What to Do When Your World Stops

This Sunday I am at home, wishing I could be at church.  It’s been another challenging week, bringing more pieces of my health puzzle together (more on that later).  This morning my mom sent me a link to a very encouraging message, which led me to another.

If you, too, are home sick today … or you are presently facing some other trials, these brief messages (less than 10 minutes each) will help lift your heart and give you direction.  Please feel free to share your comments below, including prayer requests.

Pressure Points – In this message, Pastor Kramer gives uplifting truth and hope to remember when (not if) we face trails.

When Your World Stops – This message is about how to keep going when you feel like your world is ripped out from under you.

Is God Calling You to Full Time Christian Service?

Honestly, I never felt called or led by God to be a pastor’s wife.  Both of my sisters married pastors, and before I went to college my parents sweetly told me never to feel pressured to follow their path – the most important thing was to follow God’s leading for my life.

Most of the time when I was growing up I believed God was leading me to be a missionary overseas.  I would pepper visiting missionaries with questions.  I even got to the point where I practically told God, “I AM going to be a missionary, no matter what You think” (yikes).  Finally, He got me to a point where I said, “YOUR will be done” (whew).

Zooming ahead … my husband and I both graduated from Bible college.  Yet, we are not in full-time Christian service.

  • Did we waste money and time on our Bible college education?
  • Was it all for nothing?
  • Are we disobeying God?
  • Do we please God less because we are “electrical engineer” and “stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom” instead of “Rev.” and “Mrs. Pastor”?

It couldn’t be further from the truth!  God in His wisdom led us to Bible college, and then He led us to be Full-Time Christians.  In our church and in our community God opens up opportunities all the time to share His good gifts with others.  We are far from perfect about following up on all of His opportunities, but with His strength He is using us and we are constantly in awe of His provision!

God doesn’t call each of His children into the same field.  Where would we be if all believers were pastors and pastors wives?  Where would the body of Christ – the foot, the eyes, the knees be, to fulfill the callings of the local church in our communities (I Corinthians 12)?  He wisely places us in the position He knows will benefit from the talents He’s given us most effectively.

 

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13 NKJV

 

When Tim was attending Bible college, seeking God’s will for his life, his pastor took him aside privately and told him that he was confident that God wasn’t leading him to be a pastor.  Was Tim willing and open to be one?  Yes!  But, God used his pastor, who knew his personality and heart well, to give him loving, specific counsel.  Following Bible college, Tim pursued his (God given) interests in math, radio systems and computers, attending community college and then a state university.  The education he learned there, especially learning how to work through the tests of faith and how to face the bombardment against God’s Word, has been priceless.  I can’t tell you how many times God has opened doors for Tim (who pushed on the door of missions by taking a college Missionary Apprentice Program to France) in his engineering field to answer difficult questions about life, death, God, creation, family, etc.  Tim’s Greek and doctrinal training from Bible college days helps in his teaching/music ministry at church, as well as on a daily basis enriching his personal Bible study and walk with God.  God didn’t call him to be a pastor, but God is using him every day!

Before we were married, I taught for three years in a Christian school.  Many of my students were from Ukraine, as well and Pakistan and India.  One of my Indian students and her brother came to know Christ in our Christian school.  A few years later their mom trusted Christ and has shared the gospel with family and friends around the world – many who are coming to know Christ personally!  Praise the Lord!

A couple years ago we hosted a Muslim exchange student from the Philippines, and a Christian young lady from Ghana.  Talk about a mission field!  We are part of a church that is blessed with many students from all over the world attending a state university.  God has brought the world to us.  We are missionaries in our mid-western city – God’s place for us.

Our backgrounds come together to greatly help us in our most important mission field of all: our sons.
Most every day the boys and I pray for Daddy as he goes to his mission field at work, and for God to help us be a light for Jesus in our mission field: our neighborhood, and people we come into contact with at doctors offices, grocery stores, restaurants, parks, etc.  Just today my oldest son wanted to give a gospel tract to some friends of ours who were visiting.  Our mission field is very real!

