Friday, November 26, 2010

If…You Hide-and-Go-Seek

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs"...


If you ever took English from my mom or had a good English professor, you might remember this opening line to Rudyard Kiplin's poem, If. For some reason this phrase came to my mind this morning. I have so much to get done today...laundry, finish reading a couple of books, submit my last seminary paper, start decorating the house for Christmas, and spending time with the only other person in my house (Erin).

Part of the reason this phrase came to my mind was because this is Friday and people can act CRAZY...even more CRAZY than normal (which is an odd thing to think about – if Crazy is normal...) I digress. The other reason is part of the new Journey of Faith I am on.

When a company decides to close some of its offices, the employees become concerned and understandably so. Rumors start running amuck, and it is hard to determine fact from fiction at times. When I am with my co-workers, they immediately start talking about the possible office closings and all the speculations. Some automatically think they are safe. Some know they are going to have to relocate. Some throw out so many different possibilities you can't tell which way they are leaning. Truth is no one knows what is exactly going to happen. Truth is we all have a choice to make – look for a job now or wait. Truth is worrying won't change one thing. So when people start to speculate, most of the time I walk that is possible.

Instead I am choosing to TRUST. Totally Relying Upon my Savior's Thoughts. Jeremiah 29:11 – 14 a, "For I know the plans/thoughts I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you." Declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity"...

TRUST is a two-way street. TRUST requires and demands a relationship...a personal, intimate relationship. TRUST requires that the relationship be a healthy one – God wants the best for us, His best. TRUST requires something from us. Trust demands action from us. "You WILL CALL...COME...PRAY." I will be seeking my heavenly Father. I will go to Him and lay down my concerns, worries, problems, etc., and I will pray. He PROMISES to Listen. For my part, I will SEEK HIM WITH ALL MY HEART, and like any Father who plays hide-and-go-seek with His daughter, He lets me find Him. He picks up me and carries me out of anything that binds me, restrains me.

I'm really liking that. Hide and go seek with my Father. Picture it in your head. I remember Patrick playing hide and go seek with Erin. He would choose to hide in the same place over and over again. Know why? That is the first place that he knew Erin would look! She would toddle around the end of the sofa and find her daddy and break out into this big grin and giggle. She didn't even know there was someplace else to look! When it was his turn to count, Erin would go to the end of the sofa and squat. Patrick would count and start "looking." Teasingly, He would say things like, "I have no idea where Erin went," or "Have you seen Erin?" All the while, we could hear Erin laughing. "Here I am, daddy. Here I am!" Her daddy knew where she was. Her daddy didn't have to look for her, but the reunion at the end of each hide and seek was the same – joy and laughter.

I will seek my Father...not that He is hiding from me, but because I have things I need to tell Him. He is where He always is. He is where He is when He waits on me. He smiles when I "find" Him. "He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17). He picks you up and twirls you around, and He walks hand-in-hand with you his princess

(Boy, this blog went in a totally different direction than I thought it would go. I love having expectations of God, but I love it even more when He makes Himself so real that He takes you where He wants to lead you knowing it is a much sweeter place. Thank you, Jesus!)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is Waiting – Expecting (NOT THAT KIND OF EXPECTING). Just Expecting

Blog before last, I reviewed the verse God gave me when He called me to ministry – Isaiah 42:16. I think He gave it to me because I felt completely inept and inadequate for the job He has called me to, but what I've found is that He works better in me when I'm not in "control."

I concluded with writing that I would wait.

    Psalms 5:3, "In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I my request before you and wait expectantly."

    Psalms 27:4, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

    Psalms 33:20, "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."

    Psalms 37:7, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."

I have had difficulty with the concept of waiting, especially patiently waiting. On the things I want badly, it's like waiting for Christmas morning. I can barely stand myself. I can become downright obnoxious. I'd like to think I've matured in this area, but truth is I struggle with it on occasion. I am wise enough now to realize that God is protecting me from some things or some people by not giving me everything I want.

So, any time I become anxious or dwell too much on what may or may not happen in the spring, I will talk to God first thing. In 5:3, it reads "in the morning" – that's the beginning of the day, so therefore, I will talk to God at the beginning of my concerns, and then I will go back into the position of waiting…expectantly. I'm so glad they added that word. Expectantly in the "Word Study" found at reads "properly to lean forward, to peer into the distance,…wait for." I love that – leaning forward in my prayers to God knowing He will answer. That is where I will be.

In 33:20, says we wait in HOPE. We have hope because we know His heart is for us. He is my help. He is my shield.

In 37:7, I have to be still…wait patiently. I will not fret.

