Don’t Frustrate God’s Work by Showing Up Late

Guilty. So guilty. Many Sundays the service didn’t start on time because I was late. I never left enough time for spilled milk or missing shoes. It seemed every Sunday there was spilled milk and missing shoes!

I tried covering my guilt with jokes:

“I’m the only piano player – you can’t start without me!”

“I’m not late – I’m making an entrance.”

But I was late and buried in guilt. Saturday’s verse showed me how deeply my tardiness hurt.

2 Corinthians 3:3-6, “Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details. (4) People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly…in hard times, tough times, bad times; (5) …working hard, working late, working without eating; (6) with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love.” The Message

I’m grateful the Pastors and God always forgave me. But after a while, God moved me away from the piano bench. I thought it was permanent.

To say it jarred me was, to put it mildly. The doctors said, “Don’t leave your house without Prednisone.” (You can only take so much Prednisone before the risks outweigh the benefits.) After that pronouncement, I had a choice to make.

2 Corinthians 7:9, “Now I’m glad – not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from Him. The result was all gain, no loss.” The Message

I turned to God chose to start over. I got out my lesson books and started on page 1.

“This is up; this is down.

Let’s go up and down.”

I played every day with only God hearing – for 7 years! God had a plan all along. The first time I met the FCOC Satellite Coordinator, Rick Brecht, he said, “I see you playing on our worship team.”

I laughed and replied, “That would take a miracle and a grand piano!”

I didn’t get a grand piano. But a year later, I was playing a keyboard on the worship team.

I’m never tardy, but I have so many more areas that could use improvement. Paul listed some pretty tough guidelines:

  • Stay at our post
  • Alertly
  • Unswervingly
  • In hard times
  • In tough times
  • In bad times
  • Working hard
  • Working late
  • Working without eating
  • With a pure heart
  • A clear head
  • A steady hand
  • In gentleness
  • In holiness
  • In honest love

It’s like I told Melissa before church yesterday. “We don’t clean ourselves up before we come to Jesus. We come to Jesus and He cleans us up.”

Jesus works little by little and He never stops. He keeps working with us until we die. But each day, we look a little more like Him.

What was my assignment for Saturday? Get ready for church. God means more than just picking out an outfit.

I practice and pack my music in my bag. I pray for the service, worship team, ushers, greeters, and children’s workers. I ask for anointing on the sermon and worship service. I request converts. We don’t want to make noise; we want to make a difference.

God answered those prayers and more! I saw a breakthrough yesterday. Steven Furtick reminded me a breakthrough does not mean the battle is over. We are fighting for souls here.

“The breakthrough does not eliminate the battle. …the only thing the breakthrough is going to do is put you in the position to fight the battle. But the good news is – it’s already won!…” “Breakthrough is Overrated” 1 Min Motivation, Steven Furtick

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Trying to Impress?

“…What I was doing was trying to project what I thought would impress, and you cannot be blessed, while you’re projecting to be impressive.” “Are you projecting to impress?” 1 Min Motivation, Steven Furtick

Guilty!

When I wrote “My Story” for this blog, I did that. I typed, “My dad served on staff at Bible School.” That sounded impressive.

Last Saturday, I changed it to “My dad was the maintenance man.” He was a student for two years, but they really needed a “handyman.”

It isn’t impressive until I explain. After our house fire, Dad gutted it and rebuilt it. He did: plumbing, electrical, carpentry, sheet-rock, roofing, masonry, laid carpet and installed new cabinets. This was before youtube.com existed!

Eight years after we moved back to Iowa, they hired him again. He spent a few months re-wiring Pinecrest Bible Training Center.

As “maintenance man” at The Ottumwa Clinic, he custom-built cabinets to the doctor’s specifications. He never projected to impress. He always referred to himself as an electrician and handyman. (His degree was in refrigeration.)

But his work still stands. The young men he mentored still talk about him.

* * * * * * *

When I started this blog, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to start a discussion on theology. (I overheard enough of those growing up.) I wanted to share the basics that I know and understand:

  • God loves me.
  • Jesus died for me.
  • God has a plan for me.
  • Jesus is coming back for me.
  • God cares about the tiny details in my life.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2, “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. (2) I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who He is; then Jesus and what He did – Jesus crucified.” The Message

I wanted you to see there are mysteries hidden in the Bible. I wanted to show you how to dig:

  • Look up the words you don’t understand.
  • Read the cross-reference verses found in the center of the page or a concordance.
  • Look up the places on the Bible Maps for that era.
  • Read the notes on the bottom of the chapter or page.
  • Find the Hebrew meaning of words at abarim-publications.com.

