I Know the Plans I Have for You …

by Deb Haggerty @DebHaggerty

How many times do we rush blindly into our days, perhaps breathing a brief “God guide me” on our way out of the bedroom to get coffee and dive into our plans? I was reminded recently that our ideas may not be the plans God has for us.

I was scheduled for a left knee replacement March 10, 2020. All the pre-op tests were clear—I breezed through them. I was hoping to be scheduled for the first surgery slot so I could go back to sleep. I had to report at 6 a.m. and I am NOT a morning person.

My husband took me to the hospital and dropped me at the front door so he could go park the car. I felt a bit light-headed but thought the feeling was from lack of sleep. When they called me to the front desk, I was really off balance. They offered, and I took, a wheelchair for transport to the prep area. I was very glad to get back in bed.

For once, the nurse was able to place the IV easily. I lay there in bed feeling strange. I knew something was not right. The nurse took my blood pressure once, twice, then said the pressure was high, which was unusual for me. She said she’d be right back. When she came back, she told me I was in A Fib—ultra fast, very erratic heartbeat. The anesthetist came by and said they’d have to wait and see—they couldn’t do the surgery with my heart in A Fib. The ortho doctor called my cardiologist who told him in no uncertain terms to cancel the surgery.

The moment the surgery was cancelled, my heart went back into normal sinus rhythm. They took me to the emergency room to do some tests to make sure I was okay and didn’t have a blood clot, but everything was perfect. Instead of knee surgery and two days in the hospital, I was sent home.

But what else was going on? The COVID 19 virus is rampant in the world. People my age with underlying conditions are at the highest risk for contracting the coronavirus. I was at peace throughout the entire process, certain God was in control and that it was his intention that I not have surgery that morning. He protected me from any possibility of picking up an infection or the coronavirus at the hospital or during the physical therapy which would have followed.

As Scripture says in James 4:13-15 (ESV) “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

When your plans go awry, think of my story and know God may have better ones for you. Be at peace, wait and work on your craft until his direction for you becomes clear. James also says in chapter 1, verses 2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

God promises he will always be with us, so have faith and remember, God’s timing is always perfect.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”         Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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About the author: Deb Haggerty is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Elk Lake Publishing, Inc., a Christian publisher that “Publishes the Positive.” An author, blogger, and professional speaker, Deb has been writing stories for over forty-five years. In 2019, she released two books: Experiencing God’s Love in a Broken World—A Spiritual Journey, co-written with her husband of thirty-seven years, Roy, and These Are the Days of My Life, her memoir (with a bonus section of business tips). Follow Deb at Facebook.com/debhgrty or her blog, positivegrace.com.

Join the conversation: Has God ever changed your plans? What happened?

Parenting Can Have Its Moments

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

One Sunday afternoon, as I tackled the pile of dishes in the kitchen, I heard a distinct dripping sound coming from the foyer. Upon investigation, I found a large puddle on the tile floor. The ceiling above it was bowed with water. Where was all that water coming from?

I dashed up the stairs to find the hallway bathroom sink running full-force, plug down, water cascading over the edge like Niagara Falls. The bathtub was also plugged up and nearly filled to capacity. I shut the faucets off but could still hear water running. A quick check revealed the master bathroom had been rigged to overflow as well.

I knew there could be only one culprit—make that two—THE TWINS. I marched into their room to find them up on the top bunk surrounded by every stuffed animal in the house. “Hi Mommy!” my four-year old daughter cheerfully greeted me. “We’re playing Noah’s ark! Joseph is Noah, and I’m his wife!”

Apparently, with the animals safely aboard, they were just sitting back, waiting for the flood.

Motherhood has its moments, right? We had four children in the space of 3 ½ years. I could curl your hair with stories from those early days. Someday I’ll write a book.

Whenever I read James, I have to wonder if he was a parent. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 NASB).

This verse should be stamped on the forehead of anyone attempting to raise a family. Experiencing trials? It’s not a question of if, but when.

Consider it all joy, my brethren…

How much joy did I experience as I mopped the floors that day? There was no cheerful whistling nor a single happy thought as I repeatedly wrung out my mop, I can assure you. But is that what James meant by joy?

A look into the grammar of the original language reveals that James was identifying the type of joy a person should have. It is a state of being, not an emotion. If it were, we could equate joy with happiness. But seriously—who could possibly be happy about spending time reserved for a Sunday afternoon nap soaking up gallons of water? Not this girl.

Joy is something deeper, more consistent than what certain circumstances would allow. It can be had in any situation, because it is a steady, thankful trust in a God who uses even the hard things for His glory. It is not so much of an emotion, but rather a way of thinking. It is the lens through which we should view everything this world throws at us.

Trials are an opportunity for us to put the viewpoint of joy into practice.

