God Sightings

Our pastor encouraged us last Sunday to do a bit of “God Sighting” this week. God sightings are the following:

  1. An obvious answer to prayer.
  2. Any unexpected evidence of God’s care.
  3. Any help to do God’s work/will in the world.
  4. Any unusual linkage or timing.

Basically, it’s deliberately looking for God’s activity in our lives in order to help us in the times of discouragement. With that in mind, I’ve decided to share the ones I found this week with my readers. I hope that you too can find keep this idea at the forefront of your brain and see if you can’t find a few God sightings as this weekend and next week progresses. I’d love to hear from you as well if you have had any!

1) About a month ago my father had back surgery. He had been in a good deal of pain for almost 2 years. One doctor told him that he didn’t even think it was a back issue… he might have a hernia. But my dad persisted and got a second opinion. He actually had a pinched nerve that was causing severe pain down his left leg. The surgeon basically “roto-rootered” around the nerve so it could move more freely and release the leg pain. I’d asked my entire church family to be praying for Dad and his surgery went off beautifully. But here’s the best part that happened this week. Dad wants to lose some weight and I’ve encouraged him to get moving more and go out for some walks. He has never liked to walk in the past and has pushed back against this advice. So I asked for prayer about it in church. And guess what? My dad took several walks. In fact, he walked around their block the other day (including one hill) – a total of almost 2 miles! I know that Dad has his own gumption for doing this, but I honestly believe it is God spurring him into action.

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Dad hates getting his photo taken so this is the last one I have… just kidding!

 

2) I recently had to get my wedding band repaired – AGAIN – due to a bad prong that kept letting go. We took it back to the original Jared store and worked out a deal with them to replace the band with a band that was similar, but slightly more stable. It wasn’t my first choice, but I didn’t want to lose the diamonds either. When I had to hand in my original band, I cried quite a bit. My wedding band – the one John had lovingly placed on my finger almost 6 years ago – was gone forever. Many women would probably be like, “YAH! New ring!!” – not me. I mourned the loss of my ring and just felt like the new one would never be the same. I prayed to God about it – asking him to help me get over my pain. I didn’t want John to think I was disappointed in any way with my rings because I knew he only wanted the best for me. We picked up the new ring last night along with my engagement ring which they had repolished so it shined like new as well. My fears returned as the new ring felt uncomfortable and foreign on my hand. When we got into the car John said, “Hand me your rings.” I pulled them off and handed them to him. He held it out to me and, while looking into my eyes, said, “Will you marry me? Again?” I knew right then and there that whatever the ring was didn’t matter – God had placed this wonderful man in my life because he was just what I needed. He saw my pain and wanted to make it right. Although my rings are gorgeous – they could be simple bread ties and I would still love this man. And God knew all along that he would stick with me and provide for me in every way.

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Before we were married. I love this shot.

 

3) John and I work on our marriage everyday. Although he is the man for me, we still have fights and disagreements and we both have things from our past that we work hard to overcome in our current relationship. Recently, we’ve been having a lot of discussions about how we can get closer and how we can shed off these past hurts and disappointments in order to fully appreciate and accept one another as who we both are. For me, it’s been more difficult. I’ve been hurt many times in my past relationships and I carry that hurt and mistrust with me – even with John who treats me so much better than anyone ever has. We know that only God can truly help us. So I’ve been praying about my relationship with my husband and asking God to show me how I can move forward. Then twice this week I heard this statement in completely random and different settings, “Can you give each other grace?” Wow. Could it be that simple? Could I just offer grace to John even when he screws up and even when he hurts me unintentionally knowing that, in the end, he’ll still be my husband and will still be by my side? It’s something that I’ve been pondering since I’ve heard it because I think it’s God trying to point something out to me and I want to listen and understand.

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Those sun-kissed cheeks! Love him.

So there you have it – 3 things that I believe are God sightings from this week. Sometimes it’s an obvious answer to prayer and sometimes it’s just that small, still voice telling you that everything will be okay or that, at the very least, God is there.

I hope you can recognize some God sightings in your life this weekend and next week. Make sure you write them down to you can remember them and be sure to tell me all about too!

 

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Wisdom from the Word Wednesday

So on Monday my post discussed all the false motivational posters that inundate our inboxes, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest feeds. There are so many false or incorrect ones out there, but I didn’t want my loyal readers to be disheartened that they could not repost ANY of these motivational posters anymore (like you would all listen to anything I say anyway…) And because Wednesdays on my blog is typically “Wisdom from the Word,” I decided to share some of my own posters drawn directly from the Bible.

