You Have An Offer

“So here I am to worship; Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that You’re my God.”  These were the words from this song touching my heart and lips today, as God was filling my “blessing basket.”  I have shared in my previous blogs, I have prayed and trusted God for almost five years, for a buyer for my home. I’ve had countless realtors and some way too-low offers, but I knew God would sell my home in His time.

I previously shared the words of my pastor, “we can’t change God’s plans and we certainly can’t stop Him when He begins His work.” A couple months ago, I felt God’s hand beginning to work when I sold my much-loved China cabinet.  I realized when God provided me a new home, it would be smaller than my current and the beautiful piece of furniture would be too large. As with my home, it had taken awhile to sell. The buyer was thrilled, as was I. I was sad to see it leave, as it was a part of many family holidays and special occasions.  Nonetheless, like other aspects of my life, that was then-and-this is now.

Another situation showed God’s hand in my life. The very day I was purchasing a car to replace my beloved VW beetle convertible which was totaled in an accident last summer I received a call- buyers desired to return with an offer. I chose not to purchase the car as it would have required costly expenses to relocate and taxed again when moving to another state. The potential buyer chose not to purchase my home, but God had been in the details of all events that day.

A couple days ago, I awakened with what I believed would be a routine day. “But God!” I received not one, but two requests for my house to be shown. Within minutes of the first arrival, the realtor telephoned with an offer, but it was too low. I knew God had the right buyer, with the right price. I never imagined the very next showing would result in an accepted contract.

Why should I be surprised? Aren’t God’s ways far too perplexing to us? Not only did God bring me His buyers, but they are the kindest people I could have imagined. Last night a lovely card of grateful sentiments and a beautiful floral arrangement arrived at my door; thanking me for accepting their contract without changes.  Both the buyers and I realized God was truly in the details on this transaction. I had no desire to change what God ordained.

I have reflected God’s rationale in not allowing my house to sell earlier. I have realized I met people I might never have met, but the greatest gift was the revelation of why my marriage dissolved; my then husband’s love for another. I would not have known this, had I sold my house in my time, rather than God’s. So, the words of the song are powerful to me, “You’re my God.” Jer. 29:11 NIV, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you…”

A Borrowed Gift

From the time I was a young girl until days before I married in my twenties, I delighted in the moments I could baby sit.  I longed for the days I could be a mother. I had love for my children long before God chose them for me. My mother had shared numerous times during my childhood that she didn’t desire to be a mother, but it was “her duty.”  As a result, for the duration of my life I felt the pangs of knowing I was not loved, but merely tolerated. All those years of never having love from my own parents was “saved” for my then husband and any children God would “gift” us with.

I was beginning to believe God was not going to bless us with a family. I spent countless hours praying for children. My prayer was solely for healthy babies. The 1970s was a time where the majority of all babies were a “surprise.” Ultra sound for determining the gender and reveal parties to share with family and friends, would be in the future, but not when God opened His arms to present our children.

 God’s plans are perfect even when they seem so imperfect at times. When our daughter was a few months old, God brought us another “gift.” Our children would be a little over a year apart. However, God’s plans were to take that life to be with Him. I grieved the loss of that baby.

But God with His perfect ways, brought us a new blessing less than two years later.  When I heard, “It’s a boy”,   the joy I had was beyond words. My knees seemed raw at times, from kneeling in prayer for a son and a daughter. Even though healthy babies were far more important than the gender, I desired to experience the joy in rearing a boy and a girl or boys and girls. I would have loved to have more than two children, but like the entirety of my life, that was not God’s plans for me.

As I was conversing with someone recently, God didn’t give us parents or children to like or dislike. He gave us family to love and cherish; people that will be there for us no matter what comes. If only we could have mulligans for children rearing, perhaps things would be different when they become adults.

Yet, life and circumstances bring us trials and challenges we never expected and certainly could not foresee.  My love for each of my children is as great today, as the day the nurse placed, that beautiful, perfect, innocent newborn baby in my arms. And so today, I say Happy Birthday Dearest Son. I knew from the day I held you, that you were a borrowed gift. God allowed me to be your mother, but I dedicated you to Him. You are always in my heart and prayers, as you are truly one of the greatest gifts God gave me. James 1:17 NIV, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”

No-No-No!

“No”, I don’t want to-‘’No”, I don’t like-“No”, I won’t! How often have you reached out to a friend or family with an offer for a “gift”; doing something for them- a trip, dinner or even assisting them, but they returned your kindness with “no”?

