Category Archives: Encouragement

What we call coincidence….<3

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It is a beautiful sunny day here, and yet I am mindful that the southern states are experiencing horrendous flooding. A Texan friend of ours was headed to Beaumont LA and received pictures of streets that had become rivers and so turned around and headed home. It is devastating to think of what some are dealing with and our prayers are lifted for them. 

I started a study based on the life of Joseph by Kelly Minter this week and as God would plan it, the readings are overlapping the current readings for our all-church series. 

As I have gone through various portions of Genesis this week, I am once again alarmingly amazed at the dysfunction of humanity and the grace of God to not just throw us all in the scrap heap and start over. 

But He doesn’t. 

He works redemption in spite of and, curiously enough, through the flaws and failings of His creation.

Just this morning as I read the account of a young Joseph being dispatched out into the countryside to check on his shepherd brothers, I had a new discovery I had never noticed in these passages. 

Kelly suggested reading them with an eye that was looking out for how God was working in the story. 

Having preceded the study with a short devotional reading that pointed out how often we mistake God’s timing for “coincidence”, I read the passage with the intentional eye of God-sightings and here is what I jotted down from Genesis 37:12-18

* Joseph is wandering around in the middle of nowhere and a man, who happened to not only see his brothers when they were tending flocks in the area, but overheard them say where they were going next just happens to run into him. Kelly adds Jewish tradition holds that the “man” was an angel – but whether an angel or a man, it was incredibly helpful that he happened to be there for Joseph

* Reuben happened to be amongst the group when Joseph appeared in the distance and was able to thwart the “let’s just kill him” plan

* The cistern they threw him in was empty…so he didn’t drown

* The location and timing of the Midianites passing by in conjunction with where they happened to have settled to pasture, Joseph finding his brothers, Reuben interceding and then wandering off for a bit.

* The caravan was headed to Egypt, which is where Joseph would need to end up

I have read this story many times but I had never stopped to think about how God was orchestrating the whole thing. What seemed to be just one awful event on top of the next was being allowed under the direction and protection of a master plan. 

Could it be then, that what seems to be interruptions and dead ends and frustrations, the times we are misunderstood, side-lined, dismissed…that these too fall under the permissive will of our God who does all things well? 

I pray that I would increase in faith to believe that the things that seem so out of the blue disruptive to my plans are being carefully watched over by the Master of all plans. His ways are not my ways. They are higher than I could think to ask or imagine. 

Praise Him <3

Speaking of sky-writing <3

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Yesterday was spent up north tending the fab four and their new puppy. 

After school, we were scheduled to go to a local pumpkin patch/play area and so we navigated the car pool lane and survived and made our way out into the country. 

As we were driving, the clouds in the sky were so incredibly beautiful I was marveling at God’s handiwork and thought I would attempt to draw my passengers into my love of our creative Creator. 

I started to make a comment that sounded almost like a Sunday School cliche and so rather than go with my first observation, I simply told them to be sure and look past the video screen production of Veggie Tales and observe how the clouds appeared to be almost like a water color painting across the blue sky.

Behind me came the voice of that firstborn boy who has been penetrating my eyes, thoughts and heart for over eight years now. 

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In the softest voice he said, “Lola, can you believe God painted that with His own hand?”

My thoughts exactly.

Coming out of the mouth of the offspring of our offspring. 

I could only manage to whisper…yes Graham. Yes I can believe He did that. 

And then I just let my heart bow in worship to the One who paints such beautiful pictures in the sky and over mankind. 

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Best. Day. Ever. 

<3

Friday check in <3

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We have had a more full week than is even usual for us and I had an early start this morning but writing you is something I have made a habit and so I wanted to at least send out a note. 

As I was driving home last night, I wondered at first if the sunglasses I had borrowed from Russ were playing tricks on me, but after removing them I could see that the soy bean fields are suddenly turning yellow! 

Fall is coming for sure. 

With extra rains and late planting season, we have been surrounded by oceans of green and I don’t know if the local farmers were getting nervous, but it sure didn’t look at all like a harvest might happen any time soon. 

