Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my faithful followers and readers of this blog: Thank You. I appreciate you more than you know. May you have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Norma

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God’s Favor

 

“Other people may have more talent, education, or experience but God’s favor can cause you to go places you could not go on your own.” 

Pinterest 

My high school Young Life leader encouraged us to simply say thank you when we’re given a compliment. Our tendency can be to discount it, to appear humble. Instead, she instructed us to receive the affirmation and express gratefulness. Receiving God’s favor is similar. There is nothing we could ever do to earn His kindness. Like a compliment, it is a gift from God, which when received, we need to thank Him. 

During this Christmas season I am reminded of Jesus’ mother Mary. Luke 1:30 says, “But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.'” The kindness of God gave a virgin the ability to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah. God’s favor turns ordinary people into extraordinary. It’s God’s kindness which turns the natural into the supernatural. You can tell when God has touched a situation with His favor. Doors open quickly, and things happen faster than normal. It’s obvious when His fingerprints are all over a relationship. Strangers open their hearts and confide in you. 

A few months ago, God was speaking to me about His favor and how to respond to it. This is what I heard: Use it, but don’t abuse it. Utilize the favor I have placed upon you – maximize it – for My glory. Don’t hold back, like you’re tempted to. I have given it to you because I know I can trust you with it. I know you will not abuse it to get your way or for selfish ambition. Use it to get more people into My kingdom. Use it to gain access into more hearts that you can restore through Me. Use it to lead more of My children into My bedroom chamber, where intimacy awaits them. Don’t ignore, shrink back, or hide from the position of favor that I have placed you in. Embrace it and always turn to Me, for Me to receive the glory. 

Just as I learned from my Young Life leader, I thank God for the gift of His favor that He has bestowed on me. And like the Holy Spirit shared, I want to use God’s favor to maximize His kingdom, for His glory, and never abuse it. 

“When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.” 

Proverbs 16:15 

Relevant Reflection 

Describe a time when you experienced God’s favor. Take time to thank Him for it. 

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The Weaver

 

“Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.” 

Tim Keller 

Life is like one big tapestry. God weaves each person, place, and situation to create a beautiful tapestry. Even the suffering we go through, are threads carefully woven throughout our lives for the sole purpose of our good. Even in the pain we experience, the master weaver has a purpose in His plan and it’s for our benefit. 

Last Friday, on my birthday, I “happened” to read my life verse during my quiet time. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  

I am reminded that even though this transition and move to Wichita has been difficult to leave those I love, I know God has chosen this path because He loves me. In my head and in some parts of my heart, I believe all this change is for my good, my husband’s welfare, and for the benefit of my family and friends. I just can’t fully see it yet. 

The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then shall I know fully, even as I am fully known.” To be fully known by God, is a description of an intimate relationship. Only the master weaver has in mind what the stunning tapestry will look like when it’s finished and He alone knows the circumstances in life to thread in and out of our personal looms, in order to create what He desires. 

A year ago, on my birthday, I went out to lunch with one of my favorite friends, and throughout the lunch I wept, as I shared my fears that a drastic change, even a possible move, was on the horizon. This year, I grieved my loss again, but this time, it was with a heart filled with gratitude and peace, knowing that God has done all this because He has my best interest in mind. 

The master weaver is in the process of creating an attractive tapestry out of my life. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished! 

“…Some suffering has no purpose other than to lead a person to love God more ardently for Himself alone and so discover the ultimate peace and freedom.” 

Tim Keller 

Relevant Reflection: 

In what ways have you seen the master weaver make a beautiful tapestry out your pain and suffering?  

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There’s No Place Like Home

 

“Home is where God is. He is inside you, so home is wherever you go.” 

Lindsay Donovan 

It’s a process to make a house, a home. John and I are still in the beginning stages of turning our Wichita house into a home. Numerous boxes are unpacked, but we have many more to go. Pictures need to be hung. Furniture needs to be chosen and arranged. Smells from traditional holiday baking need to be inhaled. And family and friends need to visit, in order to deem this new place, Home Sweet Home. 

I’m thankful for my daughter’s reminder in a recent note, that Home is where God is. It’s the Presence of God, no matter where we live, whether Wichita or Omaha, that becomes our home. When I find my home in God, then my stability, nourishment, and all that I need to thrive, will also be found in Him. It’s from this platform that all other life will spring. 

