Created for So Much More!

my best headshotWhatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23, 24

Fifth grade band is a requirement for our public school making it a longgggg year for parents! My daughter decided the violin was her instrument of choice. Day in and day out she practiced. The squeak, squeak, squeak was enough to drive even the most patient of mothers off a cliff. Her little part, played in isolation, was hardly recognizable and there were days when both of us wondered, “what’s the point?!”

The magic came however at the final concert when her hard work blended with all the other instruments and became the sound the composer intended. It was nothing short of a miracle!

This morning I was reading a devotional by Philip Yancey who posed the question, “Did Jesus ever question the value of the time he was spending as a carpenter on such repetitive tasks?”

It can often seem to us as though what we do day in and day out has little to no value- laundry, driving children endlessly to lessons, sitting in traffic as we head to work, listening to the same story over and again from the one who suffers from dementia… Believing that there is purpose to our daily tasks requires faith in a master composer who knows what He is trying to create. I feel quite often I was created for a much bigger story. A much more exciting adventure.

What challenges are you facing today? Are you working for a boss who favors the other guy? Is money tight? Is your marriage failing? Do you have a child headed for destruction? Perhaps you’ve chosen retirement but now you’re feeling useless. Or maybe you just learned you have cancer. We all are facing something today.

Something hard.

Something we wish we could change.

But we are called to THIS day, THESE tasks and we are asked to do them as unto the Lord. Whatever they may be! We are also called to our relationships and asked to serve as if we were serving Christ Himself.

Today, as each of us tackles what is before us, let us remember we are part of a bigger story. Our Father has a purpose for you and for me even if it means another chemo treatment, sitting in a prison cell or heading to the grocery store- again. Although our choices or circumstances may seem mundane or even hopeless the Composer is creating something and our part is vital to the whole.

My daughter no longer plays the violin and Jesus was not a carpenter for long. Whatever you face is not the final story. The promise is that as we show up to do our part our Father will make something out of our offering. He is the one who knows how the music will sound in the end.

And He IS creating a masterpiece.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9).

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Why Pray?

my best headshotIn the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him… Romans 8:26-28

I am going to admit something. I have grown weary of prayer. I pray the same things over and over again, some prayers for decades, with little change and I am starting to wonder, “what’s the point!”

Does God hear me?

I question myself. Maybe I am not praying right. Am I praying in accordance with His will? What are my motivations?

What in the world is taking God so long to answer?!?

I’ve gone through periods of anger with the Lord. I have cried, shouted, felt sorry for myself. I have begged, pleaded and all out thrown myself on the floor beseeching the Lord to hear me and answer.

What do I pray about? My children, my family, my friends, my country. This political situation. The issues of the day. Terrorism. The rising hatred toward Christians. I also pray for myself.

“What gives Lord? Why are you not answering me?”

I turn to Scripture. God’s Word. Some call it “God’s love letter.” I turn to the back where, in my Bible, there is a concordance and look up “prayer.” There I find a page full of verses on the subject so I start reading.

God is near us whenever we pray to Him.– Deut. 4:7

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear…2 Chron. 7:14

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you declares the Lord and will bring you back from captivity. Jer. 29:11-14

Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. This then is how you should pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Mt. 6:8-13

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6,7

And then there is this-

Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:16

I have done this before- read through the Scriptures on prayer- but I need reminding.

I need reminding that God is near me whenever I pray. That He will hear me when I humbly seek Him. That it is okay to pray for my city, my country, my family and my friends. It is okay to pray for whatever is on my heart because He says so.

He says He hears me. He wants to give me hope and a future of His design. He tells me to pray for everything and that He will give me peace. He says to pray for what I need today, for my sins to be forgiven, for His will to be done, for protection from Satan, and to praise, praise, praise Him! Hallowed be His name!

He says be thankful, joyful and hopeful.

What I haven’t mentioned are the countless times He HAS answered my prayers. You see, in my prayer journal, I keep a record of not only my prayers but His answers. Page after page and journal after journal I have documented the amazing miraculous ways He has shown up for me. The tender loving ways He has rescued me. The thousands of prayers He has answered for me.

