Sunday, May 30, 2010

I hate hills.....

Okay, I know that as a runner I'm supposed to love hills. I've participated in races where the course was described as having "gentle, rolling hills" and let me tell you whoever wrote that lied! There was absolutely nothing gentle about those hills. They went on forever! And even though the race doubled back to the start, I still haven't figured out how I wound up running uphill both ways! I live in South Mississippi for crying out loud! Where are all these hills coming from?!?

I hate hills. I'm not exactly what you'd call poetry in motion when I run anyway, but when I encounter hills, things gets downright ugly! My heart starts beating out of my chest, my face gets flushed, I start sweating so hard I look like I got caught in a sudden cloud burst, and I run SLOW!!! I hate hills...have I mentioned that before?

I can't be the only one who struggles with hills. Why, even the writer of Psalms 121 said, "I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?" The King James version says, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help." I used to think that verse meant I looked up to God in some sort of spiritual utopia. Then I read the verse in other versions and realized the author was calling out for help! Seems that he wasn't looking forward to having to take that hill either!

Still, I am coming to realize what most runners already know, hills build strength. Seasoned runners look at hills as an opportunity to become stronger and therefore, faster. They know those hills will eventually benefit them and allow them to win the race!

Life is full of hills, chances to become stronger than what we are. The question is, will I look at those hills/trials as a good thing? Will I choose to remember during the battle uphill that somehow God is going to use this for my good and His glory? As my heart is pounding and every part of me hurts feeling as though this trial will never end, can I keep going? Will I look back at hills past and remember that God is faithful and never leaves me nor forsakes me? Will I look at this trial as yet another chance for God to make me stronger so that I can run the race set before me? Will I learn to give thanks even for those "hills"? If so, it could really change the way I look at life! Those hills serve a purpose!

In Romans 5: 3-5, this is described for us. "There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"

The rest of Psalm 121 tells me how I will be able to do all this: "My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;  indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." I'm not running up this hill alone. He is there to hold me up, even to the point that I can almost feel his hand on my back gently encouraging me to go on. He does not ask me to do anything that He is unwilling to do with me. He's taken this hill before and He came back to help me do the same.

Can't say I'll ever learn to love hills, but maybe I'll learn to not dread them quite so much from now on. Perhaps the urge to quit and sit down won't seem quite so attractive now. After all, I've got a race to run, and I want to run it well....for I'm running for the prize! I want to hear "Well done" when my race is through.

More encouragement for the "Hills of Life".....

Hebrews 12: 1-3 (Message translation): "Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"

Isa 40:31 (NIV) But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Phil. 3:12 - 14 "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Acts 20:24 "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Matthew 25:21 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Friday, May 28, 2010

Don't go losing your head, Part 2

I can think of absolutely no good reason for me to be awake at 4:30 this morning. I don't have to be at work today, so why in the world did my eyes pop open so blooming early? Oh yeah, now I remember why....I had a nightmare.

Now as nightmares go, this one wasn't too bad, but it was at least heart pumping enough that I am now awake and can pretty much remember what was going on. In this dream, I was being taunted by someone who was much bigger and who obviously could do me harm. He was making veiled threats and I could tell I was in real danger. Fortunately, someone came into the room and distracted him, and I made my get away. I had gotten outside and was going down a dark outdoor hallway toward my car. I was walking as fast as I could, which wasn't nearly as fast as normal because I was wearing heels! Just as I reached the door, I felt the person's hand grab my shoulder. That's when I woke up.

So what's all this got to do with the helmet of salvation? The helmet is a part of our armor designed to keep us from losing our head....and to protect our mind. Our mind is a powerful tool! It registers things we think it doesn't and then processes them later on while we think we are doing sleeping! It's important to keep your mind safe, to not allow it to be hit by the enemy. We are given the helmet of salvation to help protect our minds from the enemy's arrows. Last night, however, I took off my helmet.