But sure enough, as I drove I could see the beginnings of brown dry leaves on corn stalks and the tell-tale signs of yellowing in the beans and even though it is hotter than blazes and our little ones were playing so hard last night out in the muggy thick heat of 4:00 in the afternoon like we lived on the surface of the sun…the seasons will change. 

Maybe you have been waiting in a season of life that seems to have gone on so long you have decided this is just the way it is going to always be. 

Maybe you have run out of ways to pray and you are tempted to readjust your hopes and expectations and just settle for what doesn’t seem like the promise you were holding to for transformation and restoration….and yes, there are times when the trajectory of life has changed drastically and irrevocably but the hopes and the promises God planted in your heart? 

If He planted them, they will bear fruit. 

It may take longer than you thought or planned for…but if those were from Him…there will be a harvest. 

Just ask the farmers here in God’s country. 

Sow…water…tend…and reap. 

“He who goes out weeping, bearing a trail of seed, will surely return with shouts of joy, carrying sheaves of grain.”

Psalm 126:6

He who has promised is faithful. 

Have a blessed weekend <3

When experiencing technical difficulties, there really is only one place to turn <3

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Well I feel I have lived a much longer period of my life than 24 hours since we last visited. 

If you read yesterday’s post, I asked for prayer for me as I tackled an issue with the website and have mercy…the Lord answered but not in the ways you may have expected nor did I hope. 

Because my idea of the answers would have been smooth sailing and a quick fix and on we go, but instead the whole operation was filled with my heart racing, my mind spinning, tears, angst, a message that said “This website is experiencing technical difficulties.” in tiny, plain type with nary a beautiful photograph to be seen and a final act of surrender where I basically came to terms with the realization that it was time to yet again to lay this little slice of the world wide web at the feet of the King of the World. 

And there is a whole lot of beautiful things that happened where four little pairs of eyes took in their Lola’s meltdown and rallied around her in ways that are too precious to even begin to expose to you…and the love of my husband and friends who dropped to their knees and prayed me through…and a song by Hillsong about New Wine that led me to the place where I was able to say…this whole blog thing…it’s Yours, God…and yes, you can take it or give it back…but it’s Yours. 

So this morning as I opened up my plethora of devotionals and such and began to pour out all the thoughts and such in my journal, I ended up with a Psalm of praise that God penned through me and that is what I will share with you today:

Lord, I worship You for who You are. 

As I drove through the fields of corn and beans and sunset last night to get home, the song playing was about how everything belongs to You. 

It doesn’t belong to You because, as a believer I say it does. 

And it doesn’t not belong to You when the world laughs at the whole concept. 

It just does. 

Whether we believe it or not, the world belongs to You and all that is in it is made by Your Hand. 

Period. 

End of story. 

This is Your world. 

And in that realization, Lord, I drove and took in the fields so wide and full of crops and the endless blue sky with the sun setting and yet rising again somewhere in the distance for other people…and I thought about all the current situations including a website experiencing technical difficulties and what that might mean for me..and a pile of merchandise that needs processing and a house that needs a good cleaning…and zero time to get it all done…and I worshipped. 

Because it’s all Yours. 

All of it.

And so am I.

What confounds me and frustrates me and overwhelms me doesn’t phase You in the least.

I do not need to apprise you of the situation, yet You lean forward and listen to me much in the same way we lean forward and listen to a child telling us in choking sobs about what happened on the playground. 

You already know the end from the beginning, yet You listen to me and hold me in the middle. 

I praise You, not for what You will do, but for who You are and who You are is what makes me who I am <3 

The shadow of disappointment that can lurk behind our hopes <3

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Welcome to September! 

At the beginning of 2019, I may have shared, I have attempted to use my “planner calendar” as a planner.

I use the term attempted because I have not done a 100% job of it, but I have maintained the effort and done better than if I had not tried at all. 

And in that little sentence is a whole lot of life growth and healing and forward progression because I tend to quit if I can’t do it the way I had hoped so … high five for transformations, amen?

