God is not Surprised..

God is not suprised 2If you have lived long enough, you have probably experienced rejection and disappointment with people you have trusted. You may recall being on top of the world one minute and deep in the depths of despair another. Because you have been treated so poorly, you may have questioned your own value and worth.  Don’t!

Too many times we turn our attention to people and things. We put too much value into what they are doing to us than into what God is doing in us.  The fact of the matter is, even though you may experience some “great” loss with a person or thing, it was never great; it was necessary. Although you may be going through a tough time because you may feel you have lost something or someone, think of it as a time of renewal because God is doing a new work in you.  The one thing you thought you needed, you will soon find out it was a blessing that you didn’t get it. So, don’t get mad with those who thought they were keeping something from you. No, they were doing exactly as God needed them to do, whether they know it or believe it.  Had whatever you hoped for worked out the way you expected it to, that thing would have kept you from being available for the greater things God has in store for you.

What I have learned through my own disappointments is that when I am disappointed, I question my abilities and I question who I am. Maybe I was trusting my own abilities too much in the beginning. Maybe I had forgotten to let God be first and I had allowed others in His place. Maybe the times I have felt used and alone in the wilderness, was really a time for self-evaluation, not self-criticism. Maybe it was time for God to get my attention so that He could complete a different work in and through me that would take me to the next level.

Remember, disappointments happen to us all. Although we may be surprised by the actions or inactions of others, God is never surprised.  He has my back and He has yours too!

All In God’s Timing

Have you ever found yourself praying and praying for a thing and it seems that nothing, absolutely nothing, is happening? It appears that your prayers are not getting through or psalm 43-5-hopeyou feel that God is hearing you, but choosing to ignore you?  Have you experienced a change of some kind? If you sit quietly and think about it, maybe you have felt a shift in your life.  You don’t know why things have changed to your disadvantage when they were always to your advantage?

The only advice I can offer is found in Matthew 5:45, “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (ESV). When I have read this passage in the past, I took it as God blesses the bad person and the good person equally, but as I read commentaries, the scripture makes a lot more sense.  Jesus was teaching the Disciples that they should be good to their enemies (us too).  His example to them was that God lets the sunshine and the rain fall on both the good person and the bad one. However, God does not give spiritual blessings equally.

A light bulb went off when I thought about what the commentary stated, “if your enemy is hungry, feed them as you would feed yourself.” It takes a specific and rare quality to do that.  I say it takes a person of deep-abiding faith, a person who keeps a positive attitude during pain and struggle, and a person who stays clear of gossip that will inflame their already upset conscious, instead, they seek out God to talk to about their struggles.

This particular person understands the spiritual undertones, and they don’t seek to get revenge, they may want to understand what is happening, but most importantly, they go to God in prayer. This person is filled with the Holy Spirit, and although far from perfect themselves, they know their God is perfect, and He may seem to be far away, but He isn’t. He is sitting high and seeing all things. He may be quiet, but He has not abandoned them.

Yes, God reigns on the unjust as He reigns on the just.  Times change, people change, situations change also. When life shifts from good to bad, you may fret initially, that is understandable. After a little while, ask yourself this: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior, and my God.” Then begin praising Him no matter what the circumstances because times change, people change, and situations will change again in your favor.

Overcome your Obstacles

It’s Resurrection Month!

happy resurrection dayDuring the entire month I have experienced one stressor after the other. In fact, I think sometimes we forget just how challenging life can be.

On Monday, I attended an early morning meeting. On Friday, I was told that someone said I was dismissive of an administrative assistant at that Monday morning meeting. On Tuesday I was busy re-doing a plan that I had worked on almost the entire month of March. During working meet the deadline of getting the plane done, I had to get up, get in my car, drive to another building with 3-inch heels on trying to get from the parking lot to the elevator and up to another luncheon meeting.  On Wednesday my entire morning process was blown because I had to rearrange my morning to be at another meeting that lasted 4 hours. By the time I got to Thursday, things were turning around for the better and Friday would have been great had I not heard about my dismissive behavior to an Admin on Monday! I haven’t told you everything that happened last week either.

I share a glimpse of my week at the office, but I said nothing about home.  Because I was dealing with the news of illnesses on three different fronts, out-of-state and out-of-the-country.  Oh, did I mention I picked up either a cold or allergies? I was coughing profusely, with stuffy nose and headaches too. This week on for an entire week, the week before.  Oh, but this week my husband picked up the same systems. In the midst of chaos and stress, you have to stay positive and encouraging to others, especially when they share good news.  How in the world can anyone manage the ups and downs of life without faith is a question I always ask. Not only can life be challenging, it can be overwhelming!  What do you do when it seems as if everything is closing in on you? How do you handle a spouse’s blowup or a child’s misbehavior or a boss who has lost confidence in your ability to do your job? How do you handle what life throws at you?