No, I wasn't out on the town, and I wasn't doing anything that most people would consider even remotely harmful. I was just sitting on the couch watching TV. As I was flipping channels looking for something to watch, (that should have been a sign right there to turn the stupid thing off), I came across a show that I really like. I won't say the name of it in case it's one of your favorites, but it had to do with people who commit crimes against others. As I think about it, it has to do with the mind as well. Anyway, I am pretty careful to change the channel if something gory comes on, but this episode wasn't gory. It was about a stalker. I watched only a few minutes and then finally listened to that little voice inside (that was by now practically screaming at me) and changed the channel. Evidently, I didn't change it fast enough because I'm pretty sure that's where my dream came from.

As I lay there in the dark thinking about the weird dream and wishing I could go back to sleep, I thought back to an moment from over 20 years ago. My husband and I were taking a movie back to the rental place and as I looked at the movie title in my hand I had a conversation with God. It was actually more of a "listen to God." You know, one of those times when you know that you know what you are hearing is His voice in your heart. I sat there looking at the movie cover and this is what I heard. "Why do you ask me to station angels round your house and then you walk right past them and carry this inside?" I could see the picture very clearly. I had asked God to protect me and my home, yet I went boldly up the steps to the front door and right past the angels. They were there to keep me safe, but they would not, could not interfere when I made the choice to walk past them carrying destruction right into the house myself.

I have never forgotten that day. I'm not perfect...sometimes I still find myself bringing things in and hoping the angels are looking the other way, but the only one I'm really fooling is myself. I know that the way things get into my heart is through my eyes and ears. It only takes a tiny seed of fear, doubt, or evil to take root in the fertile soil of my mind, and the next thing you know I've got a full grown forest of problems. The best way to keep that from happening is to keep my helmet on and not allow the enemy access to do any planting!

I'm not presuming to tell others what to do. I'm only testifying to what I have seen to be true in my life. I have to keep my helmet on because my enemy is prowling around like a lion looking for whom he may devour. I don't want to be his next snack! That means I have to be aware of what I allow in. I can't mindlessly watch TV or listen to the radio, or even the idle conversations of some people! If I do, I'll find myself with a mess before I know it! It's sort of like that "spot" that everyone has in their house. You know the's that one surface where if you allow yourself to put one thing down on it, the next thing you know you'll have a tower of stuff covering the spot. If I'm not careful, I can allow the same thing to happen with my mind. I mindlessly put things there and before I know it I've got a tower of junk to deal with! I'm better off not putting the junk there in the first place.

As I end today's random thought, I am reminded of a children's song, "Oh be careful little eyes what you see; oh be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love. Oh be careful little eyes what you see." As for me, I think it's time I  had another cup of coffee. The five minutes of that show I watched last night stole a lot more than 5 minutes of my sleep! It's also time to put my helmet back on!

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Monday, May 24, 2010

Barbie and me....and the velveteen rabbit

I just came to a sobering realization. Barbie and I are the same age. This just doesn't seem right. If we are the same age, how come she's not going grey, fighting middle age weight gain, trying to minimize wrinkles, and sagging in places she'd really rather not sag? I have to wonder, is she getting junk mail from AARP like I am? Does she get spam trying to sell her a Hover-round? Has she received offers for low cost burial policies? I don't think so!!!

No, Barbie is sporting around in her new car while I count coins so I can put gas into my van. All she has is a cute carry one bag to toss in the back while she and Ken go off on another adventure. I push the homework papers, fast food cups, and kid's backpacks out of the way just to get in! No wonder she never ages.

But I'm not Barbie. (I know, I'm as shocked as you are!) I wake up and my hair is NOT perfect, there are circles under my eyes, and if you're smart you won't talk to me until after my second cup of coffee. I go off to a job that I love, but that is filled with mundane paperwork, sometimes disrespectful children, and endless stress. I wear hand-me-down clothes (sometimes from my daughter's closet) and come home to a house that always seems to need cleaning. I have less than perfect children, dogs that sometimes pee in on the floor, and a husband that watches racing, hunting shows, and old westerns. My life is not filled with adventures and romance. It is filled with struggles and even some disappointments....and I wouldn't trade with Barbie for anything in the world.

The grey in my hair hopefully signals at least a little wisdom. My less than perfect children make me laugh, cry, pray, pray, pray, and give me more joy than I knew was possible. My husband is my friend...not everyone can say something like that. He makes me laugh and stands by me - even in the morning. In fact, he gets up first and makes the coffee! And the dogs....well, I still wish they didn't pee on the floor, but even they are such loveable mutts they make me feel like I'm far more worthy of their love than I know I am.

