3 Spiritual Things I Learned From an (Almost) Recycled Egg Carton

“No matter how accomplished or experienced we may be, God may be asking us to fulfill a task that seems uncomfortable, uneasy, or downright humiliating.  If that is where He asks you to be, continue in it no matter how mundane it is.”

My price-savvy husband found an awesome deal for eggs at Walmart (don’t judge, we are not getting farm fresh eggs–yet!).  It is actually a great deal–five dozen for $2.08.  They come in a big box that is a bit cumbersome in the refrigerator.  I decided to just save our smaller egg cartons and fill those with the eggs from the bulk box.  I therefore asked everyone in the family to NOT recycle or throw away the smaller egg cartons, but save them.

I had seen an empty egg carton in the recycle bin but didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until I looked in the refrigerator and didn’t see the grey egg carton that I thought to take it out of the recycle.

This is what I gathered from the 1-minute experience.

1. Your value will be seen by some, but not by all.

Whoever put the egg carton in the recycle bin obviously forgot my request to save the smaller egg cartons. It just wasn’t that important to them. He or she didn’t realize that the egg carton had a better purpose than to be shred into pieces and repurposed into a different material.  It had purpose here and now.

Just realize in life that as we grow in God, we should begin to recognize the value that He has placed in/on us.  God created us all for specific purposes, with value. I recently read a blog from a guy who is a professional scavenger who makes a living selling curbside garbage.  As I read his blog, I was amazed at the money he said he would make by reselling all the stuff people deemed as garbage.

Don’t allow anyone or any circumstance to lower your value. Insecure bosses, rumor-spreading neighbors, crabby-minded relatives and co-workers, layoffs, a divorce…none of them determine your value, so please do not allow them to devalue who you are. Even if you made mistakes in those relationships and situations, learn from the mistake and move on.  Fail forward, as I have read in many places. As one of my mentors says, allow your mistake to become your miracle.  Keep on going for what the Lord has predestined you to do.

2. Continue in the assignment God has placed you in, no matter how mundane or unfulfilling it is. Why? Because just as I was looking for that empty egg carton to be in the refrigerator, God is looking for you where He last told you be.

I don’t like to waste time and if I feel that my services in a particular place or event aren’t needed or valued, I’m quick to move on.  I want to make difference.  My efforts must count.  While this is considered an asset, I have to be aware when pride may sneak in prompting me to instantly dismiss opportunities where I may have to be patient.

A great example of this occurred last Sunday.  I received a message from the volunteer coordinator that extra help was needed at church.   I almost dismissed it because the previous Sunday when I arrived ready to work, I was told that everything was already covered.  Thankfully, I found something productive to do and was later asked to fill an empty position.

Last Sunday, despite my concerns, I decided to go early to help, and was plugged in right away to help.

No matter how accomplished or experienced we may be, God may be asking us to fulfill a task that seems uncomfortable, uneasy, or downright humiliating.  If that is where He asks you to be, continue in it no matter how mundane it is.  The reward of obedience is promotion (Isaiah 1:19).

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The bulk box of eggs, taking up a lot of space!

3. You’re better in the refrigerator of waiting than in the recycle heap of ease. God is not looking for you in the recycle bin, but in the refrigerator of life, ready and willing to be used in ways He has already predetermined.  Remember when I overlooked the egg carton in the recycle bin, but when I didn’t see it in the refrigerator, I immediately retrieved it?

Again, God is looking for you in a specific place–the place He called you to be.  It may be easy to just sit opportunities out, let someone else do it–“take the easy way out” some may call it. But, easy is not always better. In fact, those things that are obtained with time, sweat and MUCH effort are the most worthwhile and rewarding.  Of course God doesn’t want you to take on so many responsibilities that you are not able to be faithful to your primary ones.  On the other hand, at times He wants to stretch you beyond your normal capabilities. This is where growth occurs.

For instance, my girls and I are entering our second year of involvement with a homeschool group here in Virginia. Whereas last year I was involved in only a few activities, this year I jumped in and got involved in several activities that I had been pondering for a while.  Will it take time and effort to fulfill these efforts? Sure, but where’s the growth if we play it safe all the time.

What is it that you are feeling compelled to step out and do? What’s holding you back? Any mundane assignments keeping you uninspired? Remember the promise of obedience (Isaiah 1:19)!

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Getting on Higher (or Lower) Ground

“How can you get on higher ground, or see things from the Lord’s perspective?  Well, the most important thing to do is to remember what He has already promised you.”

