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Are You Betting on Your Faith? Where’s Your Commitment?

Reblogged from Words in High Def

Faith and Commitment

Gambling has never held much appeal for me. I will be honest and confess that I have certainly visited Vegas and pulled a few slot handles (or pushed buttons now), played some black jack and thrown dice in the spirit of entertainment. But since I hate to lose and I value my money, it’s never long before I find the stores to window shop or just people-watch.

There is a term in poker that I love; all in. This refers to a point in betting in which a player wants to continue but doesn’t have the full amount to match the bet. He pushes all his chips forward, betting everything he has. If he wins, he will be paid accordingly. If he loses, he’s out of the game and leaves the table. Buh Bye Now!

It occurred to me that many of us handle our faith like a poker game. We sit at the table as one who is actively invested, but we hold back a little in case this isn’t really a winning hand.

Some of us give a small percent, others a majority of our lives to God. But if we hold back even one tiny portion, we aren’t fully committed. We don’t fully believe. The Bible says we are to give our time, treasures and talent to serving God. This doesn’t mean every waking minute or every cent of our paychecks, but it means these things have to fit into the equation of how we invest. Have you checked those things lately? How much time do you spend mentoring a fatherless child or serving at a homeless shelter? If you are a talented cook, do you prepare food for those in need or teach younger women how to improve? Are you giving generously to worthy causes that support God’s care of people?

We hold back in other ways as well. We are supposed to treat our bodies with respect but I just saw a survey that revealed a majority of Christians don’t believe smoking or obesity are sins. If you’re actively doing it you couldn’t very well admit to being wrong. It’s easier to hold back and rationalize. I’m sure my life has many of these areas as well, so I’m pointing the finger in my own direction as I write this.

There are also those who hold back in secret. They are fully invested in front of people, but in private they live in a way that is contrary to who they say they are.

Jesus gave everything; his time, treasures, talents, dignity and even his life. It was entirely up to him and he willingly gave it all.  Such joy and contentment come from being thoroughly invested in God’s promises. Commitment.

What about you? Are you betting on your faith? When it comes time for the payoff (blessings and salvation) what will your take be? Are you holding back or are you all in?

Diane Markins

Contemplating Past May Improve Future

Regret, remorse, misgiving; all denote a feeling of discontentment regarding events that have passed. Every adult on earth has experienced this at one time or another and knows it’s not a picnic. But what should we do with it when it comes?

Vacation (in most people’s minds) is a time of exploring new places and being actively engaged. According to this definition, my annual trip to the beach would not meet the criteria. There was very little running around, and most of our exploration time was done when the kids were younger. We spent our days in a pattern of reading, riding bikes, watching the waves and an occasional bout of boogie boarding. Throw in our “best burger on the beach” quest and this sums up my ocean-front tenure.

Suffice it to say that there was an abundance of quiet time to reflect. And I don’t know why I’m still surprised after all these years that I inevitably land in a place of nostalgic regret. Of course there are many more sweet, fun and crazy memories from my life than sad ones, but the missed opportunities, mistakes and bad choices seem to shout the loudest for my attention.

I lament that I wasn’t a better mother when the kids were small, because now they’re grown and I don’t have the chance to read to them for an extra few minutes or sit by the bed while they fall asleep.

I have heartache that I wasn’t a more attentive daughter, visiting more frequently—because now my mom’s gone and I can’t drop by to see her.

I rue actions earlier in my marriage that caused my husband pain. He forgave me and loves me more than ever, but I can’t undo those choices.

Sounds like a great time, huh? But self-reproach and condemnation are powerful tools. If we never pick them up, we may miss the lessons to be learned from close scrutiny and introspection. However if we over-use them, we do more harm than good to our own spirit, self-inflicting abuse and undeserved measures of pain.

As with most other factions of life, balance is the key to self-evaluation. Contentment comes with contemplation and dealing with the past. Here’s the challenge I’m issuing:

For those who run through life at warp speed; build in an annual pilgrimage that includes a slower pace, some solitude and a time of honest contemplation.

For those who are naturally more introspective; take a sincere look at the life you’ve lived, own up to mistakes, but then bathe yourself in grace. Self-flagellation is borne of self-absorption. Forgive yourself and move on with a lighter load.

