Morning Prayer

Father God,

This morning I invite You into my day and into my week. May I seek You wherever I go. Help me to see where You are at work and join You in that work. I know each person I encounter is Your child whether they realize it or not. For those who don’t know they are Your child, may I seek an opportunity to share Your love, grace and what you did for them by sending Your Son.

This morning I pray for forgiveness for where I have fallen short of bringing glory to You. I also seek forgiveness for the times I’ve hurt others.

It is through You I forgive those who have hurt me. No matter what they did or said, I must realize I don’t know all that is going on in their heart but You do. May I give them the same grace as You extend to me on a daily basis.

For those who harbor bitterness, I place them into Your Spirit. I pray you will remove the bitter roots that are there. Fill them with Your spirit and they will have eyes to see others and situations with Your grace.

For those who are hurting right now, I pray You will hold them tight in Your arms and gently dry their tears. Bring them the peace that surpasses all understanding.

This morning, I pray for those who have recently lost loved ones. I ask that You give them comfort. It is my prayer that the loved ones who have left this world knew You and are walking on Heaven’s streets at this moment. It is through Your Son, Jesus we are given eternal life.

Father, there are those who are faced with life changing decisions. I pray they will seek Your wisdom and guidance as to the path they must take. May they know You have a plan and You direct all of the steps to be taken.

For those who are trying to get past obstacles and life just happening. I pray they simply take Your hand and trust You. Help them know it’s one step at a time and one day at a time. After all, You make ALL things beautiful in Your time.

Today, I pray for healing for those whose bodies are broken and need healing. You are the Great Physician and You still do miracles today. Please be with the earthly physicians are caring for these dear ones. Give the doctors and the other medical team members wisdom and knowledge in how to care for those who are physically down right now. I also pray for the caregivers that they will have strength through You to care for their loved ones.

As I go through my day, I pray I don’t let self get in the way of being a servant for You. Place your Holy Spirit and lead me. I pray I will completely trust You.

You have blessings already planned for me today and it’s up to me to seek You and to receive those blessings. I am Your daughter and You are my King. Thank you for loving me and for sending Your Son, Jesus who died for me.

I surrender my day and all that’s on my heart at the feet of Jesus. Again, cover me with Your Holy Spirit as I go through my day.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.

C.S. Lewis

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)

Until next time, have a blessed day! Seek God in ALL you do!

April

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Letters For the Heart

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This Summer has been at time of reflection for me. I’ve written in previous posts about the twists/turns, the crossroads, influences in my life as well as the trials that come with life. In this time of reflection, I have seen my life divided into multiple chapters of  being molded by my Father in heaven.  It has been a time of grasping the why’s and the how come’s and seeing the pieces of my life fall into place.

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What stirred up this reflection was coming across some old letters/cards from various friends from years pasts. Some of these letters are in an old photo album I came across while Jim and I were cleaning out the attic. Others I just happened upon while cleaning out a drawer.  And, there are those I no longer have but I  have them treasured in my heart.  As I  have read the ones I still have  a memory will leak out of my eyes along with a smile will come on my face and in my heart. What makes them special is the fact that that specific person took time out to write to me, to encourage me and simply let me know they were thinking of me.  Thus, a special footprint of love and friendship has a permanent place on my heart.

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Before social media, cards and letters were a common way of keeping in touch with those you lived a distance away from as well as sending an encouraging note to the neighbor down the street.  Growing up in a Methodist Minister’s home meant moving every four or five years.  I can recall watching my mom sitting down and writing friends from other communities where we had served. As I learned to read and write, she would sit down with me and help me to write certain people from those places as well.

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When I think of letters I think of the Letters of Paul. After his transformation from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming a Believer. Not only did he transform into being a Believer and Follower of Christ, he shared the gospel.  As part of his ministry, he would write letters to fellow Believers encouraging them in their walk with God. He would tell those who were lost about the gift of salvation. He encouraged people like Timothy in their ministry. Not only did he share the gift of salvation and encourage people, he would also have letters of correction written when Believers would begin to lose their focus on the purpose of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

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Just as the old letters I have stumbled on have touched my heart, the letters of Paul have touched my heart in a special way.  There are times when his letters have brought conviction to my heart. Other times, I have experienced healing, peace and forgiveness. Then there have been times when I my eyes were opened to direction just as Paul gave direction to the early believers.

Once Paul became a believer, he became very passionate about sharing Jesus with others. It is because of his passion that we have these beautiful letters to which I can open my Bible.   These passages are words of wisdom, comfort, guidance and encouragement anytime I choose. As I turn the pages and read, it is like reading those old letters from the past all over again. My heart is touched and the footprints of our Savior walk all over my heart.

