Lessons in Trust and Toilet Paper

Written by:  Rhonda Sue Page

If you’ve known me for longer than a minute, you’ll know I love to laugh. It goes to follow then that I’d love sitcoms. Hitting the top five of my all-time favs is the show “Mad About You” starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. They play an adorable straight-forward couple learning how to live through what can seem like the endless mundane of everyday life. Only in the brilliance of TV Land…….they make it all seem so funny.

Now my devo time of late has not been funny nor even overly exciting. There’s been a whole lot of waiting on God. Having to be still and meditate on the fact that He IS God, and that I need to trust Him with more. The Holy Spirit has been using His Truth to grow me up and get my thinking straight on stuff. And He’s made me squirm some. If you’ve ever done this for one of your children, you’ll know it’s not exactly pleasant……but sometimes very necessary. So, I recently complained about it to a few friends in Sunday School. (Cuuuuz that’s a safe place to “out” God……. right?)

This week I realized that that didn’t go unnoticed by the The Divine.

There I was, beginning to squirm again during prayer, when faster than lightening…….this scene flashed through my head:

The subject is close to my heart. This plaque sits in our family bathroom.

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I have reiterated the point to death in the Page household……so I understand the frustration.
Only this time it wasn’t funny……not at all. This time, I distinctly got the impression I wasn’t playing Helen’s character but Paul’s character on the couch and that God was doing the one doing the demonstration on how take care of the simple, mundane but necessary things in life.

uhm….OUCH.

When the stung wore off I realized something else.
Isn’t it just like God to use what we can appreciate to understand what His will is?  After all, wasn’t that really the point of parables?

He lets me know all the He loves me with an everlasting, unshakeable love. With that same love, He lets me know He’s not above using whatever it takes to help me learn to be obedient. He wants me to trust Him when it’s pleasant and He wants to trust Him when it’s not. Either way……I need to keep obediently changing the toliet paper roll.

Because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.  Proverbs 3:12

Still learning to lean,

Rhonda Sue

Note to Moms: The Most Difficult Lesson

by Gail Armatys, M.S. 

Life Purpose Coach/Facilitator

HeartSong Life Purpose Coaching Center


 

My silverware drawer is full again.

No, our home was not broken into, and my 30-year old silverware wasn’t stolen and returned. No, not that.

My last child has grown up in the blink of an eye and has moved on. The result? No shortage of spoons and forks before the dishwasher is run. We have now entered a time of plenty in the silverware department.

Oh, this exodus was expected. We prepared for it. Physically, mentally, spiritually seeking wisdom and strength so often it could be considered a chant.

‘Help me!

These kids are driving me crazy!

Will school ever start?

Help me!

As she is preparing to walk out the door

There goes a piece of my heart.’

As mothers, we hoped this day would come sooner, or we prayed it would come later. Perhaps a little bit of both, off and on.

Our son was ready. I thought I was, too. It’s not that the leaving of my older children wasn’t tender as well. It’s that this one is my l,l,l,l,l,last.

Of course, we (my husband and I) are now lovingly referred to as “empty nesters”. WooHoo! Really? While extra time with my best friend and husband (who is the same person, incidentally) is something I desire, the word “empty” has a very hollow ring to it. When my heart is so full of thanks, praise, and hope (mixed in with a little motherly guilt and sense of loss), and the house so full of memories – how can it be empty?

I remember and cherish kids chasing each other and their friends, cats, dogs, – loving one another, playing, fighting, making up games and rules, and laughing. Good times  – mostly. And I humbly acknowledge that although we have been dubbed ‘the parents’ we may have, in fact, learned from them as much or more than they learned from us. (Don’t tell them.)

As I think about Momhood (made it up) and the beauty of the calling, my mind turns to Mary, mother of Jesus. First, I think of her obedience when the Angel of the Lord told her that she would bear the ‘Son of the Most High’. Without argument, she said, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’  Wow! And I’ve been known to grumble over – well, too many things that don’t matter.

Unfortunately, Mary and I may differ in the area of immediate obedience. But without a doubt, like Mary, I was called to be a mom. If you are a mom, God planned for this. Even more, He intended that we be the moms of the make and model of our specific children. (The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree? Maybe.)

