The Empty chair

When death comes, it is hard to know when and where the grieving process will begin or end. For some it can start before death happens, for others it comes in waves. Grief is healthy and a necessary thing, but often hard to sit with at times.

My nephew Shane died June 1st. I shed no tears when I got the news from my sister. I knew he had been in pain, and was no longer suffering. Cancer may have taken its toll on his physical body, but he stepped into eternity with Jesus. I have peace in my soul because of that knowledge.

When I talked to my kids, who are all around his same age, I shed a few tears. My momma heart knew they were hurting and there was nothing I could do to ease the pain of losing someone they were close to growing up. I know how hard it is to lose someone close in age. We were separated in distance and phones just don’t provide the physical comfort.

Over the day leading up to the visitation, I shed more tears, but never that soul cleansing kind. The deep cry that can reassure me, I am not just avoiding. I am good at avoiding painful emotions. The tears I shed were few and more for the pain I knew others were experiencing.

Sometimes when that happens, I give myself an out, especially when I have God’s peace. I had told my friend, it is not about me. I won’t let it be. I won’t make it.

I also knew with Shane I couldn’t setttle for avoiding. Growing up, he and his older brother were always at my house. Not that they didn’t have parents actively involved in their lives and extended family, but they were with us most weekends. My kids were close with their cousins, just as I had been with mine. They had the advantage of being close in age.

In addition to my love for him, he was only 26. He hadn’t got to live life. I was also holding out for God to show up in a powerful healing of Shane’s body. I wanted God to show up and show off, because Shane was an amazing person, full of God’s spiritual fruit. He was a light, even when he wasn’t trying to be. I knew I had some feelings I needed to give back to God that only He could handle. But they were not coming.

When I turned into the cemetery for his funeral, seeing the hearse and the graveside setup choked me up. I did not expect to have a meltdown before the service began. The funeral director asked for the family to sit in the chairs. They were trying to get me to sit there and I let them know it was for his parents and siblings. I set out to get them in the chairs.

After his parents and siblings sat there were 3 empty seats. I stood there looking at the seats trying to figure out who needed to sit in them. When I do family counts for things I start with the oldest (or youngest) and make my way through the family. I make sure to include spouses and children, and so it is kind of a systematic habit. I started with the baby because he was sitting next to my sister. I went to look for Shane to get him in the chair next to his brother and I lost it. I had to cover my face and walk away.

I took the tissue from my sister-in-law. I took the hug from my niece and nephew. I held tightly to my granddaughter and let the sobs come. I let the memories flood and count the blessing of having so many with him.

There will always be an empty chair. One for him, one for my parents. I had to place each of them there in my mind so I could be in the moment with my sorrow. So I could be in the moment of his service. So I could hear the beautiful words that my sister had written and pay tribute to his life.

I let God have the anger I have at cancer and that despite all the money that goes to it there is still no cure. I let go of the disappointment that Shane didn’t get a healing miracle this side of Heaven. I let go of all the should’ve and could’ve that like to run through my mind. Shane is with the Lord. He is with his grandparents who he loved dearly. He is completely healed. He is pain free. Despite the empty chair, I will spend eternity with him one day. I know God’s ways are higher than mine, and I know my nephew can see the empty chair where he is waiting for me.

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Roadkill Revelation

Sunday my pastor half jokingly, still serious, finished the service out saying that revelation comes from the Word of God, through prayer, through fellowship with the Holy Spirt, through others, and through circumstances around us. He said he had even had revelation for roadkill. He prayed that we would all have revelation from roadkill. Not wasting any time, God showed me three things.

Roadkill is dead, it is the past. Generally speaking we don’t stop and take the time to pick it up or clean it up. We leave it where we hit it. Nature or roadside workers will generally remove the carcass. We drive on past and don’t give much thought other than damage it might have caused our vehicle.

As believers, our past needs to be left where it happened. We don’t need to pick it up and carry it with us. We don’t need to try to clean it up, that is truly the Holy Spirt’s role as we put on the new man. We need to tend to the damage, and find healing. Then we need to go on our way.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13‬

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:20-24‬

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”Colossians‬ ‭3:9-11‬

I know that I have picked up roadkill before. Our dog was killed down the road after getting out. We put him in a bag and buried him.