I have started about 50% of the months so far with a focused goal setting and recap of how I have followed up on previous plans and I actually did that this weekend so…

September…I see you and I am ready for you <3

We just came off a busy two weeks/weekends and I have some issues to work out with the technology side of this website space we gather together in during the week that I will be attacking this morning.

I would so very much appreciate some prayers for understanding and wisdom as I attempt to do some work on the backside of Journey Onward to keep the site running smoothly. 

Thank you in advance for those. 

And now for some musings from my readings this morning and then I shall be doing tech stuff for which I have zero interest, training or skill….sigh….

I have been working on a daily reading plan provided by our church recently and one of the passages today tugged at my heart. 

Paul is writing a letter to the church in Corinth (and really…to all of us who have chosen to follow Christ) and he is expressing his heart for them to hold on to the Gospel. 

Here are two translations and I am emphasizing the words in bold caps that jumped out at me:

Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, IF YOU HOLD TO THE MESSAGE I PREACHED TO YOU – UNLESS YOU BELIEVED IN VAIN.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2   NASB

and

Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time – this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved. (I AM ASSUMING, NOW, THAT YOUR BELIEF WAS THE REAL THING AND NOT A PASSING FANCY, THAT YOU’RE IN THIS FOR GOOD AND HOLDING FAST.)

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 MSG

As I read those passages this morning, the point of the reading plan was that the Gospel is important to declare, but what gripped my heart was Paul’s heart. 

He is obviously sharing the Good News one more time, yet again…with believers.

And in his words that I have highlighted I tried to grasp what name I would give the emotion that fuels his words and it seemed to my heart he is expressing a deep fear of disappointment. 

He fears the ones who had taken a stand because they heard the Gospel and believed have now turned away. 

As I sat thinking of my own disappointments and what disappointment and fear of disappointment can feel like, I got curious about the word itself.

I know for me the essence of it is expressed in a phrase I have become familiar with personally and I hear voiced by sweet and dear and precious friends and fellow believers a lot lately…

  • “Things just didn’t turn out the way we had hoped”
  • “It’s not what we signed up for”
  • “This isn’t what I thought our life would look like”

Maybe you have you own phrasing so pause a minute and let it settle in your heart. 

And then think about that feeling and Paul and his writing to the Church of Jesus Christ as he tried to fight discouragement so that he could encourage. 

According to our old Webster’s dictionary I gleaned these insights:

Dis – the Roman god of the underworld…interesting isn’t it?

dis-as a prefix is “the opposite of”: so disappoint is to have the opposite of what was arranged. 

Disappoint: to fail to meet the expectation or hope of; frustrated. 

In a lovely book called “Family Word Finder” that I scored at a garage sale from our dear friends the Kents, I find these added pieces of information:

letdown, failure, dissatisfaction, disillusionment, fiasco, disaster, thwarted expectation, miscarriage of plan, unrealization, unfulfillment, loss, frustration, setback, dissatisfaction, defeat, fizzle. 

Certainly does seem the calling card of the god of the underworld, doesn’t it?

So Paul is wondering if those he is encouraging were just on board for the short haul.

I relate to the last term the most … fizzle…makes me think of the old Alka-seltzer tablets and how they were all full of energy and action when you dropped them in the water but then…they fizzle out. 

Disappointment is usually a process…a slow fade where a dream or hope or expectation just fizzles out.

And I want to join with Paul and urge you who have taken a stand…remember the Gospel that once stirred your heart and moved you with passion for Jesus. 

Remind yourself and others believers frequently, even as you continue to pray and seek to share the Good News with the lost..because if we do not spur one another on…we will fizzle out. 

This story of our redemption and salvation never gets old and boring…let it sink deep into  your soul today…

As Paul would say:

The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time…

1 Corinthians 15: 4-5 The Message

Read it for yourself today and then tell someone…He is alive and He lives to intercede for us today that we would stand and when we have done all…we will remain standing in Him by His grace and mercy…in His power.