Thursday, December 24, 2015

Provider of Hope

Merry Christmas! I hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays together. At this season, we think of the hope that Jesus brought when He came as a little baby. 

This is a devotion that I (Scott) wrote for our church's Advent book. 

The woman looked at her situation; it was hopeless. Her husband was dead. The creditors were calling. She could not pay. They were going to take her two sons. She went to the prophet and told him about her hopeless situation. Elisha asked what she had in the house. “A jar of oil,” she said. I’m sure the voice was not confident, probably hopeless.

Elisha told her what to do. Gather as many empty containers as she could and begin pouring the oil. The woman obeyed. The oil continued to flow until every container was full. Then it stopped. “Go and sell it,” Elisha said. “Pay your debt. Live on the rest.” (2 Kings 4:1-7, HCSB) God provided what the woman needed in her hopeless situation.

All of us are like the woman; we are born in a hopeless situation. We have a great debt—our sin—that we cannot pay. The “creditor” is coming to take the only things we have, our lives. God provided what all mankind needs for this hopeless situation. He sent His Son to be born. Jesus lived a sinless life. He died on the cross, paying the debt we could never pay. He rose, conquering death once and for all. He fills the empty hearts that call on Him. He turns our hopelessness into eternal hope.

We can rest in this eternal hope. But what happens when we find ourselves struggling with hope day to day? Recently my wife and I have found ourselves in circumstances similar to the woman’s. Neither of us have full-time, regular jobs. But we still have expenses. God has provided. He has taken what we have and continues to help fill our containers. Our oil continues to flow and we continue to have more than we need to meet our obligations. God provides what we need.

God is the provider of our hope—hope in the deliverance from sin and eternal death and hope in our day-to-day needs. This Christmas we can celebrate the God of hope and His Son, the Savior, Jesus.

I pray the hope of God is yours now and throughout the next year.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Some Days

This current point in my life journey has been an interesting one. I (Scott) write and edit every day. I volunteer in classrooms and a reading clinic throughout the week. I teach my church kindergarten class each week. It's certainly been different from years past.

Some days I really miss being with kids all day. Those couple of years in the classroom were challenging at times, but I did enjoy being with the kids. I miss the frustrating joy that is teaching elementary kids.

Some days I miss being in an office with like-minded people. I worked with a wonderful group of leaders who loved kids and loved creating resources to teach them. (Many of those people are still doing that wonderful work.) I miss the crazy stress of the publishing world.

Some days I stare at the blank screen and wonder. I wonder about writing here in this space or on the assignments whose deadlines are looming. I wonder if the words will come, words that will be worthwhile and that I will want to send on for someone to read. I wonder about the challenge of writing alone at my desk.

Some days I'm reminded that it doesn't take much to make an impact. A quick hug or shy smile from a child in the class where I volunteer. A group of waving kindergarten hands as I leave after playing a game with them. The confidences whispered to me by my reading buddy. Today he told me things that were bothering him. Things that others did that he cannot control. Maybe small things but things he wanted to tell.

I'm reminded that reading clinic can be about more than decoding words and practicing fluency. It's a relationship between me and my student. We share stories (both from books and each other). He asks questions. I listen to concerns. He shows me the library books he's chosen this week. We laugh as we recall Mudge's look in the first book we read together.

On those days I don't wonder. I know that each moment is a gift. Each moment is important in and of itself. That moment may not become something grand to be recalled years from now. It may just be a moment. But it may become a memory. Either way, it's important now.

And that's enough for each of the "some days" I have now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Difference

Have I (Scott) made a difference? I guess that question comes up when you're at that middle stage of life, as I am. It has come up more frequently for me since I'm between jobs, working as a freelancer. Some days I look back and wonder if I've made much of an impact--on anything or anyone.

