Not Just Ice Cream

This past weekend, we had a massive garage sale. Friday in particular was brutally hot, and we spent most of the day outside. Although I must admit, I tried to stay in the actual garage with a fan blowing on me as much as possible.

In the middle of the day, a dear family friend stopped by and visited with us for awhile. She is the sweetest lady you could ever meet. She is thoughtful, gracious, considerate, and never to be outdone when it comes to generosity. After her visit, we all commented how fun it was to have her stop by.

Later that afternoon, she texted me to let me know that she was picking us up some ice cream and would be by to deliver it to us shortly. I told her she didn’t need to do it, but she insisted. And sure enough, about ten minutes later, she rolled into the driveway with her delivery. For the record, it wasn’t just ice cream… It was Blue Bell. I grew up in Texas, and so the jingle… “Blue Bell, the best ice cream in the country,” actually means something to me.

I thanked her profusely, as did the boys. What she didn’t know until I told her, was that when I slipped inside to gobble down a quick lunch earlier, I wanted some kind of dessert. I had thought to myself, “It is so hot, some ice cream sure would be good.” But I knew none of us would be going to the store that day because of the garage sale, and so I figured ice cream was just out of the question. It was just a fleeting craving and a fanciful whim… so I thought. Until she brought ice cream.

I had not said a word to anyone about ice cream. I didn’t have to. The One who knows all things delights in every detail of my life, according to Psalm 37:23. He knew that He could nudge her heart to buy ice cream, and she would do it. So He did.

She did not know that I needed that ice cream reminder that day to remind me that if my Heavenly Father can cause someone to bring me the dessert I wanted on a whim, then He can tackle the other part of that verse, which says He also directs the steps of my life. It was a subtle reminder, but it was not lost on me. He threw it, and I caught it.

So when is ice cream not just ice cream? When it reminds that person receiving it of how intimately involved God is in their life. You see, it wasn’t just ice cream she delivered Friday… It was love… It was encouragement… It was hope.

So, this week, let’s be sensitive to those nudges… because we never know when it is not just ice cream.

Going Higher

Note: Clearly Spiritual Post

Hang in there! Don’t give up! The Lord impressed on my heart this morning that someone needs to know He hasn’t let you down… He’s just setting you up for something greater!

You may feel like God has forgotten about you. You may think He isn’t doing anything about your situation. You may have even asked where He is and what He is up to.

So, He invited me to be a part of letting you know that He is at work on your situation. He loves you. You matter to Him. He values you. He is putting all the pieces together in the right order for you to be the best you can be.

I know it may be a struggle to hope or believe. But you ARE going higher.

Now help a brutha out… If this is for you and your situation today, would you comment, message or text me to affirm that I heard clearly from the Lord? I’ll pray for you.

Miracles of the Unknown

It was one of the greatest lines from a Hallmark movie to date… “People always talk about the unknown like it’s this bad thing, but miracles happen there, too.”

I’m not sure if it engaged me more in the movie or caused my mind to jump into calisthenics mode. I had never thought about the unknown in that light. Truth is, most of us fear the unknown factors of life… concepts like “tomorrow” or “those people” or “that place.” In a sense, it’s normal to be a little hesitant about the unknown. But it’s only normal because so many people fear it.

We don’t have to view the unknown that way. We can choose to believe that the unknown ahead of us is at least as good… or dare we hope… even better than our past or our present. That new school you’re attending may hold the miracles of lifelong friends, or the keys to your purpose in life. That new place you’re thinking of moving to May have lower utilities, better neighbors or a new favorite restaurant. This week, you may get the call or text that changes the trajectory of your future for the better. And it’s all in the unknown.

Sure, you can choose to worry and fret about it. You could absolutely be cautious and concerned. Most people would call that normal. But you don’t have to go with the flow.

You don’t have to dread the unknown because you already have a friend there. In ways that I don’t even pretend to understand, God has already been to tomorrow and knows everything that will happen. It boggles my mind, but I know He is also everywhere at the same time… So no matter what place is unknown to me, He’s been there and is waiting there for me when I arrive. And as far as people, He knows exactly how to arrange encounters so that they work out for my good.

There are as many… or maybe even more… miracles in the unknown for us to look forward to as there are challenges for us to prepare for. So, why not shift our thinking a little away from the norm and choose to look forward to all the miracles which await us in our next unknown? Hey, it could be even better than what I’ve written here.

