Category Archives: Meaningful Monday
“We’ve got to go!” I barked across the house while snatching my keys off the hook. Already running late, I decided to take a back route.
For me, being late is ranked right up there with a root canal. Tension bubbles. Blood boils. Frustration flows. And logical thinking, well, it flies right out the window!
With tunnel vision set on my destination and in a frenzy to be on time, we set out on a less congested, fewer lights, GET ME THERE ON TIME path. The only problem – I completely missed the “Road Closed” sign. My brilliant time-saving plan soon came to the screeching halt of a dead end.
In my 20 years of walking with the Lord, I have found myself at many crossroads. Frazzled by time and frustrated by delays, I have ventured ahead or lagged behind and complained when it didn’t work out. In one breath, I profess “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4) while the next breath questions His ways and searches for the answers in my endless demands.
What about you? Have you found yourself facing a dead end wondering how you missed the signs? Or, perhaps you’ve poured your efforts into something for God to say “You’re not ready.” Maybe, like me, you’ve been frustrated by an obviously shorter route, tempting you to sprint ahead of God’s plan.
Thankfully, we serve a merciful God full of second, third, and fourth chances. The Ancient of Days who sees the end from the beginning, including every curvy diverted route, dry, barren desert, and dead-end.
Follow His Diverted Paths
Some of life’s hardest, most rewarding lessons are not learned in a short cliff note version. While we might think – and pray – God would lead us on the quickest route, His higher plan may include a diverted path.
As God prepared the Israelites to leave Egypt, He led them the long way for their protection. That’s right; there was a shorter way that God did not choose. God knew if they faced war, they would change their mind and return to slavery. His path of protection for your life might just be the long, less desirable route. Follow Him. He has prepared a path for you. A way to prepare you and use you.
- “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”” Exodus 13:17
Wait On The Lord In The Desert
The Israelites prepared and readied themselves for the very thing God knew they weren’t ready for – battle. Sometimes we think we’re ready for “battle” only to have God lead us into the desert, knowing we’re not. Don’t get me wrong, waiting is one of this life’s hardest trials, but fight the temptation to run ahead. When we run ahead, we end up worshiping other things; building altars to the gods of our plans (Exodus 32:1). But there is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord (Proverbs 21:30).
People who faithfully waited fill the pages of Scripture. Abraham waited 25 years for the promised child. Joseph waited 22 years, suffering many trials before his dreams came true. The Old Testament fathers waited for the coming Messiah. And Jesus waited 30 years to enter His life’s mission.
So “trust the Lord; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” (Psalm 37:3) Occupy the desert land under your feet and remain in His safe pasture as you wait patiently for Him.
- “So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.” Exodus 13:18
- “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.” Psalm 37:7
Trust His Sovereignty In Dead Ends
Sitting at the end of the road that day, unable to see past the barricades, I had a choice. I could continue to drive facing the consequences, or I could turn around and trust the signs. While the Israelites prepared to leave Egypt “armed for battle,” He was preparing them for a grand deliverance at the dead end of the Red Sea. Often, God has something great in mind, but when we face the dead-end, we grab hold of the reigns and run ahead.
Imagine what they would have missed had they said, “We’re armed for battle and know a shorter way.” Because our Great God is mighty in power with no limit to His understanding (Psalm 147:5), we can lean on Him. Fall on His understanding. If God has led you toward the Red Sea, trust God to part it.
- “So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.” Exodus 13:18
- “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
That day, I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes, my need to “be on time” is actually a rush to “do it in my time.” I end up missing signs and heading down a road that’s either not intended for me or not quite ready for me to travel. Sometimes the shortest route isn’t always the best or even the fastest.
And there we were, at the end of another school year. A year started with great intentionality, purposed to hide God’s word in my little girl’s heart, steer her eyes toward Him, and anchor her heart to His. Intentionality – my deliberately designed, thought out plan – took a backseat to everyday demands.
In her book, The Power of a Praying Parent, Stormie Omartian said, “The battle for our children’s lives is waged on our knees. When we don’t pray, it’s like sitting on the sidelines watching our children in a war zone getting shot at from every angle. When we do pray, we’re in the battle alongside them, appropriating God’s power on their behalf.”
In fact, I would take it one step further and say that if we’re not equipping our children, we’re sending them out into the war zone with no weapons at all, no training for real warfare. Intentionality happens every day as we mold the little hearts God has entrusted to us, igniting the eternity He set in their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). How can we take “deliberately designed, thought out plans” one step further? I’m so glad you asked! I’d love to share a few things that have helped me the past four years.
1. Seek The Lord For Guidance
In Judges 13, we find the story of Samson, a child set apart at birth by God. In verse 8, Samson’s father “begs” the Lord to teach them how to bring up the boy. Not stopping there, he asks in verse 12 about the “rule for the boy’s life and what he will do for work.” Perhaps what I love most about this story is that the Angel of the Lord came to the women, not once but twice. Like Mary with Jesus, God told Samson’s mama who he would be. Friends, even now God is setting apart children at birth for the deliverance of others. Although we know our kiddos better than anyone in the world, only the Master Electrician knows how they are wired and what they are wired to do. He has called us to partner with Him, giving us the unique job of raising them in the ways of the Lord. So, first thing, go to the Lord for guidance, “beg” the Lord to teach you how to bring up your kiddo, and wait with anticipation as He answers.
2. Plan Ahead
What’s the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” In Proverbs 21:5, Solomon put it this way, “The plans of the diligent lead to abundance.” I want an abundance of God’s word tucked into my daughter’s heart so, after seeking the Lord to make the path straight (Proverbs 3:6), careful planning takes center stage.