Pastors and their wives, missionaries, missionary wives … these dear men and women have a sacred calling from God that is different from all else.  As shepherds leading us, as they follow the Good Shepherd, they have unique responsibilities, challenges, sacrifices, and rewards.  We must be committed to loving them (in word and deed!), praying for them, and supporting them.  But, if God didn’t call us to those ministries, we would be sinning against Him by disobeying His lead in our lives.  God’s will is the best place to be.

Perhaps, some time in the future, Tim and I might become missionaries.  We’ve talked about the possibility that after his retirement from his engineering mission field, God may call us to serve in areas of Bible translation (he’s continued using his Greek and enjoys learning Hebrew in his spare time), teaching, technical help, music, etc. on foreign and domestic mission fields.  Until then, we will walk with God daily on the mission field of His calling.  He knows best, and we are confident He will lead us every step of the way!

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV



Summary:  We each need to seek God’s individual leading, through His Word and the guidance of godly counselors.  He will, in time, impress us through His Spirit in the way we must go.  No fear of missing the boat!  Walk with Him today, every day, and He will faithfully guide to the next step.  Churches need godly pastors and their wives, as well as godly laymen and laywomen.

What about you?  Are you a Full Time Christian, where God has called you to be?  God will provide all the strength and resources we need to fulfill His calling.  Best of all, He promises to be with us every step of the way!

 

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:1-5 NKJV

 

Focusing on God Month by Month in ’14

 

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I John 4:8
 
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
 
This year I am excited about a plan God gave me to focus on Him month by month through the fruit of His Spirit …

January – God is Love
February – God is Joy
March – God is Peace
April – God is Longsuffering
May – God is Gentle
June – God is Good
July – God is Faithful
August – God is Meek
September – God is Self-Controlled
October … God will show us what to do next!

Reminders
Go grab three or four 3×5 cards! I’ve got mine!  Place one near your sink, in your bathroom, on your bed stand, in your car – and focus the WHOLE month of January on the LOVE of GOD! These cards will remind us daily. Yay for reminders!!  On each card write one of these (or make up one of your own!) …

          “God loves me!”
 
                    “God = Love”
    
                              “God, please teach me more about You as Love”
                             
                                        “God loves me!”

                                                   “Jesus, Lover of My Soul”

Ask and You Shall Receive
I encourage you to pray with me daily, asking God to reveal more of Himself to us every day this month: how we can love Him more completely, and in turn love others with His love.  This is according to His will, so we know He will answer, “Yes!” 

Record and Share
Keep a pen near your cards so you can jot down things God reveals to you through His word and Spirit about Him as Love. Or you could write them in a journal, or share what you’re learning right here!  We can also be looking to tell people around us about God and what He is teaching us about Himself.  We and they will be blessed!

I’m looking forward to growing in God, intentionally focusing on Him and learning more about Him in all His wonderfulness.  Will you join me?

“… that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17-19 NKJV

Shovels, Love, and Hot Cocoa

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
I John 4:18 NKJV

Yesterday I watched my sons, ages 5 and 7, shovel the snow.  They were so excited to get out there, shovel in hand, helping and making the way clear.  As I stood and watched them, I was filled with love and thankfulness for my little men, growing up so big and strong, physically and spiritually. 

They weren’t perfect in their shoveling.  But, they would try to improve their methods if a lift or push didn’t do what they wanted it to do.  Of course the bigger boy got more done, but the younger did his best.  I love them the same and didn’t compare them.

It was a moment of love, not fear.  And it made me think of God’s love for us.  He looks at us in love.  He is not wagging His finger in disgust, micromanaging our lives.  He allows us to make mistakes.  He forgives.  He doesn’t compare us with each other.  He gives us the “thumbs up” as we walk along the path of life with Him.

When the boys saw me watching, smiling from the window (between stretches, lunges, and squats – gotta get exercise in sometime!), they worked harder, happier, and pretty much “went to town,” clearing the entire driveway, sidewalk, and steps.

