trust the google

A few years ago, my honey and I were trying to get to our son’s speech tournament to see him in the state semi-finals.

during rush hour

on a Friday

ugh!

As he maneuvered the traffic on construction laden DFW highways, I was navigating with the help of the Google map app. There were times that Google would tell us to take a route that seemed counter intuitive or weird. My honey, who is great at getting around the metroplex, didn’t always want to go the way the app would direct. He was not sure that Google was taking us the quickest route, and I kept saying the same line:

Trust the Google!

Over the years since our first Google map experience I have continued to recite these words to him as we traverse the country.

When the app takes us off a highway and through a neighborhood on our drive from KC to Colorado – trust the Google!

When we need to avoid California traffic – trust the Google!

When we drove through West Virginia and took some odd “detours” – trust the Google!

When we are learning how to get around our new city – trust the Google!

It seems so easy, but recently I failed to take my own advice.

I was running errands in KC and needed to get from a store north of downtown to our dry cleaner on the south side of downtown. I pulled up my Google map to see the suggested route. All was going well until I got close to my destination. I was confused as to why my Google map app was telling me to exit the highway earlier than I expected, so I decided to go my own way. I was sure I knew a better way.

I was wrong.

My Google map knew that there wouldn’t be exits where I was convinced there would be.

My Google map was trying to take me the quickest route, but I failed to

Trust the Google!

As I learned my mistake and laughed at myself, I couldn’t help but think of Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

How many times have the directions of God seemed confusing, so I just chose to go my own way?

How many times have I been convinced I knew what I was doing when I did not?

It is interesting to me how I can confidently tell my honey to “trust the Google” yet found myself second guessing it.

In the same way, it is easy for me to tell my friends to trust the Lord yet turn around and have difficulty taking my own advice.

How silly of me!

Now, if you have used Google maps, you have probably experienced a time when it failed you and you thought – “I knew I couldn’t trust the Google.” Okay, maybe you didn’t say THAT, but you probably realized the fallibility of the app.

At times Google gets things wrong, but my God does not.

The Google map isn’t perfect, but my God IS!

The more I spend time in God’s word, the deeper I know Him and His character. And the more I know His character, the easier it is to trust Him (although not perfectly).

I am thankful that God’s trustworthiness isn’t based on my trusting Him. He is intrinsically trustworthy and doesn’t need my affirmation to be so.

I am thankful that He uses a situation like me taking the “long way” to the cleaners to teach me of my need to trust Him. What a kind Father He is!

How are you trusting in yourself or something other than God? Do you doubt He knows the best path for you?

Let’s ask God to work in our hearts, helping us to trust Him alone.

Let’s ask God to give us friends who speak of God’s trustworthiness to us.

Let’s thank God for His kindness in teaching us about His character.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. – Psalm 9:10

You (God) keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3

 

 

 

 

 

 

catching up

There have been many joyful adventures since my last post. Grab a cup of tea, or coffee, or your beverage of choice and we can begin our catching up.

Moving to a new city reveals many holes that need to be filled. There are many things you have to find, and we have been in the process of filling those holes.

Dry Cleaner – check! I have found a new place to take Doug’s dress shirts and any other item that needs dry cleaning, and I have found a fun woman who makes me smile each time I drop off or pick up clothes. She is from South Korea, and her name is pronounced “Oon” (or that is how I hear it – I should ask her to write her name for me). She and her husband own the business. She has one son who just graduated from High School last week, and it is always a joy to have a brief visit through the drop off/pick up window.

Chiropractor – check! I have found a new chiropractor just about a mile from our apartment. I can take the street car and then walk three blocks or can walk the whole way. I just love getting outside. Dr. Abby also practices acupuncture, so that might be great material for a future post.

Dentist – check! Just to be honest – in my adult life I have not found a favorite dentist. I just go, because it is the thing to do. I am a weirdo who loves to floss. I think the new dentist office will be good. I might even enjoy going. I mean – they offered me water or coffee when I walked in. And it wasn’t the mini water bottle – it was full size. SCORE!

Church – the most important – check! When we were contemplating this move, finding a church was the first thing we really talked about. One night, my honey was on Facebook (which at the time was a rare occasion, but now we hang with a bunch of young people who use “the Facebook” regularly, so he checks it more often). While scrolling he saw Emmaus Church being highlighted by Acts 29 church planting network. We looked at their website and loved what we saw (and they met near where we were planning on living.) I really hoped this could be our new church, and in God’s graciousness, it is. We became covenant members of Emmaus Church on April 29 and are thrilled to see how God will teach us, love us, grow us, and use us in this body.

