Joy in the journey!

Joy in the journey!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

It is Well......

As I sat in my prayer chair in the early morning this New Year’s Eve, I could hear her sweet voice singing as if she were right next to me. I could hear the stories she would tell me of her life and how Jesus never left her side. My precious Grandmother would always say “Lisa, it is well with my matter what." And one always knew, it truly was....always well with her soul. Until the day she died, no matter what she faced, her soul walked out peace with her Savior.

Jesus knew I needed to be reminded of this today. My heart was in pity party mode today, not New Year’s party mode. I am a planner, and my big plans for Christmas vacation were a bit altered. I found myself down the entire break with pneumonia. Not in the plan. I began to go down the “Why God?” road, until I played the song my sweet Grandma used to sing. “It is well with my soul”.

This song is about the testimony of a man who experienced a series of life-altering, tragic events. He lost his first son at the age of only four. Then without much of a moment to catch his breath, he also lost his financial livelihood and ability to properly care for his family. Subsequently then just two years later, as his wife and daughters traveled across the seas, the ship they were on sank and all four of his daughters died. His wife, the only survivor, sent the tragic news ahead to him and that she was the only one to make it home to him.

One would think that this man would have been crushed, quite possibly, for the rest of his life. And no doubt his heart grieved for the loss of his children. But the true testament of this man’s character is what his heart posture produced through the process of it all. Take a look at what flowed out from the heart of this man as he then traveled back by ship himself to meet his grieving wife, passing the very area where his daughters had died.

Horatio Spafford penned these words aboard the ship to meet his wife,

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

As I sat listening to the words of this song this morning, I was touched by the determination this man had in cultivating a lasting and intimate relationship with God. It was evident in how he lived his life and how he responded to even the darkest moments in his life. He did not allow his circumstances to dictate to him how he would behave and who he would become; rather, he found his anchor and true identity resting in His relationship with Jesus.

As this year nears its end and we reflect upon all that it has brought our way, may we rest in the peace of God’s embrace and sweetly declare, “It is well with my soul.” For whether it is peace like a river or sorrows like sea billows that we have encountered, even still, in relationship to Him, it is well because we know that God is passionately intentional about causing all things to work together for our good.

Now that’s cause for a celebration! It’s going to be a great 2012!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Santa Claus and the Finish Line.

I was on mile 3 of the run. I was looking around at the runners beside me thinking to myself, "Boy I love these runs!" Then all at once I felt my left foot begin to go numb. “Oh this is great Lord, please not today, not on this run...not now!” I then knew what would come leg would go. That’s when I’d get creative and hop until the feeling came back. I knew what to do, I had done it so many times before. It was the Jingle Bell Run, and everyone was dressed up in Christmas costumes. In fact I was delighted to have Santa, the Grinch, and a snowman running with me. But as my speed slowed and the hopping began, Santa asked me if I needed help. “Oh, it will pass...go on without me.” He was an elderly little Santa, (but man could he run!) He didn’t want to leave without helping. So I hopped, and he jogged slowly with me until the feeling came back and I was on my way again.....just minus the snowman and the Grinch.

We had a great talk Santa and I. We talked about the seasons of life. He had struggled with health issues this past year just as I had. We also talked about how God had been faithful through it all. He suffered with a disease called ankylosing spondylitis. I’d heard those words before as I sat on the doctors table being diagnosed with that long word over a year I couldn’t even pronounce. That’s why he stayed with me on this run. He knew what it was like to hop in races. He’d been there. And he didn’t leave my side. He told me he remembered a race that he literally hopped for a mile until the feeling came back. We laughed at the humorous things that we had gone through. It was so fun to laugh about it.

As we parted ways after the run, I was so thankful for the people God had strategically placed in my life to help me along the way. I also began thinking about this season of life that I am in. Yes there have been some hard blows, really hard blows, but as I sat on the curb catching my breath I realized that God was teaching me how to to to have faith like never before. This season was not going to be defined by the hard blows, but by the life changing things God was teaching me about trusting.....and resting in Him.

Someone once said to me that to rest meant I wasn’t trusting...I wasn’t moving. I needed to run this race! Hmmm. I agree that running the race is important...but rest is a part of the race sometimes. A very important part. Sometimes the most important part! Just as I was at a point where I physically could not run in the race today....I had to take a break, hop for awhile, even sit by the curb for a minute...and start back up when my body would let me again. If I hadn’t I would have been run over by the other runners.

The enemy would love to run me over in life. I have seen him try on many occasions this year. I realize that sometimes resting takes practice. I am not a good rester. Those of you who know me, know how true this is. God has had to help me on this one.

