Letting Go Of Plan A

Plan
Plan

PLAN. That is what I do. That is what God has created me tone good at. I own a few planners. I keep a detailed planner for our family’s everyday adventures. Even in 2020 when the world was planning NOTHING I still kept a planner and turned it into a journal of sorts, to remember what we cam through together as a family.

Planning is a good thing BUT we cannot let our plans control us. We Must be FLEXIBLE! Hubby made some statements about that in his sermon this past Sunday! There is a part two of this blog post coming soon so I don’t want to get to ahead of myself.

The Back Story- The Root of Plan A

For a few years now I have been holding onto this Printable from Life Action Ministries (You can find the printable by clicking the Link above) called Put Off Put On. Each Day has a habit / attitude or action that is unbiblical that you put off and a Biblical one you put on. And for a number of years I have thought that when I did the study that I would s make it into a blog post series. It really was set up perfectly for that.

Putting Plan A into Action

Well fast forward to December of 2020- I found myself in a state of confinement to a couch and small spare bedroom in our house. I could barely move I was in so much pain but it gave me a lot of time to think and pray. As I did that plans began to form for the year 2021. and Put Off Put On found itself top on the priority list! It even made it’s way into the blog planner for each week and on January 1st it became apart of my morning devotional time. I finished the first week and I sat down to write the blog post- nothing- not one single thing.

All the while my other parts of my study and reading were fitting together and I was making some neat connections there just wasn’t words for my plan. I said ok Lord I’m going to keep going and just study and read these verses and contemplate the contrasting actions and virtues.

Two Days Left- I let go of plan A a Month ago.

So here I am, two days left in what I thought was going to be a need series of blog and posts and I am writing about how I have had to let go of my plan to make it so. By Wednesday I will have completed 55 days of Putting off and Putting On. I have grown through them but no words to share with you but these.

Plan

I make lots of “great” plans but rarely do they turn out the way I think they should. I could just throw up my hands and say I quit. I will NEVER do or try tat again. There are many times I could have quit blogging because things didn’t go as I have planned. But we are commanded to persevere- to not give up so easily.

Some of the greatest moments in my life came as a Plan B- I had a mentor in college who so wisely taught me to invite God into my plan A, Give it to Him and be Ready for Plan B- God’s Plan. When I am flexible with my plans God forms them into his and amazing things happen.

Plan B Christmas

Every year for Christmas I try to make it as fun and creative as possible because as a full time ministry family the holidays aren’t “normal” (And I can hear all of my sweet friends chanting “Normal just a setting on the dryer”) Well this Christmas I knew I had the greatest gift ever- Quarantined Life! so I planned all these cool things. I actually made the advent calendar that has been sitting in my closet for YEARS and painted it and filled it with all these amazing family activities. And then I woke up on December 8th and was rushed off to the ER for what would be 4 hospital visits in 3 weeks.

I cried all the way to the hospital on a couple of this trips feeling like I had ruined Christmas for the whole family. This was a different sort of Plan B than some silly set of blog posts not being written This affected our entire family. And Hubby and the kids were scared- I massacred because nasty words were being thrown around at the hospital like “tumors” and “cancer”. I can tell you right now as of this moment there aren’t any tumors and there never was any cancer- but things didn’t “look” right and some nurses spoke out of turn. My kids had to see me the sickest and I the most pain I had ever been in ….Including 4 births and a gall bladder issue. THAT was NOT my Plan A!

Hindsight into God’s Plan

God’s plan B had been put into full swing- And I had t sit back and let hubby do most of it and he did awesome. I was so proud of him. And my friends- the ones who really knew me and really cared spoke words of truth into my life and my heart. They were superficial words. They weren’t pat answers- they could do that because they knew me and my heart. Through God’s plan B they had an opportunity to minister to my heart.

And our kids-wow! Our kids are so ministry minded to begin with my their acts of service to me was beyond what 10 to 15 years olds should do and yet they were amazing and we watched them grow so much through all of this.