One of the churches we’ve visited in Wichita, has a sign outside, above the entrance that says, Welcome Home. I can only imagine the Holy Spirit whispering those words each time I go to Him in prayer, spend time in His Word, and listen to His voice. Welcome home, my daughter. 

Just as many of us go home for the holidays, I wonder if some of you reading this post, haven’t found your home in God. Jesus said in John 14:23, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  

Others in this audience, may have had situations that have separated you from your true home in God, and you need to return home. No matter what happened in your past, or what struggles you may be going through today, now that I’m a Kansas gal, I agree with Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, There’s no place like home. It’s especially true when you find your home in God. Go home to Him today. 

“But the more I read the Bible and the more I get to know Jesus, the more I realize that this life-even with all its quirks and turns and tragedies-is meant to be amazing. Not because circumstances are always perfect, but because our souls have found their homes in God.” 

     Judah Smith 

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. Have you found your home in God?  
  2. Do you need to return to Him? It’s never too late! 
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Give Thanks

 

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” 

William Arthur Ward 

The Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving in 1621. They thanked God for His provision. Likewise, in today’s post, I want to give thanks to God for all the ways He’s provided, to help me say good-bye to Omaha and hello to Wichita. I thank God for: 

  • All those who have undergirded us in prayer this past year. 
  • My friends who listened and allowed me to process my heart. 
  • Our small group who encouraged and valued us in so many ways. 
  • The gals who came over to help us pack up our house. Packing parties are fun! 
  • My friend who provided two quiches for quick and tasty breakfasts. 
  • The numerous good-bye parties, which honored us with their presence and their well wishes. 
  • The decorator who staged our house to make it more appealing. 
  • The wise realtor who advocated on our behalf and sold our house. 
  • The delightful Wichita realtor who became our friend, found the house we love, and spearheaded the remodeling prior to our move. 
  • The beautiful sunsets and peaceful view in our backyard. 
  • Our family, friends, and church who unselfishly released us to fulfill the purposes of God and spoke courage into us to do so. 
  • Our friends in Wichita, who got the ball rolling for the provision of a job here, and for the many practical ways they expressed their love and care for us. 
  • Our friend who allowed us to crash at her house our last two days in Omaha.  
  • The friend in Omaha who connected me to her Christian friends in Wichita.  
  • The mental, physical, and emotional energy to get all packed. 
  • All the boxes we’ve unpacked so far! 
  • His grace and promises regarding this transition. 

Yes, I am grateful for all these things, but most of all, I “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” (I Chronicles 16:34) Celebrate giving thanks every day of the year. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving. 

“God has two dwellings: one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.” 

Izaak Walton 

Relevant Reflection: 

Take time right now and give thanks to God for all that He has recently provided. 

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Please Pass the Baton

 

“Everything hinges on what happens in the exchange zone. There we receive the baton, and there we release what is no longer ours to carry so the next runners can play their part.” 

Christine Caine 

Two days from now John and I will be all packed up with our belongings loaded on a moving van, heading to Wichita. I’ve experienced the whole gamut of emotions within my heart, like a roller coaster going up and coming back down. I have thoughts of gratitude for the dear family and friends we’ve made in Omaha since 1989, as well as all the ways God has grown us up spiritually. We take with us our wonderful memories, to the next chapter in our lives. 

Lately I’ve been pondering the legacy I’m leaving behind and the deposits I’ve made into lives. I’ve reflected on what batons I’ve grasped in our leg of life here, that is now time to pass on to others. A few months ago, while at a retreat with friends, the Holy Spirit came upon one of them. God showed her how I’ve been holding a space till others were ready to step into it. And once I leave, they will be launched. 

I’ve been reading Christine Caine’s book titled Unstoppable. It’s regarding running the race you were born to win. She writes about the importance of the exchange zone, when you pass the baton onto another and when it’s your turn to grab ahold of a new baton and run with it. She encourages us to “master the handoff.” Christine goes on to say: “Releasing the batons entrusted to your care-batons you’ve carried well and marveled over as you’ve experienced God’s supernatural work in you and through you–often requires a willingness to say good-bye, to let go, to move from the known to the unknown. But the rewards can be breathtaking, because in the handoff, you are privileged to play a part in God’s unfolding plan not only for you but also for others.” 