Knowing that God is watching me with love removes my fear.  He is with me.  He is cheering me on.  He is providing everything I need to accomplish His will.  He appreciates it when I do the laundry and dishes for His glory.  And He has a reward waiting for me …

Aches, pains, cold.  After putting in several minutes of hard work, my boys came into our warm home, happy to find hot cocoa and a loving, thankful Mama.  Someday, I am going to go home, too.  And I want to hear my Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Maybe He will even have hot cocoa for us to share together.

Sparkles of Joy

Two and a half years ago:

It’s a cloudy Saturday.  The dishes and laundry scream “clean me!”  My to-do list is so long it could be used as ribbon to bedeck several beautifully wrapped packages.  I try to remember why I ever wanted to have children (who make messes, yucky smells, and lots of noise), the imperfect carpet and linoleum grind at me, I can’t remember what the word vacation means, my husband and I are in a rut in our relationship, my jeans are too tight, and I am too busy to make a dentist appointment much less squeeze in a coveted hair cut. 

Then it happened. “MOM!!!”  Four-year-old screaming bloody murder.  My husband and I run into the other room to find our son’s forearm hanging gruesomely crooked as terror fills his beautiful blue eyes.  I try to keep from throwing up, reminding myself to breathe as I wonder what to do next.  Between sobs he tells us he jumped off the couch and hit a desk chair (which he knows is a no-no).  Tim gathers a few things as I throw together a sack of hopefully edible items to send with my two men.  Baby and I remain at home, and I ask God to keep my son and our family safe.

They are off to the hospital, and I dissolve in a tirade of tears.  I call my pastor.  He remembers. Same song, different verse.  Two and a half years earlier, when my adorable boysie was learning to walk, he fractured his leg.  It was minor, but because we weren’t sure how it happened (we figured out when it must have happened after the intimidating doctor visit), our doctor informed us that she had to submit our name to the Department of Child Services to be investigated for child endangerment.  I struggled with shock and anger while our betraying doctor assured me, “I know you would never do anything to hurt your child.”  We went through the worst trial we had ever experienced, only to be waved through at the end of a grueling month as “probably not dangerous.”  Violated. Hurt. Labeled. (Reminds me of Someone I know.)  I heard my pastor at the other end of the line saying, “Sara, you need to trust God.”

I calm down as I cry out to God.  While fearing the worst, I know my God . . . I can trust the Creator of the universe.  A couple hours later they come home.  My boy’s arm is safe and secure in a new shell.  Tim looks tired, but he says it went pretty smoothly.  He didn’t feel that anyone doubted what happened.  It helps when the child is old enough to explain this time.  I start to breathe again.

Suddenly, even though I am completely drained, I look around and notice that my home is not hum-drum anymore.  I am so thankful to be here. The linoleum is looking shinier, and the carpet spots are hardly noticeable.  My husband and I kiss and hold each other a little longer.  After a nap I have an urge to clean my family’s clothes and cook them a delicious meal. I don’t mind having toys all over the floor, and wall smudges have become my art gallery. As I glance in the bathroom mirror, I think perhaps I am looking prettier than I have in days.  And at supper the whole family seems happy simply being together.  In coming weeks my heart warms at the sight of my boy with his orange cast and matching Tigger overalls.  I can’t help but giggle, while in the same breath praising and thanking God.  God got us through and did what He does best – turning ugly things into His beautiful artwork. He used a terrible day to sprinkle sparkles of joy on my heart.

What happened?  Did a broken arm suddenly and miraculously change everything?  No . . . the carpet was still blotched, the laundry piled high, and my hair seriously in need of reshaping . . . and, yes . . .  God adjusted my heart and healed my blindness.  If only it wouldn’t take hospital trips to make me truly appreciate God’s blessings.  By God’s grace, I’m getting there. 

God’s joy is always there for the taking.  In fact, it has your name and mine written on it by God’s hand with the most expensive and the most powerful permanent ink imaginable: Jesus’ precious blood.

