God’s Got This

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Back to School

Back to school commercials. The sounds of band practice as I drive by the high school. Stopping for runners to cross the street as they train for cross-country season. Teacher friends posting pictures of their classrooms they’ve  set up for the new year. And, the list could go on that indicate that it is time for students to head back into the classroom.

Reminisce

Drew preschool

As I see these events take place, I reminisce the days of getting my son, Drew ready for school. From the first time he stepped on the school bus as a kindergartener to the time he graduated from college, flashes of pictures and years go through my mind.  I recall the many prayers said for Drew especially the first time he drove our car out of driveway as a licensed driver.

Drew running

Letting Go

Not only are teachers preparing classrooms and parents getting the school supply lists, there are parents who are preparing to take the next step with their child. This step is crossing the threshold of being at home over to the threshold of college days and their child being on their own. It is a very nail-biting time for most parents in this category.  The parent knows it is time to let go but also to be concerned and wary about the things of this world that their child will be exposed to.

 

I know all about the excitement and the butterflies that are taking place in families faced with this new season of life. As the saying goes, “been there, done that and got the t-shirt. After years of activities from late night homework and completing class projects to the countless cross-country events and practices, it was time for Drew to take the next adventure. There were all kinds of questions, and scenarios that would go through my head. Yet, I knew that I had given Drew all the things I could give him and it was time to let him go and place him in the Father’s hands.

Once Jim and I got Drew moved into his college dorm, we said our good-byes. Yes, I held back the tears until we got in the car. Although Western Kentucky University was only an hour drive from our home, it was  the longest hour of my life. As we drove home, I said a prayer asking God to guide Drew. I asked God to place good Christian friends/influences into Drew’s path as he attended college.

Drew

Meanwhile back at WKU, Drew made his way to the locker room at the athletic building. He was scouting out where he would have to be for cross-country training. As he was looking around, a guy who was in his sophomore year approached Drew. He introduced himself ( Mike). Mike asked Drew if he needed anything. Drew told him that he was just checking out the facility and that he was a walk-on for the cross-country/track team. Mike shared that he was a runner as well and would be one of his teammates and showed him some of the ropes.

In this process, the prayer I was saying in the car was being answered.  As Drew and Mike’s conversation progressed, Mike asked Drew where would he be going to church the following Sunday. Drew really didn’t have an answer.  Mike said, “you will be going with me.”  From that point on, there was no question as to where Drew was on Sunday mornings. Not only did Mike keep Drew involved in worship while at college, he gave Drew tips on how to study the scriptures. Drew and Mike began a Bible Study among their teammates. Drew also became involved in Campus Crusade. Prayer answered.  Six years after meeting Mike on that first afternoon at Western, Mike stood as Drew’s best man at Drew’s wedding.

To the Parents

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I share this story/testimony because it is uncharted territory for you and your college student.  These are the years where unconditional love and listening become so important. Yes, during these years, there were many times I had to bite my tongue because Drew wasn’t doing things they way I thought they should be done.  However, Drew learned to figure things out without Mom or Dad standing there telling him what to do. Also, it was the tough times and decisions that God was molding Drew into the man that he is today.  As hard as it is, I encourage you to let go and place your college student into the Father’s hands and trust.  One needs to surround them with prayer and your child needs to know that you will be there in an instant if they need you. Trust me, they will let you know at 2:00 AM that they need you.

To The Students

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To the college student, I share this with you to encourage you, to remember who you are, and that you do represent your family.  I encourage you to seek out friends that will encourage you on your faith journey.  Not only seek Godly friends but continue to respect your parents. After all, they did raise you and got you to where you are thus far. Also, don’t roll your eyes because Mom wants to straighten your bed or freshen up your dorm room on those first few visits. Just let her sweep or whatever she wants to do because this is the only love language in action that she has known for years. As time goes on, she will learn to arrive and simply visit without wanting to fold your laundry.  If Mom or Dad give advice on a certain topic, don’t be defensive but simply listen. Your parents have been around the block a couple of times. Although their ride around the block may be vastly different from the block you are traveling around, there may be some guidance and wisdom in what they are sharing with you. And, realize in a couple of short hours they will be gone.

Into The Father’s Hands

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From the first day of pre-school/kindergarten to the first day of college, it is hard seeing your babies step into that big world. It is a world of unknowns for them and for you. Even though it is a world of unknowns, it is important to remember that you  have an all-knowing God. He has plans for your child’s future. You  simply have to place that future into the Father’s hands and allow Him to guide them.  You also need to place yourself into the Father’s hands and ask God to guide you and give the wisdom you need on this journey as well. It does not matter if it is the very first day of kindergarten or college, God’s got this!