I'm not Barbie; I'm real. I'm getting older and much to my dismay, it shows. There are wrinkles from laughing, and a few from worry. There are aches and pains that I'm pretty sure plastic never feels. I've been living life now for over 50 years and there have been a few bumps along the way, and everyone has left a mark or two.

I guess I'd like to be "holding up" as well as my plastic counterpart, but I'm not. I'm not even holding up as well as many other 50 year olds I know. Still, I am alive....and hopefully, I am real. Being alive and real hurts sometimes, but it really is worth it. This brings to mind a passage from a well known story, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams :

 "The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

I want to be real, even if it means I'm not as perfect as Barbie. I'm pretty sure I'd rather be a rabbit any day.


Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Prov. 31:30

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Don't go losing your head....

We've reached the point in our look at the armor of God when we discuss the helmet of salvation. Seems like a pretty easy piece of the armor to figure out, but of course, like most projects I volunteer for, there is more to this than I realized!

Even in our modern age, we understand the importance of helmets. Football players wear them, bike riders are SUPPOSED to wear them, baseball players wear them, our soldiers of course wear them! We understand how important it is to protect our head! In Roman times, the helmet was even more important! The helmet of a Roman soldier was very ornate and helped the soldier stand out in a crowd. The plume on top would make anyone notice them, if the intricate carvings hadn't already caught their eye. But this helmet was meant for much more than mere decoration. It was made to literally help these soldiers keep from losing their heads! Even a glancing blow from the enemy's sword could mortally wound them.

We, too, are in a battle...not one with another country or another group of people or even with one person. But just as real at the battle is in war-torn countries, there is a battle going on all around us. In this battle, it's important to remember who our enemy is. We're not fighting against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities...and make no mistake, this battle is real. Whether I asked to be in a battle or not, it's happening!

Now, contrary to what many might think, I am not one to go looking for a fight. I pretty much look for ways to AVOID confrontation and instead try to get along with most everyone. There are times, however, when it becomes necessary to fight; there are things worth fighting for. I am willing to fight for my family. My precious children, who are now both bigger than me, are worth going into battle for! I may take hit after hit and still smile, but if you mess with my babies you'll see a much different creature emerge! Mama bears would probably look tame compared to me then!

While I am in this battle, I cannot afford the luxury of going with my feelings. It's easy to lose your head when you are in a fight and go strictly on what you feel, but the Bible says that "the heart is deceitful above all things..." (Jeremiah 17:9) I can't always go with my feelings. Let's be honest, my feelings can change so quickly it would make the roller coasters at Disney look like kiddy rides! I may be up one moment and then down the next. Nope, can't really rely only on what I FEEL. I've got to operate on what I KNOW to be true. Some would say that Christians are blindly following some superstition....nothing could be further from the truth! As a Christian, I try to make sure I don't "check my brains at the door." (reference to Josh McDowell's book by this name.) I want to make sure every part of me in engaged in this battle!

I will admit, I've never been a soldier. I have, however, had a little martial arts training, and one thing I learned is that in the heat of battle, you forget what you sort of know and tend to revert back to REACTION. I may practice the moves and THINK I have them down pat, but when I'm in the pressure of an attack, it's very easy to forget which way to move, hit, kick, punch or pull. I haven't taken what I KNOW and really made it a part of me yet. I need to keep my head and remember what I know to be true. I know there are certain things I can do to make the enemy take his hands off me. There are things I can do that will disarm my enemy and bring him to his knees. There are things I can do that will completely disable him....but only if I keep my head and do that which I know is true. It's not always easy. It takes practice, but as one of my instructors told me once, "What if that was your child they had in their arms and they were running away with her? Could you fight? Would you know what to do? Would you have the strength and endurance to go after them and fight no matter what?"