1 Corinthians 2:7, “God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of His purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface.” The Message

I try not to preach. I’m sure I fail. I try explaining things the same way I do for my children.

1 Corinthians 4:14-15, “I am not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. (15) I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled.” The Message

My goal is for us to grow together. We never “arrive.” There is always more – much more!

1 Corinthians 3:3, “As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way?” The Message

Get out your shovel, dear reader. Dig for yourself!

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Showing You Step-by-Step

June 5, 2018, 4:30 a.m.

I couldn’t sleep and neither could Derek. He was thinking about buying a particular house.

“… ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign…’ Isaiah 7:11. …There is no reason why we should not ask for great things. Without a doubt, we will receive them if we ask in faith, having the courage to wait with patient perseverance for Him and meanwhile doing those things that are within our power to do. It is not within our power to create the wind or to change its direction, but we can raise our sails to catch it when it comes.” “Streams in the Desert” – June 5

I told him about buying our home. The most important thing is – location, location, location! And how we prayed for 10 months before we closed on it.

My conversation took a downward turn. I realized it when Derek said, “Shouldn’t you be talking to Dad about this?”

Oh, smack!

I read my Bible and saw I would need to share it. (Can’t I just post to instagram.com/frugalfishorg/, God? At least there I may look clever. I don’t want to write about my failures!) 

Being a mature, obedient Christian…

…I took a nap.

Yeah, I was avoiding and procrastinating. (In my defense, I only got 4 hours of sleep on Sunday.)

When I got up, I read, “One Thousand Gifts”

“… ‘For God does speak – now one way, now another’ (Job 33:14 NIV). One way His finger writing words in stars (Psalms 19:1-3), His eternal power written naked in all creation (Romans 1:20); and now another way, the sharp Holy Writ on the page that makes a careful incision into a life, blade words that kindly cut the tissue back to where soul and spirit join, tenderly laying bare the intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).” “One Thousand Gifts”  – Ann Voskamp

That blade did a little work on me this morning! I did not like what it exposed! I did not want to share it. Then, I remembered my most read posts are usually the most humbling or embarrassing.

I still procrastinated. I picked up the “World Challenge Pulpit Series Newsletter” Mom had dropped off…

“As a ministry leader, I occasionally ask myself and my co-laborers: ‘Why are we here? Why do we do what we do? What’s our purpose?’ …The answer is ‘We’re here to minister to Jesus.’ …I’ve seen a terrible pattern…It began with the church-growth movement, a phenomenon that birthed the idea that corporate strategies could advance the kingdom of God. …their purpose… ‘We’re here to get bigger, to expand, to bring in more.’ …” “Intimacy with God – Out of His Presence Come the Works of Jesus” by Gary Wilkerson, “World Challenge Pulpit Series” May 21, 2018

Smack, again!

I can’t share a failure just to get more readers! It relieved me, that I didn’t need to share details. But also saddened me. I forgot my purpose – to show you the Bible speaks to your life every day.

I decided the best thing I could do was…

…Catch up on email.

I was afraid of what God would show me – so I started on the bottom.

“Does God use broken people to do big things? I believe He does. But you’ll never see it happen if you don’t look beneath the surface. We imagine what we could be if we had no weaknesses. We’re blinded to what we could become if we embraced our weakness as an opportunity to showcase God’s strength. I know you have that thing you wish you could do better. …But sometimes, what God leaves out is just as important as what He puts in. It’s what teaches you to rely on Him. …It’s what forces you to pick up a pen and use what you have for the glory of God.” “What God Didn’t Put in You is Just as Important as What He Did” Steven Furtick, In an email dated 9-28-17

Double smack!!

My only recourse was to…

Read Facebook.

A memory from a few years ago was the first thing I read:

“God doesn’t ask us to do hard things only once. He asks us to do it again and again until it is easy.” #whateverittakes 6-2-2016

I procrastinated the day away. But at 4:30 a.m., on June 6th, it was all there waiting for me. God used several sources to teach me. He is a good Father.

“1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, ‘With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, (12) showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into His own kingdom, into this delightful life.’ ” The Message

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

We’re Not Quitters

My granddaughter, Olivia, has lost weight. They couldn’t find the reason and scheduled some pretty intense tests for today. When I got up, I texted some verses to her mom, Bethany.

