Monday, May 8, 2017

What If?

I have a few thoughts on my mind right now. But two stand out most of all. This first, and more important, being what if I could help people in my life realize their potential? Their potential to be the best friends they can be. Their potential to reach out and make someone's day, or even change someone's life for the better.
Their potential to make a difference.

What if I could help someone realize their potential to create?
To create better friendships, to create a better prayer life, to create a way to show the lost and lonely that there is hope and there is healing.
You see, creativity isn't just painting and music and dancing and sculpture and photography and writing. Creativity is much more than just the typical definitions of art, because anything you could do to impact someone, bring hope to their life, or make any sort of difference, big or small, takes creativity.
We were made in the image of a God who is ultimately creative. Therefore, I believe all of us, as human beings, can be creative in some way. That may come in the for of tradition (or not so traditional) art, but more often it comes in how we relate to the Creator and his creation (people and nature). It's how we speak to others, share our hopes, pursue our goals, and show our love. We are creative in our gift giving, in our encouraging or others, in our prayer life... Not just the art we hang on our walls or the songs we sing.
What if I could help someone realize that potential? What if I could help someone see something important to them and go after it? What if I could encourage someone to create the change they want to see in the world?

And secondly...
What if I could have a pet goat? That'd be pretty cool.
I like goats.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Discipline of Active Prayer

Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: "I am grieved that I made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled and cried out to the Lord all that night.
Early in the morning, Samuel got up and went out to meet Saul...

     1 Samuel 15:10-12

Like Samuel, many of us find ourselves up late into the night, praying over something that is troubling us. Maybe it's an unwanted diagnosis or unemployment. Maybe it's a wayward child or damaged trust in a dear relationship. Whatever it is, we often find it easy to stay up late into the night crying out to the Lord over our hardship, but not so easy getting ourselves to get up and do what the Lord has put on our hearts to do about the situation.
Our lack of action may be due to fear. What if it doesn't work? What if I am left more heart broken than before? 
It may also be due to a lack of trust in the Lord. What if He doesn't provide?
Or it may even be a more physical need, like Samuel's need for sleep.

We make excuses, saying we don't have the time. We did all we were supposed to do, right? We brought our pain before the Lord; He'll take care of the rest, right?
Not necessarily. You see, my fiance recently lost his job. Devastated, because we have bills to pay and a wedding to save for, we cried out to the Lord. But we didn't stop there. The next morning, we got up and took action! I worked harder to make more money to pay for our bills, and he started calling and emailing anyone he could who might give a job lead. How silly would it have been if we cried out to God over this unfortunate situation, then sat back and did nothing? Was a job going to fall into his lap if he sat at home and watched TV all day? Of course not!

The Prophet Samuel was up all night praying about his troublesome situation, just as we were, and even after getting little to no sleep, he rose early and did as the Lord asked of him. He went to confront Saul, king of all the Jews.
This could have ended badly for him in any number of ways, biggest of all being that he could have been killed for confronting the king. Samuel knew, however, that if the Lord was leading him into the situation, He would also protect him from any harm that may come.

So, whatever it is you are facing, if you find yourself struggling with what the Lord has put on your heart to do, remember the prophet's dedication, and ask the Holy Spirit to bestow you with strength and courage to walk the path before you and trust that the Lord will protect you, just as He protected Samuel.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Behind the Scenes

Several weeks ago, my fiance and I entered into what we call "super save mode," meaning we don't buy anything we don't absolutely need. What pushed us into "super save mode" was simply life. With a wedding and honeymoon to pay for all our own, him still in school, and me about to start cosmetology school in a couple months, we knew we couldn't afford to throw our money on things we didn't need.
We were doing great with our new saving plans, and even found ways to do stuff with friends that wouldn't cost much, if anything. Then we were hit with some pretty rough news.
The VA was cutting John's funding early. That meant no monthly housing allowance that he had been using for rent, bills, and food for the last year and a half. It also meant that the last five weeks of his schooling would not be paid for. We were both very grateful that his school is allowing him to put off paying the remainder until he graduates, but with all the saving we already needed to do, that extra blow really hurt.

Knowing I would have to help with his rent and bills on top of my own. it was easy for my mind to jump straight to thoughts of desperation we all have when something big or scar is thrust into our laps unexpectedly. I'm sure you know the thoughts I'm talking about. They often come in the form of "why" questions.
Why is this happening to me?
Why me?
Why didn't God do something to stop this?

But as quickly as those questions crossed my mind, they blew away. Because I remembered ways God had provided in the past and I knew His nature hadn't changed since then. I knew He would provide again. So, following the advice of my mother (as moms always give the best advice), I began to pray. I didn't pray that He would provide, for I already was sure of this fact. Instead I began thanking Him for what I already knew He would do, but had not yet happened.
While I already had peace about the situation, something about putting my faith into action in this way seemed to solidify my surety that it would be taken care of even more so.

Then, as He often likes to do, God surprised me. The very evening the new hit, I came home to find a piece of mail sitting on the table, addressed to me, from my school. I opened it to find a response to a scholarship I had applied for--one I had been told was for $500. Upon reading the letter, I found that I had not been awarded 500, but $1000!
Already His provision was showing up.
While I may not know how the rest of this mess will be sorted out, my heart cannot help but rejoice in what I know He is doing behind the scenes.

In times like these, I often let the holy Spirit speak to me through music, as He is so good at doing. This time around, he keeps drawing my mind back to The Day That I Found God, off Switchfoot's new album, Where the Light Shines Through.

This noose ain't getting any looser.
I get so fearful about the future.
I feel the shame of my accuser,
But that ain't you.

The accuser, the father of lies, wants nothing more than to distract us from what the Lord is doing in our lives. Do not buy into the lies he throws your was in an attempt to blind you with shame over things you cannot help.

Where is Go out in the darkness?
'Cause the voices in my head ain't talking honest,
Saying maybe you made us then forgot us,
But that ain't you. That ain't you, no!
And all I know is that I still don't know a lot.
I don't know how it ends, I'm in the middle of this plot.
Yeah, I found grace for the man that I am not.
I found out the day I lost myself was the day that I found God. 

God didn't forget you. He is working right now, whether we can see it right now or not. We are still in the middle of this story, by the end it will all make sense and we will see all he's done for us along the way. One crisis doesn't mean it's over. For God likes to show up in the place where we've lost everything. Especially ourselves.
I hope that my experience may encourage you to have faith that whatever may be going on in your life or whatever is going on in the world that makes you wonder where God is or what He is doing, that He is working for you constantly, behind the scenes.