For both types of people; make sure you garner every morsel of insight and work toward improvement so next year when you repeat this exercise you’ll have less to deal with

I know that now I can choose to stop whatever I’m doing to listen if my kids or grands want to talk. I can spend more quality time with my dad because he’s still here. And I can make kind, loving choices in my marriage every day.

Are there any places, times or activities that force you to evaluate your past? Do you have an intentional time (at least yearly) to do this? Tell us how it goes?

Sounds Like Life

Reblogged from Words in High Def

Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the thick of what Christ experienced.” 1st Peter 4:12

Country music artist, Darryl Worley’s song really struck a chord in my heart. His message? In the most encouraging way imaginable he’s saying the same thing Don Henley sang in the 1994 Eagles’ tune “Get Over It.”

While Worley’s Sounds Like Life to Me is sweeter and more in the spirit of a pep talk, the Eagles’ words are bare-bones honest and a bit harsh. Both serve a purpose that seems to be in short supply; a reality check for complainers and malcontents.

Face it; life can be hard. Things don’t always go well and sometimes they get worse before they get better. This may seem like mercy isn’t my strongest gift (it’s not) but I think sometimes compassion’s best companion is tough love. If life isn’t all you’d hope it would be at this moment, be grateful for the blessings you have and stand firm in the knowledge that surely there is someone worse off than you. Maybe even someone who could use your help or encouragement.

Maybe you know someone like my friend Doug, who is a seasoned and talented journalist working in what he called a survival job. In a  note he said:

“The hours (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.), pay (less than half of what I used to make) and commute (25 mi one-way) are not good. But I’ve always seen my work as my gift back to God, so I bust it every night for them — and for Him. It’s an entry-level job being done by a 30-year journalist (me), and there isn’t much creative satisfaction in that. It’s paying the bills, barely. There are many people in similar situations these days, so I am hardly alone…I treat myself to an iced tea every afternoon, and that represents luxury in life. The thing right now is that I remain obedient to God and continue to listen for His direction (always a good policy!). So I’ve renewed my commitment to study and prayer, just being still in His presence.”

Then there’s Natalie, a 20-year-old girl who has suffered every day for more than three years with migraine headaches.

“Pain medication doesn’t help so I don’t take much of anything. Complaining doesn’t help so I try not to talk about it. I don’t like seeing other people feel so awful because they know I’m hurting so I’ve gotten good at hiding it most of the time. I know God loves me and has allowed this in my life for some reason. I trust Him to get me through each minute of each day and rely on Him to give me hope that one day my pain will end and I’ll get to have the kind of normal life other people have.”

When you begin to feel too hot, tired, or bored… when you become frustrated because you can’t take the vacation you’ve dreamed about or because your car is getting old; please pause and take another direction in your thinking before you speak it aloud because that Sounds Like Life To Me and complaining never leads to more contentment.

True or too harsh? Tell us what you think!
Diane Markins

HELP! I Need Somebody

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
Helen Keller

I need help! This isn’t a desperate plea because I’ve fallen and can’t get up. This is a statement of fact in my life overall. I can’t “do” life alone and I think that’s true for all of us. Some folks tell themselves and others that they can handle things without assistance. They may even believe it, but the time will come when that lie is exposed and it won’t be pretty—especially for the self-deluded person telling it.

Am I incapable or incompetent? Far from it; I earned a college degree, help run a business, manage a household, do volunteer work and maintain many precious friendships…but I do none of those things without the help of others.

I rely on my accountant and banker to provide sound financial advice. My husband makes me feel beautiful but is also my business partner. We depend on each other as well as the wonderful group of people who work hard to ensure its success. My doctor takes great care of me and listens patiently every time I hear about some new cancer scare, asking if I need to be tested.

My two sisters (one is in-law), my mother-in-law and step-mom are my biggest cheerleaders. They help me believe I can keep going when I want to stop. My two daughters (one is in-law) let me know that I’m admired and will always lend a helping hand. My two dads (one is in-law)  and son have mastered the art of making me feel both respected as a capable woman and protected as their treasure.

Each of many friends plays a different in part in how successfully I “do” life on a given day. Some pray for me, some pray for my kids, some bring me laughter, some have all the answers, some know all the right people and some are full of inspiring words.Some have a stash of chocolate. All add value to my life. Without those elements, how would I manage to keep living life with a commitment to excellence? How would I have enough left to encourage, advise, inspire or equip someone else? The answer is simple. I wouldn’t.