Last year my family’s move from Nashville to Virginia brought a change in the master bedroom arrangement.  Whereas my husband and I have almost always had separate closets, in this particular house, we share.

With closet quarters being a bit more cramped, it’s sometimes been more challenging for me to find my clothes right away, despite my attempts to organize them by color or style.

One particular time I decided to stand on a chair to look for a particular blouse.  Would you know, I found it almost right away. Another time I decided to get down on my knees to find a skirt–same success!

The other day I was looking for some insect repellant.  I did not see it where I left it and almost gave up when I decided to turn on the light and get on my knees. Thankfully, I found the bottle pushed back a bit laying on its side.

This higher/lower ground success stirred my thinking as to how it relates to spiritual life. Most of you have heard the story of the airplane that starts off flying in a storm and once it gets above the clouds, there are sunny skies. The moral of the illustration is perspective.

You may be saying, “Yeah, that’s great, but I’m not flying right now. I’m going through a really tough time.”

How can you get on higher ground, or see things from the Lord’s perspective?  Well, the most important thing to do is to remember what He has already promised you. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
  2. My grace is sufficient for you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  3. I will meet all of your needs {physical, emotional, social, financial} according to My riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19)
  4. I’m at work in your life both to will and to do of My good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
  5. Whatsoever things you ask for in prayer, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. (Matthew 21:22)

I really like a song by William McDowell that says, “I can see clearly now, here on my knees.”

That song has often brought me to tears thinking of how clearly I can see things when I’m on my knees, either literally, or figuratively by remembering His promises, His plans of goodness for my life and His guarantee that if He has brought me to the test, He will see me through it.

I often seek divine perspective with a walk around the neighborhood, or private time alone in my car or in the garage. These are my favorite places where I can just talk to the Lord and get HIS perspective and recall HIS promises.

What is your favorite higher (or lower) place? Remember, it is simply a place where you can speak what you are feeling, see what God sees, hear what He says, and speak what He’s promised.  I encourage you to get there often. I guarantee you, you’ll find what you are looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can I Be “That Daughter” Part 2

In my last blog I recalled my thoughts regarding how I can be a daughter that is not only loved by God, but pleasing as well.  These thoughts came about after reflecting on my daughters’ actions and attitudes while we were preparing to go out of town.  To read the blog in its entirety, you may find it here: How Can I Be “That Daughter”:Part I .

Let’s continue to reflect by answering three more questions that I ask to determine if I am being “that daughter.”

3.  How do I respond to God’s instructions?
I believe that God has a very specific agenda and plans to accompany that agenda. Before Jesus returned home to be with His Father, He instructed His disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19.)  I believe that this is the Father’s primary goal –for all to come to know and have a relationship with Him.  Often while I am out shopping or running errands, the Lord will instruct me to speak with someone regarding their relationship with Jesus or invite them to church.  Since many people do not truly understand what a “born again Christian” is, I sometimes ask whether or not they know if they will go to heaven when they die.  If they say “yes,” I ask why and if they mention good deeds, I proceed to tell them the “bad news” before giving them the “good news.”  The bad news being that good deeds cannot get us to heaven, and the good news being that Jesus already paid the price (death on the cross) for their eternal life in heaven.

Although I often find a great sense of satisfaction in serving as a messenger, honestly, sometimes I find the instructions a bit inconvenient.  Sometimes I will hear instructions to speak with someone after I have loaded the car and started to drive off.  I’ve found myself sighing or even rolling my eyes, saying to the Lord, “I wish you would have told me this BEFORE I started to drive away.”  Of course I have to immediately ask for forgiveness for my attitude and He does forgive me, but I’d like to not have the attitude in the first place. God loves me whether or not I obey or disobey, with an attitude or not, but again, I’m not looking to just be loved.  I’m looking to be pleasing.

4. Am I submitted to God’s will, timing and plan?
Part of growing up is being willing to respond favorably when things don’t go our way.  Let’s face it, God’s plan and timing do not always agree with ours.  This is another aspect part of walking by faith–being able (and willing) to submit to His ways of doing things although we don’t understand them, and trust that they are better. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Although we think we have good ideas, they some times pale in comparison to the plans that GOD has for us.  At times it’s hard to have faith to continue to trust Him when answers to our prayers seem distant, but we must believe that He is working everything out for our good.