Psalms 139:2, 5, 7, 10, “You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight… (5) I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead, and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence, coming and going… (7) Is there anyplace I can go to…be out of your sight? …(10) You’d find me in a minute – you’re already there waiting!” The Message

God arranged for the message to arrive the minute they left for the hospital. I followed it up with…

2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.” New International Version

At 9:30 am, I felt a burden to pray for Olivia. I let Bethany know I was praying and sent this…

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust you.” New International Version

I knew the procedure had begun and I prayed harder. Then I remembered my devotion in “Streams in the Desert” yesterday.

“Jacob won the victory and the blessing here not by wrestling but by clinging. …We too will not win victory in prayer until we cease our struggling. We must give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father’s neck in clinging faith.” J. R. Miller

  * * * * * * * *

“An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher illustrates how wrestling prayer is actually a hinderance to prevailing prayer. …”My little boy, Frank, was ill, and the doctors held out little hope of his recovery. …I said to the Lord, ‘Oh, God, I have spent much time in prayer for my son, and yet he is no better. I will now leave him to you and give myself to prayer for others.’ …From that time forward he began to get better.” Streams in the Desert

I gave Olivia back to God and started my work. She came through the tests with flying colors. Now we wait for the results.

* * * * * * *

I was feeling pretty good about myself as I made lunch. I decided to play a computer game while I ate.

Two and a half hours later, I noticed the time! Yikes! I wasted most of the afternoon! Then I felt pretty bad about myself.

Hebrews 10:1, 2, “…No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“It’s not a matter of how badly or how often you’ve failed – it’s a matter of what God can make you when you accept His grace, get up again, and allow Him to empower you to do better. So the word for you today is – you can start again.” The Word for You Today

I repented. Then I listened to Steven Furtick’s 1 Min Motivation…

“This. Stops. Here. …I am making a decision about my priorities today that will affect my tomorrow. …I’m gonna learn some new tactics, some new strategies. This. Stops. Here.”

I need new tactics and strategies!

Hebrews 10:39, “But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” The Message

If this shattered your image of me – GOOD! Don’t look to me – I’ll fail. Look to Jesus Christ!

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

People Can’t Just Walk In

When I read my Bible yesterday, one phrase stuck out…”People can’t just walk in.”

The temperature was in the 90’s. David went outside early to mow and do some landscaping. I started laundry and writing.

God whispered to me, “You are alone with David on this holiday. Are you going to treat it like every other Monday? Or are you going to spend time with David?”

“I’ve been pretty quiet the last few days on social media. Silent, in fact. That’s because Levon and I went away for the weekend without the kids. Woo-hoo! It was glorious. We ate, we strolled, we swam, we talked, and we enjoyed some much-needed alone time together…” facebook.com/themerrymomma

In her email, The Merry Momma added, “I relished the entire weekend free of refereeing sibling squabbles, cutting up food, constantly using reminders to ‘listen and obey,’ or listening to crying…I made a comment to someone about how much I was looking forward to this weekend, and for a brief moment, I worried that my excitement was a bad sign…But I got over that pretty quickly…It’s good for us as moms and dads to get some time alone together…Don’t listen to the voices of guilt.”

Memorial Day is special to David and I. Our first Memorial Day together was hard. I watched him march in the parade and then he cooked me dinner – pork steak. A day later, he flew off for Advanced Individual Training. I didn’t see him again until September 2nd! There were no cell phones, computers, or internet then. He could only call me once a week on Saturday nights. Worst. Summer. of. My Life.

Every year, we reminisce about the parade, the time apart, the loneliness, and the reunion! That is one of the “Secrets of a Good Marriage” – reminiscing!

“The secret of a good marriage lies in learning how to live and work together.

  1. Agree to pray together daily.
  2. Find something good to say about each other every day.
  3. Don’t forget to snuggle.
  4. Think of yourselves as a team – not just a couple.
  5. Respect your differences.
  6. Eat at least one meal together each day.
  7. Submit your disagreements to God.
  8. Develop a strong sense of humor.
  9. Identify ‘your special place’ and ‘your special song.’
  10. Reminisce together.

“God’s Little Devotional Book,” 214-215.

We can use the tabernacle as a picture of a Godly marriage.

