He’s Big Enough

Yesterday my Words of Encouragement were on target (as usual!):

“Dear Lord, I trust You – regardless of what the situations around me say.  I know that You won’t leave me or forsake me and that You’re big enough to handle my dilemma.”

As I read the short prayer, I was thinking, “That’s right! – He’s got it covered!”

The frustrating thing is, it wasn’t two hours before I’d completely discharged that affirmation from my thought process – I allowed myself to be focused on my circumstance versus the One “big enough” to manage my circumstance.

Fortunately God isn’t expecting me to get the timing right in every situation – when I arrived at the office this morning, there was the prayer staring me in the face – a gentle reminder – I may have forgotten the words in the prayer, but not the truth in the prayer – He was ever present as I journaled before the day came to a close…

Mentally I know God has my dilemma covered – pesky home repairs – the damage may be costly, the bank account may be drying up, but He is faithful! His love NEVER FAILS! I know He will provide everything I need and will carry me through this challenge…now if I can consistently connect all of that to my heart.  And although it’s a uncomfortable process, I’m so thankful He is growing me!

The truths and promises I know to stand on come to mind – “He’s brought me this far, He’s not going to let me down now…all I have to do is TRUST HIM” coupled with a recent message on discipleship – it’s as if Jesus is running beside me rooting me on to victory cheering, “DON’T GIVE UP! DON’T GIVE UP! DON’T GIVE UP!”  

Temptation

My words of encouragement this morning is a wonderful reminder to consistently seek Him…

“The good news is that none of us has to cave in to pressure.  In the midst of crazy days when things don’t go right and people get on your nerves, you can still have inner peace.  You can still have God’s perspective on your life.”

Hello! How easy it is to try and carry the pressures of the world on my shoulders – to try and manage life on my own…so many Scriptures come to mind, but this is the first…and not coincidentally, one of my first memory verses!

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.

And God is faithful;

He will not let you to 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.”

Why Settle?

May 4, 2011

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Don’t settle for less” – but I wonder how often we do just that?  Settle for what seems to be a realistic outcome to circumstances in our lives.  I read a great devotional today addressing this challenge – what may seem an impossible task to me is VERY possible for God!  And it really connected dots to a recent bible study on Matthew 6:25-33

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

   And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Thankfully, God gives me exactly what I need, when I need it.  He also knows my tendency to look only at what’s in front of me and gives me great examples of what can happen when I add faith to what I already have – when Jesus fed the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44), his disciples were very much like me – they only saw what they had and not what God could do with what they had.  One of God’s beautiful promises is to provide for my needs – all I have to do is seek Him first…not second, not as as an afterthought – FIRST…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. 

When I fist started on this leg of my journey, a mentor prompted me to always ask myself a question before I started a project or responded to a need, “Is it Kingdom focused?” In other words, who’s gonna get the glory from my actions – me? or God?  Better yet, what if I ask, “How can God get the glory?”  So often, I find myself moving into action before I really think about what I’m doing, let alone who I’m doing it for, or how God can direct me toward a result beyond my wildest expectations. 

My TGIF devotional put it quite succinctly: “Do not settle for the gospel of salvation only. Jesus came that we might experience the gospel of the Kingdom in its fullest sense.”  As I’m seeing and grasping more clearly each day, my job isn’t to rely on worldly experiences of logical reasoning – it’s to put my faith into action and see what God can do!

Who’s Your Healer?

April 24, 2011

Here’s a powerful verse – one of the first I memorized – God continues to show me the depth of its meaning:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Several weeks ago I asked a friend to pray for someone being rushed to the hospital and they asked a question in return.  I don’t recall the exact words, so I’ll paraphrase – it was along the lines of “Does she really believe God can heal her?” – that question has been simmering on the back burner of my brain ever since.  Although it may not have been directed at me personally, the question certainly applies to each and every one of us.

At the time, I was thinking of healing in medical terms and was taken back to a situation a couple of months ago – my daughter was on a school field trip several hours from home when she had an allergic reaction.  Typically, there’s a trip to the emergency room involved where drugs to counteract the reaction are administered. 