I worked in a publishing company for 15 years. But I recognize fewer and fewer people when I visit there. And little of my work is still around. I volunteer and teach a kindergarten class at my church. But not much tangible results are seen in that. I love it each week. But those five-year-olds grow and move beyond my class, and I wonder if I've made much impact.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking down the hall at my church thinking some of these thoughts. I walked down the stairs. At the bottom, a young man was holding the door. As I walked out I thanked him. He looked at me. Suddenly a smile bloomed across his face.

"Hey," he said. "You were my teacher. My kindergarten teacher."

"Yes, I was," I said. He smiled broadly at me again.

My thoughts shifted as I walked to my car. Each week my kids and I have fun and we learn. We explore and investigate and play. We paint and stack blocks and read. We create memories.

I may not win an award or have a famous name. But I get to spend time with boys and girls. Maybe something we did will bring a smile to the face of an adult one day.

That's a difference to be proud of.

(Honorable mention in the Dear Reader contest.)

Friday, October 30, 2015

God Is Good to Us

This past year has been an interesting time for us. I (Scott) keep seeing and experiencing things that remind me that God's timing is perfect and that things "just" keep happening at the "right time." (Sorry about all the quotation marks; they just seemed right for emphasis.)

I'll read something to prepare for my Bible study that connects exactly with what I'm experiencing. I'll wonder or worry about something and see an answer on TV or as I'm driving. Someone will make a comment to me at just the right moment. I'll start to fret over what I'm doing and receive a note from someone complimenting me on my work. All these things "just" happen when they need to happen for me.

The most recent one of these things just happened. I've been struggling with something personally. I sat and prayed to God, both aloud and in writing, about this. I kept praying and thinking and writing and praying.... Then I saw my Bible. It's not the Bible I read every day or take to church. It's a Bible that stays in my office, beside my reading chair. I'll read it from time to time when I'm in the office (or use it for reference when needed for my work).

I pulled the Bible toward me and opened it. I didn't know where to read. Psalms, I thought. That's usually a good place for lamenting and for answers.

I opened the Bible to the middle and the pages fell open to a particular passage. There was a card in this place. (I often stick things in my Bibles, for various reasons.) Okay, I thought, this is the place. I began reading the pages that were marked there. Some great verses, ones that connected to me. I shifted the Bible a little and the card slid out. Then I noticed there was writing on it. I read the words, a verse on those pages that I hadn't read yet. A verse that directly applied to what I was feeling and facing.

Now, I don't know when I wrote that verse down and stuck the card in the Bible. No idea how many months or years ago that was. I don't really know why I wrote down that verse, except it is a good one to remember. But I knew I wrote it down for this moment. How do I know? Because God led me to it. I'm going to place that card with the verse close to my desk, where I can see it daily, for a while. Not only to help me as I think about my current situation but to remind me that God's timing it always right on time. And to remind me that the ways I obey and listen now will impact me in the weeks and months ahead.

Someone once told me that we shouldn't use "coincidences" but instead should say "God-incidences."

His ways are perfect and He's always right on time.

Monday, October 19, 2015

If Only

Driving on a long trip by yourself gives you lots of time to think. On my recent trip to Texas, I (Cindy) was reflecting on certain aspects of my life. I began to play the “If Only…” game. I bet you have played that game, too. If only I had studied Spanish in college. If only I had kept on teaching at that school. If only this, if only that. What you end up with is a life full of regrets.

Living a life of faith in God has no room for regrets. If we really take Romans 8:28 seriously, everything that happens to us is in God’s will. He not only will use what happens to us for good, He ordains it. God is not surprised by any occurrence in our lives. So here is how I played my “If Only…” game:

If only I had grown up in a family that went to church.
   My family loved me. My parents and grandparents are all gone, but I have a wealth of brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and –nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins. I still wish that we had that legacy of faith that could be passed down to the younger generations. What I do have is the privilege of praying for my non-Christian family members. I have the responsibility of living a life that demonstrates the love of Christ. I have developed a deep appreciation for the need of children to have godly families. I believe that to be one reason I am so invested in preschool ministry.

