our new ride

“Ride the wave,” I told myself.  I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, while my adept husband braved the stormy seas of negotiating a used car sale.

I fell asleep praying the night before and woke whispering the same petition.  “Guide us, O Thou Great Jehovah.”  I was still in shock that the vehicle that had served us faithfully for over a decade had suddenly reached an urgent “needs to be replaced” status.

We sweat the beating summer sun to empty out the personal items and drove to the dealership.  The test drive in our best replacement choice was a dream and I felt the much needed shift in my heart to receive this gracious provision from our Father.

Then, the storm began.  The debate over dollars.  NOT my comfort zone.  I felt yanked, being asked to risk it all on the table, my fragile excitement about our new ride, trusting the right path to emerge from the tense exchange of words.

I stared at my feet, pretending to check my phone.  I sipped from the complimentary water bottle.  I glanced up, briefly, trying to read faces as both sides worked hard for their best deal.   Were they honest men?  Would my husband sense a clear nudge from His Spirit to reconcile the numbers or walk away?

The steadying efforts rolled along in my head.

We NEED a new vehicle.  GOD will provide.  I told myself again to ride the wave, to consciously settle my racing heart and just trust!  The LORD has always been faithful. Faithful He will remain. 

And just like that, they shook hands.  Exchanged relaxed, contented smiles.  Done deal. The signal that I could breathe again.

90 minutes later (paperwork is no joke!), we were cruising south on the turnpike toward home in a new-to-us mid-SUV.  In my favorite cranberry color with cool grey interior and a combination of cup holder placement and spacious ride that will be just perfect for our summer road trips to the northern hills.

Why, I ask myself, when I can manage a cool-as-cucumber exterior, do my insides always have to be so dramatic?!  Father GOD indeed is faithful.  He not only meets our needs – He loves to lavish us with abundance!

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Without a doubt, I believe the LORD went before us to provide for that very moment.  Sudden and unexpected to us.  But not to Him.

He knew exactly when our faithful vehicle would reach its last useful day.  I believe He orchestrated those events to protect us and position us to be confidently decisive.

In the coming weeks, we have two long road trips planned to the northern hills (with more than one rather steep mountainous climb!).  What grace that we will not embark on those journeys with concerns about the reliability of an aging vehicle!

When we needed an expedient trade-in, the local dealer just “happened to have” a used car in the exact make and model we preferred, with low mileage, in good condition AND in my favorite color.  What extravagant grace!

I am so grateful.

#newride  #Heisfaithful  #graciousFather  #Hegoesbeforeus  #trustingJESUS  #northernhills  #herewecome !

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Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things…  Matthew 6:32

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory for ever and ever!  Ephesians 3:20

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people of GOD’s promise

reflections from a year-long study about “People of the Promised Land – Part I” with Bible Study Fellowship …

In a world of uncertainty and unfaithfulness, Almighty GOD was faithful. He chose a people for Himself.  And He made a covenant with them – it was a sure thing!  Not one of His promises failed.  All game to pass!  (Joshua 21:45)

Parts of this study caused us to wrestle.  To squirm uncomfortably as we saw key players act in ways that disappointed our expectations.  From Joshua stepping in because Moses had stumbled, unable to enter the promised land because He failed to honor GOD before the people in a moment of frustration, to Eli, to Saul, to David and then Solomon.  The LORD chose them and placed them.  He was faithful to them, and yet they faltered.

Scripture doesn’t pretty it up.  The LORD doesn’t hide those missteps.  They grieved His heart more than ours.  But He tells it like it is because He wants us to know that NONE of us are capable of a pure story.  He wants us to realize we need Him and to reach for only Him to meet us in the pain and destruction that sin has brought.  To humble our hearts and lift our hands to Him, open to receive what He has longed to give us all along.  His redeeming love and power that sets us on a new path and refocuses our efforts on His plan, His way.