So no more dread, worry or fear of the unknown… Beginning today, let’s choose be the bold, daring, adventurers who anticipate the miracles of the unknown!

Wondering In The Wandering

Note: Straight-Up Spiritual Post

God may lead you into the wilderness, but He won’t leave you in the wilderness! Check Matthew chapters 3, 4 and 5. God publicly declares that He loves His Son, Jesus, at His baptism. Then the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness. Wilderness in Scripture is not necessarily a desert, but rather an uninhabited place… a place of isolation, solitude and maybe even loneliness.

But God the Father doesn’t stop loving Jesus while He is in the wilderness. And He doesn’t leave Him. He remains with Him in His Word, giving Him the ability to overcome temptation. And when the time of testing in the wilderness comes to an end, the Father sends angels to minister to and strengthen Jesus. Then He leads Jesus out of the wilderness to live out His purpose.

Perhaps today you feel like you are in a wilderness of sorts. Know this… even if God led you there, He won’t leave you there. He will go through the time with you. He will give you power to endure and overcome. He will strengthen you. And He will lead you out to live in your purpose!

In the middle of this week, don’t let your wandering in the wilderness make you wonder if God loves you or knows where you’re at. He loves you… He’s with you… He’s leading you. Keep walking with Him, and He will lead you out soon enough!

Time To Toss It

When the house is orderly, PR31 feels at peace in her soul. When it’s not, she feels like she needs to do something about it. So recently, she took to cleaning and organizing closets and cabinets around the house. Obviously, we all had the privilege of helping out because we all had stuff stuffed in said closets and cabinets.

Interestingly, even though we had a garage sale within the last six months before this cleaning out of clutter, we still found bags full of stuff we no longer use. What’s crazier is the amount of stuff we found which we couldn’t use… things we consider trash now. At the time we put those things in the closet or cabinet, we saved them because we thought they would be useful to us later on. Perhaps we felt we could use parts from them to fix something else. Maybe we felt like they had some type of sentimental value. But they built up over time, and today they are hinderances… clutter. As we went through the closets and cabinets, we would hold something up, look at each other and simultaneously agree that it needed to be tossed. Something we used to deem so important wasn’t even worth saving to put in another garage sale or donate to the local thrift store.

The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews points out that the same thing can happen to us in our spiritual lives over time. We accumulate stuff which weighs us down and trips us up. So he/she instructs the reader to “strip off every weight that slows us down.”

It’s so easy to collect extra stuff over time which hinders us from being our best and living at the level we really want to in our relationship with God and with others. We hold onto broken things… attitudes, hurts, losses… thinking somehow they may be of use to us down the road. Yet they only serve to clutter and weigh down our lives, robbing us of peace.

Today, let this be our wake-up call that it is time to do a little cleaning of our own. Let’s clean out the closets and cabinets of our spiritual and emotional lives. Let’s find the stuff that is getting in our way and keeping us from having peace, and let’s get rid of it. It’s time to toss it! And when we do, we will find a renewed sense of peace and calm as we reorganize and make room for the new, good things God wants to store up in us.

Don’t Forget To Remember

There is a new roller coaster at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO called The Time Traveler. It’s an amazing, innovative ride. It’s a different take on the roller coaster experience because your car spins throughout the entire ride. So, you may be looking forward and see what’s coming, but by the time you get to that point, you may be facing backward. Straight out of the station, you plunge 100 feet down. And as you make the plunge, you may be facing forward, backward or even sideways. The incredibly smooth ride gives you the most strange sense of being able to see where you just were while you head to where you’re going.

Alex and I rode this ride a few months ago when we were there. Unfortunately, Austin was just a couple inches shy of making the height requirement to ride. But he isn’t giving up. He keeps having us measure him. (For the record, he’s only an inch and a half away from the height requirement now.)

We were talking about the ride the other day and how fun it is when Austin… in his ever-insightful way… spoke up about wanting to ride it and said, “Sometimes I look forward so much, I just want to be able to look back and see where I’ve come from.”

Wow! He’s only seven and he already knows the importance of something God has been teaching all of us for thousands of years… Don’t forget to remember. It’s important to look back and see where God has brought us from. It’s important to remember how He has come through for us time and time again. Maybe He healed you when you were sick. Maybe He gave you a child even though you battled infertility. Maybe He caused someone to send you a check in the mail when you had a bill to pay, and didn’t have the money to pay it. Maybe He helped you get free from an addiction. Or maybe He brought joy into your life when you were struggling with depression.

