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Forced to Rest

It’s no real secret that I am tired all the time. Literally. I wake up tired and with a headache and that’s how it is all day long. I’m learning to be content with that. But what most people don’t know is that I have a really hard time resting. I can’t remember the last time I took a nap. My friends tell me all the time, “Oh honey, why don’t you just go curl up with a blanket and take a nap?” And I will smile and say that sounds like a wonderful idea. Because it really does.

I’m on three strong medications that CAUSE sleepiness and wear me out but the one also has a side effect of insomnia that really works. No naps for me. Sad day. I have been known to be so tired that I tell my friends I wish they would just knock me out so my body could get some rest!

Which actually brings me to the point of this post. (Don’t worry, I was getting there.) A month or so ago, I was in a Sunday School class on prayer. And it was a wonderful class. One of the lessons was on praying Scripture and we were talking about Psalm 23. As an example, my teacher asked if someone would be willing to pray that passage and an older lady at my church volunteered.

But as she prayed, something new struck me. Verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

Hmmm makes me? Like forces me to lie down, to rest? If I’m honest, there have been many times in my life when I don’t want to rest. When I get so crazy busy and I have seen God slow me down. And if I’m totally honest, I didn’t like it. I wanted to do things my way at my speed. But now that physical rest is SO desirable and out of reach for me, I recognize the importance of it.

But of even greater importance is spiritual rest. Verse 3: “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Whenever I read this I’m reminded of how utterly thankful I am for soul-restoration! How when I’m worn out and tired, my SOUL can still be at rest because of Jesus Christ! How when I can’t find the energy to do anything, somehow I find energy in talking about my Savior and his incredible love! What a thing to praise the Lord for.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in blessing

 

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Retelling the Story

Can I just say that this whole Reading Through the Bible in 90 Days thing is amazing and crazy at the same time?? Some days, I really don’t. like. it. For instance, I don’t like reading 24 Psalms in one day. I LOVE the Psalms and I like to savor each one as I read them. (On the up side of that, I actually learned to somewhat distinguish writing styles. It was crazy. I could tell when we switched back to David’s writing before I even looked it up! So that was a bonus.)

But other days, I really love it. The whole perspective is different. I’ve read through the Bible in a year at least 6 times before but this is SO much more that the picture changes. You get a broader view of what’s going on and how God is working.

When I was reading in Deuteronomy, I initially was a little frustrated. Which, unfortunately, is normal because it always feels redundant to me. I mean, I feel like Moses LITERALLY just told the Israelites all of this in the two previous books and now I’m reading it again almost word for word. Whhhyyyy?? I get the point! Let’s move on!

But this time, as I read it, two phrases stuck out because they came up over and over again. The first is:

Take Care.

Moses knew that obedience to God’s commandments wouldn’t just happen. He told the Israelites to be careful, to take care to follow God’s law. This is actually a theme all throughout Scripture, not just something from Moses. Psalms talks about guarding your heart and being careful. Ephesians says to look carefully how you walk. God’s jealous, you know. He needs to be first and won’t let anything else take that place. It was a reminder to me to watch my thoughts and actions and to be more faithful to my Lord.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” Deut. 4:7

Which brings me to the next word:

Remember.

Moses was desperate for the people to remember what God had done for them! He was retelling their own history for them. He understood the importance of recounting God’s acts and what he expects from his people. He knew that as humans, we forget.

And you know what? Sometimes I need that. And you do too. Sometimes we need a friend to sit across from us and say, “Look! Don’t you remember what God did for you here? See how he’s working right now??! Isn’t he amazing?!”

We need to do for each other what Moses was doing for his people. We need to retell that amazing story of God’s work! We need to take care, keep our souls diligently, and not forget.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2018 in Devotions

 

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What I Learned from Working at a Grocery Store

When I first moved to my apartment I was on a doctor-ordered rest time and wasn’t allowed to work. But after 3 months of that and with seizures under control, she gave me permission to go back to work. Now believe it or not, I had done my homework before I moved to town because I knew that whenever I would need a job, I wouldn’t be able to drive yet so I would need something close by. And it actually play a small part in picking this apartment. It is close to my church and close to a grocery store that was hiring. So I just had to trust God that when I needed the job, one would be available. And it was.

This particular store is pretty unique. It’s not a Walmart, Kroger, or Aldi. It’s an IGA, which are franchise stores actually. So they can have their own personality to some degree. It’s family owned and in a small town. Everybody knows everybody.