There were some sweet spots along our journey with GOD’s people.  The not-so-key players, whose humble, servant hearts and statements of courageous faith in the LORD and His perfect plan had resounding impact – not just in their small circle of interaction, but for generations after them.  Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, Abigail … Jonathan.

How precious that a lot of them were women.  The LORD did not call them to be military leaders or priests or prophets or kings.  But their words and actions were clear.  The one true GOD had made Himself real to them.  They poured out their hearts to Him and risked so much to align themselves with His plans for His people. And He used them to touch hearts, to change the course of history, to draw others to honor GOD by their example.

Maybe the faithful few understood with clearer vision the sure thing promised to them.  By the only One whose words of promise are always true and unchanging. They could risk it all on Him because He never fails!

We will fail.

Sin brings pain and destruction into our lives too.  But the one true GOD still reveals Himself to us today!  He makes Himself real to us and pursues our hearts.  We have the same opportunity to respond to Him.  To reach for Him with humble hearts and lifted hands.  Open to receive what He has longed to give us all along.  –  His new covenant sealed with the blood of JESUS.  Chosen people of GOD.  Held and beloved with promises that never fail.  Our very own sure thing that is ours today.

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Will I treasure His gifts and align myself with His perfect plan? Will I take whatever steps are necessary to stay close to Him, to keep my heart in tune with His, so I am less likely to be distracted, drawn away and deceived into believing the lie that anything else can satisfy?

Will I have compassion for faltering moments – in others and in myself?  Will I understand that none of us is capable apart from Christ?  Will I quickly recognize my own detours and desire to find my way back?  Will His correction cause my heart to bow in praise, to receive His mercy with a grateful heart, to seek His face to guide me back into His ways?

Will I honor His faithfulness by simply choosing to be faithful – to Him and to whatever role He calls me to, especially as a not-so-key player?  Will I trust that in His narrative there can be ripples of impact I couldn’t imagine?  Opportunities to draw hearts to Him and change the course of history in unseen but powerful ways – priceless opportunities that I don’t want to miss?

I join with those who believe He is precious.  He calls me Chosen.  He offers me His faithful promises.  They will never fail.  It is the only sure thing.  It is mine.  Because JESUS died for me.

hold fast

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Read more here…

Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel

Know therefore, that the LORD your GOD is GOD, the faithful GOD who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations.  Deuteronomy 7:9

Even when we are faithless, He remains faithful.  2 Timothy 2:13

The LORD is faithful, who will establish you and guard you.  2 Thessalonians 3:3

The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness!  Lamentations 3:22-23

parenting matters

I quit wiping the tears and just let them fall as I finished reading “parenting is do-overs times infinity” in Lisa-Jo Baker’s “The Middle Matters.”

My Dad often seemed absent while I was growing up.  Not physically, just not always engaged.  Sometimes we seemed to come in second to more pressing matters like work or church eldership or lawn care or prep for preaching.  When he did get involved it usually meant he was displeased or disappointed enough to speak words he felt were needed for correction.

As we’ve all gotten older, he’s tuned his ear to listen… listen a lot… and listen well.  (Maybe he’s been listening all along, and I simply failed to recognize his quiet presence.)

On a recent visit, with my husband away and me wrestling with whether to invest little available funds into a rare opportunity for a reduced-cost session with a writing coach (to feel out whether or not I am crazy to pursue anything beyond my humble blog), it was my dad who commanded my attention from across the kitchen table and stated with conviction and not one ounce of hesitation, “I’ll write the check, schedule the session!”

He’s not flowing with cash either, but he said in the depths of his eyes meeting mine, “I believe in you and what the LORD has placed in your heart to share through your writing.  Let me help you be brave and step forward.”

I don’t know where it will all lead.  It’s still baby steps into a huge and intimidating world of incredibly gifted writers.  BUT.  I will never forget that moment at the kitchen table with my Dad.

I’m 51.  He’s 82.  It’s never too late for a do-over!  It’s never too late for deeper understanding and deeper gratefulness.