This Christmas will you join me in taking time to open up, admire, put on, and gratefully enjoy His gift of joy?  Let’s close our eyes, take a couple of deep breaths, and accept this lavish gift.  With thankfulness we receive Your gift of joy, Father.  We know this gift is ours because of Jesus.  For He has come . . . and will come again. 

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:10-14 
 
Update: Today my oldest son is a happy and healthy almost seven-year-old.  And I am getting more used to dusting off my priceless gift of joy.

Special thanks to http://poppiesatplay.blogspot.com/2011/11/joy-to-world.html for the above image.

Ten "Going Crazy" Tips

“Call the Funny Farm!”  Not if, but when is the last time you were in a position of confusion, exhaustion, discouragement and/or grief, and you felt someone must quickly provide emergency intervention?  If you’re like me, it was as recent as yesterday or this morning. Stressful moments, from mildly irritating to incredibly difficult, come to all of us!  They can sneak up as a complete surprise.  They can also be predictable.  Can you relate to some of these?

  • Full schedule
  • Homeschooling (especially on wet or cold days after we’ve been inside for too long!)
  • Times of transition
  • Weddings
  • Holidays
  • Illness or injury
  • Hormones
  • New member in the family
  • A time of loss
  • Financial strain
  • Job tension
  • When disappointed by people or circumstances
  • When we sin against or disappoint people 
  • When we receive bad news
  • Reorganization at work or church
  • During a move/remodel
  • Etc!

How do you deal with your craziness? It really is a good thing that our lives aren’t completely trouble free.  If they were, where would our need be for God?  You’ve probably heard these before, but I’m praying that God will use something here to encourage you, dear Sister!  Here are a few of my favorite “Crazy” tips:

1.  Rest

As soon as possible do whatever it takes to get much needed rest.  My two boys, six and four, are pretty much beyond naps.  Yet, we still have a 1 1/2 hour reading/quiet time in the middle of the day.  It is helpful for everyone.  My six-year-old actually looks forward to it!  If you are anything like me, everything seems much worse when I am overly tired.  And my exhaustion can be a sign that my priorities are out of kilter.  My doing too much can be attibuted to my own pride. 

Whenever necessary (not more than once per day :)), get your kids occupied with a good video and go to your room, close the door, put on your MP3 player or a good set of earplugs, lay flat on the floor and stretch your arms above your head while breathing in and out slowly.  Here is one of my helpers:

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2


2.  Eat

It really can be as simple as taking time to nourish ourselves.  My tendency is to crave chocolate and potato chips, but these usually make me feel worse.  At the risk of sounding like your mother, eat well and drink lots of water.  Grill some chicken, make a salad, grab an apple.  Go through a drive-thru and buy a salad if you can afford it.  Indulge in the food you are craving, if you must.  But, don’t go overboard, and don’t resort to splurging as a daily escape from reality.  Popcorn is a calming snack, as is a banana.  I love it that when Elijah was tired, afraid, and discouraged God did not berate him and condemn him.  God isn’t condemning us: let us not condemn ourselves.  Enjoy some of God’s good gifts – eat!

“Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.  And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’” I Kings 17:2-4


3.  Remember you are in a spiritual battle.

Too easily I forget that I am a soldier in a spiritual war.  I’m sure that my forgetfulness, and the ensuing consequences, makes Satan very happy.  We should expect daily battles!  You think your temptations regarding food isn’t part of your spiritual battle?  What was Eve’s first spiritual battle about?  Yet, what we are really fighting against is far more gigantic than people, circumstances or food:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age” Ephesians 6:12


Would we go to the hottest site in Afghanistan unarmed?  No way.  Give me the largest tank and a wide selection of the most accute bombs available.  So then, how can we expect to face spiritual battles unarmed?  There is no option here.  We must eat, we must breath, we must be in God’s Word!  Especially during days of pressure, weakness, doubt, and possible depression, begin the day by putting on the armor of God, by reading and praying through Ephesians 6:10-20 (you can read it by clicking on the link below):


And, remember, we are on the winning side.

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4

We must take time to read God’s love letter to us and . . .