A lot of people have asked what my job is. And I laugh. Because my job is made up of all sorts of crazy things! In any given day I can go from being a cashier, to slicing deli meat, to baking bread or cookies, to grinding hamburger, to filling the dairy case, and so many other things. I don’t know how other stores work, but here, you fill in where you are needed and know what to do. You don’t get bored. 🙂

This is my last week working at the store. I’ve been there nine months and I would like to share with you some things I have learned along the way:

  1. Power Outages have a whole new meaning when you work in the food industry. I used to think the power going out was fun and exciting but when you have to pull food quickly into coolers and worry about temperatures it turns into something else. After an outage, cooler temps have to be regulated for quite a while to make sure they are doing okay and nothing dropped too low. Customers have to be checked out quickly so you can shut the registers down. And then you work with flashlights, waiting for it to come back. It makes life interesting, but not the kind of thing you want to do often.
  2. High schoolers are…ummm…fun? to work with. I remember when I was hired as a camp counselor telling my supervisor that I would work with any age group but I REALLY did not like working with teens. Bahahaha! Came back to bite me, didn’t it? Actually, I’ve learned a lot. Just like every other age group, you can’t write off all teens as dramatic and lazy (sorry!), you have to take each one individually. Some are just as hardworking (if not more) as adults I know.
  3. Bologna is still my least favorite meat to slice. While I feel much better about it, I’m still not a huge fan. However, I have learned that it is NOT the grossest meat in the deli like I thought. Souse takes first place there. *Shudder* (just look it up…)
  4. I think there is some misconception in the world as to what constitutes a “Real Job.” Most of the world believes that if your job is not your dream, then what are you doing with your life? And until you have a job with full benefits, a 401K, and life insurance, your aren’t an adult. And the sad thing is, believers have taken on the attitude as well. When I tell people I’m switching jobs, I have been getting several responses similar to, “Oh, it will be so nice to have like a real job and everything.” I’m a little confused. I worked 45 hours last week. Is that not a “real job?” Here is what I fully believe: If you have a job you enjoy and that pays your bills, you can glorify God through that. Your job doesn’t make you, it isn’t who you are. In fact, it may be that your job is something you go to in order to be ABLE to fulfill what you would rather be doing! For instance, you may want to be able to visit shut ins, but God has not given that as your “job.” Your job is what you do during the day to support yourself so that in your free time, you can share God’s Word with those in a nursing home! Does that make sense? So please, no more of this nonsense about real jobs and dream jobs. Because my dream job can be done no matter where I go for work during the day. It doesn’t mean I’m not doing my dream job. 🙂 (Sorry, that probably should have been it’s own post.)
  5. Which leads into my next thing. Evangelism. I have learned SO much about evangelism from working at the store. How to make it practical, how to bring the Lord into everyday conversations with unbelievers. How to be patient and kind when I’m worn down and tired at 9pm and just want to go home. Things I never would have learned in the controlled environment of my last job or at church.

There are so many other things I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for patient co-workers and supervisors when my head clouded up. I’m thankful for the small town that embraced me. Small towns seriously are the best! Most of all, I’m thankful for the Lord leading me to a job that helped grow my faith so much! Everything written here is because of Him!

 

(Except bologna, that’s straight from Satan. 🙂 )

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2018 in work

 

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Two Cars, A Job, and a Great God

In case you didn’t know, on June 9th, I was officially 6 months seizure free! You’re probably thinking, “Hooray! So what?” Yeah, I know. But actually, it was a really big deal because you have to be seizure-free for a six month period before your driving privileges are graciously placed back in your hands. So yes, I WAS counting those days. Somehow, I thought it would be a pretty simple process but my doctor had to send forms to the BMV and they had to send forms to ME and I had to visit my local BMV so it took longer than I thought it would. Basically you have some of the slowest organizations communicating with each other over one person. No driving on 6/9 which was a bummer but that’s ok. All the paperwork eventually got in order, my new license came, and I’m now good to go.

The problem was, back in 2016, when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to drive for a while, I had sold my car. Car shopping is LITERALLY one of my least favorite things to do. Some people really like it. Not me. But that was next on the list. I looked and looked but I couldn’t find anything in my budget that actually still ran. Fortunately my work is a 3 minute walk away so it wasn’t an immediate need but still a need.

Enter Car #1: Edna. Some really good friends of mine had an extra car lying around their house. To be honest, they were planning a project with the engine because the car had some issues but they said that if I wanted it while I looked for something else, it was mine. No charge. They are really generous and I felt SO blessed. I’m not kidding. While everyone else saw the rust, smelled the mice, and heard the engine, I felt the freedom of having a car that was my own. Not having to coordinate rides to go to the store or see a friend. Being able to surprise my best friend by showing up at her house for the night. I knew it wasn’t a long term solution because there’s no way I would drive this car farther than 20 minutes from my house, but it worked for the short term.

