But Even If He Doesn’t…

As many of you know, I am in a season of transition right now.  While it’s been a little bit stressful at times and definitely uncomfortable, I am so thankful for this season.  God has been speaking so clearly to my heart that He is with me and I have been learning so much.

In this time of transition, though, I have been thinking a lot about the desires of my heart, my dreams, my plans, etc.  It has made me question my thoughts on God “coming through for me” and what my expectations are for God as far as my dreams and desires go.  I love the verse in Proverbs (13:12) that says:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true there is life and joy.”

I get frustrated sometimes wondering when I will get to see that life and joy.  Sometimes it seems like I live in the land of hope deferred.  It’s really easy to sink into a pit and start blaming God for what seem like shattered dreams.  I am so thankful that during this season, God has been so gentle with my heart and I have been reminded again that my true fulfillment is in Christ.

I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego in Daniel 3.  If you aren’t familiar with the story, here is the Kelly short version.  Basically there were these three guys who had pretty high positions with the King (Nebuchadnezzar).  This king was a little crazy though and built this freaking huge image of gold that everyone was supposed to bow to.  Well, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego refused to bow to something that wasn’t God.  The King was not happy about this and told them that they could either bow or get thrown into the furnace.  Then they answered the king (this is my favorite part of the story).  They said:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Did you catch the first part of verse 18? But even if he does not… Their desire was to be rescued.  They knew that the God that they served was able to rescue them, but sometimes God doesn’t come through the way we think he will.  I have realized that it’s so important to acknowledge that point (acknowledging that God is God and we are not) and to declare that even if he doesn’t, we are His alone.

The story goes on to say that the guys were thrown into the furnace and you could see them walking around inside.  All four of them.  Wait…weren’t their only three?  Yes, but God met them there.  I don’t know if that was God or an angel that he had sent for them that visited them in the furnace, but either way, God met them there.  They were faithful in their calling.  They acknowledged their desire and God’s ability to fulfill it.  They acknowledged that God is God and they are not.  Then, they took the plunge…and God met them there.

Lifesavers

When I was a little kid I remember one Sunday having a terrible cold and sore throat.  Since it was a Sunday, we headed to church and my parents dropped us off at our Sunday School classes.  But, before my dad left me, he gave me a lifesaver to “help my throat.”  Once we met up for “big church” later on, he was slipping them to me throughout the whole service.  I had never been so happy to be sick!

I will never forget that memory either because it was such a tangible way that my dad showed love to me.  Other than the fact that one of my love languages is candy, my dad knew that I was feeling lousy and went out of the way to buy something that would make me feel better.  And to make it even better, I was the only one getting them.  He was literally slipping them to me secretly, like it was my own special medicine.

To this day, I buy a pack of Lifesavers whenever I have a cold.  In fact, when I thought about what I should pack for this six weeks in England, you better believe that Lifesavers were on the list.  I actually did end up with a cold this week and was glad that I had them!  I failed to bring any cold medicine, but the Lifesavers seem to be working.

And this morning in church, when I felt a cough coming on and slipped one in my mouth, I smiled thinking of my dad and that Sunday over 20 years ago.

I love you, Daddy!

Book Review: Under the Overpass

This was an incredible story of two college aged guys choosing to live homeless for 5 months on the streets of 5 American cities.  Their stories of interactions with other homeless people and those of us that are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus are both encouraging and heartbreaking at the same time.

It’s a quick read and I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Plan B

I love the subtitle of this book: What To Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would.

This was an amazing book.  I was drawn in from the first chapter and was disappointed when it ended.  It could just be the season of life that I am in, but we have all faced a plan b in life, so we can all relate.  Pete makes this really relatable and tells a lot of great stories throughout.  It’s also full of great incites.  We all know I love quotes, so here are my favorites for this book:

“We get ourselves into all kinds of trouble when we assume God must think and feel as we do.”

“Your dreams may not be happening, and things aren’t turning out the way you expected, but that doesn’t mean your life is spinning out of control.  It just means you’re not in control.  It’s in those moments you can learn to trust the only one who has ever had control in the first place.”

“Despite what your current circumstances are telling you, God is for you.  He is there. He is working things out for your good.”

“Constant contact with the Creator is essential for transformational living.”

“I’ve noticed that even those of us who have trusted our heavenly Father with our eternities often have a tough time trusting him with our tomorrows.”

“When people ask me how they can know God’s wil for their lives, I tell them the best first step is to know God.  Beyond that, I really don’t have any steps.”

“We must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is.”

“You can give your love and devotion to a particular dream, but eventually that lover will disappoint you.  It’s possible, in other words, that part of the reason you feel so shattered and so broken in the midst of your Plan B situations is that you gave your love and devotion to your plans and dreams instead of God. It’s something to keep in mind. Because no matter how worthy, no matter how compelling, no matter how good- a dream makes a worthless god.”

Book Review: The Traveler’s Gift

This was a good read.  I wouldn’t put it on my list of the best books I have ever read, but it has some good incites and it’s a good story.  As always, Andy Andrews gives some good lines of stuff that really hits you to the core.  One of my favorite books still is The Noticer.

