Would you agree that there are some things in life that we choose and some things we do not? Things we would never choose, for instance Covid or Cancer or any other seemingly awful disease or situation. However, the Lord in his omniscience sometimes chooses to allow these seasons in our lives, for His purposes, ultimately.
Every response from us, however, is a choice. We can choose to accept the situation or not. We can choose to fight back, or not. We can choose to praise Him above all, or not. We can choose to heed His promptings, or not.
If you think about it, everything from the moment our feet hit the floor each morning till our head hits the pillow each evening, everything we say, think, and do are choices. We can choose to love people each day, we can choose how we respond to others, and on it goes. Every minute of our lives involves a choice in how we respond.
All this to say, we can choose to be obedient to the Lord’s calling, prompting, and commandments, or not. There have been two specific times (many more actually) but for this blog I am choosing to focus on two specific instances the Lord has called me to thus far in my life.
One was over 10 years ago in Northern MN. In my daily devotional time, I was studying Luke 14:12-14, Jesus was eating at a Pharisee’s home, was answering questions, and attempting to explain to them that when you host a luncheon, dinner, or banquet, you really should be inviting those who cannot ever repay you. “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed…” (NIV)
As I walked the pups each morning in that crisp, pure Northern air I would mull this over and be talking in my head and yes, sometimes aloud to the Lord as I walked. What on earth does this look like present day? How would I go about this? In my home, at the local resort? Where would we hold this banquet for folks who could never repay us? I knew in my head, heart, soul, and gut that the Lord was prompting me to somehow accomplish this. How did I know? Through my studies and through my “being still” and listening to His promptings. It was exciting and terrifying all at the same time! How on earth could one person pull this off? As it turns out the Lord had every detail set up far before I chose to be obedient to carry out the idea. I could write another blog on how the Lord opened door after door in abundant ways I could not even imagine, and every single step of the way, I would still be questioning, “How Lord will this work?” Well, long story short…it did, and it was one of the most rewarding, life-changing (for me and others I hope), awe-inspiring and faith-building seasons in my life. We held the “Blessing Banquet” at the resort on our lake in December of 2011! With one hundred precious folks attending the free banquet, turns out, the poor, crippled, lame, and blind people Jesus had spoken about in Luke were present day, mainly single moms and kiddos who attended our event…I found this so interesting. Hence, my penchant for supporting The Single Mom KC (www.thesinglemomkc.org) this quarter through Grace Thru Faith and choosing them to be the focus of our annual open house in May of this year.
The key was to stay prayerful and open to what He wanted me to do next that allowed it to work. Not an easy lesson for a stubborn, do it yourself only child.
The other instance was far more recent and completely different in nature. The Lord allowed me to get Covid this past December 2021. And even though He granted me the gift and promise of three sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31) the day I awoke and knew I had the dreaded virus; I could not have imagined the trauma and pain I would be going through for two months. I am convinced He allowed this sickness, for many reasons. One was to reveal a literal heart issue that I had been dealing with pretty much all my life, from my teen years on. He allowed that to rear its ugly head on several occasions, so that it could be eventually surgically taken care of. Second it was to reveal a behavioral heart issue of control. A double whammy if you will. I clung to Him and His Word like no other time in my life, it was life-giving to me, as I truly did not know if He would allow me another day. One fitful night during this trial, I was semi-awake and trying to go back to sleep. I heard this: “I want you to fast for 24 hours tomorrow.” And despite being sickly, weak, and not knowing if I could even do that kind of thing, I was obedient to His promptings. My husband Scott jumped on board without me even asking him. So, we both obediently fasted and prayed for 24 hours. There were times when it was difficult, but I had the backing of my loving husband who did the fast with me, how cool is that?! Our amazing church family, from our pastor and his wife to our small group leaders and dear sisters-in-Christ. It was a literal cleansing of my brain and body. I had zero brain-fog after doing a 24 hour fast. Praise the Lord! I felt super close to my Father in Heaven who gave me the strength to carry on, so that I could tell my story to others who may be in a similar situation. He allows us to go through trials so that we may be better equipped to help others down the road. It is never about us, ever, but about His plans for our lives and the lives of others.
