It Doesn’t Have to be the Same

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:18-19

 

About fifteen years ago, a dear friend of mine told me about her new church.  I went for a visit and it was the first time I felt like I was a part of a church family.  So many wonderful experiences happened at this church.  I met my future husband there and were married by the pastor.  I participated in many church outreach programs.  I made wonderful friends and felt so loved.  But change happens…

 

One Sunday morning, about seven years ago, our pastor made an announcement.  He stood there, hand in hand with his wife and said they had been given a position to lead a new church congregation in Boston, Massachusetts.  He went on to say more things, but honestly, I don’t remember anything.  I was in shock.  I actually got up and left the sanctuary and began to cry.

 

I realized, I can’t be selfish now.  I had to pour my heart out into prayer for their new calling and for the new pastor and staff that would enter into this church.  I still felt stung, but knew this is no time to bail as many would and did.  My husband and I decided when the new pastor was chosen to give the process 6 months before we decided to stay committed to the church or go somewhere else.

 

Over the next month, we had potential pastors come in a give a sermons every Sunday.  We had an interim pastor overseeing the process too, since our original pastor and family had to move across country.  One Sunday, there was a man who came and I knew this is who will be our new pastor.  He was charismatic and friendly.  Sure enough, the decision was made to make him the new pastor.  He had a church already, down in another city about 30 miles south, and his church would merge with our church.  This is where our little church’s world turned upside down.

 

Let’s just say, things did not go as well as we hoped for.  A lot of changes were made, as we knew there would, but it was done with an iron fist and not with love.  Instead of a church merger, it was a church take over.  We made it to month 5 of 6 of our goal when we both said, I think we need to leave.   As for the church we left, it end up changing pastors again. It was truly a confusing time.  Why Lord did this happen?

 

We decided to seek a church that our old church had a good relationship with.  I set foot in the church six years ago and knew from day 1, this was our new church home.  About 3 years after our move to the new church, this pastor made an announcement.  He said, I have been asked by a neighboring church if I could become their new pastor.  He agreed and said we would be merging with them in about 6 months.  I could feel my heart sink and a lump in my throat.  

 

I felt all of these emotions well up.  Here were my thoughts, “Not again….Are you kidding me, I have to look for a new church?…That was such a horrible time and so many people were devastated?…Why Lord?”  I began to pray to help me understand.  Then I heard the Lord say, “It doesn’t have to be the same.”  I felt this immediate peace.  I knew again, I would need to pray my heart out during this transition.  I knew that if anyone could lead this merger, it could be our pastor.  He said, we will consider this process as if we were looking for a spouse.  Take steps as courtship, engagement and marriage.  We won’t call it a merger.

 

I realized, yes people would get mad and leave, there would be staff changes.  But I prayed, as did the entire church, that the transition would be smooth.  Honestly, to my surprise, the church remains!  It has been two years since the marriage and the church is going strong.

 

There were still people hurt by the original church take over.  Some people stopped going to church altogether.  Some staff aren’t even in ministry anymore.  I saw a couple at church that went to the original church.  He was a part of the decision to go with the pastor that didn’t end up working out.  He said, he still felt guilt for the decision.  He was so heart-broken how many people were hurt by the change.  I told him, you can free yourself from that burden because if the takeover didn’t happen, I would never have come to this church and have an even deeper relationship with God.  I said God can restore any bad situation. And we have the wonderful memories of the last church and I am so thankful that I experienced them.   I gave him a hug and he looked like he felt a sense of relief.  Thank God, it doesn’t have to be the same!

 

Lesson Learned:  Change is scary but expect God to still do an amazing work.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I realize change is inevitable and scary!  I thank you that you are our safe harbor and guide.  Anytime, I encounter change, may your hand be upon the situation.  Holy Spirit remind me to call on you when I feel unsure.  Even if situations do not work out, may we see your glory!  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

I don’t seem to have time for the Lord

In all your ways, submit to Him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

I was encountering some struggles in my parenting. The struggle was, I feel I know nothing! I asked the very wise man who leads the pastoral care ministry at my church if he had a good book to recommend. He lent me a book about parenting by Charles Swindoll called “You and Your Child”. There are some many valuable lessons in the book. The one that struck a cord with me was that a parent must get to know their child, because you cannot love something you do not know. Isn’t that the truth with anything in life!

