Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."  Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

The plane tickets were purchased.  The reservations at the most amazing Bed & Breakfast (Jackson Run B&B in Punxsutawney, PA) had been made...months ago.  Arrangements had been made for speaking at a local church.  A spot was reserved at the Community Center in Punxy.  Arrangements had been made for the table & chairs my Daddy & I would use to autograph books.  Beautiful posters for our booth (made by a dear friend) were packed.  Local Christian Schools had been notified of our coming...and promised chocolate groundhogs for the first customers.  Books had been shipped.

Snow boots for all of us had been bought.  Cuddleduds too.  The packing lists had all been made...clothes...layers of them, gloves, hats, extra socks were all laid out...suitcases nearly ready.  The camera had fresh batteries...and the old pictures cleared off to make room for the new.  Mama & Daddy arrived, packed and ready to head north. 

My hair was freshly cut and longer groundhog gray & brown (said with no disrespect to my fine marmot friends).  Eyebrows waxed...not that Phil would care.  We were all set.

And then it snowed.  Our flight got cancelled.  We rescheduled.  That flight was cancelled.  We booked another flight...which we ended up canceling because our sweet 10 year old got sick.  That precious little one who just a day before was giddy with excitement...and anxious to learn every imaginable piece of info about Punxy and groundhogs...burned with fever, laying listless on the bed.

It wasn't meant to be.

You know something that I love???  Having God's Word hidden in my heart so that He can remind me what's important.  The words to the verse above...Proverbs 16:9...kept playing in my head.  Yes, I had a plan...well thought out...all bases covered.  But He controls our steps.  I trust Him.  In Proverbs 3:5-6, Scripture says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."  I may not understand why we weren't supposed to be in Punxy...where my dear friend, Donna, had made special arrangements for Punxsutawney Phil to be at church for my storytime...but I'm not leaning on my own understanding.  I choose to acknowledge Him...and His ways, which are "higher than [my] ways." (Isaiah 55:9 NIV)

I'm trusting Him.

Lord, thank You for Your Word.  Thank You for Your plans.  Thank You for Your ways.  Help me to trust...always.  I love You.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Letting Go

"Cast all your [cares] on Him because He cares for you."  1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

"Letting go" is a hard thing to do.  Just think for a minute about all the different ways you've had to "let go" in your life.  Perhaps what comes to mind is a relationship, a habit, a lifestyle...control.  I guess that's what most "letting go" boils down to, yielding control.

I pondered a few "letting go" scenarios.  As a child, I remember my Daddy letting go of the bicycle seat for the first time...leaving me in control.  I can almost feel the excitement and fear and freedom that rolled around with each other in the pit of my tummy!  I also thought of the day that as my Daddy walked me to elementary school...and I told him that he could stop at the bottom of the hill, that I could go the rest of the way by myself.  (I personally don't remember that moment, but my heart cries as I wrestle with understanding his feelings now that I have children of my own.)  Years later, I remember the hot August day that my Mama drove away from my college dorm...letting go.  And then there's that walk down the wedding aisle, my parents...again, letting go.

As a parent, I have faced...and continue to face...times of "letting go."  They are rarely easy.  They are usually accompanied with some degree of fear...worry...anxiety.  There was the very first time I left my oldest in the care of the nursery workers at church.  The day that I watched each of the four girls pose for their pictures on the first day of Kindergarten...then First Grade...and on until the oldest three didn't want their pictures taken on the first day anymore.  There was drivers education and the first time we let them drive away from the house...alone.  There were proms and first dates...and weddings.  Letting go.

As I walk through a current period of "letting go," the tears are there...the fear...the worry.  But I have a Heavenly Father that wants me to "Cast all my cares upon Him"...including my "letting go."  He wants me to trust Him...the One who holds the future.  Our sweet God is so precious.  He spoke to me so clearly the last two days...through the precious little voices of my transitional kindergarten class as they sang, "Cast all your cares upon Him.  Lay all of your burdens down at His feet.  Anytime that I don't know what to do, I just cast all my cares upon Him."  Yes, sometimes He speaks audibly...even in the voice of a child.

Lord, my dear Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to lay my burdens at your feet, for knowing that you care about everything that concerns me.  I yield control to you.  I trust you.  I love you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Shelter of His Wings...A Place of Refuge

"I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings."  Psalm 61:4 (NIV)

Yesterday I had to do some running to the shelter of His wings.  I needed God Almighty to surround me with His great love and comfort.  I have to admit, there have been times when I chose to just cover my head with the quilts of my bed...and I did that for a bit, until the tears had soaked my pillow...and then I felt Him beckon me to come to take my refuge in Him instead of my bed. 