Most of the time He does not answer me the way I want or the way I thought best but truthfully His plans grow me, challenge me, inspire me, scare the living daylights out of me and always, ALWAYS, bless me! Maybe at the time it is not the blessing I wanted but when I see what He was after I realize His loving hand was in every aspect of my situation.

So I guess I am back to the beginning. Will I continue to pray? Will I continue to trust? Will I submit myself to God, believing He will answer me at the proper time and in His perfect way? ABSOLUTELY! Why? Because I know His faithfulness from years of prayers answered AND because His “love letter” encourages me to keep at it!

Do not grow weary in well doing [prayer] for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal. 6:9

 

You may enjoy listening to the song With All I Am by Hillsong United

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Miracles Do Happen

my best headshotThen the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:37-40

I love stories of faith. When you see the mighty hand of God in unexpected places. One such story has been blessing me these past few months so I thought I would share it with you.

This is the story of a friend of mine and what God did to bless a little boy with cancer. Here is her story in her words.

I always wanted an Alaskan Malamute. I loved that they looked like wolves. So when David and I decided to get one last June, I was thrilled. I researched the breed and found a breeder right here in South Carolina. She was expecting a litter in August. We visited the breeder in September to pick out our new puppy.

There were two that we couldn’t decide between. Being the generous husband David is, he said “lets get both!” We brought them home in November and quickly learned how difficult two puppies were…

After one week David turned to me and said “we made a mistake!” We either need to find a home for one or ask the breeder if she could take one back. I said I had signed on for two so if he wanted to give one up, he had to call the breeder. He made the phone call.

The breeder said she wouldn’t be able to take one of the puppies back because she already signed off on it to the AKC, but she said she would see what she could do. Within ten minutes she called us back!

Evidently a women had called right before we called who was looking for an Alaskan Malamute for her son. He was 12 years old and diagnosed with cancer. They had contacted the Make A Wish Foundation to see if they could fulfill his dream for an Alaskan Malamute figuring they wouldn’t have a problem getting their wish fulfilled because most wishes were for Disney trips and the like.

They found out it would take almost a year to get a puppy so this mother hunted down a breeder hoping for a miracle. Our breeder however, said she couldn’t just give a puppy away but said to give her some time to see what she could do.

And then we called…

It turned out the women and her son happened to be in Charleston that morning for a chemo treatment and they would love to drive to our home to see the puppies. Within 2 hours they arrived at our house and no surprise, fell in love with the puppies. We felt that this was a miracle happening right in front of us. We gave this little boy one of the puppies and to see the smile and joy in his heart made my heart sing! It was sad to break up the two sisters but we felt so joyful knowing that we made this boy’s wish come true.

This is the God we serve. A God who knows the desire of our heart and longs to bless us. A God of the miraculous.

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While I Wait…

my best headshotI am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13, 14

Last week a Boston Marathon bombing survivor suddenly died in a car crash in the Middle East. To have survived the Boston tragedy and then die randomly hardly seems fair. Makes me wonder where was God?

What about the bombings and beheadings of so many by ISIS? “What about that God?”

Or just look at the political landscape. Everything seems to be spinning out of control! “Lord are you allowing this?”

And finally, what about all the sickness and sorrow that surrounds my more immediate world of family and friends. “LORD, where are you?”

History helps me. For example I think of Corrie Ten Boom-Her story of living in a Nazi concentration camp after hiding Jews in her attic, living in constant fear of the enemy, enduring an infestation of lice, watching her sister die. She also asked, “Lord, why are you allowing this?”

Going back further. To Daniel-who ignored the king’s decree and continued to pray to God so was thrown into a den of hungry lions. Or Moses’ mother, who was forced to either kill her child or save him by floating him down the river in a basket. And then the apostles who all died a terrible martyr’s death, well, all except John but he lived his last days banished to a deserted island away from all he dearly loved. “Lord??? Why?”

God promised we would suffer so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. But what is the purpose?

Corrie would tell you that heaven is our real home and she learned to trust and lean on God. When the lice came it drove out the guards so the women could have Bible studies and many were led to faith in Christ.

Daniel’s faith caused King Darius to turn from his gods and declare that all should worship the one true God. A nation was changed.

