A Surprise Blessing

Last weekend I went to Dallas for our daughter Jess’ wedding shower.

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The shower was a perfect time to speak blessings and reminisce on all that God has done over the decades from when our church community began.

Linda, mother of the groom, shared when their family came to the church where Jess and Chris eventually met. “I’ll never forget our first day.” She explained that their sons came to church before the rest of the family. “They were spending a lot of time at the church. We were excited that the boys were eager to be at church, but we hadn’t been to that church ourselves. We decided to go as a family and check it out.”

“The place was packed when we arrived. It was difficult finding a place to seat all six of us. We crammed into a section at the back. After the worship Pastor Steve got up to give the message. He paused, looking over the mass of people. Suddenly, he pointed… towards us ‘You there.’”

“We were far at the back and new. Surely he didn’t mean us. Then he said, ‘You –young man in the orange shirt, pointing in our direction.’”

Linda looked around the room full of women, then at Jess. “My son, Chris was the one wearing a bright orange shirt. Everyone else sat down, but Pastor asked Chris to stay standing. You can imagine my thoughts right? ‘Oh no, what has he done?!’”

Pastor Steve addressed Chris declaring that he believed the Lord was going to use him in a powerful and unique way. ‘There’s a high call on your life, son -to serve the nations.’  He encouraged Chris to prepare himself to minister among dignitaries around the world.”

The ladies responded, “Linda! That’s awesome!”

I waited till their happy responses finished, then eagerly thrust my hand in the air, “Wait! There’s more to the story!” I had to tell the other part of the story.

“Ya all, last fall Linda and I met for coffee when I was in town. She shared that story with me not realizing I had been there too, only with an entirely different view of what happened.”

“When she told me of their initial visit I cringed inside. I had forgotten that day up to that point. When she shared, my own recollection flooded my mind as if it just happened.”

“That day, I was up in my special “staff” spot where I took a count of attendees for service planning. The place was packed. We were short on seats and time. It was critical to keep to the timeline so we could move people out, so others could come in for the following service. I was stressed –even ticked, thinking, Why is Pastor Steve going off script for a kid who isn’t even part of the church?!”

“Pathetic, right? Oh, it got worse.”

I shared my unholy thoughts, “Wow God, we come week after week, year after year. We changed countless diapers in the nursery, stayed up endless nights during weekend retreats, camps and all those wacky junior high events. We loved and drudged thru the high school drama and never a special word for our kids who grew up in the church.”

“Then my thoughts went back to the service. What is Pastor Steve thinking?! There was no time in the script for this. It was completely out of his norm. I considered holding up a sign “Timeline!”

The ladies chuckled knowing it would have done no good anyway. I went on, “Later that week Pastor revisited the event saying, ‘I know it was off track, but the impression was just so strong, you know…. like I could feel the Holy Spirit prodding me to speak it. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do thru that kid.’”

I confessed to our friends, “I secretly coveted that blessing, despite the nagging conviction to ‘rejoice’ for others!”

The ladies laughed, “Wow… See how good God is. He knew your heart.”

“Yeh, he knew my weak and selfish heart… and He still brought Jess and Chris together.”

God is good. At all times: even when we don’t deserve it.

His blessings are constant, whether someone declares it publicly or we have the incredible honor to hear Christ’s rich whispers in quiet places.

I think this verse sums how God’s grace and blessings outreach our wayward ways.

“…the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7a

As for the bride and groom… surely the good Lord will bless them beyond what we pray or seek. God is good.

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Top Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

 

Grow

PicsArt_1390488104918Living things GROW.  Today I took time to really ask myself “Am I growing?”.  This led to more questions.

As a parent am I becoming wiser?  Am I purposely looking for ways to better nurture my kids at their particular stages of life?  Do I recognize their changing needs, and am I one step ahead looking for ways to contribute to their growth while supporting healthy independence?

What about as a wife?  Am I the wife I once dreamed I would be when I first got married?  What new ways might I try show fresh support and appreciation to my husband?  Is there daily fruit of my love for him?  Is there fresh evidence?

Am I flourishing in my vocation or am I simply getting things done?  How could I better serve my team?  What is my vision for the next year?  Three years?  Ten years?

Am I growing and fostering growth in others?  Am I growing as a person?

I am most concerned that I GROW in my relationship with Christ.  When I prioritize time to get with God, I find the other areas of my life are directly affected.

I look to Him for encouragement by reading scripture, and remember the challenges my kids are facing.  I consider how I can encourage them in their personal trials.

I seek God’s presence in solitude, and am reminded that I passed judgment on my husband  the day before.  I recognize an opportunity to humble myself and make right with a simple “Brad, I was wrong.”

I have a  situation that I continue to be frustrated with.  I ask God for His take.  He shows me that I am operating on my own, outside of His will.  He invites me to “clue in” on His bigger picture.  Once again, I’m reminded I’m a work in progress.  It’s in these moments I choose to GROW.

We have opportunities to grow daily.  Even –especially when we mess up.  What areas are you growing in?  Is there evidence that impacts others in a positive way?

Ask God to reveal areas that you’ve become stagnant in.  Look for opportunities to learn and grow.  Think about it, our hearts and minds are the only parts of us that have the potential to grow and not deteriorate as we age.

We are never to old to learn.  Our hearts and minds are designed to increase in producing good fruit, growing in the likeness of Christ.

“Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright…”  Psalm 92:13