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Entries in Trust God (13)

Thursday
Sep052019

Trust the Blueprints

Kolleen Lucariello speaks into women's lives in engaging, practical ways. In this Relationship with God UPGRADE, she envisions God as a faithful Contractor, accomplishing His purposes in our lives.

"Sometimes full understanding remains a mystery until the contractor completes the work," Kolleen says. "When you can’t fully catch the vision—you watch, wait, and trust the one with the blueprints."

I (Dawn) have studied blueprints before. They can be so complicated! I've wished I could crawl inside a contractor's mind to figure out what he sees sometimes that I'm not seeing.

Kolleen continues . . .

Every summer our house undergoes a little upgrade. This year, a simple front step soon became a front-porch-walkway-landscaping project for my husband and I, filling our front yard with piles of dirt and sand, black tarps, pavers and lumber.

“I can’t wait to see it finished,” our daughter commented during one visit, “It’s going to look so nice.”

The next comment came from our five-year-old granddaughter: “I can’t wait to see it finished, cause then I will finally understand what you are doing.”  

What seemed obvious to us was not to her.

I can relate. Don’t tell her, but I’ve been confused by some of her art projects, too. Some projects only make sense to the one with the plan.

I agree with her. It’s not always easy to catch the vision until the project is complete. I share the same limitations and I find myself struggling to understand when seasons of difficulty hammer away.

I find myself trying to catch the vision for God’s plan every time life becomes paved with blinding unknowns and overwhelming struggles. This is when I admit  “I can’t wait to see this finished, Lord, because then perhaps, I will understand what You are doing.”

Well, I hope to understand, or it might be—"Please, Lord help me understand"

Years ago, we lost our brother-in-law in a car accident.

I became angry with God for what I perceived as unfair and unjust. I didn’t really care to have understanding about what God was doing; I thought He was just being cruel.

I recognize now how God used this tragedy to lead my husband and I to understand our need for salvation. What might have destroyed our faith, God used to cement it instead.

Several years later, we lost a very close friend in another car accident.

The loss was devastating for us, but we knew God as a Contractor was able to build something good out of the destruction.

When the pain was great I found myself repeating, “I can’t wait to see the good at the end of this, God, because right now, I don’t understand the why behind what just happened.”

I would remind myself of what I knew to be true about God:

  • You know the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
  • You are deeply concerned about us, and are able to turn this bad into something good (Romans 8:28).

Unlike the first time, I didn’t get mad at Him. I didn’t turn bitter.

I refused the invitation to believe God was cruel.

I just imagined my head on His chest while I wept—grateful that He understood my heartbreak, and that I now understood His comfort.

Life is unpredictable. Perhaps this is why the Psalmist reminds us to put our trust in, and reliance on the Lord, rather than relying on our own insight and understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

With my hazy insight and limited understanding, trusting in—while relying on—Jesus is the only option that offers me any peace when life becomes unsettled. After all, He promised that in Him we would have perfect peace; but He also forewarned us of tribulation, distress and suffering, too.

“Be courageous,” He said. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:13).  

Jesus is predictable when life is not. 

God is the Contractor who began a glorious work within you, and He’s the One who will faithfully continue the process of building you into His likeness—adding a few finishing touches here and there (Philippians 1:6).

When you lack understanding, trust the Lord as you do three things.

1. Rejoice that He sees you.  

“I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction; You have taken note of my life’s distresses” (Psalms 31:7 AMP).

Your distress has been noted!

2. Focus your thoughts.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).

3. Find rest.

Jesus said,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

Unload your troubles onto Him.

Sometimes you need to patiently wait, watch the process, and trust something good can come from the mess you’re staring at now.

Even when you don’t understand His vision.

Where in your life are you struggling to understand what God is doing? How can you trust God's "blueprint" for your life and find rest, peace and even joy in Him?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to five incredible grandkids—with one more on the way! For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Classically Printed at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Mar262019

"You Is Strong!"

Kolleen Lucariello always has a story and a fresh take on Christian living. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she reminds us where the source is for our strength to overcome.

“His little three-year-old arms rose for the fifth time hoping this might be the time his Mimi would surrender to his request,” Kolleen says. “With four words he was able to get what he needed because it gave her what she needed.”

I (Dawn) was so charmed by this story about Kolleen and her grandson, Nolan. She reminds us to be careful about the voice we listen to and the thoughts we think, and most of all, to respond to the One who has the power to help us.

Kolleen continues . . .

Fresh snow lay on the ground to the delight of our two Virginian grandsons who had come to spend a few days in Central New York with Papa and Mimi. 

They waited as patiently as a three- and five-year-old could, staring out the front window for their cousins to arrive. 

We’d had a fresh eight inches of snow fall the night before, adding to the already 18” on the ground; and so, feeling adventurous, I promised we’d all go outside for a walk in the woods.  