God didn’t create us to be alone. He knew we’d need others to love, encourage and teach us. In Philippians 2:1-4 Paul talks about working together, sharing a common purpose. If my purpose is to encourage, help, love and support you and your purpose is the same toward me…we both win. We both have more peace, joy and contentment.

Are you the “independent” type or do you ask for help, giving back just as freely? Take stock of your life. I’ll bet anything you’ve accomplished that’s been supported by a loved one is more meaningful than those you believe you’ve done alone. Another Paul (McCartney) shared some pretty profound words when he sang with his fellow Beetles about needing HELP!….Help me get my feet back on the ground

What type of help seems most significant to you right now? Are you getting it? Have you asked?
Diane Markins

Life is Fleeting

*Life is Fleeting is Reblogged from Words in High Def

As small children most of us begin by being dependent upon our parents. They are the central source of meeting our physical and emotional needs.

When we become teenagers, there is a distinct loss of memory about all that care as well as a loss of reason and respect for the care-givers. “Those idiots don’t know anything.”

As young adults we often regain a measure of our senses and realize that our parents did sacrifice a lot for our sorry butts and actually do have some wisdom to offer. We mature and become parents, relying on the ones who raised us to give help, encouragement and advice. At least this was my story.

The sad part in this cycle of life is that we often don’t appreciate our parents fully until we lose them. My mom died on December 6, 2004. I didn’t have the slightest idea how much I needed her until she was gone. That is a deep regret for me, and one I can’t correct.

My father-in-law (now 82) was in a serious accident on his Harley when he was 73. His injuries were extensive and we set a round-the-clock hospital schedule to attend to him. The first week his family “nurses” were limited to his wife, daughter and me. As we started to run out of steam, we broadened the circle to include my husband, son, daughter and daughter-in-law.

As each of us  spent hours in the quiet room helping him sit up, holding a cup for him to drink from or reading to him, we got a glimpse of his mortality. We are so fortunate he survived, but this strong, vital man is human and will not be with us on earth forever. I don’t know why it seems so shocking, but it was a true wake-up call.

We need him. We need to spend time with him and soak up his wisdom, encouragement and even dry wit. It won’t be available to us forever. None of our parents will be. They know we love and need them, but sometimes we don’t know just how much until it’s too late to take advantage of all they have to offer and to tell them. Are you overdue for a visit? I’m sure your mom or dad would rather have a few hours of meaningful conversation than a dumb present during the holidays, or any time.

That’ll Leave a Mark

*That’ll Leave a Mark is Reblogged from Words In High Def

Your car door swings open wide and thuds into the shiny new sports car next to it. You turn a corner too fast as you are walking down the hall and bump into your dresser. After just applying lipstick, you plant a big kiss on your child’s forehead. All these thinks leave a mark. None of them are desirable or will be particularly pretty.

But what kind of mark are you making each day as you live your life? I asked a man recently what his passion was and he replied that he didn’t think he had any passion. We had just finished talking about his growing business; the sense of responsibility he felt for his employees, the obligation he assumed of doing quality work for his clients, the long hours he and his wife invested…and he was very passionate. He just couldn’t think of anything else that struck that same kind of chord inside him. I believe there is something lurking deep within his sole that he hasn’t tapped into yet. Maybe because he doesn’t slow down long enough to recognized what it is, maybe because it’s not right on the surface, but I know it’s there somewhere for him and all of us.

It is my truest belief that each of us was created with a unique set of gifts and when taken as a whole, these gifts create a package. Each of us—because of our upbringing, our life experiences, our education, hobbies and relationships—have developed into a fully formed vessel that carries wonderful possibilities.

The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman, caused quite a stir. I’ve heard several friends recite their remaining goals, aspirations and wild dreams yet to be realized. Some of these are crazy, unlikely and impractical, some are very do-able, some are for sheer joy, some are hugely meaningful.

It is easy to go through life doing what we must each day to fulfill that day’s requirements, to the exclusion of accomplishing things outside that parameter. Jumping out of an airplane, building a soup kitchen, developing a ministry that will change the lives of many with our mere (but unique) voice…these things get by us. Then one day we slow down long enough to think about life, time and how we’re spending it and it dawns on us that we’ve already missed lots of opportunities to complete some of our desires.