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Maybe you have some old cards or letters from years past stored somewhere. I encourage you to get those out and just read through them. They are blessings to be cherished by the heart. These cards and letters may give you opportunity to see how the chapters in your life have fallen into place. I can promise that you will see where God has been at work in your life.

  Maybe God has recently placed someone on your heart. I encourage you to sit down and write them a note of encouragement. Let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them. After all, there is nothing better than a praying friend.

Last but not least. I encourage you to read The  Letters of Paul. Maybe you have a favorite of his writings that you like to read. As you read, keep your heart opened for God to leave his beautiful footprints of guidance, encouragement and wisdom on your heart.

“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Until next time, I encourage you to click the link below ( The Words I Would Say)

 It’s my letter to you.

The Words I Would Say SideWalk Prophets

Blessings,

April

Butterflies and New Beginnings

In my previous post, It’s In The Little Details, I shared how this one would be about beginnings. The word beginnings has been on my mind in recent days. The reason is the family vacation I take this time each year.

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For the last fourteen years my family has been vacationing together at the Butterfly House at Lake Junaluska.  My mom  began renting the Butterfly House at Lake Junaluska, NC. for it to be a time for our family to come together to enjoy fellowship with one another. Not only has it been a time for fellowship for one another but an opportunity to get off to ourselves and just be still.  Thus, this explains part of my affection for butterflies. Our family has made many special memories in the Butterfly House.

The butterfly symbolizes beginnings for me. I recall my first grade year in grammar school  when my parents and I found a cocoon.  Dad gently took the cocoon and placed it in a mason jar with holes punched on the top of the lid.  I took that cocoon to school to share with my class. My class and I watched that cocoon everyday until one day we arrived to class with a beautiful butterfly fluttering around in the jar. Needless to say, we set it free to its new beginning of a new life in nature.

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Each year I sit on the porch of the Butterfly House and reflect on days gone by and things of recent. I reflect on the new beginnings I have encountered around this very lake. These beginnings include friendships of meeting people from various places not just in the United States but from around the world. I have witnessed the beginnings of men accepting the call to ministry and others being called into the mission field.

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Along with the friendships and seeing other lives being transformed into God’s plan, this is where I experienced my first job away from home. In a sense, a new beginning of independence at age 19. This is also where my immediate family began. My husband’s and my story began here about thirty-five years ago. I have also made decisions that were new beginnings as I have sat on the porch of this Summer home.

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Summer 2016

 

Last year (2017) marked a new beginning for our family at the Butterfly House. My mom had lost her battle to cancer in December, 2016. As Jim and I unlocked the door to the Butterfly House, we took a deep breath. We knew that it would not be the same as years past because Mom would not be here. The torch had been handed down to me to carry out some of the rituals and traditions that our family had established over the last fourteen years.

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As I had planned for last year’s week for the family, I wanted to make sure things were just right for the rest of the family on their arrival. Beds were made, the table was decorated, themes were planned for the nights I would be host, and matching shirts for July 4th were purchased. All the things Mom had done I tried my best in doing to honor her.  Though it was not easy, our family made it through the week creating memories just as we had throughout the previous years. I admit we did have to choke a few tears back and spent a lot of time in prayer and in song to console our hurting hearts. It was during this week where I think we each learned how to take that next step forward without Mom here as a family and as individuals.

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Butterfly taken outside my kitchen window.

In the midst of leaving our home in Kentucky to head to North Carolina, I looked out my kitchen window. Out my kitchen window was a big butterfly on my butterfly bush.  I took it as a sign from above that all was well and Mom is with us in our hearts. Since our arrival to the Butterfly House this week, I have seen more butterflies than I ever remember seeing in all the years I have come to Lake Junaluska. A reminder that each day is a new beginning and a new page to the story God is writing through me.

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New beginnings can be scary at times.  There are times we may have to choke back a few tears as we take those steps in the direction God is leading us. It is in these moments we must remember that God is the author of our story. He is in the business of transformation and making us into his likeness. Each day is a new day and a new page to the story God is writing through us. May we be like the butterfly and share the beauty of his love and grace with others.  Until next time, may you experience God and the beauty of his love and grace.

Blessings,

April

Because of the LORD’S faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!

Lamentations 3:22-33

It’s The Little Details

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God is in the business of constantly molding us.  Take a moment and reflect on things that have happened in the past or even in recent days. As you look back, I imagine you can see God’s hands all over a situation. Maybe some things have fallen into place and you know that the only it could have happened was God at work. God is good! All the time!

