How Can I Be “That Daughter” Part 2

In my last blog I recalled my thoughts regarding how I can be a daughter that is not only loved by God, but pleasing as well.  These thoughts came about after reflecting on my daughters’ actions and attitudes while we were preparing to go out of town.  To read the blog in its entirety, you may find it here: How Can I Be “That Daughter”:Part I .

Let’s continue to reflect by answering three more questions that I ask to determine if I am being “that daughter.”

3.  How do I respond to God’s instructions?
I believe that God has a very specific agenda and plans to accompany that agenda. Before Jesus returned home to be with His Father, He instructed His disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19.)  I believe that this is the Father’s primary goal –for all to come to know and have a relationship with Him.  Often while I am out shopping or running errands, the Lord will instruct me to speak with someone regarding their relationship with Jesus or invite them to church.  Since many people do not truly understand what a “born again Christian” is, I sometimes ask whether or not they know if they will go to heaven when they die.  If they say “yes,” I ask why and if they mention good deeds, I proceed to tell them the “bad news” before giving them the “good news.”  The bad news being that good deeds cannot get us to heaven, and the good news being that Jesus already paid the price (death on the cross) for their eternal life in heaven.

Although I often find a great sense of satisfaction in serving as a messenger, honestly, sometimes I find the instructions a bit inconvenient.  Sometimes I will hear instructions to speak with someone after I have loaded the car and started to drive off.  I’ve found myself sighing or even rolling my eyes, saying to the Lord, “I wish you would have told me this BEFORE I started to drive away.”  Of course I have to immediately ask for forgiveness for my attitude and He does forgive me, but I’d like to not have the attitude in the first place. God loves me whether or not I obey or disobey, with an attitude or not, but again, I’m not looking to just be loved.  I’m looking to be pleasing.

4. Am I submitted to God’s will, timing and plan?
Part of growing up is being willing to respond favorably when things don’t go our way.  Let’s face it, God’s plan and timing do not always agree with ours.  This is another aspect part of walking by faith–being able (and willing) to submit to His ways of doing things although we don’t understand them, and trust that they are better. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Although we think we have good ideas, they some times pale in comparison to the plans that GOD has for us.  At times it’s hard to have faith to continue to trust Him when answers to our prayers seem distant, but we must believe that He is working everything out for our good.

I recently heard a story of a couple that was selling their home. It was a beautiful home in a prime location, so they didn’t expect to wait long for it to sell.  However, after nine months and 110 viewers, not one person came back for a second visit! In fact, they had to renew their contract with their realtor.  During this time, their church was in transition of hiring a new pastor from New Zealand, who would be moving to the States and needing a home.  The owner of the home graciously informed the soon-to-be pastor and his wife that theirs was for sell.  To make a long story short, the pastor and his wife saw the home, came back for a second visit the next day and offered to buy their home at their asking price.  The pastor’s wife later shared of how she had a dream of the home that God had for them in the States and asked God to send angels to protect the home from anyone else buying it until they were ready! Trusting the Lord, even when He is not meeting our agenda, pleases Him.

5. How are my words?
Words are powerful. Let’s face it.  With our words we can encourage and build up or discourage and tear down.  I believe that certain words warm God’s heart. Psalm 19:14 says, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” My spiritual father teaches that the first words that come out of our mouths when we hear bad (or good) news will determine the outcome of the event.   To illustrate his teaching, he used the true story of a woman in the Bible.  She had been childless for many years before a prophet foretold that she would give birth to a son.  The prophecy came true, but unfortunately, the son later died.  The woman did not tell anyone about his death, but instead, replied “all is well” when asked how her son was.  She fully expected to see what she was expecting from the prophet, which was for him to raise her son from the dead, which he did. (2 Kings 4:8-37) Her discipline to speak right words greatly affected her actions and expectations.

Getting back to my daughters, one of them has a natural inclination to use her words wisely.  She is always saying what she likes about me, complimenting her sisters’ great characteristics and trying to express thankfulness in place of complaints. Her natural tendency to express love through her words, coupled with her sincere attempt to not complain greatly pleases me. Philippians 2:13-14, says, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”  Sometimes it’s hard to express thankfulness in the midst of unpleasant situations. We want to complain and fault-find–vent, as some people call it–but at the end of it all, we know that it accomplishes nothing except getting if off our chests.  Thankfully, the Lord is patient and kind, but ultimately, I believe that the discipline to use our words to pray, bless others and express thankfulness will bring the most joy to our Father’s heart.