On that day as my daughter was en route to the ER, I asked for prayer – the prayer received wasn’t that she arrive safely and the doctors take the correct course of action – no, it was that God heal her and baffle the doctors when she appeared to be perfectly fine.  In my finite mind of experiences I was thinking, “right – God, just get her to the ER and guide the doctors” – in theory, there was nothing wrong with my approach, but you see, even though God is growing me by leaps and bounds, I still so readily fall into the trap of depending on things of this world first rather than God. 

Not a month before the allergic reaction, my daughter called from school – she was in terrible, debilitating pain.  I offered to drive two hours to get her – at first she said no, but the pain became so severe she said yes.  As I was scrambling to get on the road, I stopped dead in my tracks to pray.  I didn’t just know, I BELIEVED with all my heart God was my resource.  I prayed for her healing – not two minutes later she phoned – the pain was gone – she felt perfectly fine!

Now isn’t that something?  How can my responses be so dramatically different? It makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER, does it? But all too often, that’s what I do – I rely on past worldly experiences to guide my actions.  Slowly, but surely, He is replacing worldly experiences with faith-based experiences.  And the thing is, without fail, every time I seek Him, He’s always right there – waiting to show me just how faithful and amazing He is! 

My response to the allergic reaction was a gut wrenching experience – I felt so helpless, yet I was so stubborn not to completely rely on God to handle the situation – whatever that picture might look like – yet, not a month before, when I immediately gave a situation to Him there was such relief and peace (yes, another Alka-Selter moment).  Although God’s hand was on both situations, my responses were very different.  Perhaps I needed to experience the contrast.

When I finally connected the dots, I knew I’d be writing “Who’s Your Healer?” – but then God revealed even more…His healing powers  extend far beyond the physical.  He’s the Healer for whatever ails us…relationships, finances, you name it – when we’re ready to rip off the band-aide and address the poison in our lives, He’s there for us.  What are you waiting for? Let the healing begin!

Training Wheels

May 25, 2011

Do you remember learning to ride a bike? You didn’t start with a 10-speed, did you? I sure didn’t…I might have started with a tricycle, but actually my first memory was one of those pedal cars – I was 4 – it was Christmas – my brother and I both received red Ford Mustangs – I LOVED that car! I felt safe and secure as I whizzed around with four wheels on the ground – it was great to feel confident of the direction in which I was headed! But all too soon I outgrew that car and it was time for a bicycle – it doesn’t look that difficult, but geez was I wobbly – I didn’t want “training wheels” – I was a big girl – I could “do it myself” – needless to say, that approach resulted in many skinned knees & elbows – maybe training wheels weren’t such a bad idea after all…

So I succumbed to the idea of training wheels and it wasn’t long before I regained that confidence and security…zooming up and down the street…at some point though, the training wheels had to come off…but they were replaced with a coach…someone running behind to catch me when I fell…someone cheering me on as I gained a sense of confidence once again…

The thing is I (we) need training wheels in life…physical and emotional…I need guidance to gain that sense of confidence in the direction I’m headed! When I try over and over to “do it myself” it’s generally not too terribly long before I’ve skinned my knees & elbows to a nub…but God is so good! He’s always there to catch me when I fall…always there cheering me on as I gain a sense of confidence again…

But here’s the thing…I didn’t learn to ride a bike overnight…it took a lot of time, a ton practice and intense focus…I needed the physical wheels to steady me and definitely needed the coach to guide me and cheer me on…so why in the world would I think developing a deep relationship with God would be any different? It seems as though as soon as I gain the least bit of confidence, I want to drop those wheels…essentially saying, “I can do it myself” – nothing could be farther from the truth.

Confession time…I’ve been trying to drop those wheels and taking my coach a bit for granted…not a proud moment…I’ve found myself wobbly and distracted by the pretty scenery of life. Instead of really practicing and focusing on my relationship with God, I’ve been trying to wing it on my own. Hello????? Will I ever learn it just doesn’t work that way???

TIME. PRACTICE. FOCUS. My wheels are God’s Word and I practice His Word through daily reading and quiet time focused on Him – I will ALWAYS need Him. God is my faithful support and the coach to guide me and cheer me on throughout this journey called Life.