While recently reading one of my devotions, the reflection of this was validated with Chuck Swindoll’s words, ‘’Are you striving to promote your perspective, demand that your way be accepted, or your voice be heard above others? Are you in the middle of a conflict with someone you love that, unless one of you stands down and defers to the other, is only going to intensify and cause lasting damage? Listen to Jesus. It’s time to turn from selfishness and strife as you embrace the way of the Cross. Lay down your rights…”

Have your ever chosen not to try new food, go on an adventure or perhaps take a trip because you were “afraid” to try? I’ve never forgotten the words of someone whom had chosen for years not to try pecan pie because he didn’t like “how it looked.” After much persuasion, he finally took a bite and realized he missed years of enjoyment due to “fear.”

We often withhold faith when we say, “no.” Max Lucado states, “I think this a time where we need to be feeding our faith,”… “If you feed your faith, your fears will starve. If you feed your fears, your faith will starve. Our tendency is to feed our fears. We have to do intentional things to feed our faith.”

I think of faith missionaries possess when they must partake of something which appears “fearful.”  Yet they realize they will diminish their ministry by not tasting a food or being involved in an activity which they deem undesirable.

I share in my upcoming book of countless times I did things I had no desire to do. Some were mandates when I could not say “no.” Other situations I chose to do because of my love for another.  I believe the positive may outweigh the negative when we release our fear and step out in faith.  For the duration of my marriage, I resided in homes I despised because I wanted to appease the husband I loved; homes he chose for us. Yet, if I had said “no” our son might never have had life-long friends which remain over four decades later. If I had said “no”, to the countless corporate moves my then husband mandated, yet I loathed, I might not have experienced some of the adventures in residing in other areas of the country.

“No”, even though a short and simple word, is powerful and controlling. It frequently tells the recipient they are of little or no value to the person offering the “gift.” Faith is a gift which God grants us when our fears overcome us. 2 Timothy 1:7, NIV, “for the spirit of God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

We Have Now Boarded

I sat back in my seat prepared to enjoy the last leg of my journey after an extremely stressful arrival.  The first leg of my flight was scheduled with a forty-minute delay. I had passed the security check and had only to board the departing plane and return home. While waiting, the flight was delayed further. We finally departed a full 1.5 hours late, but then I had the task of the connecting flight at the next layover.

As we landed, the airline staff noted, I had less than fifteen minutes, to arrive for the next connection. Murphy’s Law, I was at the back of the plane and unable to knock down all the other passengers to scurry off the plane. Dragging the items I had removed from the carry-on luggage, my coat falling from my drooping shoulders, I heard the announcement on the intercom,  “will the passenger for Flight 6007 hurry to gate 24 as we have now boarded?” What? How?  These old, feeble legs were already walking as rapidly as possible, but now I picked up the pace to a slow “run.”

I was at least 25 gates away from the next connection with all kinds of shopping and dining between, so the destination seemed as though it were miles away. My heart began pounding with the discomfort which is “well known” when there is great exertion, but most of all the prayers were rising! I was praying aloud as I dashed with two bags, wearing heavy boots and a down coat causing more heat and perspiration than if I were in 110 degrees in the middle of summer.

I arrived at the empty gate, looking as though I was taking my last breath. The agent queried, “Jane Woods?” Yes, I sighed. I ran all this way. Then as I entered the quiet tunnel, the pilot walked toward me, reminding me to “catch my breath” as they knew I was coming. He also reminded me he knew I had walked a long way. Walk? No, I was in a slow run!

As I boarded the plane, the stewardess announced, “you must condense all those items into your two bags.” Any explanation of not being able to re-pack the items was not accepted. I couldn’t get on the plane with those “flapping, flying” additional objects.

 I would sit down, catch my breath, read my book and just relax. A few pages into the book by Grant Gaines, the words had to be in error, “Some realities in life logically rule each other out…if you have a sibling, you can’t be an only-child. And if you are a God-fearing, Spirit filled Christian, you can’t dislike dogs.” What?!  I know many Christians that don’t like any animals. I love animals. After all-I had just spent a full week with 3 dogs, 2 bunnies, a tortoise and more experiences with them than I have time to write about. Continuing to read the book, I realized the author had penned the dog comment in jest, but he also reminded us life is uncertain. With the kind of day I had endured, it caused me to reflect on how unpredictable life can be. We think we have things planned out, God says, “no, this isn’t what I have planned for you.” So, we can only, sit back, relax and “enjoy the flight.”  NIV Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Just The Facts Ma’m

As I sat in the choir with my few, but dedicated fellow “masked singers”, I suddenly felt a pang of jealousy. As I observed a situation, my heart continued to increase with sadness as to why God had never answered my prayer.

