By Misty Umholtz

It is probably safe to say that most of us are walking through something. Whether that be something in our marriage, with our kids or another close relationship, maybe it is with our job, our health or our finances. We might think, if we could just get this one thing taken care of, life would be so good. Better yet, if God would just take care of this one problem area in our lives, then I could tell everyone how Good He is for answering my prayers! So, why won’t He just answer my prayers so I can give Him glory and we can all move on from this?

 

My husband and I have been walking through some things in the area of my health for the past several years. I had a major surgery last March to take care of the problem and we thought we would finally be done with it. But the post-surgery recovery has proved to be daunting and on-going. It’s been a rough and steep road headed back to full health. For every setback along the way, I have hoped that within the year, all of this will be behind us.

 

Next month, I will be at my one year mark… What if we are not done walking through this? What then? What are we going to do? It’s not like I can just give up and quit trying to get back to feeling normal again. We don’t really have many choices other than to keep walking through it until we are out of it. It seems to always take longer than we think it should to walk through trials, doesn’t it? Most of the time, we don’t have many options in what God has chosen for us to walk through but we do have a choice in how we walk through them.

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We can gripe and complain or we can find things to be thankful for in the midst of the pain. We can feel sorry for ourselves and compare our lives to others or we can find moments of beauty and enjoyment in the midst of the mess. We can blame God and throw a hissy fit or we can trust Him in the midst of confusion. We can take the chance of throwing Him aside and going it alone or we can allow God to teach us and grow us in whatever He is trying to reveal to us.

 

I have to stop and ask myself a question; Do I want God to just answer all my prayer requests or do I want to personally know that He is the Answer to everything? I mean to really KNOW Him, to feel Him and sense Him and hear Him and touch Him, to experience Him and have encounters with Him on a daily basis. It is usually in the midst of our stuff that we’re going through that we find Him in the most profound way. It’s there that He meets us and changes us and molds us and refines us in the deepest part of who we are.

 

Whatever He has put in our paths for us to walk through will be used by Him.  As much as we would like to fly over the problem or scoot around it or just plain run away from it, the Lord is asking us to keep walking through it with Him, together, hand in hand until we get to the other side, for however long He decides it will take.

By Trudy Loots

 

If you have ever driven in a car, this message is for you…So that’s literally EVERYONE!

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I was recently on my way home after an amazing night of serving at church. Upon taking my exit, already envisioning my bed and the comfort it would bring me, I came upon a giant sign flashing “Follow Detour.” How dare the city intrude on my perfectly planned ride home?!?

I often think that these ‘Detours’ can describe our walk with God! In our minds, we know the way and we’re even one step ahead of ourselves; living in the future. Then life happens. Maybe a loved one gets sick or even passes away, or you don’t get offered the job, or your close friend betrays you or that tax return you were planning your vacation on turns out to be a payment due instead. It’s in those moments where we begin to doubt why God would put us on that path. Can anyone relate?

As I sat in the long line of Trudy 2non-moving cars at my detour, I felt a sense of panic. Suddenly, my sense of control was shattered. I felt the urge to outsmart the detour and find an even quicker route home. That got me next to no where….it actually took even more time and caused way more frustration.

God tells us in Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road to destruction, and many enter through it…but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I believe God uses the detours in life that put us on paths where things are uncomfortable and require obedience and patience to learn to trust in His provisions. Often in these times, the Enemy seems to sneak in to say “move quick, figure this out on your own, make your own decision, you DON’T have time for this”. My dear sweet sister, do not listen! Pay no attention to those useless whispers!

Naturally, no one genuinely loves construction zones. They’re messy, chaotic and unexpected. But as soon as the construction is done, we love and enjoy the smooth roads and newly planted trees that follow. God has promised us that the construction will one day be complete in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Are you in the middle of a construction zone right now in your life? Take time to pray that you might find purpose in the detour. Trust that God’s detours are ALWAYS filled with purpose and provision.

By Dawn Smiling

 

The movie, Jerry McGuire, is one of my favorites.  Not only because I have a crush on Tom Cruise, but I find many spiritual messages tucked away in this movie.

