Monday, March 26, 2012



We all have them. We can have high expectations. We can have low expectations. It is a rare occasion that we have no expectations.

This past week we had the opportunity to take a few days and travel to the sunshine state. We spent one day at the Magic Kingdom. That superseded every expectation I had. In fact, it blew my expectations out of the water. From the service to the food to the rides it was everything I thought it would be and more. Couple all of that with my son’s priceless reaction and I am still getting teary eyed.

We then took a couple of days to visit and crash at a friend’s house in Tampa. He took us to see the sights. We visited a big mall. Drove through downtown and looked at a lot of tall buildings. Drove through Ybor City. Lots of people and lots of things made by man are just not my thing.

Then on Wednesday night he took us to a beach. Not just any beach, but a beautiful beach with white sand and no buildings and very little people. Fort Desoto Beach.

The water was gorgeous. I snapped picture after picture. He snapped picture after picture as well. He took a few pics of us as I was taking pictures of the scenery. I almost dropped my camera in the water as I was posing with my hubby for a pic. I didn’t want to pose. I wanted to take pictures. Note to self: taking one-handed pictures with your camera while standing in the ocean is not wise.

As the clouds rolled in and we started walking to the van, our friend tells me, if you liked this beach then you have to go to Siesta Key. It is better than this one.

My expectations started to rise. Fort Desoto had trees and wild grass. Little pockets of water as well as a little creek with a wooden bridge added to the solitude and serenity of the place. It was like someone had set me in the midst of a deserted island. I wasn’t sure how any other beach could get better, but I was bound and determined to get to this “better” beach!

The next day I picked up a friend as we had planned. I told her I heard about this beautiful beach and asked if she’d like to go. She was totally up for it. We ate some lunch and headed out. We drove for a good hour and a half. Finally, we arrived at our destination. I was in a panic. There must be some sort of mistake.

The parking lot was completely full. There were people everywhere. I was sure if we kept driving we would find the “better” part of the beach he had told me about. My friend was pretty certain this was the beach we were looking for. I wasn’t so certain. After taking a drive through the neighborhood, we pulled into the parking lot that had a sign saying “parking lot full.”

This couldn’t be! This is not what I expected. Inside, where it really counts, I was stomping my feet and throwing an absolute fit. How would I find peace in the midst of all these people? How would I find inspiration for the next chapters that are waiting for me to tackle them?

As I was sitting in my borrowed lawn chair looking around at the masses, the tall buildings lining the shore, the airplane advertising it’s wares and the football that almost landed on my lap, I realized that to the person who gave me the advice, this would be the better beach. You see, he loves to be in the center of the action. He loves people and all that busy stuff. His idea of a good time is laughter with lots of friends and lots of talking.

I had high expectations for Siesta Key. And I do agree, it is a very beautiful beach. The sand is pure white and super fine. The water is warm and inviting. But it wasn’t what I expected.

I almost let my expectations ruin a beautiful day. Once I realized that my expectations were getting in the way of having a wonderful time with my friend, I let the expectations go and dove in. We took a long walk and picked up a few shells. We jumped in the waves until my legs were jelly and I could barely make it back to my chair. We laughed out loud and giggled like kids. We had fun.

Are your expectations keeping you from enjoying the moment? Let go and embrace life. You’ll be glad you did!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Crazy "God" Things!

Well, at the end of last week's blog we were laying on our left sides for 390 days and cooking our bread with human feces. Sorry to leave you with that picture. It’s gross. It’s disgusting! I can’t believe God thought of it! Poor Ezekiel!

So, has God asked you to do something that is so weird you can hardly believe it came from Him? Once you figured the instructions were from Him, were you reluctant to share it with anyone? You knew they would think you a) really weren’t listening and heard from the enemy rather than the One true God, b) were doing what you wanted to do, or c) you’d lost your mind.

Think on Abraham and what God asked him to do. Put his only son, the one he knew was coming yet had to wait upon for years, on an altar and sacrifice him. Abraham’s obedience was absolutely amazing. God did stop him from sacrificing his son, but Abraham’s willingness to be obedient was unquestionable.