What if I had not heeded both promptings from the Lord? Yes, life would have gone on, however I would not have been changed, my faith would not have grown, and I would not have experienced these rich, soul-giving stories that I can look back on and gain strength from, as well as being able to see how fruitful things were because I chose to follow His promptings! Also, to be able to tell and help others who may be going through a similar situation is a huge blessing as well. To be able to point to Him as the Giver, the Sustainer, my all in all. He can be that for you too if you just choose to be open when He knocks on the door of your heart. Say yes to His call, His promptings, His gift of eternal life. Is there anything more worthy of saying “Yes!” to?
Another trip around the sun. A friend gifted me custom pints of ice cream and one of the labels displayed this saying: “Another year sweeter” Super cute, however I don’t know about that. 😉 As I look forward to my birthday each year, this one is hitting me a bit differently than previous years.
As I gazed over at the side table in our kitchen that holds several b-day cards received this week, some touching, some funny, all of them thoughtful, and looked at the material gifts that I had received each day this week as the Lord so graciously ordained. My thoughts turned to my dad (and the fact that he is now gone from this earth as of Jan 6th this year) and the thought that the absolute best gift I could receive (from the Lord) was seeing a bluebird on my birthday. I wept at the thought. As, I have yet to see one since dad’s death.
As I woke up this morning (quite melancholy, knowing that this day will not be unlike most others unfortunately) after a restless night of sleep and continued my day as always, feeding the pups, reading devotionals and praying, making coffee, walking the pups etc.…It does hit me that even though my dad, Lou did not recall that Oct 7th was my b-day for many years preceding his death, which was super hurtful the first year that happened, it hit me that no one loves you quite like your parents. And, when they are gone, nothing will ever be quite the same. There is a deep void in our heart and soul that realizes, no one will love you in the same way your parents did. That is my experience now (in this moment) and I realize that will not be everyone’s experience. I was blessed to have parents that loved me despite my flaws, which were truly my biggest cheerleaders in this temporary life on earth. And, when they are both gone from this earth, it changes things, and that truly did not hit me until this week leading up to my b-day.
We entered 2021 excited for what was to come. Things were looking up! We had a goal, a vision, and a purpose that gave us great joy. We had it all planned out. Our amazing graphic designer, Preston, had created the artwork. I had sourced just the right garments. Our trusty local printer printed onto the amazing garments. We had created giftable items for folks who might be looking for something more than apparel. We spent several months curating, sourcing, and working towards our goal of launching THE most amazing thing ever. We had a plan; (we have learned over 5 years to plan far ahead of the seasons.) We even had a pop-up planned at a trendy store. We were super excited to launch this powerful, hopefully life-giving movement. Everything was on target.
Then…during a benign Monday night in early January, we got a phone call. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, you know that when you see the facility name and number pop up on your screen, your heart drops a little bit.
In mid-March, Kansas declared that schools would close for the rest of the school year. Other states soon made the same determination.
Very quickly we started hearing terms like “Shelter at Home” and “Social distancing.” “Quarantine” was a word seldom heard these days…until now when we hear it daily.
The words “Pandemic” and “Plague,” although foreign and strange to the younger generation, engender memories giving rise to fear in the minds and hearts of the oldest among us.
Businesses and churches closed,
The economy faltered,
Violence at home is increasing,
and Deaths from the virus are reported daily.
Many of us have only seen times like these in movies or read about them in books.
and Discouragement is on the rise, exacerbated by the news reports and accompanied by weather fluctuations from cold and wintry to mild and spring-like and back to wintry again.
And we are all wondering, "How long???"
Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain.
I always love it when I read those words “But God” in my Bible. Often they follow bad circumstances or evil, offering hope to a situation that would otherwise seem hopeless.