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42

42It’s just a number.  Another year to celebrate.  I remember a few years back having a sinking feeling in my gut because I was quickly approaching the big 4 0. I dreaded the fact that I was getting older, further away from my days of youth.  Today, I’m 42.  I find that funny for some reason.  It’s my geek showing.  “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” says 42 is the answer to the great question of life, the universe, and everything.  I don’t really believe that, but it is humorous to me since it is now my age.  I feel the older I get, the more appreciative I am of the smaller things that life brings me.  I’m thankful I have a son who couldn’t wait to give me a card and a kiss this morning.  I’m thankful for a husband who is my biggest encourager and admirer. He continues to look at me like I’m young and spunky.  He’s very patient with my erratic emotions.  I’m thankful for the breath in my lungs and being able to still feel younger than the age I represent.  I’m thankful for the teens that are placed in my life because of youth ministry.  They remind me how hard it is to grow up.  I’m thankful that I know God.  He gives me fuel to continue moving forward every day, especially the hard days.  I’m thankful for the difficult lessons that I’ve learned in life.  Those lessons have made me see God’s grace to the fullest.  I’m thankful that I’m still learning new things everyday about myself, others, God, and life in general.  I’m thankful for family and friends who love me for me.  Yes, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate today.  Forty-two years ago I begun this journey called life.  I hope that I will always embrace the opportunities that God places before me.  I hope that I will learn to be more positive and not let life’s obstacles get me down.  I hope that I will be mindful of others and cautious with my words.  I hope to be more grateful.  I hope that I will let God lead me more instead of trying to take the reins myself.  I hope that I will always find humor in life and remember that yes, life is marked in numbers, but it is remembered by character.

“Forty-two!” yelled Loonquawl. “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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I Don’t Know Any Better

notresspassing

Today, I’ve been reflecting on pride and how each of us can easily get entangled in it.  I dove into Proverbs 16 and first went to verse 18-19, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”  After I read those verses, I decided to read the whole chapter.  It’s full of wisdom, of course, but how often do I actually follow instruction and allow for God to lead?  The chapter reminds me that my plans aren’t Gods plans.  I think I know best and actually end up ruining things or missing the mark.  I know that God knows best, but that doesn’t mean that I always trust Him.  I am a scheduler, I have my day planned out in my head, what I’m going to do first and the order I’m going to do things in.  I don’t know why I won’t stop being that way because my plans get wrecked most of the time.  I kick, scream, cuss, and resist when things don’t go my way.  God probably looks at me and just shakes His head and laughs.  God’s plans are greater than mine, instead of throwing a fit; I need to follow the current of change.  There’s a reason He’s switched my itinerary around.   He may be protecting me against something; he may be leading me in the path of someone I wouldn’t have met if I kept my schedule, or he may be trying to teach me something.

Any way you look at it, simply put, I don’t know any better than God.  In Proverbs 16, I’m reminded that God does have a plan for me and he wants me to seek him for instruction and guidance.  He wants me to trust and follow him, even when it goes against the grain of what I want.  If I think I know better than God, that’s pride.  That’s saying, “God, you don’t know what you’re talking about, let me handle this.” When I follow my own path, I get in trouble and I really screw things up.  If I’m off the path, I’m walking into unprotected areas; it’s like climbing the fence when the warning sign is visible.  It clearly says to keep out, but if I decide to not listen, I have to be prepared to face the consequences.

When I was a kid, if I saw a “No Trespassing” sign, I completely ignored it.  It tempted me to go over the boundaries.   I wanted to push my limits and see what I was supposed to stay away from.   I climbed fences with barbed wire.  I propped up electric fence lines to slide myself under the lowest line, just to brag that I crossed over.  I jumped over the cow fence to get the bulls to chase me.  I loved danger, but it almost got me in big trouble a lot of times.  One time, I remember an older man came out with a shotgun and started shooting in mine and my cousin’s direction.  We took off running and hid in some high grass until he left.  A lot of the times I stepped in cow manure running from the bulls, I’d have to try and clean it off my shoes before I got home because mom got rather upset when I messed up my clothes.  I did some pretty stupid things just to get a thrill.  That’s how sin is; it entices you to just try something you are clearly told not to do.  The first sin recorded was when Eve didn’t listen to God’s instruction and ate from the tree of knowledge anyway.  She wanted to know what it was like and then we all know what happened from there.  She decided to detour from God’s path and ended up regretting her decision.  I’ve had too many moments like that in my life, if we are all honest, everyone has.  Satan’s greatest weapon is pride which leads to temptation, that savory perfume that pulls us toward failure.  How do we correct that?  We admit that we were wrong and we go back in the right direction and follow God’s path.  It hurts to admit failure, but it hurts worse to continue in it, hide it and get trapped by our stupid pride.  When we admit our mistakes, we are humbling ourselves and recognizing that we don’t know better than God.  Humility is the sweet fragrance from our Heavenly Father, that enables us to do an about face and rebuild our relationship with Him.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Life, Spiritual Reflections

