Just For Me

just for me

Just the other day I heard one of my favorite songs play on my computer. The song is “Precious Lord” sung by Mike Farris. Precious Lord is a nice song in its’ own right. But when Mike Farris got a hold of it… woh! That song totally rocks! It’s especially wonderful because God orchestrated that song with that artist just for me. It’s true!

My husband and I had each grown up with a smattering of religion. But thinking back to when we were new Christians, it was our first go at taking Jesus seriously. Saying yes to Jesus was the easy part for both of us. The tough part though, especially for Neal, was finding our way in this new world. We were both a product of secular living. So breaking up with the world didn’t necessarily come easy.

I immediately took to the local Christian radio station. Little by little, Christian music was replacing the secular stuff, until I wasn’t listening to anything else. I couldn’t seem to get Neal to switch though. It wasn’t a dislike of the Christian message in the songs. It was a pure dislike of the top twenty playlist that the one and only local Christian station would play. For a few months I did my very best to expose him to as much Christian music as I could. He really wasn’t having any of it.

…So I prayed.

I gave up trying to force Christian music on Neal. Instead, I prayed that God would provide some Christian music for Neal that he would actually want to hear. I wasn’t really sure how that could happen, since the local station kept primarily to their top twenty list that my husband did not like! Neal and I have always had different likes when it comes to music. I was into Barry Manilow… Neal was into some band called the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies. (Seriously… what kind of name is the “Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies” anyhow?!?) Not exactly the same styles. But it was no longer my problem. I gave it to God.

One morning, as Neal was flipping through the radio stations, he heard something that made him stop. The local Christian radio station was playing their “pre-morning show song”. He liked it so much that he tuned in more than once to that station in the morning as they would play it each day. Finally, Neal decided to find out who this one and only artist was that he liked so much on this station. Guess who it was…

Mike Farris, formerly of the “Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies”, singing Precious Lord.

Turns out that Mr. Mike Farris went and got saved and recorded some AMAZING Christian music… which our local Christian station used a track from for their pre-morning show song… which happened to be playing at the very moment Neal scanned through the stations… which was all perfectly ordained and coordinated by our God who answered the prayer of a wife who wanted her husband to be blessed, but was blessed in return by now having a new household favorite that everyone, even our kids love to listen to. See… I told you… Just for me. J

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Finding Favor

Have you ever had those moments that seem like a nuclear explosion of chaos in your world? I have joyfully, respectfully, and gratefully taken on the responsibility of leading a team of twenty people from three different states on a missions trip to a children’s home near Kingston, Jamaica. This is my first experience taking on such a role. Coordinating this team, although not without its’ challenges, has actually been rather fun for the most part. I have enjoyed the challenge of recruiting and coordinating team members and all we need as a team to make this trip successful. But recently I came upon a situation that would make even the toughest cookie feel like crumbling… I tried to purchase airfare.

I’m sure purchasing airfare seems like such a simple, even boring task. I mean really… How complicated could it be? I needed to coordinate airfare for twenty people out of three different states, getting them all to Kingston, Jamaica at the same time. But this is 2014. We are not without multiple resources to get it all done. Even still, I first decided to let a travel agent help me out. After about two full weeks of not getting much from her, despite my phone calls and emails, I finally received an email back with some travel options. A bit disappointed with the results she gave me, I did some research myself. I was finding the very flights she sent me at significantly lower prices! I called my travel agent, and in a respectful and much nicer tone than I wanted to have, I showed her the great deals I found in only five minutes of searching… as opposed to her two weeks. (I left out that last part… But I was thinking it!) I asked if she would be willing to book these new and better flights for us. Of course she said yes… for a fee of an extra $30 per person! Ugh! I respectfully declined and decided to do it myself.

Since we have so many people going on this trip, we qualify for a “group” status. What that means is that we can reserve all twenty tickets without having to pay the full amount up front. We also have the flexibility to change names on the tickets if needed. When dealing with a big group who are still trying to raise funds, these options are pretty important. I called the airline and spoke with a gentleman who quite obviously spoke English as a second language. I let him know our circumstances and asked if I could book our group tickets with him. He was certainly willing to help… for a $25 per person fee! Once again, I respectfully declined. I know those fees may not seem like a big deal. But when you’re raising funds, every penny counts. I need to be responsible for what monies I have been entrusted with.

Not wanting to lose the decent flight deals I had found, I figured I would just go online and book them all myself. The bad part of doing things this way is that the tickets would be officially purchased and issued… No refunds… No changes. If anyone had to back out at this point it would be too bad. The money would just be lost. Before making such a significant purchase, I needed to get all twenty team members to agree. It didn’t take long. In less than two hours, most everyone responded in agreement. I logged on to the airline website only to find the prices of the tickets had jumped up… significantly.

At this point, more than half of my day had been spent dealing with these tickets. When I saw the new, higher price, my stomach did a gigantic flip flop. The current price of our tickets were almost $100 more than our budgeted amount. Had I remembered to eat lunch, I easily could have lost it. Brain swirling, eyes hurting, feeling anxious, nauseated… *DEEP BREATH* “Be still and know that I am God”. As I heard that, I couldn’t help but wonder if God had been paying attention to my day so far. Ok… one more deep breath. I prayed for God’s favor as I picked up the phone and called the airline back.

Hallelujah! A sweet lady who spoke perfect English answered. I explained the unfortunate price jump to her. Unfortunately there was nothing she could do about that. Just as it seemed there was nothing she could do to help me, I felt prompted to tell her where we were going and why. She placed me on hold for a minute or two. When she came back on the line, she offered to waive the $25 per person fee and book the tickets for me with the “group” status. Although the ticket prices were still higher than they were earlier that day, at least we’d get the tickets reserved before prices potentially jumped up again. One of the other benefits of group status is the flexibility in the tickets. If prices drop, I can call and have our price lowered. She also gave me contact information to get free baggage vouchers for everyone in our group! With the savings in baggage fees alone, that brought our cost below the price I had found earlier. Amazing!