If only I had told that principal he was wrong.
   One year I had a confrontation with a principal who accused me, unjustly, of slandering a student. I was so taken aback by his accusations, I could hardly defend myself. The hurt and the anger almost debilitated me. Many times I have replayed the confrontation, thinking of how I could have responded differently. But I didn’t. What I chose to do is learn and grow from the situation. Many years later I was in a similar confrontation with a parent, and I had gained enough godly wisdom to respond differently to the accusations and was better able to deal with the anger and hurt.

If only I had studied Elementary Education in school.
   When I graduated from college, I had a degree in Secondary Education with teaching fields in Math and Latin. I began my teaching career teaching junior high students in math. I struggled with classroom management (as many new teachers did), trying to manage these young teenagers. In the first few years of teaching, I often wished I had studied to teach younger children. But I did not, and unless I went back to school, I was stuck teaching teenagers. But through my struggle, I learned to love that age of kids. I developed skills in teaching that helped me be a better teacher to kids struggling to learn math. After several years of teaching junior high math, I began teaching 7th and 8th grade girls Sunday School at my church. What a blessing it was to share about God and Jesus with these bright and enquiring girls. I am still even in contact with them via Facebook. God continued to do the good work in me, helping me learn my craft and become an effective worker for Him.

 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
                                                      Philippians 1:6

Continue in your faith in God, knowing that He will continue His work in you. Don’t let “If Only…” ruin your journey in this life.

Friday, September 4, 2015


It's been a while since I posted. I've had interviews but no jobs. And that's okay. Here's part of the reason why.

A few weeks ago I read something about contentment - that lack of contentment is the reason we struggle spiritually. As I've pondered that, I've realized that being content is what God has been teaching me throughout this adventure.
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content--whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
When I'm content, I am joyful where I am. This point in my journey is enough. If I'm continuing to hope for something different or keep looking for what's next, am I really content? Doesn't a seed of discontent still exist if I'm wanting (even a little) a different situation or future?

I still pray and look for God's leading. I listen for what He wants us to do. As a believer, I should always be doing this.

But I am satisfied with where I am now. I am looking to enjoy my current place in our journey.

We may be at this station for a few more months. Or years. Being content is resting in God's sovereignty, knowing that where we are now is where we should be. Knowing that God's hand is in our journey - every step along the way. Knowing that God is not surprised at what happens to us.

I am releasing my own expectations of what should be happening. I will not hold on to "what ifs" or to my plans. I will not try to do things to bring about the next step. God is in control and I can rest in that. My circumstances don't matter. My feelings don't matter. My faith, my confidence, my hope rest on Him. I can be content wherever I am because of who He is.

The old hymn "Ready" (A.C. Palmer) comes to mind. The refrain of that hymn---
Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill;
Ready for service lowly or great,
Ready to do His will.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

God Is Always Working

"On the day I called, You answered me; You increased strength within me." (Psalm 138:3)

Recently Psalm 138 has become my go-to passage. I read it regularly, daily. The verse above has become particularly meaningful to me.

School will be starting here soon. Cindy and I were talking last week about the fact that I have had zero calls or interviews for this upcoming school year. Zero. "I think that is unexpected," I said. "That no one would contact me. That there wouldn't be at least one principal who called for an interview. Especially since I've contacted some of them when I knew about openings." As we talked, I told her that I had a realization. It must be God at work. He is working out His plan (not our plan). And I am content to continue on as I am. I enjoy writing. I enjoy editing. God has continued to multiply our flour and oil, giving us what we need and more.

Then, earlier this week, my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number and tried to answer it. The phone stopped ringing before I could answer. In a time shorter than voice mail would pick up. Hmm, I thought. Then I did something that I sometimes do; I did a reverse lookup online. That number was an elementary school. Someone called and then hung up.

It's interesting what can get me on the anxiety train. I kept thinking about that phone call. The one that was missed, for whatever reason. The one I didn't get. What if. I wonder. Over and over in my head.

