Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guest Columnist: Tia Thomas & God on the Highway

My friend, Tia Thomas, wrote a most wonderful devotional that I've been given permission to reprint below.  It totally follows this blog's theme of opening your eyes to seeing God in everyday, ordinary places; she found God on the highway of all things!!  I hope you enjoy her story - and please consider leaving a comment; I know she'd appreciate reading your encouraging feedback!!

I Found God On The Highway
by Tia S. Thomas

Yesterday, as I was driving down the four lane, I saw a man and a blind woman walking along on the shoulder of the road. With one hand, she was tapping along with her cane, with the other, she was holding his elbow. Cars sped past them going 50+ mph, less than 3 feet away. It occured to me how scary it must be for her to hear those vehicles bearing down on them, so fast and loud. But still, she walked. And then it occured to me, how much she must trust him to guide her. One wrong step, and she would be in the path of the traffic. One stumble, and she would tumble down the bank on her right into the creek below. But still, she walked. Forward, into unknown darkness that lie ahead of her. Her source of security was her hand on his elbow. The thing is, he could see where they were going. He saw the path, he saw what was ahead. She just had to trust him, hang on to him and most importantly - go where he led her. If she pushed him away or went against his lead, she would have been in serious trouble.

Then, it occurred to me, that is me. That is all of us. We are blind to what lies ahead. We can't see the future. We tap along with our plans, our preparations trying to anticipate what lies ahead, but the truth is, life is far too unpredictable and dangerous for us to rely on our plans and preparations. What we need is a guide who can see what is ahead and we can trust to lead us to where we are going. 

We have that. But why do we try so hard to push Him away? 

We try to forge ahead on our own, tapping along in the way we think is best. But He can SEE when we can't. All we have to do is take his arm and trust Him. We have to trust Him completely though, follow him no matter what - one wrong step, one stumble and we will tumble off course and it will hurt...big time. The traffic is bearing down on us and it is scary! We can hear and feel it all around us.  Satan is throwing things at us left and right. We can't see them coming. They take us by surprise. We ask, "Why did that happen?" God says, "I saw it coming. I led you out of it's path but you pulled against me."

Oh, and why were they going down the shoulder instead of the sidewalk?  The sidewalk would have been smoother, easier, right? Yes, it would have been, but further down the road, they needed to take a right. If they had been going down the easy path, when they came to their turn, they would have had to cross through a very busy, very dangerous intersection. By taking the more difficult path to get there, they were able to avoid an even more difficult situation down the road. She couldn't see that, but he could. That also happens to us. Sometimes, things are difficult, bad things happen. There are holes and obstacles in the path that God is leading us along, we ask "Why didn't you lead me around that God? I'm following you!" He says, "I didn't lead you around it, but I am leading you through it". Maybe, just maybe, God is leading me down a difficult path to avoid an even more difficult future.

Could that be it? 
I can't see it, but He can.
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Found God in a Puzzle...

I'm part of the Christian Women's Bloggers Network on Facebook.  There, Christian bloggers can network, increase exposure to our respective blogs, and read some FANTASTIC blogs from other Christian authors.  I read one today that really got me thinking.  It was a short devotion called "Broken For Whole" and talked about how God wants us to come to him, broken, so that HE can heal us and make us whole.

It got me thinking about puzzles.  My kids love puzzles, but they approach them VERY differently.  Jack is the logical one.  He turns all of the pieces over (this may seem obvious, but wait until I explain his brother's methods!), separates the edges and corners, then sorts the remaining pieces by color before even starting the puzzle.  He begins working from the outside-in, glancing at the puzzle's photo often as he methodically matches up the pieces.

Luke, on the other hand, dumps the pieces into a random pile.  He hardly even turns them over let alone sorts them!  His eyes scan the haphazard heap and he grabs two pieces that seem to match by either their puzzle-y edges or their colors and then puts them together.  Click!  They fit!  He continues on this way, barely looking at the puzzle photo, building the overall picture from the inside-out!  My husband and I really don't even understand his thinking (our brains work more like Jack's) and can't fathom how Luke sees the connections between the pieces the way that he does.  But this crazy method works for him. ;)

Either way... the end result is the same:  the puzzle is completed.

But what if you finished your puzzle and found that one, lone piece was missing?!!  What if you spend hours and HOURS sorting and scanning and comparing and working to finish this multi-hundred-piece puzzle only to find that one piece wasn't there?!!!  It wouldn't matter that the puzzle was "ALMOST" finished - it's still missing a piece!!!

That is your life without God.  Unfinished... incomplete... really, kind-of a waste of time, actually!  Because all of that working and and living and trying is fruitless if you don't include God in your life!  Life is hard enough; you need ALL the pieces!  