Not only have we filled some of the “holes” of moving, we have had some fun.

At the beginning of May, I flew to California to help my girl put her dorm stuff in storage for the summer. It was a super fast and furious trip – less than 48 hours! It was so great to spend time with her before she headed to Texas for the first half of summer. I got to spend a little time with her friends and see how sweet God had been to her this semester.

We experienced “First Friday’s” which you can read about on their website here. Think art galleries, music, food trucks, and lots of people.

We drove to Texas for a wedding weekend. We had a great time with extended family and loved being in the same place with both our kids – not sure when that will happen next. Weird. Makes me a little sad. I guess I will have to get creative in planning for family time in the future.142225bd-74b3-4535-b361-8f5f8240edff

We enjoyed a serendipitous concert (Stevie Nicks cover band, anyone??} while enjoying coffee on the back patio of a neat coffee shop (they also have a cereal bar there which I haven’t tried but sounds pretty amazing!) And, we have enjoyed walking to City Market where there is a farmers market.

Living downtown provides the opportunity to do lots of walking, and I am really loving that the weather is now cooperating so we can do just that.. WALK!

All over!

When the weather isn’t ideal for a walk or we need to get somewhere a bit more quickly, the streetcar is fantastic and entertaining. It also stops right in front of our apartment building. Just the other day I saw two wolves on the streetcar. Okay, maybe they were children with Great Wolf Lodge wolf ears, but they were cute wolves! (Which reminds me – Roman, tell your mom and dad it is time for a visit, so I can do MagiQuest with you!)

You really never know what you might see around here. You should come check it out!

I have to bring this to a close – about to head out for a walk with my honey. Would love to hear all that is going on in your lives. Your turn to catch me up!

 

 

cg

CG?

What kind of blog title is cg?

It is a title created by a crazy mind who sees things a little weirdly.

It is a title that would be discouraged by the great and successful in the blogosphere.

It is a title made of the initials of two things that have been meaningful in my life.

Camp Gladiator and Community Groups

Perhaps that should have been the title (of course in all lowercase). You would at least have known a little bit about what you were getting into.

CG represents two things that seem to be very different – a fitness “bootcamp” and a weekly church group – but have more in common that you might realize.

I started Camp Gladiator (CG) in 2017 with my friend Sandra. We got a free month and decided to jump in. That first workout on January 2nd was a beat down. So hard! That “dizzy head I might pass out” hard. If you are in great shape you may not know what I am talking about there. But, we went back. Most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 5:15 am (yes, 5:15 happens twice each day) we were there. Not only did we go back during our free month, we kept going back, committing to a year of this craziness.

What kept us going back?

We had an amazing trainer, Shannon, who cheered us on and gave us modifications as needed. Shannon believed in us. Shannon pushed us. That was huge. But, that alone wouldn’t have been enough.

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My amazing trainer, Shannon

What kept us going back?

In a word – Community

There was a group of people from all different walks of life who were there to make healthy choices and cheer others on in the process. I never felt like they were judging me as I finished a lap last or had to take a moment to breathe. There were high fives, and “good jobs,” and “you can do it.” There were celebrations of new achievements and gracious “we missed you” when gone for travel (or sleep). There were friendships made.

Besides my friend Sandra, there was Katie, Sabra, Brad, Schakira, Kiki, Elisha, Amber, and a host of others who welcomed me into the group. There was another trainer, Becky, who always called us athletes as she pushed us to keep going.

After my 100th check in with Katie, Sandra, Sabra, Brad, and Schakira

Not only did this group of people cheer for each other, they would take time to help the new people make sure their form was correct, understand the CG specific “lingo,” and explain various exercise combos. There was joy in seeing each other succeed.

I remember talking to my amazing husband about this experience with CG, trying to explain it to an “outsider.” (He was a bit surprised that I kept getting up at 4:40am, not being a natural early morning person). In my explaining, I had an “a-ha!” moment.

Camp Gladiator camps (at least the ones I visited) function as the body of Christ should function.

A group of people with a similar goal who

 encourage each other

give friendly correction when needed

welcome new people

work hard together

laugh together

Of course, there isn’t a perfect correlation, but perhaps some of our churches could take lessons.

And it is this thought that brings me to my second “cg” – Community Group.

