Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Maze

Many years ago our family went to Myrtle Beach for vacation. My sister-in-law had told me about this really cool place to visit that was a maze called the Rat Race. You would actually enter the maze and have to find your way out on your own after encountering dead-ends, mirrors and various turns; all with absolutely no written or verbal directions. The walls of the maze went from the ground up to a height high enough that you could not see over them. You need to understand that it was about 90+ degrees outside and black pavement underneath. I was a mom with two younger children. Being directionally challenged only added to my absolute hatred of this 'game'. I love mazes, I love challenges, but I hate feeling like I am trapped and there is no way out and I can't get my children out or find my husband either. After finally verbally asking for help, someone from on top of a roof of the business will give you verbal directions to help you out. Once out and my near-panic-attack had subsided we grabbed blue snow cones from the concession stand. You can figure out what happened next. I clearly still bear the scars of that day!

Recently I have felt like I am still in that maze. Running into one dead-end after another, making no visible progress, unable to see where I am going or how far I have to go and suppressing panic-attack wannabes all along the way. Worse yet, no one is shouting from the roof with directions that will make the journey shorter or more clear. This post is not a pity party post. It has come as the result of some soul searching.

I have found myself frustrated - a lot - lately in a a lot of different areas. Most of them just really aren't meant to be shared. Some are personal goals and desires and others are spiritual. But whatever the case, here's the deal: I have no one to blame and no 'maze' to complain about that would be stopping me from getting out of the rut or to end of the tunnel. I think in some areas I just simply stopped, sat-down, and have been waiting for God to do something to get me out of this funk. God, on the other hand, did all he needed to do and has been watching to see if I will get up and move in some discernible direction. I might make a wrong move, but at least I will be moving and I am certain that God will let me know when I am heading in the wrong direction whatever it might be.

I just need lots of time in His Word and in prayer. Neither of those have ever failed me. The last few weeks have been unbearably hot and humid here. Praise God that he has at least allowed me to be in the comfort of air-conditioning while I seek out some answers and not in the middle of some black-pavement, high-walled, no-breeze, pathetic human maze.

P.S. And right now my precious grandson is on his way to my house with his parents. That has absolutely nothing to do with this post - but a grandma has ever right to talk about her grandchild whenever she pleases. Amen?!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What are you expecting?

Expectations can cause great anxiety, or fear, or disappointment if misdirected and misused. We set ourselves up from time-to-time to fail with unrealistic expectations of ourselves or others. In particular, we can pull a family member or spouse right into a huge trap of unexpressed expectations that leave them wondering "what did I do?" as we politely tell them through tears what they "should have done". I for one have cried and pouted when my husband didn't come through like I expected on my unvoiced, un-communicated, all-in-my-head unrealistic expectations. Goodness knows the number of times my feelings have been hurt over the years - yep all because of expectations. My expectations of myself or others can trip me up if not kept in check. Of people, I tend to expect an awful lot.

And then there are the expectations we have of God. Do we really, do I really, expect miracles and signs and wonders from Him? Far too often, I believe, our expectations of God look very similar to what we could probably accomplish on our own if God didn't show up at all. We don't expect much of Him and therefore we get what we expect. If we approach God with totally unrealistic expectations, then we have approached him with the right idea. God is very much into making the unrealistic a reality. Case in point - unrealistic to expect a man dead and buried for 3 days to be raised from the dead and walking among the people. What about expecting God to fill empty oil jars with a never ending supply of oil. Or how about if we expected God to heal the sick or bring our prodigal home? Do you expect God to restore your broken marriage? Can you really expect God to meet your needs? Is it expecting too much to ask God to free you from anxiety? Have you fully expected God to deliver you from every single stronghold you have and forgive you completely? Is there an expectation that God can take away the addiction or make a way where this is no way? We talk about it. But deep within our hearts, do we really expect God to do anything about it or is just a nice wish.