As we departed the choir loft to take our seat in our chosen pew, I prayed for God’s forgiveness of being jealous. Even though my mind wandered about the “assumption”, I heeded the pastor’s words that no matter how often we believe God has forgotten us, His timing and plans are perfect. Even when the pastor said we need to let go of the past for God’s future for us is far better, I was internally crying.  His plans may not be “perfect” to us, for if I truly accepted His plans as “perfect”, would I have been feeling “self-pity” during my choir observation?

Yet, for the duration of the sermon, I continued to ponder as to why God had refused to answer my prayer for something which He speaks so clearly of in His word. What I desire is not selfish, but good and righteous, yet then why is God withholding it? Genesis 2:18 NIV states, “the Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” I knew this scripture was referring to Adam, but what about me? I’ve heard more than one bible study leader recommend that we make scripture personal to us. Thus, I could say, It is not good for Jane to be alone…I will make a helper suitable for her.” I’ve been waiting for decades for that suitable helper.

As I observe individuals that have not one, but two, three or even four helpmates, then I was perplexed, why I couldn’t have even one? Now at the end of my life, I had prayed for years for God to send me a helpmate, but it wasn’t meant to be. So here I sat, in church having a pity party.   I love being in church; hearing God’s words and being reminded of His love for each of us. Now I was querying why I was still alone?

At the conclusion of the service as each of us left the sanctuary, I suddenly realized my assumptions had been in error. I reflected on what a bible study leader noted a couple years ago- our imaginations are sometimes our greatest enemy. We assume things to be the truth-yet often we don’t have all the facts.  It doesn’t mean God has not given “my desire” to the other member, but what I observed is not what I assumed. The “helpmate” I believed God had sent her, was actually the helpmate of another. When she had taken his hand in a gesture of love, my “human-ness” took over. I’m still praying and waiting! NKJ Psalm 27:14, Wait on the Lord, Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait I say on the Lord.”

WWJD?

“I just wanted to let you know you gave me too much change”, smiling and handing the sales clerk the $22.00 which he had given me several minutes prior. When I realized the error, I drove back around the store, waiting in line to get up to the window. “Well, uh, oh, I em”. That was all he said. I was not upset with him; I was merely trying to be honest. When I handed him the money, he just stared. I reminded him of the cost of my purchase and what was owed in change.

When I received the second “profit” on a purchase in less than two weeks, I could have said “oh God, thank you for giving me this blessing”, pocketed the money and left. However, with each of these situations, I wanted to do what was right, but departed feeling I was the one in error.

Neither of the sales persons thanked me for my honesty and with each transaction, they truly seemed offended that I chose to be honest. As Christians, is it our responsibility to be honest? Is it our responsibility to be fair? I believe the answer is “yes” to each of these questions.  I’ve heard Christians say believing and having faith He is God and there is an eternal home with Him, even if this were not valid, is far better than to be wrong for walking away from Him and not having faith that He is God. I agree without hesitation.

As Christians we may often ponder the reality of God and His ways, yet we believe in Him. It is much easier to see someone gives us too much money or didn’t charge us for an item we purchased. One takes faith and with the other we reflect our faith; doing unto others as we know God would do or choose for us to do.  I receive the “gift” of knowing I did what was right.

Just recently there was a situation in which someone did something which was perhaps not morally or ethically wrong, but certainly was disrespectful and discourteous. I was invited to attend an event, being informed I would be a guest of the invitee, only to be told days later than I owed them $400 for a ticket to the event. What? Why? I gulped and paid the $400, but remained perplexed as to why someone would do that and not inform their guest of the cost. I would have declined, had I known the cost.

While sharing this with some fellow Christians, they noted they would not have paid and queried as to why I did. Because I made a commitment that I would be the person’s guest. I didn’t have to feel guilty that I had not kept my commitment. Yes, the “human me” said, “no way. You invited me and now are asking me to pay $400 for my ticket?”, but just as with returning change which was not owed or taking items back to a store which I was not charged for, I know I can softly say, “WWJD”, what would Jesus do?” Luke 6:31 NIV, “do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Such A Beautiful Creation!