If there is roadkill in our life that we have picked up and brought with us, for whatever reason, it needs to be buried or trashed. We were never meant to carry it. It’s okay to mourn what could have been or what happened, but then we need to move along.

Every now and then someone might have some road kill like a deer where the antlers or skull are worth taking with them. It gets dried out and displayed.

There are parts of our past that God will eventually put on display. We have to allow those areas to dry out and give our testimony of what the Lord has done. We tell the story of what happened, but it is for other’s benefit, not because we are carrying it around showing the victimization.

I think that is the difference. When we try to carry around the roadkill of our past, we are playing the victim. It caused us pain and trouble. We are carrying around the disgusting, rotting, road kill.

When we get to the point that we can let it go, we may show the carcass, but it’s a story of overcoming. We kept going despite the pain and trouble. We are no longer saying “look at this terrible part of my past.” Instead it is a message of hope “God saved me from this and if He did it for me, He can do it for you.”

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Down, yet Rooted and Strong

While we drive, a lot of times I will just be gazing out the window looking at the scenery. Last week, I kept noticing trees that looked like they were barely holding on, but still looked like they were living. We were never in a spot where I could stop and get a picture, but another opportunity came, this little tree was right next to the truck.

Maybe the tree has been speaking to me because I have felt so much like it I think the tree must feel. It has just been one of those months where I feel the weight of the world around me. I know that it is not my burden to carry, I know God has it. Still, there are times when things feel so personal that I can’t help be feel like the weight is bringing me down. I have felt raw and exposed, tears come easily and unexpectedly. I have learned to sit in the moment, but it doesn’t change how lopsided things feel.

Three weeks ago, I got some rough news that my heart is not ready to hear. I am still standing in faith for a miracle, but two weeks ago when I started writing this, I really felt like this tree. I know my roots are deep, I know I am still grounded in Christ, but I felt like I could barely stand. I honestly could not speak the words I had heard, so allowed the text message to speak to those I needed to pass along the information.

This little tree had also been cut. I am not sure if it was to clear the roadway, for firewood, or another purpose. Regardless, it had been cut. I definitely feel like the enemy has tried to cut me. I know it could also be God’s pruning, just like there could have been a legitimate reason for the tree’s branch to be cut. Right now though, I see the enemy’s hand at play, not God. Sickness and death are not God’s way of trying to teach me something. God is still in control, but the enemy has tried to cut away at my strength these past few weeks.

Despite feeling like the first tree, I know that I can’t go by how I feel. My strength is in the Lord, not my own. So despite feeling like I am barely standing, I know that I am more like these little trees. These trees are growing on the inside of the cone of a volcano. The ground surface is almost vertical in some spots. They are growing strong. The seeds were planted despite the adversity. The mineral rich soil became a place where new life could form after it had weathered away the burnt ash.

There will always be things that come against me, in the natural and in the spiritual. There will be things that try to weigh me down. The enemy will try to cut me off and down, even trying to convenience me that it is God’s pruning not his evil work. Fire and brimstone will clear a path and make it look like all is lost. There will be times I am barely standing.

But the Lord has planted me. He has given me roots. He has caused me to grow. He produces fruit in me. I was never made to stand on my own, I stand in Him. I am more than an overcomer through Him.

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Sweeping the Clouds Away

When we headed to Colorado for the weekend, the weather forecast was not in our favor. Raining and cold. My husband was planning to go gold prospecting, so neither were thing we wanted.

We almost changed our plans after hearing the forecast. Low in the 30s and high in the 50s, my husband knows I am not a snow bunny. I would prefer the sun. He wanted me to enjoy our anniversary weekend. I reminded him this is what I signed up for, him coming to Fairplay to prospect; it’s something he has talked about for a couple years.

We got up early and the temperature wasn’t too bad; jeans, a T-shirt, and a hoodie are working okay for me. We have been out here a few hours and not a drop of rain. The temperature is comfortable.

Playing in an ice cold river is not my idea of fun; I am enjoying the sounds of nature, especially the river. I have written a little, am taking pictures, and taken a couple laps around the walking trail. I enjoy being able to clear my mind and talk with the Lord and letting my husband do something he enjoys.