Jerry McGuire (Tom Cruise) marries Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) after she is the only person who supports him when he is fired.  She is in love with him, but he is distant and caught up in his moral awakening and staying afloat in his business endeavor (for which he was fired).

His business works out and he goes back to Dorothy to profess his love for her.  He bursts into their living room with an unsure hello as he surprisingly greets a room full of her friends and begins to explain that his business success was hollow without her and she completes him.  Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) interrupts him to say “you had me at hello.”

free_valentine_bokeh_heart_vector_background_277792We are tested every day to step out and love when we are not sure if the love will be reciprocated.  It can be difficult to see and feel love when the very thing you are clinging to is no longer clinging to you.  The loss of the love of a husband, the death of a mother or father, or a dear friend to illness can skew your view of lasting love.   As women we are instructed that no matter what, God is there.  But can you be vulnerable enough to say “well, He didn’t show up last week”.

We are looking for God’s love in our spouses, our families, our children, and our friends.  I learned that these avenues only showed me a glimmer of God’s love.   I learned the width of God’s love through John 3:16 “for God so loved the world”.  It was the world that God so loved.  It was not a nation; it was not the good people; it was not only the people who loved him; it was the world.  The unlovable and the unlovely, the lonely who have no one else to love them, those who love God and those who never think of him, those who rest in the love of God and those who spurn it.  We are all included in this powerful, resilient, and persistent love of God.

Just as Jerry realized he is nothing without Dorothy; and she forgave him, God is there waiting for us to realize that he wants to be first in our lives so when the tough times come, we won’t lose ourselves in the drama.  We will focus on his voice of comfort and never ending love.  We will learn to love as God loves.

God can see and hear you, and he loves you deeper than your closest Valentine.  If you keep him first, God will complete every relationship you have.  His love will bring new and safe relationships into your life. He will show you a love that is incomparable. And remember, you have God at Hello.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love Dawn

By Nancy Strackany

 

When I need to get something done, I’d like to say I do it immediately.  But if it’s hard or intimidating, I sometimes drag my feet. It’s not that I don’t want to do it or it’s not the right thing to do but, OK… I procrastinate.

Over Christmas I had bought a few things for my husband. The store was busy and the clerks were in a flurry of activity. The lady who waited on me had just stepped in to help out her coworkers. I later found out she was new and the her name was Grace. What Grace did, I am sure inadvertently, was to ring my sale up as cash, even though I had swiped my charge card.

Imagine my surprise when I went to return two items and the store clerk insisted I take cash back. He said it was a cash sale and when I questioned whether or not there could have been a mistake since I never pay cash, he said the drawer would have been off. I said I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble but that I would check my statement at home, as he counted out my cash refund.

I later found the mistake- there was no charge made that day. Not only had I gotten free merchandise, I also got a refund for some of it. I knew I had to make it right. But it was the weekend, then Monday and Tuesday went by and I was a little less enthusiastic. I was putting it off and like the4780083df5b34094a35a05508b9487fa0 good Dad he is, God had to give me a ‘poke’.

I had recently restarted the book, A Woman’s Guide To Making Right Choices, by Elizabeth George. The first chapter was about setting priorities:

  1. Doing the things we have to do.
  2. Doing those things we have to do, but are harder to do.

I thought, “God, are you talking to me? I want to do this but…” “Talk to the manager,” God whispered, “this is the right thing to do and it’s going to work out fine.”

The last words I read before I went to bed that night were, “please don’t choose to be a nothing woman.  Read your Bible first thing, then step out into your fresh new day and bear fruit for Jesus and bring glory to your God and Savior!”

So bright and early this fresh new day, I read Matthew 5:16, ” Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is heaven.” I closed my Bible, got dressed and went to the store.

I asked for the manager and explained the situation. It was complicated, they had to check video records but eventually discovered the error. They charged my card the original amount and thanked me for my honesty. It worked out!

Each time I experience the prompting of the Holy Spirit and do what I feel he is telling me, it builds my faith to step out the next time.  Now I have one more experience in my history with God and I truly give him all the glory!