Sorry, Not a Winner

Don’t you love those  scratch off game pieces?  You know, the ones that always say “Sorry, Not a winner.” 

Couldn’t they find a better message to print?  I mean, you’re already disappointed to find out you didn’t get the prize, but then the shame of having to read that you’re not a winner.  What does that do to one’s self-esteem?

As I was on the receiving end of one such game piece today, I paused after reading the lousy message.  Because I was already feeling a little edgy, I resented reading the careless text.  OK, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But, it did make me stop and think.

The truth is, I am a child of God.  He thinks I’m a winner.  Even on days like today when my husband and I are wrestling to solve a dispute, and the dog is still acting out because I dared go out of town three weeks ago, and I’m battling a head cold that fogs my brain and preempts desperately needed sleep, and when I forgot… again!  God still loves me.  Oh, how I needed to hear that truth!

Are you needing a reminder that God loves you today?  Hear this: He loves you extravagantly!  He’s not stingy with His love.  Nor is His love conditional.  He longs to lavish His love on you.  I pray that you’ll sit and soak in it.  Exhale the worries of the day and drink in His love and goodness.  Be still, my friend, and know that you are loved.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  1 John 3:1

Proof that My Daughter’s Life Mattered

A Mother’s Day post in memory of Ashlynn

God never fails in showing me His love, and I’m touched by the His unexpected gift tonight… a perfect gift on Mother’s Day.

Some years,  Mother’s Day is hard for me because I’m keenly aware of Ashlynn’s absence.  This year, however, I was camping with my middle daughter, battling allergies, and whispering my way through a bout of laryngitis.  Needless to say, my thoughts were occupied most of the weekend.

But tonight, as my household became quiet, I received a touching email.  My friend wrote:

“As I was picking strawberries today, there was a father yelling at his little girl, Ashlynn. He kept yelling her name over and over again. I stopped what I was doing and said a quick prayer, ‘Dear loving God, please help this father have patience and see what a precious gift HIS Ashlynn is, because I know another mom who would give anything to pick strawberries with HER precious Ashlynn. Show him that she’s only excited about picking strawberries and not trying to aggravate him. Amen.’  You know what, it was quiet after that.  Just a giggle here and there. Powerful. Happy Mother’s Day, dear friend. ‘

Powerful indeed! I was speechless as happy tears made there way down my cheek. 

Once again, there’s evidence that my daughter’s life had meaning and continues to have lasting impact.  My friend prayed for another precious girl and her father today because of my daughter’s life.  And her prayers were heard. And then she took the time to share the experience with me, probably not even realizing the magnitude of the gift that it was.  I love the beauty of how God works, because in that simple act, while picking strawberries with her family, she was being used by our God Almighty to touch lives – mine, a father and his daughter, and hopefully yours.

Words can’t contain my gratitude tonight – for my friend, for the gift of my daughter, and for a God who is gracious and shows me reminders of His love for me.  Ashlynn’s legacy lives on even though her physical body doesn’t.  And what a gift to know that she continues to spread love even in her absence. 

I pray that you experience the depths of God’s love today and know that your life matters to Him.  All life matters to God –  regardless of size, age or nationality – so let’s take time to cherish it and those around us.

The Ultimate Guide to Life

Much of my time and energy is spent trying to figure out what God wants me to do.  Perhaps this sounds strange, but I’m one of those people who is always thinking and processing.  I also run a small speaking and writing ministry so I feel the need to have a plan.  There are business bills to pay, requests to grant, and projects to complete. At the same time, I have a gazillion ideas swirling around in my head and a genuine desire to serve the Lord. The result: praying, planning and plotting… and times of frustration.

But, today I experienced an important reminder.

God will direct my steps when I entrust them to Him.  How do I know?  Well, His word tells me so. And, I lived it today.  Right in the middle of my every day, ordinary life, I had the chance to minister to at least two people. There were no prior thoughts or planning.  The opportunities simply appeared – directly in my path.  Once at Kroger as a hurting employee shared her worries. And once through a series of events that resulted in a stranger calling me – a stranger who had recently experienced the death of a daughter.  A stranger who stated that she was struggling with her faith.  A stranger who needed to be encouraged. 

In those moments, I responded and I was blessed.  I was renewed, refreshed and encouraged.  I needed the reminder that the plans for my life aren’t some big mystery that God plants and then leaves me to figure out.  Instead, I just need to walk with Him one day at a time.  He’ll show me what to do. He’ll open doors and opportunities.  I can relax and trust Him to point the way.

Where are you today? Perhaps you’re like me and always trying to help God along with His plans.  Or maybe you fall to the other end of the spectrum and are oblivious to the ways that God is working around you.  We’ve probably found ourselves in both places (and somewhere in between) at some point in our lives.  Let’s remember that God has a plan for each of us.  And He will shine light on the path in due time.  We can relax and enjoy the beauty of the day and the journey when we exercise trust in Him.  He doesn’t want our striving and struggling.  He wants hearts and hands are that are ready and willing.

My challenge for each of us today is that instead of offering God our abilities that we give Him the gift of our availability.  He’ll use us for His glory when we do.