Friday, March 7, 2014

Thank You God, for Fleas

How are you? Well, I forgot to finish this, and then I got a phone call from, and after that I accidentally, and now I have to…

How easy is it to talk about our complaints?
I have this amazing skill of becoming stressed when life doesn’t go my way.
My way… hah.
Desiring life to follow my plan has always been something I’ve struggled with. I want it to go according to plan and when it doesn’t I become discouraged and defeated. The minor setbacks that I encountered would throw me into a whirlwind of confusion. 

You know Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples? He’s always been one I can easily relate to, especially when he tries to walk on water. He starts out with this plan of, I will focus on you Lord and I can do it, but the storm distracts him and he begins to drown. (Matthew 14:22-33)
It’s easy to lose focus. It’s easy to pay attention to the setbacks and failures that happen. It’s easy to complain about fleas.
Fleas? What? I’ll explain…
First, what is a flea?
A flea by definition is “
a small wingless jumping insect that feeds on the blood of mammals and birds. It sometimes transmits diseases through its bite.”

Sounds like a grand animal to have around, right? It can give you a disease and it feeds on your blood, a real kill-joy if you ask me. Why would I be thankful for a flea?
A friend recently reminded me of this part in Corrie ten Boom’s book “The Hiding Place,”

“When they were moved to Barracks 28, Corrie was horrified by the fact that their reeking, straw-bed platforms swarmed with fleas. How could they live in such a place?

 It was Betsie who discovered God's answer:
"'"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus." That's it, Corrie! That's His answer. "Give thanks in all circumstances!" That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!' 

"I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room…"
They thanked God for the fact they were together. They thanked God they had a Bible. They even thanked God for the horrible crowds of prisoners, that more people would be able to hear God's Word. And then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas.
"The fleas! This was too much. 'Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.' 

"'"Give thanks in all circumstances,"' she quoted. 'It doesn't say, "in pleasant circumstances."  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.' 

"And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong."
It turned out that Betsie was not wrong; the fleas were a nuisance, but a blessing after all. The women were able to have Bible studies in the barracks with a great deal of freedom, never bothered by supervisors coming in and harassing them. They finally discovered that it was the fleas that kept those supervisors out. 

Through those fleas, God protected the women from abuse and harassment.”

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

So how would I define a flea? A flea is anything that can kill the joy that I have in Christ, anything that makes me focus on the storm instead of on Him. However, if I allow myself to realize there is a purpose behind the flea I begin to see fleas as a reason to trust God's plan, to thankfully look to Him for strength and understanding. 

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11

Fleas, setbacks, storms, tears, laughter, all of it, and any of it I am thankful for. I may not understand why I have fleas, but the Lord has a plan, so thank you, thank you Lord for the fleas.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Musings. Snippets. Discoveries.

Thoughts, discoveries, lessons, all of which remind me, He's not finished with me yet…

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Forgive people. Always.
Words hurt.
Words empower.
Everyone is valuable.
Everyone is fighting their own battle.
Take the time to sit and just listen to time passing by.
The more I see the less I know.
Seek to understand, not to be understood.
This is only part of the bigger picture.
Find the joy.
What does negativity achieve?
Challenge others.
Be challenged.
People are infuriating.
People are wonderful.
People are confusing.
People are people-ish.
Love selflessly.
I am not strong enough.
I don’t have to be strong enough.
Help others.
Allow others to help you.
Try something new, big or small.
Listen to a child’s conversation.
Talk to a stranger.
Hope and Pray. 
Failure is just a time to learn.
Experience is the best teacher.
Leaders are servants.

 “I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.” 

“Be the change you want to see.”

"Strive not to be of success, but rather to be of value." 

    “Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return."
    "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ice Cream, Cookies, and Working Out—It’s Monday

“I told the cashier that I have three stressed out college students at home. I didn’t want him to think badly of me for buying two things of ice cream and a pack of cookies.”

It’s a Monday and with that comes the blues of, why in the world am I even here? Why am I trying? Is this all even worth it?

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
 1 Corinthians 9:24-26

I’m running a race; I’m “working out” to become better than I once was. Working out, if you want results, is exhausting, you want to quit and lie down, you feel pain that you don’t want to feel, and at times you feel like you’ve been pushed too hard. 

That’s how I’ve felt lately, like a quitter, and nobody likes to feel like a quitter.

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Ohhh yeah, I don’t have the strength to do any of this on my own. But I have this God that has already told me He’ll coach me, that He’ll give me the grace, the joy, and the peace I need from day-to-day.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, that doesn’t mean I won’t struggle. But it does tell me that when I put too much weight on the bar He’ll help me lift it off my chest. When I feel like I’ve run too far He’ll give me the air to continue on.

These hard times are just the hill before the finish line, they’re that last lap, or that final hurdle.

When I look at life from the perspective that He’s in control of this race I’m running I realize,
 I ain’t no quitter, and this ain’t no part-time gym membership.

And what I truly have come to realize: cookies and ice cream are just marvelous.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Just a Note to My Wandering Heart

Have you ever wanted something so bad it hurt?
Have you ever thought it was part of God’s plan for your life?
Has it ever played out for you and then…

It wasn’t what you expected.

I have come to realize some times God allows certain situations to happen to help us see that perhaps our dream has changed or maybe it just isn’t the right time for that dream.  It’s almost like it’s His gentle reminder, “Hey kid, stop trying to plan this on your own, I got you.”  Or even just that calm spirit telling you, “See? You were okay, I’m working in you right now, stop trying to get ahead of me.”

He’s working in me right now. No reason to rush. No reason to figure it all out at this moment.

I have a God that takes an interest in even the smallest desire of my heart. A God who listens to my small voice and responds with a loving reminder to trust Him and remember in HIS time it will all be done.

How fantastic is a God like that?

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10