Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finding Our Destiny

                                                          

     I was talking with some friends the other day, and one of them spoke of how they were going to move out of state.  She said that she and her husband have felt for a long time that they should move there...and with doors flying open they know that Texas was part of their destiny.  They were destined to live in Texas.

     That made me think about my own life and all of the places that I have lived and the experiences that I have had.  They were all a part of my destiny.  They have made me who I am today.  God had a plan for my life, and I believe that these things were all a part of His plan for me. 

     He placed the people in my life that would help to shape and mold me.  He placed me in the places that I have been to show me bits and pieces of Himself in different areas and sections of the country...and the world.  He was with me in all of the life experiences that I have had to help me share my view of life with the people I was to meet in the future.

     At times we wonder what our destiny is.  What are we supposed to do?  Does God really have a plan for us, or does our life just randomly happen?

     Jeremiah 29:11 states:  For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God does have a plan for us.  We can miss it though, due to rebellion and disobedience.  We can miss out on our destiny because we are looking in the wrong direction.  Instead of looking at God and where He wants us to go, we can get distracted and veer off into rough terrain.  We can get stuck and not go forward, because we keep looking backward and get lost, living in the past. 

     God will not force us to go where He wants us to.  If He did, we would be no more than puppets on a string.  It is up to us to look to Him for direction to where He wants to place us...and not to get too comfortable when we arrive!  He may only want us there for a short time....but we will never know if we become complacent and break our communication with Him.

     Communicate with God?!  Some may think that is impossible...but it is not.  God created us to love Him....and that means He wants us to have a relationship with Him.  Again, He will not force our hand....we have to take the step to WANT to communicate with Him.  He is only waiting for us to take that step....to pray.  Praying is simply talking to Him, as you would a dear friend.  He will communicate back.  There is no doubt in that.  Keeping in communication with Him will ensure that we will have the full life that He wants us to have...and hope for tomorrow.

     What is your destiny?  Find out.  Ask your Creator, and He will show you!

Luke 11:9  So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Healing Power of Sharing


                                                     
     The sounds and lights of the ambulance and hospital were frightening. My mother and grandmother were crying. Doctors and nurses were speaking in whispers. Waves of pain began to cease as the medication began to take effect on my nine year old body.
      I had just been hit by a car. It was my own fault. My two cousins and I were returning from the store and I tried to cross the street. I didn’t look both ways beforehand, and ran out in front of a car. The poor driver had no chance to stop. My cousins had tried to grab me, but I was too quick. Now I was lying in the hospital with a broken thigh bone and minor internal injuries.
My dad was an interstate truck driver, and the family had to try and contact him. This was 1969, and there were no cell phones to make communication easier.
That afternoon I was wheeled into surgery. They reset the bone, placed two pins in my leg, and put me in traction. My leg was totally covered in a cast and bandages. I drifted in and out of consciousness.
     The next morning, I woke up and my dad was there. He told me that he brought someone who missed me and wanted to see me. Then he handed me my beloved Mrs. Beasley doll. This doll became famous around 1967 because of the hit TV show, Family Affair. Mrs. Beasley looked different, however. Although her glasses were long ago lost, she still had the same smile and blonde hair. Her blue and white polka dot clothes looked the same, but there was one difference. Her right leg was wrapped from top to bottom in white medical tape. My dad made sure she had something in common with me!
     Mrs. Beasley made that first night much better. In those days, parents were not allowed to stay overnight at the hospital. My mother was there every day, for as long as she could be. She also had to care for my younger brother. My dad was there when he was able to, due to his work schedule. My doll became good company.
     In the pediatric ward many rooms, like mine, were dormitory style. Four patients shared a room. A lot of the other children were in for tonsillectomies and appendectomies. After I had been there about a week, a little girl named Alice was moved into the bed next to mine. She was scheduled for a tonsillectomy the next morning. As night fell, her parents left and she was alone. You could tell she was scared. My parents were getting ready to leave, and my dad asked me if I thought Mrs. Beasley could sleep with Alice that night. It might make her feel better. I was a little apprehensive, as the doll was very important to me, but I offered her to Alice. The little girl nodded, with big, tear-filled eyes. She snuggled down for the night, with my dear friend in her arms and went to sleep.
     The next morning, before she was wheeled to surgery, she returned the doll, with a sleepy “Thank you”. After that, when a new child would come into our room, I always offered Mrs. Beasley for a first night sleepover friend. Her painted on smile gave many children over the course of that month, a measure of comfort and love.
     Each time I shared my stuffed friend, it helped reinforce character traits in me, of empathy and compassion. It taught me put myself in others’ shoes, to imagine how they might feel and put others‘ needs before my own. I am blessed to carry those traits in me, today. I will forever be grateful for the lessons that I learned from my dad and Mrs. Beasley.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Didn't See That Coming...

                             
                                      

      I am notorious for being a hardhead...in more ways than one!!  God knew what he was doing when He made my skull thick, because I'm forever hitting my head  on things. At times, I don't notice what's around me, and WHAM!!

     At times we get smacked by life changing circumstances that we don't expect to happen.  This past week we had two events that took us by surprise.  A death of a dear friend, and the accidental injury of another.

     What happens when these unexpected twists occur?  How do we  handle the shock and disbelief?  We try to wrap our minds about what has happened.  We automatically think about the last time we were together and things were 'normal'.  We may wonder...what is normal?  Will our lives ever be normal again?