We are in a battle whether we like it or not. One of the first thing our enemy would like to get us to do is to take off our helmets, for our headship always means authority. Our enemy wants us to go into battle unprotected, and under our own power. It might begin as it did in the Garden of Eden with a doubt..."Did God really say?" It might begin with false evidence appearing real, F.E.A.R. No matter what it is, don't take off your helmet. It will help you "keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...."(Rudyard Kipling) There is one thing you can rely on to be true above everything else....the Word of God - in that we will find our salvation. It's more than just some feeling; it is what we know to be true. We know that..."God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

It's time to put on our helmets. After all, you don't want to lose your head.....cause we've got something worth fighting for.

The Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10 - 19 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,"

Friday, May 14, 2010

What are you hiding behind?

Well, since I've talked about the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of peace, guess it's time to tackle the shield of faith.

In my years of teaching children's church, the song about the armor of God has always been my favorite. I absolutely love singing, "I am a Christian, a mighty, mighty Christian.....I've got my shield of faith..." Still, after all those years of singing the song, I'm not sure I really ever thought about what a shield of faith was. I looked up the words using my handy dandy dictionary and discovered absolutely nothing that would help me. After all, a shield is something you hide behind...I knew that. Faith means something you believe in...yep, I knew that too. This one was going to take a bit more thought.

Or maybe not. We hide behind our faith, what we believe in. Now, I'm not talking about some pie in the sky kind of name it and claim it kind of faith. But what we believe shields us from the enemy's arrows. That means the shield has to be made of some pretty heavy duty material, something that will stand against anything. It's important that what I believe is real....not just to me, but real no matter what. Only the Word of God fits that description. So, do I believe it?

When there is no money coming in, do I believe God's promise to provide for all my needs according to His riches? When I feel alone, do I believe His promise to never leave me nor forsake me? When I am afraid, do I believe that God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind? When life seems to be throwing everything at me including the kitchen sink, do I believe that God works all things for my good and His glory?

I admit my shield probably has a few chinks in it. There are a few spots that are thin, and for some reason those are the very areas the enemy's arrows seem to target. That's not always comfortable, but it's also not necessarily a bad thing either. Because when those arrows hit, they reveal to me areas I need to strengthen...areas where I don't really believe.

So what do I do when I find my shield is taking a "hit"? Well, if I'm feeling the "hit" then it is showing me a need to dig in to God's Word so I can strengthen my shield. It doesn't mean God or His promises are any less real, it simply means my shield is a bit thin in places. I can sit still and hope that the shield will hold, or I can build up my faith by hearing the Word of God.

The funny thing is when my shield gets thin, my natural reaction isn't to work on the shield, it is instead to dig a hole and hide! But I can't think of any place where doing that offers me any protection against the enemy. My human desire to stay away from those who could help build me up, skip church, or simply bury myself in mindless tv won't do a thing toward building up that shield. Those things are just makeshift holes in the ground. I need something that will hold up in the battle, something that will allow me to not only hide, but to move forward...protected and unafraid.

So I guess it really all boils down to what do I believe? Do I even know what I believe? I think it's time to get into God's Word and build up my shield.

Here are a few verses to help get us started.
Philippians 4:19 "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 1:7"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
Romans 8:28"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Proverbs 3:5,6" Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
James 1:5, NIV. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
Isaiah 26:3, NIV. "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You."
I Corinthians 10:13, NIV. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Looking in all the wrong places...

This morning while I was brushing my teeth, I started thinking about teeth and upcoming dentist appointments and then was hit with a rather unpleasant thought. This time we won't have insurance. You see, the company my husband had been working at for the past 21 years unexpectedly closed its doors this month leaving my husband and about 300 other employees with no job - completely caught off guard and staring into the great unknown called the future.

Thankfully, I have a full time job and there will be unemployment benefits for at least long enough for a decent job hunt. Our insurance, however, will have to change. For the past 21 years we had been insured through my husband's work and while we are making the switch, I'm not sure our dental will be making the "trip." So, this time when we take the kids to get their teeth cleaned, I will have to pay the entire amount out of pocket. It will be a bit of a squeeze, but it's still do-able. For a brief moment, I even had a sanctimonious least I'm not expecting the government to bail me out. Those who look to the government to provide all their needs have made the government their god! Notice I said for a moment....then I heard that unmistakable whisper in my heart asking, "And who have you been looking to?"