When my honey and I showed up in Kansas City, we knew we wanted to find a church. Through God’s gracious hand of providence, we had already found a church we wanted to visit. Soon after visiting we were invited to try out a community group. On the church website the first sentence under the vision for these community groups is “Community Groups exist to see the people of Emmaus Church experience gospel-centered belonging, discipleship, and commission with one another for the glory of God.” If you want to read the full community group vision statement, you can see it here.

Our community group is composed of people from all different walks of life who are there to display and declare the glory of God and to encourage others on in the process. I never feel like they are judging me as I confess my sins, share my dark heart moments, or for just being my goofy self. There is gospel truth, accountability, “you are loved,” and “I am praying for you.” There are celebrations of God’s work in our lives and gracious “we missed you” when gone for travel (or work). There are friendships made. There is family.

Olive, Allie, me, Katy, Rebecca, Risa, Tori – Valentine’s night Community Group

When I look at my list above of what I loved about CG “bootcamp,” I see quite a bit of similarity between it and our community group.

Our community group is a group of people with a similar goal who

encourage each other – we pray for each other and speak the gospel into each other’s lives as well as giving practical help (babysitting, airport drop offs, meals)

give friendly correction when needed – we confess sins to each other and then come alongside one another in prayer and in speaking truth

welcome new people – our group has marrieds, singles, couples with kids, couples without kids, college students, graduate students, professionals, stay at home moms, and empty nesters – all are welcome

work hard together – we come together to volunteer at church and in the community

laugh together – we do this a LOT

Being a part of community requires giving, not just receiving. It requires vulnerability. It requires commitment. If you are in a place where you are lacking community, I pray that you will find it.

 

drawing near – part 2

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to [Jesus].” – Luke 15:1

It was almost a month ago that I wrote about some of my thoughts on this verse here. I still read this verse and pause. There is a conviction that comes to my heart as I read about these tax collectors and sinners drawing near to Jesus, because often I do not.

I know Jesus is my Savior.

I can tell you how amazing He is.

how kind

how good

I can tell you about the times I spend with Him in scripture.

He feeds my soul.

He is the giver of life.

I can tell you specific stories where He has met me in my need

with compassion,

with truth.

But when I read this passage in Luke, I felt my heart sink as I realized that as much as I know all of this, I don’t always choose to draw near to Jesus.

I am easily distracted.

I want to be entertained.

I am thankful that His love for me is not conditioned on my performance. I am thankful that He has perfectly drawn near to the Father on my behalf. And, I am thankful that His Spirit reminds me that I need to draw near to Him

not out of obligation,

but because I NEED Him every minute of the day.

I am also thankful for a friend’s encouragement to read through the New Testament chronologically this year, one chapter a day. five days a week. This journey has pushed me to draw near to Jesus. It is April and we are still in the gospels, the first four books of the New Testament. I am not rushing through but slowing down to see Jesus even more clearly. This is a gift.

I am also thankful that my church is studying the gospel of John this year. Each week, our pastors take us slowly through John’s account, reminding us that the purpose of John is “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).” Oh, how good it is. You can find most of the messages on the website here or you can watch the Facebook live videos. Each week is a gift.

This past Sunday, we were in John 6:60-71 when many of Jesus disciples chose to leave him. He looks to the 12 and asks if they want to go too. I love Peter’s response:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (verse 68).”

THIS!

I want this to be my response to Jesus.

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would work in my heart, conforming my desires to His desires. My prayer is that I would choose to draw near to Jesus rather than other things. My prayer is that I would encourage others to draw near to Him as well.

table 432

img_0917
Getting ready to board the Splendor

It has been almost two weeks since I returned from a fantastic spring break adventure with my number one girl. We cruised out of Long Beach to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas and had a most excellent time. She is a pretty cool travel buddy! If you haven’t met her – you are missing out.

Before our trip, I expected to have a lot of fun with my girl.

I did.

I expected to see beautiful parts of God’s world.

I did.

I expected to enjoy relaxing with a good book on the deck of the boat.

I did.

What I did not expect was to find an amazing group of diverse people who would feel like family by the end of the week.

I did not expect “table 432.”

You might be wondering. “what in the world is table 432?”

I will try to explain, knowing that my words and descriptions will probably fall short.

Table 432 was the table Kenzie and I were assigned to for dinner each night in the dining room. On the first night, there was just one other couple at our table that had chairs for ten. So, we had fun getting to know Jeanette and Adam from Vancouver that night. And we all wondered where the rest of our table mates were. We had no idea what we were in for.