As we came out, the clouds were dark, a promise for sure of rain. From time to time the sun has peaked out from the clouds and warmed me. I enjoy the sun immensely. Having water nearby, even though I have no desire to be in it, it the icing on the cake to me.

Sitting here, with an occasional ray of sun, I am reminded that I often decide to change my plans before I get started. I hear something that sounds like opposition or mere discomfort and I change plans as if I were the one in control. Often this change is done without getting all the facts or even consulting the Lord.

As the dark clouds parted and the sun peaked through, I was reminded of the theme song from Sesame Street when I was a child:

Sunny Day
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get?
How to get to Sesame Street”

Why do I tend to focus on the dark clouds, instead of the sun? Why do I not stop and ask God for directions when I feel like the clouds are overtaking me? Why do I let the cares of this world cast a dark cloud over me anyway?

In His presence the air is sweet. In His presence there is rest. If I let Him, He will carry the burdens that this world tries to weigh me down with? There is warmth and comfort in His presence, even if for a moment, everything feels like it will be okay. He strengthens me for the journey ahead.

If I keep my trust in Him and His plan for my life, I will be able to walk out anything that He places before me. The clouds may look dark, the world may send me messages that would try to deter me, but He finishes what He starts. He has created good plans for me to walk in. He can sweep back any clouds that would keep me from fulfilling His plans.

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The Stones Cry Out

shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”” Luke‬ ‭19:38-40‬ ‭‬‬

Before me stands a pile of tailings from a long time ago where a dredge ran through the Platt River in Colorado. I am surrounded by river rocks and brush much like I have seen at the Mississippi when I visited my husbands hometown in Iowa. As soon as I walked upon the tailings pile, I heard that still small voice “the stones will cry out.”

I know that this is a reference to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Pharisees were indignant that Jesus was letting them cry out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus told them, if the people were quiet, the rocks would surely cry out.

Sitting in nature, it is peaceful, but it is also loud. The river rushes and roars. The birds squawk and chirp. The trees and shrubs sway and whisper in the wind. The animals scurry across the loose gravel. I can only imagine if the rocks started to cry out.

I think about how our country has changed even in my lifespan. I can’t help but think the rocks are wanting to cry out in our silence. Things that we have taken for granted in our silence are now plagues in our society. Voices are crying out, but they are not crying out to God. What will it take for us to wake up and see what our silence has allowed?

Human Trafficking – a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will. Force, fraud, or coercion need not be present if the individual engaging in commercial sex is under 18 years of age. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2019, there were 11,500 cases of human trafficking reported. A case can involve one or more potential victims of trafficking and can be reported to the hotline through one or more conversations via call, text, email, online report, or webchat.

Child abuse and neglect – According to the Children’s Bureau at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the 3,534,000 million (rounded) children who were the subject of an investigation or alternative response in fiscal year 2018, 678,000 (rounded) children were determined to be victims of maltreatment.

Murder – The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body. The UCR Program does not include the following situations in this offense classification: deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are classified as aggravated assaults. In 2019, the estimated number of murders in the nation was 16,425.

Domestic violence – the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, economic, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the United States, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually.

Divorce according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 746,971 divorces (45 reporting States and D.C.) in 2019.

Abortion – According to the Center for a disease Control and Prevention in 2018, 619,591 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas.

Addiction – According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2018, an estimated 164.8 million people aged 12 or older in the United States (60.2 percent) were past month substance users (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs). In 2018, approximately 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, including 14.8 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 8.1 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder.

Hate Crimes are a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Experts estimate an average of 250,000 hate crimes were committed each year between 2004 and 2015 in the United States. The majority of these were not reported to law enforcement.

Homelessness – Acording to the Point In Time report presented to Congress in January 2021, on a single night in 2020, roughly 580,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Six in ten (61%) were staying in sheltered locations—emergency shelters or transitional housing programs—and nearly four in ten (39%) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation.

Food Insecurity At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. In 2019, in the United States according to the USDA report 35.2 million people lived in food-insecure households.

These are just a few of the things that plague our society. Things that break the Lord’s heart. Things where the voice of the Church was silent too long. It is not to late for us to stand in unity, to cry out for the innocent, the take a stand in the name of the Lord. Will we take our voices and cry out for the lost or will we continue to let the stones cry out?