Thank you for reading.

 

How Can I Be “That Daughter” Part I

“If you run from the opportunities the Lord has determined to help you grow, your faith will stagnate.  If you proceed, it will grow.  It is just that simple.”

Back in May, my daughters and I enjoyed a productive trip to visit family and friends in Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois and Toledo, Ohio. The first stop was Atlanta, where we attended a graduation picnic and I spent Mother’s Day with my mom.

The sunny morning that we prepared to leave Atlanta, I could almost predict what would happen.  There were four people preparing to leave, but only two were working to quickly move us toward our goal.  One daughter can always be depended on to get the job done, almost without asking.  She was diligently packing the food bag and the trunk. Another daughter was only preparing her breakfast and complaining about trivial matters that I cared little about in the scheme of the greater task of packing to drive to Chicago.  The third daughter was not helping either, but at least she wasn’t complaining.  She was simply attending to what she talked about and practiced almost all the time–gymnastics and her soon-coming YouTube vlog.

This scene is nothing new.  I have been through many scenarios of issuing commands and requests, but it only seemed to frustrate and drain me more.  I’ve learned to just work with what I had.  Although I love all my daughters equally, it is rather easy to discern which daughter was more pleasing to me at the time.

As I thought about the situation, I thought about how the Father God often has these same scenarios  and began to think about the different types of children that He loves and parents each day.  I began to ask some hard questions of myself. How can I be like the daughter who was greatly appreciated?  There are five questions I asked myself to help determine the answer. Two of them are listed in this blog.

1. Am I walking by faith?

The Bible says that without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  I know that God will always love me, but is He pleased with me?  God has placed me in several situations that have caused me to walk by faith. I could have shrunk back to what I could control or step out on what God told me to do, by faith.  Earlier this year, my youngest daughter had surgery on her eyes.  You can read more about it here: Assurance + Promise: Part I  and here:  Assurance + Promise: Part II.  She and I had been believing for healing for quite some time when, while hearing a preacher speak about his own surgery, God spoke to me to allow her to have surgery.  This was not an easy task to agree to as you know eye surgery can be risky.  But, we walked by faith and saw the outcome of our faith.

God will place you in situations that cause you to walk by faith. In other words, you can’t understand the “how” or the “why” but you do what you know to do anyway, and usually, after obeying, everything is much clearer.  If you run from the opportunities the Lord has determined to help you grow, your faith will stagnate.  If you proceed, it will grow.  It is just that simple.

2. How do I respond during trouble?

The Bible tells us that we will all have trouble in this world, but not to worry, because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).  He also said not to worry.  So, if I worry, I am not obeying God.  I know that it is easier said than done, but the only way to make it easy is to do it…a lot!  Do what a lot…not worry, but trust!  Here are a couple of scriptures I like to speak when I’m tempted to worry:

Psalm 9:10 (NIV) “Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”

I encountered several more good ones as I was looking up these. Biblegateway.com is my go to source for good scriptures.

When you face financial  trials, health concerns, relational trouble, or other forms of trouble, do you worry, doubt or complain? I’ve faced trouble in my finances, health and in my relationships just like all people, and each time I have endeavored to seek the Scriptures and do what the Lord says to do.  Consider trials and trouble as opportunities to grow in your trust of God and find things to be thankful for. This demonstrates the growth and maturity that all parents are proud of!

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for the next blog which will include the other three questions I ask myself to find out if I’m being “that daughter.”

Has this helped or encouraged you? If so, take a minute and leave a comment!

 

The Prodigal Turtle

Most Saturday mornings find me looking out of my breakfast nook window, but this morning I found a pleasant surprise–an Eastern box turtle diligently crawling through our backyard toward our house. It wasn’t the first one I have seen in the neighborhood.  I’ve seen some alive and unfortunately, a couple crushed in the street.

I took a few moments to watch where he was going and see what he would do.  I got closer to him, tickling him with some weeds to watch him retract his head. After a long while, he protruded his head and restarted his journey.  He reached the back of the house and stood frozen, looking at the huge brick wall that was before him.  What would he do?