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There was just one problem. Next month I have a rather significant birthday coming up. Not necessarily the number but what happens on that number. I have to come off my parents’ health insurance. Sad day. It’s been wonderful. I doubt they’ll miss me as much as I’ll miss them. 🙂 And although I work full time now, they don’t offer insurance so I have been job hunting for a little while. A couple weeks ago, I was offered a position at a small bank. The hours are great (like, I don’t have to work till 9pm anymore!), they have full benefits, and the atmosphere is friendly and inviting. It felt like a good fit but it’s around 30 minutes from my house and I honestly wasn’t sure my car would last long doing that every day.

Enter Car #2: Peri. I was pretty sure I was going to accept the job offer and see how long my car would make it before I had to get another one. Last Saturday though, I was thumbing through FaceBook and a car popped up on my feed. I wasn’t even on Marketplace or anything. It was just there. It caught my eye because it was a Honda but listed for several thousand less than Hondas run for around here. And I saw it two minutes after it was posted so I knew if I messaged the lady, I would have a good chance of being the first person. I contacted her and set up a time later that day to come look at it without really knowing why. I literally prayed on my way there, “Lord, I really can’t afford this car so I don’t see a point in test driving it. Why am I even going here?” But I went and not only was it super nice with regular maintenance and low mileage, it had several “extras” on it. Like a dark tint on the windows, black tire rims (which, apparently, is a cool thing?), new headlights ready to be put in, and a sound system complete with a subwoofer that takes up most of the trunk space. Actually, funny story on that. When I was looking at it, the owner excited told me to try the radio. I turned it on and up to about 7 and told her it sounded great. She looked kind of disappointed and said, “Oh. Well. I think it goes to about 50 or 75.” I asked her if I could pray about it and give her an answer the next day and she said she wouldn’t let anyone else look at it if I let her know by noon the following day. Which was super kind of her. (Oh, did I mention the owner was a believer???) The following day I told her I would take it but I asked if she would want to take the sound system out (because I certainly won’t use it) and would she be willing to take the cost of it off the car? Otherwise, I said she could leave it in and I will just take it out myself and sell it. She said she really didn’t know how to take it out but she would DROP THE PRICE OF THE CAR BY $200 and I could keep the sound system. I probably read that message 4-5 times before I responded because I wasn’t sure I had read it right. Uh, yeah, I’ll take the car.

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I told a friend of mine that I almost feel a little embarrassed by my car now because it has all these things on it that I would NEVER put on any car I owned simply because I wouldn’t spend the money on it. And she told me that it should just be a reminder of how great God has blessed me.

And she’s SO right. As I was driving home after signing off on Peri’s title I actually started crying, just amazed at how God works. How he not only provided one car that got me about for a short while, but yet another one that I can trust for long distances and my new job. How he provided the finances I needed. How he went above and beyond anything I would have even dreamed of asking for in a vehicle. I am amazed.

But I didn’t begin praising God when he started giving me things I wanted or needed. That’s not the reason he gets praise. He deserves it simply for being God. Everything else is simply another reason to thank him!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2018 in blessing

 

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A House of Prayer

I had a new revelation at church this week. Cue the flashing lights and trumpets! Everyone leans forward in their chairs! Because, as we all know, everyone wants to learn about new stuff! But what I actually mean is, God did NOT reveal something other than his Word to me, he revealed something about his Word as it relates to my life. Sorry to disappoint. 🙂

Anyway, the past few weeks, I have felt really BUSY at church. My brain has felt scattered and cluttered, filled with things I need to do while I’m there. I usually walk to church and on that short walk, my mind starts coming up with people I need to talk to when I’m at church and I start planning how I’m going to fit it all in. For instance, this Sunday alone, I had 4 people I needed to talk to about different ministry things, I needed to connect with the other Young Adult leader about some things, I’m the secretary of a committee and needed to confirm a meeting for this Wednesday, AND I had a meeting right after service. It’s a lot to fit in if you count trying to find all the people and talking with everyone else you bump into.

And the problem is, IT’S ALL GOOD STUFF. And it all does need to get done. But by the end of church I was frustrated because first of all, my list wasn’t complete, and secondly, there were other people that were hurting at church and my heart WANTED to talk with those people but because of my “to-do list”, I didn’t have time.

And that’s when my focus cleared up. Verses from Matthew and Mark quickly popped into my head and I realized that I had made church a place of business instead of keeping it a place of worship and prayer. Once my “have-to” stuff became more important than ministering to those that needed it, God quickly convicted my heart. And I’m so thankful he did!

I also realized that there was absolutely no need for those things to be done on Sunday. In my mind, I just always say, “Oh, I’ll see them at church and talk to them then.” BUT I DON’T NEED TO! Why in the world do I have phone calls, texts, and emails if I’m not going to use them?? I don’t NEED to push everything to Sunday because it can be done before then. What I need to do is restructure my mind to think this way and diligently plan ahead of time.