I fixed a pot of coffee, turned on the fireplace, got in my recliner, snuggled up with my doggie, and picked up my Bible.  Now, here's a really cool thing.  I got a One Year Chronological Bible for Christmas.  I had asked for it because my sister-friend, Wendy Pope, over at Proverbs 31 ministries ( is shepherding lots of women...and some men...through reading this particular Bible in a year.  (My hubby is joining me in this venture, as are my oldest daughter and her husband, my parents, and my precious friend, Christa!)  Well, to follow with Wendy's group, it is important to have the same version, which is the New Living Translation.  My sweet man accidentally got the wrong version (NIV).  I didn't think it would matter until Christa came to work one day and was talking about Abraham and Hagar, and I had read about Job!  So, my loyal husband headed to Lifeway to pick up the correct Bible...which had to be ordered.  Meanwhile, I got quite behind in the daily reading.  But God is so good.  Yesterday, while I had all of that "catching up" to do, I read words that ministered to me...words that might not have caught my attention a week ago...or two weeks ago.  Because of Wendy's vlogs (video blogs...She's waaaay ahead of me in the technology department!), I heard words from the mouth of a dear sister of the heart that ministered to me in my despair.  God surely works all things together for good  (Romans 8:28)...even if we don't stay on "schedule"!  I spent the morning immersing myself in His Word...being encouraged and comforted. 

From the beginning of Genesis, and God's words, "Let there be light," God spoke directly to me.  I needed light in my darkness yesterday.  I needed to hear the earliest uses of the names for God...El Shaddai, God Almighty...and El-roi, the God who sees me...Jehovah-Jirah, the LORD will provide...El-Olam, the Eternal God.  I was blessed to read the words, "Do not be afraid...for I will protect you, and your reward will be great." (Gen.15:1 NLT)  And then to see that in answer to the angel of the LORD's question, "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" (Gen.18:14 NLT) that there is indeed nothing to difficult for Him.  I was encouraged to read of God's mercy (to Lot's family Gen.19) and His patience, as even the great patriarchs took matters into their own hands...more than once.  As I read Abimelech's words to Abraham, "God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do," (Gen. 21:22 NLT) I thought, "I want that to be said of me!"  I want to walk out my life in a way that shows my faith in God...and His ability to do what He says He will do!!

Yes, I cried many tears...and know that there may still be many more to cry.  But God reminded me of who He is...God Almighty.  He is mighty to save!  He proved to me that He is the God who sees me...and wants to comfort me in my pain.  He promises that He will provide...and that He alone knows the perfect provision, even if it only comes about through a walk through the wilderness.  And I was reminded that He is the Eternal God...the Alpha and the Omega...the beginning and the end...from everlasting to everlasting.  He knows the past.  He holds the future, and I can trust Him.

I love the words in Isaiah 45:3 (NLT) that say, "I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness--secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the One who calls you by name."  I already discovered some of those treasures in my moments of darkness...they're right there in His Word...personal words from the One who calls me (and you!) by name.

Precious Abba, Father God, thank you for being my shelter, my refuge, and my strength.  Thank you for your Word that is alive and active!  Help me to be a woman of faith and righteousness.  It is truly in You that I live and move and breathe. (Acts 18:28)  Thank you for your unfailing, everlasting, sacrificial love.  I love you, LORD!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Empty Bird Feeders and Fear of the Enemy

" what is right and do not give way to fear."  1 Peter 3:6 (NIV)

These cold winter days, when I look out my windows or walk out my back door, I feel such a twinge of sadness.  My bird feeders are empty.  The birds, that were such a joy to behold...through their beauty and their song, have no reason to come.  They've moved on to other feeding grounds.  Sigh.  So, if you're thinking, "well...duh...go fill up your feeders and get happy", I have to encourage you to click onto some of my posts from last winter and read about my battle with the squirrels.  Yes, and a battle that I fought armed with a Red Ryder BB gun!  (My husband called me Annie Oakley.)  Now, you must know that I didn't want to hurt the little critters...they're kin to groundhogs...which I'm a little partial to.  (Go to if that seems to be totally out of the blue!)  I just wanted them to leave my bird feeders alone!!!  So...fear of the enemy...the squirrel has kept me from enjoying God's gifts of cardinals and chickadees and finches and other feathered friends.

Hmmm.  That can happen in other arenas of our lives as well.  Fear of the enemy can keep us from rising to new heights of joy that can only be found through obedience to God...and through service for Him.  Is there anything that God has called you to do, yet you are paralyzed by fear?  Well, it is time to "Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!  Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!...Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.  [Do you hear that all my writer friends???]  The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."  (Zephaniah 3:14, 16b-17)   Are you with me???  The LORD your God!!!  He is yours, and He is mighty to save!!!!  He is all powerful!!  You don't have to do a thing on your own!  The power is from Him!!  And when you do what He's called you to do, He...the going to "take great delight in you."  "He will quiet you with His love" (give you peace...calm your fears).  And then, my favorite part of this passage..."He will rejoice over you with singing."  Imagine that!!

Here's more, "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days."  (Luke 1:68a, 74-75)  In Romans 8, there are so many encouraging words!  "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. (v. 15-16)  "...the Spirit helps us in our weakness." (v.26)  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." (v.28)  "What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?" (v.31)

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." (Ephesians 6:10)  And "Pray also for [each other], that whenever [we] open [our] mouth[s], [or write with our hands] words may be given [us] so that [we] will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel..."  (Eph. 6:19) (brackets mine)

Friends, let's fill up our feeders!  Let's nourish ourselves in the Word!  Let's arm ourselves for battle!  We have the Victor on our side!!!  He is powerful and mighty!!!

Lord, show us Your plan.  Lead us in obedience...without fear.  Work powerfully and mightily on our behalf!  Oh, may we delight You to the point of singing over us!