I wanted to get to know the Lord more, so I decided to read through the entire Bible in one year. It only took me 30 years to commit and make it through the Bible. I used the “You Version” bible app. It gave me 5-6 sections to read each day. My goal was to read the chapters first thing in the morning, where I would be uninterrupted. I read through them and begun my day. Some days, I could barely understand what I read. Other days, it felt like a chore. I just wanted to get the little check mark that showed I read it. I may not have known what I read, but I read it. One day, I was struggling through some old testament section and I was whining to myself. I didn’t know what I was reading. I was looking at the clock and seeing I had to wake my daughter up soon, so I began skimming, not reading at this point. Then I heard the Lord and it stopped me in my tracks. He said, “My word is not some burden. Spending time with me is not some chore to get out-of-the-way.” Those words went right through my heart.

I seem to have the time to waste on Pinterest or Netflix. I clean and organize my house over and over. Yet, I can’t seem to put the time into this most important relationship. How can I love the Lord and understand to trust Him without getting to know him? He is not a chore. He fulfills our life, if we let Him.

Lesson Learned: Putting God first will put your life in order and lead you to where He has destined you to go.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for not putting you first. I want to get to know you. Clear my mind from distractions. Thank you for loving me and help me to remember just how much you do. I choose to live my life for you. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

Why am I even doing that?

Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

I want God to use me through writing. I do desire that. I also desire that I get discovered by a publisher and write a bunch of best selling books and get lots of attention. I admit it now, because God convicted me. I wanted to be the next Ann Voskamp or Sarah Young. I couldn’t hold a candle to them, not just in the ability to write but in how hard they work at being a writer. How could I go from asking God to use me, to I wanting to make a bunch of money and being famous? Easy, living in the current state of social media: how many likes, views and followers do you have-the more the better and that equals success.

My husband ruined The Oscars for me. I used to love watching them. Now, I watch the highlights the next morning in hiding. (I was happy this year for Leonardo di Caprio though.) Early in our marriage, I was watching the show and my husband asked why I wanted to watch a popularity contest. He said how Hollywood loves to reward themselves and in doing so, make large amounts of undeserved money. Thanks honey for ripping the veil on that one! He is right. I believe we all want appreciation. I do want to be told I am doing a great job. Encouragement and appreciation are necessary. But my goal should be to do things for the glory of God, not mine.

Recently, I started picking up trash in our neighborhood because some people think the ground is their trash can. I also began putting a roll of dog poop bags in certain people’s mailboxes, where I know they do not pick up after their dogs, so they will get the hint. I was complaining about the situation but doing nothing about it. I really do not want to pick up trash, but I was trying to be helpful. A few neighbors saw me doing that and thanked me. I got all full of myself again. A quick conviction came over me. I thought, “great, I am doing it again-wanting to be noticed.” I decided if I can’t stop thinking selfishly about this, I better start praying for the neighborhood, so I don’t need to pick up trash every week.

All of these situations were examples of how being recognized for the wrong reasons will get one no where. We will keep striving for more fame and notoriety. I do hope I can write for a living someday, but until then, I write no matter how small my readership is presently. I will use this opportunity to glorify God and be a light to this world. I will observe and listen to people. I will encourage. I will be real. Most importantly, I will listen to the Lord.

Lesson Learned: If I am thanked for my service, I glorify God and look for my contentment in Him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please remove the desire to be noticed and applauded. When it comes to serving you, fill me with your love when I am craving appreciation. Let my desire to be to serve you wholeheartedly. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

Your Life is like a Pearl

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3

When the movie “City Slickers” came out, my family and I saw it right away. It was the story of a man and his two close friends who went on a cattle round-up adventure. He appeared to be having somewhat of a mid-life crisis. He was desperately trying to find out what was the meaning of his life. He was hoping to find out during this time. There is one scene in the movie where, Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, was riding along side of the cowboy in charge of the drive, named Curly. Curly asked him what he thought the meaning of life was. Mitch said, “I don’t know.” The cowboy put up a finger and said “one thing”. Billy Crystal in his humorous way asked, “your finger?” Curly said, “Just one thing and you got to figure that out.” Mitch realized he wasn’t sure what that one thing was. I was 14 years old at the time and for some reason, I wanted to know what the meaning of my life was too. Right around the same time the movie came out, I had one of those “Curly and Mitch” moments.