I don’t think you have to have all the answers, you just have to know who the source of your answers is. Who do you turn to when life seems out of control? Many times we want to find a confidante to tell all our problems to.  There is certainly nothing wrong with sharing with a “trusted” friend, but even doing that can cause problems when they decide not to be your “trusted” friend anymore.

There is someone that you can trust fully and He will stick with you through thick and thin. He will never leave you and He is an expert on any topic.  The Word of God says in John 14:14, “If you ask ME anything in My name, I will do it.” So, during this past week, I had to go back to Jesus multiple times and ask for His help to get through personality changes, coldness, suspicions, and fear.  I had to “press-in” during prayer each morning and I had to wait.  During my time of waiting, I had to remind myself that He will hear me, but what was most important was I had to believe that He was going to do something. It didn’t happen right away, but what I prayed for eventually came. So I say to you, whatever is going on in your life; whatever stressors you are facing, pray, let go, and let God handle it through Christ. Remember John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Happy Resurrection Day!

Don’t Downplay Your Blessing!

 

Every-Day-in-Every-WayHave you asked God for a particular thing and He dropped it right into your lap? It just came out of nowhere? Well, that has happened to me on several occasions and there is no doubt that it was God. I love it when I know that it is God who has answered a prayer that no one knew about but me and Him.

One thing that has proven consistent for me has been the Ying and Yang of experiencing a blessing. When I get thrilled and excited about the blessing, something happens; something that tries to affect my joy. I will face some kind of opposition, sometimes passive hostility, from people I thought respected me as much as I respected them.  I don’t know about you, but to me, there is nothing more stressful than to be misunderstood.

I am old enough to know and expect people to talk behind my back, but I abhor finding out what they have said.  Also, I am shocked when the person who said it is someone I respected. Initially, I am really bothered by what I have heard them say; I think about it over and over. Next, I am generally angry but I tend to get over my anger quickly because I refuse to allow anyone to affect my joy. Finally, which should be first actually, I go to my Bible to seek comfort, assurance, guidance, and support.

Recently, I went through this process and when I opened my Bible, I turned to Psalms 2. What jumped out at me was this portion of scripture that read: “You are My Son, Today I have become your Father. Ask Me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”  I kept going back to that one part of the scripture, reading what was prior to it and after, but that portion kept speaking to me.  Isn’t it obvious what God was saying? Maybe not to you, but to me God was saying, “You asked, I gave, now go and be blessed, be happy, be effective. You wanted it, you got it.” I felt a sense of release. I told myself, LaSharnda, you are to continue to thank Him and praise Him, only!  I shouldn’t be getting hung up on what others were thinking or saying.  By doing so, I would be ignoring what God had done for me and would be giving more attention to those who had no joy for me at all.  Their silliness would become a huge distraction.

Am I the only one who experiences this? Do you? Has God blessed you with something and instead of celebrating it, you became distracted by the negativity of others. You focused on what they were saying or doing or not saying or doing. Maybe you downplayed your blessing because of them. Please don’t do that.  God has a plan and purpose for you and you already know that. He may fulfill it as He pleases and others may not understand. They may get mad at you for leaving a job they feel you should stay in for longer periods or they may talk about you and not celebrate with you. That’s okay, always remember, ”

God has a plan and purpose for you and you already know that. He may fulfill it as He pleases and others may not understand. They may get mad at you for leaving a job they feel you should have stayed in for a longer period or they may talk about you and not celebrate with you. That’s okay, always remember, “His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways.” (Isaiah 55:8)  His are always greater, better and worth following.  Also remember, if you pray and ask God for something and He gives it to you, whether your friends, family or colleagues like it or not, it’s yours. Don’t be boastful or arrogant; just be thankful, pray for wisdom and if they go low, you take the high road.

When You Are Scared…Trust…

trustI talk so much about how important it is to go for the gold and to never give up. I am especially good at encouraging others to be all that they can be.  I tell you to take your turmoil and turn them into your testimonies of victory. I truly believe in all that I just said to you, but today I want to take a different approach to encouraging you. I want you to just Trust.