Today I am passing the baton of being a spiritual mom, mentor, speaker, and writer to those of you in Omaha that are running with God in the exchange zone. May you take what I leave and build upon that. And as I move to Wichita, I turn to God and say, “Please pass the baton.” Whatever new race He wants me to run, may I do it faithfully, for His glory. 

“When you learn to master the handoff…, your race is not marred by sadness or regrets. It is filled with excitement, joy, and adventure. You don’t have time to linger over the past because you are too busy running into the future. When God determines that it is time to hand off a baton, it is only because we have taken it as far as we can and He has something else for us to do. We need to let go of one baton in order to take hold of another.”  

Christine Caine 

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. Is there a baton you need to pass onto another person? 
  2. What new baton is God asking you to grab ahold of, to run the race He has for you? 
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The Lord Determines My Steps

 

There’s no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny. 

Ravi Zacharias 

I don’t know if it’s the school teacher chromosome within me, or what, but I’ve always enjoyed planning. I remember as a teenager, I had my cousin spend the night. Moments before we fell asleep, I asked her what was the next day’s agenda. I like knowing ahead of time what to expect. I’ve learned it’s okay to plan, but to hold those plans loosely, for God may want to change them. 

Proverbs 16:9 says: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” In my heart, I had planned to live in Omaha till the day I died. I never voiced those words out loud, like I did when I lived in Tucson, for fear they would not come true! My course was to stay in Nebraska, but ultimately, it’s the Lord who decides where I live. Apparently, He’s chosen Wichita to be our next place of residence. 

Months ago, the Lord spoke these words to me. All along, the twenty-eight years in Omaha were not meant to be a destination; they were simply a part of the journey. They were to prepare you for what I have next in Wichita. 

God rules and reigns in my life, thus He dictates the steps to take. I don’t want my way, but God’s way. I want His desires fulfilled in my life. I know when God’s in control then it will be good, for He always has my best interests at heart. Who better knows what’s best for me than my Creator. 

A few weeks ago, after closing on our house in Wichita, I was sitting out alone on our friend’s deck, sipping a cup of coffee. In the stillness of the early morning, I heard my Father say, This is home now. It was a gentle, definitive statement of transition which brought tears to my eyes. God closed one chapter of my life in Omaha while He opened a new chapter in Wichita, which will be His-story for me. I experienced comfort and peace with God’s word of confirmation. I may not always know what’s next, but if God’s in charge, I know it will be good. 

Destiny waits in the hand of God, not in the hands of statesmen.

T. S. Eliot

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. What plans have you made, which God has changed? 
  2. Does God rule and reign in every aspect of your life? If not, take time to submit that area to God through repentance and prayer. 
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The Heart Changer

 

“Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He’s trying to change your heart.” 

Anonymous 

I have prayed Proverbs 21:1 often. “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” It’s one thing to see that happen to others as an answer to prayer, and it’s another thing to witness it in yourself! I have found God to be the heart changer. 

Slowly, but surely, God has graced me to say goodbye to our house we’ve loved living in for twenty years and more importantly to those I love in Omaha these past twenty-eight years. My heart is at rest and every now and then there is a surge of excitement rising up within me for the adventure God has called us to in Wichita. 

God changed Saul’s heart in preparation to become the first king of Israel. (I Samuel 10:9) I don’t think Saul at first was too keen on the idea because the Word says he was hiding himself by the baggage. (I Samuel 10:22) I can identify with Saul. I wanted to deny what was happening to John at work and to dig my heals into Omaha, never wanting to start over in another city. But then my heart changed, thanks to the Lord, the heart changer. 

Now I’m grateful He’s touched my heart and made me to look forward to the move. He helped me let go of my possessions and people and become passionate for what He has next on the horizon. Instead of resisting and being angry, or playing the victim, I’m embracing the change and can’t wait to see what He has up His sleeves for us. God gave me a prophetic word picture of a Christmas tree surrounded with wrapped gifts. I believe He has gifts in Wichita, waiting for us to unwrap. 

I wonder if God is filling my life with good things to come with the move to Wichita and that in the change I’ll stay young and strong like an eagle, (Psalm 103:5). Staying in my comfort zone and becoming complacent is not for my good. I know that when He causes me to face my fears with my hand firmly clasped in His, I will grow closer to Him. That is always a win-win. 

“If God changes your heart, be willing to change your plans.” 

Joyce Meyer 

Relevant Reflection: 

Describe a time when God changed your heart. 

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