Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What We Need to Survive

An end-of-summer mini-vacation, quickly followed by the back-to-school scramble, kept me from blogging for over a week but it was definitely worth it. One thing that God is teaching me these days is the importance of putting my kids’ needs ahead of my goals. In the process I know that I enjoyed the summer much more than usual. Now that it’s over, I’m so glad that I followed God’s direction. There is plenty of time for writing and blogging when the boys are in school. Time for enjoying them, however, won’t last forever.

During our mini-vacation, my boys and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we were reminded of God’s amazing creativity (and, as Christian and I discussed, His incredible sense of humor). We watched a short film about deep and mid-ocean sea life. The docent explained that the creature living in the mid-ocean do not have rocks or reefs to hide behind. In order to protect themselves from predators most are transparent or so dark that they blend in with the water. On top of that, 90% of these creatures create their own light. Many were indescribably strange looking. Yet God gave each one of these creatures what it needed to survive, just as He does for us.

Lately I have needed a lot of reminders that my loving Heavenly Father does and will provide what I need. Learning about a mysterious variety of creature that He designed complete with built-in light and protection left me wonder-struck. He weaves each of us together with exactly what we need to survive. And if we find that we need something that we were not born with—such as courage, or strength, or the perseverance to live in crisis mode for years on end—He has this beautiful way of bringing it out in us. Then the next time we need that trait, it’s already there.

God, thank you for creating me with all I would need to survive in the environment you placed me in. Thank you for filling me with Your light. Help me to reflect it today.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Let's Make a Plan

My sons and I are getting ready for a four-day trip to Monterey with my parents and my sister Kristy and her kids.

Preparing for this get-away has involved a lot of decisions and changes of plans, leaving me wondering at times if we should even be going. But God made the answer to that clear. Christian worked hard all summer with no days off (except for weekends) or fun events. He needs to have a real vacation before starting college classes again. My parents haven’t seen Christian since spring break. School starts the week after next, meaning no more spontaneous escapes. We need to go. Only one thing has held me back from fully looking forward to the trip—lack of funds.

I have been waiting all week for two checks, one of which was overdue. Each day I reminded God how badly I needed the money. And each day the mail came with no check included. I fretted. I fought back tears. I reminded God again about my need. I was tempted to call my parents and admit that I didn’t have any spending money—that I probably should stay home. But I knew what they would say: “Don’t worry about it. We just want to see you. We’ll cover whatever you need.” And I didn’t want that. Not after they’d booked Amtrak tickets for me and the boys. Not knowing that they were covering the hotel. I wanted to cover my own extras. I needed that money!

But what if it didn’t come?

Finally, God prompted me to calm down and come up with a plan. Step one: I would ask about the overdue check. At least then I would know whether to expect it before leaving. I would also get an idea for when to expect it. If the check didn’t arrive in time, I would take funds out of savings then replace it with my check, once it arrived.

As it turned out, the overdue check had been mailed. I could possible arrive in time. If not, I have a plan. (We're still waiting for mail to be delivered.)

How often do I panic and fret—all the while reminding God about my problem as if He’s clueless—when what I really need to do is ask Him to help me find the answer? God knows my needs and my desires; He knows that it is right to want to pay my own way rather than expecting my parents to do it. Why don’t I trust Him to meet those needs?

This answer—this Plan B—doubled as an exercise in trusting. What a wonderful bonus.

Thank You God for calming my heart as you so faithfully help me find solutions to daily problems.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finding the Answer

I was stuck, completely empty creatively, dried up. One of my summer goals of restructuring my blog (yes, this blog, the one that until recently included a new post about once a month when I reviewed a new book) wasn’t working out so well. I’d chosen a topic that I was passionate about—seeing God at work in everyday things—and was writing more often. But posts were still only going up every week at the most, or every two weeks if I left town. On top of that, the stories were already feeling stale. As usual, I gave into my tendency to feel like a failure as a writer. How could I expect to ever write another book if I couldn’t even keep up with a blog?

I tossed around a couple of ideas with a fellow author, only to see that I couldn’t make them work.

On Monday I prepared to meet with my writers group. I couldn’t decide what to bring to critique. Then it hit me: why not ask them to help me brainstorm ideas for my blog. Kaydie, our brainstorming queen (Hi Kaydie, you’re amazing), helped me come up with a plan for incorporating weekly themes. The next thing I knew I had new direction that I was really excited about. I’d found the answer!

So this week’s theme is Answers.

Answers that seem to never come.

Answers that we can’t find ourselves.

This time my answer came with the help of others. What a sweet reminder of how much we need each other. Writers need other writers. Christians need brothers and sisters in Christ. Moms need other moms. Because sometimes we get stuck and need help desperately.

I can’t help wondering if God occasionally allows the answer to our dilemma-of-the-day to get stuck in our brains until we call for reinforcements, just to keep us from getting too full of ourselves—too convinced that we can do this life ourselves.

Whether that’s true or not, I thank Him for prompting me to run to my writers group for help, and in the process leading me to the answer that I was looking for.