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Lessons from a Failed Marriage

Twenty seven years ago today I said “I do.” . Despite having spent most of three years with him, I had spent the four months prior to “I do” running from that relationship. Broken, I was young and honestly jumped into the marriage. It might have been the worst and best decision of my life.

Our marriage didn’t last. Within 16 months we were separated. I had filed for a divorce by nineteen month. We didn’t even make it two years. We have an amazing son from that union. The months that followed were the most challenging time in my life, and maybe his too.

From our failed marriage, I learned some great things.

God blesses broken places. When my husband left for work and didn’t come home for two weeks, I was beyond broken. It was in my brokenness that I turned to God. I needed answers only He could provide. I needed peace and comfort. I sought Him for myself and my children. He met me where I was and blessed me despite the struggles.

Growth comes through unexpected places. I didn’t realize how self centered, and what a spoiled brat I was going into marriage. One might think children would have changed that, and maybe to some extent it did. Self reflection started after my marriage ended. I knew the direct cause of the end of my marriage. I had to take time to recognize my actions that also contributed to the end of it. I needed to work on me. If I’m honest, I’m still working on me.

Marriage takes work. As a young adult I had a romanticized view of marriage. The movies make happily ever after seem easy. Two people are not always gonna try at the same time. Two people are gonna have bad days and weeks, and sometimes those coincide. Two people are gonna have separate wants and needs which often are opposing. It takes a lot of work to make it through those things.

Marriage takes communication. When we were dating we talked about what seemed like everything. I think we were comfortable and took for granted that the other knew what we were thinking and how we were feeling. Conversations ended up being more about problems that we were facing. We started talking at each other and stopped talking to each other. Resentments grow when what we need does not match what we get, especially when you don’t communicate to reconcile the difference. Mind readers aren’t real, no matter how well you know someone. Things have to be communicated.

Marriage requires boundaries. As two become one, it is easy to blur the lines of where I end and he begins. However, if I believe that my husband completes me then I can only be whole if I am with him. That belief can cause a lot of harm when there are things going on in a marriage that should not be. As much as I loved my husband, I could not permit what was going on in my life or our children’s lives. Without boundaries, there would be no reason for change. There are boundaries for a marriage of what is permissible and what is not that should be agreed upon by both parties. ( I am not talking about how much pepper is permissible on a steak . Yes, that was a major source of fighting at one point, going back to the growth topic). For most, there are hard stops like violence, infidelity, and illegal activities. They may not mean divorce, but do require boundaries.

Marriage takes commitment. It is easy to run away when things get hard if you are not committed. We had lived together before marriage, which ended in us not living together at times. We had broken up many times in our dating relationship. We were quick to throw around the D word during conflict as if that was the only option. We loved each other, but we didn’t have a clue what commitment was in marriage. Commitment is a necessity in marriage.

Endings don’t always mean it’s over. If anyone had told me we would end up back together when we divorced I would have laughed. Yet, nothing is impossible for God. Within six months of our divorce we started talking again. It took three and a half years and a lot out counseling and work, but God brought us back together. Friday we will celebrate twenty-one years of marriage. I think we both learned lessons from a failed marriage.

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Past Where We Are

Today we went and explored the Three Sister volcanos in Albuquerque. We took the scenic route home. It is amazing to me how much the scenery can change in thirty miles. It is easy to forget that there are so many different terrains to see – deserts, mesas, valleys, mountains, the river, volcanos. Some untouched by man, others filled with houses and businesses, and still others completely exposed by digging and mining.

I thought about how we often take for granted what we are surrounded by daily. We get comfortable in our setting, and don’t take the opportunity to explore other points of interest. I know I rarely explored nature when I lived in Arkansas. We had a few places that we went regularly, but for all the natural beauty that surrounded us in the Natural State we rarely explored it.

Since we moved to New Mexico we have been outdoors more. We have explored a lot of local areas, and a few that are south. I have enjoyed being a tourist even when my body is screaming at me. It is neat to see what God has created and the vast differences in all He has made.

As we drove, I thought about how the enemy tries to get us focused on our current circumstances. He doesn’t want us to see past where we are currently at in life. If it is sickness, he tries to tell us God no longer heals. If it is financial stress, he tells us God will not provide for our needs. If we feel hopeless, he tries to tell us it will never pass. If we feel lonely, the enemy tells us no one cares. If we feel overwhelmed, the enemy throws more on our plate.