New Beginnings

December 31, 2009

Perhaps 2009 wasn’t exactly what I expected, but then again, is any year?  And I may never fully understand the nitty gritty details of God’s great plan, but I think I get the jest of the picture:  to trust Him and love Him, to let Him guide me in all my ways, and to know Him better through His Word.

Gee…that all sounds so simple…well, it is…it’s when I start putting the “I” in things is when life gets mucky…yes, that’s my nature…to want to help – yes, even God!  It’s funny, right?  But I do it – some days more than others.  The exciting part is that I’m finally beginning to recognize when I’m getting in the way – maybe after the fact, but I’m learning!

Managing expectations are rarely easy, and yes, disappointments are a given.   But I have a hardfast rule that has taken on new meaning this year. “There’s something good in everything – granted you may have to really dig for it, but the good is there.”  What I never consciously thought about before…God is in everything, so it has to be good!

Alka-Selzter Moments

 

April 15, 2011

It’s amazing what God can do…IF and WHEN I get out of the way!!!!  To say I was struggling with work issues last year is an understatement.  It wasn’t just ONE thing (it never is), but a combination of things…feeling like an outsider in my own group and undervalued by senior management kept me whizzing around on a roller coaster of frustration and discontent.

 God is always so good to put the Scripture I need in front of me – and leaving it there to mull over…and over…and over until it sinks in.  The recent biggie was and still is Phil 4:6-7:

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (NIV)

 And if that verse sounds familiar? Well, it’s because I wrote about it a couple of months ago.  Back to the story…

 Year end in the accounting world is equivalent to chaos on steroids… ridiculous deadlines, questions, questions, and more questions… add in existing frustrations, another month-end before you’ve finished the last, a few major business changes, staffing changes, and changes on those changes and you’ve got the perfect storm – well, of course if you’re trying to steer the boat yourself!

 As much as I tried to remind myself (daily, hourly, and yes, sometimes even by the minute) to Let Go and Let God…somehow I was still managing to fight to do it myself.  It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but geez…I am one persistent human! 

 The thing about transformation is that it can’t be achieved on your own…let me repeat…TRANSFORMATION CAN’T BE ACHIEVED ON YOUR OWN.  It’s definitely a God Thing and in no way, shape, or form an overnight thing.    I thought because I recognized the obstacles ahead, I had the tools necessary to handle what was coming down the pike…nope, not even close…I was the proverbial duck: calm on the surface and paddling like mad underneath!

 I sought support from friends and family, posted reminders of Scripture, devotionals, (you name it) to help redirect me…I have all these little sticky notes with words of encouragement on my desk now… they’re really good so I’ll share a few:

 “God has brought you this far, and He’ll never let you down…but it’s up to you to trust Him.  If you do, then you can have all the success He has in store for you – spiritually and in the workplace”

 Psalm 18:39 “You armed me with strength for battle…”

“Lord, I am grateful that you have armed me with the strength I need for the battle ahead.  Teach me to persevere in prayer and not let down.  Enable me to pray through each situation until I see victory.  You are always with me, working in my favor.  Amen.”

 And one of my favorites – simple and yet so powerful…

 “Father, Bring Celeta peace in knowing that You are in control.  In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.”

 You see, it wasn’t until I consistently (consistent being the operative word) started praying on God’s promises, that I was finally able to relinquish my unyielding grip on the situation.  It was an “Alka-Seltzer” moment indeed – oh what a relief it is!

 The peace I’ve found in the workplace is nothing short of a miracle – I no longer feel like an outsider…my focus is on others vs myself (duh!).  I no longer feel undervalued by senior management – God has me EXACTLY where he wants me and after all, He is the ultimate Senior Manager!  The staffing changes? They’re never easy, right? Oh my goodness! The changes far exceeded my wildest expectations – that in and of itself should show anyone what God can do when you let Him. 

 Will there be challenges ahead?  Absolutely.  Will I still struggle to do it on my own? Inevitably.  But the assurance I’m embedding more and more firmly each day guarantees not only will I recognize He knows exactly what He’s doing, but I will gladly turn it over… and yes, as always, He’s got it covered!