If we say we want to live a life filled with the presence of God and walking in His ways, then perhaps we ought to expect more of God. God has far exceeded my expectations and goodness knows I have a whole other list of immeasurable expectations that I have laid at His feet and am just waiting for Him to amaze me with his power and grace. God is able to do exceedingly MORE than all we can ask or imagine. He said so. So expect BIG things from God. Take those insurmountable, unrealistic expectations to God and wait. He can do all things, including surpassing your unrealistic expectations him.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Two Men Two Paths

I live in Ohio - one mere hour from Cleveland. So the LeBron James news and anticipation of his decision is all over the news and the newspapers. I actually saw LeBron play when he was still in high school. I probably should have paid more attention to the game, but to me he was just another kid on the basketball court and I was rooting for the other team anyway. As the media-hype tells us, tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. (exact time unknown) the big announcement will be made as to whether LeBron stays in Cleveland or goes to another city to play for another team. The sports world sits at the edge of their seats in anticipation. I imagine some are even losing sleep tonight over it all and others are wildly making bets on LeBron's life decisions. Millions of dollars beyond my imagination are at stake for many in many different ways. I don't have the exact figure, but I was awestruck when the Cleveland Plain Dealer posted the amount of money LeBron was worth in revenue to the City of Cleveland. The number of followers on his Twitter account was downright insane after only a very short period of time. In 24-hours, LeBron will will let the world know where he is going.

This week another man is traveling from Ohio to North Carolina and then on to Texas. North Carolina is where his family is. He's going home for a visit before heading out to Texas. No one is tweeting about him. His car is running on the grace of God and he was thankful for $25.00 to put towards getting his brakes fixed before the trip. He doesn't have a job yet. He isn't deciding what city he will go to in the next few days and weeks. He isn't worried about it either. God told him to go to Dallas. That was all he needed to know for now. He sought God and God gave him direction. No hype. No media frenzy. No one making bets on whether he will make it. Men are praying for him and trusting God that he will make it to Dallas, Texas. Everyone who meets him just loves him and you won't find a happier or more thankful soul. In his words "God is goooooood!"

So tonight, two men will lay their heads down to sleep. Somewhere deep within them a stirring will take place of who they are, where they came from and where they are going. Both men are poised to change peoples lives. Only God knows where each of them will end up.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Obedience or disobedience?

The more people I have talked to lately, the more I keep hearing about how busy everyone is and how distracted they are. They say they want to be less busy or more focused or more disciplined, but somehow the busyness binds them up and defeat seems to set in. I totally get it! In order for me to truly hear from God, I need less on my to-do list and more time on my knees. This is a hard task for me. I love the Lord, but I am also hard-wired with a permanent never ending to-do list in my brain. Shutting down that list and just sitting and listening to God takes a lot of discipline on my part.

Lately, I have been really battling with God over what he has or has not called me to do. Please understand it isn't that he asked something of me that I'm not willing to do - I'm just seeking clarity and trying to lay my own personal and possibly selfish desires aside for His plans for my life. I want to hear him clearly and obey him passionately and completely.

God has been directing me to a lot of scripture recently concerning obedience vs. disobedience. I'm not talking about doing good things vs. doing 'bad' things. I'm talking about obeying God and doing what He tells me. There are lots and lots of good things we can do. There is a never ending list of things we could do that seem right and even in line with the Word of God such as caring for the poor and widows, reaching out to the lost, helping the sick, etc. God has not called each of us to be all things to all people. He has a specific and unique calling for each of us. And that is where the obedience and disobedience come in to play. Sometimes being obedient means saying 'no'.

Am I being obedient to God? Period. 1 John 3:21-22 says "Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." So am I obeying his commands for my life?

Deuteronomy 28 lays it out boldly concerning obedience and disobedience. In the book of Haggai the people were so busy being about their own business and not doing what God asked of them that blessings were withheld, resources withheld and the House of the Lord was a mess. The people were so inwardly focused on their own lives and their own to-do lists and their own plans that the house of the God was being neglected. This is the kind of obedience vs. disobedience I am talking about. Have we taken the time to seek the Lord and inquire of Him as to what we are to be doing? Or are we just being busy doing something because that something seems better than nothing?

Thursday, July 1, 2010


This is what happens when you try to do something in a hurry and aren't paying attention. Blog colors change and you can't get them back. Words appear on top of other words where they aren't supposed to be. Funny colors show up and your original colors have disappeared from the world-wide-color-wheel. Gray lines surround areas where there are to be no lines. Lines that are to be there have vanished. And sadly I won't have time to fix it all until this weekend.

This is like a mismatched, wrong sized outfit that you can't change out of fast enough. With high-water pants besides and a big fat stain on the front to go with it.

Saturday's coming and hopefully so is a full dose of grace from God for the technologically challenged soul -that would be me.