I had to keep reminding myself of a truth that I learned years ago: God is bigger than anything else. He is bigger than missed calls or electronic flubs. If that's a direction that I should pursue, the call will come again. I put it out of my mind. Until it would sneak back in.

I knew that God would work His will. I knew that I was content to write and not teach in a classroom. But I also remember the dream that I feel God has given me - to be a classroom teacher. So the thoughts would come back. I prayed to give those anxious thoughts to God. And no call came.

Yesterday morning I woke up thinking and praying about this. "God," I said, "I know that You are in control. I know that You are bigger than anything. I know that if no call ever comes, You are still God and still working in our lives." I took a deep breath. "I want Your will above all. But I really want a call. As I understand things at this moment, I want a call. But I give it to You."

I put it aside mentally. I moved on into my day. A couple of hours later, I got a call from a principal. She wanted to know if I could come for an interview that morning, in just two hours. I said yes. The interview seemed to go well. She said she wants to make a decision by the end of the week.

On the way home, I checked my phone. A missed call and a message. From a number I didn't recognize. I pulled over to listen to the message. Another school. Wondering if I could come for an interview on Monday. I called back and left a message saying I was interested and available. As I started for home, the phone rang again. It was the second school. "What is your schedule today?" she asked. "Could you come this afternoon?" So I went to a second interview. That went well, too.

I asked for a call. I got two calls. I don't know if either will be what God wants me to do. I see positives in both possibilities. I would take either.

But, as I marveled again at God's provision and God's answers, I learned what I really need to keep in mind. God is always at work. God is at work when there are calls. God is at work when there are no calls. If I learn anything through our journey, it will be that God is sovereign, always at work in our lives. Even when we can't see Him. Even when we don't realize it.

And sometimes He overabundantly reassures us that He's at work.

(We thank you for your prayers for us. Please pray that we will be obedient, recklessly obedient, in whatever and wherever God leads.)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Keep On Following

This is Cindy posting on the blog today.

I have been pondering so many things these past few weeks, especially since the SCOTUS decision at the end of June. It seems that our world is going downhill as super speed. Our culture is becoming increasingly self-focused, moving farther and farther away from God.  My first reaction to the SCOTUS ruling: We are all doomed! Our nation is going down the drain! We are done! I know, a little dramatic, right?

Then it hit me. I am a Christ follower. I have the Holy Spirit living in me. I have God’s Word to give me comfort and guidance. For a few minutes I had forgotten an important fact—God is sovereign and everything that happens is ordained by God. Everything that happens is ordained by God. EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IS ORDAINED BY GOD!

If I know that God is in control, what should be my response? Should I sit back and let God do His thing? Should I passively watch as the world continues to go awry? This is not the response God requires of His children. What should we do?

In John 15:18-25, Jesus tell His disciples they will face persecutions. The world hates the gospel. As followers of Christ, we will also face persecution. People will hate us because of what we stand for. People will call us haters because we cannot agree with their behaviors. We will be accused of being judgmental because we refuse to accept their way of life. But as followers of Christ we are called to stand apart, no matter the cost. But not only that, we are called to love others, especially our enemies. We are called to be witnesses to the sacrifice of love Christ made for us.

 I truly believe that the recent events point to Christ’s eminent return. He may return in my lifetime, but it may be many years, even centuries before His return. Even so, we should feel an urgency to spread the gospel. We should feel the urgency about strengthening our resolve to stand strong for the cause of Christ. We should fee the urgency to pray for our world that people would turn toward the One True God. We should be reckless in our obedience to follow Jesus.

Friday, July 3, 2015

But If Not

Do you remember sermons? I remember concepts but rarely do I remember long parts of sermons. I may go back and read notes from sermons - and then I remember more specifics. But there's one sermon that I remember that I have no notes for. A sermon from our previous pastor, not our current one. Evidently a sermon that I must need to remember.