Because:

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Okay – so this isn’t my photo or saying… but it’s true!

 

This is one of my favorite verses. I think mainly because it reminds me that God has things in control even when – especially when – I do NOT. (Sorry for the winter scene…I’m just as over it as you are, but I love how these trees look…very STILL. I took this several years ago and haven’t used it.)

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Here’s another great one. I like to think of this one because it’s trying to remind me that there IS good in the world. The people Paul is writing to needed this reminder too. They needed to be reminded to rejoice in the Lord. And we (okay, mostly I) need to be reminded more often. I might put this one as my desktop wallpaper…

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Philippians 4:8. This is my favorite place in North Carolina.

 

And finally – one that really encourages me.

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You see…when we finally get to heaven, all those tears, diseases, aches, pains, worry and fears will be gone. I’m encouraged by this because I miss my grandmother (and so many other people…) but I know that she is happy. Even happier than she is in this picture. She is free of pain. Free of the cancer that ravaged her body. Free. Free. FREE. And one day – I’ll be with her and will revel in the freedom from pain, death and sorrow right beside her and God.

The words from the Bible encourage me so much that I don’t really need those other false motivational posters. When I need a pick-me-up I just reach for my Bible. Typically I turn to the Psalms for encouragement, but today I pushed myself to find other verses that spoke to me. It took more work than just looking up one of those fake posters online…but, guess what? I learned more. Both about myself, about God and about what I truly believe.

For more great resources on where to find true inspiration check out Bible Gateway or open your Bible!

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False Motivation

I’ve been seeing a lot of those “motivational” posters popping up on Facebook more and more. Some are quite good and even… well, motivational. But some… they just don’t come from a good place. Some I look at and think, “What was this person thinking?”

In our modern, sound-bite society we often seek out little tidbits of good news that we can share with others. But too frequently we share items that don’t have a whole lot of truth – or that can, perhaps, lead us down the wrong path.

Take this for example:

Hm… now let’s think about this one. “Life doesn’t allow us to go back and fix what we’ve done”… I disagree. Life DOES allow us to do that – do you know how? With apologies and forgiveness. If you some something harmful to someone isn’t it true that you could go back and say, “I’m sorry. What I said was wrong. Will you forgive me?”

Take a look at 2 Corinthians 2:10-11: “When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit,  so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” (NLT)

To suggest that forgiveness is not something we can and should partake in is just part of the devil’s schemes. Christ forgives and so should we. We CAN go back.

Here’s another “good” one:

Hmm… I really don’t like this one either. You know why? In a subversive way it’s saying that weeping is bad. Crying is bad. You’ll be alone if you’re sad. I don’t agree. There would not be support groups of all different varieties all across this nation if no one wanted to weep with you. It’s simply untrue and tries to create a “Buck Up” mentality that I don’t agree with. People need to let their emotions out. People need to occasionally weep.

Do you know the shortest verse in the Bible? “Jesus Wept.” (John 11:35) Even Jesus took time to weep. And guess what? He was weeping WITH Mary – so she was not alone in her weeping either. I get what it’s trying to do here, but it’s simply untrue and creates a false standard that people strive to live up to.

Last, but certainly not least, there is this:

Well Buddha. I don’t believe what you’re saying. If you believe nothing you ever read or hear…where does your own common sense come from? Where does your reasoning come from? You would not have any. I prefer this one:

Proverbs 3:5

You see, I’m not so proud that I would not believe what others say… however, I will investigate and research the truth of my own accord before I follow like sheep.

So before you repost that motivational quote next time, do a little research, search your own heart and your own truth to know if it’s something that you really believe in… or just something someone else believes in.

For then “You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32 NIV

 

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I hate showering

suemidd48:

Curly haired girls unite! LOL I couldn’t have said this better myself.

Originally posted on Marisa Mangia:

I don’t truly hate showering. I actually really enjoy it. I only wrote that provocative title so that you’d be drawn in and read this blog. Well, that, and I really do hate the difficulty that directly follows a shower. Any woman out there will understand what I’m talking about.

Any relaxation that happens in the shower is immediately undone because it is only the first of about seven steps. What am I talking about? Doing your hair.

I can’t shower too long, because I know that I have many more levels to complete before I win: Have dry, straight hair.

I will admit, the evolution of hair straighteners and anti-frizz products has been astounding. I’ve owned as many models of straighteners as there are cell phones.

