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If We Had Methuselah’s Years

Genesis 5 . . .

Just imagine . . .

According to this genealogical chapter:

Adam lived for 903 years.

Seth lived for 913.

Enosh lived for 905.

Kenan for 910.

Mahalalel for 895.

Jared, 962.

Enoch, 365 . . . on earth. He walked faithfully with God, so God took him away. (See verse 24.) He may still be alive. He literally may never experience death the way most of the rest of us do. That makes his son Methuselah’s record-breaking 969 years look like, well, our 70 to 100—or maybe more like a miniscule fraction of only our very first day of life.

And most of these men didn’t even become parents until they were close to or into their hundreds!

What would you do with all of that time? How would it change your life?

psalm-90-12

Right now, I’m picking and choosing. Besides caring for my family and our home, participating in church and community activities, reading, writing, running, and flower-hunting, there are several other things I’d love to learn to do. I’d love to learn another language or two. I’d love to learn to draw the flowers I take pictures of now. I might even enjoy trying to grow a few. And I could always use more time for the things I already enjoy.

Instead, I find myself pruning activity from my life in order to make time for the things I’ve prayerfully decided matter most right now. This is the reality of human life. We learn to ask, as Moses did, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). We don’t have time to do everything. We must choose where to focus our energy to make the best use of the time that we have.

I wonder if Methuselah ever felt the need to number his days, to conserve time. Did he use his 969 years wisely? Or did he fritter them away? Maybe we’ll get to ask him someday.

S-o-m-e-d-a-y.

That’s right. For now, we pick and choose our activities to use our time as wisely as possible, knowing it is limited here on earth. But someday we’ll start enjoying eternity in Heaven where we’ll be able to pursue all the God-honoring creative endeavors we’ve ever felt inclined to try! Knowing this, we can learn to view this life as one of many seasons of our eternal life just as we break our human life into seasons of its own – the season of childhood, youth, training, home-building, career-developing or transitioning, the empty nest, mentorship, retirement . . .

There are so many seasons we get to enjoy in the span of an average life! Just imagine all God will allow us to do once we enter eternity with Him!

I’m going to try to remember this next time I’m forced to prune activities or to say, “No,” to something I’d love to do. For now, my time is limited. This won’t always be so. I can fully focus on and enjoy whatever season I am in. God has promised there will always be more!

Father, thank You for the promise of eternity—a gift we cannot even begin to understand. Until we receive it, please teach us to number our days, to choose wisely. Help us to thankfully give what we have now to You, knowing You plan to give us so much more someday. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

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The Challenge and Blessing of Change

Bluebonnets

Change.

Life seems to require it.

But the pain of going through it brings blessing.

When we cooperate.

This has been on my heart these past few weeks. Twenty Sixteen is already proving to be a huge year of change!

At the moment, I’m sitting in a functional house full of boxes that need to be emptied. Yes, we’ve moved—again. This time by choice. How weird is that? We just couldn’t find peace in the house we were renting; we felt unsafe. So we moved. And we’re so glad we did!

DSC01646Yesterday, to take a break from the boxes, I tried something crafty, and it worked! I covered our front door’s windows for privacy and made them pretty in the process. (Click here to learn how.)

I also went on the season’s first flower hunt yesterday. I’m back in Texas where this passion began, but I’ve found new places to explore. I’ve made a list. I visited the first site yesterday where I found curious buds about to bloom, but not quite. Soon I must go back to see what’s hiding in those green packages.

Our God made all growing things to change.

A few years ago, my brother gave me a spice rack, hoping to encourage me to cook with something more interesting than salt. I took him up on the challenge, found at least one recipe for each spice, and blogged about my experiences in learning to cook. I went from cooking quick and easy for a family of five that included three young boys to cooking more creatively for just two. Then, by necessity, I learned to cook with less dairy, no soy, then no gluten—and sometimes, when extended family visits—without nitrates or eggs. Now, as we prepare to adopt a child or two or four, I’ll need to learn to cook for a family again. This time I’ll be looking for quick and easy without the ingredients we can no longer handle. And now I have a whole spice drawer to go with the spice rack I often refill! I think I’ll start blogging about my experiences in learning to cook all over again—again.

MysteryPlantLearning one set of successful recipes wasn’t enough. Even my cooking must change. I’m excited about the challenge.

I think I used to think that childhood was the time for change, that once a person reached adulthood, things stayed pretty much the same until death. Spouse, career, family, home. Unlike the Hobbit, I welcomed the adventure God called our family into—military ministry. But I think maybe I wanted (or expected to get) that adventure on my terms. I wanted to pick and choose my challenges. I had expectations of what I’d find in each place and how I’d deal with it and how life would respond to me.