Getting Mixed up

I think sometimes we get confused about the difference between perseverance and stubbornness is . Perseverance is being faithful even when things don’t go our way and being stubborn is doing our own way even if God is saying no, not yet- or just plain no.

He doesn’t want us to like that little boy with his trucks or that little girl with her dolls who don’t get their own way….we’ve seen it play out many times on TV or in our backyards….they are my______ and if we don’t do it my way I’m gonna pack up my_________ and go home. He wants us to trust him that HIS ways are better than our ways. He wants us o be a part of his amazing plan not just have hime be a part of our mediochre plans.

I want to challenge you just Like Ma Parker did for me to take God all of your plans and ask him to make them his plans and to help you to be aware and flexible for the changes he WILL make! Being willing to surrender your plans allows for great opportunity!

I will promise you that Plan B is always a bigger blessing thanPlan A- it may take a while to see it but with faith and trust God works miracles!

What about you…..What has been a Plan A that God has turned into an Amazing Plan B?

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series.

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My 2021 Joy Dare- Week 4

Joy
Joy

Happy Thursday everyone. I hope you have had a fabulous week! Can you believe we are doing our final full week of the Joy Dare for the month of January?

Well let’s jump right into hopefully awhat was a joy filled week.

January 22nd-28th

January 22nd- A gift wrinkled, smoothed and unfolded
  • wrinkled- any number of J’s artwork I find on the kitchen table or desks
  • smoothed- our blankets on our freshly made bed, every time I walked into our room I get a massive sense of peace
  • unfolded- notes from hubby in a bin from college that will someday be emptied into scrapbooks
January 23rd- 3 gifts found in Christ
  • Grace- I do not deserve salvation and yet I can have it as a free gift
  • Mercy- I deserve horrible punishment and yet I am gifted grace
  • Unconditional love- Love inspire of myself
January 24th- 3 thing in blue
  • my 3 blue watercolor pencils. I think they are probably my favorite in the set
  • My reading glasses that have rescued me through the last two months (my eyes had a hard time adjusting after my first procedure) They came to my rescue
  • a blue Tupperware container as a gift
January 25th- A grace found, borrowed, inherited
  • borrowed- sewing patterns borrowed from a friend
  • Found- my Cricut cords…I can’t even!
  • inherited- old dishes inherited from Mimi and another lady named Mary- Classsics I never plan to part with!
January 26th -A Joy before Dawn, at noon and after dark
  • before dawn- quiet time with Jesus before all the crazy kicks in
  • at noon- break time for luck for the kiddos and I can focus on writing/ blogging and the like
  • winding down for the evening think about the day ahead praying and planning for God to do amazing things
January 27th- 3 gifts in the kitchen
  • plenty of food- needs met
  • gifts to share- plenty of food to share with those in need or experiencing sickness or hardship made with love
  • things of beauty created by loving hands of family and friends
January 28th- 3 gifts found in friends
  • A- a friend that has stood the test of time and trials
  • C-a new friend (relatively speaking) challenges me in my growth
  • S- an old friend stead and true honest

I must confess this list was DIFFICULT one to choose just 3. there are so many but these three really all have the same qualities. And the best part is they make me better! They challenge me in my walk with God and they stick with me when I fail…AND I HAVE HAD SOME PRETTY BIG FAILS! They love me unconditionally!

How about you? what were some sparks of Joy for you this week?

Remember you can check out the Joy dare by going to Ann Voskamp’s website by clicking here.

Haven’t read her book One Thousand Gifts check it out here (not an affiliate link)

Weekly Update- Finish {Well}

Finish

2 Timothy 4:7- Finish {well}

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2020 was a race, an extremely long marathon. Our December seemed like the Longest stretch of them all and It was our goal inspire of everything going on in our lives to not just finish BUT finish WELL.

Finishing

Finish Well- It is usually a blog post you would write at the end of something NOT at the beginning. Writing this blog post was supposed to happen at the beginning of December- as we finished up 2020 I wanted to challenge us all (myself included) to finish well…..AND THEN DECEMBER HAPPENED.

