Saturday, April 30, 2011

Unexpected Curves

This winter, I was driving down a back road and came upon an unexpected curve. Because the road was icy and I was going too fast, I went right off the road and into a bank of snow. Thankfully everything was okay and I didn’t have to tell my husband (except now he will know, ugh).

That curve caught me totally by surprise!

Life has a way of catching us by surprise, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s an unplanned pregnancy, a trip to the dentist, a spouse that has left, a broken down car, a job loss, an angry embittered teen, a DUI, the loss of a close friend or family member.

We can experience many unexpected turns in our lives. Some curves seem more irritating than anything else and other curves change our lives forever!

I have often found myself asking God . . . Why are You allowing me to experience these turns in my life? Why did you not give me any warning signs? Why didn’t You straighten out the road so that I could avoid them? You’re God, You can do that!

Years ago, I watched a friend of mine cope with an incredible unexpected curve in her life. One day while working she fell from a high platform and was paralyzed from the waist down. For anybody this tragedy would seem devastating but for Beth I think it was even more overwhelming because she earned her living by using her legs – she was an athletic director. Beth is one of the most athletic people I know. She was my volleyball coach when I was in College.

Talking with her one day, I asked her if she ever struggled with anger and bitterness towards God. Her answer didn’t surprise me because I know Beth but it did amaze me. She said, “No, I know that this is His plan for my life and I’ve accepted that. But I want you to know that I’m looking forward to Heaven! I’ll have my legs back and you won’t be able to catch me!"

Beth has taken this unexpected curve in her life and embraced it! She has found her identity in Christ alone and she’s allowing God to use her in the place He as designed just for her.

I’m becoming more and more convinced that life is a series of unexpected curves. And the real question is NOT why did this happen to me or why did You allow this in my life? BUT, how am I going to choose to live my life through this unexpected curve? Will I let bitterness and anger invade my soul? Will I turn away from God? Will I refuse to see His goodness in the midst of the turn? Or will I embrace the pain and surrender my heart to God? Will I bow down to my Maker and acknowledge that He is God and I am not? Will I trust Him when I don’t understand?

How do you respond when your life takes an unexpected turn? Do you spend your time questioning His goodness or do you surrender to His will for your life?

Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Do you believe this? Will you embrace the unexpected curves in your life? Trusting Him for the things you cannot see and resting in His perfect plan for you.

Friday, April 22, 2011


On this Good Friday, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on God’s Greatness. . .

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLV)

I acknowledge that You are God and I am not.

He counts the stars
and calls them all by name.
How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension!
Psalm 147:5 (NLV)

You, God know even the stars and call them each by name! How much more do you know me, your child? I am amazed at your greatness and glory. When I glimpse your holiness and see your power, I am humbled. Why do I think I know better? Why do I question your plans for me?

“My heart pounds as I think of this.
It trembles within me.
Listen carefully to the thunder of God’s voice
as it rolls from his mouth.
It rolls across the heavens,
and his lightning flashes in every direction.
Then comes the roaring of the thunder—
the tremendous voice of his majesty.
He does not restrain it when he speaks.
God’s voice is glorious in the thunder.
We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power.
Job 37:1-5

My breath catches within me when I think of your greatness as the Creator of the Universe and your amazing love for me! Thank You for sending your only Son to take my place, so that I could know You and be known by You!

. . . “ There is no God like you in all of heaven and earth. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. 2 Chronicles 6:14

Lord, I want to walk in wholehearted devotion to You! Don’t let me stray from your Presence. Don’t let me turn my heart from You. Teach me to walk in Your ways all the days of my life . . .

You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.
O LORD, what great works you do!
And how deep are your thoughts.
Psalm 92:4-5

Forever Yours,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I looked up the word outbreak in the dictionary. It said that it was “a sudden or violent increase in activity”. And it reminded me of a verse in Hebrews 10:24, “Let us think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” (NLV)

I wonder what it would look like if we as Christians put this verse into practice. I wonder how I would be if I continuously looked for ways to encourage my sisters and brothers in Christ to love and good works. I wonder how different our churches would be. What would happen if we had an “outbreak” of love and good deeds?

What do you think of when you hear the word “outbreak”? I think of something incredibly contagious and difficult to contain.

