Craving Results {And a Little Graffiti, Too}

Friends, I’m completely honored to be sharing some thoughts from my dear friend Alene with you today. I trust she will bless your heart as much as she does mine (and I’ll talk more about her at the end).

Take it away, Alene!

Do You Crave Results?

It was a precious moment in time. I was visiting with my friend Rick, who lives on the streets, when he sensed I was tired and worn-down.

I didn’t realize my wavering spirit was easy to read. I was frustrated. I had been serving and pouring into others and waiting . . .

Waiting for the fruit. I wanted to see results.

Couldn’t God just show Himself to confirm the direction of my call?

I so desperately wanted to know what I was doing was making a difference. I wanted to know that being tired and weary was worth the battle.

Arriving at church the next Sunday, I was met by Rick. He handed me a poem he had written.

The Seed

“We as Christians are called to a deed
To share the love of God, thereby planting the seed.
Not being concerned with the ground it might fall
Just do it with prayer and answer the call.

The world is hurting so much it’s crying
Don’t be another Christian who’s not even trying.
Pointing a finger at one that has fell
Knowing even God wishes no one goes to hell.

Oh! What a tragedy it would certainly be
If even one is lost that could have been free.
Seeing a brother or sister in such desperate need
Then only able to cry to God “why didn’t I plan the seed!”

Are you craving results?

Those are not ours to reap. God instructs us to plant the seed. He is responsible for the results.

Matthew 13:18-23 NLT
“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds:
The seed that fell on the footpath represents those
who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it.
Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed
that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil
represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long.
They fall away as soon as they have problems or
are persecuted for believing God’s word.
The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out
by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth,
so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil
represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word
and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

About Alene:  Alene loves to tell the story. With a heart for the broken, Alene Snodgrass speaks, writes, and blogs about her real life experiences serving people in the inner city. Alene’s blog, PositivelyAlene.com, is where many come who are seeking and searching to be challenged to find their purpose through serving others.

You can connect with her

on Facebook
or Twitter.

Friends, Alene has a new e-book out that I am so excited about! I devoured it in one sitting…

Graffiti is about the amazing journey of how two people, Alene and a homeless friend, thought they had nothing in common. As they stepped out of their comfort zones God revealed there was a common heart-story to be shared.

This e-book has a way of letting you see others through the lens of love. Won’t you consider adding it to your library?


You may Download
it here.

Friends, I am blown away by what Alene is offering right now with her e-book Graffiti. If you order it BEFORE November 30th, she is offering 9 of her other amazing resources FREE! That’s a $75 value for less than a tall mocha…

I could go on and on, but you can find out all the info you need HERE.

You all know I’m not a big promotional blogger. I rarely do reviews and it’s not because I haven’t been asked. It’s just not what He’s called me to do. But Alene is near and dear to my heart. I met her in this crazy cyber space back in February. And her passion for reaching out with His hand of love is contagious. Friends, my faith has blossomed because of her outlook and I’m certain you would be blessed by her, too.

How about you? Have you been craving results? Have you planted seeds lately? How do you wait for the fruit? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with us.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Blessings in Disguise

I met her in March. She was giving away a book I so desperately wanted to read. And I have this thing where I don’t try to win something on a site I know I won’t visit later, so I spent time on her blog. Reading her heart spilled. I soon discovered our journeys have collided more than once.

She has become a friend since (and I even won the giveaway!). I’m so thrilled to share her heart with you here today.

Friends, please give Mary a warm welcome. Mary, this space is yours. Do share!

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Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,

who does not change
 like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

It is easy for me to think the Lord is blessing me when “good and perfect” things are happening in my life. Or maybe “good and almost perfect” things, since few things seem to be “perfect” these days.

But what about the times when things are not going well?

What about the times when life looks pretty bleak?

When the whole thing just STINKS?

Are those times also gifts from the Father above? Is the author and creator of those times also steadfast and unchangeable?

I think so. But getting to this poinst in my faith/life journey was and is a process.

In 1992, I gave birth to a daughter that lived four days. She was born with a genetic disorder and when shew as born she appeared to be a healthy baby girl, but within hours, problems began to surface. She was taken to the local children’s hospital, while I remained in a hospital in another part of town.

Genetic tests were done. And we waited. After being born on Tuesday, Friday morning found my husband and me sitting in a conference room with a bunch of doctors, listening to them explain what was wrong with our daughter.

Listening to them explain that she would not live. She was going to die. Most likely in the next few days or weeks. The little girl we named Amy Elizabeth would not be with us for long. And I stared straight ahead. I didn’t want to look at any0ne.

That afternoon, surrounded by family and a few close friend, Amy took her last breath and died in my arms. She didn’t live a few days or weeks. She died that day.

Four days after she was born – she was dead.

Four days after I labored and my husband watched as the doctor cut me open. And delivered a tiny, petite baby girl – she was gone.

And I am OK with that.

I believe He authored that chapter of my life and continues writing my story to this day.

I’ve heard it said that having kids changes your perspective. I believe that is true.

And losing a child changes it again.