Hebrews 9:2-8, “…(2) a larger outer tent was set up. The lampstand, the table, and ‘the bread of presence’ were placed in it. This was called ‘the Holy Place.’ (3) Then a curtain was stretched, and behind it a smaller, inside tent set up. This was called the ‘Holy of Holies.’ (4) In it were placed the gold incense altar and the gold covered ark of the covenant containing the gold urn of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, the covenant tablets, (5) and the angel-wing-covered mercy seat. …(6) the priests went about their duties in the large tent. (7) Only the high priest entered the smaller, inside tent… (8) …people can’t just walk in…” The Message

Our kitchen, dining room, and living room are the holy place for our family. They are full of light, food, and heavenly smells. (Fresh, homemade bread anyone?) It’s where the family gathers around the table.

But behind the curtain is a smaller tent, a bedroom with a lock. It is our Holy of Holies. A locked door means Dad and Mom need some alone time together.

It’s a perfumed room, full of memories:

  1. Golden urn of manna – reminds us how God met our needs.
  2. Aaron’s rod that budded – reminds us how God leads us to the right decisions.
  3. The Covenant Tablets, (10 Commandments) – reminds us of our wedding vows.
  4. The angel-wing-shadowed mercy seat – reminds us that God is watching over us.

It’s easy to get caught up in duties in the outer rooms. We don’t spend time in our Holy of Holies. We enter and promptly fall asleep! Or we half-listen to our spouse as we scroll social media.

“She couldn’t capture what was happening because her phone was too full of what had happened.” “What Do You Need to Delete” 1 Min Motivation, by Steven Furtick

My holiday was not as glorious as The Merry Momma’s was. I snuggled with David on the couch as he watched “Duck Dynasty” reruns. All. of. them. After a few episodes, I wandered to our second TV and watched a movie. We did spend some alone time together before he turned on the TV.

“A good marriage isn’t something you find, it’s something you make.” Gary Smalley

I did feel guilty for not practicing. Then this morning, I received a message with the songs for Wednesday night. The Worship Pastor gave us a holiday, too!

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Peter Slept Like a Baby!?!

May 25, 2018

I woke up at 2:00 a.m. After tossing and turning for half an hour, I got up and read. I went back to bed and still couldn’t sleep. I got another book and read a chapter of it.

“Be strong and courageous, my daughter. Life is not lived within the safety of walls.” “On Every Side” by Karen Kingsbury

(But I left the house this week, Lord. I went to the baby shower – and stuck my foot in my mouth. And yesterday, I went to lunch and shopping with Bethany and Olivia.) I went back to bed.

After I overslept, I cringed when I read my “list” for the day. I kept moving unfinished projects to the next day. There were 2 items from Monday, 3 items from Wednesday, and 2 items from Thursday.

Scanning the list, I did the one thing that had a noon deadline. Then I started the laundry – 6 loads. Yeah, I was behind on that, too.

I didn’t get confirmation on an important detail for Sunday’s service. I sent an email which led to 4 more calls…(Tell your wife, to tell the Pastor…).

My blogging task for today was to customize my fonts. I chose simple ones and made them large. I chose “Huge” for headlines because I’m nearsighted. (My aunts will thank me.)

My brain was fried by lunchtime. I took a “decorating break.” I added gold centers to the 5 flowers on my swag light. (Decorating rejuvenated me better than a nap.)

My sister called. She was having a bad day and need to print something off. I said, “Sure.”

While waiting for her, I got out the sewing machine. I repaired the loose stitching in 2 of David’s work shirts. I called the bass player’s widow to check on her. I carried the ironing and paraphernalia upstairs while we talked. (Yes, I iron. I want David to look good. I tell him it’s a fulltime job.)

She got another call shortly after my sister arrived. I set up the ironing board while Michele printed a document.

Michele really had a hard day! After the call saying she was laid off, she went to plant her garden. A swarm of bees decided to check it out while she was there. They moved into the tree next to it. We talked about the land of Canaan flowing with milk and honey.

While she was there, my mom and my daughter called! (We can go all week without the phone ringing!) My daughter was hungry for catfish. I told her to call David.

Michele had to go and I started on music. The new bass player borrowed some of my music at practice. I decided to have an extra copy of each song – just in case – for Sunday. I practiced and made copies.

Then I moved on to the Nursing Home Service music. My theme this month is “Faith of our Fathers.” They didn’t have that hymn in the new lyric songbooks. I chose “A Child of the King” and “This is My Father’s World.”

I didn’t have music.

I went through my hymnal collection and found them. I copied them off and learned them. (My sight-reading is a tad rusty.) 

David called, “We’re going out with Laura.”

I threw the last load in the dryer and changed my shirt. I picked out a scarf and some jewelry. (See, Lord, I’m going out.)

