Looking For Good

The young girl ran purposely across the wet sand of the beach. Her hair blew across her face, making it difficult to see where she was running to. Her smile was big and every so often she would laugh with happiness. Every once in while she would look back over her shoulder to see if the thin blue piece of plastic was sharing in her enthusiasm. She held tightly to a small thread in one hand and kept running. Soon the blue plastic rose up from the wet sand and lifted higher and higher. The girl kept running for a bit until she realized her kite was now actually in the air. She stopped and watched it dance across the sky over the beach. She held tightly to her little string, listening to the advice of her dad and mom ‘To not let go” Her joy was evident to all by her huge smile. She pointed upward, to make sure no one missed this glorious event that had just happened. Then. Just as quickly as the blue plastic had risen from the sand, it crashed downward in an uncontrollable death spiral. The wind had shifted. The kite crashed to the sand. The girl was heartbroken. She had gone from excited anticipation, to joy, to devastation in the span of a few minutes.

If you’ve ever flown kites at the beach, you’ve probably been through this many times. You know what to expect. You know you need wind and updrafts to make things fly. But, when we are young we expect flying a kite to be easy. We just run really, really fast and it will soar. We are heartbroken when our kite crashes. It’s worse if it gets broken when it crashes. The few dollars our parents spent on the bright piece of plastic- or if they were really ingenious- the time they took to make a kite- was all gone. It was now a pile of string and plastic. Sometimes broken kites can be repaired, but usually they can’t.

I thought about this today as God challenged me to “look for the good” in things of life. Life can seem like flying a kite at the beach. We can get excited with a new plan in our lives. We want it to succeed, just like the soaring kite. We pursue it like the running child on the beach. We want our plans and dreams to follow us and then catch the wind and fly. For a while they might seem to be working with us and soon they are making forward progress. But, suddenly, there’s no wind, or a downdraft, that sends our dreams falling down. We wonder how can we recover the flight? Will our dreams crash like the kite? Can we find a good updraft to help them soar once again?

Unlike crashed kites that usually cannot be repaired, life can be repaired. Yes, sometimes God might want us to let go of some plans and dreams because He has something better in mind. Other times, though, He wants us to keep trying and not be discouraged when we feel broken and our dreams seem far from flight. Hold on to the string and don’t let go. God can use broken dreams and plans. He can use the broken us.

And I believe He wants to use the broken us, because when we are broken is when we call out to Him for help. We need Him to fix our kites sometimes. To heal our broken hearts and help us with our dreams. We might not see His hand at work in our lives and we might get discouraged when our dreams look like a kite spiraling down from the sky. It is in those times we need to stop and look for the good. When you find it, you will find it is from God.  In Jeremiah 29: 13-14, God reminds Jeremiah and us,  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you” (NIV).

God Bless -Nancy

 

Don’t Abandon The Ship

Doubt has a way of sneaking up on you. You might be pressing on into the future with a great amount of hopes, ideas, and dreams. You’ve worked hard for several years towards those goals and kept hope alive. But, over time, your energy seems to wane a little bit. You’re finding the daily grind monotonous. Your dreams, hopes, goals and ideas seem to be moving farther away from you as each day passes. So, you find yourself doubting whether or not these dreams will ever happen. They always seem just out of reach. You begin to doubt yourself.

This might seem like too much for a Tuesday morning to tackle, but I just wanted to be real with all of you. When I began this blog my intention was not to tell you I have a five step plan for you that will make your life perfect, but rather that as we all move forward in life,  we can look to faith together for this journey. Faith in God is the only thing that can ever make sense of the crazy world in which we live. Faith brings hope. Hope is anchored in Christ and nothing else. God’s word, the Bible, encourages us and instructs us in our faith in Christ and I always want to share God’s word with you so that you might be encouraged.

So, if you are like me, and are honest with yourself, you doubt sometimes. You might even doubt your faith or doubt God.  You are not a skeptic, like those who do not profess faith in Christ, but just sometimes, you find yourself doubting. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, it sneaks up on you. It has snuck up on me.

It has been over ten years ago that I first received a call of God to full-time ministry while listening to my pastor at the time give his own testimony of his call from God into full-time pastoral ministry. I have been on the journey to discover what ministry God has called me to. I have spent several years completing my education and have seen many doors and opportunities present themselves and then disappear.

One of the most difficult challenges during this time has been the opportunities I have seen others get that I have not. It has grown me in many ways and I believe this has been God’s intention. It is still difficult though.