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There are some things that have happened in recent days and weeks where I have experienced God’s fingerprints on my life.  Words and stories share with me from my youth by mentors, missionaries I heard speak and friends have been brought back to the forefront of my mind. As these words resonate within me, I can hear and see God at work in my life. I see him involved in every aspect of these words. Words spoken to me years ago are now coming to surface and I sense God has something on the horizon for me. I don’t know what his plan is for me and I just have to trust him.

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God showed me spot on this morning how he is involved in every little detail of my life. This God moment took place as I was seeking a quiet corner to have a little God time and to write out some thoughts God had placed on my heart. In my search for that perfect spot, I was reflecting on all of the new beginnings that I have had over the years. Not only was I reflecting over the new beginnings but I was reflecting how God has transformed me through these events.  I knew I wanted to write about new beginnings and how God transforms a person in the process. Yet, I wasn’t sure of how to put into words of what was being whispered into my heart.

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I found myself seeking refuge in the very hotel lobby of the hotel I had worked in as a youth at Lake Junaluska, N. C. (we are vacationing here this week).  It was the perfect spot. As I began to pull items out of my backpack, I continued to think about the whispers that God was putting on my heart. All the while, still struggling to figure out where to begin.

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Once settled into this utopia of quiet time, I opened my Bible. The Bible automatically fell onto a devotional on the very topic that was being whispered into my heart. Not only did it fall to the perfect devotional but to the scripture that I needed to read and hear God speak to me. As I begin to read this devotional, scripture and have time with God, I turned on my praise music playlist. Of course, I hit the shuffle button on the playlist thus not knowing what song would be played first. Yes, God had decided which song I would hear first. The song was Tenth Avenue North singing, I Need You, I Want You, I love you. Non-the-less, it was exactly what I needed to hear and fit right into the words God wanted me to read.

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During this morning quiet time, God was engaging in conversation with me. My heart had to tune into him to be aware of his presence and guidance. Otherwise, I would have missed an opportunity for God to lead me to words that will help me share the thoughts whispered on my heart.

God is constantly engaging with us. Yet, are we engaging with him? To be engaged in relationship with God means that we have to be in constant awareness of his presence. It also means that we must seek him in all that we do and in all situations.  When we are aware of his presence and seek God we will experience evidence of him at work in our lives.

The pages that opened for me to read this morning were no coincidence.  The praise song that played first was no coincidence. The whispers I heard with my heart prior to this quiet time were no coincidence, either. God knew my heart. In turn, I was tuned to him and was seeking him and everything fell into place.

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Matthew 6:8 tells us that our Father knows our every need before we even speak a word to him. He is constantly whispering to our hearts.  Isaiah 30:21 tells us that ‘our own ears will hear him.’ We simply have to trust him and be open to his leading us.

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It is when we are in tuned to the voice of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit that our Bibles fall to the words God wants us to read. Our playlist will pull up a song that we need for that moment. Or, something from years past will come to mind and resonate in your heart. These are reminders that God is involved in every little detail of our lives.

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In the beginning of this post, I shared that God whispered words  on my heart about beginnings and transformations being a result. I encourage you to stay tuned. There is more to come. In the meantime, I want to close with this quote from my morning devotional.

He is the story. His fingerprints are on every page, His faithfulness is unwavering from beginning to end.

( She Reads Truth Bible/From the devotional: ‘From Beginning to End page 2198)

Until next time, seek God in all you do. Experience God working in every little detail of your life.

Blessings,

April

Be Still

This summer I am journeying through the book, Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver with a group of ladies at my church. It is within the pages of this book we are learning more about the importance of just sitting still. Joanna makes us think about the things that take our focus off of Jesus. She points out that we get caught up in the obligations of life. We get so caught up in life to the point  we fail  to spend time with the One who loves us and longs for fellowship with us.

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Before our session began yesterday, our class was all a chatter and laughter. It seemed we all had a laundry list of things to do.  Some of us had added to our list since our last meeting.  Someone commented how timely this study was for her. My response was yes, God knows what we need when we need it.”

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Mary and Martha

Most of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha.  Jesus has come into Mary and Martha’s home. Martha is all about details. She preparing the meal and all that goes with showing hospitality to guests. On the other hand, Mary is sitting in the family room at the feet of Jesus absorbing all He has to say. As we know, this does not set well with Martha.

The Scene

I can see it now. Martha trying to get the meal ready, the table set and all the preparations that go into entertaining guests.  As she is going full speed, she occasionally glances into the living room and there sits Mary. In her eyes Mary is doing nothing but sitting there.  After dropping something for the umpteenth time, and most likely burning her hand as she pulls something from the stove. Martha says to herself; ‘that does it! I’ve had enough!  I’m going to say something to Jesus. He will set Mary straight and get her in here to help.”