Of course Abraham didn’t live in a city with social services. Cause in this day and age if you thought God told you to kill your son you’d be in mental hospital and the child would be in foster care.

What would have happened if Noah listened to all those making fun of him and never built the ark? Imagine if Moses would have been embarrassed to stretch the rod toward the sea. What might have happened? What if Joshua wouldn’t have walked around Jericho with all the Israelites in tow, no one making a sound? What if David had run, terrified of the giant standing before him?

The Bible is full of men and woman who are called to do some crazy “God” things.

Then again, didn’t the Lord tell us in Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

What makes sense to God, what fits in His plan, will at times make no sense to us. The thing is, I don’t think He is concerned with us understanding. He is concerned that we are obedient.

A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday morning I was sitting at this very table, praying. I asked God what He wants us to do next. What is our next step? Immediately I heard him whisper, do what I told you to do then I will give you the next step. Not before.

I headed to church and guess what the message was on? Yep. “How do you know what God wants you to do” was the title. And the answer on the pastor’s lips were…He is not going to tell you the next thing until you have accomplished the directive you are working on. I had to laugh. That is exactly what He told me in prayer that morning.

I love God. He has a great sense of humor. He is so patient with me and He has huge plans for me.

I think He knows we’ll get distracted if He gives us too much information at one time.

I love this example. A man is traveling from New York to California by car at night. He cannot see the whole distance. He can only see what his headlights illuminate. He keeps going with the little light he has until he reaches his destination.

That is what God wants from us. He wants us to step out in faith and head in the direction He has given us without being able to see the whole picture. God has a unique wonderful plan for each one of us. Whether or not we enter into our calling depends on our obedience to Him.

It’s guaranteed. If you finish what you are doing now, He’ll tell you the next thing. He won’t leave you hanging!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Serving God Out of the Box!

We left off last time at making a list of our natural talents. Mine consisted of singing, writing, cooking, hosting and organizing/leading. Those are what I came up with without putting a whole lot of effort into it. How does your list look?

Since God is a God or order, we can safely say most of the time He wants us to use our talents to honor Him. There will be times that He calls us to step out of our comfort zone and serve Him in ways that make no sense to us. Uh…what if He calls us to serve Him out of the box?

During those times, the Holy Spirit will lead us. He will give us direction. How do we know it is Him? Well, first off, John 10:27 tells us “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Those of us, who are His children, know his voice. It is recognizable. He speaks to us through His Word, the Bible. He speaks to us in our heart of hearts and he speaks to us through others and our world. Nothing He leads us to do will contradict His Word. In fact, His Word will support what He tells us to do.

For example, a few weeks ago, both my husband and I felt the Holy Spirit give us specific direction to share some instruction with a couple who had some authority over us. Both of us were dreading the conversation that was destined to happen. For the first time in my life I was on my way to Tarshish.


One thing I have noticed is when God is the one telling me what to do, He doesn’t let it go. He keeps prompting me, prodding me and down right threatening me when I refuse to obey. In the above example, my husband and I knew the outcome would not be pleasant. We were fearful of the reaction of man until I heard God whisper to me “Who do you fear more? Mortal man…or me, the God that created the heavens and the earth?”

Needless to say that prompted action. And yes, the aftermath was less than desirable. But I knew the threats that were attached to us by not obeying; in fact I should call them promises because God does not make idle threats. We would not walk in the blessings God has set aside for us had we not obeyed.

To calm our stomachs afterward, the Lord did something amazing just for us. We visited a friend’s church and when her priest went to the give the message, he told us all that while he had a complete other message prepared, the Holy Spirit would not let him deliver that message. Instead the Holy Spirit had put the story of Naaman on his heart. He then proceeded to tell the story of a man who was in great authority with a high position that humbles himself and takes instruction from his servants. Wow! Exactly what our doubting hearts needed, confirmation that could only come from God!

That is how good our God is. He will comfort us, cradle us and confirm to us when we have been obedient to His calling. In fact, He sends us confirmation again and again and again, if that is what is needed.