I am reminded of the servant with Elisha and how God opened his eyes to see in the spirit what he could not see in the natural.

Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.2 Kings‬ ‭6:15-17‬ ‭‬‬

Yet, if we take the time to sanctify ourselves to the Lord during those times, we can separate ourselves from the enemy’s lies. We can begin to see the beautiful things that God has for us despite our current circumstances. We can see His goodness. We can be reminded that whatever we are facing, this too will pass.

When we are in the dry places, we can focus on God’s refreshing presence.

For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”” Jeremiah‬ ‭31:25‬ ‭‬‬

When we are in the mountain top experiences, we can remember to breath.

The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job‬ ‭33:4‬ ‭

We we are in the valleys, we can know that God’s love still reaches us.

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:38-39

When we are at the river, we can strengthen our belief in Him knowing He will fill us.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ””. John‬ ‭7:38‬ ‭‬‬

When we are in the fire, we can remember that He is there with us.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!”” Daniel‬ ‭3:24-25‬

Most of life is outside of our control, yet one thing we can control is how we respond to the circumstances around us. We can choose to focus on the negative and believe that we are defeated. Or we can sanctify ourselves to the Lord, renew our mind, and allow Him to show us the victory that surrounds us in Him. We need to ask for spiritual eyes to see when we are overwhelmed by what we see in the natural.

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In the Middle of the Process

Yesterday I did something I have never really done. I moved dirt for my husband. He was working to cave in a hole he had been digging to make it safer for him to dig farther back. I am not a manual labor kind of girl, but I enjoyed it for a while. My tools were a small shovel, and I used a pick ax a few times.

It sounds silly I know; as I was doing it, I felt a connection to my father who always operated heavy machinery and moved dirt for a living. My husband commented on my work, and I told him I am my father’s daughter. It wasn’t a lot of work, I might have filled 2 1/2 buckets of classified dirt, but I was proud of my little spot.

I asked God to show me something through the process. I never want to waste an experience. He didn’t fail. I realize I didn’t mind the work in the moment or getting dusty,. I was excited about accomplishing what I set out to do. I was happy to work alongside my husband and help him with his goal. Usually I work in the middle step, I will run his dirt through the sluice. He does the hard work, and then he pans the concentrate to pull out the fine gold.

I like the middle job, it takes less effort. I can sit comfortably (most of the time), soak in the sun, and feel like a I am accomplishing things as a I empty bucket after bucket. I don’t have to put forth the sweat and energy it takes to dig big shovels of dirt. I don’t have to do the tedious work of separating the gold from the concentrate.

I realize that in my Christian walk, I also like to operate in the middle. I often come up with some ideas that I think would be great. However, breaking ground and putting in the effort that it takes to get going, I am not always willing to put in the work. The perfectionist part of my personality doesn’t let me get started, because I don’t see all the steps I need to take.

I also realize the tedious parts of the Kingdom, I often become inpatient with. I need the goal to be reached, and often in Kingdom work, there is not something to reach, as the work will not be complete until the Lord returns. There is no task for my type A personality to complete, so I get discouraged in the process.

In the middle, I enjoy things. I can fulfill a task for someone, whether it is teaching a lesson, serving a meal, meeting a need, or cleaning up, I can see the beginning and the end. I can work in my comfort areas, or know that the uncomfortableness will eventually end. I can give myself kudos that I am doing something for the Kingdom.

There is something though I realized in the process; God has given me the ability to work outside my comfort zone. He gives me ideas for a reason. If I would just be willing to start He will meet me there, He will empower me to complete what He calls me too. He wants me to jump in and start doing what He has placed on my heart, not just wait for it to come to me so I can jump in the middle.

I admit, it’s a little overwhelming if I think about it. I have been someone who can convince someone else to start things so I can jump in the middle most of my life. It is easy to stay in the familiar. It’s safer. Yet, I feel like it’s time to quit playing it safe.

This morning the pastor touched on Esther 4:14:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?””