The passage: Daniel 3. The story: A king builds a statue that all should worship. Three men of God do not. The king says that a fiery furnace awaits if they will not bow down. He gives then another chance. They refuse. He tosses them in the overheated furnace. They are delivered. He recognizes that their God is the mighty God.

But the sermon didn't focus on the deliverance. It focused on the men's response to the king when he questioned them. They said that God could rescue them from the furnace and the king. Then they said: "But if not, we will not serve other gods or worship your statue."

But if not....

Those words have echoed in my head throughout this past year. God can do ______ but if not we will still praise Him.

I can think of wonderful ways for God to move in our lives. I can hear of an opportunity and create a grandiose plan for what will happen. I sometimes ask for a sign that I'm on the right track. Sometimes I struggle with what's happening. I'm not sure what or why things are happening the way they are.

However, God is still God. He will deliver and He will guide.

But if not.

I know that God is still Sovereign. He still is on His throne. And we will praise and trust Him.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Do Not Be Afraid

"I sought the LORD and He answered me,
He delivered me from all my fears."
(Psalm 34:4)

It's funny how words you memorized years ago can come back at a moment's notice. I memorized the above verse a long time ago. I even created a small song about it so I could remember it easily. But I haven't thought about it for a long while. Today, I was reading something online and read a similar verse and that song echoed in my head.

And it made me realize that I needed this verse right now.

Do you have fears? In this time of adventure, I do. Fears, worries, anxieties, concerns. Call them whatever you will. But I do fear or worry that no one will ever consider me for a teaching job again. I worry that somewhere along the line I missed or misunderstood God's leadership. I fear what people think of me when they see me. I fear that maybe I'm failing my family by not doing more. I fear that doing too much is a lack of faith and trust in God to do His work.

See. Lots of fears and worries. 

And then I remembered and read this verse again. Seeking God is the deliverance from fears. More of Him is less of all that...stuff.

Cindy and I were talking the other day. It's amazing how many times God or His messenger says, "Do not be afraid." He said it to Abraham and to Isaac. He said it to the Israelites as they left Egypt and wandered in the wilderness. He said it several times to Joshua as Joshua began his new leadership role. He said it to Mary when she heard about His plan for Jesus' birth. He said it to Joseph about the marriage to Mary. He said it to the shepherds at the announcement of that birth. He says it to us today.

The remedy to being afraid? Seeking God. Calling on Him and listening to Him.

Those times of anxiety? Seek Him. Those times of discouragement? Seek Him. Worries and troubles? Seek God. 

God is Sovereign and God is in control. There is no reason to fear. Do not be afraid.

(Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go spend some seeking time.)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Back to the Same Thing

In John 21, Peter and other disciples were in Galilee. Peter decided to go fishing and the others join him. All night long, they fish and catch nothing.

Jesus called to them from the shore. (They didn't recognize Him.) Jesus said to put the nets on the other side of the boat. They caught a netful of fish.

I'm sure you know the rest of the story. Peter swam to shore after John said the man was Jesus. The others came in the boat, bringing all those fish. Jesus was cooking breakfast for the men. They ate together. Jesus restored Peter by asking him, "Do you love Me?" three times.

There's a lot in this Bible passage, a lot to digest and learn from. But one thing has been sticking with me about this passage, something that I haven't pondered a lot before.

Peter was sitting around and decided to go back to what he had done before. He chose to do this...after seeing the empty tomb and the risen Christ. He went back to fishing. Was he going backward? Going back to what he knew when things had taken an unexpected turn? Did he think his ministry was over?

As I thought about this, I realized something else. He was unsuccessful in going back. He caught nothing all night. The only time he caught fish was when he listened to Jesus.


Lately I've been trying to figure out what to do. I sometimes think I need to go back to some things that worked for me in the past. I try some of the "old" ways, not sinful or wrong ways, but things that were successful in the past.

But those things won't work for me if Jesus isn't in it. Success = following God and His way. As I think and wonder about what to do, I must be willing to let go of those easy, fall-back things. I'll come up empty every time.