Four pair of snow pants, winter jackets, hats, gloves and boots later I sent the grands outside and then prepared myself for the cold.

Once outside, and after a few turns sledding down the stairs off the deck—it’s the best hill we have—I asked them if they were ready for our walk. With glee, the older three took off running for the woods with three-year-old Nolan trying hard to keep up in the deep snow. 

After a few steps he looked back at me and lifted his arms. “Up” he said.  

“I’m sorry buddy. Mimi isn’t strong enough to carry you with all that snow gear on.”

 A few more attempted steps and the arms went up again. “Up.”  

“I’m sorry, Buddy. Mimi isn’t strong enough to carry you. Let me grab a sled.” 

Once we had the sled, Nolan decided he’d try lying on his belly. I picked up the rope, took a step forward, and felt the weight of the sled change dramatically. 

Turning around, I discovered Nolan face down on the snow. We tried several different approaches, but his gloves were so thick it made it impossible for him to hold the handles. Every shift of the sled caused him to slide right off, either to the left, or right.

This led to numerous repetitions of his “up” and my “I’m not strong enough.”  

We hadn’t gone very far when I heard “I want to go inside.”

So did I. The adventure had been exhausting. 

I called the other grandkids and told them it was time to head back to the house. Immediately, Nolan’s arms shot up as he blurted out, “Mimi! You is strong!” 

You know what?

Instantly, Mimi became strong enough to carry the tired, frustrated little boy—snowsuit and all. 

It’s amazing how strong one can become when they collide with a voice reminding them of who they are, and believe they are able.  

I had been convinced I was not strong enough to carry him, and the belief made me unwilling to even try. Sound familiar? 

Is there a heavy load needing to be picked up, but you’re convinced it’s beyond your strength to carry?  

It’s easy to believe we are incapable when, often, the loudest voice we hear is the one shouting, “You can’t do it. You aren’t strong enough.” 

Perhaps the voice has you convinced you don’t have the strength to carry the heavy load it will take to: 

  • overcome the addiction,
  • reconcile your marriage
  • or forgive “seventy-times-seven” (Matthew 18:22).

It’s hard to restore hope to the depressed soul when the voice you listen to says you can’t.

That is not, however, the voice God intended for us to listen to. He has a different opinion of what we are able to accomplish; and while it does take effort and courage to hear, He’s the One whispering,

I believe in you because I created you with a purpose. 

We upgrade our spiritual life when we determine to apply these four “T’s.”

1) TUNE in to the right voice.

Shut off the negative I can’t voice. Become acquainted with the One that says—with Him—you can do all things (Philippians 4:13). 

2) TAKE thoughts captive.

You control your thoughts. Make them obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

3) TRUST His power within you to help carry the load.

God promised He would strengthen us, help us, and hold us up with His victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10). 

4) and TRY!

When confronted by hard circumstances remember this:

You Is Strong, and the Lord rescues! (Psalm 34:19)

What burden or struggle are you reluctant to pick up or face today? Consider these four “T’s” and move forward into victory.

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Robin Higgins at Pixabay.

Thursday
Mar072019

When Life Throws a Curveball

Dianne Barker speaks clearly and wisely about many of the issues women face. In this Perspective UPGRADE, she writes about the inevitable curveballs in life.

Dianne prayed: "I didn’t see that coming! Lord, is this from you?"

I (Dawn) understand curveballs—believe me. A recent unexpected medical diagnosis sent me reeling!

Dianne's wisdom about life's curveballs is excellent.

Dianne continues . . .

I thought we’d agreed on plans. Still celebrating a national bestseller, Twice Pardoned, I asked the Lord. Where do we go from here?

Without giving Him a chance to answer, I responded to my own question.

I’ll just continue writing bestsellers, of course.

Then I got this curveball.

Being a fan of baseball, I researched the meaning of curveball and learned it’s a slow pitch causing hitters to be off-balance and swing too early. An experienced pitcher using a curveball can impact the game.

You’ve seen a hitter, anticipating a fast ball, scrunch his face and sling his bat after being tricked by a curveball he didn’t expect.

The ink was barely dry on Twice Pardoned when God began leading me from a very public life as successful journalist, speaker, and bestselling author to what I now call a shrunken life.

Caring for my parents and my husband’s parents as they declined in health kept me out of the publishing loop for fifteen years. No bestsellers.

I believe in the sovereignty of God, and He used that time to draw me to himself.

Looking back, that hard place was a sweet period of my life.

During that time, I discovered a simple explanation of the word sovereignty while having a conversation with my son who was home from college for the weekend.

I don’t remember the discussion, but I must have been bombarding him with concerns and fears. He made a comment that changed my life.

“If God isn’t in control, who is?”

What I know about sovereignty:

  • God IS in absolute control.
  • Everything that comes to me is filtered through His loving hands.
  • Whatever touches my life, He will use it for my good and His glory. 

