days.  Earlier in our marriage, I would have lost sleep, given myself a stomachache or a headache, and dwelled on it for days.

Jesus said,Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Once we take Jesus up on his offer to bear the weight of our burdens, we’re free.  What a friend, what a gift he offers up to us!  We give it all to him so we can deal with it in manageable bits – and the best part, he stays with us while we’re sorting it all out.

The disappointments in life are “how it is”, but Christ’s love and care for us is also “how it is”.  And that’s how it ought to be.

Image Credit: WeAreThatFamily.com

I Survived the 30-Hour Famine!

OK, OK, OK! I was no where near dying, but after a decent night sleep after more than 24 hours with your youth group – that’s how I feel!

What a remarkable time – and to think, 112,000 other people were right there along with us around the world. At least 14 countries participated in the 30-Hour Famine this weekend.

As exhausting as it is, and while it’ll take me and my partner in crime in the Christian Ed department at least a week to get our bearings and regroup with the calendar, I can’t wait to see how we can make it even bigger next time.

The goal for me is MORE ADULTS! This is eye-opening, not only for the kids, but for the adults who get swept away in life-taken-for-granted.

Pray for us – we Christian Ed leaders and our group of kids, our church, all the others around the world who voluntarily went hungry for a while to gain some knowledge, and especially for all – past, present, and future – who have suffered hunger and were burdened with not knowing when or if there would ever be a next meal.

This problem is not God’s doing. This is why we NEED God.

Can I get an AMEN? 🙂

30-Hour Famine…25 hours in

Still feeling pretty great, aside from being very tired.  Body’s kind of sore from a lot of walking around, standing around, blah, blah, blah.

We had a fantastic time with our service projects today.  The first  was heading out to a rather busy intersection near the church with our “Honk for Hunger” signs and counted how many cars honked at us…over 200 for the day!  Last year it was around 120.

Then we came back to make simple sack lunches.  The kids made 27 lunches and we headed downtown to Central Park and handed them ALL out to 27 people who took us up on our offer.  We had so many people request we give the lunch to someone who needs one – the kids were discouraged, but soon realized how refreshing that honesty was from complete strangers.  We felt that all the people who took lunches truly needed something to eat and were very appreciative.  I think we all learned a lesson today.

We just finished up with a bit of downtime.  Now for the last game of the famine, some discussion and devotion, praise songs and then we’re off to break our fast (yay!) with some pizza and bowling!

I made it another year…and even more excited for the next 30-Hour Famine!

Image Credit: TheWellnessChoiceCenter.com

Sometimes…

…the answer is no.

Admit it, as Christians, we’re just little brats when we come to Jesus with our prayers.  Jesus is feverishly taking all of our requests – wants, needs, desires, what have you – and delivering them right to God’s ear.

You know, it’s pretty humbling to know the Son of God is praying to God on my behalf.  That, in and of itself, should make me horrified with some of the things I’ve prayed for over the years.

Sometimes the answer is no.  And we storm off in a snit.  Some who have lost their belief, I think, use that as the reason they no longer believe.  They didn’t get what THEY wanted.

I probably don’t pray the way most do.  I rarely get down on my knees and make that kind of effort in prayer.  We’ve never had bedtime prayers or prayed before a meal in our house.  It never felt right, and I hope Jesus and God are okay with that.

Prayer for me, well it’s kind of an ongoing process to me.  I’ll throw something to Jesus in the form of a thought and I probably do that dozens of times a day.  If there’s something that’s completely dragging me down and I need a release, that’s when I take a significant time-out and pray deliberately.

As I’ve continued to grow in my faith – pretty drastically in the past few years – I’ve witnessed His work in enough ways to not throw as many tantrums when I don’t like the outcome His will.

I’ve come to think that God doesn’t necessarily say “no.”  It’s more like “wait.”

Are you taking the hint from God when you don’t get what you want?  Are you waiting or are you giving up?

I don’t believe God has a “plan” for us, but I believe that he knows our true potential and how we’ll use what He gave us.  We just have to be patient and have absolute faith that His intentions are truly good and blessed.

The movie God’s Not Dead really had me thinking once it was over.  I thought it was nicely done.  If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s now on Netflix streaming.

Image Credit: IUCRU.com