A Time for Reflection, a Time for Change


As one year draws to a close and we find ourselves approaching the dawn of a new year it’s only natural to take stock in where we are.  Not necessarily to make lofty New Year’s resolutions, but maybe just to see where we’ve been over the past year and think about where we are headed. We change and grow from year to year. In some years the changes are more evident than in others. We experience changes in our circumstances and in ourselves.

This past year has been a year full of changes for me. Some of  them good and some not so good. Some people embrace change, loving the excitement of something new. Others struggle with change, even those things that are good.

I am one who struggles. My kids tease me about how I don’t even like to rearrange furniture. Just leave things the way they are. I’m used to it this way so don’t mess with it!

Some of the changes I’ve faced this year have been wonderful. Two new granddaughters were born, a son got married and another one moved to his own apartment. I got a newly remodeled bathroom, a new, more efficient air conditioning unit and reorganized several other rooms in my house.

Other changes were not so wonderful. My husband’s employer  began downsizing, one son was diagnosed with diabetes and two others with liver conditions that are hereditary.

Change is an inevitable part of living on this planet. We can’t avoid it. We must learn to adjust to it. And yes, even good changes require some adjustment. As we make these adjustments, we also change.

Each of us is changing all the time. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of it. It’s a process that we each go through. Some of us have been through many things and have changed drastically. I know I’m not the same person I was when I moved from Ohio to Iowa almost ten years ago.  We are all at different stages of our journey with God. He takes us forward one step at a time, guiding us all along the way.

Change isn’t always easy but it’s good for us. I can’t stay the same and grow at the same time. I must allow God to direct the transformation. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s necessary.

The good news is that God doesn’t change.  And it’s comforting to know that while he’s transforming us, the standards won’t change as we go along.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Lord, I pray that I am not.

As you begin this new year, take a bold step and ask Him to change you!

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

One day last week, after a particularly long stretch of frustration with my current circumstances, I wrote in my journal a series of questions.

“Who am I , Lord? What is it that I’m supposed to be doing at this stage in my life? Am I really making a contribution to Your kingdom?” I almost felt like I was asking God what I was supposed to be when I grow up.

I didn’t get any answers that day. But a few days later as I shared this desire for direction with a friend, she confessed that she’d felt the same way. She’d gotten a clear answer from God which I believe was also His answer for me.

She said she believed God had told her that what she was supposed to be was…available. Be available.

We won’t all be called to be preachers, or writers, or doctors. We won’t all find a niche that we will remain in for our entire lives. As we grow, we change. And as we change, God may change what he wants us to do for His kingdom.

As I look ahead to a new year, I won’t be making New Year’s resolutions. My desire is to just be available. God knows exactly what he wants from me during the coming year.

At Christmas time, it’s appropriate to consider the idea of making myself available. After all, the reason we have any hope at all is because Jesus made Himself available to His Father’s will and became a child who would bring hope to the world.

Consider giving Him a gift this year. Make yourself available.

Matthew 5:14-15  You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Help with Your Laundry

Doing the laundry can be an unpleasant experience. When I had a houseful of little boys it was sometimes downright disgusting. It’s not something you would want others to see so it’s done out of sight if at all possible. Sometimes in a separate room or the basement. Far from where you would entertain guests.

We all have dirty laundry. It’s really laughable to think about how we hide that sort of thing thinking it would be inappropriate for others to see.  I’m sure all of us have laundry stories. None of us would be shocked by yours.

I remember a season when I was in a difficult circumstance. I’d just had my seventh child by an unplanned C-section. My husband was self employed and was working long hours. I needed help with household tasks and the laundry for nine people topped the list. While I didn’t relish the idea of others doing our laundry, there were a few close friends that I felt comfortable entrusting that chore to. I knew they wouldn’t love me less when they saw my disgusting laundry!

Can I tell you that this picture is a picture of the church? While it isn’t really appropriate to “air your dirty laundry in public” there are people God has put in your life who will not only still love you when they see the ugly things in your life,  they will pull out their washboards and help you sort it out and scrub it clean.

Sometimes we just need to allow others to see into our lives so they can come alongside us and help us work through our stuff. Maybe they can’t solve the problems but they can listen and perhaps lighten the load a little. And God has just the right people in mind for you. People who won’t be shocked by the things you share but  who will roll up their sleeves and start scrubbing.  Be willing to do the same for them.

Galatians 6:2   Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:14   And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Do you know of someone that could use this word of encouragement today?

Please share this with your friends. Perhaps it’s just what they need to get through their day.

Don’t Miss the Simple Miracles

We hear stories about the amazing miracles people experience in all parts of the world. Incredible stories of the blind seeing, the lame walking, the terminally ill healed.  Most of us have not seen this sort of spectacular event. We may wonder why we never see miracles.

Even though we may not see this sort of thing every day, I believe there is no shortage of miracles happening all around us. Not as flashy perhaps, but just as much a gift from God as any other miracle.

For instance, I am rejoicing in a miracle happening in my life right now. Or perhaps I should say it’s happening in my son’s life. One of my boys had a baby tooth that didn’t fall out when it should have. The dentist finally pulled it and said the permanent tooth would fill in the space. It didn’t . For years it didn’t. We were told braces were our only option but braces  were financially out of the question. We saw the x-ray that proved the tooth was sideways and would not come in on its own. We waited in vain. He grew older and became a little self conscious about that gap but there was nothing we could do. It’s been 6 years since that tooth was pulled and nothing has happened. Until last week. My son casually announced that the tooth was coming in.

No big fanfare. No amazed crowds. Just a young man who will find comfort in the fact that God didn’t forget him and a mom who is thanking God  for hearing her prayers for her son.

What miracle is God quietly doing in your midst? Remember to thank Him.

Using Your Talents for God

I recently heard someone ask this question, “Are people in highly visible positions of ministry more important to God than the rest of us?”

Of course, we all would say the answer to that is a firm “no.” But we must admit there are times when it might appear that way to the casual observer.

As I thought about the question I was reminded of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. The story goes that the first two servants were entrusted with a specific amount and told to care for it in the master’s absence. They both took the responsibility seriously and were able to return a profit to the master. The third servant was entrusted with a specific amount as well but was afraid and hid what he had instead of using it for the master’s good.

As I thought about that story and about the question I had heard I came to the conclusion that the story could answer the question. I realized that it really doesn’t matter what we are called to do. It only matters if we are faithful to do it. In the story, the master was just as pleased with the servant that he gave the two talents to as he was with the one he gave five talents. Because they were faithful with what he gave them. The only one he was displeased with was the one who hid the talent and didn’t do anything at all for the master’s gain.

We don’t all have to be  in highly visibly ministries to be valuable to God. We only need to be faithful with what He has entrusted to us, no matter how large or small that may seem to us. What He doesn’t want is for us to allow fear to paralyze us  and keep us for being useful for furthering His kingdom.

We’ve all been given something to do for God. We have all received our own allotment of talents. It’s what we do with them that counts.

What has God entrusted to you?

Romans 12:6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.