Trust The Dot-Placer

Remember those dot-to-dot picture puzzles we used to do as kids? PR31 and I were just talking about those. I loved doing those things. It seemed so simple. Sometimes, you could just look at all the dots and actually see the object in your mind before a single line was drawn. Others, however, were not as simple. You might think the line needed to go a certain way, but there was no dot there, or it was definitely not the next number in order. So what did you do? You looked for the next dot, and you drew your line to it.

Maybe today, your life feels like one of those dot-to-dot puzzles. Mine certainly does sometimes. Just about the time I think I see where I think the line is going… or should go… there is no dot there. So what do I do? I stop, look for the next dot, and draw my line there. Then I may have to stay on that dot for awhile as I search for the next one.

Why? I trust the Dot-Placer. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:5-6 that we should trust the Lord with all our heart and not depend on our own understanding… that we should acknowledge God as the Dot-Placer, and in doing so He would direct us to the next dot to which we need to draw our life’s line.

It’s not always easy. At some points along life’s dot-to-dot, we think we have it all figured out. We think we know what the shape is going to turn out to be. We think we know where the next dot should be and where we should draw our line. But God has a magnificent, intricate plan laid out with all the dots in the right places. And if we will just draw our line to His next dot, we will end up in the right place… at the right time… in the right way.

If your life feels like a crazy dot-to-dot puzzle today, hang in there. Don’t draw your own line or add your own dots. Stop on the dot where you are, and look for the next dot God has laid out for you… even if it takes a little while to find it. Trust the Dot-Placer. The picture is there, and it is coming into focus a little bit at a time. One day, you’ll look back and see why He directed you along those dots in the way He did.

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Believe

This is going to be a great week!

Repeat after me… “This is going to be a great week!”

Now… Believe it! Believe that God has good things in store for you this week. Each day is going to get better. Something is going to make you smile… make you breathe easier. Someone is going to be kind to you. You are going to accomplish something… excel at something. You’re going to laugh more. You’re going to feel better. You’re going to achieve your goals.

This is not a week to dread. This is a week to anticipate!

How can I guarantee this? How can you live up to the hype? Well, simply put, it’s basically up to you and me. We can either go into this week dreading each day… fretting and worrying… stressed and fearful. Or we can choose to look for the best in people… see opportunities in challenges… search for the silver linings to passing clouds. It’s up to us. We will get what we believe for… either way. It takes exactly the same amount of trust and emotional energy.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs that the fears of the wicked and the hopes of the godly will come about. That tells me that how I choose to look at this upcoming week largely impacts how the week will go for me.

So, decide early on in this week that it is going to be great… maybe one of the best weeks you’ve ever had. Determine to see the best in people and find positives in every situation. Start each day smiling and looking forward to all the good you will find that day. And at the end of this week, I believe and declare that you will see that you have had the great week you anticipated!

Now let’s do this!

Best… Day… Ever!!!

Several times over the past couple of weeks, Alex has burst into the room where Angela and I were, and exclaimed, “This is the BEST… DAY… EVER!!!” Usually, it has to do with achieving a new level on a video game, combined with having a favorite dessert, and maybe one other delight. Whatever the case, in his mind it was the best day ever. What’s funny to me is that happened again and again… apparently each day topping the previous “BEST… DAY… EVER!”

Truth be told, I find it hard to believe this tops the days when we’ve gone fishing. And I find it even more difficult to believe these days trump Christmas or our trip to Disney World a few years ago. There’s no way anyone would say these days compare… except Alex.

And I love it! I love that he’s not living in the past. For him, each day holds the potential to be celebrated… to be the BEST… DAY… EVER! In fact, it’s almost as if he’s looking for those days to be great. He’s hoping they’ll be great, even if they haven’t been the most exciting yet. Proverbs 10:28 says, “The hopes of the godly result in happiness.”

What are you hoping for today? Are you looking for today to be great? Is there anything that could happen, no matter how small, that would make you want to celebrate?

You know, it doesn’t always have to be something big. Maybe you have a great hair day… BEST… DAY… EVER! Or maybe the person ahead of you in line buys your coffee… BEST… DAY… EVER! Or maybe you get an actual, old-school, handwritten note in the mail… BEST… DAY… EVER! Or perhaps you have your teeth cleaned at the dentist, and they say you don’t need any additional work… BEST… DAY… EVER! Or maybe you aced a pop quiz… BEST… DAY… EVER!

Today, get your hopes up, and look for all those little things that might add up to making this the BEST… DAY… EVER! Then get up tomorrow, and do it again. Let every day have the potential to be your BEST… DAY… EVER… and you’ll find you end up having a lot more of them… like Alex.

Thanks for the cool reminder, bud… This just might be one of my BEST… DAYS… EVER!

Just Keep Pedaling

I don’t really enjoy exercising. I know its benefits. I need to exercise, but just because I need to doesn’t mean I like to. Some days, the win is that I exercised at all instead of not exercising.

Yesterday was one of those days. I really didn’t want to exercise, but I hopped on the stationary bike because I needed to do it for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. I had already thought to myself, “If I can gut out 10-15 minutes, I’ll call it done.” Then my goal extended to 4 miles completed. (I typically aim for about 6-7 miles in about 22-23 minutes.)

Just about the time I met the 4-mile mark, Alex came in the room to get some of his school supplies to start his day. He saw me sweating it out and asked me, “How far have you ridden… and how long are you gonna ride that thing?” I replied with my distance, and told him I really needed to go another couple of miles and another 6-7 minutes. To which he exclaimed, “I don’t know how you do that!”

I thought for a moment, and then I answered, “I guess you just keep on peddling. You just don’t stop.” He said, “Yeah, but isn’t that hard?” Using my much-needed breath, I told him, “Yep, but you keep on going anyway.” That seemed to satisfy him, and he left me alone to… keep pedaling.

But now I had a little extra sense of being able to finish. I knew that… if I would just keep pedaling… if I just wouldn’t stop… I would get in my distance and my time. Sure I was sweating more than I wanted to. Sure I was tired of pedaling. Sure I wanted to stop and eat ice cream. But I kept pedaling anyway.

And guess what happened? I made it. I hit the 6-mile mark in just over 22 minutes. Now, that may not be impressive to you. You may be some kind major-ninja-exercise-guru-master who laughs at my distance or time with an air of superiority. But I just needed to exercise yesterday. I did it because I needed to do it… not because I wanted to. I didn’t feel like it. And I would have probably given up earlier if Alex had not walked in the room at that moment. But because he did… because he asked me those questions… because he unknowingly nudged me to do what it took to finish strong… I did better than I expected.

Maybe someone reading this today feels ready to quit doing what you need to do. You’re ready to throw in the towel. You’re beyond ready to give up. You’re tired. Your win today was getting out of bed and getting dressed. Beyond that, your expectations for the day include doing what you have to do to survive or get by. And you don’t even want to think about tomorrow… or next week… or next month… or next year.

Don’t give up. Whether it is finding the right job, improving your marriage, completing your education, or pursuing a lifelong dream, all you have to do is keep going. Yes, it may be hard, but you can do it. Yes, you may be tired, but you have what it takes to finish strong. Just keep pedaling. You’ll get there. The key is to just keep going on anyway, no matter how hard it feels right now. And when you reach your goal… when you finish strong, having done more than you thought you could… you will be so glad you did.

P. S. – In those moments when these words of encouragement are not enough to motivate you, ask God to help you. He will strengthen you and help you reach the finish line!

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!

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