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Posted on Apr 24, 2012 in Devotional | 2 comments

Peace that Passes Understanding

Peace that Passes Understanding

 The following is the most popular post from my previous blog, which I’ve decided to post it again.  It was written in the summer of 2010.  The situation in my life has changed, but the principle remains the same.  It really helps me to remember what I wrote, how I felt, at this time in my life.

I’ve become one of those people who pass much of their day drinking coffee in a coffee shop or bookstore, “working” on their laptops.  I’ve always wondered why people do that.  Don’t they have a home or an office?  Doesn’t the constant stream of people and conversation around them bother them?  Don’t they have somewhere else to be?

I have a comfortable home with plenty of peace and quiet, but I get tired of staring at the same four walls at home, chores all completed, fighting the urge to watch television all day in a state of numb oblivion.  I’ve recently, shockingly, been laid off.  Without a salary to depend on, I don’t want to do things that cost money.  The coffee shop and bookstore have free wireless internet and perfect coffee.  They allow me the faint distraction of evaluating other people’s fashion choices, in the most Christian way, of course ~ “Bless their hearts!” (How can you not notice and wonder a bit when the 60ish guy with a jet black mullet, choker necklace made of bones, short black shorts with surprisingly white legs, bright red socks, and black sandals comes strolling in?  My own fashion sense isn’t always perfect, but some things just beg you to notice). It also occasionally allows me to run into someone I know and have a brief conversation, possibly a job opportunity? and keeps me from numbing out at home.

I sit here with plenty of time to think, feeling the weight of my situation.  For months now, God has felt very near to me in a way I’ve never quite experienced before.  There’s a sense of peace and inner joy that I cannot describe or even fully understand myself.  I’ve been free of anxiety attacks and depression, in spite of the tremendous changes and stress-inducing circumstances in my life.  Technically speaking, it’s not much of a stretch to say that I should be huddled in a corner, drooling, and mumbling something incoherent over and over again…

And yet, here I sit, calmly typing away at Starbucks, giggling at other people’s fashion sense, or lack thereof, drinking CAFFEINE.  In the past, the littlest bit of caffeine sent me right over the edge, but I’m on my second cup without a hint of a side effect.  Who am I?  The answer is, I learned to live out Philippians 4:6-9.

Philippians 4:6-9 (New Living Translation)

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

I’ve poured out my concerns to God, telling Him exactly what I need and desire, and thanking Him for the ways He has already provided.  I have listened for His voice and done all I know to do to obey Him.  I have fixed my thoughts (most of the time) on things that are ‘truehonorablerightpurelovelyadmirableexcellentworthyofpraise’, telling the fearful and anxious voices in my head to shut up and go away.  Why should I be surprised that it’s actually working?

I’ve decided to believe.  If God is God, then I must serve Him.  If someone or something else is god, then I should serve that person or thing.  I refuse to be wishy-washy in my faith, flopping from side to side, saying I trust God but running around in anxious circles, throwing my hands up in the air and crying.  If I believe God is God, and I believe He speaks to me in a still, small voice of love, then I must faithfully obey His commands.  Anything else is not faith.

I believe God has spoken to me clearly the same message for the last several months:  be still, stop struggling, and wait for the redemption of the Lord.  I believe He has said what He has for me will come to me in His timing, in His way, without all my frantic worrying.

Following the command in Philippians, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Lord, fasting and praying, laying out my concerns and requests before Him, asking for direction; asking Him to open the door before me and to keep me from making a foolish decision out of fear or desperation.  If you really think about it, isn’t that what you expect a minister of the gospel to do when in this type of situation?

As long as I continue in the current course of action – waiting, praying, seeking God, and trusting Him to provide for me, I have an unexplainable peace.  When I get my eyes off Jesus and look at the waves threatening to swallow me up, I face an overwhelming feeling that disaster is upon me.  In those moments, I stop and evaluate my thoughts.  I get my eyes back on Jesus and the calm returns.  As I gaze into His eyes, I feel the most comforting sense of love, peace, and comfort.

I admit that one of my fears is that what I think is God’s voice is merely my own.  As I consider that fear, I’ve come to a conclusion:  If I’m wrong, then I’ll deal with the consequences of my decision.  If I’m wrong, then it is ME who has failed to correctly discern God’s voice.  I will not blame God or love and trust Him less.  I will deal with my own lack of discernment and pick up the pieces.

One of the things God’s teaching me through this time of waiting is how to stand firm in my beliefs.  This battle has been particularly difficult because those I love and respect don’t understand what I’m doing.  I must stand firm in the belief that God hears my prayers.  He’s teaching me something through this trial.  He’s in control.  What have I to fear?  The only thing I can think of right now is that I fear looking like the older lady who just walked in wearing bright green, skinny jeans, a skin-tight black and white striped shirt, and purple high-tops.  Oh my…

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Posted on Jun 14, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Just Goofing Around | 22 comments

A Farmer’s Wife?