Whatever the case, God has done a lot of good for each one of us. He didn’t have to. He doesn’t owe us anything. He does it because He loves us and wants the best for us. And if we will take the moments provided as the car on our roller coaster life spins to look back where we’ve come from, we won’t be tempted to worry as much about the plunges, twists and loops ahead of us. Remembering God’s blessings of the past prepares us to handle the challenges ahead with courage because we know He will get us through them, too.

So, if you have the opportunity to make your way to Silver Dollar City, be sure to ride The Time Traveler. But if not, on the the roller coaster of your life… Don’t forget to remember all the good things God has done for you!

Forward-Focused

My friend grew up on a farm, and to plow straight rows, they would put a stake at the end of the field and drive the tractor with plowing discs in a straight line toward by looking at that one fixed point the entire time. If they looked backward to see what they plowed, they could be thrown way off-course. If they looked to the side, they might only get a little off-course to begin with, but over a distance that small percentage off would end up messing up the whole field. The cool thing was that, after the first row was plowed straight by looking ahead at the fixed destination, the stake was no longer needed. They simply needed to put the edge of the disc in the first row and run along it because they knew it was straight. If they did the first row right, the rest of the rows would be straight also. It’s the power of looking straight ahead at your destination.

Our eyes are on the front of our face for a reason… Wherever we are looking is where our brain tells our body we will probably be heading. That applies in the physical, but it also applies to the rest of our life.

There is no need to look backward because what’s done is done. We can’t go back and change any of it. To look backward is to begin trying to move toward our past, and we never arrive at that destination because it is unreachable.

To look to our sides is to be distracted, and that can cause us to veer off our path. And even looking off slightly can cause big problems later on.

Let’s look ahead of us. Let’s fix our eyes on our destiny. Let’s set a fixed point in our future and stay focused on moving straight toward it. No looking back. No glancing off at distractions to our sides.

Look forward. Move forward. And what follows will be as straight as that first row.

Blame or Credit?

I’m going to assume that since you are reading this, you must be human. And since you are human, I will also therefore suppose that you have faced hurt or unfair treatment in your life… like the rest of us. You’ve probably been wounded by people who were supposed to be for you, on your side.

When that happens, it’s normal to feel emotional pain, to feel betrayed, to wonder why this bad stuff is happening to you. That’s okay initially. And some wounds are deep enough that they just simply take longer to heal. That’s understandable.

But at some point on the journey, we need to come to terms with the fact that sometimes bad things happen to good people. The question then becomes… What will you do with the bad stuff that has happened to you in life?

In the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, we read the story of someone who was done really wrong by those who should’ve been closest to him. His name was Joseph, and God had given him big dreams for his life. As he began to share these dreams with his family, his dad discredited him, and his brothers hated him for the dreams. They hated him so much that they started to kill him, but decided to sell him into slavery and tell their dad a wild animal ate him.

There is no doubt that Joseph was done wrong. But it got worse for him before it got better. Though he excelled as a slave for a high-ranking Egyptian leader, he was falsely accused of attempting to rape that man’s wife… and whose word do you think they believed, the slave or the lady? So Joseph was sent to jail.

In jail, Joseph excelled again and even predicted the futures for two servants of the king based on their dreams. They promised to remember him, but one was executed and the other forgot Joseph for a long time. Finally, Joseph was called upon to interpret a dream for the king, and it was then that he rose to prominence as the second in command for the entire nation of Egypt.

A famine ensued, and Joseph’s brothers showed up to get food from Egypt where Joseph had led a successful food saving and distribution plan. When they showed up, Joseph was confronted with a choice. There stood the very guys who had done him wrong. And it was within his power to set things straight.

In that moment, Joseph chose to give God credit instead of giving his brothers blame. Yes, they did bad things to him, but he chose to instead focus on how God used the bad they had done to work for all their good. He probably didn’t see it in the pit or the prison, but he certainly saw it the day they showed up to buy grain from him during the famine. Perhaps that was why he wept so intensely… the sudden understanding of how God had used the bad to set up the good.

I guess the question before each of us today is the same one Joseph faced that day his brothers showed up… Will I choose to give God credit or give those who did me wrong the blame they deserve?

God promises that He will set the record straight on our behalf, and that He will work everything that happens to us in life… the bad as well as the good… for our benefit and His credit… IF we will let Him.

The choice is ours today… Credit or blame? Let’s choose to see how God has worked things out for our good and give Him credit. In the end, we will win with a choice like that!

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