Tune in next time when we tackle: What if my calling is so far out of the box I have to lay on my left side for 390 days and bake my bread with human feces? Ewww………!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Plan or God's Plan?

This past week our daughter decided she needed to set some life goals to paper. She has been in a hard place for the past 9 months or so and needed to re-evaluate. She decided the best way to do this was take a pen and notebook, go someplace where it was quiet (most likely Barnes and Noble), and sit and write down her thoughts, her dreams and goals.

She was gone for hours. Literally. She left at 5:45pm. Around 9pm I texted her. We are in a new city and she knows no one, so I was a bit concerned. She promptly texted back that she was fine, just listening to a blues band downtown. Ok, I can deal with that. Two hours later I texted again. Where are you now? (I’m the mother of an adult teenager, what can I say?) She says she is watching an old movie.

Of course I have all the normal mother questions. Who are you with? Are you safe? You are watching a movie by yourself? What do you mean there is a bunch of old people watching the movie? Dirty old men kind of old people? What kind of movie is this? You met some people? Some college girls? I thought these were old people watching the movie.

After reassuring me a gazillion times we stop texting. At 12:30am I text her and ask her when she is going to be home as I will not be able to go to sleep until I know she is safe. Call me old fashioned, but if one of my children is under my roof, I will not sleep until I know he/she is safe. No matter how old she is.

The next day my husband, daughter and I were chatting when I casually asked her what she came up with for her life goals. She looked at me, surprised. Her response? “Oh, I forgot to do that!” My husband and I both bust out in laughter. No matter how well intentioned, it’s easy to get distracted, especially for our daughter!

(She's such a goof!)

So, how does one come up with one’s purpose? Obviously, the above method didn’t work out so well.

Recently we have made some major life changes. We didn’t make these changes on a whim or spur of the moment. It was something we had been thinking on, praying for, considering for some time. We prayed. We asked others to pray. We prayed. We talked with others and got counsel. Then we prayed some more. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. We really prayed about our motives for making these changes. Was all this God’s idea? Or our own?

God has given us several indicators of purpose within our lives. First, look at your talents. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 we learn about a master giving his servants talents to be used for him. I’m not going to print the whole text to save on space, but I will give a quick run down. The master is going away. He gives one servant five talents, one servant two talents and one servant one talent. He asks them to take good care of them for him while he is gone.

Upon returning the master finds the first two wisely using the talents given to them. The third, not so much. Talents, in this parable, are translated as gold or silver. Since it is a parable, we have some freedom in ascertaining this can also mean talents to be used for the church, in furthering God’s kingdom.

The servants who had the five and two talents enthusiastically used those talents entrusted to them to create huge increases, or harvests, for their master. Later, because they used their talents wisely, they are given even more responsibility. They did not make excuses as to why they couldn’t or wouldn’t use their talents. They showed initiative regarding these talents. They did what they had to do with what they were given. And they were blessed because of it.

On the other hand, the servant with the one talent did not use his talent. He was chastised and rebuked. His talent was taken from him and given to another. He hung his head in shame. His fear of failure caused him to, well, fail.

Because this is turning into a sermon, I will continue this post later this week. We’ll look at other factors to consider when determining what is and what is not God’s purpose for our lives. In the meantime, if you have been wondering what your purpose is, write down your talents. What are those things God has gifted you with? Once you have a list, ask yourself how you are using them to further God’s kingdom.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Respond or React?

Reaction or Response?

Your answer to the above tells a lot about you. Let me explain.

All of us, at one time or another, have been on the receiving end of someone wanting to elicit a reaction. I specifically remember wanting a reaction from my daughter when I was doling out punishment. She was the queen of not letting things bother her. I would tell her she couldn’t play with her Barbie dolls until she had her room clean. That punishment didn’t seem to affect her so I would tack on punishment after punishment until finally something upset her. I’m so glad I have grown up! You know how it goes. Perhaps you remember doing this yourself?