The next night our group of four was joined by Heather and Teresa – friends from Iowa; Sherry, Barbara, and Maya – three generations from Los Angeles; and Karla and Desi – friends from San Diego. We went from four to eleven and never looked back.

It was truly amazing how quickly we all seemed to feel comfortable with each other. We met for breakfast many mornings, went on adventures in Puerto Vallarta together, enjoyed afternoon tea, and spent time getting to know each other. One night a few of us sat on the deck until almost 2am just sharing a little bit about our lives and learning what we had in common.  Each personality was unique. Each personality had something to offer.

I could write a paragraph about each of these people God brought into my life but I am going to go with the first word that comes to mind.

Towel Elephant

Jeanette – kind

Adam – welcoming

Desi – generous

Karla – adventurous

Barbara – wise

Sherry (Barbara’s daughter) – joyful

Maya (Sherry’s daughter) – energetic

Heather – witty

Teresa – friendly

There are some other fun things about these people – like Karla owns a SLOTH!!! Sherry and Heather have both worked with juveniles that are in the “system.” Maya and Teresa love to dance. Adam loves to organize (he was our personal cruise director), and Jeanette teaches primary school. Sherry has an infectious giggle; Barbara goes by Nonna (NOT Nana) to her many grands and great grands (might even be some great great grandchildren); and Desi is very hospitable. I mean we played 2 truths and a lie with these people.

After just 5-6 days with these people, this is what I know about them. I am sure if I had Kenzie on the phone right now she would have fun things to add. This random group of strangers thrown together by Amith, the maitre’d of the Gold Pearl Dining Room, ended up being our little cruise family for the week. (Okay, I believe we were thrown together by the providence of God who used Amith in this way).

Would we have been friends if we had met in different circumstances? Maybe. If we would have filled out questionnaires (like colleges have for roommate assignments), I don’t know if we would have been matched with this group. I am not sure if we see eye to eye on politics, and I know we have some varying religious views. But, I also know that this was the very table at which we were meant to be. These were the people we were supposed to meet. Our experience was richer because of each of them. And, I have new friends I look forward to seeing again because of table 432.

This experience reminded me of the importance to always look at the people God brings across my path with His eyes – as people created in His image.

It reminded me of the joy in experiencing life WITH others rather than in isolation.

It reminded me of how it is worth it to be vulnerable with others and open up our lives and hearts to them.

So, look around your world. Is there a “table 432” where God has placed you? If so, I would love to hear about it.

 

Top -Sherry, Me, Kenzie, Heather, Barbara; Middle – Desi, Maya, Teresa; Bottom – Jeanette, Karla, Adam (taken of the picture we bought)

 

 

 

missing

I have been doing a little bit of “missing” this week. It is interesting that I am coming upon the end of three months in my new city, and this week, I feel the missing a bit more deeply. You see, this is the week of the longest lasting tradition in my life – celebrating Passover on Good Friday. I know – Passover doesn’t always (not even really often) actually start on Good Friday. But this is how we did it. It all started the first year of  our marriage. We enjoyed a Passover Seder at a messianic congregation in Dallas with dear friends. Because we enjoyed it so much, we decided to have our own Passover Seder the next year. Through the years we added friends (and lots of children) to our table, but the original two couples stayed the same. Tonight would have been our 25th Passover Seder with them.

Twenty-five years of being reminded that Jesus is our Passover lamb (1 Cor. 5:7)

Twenty-five  years of being reminded that just as God delivered His people out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (Dt. 26:8)”, He delivers His children out of the bondage of slavery to sin through faith in Jesus.

Twenty-five years of remembering and speaking to one another that the Lord’s love endures forever (Ps. 136).

And, of course, twenty-five years of some amazing food and fellowship late into the night (or early morning).

Twenty-five years.

As I have been pondering the Passover Seder, my mind turned to other fun memories of the season: Easter dinner with family and friends, the fun fest at our church, the neighborhood egg hung my dad organized when I was a kid.

And then I realized that in my “missing,” I am missing the point of it all.

In missing events and people, I am missing the reason for these events.

I am missing the grace of God in the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son.

I am missing the goodness of God in saving me from the penalty of my sin.

I am missing JESUS!

So, I sit here on Good Friday, humbled and grateful.

Humbled that I am so easily distracted from looking to my Savior.