You know that sick feeling you get when you realize you are wrong? The one where your stomach tightens a bit and feels queasy all at the same time? Yeah, that one. Well, I felt it because in that moment I realized I'd been looking to my husband's job to be our provider. I guess I'd kind of looked to our jobs instead of to God.

While my husband will find another job and will  be working, right now the provision isn't coming through his job or mine. I really do have to look to the Lord. Now I'm starting to learn in a new way what it means to say we look to the Lord for everything we need. It's different. I know that a new job will come, but for now we are having to trust the Lord for what we cannot see.

Don't get me wrong. We are doing fine. No one is going hungry and the power is in no danger of being turned off. Still, it is a very different feeling. We are not trusting in a job, or a bailout from the government, (although we do appreciate the unemployment benefits since we've paid into them all these years), and we don't expect to win the lottery or have some long lost relative leave us a small fortune. Now those dentist appointments or doctor visits or new glasses or any of our daily needs won't come from some company and the insurance that we have, it will come from our Father. It may come in the form of a new job, or some extra hours at work for me or through not getting sick, but I know it will come.

I guess you could say I'm still looking to someone to provide, only now that someone is not limited to earth and the things of man. Now I'm looking to the One who made the heavens and the earth; the One who knows what my needs are even before I do; the One who knows what the future holds for me and my children and their children and their children's children! Now I'm looking to the one who holds me in His hand and can calm the raging storms in me.

I don't know what your life is like right now. Perhaps you're doing better than me and have always been looking in the right places. But if you have come to a point in your life that you realize you've been looking in all the wrong places, may I invite you to join me in this new way of life. Looking to the author and finisher of my faith - Jesus. For in Him I find all that I need.

Not a bad start for a morning. By the time I'd finished brushing my teeth, I had a new point of view. I finally realized I, too, had been looking in all the wrong places, and it was time to make a change. Now that's enough to brighten the smile on anyone's face.

Psalm 105:4 "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...." Matthew 6:31-34

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever." Philippians 4:19-20

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;" Psalm 23: 1-3a

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Enjoy your wait...

Okay, I will admit it. I am impatient. I want what I want NOW! I don't like to wait for food to cook, bread to rise, cakes to cool, or just about anything else. I walk QUICKLY everywhere I go. I run to get ahead. I live life in the fast lane because I just don't want to miss a thing! How many times do I find myself saying things like, "I just can't wait until...."  And I don't think I'm alone. We are all running in this human race trying to get....where?

Lately, however, I've been thinking a lot about waiting. In Isaiah 40:31 it says, "those who wait upon the Lord will rise up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint."

Teach me Lord to wait. For in the waiting, if we will look, we will realize we are not waiting alone. God is there. He has provided moments just for us, if only we can slow down enough to see them. While sitting at the red light waiting for traffic, do I notice the color of the sky or hear the sound of a song that calms my spirit? While waiting in line at the bank, did I see the beauty of the faces around me...or see those who needed a smile. Did I share one with them? While waiting for my children after school, did I stop to see the beauty in their faces? While waiting for my meal, did I take the time to laugh with my family? What did I do during my "waits?"

Like it or not, life is full of waiting. It only goes quickly during the moments you wish would last forever. But it's in the in-between times when God gently whispers our name and, if we are listening, we can realize that we are walking with Him. Why would anyone want to get in a hurry if they were walking with God? Think about it. When the disciples were walking with Jesus, did they feel the need to rush or did they realize they were right where they needed to be....with the Son of God? Did the road seem long, or did time pass without even being noticed because they were in His company? Did they realize those moments of waiting would come to an end so soon? Do I?

I don't know if I will ever learn to really enjoy the wait, but I want to learn to enjoy the moments I have been given, no matter where I am. I want to recognize it when God sends a "wink" my way. I want to hear His voice along the way. I want to live each moment recognizing that God is there with me....yes, even in the wait...for in the wait, I really have nothing better to do than to focus on do I?

Psalm 33:20 - 22 "We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you."
Isaiah 26:8 "Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts."
Isaiah 30:18 "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
Jude 1:21 "Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Momma always said.....