It took an hour to get to the restaurant. At Laura’s, David played with the dog and identified some weeds in her flowers.

The chicken is what they are famous for, but they have catfish on Fridays. The food is great and worth the wait.

David and Laura watched the Cardinal’s game while waiting. (I would rather bang my head against the wall. Did I ever mention I hate sports?) Instead, I mentally went over the 13 items still left on my list. Maybe, I could write my post and make a grocery list.

The food arrived and I shocked my daughter by cleaning up my plate. (Normally, I eat half and take the other half home.)

David decided to take a detour on the way home. He drove us to his boss’ farm, admired the barn cats and turned around. (Thank God, no one was home!)

When we dropped Laura off, he showed her how to use her new weed eater. I sat in the van scrolling through Facebook.

I was finally ready to write my post. It was 9:00 p.m. My thoughts were jumbled. I gave up and got ready for bed.

At 3:00 a.m. I woke up again. (Why, God, why?) I remembered the “1 Min Motivation” from Steven Furtick today.

“When You operate by your own standard of forgiveness…’when they apologize’…’when they come back and make it right’…You will never be free until you embrace God’s standard – to forgive as you have been forgiven – not for them, for you. …You cannot let them keep you in a prison of a past event. Until I embrace God’s standard I cannot expect God’s strength. He will be a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. If you let offense into your heart all day long…and look for reasons to be offended…and wonder at the end of the day, ‘Why am I anxious?…There’s no standard.” “You Won’t be Free Until You Do This…” 1 Min Motivation by Steven Furtick

Am I anxious because of unforgiveness? Am I looking for reasons to get mad at David? Am I mad at God for moving me from my old job?

My thoughts came to a screeching halt.

My job was exactly like today! You had to keep switching printing jobs. The copier seemed to run all day. The copies needed collated, folded, stapled, delivered, and filed. (Just like laundry!) In the meantime, you are balancing accounts, paying bills, and filling out reports. Sprinkled through that are calls, texts, emails, and details you can’t forget. Why do I miss it?

I remembered my verse for today.

Acts 12:6, “Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, Peter slept like a baby. And there were guards at the door keeping their eyes on the place. Herod was taking no chances.” The Message

Peter loved fishing. (I believe it’s like sports – you either love it or hate it.) After Jesus died, he went back to fishing. But Jesus moved him away from the lake into the city. He became a “Fisher of men.”

Herod planned to publicly lynch him in the morning. He was handcuffed to 2 soldiers and there were 14 more soldiers guarding the door. Peter was not anxious, afraid, or tossing and turning. He slept like a baby!

I rolled over, grabbed my teddy bear, (David), and tried to go back to sleep.

God whispered, “Remember when you got the text reminding you of Olivia’s tee ball game? You felt guilty but prayed for rain anyway. Do you hear the thunder? I answered your prayer!”

I finally got back to sleep and got up at a decent time – 5:00 a.m. (Sigh.)

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Phillip Grabbed His Chance.

God speaks to us all day long. I turned on Creflo Dollar and watched while waiting for the tea kettle to whistle. In those few minutes, I heard this…

“You still are trying to find out what you should do, instead of having faith in what has already been done.” Creflo Dollar

God told Abraham to move because He was going to give the land to his descendants. He moved and…

Acts 7:5, “God gave him nothing, not so much as a foothold. He did promise to give the country to him and his son later on, even though Abraham had no son at the time.” The Message

…nothing! The inhabitants didn’t turn the land over to him and he still didn’t have a son! But Abraham knew God keeps His word. He knew God would work it all out in His own time. It was already done!

Moses didn’t even look around until he was 40. (The older we get, the more important our relatives become!)

Acts 7:23, “When he was 40 years old, he wondered how everything was going with his Hebrew kin and went out to look things over.” The Message

We are never too old! Moses didn’t return to Egypt until he was 80! Abraham didn’t become a father until he was 100! There is nothing we can do but wait. We can’t make something happen.

Acts 8:21, “You’ll never be a part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes…” The Message

The hardest part is waiting for God to open the door. When He opens the door, no man can shut it, (Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:8). We have to have faith because it’s already done!

When we try to make things happen in our own strength it becomes another religious program. We learned yesterday – religious programs fizzle out! And we are left with the consequences.