 

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The Confrontation

Can’t  you see Martha marching into the living room and nudging Jesus? She nudges Jesus and ask if she can have a side bar with him for a moment. They pull away from the group and Martha  lets loose on Jesus. She complains about all that has to be done for this dinner and all Mary is doing is sitting at his feet.

Jesus allows Martha to vent. All the while she is venting, I can see Jesus just snickering and nodding his head (which probably made Martha even more upset). Once she is  done with her complaint, he puts everything that is happening into perspective.

First, I am all but sure Jesus told Martha to simply calm down and breathe. He says; “Martha, Martha ( shaking his head and smiling as he talks to Martha) you are worried and upset about too many things, only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. ”   (Luke 10:38-42) I am sure Martha was a bit taken back at first  with Jesus’ explanation to her.

 

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Can’t We All Relate?

Can we not all relate? As I re-read this scripture and write this post, I am snickering a bit myself. I snicker because it is very convicting to me. I can’t tell you the countless times I have hosted something in my home or away from home that the one person or persons I thought I could rely on to help was in the family room having a good time. Yes, I have summons someone over to a corner to vent. This person would basically tell me to take a chill pill and not to worry. My response has been;“not worry! Don’t you see what needs to be done?!” Yet, in the end, I pull myself up by the boot straps and continue on with duties at hand.

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The Lesson

Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet. Martha chose to get caught up in the details of the to-do list. When Martha confronts Jesus about this “problem” Jesus basically tells Martha that Mary has her priorities in order. Mary is doing what is most important and that’s taking time to sit with him. She is sitting still and absorbing all that Jesus has to say.

It is Summer. Summer is supposedly a time of rest and relaxation. However, it seems the Summer days get filled  up to capacity.  It is easy to get caught up in the to-do list and the details.   For me, it is easy to wake up and hit the floor running and start into the daily routine of stuff to do. I admit there are days when I skip over the quiet time and go right into the day. The end result is that I become weary and irritable.

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Sit Still

Yes, we all tend to fill our calendars to the maximum these days.  Our schedules get filled out of obligation, guilt, and let’s just say it….we have a fear of missing out. Our stacked schedules with no breathing room is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be in relationship with him. He longs for us to just stop and sit at the feet of his Son, Jesus. God wants us to be quiet and hear his gentle whispers in our heart.

Today, I encourage you to just simply stop. Turn off  anything  that may be a distraction and simply be quiet. Read some of your favorite scripture verses. Or, allow God to lead you to a Psalm or Proverb that you may need today.  It is amazing that when you sit still in the presence of God how he will lead you to the very words you need.

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As you sit in the quiet, listen to the voice of your Father. Allow, him to guide you as to what you need to do next. Give him your empty cup and allow him to fill it up with a renewed spirit. I also encourage you to journal the thoughts/whispers he says to your heart. Write a prayer to God giving him the request on your heart. Also, write out the blessings you have received. As you write out those requests, remember to leave them at the feet of Jesus. When you write out the blessings be sure to give God thanks and praise.

Once you begin deliberately taking time to sit with  Jesus, you will experience your out of kilter life get back into balance. This happens because you have invited God into the busyness of your life. You have allowed your Father to renew you and give you his whispers of encouragement. Most importantly, you have spent time in worship with your Father.  I love this quote in the book, Having A Mary Heart In A Martha World…….

 “When we put work before worship, we put the cart before the horse.”

Until next time, take time to be still with your Father.

Blessings,

April

 

PS You can follow me on Facebook. I have a Thoughts From The Porch Page (@thoughtsforabusyworld). 

 

 

 

 

Take A Back Road

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Jim and I love a road trip more than anything. Along with enjoying a good road trip, we enjoy taking back roads. During the summer months we will find ourselves going out for a quick errand or ice cream. The  little errand/ice cream trip turns into dropping the top on the convertible and taking a few back roads before we get home.  It is on these spontaneous back road trips where we have seen so much of the beauty of our Master’s handiwork.  I guess you can say it our way of stopping and taking a deep breath and in a way taking time to seek the not so ordinary blessings in an ordinary day.

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Not only do we enjoy spontaneous back road trips around the area we live but we have found ourselves taking back routes to other destinations. About a year ago we grew weary of the interstate drive from our place to the Smoky Mountains. Jim did some research and mapped out a new course from our home to the Smoky Mountains.  Part of route takes us through the Cumberland Gap area. It is on this route we have seen some of the most breath-taking scenery. Now that we take this route, we shake our heads and wonder why we have not done this sooner.