More about Mary… after the birth of Jesus, Mary listened to the story the shepherds told about the angel of the Lord appearing to them and sharing the good news of baby Jesus. ‘All who heard were amazed…But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ Luke 2:18-19

That’s it! This is what we, as mothers, do. As our children take the next step all the way through to taking flight, we treasure and ponder their lifetime of moments in our hearts. Admittedly, some are more treasure-worthy than others. And many of their moments last way too long and keep us on our knees. But now, or in time, we hold them dear. They are special. They belong to our hearts and we, like Mary, will contemplate all that it has meant for us to live out the role of  ‘Mom’.

In the end, among the many lessons God has had for me while raising our children (and I know there are more learning opportunities yet to come) the greatest and by far the most difficult one has been that my kids are not mine at all. I can agree in my head and say the words easily. Yet, with more difficulty, I’ve been learning to live it.

Yes. My kids belong to Him: the One Who knows the number of hairs on their heads, Who created their inmost being, Who sees them coming and going, Who knows their motives and hearts’ desire, Who designed them as they are (Ps 139), Who called on us to bear them, hold them, guide them, love them and …let them go.

So what’s my point?  Enjoy your Momhood.  It is meant to be. Cherish the moments, the routine, the fun, the mistakes, the discipline, the growing, and the forgiving. Pray through the trials.  Do not grumble. God sees.  He is cheering you on. You are fulfilling His plan…even after they take flight.  For Momhood never really ends, it just changes with time and with us. This is how it is meant to be.

So give more hugs, more smiles, and more thanks. But don’t buy more silverware. In the blink of an eye, you’ll realize you have plenty.

Prayer

Oh, Lord. Thank you for calling those of us who are moms to be moms. Thank you that my kids are surviving me. Thank you for the love lessons you taught me through so many experiences. Thank you that what I do each day matters – even the day-in, day-out, ho-hum routines. Please protect and guide each child from the age of little chubby feet to the times when those feet dance, run, drive, and take flight. Help me to humbly continue to serve them, pray for them, and be here for them. For I know that your work in and through me and my Momhood shapes hearts… and the world. In Jesus’ holy and precious name I pray. Amen.

Purpose Steps

  1. Write down the many roles you have in your life. Mother, sister, aunt, grandma, friend, boss, student, employee….you get the idea. Where does the role of ‘mom’ fit on a prioritized list of these roles?
  2. With all the competing demands of your schedule, are there any activities that you can/should eliminate to allow more time for your prioritized roles? If so, consider deleting them.
  3. Give thanks for each child by name – out loud.
  4. Breathe deep. Reflect on and enjoy the special moments of Momhood – before and after they take flight.

Listen to Your HeartSong

Click the Link!

Time Has Gone, M.L. Rivas

For real – Waiting for the bus.  Kindergarten.

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B L I N K

Waiting for the bus (posed this time).  Senior.

He actually drove himself to school.

Gail and Hudson_Sr year

It happens that fast.

Live the Song Written on Your Heart.

Cease striving, Martha.

Written by: Vivian Wilson

I had a plan. I thought it was a great plan! I rented a condo for a week. My sister and a couple of friends planned to drive 16 hours to Florida for fun, fellowship, and a bucket, no, a pail full of laughter. As the week to leave neared, one by one, each had to cancel. (All for good reason, they really do love me.)

So I decided to make the trip by myself. I left on Friday, and spent 8 hours lamenting the fact that I was going by myself, wishing things were different. My “pity party” was feudal, and a total waste of time and energy.

Saturday morning, I got up and ran my scheduled 6 miles through the quaint and beautiful little town of Fairhope, Alabama. I decided that 8 hours in the car would be spent with my mind fixed on things above, praising and worshiping God.

At 7:00 P.M. Saturday, I arrived at my “tropical paradise”, my home away from home for a week of bliss.

Disappointment is what one feels when expectations are not met. To say I was disappointed would be a colossal understatement!

I expected a room with a balcony, (because I asked for it), overlooking the beach. I had no balcony and a view of the boulevard. I expected to hear the sound of the surf. I got the sound of traffic. I expected a washer/dryer in my condo. (There was supposed to be one). I expected to find a hairdryer in the bathroom. (I got one from the front desk). I expected a little more room in which to walk around. OK. How much room does one person need? (Thank goodness there is only one person). You get the picture.

shattered jar

I expected all of this because it has been my past experience to have enjoyed these things.

I didn’t even unpack. In fact, as I write this on Monday, I am still pretty much packed. I was ready to drive home. I called RCI and they graciously gave me until tomorrow at noon to decide whether I stay or go. I can check out, and my reservation will be treated as if it had never been booked.