I did a study on resting in the presence of God. And I was amazed when I learned that rest can be a weapon! A weapon we use in the battles that the enemy throws in our path to defeat us. It is a sword in our hand. Resting never allows the opposition to dictate how we think or feel. Never. It brings all negativity to a standstill. It has the best jab ever. It has the confidence and the assurance to say “No, you are not coming in.” when the enemy comes knocking.

When we enter into the rest of God, we are at peace within His shadow. The Bible even serves to remind us in 1 Kings 5:4 that God will give rest to us on every side and that there will be no adversary or disaster that will be able to penetrate His great love. He goes before us in every situation to make the crooked paths straight.

So as I sit here thinking about this run today. I have to chuckle. I finished in record time (even with my resting in the middle). And wouldn’t you know, I ran through that finish line with Santa Claus. Does it get better than that? God knew I needed some help today.....and as He always does...He came through once again. Thank you God for rest. Your arms are big, your peace indescribable, and your healing complete.

My prayer is that whatever season you are facing, no matter how insurmountable the hurdles and race you are in may seem....that you find rest. Your miracle is waiting there. I will not only win the race will cross the finish line in record time! God won’t let you down.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes Lord, I'll serve you......even in a chicken suit!

She looked up at me with sparkling eyes and said “I love you chicken lady! And I sure love your dog!” She then leaned over and kissed my cheek, and Holly even got a kiss too! My heart was full and in a million years I never dreamed I’d be a chicken suit with my dog singing songs with a group of senior citizens. But I was not surprised....only amazed at how God answers prayer.

I cannot begin to tell you the countless stories of God’s provision in my life this year. But I honestly think the most profound of that provision came when I wanted to help others, and needed a financial miracle to help it happen. I have learned to never underestimate God’s answers. And never be surprised....His provision can come in the most unexpected ways. (Even in comical ways.....go figure!)

My precious friend and I had coffee one day and the tears were flowing. She was hurting and my heart was breaking with her. She had lost her job and was overwhelmed. We prayed together and as I hugged her tight.... under my breath I was saying to God, “Oh Lord, I wish I had some money to help her.” “I wish I could do something!” I didn’t feel a bolt of thunder roll or a mighty wind swoosh through with a miracle, but I can tell you.....God heard our hearts cry that day, and He began to answer both of our prayers. I remember driving home with a heart of continued prayer for my friend, and I heard the Lord just whisper to my heart, “are you willing Lisa?” Willing Lord? I am always willing to serve and help you Lord!” Little did I know what He had in answer my prayer.... to help my friend.

It all began with my chicken suit. That chicken suit I have in my closet that I love to wear in the winter because it is so warm and cozy. Do I look ridiculous? Yes. But I love my warm chicken suit. It somehow makes me smile on those "hard to smile" days. So why was I surprised a chicken suit would be involved in God’s answer to my prayer?

The phone rang one day and it was one of my friends who was laughing at a picture she saw of me on facebook wearing my chicken suit. She said to me “there is no way you would ever wear that thing out is there?” Are you kidding? Of course I would! She is involved in children’s ministry and is a precious friend. She said to me “Lisa, I will give you $100.00 if you wear that suit to Starbucks and have coffee!” “I said to her....”You know I will do this, why are you going to pay me?” And her reply was “Lisa, sometimes God works in mysterious ways.” I started to challenge her and was immediately stopped as the Lord reminded me of the prayer I prayed....” I wish I had money to bless my friend....” This was His answer for me to help! I could give that $100.00 to my friend to help her!

Well you can finish the rest of the story I am sure. That one visit to starbucks in my chicken suit was the open door to provision to help my friends. I had a precious lady ask me if I would ever come to a nursing home or a hospital in my chicken suit with my service dog. She knew I had Holly because she had seen me there before with her. Of course I would! God was opening doors out of the blue, as only He can open! This was amazing and hilarious at the same time! A chicken lady with a service dog....that most definitely is creative Lord. Well it turns out that this combination brings smiles to many hearts. How can one not laugh at the picture of it all? Isn’t God just so creative?

As I sit here today writing this blog, I have tears in my eyes as I think about how He provided the money for me to give to others. I was able to help some dear friends in ways I otherwise could not. I didn’t have the resources, but He did! And He knew the reward I would receive was not about the money I was blessed with to help others, but the heart blessing I received because of it. How can you put a price on the smiles I saw, the hugs I received, the laughs I laughed with people, and the prayers I got to pray with those hurting? You can’ price can be put on that.

I have learned to never put God in a box. He will far surpass the limitations I put on Him. He’s bigger, He’s more creative, He’s always one step ahead of me. Weather you are one in need, or one who wants to help, I challenge you to just ask. Just ask Him for help. Ask Him for the provision you need. He will help you in ways you never dreamed. And I promise will have fun on the journey. More fun than you ever imagined! Take it from the chicken lady with a service's a journey that will change your life!