Grateful that my Savior is kind to remind me of what I am really missing.

 

“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

 

 

drawing near – part 1

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to [Jesus].” – Luke 15:1

Did you read that?

The tax collectors – considered traitors, dishonest, greedy, workers for  the enemy

Sinners – one devoted to sin

These were the people who were drawing near to Jesus.

When I read this chapter this week, this is the verse that jumped out to me. And, as usual, my mind ran in a few directions.

I wondered why these people would be drawing near to Jesus? He was God the son in flesh, perfection, sinless. Those character qualities seem intimidating. It seems they would want to hide their failings from someone like Him.

But Jesus saw them. He didn’t ignore them like some would. He also didn’t criticize them, telling them  how horrible they were. He didn’t avoid them like the religious of the day would have. He took the time to engage them, have dinner with them, heal them, feed them. He didn’t do these things because they were worthy. It wasn’t about them at all. It was about Jesus bringing glory to God by accomplishing exactly what He came to accomplish (John 6:38-40).

I could see how these people were drawn to Jesus by looking at other places in the gospels and seeing his interaction and heart for the people. And that got me to pondering something else.

Why do the “tax collectors and sinners” of today seem to avoid drawing near to the people of Jesus? What is different?

We could spout verses about darkness hating the light – truth from John 3:20. Yet, Jesus is the light of the world and sinners were still drawn to him.

We could mention spiritual battle, the enemy at work, hard hearts – all things that are true today and would have been true while Jesus walked this earth.

I believe a huge difference is in the way Jesus treated these “undesirables” and how the church today tends to treat them.

While many in the church tend to judge, criticize, and blame sinners, Jesus had compassion for them – Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32.

While we might feel the need to avoid such company, Jesus spent time with them, having dinner in their homes and inviting himself to their homes (Love the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19).

While we might worry what people would think if they saw us with such people, Jesus did not worry about his reputation.

I think too often we (Christians) view these “sinners” as the enemy. They aren’t the enemy, but the real enemy would like us to think so. We forget that we are sinners (like them) who have been saved by grace. We forget that after Jesus looked on the crowds with compassion in Matthew 9:36, he then says to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

It is hard to be a laborer in the harvest if we avoid the fields.

 

 

 

 

 

freedom

“No meat today.”

A recent early morning adventure had me sitting in a neat little bakery (not paleo or whole 30 approved other than the coffee) after meeting with a friend. I was writing some thoughts in my journal when I heard an older gentleman say this to the young woman who worked there.

It was a seemingly out of the blue statement.

Direct. Instructing. Firm.

It distracted me enough that I observed the interaction that followed.

She didn’t seem to respond well. Walls went up.

It was a Friday during the season of Lent. From the context clues, I gathered this man practices the Catholic act of fasting from meat on Fridays during Lent. Watching their exchange brought so much to mind, especially as I had just been reading in John 8 where Jesus says to his followers, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (verse 32).

The way this man was expressing himself demonstrated nothing of freedom that is to be found in Christ.

Freedom from the penalty of sin.

Freedom from striving to earn God’s favor (which is an impossible feat).

Freedom to rest in Him.

The man stated that we should sacrifice because of what Christ did on the cross.

Immediately my mind jumped to the following verses:

And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:2

Then he said: “Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, and yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers.” – Luke 11:46

And [Jesus] said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” – Mark 7:6-8

These truths pricked my heart. The Lord was nudging me to ask myself:

In what ways am I “sacrificing” FOR God but not obeying Him?

Are there areas where I hold to traditions of men rather than clinging to God’s truth and commandments?

Am I experiencing the freedom that Jesus mentioned in the gospels?

Do I attempt to earn God’s favor?

Do I make it hard for others to follow God by loading them with burdens?

Ouch!

Please hear me. My focus in sharing this gentleman’s comment is not to make him the bad guy. It is not to criticize people who choose to participate in Lent (in whatever way you choose).

It is to share how God used this moment in a little bakery to speak to my heart.

It  is to encourage you to check your heart as I am checking mine.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook the following:

There is nothing that you can do to earn God’s favor. There is nothing you need to do to earn God’s favor. This is why the Gospel is Good News – Pastor Jamie

Reading his post made me think:

this is freedom!

good gifts

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17 (ESV)

I have loved this verse for quite a long time, and over the years have spent time pondering good gifts. Of course there are the more obvious ones:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Health
  • Salvation (the best gift ever!)

