Embrace the Journey

Is it okay to make a decision without knowing the answer?
If you had asked me that question a year or so ago, my answer would be different than it is today.

List maker. Planner. Goal setter.

That’s me. 

You can check off and highlight items on a list. 

What happens, though, when we come to a crossroads in our lives and we need to make a decision? Do we make the “safe” decision with a clear path and answer? Or do we dare make a decision that once we check off the “safe” things, we are left with more questions than answers?

What do I mean by this? 
I mean those times when you feel God tug on your heart towards the other direction…the one that doesn’t feel safe and that doesn’t have the clear end to your destination. 

I am on such a journey. A step of faith…one I don’t completely understand or even like at times because it’s hard, really hard. I know the desires and dreams in my heart. They are written down. Remember, I said I was a list maker? Even my dreams are recorded in a notebook. Especially my dreams. They are tucked away in the sacred pages where I record the whispers of my heart.

As I wrestle with the path I am on and where it will lead, I am humbly reminded I do not need to know the end result. I need to be faithful in my response. This is what God asks. It is a lesson in releasing fear and choosing to trade anxiety for trust. 

I don’t believe in coincidence so I wasn’t surprised when my writing friend sent me the link for a blog post. The blog post entitled “How I Made a Hard Decision,” spoke to my heart. It reminded me that God-led decisions require us to relinquish control. Knowing the destination is less important than the journey to find our way there.

I also found myself meandering through the bookstore last night on a rainy night with coffee in hand and a son enthralled with the Star Wars section. Again, not a coincidence. My eyes wandered to this little book which I have already started reading and reflecting over.

What decision stands before you?

A journey starts with one small, brave step in obedience. The journey is always about the journey.

God will lead you to the destination, but I think He has so much in mind for the journey.

God already knows where you are headed.

Write down your dreams.

Embrace the journey.

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I Need a Silent Night

We’re almost officially to the Christmas season although the retail world has been promoting it as soon as those Halloween items were marked down for quick sale.

This morning on the radio on the K-Love morning show, they talked about Christmas music. A recent survey suggests many people actually find Christmas music as a trigger of stress and anxiety. I actually enjoy Christmas music and turned my playlist on in my Jeep. (I do draw the line at Let it Snow… I am not ready for snow!!)

As I listened, the song I Need a Silent Night  by Amy Grant came on. The words really resonated with me in the present reality of my life. I am tired, really tired. I am not here to whine and complain of my fibromyalgia flared ups or my crazy workload right now, but I will say, I listened to those words and thought… I do need a silent night.

The past few years I have tried really hard to scale back Christmas to focus on what it truly means. A silent night or a silent morning…time to focus on quiet time to reflect, to spend in the Word and in prayer and just to be still.

As we approach the busyness of the Christmas season, I hope you will seek and find your own silent night amongst the busyness….even if there is some snow on the ground.

Mysterious Ways

God works in mysterious ways. We hear people say this expression a lot, but sometimes you just have this moment in time when you know without a shadow of a doubt that God’s hand has touched your life.

This little guy is the center stage of one of those moments.

In 2007, our house was fairly quiet with a predictable routine. Our lives were calm with just my husband, daughter, and myself. We were anxiously awaiting the news of an adoption referral. In October of that year, this little white dog wandered into our yard as my husband was mowing. He made the mistake of telling me the pup had no tags, so I opened my front door. The little pup walked in through the door and into my heart. Over the next week, no one claimed him despite our efforts to find his home. My friend suggested the name Franklin since that was the street he was found on. The name fit. 

This little pup affectionately called Franklin turned our house upside down. Franklin’s crazy antics prepared us for our son. He flipped the predictable to the unpredictable. He helped me to be more spontaneous. He reminded me to not take everything so seriously. He prepared me to be a better mom to my son.

Yes, I believe God sent this pup into our lives as a gift to prepare us for the greater gift of our son who joined our family in March 2009.

Through the years, Franklin did crazy thing after crazy thing. He ate non-food items and stole more things off the kitchen counter and table than I can remember. I held that pup like a baby…he was my baby. We nursed him a year ago from a stage 2 wound back to health. Shortly after that, he developed diabetes and we began administering insulin shots twice daily. 

Two days ago, his health took a turn for the worse. We did everything we could for him to make him comfortable and help his situation, but he slipped away the next morning. He is no longer suffering.