Tolkien got it right when he wrote The Hobbit. Life is best when it’s full of adventure and challenge and change—even if that adventure, challenge, and change mean dealing with something difficult right where you are. These are the gifts God uses to help us learn to rely on Him and to mature. Sometimes He lets us choose our challenges, but even then they come with surprises. All we really have control over is how we choose to respond. We can ask God for more of His strength, courage, power, and wisdom as we handle life with thanksgiving, dignity, and grace—or we can whine, complain, get angry, and demand our cozy Hobbit hole.

That won’t do us any good, though. The neighbors have already auctioned off our stuff and leased the space to someone else. When one adventure’s over, a new one must begin. Even if we settle down, life will continue to change.

We don’t always have a choice about the changes in our lives. Illness, death, downsizing, disaster. These come upon us, and our only choice is in how we respond, what work we’ll let God do in our lives through the trouble that has come our way. But when we do have a choice, if we always make the safe choice, let security determine our path, we’ll never change and grow—and we’ll miss out on many blessings God has planted along our way.

Yellow from a DistanceWhen I went flower hunting yesterday, there was a paved path along a creek. Some flowers were close to the path, but the bluebonnets I was most excited about were scattered in a field several yards away. I’ve walked on the path before and seen all kinds of critters scamper across it—including big spiders and snakes. (Okay, the snakes don’t really scamper.) I knew these were lurking in the field between me and the flowers I wanted to photograph.

I really don’t like spiders or snakes.

In some places, the grass around the flowers was tall, giving critters great hiding places. I stayed on the path and took pictures from a distance here. In other places, though, the grass had been cut right up to where the flowers were. Walking to the flowers was still a little risky, but not so much. It was a calculated risk worth the effort with care.

As we navigate our way through this life, we can prayerfully take such calculated risks with care, as God leads, in order to change, grow, and mature—and enjoy great blessings along the way! In fact, on the walk back to my car, I saw a mother with two little girls heading straight across the field to the flowers, no hesitation, only joy. As we grow to trust our heavenly Father with whatever comes our way, we’ll find such freedom to enjoy each new adventure in our lives.

Thanks for letting me ramble on and reflect a bit today. I hope to get back into my regular writing routine within a few days—unless things change.


Are you moving this season, too? Check out my devotional for encouragement as you do: Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway.

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Because He Said So

When we become parents, we vow we’ll never say it. Our parents said it and drove us crazy. We decide we will not do that to our kids. We’re more patient, more creative, more understanding than that. We determine that our kids won’t hear that phrase coming from our lips.

But then the day comes when they ask for something they can’t have.

We say, “No.”

They say, “Why?”

We patiently explain.

They look at us with big, sad eyes and ask, “But why?”

We try again to explain.

They get frustrated, stomp their feet, and ask again, “But why?”

And before we know what’s happening, those four little words come out of our mouths of their own volition:

“Because I said so.”

And suddenly we understand. Our parents weren’t being impatient, uncreative, or insensitive. They desperately wanted us to understand the why, so we’d accept the disappointing answer and not be unhappy with them, so we’d trust that they were doing their job as parents and choosing the best for us—even when it hurt.

But sometimes, kids, still learning and experiencing and maturing, just cannot understand. That’s why they’re still kids, living under our roofs, dependent on our care. “Because I said so” has to be enough for them. Someday they’ll thank us for it. (We hope.)

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” This is God’s (through Moses) “Because I said so” to the Israelites. They were still relatively new to this whole being-God’s-chosen-people thing and there was much about Him and His plan that they could not understand. Moses assured them that, though God had the right to not tell them everything, He had told them everything they needed to know. He told them Who He Is. He told them what they could expect from Him. He told them what He expected from them. Their job was to obey the law He’d given and to trust Him with the rest.

For. Their. Own. Good.

God maintains His rightGod has revealed so much more of Himself and His plan since that time. Thanks to Jesus, we know things the Israelites couldn’t have imagined. Yet God still maintains the right to keep secret things. We won’t always know why. There’s much we cannot understand. Sometimes Because I said so has to be enough.

But we do know that God loves us and that all His plans for us are good. He has told us Who He Is. He has told us what we can expect from Him and what He expects from us. He has even sent His Spirit to help us in our quest to live His way. Our job is to follow His Son and trust Him with whatever we can’t yet understand.

Better yet, He’s given us His Word. As we study it, His Spirit helps us to grow in wisdom and understanding. Just as our children grow in knowledge, experience, and maturity, so do we. We’ll never understand everything, for only God is God. But as we faithfully study and pray, God will reveal what He wants us to know. Let’s thank Him now instead of waiting until someday.

Father, there is no one like You Who understands all things. Therefore please help us, Your beloved children, to trust You. When Because I said so is the only answer we can handle in our humanity, help us to be thankful for what You have revealed. Help us to follow Your Son’s ways. We’re so thankful to be Your children. Please teach us what we need to know, so our lives will please You. For our good and Your glory! In Jesus’ name, amen.