Passion is an elusive thing. It has to be pondered to be defined. I think we each have passion locked in us that can only be realized when we are actively using our one-of-a-kind gift package to do those things God wants each of us to do. “What God wants me to do”… that sounds kind of like work doesn’t it?

Think again! If you feel a burning desire to climb a tall mountain: Do it! Find your bliss! Just as long as while you are trekking up, you do it with integrity and after you reach the summit, you acknowledge that it was only with God’s grace.

Ponder and pursue your passions! There is a blank canvas awaiting your design. Don’t let life get in the way of using all that you are to make a lasting mark while you’re here. Tell me what you did this week that left a mark.

Create in the Image of Our Creator

It seems that we frequently forget to notice God. He is in every created thing, and yet often isn’t even acknowledged. I really enjoyed this reminder to notice God, His handiwork, and be challenged to do some creating of our own to honor and reflect his artistry.

Bold Living podcasts (on a wide variety of topics) are archived on my website. Diane Markins

Created to Create, Luci Shaw

(Excerpted from chapter three of Thumbprint in the Clay)

Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, with its moderate climate and good people, we are close to the ocean and to Puget Sound, bordered by tall evergreens and pebbled beaches and sandstone rocks.

I sit on a sun-warmed a sandstone shelf in Whatcom County’s Larrabee State Park, overlooking the Sound. I can feel the grit of the friable sandstone under my hand. The rocks arch over me like breaking waves, carved into intriguing crannies and hollows, and pitted with a kind of stone lace where wind and water have whirled tiny grains of sand within  concavities until the rock face becomes an example of pure, abstract art. It is for me a divine thumbprint, one of multitudes I can see if I pay attention. The rocks speak to me, palpable reminders of ongoing Creation.

 

. . .No one is watching.

            Surreptitiously I lean left, touch,

            test with my tongue the etched boulder

            by my elbow, and taste the sharp salt of storms.

            In that brief kiss I think I even sample

            the ochre-gray tint of sands that once

            laid down their duned lives

            to become these rocks of ages.

 

Rocks speak their own silent language. And each of the multiple pebbles and sea glass, still damp from a high tide, tells its own story of being ground and shaped by tides, and wave movement, and continued rough contact with each other.

But how infinitely more complex are our human means of interaction! Our complementary human genders, our generations and contexts. Each with a distinct and distinctive history, a story, an identity, a character, a personality, each with a way of seeing the world and expressing what we have seen and heard, each communicating, sharing, giving and taking, making war to protect our assets or assert our power, but also making art and making love. We are as varied and intricate and striking as stars or snowflakes. As internally rich and complex as geodes, or seeds that hold compacted within themselves all the components of growth that burst into the leaves and flowers, the colors and shapes that Carl Linnaeus was able to sort taxonomically, and name. As human beings we’re as different as Eve was from Adam, and as they both were from antelopes or elephants or eels.

I have come to believe, through observation and reflection, that beauty and variation are God’s way of injecting Grace into Creation. And that beauty doesn’t reside simply in what we observe, or the fact that we can see and take note, but in how we perceive. I’m convinced that it is in juxtaposition, in relationship, in design, in contrast and comparison and pattern that we discover beauty and meaning, building on what is there as we move forward into originating new beauties and meanings. Further, that we, as responders, are called upon to create in the image of our Creator.

Getting Through Your Child’s Difficult Stage

Kids! Who needs em? You ever felt that way? You’re not alone. They can worry us sick or drive us to the liquor store (not literally, they are usually the passengers), but we love them more than words can express. Read this guest post from my friend Cindi McMenamin for some genuine help.

Bold Living podcasts (on a wide variety of topics) are available on my website.  Diane Markins 

Getting Through Your Child’s Difficult Stage

By Cindi McMenamin, Author of 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom

Is your child going through a stage that is worrying you or driving you crazy?

As I wrote my book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, I interviewed moms of children going through the “questioning” stage, the “testing” stage, and the “lack of motivation” stage, to name just a few.

In some cases the phase lasted only a few months. In most cases, it lasted about a year. But in every case I’ve seen or heard about, it was a limited time – a short season of a child’s life.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we are assured: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” The next seven verses talk about the different – yet normal – stages of our lives. That passage is not only a commentary on life, but can be seen as an excellent commentary on a child’s life, as well as the stages of parenting we will go through.

While Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for every activity under heaven, it does not say there is “a time to worry, and a time to trust.” That’s because there is never an appropriate time to worry, only to trust that the God of the seasons and stages of life is over this season and this stage of your child’s life, as well.

Here are some practical ways to trust, rather than worry, when your child is going through a difficult stage:

  1. Learn to Respond, Rather Than React

When we react, rather than respond to our children’s behavior, it can escalate a situation between a parent and child, especially if you are reacting emotionally to something you don’t understand (like your child’s choice of dress or unusual request). Instead of reacting to something your child might say from a bad attitude or an irrational thought, respond by calmly saying “Tell me more about that.”

  1. Learn to Laugh

It helps to have a sense of humor. See the “stage” as something to look back and laugh about later.

  1. Learn to Count it Out

One mom told me she “counts to ten” in every situation where she’s tempted to blow. Being patient by taking a deep breath and counting makes sure we are not as impulsive and emotional in our responses, as our children are in their actions.

  1. Learn from Moms Who Have Been There

God many times speaks to us through the wisdom of others. Talk to godly moms who are facing the same things with their kids and can offer sound biblical insight. If you don’t have a group of moms around you who can give you biblical advice, find a Moms in Prayer group at your children’s school or find a moms group at your local church.

  1. Lean on God and His Word

In Psalm 16:8, David said: “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

You can have that kind of confidence, too. As you lean on God and His Word, you can stand firmly and be a steady, immovable force in your child’s life no matter what he or she is going through.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter,  and her  newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom.  For more on her ministry, books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.

 

 

Beauty Not Often Seen

I urge you to take a couple minutes from your busy day to read this guest post by Jonathan Foster. He shares from the depths of his heart about how God shows us beauty through our times of pain and loss. It will take your breath away…it did mine. Be sure to check out his book Where Was God on the Worst Day of My Life and blog LQVE.org.

Bold Living airs on stations in various cities and for easy on-demand access, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search Diane Markins) from my website.  Diane Markins

Beauty Not Often Seen (Death and Life)

Almost a year has past since our daughter, Quincy, has been able to join us on a Sunday morning at Mission Church. This past New Years Day death conspired with an icy road, and an oncoming truck to usher her into heaven. Every day I miss her, but Sundays the echoes seem to be the loudest. Quincy was as involved and interested in our church as much as a college kid could be. She served in the nursery, helped us setup and teardown, greeted people, ran the computer, and sang. In fact, the last time she was at Mission Church she led music with her family on Christmas Eve. She found importance in her faith community of which I’m grateful. Additionally she did not appear to resent the work of the faith community.  As her father and pastor, I am grateful for this as well. Being the pastor’s child can introduce stress. But, Quincy seldom complained. She genuinely appeared to be proud of the family work.
 
These thoughts and more were in my heart recently, when at the conclusion of one our gatherings I invited everyone to participate in an exercise. Before the service, we had written with a dry erase marker, dozens of different sins, issues, and attitudes upon the auditorium windows. After communion, we pulled the curtains and challenged everyone to locate a “sin” they identified with and then erase. The exercise symbolized how God erases and our sins. I went first and then sat in the back and observed. It was moving. Beauty, like fragrance, seemed to ventilate the room. As I watched, I began to shake. Then weep. What was the reason I wept? I suppose it may have been nothing more than a release. Like a valve relieving pressure, from time to time the knob gets turned and emotions escape. This isn’t bad. I am not ashamed to weep.  It’s a part of the grieving journey. But, I guess there were other things at play as well. True, Quincy’s absence even at that moment was breaking my heart but there was also a vast amount of love holding my heart. As the people leaned into the exercise, it appeared the love of Christ was holding all of us in that room, so many who were hurting just like me about Quincy, and others struggling deeply with their own issues. Watching it all, I longed for the moment to last in time.
 