In the verse right above, it gives us the reason for why we should encourage one another to love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted.” (NLV) What does it mean to live with an unwavering hope?

In the movie Jacob the Liar (played by Robin Williams), hope plays an important role. The setting is a Jewish Ghetto in Poland during World War II. The Jews have lost all hope of ever being saved and many of them have resorted to killing themselves. Through some crazy circumstances one Jew, Jacob, ends up outside the ghetto and hears a radio broadcast. When he returns he shares what he has learned about the allies with some of his friends and the news travels like wild fire through the quarter. After hearing the news, Jacob begins to see a visible change in people because of a renewed sense of hope and so embarks on a plan to keep hope alive in the ghetto . . .

When I saw this movie, I was struck by the power of hope. Most of us in America have no idea what it is like to live without hope and so it’s easy for us to take for granted the hope we have in Christ.

We forget that we are living in similar circumstances in our spiritual lives as Jacob was. People all around us are living and dying with no hope! We have the hope that will not only give them purpose in this life but will save them for all of eternity!

I wonder what would happen if we had an outbreak of love and good deeds. Would people see the hope we have in Christ? Would they be “infected” with our love for God and good deeds for others? What if we couldn’t contain this pandemic?

Remember, it just takes one!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What is it about WAITING that I hate so much?

Wait! What do you think of when you hear that word? I don’t like the word WAIT. I’m not big on waiting for anything in my life. And yet, I have waited for many things – my driver’s license, getting married, traveling overseas. I’ve waited for kids at school, at practices, for them to grow up and leave home. I’m not good at waiting.

This week I went to where I thought my son was having a baseball game, only to discover when I got there that they weren’t playing at that location and I had no idea where they were playing. I tried calling everybody I could think of to find out where they were but nobody answered their phones. So I sat in a parking lot and waited . . .

Did I say I’m not good at waiting? I’m not good at waiting. I want to get things done, to accomplish something and move on to the next thing. Why is waiting so hard? I think it’s hard because it signifies my helplessness, that I’m no longer in control, that there is nothing I can do to change the circumstances. I can’t fix it or change it, I’m powerless.

A friend of mine is waiting . . . she’s waiting as she watches cancer slowly draw the life from the one she loves. There’s nothing more she can do but wait and spend every moment she can with him. If I’m really honest, I think waiting sucks!

I don’t like to feel helpless. I want to DO something. Waiting is never easy and yet God, throughout Scripture calls us to WAIT on Him. Why is that? Webster’s Dictionary defines waiting as “remaining stationary in readiness or expectation”. In our waiting we are powerless but God is NOT! Look at what Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord and WAIT patiently for Him to act . . .” (NLV)

What is it about waiting that is so hard for us as humans? It is the letting go and placing whatever “it” is in God’s hands. Waiting causes us to see our weaknesses and our frailty as humans. In our waiting there is an acknowledgement that God is God and we are not!

Could it be this waiting is God’s gift to my friend? A gift to spend these last days with her husband, making the most of every minute, an opportunity to say all that she wants to say to him and to live life to the fullest while he is with her.

I would prefer that WAIT was not a word in our vocabulary but it is. And it is what God calls us to do. Notice that we are to rest (not to try to fix things) and wait (wait for Him to act – not for Him to do what we want Him to do.)

As a follower of Jesus do you see waiting as a gift? A gift to rest in His presence knowing and trusting that He has everything under His control?

All of us find ourselves from time to time in the waiting place. Waiting for a job, waiting for a baby, waiting for love, waiting for a wayward child to come home, waiting for . . . ?

Is this waiting place a time of frustration and anxiety for you or are you putting your hope and trust in God as you wait expectantly for what He will do? God’s desire for you is that you rest in Him.

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Treasure in Jars of Clay

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a fragile clay jar. I’m reminded every day of my frailness when I say something unkind, when I think a hurtful thought, when my heart wanders from God, when I’m jealous of someone else’s success (which happens way to often if I’m really truthful).

And then I wonder, why would God choose to put His greatest treasure in me??

Do you see what it says in 2 Corinthians, “We have this light shining in our hearts but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure!” Why does God use fragile earthen jars to carry His greatest treasure? Could it be that that is when His light shines the brightest?