I woke up one completely normal Wednesday morning and within a few hours we realized that it wasn’t so normal and I was rushed off to the hospital to be dropped off at the entrance of the ER….ALONE. I walked out of there that day with no answers and in more pain than I came in. I would return two days later in even greater pain. In total four hospital trips. IT WAS HARD. And I was struggling. Finishing really did just look like the next step- the next second and in one painful morning. they next breath. NO ONE knew what was going on that morning……That morning I wasn’t sure I could take the next. finishing well wasn’t in my mind…SURVIVING well was.

Two weeks into January and I am finically finding the words- words that couldn’t be spoken even a week ago. My hubby was scared, my kids were scared….I was scared because in those moments when no one not even the doctors know what is going on…it’s scary.

Starting

As much as finishing well wasn’t an option, starting well is. The week of New Years I found myself back in the Dr’s office Tuesday Morning, which led to another ER trip which led to being dropped off alone, this time in the most excruciating pain of my life- it rivaled 4 labors and a horrible gallbladder attack. and in the end resulted in an emergency procedure that left me feeling almost normal. I came home Wednesday afternoon. and a waiting game ensued…..waiting to hear lab results. Saturday they came Benign. I cried. All of the emotion of the previous month bubbled out.

I could have worried and fretted fearing the worst and I ca tell you that God and I conversed each and everyday about the subject. I was concerned.

What the new Year looks Like

  • Grace Goals– When I was planning for the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 I knew somethings had to change. Back in October and I had become aware of something and it hurt me very deeply. It kinda destroyed me- or at least it almost did. I almost let it- Hubby and I had really hashed it out (it wasn’t a Him and I thing). the realities I’m a people pleaser and it was something God was rooting out, and that’s when I found Grace Goals By Arabah Joy. I had taken the month before December to really work through all the hard process and watched the replay of the 4 hour bootcamp. I prayed and journaled my way through the process I set my goals and for the first time in a very long time I didn’t feel fear as I blogged. Fear of what other people thought. I am here to please Jesus NOT people.
  • What I know vs. what I feel!- there is a bigger blog post coming on this subject but THIS changed my end of there year and really helped me to finish better than I thought it was going to end.
  • Blog posts.- As I transferred my list of blog posts from one planner to another and corralled ALL of the blog post images I came to realize I have 27 blog posts waiting in the Wings for this year. THAT’S exciting for me. I know a few will be smooshed together. I am excited to restart this journey for sure.
  • Changes- This is kinda funny I have already had to change up the blogging schedule because of changes! I removed a blog series I was hoping to do called Put Off…Put On. I was really hoping that this little study I was doing everyday would translate into blog posts but at this current time it’s not quite flowing the way I had envisioned hopefully someday it might!
  • MONDAYS- As the New year rolls back in it is Hubby’s goal to get me back to church on Mondays – As a introverted mom of 4 kids who is homeschooling them I need a break and their homeschool curriculum is all on the computer so it’s easy for Hubby to give me a day off. we started it in the fall before all chaos broke loose and I have yet to return so for the time being I have been “sent to my room- aka my craft room”. It’s a little more difficult in the house because mom is one Alexa drop in away or just a trip upstairs. I really appreciate the time to have focused study and writing time and it has allowed me some quiet time for sure.

As we keep moving forward on this journey I want to do a weekly check-in. I hope to Next month join another book reviewing venture- I can’t wait for that opportunity again.

I hope that each of you have had opportunity to finish well! Let me know ways in the comments below that you have found to help you finish well.

Blessings, Mary

Intentionally Social: 3 Reasons Keep Social Media

social

Hubby and I were recently talking about all things social media. I told him that back in April I was ready to delete all social media accounts because I was over it. Then I told him that I was going going to make it so it was just friends and family who lived really far away.