“I guess he lost his way,” I thought. There is a huge wooded area behind our yard, so I supposed that he came from there.  All I could think of was him reaching the street and getting crushed like the others.  I thought I would return him to the creek that I had heard was in the back of the woods.  Observing the seemingly lost turtle,  I thought about a parable I could tell my daughter about spiritual bumpers, which, according to my spiritual father, are those events that God puts in our lives to block us from going the wrong way and get us on the right path.  It’s one of the many ways He speaks to us.  While it would be ideal for us to have crystal clear hearing and be able to discern the perfect will of God at all times, it is just not so.  I’ve learned that the Lord usually uses spiritual bumpers in situations where we are sincerely misguided or wrong about a direction we are going.

The first biblical example that comes to mind when I think of spiritual bumpers is that of Balaam and his donkey.  God was not pleased with Balaam traveling with a messenger of a foreign king that meant to do harm to the people of Israel (although He previously gave him permission to do so) so he sent an angel to prevent the donkey from going further. Balaam grew frustrated with the donkey and beat him in order to get him to proceed. After three beatings, the donkey talked to Balaam, and an angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me” (Numbers 22:32).  Here we see that God was trying to spare Balaam from going a way that was contrary to God’s perfect will.

I can recall a situation where God used a spiritual bumper to get my attention and direct me to the right path.  I had joined a network marketing company and despite my best efforts, could not seem to attain the first level of leadership.  It was extremely frustrating.  While talking to a leader in the company, she told me of how another leader switched organizations so as to be situated where he could obtain optimal success. Having joined the company through a magazine ad, I had not personally met my sponsor, and thought that would be the best thing for me to do as well.  I moved to her organization (she also attended my church) and reached the first level of leadership in three months! I believe that I just had to be in the right place in order to experience success.  Whether God sent an angel to frustrate my efforts or not, it certainly was a “bumper” to get me in the right organization!

It was very interesting for me to “play God” with this turtle as I perceived that he  was on the wrong path and that I needed to direct him back toward home.  I was running late for a church picnic, so I decided to do it later ( if I could find him) and left him buried in some leaves.  As I expected, I did not find him when I returned home, but I did later learn that turtles have an instinctive homing ability that directs them back home when lost. Unfortunately, it some times requires them to cross dangerous roads–not good (pethelpful.com)!  I sincerely hope he made it home safely.

It’s been a while since I have written so I’m glad to be back.  Thank you for reading.

 

 

It’s Time For Your New Glasses!

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!” -Isaiah 43:19 (Message)

About a month ago my youngest daughter underwent eye surgery to straighten her eyes. You may read about the story in previous blogs, Assurance + Promise: Part I and Assurance + Promise: Part II.  Not long before that, she received new glasses. Her old glasses were cracked so it was definitely time for new ones.

Shalom’s new glasses were sparking and clear with beautiful, purple frames.  The only problem was, she didn’t like them. She said the prescription was too strong and honestly, I noticed that they made her eyes cross a lot more than the previous ones. Since she was having a hard time adjusting to the new glasses, she didn’t wear them. Her dad and I both noticed this and admonished her to wear the new glasses, at least while out in public.  That worked for a while, but honestly, who thinks to change glasses whenever they go out of the house?

We went through that for a couple of weeks when finally, her dad hid the old ones and told her to wear the new ones all the time.  I thought it was a smart thing to do, although I didn’t agree wholeheartedly at first.   Finally, Shalom was forced to adjust to the new glasses.

An interesting thing happened a few days later.  She was sitting beside me one day and came across her glasses in my drawer.

“My old glasses!” she exclaimed and immediately put them back on.

I was busy working on something so I didn’t give it much thought about trying to take them from her and hide them again.  Later on though, I saw the old pair of glasses back in its case and Shalom was wearing the new ones, without any prodding from her Dad or me.  She had adjusted to the new glasses and once doing that, did not want the old glasses anymore.

I thought about how that relates to our spiritual lives and our lives in general.  Often times God is wanting to give us something better in the area of relationships, jobs, business, or opportunities, but unfortunately, the security and familiarity of the old keeps us from moving forward.  We are often stuck in our comfort zones.