Late one Friday evening, a handful of friends gathered together.  They were drawn together by an unexpected tragedy.  Their good friend had just been brutally killed.  Some of them had been witnesses.  They were in shock.  Just last night they had all been together and were so happy.  They had been celebrating.  And now...this.  How life can change in 24 hours.  Why?  Why him?  He didn't deserve to have that happen to him.  It wasn't fair.   
They talked quietly amongst themselves.  They took turns crying.  The friends had so many thoughts running around in their heads.  They thought of the last time they had seen him.  One of them had said some horrible things.  He didn't mean them.  He was just acting out of emotions.  It was too late to say he was sorry, now.  Another friend was deeply concerned for the man's family.  He had left an elderly mother.  He had tried to comfort her, but that was an impossible task.  How do you comfort a woman whose child had died?  So many thoughts and emotions.   And to top it all off, they were all afraid.  They were scared that the group that had killed their friend would come after them, too. The crowd was so angry and mean.
The hours slipped by.  Soon it had been 12 hours...then 24...then the next thing you know, it was early Sunday morning.  Three of their friends had gone to the grave to prepare the body.  They weren't even able to do the proper form of burial, because he had died right before the Sabbath began.  No work at all was allowed on the Sabbath...much less dealing with an unclean dead body.  The friends sat around and mourned.  It was all they could think of to do.  Their lives would never be the same.

     Those unexpected tragedies.  How do we go on?  Why do they happen?  No one knows why they occur.  It would be foolish to even try and guess.  But they do.  No one is immune from them.  It has happened since the beginning of time, and Adam and Eve ate that fruit.  That act of disobedience ushered sin in the world, and we have had to deal with death, tragedy and heartache ever since.
How depressing and sad we would be if that was the end of it.  How utterly distressed would our friends in the scenerio be if that was the end of the story....but it was not!

      We know that the three friends who went to prepare Jesus' body came back with news that would change mankind forever.  They had news that would change the outcome of countless individuals' lives for eternity.  The news that Jesus was no longer dead opened the doors of Heaven for them...and for us.

     It gave the friends something their ancestors had only dreamed of...it gave them hope.  Hope for a future and a promise.  Hope for everlasting life with Jesus in Heaven.  The same hope that we hold on to when tragedy comes knocking on our door.  It is the hope that God has a plan.  He has a purpose for us, and can use the tragedies in our lives in a positive way.  What Satan meant for evil, God can turn to goodness.  Will we always be happy when unexpected things knock us over?  Of course not, but we can know in our hearts, that God is with us through the bad times.  We can lean on Him and trust that our loved ones are in His Hands.  He never stops loving us...He always has His Arms open to hold us close.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In My Blood

     Lately I have been reminded of how unique and gifted we all are.  This week we have had our Vacation Bible School, and I've been blessed to be on the drama/Bible Study team.  We have so many talented and gifted young people and adults in our group.  Each have their own specific talents and personalities.  Most of the youth, I taught in first grade many years ago.  Watching them grow into the special individuals that they are, reminded me of a lesson I was taught a long time ago.

       God puts in us a certain energy that seems to 'come alive' when we are doing what we are meant to do.  It is an excitement that gives us drive and purpose.  Most of the time it is connected with a talent or ability that we have.  God gives each of us these talents and desires for a reason.  It's to use them to help bring joy into our lives.

     I don't believe He just created us to live drearily day by day....  The Bible says He wants us to have an ABUNDANT life.  That includes our talents and gifts.  They're not given to us just for the fun of it....or are they?  Aren't they given to us to help bring some fun and happiness in our lives? 

     Now, there are those out there who will say, "But God didn't give me any gifts or talents."  That isn't true.  Everyone has been given something that they are good at.  It may not be in a creative or artistic sense...but perhaps it is in compassion or caring for others.  Maybe you are good at making others feel at ease, and comfortable.  Some people enjoy caring for children, and have a knack for relating with them.  There are individuals who enjoy being around the elderly.  They enjoy listening to their stories and wisdom they can share.  Still others enjoy the quietness and organization of working in an office.  Some people love being in the outdoors, working with nature, or building things.  Everyone has things they enjoy specifically.

     In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us: 
"But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is, He climbed the high mountain, He captured the enemy and seized the booty, He handed it all out in gifts to the people. Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. "
     God is in what gives you life.  His Will for us is included in the talents and gifts that He gives us.  I've heard people say that their occupation is "in their blood".  It is what they were meant to do.  It is part of the life blood that flows through their veins.

     Wondering what God's Will is for your life?  Take a "blood test".   See what's flowing through your veins!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Time to Bloom

                                                         
     Last week, as I took the dogs out first thing in the morning I was greeted with a surprise.  No...it wasn't anything the dogs did...it was little bouquets of flowers!  Delicate pink lilies were blooming in little patches all around the yard!  They were in the front and the back of the house!  In almost every direction I saw little, sweet patches of pink.  It literally took my breath away. 
     I discovered that they last only for a few days, and then die away.  They are only here for a short time, but what beauty they provide while they are here.
      During the last month we have been going through the end of the season of life for Steve's stepdad, Toliver.  He is now under hospice care.  We are traveling down this last road with him, remembering the good times that we have shared, and hopefully giving him some comfort along the way.
     Toliver has not been a type of person that people would automatically pick out of a crowd.. He has always lived a rather simple, conventional life.  His main focus was always his God and his family.  He never strived for anything extraordinary. What a wonderful example of how we were meant to live.  We aren't to be overconcerned about what may come around the bend; just live in the present time and do the best you can in the place that God has placed you. Like the old adage...bloom where you are planted. 
      Life is like those spots of bright flowers in my yard.  We silently grow, for the most part unnoticed.  Then when the time is right, we burst forth the unique glory that God has placed within us.  Our blossoms are not perfect, but lovely nonetheless.  God determines how long our blooms will last, so we need not fret about life.  God will take care of us.  Jesus knew how much we tend to fret and worry about our lives.
     Matthew, Chapter 6 states:
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


     God knows all that we need, and how many days are assigned to us.  Let us be grateful for those days, and every moment that we are given.

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