Matters of the Heart

January 29, 2011

Over the past few weeks I’ve been presented with Phil 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “ (NIV)

Guard your hearts…talk about something I’ve tried to manage on my own! Although I’ve recognized the challenge of truly opening myself to others, I’ve spent so many years guarding my heart…I’ve had the proverbial duct tape wound so tightly…layers upon layers…in many ways believing that if I distanced myself enough, whatever the circumstances, my heart could not be damaged. 

But that’s not true, is it? Life still happens.  Damage still occurs – before you realize it, plaque has built up and you’re at the mercy of a professional.  Imagine…if the doctor said, “You need heart surgery – your arteries are filled with plaque – medication isn’t an option – you won’t live without surgery.”

Would you say, “No – thanks, though – I can repair the damage on my own.”  DOUBTFUL! Most likely you’d want to schedule surgery as soon as possible.

Why is it do you suppose, it’s so easy to put our lives in the hands of a surgeon? An acquaintance – at best?   We do a little research and rely COMPLETELY on credentials – we literally put our life in the hands of the surgeon and barely think twice about it. Yet we avoid relying on God at ridiculous costs.

But what about God? The REAL surgeon? The One who has a PERFECT track record? The One who can repair the worst of damage?  He alone can clean the mucky plaque of life and never leave a scar – if we let Him.

So why hold back? Oh, is it because we have to be an active and willing participant? It’s not as if He’s going to knock us out, perform His work, and then we wake up good as new.  No…we have to be awake – fully conscious for this one.

And so why Phil 4:6-7?  Duct tape is great for many things, but when it comes to guarding your heart? Not so much.  Have you ever tried to remove duct tape? After years and layers upon layers, it’s a sticky mess.  And all the damage? Still there!  Sure, I may have achieved the objective of not letting anyone close enough to hurt me, but that’s not really true either…I’d only been hurting myself.

As I’ve been digging my spiritual well, I’ve discovered the only way I’ll be able to open myself to others is to completely open myself to God.  I have to hand over my sticky plaque-filled heart and let Him do what He does best: Love me, clean away the plaque of life’s hurts and get out there to do what He’s called us all to do – love others.  Sure, heartaches will happen, but what about the joy that comes too? Besides, God assures me He works all things for my good – even all that mucky plaque…

I don’t need to be anxious about anything – I’m in great hands! I don’t need the proverbial duct tape – He will guard my heart for me.  I just need a regular check-up with Him – through prayer and petition in every situation, He will keep me in perfect health!

Dig Deep!

January 1, 2011

 

Not so long ago, I recognized the fundamental need in my life – to have a personal relationship with God.  It wasn’t enough to just believe in God – I needed to know His Will for my life! Oh wait…and just how could that be accomplished? As a friend put it so succinctly, “To know God’s Will, you must know God; to know God, you must know His Word.”

 

What have I discovered? God is The Authority.  He longs to be our closest friend, our confidant, our mentor all rolled into one – He alone hears the whispers of our hearts, completely understands our needs, and provides us with a perfect love perspective.  He’s ready and willing – He will never fail to meet us right where we are.  Just like any parent, nothing gives Him more joy than when His children come to him with EVERYTHING – He wants to be on the front burner – the one fueling our lives!

 

It doesn’t matter what’s going on around me…as long as my focus is centered on God, whatever circumstance (pleasant or a bit more challenging) crosses my path, I can work through it…with Him.  And when I view circumstances of others, if I take a moment to try and see it through God’s perspective, I just might see we have so much in common…

 

God made us so beautifully imperfect and unique; but at the same time, our threads of human nature are so tightly interwoven, we are very much alike – I don’t buy the theory of men and women being from different planets – a cute idea, but at our core, I believe we all want the same thing: to love and be loved – we just have to tap into the source…

 

A sermon a few months back painted a picture of what this past year has been for me.  I can’t say it any clearer, so I’ve copied some of the sermon, Digging Our Father’s Well

 

Basically, I’ve been clearing debris from my “faith well” this year.  The well represents the place where true spiritual life is sustained.  History has a way of filling the wells of faith with debris such as false religion, abuse, family curses, etc.  Just as Isaac took on the task of re-digging the wells of his father, I too have to re-dig my well if I want true spiritual life.