Recently, I visited a place near and dear to me. I saw my friends and just loved seeing and interacting with them.  I saw people who make me feel like running the race and never giving up. I saw people who I have known at least 15 years and others I have known less.  One thing that has actually kept me warm inside has been to reflect on these people as I left them behind.  They are still committed to Christ after sicknesses, deaths, hardships and trials; they are still there, serving Him and His people day after day.

What also struck me while I was visiting was the people I met who were going through very difficult struggles in their lives today; struggles with their health and not knowing what to do next. Scared and afraid that life as they had known it would not be the same anymore.  There were those who had family members struggling with personal issues so difficult that it disrupted the entire family structure and there were others who had to juggle several crises at the same time. I can only imagine the desperation they were going through. Losing your good health; being able to move about freely without aid and now you can barely get up from a chair.  Losing a family member, whether to death or to their desire to separate from the family for extended periods;  these are all scary things to deal with.

How can you be positive when you have so much to deal with? How can you stay “up” when everything in you and around you is telling you to stay “down?”  How do you move forward at all when you want to crawl under the covers and never come out? I tell you how, start telling yourself to just take one day at a time and trust God.

I believe the enemy wants you confused about so many things. First, if you are a Believer, he wants you to question God.   When you lose faith and start questioning God, it won’t be long before you start blaming God. Once you begin blaming God, it’s impossible to hold onto your faith, believing that God cares for you (yes, little old you). We begin to think that all the things happening to us, does not matter to God.

Second, we start to pity ourselves and wonder why these things are happening to us.  That too creates negative images in our minds; we are not strong; we are not good enough; we are not smart and the list goes on. There are plenty of voices in this world that will try to tell you that you aren’t good enough, but the voice of God always says that you are loved. When you stop hearing Him and listen to what others say, it is easy to become disillusioned and down.

If you are feeling lost or insignificant in this world, I challenge you to turn to the words of God. He will remind you that you are neither lost nor insignificant. He loves you and cares about all those things that are burdensome to you. You do matter to Him and everything that affects you, matters to God.

“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”                                                                  (Isaiah 41:13)

Friends and friends…

FriendsI am one to sit quietly so that I can think and reflect.  I generally consider what’s going on in my current life; I think about what I am doing in order to get where I want to go. One thing that I have always made my practice is to take account of those who I allow into my inner circle and how to manage those I don’t let in.  You see some people think that every person they meet is supposed to be a deep and personal friend when that’s just not the case.  It’s just not!

I see friends in certain categories. You may not agree with me, but I will support a couple of my points with scripture for you that think I am being “un-Christian”  or “un-friendly.”

The first level of friendship and is the most important to me is the level I refer to as my Inner Circle.  It goes without saying that my BFF is in this group. Along with that person, these are friends that I have probably (not in all cases) known for a very long time.  Not only have I known them, we have shared values. Those values may be how we look at life in general, how we set goals and pursue them, how we see family and a host of other things. One of the primary reasons they are in my inner circle, however, is because they are TRUSTED.  We have gone through victories and disappointments together and I have watched them support me as I have supported them. They will go through the fire for me and I will walk through flames for them.  Those in my inner circle are closer than family members. No one could convince me that they would betray me and they know that I would never betray them. My inner circle is small and years have been invested in our relationship. These are my most trusted confidants and the people who get to speak into my life and influence it.

innercircleJesus had an inner circle too. They were His disciples, yes but even within the inner circle of His disciples, there were some who were even closer, or rather, he allowed to see things others did not see. These disciples shared in some of Jesus’ joys and sorrows.  Peter, James, and John were the only disciples allowed to accompany Jesus when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Mark 5:37). These same disciples were the only ones on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured in the presence of Moses and Elijah (Mark 9:2).  Jesus even gave nicknames to these three. I didn’t say that they were His favorite, I am just pointing out that not all of His disciples experienced Him the same.

Then there is another group of friends. They are good friends too, but they will not be the people I will call on in a life crisis because I don’t know them like that. They are casual friends. We have a level of trust and we enjoy being around each other, but generally we do so just for fun. There is no deep relationship yet; we have not experienced life together yet. Casual friendships can develop into stronger, deeper ones. We probably share similar personal and professional goals and certainly share similar values. They are people I like and will spend time with, but we do not have anything concrete to build our relationship on yet. I may share some of my life stories with them, but the deep things of my heart will probably not be shared for a very long time.

Associations are another group of friends. You probably have some things in common with them, maybe your work or some social activity, but you may not have similar professional or personal goals; you just don’t know. You probably only know each other on the surface from some activity you’ve been engaged in. You don’t hang out, you just see each other occasionally. Trust isn’t a real issue because the exchange of personal information probably isn’t an issue.