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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

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

Blessings,

April

 

 

 

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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?

Twist and Turns

The Lord is my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27 :1

For I am the LORD you God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Are there perfect days?

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“We are not promised perfect days but we are  promised A perfect day” is a quote that I have found myself quoting to people often times when they are in the midst of a struggle. Yet, there are days I forget to put this phrase into practice for myself. Yes, I am human. I am not perfect. I have flaws. I have fears. Life has taken my husband, Jim and I on many twists and turns.

The Celebration

Anniversary at church

Last November, 2015, Jim and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary.  To celebrate our anniversary, Jim booked a cruise for us. We were to leave the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Along with booking this trip, Jim surprised me on a Sunday evening at our church’s Thanksgiving dinner with having our pastor renew our wedding vows in front of our church family. He even surprised me with a cake after we renewed our vows. It was a very special evening.

The Storm

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The following Monday Jim comes home complaining of dizziness. We both figured it was his vertigo acting up and with him being a physical therapist he knew what he needed to do to get it settled down.  He tried the typical procedure and he did get some relief. Yet, in the next couple of  days this dizziness would only get worse. On Wednesday, the eve of Thanksgiving, I found myself in the ER with Jim. By this time Jim was so dizzy he could not even stand up. As the ER doctor examined Jim, he suggested a MRI to rule out stroke. Jim tried to talk his way out of the MRI and tried to convince the doctor to treat him for vertigo. Yet, this is one time I sided with the doctor. I knew we were on our way out of the country on the ocean blue in just a few days. At this point, Jim did not have much say other than to agree to have the MRI.

After patiently waiting, the doctor comes in with the MRI results. The doctor asked Jim if he had MS or migraines because there were lesions that only migraines or MS would have on the brain. Jim said he had a history of migraines. At that point, the doctor treated Jim for vertigo, gave us medication for Jim to have on the trip with a promise from us we would follow-up with a physician on our return home.

As promised, we did follow-up with a neurologist on our return home. This particular doctor has been a doctor Jim has worked with for many years. Thus, they know each other pretty well. When we went into the Dr.’s office the doctor asked Jim if he wanted the soft version or just out with what was wrong. Jim said he knew him well enough to just shoot straight with him. The neurologist said Jim had MS. I about fell out of my chair when hearing this news. It was the last thing I expected.

The Twist

The Dragon's Tail

Once the shock wave settled down, the doctor pulled up Jim’s MRI and went over what was going on regarding lesions. As the visit progressed, the doctor went over a treatment plan for Jim. He assured Jim that this would not affect his work and with medication the progression could be slowed down. In the midst of the consultation, the Dr. says that there is a meeting that very evening that we could attend to learn more about relapsing MS. Jim and I agreed we would attend the meeting.

The Blessing

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Believe it or not, Jim’s diagnosis was a blessing for us. For many years I have dealt with auto-immune issues. I have bounced from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was going on. Many times Jim asked some of these doctors to check me for MS but they would shake their heads, “no”.

As the meeting began, the doctor went over the main indicators for MS. The more the doctor talked the bigger Jim’s eyes got. You see, I had all of the main indicators for MS. Needless to say, Jim spoke with the doctor about what I had been through over the years and asked if he would evaluate me.  I went in the following week for evaluation and MRI. It turns out that our prayers had been answered. The mysterious dragon we had been fighting was finally given a name. The name being MS.

Though Jim’s episode and  landing him in the emergency room was scary and his diagnosis caught us off guard, a prayer was answered. For so long Jim and I had prayed to find out what was going on with my health. It is not the way we ‘thought’ God would answer our prayers but our prayers were answered.

There is more to the story.

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Two years ago this coming Fall, God led Jim and I to the church we now attend. Looking back, we see God’s hand in laying the foundation to send us the answer to our prayers. In this church family God has placed a dear sweet friend who is a nurse and has MS along with another friend who is a nurse with a lot of wisdom on this disease. Not only did God lay the foundation of placing these two precious people in our path but he placed us with a very loving church family who have and are walking with us and praying with us.

There are no perfect days but there is A perfect day!

God's timing

Last Fall, Jim and I stood before our church family renewing our wedding vows. In those vows we once again vowed to be there for one another in sickness and in health not knowing in a few days this particular vow would be put to the test.  I do believe this was also a part of God’s divine plan for us to renew our vows so that we would be reminded of what we had pledged to one another in front of witnesses and before him. Thus, when we were given the news we knew what we needed to do for one another.

