Living in Faith

Thankful when God connects the dots for me

Now that my kids are older and don’t get quite so much stuff on Christmas morning, one of the things I try to do is find a new book for each of us. Theirs were easy and I didn’t have much trouble finding one for my husband either. But for myself? There were just too many great choices!

AudaciousI saw Audacious by Beth Moore in a Lifeway sale flier and thought I’d like to read it. But I didn’t get to Lifeway and the store I visited didn’t have Audacious in stock, so I ended up getting another book instead. No big deal, I thought. I’ll get it sometime later.

Then one day right after Christmas, I heard the DJs on one of our local Christian radio stations talking about a weekly TV show with Beth Moore that would be starting in January. What?! I was so excited, because I love her teachings. There’s no telling how many hours I’ve spent over the years digging in her Bible studies and soaking up what she taught at a few of her Living Proof Live conferences that were phenomenal – for the teaching and for the wonderful women I went with.

I checked the station’s schedule and actually remembered a few days beforehand to set the show to record. The show’s description was pretty generic, just saying that she guides viewers to live and love God through Bible literacy. But I didn’t care what she’d be teaching about. I was going to have mini Beth Moore conference time in my own den!

In the meantime, I did get to a Lifeway store and picked up Audacious. I read the back cover copy, but it was still on my desk when I sat down to watch my first recorded episode of the show. Turns out, they’re airing 30-minute episodes from one of her live conferences.

And – here’s the best part – these first episodes are from one weekend when she taught about being … audacious.

I laughed out loud when I realized that. Because, in case you don’t know, she doesn’t teach on the same subject at each Living Proof Live event. Each one is different because she waits to see what God leads her to talk about. Of all the conferences she’s led, of all the topics she’s taught – audacious.

Extremely bold … recklessly brave … fearless (according to dictionary.com). In the context Beth is teaching? Audacity is being bold enough in our faith to trust and do what Jesus wants us to do, even when it’s scary or no one around us understands. It’s making up your mind to be fearless, going beyond what people might expect you to do as “normal.”

thanks connect dotsIt’s having the guts to do what Jesus wants so that He gets all the glory.

I love that. And when I’m honest I have to say it’s something I need to work on, here in my safe and usually not-too-exciting corner of the world. I haven’t done too much related to my faith lately that required much guts.

God knows it too, so maybe He’s using this to wake me up a bit. Seeing the book in the flier, hearing about the TV show (which was unusual in itself because I don’t listen to that station as often as some others and never heard mention of it elsewhere), getting the book, matching it up with the show’s episodes. Seems like He’s connecting some dots for me.

Audacious. It’s a bold word just rolling off my tongue, let alone living it. We’ll see how it goes.

Your turn: What’s something big and bold you’ve done lately, that can encourage others when they’re trying to act that way themselves? Or, what’s something you can do to have a little more audaciousness in your life?

Categories: Christian non-fiction, Christian speakers, Living in Faith, Thankful Thursday | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 snippets of wisdom from MLK, Jr.

MLK speech

Photo credit: Francis Miller/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Today is the third Monday of January, which means it’s the federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. We all know about Dr. King and his dreams of seeing equality for all people here in America and around the globe. But do you know much about what else he said?

I’m far from being an expert on Dr. King and the things he believed, but it doesn’t take long when looking at quotes from some of his speeches or writings to see that he was a well spoken, thoughtful man with a strong faith. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes that I’ve seen from him, just to give you an idea:

  • The time is always right to do what is right.
  • Love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend.
  • Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
  • I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
  • We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
  • Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.
  • Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
  • Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”

I’ve never seen some of these quotes before I did a bit of searching, but think they all carry important messages.

MLK doing for othersOf all these (and others) that I found, I think the last one I’ve listed is my favorite, maybe because it hits home every day. What am I doing for others? In other words … as much as I might tend to get wrapped up in my little corner of the world and forget about thing beyond, it’s really not all about me. Life is about helping others and trying to make the world a better place, whether that means becoming an international leader whose policies affect millions or simply smiling and holding the door for a mom balancing an infant carrier seat while keeping hold of her toddler’s hand. I can donate to a worthy cause, offer to volunteer when they need help at school, or put a note in my child’s lunch that she’ll find just before taking that test she’s worried about.