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When Going Back Is Moving Forward with God

The Four Phases of the Flower Hunt . . .

Flower Hunt1. New in Town

Look at all these new flowers! Can’t wait to grab the camera and hunt them all down.

2. There One Year

Must hurry to catch all the flowers that died last year before I could photograph them.

3. Second Anniversary

Why do these flowers only grow along the highway?! Surely they’re hiding somewhere else where I can actually take their picture. I. will. find. them.

4. After Year Three

Got it. Got that one. Yep, that one too! No new flowers . . . time to move.


Wait! What?

We’re going back?

There are no new flowers at back!

But we were only there for a year that first time. And I was just a flower hunting novice then. An opportunity for better pictures? Flower hunting season—here I come!


Going back doesn’t feel like going forward, but with God even the old becomes new.

A New ThingIf you find God leading you back perhaps He has:

  • A fear for you to face.
  • An anger you must confront.
  • A missed or brand new opportunity for you.

Even when God sends us back, we can rejoice in the knowledge that He’s doing a new thing—in us, around us, with us—for the glory of His name!

Father, thank You for life’s surprises and for the grace You give us to adapt. There is always much to look forward to—especially when we’re trusting Your lead. Amen.


Home Is Where God Sends YouAre you getting ready to move? Take this daily devotional with you! Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway. Available at Amazon.com.

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When Life Changes Your Plans

Life Happens When You Plan“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” –John Lennon

I found this quote in a book I was reading last week. It made me laugh because it’s just so true. Just the other night, my husband and I were marveling over all we’ve encountered so far in our 27 years of marriage:

“How’d we get here, Janet?” Mike asked.

I smirked. “Well, we started in San Diego . . .”

He laughed. But we did start in San Diego, then we moved to Kansas City for school, then we were offered a pastorate in Maine . . . who could resist that adventure? . . . and life has offered one surprise after another since then. Starting out, we never could have imagined even half of it – and might have been tempted to bypass some of the adventures had God warned us in advance. It’s a good thing He didn’t do that.

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” –Proverbs 16:33, NLT

We keep trying to figure out what will be next, well, after this coming assignment . . . that we know . . . maybe . . . we’re in the military, after all. More significantly, we’re following God. I don’t think with either you really know where you’re going until you get there. And then you might be needed somewhere else. We make our plans using the information we have, but circumstances tend to change. We’ve learned, or maybe we’re still learning, to roll with that.

Proverbs 16-9As Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

Or, in King Solomon’s words, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” –Proverbs 16:9

God is the One in control when it comes to life.

I recently stumbled upon a translation of Philippians 4:11-14 that helped me understand this idea of rolling with life in a new way:

“I have learned how to manage on whatever I have. I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength.” –Philippians 4:11-14, The Jerusalem Bible

The translation I’m most familiar with says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (NIV). Another translation says, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have” (NLT). These put the focus on learning to be content in any situation which prompts the question, “How do I do that?”

The Jerusalem Bible tells us. In this translation, Paul says, “I have learned how to manage on whatever I have.” This tells me that being content is managing to do what you need to do with whatever you have, whatever God has provided, for whatever situation. And it’s not a matter of deciding to be content. Instead, it’s a matter of trust.

Which is why we have to learn it. Trust comes with experience.

When I look back on each circumstance of my life: each home, each state, each country, each financial state, each stage of marriage, of parenting, each new ministry or career— I can see God’s hand at work. There were times when we didn’t know how we would manage.

But we always did. God always provided enough. He always helped us to manage on what we had.

Therefore . . .

As I face new unknowns, as life happens to me while I make other plans, I can trust my God. He’s proven Himself faithful. All will eventually be well. I can be content knowing that.

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness and wisdom. Thank You for this life and all of its adventures, for meaningful work, for family, for surprises around every bend. Thank You for providing all we need to manage in whatever circumstance and for making us ready for it. Thank You most of all for Your presence. You are with us. That is all we really need. We love You, Lord. Amen.

If you struggle to find contentment in changing circumstances, my first book, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway, may encourage you. Available at Amazon.com.

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Following Like Matthias Did

“Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”Acts 1:26

Matthias. He perplexes me. His name is only mentioned three times in the whole Bible—all in the first chapter of Acts where his selection as Judas’ replacement among the twelve apostles is recorded.

DSC00587eIf replacing Judas was such an important thing, why doesn’t anybody tell us what Matthias did once he filled this role? Since the gospels were written after this event and Matthias was chosen because he’d been hanging out with Jesus all along, just like the apostles did, why didn’t any of the Gospel writers mention anything Matthias did during that time—in a foreshadowing kind of way? Who is this unknown apostle and why did Luke feel it necessary to mention him in Acts 1—and nowhere else?