At the end of each month, I sit down with a calendar and plan out the next month’s verses. I find the key is to choose one particular area to focus on each month such as a character trait or fruit of the spirit. Then, choose four (or five depending on the number of weeks) of the best scriptures that are age-appropriate to memorize.
3. Prepare For The Week
Typically on Sunday afternoons, I sit down to plan for the week ahead: menu, grocery list, chores, blog, business, and school plans are combined in my planner. Sundays may not work for you, and that’s ok. Any day that works is a great day. Use the time the kids are at soccer practice, while they read at the library, or play at the park. Planning is essential to finding focus, setting a solid foundation, and follow through. Honestly, if I fall off the wagon before this point, I rarely get back on. Just saying!
4. Make A Game Of It
You’ve prepared the field, planted the seeds, now it’s time to water it and watch it grow. For a child, playing is the key to learning. In our kitchen, right next to the fridge (score!), we have a chalkboard where we write the weekly verse. Incorporate the kiddos by letting them take turns writing it out. Throughout the week, look for fun ways to infuse your children with the verse. Write it on a piece of paper and cut it into a puzzle. Fill in the blank. Word scrambles. Coloring sheets. Draw a picture of what it means. Questions on the meaning of words. Riddles or jokes. Word search. Have them act the verse out in a game of charades. Try adding them to lunchboxes for a mid-day “lesson.” Making it fun for them increases engagement, memory retention, and future application.
To read additional tips on how to have a great intentional year of shepherding your child’s heart, join me over at MaryAnderingCreatively.com where I’m guest posting! Hope to see you there!
Today, we celebrate 241 years of freedom ringing Independence from the British Empire. Throughout the years, men and women have stood in faithfulness to our beautiful country, sacrificing time, family, and life.
And, while I am incredibly grateful for this freedom, there is One who came ages ago for true freedom. Christ came that we may have life, freedom from death’s empire. He stood the test of absolute faithfulness, laying down His life for us.
So today, we celebrate the freedom of our country flying high in a flag and today we celebrate the freedom of Christ flying high in a cross.
Happy Independence Day!
Today’s Reading: John 4:28-29
We live in a world where we are called by our mistakes, named by our misfortune, and described by our brokenness. Like the woman at the well, many women struggle with these deep wells of shame and rejection. The dust of shameful decisions and dirt of the past gather in our hearts smudging the view of our future. We assume doubts, elevate fear, and discount His ability to use us, which entangles us a ceaseless cycle of shame.
What if this year were different? What if, like her, we committed to leaving our water jars of the past at His feet where they belong? You see, the rear view mirror of your life will show you where you’ve been, but it can never show you where you’re going. Only He can make your paths straight, smooth out those rough places, and guide you along unfamiliar trails. But, we have to be willing to release the seeds of shame and regret for Him to turn them into a beautiful blooming field of purpose.
Perhaps some of your conversations sound a lot like hers. “You, Jesus, are God and I am a sinful person. How can you ask me for …? Use me for… ? If they knew what I’ve done …” The truth is, He does know all your past, all you’ve done, and the things others have done to you. So many times, the very things we try so hard to bury alive are the actual avenues God chooses to use to minister to others and to bring about His glory. “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” she asked. He is greater than your history, bigger than your past, and has already redeemed your story.
So glance – don’t gaze – because your testimony of God’s redemption has the power to save. But, like this redeemed woman, you have to be willing to leave your water jar behind and go. Allow your past to refine you, but don’t give it authority to define you.
Challenge: Ask the Lord to reveal any “water jars” you need to surrender at His feet.
Death. Divorce. Disease.
Devastating words individually and yet these three words plagued three of my closest family members. In a mere four-month period, my entire world went from great to grave. My once pleasant days became excruciating to bear. Whirling emotions became my daily companion. Fear of “what’s next” rattled my mind. Sweet memories were replaced with thoughts of birthdays without candles, holidays with empty chairs, and doctor visits with unknown outcomes.
Unable to pray. Powerless to praise. Paralyzed by pain.
I had truly become like a broken vessel. Psalm 31:12
Shattered. Unusable. Broken beyond repair. So often, in times of struggle and pain, we try to conceal our jagged edges. We plaster on fake smiles, succumb to the call of busyness, and declare “LIFE IS GREAT”.
During this dark time, no smile could surface. No amount of concealer would cover the tear-laden black bags that had taken up residency under my eyes. I didn’t have the energy to answer the call for busyness much less declare “life is great”. No, life was quite painful.
As I sat there in my closet, consumed with grief, the Lord so gently whispered, “My child, you are not broken beyond repair. I see your pain, I hear your cries. I hold every shattered piece of your life in my hand and know where each fragile piece belongs.”
Right then, I fully understood what Job meant by “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” In that moment, collapsed on the floor, my but now moment came. I had seen the Father’s heart and knew Him as my Comforter. My Healer. Repairing my broken heart and binding up my wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
The Japanese call this art of repairing broken vessels, Kintsugi. The cracks of brokenness are mended with precious gold but not concealed. Made whole but not covered. Filled with gold, these vessels become more valuable than ever before. The cracks become stronger, shine brighter. They can be filled with the purpose for which they were created and displayed for glory.
Only our Healer has perfected this art. His hands of love gently mend the cracks with comfort more precious than gold. Made whole, He takes our brokenness and transforms it into the most valuable part of our story. Then, and only then, can we be filled with the purpose for which we were made and sent out to display His glory.
He sees your pain. Even the pain you’ve tried to hide from the world.
He hears your cries when no one is around.
He alone holds every piece of your life in His hand and knows exactly where they go.
Father, I pray for the person reading this. I don’t know what they are facing but you do. May your gentle hands put the broken pieces of their lives back together again. Fill them with your presence and send them out for your glorious display. We thank you for you make everything beautiful in it’s time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
Blessing Chosen & Cherished One…