My family and I went to a church, where the pastor set a time before the sermon for the congregation to pray for those around them. I was embarrassed to join hands with strangers and give a prayer request, let alone pray for anyone. This particular day, we were to pray with this man in a wheelchair. He was paralyzed from a gun shot when he used to be active in a gang. While incarcerated, he was witnessed to and gave his life to Christ. When he was released, he served God by witnessing to other gang members. Despite his disabilities, he seemed happier than most, especially me. After we prayed, he gave me my “Curly and Mitch” moment. He said, “Your life is like a pearl. A pearl is perfectly round and beautiful. But anything added, anything taken away from it, it will no longer be a pearl. This is what God wants you know.” I hugged and thanked him and cried for the next ten minutes. But I didn’t really understand what that meant. I asked people for many years after, what did that word for me mean. People seemed perplexed. Nothing seemed to answer that question. Twenty years later, I was given my answer.

I was in a mentoring program at my current church. I was paired with a great lady. I was troubled again with where I was currently in my walk with the Lord. She told me about her son’s “Transformer” toy he has. She was saying how it begins as one thing and then using parts it already has, can become something completely different, better and stronger.” For some reason, that explanation brought up that day, twenty years ago about what the pearl story was for me.

I keep wanting to know what my life will be or how God will use me, but those gifts and ideas, are already in me. I don’t need to go to seminary or get a degree in theology, to have any knowledge of God. God will reveal those gifts in me as I continue to seek Him. I don’t need to wish, I was better in something for God to use me. Throughout The Bible, He used plenty of people who were messed up in more ways than one, but used them to bring complete glory to God. I do hope though, we can all have our “Curly and Mitch” moment.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I am so thankful how you made me unique. Remind me to appreciate all that I was born with. Forgive for wishing I was different or had more. Show me where and who I am to help and be a light in this world. May your glory shine through me and use me each and every single day. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Renewing Your Mind: Believing vs. Understanding

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Don’t fear, only believe’” Mark 5:36

 

I find when my bad circumstances outshine my blessings, I want to question why things are going wrong. Why am I having to endure this trial? Why are people against me? I try to understand why and all it does is make me doubt. Exactly, what the enemy wants me to do. This takes any faith I may have mustered and erases it. I get angry and more confused.

I was at a church home gathering a few weeks ago. I was having a lot to deal with much of which, I could not control. The speaker was a pastor named Dr. Dennis Sempebwa. He spoke on this very thing. He said that having faith is having full submission to trusting in God while trying to understand your circumstances makes you question everything. I think I have heard that a million times, but I finally got it! I realized, I want to control everything and not trust. Even Jesus said in John 16:33,I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” I am going to experience many things I do not want to, but God is in control. I have to put my life in the hands of God. He created me for His purpose.

I can make a choice: either to be bothered by every injustice in my life (even in the world) or look past to what is greater. Joyce Meyer wrote in a devotion, “There is nothing we need that God cannot provide.” The key word is “need” not “want”. Also for my faith to grow, I need to contend for it. If I need healing and it doesn’t happen miraculously, I have to keep praying for it and wait on God. I also have to live my life as the blessing it is, instead of waiting for things to be perfect. I was having a few bad days where Vertigo was my constant companion. I began to have bad thoughts about my health and feeling sorry for myself. I had to go grocery shopping and prayed for the Lord to help me to feel better. I felt The Holy Spirit say, “Change your thoughts, renew your mind to believe.” A holy version of “fake it till you make it.” It worked, I made it through the shopping trip and had a pleasant day.

Lesson learned: renew your mind to be faithful not to always get it.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for protection over my mind and its thoughts. I pray that your word be written on my heart. I ask that your thoughts be my thoughts. Whenever negative or anxious thoughts enter into my head, I cast them out immediately in Jesus’ Name. Let your glory be known. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

In His Timing

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Psalm 27:14

The process of buying and selling a home is one of the most stressful things in life. We embarked on this adventure right after having our baby. I wouldn’t do it that way, but it was a buyer’s market and 550 square feet amongst 3 people, was a bit challenging. We bought our new place first (another mistake) and had 30 days to find a buyer or risk paying mortgages on two places. Let the stress begin!

