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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Hindsight is “2020”

2020

I know I know, you are saying “MARY! Why on earth do you want to go back to 2020…DO YOU REMEMBER DECEMBER!?!” The Answer is Yes I do remember 2020….Yes I do remember December 2020- but the problem is the question. I DO want to December 2020. I DON’T want to RELIVE. December!

Remembering is what Keeps us from Repeating

We all know the phrase “history repeats itself”. And it is so true. History teaches us so many things and when we don’t remember it’s obvious we forget and when we forget….and when we forget history repeats itself. weened to learn from our mistakes….and others mistakes. I am going to address this in the next couple of weeks in a blog post about the importance of those who have gone before us.

In some Christian circles today we tend to forget those courageous believers who have fought some amazing battles for the faith and we tend to put stock in those still walking out their faith today. this was a realization for me in 2020 as some major “influencers of the faith” fell off their proverbial pedestals and shocked us all. the problem is this:

  • they never belonged there in the first place
  • they haven’t finished the race yet!!!

I have been let down by a fair share of humans….HUMAN Christians to be exact. I am sure I have let people down too. BECAUSE I ASSURE you I AM HUMAN (my kids might disagree- at least I didn’t claim to be a normal human). I am not perfect and nor do I claim to be and yet I know that people put me on a higher plain because I am a pastor’s wife. I make mistakes. I blow it. I need Grace Mercy and Love just as much as anyone else on the face of this planet.

This is why modeling our lives after people who have finished the race well, those who have gone before use and fought the good fight make excellent role models. (But more on this in a few weeks)

What I learned in 2020
  • I have learned to set my sights on Jesus. There are lots of people in this world who will try to tell you what you are thinking feeling and what your motives are. The reality is I am not accountable to them.
  • I have learned to ask hard questions of my friends and husband, especially when accused of something. Sometimes our emotions get the better of us and we can’t see through them to the truth. Now this only works if you have friends who won’t pull any punches with you.
  • I have learned to speak up! For others that is.
  • I have learned how to rely on my husband in some new ways and to be honest about the state of my body in needing rest.
  • I have learned to ask for help.
  • I have learned to say “I need to go to the ER”.
  • I have learned to let people go.
  • I have learned to trust God with the smallest of details in a moment by moment situation when I am not sure if I can last a second longer in some of the worst pain in my life.
  • I have learned to let goals go. (and with that some self made ideals)
  • I have learned to say yes to God in new ways and no to people in others.
  • I have learned to love in new ways and pray in new ways.
  • I learned how many tiles were in an ER cubicle at the hospital ( I was on morphine- I know it was over 300 little squares but can remember exactly).
  • I learned how to use a bullet journal.
  • I learned how to have fun while in pain.
  • I learned how to put into practice the re-counting of WHAT I KNOW. (blog post coming next week)

And the list goes on and on. now you might say Mary how on earth can remember how many tiles on the ER room ceiling help you in the future- well it will help me to remember to bring a book with me the next time or to grab my phone from my purse so I can read from their.

In short 2020 taught me to Have Joy in the hardships (HA I told you I needed joy for a second year- now I know Why!). 2020 taut me how tobe intentional IN. Every. Single. THING. And now I am taking what I learned in 2020 and putting it into practice. That’s why this month is going to be focused on {intentional}LOVE. Because I can now loo back at 2020 and see the lessons I have learned it’s now my job to apply them.

In September of 2020 I really started paying attention to the thereof being Intentional and making very intentional choices and I kicked off that journey with a post called Intentionally Social: 3 Reasons to Keep Social Media. And since I wrote that post I have made an active choice to change the way I have been using social media. I always tried to use it the way I am now but it was haphazard . Now I am actively asking myself everyday- specifically my devotions and reading- WHAT DO I WANT TO REMEMBER FROM THIS……and I post it. If it helps or ministers to someone else great but I am choosing to intentionally use Facebook memories to REMEMBER!

So how about you what have you been learning in 2020? what has God been teaching you?

(Remember this is a positive place and we need to keep it kind and uplifting and if it doesn’t fit in the parameters of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 it will be deleted!)

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

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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.

Let’s Talk: Anger

Anger

Anger is everywhere! I don’t watch the news. I don’t even have the ability to watch the news on TV. This is probably a very good thing…for MANY reasons. I do however have social media. I KNOW there is a lot of anger everywhere in this world right now. It’s everywhere we look. it’s everywhere we go. BUT….even though it is highly prevalent in our culture and world right now that’s NOT why I am writing this blog posts. It starts with a bible study Called ENOUGH bySharon Jaynes.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and as I sat early Sunday morning working though the questions of Chapter 12 entitled “I Can’t Forgive the Person Who Hurt Me” some thoughts started rolling around in my head, somethings started to make some sense. Let’s start of with some definitions.

What Is Anger? (and a few other definitions)

Ephesians 4:31(NIV) says:

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

That’s a lot of words (all definitions taken from lexicon.com)

  • bitterness-Anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment.
  • rage- Violent, uncontrollable anger.
  • anger- A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
  • brawling-A rough or noisy fight or quarrel.
  • slander-The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.
  • (with EVERY form of) malice-The intention or desire to do evil; ill will.

YIKES. do you feel convicted after that? I do. Not to mention there are some pretty strong commands in that verse as well.

Let’s start with the very first one…GET RID OF ALL…and then in goes into all those words! Not some of them…Not most of them…….ALL OF THEM..

OUCH!

How do we do that?

The answer to that question is found I the very next verse….matter of fact as a small child THIS verse was etched into my brain in a little song we learned in our church’sWednesday night kids club.