The testing of your faith produces endurance…

There’s something else in James’ exhortation worth noting: “…the testing of your faith produces endurance…” How do trials like water dripping out of a ceiling test our faith?

What we believe about Him is the content of our faith. In His kindness, God allows trials for the purpose of testing those ideas and revealing what we need to reevaluate—in a good way! Trials grow our understanding of Him.

So, next time a trial comes down the pike, think: how is God revealing Himself? What He may be showing you can produce endurance in your ability to trust Him. Even the little challenging moments of parenting can have a real impact on our spiritual well-being.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.                                                                                             2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB

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Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Do you have a parenting trial story? Please share! (Surely I’m not the only one!!)

 

 

When I Need to Choose Joy

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7 NASB

It’s been one of those weeks.

A week in which it seemed like every time I turned around, there was another unexpected expense, more disappointing news, and what appeared to be another setback. The week culminated with the cancellation of a job I was preparing for…a job that was to result in income my family was depending on.

“Really, God?” I said aloud at the end of the week when I received the devastating news. “Can You give me a break?”

I happened to be putting together teaching material that week for a women’s retreat that was themed “Choose Joy.” Suddenly it became apparent to me that I was not choosing joy in the midst of my circumstances. I was, instead, letting my circumstances control my life and my attitude.

I remembered a passage from Scripture that I’d memorized as a teenager. One that God seemed to be whispering in my ear: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV).

Consider it joy? “But, God this isn’t joyful. Not in the least,” I responded aloud.

But God, in His goodness, wanted me to choose joy, even if I didn’t feel like it.

God has made it clear to me through the years that joy is not about our circumstances, it’s about our condition. Our circumstances change from day to day. But our condition – as a child of God and the recipient of His eternal blessings – never changes.

Joy is not about what is happening – or not happening – in our lives. Joy is about Whose we are.

“God, help me to respond in a way that pleases You,” I prayed. And He reminded me that not only is the joy of the Lord my stronghold (Nehemiah 8:10) but as I dwell in His presence, recounting my blessings and realizing He is my greatest joy, He will meet me there.

David, the Psalmist, sang: “In your presence there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11), and in Psalm 4:7, he sang: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound” (ESV).

I have enough in all God has chosen to give me thus far. And He will never take away Himself (Hebrews 13:5). Therefore, I have all I will ever need to choose joy every day.

Lord, help me to please Your heart by remembering that no matter what comes my way today, You have gone before Me, and You remain alongside me, and – as Your Word says – in Your presence is abundant joy.  

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View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Recapture the romance of a relationship with God with When God Pursues a Woman’s HeartWithin the heart of every woman is the desire to be pursued, cherished, and loved. There’s only One who can lavish such love. Join Cindi as she takes you through the Bible to discover how God offers a relationship like no other.

Join the conversation: Have your circumstances ever kept you from joy? What did God teach you about Himself through it?

Getting to Know Him Better

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Consider it a great joy…whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.   James 1:2-4 CSB

I remember the week I got to know Jesus a little better.

When I say that, you probably know that I’m not referring to experiencing a great vacation, or receiving a huge check in the mail.

No, when God shows me more about Himself, it’s usually during a week when nothing seems to go right. It started with disappointing news from a friend, then a car repair I couldn’t afford, and then a bad case of food-poisoning that left me wiped out physically for three days.

It was then that I remembered a treasured truth from God’s Word.

In Romans 8:28, we are assured that “all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Verse 29 tells us how God works all things for good in our lives: ” For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….” (CSB)

There it is. All those “bad things” (like disappointments, unexpected expenses, and illnesses) God promises to work for good in our lives by making us more like Christ through them. He can make me more understanding and gracious toward others through my disappointments, more dependent on His provision through my unexpected expenses, and more thankful for my health and His other blessings to me when I seem to lose mine.

With that in mind, our tough times really pave the way for our Jesus makeover. It is our God encounter. It’s how we get to know Jesus a little better.

When we filter every circumstance of our lives through the grid of His unfailing love, we will see every test and trial, every desert and disappointment, as a loving gesture on God’s part to draw us closer to Himself and make us more like His Son. From that perspective, there is no room for bitterness, worry, or fear.

The Bible says “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear… (First John 4:18). I believe that means if we love God perfectly we will trust Him implicitly. And where there is absolute trust, there is no fear.

If you’re going through a situation – or several — you don’t like right now, don’t fear. And don’t fight it. Instead, trust that the One who is allowing it is giving you a priceless opportunity to get to know Him a little better.

Lord, help me to cling to you during times of uncertainty, loss, or desperation, knowing that You are in absolute control.

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Getting to know Him better – @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet) 

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: How has God revealed Himself to you in a trying situation?