As the new year unfolds, I’ve been reflecting on the journey God has brought me thus far. Here’s a little about my story…
Fourteen years ago this month I moved onto the campus of NOBTS. Having just graduated with an undergraduate degree in Accounting, God was guiding my life in a completely new direction. Full of passion and energy to serve the Lord, I had no idea what God had planned for me, only a firm conviction that God had called me to be equipped to serve Him in whatever capacity He led. It was both exciting and terrifying! Blind faith seemed to be the theme of my life. For the record, I’m much better at walking by sight. What can I say? I like to have a plan! Despite my clear inadequacies in the walk of faith, God continued to guide me faithfully each step of the way as some of my questions about direction were answered and new ones developed.
Fast forward eight years and God clarified my calling even further leading me again to NOBTS to pursue a PhD. By this time I was a ministry wife and mom of a toddler. My husband and I were serving full time in ministry, and he was working on a PhD as well. Life was crazy, but God faithfully guided us through. Then 3 ½ years ago we moved back onto the main campus of NOBTS when Jody was called to a ministry of full time teaching. Since completing my degree I have continued to serve as an adjunct faculty member while chasing a (now grade school!) child and preschooler all over campus.
Once again this January, God is leading me in a new direction to serve as Coordinator of Women’s Programs at NOBTS, one that I would never have imagined fourteen years ago. It’s easy to see in hindsight how God has led me and prepared me for each step of the journey. Walking in faith every day is much more challenging. Here are a few things from 1 Corinthians 10:31 that God has taught me along the way.
Enjoy the process – Each part of the journey has value even if it doesn’t make sense at the time. Enjoy whatever God has given you to do today.
Be faithful today – Whatever God has given you to do today, do it well for the glory of God.
Remember your purpose – If we keep our eyes on the big picture, the smaller details of life do not seem so monumental. Ask yourself, “Am I glorifying God in all that I’m doing today?”
Following God is the journey of a lifetime. More adventures await!
“This Christmas, Lord, help me make time for the things that matter.” That was my journal entry moments after I sat rocking our son back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. With December barely underway, already I was thinking through the million and one things I had on my to do list, but what mattered most in that moment was the child sleeping peacefully in my arms. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the Christmas season and all that it entails. Tree decorating, baking yummy goodies, festive gatherings, Christmas carols, I could go on and on. With all of the fun though comes all of the stress! It’s very easy to forget about the things that are most important.
Frustrations can run high during the Christmas season. Long lines, too much to do and too little time to do it. Apparently Cyber Monday is a bad day to actually shop in a store. Who knew? I made the mistake of trying to buy groceries on the day in which everyone is encouraged to shop online. To my dismay, the computer system of a store (which will remain unnamed!) was overwhelmed, and unable to let me purchase items in the store. Frustrated by my inconvenience, I was tempted to think I had just wasted precious time. Then I was reminded that I live in a city with plenty of stores and plenty of options for purchasing groceries. Am I that shortsighted that I forget just a few days after Thanksgiving all that I have to be thankful for? I began to think, with the Christmas season upon us, what is most important? What matters most, having everything in life be convenient or taking the time to show people the love of Jesus who is the reason why we celebrate in the first place? People matter more than convenience, more than perfect decorations, more than busy schedules. Jesus came to earth for people. You and me.
“The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 HCSB
What matters most in your life this Christmas? I can assure you I am asking myself the same question. In the midst of the crazy hectic pace of the month of December, I want to focus on what counts.
Lord, help us make time for the things that matter.
Recently my daughter decided she wanted to be the center of attention when we had guests over. A natural actress, she thought this would be her perfect opportunity to show our guests her talent. She was dismayed to find out that our company had come to visit and catch up, not to be entertained. When I talked to her later about her need to perform, she shook her fists and said, “I just want to be the queen of the UNIVERSE!!” Silently I laughed and thought, “Well, sweetie, get in line because you are not the only one who wants to be the queen of the universe.” I may not say it, but often in my heart I act like I should be queen for the day too.
At the tender age of 8, Lydia was able to articulate what so many of us feel. Isn’t that true of all of us? It’s the reason we all sin. Our selfish sin natures tell us that it’s all about me. What I want is most important. The world should revolve around me. I should be the center of attention. It’s painful sometimes to realize the truth. The truth is it’s not about me. I am not the center of the universe. God is. It’s a lesson we learn over and over throughout our lives.
The truth is there is freedom in knowing that it’s not about me. I mean really…what if the world really was on my shoulders?? I would be completely crushed under the weight. Instead, when I do feel crushed by the world, I am not because God holds me up (2 Corinthians 4:8). Even though my selfish heart sometimes screams for attention, deep down I am relieved to know that I am not the center of the universe. That’s too big of a job for me.
Putting others before ourselves sets our hearts free to live the joyful abundant life Jesus longs for us to experience (John 15:5). When we focus on others, our problems don’t seem quite so big. The weight of the world gets smaller as we rightfully realize that we are not the center of the universe. We were never intended to be.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 NIV
I am not a musically inclined person by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, my mother’s talent in being an accomplished musician did not get passed on to me. Life just makes sense to me in terms of numbers, not music notes. However, I have found that when I am facing trials and difficulties, hymns of faith seem to wash over my soul like a soothing balm. Ten years ago when my husband and I left the city of New Orleans for higher ground, we sang our way through the confusion and devastation we witnessed in Hurricane Katrina.
King David said, “I will praise the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips” Psalm 34:1 HCSB. This is from a man who was on the run from a crazy king at the time! Lately, as I see tragedy strike in different ways, I just keep singing, not songs of rejoicing but songs of hope. David also said, “My heart is confident, God; I will sing; I will sing praises with the whole of my being” Psalm 108:1 HCSB. I wonder if perhaps David’s heart was confident because he sang. As he sang praises to the Lord, his heart was filled with hope.