God sent His Son into this world to shine light into the darkness, to expose people’s sin and to point them to the only answer, Jesus Christ. And now God has left that light shining in our hearts. It seems inconceivable that God would choose us to carry His treasure.

A few years back, my son desired to go to an outdoor nature school for his 6th grade year. We had to jump through quite a few hoops before he was accepted into the school. We were so excited that he got in and then one day I realized that there was the possibility that he wouldn’t be able to go because we were moving out of district. Without even considering God or giving the situation to Him, I got on the phone and called the school and told them our situation. The teacher there encouraged me to call the district and basically lie to get the information I needed. I immediately dialed the district and lied to the woman about our situation. She ended up telling me that it wouldn’t be a problem. I was so relieved! But as I hung up the phone I experienced an overwhelming grief wash over me at what I had done. I recognized that God had given me His deep sorrow over my sin and felt Him say to me, “Kristi you couldn’t trust me with this one thing. Haven’t I worked out all the other difficulties you faced in getting him into this school and in this last obstacle you couldn’t trust me?” Once again, I was reminded of my frailty, of being that clay jar.

But even in the sorrow, I knew God’s love for me and His desire to use me in spite of my brokenness. I knew what I had to do. I picked up the phone and called the district back. I wasn’t able to get the woman I talked to but I got her voicemail and left a message. I told her that I was sorry that I had lied to her and that as a Christian I knew that this was wrong. I had not trusted God to work out this situation but had taken things into my own hands and I hoped that she would forgive me. I have no idea how God used that situation in the life of that woman. But I do know that in my brokenness I allowed God’s light to shine through me.

God uses broken and messed up people like you and me - isn’t that amazing?! When we are breakable clay vessels there is no doubt that it is God’s light within us and not our own!

God’s light shines the brightest in fragile clay jars like us!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Grapejuice, Dad and the Devil

When I was growing up my sister Karen and I loved to play jokes on my younger sister Karla (and yes, all our names started with a “K” even my baby brother Kraig). One day we discovered the perfect joke or so we
thought . . .

Karen and I were clearing the breakfast table one morning when we came up with the brilliant idea to make a “special” drink from the leftover grape juice that was in the pitcher. There wasn’t really enough in the container to justify putting it back in the fridge. We put everything we could think of in the grape juice – milk, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, pepper . . . well you get the idea. And then we called Karla to come and try our “delectable” beverage. We told her that it was an amazingly delicious drink and we didn’t want her to miss out on its goodness because she was such a special sister to us.

I’m sure she was probably thrilled that her two big sisters loved her so much that they wanted to share their very special drink with her and so she took a big swig of the concoction and immediately began to gag and spit it out. And of course, she ran off crying into her bedroom. Karen and I were on the floor rolling with laughter, that was, until my Father showed up. I don’t recall him saying much of anything but I knew we were in BIG trouble! He took two glasses out of the cupboard and proceeded to pour our lovely beverage into them and then he said, “You have 5 minutes to drink it!” and then he walked out of the room.

My first thought was . . . “Why didn’t we throw that drink out after Karla left. We should’ve known that she would go and tell Dad. How stupid could we be?”

My second thought was . . . “Oh shoot, how am I ever going to drink that stuff, it’s got to be terrible! Why did we think this was funny?”

We both knew that we had no choice but to drink it because the consequences of not drinking it were not even worth contemplating. My Dad had been known to ground me from swimming for a whole summer! So who knew what he would do? He didn’t mess around and we knew it.

I can still remember watching the hands of the clock move way to quickly as I gagged my way through that horrible drink and I thought, “I will never do something so stupid again, next time I’ll make sure I throw it out!”

As I think about that story it reminds me of how much the devil does the same thing to us. He plays to our weaknesses. Just as Karen and I played to the weaknesses of my sister, the devil does the same thing. He entices us with sweet words and appeals to our neediness but then when we partake of it we discover what rotten yuckiness it really is.

Ephesians 6:10-11 says: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

Notice that we are to be strong in the Lord and His power, not in our own. It isn’t through self-discipline, self-help or our own perseverance that will make us strong in our war against the devil but it is through God alone. That is the only way that we can stand firm and discern the schemes of the devil.

So beware of the devil and his sweet enticing words and older sisters bearing gifts!