Are you waiting on God for something? How will you wait?

Last week I was in New Orleans on a business trip, and the subject of office closures came up. There are a lot of speculations. Many are worried about what is going to happen because they are close to retirement but can't afford to retire. Many are concerned because they can't relocate. I can tell you one thing though, we are all waiting. The difference is some are worrying as they wait. Some are waiting in dread and fear. I am choosing to wait expectantly…you may have to remind me of this the closer the date comes, but for now, I wait expectantly to see how God is going to use this.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

…Pearce Is to Be Sacrificed

This past Monday night at the dinner table, the kids and I were eating supper, and there was a lull in the conversation. Let's just say that rarely happens with my daughter at the table. But during that brief moment, Pearce piped up and asked, "Mom, when can I be sacrificed?"

(In that split moment, my mind flashed back to Sunday morning. I had been running all of the church selling tickets for the Christmas tea, lovin' on women of all ages, and as I headed to my small group I see my husband propped up against the wall with THE look on his face. I walk past my class to my husband who points across the hall to THE BOY. Patrick said, "He's all yours." Pearce had gone too far and had pushed more buttons than his daddy could handle. Pearce with his red-rimmed eyes bowed his head. Both of them had been through the wringer.)

So when Pearce asked the question the answer that immediately popped in my mind was, "Boy, you came an inch from being sacrificed on Sunday!" Fortunately, I refrained, and I asked if he meant baptized. Yes, that was the word. I was going to glaze over it and wait for his daddy to get home, so we could both talk to him about it, but Erin charged on in. "Have you heard of the sinner's prayer?" she asked. "Yes." "Well, you're a sinner, and you have to ask Jesus into your heart in the sinner's prayer." "I know I'm a sinner. I guess I'll pray tonight at bedtime," Pearce responded. "There is no need to wait," Erin replied. "You can say it right now." I jumped into the conversation at this point and asked some questions to lead him through and to make sure he understood what he was doing and why. He prayed and asked Jesus into his heart right then and there. We called his daddy, and it was a great evening.

I started blogging about my new journey of faith. Waiting on God to reveal the next thing to happen in my life regarding the ministry He has me to do and the career I've done for so long. A journey of faith can be one that grows your faith deeper. It can be one that stretches what you already know. It can be one that takes you places you've never been before. I have a mentor that says, "Not once has God ever taken me someplace that I thought, 'Yeah, this is where I wanted to go'." Meaning God's plans for us are higher than our plans and His ways higher than ours (Isaiah 55), but no matter where He leads us it is typically not the exact location where we had intended on going, but it is exactly the place where we want to be. I was wondering how to fit this blog into this new series of my faith journey, and I think it fits perfectly.

I've been thinking about Pearce's question this week. "When can I be sacrificed?" As Christians we have to die to self, our selfish desires, and our egos daily (sometimes more frequent than that). By sacrificing our wills and ourselves to His will and His way is to truly live the overcoming life of a Christian, isn't it? The answer to Pearce's question is "anytime we feel that we have the RIGHT to be in 'CONTROL', anytime our selfish desires exceed the need to be in His presence, or anytime we make ourselves more important than our Creator" is when we need to sacrifice self. I am sacrificing what I think is a good gig, a job I've enjoyed for many years and have attained awards and recognition for, for what He wants for me. For what He wants for me is HIS BEST! What I want would be less than best for not only me, but my family.

So, as Pearce begins his new life as a Christian and I start my journey to see where God will lead me career-wise, we are both beginning a journey of faith. God's timing is perfect, and I am so blessed.

I am so blessed to have both of my children come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior at an early age. I've prayed for this since before they were born. My prayers will continue now that they will love God with all their hearts and every day of their lives serving Him faithfully. God is so good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Waiting…just waiting

In my last post, I wrote there is a possibility that I may lose my job after the first quarter of 2011 when the office I am working in may close. The company that employs me is looking to reduce cost and buildings cost money. There are only three places in my zone that are not being considered for closure which means they could possibly ask me to relocate to Tulsa, Oklahoma; Columbia, Missouri; or Baton Rouge, Louisiana – all of which are too long to commute too!

I also wrote that I am clinging to the verse God gave me shortly after He called me into women's ministry – Isaiah 42:16. I decided I wanted to study this verse more, since I would once again come to rely on it and claim it.

(By the way, if you haven't discovered in your study of the Bible, I highly recommend it. It has a dictionary, concordance, commentary, footnotes, word study and Bible study notes just by simply clicking on the word.)