One hymn in particular that I keep thinking about is Standing On the Promises, particularly verse 2 that I will share below.
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
Sometimes all we can do is hang on tightly to the truth we have in God’s word. And when life gets tough, we can just keep singing.
 Carter, R. Kelso. 1991. Standing on the Promises. Nashville: Convention Press.
With the recent passing of my favorite author, Elisabeth Elliot, I have been reflecting on the impact her writings have had on my life, especially during my early 20s when I desperately wanted to know God’s will for my life. So many questions pervaded my mind during that time. Looming large over them all was the overarching theme of what God wants me to do. Then I came upon a quote from her that said, “Do the next thing.” I was hoping for a detailed roadmap of everything that was supposed to happen in my life when God was telling me just to take the next step. At the time I was primarily a student, so I understood for that time God was calling me to be the best student possible. Once that assignment was complete, He would show me what was next.
In the years since, some of those initial questions have been answered but many others have shown up. As life progresses, new questions of God’s will spring forth. We won’t see the full picture this side of eternity. If we could, faith would be unnecessary. Faith is a daily walk listening for the Lord’s still, small voice saying, “This is the way. Walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 HSCB. Through God’s roadmap, the Bible, He shows us step by step what direction to take. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, the Apostle Paul noted that we only see things in part right now, like looking in a mirror. One day we will have full knowledge when we meet the Lord face to face. Until then, we must keep walking in faith and simply “do the next thing.”
Growing up in the United States, you often hear the saying, “Time = Money”. In the 20th century this phrase brought up ideas of increased productivity and efficiency. Better use of time equals greater profit. We have even related the value of time to how much money you can command per hour. Today the phrase is also connected to the idea that time is just as or even more valuable than money. Seeing time as a commodity is an idea generational researchers have noted as a cultural paradigm shift beginning with Gen X and younger generations. If you think about time as a commodity, it is the one arena of life where everyone is on the same playing field. Each of us is allotted the same amount every day, 24 hours. For the most part we have a choice how we spend it.
In Psalm 90:12 Moses wrote, “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” Each day, each moment we make a choice how we will spend our time. As I watch how quickly our children are growing up right before my eyes, I am reminded of the importance of investing well. We can either spend our days wisely investing in people and things of eternal consequence, or we can let it waste away without being intentional about investing in anything. I must confess many days I do not see the precious value of time with those who matter most. I get so caught up in the busyness of the day that before I know it, the day is gone. Like Moses, I have to pray often that God would give me wisdom to order my day so that I would make the wisest use of minutes. Minutes spent well are important because time is precious. It’s one of the few things in life we can never get back.
 Cam Marston, Motivating the “What’s In It For Me?” Workforce, (Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2007), 60.
Contentment… Just saying that word brings peace to my soul, but what is it and how do you keep it? Discontentment is probably a lot easier to spot than contentment. I would imagine if you stop a minute, you could quickly think of more people who seem discontented than those who are truly living contented lives. I have spent over ten years researching the discontentment many adolescent girls experience over their physical appearance. I dare say though, adolescent girls are not the only ones struggling with discontentment.
What is it for you? What causes you to slip into a sea of discontentment? Usually it starts with wanting something that we can’t have. That’s kinda where it all started in Genesis. Adam and Eve chose to eat fruit from the tree God told them to avoid all because they became discontent with what they did have. Struggles with contentment have been plaguing us ever since. Check out Genesis 3 for the full story. The root of the problem with discontentment is allowing this idea to fester in our hearts that says, I’m not good enough. What I have is not good enough. My circumstances are not good enough. My life is not good enough. We have to recognize those thoughts for what they are: false statements.
So then what is the truth? The Apostle Paul said that he had “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12 NIV, emphasis mine). Apparently even in the first century true contentment was hard to find. Paul said he had to learn it too. He went on to say that the secret was found in the strength he received through Jesus Christ. He could live with plenty. He could live without. He could live with difficulties. He could live with peace. Jesus gives us the ability to face any and all situations with contentment. When we focus on Christ and not on what we have or don’t have, we will find that Jesus really is enough for all we need. There’s the secret.
So here’s my story. My desire to share the things God has taught me all started with a thought the Lord gave me in college: email devotions (yes, that was when college students thought email was cool!). Thus, an email devotion ministry was born, which continued for about 7 years. After that came my first attempt at sharing devotions through a blog, but shortly after the blog ministry was put on hiatus in lieu of God’s call to pursue a Ph.D. With post-graduate work complete, once again God has put words on my fingers with a passion to type. In this blog I hope to share a collection of devotional thoughts and interesting research I find along the way. I’ll get it started with a devotional thought for today. Thanks for joining me on this journey! Happy reading!
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34 HCSB
Recently I was making one of many carpool trips to pick up kids from school. Living in New Orleans, driving on the interstate can feel like a racecar adventure. You must glance your eyes in all directions to be aware of traffic while simultaneously looking forward to the road ahead. If you stare too long in your side or rearview mirrors, you will likely slam into the car in front of you who just zoomed into your lane.
While modern transportation is a more recent invention, the same idea applies to the world’s most classic mode of transport: walking. If you want to move forward while you are jogging or walking, you can’t look backward or sideways too long before you will stumble and face plant on the ground. Trust me, I know.
To keep moving forward in the direction God wants us to go, we have focus on what lies ahead. Yes, we can glance back to remind us of what God has done, but staring too long at past difficulties or future unknowns can cause us to slam into what’s in front of us. By focusing on walking with God today, we will slowly but steadily move forward into the abundant life He has planned for us tomorrow.