By Dawn Smiling

 

 

I am a planner.  I spend time planning every inch of my life.  I do this to protect myself from failure.  If I put all my efforts into my plan, what could go wrong?  And if something does go wrong, I have a back-up plan to carry me through the failed plan.  I believe Habakkuk 2:2, then the Lord replied, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets”.   I may not have tablets from back in the day, but I have plenty of notepad paper.

 

Well, this year it appears that my plans have changed.  Without notice or warning, I have been informed by God that things are changing.  I was shocked that change could come into my life without my permission.  I was shocked that my best efforts did not change the outcome of my plans.   Why didn’t God clue me in earlier that no matter what I did to push forward my plan, it was not going to work?   Let’s think about this, if you knew something was going to turn out to be wasted effort, why go through it?  Why didn’t God tell me I was wasting my time?

 

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I realized I owed God an apology.  This experience showed me just how proud God is of me, which led Him to decide it was time to enlarge my boundaries.  The problem is I attempted to control my destiny.   I failed to see myself as God’s child first and a women second.  I grew accustomed to calling the shots in my life, never considering that God’s opinion matters.  I pray Lord, may your will be done, but I never thought He would take me up on that offer.

 

I had taken a measuring stick and determined the limit of God for my happiness, wealth, and wellbeing.   In the book of Zechariah 2:1-3, we see a young man who tried to measure what God was doing in the city of Jerusalem.  How can you measure what God is doing in your life, or the limits that God will go through to get you where He wants you?  As women we tend to place limits on things we believe God can’t do.

 

When God blindsided me, I became vulnerable. Being vulnerable leaves you naked to hurt, pain, disappointment, and fear.   It also opens the door for God to speak if you choose to listen.  I saw myself different from the way that God sees me.  A blind person needs a cane to help him walk. I discovered that my plans may be great, but God’s plan for my life will always be greater.

 

Has God blindsided you?  Did He change your plans without your permission?  I encourage you to embrace it.  Yes, I now walk with a spiritual cane but the Word of God is a light to my pathway, and I release my boundaries to the will of God.  Are you blocking God from your path to His destiny for your life?  Let Him In!

By Kristin Bonham

 

 

I didn’t have a sister growing up but I met mine when she walked into my hospital room after I gave birth to my son 24 years ago.  I was 24 years old and that was a defining moment in my life. Like when you need something but you don’t know what?  My need was answered that day before I even knew the depth of it.

 

Lynn and I were not related but we considered each other sisters.  We were 10 years minus 1 day apart and I’m not sure what made her pick me but I am forever thankful she did.  This October marks the 10-year anniversary of her death which has caused me to reflect more on our relationship and how much she influenced me.

 

lynnLynn taught me the importance of having other women in my corner. She was in my corner, even when she was smacking me upside the head.  She helped me learn how to mother my children and made me slow down and enjoy the moments. She invited me to go look for my new house in my new town two hours away when I wasn’t motivated to do anything. We did Bible studies together, picked strawberries, took our kids to every out of the way field trip in Florida, redecorated rooms and played scrabble in many laundry mats across the country.

 

Her friendship shaped me.  She helped me discover my gifts and talents and didn’t let our differences come between us.  Well, maybe that one time we got in a fight in the middle of Washington D.C! She was not perfect but there was a rhythm to our relationship that was noticeably different and full of grace.

 

When she died, our kids were in the teen/college years.  Now they are in the wedding/baby years. I remember panicking that she would miss the weddings and the babies and that was not ok.  She is missing a lot of moments that matter but I have great comfort that she is not missing any moments that are eternal.  She is one of those people who showed me the things of God I needed so desperately and pursued them beautifully.

 

chloeLynn would have become a grandmother this year. Her daughter Chloe and I spent a Sunday morning together a few weeks ago and I got to cuddle baby Emery Amelia.  It was a sweet gift and very emotional visit.  We laughed and cried and rehearsed that terrible day ten years ago. In the end we decided that we will be ok. While no one can ever replace her in our lives, we have each other and more who we learn from and pour into.  Our lives and other relationships are richer for having known her.

 

I am thankful for the women in my life that I can share the victories and challenges with.  The ones who will laugh and cry with me and most of all, tell me the hard truth in love when I need it. Who are those women in your life?

 

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.  Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,…  And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  Philippians 1:3-4,6

By Julie Jaunese

 

 

On April 30, 1789 the first President of the United States was sworn in at the capital of our nation at the time, New York City, at Federal Hall.  In George Washington’s address he said, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.” He went on to say “It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes.” George Washington then walked with his newly sworn-in Senate, House of Representatives and his cabinet to a small church in New York, St. Paul’s Chapel, to kneel and pray and dedicate this nation to God. There was a proclamation in force for that day as well for the people of the United States of America, compelling each person to go to their house of worship at 9:00 a.m. and pray for the nation.

 

This is only one example of the long history of Christian faith and values that our nation was founded upon.  We are soon faced with an important presidential election and there are four candidates who are asking for our vote. This year seems a more difficult choice than ever.  These men and women are not perfect, but then, neither are we. I can testify to the mercy and forgiveness of God in my own life.  It is only by God’s grace that any of us stand.

 

So how can we choose? We all have the Word of God in our hands and God gave us Ten Commandments. We also have the power of prayer.

 

“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. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”  II Chronicles 7:14-16

 

We need to pray…for ourselves, for our candidates, for our still great nation, and for the world that our children and grandchildren will inherit. And we need to look at what each candidate stands for and against, and compare it to what God is for and against.  There are so many issues facing our nation and world, but who most aligns with a Biblical world view? As hard as it may be to tell sometimes… this should still be our greatest standard as a Christian.  In any office, who will most lead towards values that are taught in the Bible?

 

i-votedYou probably thought I would tell you who you should vote for, didn’t you? Nope. When I stand before God, I don’t want to answer for anyone but myself. And I am thankful that while I have a responsibility and privilege to cast my vote, I also have faith to believe that in the end, God is still in control!

 

 

One more thing, where will you be on inauguration day? No matter who wins, we should take action and be on our knees in prayer thanking God for all he has given us and asking for His protection for our nation and wisdom for all of those leading us.