Sunday, April 26, 2009

God's Ready, Set, Go! Part 3 - Go!

In parts one and two of this Ready, Set, Go! Series I shared how the twins preparing to race their trucks down the hallway compared to our preparing to do what God has called us to do.

I shared that the “get set” part of the process can be excruciating for someone like me who tends to have some false starts along the way. However, it is worth the effort if we will just stick it out and allow God to work us toward His perfect plan. Once we’re ready and set, God expects us to Go!

That means we’ve confirmed whether or not our original revelation is still applicable. We’ve determined if our original understanding of God’s call was accurate or not and made any changes and adjustments needed to stay in line with His call on our lives.

After completing training and/or spending time learning about various ministries and ministry areas, we can determine if we have enough experience and knowledge to actually do the work to which we are called. If God is telling us to “Go!” we can be pretty certain He believes we are ready! Now we need to seek out opportunities to fulfill our call.

Once we’ve made our decision, we want to let our trusted friends and advisors know about it. Ask them to pray for us as we take this giant leap of faith. Most important: Continue to lean on God. Step out in faith! God will sustain us and uplift us in our obedience.

God puts a call on each of our lives, whether it is something huge, like becoming President of the United States, or something smaller like rearing Godly children, teaching, nursing, writing a novel, being an employee with integrity, offering encouragement and hope to others or a host of other tangible and less tangible ways to live out God’s desire and vision for your life.

After spending time and prayer getting ready, we need to revisit our original assumptions and ideas and interpretations. Then we need to refine and focus our understanding and prepare in earnest to respond to God’s call. Finally, we wait at the start line for the “Go!” from God.

Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. (Deuteronomy 5:33 NIV)

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. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Running from God

(The details of this story have been modified somewhat to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.)

I was on a rare trip the shopping mall and had treated myself to a fancy decaf coffee. As I sat on one of the benches, I relaxed and did some people-watching.

Just down the way a bit, near enough to see, but almost out of ear shot I witnessed a woman and a young girl, about 12 or 13, having an argument. Actually, the woman was holding on to the girl's arm and it was obvious they were struggling--not just in a battle of wills, but an actual physical struggle.

I assumed the argument had begun as a discussion about something the girl wanted to buy - or have her mom buy. (Can you tell my daughter was a teenager not too long ago?) After the mom disapproved of or denied the purchase, perhaps the girl got upset with her and said something disrespectful. If you have children you know how that kind of thing can escalate pretty quickly, especially if you're tired or don't feel well!

I instantly said a prayer over them. I noticed that they were attracting more and more attention, and I could actually hear bits and pieces of what was now a shouting match. Then, the girl wrested herself away from her mom and ran. She ran fast and hard and headed right out the doors of the food park.

A young woman approached the mom (apparently a friend or older sibling of the girl) and both of them took off out the doors.

I couldn't help but think how running was the worse thing that girl could have done. She needed to be in the loving arms of her mother, who could protect her and guide her and teach her how to be a godly woman. (I know, a lot of assumptions here.)

I've spent a lot of years of my life running from God in just this same way. He holds on tight, attempting to keep me on track, loving me and nurturing me, refining and preparing me for the purpose He has planned for my life. But I ran. I ran hard and I ran fast, more times than I can count.

Like that young girl, I wanted what I wanted, and I wanted it now! I didn't understand at the time that God knew what was best for me. I didn't trust that He only wanted good for me and to prosper me in all my ways. I didn't hope in him, but rather set my sights on wordly things.

Now that I understand God's deep longing for me to be in His presence, I am sorry I didn't run to Him sooner. My life would have been much less anxious and I could have been about the business of fulfilling His divinely designed purpose for my life a long time ago!

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. (Psalm 130:7 NIV)

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12 NIV)

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; (Lamentations 3:25 NIV)

Friday, April 17, 2009

God's Ready, Set, Go! Part 2 - Set

Click to read Part 1 of God's Ready, Set, Go!

As a quick review, I compared the process the twins run through as they prepare to race their trucks down the hall with how we prepare to do what God has called us to do. After we have completed the "Ready" steps, we need to get "set."

1) Once we have determined what it is God desires us to do we need to refine our determination. Does the original revelation still make sense? Have we been accurate in our understanding?

2) After we have received training or spent time learning about a particular ministry or ministry area, we need to determine if we have received enough training or had enough experience to do the work we believe God is calling us to. Is this the way we are carry out the work? Is this the vehicle or should we create or start our own group, team or mission opportunity?