My heart is sad. My house is quiet. But, my life has been enriched by the gift of a little white dog who wandered into our lives and into my heart.

God definitely knows what we need when we need it. 

Grace Every Place

As the #write31days challenge comes to an end, I have enjoyed actively seeking, discovering, and sharing moments of grace in my life with you.

I love pouring over the Psalms. It is in those words in the quiet morning moments before I start my busy day or in a few stolen moments of stillness at work or the final thoughts to still my ever racing mind before I drift off to sleep that I discover His promises of comfort, hope, peace, stillness, and grace.

I want to close this 31 day journey of Grace with a message from the Psalms…

The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. Psalm 34:19

That my friend is God’s grace. When we choose to live the life to follow Christ and stand by and live by what we believe in Him, we will still continue to face trouble. That’s just life. God, though, is faithful and true. 

Stay connected to Him through prayer. His grace finds us. 

Grace in His Timing

Sometimes, it takes someone else to help you realize that you need to take a step back. After my last two blog posts, my friend messaged me to see if I was okay.

I reassured her that I was. Then, I reflected on my recent thoughts.

Really, it’s been a matter of when things don’t go as planned. 

Perspective is everything, and my friend’s question was the prompting where I realized I needed to step back for a moment.

It can be very, very helpful to reflect on how God has worked in the past to remind us He is still working.

So what comes to mind…

  • The sadness in infertility only to realize my child was born halfway around the world and placed in my arms five and half years later through the joy and incredible blessing of adoption.
  • The joy in receiving a job offer and being excited at the thought of being able to get ahead only to find out a few weeks later, my husband was laid off. Guess what? All our bills were paid, we both learned a lot through the time, and my husband is back to work.
  • As part of the pastoral search committee, we extended an invitation for a pastor to come to our church. He declined. Our church needed some time to step back and unite in prayer. During this time, God spoke to our church and this pastor who felt God calling him to our church. We will welcome his family into our church very soon.

My thoughts in all this? Despite how “perfect” I think my plans may be, God’s timing is perfect. 

My gut wrench response is to want to be anxious, but I know just as in times past, I must trust God and His timing in my current situation. My plans may unfold a little differently than I originally had hoped, but He sees the entire picture. 

When have you experienced God’s grace in the timing of your plans?

Grace in Mistakes

I hate making mistakes. Who doesn’t?

Mistakes, though, can be the catalyst for change, growth, and success in our lives.

Here are some great quotes on mistakes…

  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. Albert Einstein
  • Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet? L.M. Montgomery
  • Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. Mahatma Ghandhi
  • We learn from failure, not success! Bram Stoker
  • The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. Elbert Hubbard

That last quote really resonates with me. I had a boss once tell me to stop second guessing myself and to make a decision and be okay with it. Why was I second guessing myself? The fear of making a mistake.

Being afraid to make a mistake can be so paralyzing for our potential growth.

As much as we all hate to make mistakes, if we change our perspective on mistakes, they can become amazing growth opportunities. Here are a few things I am learning about my own growth.

  1. Own your mistakes but don’t let them paralyze you.
  2. Talk through them with a trusted friend or mentor.
  3. Step back from the personal element of it and think how you might respond or handle it differently next time.
  4. Develop a plan to help you so you don’t make the same mistake again.
  5. Extend grace to yourself… success is progress, not perfection.

When you are blessed with the gift of a great leader, friend, mentor who sees your potential and desires to help you grow and succeed, accept the gift of their grace in your life.

The most important thing? Pray. Share your fears with God. Confess your shortcomings. Ask and seek His wisdom and guidance in your decision making and leadership. 

His grace finds us wherever we are including in our mistakes.

Permission to Rest

Am I the only person who struggles with being still? Somehow, I don’t think so.

I have so much difficulty with doing nothing. By nature, I am a very self disciplined, driven individual. The concept of taking time for myself does not come naturally for me.

Sometimes, I can do a lazy Saturday morning. I use this time to write and move at my own pace. I enjoy those mornings, but I still measure them by what I accomplish during that time.

Moments of doing nothing? Of being completely still? Those moments are so important for me to recharge and catch my breath. I don’t allow for them often enough in my life. Usually, it is when I feel myself becoming unraveled that I realize that I really need to rest.

Being still is a gift we give ourselves. Being still before God, undistracted in His presence…a gift we can give Him.

Today, rest in the grace of giving yourself permission to rest. We all need to take moments to pause and reflect.

How can you make this time? Will you?