I recently heard a story of a couple that was selling their home. It was a beautiful home in a prime location, so they didn’t expect to wait long for it to sell.  However, after nine months and 110 viewers, not one person came back for a second visit! In fact, they had to renew their contract with their realtor.  During this time, their church was in transition of hiring a new pastor from New Zealand, who would be moving to the States and needing a home.  The owner of the home graciously informed the soon-to-be pastor and his wife that theirs was for sell.  To make a long story short, the pastor and his wife saw the home, came back for a second visit the next day and offered to buy their home at their asking price.  The pastor’s wife later shared of how she had a dream of the home that God had for them in the States and asked God to send angels to protect the home from anyone else buying it until they were ready! Trusting the Lord, even when He is not meeting our agenda, pleases Him.

5. How are my words?
Words are powerful. Let’s face it.  With our words we can encourage and build up or discourage and tear down.  I believe that certain words warm God’s heart. Psalm 19:14 says, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” My spiritual father teaches that the first words that come out of our mouths when we hear bad (or good) news will determine the outcome of the event.   To illustrate his teaching, he used the true story of a woman in the Bible.  She had been childless for many years before a prophet foretold that she would give birth to a son.  The prophecy came true, but unfortunately, the son later died.  The woman did not tell anyone about his death, but instead, replied “all is well” when asked how her son was.  She fully expected to see what she was expecting from the prophet, which was for him to raise her son from the dead, which he did. (2 Kings 4:8-37) Her discipline to speak right words greatly affected her actions and expectations.

Getting back to my daughters, one of them has a natural inclination to use her words wisely.  She is always saying what she likes about me, complimenting her sisters’ great characteristics and trying to express thankfulness in place of complaints. Her natural tendency to express love through her words, coupled with her sincere attempt to not complain greatly pleases me. Philippians 2:13-14, says, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”  Sometimes it’s hard to express thankfulness in the midst of unpleasant situations. We want to complain and fault-find–vent, as some people call it–but at the end of it all, we know that it accomplishes nothing except getting if off our chests.  Thankfully, the Lord is patient and kind, but ultimately, I believe that the discipline to use our words to pray, bless others and express thankfulness will bring the most joy to our Father’s heart.

Thank you for reading.

 

How Can I Be “That Daughter” Part I

“If you run from the opportunities the Lord has determined to help you grow, your faith will stagnate.  If you proceed, it will grow.  It is just that simple.”

Back in May, my daughters and I enjoyed a productive trip to visit family and friends in Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois and Toledo, Ohio. The first stop was Atlanta, where we attended a graduation picnic and I spent Mother’s Day with my mom.

The sunny morning that we prepared to leave Atlanta, I could almost predict what would happen.  There were four people preparing to leave, but only two were working to quickly move us toward our goal.  One daughter can always be depended on to get the job done, almost without asking.  She was diligently packing the food bag and the trunk. Another daughter was only preparing her breakfast and complaining about trivial matters that I cared little about in the scheme of the greater task of packing to drive to Chicago.  The third daughter was not helping either, but at least she wasn’t complaining.  She was simply attending to what she talked about and practiced almost all the time–gymnastics and her soon-coming YouTube vlog.

This scene is nothing new.  I have been through many scenarios of issuing commands and requests, but it only seemed to frustrate and drain me more.  I’ve learned to just work with what I had.  Although I love all my daughters equally, it is rather easy to discern which daughter was more pleasing to me at the time.

As I thought about the situation, I thought about how the Father God often has these same scenarios  and began to think about the different types of children that He loves and parents each day.  I began to ask some hard questions of myself. How can I be like the daughter who was greatly appreciated?  There are five questions I asked myself to help determine the answer. Two of them are listed in this blog.

1. Am I walking by faith?

The Bible says that without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  I know that God will always love me, but is He pleased with me?  God has placed me in several situations that have caused me to walk by faith. I could have shrunk back to what I could control or step out on what God told me to do, by faith.  Earlier this year, my youngest daughter had surgery on her eyes.  You can read more about it here: Assurance + Promise: Part I  and here:  Assurance + Promise: Part II.  She and I had been believing for healing for quite some time when, while hearing a preacher speak about his own surgery, God spoke to me to allow her to have surgery.  This was not an easy task to agree to as you know eye surgery can be risky.  But, we walked by faith and saw the outcome of our faith.

God will place you in situations that cause you to walk by faith. In other words, you can’t understand the “how” or the “why” but you do what you know to do anyway, and usually, after obeying, everything is much clearer.  If you run from the opportunities the Lord has determined to help you grow, your faith will stagnate.  If you proceed, it will grow.  It is just that simple.

