But God

I start my new job on Monday. It’s been about six weeks since I’ve had to put in an eight-hour work day. I’ve had projects and to-do lists these last six weeks, but it hasn’t been for a paycheck. Most of the projects have been in helping or serving family, and I’ve loved almost ever moment of it. It’s in seasons like these that I realize I’m not built for the workforce like some of my friends. I work because I have to earn a living. Thankfully, I usually enjoy my work (a gift from God), but in the depths of my heart I know that I long to take care of hearth and home and use my giftings to serve my church, community, and family.

“But God.” I’ve always known that phrase to mean that God is in the midst of my circumstances. I lost my job, but God. I lost my home, but God. It doesn’t really matter the situation as long as the “but God” is still present.

However, I’m discovering what “but God” means for me. I was talking with a friend the other day about the promises of God. I immediately confirmed that God always fulfills His promises. And then I realized my unspoken response was, “but not all God’s promises are for me.” I’m still not exactly sure when this belief took root in my heart or from where it came. It might have been a generational belief, or a lie that I picked up and started believing. Regardless of its origins, it needs to be uprooted and thrown into the fire.

This got me thinking about the difference between God’s promises and good things. Health, marriage, children, and happiness are all good things. I think sometimes I get good things confused with what He promises and that’s why I don’t feel like all His promises are for me. I’ve made the Lord seem unfaithful because I feel I am lacking good things, but are those even things that would be good for me? I’m processing a lot, so I don’t have all the answers, but here are my thoughts and the things that I’m working on rewriting in my heart.

  • He “settles the solitary in a home.” Psalm 68:6a.
  • “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
  • “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
  • “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22
  • “You [God] hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5
  • “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
  • “I [God] will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols. I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:25-26
  • “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my [Jesus’] name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

I know there are many more and I’m asking the Holy Spirit to help clarify the differences between good things and the promises of God that I can stand solidly on. What promises help anchor you?

“And Just When You Think It’s Rained Enough, It Starts To Pour.” – Anonymous

This week I got to meet my newest niece (seventh niece and I also have three nephews) and hang out with all her siblings! I’ve always enjoyed spending time with family and am usually onboard for road trips. So the prospect of an adventure, with a cute bundle of joy at the end, was something that I couldn’t pass up.

It also was Pentecost Sunday. I can thank my Lutheran upbringing for my understanding of Pentecost (here’s a link if you aren’t sure of the history of Pentecost). This was an especially sweet Pentecost as my niece was baptized (Lutheran Baptismal Doctrine). And yet, while I deeply cherish all that happened this weekend, that is not the “pouring” that I am talking about in the title of this blog.

It was getting later Sunday night. I was driving the last leg of that day’s driving with my travel buddies (we’d left mid-afternoon after all the celebrations to head home). I’d noticed some storm warnings along our path earlier in the day, but hadn’t given them much thought as the skies were beautiful and clear most of the afternoon and evening. Plus, the storm was ahead of us and moving the same direction as we were.

Around dinner time, we noticed some darkening clouds ahead. I was still hopeful that we wouldn’t catch up with the storm, but when we started seeing the lightening fork across the sky, my hope started to waver. My navigator (aka my mom) started looking at the weather where we were located and tracking the storm. She realized that there was a tornado watch ahead along with a severe thunderstorm warning (including hail, strong winds, and possible flooding). We were in Kansas need I say more?

When I had taken over driving earlier in the evening, I was listening to a prayer session from my M12M Group. The focus of the prayer was Pentecost and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Talk about a perfect way to drive through this storm. The lightening never stopped the whole hour. Thankfully, the wind never picked up. The rain was a different matter. It rained so hard at points that I had to drive with my hazard lights on and going about half the speed limit in order to see the road clearly.

We debated hunkering down and letting the storm continue ahead of us, but where could we wait? Should we wait? We knew that we needed to stay on the main roads, so we decided to stay the course and keep driving as we were only about an hour away from our hotel and shelter from the storm.

If that wasn’t hard enough, you have to add in the flying moths that were in our car. In the middle of driving through this storm, my other travel buddy discovered three moths flying around in our car. We still don’t know when they got in the car or where they were for the prior 5 hours of the trip! Did I mention that my travel buddy in the middle seat is deathly afraid of moths?!? She was trapped in a car, in the dark, in the middle of a severe thunderstorm…with three dive bombing moths. Let’s just say that there was a lot of prayer that happened in the car at that very moment. I turned up the worship music that was playing and we continued our slow trek to the hotel.