#whythemiddlematters #listen #dream #doovers #howgraciousisourFather

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. . .

If tears fell freely while reading “do-over times infinity,” they flooded in quiet heaves while trying to make it through “sobbing in my mini-van over honor roll” (still in Lisa-Jo Baker’s “The Middle Matters”).

Our son’s challenges haven’t been academically, but socially.  For 14 long years, I turned his struggles every which way in my head, desperately trying to make sense of them.

When it all came to a scary head at a family gathering, I sat with him in solemn stillness in the dark, while the voices haunted his heart: “why am I so different?  why can’t I just join in?  why is it so hard?  what’s WRONG with me?”

It had to be GOD’s tender spirit guiding my words that day as I held his defeated eyes in my gaze and said, “listen to me, Bubba, when GOD created you, He didn’t miss something… different isn’t wrong… we just need to ask Him to help us understand the uniquely special person He created you to be and to teach us how to help you navigate the situations that are harder for you because of that wiring.  Let’s ask Him to show us, because I truly believe it doesn’t always have to be this hard.”

And GOD was faithful, leading us to a sweet counselor who helped us sort through 14 years of mama-heart observations and questions and the insights that came pouring out of him in a far more articulate manner than I ever dreamed possible.  He’d been wrestling in silence for a LONG time.  What was baffling fog and frightening mystery to us was known and explained, identified and validated in her kind and capable hands.  And all of a sudden SO many things started to make a lot more sense.  He found his voice.  He stood taller in the person GOD created him to be with the unique and special gifts he brings to this world.

And I sobbed through the realization that all those times I didn’t have a clue, all those prayers for help and wisdom, our gracious Father answered every one.  He gave me courage to champion for him when no one else understood his struggles, to bear the weighty, judgmental gaze or well-meaning but not helpful words from others, and braved a calm and encouraging exterior while my insides raged and doubted and panicked, fighting for him to have the freedom to process the world the only way he could.  I couldn’t possibly explain how incredibly brave he had been all along! – and I feared that very few people truly cared to know his reality.  BUT GOD.  He knew.  He saw.  And He helped this mama show her son that someone in his world would give anything to understand.

And now… every. single. time he has overcome those challenges and stepped out in courage to meet a goal at taekwondo or take that first trombone chair with confidence or decide that yes, he can commit to a grueling, crazy “peopled-out,” demanding marching band program to achieve his next goal… every. single. time … I break out in an ugly cry.  I just really can’t help it.  GOD is SO good.  He blows way past what I don’t even dare to hope for.  The victory He works in and through our kids is staggering.  The fact that He walks us through the long hard road and welcomes us into a front row seat to see each shining moment in their lives is simply overwhelming!

#theheartofamother #notforthefaintatheart #notashamedtouglycry #Heplansgreatthingsforourkids #fearfullyandwonderfullymade #GODsamazingcreation #trustingJESUS #heldandbeloved #whythemiddlematters

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. . .

In the midst of one amazing launch team and a few other book reviews (all SO good!!!, I can’t wait to share more), this was one opportunity I just couldn’t pass up!!!  So, I threw caution and a full desk to the wind and bravely applied for a 2nd launch team!

Lisa-Jo Baker is one of my favorite podcasters (with Christie Purifoy on “Out of the Ordinary Podcast”).  I love her deeply expressive heart and her passion for the LORD and for people – alllll people, especially her own near and dear people!  And I am honored and excited to dive into her new book, “The Middle Matters.”

When my copy of her book arrived, I opened it at the kitchen table, right in the middle of where I do battle for my family and my own weary heart.  Where He restores my soul and pursues me again and again.  By the window, with my Bible and journal.  Many, many tears and prayers and laughs and smiles have happened right here!

At the risk of overloading my sweet friends with my many literary loves, stay tuned for great take-aways from this real and raw and treasured (and sometimes hilarious) look at all things in the middle!

#whythemiddlematters #launchteam #readagoodbook #encouragehearts #Hislovemeetsusinthemiddle

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