After talking to the nice RCI lady on Sunday morning, I went for a walk on the beach. Through tears of sadness, loneliness, disappointment, and self-pity, I heard the still small voice of my Heavenly Father.

He said simply, “Wait”.

I came here with an agenda. I had a plan to write, read and study. But God’s agenda is for me to wait, to cease striving, Martha, I mean Vivian. He wants me to sit at His feet and listen, to do the best thing. He brought me to a place I would not have chosen. (But I did actually choose it). He brought me to a place where I am uncomfortable. To a place where I am alone, except for Him!

What was the first thing I wanted to do? RUN! Run back to the place of comfort and safety. A place where I can be with family and friends, people who love me. A place where I am busy doing “stuff”. A place where every day life is a distraction.

But as I walked along the sandy shore, I thought, “What if I miss out on a great blessing that God has planned for me? Here. Now. Missed…because I chose to run away.

stop sign_expectations

God graciously removed every distraction so that I will be able to hear Him and feel His presence and great love for me.

So this morning I say, “Thank you, Father, for this great gift.”

I wait, expecting God to have His way in me, not my plan, but His.

All praise and honor to God!

Vivian

PS. I’m sitting in the lobby writing this because Wifi only works here, not in my room. (I am so spoiled!)

No more useful moves detected…

Written by: Ms. O

I am not a Candy Crush girl…or Farmville…or whatever game that I am currently being requested to play. I want to say “like” to the person that posted the picture requesting that no one send any game requests…but I thought that was somewhat harsh. I just hit “ignore”…with love of course. I will admit though…I am an old school game person…as in something I wonder if youth still play…solitaire…as in spider solitaire. It keeps me occupied…I truly want to win…but I lose…more times than I win.

Unknown

I get to a certain point…when I am on the losing side…where I find myself more times than not…and I am desperate to see if there is a move that I missed out on. There is a “hint” button…that I resist while I play the game…cause I don’t want help…I want to do it on my own…until all my options are gone. There are not many occasions…that I get a hint…instead I get this read out… “no useful moves detected”…and I know….I’m done.

I can’t help but think how this relates to my life. I am not one who easily accepts help. I want to do it on my own. I know a lot of it has to do with pride. I don’t want to think that I am not capable. It is totally crushing to have to admit…that I have no useful moves left. That I need help.

I have painted rooms by myself….involving tall ceilings…and a lot of trim work. I have moved furniture…heavier than I should be shoving around…by myself. I do repairs around my house…hoping I can decipher the directions…either the written ones…or the one dictated to me by that not so helpful Home Depot guy….so it gets done…by myself. I do my own yard work….take care of the shrubs…and the flower beds…please don’t look at them now…I am expecting a written notice any day now from the POA…without help…it’s all me. (Believe me…you can tell.)

I have come upon things that I am not able to do…that I have to admit defeat…and it kills me. Doug came in town about a month ago…and I gave him my “I can’t do it, can you?” list…which he did. I have had to ask for help…and it goes against my grain…makes me feel like I am lacking….in some ridiculous way.

I am sure that God shares in this frustration…as He watches me…because He did not create me this way. I truly believe that when God created man, He left a void in each of us that only He can fill. In that void is the capability of doing great things…but only with Him leading. I try to work around it…make it on my own…wanting to “prove” to God that He made me mighty and strong…but that is not want His desire is.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

His desire is not to go it alone…what does that prove to anyone? He created me so that I can do great things…for and with Him. It is in those times…when I turn it over to Him…that it is made abundantly clear that it is all Him…and not much of me…that He is glorified. It is Christ in me that does great things. He takes a broken vessel…damaged goods…a person that has failed many times over…and redeems…me. He makes me whole again…so that I KNOW Him…that there is no doubt in my heart…and head…that calling on Him is not a sign of weakness….not at all. It is a proclaiming my trust in “someone” so much more…who takes delight in the fact that I rely on Him…and I feel like His only “complaint” with me…is…why do I wait so long? Ugh. Why do I try so hard…without Him…until I have “no useful moves left”…oh my.

So my prayers will be amped up…to “check myself”…and my pride…at the door. To turn to Him first…with all my human frailties…and shortcomings…and realize that life is not meant to fight as an uphill battle…but more like a hand in Hand adventure…never alone…never. Amen to that, God…can you lend me a Hand…now…and always? Ms. O

Sawdust

Written by: James Thompson 

I recently worked on a DIY project for my wife. A project that required me to build something out of wood.  I used a miter saw, a circular saw, screwdriver, screws, nails, the whole nine yards.  On making the first cut into the 2×4, it hit me….not the 2×4… but rather the a sweet smell … of sawdust. This was due in large part because I was cutting the wood in the driveway and had failed to take into account the direction of the wind.