Obviously, we made it safely as you’re reading this blog. One thing that I didn’t mention, is that I saw a partial rainbow at the beginning of the storm. Rainbows have always been special for me. I always feel like the Lord is reminding me that He has me and everything is ultimately going to be okay. Some might say that the rainbow was just a naturally occurring phenomenon, but I choose to believe that He put it there for me to see. He wanted me to remember that my hope is in Him and not in the vehicle I was driving, or our GPS/weather app, or in the power windows that we used to finally get the moths out of the car. It was in Him. His Spirit was present in the car with us and gave all of us peace as we drove. He was our safety.

You probably had a much calmer Sunday, but I hope you were able to see your own rainbows and be reminded of the presence of the Holy Spirit and His safety and peace. May your hope continue to grow in Him rather then in the things of this earth!

Moving Details

So many details! This blog is probably being written more out of necessity then anything. 🙂 Every time I move, I sit down and plan out exactly what I need to do to move efficiently. So I figured I’d write a blog about it so that for my next move I won’t have to recreate the wheel.

  • Living arrangements – Find a new living situation or storage unit if in limbo. This includes research or allowing family/friends to help find a safe place to land. The beauty of my move this time is that I can land with family until the Lord highlights the next adventure.
  • Bins – Get my storage bins out of the closet to start packing. I actually enjoy packing and unpacking. And I’ve done it enough that I use storage bins rather then boxes. I’ve found that storage bins keep my belongings safer and less “buggy.”
  • Packing Schedule – Set-up a schedule for packing. I enjoy packing a few boxes a day so that it doesn’t become overwhelming. The daily number depends on how much time I have.
  • Movers – Research and hire movers for my large furniture. I’m good with moving all my bins and smaller items, but I’ve found that using professionals is the way to go for the larger items. I have an upright piano that is a beast to move. So if I have to hire someone to move that piece then I might as well save my brothers’ backs and let professionals move all the larger furniture. I’ve used a couple great moving companies, so let me know if you need any recommendations!
  • Movers Prep – Take apart any furniture that I can before the movers come. I know how each piece is put together and would prefer that I take them apart to ensure they don’t get damaged.
  • Health Insurance – Research and find interim health insurance. Now if I already have another job lined up and no break in my insurance coverage, then I can skip this step.
  • Rental/Home Insurance – Update my rental insurance for where my belongings will be going.
  • Addresses – Update all the mailing addresses for my accounts or bills. I’ve found that going through my web address book helps me know what needs to be updated.
  • USPS – Contact the USPS to forward my mail to my new address. Doing this the week before I move allows me to not miss anything and make sure it works. The USPS is usually willing to forward my mail for a year for a small charge, which is great just in case I miss one of the addresses on the above bullet point.
  • Utilities – Cancel (and possibly transfer or start) any utilities that I won’t need anymore. Researching how much lead time each company needs is helpful so that I don’t pay any extra costs. Can’t forget to ask about my deposit and make sure they have my updated mailing address.
  • Cable/WIFI – Cancel any cable or WIFI that is tied to my current residency. Make sure to be aware of their cancellation policy is important. Cancelling too soon can be frustrating and having to pay extra for not canceling soon enough is troublesome as well.
  • Clean, clean, clean – I clean like I pack, a little each day. I always want my security deposit back. Plus, I want the space to look sparkling when I leave and show that I’ve been a good steward of the space.
  • Last Bin – I always save one bin for last-minute things that I need during my final weeks such as shower curtains, window curtains, and dishes etc.

I think the biggest reminder that I need each move is to let people help. When I have a good plan I often times don’t ask for help. I’ve actually been realizing this year that I don’t expect people to help me. I always assume that they are too busy and they’ll always prioritize something over me. But the Lord is reminding me that friends and family can’t prioritize me if I don’t tell them how/when I need help. I think I need to do some meditating on Moses and the times he received help.

But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Exodus 17:12

Not sure if this blog is for anyone else other then me, but my hope is that either my list helps you in your next transition or you find encouragement in your own journey. May you feel the Lord’s presence in whatever season you find yourself in or in the ways that you receive help!