3) Evaluate the advice and feedback you have received from others in light of what you have discovered through answering the questions posed in (1) and (2) above. Does their advice still apply? If not, is it because God has revealed a new/better path than your original plan? Do you need to revisit your new understanding of God's plan for you with those you trust?

4) Continue to call out to God that you are ready to do His will. Confirm to Him that you are willing to wait on His timing and His plan. Ask God to reveal His plan with greater clarity and understanding while you wait and prepare to "Go!"

I shared in my fist post, "The twins will, indeed wait for me. They will not move an inch until I tell them to go. Oh that I would have that kind of self-discipline and endurance in the race of life!"

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24 NIV)

[ God Disciplines His Sons ] Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Leaving A Mark On The World

The boys had finished breakfast, we had dropped of sister at preschool and returned home to watch a favorite show on television. I took the opportunity to jot down some notes for a draft of an article in my journal.

One of the twins realized at some point that I wasn't sitting with him and came over to investigate what I was up to. When he saw I was writing he asked me to get him some crayons so he could color. He did make a few swipes on a piece of paper, but he was much more interested in what I was doing.

He decided he wanted to "write" in my journal with me. He selected a pink crayon for the job and I allowed him to scribble a few lines on my current page, knowing I would still be able to read my black-inked words on the page.

Then he wanted to turn the page and mark on another page. Ultimately each written-on page of my journal was graced with pink scribbles. He wanted to leave his mark on the pages. I knew the end of my time as his nanny was nearing and I was kind of sentimental about having his handiwork as a permanent part of my journal.

After he moved on to a few blank pages I eased him back to paper actually intended for coloring. Of course he wanted my pen for that, so I sat next to him to closely supervise while his brother made his way to my lap, not wanting to miss out on anyting.

Brother saw that his twin had been allowed to write in the journal so he felt compelled to add his blue "writing" to the pink marked pages. I now have a permanent reminder of my time with both of the boys.

It made me think about how I'm doing at leaving my mark on the world. Am I bringing as many to Christ as I possibly can? Am I spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world desperately in need of hope?

Both boys were thorough and very methodical in their quest to leave their mark. God expects nothing less of us.

"The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the LORD.(Isaiah 59:20 NIV)

I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.(1 John 2:12 NIV)

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35 NIV)

Monday, April 13, 2009


Andrea at Arise 2 Write honored me with this award! She is a true encourager to me and I so value her friendship.

I hope you'll stop by her blogs and see what she's been up to. Her Arise 2 Write blog documents her writing and faith journey. All God's Creatures is written in the voice of one of the therapy dogs, Sitka, who lives with Andrea and her family.

You'll be blessed to read her posts and learn about how God uses her gift of writing to minister to His world.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

God's Ready, Set, Go!

This is the first in a three-part series I've entitled God's Ready, Set, Go!

The twins love to play with their cars and trucks! Not too long ago we were all watching a program where the characters were racing and we heard the term "Ready, Set, Go!" several times (as a reinforcement to teach the concept, I'm sure.) The boys picked up on it pretty quickly and ever since, they call to me, "Ready, Mary!" when they are lined up to race (either by themselves or to race against each other).

The twins have 2 Little Tykes trucks that stand about 12 inches tall, have very sturdy (hard plastic) wheels and make a crashing sound when the front "bumper" hits against a wall or a babysitter/nanny:-) These particular trucks were obviously built for heavy use and for exactly the capacity of a two-year old boy as he leans/pushes it.

When the boys decide they want to push their truck back and forth on the "racetrack/front entryway" or the long hall that runs from the back of the house through the family room, they go through a routine:

1) Locate desired vehicle.
2) Push or carry vehicle to the start point.
3) Position body over vehicle and prepare to push off.
4) Call out, "Ready, Mary!"

If I don't respond with the announcement in a timely enough manner, they will repeat themselves until I tell them I am ready to tell them 'ready, set, go.'

God works in our lives in much the same way. He gives us a gift or ability, a skill or a deep desire to achieve a goal. He expects us to ready ourselves to accomplish His will by refining the gift, training and learning to enhance our skill or ability. He nurtures our deep desire to achieve His work by placing us in situations, presenting opportunities and introducing people into our lives.

So how does God's ready, set, go correlate to our preparing to accomplish God's work in the world?

1) (Locate the desired vehicle) Determine the desired work

2) (Get into position) - join a group, take a course or class, receive training or start a campaign to begin the journey toward the goal God has placed in your heart.

3) (Position body over vehicle and prepare to push off.) Pray and reflect upon the path you are on. Talk about your plans to others whose opinions and wisdom you trust and respect. Ask God to affirm and confirm your plan.