That “such a time as this” is an appointed time, a Kingdom assignment. It is not, “make time for this”; it is “for this time you were made”. I won’t say God can’t bring the opportunity back, He can do anything. But it is an opportunity for the moment you are in, and it may not come again. I know I have probably missed some of those, I have repented and asked God to redeem the time and let His grace cover those impacted by my failure.

I don’t want to miss anymore appointed times. It is time to get out of the middle of the process and start doing what God has called me to.

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Streams in the Desert

I see this each time we take a drive down I25. A long patch of green in the middle of the desert. I recognize it as the path where the Rio Grande runs. It is not trees like I am used to, but there is vegetation close to the source of water, or where water has been in the past.

It is the same in the Christian walk, we are most fruitful when we stay connected to the source. There may be times that we feel we are going through a desert, but if our roots are deep enough we will still prosper through that time if we will stay connected to the Lord.

We can follow the fruitful path of our walk with the Lord. Those places where we have allowed His presence to flow freely. The soil in our life during those seasons and in those areas is rich with the nutrients that come from a fresh flow. The growth can be seen by all, even those who are just casual observers.

We can also see those areas where He has overflowed in our lives. Where His presence filled to capacity and ran into other areas, making a fresh path of growth.

And then there are dry areas, where growth is starting to die because we are not allowing His presence to saturate there anymore. It might be unforgiveness that is causing the flow to stop, or unconfessed sin. It might be the busyness of life that we have allowed to block His access to our lives. Regardless, the greenery is starting to fade and be replaced by dead brush, cactus, and cracked soil as the flow is completely cut off.

If we are not careful, the dryness spreads and growth becomes nonexistent. We look around and all we see is dried out weeds and desert all around. There is no sign of life, just the weight of the world bearing down on us like the hot sun in the desert sky. There is no relief to be found.

God has called us to live by the river, for rivers of living water to flow from us. He wants to overflow His blessing in our lives, as David says “my cup overflows”. He is willing to let us have streams even in the desert if we will stay connected to His presence.

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Lately I feel like every plan I make, fails. I made plans for my birthday, they fail through. My husband tried to find something else, but I had my heart set on my original plans. I rescheduled those plans, and then cancelled out other plans I had made with a friend because the availability fell on the same weekend. Then my friend and I made new plans, and those were changed by the airlines, which then caused me to cancel. It’s just been a cycle of broken plans based on my stubbornness.

It hasn’t just been big plans that I am trying to coordinate, small plans too have been falling though or not turning out as I expected. My husband and I went to one of the National Parks on Saturday, we headed to a second, and by the time we got there it was closed. On Sunday, we went to another National Park. We visited one site and hiked the 3 trails, which were short but more strenuous than my normal walking. My husband also pointed out the shoes I had on were not made for hiking, more for a casual stroll (Which is really what I thought the day would be).

Then we headed to another site close by. We started along the 2.2 mile trails, and realized we had not brought enough water to be walking out in the hot sun. So we turned around, I did not have enough water for the return trip either. I spent the last half of our walk back praying for God to help me make it back to the car (Where I had a lot of water)!

We only walked about five miles throughout the day, which is probably more than we had planned when we set out in our day. Two days later, I am so sore, getting up and down and those initial steps, I look like I belong in a nursing home. I didn’t do enough planning for the hiking we did.

There is a little quote I have heard, that really makes me feel like God is enjoying a good laugh. “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” The Bible has much to say about the plans of man.

Psalm 33:10The Lord nullifies the plan of nations; He frustrates the plans of peoples.

Psalm 33:11The plan of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalm 36:4He plans wickedness on his bed; He sets himself on a path that is not good; He does not reject evil.

Psalm 81:12 So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, To walk by their own plans.

Proverbs 16:1 The plans of the heart belong to a person, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the Lord, And your plans will be established.

Proverbs 16:9The mind of a person plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 19:21Many plans are in a person’s heart, But the advice of the Lord will stand.

Isaiah 25:1 Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

Jeremiah 18:12 But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will persist in the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

I admit, my plans have been frustrating to me lately. I realize some of these plans I had not taken time to involve God in, I just made up my stubborn little mind and moved forward. I have allowed Him into some plans, but not all. God wants to be part of every part of my life. He has plans for every part of my life, if I will let Him be involved. God’s plans for me are good; even when the path is difficult it will eventually end up for my good.

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