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These back roads remind Jim and me of how God has placed blessings in our path to enjoy.  They exemplify the simplicity of life.  These roads have stories to tell in the places that we pass along the way. There are so many things that we have learned about  people, places and each other while on these back road. We have heard some of the best stories. And, we  have shared some of the best stories with one another. Also, there is nothing better than finding an old country store and grabbing a cold COKE in a glass bottle. ( Now, that is getting right with one’s soul!)

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These days we live in a very fast-paced world.  We are inundated with constant information that we go into the overload mode.  I recently heard that information doubles these days every half hour. (Whew! If that doesn’t make your head spin, I don’t know what will. ) Life can get so busy that we become like the car stuck in a traffic jam on the interstate. We become stuck and spinning our wheels. And, I don’t think this is the way God intended us to live. He created us for his enjoyment to be in fellowship with him. Yet, how can we be in fellowship with him if we are stuck in the traffic jam of life?

In Ecclesiastes 8:15, Solomon is encouraging us to take some time to enjoy the things God has given us. When we stop to enjoy the things God gives us we become renewed. It is stopping to breathe and being renewed we are able to fulfill our purpose/work God has for us.

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Today, you might be finding yourself in a brain fog due to information overload.  You may be weary of the pace you have had to keep up with family and work. Or, you feel like you are just spinning your wheels because you are booked with so many things to do that you don’t know how you will accomplish it all. My friend, I encourage you to just drop what you are doing, put your favorite play list on the stereo and go take a back road. Simply stop, breath and soak up the simplicity of life and the not so ordinary blessings in an ordinary day.  You will be amazed what God will place in your path along the way.

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As the Rodney Atkins song Take A Back Road says, “Get lost and get right with my soul”, that is what taking a back road can do for you. I encourage you to go get a “little gravel in your travel.”  Who knows, you might find an old Red Dirt Road  ( Brooks and Dunn) that will bring back a few memories or a story from way back when.

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Until next time, enjoy the ride!

Blessings,

April

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 8:15 NIV

Full Cirlce

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Give It Time It Will Come Back Around

We’ve all heard the saying; “give it time it will come back around.” Or, ” life has a way of coming full circle.” Most times when we hear or say these phrases we are referring things of our culture that were once popular and  went out of style. Yet some of these things come back around to another generation.

The Backdrop

Recently, I have seen life actually come full circle in our family. My father was pastor of Union United Methodist Church when my brother, Max was a pre-teen and I was in high school  Our family was blessed with four and a half years of being involved in ministry with this church family.  Max and I both experienced significant  milestones while at this church.  As always, it was hard telling this church family good-bye as Dad was called to another assignment in his ministry.

Full Circle

After many years of working security jobs for various companies, my brother received the call into ministry.  He has currently completed nine years of serving his first church. As his ministry was coming to completion at this church, life came  full circle for my brother. Max’s  new placement is Union United Methodist Church. Yes, life has come full circle not only for Max but for me as well.  It warms my heart that God has led Max and his family to this church family that loved on Max, my parents and me so many years ago.

I see this journey that my brother and his family are now taking is not really a new beginning but a continuation of a ministry that began thirty-five  years ago with Dad at the helm. Max has taken the helm  and is carrying out a legacy of love, grace and sharing the gospel just as my dad did those thirty-five years ago at Union.

Setting The Stage

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Reflecting on how these events have come full circle, I reminisce how God has been setting the stage my brother for this assignment. When I look back I can see God’s hand in all that has happened with Max’s faith journey. I can also see how Max has fully trusted God and God’s leading over the years.  Through the things Max has done and experienced, God was preparing Max and his family for this assignment for this particular time in their lives and for the Union church family.

Trust God’s Plan

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Yes, life does come full circle. There are paths we each take with a purpose or specific goal in mind. However, as the saying goes; “we make plans and God laughs!”. Yes, God may have a specific place or assignment for you but it may not be in the time of which you think it will be. God has a way of taking each of us down different roads and even some detours before the purpose he has for us is fulfilled.

God’s Leading and Our Obedience

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There are times we are directed down the  roads we didn’t think we would take. It is during these times  we  need to stay in tuned to God’s leading and voice. Yes, these detours we take can be frustrating at times. It is when we go down these  paths that we have the opportunity to see where God is leading us.  He is preparing us for the mission He has planned for us. God sets the stage and He also prepares us before we approach the destination.   Who knows, life can come full circle just as it happened to Max.

Reflection

Where is God leading you? Are you trusting God? Are you seeking and receiving the blessings God is giving you on the journey to your destination?