But, what about the good gifts that we don’t recognize as good in the moment? What about the gifts that don’t seem like gifts at all? Or what about the gifts that we don’t realize how good they are until later? I have a few of those to share.

In the fall of 2000, I was at a women’s conference with a group of ladies from my church. While there, I wrote down a verse thinking, “I want to use this for my New Year’s card.” I also thought that it would be a good verse to encourage others. What was it?

Psalm 103:19 – “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” (NASB)

This verse was a good gift, and I didn’t even know it at the time. Five months later when both my parents were in the hospital (different hospitals) and my mom ended up passing away, this verse was a comfort to me. God’s love for me was so evident in Him giving me this verse (which I thought was to share with others), because He knew I would need it. He gave it before I realized it was for me.

Now that was a good gift.

A few years before that conference my husband left a job to go into business with his dad. Had he never left to work with his dad, there was a good chance that we would have been transferred to another state. Yet, in Texas, we lived about 10 minutes from my parents. So, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, I was nearby to encourage my mom. And I was there to care for my dad when my mom unexpectedly passed away.

That was a good gift.

After my husband and his father closed their company, my husband did the job search thing. He applied for a position with a company he had connections with from his time building houses with his dad. The job was out-of-state, and he felt really good about it. Yet, he didn’t get the job. There was some discouragement during the job search season. However, he ended up getting hired by the company he had left, keeping us in Texas, close to his parents. A little over a year later, my husband’s parents were killed in a car wreck, and we were able to be there with his sisters. How good of God to keep us near family for that time.

That was a good gift.

I could also tell you of a car rental experience that went so very wrong but ended with us having a bigger and better suited vehicle for a family vacation. In the moment of frustration, I didn’t know God was going to give us a good gift.

I could share many more examples of God’s good gifts that don’t appear good at the time. I also imagine you have your own stories of His good gifts.

Stories of a lost job or a delayed job

Stories relating to the health of a loved one or yourself

Stories where you received a disappointing “no”

I also imagine some of you are waiting and wondering how a good gift could come from your circumstances.

I don’t know what you are going through, but here are two things I do know:

God’s sovereignty is ruling over ALL

God gives good and perfect gifts

Today I am praying that God will give us the eyes to see the good gifts He has already given and trust that He is the giver of good and perfect gifts yet to come.

 

 

creativity

Creativity has been a recurring theme in my life lately.

My friend, Jann, who I believe to be one of the most creative/artistic people I know (she is definitely one of the funnest – real word), shared a story of a time someone expressed that she did not have an artistic bone in her body. Okay – those are my words, but it was close to that. She shared this story in the process of encouraging others to spread their wings and attempt art in a new way. Jann creatively expresses her faith by Bible journaling and teaches others to do the same. You can check out her website here. Scroll to the bottom of that page to see some of her art. She can create!!!

A couple of weeks ago I was able to go to a women’s event with some sweet ladies God has brought into my life. He really gives good gifts (a blog for another day). As the speaker was sharing some of the attributes of God, she pointed out that as image bearers of God, we are all creative beings with the ability to create. We can create!!

My honey and I had the opportunity to get away with some friends for a few days and explore part of our new state. One day, the wives went to a painting lesson where we created a nice winter scene with the help of our wonderful teacher, Stephanie. Now, I will not be painting for money anytime soon, but it was so much fun to start with a blank canvas and see it transformed into something new. And, although all 6 of us in the class painted the same basic scene, each one was unique. We created!!

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As I have been pondering each of these experiences, my heart always lands on the One who makes our creating possible – THE Creator.

“All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” – John 1:3

While on our get away, my honey and I were able to see much of God’s creation in the nature around us. I was thankful to get away and take time to admire His creation. Oh, how creative He is, and how kind He is to share it with us.

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As I took in the beauty of His creation, I was overcome by His glory and majesty. I was overcome by the gospel.

God created a perfect world that fell into sin and darkness. The people God created didn’t want him – they loved the darkness (John 3:19). But, because of God’s love, he sent Jesus to gather a people for Himself. Jesus purchased redemption for His people on the cross. And all who receive Jesus by faith are given the right to become children of God (John 1:12).

The Creator of the universe made a way. How wild is this!?!?

Take some time to see God’s creation around you.

Take some time to marvel that the Creator of the universe has made a way for rebellious people to be made right and have a relationship with Him.

Take some time to give thanks – I know I am.