 

  • Prioritize – our very survival depends upon digging deep for living water.
  • Recognize – life has a way of filling our well with debris that keeps us from the sweet waters of life.
  • Persist – dig past family dysfunction and cultural expectations to tap into the living water.
  • Persevere – never give up and don’t get sidetracked by others who don’t want to see you succeed.

 

Want to see what digging looks like?  Here are some excerpts from my writings this past year:

 

…What am I so afraid of? Revealing my doubts? My mistakes? Oh, my life? Hmmmm….it seems – no scratch that – I AM most afraid when I’m depending on meCeleta – to work through whatever challenge (big or small) lies in front of me, rather than putting my faith, my confidence for success (whatever that picture looks like) where it belongs – in GOD!

 

…it’s when I start putting the “I” in things is when life gets mucky… that’s my nature…to want to help – yes, even God!  It’s funny, right? But I do it…

 

…If God really is to reign over my life, I have to look beyond all the things I allow to get in the way (worldly expectations, fear, doubt, rejection, guilt, etc.). It’s not complicated…it’s ridiculously simple and I make it complicated…. Just let go. Let God.

 

…how will the messy picture I’ve been trying to fix turn out? I find comfort in knowing it’s going to be a masterpiece because it’s God’s painting, not mine – maybe the when and how depends on how willing I am to move out of the way.

 

…when will I believe the trick to overcoming whatever obstacle (perceived or otherwise) that lies in front of me only has to do with my willingness to believe God has a plan, He’s got it covered, and wants me to succeed?  Will I stay where I am out of fear? Or will I choose to be like Peter and step out of the boat moving forward in faith?

 

…as I gradually give up the pieces of my life I’ve held on to so stubbornly, my heart is lighter and it feels AMAZING!  It’s kind of like when you try to hold your breath and you can’t hold it any longer…that next breath?  It’s incredible – such a relief, right?  Well it’s the same thing when you completely give something to God …His breath fills your life and propels you forward in a way you could never imagine.

 


Each day we have a choice and 2011 will be no different – we can ‘one-cheek’ God and see how well we do on our own…OR we can embrace His abundant blessings – in whatever shapes and sizes He presents them.  I’m choosing to declare His favor over my life, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Keeping Responsibility in Check

 

December 30, 2010
 

The word “Responsibility” brings to mind so many positive connotations – reliability, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, accountability…so to assume responsibility for actions is a good thing, right? Well…not always…a challenge I continue to struggle with is taking responsibility for other’s actions.  It’s certainly not as if I don’t have enough responsibility on my plate, but for some reason I tend to try and pile on more. 

 

A few weeks ago, my bible study group went through the process of writing our testimonies.  It was surprisingly easy to write mine – I suppose because I’ve been writing and sharing discoveries over the past year…but then I went back and took a long look. 

 

The never-ending “if-then” equation…and although I had written the words, lived and breathed the words, I hadn’t completely connected the dots between my head and my heart.  More often than not, my “if-thens” are rooted in feelings of abandonment and being good enough…You see, I know choices of others rarely have ANYTHING to do with me and my shortcomings, but apparently I don’t always buy it.  Why is it so easy to believe I am/was the cause? Perhaps because it’s easier to blame myself rather than someone else?

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum is when I see people NOT taking responsibility, or worse, blaming others for their problems.  It makes my heart so sad to see adults fiercely holding on to that “if-then” equation… their shortcomings being the direct result of someone else’s actions.  But isn’t it equally sad to believe my own perceived shortcomings are to blame? Absolutely!

 

So what am I doing about it?

  • Step One? Acknowledgment – seeing that taking responsibility for other’s actions is a challenge for me
  • Step Two? Action – choosing that I want something different
  • Step Three? Obedience to His Word – only God can transform my mindset and move me forward

 

Oh gee…isn’t it interesting these are the same simple steps in developing a deeper relationship with God? How about that…sort of like washing your hair…lather, rinse, repeat…except there’s no comparison to the cleansing God provides!