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Living A Simple Life

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

 

              

Not all of us were meant to live like Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, or Joel Osteen. The majority of us were meant to live simple lives. Most of us were called to live quiet lives, loving those around us and sowing seeds for God. Volunteering in our communities, serving those in need, being part of a community that loves God and loves each other regardless of our quirks and imperfections. Those of us that God has called to live quiet lives have a responsibility to change our communities through being a Christ-like example to those around us. We have a responsibility to be Jesus to our neighbors and communities. It is a big responsibility. God calls us to partner with Him in changing communities and transforming hearts. It may be the most important calling we can ever have on our lives. So, the next time you think your life is mundane, boring or ordinary, remember that God calls most of us to live simple lives so that we can reach out to those who need us and need God the most.

     

 

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Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

I was watching Llama Llama this morning with my two year old grandson, Christopher, when God decided to use this children’s cartoon to teach me a lesson. Llama and his friends were planning to spend the last day of their Summer break flying their kites. At the last minute, it starts to rain and the kids have to change their plans. Llama Llama is upset because they have to change their plans and stay inside. Mama Llama reminds Llama Llama that sometimes we have to plan to change our plans.

WOW! What a reminder! I always thought that I would be a missionary. I have wanted with all of my heart to serve God in a full-time ministry position. I have wanted this since I was a teenager. I am now a 48 year old single mom of 5 young adults and working in the food service department of a local convent. I have worked different secular jobs, but a ministry job has been elusive. It hasn’t been easy for me to sit and watch as others become missionaries or enter the convent. I will admit to being frustrated and discouraged. I have even at times felt hopeless. I have cried out to God in my despair, wondering why everyone else seems to be chosen for a grand purpose but I am left living a mundane life of daily struggles. I have learned three important lessons in this time of waiting.

  1. Be Patient– God’s timing is perfect. We need to be patient while waiting for God to reveal our God-given life purpose. There are many reasons that God might want us to wait; we need to work on our character, we need to wait for God to set up our ministry opportunity, we need to learn more about God and grow in our relationship with Him. I am not a patient person! I’m sure that God has shook His head in frustration at my petulant attitude. I continue to grow in this area and I trust that God knows what is best for me.
  2. Continue To Grow– God may be waiting for us to grow in our knowledge of Him. God can not use us if we are not prepared. We have to know WHO HE IS if we want set a Godly example in the world. We have to know God’s character. We have to know God’s heart if we want to reach others for Him. By digging into God’s word and by prayer we begin to grow in our relationship with Him and only then can God use the love in our hearts to draw others to Him.
  3. Bloom Where You Are Planted– Sometimes our missionary opportunity is right in our own backyard. Find a need in your neighborhood or community and find a way to fill that need. Lead a church wide effort in volunteering at a local homeless shelter, food pantry, or other ministry. Prayer walk around your neighborhood. Reach out to those around you and open your heart to the opportunities that God presents. God often places us right where He wants us. He expects us to be missionaries in our own communities. If we aren’t, then who will be? If we call ourselves disciples, then He calls us missionaries!

These are things that I am still working on, hence the lesson from a Llama. Be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Even if you are stuck in a mundane job that frustrates you, you still have a unique, God-given ministry to those around you. You are a missionary in your own community! Be patient! Keep growing in your knowledge and relationship with God and bloom where God plants you. He knows what is best and where we are needed most. Trust in His will for your life and know that He will always use us if we are willing to be used.

 

It started simply. A whisper of the Holy Spirit. A whisper in my spirit telling me to pray for the Police Officers in the Police vehicle in front of me. I obeyed and prayed. It was a simple prayer that God would protect them as they protect us. A simple prayer that their hearts would be filled with love and compassion. A simple prayer that they would act with wisdom.

It started in June, after our city lost a Police Officer in the line of duty. God started prompting me to pray for city officers, county sheriff deputies and state police officers. It has become a ministry in my every day life. I used to drive around the city and rarely see a Law Enforcement Officer and now I see them ALL the time. I used to get nervous when I would see a police vehicle. I now am glad when God brings them across my path, because I know I have a ministry to pray for these heroes. I am glad when I don’t go a mile without seeing an officer. The more I see, the more I get to cover with prayer. Always a good thing. In these times of chaos and evil, these men and women never know what they are walking into. A simple call can turn into a loss of life. They put their lives on the line to protect and serve their communities and if my simple prayer can protect them in the line of duty then I am happy. They will never know, as they sit in their car in front of me, drive past me, or sit in their spots looking for traffic violators that a 48 year old, ordinary woman driving a 12 year old SUV has just covered them in prayer. That’s okay. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I have the privilege to pray, partnering with God in changing the world, one community at a time.