Adventuring into God’s Goodness

I didn’t think I was going to get in an adventure for March, but God was good! I was able to do my friend Tiffany’s adventure #152 – Go fly a kite. March seemed to take on a life of its own and I was having difficulty finding time on a windy day. I was walking home from work the last week of March and realized that I had about an hour free that evening and the wind was gusting. I grabbed my new butterfly kite (see picture above) and stepped out to see what would happen. I had so much fun! I can’t remember the last time that I flew a kite. Granted, I wasn’t in a super open space, and the wind was a bit spotty, but it was a joy to be outside enjoying the Lord’s creation and giggling like a school girl. 🙂

Butterflies symbolize new life. I honestly wasn’t thinking about that when I bought the kite. Little did I know as I flew that butterfly kite that my life would be changing by the end of the week. I found out that my university position is going away and my tasks distributed to other employees, so I’ll be looking for a new job and home (I live on campus) by June 1st.

Currently, I’m in the middle of packing for my 22nd move (I think, I’m starting to lose track) over my almost 37 years. I’ve calculated that I typically move every 1-3 year (since I was 18). That’s a lot of moves for this little “doesn’t like change and wants roots” gal. Thankfully, as my mom mentioned the other day, I have moving down to a fine art now. 🙂 I have my lists, tubs, storage unit, and plan all lined out!

As I wrestled through this unexpected change, the Lord graciously reminded me of His goodness. I was at prayer group when I felt the Lord prompting me to remember His love and care for me in the past through every single one of my moves. He impressed on me that He has always had me and always will. I immediately felt peaceful that even though I was surprised, God my Father is not surprised. He allowed this to go through His hands of sovereignty and will use it for His glory and my good.

My core group (a group of three ladies who meet regularly from church) has been reading “In His Image” by Jenn Wilkins. We study a different character trait of God monthly. Guess what this month is? “God Most Good.” I read it at the end of March so that I could focus on it for the month of April. The Lord knew before I did that I would need to meditate on His goodness through all of this change.

So many sweet reminders from the Lord before I knew anything was happening! So now I look to the future with anticipation of the “new life” God is crafting for me and a deeper understanding of God’s goodness. Not just His goodness in general, but His goodness specifically for me.

Oh, and if you’re looking for something to do any weekend between now and Memorial day weekend, let me know. I’ve got a few boxes you can help move. 🙂

Adventures 2.0

It’s been a little while since I shared my monthly adventures. To be honest, things got crazy toward the end of last year and I wasn’t able to complete an adventure each month. Thankfully, new years bring new adventures and I’ve renewed my desire to pursue a new adventure each month. This month’s blog post will catch you up on any that I’ve missed sharing. If you are new to my blog, you can read how my monthly adventures started last year here – Monthly Adventures.

Coffee Shop – In December, I did adventure #124 from my friend Lauren. “Take a book to your favorite coffee shop and give yourself an afternoon of adventure.” My all time favorite coffee shop is Koffee with a Kause. It’s located in my parent’s hometown and is locally run. My brother introduced me to this unique shop a few years ago and I always take advantage of meeting people there to chat. It’s a sweet, homey space that makes you feel like you are curling up in your own living room. This was a fun adventure as it combined two things that I love: a book and Koffee with a Kause’s Caramel Apple Spice!

Worship Walk – In January, I completed adventure #139 from my friend Katie. “Going to the park for a walk with some worship music.” My sister-in-law giggles that I often seem to tweak my adventures and this one was no exception. 🙂 Instead of going to the park, I decided to walk around my neighborhood. It was 60 degrees one Sunday and I went for a stroll with my earbuds in. I forget how beautiful my neighborhood is. Just as my house is more than 90 years old, many of the homes in the neighborhood are just as old and unique. I found a beautiful spot down a dead-end road that overlooks the river that runs alongside my campus. I’ll have to meet my neighbors soon and see if they’ll let me bring a chair down and soak in the view that’s between their properties! I also found a neighborhood library box. I’ve never lived near one and got really, REALLY excited.

