Are we there yet?

Forty minutes into our 12 hour drive my four year old asked the dreaded question. “When are we going to get there?”

I chuckle and decide I’ll keep count of how many times I hear the question before the day is through… Just for kicks. After all, it’s too early in the trip to get aggravated.

I wonder if God smiles and keeps count of my same question… When??? When will things get easier? When will I see progress? When will I experience blessings for obedience?

Then, I think back to Abraham and Sarah who waited 25 years for their promised son. Or Noah who built and built and built for nearly 100 years because of the threat of a coming storm. And David who was selected as king but returned to shepherd work until the time was right.

God has his own timetable and we often struggle to understand. But he sees the big picture, just as I know the path ahead of us on our trip while my kids wonder. We need to trust him, his promises, and his timing.

While waiting can be difficult, our attitude and actions can affect our mood. Waiting doesn’t have to be passive. My kids are currently listening to audio books, playing games, and wiggling in their seats while listening to music. They also have toys, movies, snacks and occasionally a turn with my iPad.

When we’re waiting on God’s timing, we can praise Him, serve Him, love Him, spend time with Him and trust Him. He has a plan for each of us – a good plan – and He will give us His best.

Seeing Red (sirens and a truck)

As the fire engine pulled up in front of my house, I could see faces peering out at me and a flurry of activity that appeared to be men putting on jackets.

Do I saunter across the yard so they know not be alarmed, or do I run to spare them the effort of exiting the truck and making a greater scene?

Just minutes earlier, I had been on the phone with our home security company.  There had been a problem with one of the fire alarm units in our house.  For weeks, they’d call us at all hours (usually while we were peacefully sleeping) to tell us the battery was low.  We’d dutifully change the battery and within a week receive the call again. 

With this morning’s call, I requested that they send a technician.  Clearly there was a problem with the unit. They transferred me to technical services. As I talked to the technician, he wanted to try one other option before sending someone on site.  During our lengthy conversation, I pushed what seemed like a million buttons on the unit, and as instructed, the “test” button – which apparently is a magical little button. 

This one tiny button set in motion a series of events.

Because the technician forgot one little step in the testing process – to temporarily deactivate our system, pushing that button triggered a signal to the security company.  They called me to check on me, but because I was already on the phone with their technical department (and was not aware that the signal had been sent), I did not answer. It would have been rude to put the technician on hold, right?

They then called the fire department – while I’m still on the phone with their technical department.

Then, they call my next-door-neighbor who is first on my call list.  She was at the grocery store.

They then alerted my parents, who are next on my call list because the live nearby.

By this time, I’ve been disconnected from the security company and my mom calls to tell me that the fire department is on the way.  What?!

And, indeed the fire engine arrived as I hung up the phone with my mother. My dad pulled up behind the fire truck.  Neighbors emerged from their homes.

Embarrassed, head down, still dressed in work out clothing, not yet showered, I walked across the front yard to meet the firemen and explain that everything was OK… a miscommunication of sorts. I apologized profusely and thanked them for their time as they climbed back in the truck.

Fortunately, we learned that the alarm system actually works.  But what a commotion because of some missteps and miscommunication!

Reflecting on the incident reminded me of how often in life things take an unexpected turn and land us in an awkward situation.  But, the circumstances aren’t the most important part, our reaction is.  We often can’t control our circumstance, but we can control our thoughts and our actions.  The question is: do we?  Do we exercise patience when things don’t go our way?  Are we gracious and forgiving to those who wound us or do we strike back? Do we look at the worst in a situation or try to find the silver lining? 

Luckily, the firemen weren’t too upset about the incident, or at least they didn’t verbalize it. And, I was able to get a good laugh when all the excitement settled.  My daughter has enjoyed telling the story several times, so the absurdity of the events continues to amuse.

But, life’s mishaps are not always funny.

And so, our thought lives play a significant role in the level of joy and peace we experience.  I pray that you take a step back and evaluate your thoughts and attitudes in the midst of trying times.  And, may you be blessed by a willingness to see things through the lens of God’s glasses.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

From Frustration to Fruition

I’ve yet to figure it out, but I love how God works… how He wows me in the most unexpected ways.

I’m currently part of small team of ladies working on a project.  A project that’s difficult to explain, nearly impossible to understand and one we’ve yet to grasp. But, we’re all called to it by God’s leading.

None of us volunteered. None of us knew each other well, if at all.  However, we’re bound by a common goal.

We’re different in our personalities, past experiences, professions, current stages of life, and individual traits. But together, we’re a team. We’ve experienced frustration, anger, hope, sadness, desire, optimism, pessimism, and more frustration, with little evidence of accomplishing our goal.  Emotions run high, then low. At times I’ve wanted out, even though it appears that we’re only in the early stages of what will likely be a marathon, not a sprint.

Then, at just the right time, God weaves a myriad of threads together and I experience the iconic light bulb flash.  A freeing moment of realization.  We’re not failing even though we can’t see evidence of progress.  We’re serving God and loving Him with our dedication and obedience. We’re not responsible for the outcome.  He is.  I’ve been carrying a burden that’s not mine. 

I feel lighter. Peaceful.

And now that I’m peaceful, I see things with greater clarity.  I’m able to offer kindness and encouragement in a new way, instead of needing it myself.  I’m able to see the roles that each of us on the team serves. Instead of being so envious of what the others offer, I can accept my role… perhaps even see its value.  I am blessed to be serving side by side with these amazing ladies and I’m learning from them.

With new eyes, the journey becomes one of expectation and anticipation, not one of dread.  I don’t imagine that it will become easier instantaneously, but I have a new appreciation and insight that allow me to see opportunity.  And that I can embrace, because God’s opportunities and encounters are always worth the ride.

Perhaps you’re struggling with a difficult situation today.  I pray that you seek God’s direction and perspective as you release it to Him.  He may just turn it into something beautiful and unexpected.

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:8-11 NLT