I don’t know what God is calling you to do as you go about your life. I don’t know what ordinary ministry God has called you to, but nothing is ever to simple when it comes to obeying God. That simple thing that God has called you to do could keep someone safe, could give someone hope, could bring someone to Jesus. Some of us are not called to the billion dollar mega church ministries that get tons of media attention. Some of us (and that includes me) are called to simple ministries in our communities that may actually do more to change the world than all of those mega ministries put together. Do that simple thing that God is calling you to do. Simple ministries can change communities, when you and I obey God.

What is your simple ministry? What small thing is God asking you do to do to change your community? Will you obey? Will you do what God is asking you to do to make a difference in your community?

 

Acts 10:34-35

34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

Romans 2:11

For God does not show favoritism.

Galatians 2:5-6

We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message.

As a single mom of five kids, I have been accused of showing favorites. Do I have a favorite? I can honestly say that I do not. I know it may seem at times that I favor this daughter or that son over the others, but I love all of my children the same and care deeply about the safety and welfare of all five of them. They are five separate people with five completely different personalities. I have a different relationship with each of them based on how our personalities mesh. Not only do they each have different personalities, they are each in different places in their lives. At times one may struggle more than the others and need more attention in that season of their lives. They are all growing in their own lives and my relationship with each one is different than what it once was. I have struggled at times in my relationship with each one, but I will never stop loving them. I will never stop caring about what each one goes through. I will never stop believing that they are the most precious people in this world.

I am reminded of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18:12-14:

12 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish. 

The shepherd leaves the others to go after the one. He doesn’t care what the one looks like or if the one was disobedient and ran off, He goes after the one regardless. No favorites. Not one cared about more or less than the others. All are equal in the shepherd’s eyes. God feels the same way about us. He loves us all the same. No favorites. He will leave the ninety-nine to go after the one. It doesn’t matter the socio-economic status, education, gender- identity, race, religion (you get the point) of the one. He will ALWAYS leave the others to go after the one.

God loves you! You will never do anything so wrong that God won’t pursue you. It doesn’t matter if you live in a penthouse or on the streets of skid row. It doesn’t matter if you are an addict or go to church three times a week and volunteer for every church activity. There is NOTHING that can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). He loves you just as much as He loves all the rest of the sheep in His flock.

I challenge you to really take the time to reflect on God’s love for you. Use the internet to look up verses that tell us how much God loves us. Journal your thoughts and the verses that you find. I want you to open your heart to allow the love of God to fill you to overflowing. I want you to know in your inner most being that God has NO FAVORITES! I am always here to listen, pray for you and encourage you in this journey. YOU ARE LOVED!!!

 

 

 

A Move

The last couple of months have been crazy and July has been a bit chaotic. After a year and a half of searching for the “perfect” house, Cherokee and Chris were finally able to close on the right house for their family. I had moved in with Cherokee two years ago to help her with bills and the kids. During this process, I had been worried (stressed to the max would be more like it!) that I would not have a place to live. I do work full-time, but do not make enough to support myself independently. This was something that I have struggled with. I hate asking for help! I explored all of my options and realized that none of them were good. It had become a matter of choosing the lesser evil. I was to the point of extreme anxiety (I actually did make a trip to the ER at the end of last September with chest pains) over this situation, when Cherokee and Chris asked me to move with them to help out with the kids. I was grateful, but still debated. In the last few months I decided that this was my best option, maybe for now or maybe forever. I am safe. I am in a position to save for the future and I get to spend time with my grand kids (Haydon 9, Ava 5, Keaton 4 and Christopher 2). We started moving the 6th of July and we are now settled in our new home. We are looking forward to things slowing down a bit, so we can enjoy the yard and our new lives. For Chris and Cherokee, this means discovering the joys and headaches of home-ownership and for me, it means enjoying family time and seeing where God leads. As I write this, 18 chicks have been purchased and a chicken coop is being built. I am grateful for this home. They are newlyweds who have just blended two families with four children and have been willing to throw Nana into the mix. We all come with our own personalities, ways of being raised and perspectives due to our different ages, but if we treat each other with love and respect, it can work. Nothing in life is easy, but with God ALL things are possible!

A Wedding

I mentioned above that Cherokee and Chris are newlyweds. They were married on July 21st. Added to the stress of moving, they were planning a wedding! It was simple, but beautiful. I am blessed to have Chris as my son-in-law and I am blessed to have Haydon and Keaton as grand-sons. I have been amazed at how well the newlyweds have worked together from the beginning and at how well they have blended their families. This is a marriage that will last forever!

A Visit

To add to the craziness of July, Kiowa was able to be here for a few days for her sister’s wedding and my parents drove from California to spend two weeks with us. They were able to be here for the wedding and we enjoyed getting to spend time with them. My parents visit every two years and the time is precious. I take a two week vacation then to spend as much time as possible with them and everything else gets put on the back burner. They left this morning. I miss them already.