The Zach Morris cell phone of hair straighteners circa 2002. The Zach Morris cell phone of hair straighteners circa 2002.

I began with the equivalent of the Zack Morris cell phone– a clunky…

View original 624 more words

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Can’t Get Away From That Amazing Grace

When my grandmother died a few years ago, one of her last wishes was to have “Amazing Grace” played at her funeral. Since then, my mother and I can barely stand to hear the tune without breaking down into tears.

Then last year, my church choir decided to sing “Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone” (popularized by Chris Tomlin) for our Easter services. At first, I was mortified and wondered if I would even be able to get through the song in front of our entire congregation. As we sang it week after week to practice, it became more and more familiar to me and less heart-wrenching. When Easter weekend rolled around, I had artfully mastered singing the tune while concentrating hard on the notes instead of the words.

I warned my mother ahead of time, so she could steel herself for this moment, and I avoided her gaze during the whole thing. Our choir sang it beautifully. And my mom and I got through it.

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But ever since that fateful funeral and Easter moment, I keep running into this tune – it seems to be lurking around every corner. Our church pianists seem to play it every week and I’m beginning to think it may be the most popular Christian hymn out there. Chris Tomlin certainly hasn’t done me any favors by making it into that popular Christian radio tune either. (Part of the soundtrack from a movie with the same title no less…)

So when our pianist began playing a rendition of it again this Sunday, as I was poised to be the worship leader for the morning, I thought to myself, “I just can’t get away from this Amazing Grace!”

And then I laughed.

That thought is exactly right. I simply can’t get away from God’s amazing grace. It’s everywhere. He offers it to everyone and anyone who is willing to humble themselves for Him. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” (Ephesians 2: 8 NIV)

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And recently, I’ve not been offering any kind of grace to myself.

I screwed up some editing work the other day. And then again for another client yesterday. I ripped myself to shreds for it. Lost sleep over it. Told myself that I was not a good editor and that I would never amount to much. I was a loser and a failure.

All lies.

God’s grace has saved me from all those lies.

Our pastor gave a sermon this weekend about guilt and remorse. He said, “If God has chosen to forgive you… why won’t you forgive yourself?” In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh. No one really knows what it was…perhaps, like me, it was his own guilt and remorse over not living up to certain standards that he had placed upon himself. Paul really wanted to rid himself of this thorn –  this “messenger from Satan” – and he pleaded with the Lord to take it away. (Just as I’ve pleaded with God for these pianists and our local radio station to NOT play this tune.) But Paul finally tells of how the Lord spoke to him saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9 NIV)

The Lord’s grace…his AMAZING GRACE is sufficient for me. I do not need to be afraid of or avoid it…I need to EMBRACE it.

So, no, I can’t get away from amazing grace. It will follow me all the days of my life and, for that, I am truly thankful. Now when I hear these words: ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home. I don’t have to think sad thoughts of my grandmother – she is safe in heaven. God has led her home and, one day, He will lead me.

Grace will lead me home.

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Ha! Couldn’t resist.

 

Instead of feeling sad and just getting through this song now I will remember these last lines (ones that have often brought tears to my eyes) with hope and joy:

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

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Wisdom from the Word Wednesday

We’re studying “Ordering Your Private World” by Gordon MacDonald in our Bible group. It’s been an interesting book, but many times a few of us have balked at the lessons it’s tried to teach us. Although the basic gist is to get closer to God and you will get a better ordered life, there are a few things that miss the mark.

Take for instance, Chapter 11. In this section, the author begins to talk about finding that peace and solitude needed to truly communicate with God in a personal way. I totally agree and, oftentimes, I neglect my quiet time with the Lord in pursuit of other goals (making money, spending time with friends, etc.) Mr. MacDonald says, “It’s all in the listening.” I also agree with this statement… IF he had not used the analogy of Moses vs. Aaron to illustrate it.

You see, the author is saying that both Moses and Aaron could have gotten the same message if only they would have listened in the same way. I don’t agree. 1) Moses was personally called up to the mountain and spoke directly with the Lord. 2) Aaron was left behind to deal with the ever discontent people of Israel. To say that Aaron had the same opportunity to listen to God is a little preposterous. God spoke directly to Moses. Like you would speak with your husband or best friend. Moses was summoned to the mountain to listen. He really had no choice… well, okay, he did: listen or be smited.

BUT if the author is trying to say (which, in my opinion, if so, he did not do very well…) that Moses took the time to listen and Aaron did not (well, he’d still be wrong, but I kind of get where he was going) then it relates in a way to our lives today.