4) (Call out, "Ready, Mary!") Let God know you're prepared to receive the training, go through the life experiences, pray for His guidance and prepare yourself to do what He has put in your heart.

It can be an excruciating process for someone like me who tends to have some false starts along the way. I have the "ready" part down pretty well. It's the "Get Set" part that I still to work on! We must be fully prepared, but we must also wait on God's timing. If we decide we're ready to go before we have received all we need to do well, we cannot be truly ready to do God's will.

The twins will, indeed wait for me. They will not move an inch until I tell them to go. Oh that I would have that kind of self-discipline and endurance in the race of life!

I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. (Galatians 2:2 NIV)

Click to read Part 2 of God's Ready, Set, Go!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Children Live What They Learn

This folksy saying is really true and I guess that's why it is said so often. I am back in the "mental health services for children" field. My new job - 3 days a week - involves ensuring that all of the case worker reports include the information required by varous regulatoy bodies and in compliance with company policy.

Some of the services range from a 'mentoring' program, which I imagine is similar to a Big Brother/Big Sister type relationship with a bit more focus on building specific skills, to intensive in-home services and the whole range in between.

What is evident in almost 100% of the cases I read about each day at work is that many of the the behavioral/mental health issues of the children are a direct result of the parenting or lack thereof of the adults in their lives. Some of the mental illness might be considered hereditary, but most of it is "nurture" influence.

I grieve for the children in our program as many of them have suffered emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse, struggle with substance abuse and a general lack of coping skills to deal with their daily lives.

I don't know how to stop the cycle, except to do what agencies like the one I work for is trying to do: provide services to the child(ren) and also to the families that are often the source or a mitigating factor in the children ending up in our program in the first place.

What is apparent is that once parents learn how to parent, once they are educated about appropriate behavior and acceptable ways to interact with their children, life improves not only for the children, but for the entire family unit. There a some "success" stories. Those are the ones you live for. Those are the ones that make you want to go to work each day. There's always a chance for improvement.

Children are God's gift to the world. They are our future. We must nurture and love them so they can grow up to nurture and love - themselves and each other and everyone else in the world.

Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children." (Deuteronomy 4:10 NIV)

Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time. (Deuteronomy 4:40 NIV)

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. (Deuteronomy 6:6-8 NIV)

Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess." (Deuteronomy 31:13 NIV)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Different is . . Well . . . Different

Big sister is 4 years old. She is exceptionally bright and some of the things she comes up with just make me shake my head and chuckle.

Some of the comments she makes on a regular basis:

"Looks like we're driving in The United States of America." - as we pass by a very large flag on a very high flag pole.

"There are the 'school people'." - as we pass by the students waiting at the bus stop for the school bus.

I especially like the way she tries to explain things to her brothers. Her tone of voice become very sing-songy and pleaseant and she is very serious - not even realizing that not only to do the boys not care in the least, they can't even understand what she's talking about!

All the children who live in the neighborhood are "my friends" and the students in her preschool class are "my children."

She views and experiences the world from a 4-year old perspective. Everything revolves around her (as it does for most 4 year olds, and honestly, most people!) To deal with life in the world, everything must be placed in a category and defined in very limited and specific terms.

Honestly, this is how many Christians experience their faith. Their beliefs are narrow and limited to their own personal experiences. For some, anyone who looks different, acts different, lives different is . . . well . . . different and so not like them. When you're 4 years old different isn't good. Different is challenging and troubling. So different isn't good.

When we limit our faith to what we ourselves can see and think and feel, we are really limiting God. When we don't seek the knowledge and wisdom of others who have more scriptural insight and knowledge, we limit the power of God's inspired word. When we judge others out of ignorance and fear, we limit the strength and depth and breadth of the love Christ died to show us. When we limit God, we miss out on His grace and we miss out on the opportunity to extend that grace to others.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV)

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (1 John 3:7 NIV)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Another Award! How Wonderful!

Andrea at Arise 2 Write has given me the Premio Dardos award! What exactly is the award? I share Mid Stutsman's explanation: Premio Dardos means “prize darts” in Spanish. It is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.Here are some rules to be followed if you choose to participate in passing this blog award on to others:

• First, accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and link to her blog.

• Second, pass the award to other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award. This is the challenging part for me as the past couple of weeks, quite a few awards have been passed around!

Here are two great blogs that I think you'll agree meet this criteria:

Jen Lemen at her blog:
Tammy Boesiger at her blog -

Thanks, again, Andrea for considering me worthy of this award. To God be the glory.