It was the last Sunday for one of our pastors, as he was moving on to another church. While he was being thanked for his service it was said that God had a plan for the new church and this pastor was the piece of the puzzle needed to complete that plan.
Thinking about this made me realize that I can be the puzzle piece that helps to make someone else’s picture complete. It need not take grand gestures. Allowing God to direct me as I do little things may be just what is needed. The piece of the puzzle I bring may only add to the picture for an hour or a day, but it will contribute to the beautiful picture God is creating in another’s life.
It wasn’t long until I saw this in action. I stopped to chat with someone I hadn’t seen in a couple of months. After telling her that I had missed seeing her, I found out that she was going through a challenging time. What she needed to hear that day was that someone cared. This conversation helped to fill in a puzzle piece that let her know she mattered.
Later, I was introduced to a friend of a friend. Spontaneously I gave her a hug instead of a handshake. With tears in her eyes she thanked me, saying that her mother used to hug her everyday but had passed away and she missed those hugs. My simple gesture had filled in the puzzle piece that showed her, through touch, that she was cared for.
Thinking back on these things, I realized anew how God can use me to make a difference. When He prompts me to say or do something, He may just be using me to be the puzzle piece that someone needs at that moment.
Love each other with genuine affections, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10 NLT
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25 NIV
Be inspired today!
According to the calendar it is spring. The season officially changed last week. This morning I woke up to snow and the forecast calls for more over the next few days. In the Vancouver area, where I am from, the flowers are blooming. Here in the Calgary area, we still have winter conditions. It did warm up for a few days and enough snow melted that we could see the grass. People were happy and certain that spring had arrived. Then, a cold front moved in and we are back to winter weather.
The seasons on the calendar change like the seasons of my life. One day I feel the sunshine and warmth of spring and the next day the cold winds of winter blast me. Life, like the weather, is not always predictable. Although these changing conditions are nothing new, they still take me by surprise. One thing I do know from experience, is that life continues to change.
I have just celebrated a birthday and my calendar changed not only to a new year, but also a new decade. This is a time for me to reflect upon my life and the season I am currently experiencing. What I have discovered comes as no surprise. Life is good! I am blessed to be surrounded by loving family and friends. Volunteer roles help me to make a difference in others lives. In the past month, my first book, Inspirations from the Everyday has been released. This has taken me on an exciting path I never could have imagined as I entered the last decade.
As the season of life changes again I look forward to what is ahead. I know that God has great plans for me and I’m excited to see what this new season will bring.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
It had been a tough morning for the aqua fit instructor. The water was cold and there were many complaints from people as they climbed into the pool. A few went directly into the warmer pool beside the one the class was held in. Then they complained that they couldn’t hear the instructions. For some the music was too loud, for others not loud enough. The final straw came when the sound system shut down altogether. The instructor got out of the pool to see what could be done. Frustrated, she said “That’s it, I quit.” After a slight pause the word that followed was “complaining”.
She joked about leaving but what she was really telling the class was that she quit complaining and so should we! All of the complaining was not productive and didn’t change the situation, so we should just quit doing it! Not everyone heard that last word but it stuck in my mind.
How much better would my life be if I just quit complaining? If there is nothing I can do to change the situation, complaining is only going to make me feel worse. When there is something I can do, my energy should be used to focus on my role in the change. As my attitude becomes more positive there is a ripple effect that changes the attitude of those around me.
God has provided me with so much. I can only imagine his disappointment when I ignore all of the good and instead complain about what I think I’m missing. Instead I need to thank him for what he has provided and pray for guidance to move forward.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Philippians 2:14-15 New Living Translation.
We had just finished an enjoyable time with friends as we met for lunch after church. My husband was at the counter paying and I was standing slightly to the side. Realizing there were a few others in line to pay, I decided to move a little so I wouldn’t be in the way. Smiling, I said to one of my friends, “I think I’ll just get out of line here.” Hearing the words come out of my mouth I laughed and repeat them. Then I said “Normally when I get out of line it means I’m in trouble!”
I don’t think I get out of line often, but in reality it’s probably more frequent than I realize. The real question is: what does it mean to get out of line? When I don’t do what others think I should, does that mean I’m out of line? If I voice an opinion that doesn’t match with those around me, am I out of line? By being true to myself instead of following the crowd do others see me as out of line? My sense of humor can be a little off beat so maybe those who don’t know me well think I’m out of line. In my mind it is when my words or actions are hurtful that I truly step out of line. This is not something that I do intentionally. Sometimes I react without taking the time to think things through. I may not even realize that I’ve offended someone.
Others may misinterpret my words or actions but God never does. He sees into my heart and knows me better than I know myself. He knows my thoughts before I am aware of them and my words before they are spoken. When I am in relationship with him, I can’t get too far out of line.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:1-4 NIV
I had only been on the highway a few minutes when the vehicle I was driving suddenly veered to the side. Fighting to regain control, I wondered what had happened. The road that had felt smooth only moments before now seemed very rough. Pulling over to the shoulder I was sure that the cause must be a flat tire. For the sake of safety I decided to put the hazard lights on. Since this was not my regular vehicle I had trouble locating them. I had never given them a second thought until they were needed. Finally I located the button. Once they were on I felt much safer as these four-way flashers would alert other motorists to the fact that I was having a problem.