I often hear God calling to me (not in a weird way – just an internal longing kind of thing) and I choose to ignore Him. Mainly because I feel so drawn, instead, to “git ur done” which has become our mentality as Americans. So even though God may be saying, “Hey Sue, come up here to this mountain top/quiet meadow/back porch and let’s chat.” – I don’t often do it. One reason for me, and not like Moses, is that I can decide to not do it. (Moses really didn’t have that choice.)

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Instead, I relate more to Aaron really. He is Moses successor and is told all that has happened from Moses – NOT God. (Like I hear what has happened, mostly, from my pastor.) Moses had similar issues that Aaron did – the Israelites complained to both of them. BUT Moses had a direct relationship with the Lord that Aaron really did not, which helped him order his private world more easily. He had it direct from the source that it would all work out. Aaron did not.

Have you ever tried to watch a TV show with your dog barking, your kids yelling or your husband/wife trying to talk to you at the same time? How much of the program did you really hear? Now imagine watching that same show all by yourself. You’d get more from it wouldn’t you? It’s not really that you aren’t listening, but you’re being distracted.

How often do we do the same thing to God? We just try to multi-task Him into our lives and then wonder why we aren’t getting anything from the relationship. He wants to be heard above all the noise. We need that solitude and peace in order to hear Him properly.

When’s the last time you looked at the Ten Commandments? Let me give you a refresher. The FIRST COMMANDMENT is “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3 NIV) No other Gods. Now I don’t have any other Gods… except maybe the TV… or my money… or that next job I need to get done… or the laundry that needs to be done…

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

Gods can come in all shapes and easily distract us from listening to the one true God. I know I’m guilty of this. Horribly guilty. I’ve avoided God pretty hard core lately just due to all the other STUFF I “have” to do. But we’re sinful creatures and it happens.

I did like this sentence from this chapter: “Most Christians learned at an early age how to talk to God, but they did not learn to listen well.” We need to start listening well… even when we’re inundated like Aaron was with complaints, discontent, too much work and everything else.

Today, I’m vowing to start listening instead of avoiding. How about you?

 

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Talking to Yourself

Last night my long time friend called me just out of the blue. She picked a good night because my husband was off at a board meeting and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the evening. Turns out – just chat on the phone for 3 hours!

As we spoke, I realized a couple of things:

  1. I like talking with her because we grew up together and have VERY similar tendencies. You know how you have that one person (if you don’t – get one) that just knows everything about you? I mean EVERYTHING. And they are pretty much your TWIN? Yep. That’s her. She regaled me with her road rage issues and told me a story as an example. When someone tried to cut in front of her at a red light she mouthed to them, “Are you *EXPLETIVE* kidding me?” … that’s EXACTLY what I would have said.
  2. It’s nice to be real with someone. Carol knows everything about me from pretty much the day I was born. There are no pretenses, no hiding anything (she’d know even if I tried) and no holding back. When you say, “Oh this person has seen me at my worst,” well… she has seen me at my YOUNG worst. i.e. screaming, crying, not-make-sense little brat of a “sister” worst. Last night she told me about these kids who play outside her house and one inevitably says to the other, “But I didn’t even DO anything to you!” In my head I thought, “Yep… that was her. And I was the one bawling.” I remember one particular fight when we were young – I stomped off to my house and played the “hurt” part for awhile until she finally come over and said, “Are you over your hissy fit yet?” I can’t be fake with her now that we’re grown – I’d get the same response.
  3. It’s nice to understand your part. We both know that she is the chatter in this relationship. I give my two cents occasionally and I sometimes have my own stories to tell, but for the most part – she is the talker. And I’m totally fine with it. I sat back, had a glass of wine and just listened. After the couple of weeks I’ve had, it was nice to just listen to someone else’s issues for awhile.
  4. Lastly, I realized: You can go home again. It’s called memories. We often talk about how things used to be and what we used to do as kids – for me it’s like it all just happened yesterday (okay, maybe not yesterday… maybe last week.) Even though we’re both married and have been through a lot, we still hold those ideals from our youth. We’d still rather sit and chat (and maybe share a warm Dr. Pepper and a tootsie roll) then do almost anything else.

When it got to be a little after 9, she said, “I guess I’ll let you go since I’ve had you on the phone for 3 hours!” I looked at the clock and thought, “Really?” Time flies when you’re with these kind of folks – it didn’t seem like a minute had passed to me.

carol_sue

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