4.  Pray

We cannot begin to estimate the power of talking to God.  Pour out your heart to Him!  If writing is your thing, grab a pen and paper or a computer and write your prayers to God.  It will help you to get it out of your system and leave it with the One Who has the power to work 24/7 for your good and His glory.  If you write it down it will also help you gain perspective on your problems.  How precious that our almighty God took on flesh and came to this wicked world.  He cried our tears, sharing our sorrows:

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15,16


5.  Talk to a godly friend. Ask for help! 

One of the highlights of Sunday is talking briefly with a friend at church about how we can pray for one another throughout the coming week.  And I can’t remember the number of times I have sent emergency emails or Facebook messages to ask sisters to pray for me.  It is an immediate relief to be reminded that we are not alone.  Don’t worry that you will be bothering someone (unless this is the 5th time you’ve called them today!). 

I do want to stress GODLY friend.  Not perfect (there aint any!), but growing.  Who is a godly friend?  One who is going to love you, show you grace, not judge you . . . but, also someone who is going to tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear.  Call the friend who listens, cares, and points you to Jesus.

We recently heard Todd Wilson, of FamilyMan Ministries, speak to our local homeschool parents group.  He spoke of a woman who called his wife and asked if she could come over to talk to her.  They started with small talk, but soon the conversation got deeper.  The visiting woman, one of whom Todd said we would all look at as the ultimate godly woman, quoting Scripture and giving glory to God, shared a personal hurt with Todd’s wife.  She told of a time two years before when she had been studying her Bible and her little girl kept interrupting and trying to get Mama’s attention.  The woman grabbed her little girls wrist too hard and broke it.  Since then the mother had been in agony.  As she shared her burden with this godly friend, she was able to breath and move on.  Todd’s wife didn’t condemn her, but instead told her things like, “Oh, I am so sorry!  Any one of us could’ve done the same thing!  I know you didn’t mean to do it.” (Todd even humorously admitted wanting to share some personal experience/not-so-good advice, “I understand . . . I’ve often felt like I wanted to break every bone in my child’s body!”)  Finally, this Christian sister was able to move on with her life.  Sometimes we just need to confess our mistakes or sins to a godly friend.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16

6.  Forget the past and move on. 

If your stress has to do with your past (twenty years ago or yesterday), God wants you to forget it and move one.  If you need to apologize, write the letter, make the visit, or pick up the phone.  Even if people are hesitant to forgive.  God is always ready to forgive us!

If you have been sinned against and are constantly plagued by bad memories, practice giving these burdens to God – the more you do it the easier it will get to give them over to Him and not grab them back.  If you are obsessing, ask God to change your mind and literally get up and move into a different room and do a different activity.  A Christian counselor recommended this when I was obsessing about death after a close call, and it really helped me.  It is so refreshing when we can look forward to the future, entrusting our past and our future to God’s excellent care!

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14


7.  Plan something to look forward to. 

We women have the privilege of serving the people in our lives: cooking, cleaning, driving people to appointments, cards, listening, etc.  But we get worn out and need to be recharged.  Get out your calendar and look for the first free space – plan a date with your husband or a friend.  If other people are too busy, plan a date for yourself – go out and get a coffee or ice cream, read a favorite book, sit by a beautiful lake and soak in God’s beauty.  And do it without feeling guilty!  God gives good gifts to His children!  He gave Jesus so that we can live more abundantly.

“And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” Mark 6:31-32


8.  Claim your blessings. 

Reminiscent of Ann Voskamp’s wonderful book One Thousand Gifts, simply sit down and start writing down all the things you have to be thankful for.  Your list of “bad things” is much smaller than the “good things” . . . and you’ve probably realized why I set apart “good” and “bad” to remind us that our point of view is terribly limited.  What may seem bad to us may be what God is going to use to do amazingly good things in our lives.