A Farmer’s Wife?

It’s been shocking to many, many people (including ME) that I am marrying a farmer and moving to the rural midwest to live in the land of cornfields and barns.  I’ve been asked how I can leave the bustling, fabulous city of Nashville for country life.  Won’t I miss Starbucks?

I don’t mind answering these questions because I had to answer them for myself first.  I had to come to terms with what’s really important to me before I could even consider seriously dating Rick.  I had decided that I was done with casual dating and I could tell he was serious, so I did some soul-searching early on in our relationship.  Just how important is Nashville to me?

I love Nashville.  I love the American southeast.  I have a special place in my heart for magnolia trees, rolling hills, thick green trees, and that sweet, southern drawl.  I enjoy mild winters and how very nice everything is.  If I need to purchase something, I have so many choices that I’d never be patient enough to look at all my options before making a decision.  I live right next door to one of the wealthiest towns in the entire country.  Right down the road from my house are streets lined with mansions.  It is a lovely place to live.  But no amount of loveliness can make up for loneliness.

I have lived a good life.  God has blessed me with good friends.  I’ve really enjoyed city life.  It’s been no big deal to go to NFL games and cheer the Titans on, scream “Fang Fingers!” at hockey games, go to a major concert and see the performer the next day at a pancake restaurant.  I’ve eaten in the fanciest restaurants, traveled the country and stayed in the nicest hotels, and filled my life with good things.  But in all of that, I went home alone every night.  I felt the ache of empty arms when I saw a mother rocking her sleeping baby.  I chafed at never having a home of my own to settle into and decorate and organize just right.

To me, the reality of having my prayers answered for a loving husband, a home of my own, and the hope of children is worth giving up a weekly visit to Chipotle or seeing a celebrity at church.  Not to mention that the idea of wide, open spaces and the safety of country living is very appealing!  I’ve had all the big living I need.  I’m ready to settle down and be a wife and mother.  And writer.  And maybe do a little teaching and speaking on the side…  🙂

I grew up in the area I’ll be moving back to.  Vivid childhood memories of running free, totally unafraid, and feeling connected to the ground beneath my feet draw me back.  I was the wild child who did all I could to get my four-wheeler (ATV) completely air-born, who caught slimy tadpoles in the pond, and whose heart was broken when my willow tree got cut down.  During a recent trip to visit Rick, I sat quietly on a large rock and listened to the sounds around me. let the little ants crawl up my arm.  I felt like I was twelve again – carefree, happy, and at peace.  I’m blessed to still have relationships with people I knew when I lived there, including my grandfather and cousins.

Will I be the typical farmer’s wife, canning peaches and running a tractor?  Well, probably not.  But I don’t think I’d mind learning how to can my own food and avoid the preservatives and unknown ingredients I’ve been eating in food that comes from who-knows-where.  Driving a tractor, though, is something I plan to leave all in Rick’s capable, calloused hands.

By the way, even though the community is rural, there’s a good-sized city within 40 minutes of his house and a grocery store just a few miles from his front door.  The man who acted as my adopted grandfather when I was a little girl (before my grandparents moved there) has a coffee shop just two miles away.  And there’s a mall within 30 minutes of the farm.  See, friends?  I’m going to be okay.  And I even hear they’re building a Starbucks a couple miles down the turnpike.  Oh yeah…

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Posted on Jul 26, 2010 in Before Marriage Blog, Spiritual Life | 12 comments

Peace that Passes Understanding…

Peace that Passes Understanding…

I’ve become one of those people who pass much of their day drinking coffee in a coffee shop or bookstore, working on their laptops.  I’ve always wondered why people do that.  Don’t they have a home or an office?  Doesn’t the constant stream of people and conversation around them bother them?  Don’t they have somewhere else to be?

I have a comfortable home with plenty of peace and quiet, but I get tired of staring at the same four walls at home, chores all completed, fighting the urge to watch television all day in a state of numb oblivion.  The coffee shop and bookstore have free wireless internet and perfect coffee.  They allow me the faint distraction of evaluating other people’s fashion choices, in the most Christian way, of course ~ “Bless their hearts!” (How can you not notice and wonder a bit when the 60ish guy with a jet black mullet, choker necklace made of bones, short black shorts, bright red socks, and black sandals comes strolling in?  My own fashion sense isn’t always perfect, but some things just beg you to notice and have an opinion). It also occasionally allows me to run into someone I know and have a brief conversation, and keeps me from numbing out at home. 

I sit here with plenty of time to think, feeling the weight of my situation.  For months now, God has felt very near to me in a way I’ve never quite experienced before.  There is a sense of peace and inner joy that I cannot describe or even fully understand myself.  I’ve been free of anxiety attacks and depression, in spite of the tremendous changes and stress-inducing circumstances in my life.  Technically speaking, it’s not much of a stretch to say that I should be huddled in a corner, drooling, and mumbling something incoherent over and over again… 

And yet, here I sit, calmly typing away at Starbucks, giggling at other people’s fashion sense, or lack thereof, drinking CAFFEINE.  In the past, the littlest bit of caffeine sent me right over the edge, but I’m on my second cup without a hint of a side effect.  Who am I?  The answer is, I learned to live out Philippians 4:6-9. 

