Wednesday, July 3, 2013

House Hunters

“Just one more” my husband said, “one more house.”
I shook my head, “No, I can’t do it anymore.
We’ve lost out on seven houses , and this one is already listed out of our price range”.
“I want to look at it." he said, "I’m not ready to give up yet.”

Instead of being exciting, our search for a new home had become drudgery. The real estate market was booming and as a result it was a “buyer’s market”. Unfortunately there were many buyers out there doing the same thing we were.
Every house we saw ended up with multiple offers.
 Seven times we thought we found our house.
Seven times we signed on the dotted line with our best offer we could afford.
And seven times we were outbid. I wanted to give up. It was too hard. I hated falling in love with a house only to be disappointed when the answer was no.
This final house we saw was in a town I didn’t want to live in, and the price was at the top of our budget. My husband was convinced it was the house for us; I was not.
Though we disagreed, we submitted the offer.
However, I did not hold out much hope, in fact this time, due to its location and price, I wanted our offer rejected.
Of course, it was accepted.
Such is the story of my life.
Most of the time I have a plan and a direction that I’m going in, or at least I think I do, but God seems to have other plans.

Isaiah 55:9 (NLT) For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts
We have no way of knowing what is in store for us on any given day.
We are not capable of seeing beyond today to what the future holds.
Only God can do that.

God in is infinite wisdom has already planned our entire lives from beginning to end. He has everything completely under His command and control.
Lucky for us, His way is always a much better way than ours.
Even if we disagree or don’t understand when we receive a “no”, it’s comforting to know that “no” doesn’t always mean “not ever”. Most of the time, it just means “not right now” or “not this one”.

That last house was the only one whose seller accepted our offer. We ended up living there for 10 years. It was less than 10 minutes from our church and our kid’s school.
If we had bought a house in the town I wanted to live in, we would have been more than 20 minutes away. That may not seem like a lot, but living closer to our church made it possible for us to be involved there in ways we never would have if we lived further out. During those 10 years, we served in the children’s ministry, men’s ministry, women’s ministry and our church’s sports outreach program.
Can you imagine being at church three or four nights a week for different women’s, men’s and children’s events when we lived over 20 minutes away? I’d like to think the distance wouldn’t have kept us from serving, but I know the truth.
And so did God.
Looking back, as disappointed as I was with the way our house hunt had gone, I see His way was much better than mine and I am grateful that He was a better House Hunter than I was.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Coffee Break Day

Today I have a devotion running the Coffee Break site for our women's ministry.

Hop on over and read how to grow no matter what your location.

http://trbccoffeebreak.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/bloom-where-planted/

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ten Things I learned in June

Today I'm linking up with Emily Freeman at www.chattingatthesky.com with this Ten Things I Learned in June post.
Enjoy!

1. Always where sunblock-For years I enjoyed skin that tanned easily. However as I have gotten older and the sun apparently has gotten hotter, I have come to realize that I will get sunburned if not protected.

2. Pay attention to warning labels. This one is connected to number one above. Because not only did I go out without sunblock thinking I’d be ok because of my lovely olive skin tone, but I also didn’t pay attention to the warning label on the medication I had started taking for my lovely olive skin that was breaking out like crazy. If a warning label says “avoid prolonged exposure to sun”, please listen. I know I will next time.

3. Just because you didn’t do what was on your list for the day, doesn’t mean you didn’t get anything done. This little tidbit came from a blog post I read by MaryBeth Whalen. You can read her post here: http://www.marybethwhalen.blogspot.com/2013/06/i-didnt-but-i-did.html She is right though, sometimes you do things that are not on your list for the day, but that are just as important.

4. Spending time and resources on writing is not selfish. This is a difficult one for me. Ever since I started writing I have allowed it to get pushed to the back burner for other things I thought were more important. I’ve realized this month through the help of some wonderful cyber friends (thank you Emily and thank you Jeff Goins) that I can use some of my time for writing. I can set aside the time and I don’t have to feel guilty about it. I’m allowed to want to do this, I’m allowed to actually do it.

5. Movies I watched as a kid are not necessarily ok for my own children to watch. Recently my son discovered the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club. Both were movies I saw when I was probably the same age he is now. This was not a smart move. I think if we had had PG-13 ratings when these movies came out they would have been given that rating. Bad language, inappropriate situations…… I guess like big bangs and leg warmers, some things are better left in the past.


6. Having an Iphone is Ok, more than ok, actually it’s pretty cool. I was due for an upgrade and my husband talked me into an Iphone. I have been protesting against having a smart phone for quite some time now. I have to admit though, it is a pretty cool phone to have. I can check email, facebook, pinterest, all from my phone. I can also make a note of something I want to write about right there on the phone! It's incredible what it can do. And I know the next time I’m in Barnes & Noble and I can’t remember the name of the book I wanted to buy, I will be able to look it up on my cool new Iphone. Now if I can just figure out how to check the voicemail.

7. You can do a lot with just 30 minutes.Whether it’s cleaning, reading, exercising or writing, 30 minutes is a big chunk of time during the day. I have recently set aside 30 minutes a day for writing. I’ve been doing it for over a week now and it is working out really well. I have written some things that I am proud of and for the first time in a long time, I feel like a real writer. Only 30 minutes a day? Who knew?