Recently my husband was verbally attacked. The attacker wanted my husband to react. So, in an effort to elicit reaction, he went on and on and on…finding or creating more verbal ammunition. When he did not get the response he wanted from my husband, he literally began to shake.

I couldn’t be more proud of my husband. A long time ago he read a book that literally changed his life. The book? The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. In this book Mr. Covey talks about this very subject and it made a lasting impression on my husband. I’m so glad he did.

Quick side note…if you are an adult and you are still trying to elicit a reaction from people, grow up. Matthew 5:37 reads “But let your yes be yes and your no be no. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Say what you mean and mean what you say. Basically this verse is saying be a person of your word. Make your words count and make them worth listening to. Whether or not the person receiving the information reacts, matters not.

Back to the meat of this blog post.

What do you do when someone intentionally provokes you? Angers you? Entices you? Speaks to you in any manner that is indicative of someone who has maturing to do? Do you maintain your own integrity even if the other party has shown none? Or do you react?

A response considers the proposed information, carefully and deliberately ponders it and then forms a well thought out response. A reaction takes no time to consider, no time to deliberate and no time to think. Reaction is simply the first thing (usually in defense and ignorance) to come to mind. The former, a responder, is considered wise while the latter is foolish.

Consider Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Or how about this one: Proverbs 18:6 “A fools lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” Yikes, I don’t want to be lumped into the “fool” category, do you?

So, are you a responder or a reactor? The decision is yours.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Are you in...or out?

Well, which is it? Are you in or out?

And don’t go there, I’m not talking about the closet.

I’m talking about the box. Do you reside inside or outside the box? Do you follow the flow? Or do you walk against the tide?

My husband and I have always lived somewhat outside the box. Just on the edge so to speak. Not enough outside the box to be considered freakish…but definitely enough outside the box to be questioned on a regular basis. I have seen the looks when people don’t think I am paying attention and I have heard the tone of voice when asked “So…what are you trying this time?”

I admit our life outside the box has at times been somewhat reluctant, especially on the part of myself. I am a woman. I like security. I like having money in the bank and a regular source from which the money flows. I like knowing I have bread in the pantry and milk in the fridge. I prefer my children to have shoes that fit and yes, I admit, I thoroughly enjoy a venti white chocolate mocha from Starbucks once or twice a week.

Society tells me that in order to have everything above, I must go to work and work 8 hours a day to enjoy the simple creature comforts of this life.

Someone I know recently told me it is very important that I maintain a regular schedule with my son’s homeschooling. Most people who give advice mean well, they really do. But, not everyone wants to live in that box. I admit the public school system is the perfect place to train your children to work an 8-hour day. And for some people, that is great. However, it is not what we have in mind for our son.

Believe it or not, some people actually thrive outside the box. Some people I know (like me) do their best work in the middle of the night. I tend to do my best writing at 3am. At times this makes me a social piranha. People don’t know what to make of it. Because I sleep until 10 or 11 am, I am lazy. My question is, why do I have to be like everyone else? Why do I have to live in the proverbial bird cage?

Living outside the box is usually reserved for those people who are pursuing their dreams. Unfortunately, most people have been trained to put their dreams on the back burner. Even worse, some people no longer remember what their dreams are. So, when confronted with us living our dreams, it can be an affront.

Recently we committed the mother load “sin” of living outside the box.

After much prayer and years of learning to let go of stuff and trust God, I looked at my husband and said, “let’s do it. Let’s go live with my aunt for a while and write. You can write your server training book and we can publish it. Let’s go for it. You can always get another job.”

You should have seen the grin on my husband’s face. He has been waiting ten years to hear those words come out of my mouth. He actually asked me where his wife was. Today as I was watching him write for 6-8 hours, I smiled inward, thankful that we didn’t listen to those people who tried to discourage us and squash our dream.

For the next few months we are in the south drinking sweet tea, eating our big meal at 2pm and writing until our hearts’ content. Why? Because God’s call on our lives was too loud to ignore, because we love and support one another and because we never want to be “normal.” Oh…and because we can. True story!