2. How do I respond during trouble?

The Bible tells us that we will all have trouble in this world, but not to worry, because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).  He also said not to worry.  So, if I worry, I am not obeying God.  I know that it is easier said than done, but the only way to make it easy is to do it…a lot!  Do what a lot…not worry, but trust!  Here are a couple of scriptures I like to speak when I’m tempted to worry:

Psalm 9:10 (NIV) “Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”

I encountered several more good ones as I was looking up these. Biblegateway.com is my go to source for good scriptures.

When you face financial  trials, health concerns, relational trouble, or other forms of trouble, do you worry, doubt or complain? I’ve faced trouble in my finances, health and in my relationships just like all people, and each time I have endeavored to seek the Scriptures and do what the Lord says to do.  Consider trials and trouble as opportunities to grow in your trust of God and find things to be thankful for. This demonstrates the growth and maturity that all parents are proud of!

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for the next blog which will include the other three questions I ask myself to find out if I’m being “that daughter.”

Has this helped or encouraged you? If so, take a minute and leave a comment!

 

The Prodigal Turtle

Most Saturday mornings find me looking out of my breakfast nook window, but this morning I found a pleasant surprise–an Eastern box turtle diligently crawling through our backyard toward our house. It wasn’t the first one I have seen in the neighborhood.  I’ve seen some alive and unfortunately, a couple crushed in the street.

I took a few moments to watch where he was going and see what he would do.  I got closer to him, tickling him with some weeds to watch him retract his head. After a long while, he protruded his head and restarted his journey.  He reached the back of the house and stood frozen, looking at the huge brick wall that was before him.  What would he do?

“I guess he lost his way,” I thought. There is a huge wooded area behind our yard, so I supposed that he came from there.  All I could think of was him reaching the street and getting crushed like the others.  I thought I would return him to the creek that I had heard was in the back of the woods.  Observing the seemingly lost turtle,  I thought about a parable I could tell my daughter about spiritual bumpers, which, according to my spiritual father, are those events that God puts in our lives to block us from going the wrong way and get us on the right path.  It’s one of the many ways He speaks to us.  While it would be ideal for us to have crystal clear hearing and be able to discern the perfect will of God at all times, it is just not so.  I’ve learned that the Lord usually uses spiritual bumpers in situations where we are sincerely misguided or wrong about a direction we are going.

The first biblical example that comes to mind when I think of spiritual bumpers is that of Balaam and his donkey.  God was not pleased with Balaam traveling with a messenger of a foreign king that meant to do harm to the people of Israel (although He previously gave him permission to do so) so he sent an angel to prevent the donkey from going further. Balaam grew frustrated with the donkey and beat him in order to get him to proceed. After three beatings, the donkey talked to Balaam, and an angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me” (Numbers 22:32).  Here we see that God was trying to spare Balaam from going a way that was contrary to God’s perfect will.

I can recall a situation where God used a spiritual bumper to get my attention and direct me to the right path.  I had joined a network marketing company and despite my best efforts, could not seem to attain the first level of leadership.  It was extremely frustrating.  While talking to a leader in the company, she told me of how another leader switched organizations so as to be situated where he could obtain optimal success. Having joined the company through a magazine ad, I had not personally met my sponsor, and thought that would be the best thing for me to do as well.  I moved to her organization (she also attended my church) and reached the first level of leadership in three months! I believe that I just had to be in the right place in order to experience success.  Whether God sent an angel to frustrate my efforts or not, it certainly was a “bumper” to get me in the right organization!

It was very interesting for me to “play God” with this turtle as I perceived that he  was on the wrong path and that I needed to direct him back toward home.  I was running late for a church picnic, so I decided to do it later ( if I could find him) and left him buried in some leaves.  As I expected, I did not find him when I returned home, but I did later learn that turtles have an instinctive homing ability that directs them back home when lost. Unfortunately, it some times requires them to cross dangerous roads–not good (pethelpful.com)!  I sincerely hope he made it home safely.

It’s been a while since I have written so I’m glad to be back.  Thank you for reading.

 

 

Am I Supposed to Fall?

“What normally takes six months God can do in an instant,” she says. 

The other day my loctician told me about her recent visit to a Valentine’s Day skating party with her 13-year-old daughter. She also brought her 20-month-old son and just casually asked if skates were available for him as well.  Surprisingly, they were and even more surprisingly, he skated with them!  Of course they were the type that fit over the shoes and he and his mom stayed in the slower area of the rink with the beginners, but he was dominating his first time on the rink!

She continued to tell me how he was just trying to keep up with the “big kids” (aka 4-5 yr-olds) and he would even fall when they fell, thinking that this was a part of skating.