Walmart Museum – In February, I tackled Adventure #43 from my friend Jenna. “Visit the Walmart Museum.” This museum is located about 4 hours away from where I live. Same dilemma I had with the Crystal Bridges museum adventure last year. How do I find the time to visit?? I decided to go to their website (The Walmart Museum) to check things out. I immediately noticed that they had a virtual option. Often times it seems that the virtual tours aren’t all that great, but I was pleasantly surprised! They have uniquely linked photos, videos, information, and even a quiz for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home. I would like to visit it in person sometime but did greatly enjoy my evening learning about Walmart.

There were sweet moments in each of these adventures and things that I felt the Lord was highlighting and teaching me. The biggest one that has stuck with me was a quote from Mrs. Walton. She had an anonymous saying hanging in her office so she could see it daily, “It is not what you gather in life; it’s what you scatter in life, that tells the kind of life you have lived.” May you see the seeds that you scatter this week!

Distraction

I woke up this morning thinking about distraction. If you’d asked me a month ago if I use distraction in my life, I would have said no. This morning, the Lord highlighted that I often use food and TV as distractions. Distraction from what? I don’t have the what exactly figured out yet, but I’m willing to press into it this month and see what the Holy Spirit reveals.

Distraction

1. a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else; 2. extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

New Oxford American Dictionary

Food – In general I eat fairly well due to my autoimmune and food sensitivities. I know that food is helping heal my body. So when I say food can be a distraction, I mean that I don’t cook from scratch when I should or I find an excuse to eat out, even though I know that’s not what is best for me. My plan is twofold: first allow myself the time to press in with the Lord and ask the hard questions. In those moments, why do I want to choose the easy way out (for the short term gain or reward)? Second, I’m going to get back into the swing of meal planning fully, prepping meals on weekends, and cooking mostly from scratch.

TV – With all the streaming capabilities now, it’s not a surprise that TV would be an easy distraction. When I get home after a long day of interacting with people at work, sometimes I don’t want to think or try to problem solve. This one is a little easier to work with. I just need to schedule time where the TV isn’t on. I actually started this in January and have enjoyed it. There are some weeks I don’t want to do it, but I have committed to at least one night a week where it stays off. I call these evenings my Tea & Read Night.

In giving myself one night a week to still the noise, I’m allowing space for the Lord to speak. To reveal what food and TV is distracting me from and to help bring healing. The key is not filling the time with other noise (social media, friends, etc.). I don’t like the way distraction makes me feel. I feel like I’m constantly running from something. Today, I think I’m ready to turn and face it. In doing this, I think I’ll turn my face more toward the Father and His grace and love. I’m tired of being distracted, so I’m going to embrace the journey of living a simplified and less distracted life. I want more. I want Him.

Embrace

I’ve never been big on coming up with a word for the year. But as I’ve gotten older, the Lord has seemed to highlight key words or phrases to focus on. The first one I remember was “simple” in 2018, “intentional connections” in 2019 and “restoration” in 2020. This year the Lord has been highlighting the word “embrace.”

Definition of embrace –

1. to clasp in the arms; cherish, love

2. encircle, enclose

3. to take up especially readily or gladly; to avail oneself of: welcome

4. to take in or include as a part, item, or element of a more inclusive whole; to be equal or equivalent to

Merriam-Webster

I actually love all of these definitions! I didn’t realized there were that many ways to utilized this one word! Here are the ways that I’m hoping to “embrace” 2022.

1. To clasp in the arms – As my family will tell you, I love hugs! This reminds and challenges me to hug my family often. I want to spend time with them so that I can hug them long and repeatedly. Even the ones who don’t want them (you know who you are!).

2. Encircle – This reminds me of circling the wagons – focusing on putting the important stuff in the middle. I want to focus on the things that are important. I want to protect those things. I don’t want the world to steal these things from me. One of the things I want to focus on is mediating on the Word of the Lord. The last couple of days I’ve felt the Lord inviting me to do a study on the word daughter. Specifically, what it means to be His daughter. I know that many things will come along to distract me, but I want to encircle and prioritize the things the Lord wants me to focus on such as this word study.

3. To take up readily or gladly – I know that the Lord has desires and plans for me this year. I’m not yet sure what these plans are, but I feel Him shifting things under my feet. I want to readily and gladly accept whatever He has planned. When I was younger, I didn’t like change, but this year feels different. I have more anticipation and expectation for what He has planned.