Although the sawdust smelled familiar, I couldn’t tell you the last time I cut a 2×4 or sheet of plywood.  But, regardless, I can tell you it smelled good.

Real Men_Sawdust_James

But why?

I think it reminds me of my Dad’s workshop. My Dad can make most anything out of wood.  For example, he wanted to make me a coffee table to set my groom’s cake on at my wedding reception. I gave him some ideas and boom! Here is what he made:

James_coffee table

When Zoe was about to be born, he made a cradle. A cradle that would successfully rock all three kids to sleep.

DSC01086

The smell of sawdust reminds me of the act of creating. Whether it be a birdhouse, a bookshelf, or table, sawdust is created during the process of building. Sawdust is the byproduct of taking ordinary materials (2×4, plywood, etc.) and transforming them into something. I associate its smell with hard work, promise, and anticipation for the final outcome.

To be honest, I would say that sawdust makes me feel more manly.  When I have sawdust on my clothes, arms, or hair (easily done if wind is blowing), I feel like I have done something worthwhile.  I have created/built. I could have left well enough alone (and usually do). I could have bought the object I needed (from Walmart for less price and lower quality). I could have found an excuse to stop and not finish (is there football on?). But, I didn’t. No, not this time.

“See that kids?”  (Insert assorted “awesomes,” “wows,” “that rocks,” from my kids here).

“Daddy made that.”

I say that not to brag. Because, I know that whatever I have made is not perfect. I say that because I want to feed their desire to create. I want them to try to build something.

Before dating, debate, band, tennis and Boy Scouts, there were tinker toys and Legos. And, as Missy and I are experiencing with out little ones, there is still a fascination with Legos from both Isaac and the girls. I think we are hardwired that way.  Is that a surprise?  Mankind is created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27)

Isn’t God the ultimate Creator?

We are God’s DIY Project

Not only are we creators, but we are the created. We are God’s handiwork. We are made for a purpose.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We are a Work in Progress

Philippians 1:4-6

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Sawdust is made by cutting away pieces of a board that are unnecessary to the project’s plans.  I think we are called upon daily to cut away those parts of us that are not part of God’s plan – our selfish desires, envy, pride, etc.

We are the Aroma of Christ

Like woodworking, cutting away those unnecessary parts will create “spiritual sawdust that will get all over us and everyone around us.  Could that be the point?

2 Corinthians 2:15

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;

Hopefully those around us will smell the sweet smell of God’s working in/within us. I hope my Creator finds my “spiritual sawdust” smell as pleasing as I find that generated from my own creations.

JET

Consecration Concentration………and a Coke

Written by Rhonda Sue Page

Did a little shopping this week. I’d like to be able to tell ya that I don’t get too worked about shopping……..but it’s not true. I love the excitement of finding a good deal. I’m a complete sucker for anything fun. And the thrill of the hunt can keep me in the game alllllll day, Baby.
This one was pure genius on Coca Cola’s behalf.

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I worked hard to find all of my family’s names to share with them…………Nailed It.

 

*sigh*

 

This got me to thinking just how often I may be guilty of looking for the next most exciting thing in other areas of my life. The next bestseller, the next big blockbuster, or dare I admit the next most awesomest bible study?

My devotional this morning was on consecration. (The practice of becoming set apart for God’s purposes.) The line I just couldn’t tear my eyes away from was this:

“All of us want to do amazing things for God, but that isn’t our job;”   (GASP…say what?!!)
“….it’s God’s job. Our job is to simply consecrate ourselves by yielding our will to His will. And if we do our job, God will do His job….amazing things will happen.” *

I gotta admit, that shook me up a bit. It also started a shift in my thinking. It’s like my head knew immediately that the statement was true…..but my insides felt like challenging it anyway. They screamed “C’mon God! Give me something to do……but don’t ask me to depend on you to do it. Let me try………..but don’t make me trust!”

Trusting is hard stuff for me. I realize now that it has a lot to do with just being okay to be still and wait on God. The enemy had me convinced that that would be boring.

I wonder…just wonder how many amazing things I’ve missed by not cooperating fully with God. Seeking excitement instead of seeking His face.

It’s not wrong to want to do great things for God……….It’s not wrong to enjoy shopping……..It’s not even wrong to write that letter to Coke complaining that they don’t print your name on their bottles. But it IS all about focus.