This has been my case on more than one occasion.  I’ll share one. Almost ten years ago, my husband re-enlisted in the Army which meant leaving our then home of Atlanta, GA. I had been there for fifteen years and didn’t have any plans on leaving.  My immediate family members were there and I had served in several areas of leadership in my church for almost fifteen years.  I was definitely in a place of comfort.  When I spoke of my concerns to my children’s ministry pastor, she wisely told me to support my husband as he was trying to support his family.

Those timely words of counsel released any anxiety I had about uprooting and leaving the church where I had received the majority of all my spiritual rearing. Fast forward almost ten years and I am extremely thankful for all the traveling we did as a military family. We have met some wonderful people, made some awesome friends, and visited places that we would not have if we had stayed in Atlanta.

The Bible says in Isaiah 43:19 (Message Bible)Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!”

Maybe those new glasses for you is a relationship with Christ. Maybe He wants you to end a toxic relationship or mend an old one. Whatever the case, I’d like to encourage you to be willing to abandon the “old glasses” in order to embrace the new ones.   It won’t be easy, but it’ll be so worth it. It’s time for your new glasses!

Thank you for reading. I hope this has inspired you in some way! If so, let me know.

 

Am I Supposed to Fall?

“What normally takes six months God can do in an instant,” she says. 

The other day my loctician told me about her recent visit to a Valentine’s Day skating party with her 13-year-old daughter. She also brought her 20-month-old son and just casually asked if skates were available for him as well.  Surprisingly, they were and even more surprisingly, he skated with them!  Of course they were the type that fit over the shoes and he and his mom stayed in the slower area of the rink with the beginners, but he was dominating his first time on the rink!

She continued to tell me how he was just trying to keep up with the “big kids” (aka 4-5 yr-olds) and he would even fall when they fell, thinking that this was a part of skating.

This made me think how we are often limited by our first and most apparent examples.  When it comes to life, we tend to think that things have to be done the way we have seen them done.  Thankfully, inventors and other out-of-the-box thinkers are not this way.  If they only moved on what they had seen done before, we would be in a pretty primitive state of being.

You’ve probably heard people say, “Well that’s the way it’s always been done, and we haven’t had any problems yet.” This is fine, except for when it’s time to improve. Cassette players, dial-up internet,  and black and white televisions were just “fine” as well, until CD players, broadband and color TV’s were invented, (and I’m probably still behind in technology).

If you read my last blog, “The Focus Factor,” you know that I am job seeking. Often times I console myself with the statement, “Well you know they say the average time to find a job is about six months.”  I believe we can get so caught up in averages that we limit what God can do.   The Bible says that God can do exceedingly, abundantly above what we can ask or think according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20). We are looking at average, but God wants us to look at His Word.  Now I do understand that there is an appointed time and due season for everything, so we can’t rule that out.  I also know that we can dub things that are supposed to be viewed as guidelines as rules.

Take my last job, for example. It took me about four weeks from search to hire. I stood at my stove one snowy morning, talking to God about my need for a job.  A prior conversation I had with a friend came to mind in which she told me where she worked.  I applied online that day and received a response requesting me to move forward the same week. In about a month, I was hired. No resume, no job boards, nothing.  Just a prayer, a thought and an action. I’m sure that I am not the only one to find a job like that so quickly.

That story reminds me of a wonderful promise from the Bible:

      “Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.” God’s decree. “Things are going to  happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once–and everywhere you look, blessings!” (Amos 9:13-14, Message Bible)

In one of her podcasts, Terri Savelle Foy, a cheerleader of dreams and motivator of hope, believes that God is accelerating things.

“What normally takes six months God can do in an instant,” she says.

What is it that you would love to see accelerated in your life? Have you been looking at all the “beginner skaters” instead of what God says in His Word?  Be encouraged that God has a specific plan to manifest His promise to you, and it won’t necessarily happen the way you’ve seen it done in the past.

Thank you for reading. I hope to hear from you soon.

 

 

The Focus Factor

“The person who chases two rabbits catches neither.” – Confucius or Romanian Proverb

About two months ago, I left my job despite the fact that I didn’t have another one lined up. It was a great company, and although many would say it doesn’t make sense to do something like that, I can’t say it was a hard decision because there were so many factors pushing me to do so.  Despite my happiness with my decision, unfortunately, I haven’t found a job yet.

