When Distractions Clamor…

Recently, hubby and I purchased a new car. Before that, I drove a Ford Explorer, which I loved, but now that it’s mostly me and the dog tooling around, it seemed pointless to drive such a big car. And gas? Sheesh, nothing like watching $70 drain out of a tank, right?

Our new baby ~a Hyundai Santa Fe
So when the Explorer got to be of age, I determined to find a car with better gas mileage, but it had to be sporty and big enough to accommodate Bruiser, our full-figured Golden Retriever.

What do you think? Isn’t she adorable?

I could ramble all day about the features. Heated seats, shiftronic capability (the ability to switch between automatic and stick~don’t get me going on that!), great gas mileage, and …

An electronic digital display estimates my average miles per gallon. What?? Do you know that you can boost your gas mileage by taking your foot off the accelerator, just for a minute, or shifting into a higher gear? Well, I am all over that! That’s why I got the car, right? 
So, instead of focusing on the road, I honed in on that blue line, getting all giddy as it edged closer to 50 mpg. I mean, really. How cool is that? 

But then a honk would get my attention. Or moseying off the side of the road…

We do that with God sometimes, don’t we? Allow distractions to take our gaze off Him? 

Forgot the birthday gift for the party this weekend. Basketball practice tonight, and the kid can’t go without new sneakers. (OK, well that’s not on my list anymore, but it may be on yours!) If the laundry doesn’t get washed soon, you’ll be out of ____(you fill in the blank!). If the lawn grows any higher, you’ll be killing snakes. A forgotten blog post won’t write itself.

Sometimes God gives us a gentle nudge to draw us back to Him. Other times, we may need something a little stronger. But, get our attention, He will. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 26:3 (NIV):


You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, 
because they trust in you.” 

Perfect peace sounds great to me. What about you? But my focus, my mind, needs to be honed on Him, not on the constant clamors for my attention.


So what to do…what to do…when all I can hear is the constant hammering of voices and chores calling my name?


“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart 
and shattered the rocks before the Lord, 
but the Lord was not in the wind
After the wind there was an earthquake, 
but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 
After the earthquake came a fire, 
but the Lord was not in the fire
And after the fire came 
a gentle whisper.”
1 King 19:11b-12 (NIV)


That’s where God is. That’s where I’ll find rest, that perfect peace…in the quiet times spent cuddling on His lap, leaning closer to Him, listening for His sweet, gentle whisper.


Oh, Lord, when the world’s loud and all I can think about is how much I haven’t done, help me keep my focus on You. Help me to always seek You, to meet with You, to be open to Your priorities for my life. Don’t allow distractions to take my gaze off of You. 
Bless my words, Oh Lord, both spoken and written. All the glory belongs to You. Amen.

Agonizing over a decision?

Stand at the crossroads..ask where the good way is, and walk in it..you will find rest for your souls. Jer 6:16 NIV
Do you ever reach a crossroads in your life and agonize over which way to turn?
Whether it’s a relationship issue, a major purchase, selling your house, a move, retirement, or a career choice.

Crossroads aren’t restricted to age or inexperience.
I’m over fifty (that’s still young, isn’t it?), and I still experience crossroads in my life.
I’m facing one now with my writing.
Nothing life-threatening, but still a major decision with long-reaching consequences.

What do you do?
Do you close your eyes, pick a direction, and continue along on your own?
Or do you beg God to hold you by the hand and lead you, to give you strength for the journey?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share more about a door that God has opened for me, an answered prayer, but an opportunity that both thrills and worries me.

I can choose to close my eyes and continue on my own, or I can beg Him to hold my hand, to alleviate my fear, to provide the strength and peace only He can provide. 
I choose God’s way.
  
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Is 41:10 NIV
What about you?
What crossroads are you facing?
How will you respond?

Grumbling or Grace?

Have you read the story of how God rescued the Israelites from their heavy yoke of slavery? How God called out to Moses from a burning bush, informing Moses that he would be the one to deliver the Israelites from Egypt? It was only after God sent plague after vicious plague, ending with the death of Pharaoh’s first-born, that Pharaoh relinquished and released the Israelites.

God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, guiding them by cloud during the day and fire by night. Pharaoh changed his mind (actually, God changed it for him!) and pursued the Israelites, finding them camped out by the Red Sea.  


“It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” (Ex 14:12 NIV).

Can you just picture them? The water from the sea licking their backs, the approaching Egyptians armed for battle? Scared for their lives, yet that’s what spews from their lips? Complaints??
 
It’s beyond me. 

Yet, God rescues them again. With a mighty wind, He pushed back the waters so that the Israelites crossed over on dry land, a wall of water on both sides. When the Egyptians followed them into the sea, the water fell back and crushed them.

The Israelites went on their merry way, praising and fearing God. 

For three days anyway.

When they didn’t find water, they grumbled. God provided water. For lack of meat, they grumbled. God sent manna and quail.

What was wrong with these people? How could they complain? They witnessed God’s miracles firsthand every day. Miracles like the parting of the Red Sea. Water from a rock. Just enough manna to provide for their daily needs. 

I’m quick to point my finger and say I would never do that.

Wrong!

I’m hanging my head right now because just like these Israelites, I witness God’s miracles every day. Miracles in the form of a loving and supportive hubby, an income, a beautiful home, a family we cherish.

Yet what spews from my mouth? Complaints.


We arrived home from Denver late yesterday. Usually Hubby’s pretty good about helping me unload the suitcases. Not last night. He toted them upstairs, left the packed bags in the bedroom, then planted his tush on the recliner in front of a blaring television.

I fumed. I huffed. Resentment broiled.

Then, God convicted my lousy little heart this morning with this story from Exodus.

How many blessings does my husband pour out for me everyday? He uses his vacation time to attend book signings with me. He brainstorms blog posts and story lines with me. He encourages me to adjust my schedule so he can help with chores like lawn care and groceries, so that I can devote more time to writing. And techie issues? He’s my man! He’s my biggest fan, my loudest encourager, my best friend. 

Yet I complain.

Forgive me, God, for complaining. Change my heart.
Help me reflect grace, not grumbling. 
Thank You for the wonderful man you planted beside me! Thank You that he never grumbles or complains.
What about you? What’s in your heart today?
Grumbling or Grace?