4. To take in or include as a part, item, or element of a more inclusive whole – I want to find or refine my place in the different areas the Lord has called me too. I’m realizing that the Lord has created me to take part in making a whole. I have a role to play at work, in my family, with my friends, and ultimately in the body of Christ (the Church). I want to make sure that I am filling in the pieces that the Lord has called me too.

I’m sure there are other ways that the Lord will desire to have me embrace 2022. May my heart be soft to His promptings and may my mind be ready to embrace all that He has for me. I pray your 2022 is filled with His joy and His embrace.

Memory Lane V

December 14 will be the seven-year anniversary of starting this blog. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long! Seven years and 84 blog posts later, I love seeing my history and God’s love and grace memorialized in these blogs. Every year, I write a blog highlighting some of my favorite blogs over the years and add the ones that I love from the current year! Enjoy the journey down memory lane and may your Christmas be filled with His presence and joy!

Entertaining Angels

I’ve had multiple conversations at work recently about sewing seeds in people’s lives. We often want to see the fruit, but I can’t find anywhere in Scripture where it promises that we’ll see the fruit that we’ve prayerfully sewn. I believe that we are called to love people well and in so doing, we plant seeds for the glory of God and trust His purposes and timing.

I’ve been mulling over these conversations and Hebrews 13:2 came to mind. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” I may never know the end result of every situation I’m in, but I do know that Romans 12:10 should constantly be on my mind and heart. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Here are a few examples of how people have loved me well recently without knowing the blessing.

The last two months have been pretty crazy between getting COVID and my dad breaking his hip. I’m not exactly sure what month it is right now, actually, ha! A dear friend put together a care package for me with candles, tea, warm socks, a few other odds-and-ends, and a sweet note. I don’t think she’ll ever know how deeply this simple gift speaks to my heart.

When I had COVID, I had so many friend reach out to check on me and offer to bring supplies by. Often, I’ve had fears about getting sick and not having anyone to help me since I live alone. Simply knowing that I had friends who were willing to drop everything and come bring me needed items blessed my socks off!

My Dad has since gone into assisted living because of his Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s Dementia. This obviously has been very emotional. The other weekend my mom and I were shopping for a few items for Dad’s new room. This was a hard weekend. One of the sales guys was very kind as he showed us around the furniture floor. He had no idea what was going on with my dad, but it was sweet just chatting about normal things. Those few moments of laughter were a gift on a hard day.

I know I usually write about my adventures, but I felt the Lord laying on my heart to share about community. I’ll catch you up on my adventures in January!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Sunset Drive

The challenge for the month was from my friend Tiffany. It’s #155 – Sunset drive listening to worship music (best when the windows are down). As you probably know I’m a planner, so how do you plan well for a sunset drive? You don’t.

I was actually driving home from celebrating a sibling’s birthday mid-September. I was pretty tired and was counting down until I could get home. I usually listen to podcasts while I’m in the car for any extended amount of time. So while it wasn’t worship music, it was a podcast on how to live singleness well and from a Scriptural viewpoint (Vicariously – https://www.audible.com/pd/Podcast/B08JJNTK3M).

There I was on I-30 heading home and the sunset was beautiful! Bright yellow and gold and rich like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The planner that I am, I was wondering if I could count my drive home as my sunset drive. I weighed my options and decided that it wouldn’t count. I wanted it to be the adventure it was meant to be rather then just a check-mark.

I decided to take a detour and watch the sun fully set at one of the lakes close to home. I pulled up my GPS, typed in “lake,” and let GPS decide where I went. It sent me about 20 min away to a beautiful lake front in a nearby state park. It was a gorgeous drive and I ended up out on a peninsula. There were a few people out and I was able to get out of my car and just engage God’s beautiful creation!

As I look back on my adventure this month, I realize how much I needed that peaceful time. The Lord was preparing me for the chaos that was going to ensue. In the last 5 weeks, my Dad broke his hip, had surgery, came home, had to return to rehab, and I got COVID all in the mix. Thankfully, we are both doing better and thankful for God’s provision and care these past weeks.

So my takeaway for this month is that I need to take advantage of the beautiful moments (and rest) the Lord gives, because I never know what might be around the corner or what emergency might be coming. Enjoy the pictures below from my adventure.