And be ye kind one to another tenderhearted forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (do-do-do-dodo) Ephesians 4:32. I know I know it’s King James language so let’s go to the NIV

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It’s not easy . Not being or getting angry is HARD!!! Our lives are riddled with hurts. Some unthinkable. “But Mary” you say, “you don’t understand.” Don’t I? I know that betrayal, domestic violence, abuse (of all sorts) tragic unexpected deaths, babies lost, children lost, teenagers lost, young adults lost, sickness, cancer and other horrific maladies of all sorts. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, violence, divorce, cheating spouses, broken friendships. All of these things…….we have walked the paths with friends and family in the last 5 years. we have held hands, wiped tears, shared in great pain.

It’s incredibly hard, but it’s a necessary choice, the choice to forgive. Many times without ever being asked to. I know I know to us that seems to be an impossible situation but I can tell you that it can be done. Holding bitterness wrath and malice in your heart only hurt one person….You. By holding onto the pain of all that has hurt you, you are giving that person the ability to harm you.

When you choose to forgive that person you are set free. But it’s a process Many times a moment by moment process. And as we actively choose to give over our anger, bitterness wrath and malice to Jesus we are slowly being freed from the chains that those who have hurt us.

Holding onto something that eats at us keeps us from being effective followers of Jesus. Our of our embittered hearts come volatile speech by which we hurt other people.

HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE!

This journey is hard enough without holding onto all of this pain! Won’t you join me finding freedom from all the hurt deep in our hearts?

Blessings, Mary

Let’s Talk- Contentment

contentment

Contentment 101

Definition of contentment

1the quality or state of being contentedThere was a look of contentment on her fac

Hey all!! It’s been a hot minute since I have shown my face around here . The last time I published a post was March 16th. the first day of quarantine here is NY. Today marks 3 months. Tomorrow is our two youngest sons last day of distance learning. And today as I was finishing up a set of study questions for a book I have been working on struck a chord- The root of the questions was contentment and as I began to work through each question I saw contentment with new eyes.

So let’s start our by defining what Content meant is.

Definition of contentment

1: the quality or state of being contented

There was a look of contentment on her fac

Synonyms 

  • content, 
  • contentedness, 
  • delectation, 
  • delight, 
  • enjoyment, 
  • gladness, 
  • gratification, 
  • happiness, 
  • pleasure, 
  • relish, 
  • satisfaction

Do you see that list? Is’t that kinda crazy? CONTENTMENT=Gladness? satisfaction? Pleasure?

Now you might be saying Mary- that’s No BIG deal. You can be content. when the sun is shining and the birds are singing. When Your kiddos are laughing and hugging each other. When Your hubby is helping wash the dishes. Yep That EASY. BUT what does the Bible have to say about contentment?

Contentment in Philippians 4

The study questions took us through Philippians. And if you know anything about this book you should know the theme is joy. Sound familiar? No, visit that list of synonyms of the word contentment again.

Before we get to the verses there are 2 things you should know about the book of Philippians

  • It’s written by Paul
  • He is writing this book from Prison

Let’s check out verses 11-13

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (NIV)

He says it twice…Do you see it? Being content in whatever the circumstance….being content in any and every situation. You might scoff and say HA this Paul dude has NO IDEA what he is talking about. I beg to differ. The very next question In the study took us to 2 Corinthians 11:22-28 NIV

22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I.23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stonesthree times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jewsin danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

THATS a lot of bold print.

Perspective on Contentment

I really want you to let all that soak in….

  • Prison
  • flogged
  • exposed to death (not once but again and again)
  • 40 lashes (minus one) 5 times from the Jews
  • 3 times beaten with rods
  • stoned
  • shipwrecked 3 times
  • spent a night and a day in the open sea
  • constantly on the move
  • in danger in the river
  • in danger from bandits
  • a danger from my fellow Jews
  • in danger from Gentiles
  • in danger in the city
  • in danger in the country
  • in danger at sea
  • in danger from false believers
  • Often gone without sleep
  • knew hunger and thirst and often went without food
  • He had been cold AND NAKED (it’s one thing to be cold-it’s another thing entirely to be cold and naked That is a whole different animal.

On top of all of those horrible things he had to cary on with everyday life….he Labored and toiled….worked hard.

AND THEN on top of all of that he faced DAILY his concerns for the churchES. I emphasized the -ES in churches because the average pastor only has one church in their concern.

My life in View of Paul’s Contentment

I haven’t been flogged or stoned. I haven’t been in prison. I’m not in danger. Paul was in danger EVERYWHERE HE WENT. Can you imagine? And yet he LEARNED contentment in ALL circumstances. Not in some circumstances. ALL of them….the good, the bad, the UGLY. Yep the ugly. the cruel string of deaths within a year. Broken relationships. Hurt feelings. Broken appliances. Broken cars. Sickness. Quarantine. Social distancing. No electricity. No propane. No internet. Deaths of friends and family. Empt store shelves. Different ways of doing church. And everything else for that matter. World in turmoil. hurricanes, earthquakes riots, senseless death. And yet…my list seems so insignificant. It isn’t it’s just as important that I Learn to be content in ALL my circumstances

I can take the example of Paul and learn a couple of lessons.

Lessons Learned from Paul’s Contentment

  • Contentment MUST be learned. It doesn’t just happen It takes great work.
  • No matter what comes our way- no matter how dark and ugly can be faced with contentment.
  • The secret to having contentment in all things…in every circumstance….I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

What about you? Is there anything you have learned from our discussion on contentment? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Blessings, Mary

NOTE: Bible references from NIV and can be found on Bible Gateway