I was really struggling the fairness of social media. not saying thane in particular was behaving in that way…..I was struggling. And yet there was this sense that I needed to wait. On morning I woke up and did my bible study and as I began my day. I reached for my phone and opened facebook and there staring me in the face was the cutest little face……It was a video I had taken of our then 2 year old saying something adorable as always…..I scrolled a little further…….a post from a book that I was reading talking about our relationship with God……I scrolled aliyyle further a post I had written about something I was struggling with……Not about some one else…about me.

I told hubbyThat it hit me right then and there that’s why I have social media……memories. I know I know I said in the image that there were three reasons and there are but the overarching reason is the memories.

Memories- A Recounting of the kids

Man there is NOTHING better than seeing your 4 year old “preaching” or your two year old pulling back his commentary that all girls are duped” when he realizes him mama is a girl *Gasp*

Those memories bring back smiles and giggles from all involved. then there are the hard moments. this moments that might be about a struggle . It’s good for us to remember. God taught the Israelites to set up memorial stones and pillars to remind them of where they had come from.

Memories- the things we have learned

This one is big for me! I read A LOT. I have currently finished 35 books for the year and am working on books 36-41…..I have 4 more waiting in the wings the will jump on that list as soon as something comes off. I also have one book for a launch team that I am waiting to arrive and that will jump on as soon as it arrives. Now I NEVER have shared book numbers here before. It’s not really about how many books I read but I want someway for the info I am putting in to come back in the future.

Like I mentioned above, the memory specifically on facebook will show up every year on that day! and more than once I have needed to see what I’ve shared. It serves as an encouragement as to where I have been and where I am headed

BONUS benefit: When someone writes in the comments that what I have shared has met them where they are and that it was exactly what they needed! that is always a huge blessing to me because THAT means I am not alone in my struggles.

Memories: The things I have written.

One of my biggest regrets over the last few years is deleting the things I have written that have been misinterpreted because it is a reminder of where I have been and what I have struggled with. I have written about some those things here on my blog.

Writing is my outlet and it is for ME. If someone is helped along the way THAT’s fabulous. I always feel so blessed when someone has shared with me about how my writing has changed them.

I have made mistakes too….I have vented…..I have gotten frustrated……but as I have grown I have realized that intentionality is so important. (Stay tuned for another blog post coming up on being intentional). But even in those instances I have learned from those mistakes and grown leaps and bounds. I know that when I am finished with this blog post right now I will go and share it to my social media platforms.

And from there it will get stored in some memory bank and in a year…..and in 10 years and in 20 years this post will come up in my memories and it will serve as a reminder to me …..no one else can see my memories Just me.

Two more benefits of intentionally taming our social media usage:

When I started this blog post a few weeks ago there were only 3 points but since then I have come up with two more important points.

  • Prayer- on more than one occasion in the last few weeks I have seen urgent prayer requests of family/ friends who are going through major issues of some form or another. I hope that our words of encouragement lift them up and bless them and as we pray for them I pray that encourages them as well.
  • And lastly as a ministry family one of the things social media does for us is keep us connected to a) our ministry friends who are far away-even in other countries…..we have ministry friends in Italy, Brazil, Africa, Canada, Ecuador (just to name a few) and then there are those ministry friends all over the country….In many different states. With social media they are only one click away!

I want to challenge you to be intentional! In everything You do!

Teachable Spirit 101

Teachable

Have you ever heard someone say that we need to have a teachable spirit? As a kid I heard this a lot. from teachers both at school and church but as with so many things from childhood many people said lots of things that sounded great but they never explained what they meant.

A few months ago I was in a conversation with hubby and I said something that made me stop and think about what I said. I said , I really enjoy working with people who have teachable spirits.” and as the day went on I began to ask myself what does that mean? What makes someone have a teachable spirit and some don’t?

So that’s when I started to really evaluate what it means. it’s taken months. Much longer than I had ever thought it would take. But in the end I have come up with 5 areas of teachability. I want you to really prayerfully seek out what God has to say about these areas of your life. after all it’s not about what we think about our lives BUT what God thinks about them!