 

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Choose your own Adventure

chooseadventureI used to read the “Choose your own Adventure” stories from the library when I was a kid. I liked the fact that I could read along the same storyline and see how one decision could tailspin the story into another path or series of adventures. Sometimes, I would get aggravated if I chose something that would end drastically or abruptly. But, I was satisfied that I could return to the page before the decision and change the outcome with the other choice. There are times in my own life that I wish that I could’ve done the same with my personal story. Are there particular chapters in your journey that you would’ve chosen to erase if you could?

I imagine the author of the adventure series has the perfect plot laid out first before he adds the side stories. He probably ultimately hopes the reader will pick the right storyline that makes the greatest adventure. But instead, he gives the reader the free will to decide which path to take.

When I used to read the series, I often picked what I knew would bring a bad outcome. I did it because I wanted to push the limits of the story. Sometimes, I was just ready for the story to end because of boredom. I’ve done the same thing in my own life. I’ve come upon decisions and picked the wrong one, fully knowing it would be a bad choice. I did it out of curiosity, rebellion, or selfishness. I did it to see if I somehow could change the outcome, even though the Author already knew where the outcome would lead.

Thinking through all of this, I’m reminded of this passage, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

There are other times in my life that I let fear of the unknown stall me on a page in life. I’d lay the book down and sit down on the journey. I wanted to choose the safe path when Jesus wanted me to pursue His adventure. He reminds me that He is the author of my faith to step into those unknown pages. I need to hang onto the next word as he writes it and trust him to make it all end with an outcome that I could never do on my own. Why? Because he is also the finisher of that faith. He already knows where the path leads and he’s excited for me to follow that path instead of me choosing my own. He knows the beauty at the end of the story. And those chapters I messed up, no longer matter because of his grace and love. He uses them to remind me of where I came from and to be cautious with veering from his lead. Ultimately, if I want the best story, then I need to I look to Him to lead me through it.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Ready for New Things

Do you ever get tired of routines? Do you get tired of being in the same repetition or cycle of difficult circumstances? I personally hate repetition. I don’t even like repeats of movies or television, unless it’s been a really long time since I’ve seen it. I get bored with routine, although I always seem to fall into it. At first routine is comfortable, but then I start to get antsy because I want something different. I’m ready for new things. It may be because I see new life abounding around me because of springtime. It may be because it’s time for some things to change. I know that I’m certainly tired of feeling up against it, but that’s because I try to solve my own problems instead of letting God solve them for me. Pondering all these thoughts lead me to Isaiah 43. The first thirteen verses, God reminds Israel that He is beside them and that He is with them during tough circumstances. He is beside us to save us from these things. In verse eighteen, God says don’t think about the past. And the verse that helps me most today is nineteen, “See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” I’m ready to see the road of escape that God has for me in my wilderness. I’m ready for the living water in my dry routine life. I’ve just got to remember that God is on this life journey with me, He wants me to not forget that He will lead me through it.

 
 

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That’s Not Your Seat

My grandfather used to have a tag on his car that said, “God is my co-pilot.”  I thought it was a cute saying.  Last night that phrase came to my mind and I started thinking that it’s not really that good of a thought.  I will admit that I am a control freak.  I do not like it when things don’t go as I had planned or something unexpected happens.  I know it’s not a good characteristic but some things are just to obvious to deny.  So, because I’m a control freak, I know that I often put God in the co-pilot seat.  I want to drive, I want to know where I’m going.  God can come along for the ride, He can be there if I get in a jam to help me out…..if I listen to Him.   The truth is God wants to be my pilot and your pilot.  Maybe He wants to take the scenic route, when I want to hurry and get to my destination. Maybe He is taking another route because He is all knowing and prevents me from getting hurt.  Maybe He wants someone else to ride along that I may not particularly want around.  He could even want to take me on a shortcut and I’m going the long way, because I am used to that way.  Whatever the case may be, I need to let God be in control instead of me. 

