Allow God to Surprise You

 

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

Christmas time is here. Tomorrow, many will open gifts and admire all they received. Children have been eagerly waiting for this day to open their gifts. Their wait will soon be over.

When I was a 6th grader, a popular brand of clothing was “Maui and Sons.” They were a surf brand. If you wore an item of clothing from this brand, everyone noticed you at school. I asked, actually begged and pleaded with my parents for a sweatshirt. This brand was not cheap, so I knew my only chance was to receive it as a present for Christmas.

My mom would place empty boxes under the tree as decoration. Then she would put items for us in those boxes the night before, so the presents were ready on Christmas Day. A couple of weeks before Christmas, I sat by the tree, admiring the decorations. I saw the empty boxes under the tree, and curiosity struck me, so I picked one up and shook it. I did not feel anything. I picked up another and shook that one and heard something inside. The temptation was too strong, so I carefully slid my finger under the lid and lifted the corner of the box. I peaked inside and saw a pink “Maui and Sons” sweatshirt. My heart was beating out of my chest from the excitement. Then I thought I ruined the surprise and now I have to keep this from my parents.

As the day continued, I felt more guilty. I didn’t realize it, but the guilt showed in my actions. My dad asked me what the matter was. I couldn’t take the guilt, and I began crying. I told him I peeked and saw my Christmas present. My father was not happy. He said, “well, that was your big gift, and now you won’t have anything to look forward too.” That mistake was a defining moment in my life to learn to be patient.

That moment in my life reminds me of how impatient I am with God working in my life. I keep wanting to know what He wants me to do with my life. I try to force things and make things happen when it isn’t time. I feel like an impatient child in those days leading up to Christmas. I am peeking in the box before it is time.

God knows what needs to happen. It may feel like we are going around in circles or moving farther away from the goal, but God aligns everything for us in the perfect time.  Allow God to surprise you!

Lesson Learned: Allow God to surprise you. No peeking!

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me when I try to figure out everything on my own. I put my trust in you. You know the way. Thank you for every surprise you give me. Help me anticipate with wonder and excitement for all you plan for me. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

I’m Just Not Feeling It and That’s Okay

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. -Psalm 40:1-3

 

My mentor told me that from ages 38-52 years old, many go through a life change. I imagine this change to be amazing, a chance to become what God created me to be in this life. However, it doesn’t feel that way. It hurts — a lot.  

 

There are many things I used to enjoy that I don’t anymore. There are relationships I have had with friends that have ended. Many of my interests aren’t interesting to me anymore. Right now, I do not know what I want or like, and that frightens me. I usually love writing; except recently, I haven’t had a desire for it. It scares me because this is what I want to do. In the past few months, I wanted to give up. It feels like a midlife crisis of some sort. But one thing I know is that God is faithful, and there is a reason for all this change.

 

Sometimes I wonder, “where are you, Lord?” Even King David, in the book of Psalms, wondered where the Lord was in his times of grief and despair. David was faithful, though. Me, not so much. When I am in the midst of change, it is hard to see the outcome. The enemy comes and distracts me from what I should be doing to get there. 

 

I feel pressure to perform and to pan every second of my life.  But, I cannot know until I try and even possibly fail. Failure isn’t always a waste of time. It can also be the opposite of regret.

 

If you feel like giving up, please do not! Doubt and worry are the enemy’s tools for stopping us from attaining God’s purpose for us.  I want things done quickly and easily. But God does not ever do anything in a hurry. He moves in His timing. May you take shelter in the mighty arms of our God.

 

Lesson Learned: Change is inevitable and necessary. Allow God to work it out.

 

Prayer:

‘Dear Heavenly Father, help me in my times of need. Give me endurance and energy to make it through tough times. Thank you for your protection. May your will be done. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Accepting How God Created You to Be

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13

Every day, they are messages that bombard us that we are not enough.  Our bodies and faces, material possessions, or bank accounts need improvement.  We see advertisements for products that could improve every area of our lives. Instead, we have emptier wallets and growing dissatisfaction.

We are unhappy due to the comparison game.

In college, I took a walking exercise class.  I made two friends in the class. We would talk about college, boys, and our plans when we graduated.  Both young women were pretty. I was suffering from an eating disorder at the time and wished I could look like either one.  

They would always talk about their encounters with men.  I did not want my dating life to resemble either one of theirs, but I figured if I looked like either gal, I would have a date.  One of them was petite and blond named, Jenny. Everywhere we walked, strangers would stare at her or try to talk to her. She would giggle and flirt back.

One day at the end of class, another fitness class was finishing up.  Jenny said, “see that woman over there? I think she has the perfect body and I would do anything to look like her.”  I said, “are you kidding me; you’re just fine the way you are! You have guys coming to your beck and call.” She said, “well, I don’t like how I am. I prefer to look like her.”

When we deny God’s will for us, discontent grows in our lives.

Her statement caught me off guard.  How could she think that way about herself?  But here I was, doing the same thing. I didn’t like myself and wanted so desperately to change.  I would have given an organ to look like and weigh the same as Jenny. So many of us women believe, we are not enough and we need to lose a little here, enhance over here, dye our hair, erase some forehead wrinkles, or rejuvenate some other areas.  It is an endless, horrible path.