Ok, so maybe this wasn’t a new revelation for you at all. But it was for me. And now I have a list of things to do before Sunday gets here. I’m sure things will still pop up on Sundays but that’s ok. I’m praying my mind and heart will be able to focus a little bit more on the reason I go to church this coming week.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2018 in church

 

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In Case of Emergency

The other day I had to fill out an online questionnaire. (You have officially read the most boring opening sentence ever.) HAD is the crucial word in that sentence because it was a long, and in my opinion, meaningless, questionnaire but it was something that I really did have to do. I sincerely hope that the people who received it were able to get some sort of information from all the random questions they asked.

Anyway, one of the questions read something like, “In the event of a real emergency, how many people do you have in your life that you could count on to help you?”

Somehow my brain translated that question into “How many people would you call in the event of an emergency?” and I actually answered with 1. I thought of the time I needed to go to the ER and literally all I did was call my best friend, she came home from work to take me in, and contacted all my family. She handled everything. So in my mind I just thought, “Well, I’d call Natalie and go from there.”

I was about to click to the next question when I glanced over it again and realized my error. Oh! How many people could I count on?? That’s a totally different question! The options were 1, 2-5, 6-10, or 11+. Suddenly I knew my answer and at the same time how incredibly blessed I am.

I realized if I REALLY needed someone to help me, not only would my friends and family drop everything and come, but my church family would do the same thing. And the other churches in the area would respond too. How do I know? I’ve experienced it and I seen it over and over again. Suddenly 11+ seemed like waaaaayyy too small of a number for this question.

My guess is that the people reading the questionnaire can probably see how long I spend on each question and if I change my answers. They probably thought I was rigging my answer when it switched from the lowest number to the highest.

Nope. Just remembering the kind of community I have in Christ and what a blessing it is.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in blessing

 

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When in a Funk

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a couple from my church and the husband told me that a mentor of his used to say to him, “Man, you are just in a funk today! You need to go out and talk to someone about Jesus.” And he would literally kick him out of the office (which is ironic because they worked in a ministry) and he would go find someone to share Christ with.

The whole story kind of stuck with me. He talked about how it didn’t really matter how he was feeling that day, somehow telling another person what Christ had done would change his mood and outlook on the day. So I’m here to tell you two personal stories about sharing Jesus “when in a funk” and how they turned out.

Last Saturday, one of my co-workers asked me if I would make her some monkey bread. For some people, this probably sounds like a bizarre request, but (not to brag) my monkey bread is actually pretty well-known and I get requests for it all the time. To be fair, it’s a family recipe and it’s pretty amazing. I was more than happy to make it for her and asked her when she wanted it. She asked if Sunday would work. Honestly, I sighed a little inside. If you know me or have read this post, you probably know that Sundays aren’t my best days. I usually come home after church and crash. But I knew that I really did have the time to make it that day so I told her that would be fine.

When she came to pick it up, she ended up staying and talking for a while. She’s young and goes to church without her family and wants to be baptized, so in the course of our conversation, she asked about my baptism. I’m pretty sure my whole face lit up. That was a really special day for me (maybe I’ll post about it sometime) and I loved getting to tell her about it. After she left, I realized how invigorated I felt, just from talking about Christ’s love for me.

And the words came back to me: When in a funk, talk about Jesus.

Fast forward to a few days later. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I had a lot of things weighing on my mind but was trying and trying to trust the Lord with them. But in reality, I was kind of grumpy. Having remembered the success from Sunday, I decided to find someone to talk to. I live just down the road from a nursing home, so I grabbed my Bible and went there. Come to find out they have a lot of entrances and I wasn’t really sure which one to go in which just further added to my frustrated feeling. Finally I just picked one and marched in like a soldier. I smiled sweetly at the secretary and asked if I was allowed to talk to some of the residents. She told me to feel free. Great.

I found an older lady sitting by herself in the dining hall and asked her if I could sit with her and pulled up a chair. We introduced ourselves and that’s when I discovered that she couldn’t hear very well. I CAN talk loud when I need to (people are usually really surprised 🙂 ) but it’s hard for me to keep it up for a whole conversation so there was a lot of repeating. She told me about herself and her life and I read some verses to her. She was feeling kind of discouraged and frustrated though and wasn’t sure what purpose she could have in the nursing home. And I’m not really sure she heard me say anything. After about an hour, I prayed with her and went home to get ready for work.

And my thought was, “Well, that didn’t make me feel better at all!” Instantly, I was stung with conviction about my motivations. Ouch. I realized the difference in the two situations. The first time, I was focused on my friend and on the Lord- talking about him and what he had done in my life. The second time, I was only worried about myself- what would make ME feel better and help ME.  My heart was totally in the wrong place.

So I do believe the statement still stands: When in a funk, talk about Jesus. Just make sure you are focusing on him and his glory.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2018 in witness

 

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