Oblivious to the Blessings


blessings

I was living an almost charmed life.

My adopted home town was a very safe and livable community where everything I wanted or needed was nearby. The schools my children attended were great. I had wonderful, close friends, and a good job. I was a member of a significant church that reached out to everyone and had programs for all types of people. I lived in that community for 20 years. I expected life to always be that way. I thought I had a grateful heart, but looking back, I was oblivious to how fortunate my circumstances were.

This past summer we moved to another state. My expectations were that we would live in a similar community and attend a church similar to the one we just left. I thought I would find a job quickly and make new friends easily. I expected life to be the same, I would just have a different address. The truth is, it’s been an adjustment.

Thinks are different here, not wrong, just different. It is more than the names of streets and where to shop, the local culture is different too. It’s a way of life that in some ways doesn’t value what I took for granted. This difference has made me appreciate all I had even more. I was truly blessed living in in that small community in Texas. At the time, I didn’t see, and certainly didn’t appreciate, how God was showering me with His Love all the time I lived in that other city. He was feeding me, nourishing my soul. He blessed me in so many ways, but most of all, He blessed me with Himself.

Now that I am not experiencing the same circumstances I feel like my spiritual life is parched. I’ve been thanking God for what I had, and have asked Him to relieve the drought I am experiencing now. But that request is wrong. There’s a passage in the Old Testament explaining that when there is drought do not lose confidence because God has blessed you with deep roots.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

This passage reminds us that God will keep us filled, despite difficult situations. But the passage goes on to instruct us to bear fruit in every season, even during a dry spell. I can’t (and shouldn’t try to) recreate the same situation I was in. Instead, I should use my experiences to be a blessing to others. I didn’t realize it at the time but our great God was preparing me to go out into the world to do just that. Luke 6:45 tells us, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  God filled my heart. Now it’s time to share what I was given.

Someday I will experience abundance again, but this time, I pray to not be oblivious to the blessings God sends my way. James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” It doesn’t matter what the situation is, God is all I need.

May the Lord richly bless your day as you share your blessings.

betheblessing

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Images: google images.

A Life Road Map


productivity-treasure-map

Genesis 12:1

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

Deuteronomy 31: 8

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

 

God opened up a new opportunity for my family. It was a call to move to a new place, to leave everything that was familiar. Now we’re here. In an unfamiliar city. We’re in a rental house. My children aren’t happy, and I haven’t found my purpose either. I have too much time on my hands. So what do we do now that we’re here?

For the Christian, the predictable answer is to turn to the Lord, but that’s easy to say and hard to do. During my quiet time I have found my mind wandering. I think about not having a job yet, that my children are unhappy, and I am lonely. I think about my friends back home, and the things I would be doing if I was still there. I turn to Facebook. I think about everything but God.

It occurred to me that God just wants me for Himself for a little while. I need to spend more time just loving Him. I need to let Him feed and strengthen me in preparation for what He has planned next. That “next” may be tomorrow, or next month, or next year. Now is the time to prepare. To do that I need to separate myself from the distractions of this world and focus on God. But how?

I’ve been reading a series of books by James Bryan Smith. I finished reading The Good and Beautiful God (I highly recommend this book.) I’ve just started the second book in his series, The Good and Beautiful Life. In an early chapter, Smith suggests an exercise – to write a letter to God about what you want your life to look like. This takes some thought – it’s an exercise that requires you to think about God, and His plans for you, not just your own desires. Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” So what are those heart’s desires?” I trust God will let me know.

As Smith suggested, I wanted to write a letter to God about what I want my life to look like, but it was an overwhelming thought. I avoided the exercise for several days. Finally, I realized I had to break it up into more manageable pieces. So I thought about all the aspects of my life and wrote to God about what I want in these areas: Spiritual, Family, Marriage, Friendships, Financial, Health, Work, Hobbies, and Relaxation. It was easier to focus on just one aspect of who I am, then move on to the next. As I finished my letter, a familiar verse came to mind.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I trust that God does have a bright future in store for me, but I’m impatient. I want to know what it is. Now. Jeremiah 29:11 is a frequently quoted verse, but do we really think about it fully? The verses that follow verse 11 are perhaps more important to understanding verse the verse itself.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you”—this is the Lord’s declaration.  (Emphasis mine).