Today, you may be praying a prayer that you have long waited for an answer. You wonder if God has forgotten you. Maybe you have been told no when asking for an answer. The water is rough right now and you are longing for smoother waters.

Let me encourage you to keep praying those prayers. Seek God in all you do in everything everyday. Count the blessings God gives you every day. Be in tuned to his leading and follow his lead. There will come a day when your prayer is answered. Trust me, it won’t be answered the way you think it will be answered. It may come in the midst of another twist and turn in life. Then, when you get the answer to your prayer, I encourage you to look back and it is without a doubt that you will see where God’s hand had been at work.

There are going to be many imperfect days in the days ahead. Realize it is God molding you more into his likeness, he is wanting you to grow deeper in your relationship with him and preparing you for that perfect day.

It is the imperfect days where I have no fear because I know who walks before me,who walks beside me and behind me.(Psalm 27:1) I know that it is in his time that he makes all things beautiful.( Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Leave in God's hand

Good Morning!

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I received this letter via email several years ago. It is a letter that I keep in my bible. And, it is a letter to be shared with others. Have a wonderful day!

Good Morning,

I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, DO NOT attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFDJTD (Something For Jesus To Do) Box. It will be addressed in MY time, not yours. Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold on to it or attempt to remove it. Holding on or removal will delay the resolution of your problem. If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution. Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep. Rest my child. If you need me, contact me, I am a prayer away.

Your Father,

God

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God’s Protection Plan….(continuation of living on a prayer)

As I sit having coffee and dessert in a quaint Chicago café, my son begins to tell me a story. The story unfolds and as it unfolds, I look at Drew’s dad, Jim and I look at Drew asking them if they are messing with my mind. Yet, Drew looks at me dead on in the eye and says; “mom hang with me, this is real stuff.”  Yet, it sounded like a scene from a Magnum PI television show or a James Bond movie.

After hearing what Drew went through only a couple of weeks before, I was speechless, dumb founded and yes that very moment was surreal.  I remember looking at Drew and asking him; “this really happened?”  The proof was in the pudding when he reached for his wallet and pulled out the bullet he found from the scene of the incident. At that point, I was saying to myself; “be still my heart.” Drew was saying to me; ” I will carry this bullet with me in the days ahead as a reminder of how big  our God is when I want to doubt my faith or I have a bad day.”  

In my previous post, Living On A Prayer, I shared a prayer that I pray nightly over Drew and Megan. I have prayed this prayer for Drew many years before he even moved out on his own. I keep Psalm 91 in the back of my mind when I pray this prayer. And, from time to time, I will read the Psalm as I begin to say my prayers.

As Drew shared, the story has been only told to a select few until our stepping out and sharing now. He even waited until he was in person with me before I knew what had happened.  When I shared this story with a select few, I saw God’s hand at work as I would share what Drew went through.

How did I see God’s hand? God protected Drew that afternoon in South Chicago.  Reflecting back and envisioning what Drew went through, I truly believe that those who were shooting didn’t see Drew. I truly believe that God’s angels of protection intervened and made Drew invisible to these supposed gang members.

After God’s revealing his protection over Drew on that afternoon, anytime I replay that scene as Drew told me in my mind today, I see a scene where there are people shooting but Drew is no where in the picture. Again, a scene you would maybe see in a Touched By An Angel episode.

Years ago, I participated in a small group study on the book, The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Ormatian. She shares how one of the biggest things we can do for our children is pray. Along in that same study, a dear friend suggested that we imprint the words of Psalm 91 into our hearts and pray them over our children. I took these words of advice to heart and I am glad that I did!

As young parents, we worry about our children falling down, breaking something or wondering away from us in a department store. Yes, these can be horrors of horrors! Then, as they enter the teen years and begin to drive, we find ourselves praying even harder. I know the first time Drew drove out of the driveway by himself, my knees hit the floor and I haven’t gotten up since!

You see, as a parent and as a praying parent, we never should stop praying for our children no matter how old they get. As I speak from experience, our kids need our prayers all the more as they grow up and grow older. Life hits them pretty hard at times and the problems get much bigger than falling off the swing set or getting lost in a rack of clothes in a department store. I can honestly say that I pray harder now that Drew is an adult, on his own, now married and the head of his household.