I want to enjoy life but not get so caught up in the stuff that I forget He is my sole purpose for living, loving………. and sharing a Coke.

 

Love,

Rhonda Sue  (NOT found on a coke bottle near you)

 

* Draw the Circle – 40 day prayer challenge by Mark Batterson

How to Turn Your To-Do List Into Acts of Love

by Gail Armatys, M.S. 

Life Purpose Coach/Facilitator

HeartSong Life Purpose Coaching Center

I heard a sermon on Sunday. It preached straight to my heart.  Ever have that experience?  When this happens, I trust God is sending me a personal message.

I may have squirmed just a bit.  Maybe I even looked around to see if anyone knew the pastor was speaking directly to me, just sayin’.  Then I took heed and took note.

This twenty-minute sermon was for me, summed up in three simple words: ‘People Before Tasks’.  These words added a certain humorous note to the sermon but were not really intended as the main theme of the message.  Yet, it was the part God had prepared my heart to hear. Ugh.

I have known that this ‘people first’ attitude is essential to living out my daily walk with Christ.  Still, it did not hurt to hear it again. (Actually, it did hurt a little.  You know; the truth hurts.) And, it doesn’t just mean people first in the big, organized service-based opportunities.  It means starting somewhere smaller – like in our hearts and in our to-do lists. Bringing heaven to earth through our every day tasks.

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“Put ‘love others’ at the top of your to-do list.  As it trickles down it will create acts of love.”  –Gail Armatys

I must admit, much of my life relative to this idiom, People Before Tasks, in the daily scheme of things has been a BIG fail.  Not that those I love and who love me would complain. Let’s just say I’ve always been a better doer and completer than a talker and lingerer.  Maybe my task verses people priorities were somewhat out of order.  Still, I’m not entirely sure I had it all wrong…

Flashback.

At this particular point in time, my youngest son is the sweet age of six or seven…long time ago.  He and I are working on projects of some sort…can’t remember exactly what. His endeavor was probably schoolwork inclusive of poster board. Mine most likely had something to do with helping him finish his project. Ahem…I did not say ‘doing his project for him’; I said ‘helping him’.

Anyway, as we work on our separate but ‘together’ projects, I hear his voice.  Yet, I manage to remain fixated on what I am doing and basically, I suppose, ignore him – a rare exhibition of my ability to concentrate!

Next thing I know, I have two little hands, one on either side of my face, turning my gaze toward his. Though his words were absent his message was so loud it could not have been mistaken.  His eyes met mine and they gently spoke, ‘Look at me. Pay attention to me.  Let me know you care about what I am saying.  Let me know you are aware of my presence.’

Happy Young Family Teaching Baby To Walk

This was such a simple and powerful act that I’ve never forgotten it.  It is reminiscent of the small but life-changing actions of Jesus: a tender touch that heals, a kind word shared, time spent with friends, a story within a story, a glance that says, ‘Come, look at me.  Pay attention to me. Let me know you care about what I am saying.  Let me know you are aware of my presence.

There is a symbiotic relationship between our tasks and the people placed in our lives. They work together to bring meaning and sustenance. They provide daily stepping-stones to life fulfillment. When we simply set out to get ‘er done, completion has no real reward. But, when our tasks are addressed in love for and with others, whether at home, work, in our community or as part of a much larger humanitarian effort, our to-do list becomes a blessing and we have lived in awareness of God’s presence. This is heaven on earth: acts (our to-do list) done in love (people first)

…Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Cor. 15:58

Prayer

Lord, we praise your name and ask that you direct us to go about doing only what you call us to do. Remove all the extra stuff that weighs us down. Help us to know that whatever to-do’s you set before us each day, the real accomplishment is to complete them in love. Remind us that we are always in your presence and you care that we notice.  And please, Lord, show us that our distinct assignments are more than just items on a list. They are acts of love.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, Amen

Purpose Steps

  1. Make time at the beginning of each day to… Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10   Your day will begin in peace.
  1. In person, on the phone, email or text – love can be shown and known.

Think about how you can bless others as you complete your to-do’s. Did you see them?  Were you kind? Do they feel heard? Did you smile (may need to think emoticon here)? Do they know you care?

  1. Give thanks for the opportunity and ability to be a blessing through your daily tasks, taking time to linger in love and maybe, just maybe, for checking everything off your to-do list!

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Listen to Your HeartSong 

With Every Act of Love by Jason Gray

Click here

Live the Song Written on Your Heart.