This made me think how we are often limited by our first and most apparent examples.  When it comes to life, we tend to think that things have to be done the way we have seen them done.  Thankfully, inventors and other out-of-the-box thinkers are not this way.  If they only moved on what they had seen done before, we would be in a pretty primitive state of being.

You’ve probably heard people say, “Well that’s the way it’s always been done, and we haven’t had any problems yet.” This is fine, except for when it’s time to improve. Cassette players, dial-up internet,  and black and white televisions were just “fine” as well, until CD players, broadband and color TV’s were invented, (and I’m probably still behind in technology).

If you read my last blog, “The Focus Factor,” you know that I am job seeking. Often times I console myself with the statement, “Well you know they say the average time to find a job is about six months.”  I believe we can get so caught up in averages that we limit what God can do.   The Bible says that God can do exceedingly, abundantly above what we can ask or think according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20). We are looking at average, but God wants us to look at His Word.  Now I do understand that there is an appointed time and due season for everything, so we can’t rule that out.  I also know that we can dub things that are supposed to be viewed as guidelines as rules.

Take my last job, for example. It took me about four weeks from search to hire. I stood at my stove one snowy morning, talking to God about my need for a job.  A prior conversation I had with a friend came to mind in which she told me where she worked.  I applied online that day and received a response requesting me to move forward the same week. In about a month, I was hired. No resume, no job boards, nothing.  Just a prayer, a thought and an action. I’m sure that I am not the only one to find a job like that so quickly.

That story reminds me of a wonderful promise from the Bible:

      “Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.” God’s decree. “Things are going to  happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once–and everywhere you look, blessings!” (Amos 9:13-14, Message Bible)

In one of her podcasts, Terri Savelle Foy, a cheerleader of dreams and motivator of hope, believes that God is accelerating things.

“What normally takes six months God can do in an instant,” she says.

What is it that you would love to see accelerated in your life? Have you been looking at all the “beginner skaters” instead of what God says in His Word?  Be encouraged that God has a specific plan to manifest His promise to you, and it won’t necessarily happen the way you’ve seen it done in the past.

Thank you for reading. I hope to hear from you soon.

 

 

The Divine Name Change

“Why did you have your name changed?” I asked Roger.
“I wanted to have the same name as my father,” he replied.

While looking through my safe, I came across a document that belonged to my husband.  It was a name change document that indicated that his last name would be changed from “McNeal” to “Daniels.”

I thought the verbiage on the document  was interesting.  It stated:

“This day Roger Rydell McNeal appeared in open Court, having at least 30 days prior hereto filed his application praying for an order changing his name to Roger Rydell Daniels.”

Praying that his name would be changed? What type of legal document indicates that someone is praying?  I thought that was odd.

“Why did you have your name changed?” I asked Roger.

“I wanted to have the same name as my father,” he replied.

Without going into further details, he wanted the same name as his biological father, and not that of his older siblings’ father.

There is so much power in a name.  Women marry and take on the name of their husbands. Women divorce and regain their old names, not wishing to associate with their ex-husbands.

I still remember when I was a newlywed. At my then workplace, we introduced ourselves to new employees.  For a long time, I identified myself as “Selene Jones” instead of “Selene Daniels.”  It took a while for me to catch on to the fact that I was no longer a Jones.  My DNA did not change, but I had to begin a new way of thinking and acting to carry out the title of Mrs. Selene Daniels.

Several years before I was married, I took on another name change. It was from “unrighteous,” to “righteous.”

Isaiah 62:2b states, “… you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.”

I’ve had this new name of “righteous” for almost thirty years now, but I still remember when my name was “unrighteous” and I didn’t have hope. I still remember when someone asked me, “If you were to die today, where would you go?” and unfortunately, I knew it wasn’t to heaven. I knew I was not a child of God.

Consequently, I had no self esteem or confidence.  My former name of “unrighteous” didn’t afford me true confidence in myself, or my future, but, my new name brought along with it hope and direction.

In Ephesians 1:4-5, the Lord tells us that the Father in heaven, “… predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ….” Thank God for Jesus who paid the price for my adoption and that of the whole world.

Although my biological father gave me the name “Jones,” I thank God that my spiritual Father in heaven adopted me and gave me a new name in Christ that gives me hope, confidence and direction in life.

My husband changed his name because he knew who his true father was.  On November 13, 1988, my name was changed from “righteous” to “unrighteous” because I discovered who my true Father is as well. My prayer is for you to do the same.

Thank you for reading.