Along with praying the prayer that I shared with you, I envision Drew and Megan where they may be at that moment and where they may be the next day. If one of them is going on a business trip, I envision them on the subway going to the airport, at the airport, on the plane and their destination. In this envisioning of places, I ask God to place an angel in their path, to protect them, and to be seen walking with them.

This past Sunday, as our Sunday School leader wrapped up our session, she read the little Now or Later  at the end of our lesson. It said this:

Close your eyes and picture each family member or person to whom you have intimate ties. Give

each one to the Lord for his care and protection. Tell the Lord that he is first in your life. As you

yield them to the Lord, notice your heart responses. 

(Matthew/ Being Discipled by Jesus by Stephen and Jacalyn Eyre)

It is a big world out there with many challenges. Yes, there are also days when it can be a BIG bad world and our children are caught in the cross fire of life. The cross fires may not be actual gunshots like Drew experienced but the world will shoot its fair share of rounds at them.

What better gift can we give our children as to keep our knees on the floor, giving them to God and asking God to take care of them?  Who knows, there may be a time when they are visible but God makes them invisible for their protection. And, this protection is provided because we have yielded our child/children into the hands of God asking him to feather them with his mighty protection and angels.

Amen?

Apple of God’s Eye

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You are the apple of God’s eye!!

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Whew! Where has the year gone? Soon Christmas gifts will be opened and our bellies stuffed with Christmas goodies.  As you sit and savor the moments of family and friends, reflect on God‘s love for you.  During the past year, what has God done to protect you? What joys and blessings has He brought to you and/or your family? Did God ever really let you down though you thought He had at times? I am guessing that the answer to the last question is no.

For, as Christians, we have learned to trust God. We have learned that His ways are not our ways nor His answers the answers we always want. Yet, we still trust Him. Deep within our hearts, we know that God is our protector, our provider and He knows all of our needs.  God does this because we were created in His image and we are His precious children. We are the apple of His eye!

In the midst of wrapping up 2010 and looking into 2011, carry Psalm 17:8 with you in your heart; “Keep me as the apple of Your eye, Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”  Along with carrying this verse in your heart, remember you are a Child of God and He loves you so very much. Put your hand in His and allow Him to lead you out of this year into the new year. Then, along the way, remind someone you encounter how much God loves them and how they are also the ‘apple of His eye’.

Christmas Blessings 

“This Is Only A Test”

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“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.” St. Augustine

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 God: This is only a test.

April:   God, what do you mean another test? Over the last four years, I have almost lost a husband, a mother in law, had to quit a job due to health issues, my son moves to Chicago and now my father in law is diagnosed with mesothelioma  a rare and rapid cancer! You say that you will only give as much as I can handle but I think I have handled enough! Don’t you remember the other day where I yelled at you because I was mad!  Of course, there have been a few other tests you have recently put me through that we won’t even discuss now. What is it with all these tests?!

God: April, you are my precious child. Yes, I would not give you anymore than you can handle. Look at your list that you just shot at me. When your mother in law was in the hospital for so long, you and your family learned more about working as team to get things done.  Yes, you almost lost your precious Jim once but did you not learn to appreciate every day you have with him?  The health issues taught you more about empathy, encouragement, and how to praise Me in the storms of life.  As far as Drew moving to Chicago,  he was and is doing what I called him to do. Through this move, you have learned even more about flexibility and appreciating the times you do have together. 

My child, all of these tests plus others have prepared you for the test that was put before you with your father in law. You see, now you know more about praising Me in the storms, you know more about appreciating the days that I wake you up, how to cling to me, trust me and I do believe our relationship has deepened through all of these tests.  April, I have walked beside you and carried you every step of the way.   Through the test before you, you will learn more about  patience, unconditional love, and will forget self just a little more.  No matter what, I am with you every step of the way and all that is before you is all a part of my greater plan. Remember, I am your Creator and I love you so very much. Remember the words of David, ” Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23) April, I know your heart and all of your anxieties and it will be your faith in Me that you will not only pass this test but will be all the stronger in the end.

April: God, thanks for listening. Thank you for showing me all that you have taught me through all the tests I have already taken. I love you, too. Now, I have faith(pen) and prayer (paper) in hand ready to take this test. It will be through this test that I will learn to love more, trust you even more, appreciate each breath taken, praise you on the bad days  and to capture every moment given.  For, I know  you will be there to dry my earthly tears until the day that there will be no more tests or tears.  It is  through all the tests  you make all things new. (Revelation 21:1-8)  Let the test begin.  God, I am putting my hand in yours, I am ready to take the test. It is only a test!

God:  Now, you understand.