Don’t Miss the Boat

One of my favorite traditions at Christmas is going to the Enchanted Forest with my mom. This year, my kids wanted to do the scavenger hunt, so they spent half an hour running around looking for obscure objects like 3 red scarves and a blueprint. ( I kid you not! The Enchanted Forest doesn’t play around!) Ellie and James were having a tough time finding some of the things on the list, so mom and I jumped in on the nightmare fun. I was assigned “toy boat.” Earlier I had spent ten minutes looking for firetrucks that ended up being tiny toys hidden on shelves, so I just knew the toy boat would be hidden in that section as well.  As I scanned the other toys, I didn’t see one. My mom came over and said, “Natalie, do you not see that boat?!!!” I looked to the left and saw this.

boat

A BIG, TOY,  BOAT! My mom and I laughed so hard we cried! I was so sure it would be a small one that I completely missed the big one right in my face. I missed something so obvious because it was not what I expected.

How often do we miss what God is doing in our lives because we have a preconceived notion of what it will look like? God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). If that’s true, why do we try to keep Him in a box, expecting Him to work only in ways that WE think He should?

Maybe the best example in Scripture is Jesus Christ Himself. The Jewish people had been anxiously waiting for God to send their Messiah, but they had their own idea of what he would be. They expected a magnificent, stately, political king. But Jesus “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53: 2) Jesus didn’t fit their mold of an earthly King and yet He was (and is) the King of all Kings. So many of them missed the promised One, because He didn’t line up with their expectations.

As we go into 2018, many of us will set goals and resolutions. And these aren’t bad. But if we are only focused on our own ideas of how things should work out or how this year should go, we may miss out. This year leave room for God to have His way, for Him to do some new things. Ask him to open your eyes to what is right in front you, to the unexpected ways He is working.

Don’t be like me and miss the boat 🙂

Natalie

Lessons from Standby

“Andy, I forgot my driver’s license.” This is not the sentence you want to say when you have just pulled up at the airport for your early morning flight. We were on our way to Kansas City for my dad’s graduation, and I had just thought to myself, “Wow, we are actually early! I can send some emails, get my Starbucks. This is great!” Apparently, I packed everything except the one thing that you MUST have to board the plane. After rushing all the way back to our house in the suburbs and then back to the airport, we missed our original flight to Atlanta that would take us to Kansas City. Let’s just say those moments were not my best.

As I cried at the ticket counter and listened to the options, it became apparent that our journey to Kansas City was not going to be easy. After hearing all of the possible scenarios, our best option was to get on STANDBY for the next flight to Atlanta, and then wait on STANDBY for the next flight to Kansas City. Well, that scared me to death. Even though there were a ton of seats available on the plane, I could not think of anything worse than being stuck in Atlanta!

HOME ALONE mom use this

At the end of the day, we made it to Kansas City. There were a couple close calls, and a reenactment of the Home Alone scene as we sprinted through the Atlanta airport with Ellie and James, but we made it to the graduation celebration.  And you and I both know that God made it happen.

The whole time this was going on, I couldn’t help but see the parallel to the Christian life. Once we missed that original flight, we didn’t have control. We were on standby the rest of the way. And we had to take tiny steps of faith to get to our destination. Often, the Lord calls us to do something that is scary or uncomfortable. We may be OK with it, but the real problem comes in when we can’t see the step after that. We can’t see where or when He’s booked our next ticket, and so we don’t even get on the original flight. Because, what if we have to hang out in the ATL airport for the rest of our lives????

One of the most unbelievable examples of faith in the Old Testament is Abraham. His whole life was like a giant leap of faith! And although he had his moments, for the most part he trusted the Lord. In Genesis 12, God revealed himself to Abram, calling him to leave his family and everything he knew. Taking God at his word, Abram obeyed. Verse 1 always jumps out at me,

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you…”

God didn’t fill in the destination on Abraham’s ticket! He literally told him to pack up and go, and Abraham had to rely completely on the Lord. Sometimes we may think that it was easier for Abraham to obey because the Lord gave him these amazing promises in the next few verse (2-3). But I’m not sure that’s true. We have hundreds of promises in Scripture that apply to us, and yet we still have trouble stepping out in faith when we don’t have all the details planned out.

When Andy and I were at the original ticket counter trying to figure out what to do, the Delta employee could tell I was about to have an anxiety attack. She was so great and  was confident that we would make that connecting flight. As she was making the arrangements, she looked at me and said, “Just think of it as an adventure.” Y’all the Christian life is an adventure!!! And the LORD has all of our flights booked 😊

Natalie

 

A Perfectionist at Christmas

LIVING MAGAZINE PICTURE

So, last week I had a post drafted and ready to go. It was about how we are stressed during the holidays, but it never changes. I had been thinking on past years and how so much can stem from over-committing, and refusing to say no. The whole post was about how we need to say no more, stand up for ourselves, quit trying to people please, and focus on the One who really matters. And just for the record… I think it was a pretty good post!

But for whatever reason, I didn’t have confirmation from Him to post it. May sound weird to some, but I believe the Lord gives me words to say.  Anything that I write that is of worth is from Him; anything that is dung (as KJV Paul would say) is all Natalie. And I didn’t have a peace to post it.. Now I know why.

Since then, I have been going about my business and I have noticed something. Several times, and I mean SEVERAL, I have had this urge to plan numerous things. Keep in mind, that I am on my way to Kansas City at 5:00 am tomorrow for my dad’s graduation ceremony for his Doctorate of Ministry (woo hoo! Yay dad!!!) So, in reality, I have two weekends before Christmas. And yet, I have literally been a group text away from hosting three different events. I keep trying to cram in things in the days left before Christmas, when in reality, it would leave me feeling stressed, over committed, maxed out, all the things I have complained about from years past.

What’s my point?  It’s me. I don’t need to say no to other people. I need to say no to myself. I am the one who overbooks. I am the one who has to have everything Martha Stewart level. I set the bar so high, that even an Olympian couldn’t clear it.  I want my Christmas to be perfect, and perfection to me means performance.  I can’t blame anyone else for that. The perfectionist rears her head at Christmas more than any other time. And in the end, I am the one who misses out, largely because I miss out on my God.

But what’s so sweet, is that the Lord pointed out my issue. Have you ever experienced Him showing you your sin or faults?  The Creator of the world bothered to show me that I am actually the one who is causing my holiday stress. Such a small thing in life but to me it was a BIG thing, and yet He cared to listen to me, and to show me where I was falling short. The Lord is the best therapist I could ever have. Ha!! I love Him so much. He is my delight. He is my joy. And I hope He is yours too.

Natalie

Psalm 37:4