So that’s the key. It’s time to search for God with my whole heart, and no preconceived ideas. It was time to rewrite my letter to God, this time praying for the Holy Spirit to guide my prayer. The end result is a more than a letter; it is a road map for my life, blessed by God. As you look at the life before you, consider talking to God about how he created you and what he created you for. You may find God has actually given you a treasure map. After all, He only wants the best for you.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Psalm 32:8

 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Blessings on your day.

Image: google images

Scripture:  www. openbible.info

Last Times


last time quote

This year has been full of “the Last Times” for my family. A lot of it is that we’ve moved across country and likely won’t go see certain friends again or go back to our favorite restaurant. My kids won’t go back to their schools, or play with close friends. There’s the last time I was with my Bible Study sisters before we moved, and last time I was with the friends I made at my job. Driving to our new home Florida I realized there had been many more “last times” but at the time I didn’t know that it would be the last time for that particular activity.

How long ago was it that my kids snuggled in bed with us on Saturday morning? Or when I was helping my daughter learn to ride her bike? What about the times my son was learning to cook and he needed my help in the kitchen? Or when we taught him to drive? There was the last Christmas my kids believed in Santa and the last time they went on an Easter Egg Hunt. There was the last time I saw my grandparents before they died. I’m no longer on active duty. I’m no longer a kid, or a young mother just trying to make it through the day. I look at my husband and wonder – “when did we get so gray?”

Life isn’t just about waiting for special events like birthdays, reunions, and holidays. We get so rushed trying to live our lives and move on to the next thing that we forget to savor the moments that are life. I pray for help to be more aware of what’s going on right now, and savor the special moments God has given to me. It may be the last time for that particular event.

Take some time to savor life today, because today will never come again.

Ecclesiastes 3

The Mystery of Time

There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;[a]
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Moving On


1

 Isaiah 43: 18-19

“Do not remember the past events; pay no attention to things of old.
Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

I’ve been absent from this blog for several weeks because I needed time to contemplate a life changing decision. My husband was offered a job in a different state. But is it the right decision? Moving across country is a big deal. Leaving everything familiar and starting a new life is challenging, to say the least. The thought of saying goodbye to everyone we know has made us all apprehensive. We have deep roots in the community, my son is starting his senior year in High School, and I love my job. What should we do?

To make the decision, we turned to God, to the Scriptures. God called Abraham to move on from his home and blessed him for his obedience.  Our Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land. He returned the exiles to Israel. Paul went on many journeys. Throughout the Scriptures God’s people move.

I trust God to lead us where He wants us to go. So we are moving on to a new home, a new community, and will establish new roots. There’s a song that has meant a lot to me as we’ve made this decision – Oceans by Hillsong. I’ve linked it below. I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed us.

DECISIONS


decision-making-processes1

I heard from my publisher yesterday. We’re ready to start formatting Follow the Light. I’m excited to get to this next step in the process, but terrified about making a wrong decision. And there are so many choices to make; paper color, interior design, font choice and line spacing, to name a few.  This is my first publication and the decisions are overwhelming.

Many of life’s choices can seem overwhelming too. That’s why it’s so important to go to the One who knows what’s best for every step of our life.  Two passages come to my mind when it comes to making godly decisions (I know there are more):

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

Before all our decisions, it’s so important to go to God for His perfect guidance. We are to pray for His wisdom and discernment in all our decisions, no matter how small. Then wait for clear guidance from Him, before we act. He’s the God of the universe. He cares about the details. And He cares about us.

Walk in His Light,

Julie