The job search has been interesting and educational, to say the least.  Honestly, the first month I was just glad to sleep at night on a regular basis (I worked the overnight shift) and didn’t focus on much besides subscribing to job boards and updating my age-old resume. The second month I began to realize that I really want to write and decided that any job that afforded me the opportunity to write about interesting topics was a winner.  I purchased a subscription to a jobs website that published writing jobs and a variety of writing gigs every day.  I soon realized that almost all of the jobs required writing samples of which I didn’t have many relevant ones.

I made it a goal to write articles every week, but unfortunately, I didn’t.  I got distracted with reading emails from the multiple job boards I had subscribed to and even applied to a few jobs that I really didn’t like.  I applied to temp agencies and other temporary jobs and if I learned one thing, it is that job searching takes time!

Thankfully, I recently listened to a podcast by Terri Savelle Foy that has changed my whole perspective on job seeking.  During the podcast, Terri talked about focusing on one goal until it is achieved.  As I said earlier, I didn’t have any relevant writing samples with which to apply to any of the writing jobs, so I didn’t.  What I was doing was reading emails from multiple job websites that honestly didn’t even have the types of job I was looking for.  When I realized how much time I was wasting, I unsubscribed to all but one job board. That left me time to do what matters–write.

In that podcast, Terri also referred to a former publisher of “Success” magazine. The publisher said that many people want to know what those who have appeared on the cover of “Success” magazine have done that 7 billion people haven’t done and the answer is in one word—focus!

“They are so obsessively focused to doing one thing at a time,” she said.

The former publisher also interviewed Warren Buffet and asked him, “If you could boil your success to one thing, what would it be?” His answer was that for every 100 great opportunities that are brought to him, he says “no” 99 times.

This podcast has helped me tremendously to get focused on what I WANT to do to earn income instead of what I CAN do or what is AVAILABLE to do.  My Father wants to give me these type of opportunities. He asks me what I want to do.  Jesus Himself even asked the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51)

What do you want God to do in your life? What is the one thing you need to FOCUS on to reach your next goal?  I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to direct you and help you to reach it.

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear from you.

 

The Divine Name Change

“Why did you have your name changed?” I asked Roger.
“I wanted to have the same name as my father,” he replied.

While looking through my safe, I came across a document that belonged to my husband.  It was a name change document that indicated that his last name would be changed from “McNeal” to “Daniels.”

I thought the verbiage on the document  was interesting.  It stated:

“This day Roger Rydell McNeal appeared in open Court, having at least 30 days prior hereto filed his application praying for an order changing his name to Roger Rydell Daniels.”

Praying that his name would be changed? What type of legal document indicates that someone is praying?  I thought that was odd.

“Why did you have your name changed?” I asked Roger.

“I wanted to have the same name as my father,” he replied.

Without going into further details, he wanted the same name as his biological father, and not that of his older siblings’ father.

There is so much power in a name.  Women marry and take on the name of their husbands. Women divorce and regain their old names, not wishing to associate with their ex-husbands.

I still remember when I was a newlywed. At my then workplace, we introduced ourselves to new employees.  For a long time, I identified myself as “Selene Jones” instead of “Selene Daniels.”  It took a while for me to catch on to the fact that I was no longer a Jones.  My DNA did not change, but I had to begin a new way of thinking and acting to carry out the title of Mrs. Selene Daniels.

Several years before I was married, I took on another name change. It was from “unrighteous,” to “righteous.”

Isaiah 62:2b states, “… you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.”

I’ve had this new name of “righteous” for almost thirty years now, but I still remember when my name was “unrighteous” and I didn’t have hope. I still remember when someone asked me, “If you were to die today, where would you go?” and unfortunately, I knew it wasn’t to heaven. I knew I was not a child of God.

Consequently, I had no self esteem or confidence.  My former name of “unrighteous” didn’t afford me true confidence in myself, or my future, but, my new name brought along with it hope and direction.

In Ephesians 1:4-5, the Lord tells us that the Father in heaven, “… predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ….” Thank God for Jesus who paid the price for my adoption and that of the whole world.

Although my biological father gave me the name “Jones,” I thank God that my spiritual Father in heaven adopted me and gave me a new name in Christ that gives me hope, confidence and direction in life.

My husband changed his name because he knew who his true father was.  On November 13, 1988, my name was changed from “righteous” to “unrighteous” because I discovered who my true Father is as well. My prayer is for you to do the same.

Thank you for reading.