I have also experienced disappointment from churches and denominations who hold to the archaic notion that women must stay in the nurseries and not stand in behind  podiums to teach, encourage, and share the Gospel to everyone no matter the gender. I have been overlooked as a ministry partner with my husband and been the uninvited to small group planning sessions, where gender was the only prerequisite, not Bachelor of Science degree in religion, which I hold. My ideas have been shot down on more than one occasion to help military members with their marriages, as well as those in the civilian community. Mission trips, for which I was so excited to be a part of, have been cancelled overnight.  Disappointment and discouragement  has become the norm for me rather than the exception, yet I still press on.

But, I’ll be real all, some days I wish I had been called to be a nurse, or dental hygienist. Or something normal. Maybe it wouldn’t be so disappointing. And I question myself, whether or not I heard God correctly and I begin to doubt.

But, let me stop for a minute and share this thought with you. If you are finding yourself in this season of doubt, do not ignore it before you deal with it properly. Too often people think the key to defeating doubt is to get busy and wait for the feeling to pass. It isn’t always easy to stop and take time to face your feelings, but it is the best thing to do in the long run. Ignoring feelings of doubt, or any feelings without dealing with them, only let’s them intensify on the inside. They do not disappear, they just grow stronger until you have an adult meltdown. – That was your 30 second counseling session- I also have a minor in Christian counseling and membership in the AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors).

Whenever, I find myself self-doubting, I realize that I have been busy keeping busy. I have not been spending time reading the Bible or in personal prayer time- the time when no one is home and I can just open up out loud to God and talk about things. Whenever I feel doubt creep in, I can always be sure it is because I haven’t been listening to God or talking with Him in prayer. Busyness robs us of hearing from God, who wants to encourage us to keep on with our dreams and hopes. He gives us our dreams and our callings. He has created us with the talents we have as well as the temperaments for the journey. And He gives us choices. We can choose to doubt or choose to believe. He’s not mad at us if we doubt and want to give up on our dreams, He just wants us to cry out to Him and seek His answers in the Bible.

I often share passages from the Book of Joshua because they are encouraging for those who, like me, are moving forward into new seasons and chapters of their lives. Here is another for you : “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (NIV) Joshua 1:5

I really needed this verse today and it came to mind as I considered what to write today .I pray that you will stop and take time out today from your busy schedule to pick up your Bible and read this passage in your own version. And I also hope you will take time to pray.

Just be honest with God about your doubts. Get real with Him and be honest, after all He knows what’s in your heart and what’s troubling your mind. He wants to keep you encouraged and He will not leave you or forsake you.

Just don’t abandon the ship of your dreams, hopes and goals. The rough seas of doubt might last for a bit, but eventually you will run into calm waters. Storms of doubt will pass, but sometimes you have to go through them as a reminder to call out to God.

-God Bless -Nancy

Handling The Press

What do you think of when you hear the word press? Probing news reporters asking pointed questions trying to trip up or incriminate a politician? Or maybe you picture the paparazzi trying to catch a scandalous photo of the Hollywood celeb. We’ve all seen the tabloid pictures staring at us at the grocery store check out lines. There is always a picture of a celebrity donning a hat and sunglasses out an about in public without hair and makeup done to perfection. They are usually trying to avoid having their photo taken.

But, the press I want to discuss today is the press necessary to keep moving forward. Not long ago I heard a message on the subject of Paul’s pressing on as found in the Book of Philippians. When Paul wrote this letter to the church he had established there ten years prior, he himself was in prison in Rome. He had gotten word that the church he had planted there was still meeting and growing. They had, however been facing opposition, but not from where you would have thought-the secular world. Instead it was from fellow believers who were attempting to make the new believers follow the customs of the Jewish synagogue. Paul’s letter to the church was to encourage them and use his own life as an example for them. Paul wrote “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12b, NIV). He had explained his standing as a firm Jewish leader prior to his conversion and how now he considered it rubbish. He left that all behind and much like a runner in a race he was pushing himself toward the finish line.

Without an object to press against there would be no effort, no pressure required. For Christians today as in Paul’s day, there will always be a pressing on needed. We will all experience opposition in our faith walk. And unfortunately, that will sometimes come from others in the church. What kept Paul looking forward? Many scholars believe he had experienced a near-death or death experience in which he saw Heaven. We know form the Book of Acts, that the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. He had seen the future and was certain of it, so the momentary discomforts and sufferings were not as difficult. They still required pressing against, but he kept his focus on the goal, on the finish line.

We likewise can keep our eyes on the goal and keep pressing forward whenever we face pressure. There will always be naysayers, trying to discourage us or trying to get us to change our goals to become more like their’s, but we can handle the press, when we keep our focus on Jesus and what he has called us to do. But, just like diamonds that only form when lumps of carbon are put under pressure, we too can become diamonds for God as we press on.-God Bless-Nancy