He was so tiny and fragile.  I wanted to stroke him, but concerned it would cause him much fear.  Thus, I held him gently, enamored with his beauty and speaking softly as though he understood every word I uttered. This would probably be the first, last and only time I would hold such a creature, feeling the warmth of his body against my hand. I couldn’t stop crying for I didn’t want this magnificent gift from God to die in my hands. He blinked softly as I stared into his exquisite little face.

I stood in my kitchen only minutes earlier when I heard him hit my window hard. I looked out to see his lifeless, splayed body on the walk beneath the window. I couldn’t stop the tears. “Oh no, God, no, please don’t let him die,” I screeched.  I ran to grab a towel and dash outdoors to pick up this helpless, little life.

Pictures, calendars and countless quotes have paid tribute to these creatures. Now, he was in my hands, not uttering a sound, not trying to leave. I imagined he was thinking, “what was this “being” going to do, after quickly picking me up after I fell?”  Bringing him indoors, I made numerous telephone calls to do whatever to save this precious little boy’s life. My initial telephone call was to the Oklahoma Wildlife Department, but with it being a Saturday afternoon, the office was closed. I frantically began telephoning local veterinarians, sobbing as I told them what happened; but also, fearful his legs were broken or worse.

One of the veterinarians instructed me where I could receive help.  I told the Edmond animal shelter of the beautiful cardinal I held wrapped in a towel, praying he was alright. What a relief that this cherished cardinal was most probably stunned. I had to chuckle when the voice on the telephone noted, “sometimes they hit the windows so hard, they are knocked silly and it may take him 15-20 minutes to regain his strength and fly away.”

Yes, his little eyes continued to blink, so I gently took him outdoors and bending down on the lawn, carefully unwrapped the towel. What a joy! Little boy cardinal flew away. After releasing him, I researched the life of cardinals, especially since he was so small.  My research made him even more beloved to me. The males receive their full coat of red feathers at age one, so I felt certain he was a young male. Cardinals mate for life and remain in the area. Could this be the son of the parents whom I so lovingly watched build a nest and give life to their little fledglings by my office window?

Just as I carefully picked this creature up to be certain he would survive, I thought of the many times we fall and God picks us up, wrapping us in His blanket of love. He makes certain we are okay and that we will “fly away” to fulfill His plans for our lives. Matthew 6:26 NIV, “look at the birds of the air; they do not reap or store away in bars, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

It’s Time To Leave

“So here I am to worship; Here I am to bow down; Here I am to say that You’re my God.”  These were the words from this song that touched my heart and lips today, as God was filling my “blessing basket.”

Most, if not all of us have experienced living in God’s waiting room.  Faith, trust and patience are the elements to success when in the “waiting room.” For most of us, the majority of our lives are spent there. As I have shared in previous blogs some of the situations I was encountering while waiting, were difficult.

  Over these past several years, while in God’s waiting room, there have been many patients; disappointment, heartache, confusion and necessity. Yet, I knew God was taking care of each, so I had no desire to cling to them, but only to allow God to dismiss them when He knew each was ready to leave.

 Yesterday as I walked out of church, I received a telephone call which literally caused me to sit in my car in the church parking lot, thanking God that it appears one component of a long wait will be lifted. God has not yet released this patient, but I’m at peace while awaiting.

Then today, a patient was removed from the waiting room.  Ms. “Need To” was something that I didn’t want to give up, but “needed to”; a tangible item which I needed to clear away for whatever God has for me in my life. Ms. “Need To” had been around for a couple of years, as I continued to pray for her departure. Yet, God said, not yet, just leave Ms. “Need To” here with me. Today she left.

 While Ms. “Need To” was leaving, I received a telephone call which brought many of the patients in the waiting room to a new room. God began writing my life’s story decades ago. Then several years ago, with God’s blessings, I began scribing my story to share with others-the story of His grace, love and strength for me. I was in God’s waiting room, as I wrote, prayed and sought an editor. The book was completed and I prayed while awaiting a publisher. Today while standing with Ms. “Need To” to depart, a joy filled my heart to realize my book has been accepted to be published.

 When I learned that approximately two-thirds of all submitted books are rejected, I thanked God for allowing mine to be chosen as a testimony to Him.  I remain in the waiting room regarding the telephone call yesterday and now as I watch God’s story of my life brought forth in print. Some of the patients will be leaving the waiting room, but I will remain for as long as God desires. There will always be new patients joining me, but the “joy of the Lord” will remain. Philippians 4:4 NIV, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

The Trip Is Short

I sat quietly with only the soft sound of the humming, central heat while looking out my window to the dozens of trees laden with turning leaves, now shedding their lush shade to the ground below and thanked God for another day. God blessed me with a home with a “park like” back yard, filled with many of His creatures. Even if I hadn’t read the state’s department of transportation road sign, Pumpkin Spice is Nice. But Safe Driving Is Always in Season, the view outside my window gave me the clue fall had arrived.