Some of my favorite incites from this book:

“It is never the duty of a leader to struggle for someone else; a leader must encourage others to struggle and assure them that the struggles are worthwhile.  Do battle with the challenges of your present, and you will unlock the prizes of your future.”

“A person who moves neither left nor right is destined for mediocrity.  When faced with a decision, many people say they are waiting for God.  But I understand, in most cases, God is waiting for me!  He has given me a healthy mind to gather and sort information and the courage to come to a conclusion.”

“Most people fail at whatever they attempt because of an undecided heart.  Should I? Should I not? Go forward? Go back? Success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart.  When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution.  The undecided heart searches for an escape.”

“A committed heart does not wait for conditions to be exactly right.  Why? Because conditions are never exactly right.  Indecision limits the Almighty and His ability to perform miracles in your life.  He has put the vision in you- proceed! To wait, to wonder, to doubt, to be indecisive is to disobey God.”

“A person without a dream never had a dream come true.”

You Can’t Handle It

“God will not give you more than you can handle.”  Have you heard that one before?  What do you think?  Biblical or not biblical?  I am going to go with not biblical on this one.

The Bible is full of stories of God putting people in situations that they could not handle.  Here are a couple of examples:

In Exodus 14 we read about the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery.  Basically they take off and find themselves trapped between the pursuing Egyptians and the Red Sea.  The ever so fickle Israelites start to freak out and blame Moses for their situation saying that they would rather go back into slavery!  What?!  Moses has no idea what to do next.  I mean, what can he do?  So he says to them: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  They can’t handle this situation.  There is literally nothing that they can do.  They need the Lord to fight for them.  So God tells Moses to stretch his staff out over the sea and he parts the waters for them to go through!  I would have loved to have been there for that.  (If you have ever seen the movie The Prince of Egypt, there is a great picture of what this might have looked like!)

Then there was Joshua and that trip he and his army took around Jericho.  Joshua 6 tells us that Jericho was “tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.” (Kind of like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.  Except without the little orange men.  Although according to VeggieTales, there were some talking grapes with slurpies.)  Joshua knew they were supposed to take this city, but they couldn’t get in!  God knew that too, fortunately, and he had a plan all along.  If you don’t know they story, go check it out!

I have to mention the story of David and Goliath here too.  We all know that story, but it’s worth reminding you that a scrawny little teenage kid killed a giant with a stone in his sling shot.  He may have had great aim, but God gave him a pretty nice boost on that one!  If you haven’t read the speech that David gave to Goliath before he flung that little rock at him, it’s totally worth a read!

So my point here is, God is going to give us lots of situations that we can’t handle.  They are opportunities to test our faith, to lean hard into him, and to see him work in our lives in powerful ways.

I think the verse that people have twisted around a little bit actually reads like this:

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

So in our tough situations and in our temptation, rest assured that the God who knows about the situation, will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  But that doesn’t mean that it will be easy or that it’s not going to take a few steps of faith first.  (Think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when he had to step off of that cliff.)  The payoff seems to be worth it on the other side though.  The Israelites made it across the Red Sea, Joshua and his army made Jericho fall by simply walking around it, and we all know what happened to Goliath…

Five Years In Heaven

Rick has been in heaven for five years now.  Five years is a long time…for us, not for him.  In five years your story can be completely re-written.  You can go through waves of pain, grief, joy, and love that you could never have imagined.  What is different about this anniversary of Rick’s death for me is that for the first time I actually feel peace.  I think of him (still everyday) and smile instead of feeling like I have been hit with a sledge hammer.

This year I took a minute to go back and read some of the posts that I have written through this journey and it was so great to go back through. To experience the sting again, but to see the faithfulness of God through the journey. I remembered again the way my body forced me to grieve.  I found stories of anger and of healing on my very first blog.  There was the hope I felt at the one year mark, and the returning grief and confusion at the three year mark.  It’s been quite a journey, that is for sure.

I’m thankful for the lessons learned in these past five years. I’m thankful that Rick gets to be where he wanted most to be, but I’m still sad he’s not here with us. I’m so thankful to have a God that can handle my questions and who has the strength to hold us up during our weakest moments. I’m thankful to have known Rick and to have experienced such a special friendship with him. I still miss him. I think those of us that loved him will always miss him, but we know that Rick has had five years in heaven and we will join him there one day soon.

With my new found peace, I have decided to share something special with the world. I haven’t posted it before now because, honestly, it’s just been to painful to even listen to. One day while I was living in Costa Rica, I got a package in the mail. A padded envelope covered in an entire book of Elvis stamps. I knew it was from Ricky the minute I saw all of those stamps. In that package was a CD that said “Kelly’s Song” on it. It’s not actually my song, it’s a John Mayer song called “Comfortable” but it’s one that I always requested from Rick and he always gladly sang. So while this came at just the right homesick moment in Costa Rica, it’s become one of my most treasured possessions. Honestly, the lyrics are slightly inappropriate, but the gesture was sweet. That pretty much defined Ricky. Slightly inappropriate, but really sweet! I couldn’t figure out how to load a song on here, so I made it into a youtube video. Enjoy!