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope. (NLV)

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Muddy thoughts formed

Last year on October 16th, I embarked on a new journey in my life, I started teaching and leading the teens in my church.  Our first night together, my husband and I had a friend come and demonstrate how pottery works.  Prior to the lesson, I told the kids to wear clothes they didn’t mind messing up and left them in the dark as to what was going on.  I wanted them to anticipate what we were going to do and keep them guessing.  Once they arrived, we had a quick discussion and lesson in the fellowship hall.  We discussed the direction of the youth group and what we hoped to accomplish throughout the year. Afterwards we led them into the youth center and they saw everything set up.  Our friend Mark sat at the wheel and started to explain the process of making a pot.  Everyone had a turn at the wheel, some succeeded and others flopped.  Upon remembering this night and seeing it as the beginning of a new season; I see that God has had our group on the pottery wheel and has molded, formed, shaped and bent us.  He has also remolded, reformed, and reshaped us.  He’s constantly working on us as a group.  We may come to a point at times and think that He’s finished with what He has created; we are satisfied with what the pot looks like, but then He decides to improve on it.  In Isaiah 45, God uses Cyrus, a king to be the patron and deliverer of the Jews from captivity.  God also uses Cyrus to instruct them in the rebuilding of the temple.    If you read the whole chapter, God reminds us and the Jews that He is God and creator.  In verses 9-13 it says, ““It is bad for the one who works against His Maker. He is just a clay pot among the other pots of earth. Will the clay  say to the pot-maker, ‘What are you doing?’ or, your work  say, ‘He has no hands’?  It is bad for him who says to his father, ‘To what are you giving life?’ or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?’”The Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, says, “Will you ask Me about the things to come for My children? Will you tell Me about the work of My hands? I made the earth, and made man upon it. I spread out the heavens with My hands, and put all the stars in their places. I have sent Cyrus to do what is right and good. And I will make all his ways smooth. He will build My city and without any money will set My people free who were taken away,” says the Lord of All.”

Being a leader is intimidating at times for me, but I lean on God to direct my paths with this group.  I try to listen and seek Him in all decisions, in what to teach, what to say, and what not to say.  I learn more and more every day that I am not in control, but God is.  He has taught me numerous lessons throughout the year.  He has given me strength when I feel helpless. He has given me instruction when I have no idea what to do.  He has given me great love for each of the teens that have been involved in this group.  He shows me strengths of individuals.  He teaches me that we are all a work in progress.  He has connected us with people and led us on many expeditions.  He stretches me into things I never imagined doing.  He is God, He knows all. He is the beginning and the end.  He knows the whole story and each individual story.  He is the greatest teacher, the everlasting Father, the most amazing artist,  and the sweetest Lover we can ever know.  He is God!

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Spiritual Reflections, Youth

 

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A Challenging Journey

I’ve been issued a challenge and it involves the teen youth group my husband and I are leading.  It is very exciting for me to be a part of this and see what the group can accomplish this year.  The challenge is to find eighty ways of transportation and do them in our home state of West Virginia.  The challenge began on November 6, 2011 and will end November 6, 2012. The idea came from our pastor who recently saw a show on History channel called, “Around the world in 80 ways.”  He thought it would be exciting and interesting for us to take the challenge and apply it to our area.  Besides, the name of the youth group is Extreme Voice.   Why would this have anything to do with a church youth group?  What purpose would it serve, other than getting to do some really cool things?  First, Jesus used many modes of transportation to get from one place to another.  He walked, went by boat, or by donkey.   Next, He traveled throughout Galilee encountering people, teaching them, healing them and showing love to them.  It didn’t matter how they lived, who they were, or whatever shortcomings they had, he reached out to them.  Everywhere he went, excitement ensued.  He led an extreme life.

Why should the Christian walk be boring?  Why would we want to put Christianity in a box?  There are many things to experience and many people to encounter along the way.  How can you meet people if you stay in a place that many people feel unwelcomed to come into?  Sure, people came to Jesus, but He also went to people, sought them out of the crowd, listened and loved them.

Every way we try on this challenge doesn’t mean that we will encounter someone every time.  But, I’m sure there is something we will gain from each experience that will teach us something about ourselves, community, or teamwork.

The first way we marked off our list was a hike at a local park.  We decided to geocache  while we hiked, since my husband and I knew several cache’s were hidden there.  Our hike ended up being almost three miles.  It led us on a path around the whole length of the lake.  We handed the group the GPS and let them lead the way to the hidden cache.  They did excellent finding the cache and working together.  We followed the hike up with a lesson on following God’s direction in your life.  We left the park by car, (2nd way) and finished the day off gathering together for ice cream at the local drive in.

The teens are excited, I’m excited, and so are the other leaders involved.  It’s going to be an interesting year!  I’ll continue to share the ways we make it through the state as they unfold.

 

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Travels

 

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