It can be big, or it can be small. The important thing is that it makes a difference to someone else. I think that’s a good thing to focus on, especially as we see so many things in memory of Dr. King this week.

Your turn: What’s your favorite quote from Dr. King, and why?

 

Categories: Historical research, Living in Faith, Monday Musings | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Thankful for fun in unexpected places

Last Friday I did something that’s out of my comfort zone – I went to a networking meeting for local business people. Now I don’t say it was out of my zone because I don’t enjoy being around people. But I’ve never been much of a schmoozer so walking into a room full of strangers standing ready with hands full of business cards isn’t always my idea of fun.

But it could also be a good way to meet some local folks who might need a writer someday, so I put on my big girl persona and went.

About 50 people were there, which apparently was a bigger-than-normal crowd. The entire time was focused on networking – mingling beforehand, everyone taking a minute during the meeting to introduce ourselves and tell what we do, and more mingling afterwards.

I survived all the chit-chat, and then the unexpected fun happened.

AMS race

Photo Credit: Darrell Ingham/Getty Images for NASCAR

You see, different businesses in the county host the meeting each month, and this one was at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I’ve been to the racetrack quite a few times over the years, but this was different because we were meeting in the media center, which is smack in the middle of the track’s infield.

Driving through the tunnel from the perimeter road to the infield was kind of neat – because, really, how many people in all the thousands who are there on race weekend get to do that? Parking at the media center and taking a minute to look up at the stands was a little overwhelming. Being flat on the ground and seeing how steeply the track angles up and how far the stands reach toward the sky is a humbling perspective. It was all so much bigger than it seems on TV, or even on race day, because it was empty and quiet.

Talk about feeling small! Even if you’re not a race fan, you’re bound to be impressed.

The AMS staff people were great hosts and ended the meeting by inviting us to ride around the track if we’d not done it before and could spare the time away from work. I thought about the newsletter I was trying to finish and send out for approval. I thought about the other one that I should have been halfway finished writing but hadn’t even started.

And then I thought, “I’m doing it! I’ll probably never get the chance to do this again!”

That was a big deal for this list making, plan loving, deadline oriented girl. There’s a reason my family has a running joke that I never buy anything at the grocery store if it’s not on my list (though I really do – just maybe not very often). 🙂

AMS race 2

Photo credit: AJC.com

The meeting had already gone past the usual hour and I hadn’t planned on spending extra time away from work. But the day’s plan went on hold when I signed the waiver (!) and followed the others outside. That’s when we learned that “ride around the track” didn’t mean we’d be taking turns loading into a car with one of the marketing folks who’d done this before. No, it meant we’d each be in our own vehicle following a staff person in a pace car.

What?! I’m going to actually drive on the track myself?! In my little Equinox?!

Yep.

I was excited, but also a little nervous. What if I was the only one who did something really stupid or who was too chicken to go fast enough to stay on the track? What if driving at that crazy angle made me dizzy or sent my always-present tinnitus into overdrive?

They gave us three bits of advice:

  • It’s steep and pretty bumpy moving from the apron to the track, but you need to be on the track.
  • You’ll want to be going around 60 when we get to turn three.
  • The middle of the track or a little higher is the best place to be.

And that was it! We got in our cars and snaked our way through the parking lot and down pit road. Just before we started, I glanced in my mirror and saw the lady behind me taking a picture with her phone. I should’ve done that! But at least I did shoot a quick text to my husband letting him know what was going on. “Guess who’s about to drive on the track?” “You?”

Proof that wonders never cease.