Philippians 4:6-9 (New Living Translation)

 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

I have poured out my concerns to God, telling Him exactly what I need and desire, and thanking Him for the ways He has already provided for me.  I have listened for His voice and done all I know to do to obey Him.  I have fixed my thoughts (most of the time) on things that are ‘truehonorablerightpurelovelyadmirableexcellentworthyofpraise’, telling the fearful and anxious voices in my head to shut up and go away.  Why should I be surprised that it’s actually working? 

I have decided to believe.  If God is God, then I must serve Him.  If someone or something else is god, then I should serve that person or thing.  I refuse to be wishy-washy in my faith, flopping from side to side, saying I trust God but running around in anxious circles, throwing my hands up in the air and crying.  If I believe God is God, and I believe He speaks to me in a still, small voice of love, then I must faithfully obey His commands.  Anything else is not faith.

I believe God has spoken to me clearly the same message for the last several months:  be still, stop struggling, and wait for the redemption of the Lord.  I believe that He has said what He has for me will come to me in His timing, in His way, without all my frantic worrying. 

I have spent a lot of time with the Lord, fasting and praying, laying out my concerns and requests before Him, asking for direction and for Him to open the door before me and to keep me from making a foolish decision out of fear or desperation.  If you really think about it, isn’t that what you expect a minister of the gospel to do when in this type of situation? 

As long as I continue in the current course of action – waiting, praying, seeking God, and trusting Him to provide for me, I have an unexplainable peace.  When I get my eyes off Jesus and look at the waves threatening to swallow me up, I do face an overwhelming feeling that disaster is upon me.  In those moments, I stop and evaluate my thoughts.  I get my eyes back on Jesus and the calm returns.  As I gaze into His eyes, I feel the most comforting sense of love, peace, and comfort. 

I admit that one of my fears is that what I think is God’s voice is merely my own.  As I consider that fear, I’ve come to a conclusion:  If I’m wrong, then I’ll deal with the consequences of my decision.  If I’m wrong, then it is ME who has failed to correctly discern God’s voice.  I will not blame God or love and trust Him less.  I will deal with my own lack of discernment and pick up the pieces. 

One of the things I think God is teaching me through this time of waiting is how to stand firm in my beliefs.  God hears my prayers.  He is teaching me something through this trial.  He is in control.  What have I to fear?  The only thing I can think of right now is that I fear looking like the older lady who just walked in wearing bright green, skinny jeans, a skin-tight black and white striped shirt, and purple high-tops.  Oh my…

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Posted on May 13, 2009 in Before Marriage Blog, Spiritual Life | 1 comment

Life Has Snuck Up on Me…

Life has snuck up on me recently and prevented me from writing,  As the church’s Community Groups Minister, I was asked to launch small groups church-wide and given very little time to do it.  I also planned a Ministry Fair and a women’s event.  Oh yeah, and I had my regular daily work to do as well. 

The Ministry Fair is over.  The women’s event is this Saturday and I’m just tying up a few loose ends with that now.  And God gave me the grace and energy to write the curriculum, recruit leaders, train them, and get 20 new groups started for the church’s Community Group Ministry – in about a month.  (Thank you to all the wonderful friends who helped me.)

So why am I writing this and not some fun, interesting story?  Because tomorrow I leave for Virignia Beach to take a class at Regent University School of Divinity.  I graduated from there a few years back, but I didn’t get to take all the classes I wanted to take.  They have a great alumni program for continuing education, so I decided it was time to take another class.  This class is called Models of Biblical Discipleship and it’s all about effective ways to disciple people.  While I was at Regent, I worked as the graduate assistant for the professor who is teaching the class.  I’m so happy to be able to take another class from her. 

I’ll go to Virginia Beach tomorrow and will be in class Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  The rest of the semester the class will be online.  I feel a little nuts trying to take this on right now, but I’m also excited about it.  I’m also making a mini-vacation out of it, staying a couple days after the class to enjoy the beach.  Hopefully I’ll get some sunshine! 

Before you get too worried about me, I want to acknowledge the amazing friends that God’s given me.  They have been wonderful during this time.  They’ve listened to my ideas and given me great feedback, brought me meals, researched, edited, and made sure that I keep working out and taking time to laugh.  Even in all this craziness, I made time to get a sunburn because I was having such a good time talking to friends on the patio of Starbucks that 3 hours passed and I have a lovely farmer’s tan and peely arms to show for it.  I am greatly blessed.  (By the friends, that is – not the peely arms…)

I’m hoping to return to actively writing very soon.  Now I’m off to pack!

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