The whole time I was praying for the right person to come along. Our realtor, who was a Christian, prayed when we began the process. We received an offer 1 week after the condo was on the market. I had a bad feeling though. The situation of the buyer seemed like this place would not ideally fit his work situation. And my feeling proved correct. One week after, we accepted the offer, he pulled out as a buyer. This was not a good situation to be in. In 17 days, we were set to move into our new place. I felt myself beginning to panic. I looked at our savings and thought, we may be able to handled two places for a coupe months, but that was it. I was already stressed and tired from having a 4 month old, now this?

The next day, we received a call from a realtor verifying if our place was back on the market. She had a client, named Rodney, who was interested and wanted to see it again. I thought, “again?” Then I remember that man. He came by and said how much, he loved our place, but he wasn’t sure if he could qualify for a loan. She told me that he was very eager, because he called her 4 o’clock in the morning, telling her our place was available again and he had the money to buy it outright. While, we had the other offer, he asked his family for help financially, so he could purchase his first place. When they finally agreed to help him, our place went back on the market. He asked for a short escrow and we were glad to oblige! We moved out on a Saturday and he moved in two days later. He also needed a couch and an armoire and we didn’t feel like moving the ones we had down 3 flights of stairs, so we both won on that too!

My husband and I were talking about how things worked out for the best. I said, I could have done without the stress of it all. My husband said something so profound and liberating,

We may have been stressed and wondered why our prayers weren’t being answered immediately. But God was working on answering Rodney’s prayers first. You know how much he will love that place. Wouldn’t you rather have it go to someone who will appreciate than to someone who didn’t care if it became their home?”

(He was absolutely correct, but don’t tell him I said he was right.)

It isn’t always about what I want, but maybe who has the bigger need. God cares about every situation we are in. Waiting is really difficult. That expression, “you can’t see the forest for the trees” is so true in many of our situations. We look at all the little hiccups along the way, instead of what the bigger picture is. Keep waiting on the Lord for what He wants to do. It is always for the greater good.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for my lack of patience. Help me to endure and stay strong for every season I encounter. I thank you that you care and that you love me and want the best for me in my life. In times of uncertainty, please give me peace and to remain calm. Let your will be done and forgive me for trying to make it happen. Alert me when to move on something and when to stay still.

In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Give up or press through

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

My husband called me from work one day. He said there is an opening at his school (the same school as our child) and it was a possible long term position. This job is to watch the students while they were at recess and at lunch. I can work while our child is in school, see her while I work and I don’t have to handle money. (I hate handling money!)

I called the office manager at the school and asked her about the position and how soon it was available. She asked, “Can you start tomorrow?” World turned upside down. I was going from 10 hours part time a week with another job to now add 20 more.

As a substitute, you are thrown in without any training, you learn as you go. The first recess included my child’s grade. All the kids in her grade were so excited to see me. Staff members and students were saying “hello” and asking me if I was there permanently. I felt like a rock star. Each grade section came out. Everything was going well. Then it was time for their lunch breaks. The second lunch break was for the 6-8th grade. This is where everything began to unravel.

I grew up with a mother from Asia. They do not mess around. If you show an attitude or disrespect, they let you know, you are making the wrong choice. So when I saw some of these students, blatantly ignoring the rules or me, I felt defeated, angry and frustrated. I wanted to say on the walkie-talkie, “peace out” for all to hear and go run for the hills.

It was the weekend after that horrid day. I was so tired and emotionally drained, I wanted to withdraw my application for the job. I hoped that somehow the school district would lose my application. I tried to take my mind off of it and read some emails. I had requested video series from writer, Lysa TerKurst. It was her guide to becoming a better writer. She talked about the process of writing and how difficult it was. I laughed out loud and said “nothing is like dealing with middle school children!” In her video, she made a statement that convicted me of my complaining. She said, “Give up or Press though.” She may have been referring to the writing process but this applies to life. It is so easy to give up and not care, than to continue to care and invest more time into something. I prayed asking the Lord to show me if this is a job that I should pursue. I didn’t hear an exact answer, but I heard pray for all the students, the good and especially the not so good. A lot of the children with bad attitudes and issues don’t have the best home life. Maybe no one is praying for them to change for the better, just praying for them to become someone else’s problem.