Thankful ThursOur leader was right. Moving from the apron to the track was steep and bumpy, and the car did seem easier to control once I reached the middle of the track. It was strange to be riding at such an off-kilter angle – my car thought it was strange, too, and immediately popped up a warning light about checking my stabilizers (which fortunately cleared itself when I was back on flat territory). I definitely kept both hands on the wheel but dared to glance at signs and up at the stands a few times.

Four laps went by super fast, even at only 60 mph. And it was a blast! I can’t imagine what it’s like to be out there side-by-side at nearly 200 mph with thousands of screaming fans.

When the season starts back in a few weeks, I’ll have a new perspective and appreciation for what those drivers do. I’ll have a happy memory of my tiny taste of what’s happening. And it all started when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and RSVP’d for the meeting. Maybe I should put down my list more often and look for a little more fun. Couldn’t hurt, could it?

Your turn: If you tend to be married to your lists and plans like I am, when was the last time you said “forget it!” and shook things up with an unexpected opportunity?

Categories: Living in Faith, Thankful Thursday | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thankful I can question God

One of my challenges to myself lately is to pay more attention to the little things in life and be grateful for them, even if they don’t seem that important. I’ve seen “Thankful Thursday” blogs posts and memes periodically and thought that would be a good thing to incorporate here. I already had some ideas and thought I knew what I’d write about … and then I read today’s First 5 devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

First 5Just as background, Proverbs 31 is a ministry that focuses on building women up in their faith. They send out daily email devotionals, have published numerous books, sponsor a book club, lead online Bible studies, and host a fabulous yearly conference – among other things. One of their newer additions is First 5, an app with a 5-minute daily devotional. Instead of being about all sorts of things (like the email devos), First 5 goes through a particular book of the Bible by taking a closer look at a key verse from each chapter. You can even set it t be the first thing that pops up on your phone each morning so you’re sure to start the day with a few minutes with God.

Anyway … First 5 is currently going through the book of Exodus and today’s highlighted verse was Exodus 4:10 (“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” NIV). Moses is trying to talk God out of the assignment he’s been given – to demand that Pharaoh set the Israelites free. Even though God had told Moses exactly what to do and assured him that He would be with Moses, even though God literally spoke the words aloud so there was no doubt in Moses’s mind who the directions were coming from. Even though God had filled Moses in on the plan, including that He would provide for the Israelites through plunder from the Egyptians.

Thankful ThursdayBut Moses still doubted what he was hearing and actually had the nerve to tell God that He must’ve made a mistake – Moses wasn’t the guy for the job. He let his insecurities get in the way of what God had already planned for him to do.

Sound familiar? Yeah, it does to me, too.

The doubts, the second guessing, the “what ifs” pile up and block what I think God wants me to do. Even worse, it happens when I KNOW what God wants me to do. I can be such an insecure girl.

So I pull a Moses, asking God if He’s sure that He’s sure about what I think He’s saying. Am I really understanding Him correctly? What if I’m wrong? What if I do what I think God wants me to do, but end up going off track from His plan? Could He send me a sign for confirmation? Or maybe another sign?

Sometimes the enemy has such a heyday with me and my mind, playing tricks and planting doubts. Like … a “real” Christian would listen and follow God without questioning … a Christian with stronger faith would step out and follow without asking for reassurance … God has much more important things to deal with than me and my neediness. Bah!

So that’s why, on this first Thursday of 2016, I’m thankful that God doesn’t mind my questions, no matter how silly or obnoxious they might be. He doesn’t mind my asking for help with my doubts, He doesn’t even mind when I ask if He’s crazy for doing what I think He’s doing.

I’m glad the Bible includes stories like this one with Moses. It reminds me I’m not alone when I have doubts or when I question God. It’s like I used to tell my middle school kids when I taught Sunday school all those years ago – talk to God about anything and everything, even when you’re almost afraid to bring it up. He’s big enough to take it.

And today I’m really thankful for that.

Your turn: What are you thankful for today? Share with us!

Categories: Living in Faith, Scripture Lessons, Scripture verses, Thankful Thursday | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment
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