Abraham Heschel, in his book The Sabbath, says, “All man’s endeavors are an expenditure of time to gain power in space.” The irony, of course, is the power we gain in the world of space is abruptly terminated when our time is over. It follows then; our endeavors should be spent on what will last in and beyond time. How might we find these endeavors? Surprisingly, (why am I still surprised by this) not by the neon-signed buzzing of the world’s obvious, but by a more simple and indirect light. Take my recent experience, for example, when I found myself with my young, startup church, in a glorified warehouse, in an out of the way location. It was an ordinary Sunday morning, but in volitional unity, life-giving worship, the breaking of the everlasting Word, and the celebration of unforced sacrifice I found the power of simplicity. To borrow Heschel’s language, each of the aforementioned are a type of endeavor. But, then again, “endeavor” is much too benign of a word for things so laden with power. For as the splitting of a single atom points toward atomic energy, so these endeavors point toward eternal energy. Maybe Heschel is only partially correct. Yes, all man’s endeavors concern themselves with power, but in the examples I found this morning, the endeavors concerned themselves not with power gained, but power deferred. Maybe wherever the deferment of power lives, so exists the essence of power.  I think it was the beauty of “power deferment” that made such an impression on me. It surprised me (again, why am I still surprised) to consider, that although the sins we confess are actually sick and hideous; the act of confessing is undeniably healthy and beautiful.
 
Health and beauty are subject matters we talk a lot about in our world.  We are, I believe, confused about their value, but we are not confused about the power they hold over us. Which is why we package them in the ephemeral skin of youth, money or position. And we constantly parade them about in our magazines, marketing, and movies. Yet, our biggest films, costing a quarter of a billion dollars to produce, cannot match the art I witnessed in the 87-year old husband and wife hobbling across the room searching for sins to erase. (Later, she would say it was hard to narrow it down to one!) The beauty spread out on the covers of our most famous magazines pale in comparison to the grace of a single mom I observed humbly and defiantly (yes, these are potentially synonymous) approaching the table of bread and wine.
 
These are endeavors that construct the beautiful.
These are the atomic building blocks of the unseen.
This is the DNA of heaven.
 
Which brings me back to thinking about my daughter. In a few days, we are leaving for Haiti… one of her absolute favorite places within this earthly dimension. But, I won’t find her physically there. I won’t find her there any more than I’ll find her in her bedroom, or on the soccer field, or in the mountains. She now participates completely in the unseen…. the beautiful… the timeless. But, we who hope in Jesus, the Christ… we, who expend our time deferring power in this space have one foot in the unseen as well. (Soon, it will be both.)
 
It’s true, if the death and resurrection of our Lord did not happen then, we should receive pity. But we know it happened. Look around; there is too much beauty! The death is a cold, constricting bitterness. But, the resurrection is a warm, expanding sweetness. This is what lasts in and beyond time. It is only now that I begin to realize… it is only now my eyes are opening…

Surprises are for Suckers

“Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.” Jane Austen

My first grade birthday celebration was a surprise party. Who does that to their kid? In my case, a 19-year-old mom who didn’t know better and had always longed to be given a surprise party. I can still remember answering the door as a group of guests from school arrived together and yelled SURPRISE! It was not a fun day.

I hate surprise parties, certainly for myself. I’ve hosted more than a few. My husband’s 40th was epic as a large group of friends converged at a beach house in San Diego. I’m still not sure how I pulled that off. He loved it and had a terrific time. I loved it because I was in control of all the details.

Life is one big surprise party. Each day we wake up thinking we know what is in store…shower, traffic, work, lunch with a friend, traffic, dinner, Grey’s Anatomy and bed.

But then comes the plot twist- the surprise. A call from your mom, she has something to tell you about her doctor visit; the car that smashes into you while you sip your coffee at the red light; the stock you invested heavily in just took a nose-dive. Your youngest child waves goodbye as he boards the bus for kindergarten (how did that sneak up on you?). Perhaps your 26-year-old shows up with suitcases and divorce papers.

The day you had planned just unraveled because of a surprise. If you’re like me, you don’t like having to scramble to recapture order and control. Predictable is peaceful.

God says we should simply expect the unexpected and trust His power in us to keep moving, surviving and doing what we were called to do. Surprises are for suckers.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I wait expectantly for what little (or massive) shake-ups may be in store for me as I get out of bed. Oh, I still think through my day and hope it ends with my projected outcome, but I don’t bank on it.

Right now I find myself in an unexpected lull. For a woman who has battled busyness her entire life, this is surprising and a bit unnerving. Why do I have so much open space on my calendar? Only the Lord knows.

I can’t prepare for what may come because God is planning this surprise party and covering all the details. My job is to let the surprise come when it will and see how God will take me through it and use it to bless my life…without fighting for control or fearing how it will end.

Do you like surprises? How about surprise parties? What was your last big surprise (good or bad)? How do you handle surprises? I hope you’ll take a second to comment so others can be enriched.