Losing Amy is the hardest thing I have ever endured. And while I wish that she had lived and we had experienced the first day of kindergarten, Junior High School, braces, homecoming, prom and going off to college…I did not get my wish.

If I had to choose between having her for four days or having her for none…I would choose four days in a heartbeat! I would endure the sadness, the tears, the anger, the grief…all of it…I would endure it again to have.

Because the experience of
having her and losing her
makes me who I am.
It is part of my life’s DNA.
Without it, I would not be ME.

My family would be incomplete.

My relationship with my husband and son would not be what they are today.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Blessings come in the good and what appears to be bad. Blessings come in raindrops and rainbows. In packages and bows. In the ugly and the messy. And they come in sad and heartbreaking life lessons.

Lessons that allow us to grow.

To minister.

To share with others.

To realize the most important things in life are not things!

My guess is you have some unpleasant or sad circumstances in your life too. Is it possible these circumstances are blessings in disguise? Only you can answer that.

And only you can decide how you will respond.

Happiness is a choice. And forgiveness is a choice.

I chose to be happy – it took a while, but I had a four year-old and a husband that needed me. At first, I was going through the motions, but eventurally the Lord led me out of the dark place into His light.

Into a place where I could see that He had a plan.

He knew what He was doing.

And this experience was a blessing…in disguise.

If you would like to read more about Amy, you can do that HERE.

Laura Story wrote and sings a beautiful song about blessings and how they don’t appear to be blessings at the time. This sums up how I feel.

(Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen to this wonderful song)

Blessings ~ Laura Story

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Mary was raised in the south, spent most of her adult life in the Midwest and now resides on the East coast.

She has been married to her best friend for 30 years and has one young adult son. She blogs about life and faith at Me Myself & Mercy.

She works part-time as an Administrative Assistant at a local Division 1 college and is an Independent Consultant with Blessings Unlimited. She is active in her church and has a heart for ministering to women.

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How about you, friend? Have you had blessings in disguise? What trials have shaped your story? We’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me us.

Simply striving…

 

Flowers in the Weeds

As of today, I’ve been sprawling my heart out in keystrokes and pressing publish for eleven months. I can’t believe I’ve had this much to say. And I’m still blown away by those I meet along this journey.

Friends, I’m excited to share this space today with one of those I’ve met along the way. Please give him a warm welcome as he shares his heart and a song God used to pursue Him.

Pastor Wick, take it away!

My life took a dramatic turn at age 10.

It threatened the very future of who I might become, and began rooted in who I thought I was worth becoming. With my birth father in prison, and having lost any extended family in the aftermath, we drifted for a while as my mom carried a family of 5 on what donations and other assistance she could find for us.

Needless to say, things were difficult during the years most young people figure out what they want to do with their lives, and what they have to uniquely offer the world.

Thankfully, it was those same years I discovered Ska music. The upbeat, reggae-influenced sounds of bands like the Insyderz, the Supertones, and Five Iron Frenzy gave me not only something great to nod my head to, but a positive perspective on the challenges of life as well. They pointed me to Jesus, and His perspective on everything I was going through.

This is one song that stayed with me, even as I eventually sang with a ska band in college – we covered this song everywhere we played.

“Dandelions” – Five Iron Frenzy

In a field of yellow flowers underneath the sun
Bluest eyes that spark with lightning, boy with shoes undone
He is young so full of hope, reveling in tiny dreams
Filling up his arms with flowers, bright for giving any queen

Running to her beaming bright while cradling his prize
A flickering of yellow light within his mothers eyes
She holds them to her heart, keeping them where they’ll be safe
Clasped within her very marrow, dandelions in a vase

She sees love where anyone else would see weeds
All hope is found, here is everything he needs

Fathomless your endless mercy, weight I could not lift
Where do I fit in this puzzle? What good are these gifts?
Not a martyr or a Saint, scarcely can I struggle through.
All that I have ever wanted was to give my best to you.

Lord search my heart, create in me something clean
Dandelions, you see flowers in these weeds

Gently lifting hands to heaven, softened by the sweetest hush
A Father sings over His children, loving them so very much
More than words could warrant, deeper than the darkest blue
More than sacrifice could merit, Lord I give my heart to you.

Lord search my heart, create in me something clean
Dandelions, you see flowers in these weeds…

So often I felt like, and continue to feel like the boy in this song, and it offered an aspect of God I sorely needed growing up. I knew about God being all-powerful, and I knew about God being mighty to save.

But what I needed to know was that God was proud of me.
God loved me as a parent. God wanted to nurture me toward great things He was certain I was gifted for.

This song comes as a reminder that it’s not about my being able to offer Him the most amazing gifts of worship, and the greatest achievements as a follower of Christ. It’s not about me becoming “Super Pastor”, or “Super Husband”, or “Super Dad”. It’s about HIS perspective and love for me as His child.

It’s about me delighting in the fields I find myself, and doing so for His sake. Running to Him with my arms full of whatever I was able to grab hold of that day, and say “Look God…this is for You!”.

Now I’m 31, and have children of my own. They are constantly running to me with eyes as bright as dandelions, proud of what they’ve done. Stacks of drawings they’ve made, flowers (and yes, dandelions) they’ve given, and a fridge full of their loving creativity.