That’s what I know. And that’s truth to trust in when life throws a curveball.

When that happens, I say to self:

God must have a lot of confidence in me to trust me with this challenge.

And after sufficient grieving, I manage to praise Him in spite of my questions and fears. I don’t know the outcome, but I know the One who controls the outcome.

And He loves me.

“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3).

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand...” (Psalm 31:14-15).

Life is unpredictable, but my response to curveballs can impact the game.

I choose to live by this decision:

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High” (Psalm 7:17).

I don’t welcome curveballs. But I’m certain the Lord will lavish me with love and use my experience for good while gaining glory for Himself.

Knowing that replaces my fear with expectation.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:5).

Let me ask:

How do you respond when life throws a curveball?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

Thursday
Dec062018

Living Beyond the 'But'

Kolleen Lucariello always makes me think outside the box, spiritually. In this Christmastime, Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she considers two people God used, in His own timing, to help prepare the way for Jesus' first coming.

"I’ve never been a fan of the 'but'," Kolleen says. "Well, that’s not entirely true; I can handle “but then God” moments; however, the 'but' that follows an apology? The one that says, 'I’m sorry I… but you.' No thank you.

'Equally as unappealing is the 'but' that attaches to you, becoming the heartache of your story."

When I (Dawn) think abut the situations in my own life where the word "but" stopped me in my tracks spiritually and in my writing, I know what Kolleen's saying is true. I needed more faith and hope!

Kolleen continues . . .

Luke wrote about a couple who had a "but" attached to their story—Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.

It would seem as though they were the couple rocking at life. Zechariah was a Jewish priest serving in the temple, and his wife, Elizabeth, was a direct descendant of Aaron.

“They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully” (Luke 1:5-6, TPT).

They were the couple we look at today and think, Wow. They’ve got it all! Prestige from the family name, and they were solid believers, living righteously before the Lord.

Yet, behind everything they were doing right was one word they couldn’t escape—"but."

The "but" holding them hostage?

But they were childless since Elizabeth was barren, and now they both were quite old” (Luke 1:7, TPT—The Passion Translation—emphasis mine).

I’m fairly certain Elizabeth would’ve given anything to escape the pain of the "but."

In a culture where great significance was placed on motherhood, one word stole that from her.

  • "But" took away her ability to present her husband with a son, and replaced it with shame.
  • "But" also took away Zechariah’s ability to believe the angel, Gabriel, when he appeared to him and gave him the exciting news he was indeed going to be a dad.

The "but" had followed them for so long, doubt took over the prayerful heart that once held hope.

That can happen to anyone who has found but attached to his or her story. "But" has followed a good many faithful prayers of the righteous.

Perhaps you:

  • prayed faithfully for your children, and raised them in a home that honors God, but you’re still waiting for the return of the prodigal.
  • pray faithfully for your marriage to find healing and restoration, but have yet to see any hope of change.
  • fought hard for that job, but lost it anyway.

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, have prayed for your womb to hold a baby, but the pregnancy test was negative one more time.

The "but" behind our hopes can be a painful word—one we’d like to escape, but can’t—even in our attempts to do everything right.

Like many we think: I’ve prayed. I’ve done everything I knew to do. I’ve tried to live righteously, BUT I don’t see, I don’t feel, and I don’t hear.

Hope can be hard to hold on to when we focus on the "but" of our story.

It’s easy to get lost in disappointment.

However, part of Gabriel’s message to Zechariah was that his son would arrive at the appointed time (Luke 1:20).

Not their time—the appointed time.

Who knows the appointed time? Only God. And until that time comes we must live in the "so it was" like Zechariah and Elizabeth did.

So it was that while he was serving ... his lot fell (to him) to burn incense" (Luke 1:8 NKVJ, emphasis mine).

Even though they dragged a "but" behind them for all these years, they remained faithful to serve the Lord. It was in this particular moment of serving that the angel showed up.

Imagine if Zechariah had missed it, because he decided to give up on God for not answering their prayer—in their time. God knew the plan for John was to prepare the way for Jesus (Matthew 3).

It was all in the timing.   

We upgrade our lives when, regardless of the "but" attached to our story, we live with hope in the "so it was."

  1. So it was—she prayed without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  2. So it waseven with the evidence of things not seen, she still had faith in what she hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).
  3. So it was—she refused to lean on her own understanding, and instead trusted in the timing of the Lord (Proverbs 3:5).

What is the "but" attached to you, and how are you managing your faith in the "so it was" moment?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Tuesday
Aug282018

Waiting on God for Dreams to Come True

Cathy Horning is a rare jewel of wisdom. The more I've gotten to know her, the more I realize we are heart-sisters with the same passion for the Lord and His truth. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she focuses on a popular topic: dreams.