Acts 7:41-42, “…and congratulated each other on the wonderful religious program they had put together. (42) God wasn’t at all pleased; but he let them do it their way,…and live with the consequences…” The Message

Sometimes, God asks us to move. If we don’t obey, he makes us more and more uncomfortable. Don’t wait until the situation is painful to go! Jesus told his followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel, Matthew 28:16-20.

Acts 8:1, 4, “That set off a terrific persecution…. (4) Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus all became missionaries…” The Message

We are at a crossroads. Do I stay or do I go? Those who stay need persistence and perseverance. We must do the same thing over and over, even when it seems pointless.

“Persistence is proven when you don’t see the point and you persevere anyway.” Steven Furtick, 1 Min Motivation, “Persevering When You Don’t See the Point”

* * * * * * *

Acts 7:1, “…What do you have to say for yourself!” The Message

Me? I’m going to grab this chance and use this passage to preach Jesus.

Acts 8:35, “Philip grabbed his chance. Using the passage as a text, he preached Jesus to him.” The Message

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Over Forty Years Old

“I run my hand across the thick of the terry towels. I’m a farmer’s wife. I’m the homeschooling mother of 6 children. There are no fancy degrees, titles, diplomas hanging on these finger-smudged walls. Are there places that must be known, accomplishments that must be had, before one is really ready?” “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp gets me. There are no diplomas on my walls. The artwork in my office is floral, music-related, our wedding picture, and a calendar. (I recently moved the feminine, pink artwork into here.)

And, I don’t feel really ready!

I smiled when I read a post from themerrymomma.com. They celebrated a big birthday.

“…my husband, Levon, turned the big 3-0! …I like to joke that when we met, God turned to Jesus, handed him a bag of popcorn, and said, ‘Watch this, Jesus!’ …maybe…he was exactly what I needed in order to become who God wanted me to be. …we are each sets of puzzle pieces. And we need all the pieces – his and mine – to complete the picture of God’s design for our life together…” “How Marriage is Like a Puzzle” themerrymomma.com

I grinned because I know they don’t have all the pieces yet. I know I don’t! I was sure I had all 4 corners when we started our family:

  1. God
  2. Husband
  3. Church
  4. A job I loved.

Then God yelled, “Plot twist!”

In 3 years, God twisted my puzzle around, leaving the church, friends, and job behind. We started over forming new friendships and doing ministry in a new satellite.

* * * * * * *

Jesus is the most important corner piece – “The Cornerstone.” He is the One that anchors your puzzle, (see Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:19-20). You will deal with several “plot twists” in life, large and small.

A Christian does not fall apart – they pivot.

Sometimes the plot twist is the loss of a spouse through death or divorce. But you get to keep the most important pieces – your children. If God brings a new partner into your puzzle they come as a package. Connected to them are their children.

That corner gets torn apart and everyone gets linked together in a different configuration. There is a lot of turning of each piece. Until you see God’s plan to put your blended family together. Some pieces take longer to attach than others.

The former spouses are still attached to your children. You have to find a way to include them in your puzzle. They are a minor piece and no longer carry the responsibilities of a corner piece.

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We read of a man whose life didn’t begin until he was in his forties. He was born a cripple. His family set him at The Temple gate to beg. He was not allowed in The Temple.

“Whereas the man’s lameness itself would not necessarily have hindered him, lameness was frowned upon within The Temple courtyards. …Thus the lame beggar remained outside…” Chronological Study Bible Notes.

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Acts 4:22, “The man who had been miraculously healed was over forty years old.” The Message

The first thing he did after receiving his healing was to go into The Temple. He was walking, dancing and praising God. The lame man had to do something – he looked up, expecting. He didn’t just hope it would get better.

“When he says, ‘I hope,’ instead of saying, ‘I have hope,’ that makes it a verb and not a noun. …It’s something that you do. …You cannot go into another year of your life hoping it gets better…” “Hoping vs. Wishing” Steven Furtick, 1 Min Motivation

My new job is this blog. But it is not like any other blog. I write a devotion 7 days a week. (Sometimes, like today, it doesn’t get published until the next day.)

God made it clear He will pay the expenses. Every year is a miracle. I don’t use ads, affiliate marketing links, or ask for donations. I actually pay to keep the ads off. Crazy!

I pretty much ignore the stats. Recently, I noticed my “follow this blog” button was missing. I went into the settings to get it back. I found over 500 new followers. I decided to hide the number of followers.

That stat didn’t excite me. What did? The 23 people who clicked on the “Save me, Jesus, Prayer.” Those stats are eternal! They now have the pivotal corner piece for their puzzle.

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