I return to work tomorrow and life returns to normal. It is bitter sweet. I am left trying to find joy in the sadness of my parents leaving. I am left trying to calm my anxious heart over the thought of having to return to work. I remind myself that all I can do is embrace the good and surrender the rest to God. He is there in the center of it all!

 

I received a call from Kiowa (my Air Force daughter) one afternoon, which is not unusual in itself, but she had an interesting story to tell me. She lives about 40 minutes from her base and along her route there is an intersection with stop signs that Semi’s don’t like to stop for. She had told me this before when I visited in May and had added that there are many wrecks due to the Semi’s running the signs and hitting other vehicles. She continued to tell me that on her way to work that morning, she realized that she had forgotten her rain gear and it was supposed to rain. She works outside and rain gear is a must. She was already half way to work, but turned around and headed back home. On her way back to work, as she approached the above intersection she realized that there had been an accident and clean-up was underway. A Semi had hit another car. She did the calculations in timing and realized that had she not gone back, that it could have been her. She drives a small Mazda Miata. Her little 2-seat sports car would not have fared well if it had been hit by a Semi. She said the other car was a larger vehicle and everyone was okay.

Kiowa knew that this was a “God-thing.” She recognized that God had sent her back and had probably saved her life. Many times when we are inconvenienced in any way, we become impatient. We rant and possibly become hazards on the road because we have been inconvenienced and are now in a hurry. We become angry with everyone in our way. We struggle to find God in the situation. I have learned two things from Kiowa’s story:

  1. Be Patient– God won’t always tell us why we are being inconvenienced. He expects us to trust Him and be patient. Our inconveniences may not always be to save us from harm. God may be putting us in a position to minister to someone else. God may be using us to save someone else’s life. There is always a reason for wild goose chases. Be patient when God sends you on one and look around you to see if there is someone who needs a helping hand or simply an encouraging word.
  2. Be Obedient– If Kiowa had not been obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, this story could have ended much differently. I thank God for keeping her safe! We need to be obedient in ALL situations. We may never know when God is saving our life or someone else’s life, but when the Holy Spirit starts to lead us down an inconvenient path, Be obedient. God knows exactly what He is doing and sees everything that is going on. Trust Him! He may be saving our life or using us to save a life. Either way, we need to trust that He is in control and be obedient to that nudging of the Holy Spirit.

I learned from Kiowa’s experience. I am not always patient when God sends me back for something I forgot or something comes up at an inconvenient time. I have a tendency to whine and complain. I need to be more like Kiowa. She saw God in the situation. She was able to see the bigger picture.

Dearest Lord,

Give me a patient heart. Help me to see the bigger picture when I am inconvenienced. Help me to see YOU in the wild goose chases of life. Help me be patient when I am inconvenienced and give me eyes to see the “someone” who may need a helping hand or an encouraging word. Give me a heart to love those who so desperately need someone to love them. Help me to realize when you are using me to save a life and more than anything, Lord, give me an obedient heart. Give me a heart that follows the nudging of the Holy Spirit no matter what. I long to do your will. Praise you, Father!   Amen

 

 

Fear Of Man

 

Proverbs 29:25

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Isaiah 51:12

“I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass,

Psalm 118:8

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

1 Samuel 15:24

Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.

Galatians 1:10

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Acts 5:29

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!

Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

I’m sure that I am not the only one who has ever been afraid of another person or group of people. I don’t know the statistics, but I would wager a guess that fear of people is high on the list of fears. In this world of chaos and evil, we are justified to be afraid. We are afraid of someone’s reaction if we don’t agree with them. We are afraid to defend someone because we may become the target. We are afraid to go to concerts or other populated venues because of recent mass shootings. It is normal to be afraid. I have lived a life afraid of people. I shrink from confrontations. I hate listening to the news because it scares me. We have had two standoffs in my own city of 80,000 people in the last couple of months that has led to the loss of life. We hear more about drugs, robberies and murder and it scares me.

It shouldn’t scare me. As a child of God, I should never fear man. I only need to fear God. I should never try to do well to impress so and so. I only need to glorify God. I should never give in to the manipulations of a bully out of fear. I need to trust God to work in the situation. I should never fear someone who wants to hurt me. My God is all powerful and is more than capable of protecting me from those who want to cause me harm.

Is the fear of man keeping you from your God given purpose?

In fact, 1 Samuel 15:24 tells us that fearing man is a sin! Acts 5:29 tells us that we MUST obey God rather than humans. In Deuteronomy 31:6 we are told NOT to be afraid of man, because God is with us. God tells us to be strong and courageous. Easier said than done, I know. I also know that if we live our lives in fear of man and what he can do to us, we will never be able to truly live. I have sacrificed to many years living in fear of what man can do to me. I am choosing to trust and obey God. I am choosing to allow God to protect me in those situations when I am facing an angry person or a possible negative reaction to news I have to give. We can’t run from people. We can’t bury our heads in the sand. Our only option is to trust God.