Moses was returned to his own mother to nurse until he was old enough to be trained in the ways of Pharaoh, and ultimately God used Moses to deliver all the Israelites out of Egypt.

During his exile the apostle John was given the vision of the end times and wrote the book of Revelation. As for the rest of the apostles, well we will have to wait to see what God was doing there.

He has purposes in our suffering.

When I go through dark times and start the “why” questioning, the “this isn’t fair” inner dialogue, the “where are you God” interrogation, I fall into this vortex of despair and anger and self pity. But when I take time to recount all He has done in the past and the blessings He has given me today, something shifts inside me. The destructive cycle is somehow broken.

It takes strength to exercise the muscle of faith, the attitude of trust, the position of praise. Strength that I can only find when I lay down my doubt and fear and anger and stand before my maker and say, “Okay Lord, you know what you are doing and I don’t, but, even in this, I will surrender my will to yours and trust you.”

I assume that devastating tragedies will continue to occur and I may not understand His ways, His timing or His purpose but I can look back at all He has done and see His faithfulness which helps me trust Him while I walk in darkness and wait.

While I wait upon the LORD…

 

You may enjoy this song by Lauren Daigel: Trust in You

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Faith Story

my best headshotAs promised, this blog post is a faith story from my friend Joan Barrington showing how God showed up for her recently. It touched my heart. I hope it will touch yours as she reminds us no circumstance is beyond our Lord’s loving care and Sovereignty.

And my God will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19

I had a recent experience, where, in retrospect, I can say, “Wow!  All glory be to God for the way He executed the many moving pieces of drama to perfection—to show the greatest mercy upon my family and especially our beloved dog, Zoe.

See, our family pet of 15 years recently left this earth.

Last summer, what began as a relatively simple procedure of cleaning our aging dog’s gums, became the beginning of the end for our wonderful four legged family member. You see, during the follow up visit from this simple surgery, our vet discovered a tumor growing in the back of Zoe’s mouth. Reluctantly I agreed to this second surgery, worried whether she’d be strong enough to handle the procedure due to her heart murmur. Frankly, I also worried about the cost. With two boys in college and another son off on a traveling adventure soon, my husband and I were trying to make ends meet. I was grateful for my new job as a nanny!

After weeks of waiting for the biopsy report the news was what we feared. Malignant. Stage IV. No treatments available. Less than two months to live.

Simultaneously, my employer decided they really didn’t need my help after all. The timing couldn’t have been worse.

We brought Zoe home with heavy hearts. It was also during that week we had to take our son back to college and during that drive, the transmission on the car went out. “Lord where are you????”

For the next two weeks, my husband and I spent time with Zoe. We fed her baby food out of a dropper and water out of a syringe and generally tried to make her life as comfortable as possible.

Her sleep became more fitful, her walks became shorter and shorter…until it was just a few steps on the beach behind the house. It wasn’t that much longer until she couldn’t move, and that’s when we all knew—Zoe included—that her time here with us was over.

So, how do I know that God showed up for me?  First, He didn’t let that nanny job work out for me. I’m not a bad nanny; I was just meant to be with my Zoe for her final days.  I had to lose that job to make that possible.  Second, He knew I’d need the support of my husband.  When we looked at my husband’s calendar, we were surprised to see that the last two weeks of Zoe’s life were the only two weeks in a row that my husband had not travelled away from home in all of 2015!  Third, my son who lived at home with us last summer and the one who moved back home at the end of the summer before he took his trip abroad, got to spend wonderful quality time with Zoe. Certainly she had the cancer all along, but God did not let her fail until they were gone.  Fourth, for all of my worry about finances, I still had an inactive real estate license and had made a referral in March.  The home sold and the referral check came in during those last 3 weeks of Zoe’s life! My husband had also been researching his life insurance and found that by switching companies he could save money on monthly premiums and we would net some money from closing out the one policy.  That money also came in during the same time.

I know some might scoff because this story is about a dog, but it is more than that to me. It is about how God took care of our family. Losing Zoe is but one example of the many, many times that God has shown up for me; it just happens to be the most recent example in my life.

Here’s a picture of Zoe, one week before she died.

image1 (1)

If you have a faith story you would like to share please email me at rogersoncathy@gmail.com.