What I soon discovered was that having the hazard lights on didn’t make a difference to the speed in which others raced past me. It didn’t seem like they slowed down and no vehicles stopped to see if I needed help. Sitting there, I knew it wasn’t safe to open the driver’s door so I climbed over the seat and out the passenger side to check things out. It was a relief to see that everything looked fine. I must have either hit a small patch of ice or picked up something in one of my tires that had now dislodged. Climbing back into the truck I turned off the hazard lights and eased my way back into traffic. The rest of my drive home was uneventful.
This experience taught me some valuable lessons. I may feel that I put my metaphorical hazard lights on to warn people when my life is not going smoothly. What I have no control over is how others respond to that warning. Most will race on past, while a few may stop to offer assistance. What I can’t do is just click on my distress signal and expect someone to come and rescue me. Calling out to Jesus is what is needed. He will always be available to calm my fears and guide me to safety.
Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7 God’s Word Translation
In the area of southern Alberta where I live, we experience Chinooks. A Chinook is a hot wind that blows in winter. Accompanying this there can be a drastic change in temperature which rapidly melts the snow. For me, one of the most striking features of a Chinook is the Chinook arch. This arch is a band of stationary stratus clouds caused by air rippling over the mountains.
The weather report may tell me that the temperature is going to rise significantly, but it is seeing the Chinook arch that causes me to believe it. The sight of this arch confirms for me what the meteorologists have predicted.
Being a transplant to this area, I am still fascinated by this cloud formation. Not only is it striking to look at, it also fills me with wonder. While experiencing one, I got to thinking how much I rely on the signs of nature to confirm the reports I have heard.
Of course, this led me to another conclusion, as well. In the Bible, God has given me all of the instruction needed to live my life. His Word is something that can always be relied upon. My role is to trust and believe. There is no need to ask for signs and wonders to confirm that it is true.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” John 4:48 NIV
My hands had become very dry and chapped. The skin on my fingertips felt like Velcro catching on fabric. At first I blamed the cold, dry weather for this. While that may have been part of it, it wasn’t the only cause. Also contributing to this was the fact that I had been assisting with a move and had been handling lots of paper and cardboard. Commenting on this to someone, I was asked if I had worn cotton gloves while I worked. The question took me by surprise as this was something that had never entered my mind. I had put lotion on them to ease the dryness but had done nothing to protect them in the first place.
I realized then how much I have taken my hands for granted. Abusing them was not what I had intended, but by neglecting to take care of them, that was exactly what I had done.
God gave me hands not only for my use, but to use to serve others. When I look at these sore hands and realize how much I have taken them for granted, I can’t help but wonder how many of God’s gifts I have treated that way. Everything I have is a gift from God and that is something I never want to take for granted or abuse.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20 NIV
The store that I work in was in the process of moving locations. I have moved my home to a new location before but it was the first time I had been involved in the move of a store. Neither of these are my idea of fun!
It took days to get everything packed and although it didn’t seem like it at the time, this was the easy part of the move. Far more difficult was unpacking and finding the right spot for everything. This is even more of a challenge when moving to a smaller location. As I stood, surrounded by boxes, I was overwhelmed. Not knowing where to start caused me to panic and instead of getting to work, I froze, afraid that this was more than I could cope with.
Thinking about this later I recalled the many times I have been in this kind of situation. Part of the problem is having too much stuff. It collects slowly, without me noticing it, and one day I realize that all of this is cluttering up my life and causing me to be overwhelmed and stressed.
It isn’t always a physical change of location that causes this feeling. There have been things I have wanted to do in my life that I am unable to start because of emotions and limiting beliefs that are cluttering up my mind. The only sensible thing to do is to purge. The trouble is that when I reach that state, I want to retreat and hide, not to face things head on.
Instead of letting things build up to this point, I need to remember to continually bring my life to the Lord and rely on his guidance. He will teach me what to hold onto and what to let go of. He constantly watches over me and sees the whole picture, not just the part I am stuck on. My role in this is to pray and ask for his guidance and then trust as I wait for his answer.
The Lord says, “I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” Psalm 32:8
The call came while I was at work. A shipment of books had been dropped off on my front porch. As I thanked the person who called, tears of joy were running down my cheeks. You see, these weren’t just any books. They were my book, the first I had written and a labour of love.
Since I live close to work I was told to go home, take the books in and enjoy the moment. Climbing into my vehicle, I realized that I would be alone when I first held one of my books. This didn’t seem right, so I called my daughter-in-law Jackie and asked her if she could join me. She and her girls soon met me at my house. Jackie took pictures as I opened a box and then more as I picked one up, smiling and crying at the same time! The girls each held a book so we could get a photo. Two of them looked at the front cover and one turned it over and said “Your picture is on here!” The joy I felt was indescribable. After the photos we had a little celebration party with bowls of candy (before lunch!) and then they went home and I headed back to work.
The moment I held my first book was a special time that will never happen again. This was an achievement I wasn’t certain I could accomplish. I thought it was too big a project for me. God had other plans as he gave me the inspiration needed and surrounded me with the support that enabled me to take on this daunting task. I am doubly blessed. Firstly that God entrusted this to me; and secondly that I had loving family members with me to share in this special moment.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NLT
Here is a story from my book, Inspirations from the Everyday, as featured on Christine Lindsay’s site this morning.