Furthermore, just like the HUGE differences between the ways that Jack and Luke each complete a puzzle, your life journey is going to be unique.  I started this blog because I was sure that there had to be other people out there who were floundering and frustrated with not finding God in the "ordinary" places... in church, in private school, etc.  My methods and experiences to placing that final piece into place (CLICK!) were along a twisty, windy road with many, MANY dead ends.  I'm just grateful that God is patient... and never gives up on one of his children. :)

If you can't see the whole picture, then perhaps you are missing a crucial piece to your life puzzle.  God is the final piece!  And with God, your life-puzzle becomes more than just a jumble of mismatched pieces... your life becomes a MASTERPIECE.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28 (NLT)

------- Additional Note -------

If you've read Nicole's original post and then mine, you still don't have all the pieces... because my friend Cindi wrote a follow-up to this about trying to do things your own way withOUT God and how the pieces just don't match up.  Be SURE to read on HERE NEXT!  It's a fabulous conclusion to this idea!

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Blog Make-over & new Facebook Page!

Thought it was about time this blog got a makeover so I worked on it tonight... new background, new header... what do you think?

Also - I've created an Everyday Places Facebook Page - by "liking" it, you'll be able to see notifications on your Homepage of new posts.  I'm an inherently lazy person - and Facebook is the very first place I go every morning to check the latest news... so if you are anything like me, having one place to see all of my favorite blogs is GREAT!  I really hope you'll "like" the page and share it with your friends and family.  I'm feeling a calling to really work on this blog - but since I'm a totally comment-junkie, I need all of the feedback and encouragement I can get!

Hope you all are having a good summer - we are in the middle of select baseball tryouts for my older son.  His team's coaching staff kind of "imploded" at the end of the season and the team broke apart.  Tryouts are VERY competitive - I've been saying little prayers to God that Jack finds new team.  He LOVES baseball and really wants to play at this level... but the competition is FIERCE!  Hopefully we'll get good news soon!

On a different note, we visited with my parents and nephew today.  Want a glimpse of God?  We watched Jack (age 10) play with his 2-year old cousin, Connor.  Connor was afraid of a book that had bugs in it (Sam's Burger and Sam's Sandwich); Jack was so gentle and kind... showing him how the book was just pretend.  He even got Connor to TOUCH the "bugs!"
 If only we had that kind-of patience ALL the time! I was really proud of Jack today!

Hope to see you all on Facebook!
:) Mags
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Found God on the Clearance Rack...

I love a good bargain!  I have a cozy winter fleece (that heavier Sherpa fleece material) that I once found for just $2.00 on the clearance rack at Kohls.  It makes me smile every time I get to wear it - because it is one of my favorites... and it was so ridiculously cheap...(and because wearing it means it's finally really COLD... my very favorite weather!).

But while I love to find massively discounted "THINGS" on clearance, I certainly wouldn't want a PERSON to feel that they are so "worthless" that if there was a people-clearance rack, they would be on it.  I saw this quote today on Facebook:

If you're not being treated with love and respect, check your price tag.  Perhaps you have marked yourself down.  It's YOU who tell people what you're worth by what you accept.  Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables!  Value yourself more... because if you don't, no one else will!

We all have times when we feel worthless, low, cheap, or on that clearance rack.  Sometimes it's the result of how we let others treat us - or how we treat ourselves.  But God views EACH of us as unique and priceless... each of us matters.

What's the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.
Luke 12:6-7 (The Msg)

You have worth.
You are valuable.

So if you are feeling like you've been placed on the clearance rack, how have you gotten there?  What can you do to get off?!  Stand up for yourself!  Pray for wisdom in your choices, strength to deal with others' un-Christianlike behaviors, and the peace of mind to follow through with what you know is right.  Surround yourself with Christian friends - people who can love and support you... and treat you right.

You have worth.
You are valuable.
You are priceless.
And God loves you.

You don't belong on the clearance rack.  NO child of God belongs on the clearance rack!  

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out:
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.
Psalms 139:13-16 (The Msg)  

So stop letting people walk all over you!  Stop letting events "happen" to you and start being proactive in living the life God has planned for you.  Whether that means disengaging yourself from bad influences, or taking control of your finances, or ceasing the endless train of bad decisions you've been making.  God has big plans for you... so start praying and talking with God to find out what those plans may be!  You know He has your best interests at heart - and that He considers YOU to be so precious, so valuable, and so loved!

“God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God, He created them. Because you are made in God’s image, you are a reflection of His glory and valuable. God loves you and made you to be like Him."
Genesis 1:27

You have worth.
You are valuable.
You are priceless.
God loves you.
Act like it.

Thinking of you today,
:) Mags
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