Acquaintances will be the last group I will talk about.  You have no real relationship with acquaintances, you just see each other or know of each other in loose terms. You will say hi and bye, exchange pleasantries and if they need help, you will help.  Generally, you will not share any personal life stories, even if they decided to share theirs with you.  They may trust you because of your wisdom or some kind of expertise they think you possess. You may share limited information with your acquaintances because you have no idea what you can share.

That’s it.  I don’t want this all academic, but I did want to lay this out before I say what I really want to say.  Watch who you allow into your inner circle. Every person you meet will not be a close personal friend.  Watch what you say and who you say it to.  Just because a person laughs with you, does not mean that they will cry with you.  Just because a person is willing to share their victories with you does not mean that they will share the joy of yours.  At times,  some people maneuver to try to be “friends” with those they think can open doors for them.  Be real, that’s not friendship, it’s called jockeying for one’s own self-interest.  If you behave like this, just know that those who you are trying to get close to see it too

My grandfather used to say, “if you want friends, show yourself friendly.” He was quoting  Proverbs 18:24.  Be a good friend, but also make sure those you allow closest to you are also good friends because they will be the ones who will influence you the most.

Pray First…

i hate waitingI am a high achiever. I am all about achieving one thing and moving on to the next. I get a rush out of being able to check another goal accomplished off my list.  If you are the same, you already know that people like us want things done and they want them done now.  We tend to think that the next thing is waiting to be conquered and we are the ones to conquer.  People like us can be high strung and just can’t sit still. We are BIG Picture people continually developing a strategy for the next thing. Time is money, so don’t we don’t believe in wasting time!

Hold on though!  There is a problem with being like us. We can get easily frustrated; especially if things are moving too slow. When I was young, that meant bad news for those around me. Let’s just say, I wasn’t very patient. Now that I am older, I am a lot better. When frustration sets in, I try not to talk much. Maybe I am this way because of how extreme I behaved in my younger days. Anyway, something happened recently, and I realized just how much I have changed.

If you have read anything I have written in the past, you know that I believe in Jesus. You also know that I think when He said in John 14:16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” that He meant it. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to “lead and guide us.”  For me, that scripture means He will help when I feel stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, ticked off,  confused, unsettled or whatever destructive emotion I may experience. God already knows what I need, I just need to give my feelings to Him by releasing them to the Holy Spirit.

prayer-changes-thingsWhen I mention the name, DMV, many of you have the same images come to mind as I do; inefficient, slow, uncaring, paper-pushers, unproductive and the rudest people you can meet!  Maybe that’s why my husband had a problem when he had to deal with them on my behalf.  He was at the DMV all day beginning at 745 that morning. He came home around 3pm. I came home after him, and  when I walked in and said “Hello Darling” and got very little response, I should have guessed something was wrong.  I went to the kitchen to make some food and yelled, “do you want something to eat?” “No,” he replied. I looked and realized I was talking, and he was not talking because he was on the phone.  I sat down at the table and began to eat. When he finally got off the phone, he told me what happened at the DMV. He looked beat! Well, he didn’t get done what I needed. He had all my paperwork and handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”  Well, ok, but I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally getting the right person that took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

Well, he didn’t get done what I needed and deep inside, I was not happy about that. I didn’t say anything though. I saw all my paperwork in his hands and he handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”.  I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally get the right person on the line who took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

I had to get up early to go to a meeting.  I dressed and got out on highway 57 to sit in the morning parking lot of traffic. My goodness, I thought everyone would be on vacation; it is the week before Christmas. At least the traffic was moving. I got to my meeting, we finished up around 1115, and I headed over to DMV without an appointment. I got there, and to my amazement, there were very little people outside (that’s a good sign). I went to the “do not have appointment line” that is usually out the door but was short today. I stood behind a guy that was pleasant, and we talked about our experiences. We were three and four in line! Well, it was his time, I wished him luck, and he did the same. I got to the window, no problem, got my waiting ticket and went to sit down. The entire time I sat there waiting, I prayed “Lord, please make my path straight.” When I was called about an hour later, I walked up to the window, explained my situation, gave the man my papers, he processed them and “BOOM!” I was done! No frustration, no confusion, no annoying conversation.

You may say “so what?” I tell you “so what” I felt from the beginning of the frustration before I got on the phone, if I started with prayer, I would approach the situation with a better attitude. I knew that if I believed and relied on the Holy Spirit to guide me, I would not rush and become impatient. I know that prayer changes things, but more importantly, prayer and the Holy Spirit changes us.