So I went in after the weekend, looking at this time here as a Godly assignment. I pray over the school for protection and for every student to find this school as a refuge and for deep secrets of pain to come to light. Whether my stay is short or long, I can contribute in some way.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for any opportunity you allow for me. I release the negative and unrealistic expectations over any situation I may be in. Give me discernment when something is challenging and show me how to give people grace and when to hold firm on boundaries. Let me see others as you see them. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

But their spiritual gift sounds better than mine

“In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.  So if God has given you the ability of prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”  Romans 12:6-8

 

As my walk with the Lord grew deeper, I began to wonder what were my spiritual gifts.  You hear what those gifts are preached in a sermon.  You pray about it.  You take tests that give you an idea of what they are based on the questions you answer.  I wish God would just speak from heaven and tell me exactly what I have to do, so I don’t wonder or waste time.  So, I took one of those tests.  I eagerly waited for the email to drop into my inbox and reveal my destiny.  I wanted it to say that I would be a teacher or a person of encouragement, something meaningful.  The test answer came and it listed my #1 gift as Volunteer Poverty.  My reaction was like a scene from a movie, when someone walks into a place and the record playing music scratches in the background and silence evades.

 

What in the heck is volunteer poverty?  I basically prefer to live a simple life.  I can live without Starbucks coffee and buying new clothes every few months.  I prefer fixing items instead of tossing them.  I don’t need the newest gadget.  I try to live a minimalist life.  I don’t always succeed, but if I needed to, I can definitely go without.  I would rather go without, so someone else who needs it more than me, can be happy.   I guess that can be a virtue but it doesn’t feel like it could advance the Kingdom.  I wanted my gift to be world changing, I want to make people see His glory.  Well, this is where I went wrong.  “I want” should be “Lord what do you want me to do and use me”.  Then there are seasons where God wants our focus on our family for a length of time.  I have been a stay at home mother for a few years now.  When our child went to school full time, I figured I would get a part time job (and I did).  I think society and just overall financial pressures made me feel I had to work to contribute.  People have this idea stay at home mothers just sit there and do nothing.  But I was doing something…I was staying home to raise my child to be a good citizen in this world.  We sacrificed fixing the home up, going on vacations, buying more “crap” so I could be there for my child.  I guess scoring high on volunteer poverty helped me not be disappointed about no vacations.  Every time I thought about what could I be doing more to bring income or feel productive, I would get little hints that where I was in this stage of my life was just fine.  I saw a book recommendation on Facebook called “Home Matters” by Sue Wilson.  It reminds me of a Christian home economics study on steroids.  It is awesome.  First hint was, I had someone say, your missionary field right now is your husband and child.  The second hint happened, when,  I was at a home group at my church and was getting that thought again, “am I really being productive?”  The enemy loves to torture us with repetitive thoughts.  Just then I was feeling cold and the host brought me a blanket.  I kid you not, that blanket was embroidered with the saying, “there is no place like home”.

I am learning to be content in the season I am in and looking forward to what God has in store for me.  I will continue to pray that God strengthen me in the gifts He wants me to have and pray everyday for the opportunity to show people how much God loves them.

 

(I do want to give a shout out to all the mothers out there, who have careers and work full time.  I praise you for having the strength and endurance to do both.  It is exhausting to do either one, but to do both, I am tired thinking about it.  This post was for me expressing being content in where I am, not saying staying home is meant for all.)

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I know you have a plan and a purpose for my life.  Whether you reveal it to me now or in the distant future, I thank you for it.  Give me experiences and opportunities to grow and mature and to be equipped for whatever it may be.  Remind me when I feel discontent at the current time and wonder why am I where I am, that there is something being planned.  Help me to do  the best I can whatever season I am in.  Time is fleeting and it will be over before I know it.  Thank you for making me unique and that there is no one else like me.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Where do you dwell?

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

I have been dealing with bouts of Vertigo. Vertigo can occur at anytime. I cannot plan for it. I have had to leave places because of it. It has kept me from planned events. Vertigo isolates me. It causes me to become anxious and fearful. Also, I planned our first vacation as a family. I was scared to go on an airplane because of what could happen. This caused stress and tension in my family. I did not want to go.