8. A crayon will burn like a candle. I saw this in Pinterest. When I told my husband about it, he didn’t think it would really work. It did. It burned for a half hour and left nothing but ashes from the paper on the plate. Now I don’t know when I will ever need to do this, but I guess it is always good to know it can be done.

9. Captain Crunch isn’t really a captain. No joke, this was actually on the news. I have no words.

10. I have a lot in common with Angel from the book Redeeming Love. I’ve joined a summer book club and we are doing a study of Redeeming Love and although I read it many years ago, it has only been this second time through that I have seen the similarities between Angel and myself. Not the prostituting, mind you I was never that bad. Her complete brokenness and how that spills over into her choices, reactions and thoughts…..I can relate.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Coffee Break Day

Today I have a devotion running at our church's women's ministry blog Coffee Break. 

I learned a valuable lesson recently and I share a little about it in this devotion.

Would you consider hopping over there to read today? http://trbccoffeebreak.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/the-best-protection/

And if you would like to share, I'd love to hear about a time in your life when you learned a lesson.

Monday, June 24, 2013

To Walk or Not That is the Question

I thought this first story in this series was fitting beings its summer and many of you are heading off to the beach for vacations. I like the beach to and if I get the chance this summer you will find me sitting in a beach chair listening to the waves with my nose in a book. (with plenty of sunblock on! Oh, but that’s another story)

A few years back before we moved to Virginia, our church did a beach baptism. My husband and I were raised catholic and had been baptized as babies. However, since becoming believers and followers of Christ, we had not been baptized according to scripture. Since we lived near the beach all of our lives, this sounded like a very fitting way for us to be baptized.

Now I don’t know what I thought a beach baptism was, but after we signed up, I became a little nervous. You see, we were going to be baptized according to scripture, which means submersion.

Completely.
  
Under. 
 
Water.

Normally I don’t have a problem with going underwater. I have been known to do a hand stand or two in a pool, even a few laps. This was different. I was going under water in the ocean.

Jaws lives in the ocean.

You see, I don’t swim in the ocean. I love the beach, but I sit in a chair in the sand. I might even walk in the water till my ankles are covered. But I’ve seen the movie Jaws many times and I watch shark week every August. Which just confirms my concerns. I’m not taking any chances as far as the ocean is concerned.

Clearly God had other plans. I truly believe it was a nudge from Him that put it on my heart to be baptized in the ocean. Besides, I’d already told my husband we were going to do this together, so I couldn’t back out.

That day as I waited in line watching my pastors walk waaaaaay out in the water, I had plenty of time to contemplate all the terrible things that were going to happen to me when I went out there.

Was a shark hovering around just waiting for me?
Would a rip current snatch me out of my pastor’s hands and whisk me out into open water?
Will I look like a seal, the preferred meal of a shark, as I’m being dunked backward in the water?

Then it was my turn. And let me just tell you walking out into that ocean was extremely difficult for me. The waves were knocking me around, the water getting higher and higher, and oh, if you’ve ever been to the beach in New Jersey you know the Atlantic Ocean isn’t very clear.

What was that I was stepping on?

Although I felt a little like Dead Man Walking, before I knew it, I was there. With no time to think, I felt hands on both sides of me. I heard my pastor speaking, I went down under the water, and when I

came up…..

it was…

incredible.

Instantly, I felt God in my heart like never before. You, know that feeling everyone tells you will have when you "accept Jesus into your heart", but for some reason I didn't really feel when I first believed because I wasn't completely sure I believed it.
Even as I retell this story, my heart is beating fast as if I were experiencing it all over again.

And just like that, it was over and I was making my way back to shore and into the arms of my husband and children. As quick as it was, I know I’ll never forget that moment.

This picture was taken by someone from my church as I came onto shore.


No question about it, obedience to God is difficult.

God asked Abraham, the father of the Israel nation, to sacrifice his only son.

He chose David, the smallest brother to go up against the giant.

Jesus asked the disciples to let down their nets again after not catching anything.

He asked the rich man to sell everything to follow Him.

And He nudged an ordinary woman to walk into the ocean to be baptized.

(Which of course we all know is full of sharks, cue jaws approaching music)


Had I not walked out into the ocean that day, I know I would have missed out on special experience with God. Sure, I could have been baptized at church in the pool and it would have been just fine. I could have even opted out of the “long walk” and had the pastor pour ocean water over my head right at the water’s edge.

However, God had another way in mind, one that involved me setting aside my fear to be obedient. When I came up out of the water that day, I was overflowing with confirmation of God’s love and protection. My relationship with Him changed that day in a way I don’t think would have happened through any other experience.

The blessings we receive because of obedience will always far out way the difficulty.

Oh, that doesn’t mean you’ll find me swimming laps in the ocean.

I still don’t go in there. But that day, because God asked me to, I did.

And there wasn’t a shark in sight.

How about you? Was there a time when you were afraid to do something? How did you handle it? Please share.