Ask God to help you be thankful for where you are right now, including all the yucky stuff.  He can and will give strength to help us be genuinely thankful for trials. All we need to do is ask and wait on Him.  God highly treasures our sacrifice of praise.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15

9.  Cry and Breathe

Just a couple days ago I let it all out in my room, boo-hooing and doing some much needed grieving.  I felt so much better afterward. Crying purges!  It rids our bodies of toxins. Crying is part of what God has given to help us release some of the pent-up emotional pressure.  These verses are probably familiar to you, so I want to share them in a translation other than the NKJV to give another perspective.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)


If you are not a cryer, take a brisk walk, work out, release that stress somehow (and I don’t mean hurling a pan over your husband’s head!).  And as our sweet more mature friends gently remind us, “This too shall pass.” 

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

10.  Pick One

Think of five people you know who are going through a trial right now (not including yourself).  Plan how you, or you along with your family, can do something simple and special for him or her. 

If you have a neighbor who just broke her arm, offer to rake her leaves.  If you have a friend who just went through surgery, take a meal or a happy balloon over with a favorite coffee.  Fresh flowers can be an extravagant gift making people feel loved, but most women I know prefer plants that aren’t going to die (unless they have thumbs not even close to the color of green and are thankful that after a short while their flowers die naturally 🙂 ).

I have a friend who has been suffering with depression. Just a phone call meant the world to him and helped him to be brave enough to seek the help he needed.  I praise God that He used little ol’ me to help a brother in need, and at the same time get my mind off my own troubles.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

I hope something in this list will help you during this crazy time of life!  The best thing to remember as women on God’s mission, we are not alone, and God is lovingly continuing the good work He started in us.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'” Isaiah 41:10
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”  Philippians 1:6

Autumn Reflections

Last Sunday afternoon we drove to a nearby park to take in the autumn splendor. One son was at a birthday party, so we took the opportunity to enjoy an adventure with our four-year-old. In the middle of the park is a twenty-seven acre lake. It beckoned and we followed.

This lake is unique because of the seven bridges, some over 100 years old, which were transplanted from various locations around our state. 

One bridge stood out to me. I was surprised to discover that the bridge’s original purpose was to be the support structure for the top of a building.   Because it didn’t meet specifications, the builders threw it away. Later on it was discovered by someone with a vision for what it could be. If this bridge had a brain, it never would have imagined ending up here. God knew that this bridge wasn’t a mistake! He allowed a man to find and place it in this majestic setting.

As we approached the bridge and followed it from beginning to end, we were impressed by it’s rustic beauty. We were very grateful for the bridge’s help as it made it possible for us to walk all the way around the lake. Yet, the focus of our attention and praise was not the bridge. We were captivated by the incredible beauty of God’s creation all around us.

The bridge originally destined for the top of a building

These bridges remind me of how God works in my life.   My dreams sometimes clash with reality. God created me for different roles in life, and sometimes He uproots me to a different location. I cry, “But, I thought you wanted me to be here, to do this!”   He lovingly carries me, reassembling me in my new place of service. And miraculously, to me, I fit into His plan.

And my imperfect past was not a mistake.  God used people, places, and Himself to make me who He wants me to be.  He can use me wherever He places me.  And I will not be here alone – He promises to stay with me all the time.  Like the bridge, my purpose is not to captivate people, bringing attention to myself.  I am part of what helps make it possible for people to see God.
This autumn has been one of the prettiest in recent years. The colors feed my spirit. The crisp breeze, warmed by the Indian Summer sun, nourishes my soul. In the midst of this beauty my weary heart cannot help but smile. At times I feel insecure during life’s constant state of transition.  This is what keeps me depending on God instead of myself.  As I take my hurts and disappointments to my Savior, He promises to comfort and bless.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Are you grieving a life that is different than what you had hoped it would be? Are you confused about what God is doing in your family, schedule, body, job, church, etc.?  Grieving is not wrong. It is part of the way God made us. But, our grieving must not keep us from moving ahead with God. He hears the cries of our hearts, He understands, and He is working what is best. He can be trusted.
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30
Father God, please help us to be thankful for where You have placed us, and may our lives help others see You in all Your splendor.

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14