"Momma always says there's an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they're going. Where they've been." Forrest Gump

That quote is from one of the many "Momma" quotes from the movie Forrest Gump, but come to think of it my mama used to say pretty much the same thing. She had her hands full with me. It didn't really matter what I wore, I wanted to wear my tennis shoes with it. I can almost see her shaking her head in amazement now as she tried to figure out my reasoning for my shoes.

I guess I've always had a thing about shoes, something that may sound strange to those who know me and my usual choice of footwear. I think it's something all women care about in one form or another....just look at the number of shoes most women have in their closet! I even see it in tiny toddler size girls! When I meet a little one, if I complement her pretty shoes and tell her how much I like them, I immediately have a friend. It is just something in the DNA of a girl to care about what's on her feet. Think about every Cinderella story you've ever read...didn't the choice of shoes make a difference?

Now to any guys that may be reading this, don't stop just because you don't yet understand the topic. I know most of you are happy with two or three pairs of shoes, sometimes less. But hang in there...I promise there is a point to all this.

As I've said, I am fascinated with shoes, even though I rarely wear cute ones. I love to look at them and I admire those who can wear the cute heels and still walk at the end of the day. I've been known to NOT choose an outfit simply because I knew I had no shoes to wear with it. As any woman can tell you, it makes a difference! After all, you can't go out in cute capri pants and a pair of old clunky tennis shoes....not without ruining the picture.

This past Easter, I was determined to look cute in my dress, so I put on my one pair of really cute heels. I knew I could handle being in them for at least as long as it took me to get inside the church. Once there, I kicked them off because, well, my church pretty well knows me and it wouldn't surprise them that I had taken off my shoes and walked around. (I think secretly many of the other women wanted to follow my lead.) Anyway, I had no sooner kicked off my shoes and gotten a good distance from them than a friend grabbed my hand to lead me out into the parking lot to see their new blessing of a car! Let me tell you, I was NOT prepared to cross that rock filled parking lot. I did it somehow, but not with any speed and definitely not without pain! I found myself wishing I had on my heels, even if they did pinch my toes a bit!

I think shoes can even make a difference in our mood. Just this week I saw a newscaster put on a new pair of boots and break into dance! Don't tell me the right shoes can't put a spring in your step! They can make a difference in the way you feel! Take for instance last week. I woke up to a "don't mess with me" kind of mood. My regular comfy shoes just wouldn't do for that day. I knew I HAD to wear my shoes with the heel that day. I wasn't in a bad mood at all, but I was in a mood that said I meant business. My feet hurt a bit by the day's end, but somehow it seemed worth it. I didn't cover as much ground that day, but it was as if on that day, I stood in authority where I was. Perhaps it was because those shoes made me stand a bit taller than my normal 5'2", perhaps it was the sound my heels made when I walked, or perhaps it was just the way they made me feel.

The Bible talks about having "your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" in Ephesians 6:15. I wonder if we ever really think about what that means. (Of course, I do because I've got this whole shoe thing going here!) What does it mean to wear the preparation of the gospel of peace? Since it is a piece of the armor of God, it's got to be important. We would never think of giving our soldiers all the armor they needed for battle and then sending them out barefoot or in flip flops, would we? They'd move as painfully and slowly as I did across that gravel parking lot!

These shoes are made to help us cover hard and rocky ground...places where the love of God has not yet removed the obstacles. For some reason the term, "walking all over someone's heart" comes to mind. These shoes, however, aren't there to crush, but to be able to make their way in. They allow us to go into places where bare feet just can not go. The Bible often mentions taking your shoes off when you stand on Holy Ground, in the presence of God. The shoes are for when we leave His presence and go out into the world to take His message of salvation. We may have to cross thorny places, rocky places, and places filled with every manner of hidden danger...still we are to go.

I can't help but think it's time for me to stop worrying so much about comfort or's time to make sure I am wearing shoes that allow me to carry the message of salvation to a lost and hurting world. My spiritual shoes don't have to look cute...but I guess they do match the outfit - the armor of God.

There's another quote from Forrest Gump that seemed to be the perfect way to close this blog. "My momma said my back's crooked like a question mark. These are going to make me as straight as an arrow. They're my magic shoes." My gospel shoes aren't magic, but they are powerful. They take me boldly where no man has gone before. How about yours?