Easy answers are so often my way. We must listen and follow God's way. And that means moving forward into new, uncharted territory.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Not a Formula

My pastor said something this week that really resonated with me: You cannot reduce God down to a formula. We do not have faith in a formula but in a person. 

I think this is what I've been trying to do lately. I have finished my degree. I've done other "steps" as I see them appear. Now I should get the result I want.

This plus that plus the other thing equals my expected result.

But that's not God. God works in His own way and at His own time. He is not linear. He is God.

My anxiety has been climbing in recent days. I think it's because I see or hear of classmates getting jobs or moving on to the next stage. People ask me about my own future steps.

And I don't see anything changing yet. Still waiting....

When I look back at Scripture, I see people in a waiting mode. Moses spent 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness. I wonder if at year 2 or year 10 or year 25, Moses thought: "Okay. I'm ready to move on. This sheep-watching has been interesting and rewarding but I'm ready for the next stage."

Joseph spent a long while in an Egyptian prison. At one point, he saw what he thought was the way out. "Remember me when you are back with Pharaoh," he told the cupbearer after interpreting a dream. The man said he would, but forgot him for 3 years.

God is not a formula or a checklist. "I did this and did that. I went here. I waited there. I herded sheep. I was faithful even in prison. Now I'll get my due."

Not the way God works.

And my due is nothing but death. I don't deserve anything that I have already received from God. And continue to receive. God continues to bless. Why do I feel restless or discontent? Why do I focus on what hasn't happened rather than what has?

I am truly grateful for what God has given us. He has continued to show us His faithfulness and blessing. I'm sure in ways that I don't even see. That's where I need to rest. I need to keep working where God has led me at this point.

I will trust the person and stop trying to find the formula.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My G-Mail

Dear God,

I'm waiting. You know that I'm waiting. I'm listening. Well...I'm trying to listen or at least I say that I'm listening. Mostly I'm doing lots of things and occasionally praying. And trying to impose what I think You want me to do. Yeah, there's that. I'm definitely doing that.

But I want to listen. Show me how to really tune into You and Your will. Oh, Your Word. I read it. Most of the time. Meditate on it? Not so much.

So.... I don't really listen. I don't focus on Your Word. I try to pursue my own ideas and pass them off as Yours.

Yeah. I see.

Forgive me, God, that I've not made the most of this time You've given me. Help me to truly listen. To truly meditate on Your Word. To truly wait in the manner You desire.

I'm waiting, God. And it's good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Jesus Is Risen
It's Easter, the most holy day in Christianity. We ponder the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of our faith.

As I read through the Scriptures, I am struck by the expectations of the disciples and followers of Jesus and how those compare to the reality of what happened.

Recently I was reading about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. After the crucifixion and resurrection, these two traveling followers were discussing all that had happened in Jerusalem. Jesus, unrecognized, began walking with them and asking what they were discussing.

In their discussion they said, "We were hoping that He (Jesus) was the One who was about to redeem Israel." (Luke 24:21)

That statement struck me. Essentially, they were saying: "We thought He was the One who would fulfill all our expectations."

Jesus did redeem Israel (and the world) through His death. But His death and resurrection were not what the followers were expecting. They were expecting a more earthly deliverance from their oppressors.

Jesus then spoke to these two disciples, showing them the true work of the Messiah through the Scriptures.

As is my habit, I pondered the words of this passage. I pondered that, in the midst of great redemption, these two disciples still focused on their lesser expectations.

That happens so much to us. I wrote about it in the previous post, focusing on smaller pieces rather than the big picture. God offers redemption and reconciliation with Him. We focus on our small struggles now. God offers peace and rest. We want just a little more financial security.

Our expectations are so small. God's provision is superabundantly large.

I don't want to pray for my expectations. I want to marvel at His overwhelming gifts.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


The kids in our kindergarten class really seem to enjoy puzzles. I enjoy watching them and talking with them about what they are doing.