(1) Are you more interested in taking in as much information as you can or are you eager to take what you learn and apply it to your life?

It’s not about how much you know (or think you know). What really matters is what you do with what you know.

Proverbs 1:5 ?NIV

let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—

(2) Are You willing to Learn in every situation that comes your way? Are You willing to ask God to show You what He wants you to learn from your current circumstances before reacting to them?

When it comes right down to it it doesn’t matter what we think about our circumstances OR what others think bout them. God has a very specific plan and purpose for our circumstances. This goes from the very minute to the extreme

(3) Do You have a spirit of humility? Do You go into any teaching with an attitude of what can I learn from this. (HINT : YOU CAN ALWAYS LEARN SOMETHING BUT IT’S COMPLETELY UP TO YOU!!)

I know many people who will come away from a message or a Sunday school class saying they got nothing from it. OR they will say Oh I do hope so and so was listening to that. They really needed to hear that. the problem is we all need to really hear what is being said. I find it amazing that some people even feel the need to be insulting. This shows a severe lack of humility. Considering God has chosen that man to teach it shows a severe lack of wisdom as well.

Proverbs 11:2

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with humility comes wisdom.

In Bible College this was seen frequently in young cocky students who came in thinking they knew more that the professor who has been preaching and studying God’s word longer than those students had been alive. There was a vast difference from the students who sought to learn from the professor verses the ones who sought to distract and argue with the professors. One group enhanced the learning process and the others created disunity and frustration. It kept the others from learning where the others fostered deeper learning usually by asking helpful questions..

James 3:13-18
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

(4) Do I let my emotions, attitudes, or preferences get in the way me learning what God wants me to learn? Do these things distract me and others from focusing on the greatest purpose of our lives: reaching others for Jesus?

I can’t tell you the number of times I have watched people spout off in anger just to eat their words later when they realized someone unsaved or new was watching them when they “sweated over the small stuff”. In one moment of the person being upset they ruined their testimony? was it worth it? Probably not. the Bible tells us again and again to put away all kinds of anger…and to be slow to speak and quick to listen.

Proverbs 14:29 ESV

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with humility comes wisdom.

Colossians 4:5-6 ESV

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

(5) Do we seek understanding in situations rather than jumping to conclusions?

So many times we fail to think or see that God is doing something far beyond ourselves. We get angry. We pound our fists on the table and we stomp our feet and we raise our voices and generally act like toddlers having a temper tantrum..

Many times if we just took the time to ask some well thought out questions AND then LISTEN to the answers and the heart that goes behind it. The reality is we are small minded people. To quote Mary Poppins “sometimes we can’t se past the end of our own noses. ” We become self absorbed by our rights and preferences that we forget that God tells us to lay them down and die to ourselves.

So How do I make a change? How do I become a teachable spirit?

Well if you are asking that question you are headed down the right path.

Here are three easy things you can do to change our attitude

  • Start asking questions AND listen with an open heart to the answers.
  • Start asking ourselves what can I learn from the person teaching me?
  • Ask God to show yo what He wants you to learn and then listen to HIM because He WILL answer.

James 1:5-8 NIV

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

One of the greatest things I have learned on this journey of becoming a teachable spirit is that this all comes down to a choice we need to make. Do we want to be used by God or. do we want to be used against God’s purposes. Satan doesn’t want us to be teachable. he wants us to be angry and stuck in our ways. When I think of a person who was transformed the most from t unteachable to teachable is the apostle Paul. He couldn’t see the truth because his eyes were blinded by anger and contempt for the “new way God wanted things to be done. He was angered so much by the gospel that he persecuted and murdered people because of their faith in Jesus..

It took Jesus striking him physically blind for his eyes to be opened and for his heart to be transformed to a teachable person. What’s it going to take fr you and I to be transformed to being teachable. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Will you choose> Or will God choose for you? OR will you go into eternity feeling angry , bitter and unfulfilled. The choice is ours to make.