At the end of my conversation with this sweet lady, she told me that her hometown is actually Kingston, Jamaica. She wanted to express how thankful she was for what we were doing for the children in her country. That is the favor of God! No amount of my efforts, anxiety or frustration achieved anything. But one deep breath, a quick prayer and stepping back to let God do His thing did it all.

Letting go of control is so hard. Things couldn’t have looked worse when viewing the situation through human eyes. Only by letting go… by being still and knowing HE IS GOD, was I able to see His perfect grace in my little nuclear explosion of chaos. Compared to Him, I guess it doesn’t seem that big a deal after all.

Dreams

Can you remember back when you were a kid? Of course you do. What I actually meant to ask was, do you remember the dreams you had as a kid? Think about it. Your initial reaction may very well be to say yes. But if you take some time on this, I think you’ll agree that it may just be an automated response. While you might remember some of the ambitions you had, have you ever pondered why you wanted what you did?

It seems that everywhere I turn, the topic of dreams has been coming up. Admittedly, I haven’t thought about dreams in a long time. I’m very happy with my station in life. I love my husband and kids. Oh sure, there’s always something I’d like to change, have, get rid of, do differently, etc… But all in all, I’m good. So why is this topic surfacing like crazy to me? Experience tells me that there are no coincidences. God must want me to pay attention.

As I think back to some of the dreams I had when I was younger, I remember that I wanted to be a star on Broadway. I wanted to have at least six kids (all before I turned the old age of thirty, of course). I wanted also to be a psychologist in my spare time… You know, in between Broadway productions and raising kids. I had some dreams! They sound pretty ridiculous, right? Perhaps not as ridiculous as you might think.

What was it about those things that I really wanted? What did they mean? Why was it important to God to bring me back to those dreams? Surely it wasn’t to point out how I’d failed at reaching every single one. (ouch!) I never made it to Broadway. I only have three kids… The first of which I had at the age of thirty. (FYI – Three is enough!) And despite how I love to try and fix the world’s woes, I never did become a psychologist.

I knew it was God bringing me to this place. So I asked myself the question, “WHY did I want those things”. Well, after really pondering it, it was pretty simple. I wanted to be loved. That’s it. Nothing more. I would have fans who would love me for what I do, children who would love me for who I am, and patients who would love me for how I help. Love.

The next thought I had was not about how I failed in accomplishing my dreams, but rather how I succeeded. I am loved. There are people who love me for what I do, who I am, how I help, etc… But most importantly and unfailingly, that’s how my heavenly Father feels about me. He loves me not only for all those things in me, but even more, because He sees Jesus when He sees me. It feels good to be loved. It feels good to be successful. It feels good to be covered in the Grace that allows me both.

Don’t Be So Surprised (Part 2 of 2)

In my last post, I wrote about having witnessed God’s miracle healing. It was an incredible boost to my faith. But it was also an “in your face” reminder that not everyone was experiencing this miracle. Why? What was the difference between my situation with Faith’s chicken pox and anyone else experiencing, or not experiencing His healing? There had to be a reason.

I had been in church long enough to see people getting prayed for over and over again for things they never appeared to be getting healed from. As a new Christian, I just assumed that meant that sometimes God wants you healed… And unfortunately, sometimes He doesn’t. Maybe there was a prayer quota that God required… Like signing a petition. Then people could be healed. Or maybe it was getting the right person to pray. Surely a more “seasoned” Christian would have a better shot than someone who wasn’t as passionate about prayer. I wasn’t really sure why people weren’t getting healed. God was a slot machine. Pull the lever… Come on Jesus! Seven… Seven… Rats! Not a winner this time. Pull the lever again. Maybe have a friend pull the lever for good luck. Rats! Not a winner this time either. Healing was a gamble. And a bad one at that.

I spent the next several years witnessing and even experiencing the miracle of healing from God. Unfortunately, I spent those same years also witnessing and experiencing the let down and disappointment of not seeing miracles happen. Praying for healing became more of a ritual than an expectant hope. It was just something we did. The bigger the sickness, the more people we’d get to pray. Where were we going wrong?

I became more and more familiar with healing scriptures. One of my favorites, and probably the most well-known and used scripture is Isaiah 53:5. “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed”. This verse was practically stamped in my brain. Over and over I would quote it whenever the slightest symptom would rear its’ ugly head in my body or in my family. I had incorporated God’s Word into my “sick time ritual”.

Surely there must be some sort of consistency to God. He can’t really be as wishy-washy as the track record showed. If I was ever going to have a trusting relationship with Jesus, I had to make the decision that God’s Word is true. Profound, isn’t it? I decided that if God was real, and I knew He was… And if He is the one who breathed every word into the bible, and He did… And if I had received Jesus as my savior and become a joint heir with Him, and I did… Then what God spoke was for me… every time!

I’m believing God. I’m believing His Word is for me. Why were people still getting sick? I don’t know. But what I do know is that God says I’m healed. So sickness is not from Him. Sickness is not His will. There is never a time when God doesn’t want you healed and living in that perfect health. Scripture says that Jesus bore all our sickness and disease. You are not the sick fighting to be healed. You are the healed, resting in the promises of your creator and redeemer, resisting the weapons formed against you by the enemy. God promises that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. He never said no weapon would be formed. So when the ugly weapon of sickness or disease shows its’ ugly face in your presence, fight the way Jesus taught us to fight… “It is written”.