Last Sunday in church, my pastor said something that reminded me of our discontent with our lives.  He said, “You only have one race to run. A call upon your life that has been ordained by God.” When we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we must allow God to fulfill His will for us.  We are disappointed when we don’t have what someone else has, and we complain about how we want better. God knows what we need.

Accept God’s Will for Your Life.

When we accept that God is in control and has a will for our lives, we can finish that race, strong.  We don’t need to be discontent with ourselves. The changes we may have to make are our actions or behaviors, so it aligns with the will God had ordained for us.  We are all valuable and have a purpose and a plan for our lives. May we listen and accept that plan as God reveals it in our lives.

 

Lesson Learned: God made you.   Accept how God created you to be so that you can carry out His will in your lives.  

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the plan and purpose you have for my life.  Show me what that plan is so that I may carry it out. Help me finish the race well. Let me be your hands and feet.  Forgive me for comparing myself to others. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Know Your Value

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious are your thoughts, oh God! How vast is the sum of them.” Psalm 139:16-17

There is so much pressure in the world today to be successful; it overwhelms us.  That pressure and stress have become unbearable for some. You can feel it in the atmosphere.  Sometimes you hear about it in the news because the story is about someone committing suicide and the aftermath.

Our niece is a high school senior.  She has many wonderful qualities: kind, intelligent, athletic and beautiful.  Her grades are perfect, and she has many extracurricular activities.  She wants to be a surgeon someday, so she has to be tough and be able to handle a lot at once.  Over the holidays, I heard her extensive schedule for the next semester, and it floored me.

A few days after seeing her for the holidays, I learned of a popular newscaster who died of a drug overdose.  Even though it was not a suicide, he allegedly used drugs to cope with the stress in his life. Sadly, many people deal with stress through the use of drugs, alcohol, smoking, video games, eating disorders, etc.  The pressure becomes too much to handle.

For some reason, God put our niece heavily on my heart when I heard about this newscaster. I felt like I needed to tell her that she is valuable, I was proud of her,  and no matter what, she would be successful in all she planned to do. I sent her a text. She responded that she needed to hear that.

Whether you are heading into college, getting a job in a career that you want, finding a spouse or even planning a birthday party, they are so many expectations-real and unnecessary.  The competition alone can bring people to their knees. In my daughter, just as a Fourth Grader, I saw the stress of the state testing week make her physically ill. I know she prepared the best she could, so I told her, that I did not care about the outcome of this test as long as you try.  She relaxed and tested at her grade level. I do not need her developing ulcers, worrying about a test score.

In January 2018, there was a suicide of a high school student in South Orange County, CA.  He wrote a letter about his discontent of living a pressure-filled life and trying to attain a perfect grade point average.  He enjoyed playing a sport, not the constant drive to achieve championships. It broke my heart.  He wanted to be a teen and have fun and try his best.  He felt he could not be himself.

Our worth should not be defined by the world, but by God.  God has a unique plan and purpose for each of us. Death and destruction are not a part of His purpose for us.  No matter how difficult life gets, God wants us to finish well. Let us relax the unrealistic pressure put on ourselves by the world.  Pursue God and seek His will. If we fail, then it will not be devastating. God loves us, and we are all valuable and worthy.

Lesson Learned: My value and worth are in the Lord, not the world.  In knowing that then I will be free.

Growth Happens

“…but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”                                     1 Corinthians 13:10-12

 

The physical, cognitive, and emotional growth that takes place in a child, from birth to age 12, is quite a significant amount.  I have the privilege of watching that growth in my child. However, we can forget that this type of growth continues to happen throughout our lives.

 

My daughter and I went to Target to look for things she may want to have for her birthday. I noticed a young lady, notepad in hand, who was there for the same reason.  She said out loud, “nothing seems interesting, I can’t believe I don’t want any toys.” My daughter looked at me and said, “I feel the same way.”

 

A part of me felt sad that my little girl is growing up.  I am excited to see all that God has created her to be. I am many years older than my daughter, and I am too, experiencing growth in many areas of my life.

 

There are many interests that I used to have, that don’t anymore.  I have learned that between the ages of 38 to 52, a midlife awakening begins. There were many days where I loved going out to hockey games and staying out late.  Now, I go to bed at the time I used to want to go out. My priorities have shifted in all areas of my life.

 

My daughter had a well-check appointment with her pediatrician.  The doctor explained some changes that she may encounter this year as she gets closer to her teenage years.  My daughter began to cry. The doctor asked her why she felt sad. She told the doctor, “growing up is scary, being an adult seems so scary.  I want to stay a child and not have to deal with it.”

 

A change is scary and unwanted.  However, change is inevitable. Instead, we must embrace change and hope for growth and birth something new and fruitful.  Whether it is coming upon puberty, changing careers, losing family members or any significant life changes, we must trust that the Lord knows our needs and wants us to become what He intended.  When we believe in that hope, we can hope for something good because God is good!

 

Lesson Learned:  May there be hope in the growth to bring us to where God wanted us to be.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for guidance when I encounter change.  In every situation, may I grow and gain knowledge. Thank you for wisdom and discernment.  Help me make godly decisions. Thank you for leading the way, Father God. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”