Cathy asks, "Do you have a dream? One you have waited a long time to come true? A dream, that perhaps, you have all but given up on? Me too!"

Cathy's article came along at a time when I (Dawn) have been talking to the Lord much about dreams. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate her insight!

Cathy continues . . . 

I'd almost given up on a dream—until this summer when this nearly-60-year-old grandmother saw a childhood dream come true.  

1. God’s Timing; Not Mine!

I was 12 when I first decided I wanted to write a book. My books were going to be juicy, the kind of novels sold on racks near the checkout counter at the grocery store.

Then I met Jesus, and in His great wisdom, He tucked away my dream while He worked to grow me up and build my faith.

But one day, it was as if the Lord took my forgotten dream off of a shelf in my heart, dusted it off, and handed it back to me.

It was as if He said, “Remember when you wanted to write books for the world? Now, I want you to write books for Me.”

2. God Takes the Little We Have to Offer.

I was thrilled to rediscover my long forgotten dream. Eagerly, I began to write a weekly devotional for my women’s Bible study group.

Then, a few months later, I received two letters in the mail. Each note, from a young mom who had recently moved away, contained nearly-identical messages: “I have watched you as a mom … can you write to me about parenting?”

I cried. This just couldn’t be a coincidence.

But why would they ask me?

I prayed. God answered. And, I began to write letters—one letter a month for the next year and a half.

I mailed them to my two mom friends, then to a dozen more, and eventually to more than one hundred mamas.

In the days before social media and blogs, with four active children and my husband’s demanding career, it was the little I had to offer.

3. God Uses Detours, Delays and Busy Days.

Life got crazy, and my letter writing ended. God called us to a season of home schooling. Then we moved. Our new home soon became the hub for all of our teenagers’ friends. Plus, we kept busy with sports and hosting dinners, parties and youth events. Our basement was the place for our sons’ band, our daughter’s darkroom, and eventually, a dormitory for boys who wanted to move out, but couldn’t quite afford it.

Our lives were abundantly full.

I continued to teach Bible studies and speak at women’s events, but I did little writing.

Looking back now, there is no way I could have imagined how the Lord was using that very busy season of life to prepare, train and equip me (and our whole family) for purposes He had further down the road.  

4. God Will Give A Loving Nudge.

On occasions when I did speak or teach, I was often asked, “Do you have a book?” No, I hated to admit, I had nothing written.

However, that all changed on a flight to Arizona. The woman across the aisle recognized me from the gym, and for the next hour I had the opportunity to share with her the message I would give the following day. As we prepared to exit the plane, she called out, “I need your message. Do you have it written anywhere?”

I was utterly convicted.

So that summer, the year I turned 50, I began to write again. A book seemed daunting, so I decided to begin a blog.

Never again would I tell a hurting soul, “I have nothing written.”

5. God Rewards Sacrifice, Surrender and Obedience.

Our kids went off to college. Then there were weddings, and grandchildren began to arrive. As our family grew, our parents aged, and there were many unexpected health challenges and great family needs.

Through it all, I continued to blog as I was able. I worked to hone my writing skills, as I prayed my posts would encourage others.

Amidst all this, a spiritual season of winter hit hard. There were three long years of dying to self, serving my family, and surrendering my dreams to Jesus.

I began to believe my years of ministry were over.

Yet, as my hope waned, the Lord began to show me signs of spring. And slowly, this past year, God again opened doors for travel, to speak, and to show me that it was now time to write my book.

6. God’s Plan—for Such a Time as This.

Much to my delight, this summer—the year before I turn 60—my childhood dream came true! 

  • I cried as I held in my hands my very first book.
  • I praised God.
  • And, I dedicated it to the Lord.

You see, to my amazement my first book was filled with the parenting letters I had written twenty-one years earlier, even though I had long lost hope those letters would ever be a book.

But God knew. He had a plan that in His time and His way they would become my very first book, as He has whispered His word to me all year, “Who knows if you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

My dear sisters, do you have a dream God has placed in your heart? Does it sometimes seem they will never come true? Or, that it is too late or you are too old? 

Let me assure you, as you walk with Jesus day-by-day, in His perfect plan and time, He will bring to pass and allow to come true the dreams He has planted in your heart.

Please don’t ever give up!

What dream has the Lord placed in your heart? Which of these six points help you to trust God with your dreams today?

Cathy Horning has been a women’s ministry leader, Bible Study teacher, speaker and writer for more than 25 years. She loves the Word of God. Nothing brings her greater joy than sharing with others how very precious, practical, and powerful the promises and truths in God's Word. Married for 34 years, Cathy has four grown children, 10 grandchildren, and many spiritual sons and daughters. She loves long walks by the bay, a good book or movie, Starbucks ice tea, and especially family get-togethers. Her new book is Letters from a Mother's Heart. Read more by Cathy at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of StockSnap at Pixabay.