Over the years, I've noticed that they all do the same thing. A kid will try a puzzle piece in a particular place. He (or she) will think the shape or the color is right and will try it. It won't fit. He will try it in another place or lay it aside. Then, a mere minute or so later, he will try to place the same piece in the same wrong place. This can happen several times as he is working on his puzzle.

As I watched this phenomenon play out again recently, something popped into my mind. A few lines from a poem I wrote ages ago:
My life is like a jigsaw puzzle and the pieces don't seem to fit.
The more I look at each and every piece, the more confused I get.
And then I thought about our lives at this particular point. I keep looking at individual pieces. I keep trying to place those pieces in the same places that didn't work the first (or second or one-hundredth) time.

God has given us all these different pieces, leading us through all these different experiences to get us to the place we are now. We are trying to wedge those pieces into the place we think they fit. But they don't.

God sees the bigger picture. He knows how all these pieces fit together to fulfill His will. We need to keep collecting pieces and following when we see where He is placing them.

Maybe that teaching or writing or editing or other experience doesn't fit in that "logical to us" place. Maybe it fits into a greater place that we don't even know yet.

A particular phrase from Ephesians 3:20 keeps coming to mind: [He] who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us. More than we can ask or think. Some translations say "ask or imagine."

I don't know about you...but I can think and imagine all kinds of things. And God is able to do above and beyond anything I can think of, as His power is at work.

I'm not sure how all these puzzle pieces will fit together. But God's big picture is glorious. We must trust, wait, and stop focusing on all those little pieces.

More than we can ask or think. I'm so excited.

Friday, March 6, 2015

What Are You Gonna Do Now?

The other day I was going to observe in a kindergarten classroom. This year has been the year of observations. I've had to do several for my university classes. This particular day, I had to be at the school by 8:00 am. And Cindy needed to go into the office to work. We left the house early (at least much earlier than we usually do). We stopped for breakfast at a convenience store; that means I got coffee in a cup with one of those plastic lids.

I dropped Cindy off and sat in the parking lot for a while to drink my coffee...before going on to the school. Something happened. I'm still not sure what. I bumped/jostled the cup; it tipped; I tried to steady it; the lid flew off; the coffee poured down my leg and into the floor of my truck. At least a third of a large cup of coffee. Hot coffee.

I didn't know what to do. I had a wet pants leg and a soggy floorboard. And I was due at the school in about 45 minutes. I could not go home to change and get back to the school in time.

I yelled a little. I panicked a little. I took a deep breath. Then I made a plan. I drove to a store to get paper towels. I sopped up as much as I could from the floor. By then my leg began to dry. And my pants were dark so the spill didn't really show much.

Why this story? Well, I've been experiencing a lot of these types of things lately.

Programs that won't work. Lost things that I just had a couple of minutes before. A frozen computer that means I just lost unsaved work. Over and over I keep having these things.

I think God's been trying to teach me something. These things happen. They are usually small. They are always frustrating. They often make me angry.

These things happen. And I must deal with them.

God's showing me that, no matter what, I'll face these ongoing frustrations that challenge my patience and my calm. I cannot avoid them or stop them. What I can do is deal with them in a better way.

I may grimace or grunt. I may punch the air (but not anyone or anything). But I still must deal with them.

So now I'm learning to take a deep breath. Walk away for a minute. Pray for patience and guidance. (That's usually the last thing I try. Maybe it should be the first.) And then I deal with it. Calmly and thoughtfully. As best as I can in the circumstances. And learn from it.

It's not the big things that get me. It's those small frustrations that trigger doubts in my competence (or sometimes sanity).

Stuff happens. How can I deal with it that honors God?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Holding On and Letting Go

I hold on to things; I am a keeper. I blame the preschool teacher in me. I see a box or a bag or a scrap and just know that I'll need it some day. "We could build or make a puppet or assemble a pretend cargo plane with that stuff. We need to keep it."