God uses even them, to continue reminding me I’ve never ceased to be His child. Just last night my oldest daughter was telling me something children don’t know how to do, and she stopped.

“Dad, I can’t say all children can’t do that.”

“Why not?” I asked her. It was definitely something children should not know how to do.

“Because dad…YOU are a child…you know…of God.”

Thanks God…
I am so proud of what I’m gathering in life…
and I know You’re loving every bit of what I bring to You.

Wick Anderson is a husband/
father/pastor/writer/speaker from Central Illinois. He and his wife have 3 daughters.

He can roast a batch of green coffee in 30 minutes using a wok, and he’s won the bonus round of

“Wheel of Fortune!”
(CLICK HERE to see!)

He believes God can use parenting to mess up our lives in incredible ways, and enjoys writing/speaking about it. Learn more at: www.differentparent.com  and you may follow Wick on Twitter!

How about you, friend? What delights do you see in the field you’re in right now? We’d love to hear. 

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If you have extra time, I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith today sharing what my Pre-K Sunday School class taught me about worship. Stop on by! You can visit by CLICKING HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me us.

Simply striving…

The Ingredients of Patience {A Guest Post}

I met her in March when she commented on this post. When I visited her blog, I discovered a post on Amazing Grace that resonated with me deeply.

Our relationship blossomed from there.

And now I get to share her words of wisdom here. I trust they will bless you as much as they did me. Take it away, Joy!

~~~~~~~~~~

“I waited patiently for the LORD;
He turned to me and heard my cry.”
Psalm 40:1  

Photo by: Joy @ Illumylife

I often see a fisherman standing at the edge of the surf when I go for a morning walk along the beach. Not long ago, I witnessed a great blue heron watching patiently, hopeful he would toss him a fish.

Perhaps you have seen two fishermen sitting in a tiny rowboat not saying anything, just fishing for hours. Waiting and watching and some days not catching anything. But they come back again before dawn.

It is hard to imagine having that much patience. I wonder if fishermen fish just for the silence and peace of a quiet lake early in the morning. Perhaps they fish because it is a time they can be alone with God.

Are they really fishing for fish or peace of mind and soul?

There’s an old saying:
“Patience is a virtue, acquire it if you can.
It’s seldom found in women and never found in men.”
But I don’t think there is much truth in this saying….

I’ve seen my husband show infinite patience with our 3-year-old grandson.  He answers endless questions with complete explanations as to how and why things work. He allows him to play at his desk making copies of his hands and stapling paper to form “his work.” He never tires of taking him places and showing him things. Of course the rewards are worth more than gold when he is told “You’re my best buddy” followed by hugs and kisses from a little fella that means the world to him.

What are the ingredients of patience?

I would like to buy a case of it but it’s not for sale. In this hurry and do it, get it, find it world of ours there seems to be very little patience. I don’t like to drive during rush hour because of drivers that ride my bumper. I wonder why they honk when it’s quite obvious with a car right in front of me and one to the side, I have no place to go.

When I watch a fisherman, I realize hope must be one of the main ingredients. When I am hopeful I am willing to wait. But that doesn’t mean waiting is easy. The more we want something and the longer we want it, the more impatient we become.

Sometimes we are only able to wait patiently when the LORD gives us the strength.

“Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”
Psalm 27:14

Another ingredient must be peace. Jesus knew we would need peace and set the best example for finding it. He often found it necessary to get away so He could be alone with His Heavenly Father and pray. Our souls yearn for this peace and we will never find it unless we take time each day to pray and talk with God.

We need a constant refilling.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. 
I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

The last ingredient and probably the most important is love. Love enables a mother to be patient with her child no matter how many times he disobeys. Love enables grandparents to appreciate every accomplishment of their grandchildren. Love enables Jesus to be patient with me no matter how many times I mess up.

Jesus is love and love never fails.

“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud.”
I Corinthians 13:4

In Galatians 5:22, patience is listed as the fourth fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy and peace are the first three, followed by kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These fruits are not something we can develop on our own. They only come when we have a close and intimate relationship with Jesus.

Knowing God is all important. Spending time with Him in prayer and reading our bible enables us to draw ever closer to Him. It is that closeness and trust that enables us to wait on His timing.

He always wants the very best for us.

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.”
Psalm 130: 5

What about you, dear friend?  Are you waiting for something? Do you feel you need more patience?

Thinking about waiting on His timing brought this song to my mind. I hope it will bless your heart as it has mine. (Subscribers, CLICK HERE to press play on the song below.)

“In His Time”  by Diane Ball

“In His time, in His time;
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me every day As you’re teaching me Your way,
That You do just what You say in Your time.
In Your time, In Your time;
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord my life to You I bring; May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing in your time.”

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Joy writes on a blog titled Illumylife where her constant prayer is:

Illumylife Lord with the light of Your Presence and fill me with Your peace and joy.  Let me be a reflection of Your grace and let Your Spirit flow through me to bless others.

To visit Joy, CLICK HERE.