This time of year, is especially endearing to me. Not only is it my favorite season, but a respite from the long, summer heat, which I have never enjoyed. I love the chill and crispness of the changing temperatures for I can always add another layer if the days or evenings are too cool. I delight in the aroma of the smoke-filled air from the neighbors’ fireplaces and the sound of the leaves as they “crunch” beneath my feet. I’m as gleeful as a child when sipping a cup of hot cinnamon cider or hot chocolate with marshmallows. 

As much as these traditional sights, sounds and rituals of fall is, realizing God is giving us yet again a time to “slow down” and be quiet. As I have shared for years, it seems when Labor Day arrives, the holidays are only weeks away. How rapidly our days and weeks pass. Before we realize it, the year has come and gone, validating the shortness of our lives.

As I was sitting alone, I was again thanking God for His love to me. So often as I’m chatting with God, I become emotional and tearful; filled with questions and wonder about my life.  I have often deliberated why God gives some persons so much joy and happiness while others seem to have sorrow from the day of their birth.  We all know those whom were born with severe physical, emotional or mental impairments, but their joy is beyond description.

The older I become, the more I realize that all of this will pass so quickly. When persons live to be eighty, ninety or even become a centurion, we say “they had a long life.” Yet, when we think about eternity, all of this time on earth is like the “blink of an eye.” 

I recently read a wonderful example of our short life by Muthender Velishala. In his blog he wrote about an elderly woman that was a passenger on a bus. “A grumpy young woman…sat down beside the woman, hitting her with her numerous bags…the old woman remained silent. The young woman asked why she (the older woman) had not complained…the trip is short”, the older woman had replied. Muthender gave many other examples of not being angry or unkind when situations in our lives occur. It is a reminder that our lives are short, but as Christians, we are looking to the day we are with the Lord.

Psalm 90:10 NIV “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”

Waving Truck!?

This was the entire message, “Black pickup going trick or treating who can’t be in the neighborhood!!! I yelled at them and they waved.” Wouldn’t an English teacher have a “heyday” with this note? No punctuation. Was the truck “trick or treating?” Was the truck waving?” Obviously, the truck could be in the neighborhood or the sender of the e-mail would not have been irritated. Why was the neighbor yelling at a truck? Were the occupants of the truck causing harm or injury to anyone or their residence? I feel quite certain the truck was transporting children desiring to have an enjoyable evening. I assume most reading the e-mail immediately realized the intent of the sender.

The neighbor sending the e-mail found the truck and its’ occupants to be an irritant to her. I too was annoyed, but more deeply saddened.  How did the sender know who owned the truck? Were the truck and its’ occupants friends or relatives of someone in the neighborhood? Living in a gated community does not preclude others from visiting. The truck was obviously transporting young and innocent children out for an enjoyable evening with other children. For me the exasperation from such an insensitive person brought vivid memories of my own childhood.

My siblings and I were most often the “outcast or outsider” children. We were reared in a poor home-often the poorest in our neighborhood. For one day per year, we could “be one of the gang.” Even though we didn’t have the fancy costumes handsewn or purchased at the local store. We designed our own costumes from what we could obtain in our home. We didn’t have fancy little Halloween pails or monogramed bags, but recycled and often tattered, brown paper bags. Yet, when we walked out of our door to join the other children, we “blended in.”  For one day a year, we were just like the others.

We delighted in receiving treats which were unbeknownst to us for the remainder of the year. Occasionally, we would “trick or treat” in the “good” neighborhoods-the ones known for handing out the “best” treats. For one night a year, the community opened their doors to the children of our community. Regardless of their ethnicity, race, address or financial status, they were just “one of the many.”

As I read the e-mail from this neighbor, I realized she most probably never was an “outsider” child. She might have been reared in an affluent home, never realizing that times such as “trick or treat” provided children with “nothing”, to have “something.” They were not mocked for being on the “other side of town”- for in costume and walking with the other children one could not distinguish the “haves” among the “have nots.”

How blessed it is that Jesus wanted all the children to be accepted. It didn’t matter where they lived or the profession of their parents, they were welcomed into all the neighborhoods. Jesus loved them all.  Matthew 18:5 NIV “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.