My garage and my office will attest to the fact that I keep stuff. Lots of it. Sometimes it's practical. (See above.) Sometimes it's sentimental. ("I need to keep that lint because it was in my pocket when Cindy and I drove to Nashville for the first time.")

I hold on to other stuff, too--stuff that doesn't clutter my physical space but my mental and spiritual space. I hold on to criticisms that were voiced years ago; those comments may not still apply (if they ever did) and may not even come from a credible source, but they remain in my head. I hold on to mistakes I made (even if I didn't know any better). I hold on to past triumphs. I hold on to dreams, ones that may not even apply now.

God has been saying a lot about the past lately. I hear songs that include "not looking back" or "letting go." (No, not that Elsa song.) I read an admonition to not put hand to plow and look back (Luke 9:62). I read encouragement to forget what is behind and press on ahead (Philippians 3:13).

I should remember the lessons of the past; I don't need to make the same mistakes again. I should remember experiences from the past; memories are powerful connections and those experiences make me who I am today.

But I don't need to hold on to the past. If I hold on to all those things, my hands are too full. Too full to hold on to Jesus as I should. Too full to accept the things that are coming to me now. If my mind and heart are so full of what I did and should have done and should not have done and could have done, they cannot be engaged in what I'm being called to do now.

A few years ago, my grandmother died. She left me her old upright piano. I love that piano. I listened to her play it (when I could coax her to do so). I sat for hours and pecked out songs from an old hymnal propped open on it. That piano is a connection between my grandmother and me. I cherish the fact that she left it to me. But it is in Texas and I am here. I have no place for it. For the years since she died, it has sat in her drafty old house, waiting for the time I could make space and bring it here. After much thinking and some talking with my mom, I let it go. I told my mom to pass it on to someone who could use it. My memories are not with that piano; the love and connection I feel with my grandmother is always with me. Now the piano is going to a young lady just beginning her career as a musician and educator. Letting go has breathed new life into the piano and extended a legacy that it would not have otherwise had.

I must let go of the past. I must let go of what I think the future should be. I must hold on to God and His promises. I must hold on Him. And follow His plan instead of mine.

Monday, January 19, 2015

It Is Well

My favorite hymn is It Is Well with My Soul. Every single time I hear it, I am inspired, humbled, and reminded me that God is Sovereign.

Lately I don't think I've been living consistently with that message. God is Sovereign. God is in control. God does as He wills in His time. I know these things. I don't always live as if I know these things.

I've written about doubt before. What I'm learning is that doubt is not the opposite of faith. The opposite of faith is doing things myself. Or trying to make things happen myself.

In this season of our lives, I've been wondering what I need to be doing. Do I just sit and wait? Do I look and explore? WHAT DO I DO?

And I don't feel that it has been well with my soul.

So, this week, God taught me (again) to be where I am. This is what my calling is now. I don't need to go looking around for what's next. This is my next. (I know. I've written about this before. I'm a slow learner.)

It has been well. I feel a weight lift off.

I am listening and waiting. I'm doing what I know God has called me to do. I do new things when they open up.

And now I'm going to stop trying to pry things open myself.

It is well with my soul.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Thing

I always like the new year. It makes me feel like I can completely change. That everything that has happened in the old year is now past and I can make a new commitment or new habit or new way.

Of course, lots of those "new" things happen only a few times or not at all.

A few years ago, I began choosing one word for the year - one word to be the focus for the year. I do this instead of making resolutions. For 2015, I chose the word YES. This year I want to say yes to God and every way He is leading. I hope my yes is apparent, even before knowing the way He's leading.

I also try to choose a verse for the year, a verse that will help guide what I do. When I read Isaiah 43:19, I knew it was the verse for this year.
Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. (Is. 43:19)
We want to see the new things that God is doing. We want to say yes, to be open to being a part of whatever new thing is coming.

Happy 2015! May God do something new in your life. We cannot wait to see what adventures await us.

(You can read more about my 2015 word on Brick by Brick.)