The day arrived to depart on our vacation. I medicated and prayed all will go well. Everything I prayed against came into fruition. The flight was delayed. When we finally took off, the flight was turbulent the entire trip, the flight attendants were grouchy, I was next to a baby, we had to circle about 10 minutes because there was a back up into the airport we were landing at and I was feeling motion sick and my ears were plugged up. Then it poured rain the hour and half drive to where we needed to be. Some of the roads were under construction which made for some off road driving. I wanted to transport myself back to my bed back home. These events set the tone for the next few days.

My thoughts spun out of control. The “what if” questions spilled from my mind out of my mouth. I proclaimed every negative outcome. I couldn’t even pray. My symptoms got worse, I had a bad bout of Vertigo during the middle of the night. (Imagine you are sleep and then you wake up thinking you are spinning like a log and about to upchuck your last week’s worth of meals. Pretty picture, isn’t it?) I decided to go to urgent care and get some answers. The doctor checks my ears and says, they both look great, the Vertigo came on because of your allergies and the plane flight. Try to enjoy the rest of your trip. I felt some relief. On the drive back to where we were staying, I heard Mercy Me’s song, “Move”.

This hurt is getting heavy
But I’m not about to cave
Everything’s about to change
There’s gonna be brighter days

I just might bend but won’t break
As long as I can see your face”

At that point, I decided, I needed to dwell in God’s promises. I am going to enjoy the heck out of the last few days of this trip. I know the enemy takes the things we fear the most and makes them seem catastrophic. We have to pray for endurance and guidance during tough times. When we ask, “why me?”, all it does is make things worse. We learn the most out of life and what God wants of us during trials. No one wants to endure them, but out of all of it comes a message to share. I began to be grateful and thankful for all the beautiful things we saw and experienced on the trip. I smelled the clean air, viewed the beautiful landscapes that God created. I was thankful my husband and child were healthy and happy despite me being sour. The flight home was tolerable and did not have one anxious moment. Focus on Him and everything in this dizzying life is stable and steady.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for carrying me through the tough times. Guard my body, mind and heart from the arrows of the enemy. I place the full armor of God as protection. Remind me of your promises in your word. Strengthen me and keep me in your arms. Thank you for fighting for me and giving me victory. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

He loves us the same

I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger great than the one who sent him.” John 13:16

There is a wonderful woman that attends my church. I consider her a Saint. She is loved by everyone she meets and is highly regarded. She has endured much in her life, a rough childhood and overcoming cancer. The first time I ever heard her speak was at a Women’s tea at a different church. I wanted to email her and tell her how I enjoyed her words. I never did, but thought of her often. The second Sunday at our new church, up walks a women on the stage to give the announcements. I realize, “It is her, I have to talk to her.” Immediately after service, I ran over to her. I asked her if she was the speaker at a tea a few years ago. She said she was. I told her how much I enjoyed it and was so happy to finally meet her. Over the next few years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know her and she has given me so much advice and a listening ear.

On a Sunday in 2012, I saw a friend before church. As we were talking, that woman who I highly regard, walked over, gave us hugs and said hello. I told my friend, “Someday, I hope to grow up to be like her. She handles difficult situations with ease and always seems to be praising God through it. My friends said, “Wait until you hear the sermon today!” Her husband, another amazing individual gave a sermon about their struggle during the time she battled cancer. The sermon was tearful and inspirational. Their journey was scary and weary. After the sermon, a different friend I was sitting behind, came over and put her arm around me and said I have a word from the Lord for you. She said, “God loves you the same as the woman this sermon was about.” Cue the ugly cry.

What a beautiful reminder that God loves His children the same. We wish we could be more godly or be just like amazing people we know. God uses us all differently and we need to accept it whether it seems grand or simple. Comparing ourselves is an opportunity the enemy uses to make us feel insignificant or valueless. It gives us a reason to not even try. We can look to amazing people as inspiration and to remember everything is for His glory.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, remind to do all things for the glory of the Lord. Use the big and the small gestures to advance your Kingdom. Bless all those that are spreading the gospel, whether as a missionary in a far away land, raising children to be good citizens or serving coffee and donuts. I am so thankful that you are not comparing us to one another and that you are pleased with what we do to give glory to your name, In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”