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Sun Scorched or Well- Watered?

my best headshotThe Lord will guide you always. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land. And will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Today I read the devotion from Our Daily Bread which features a piece by Philip Yancey. He said the following:

It occurs to me, thinking about prayer, that most of the time I get the direction wrong. I start downstream with my own concerns and bring them to God. I inform God, as if God did not already know. I plead with God, as if hoping to change God’s mind and overcome divine reluctance. Instead, I should start upstream where the flow begins. God already cares about our concerns… more than we do. Our Father knows what we need. (Matthew 6:8)

I wonder if any of you reading this feel God is not satisfying your needs right now?

So is God’s Word not true? Is God’s Word only true for some of us or only some of the time? Is there something we must do for our needs to be met, for guidance and for strength? To be a spring whose waters never fail???

When I feel my life is dry, ineffective, or stagnant I have learned to stop and take stock. Usually I find the following:

  • My quiet times are spent with me telling God what I want Him to do.
  • My days are filled with too many commitments.
  • My spare time is spent frittered away with TV, games on my phone, and endless emails.
  • My attendance at church has become an option.

Then I need to push the reset button. To bring my life to a screeching halt. This, in and of itself, requires every ounce of my willpower. I sit down in my “prayer chair,” close my eyes, and play praise music. I make myself sit until my mind stops fighting all the things I could/should be doing. I seem to then move from fight mode to sadness/anger over disappointments, which then often results in a good cry. Eventually, I get to a place of surrender and if truth be told I need to forgive God for not being my genie in a bottle. And THEN I get to real worship. That place where I realize God has been there patiently letting me have my little temper tantrum. Patiently waiting while I stop telling Him how my life should go. Patiently waiting for me to let go of my need to control and am ready to receive HIM. Just Him. Not Him and gifts. Not Him and anything. Just plain old Jesus: Lord, King, Creator, Counselor, Sovereign God. Just Jesus.

And when I am ready to receive JUST Jesus my soul becomes nourished, my mind is set at ease and I am the well-watered garden.

Someone once said to me, “when you feel abandoned by God then one of you moved…and it wasn’t God.”

My prayer for each of us this New Year is to stop telling God what we want and to spend time with Him. In His Word. In worship. In prayers of praise. With just Him. JUST JESUS!

John 7:38. He who believes in me, from his inmost being shall flow rivers of living water.

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Mouth Guards

my best headshotBut the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit impartial and sincere.

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17,18

I once heard a Beth Moore talk on being a peacemaker verses a peacekeeper. A peacemaker is one who works towards peace and is willing to confront that which threatens peace whereas a peacekeeper is one who wants peace at all cost and intentionally won’t rock the boat.

I want to be a peacemaker. But how do you do that effectively?

I was meditating on this verse all during Thanksgiving and again now, at Christmas time. There are so many pitfalls with relationships during these holidays. Inevitably I find I am falling headlong into the pit!

As I prayed for guidance from the Lord on how to be more successful at peacemaking last month, I believe He gave me a visual. He showed me three guards with which to cover my mouth. For me that is the area out of which all my problems flow.

I guess maybe I am not alone, says James: When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:3-8

The visual looked like this. There were three guards positioned at the entrance of my mouth. The first was the Father. He stood for Truth. The second was the Son. He stood for Kindness and Gentleness. The third was the Spirit. He stood for Words of Edification and Encouragement. It was as if God was saying that the three Godheads needed to stand sentry over my mouth so that whatever came out needed to pass through them and those words needed to be true, gentle, kind, edifying and encouraging.

I will be honest and say I was not altogether that successful at Thanksgiving. I lost it more than a few times. I was painfully aware of the three guards but found myself muscling past them when stress got too high. I tried to remember to walk away. I really did try.

And here we are at the next holiday. My prayer this Christmas is to be a better peacemaker. Better at filtering my words through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Better at keeping those internal stressors at bay. In order to remind myself, I am sticking post-it notes around my house saying:

“Is it true? Is it kind? Is it gentle? Is it edifying? Is it encouraging? If not THEN REMAIN MUTE!

It could possibly be a Silent Night….

 

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