"I will lead the blind." The dictionary says, "Absence of light is used in both physical and figurative senses in both the OT and NT." It also says, "Darkness does not hide one from God (Ps 139:11-12, Dan 2:22)." Darkness can also symbolize ignorance – that would be where I am. "God's deliverance (either from ignorance or hostile powers) is described as lighting the darkness (Is 9:2, 29:18," etc). I admit I am ignorant in the way He would have me go, and I have to trust Him completely because He is showing me "by a way they did not know."

"I will guide them on paths they have not known." In the dictionary, guide means to lead, tread down, and walk. Some of you may have been down a similar road with the downturn in the economy over the past several years, but I have not. This is definitely a path I have not known.

"I will turn darkness to light in front of them and rough places into level ground." God is the light, and He is going before me (in front of me) to make the rough places smooth and level (that is God working it out for my good – Romans 8:28). He is the one who TURNS – meaning change, cast in, determines, and ordains – the rough to smooth. So I have a choice, do I allow Him to guide and lead me so as to follow a more level path, or do I do it myself? DUH. Does this mean I won't have difficulties and problems – no. That is not what this is saying. What it is saying is when we trust God to handle it we can know that He is working it out for our good, AND He will not forsake us.

"This is what I will do for them, and I will not forsake them." Forsake means, "to loosen, i.e. relinquish" and "refuse." He won't loosen His grip on me and my family. He won't relinquish His protection, His thoughts, His plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11), or His grip on me. He won't refuse to hear me when I call, to acknowledge me as His daughter, or to work it out for my good.

So, there you go, and here I am. I am waiting…that's the next blog.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Begins a New Journey into Faith

In my small group on Sunday mornings, in my mentoring groups on Wednesday night and when I mentor one-on-one, I always, always, always tell me ladies no matter their age to journal. Journal what is going on in your life because when you are in the middle of a difficult situation sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees…meaning, when you are in the middle of a struggle often times you don't see all the ways that God's hand is moving to work it out for your good. It's also a good release…just to get things out. I journal privately things I cannot and will not post on line because my life affects more than my own, and I value privacy and the trust of others in my life. But there are also things I do journal online in my blog, and this is where I've chosen to journal the next leg of my faith journey.

I know that I know that God has called me to full-time women's ministry as a vocation. I know this because this IS NOT something I would have chosen for myself, and yet He has placed this desire and burden on my heart. He has yet to reveal to me where and when this will take place, but in the meantime, I'm preparing – as Angela Thomas says, "A Righteous Wait." Sometimes I think I'm ready to do it now, but He hasn't provided or opened that door, so He continues to groom me. And I wait…sometimes patiently and thankfully, and sometimes not so much.

My career as a fraud investigating claim representative for an insurance company has been established in 14 years of experience. I know without a doubt that God called me to it as well. He gave me the temperament, the personality, the gifts and ability to do this job naturally. When I started in this career, I was one of very few women, and I was by far the youngest. I had to find my way into and through the "good ole boys club," and I did. I've dealt with all kinds of people – gang bangers, crooked chiros, chop shop owners, arsonist and people who made a poor decision. I think He was using all of that to prepare me for women's ministry which by nature seems totally opposite, but really it isn't. Women's ministry isn't just for those in the church body. It is equipping them to mature and make good decisions helping them to accept people of different backgrounds, and motivating women to reach out into the community to serve others. That's just one of the ways I see how my career has prepared me for ministry.

You might be wondering what I was referring to as the next leg of my faith journey. Well, here it is. There is a very good chance that the company I work for will be closing the only office here after the first quarter of next year. I could lose my job especially since I am not mobile (willing or able to relocate). My husband is a co-owner of several businesses that are not mobile. My pay is the stability of our financial existence, provides health benefits and affords us the ability to send our children to a Christian school. See where my faith might have potential for growth? I thought you might.

I choose not to be a worrier. I choose to leave it in God's hands and trust He will provide, but occasionally, I slip and worry a little. In December of 2011, I will have my Basic and Advanced Women's Certificate in Women's Ministry. I started this past summer on it, and those hours will apply to my M.A.C.E. (Master in Arts in Christian Education) with a focus in Women's Ministry. I will have 54 more hours to earn my M.A.C.E. So, I wonder when God is going to provide this opportunity for me. Currently, I lead women's ministry at my church on a volunteer basis, and I don't see them adding it as a paid position any time soon, so I wonder when God is going to start opening doors.

I know God's timing is perfect. He's never late, but I'd love it if He were early occasionally…like this time. But in the meantime, I'll do the righteous wait and prepare for when He finally says, "Kristy, you're up!" And during the wait, I will cling to Isaiah 42:16 which has been my verse since He called me to full-time ministry. "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."