We won’t really know this answer to this question until we get to Heaven, but I think the Bible gives us a few clues. Matthew 19:28 records a promise Jesus made about Heaven. He said, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Later, Revelation 4 records John’s vision of the throne room of Heaven. John writes, “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads” (verse 4). A few verses later, he continues, “Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being’” (verses 9-11).

We don’t know for certain who these twenty-four elders are, but theologians speculate that they are probably the twelve sons of Israel (from the Old Testament) and the twelve apostles (from the New Testament).

So what does this tell us about Matthias? Because Matthias was chosen to replace Judas, he was chosen to sit on one of those twelve thrones of Heaven that Jesus told his disciples about. When we get to Heaven, we will see Matthias worshiping God, laying his own crown before Him, and declaring Christ’s worthiness. I’m sure Matthias served Jesus faithfully throughout his life. But the lack of information about this service leads me to believe that Matthias’ service for eternity far outweighs any work he did on earth.

And that leads me to wonder, no, to know that the same is true for each of us. We are living life now in preparation for eternity. We serve God now in training for forever. And if we don’t get any recognition now from friends, associates, or strangers, well, that’s okay because God sees our hearts, knows who is truly faithful, and has a plan for our future in Heaven with Him always.

Judas got a lot of attention while on earth, but in the end, he had to be replaced. I pray we’ll all follow Matthias’ example instead.

Lord, please find us faithful. Teach us to serve quietly with eyes riveted on You. We worship You now in training for eternity. You are worthy, our Creator and King. May our lives forever glorify Your holy name. Amen.

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Praying as Things Change

Parachute PrayerAlways with Autumn comes an abundance of seasonal shopping displays: back to school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas . . . One of our local stores got so carried away with this last year that they actually started putting out Valentines before the New Year! I guess they just couldn’t wait to start promoting the next big thing.

Personally, I love the Autumn displays. Except for when I’ve lived in climates where I knew Autumn leaves meant I was about to be buried in snow for months on end, I’ve always appreciated all signs of the end of Summer—including store displays.

When we notice these, let’s let them remind us to pray. Changing displays signal other changes, too: changes in season, changes in activities, changes in temperature, changes in clothing styles, changes in décor. So let’s pray for people we know who are going through some kind of life change. This list could include people who are moving or going to college for the first time, people who are changing jobs or struggling through divorce, and people who are adapting to changes brought on by illness or injury.

As we recognize changes in familiar store displays, let’s remember that lives all around us are ever-changing, too. Let’s ask God to help the people we love to adjust.

Father, change is inevitable. Some changes are welcome, but others bring pain. When we notice the subtle changes all around us, please remind us to pray for those who are struggling. Thank You, Lord, for caring. Please make us aware, so we’ll learn to be caring, too. Amen.

Note: If you struggle to find contentment whenever life begins to change, my book, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway, is full of devotionals I wrote to encourage you. I wrote most specifically about the change that comes with a move, but I’ve discovered that these lessons are relevant to other life changes, too. Click here to purchase your own copy at Amazon.

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Psalm 18:34 on My Mind

NewOMM“He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”Psalm 18:34

Today we continue our five-week concentration on Psalm 18:32-36 with verse 34. I hope you’re memorizing this passage with me. If not, I pray you’re absorbing some truths from these verses that will firmly stick in your mind. That’s the goal when we meditate on God’s Word. We want to hear from Him and to remember His words to us.

When I first looked at verse 34 today, considering what I wanted to write about it, thoughts of spiritual warfare came to mind. Personally, I don’t need to know the fine points of hand-to-hand combat or how to bend a bow of bronze, but I do need to know how to pray when Satan attacks me, my family, my friends, or my community. We all do! If we ask God to train us for this, He most definitely will. Requests like that are pleasing to Him; He wants us involved in the unseen fight for the souls of all people. He’s their Creator, after all.

I think there’s a deeper truth to this verse, though. David, its author, was a warrior. He wrote Psalm 18 to praise God for delivering him from his enemies, most notably King Saul. David did need to know the fine points of hand-to-hand combat. His life depended on him being able to bend a bow of bronze. In today’s Bible verse, David is recognizing God’s provision for his specific need.

Psalm 18:34Not only did David need these skills at that time–they served him well throughout his life, from his role as a shepherd defending sheep from lions and bears to his role as the King defending God’s people placed in his care. David recognized the truth that God prepares his people to capably complete the tasks He calls Him to do.

God didn’t call me to be a warrior like David. Instead, He called me to read and write and study and teach. When I consider Psalm 18:34, I reflect on the preparation and training and guidance God has given me for this throughout my life. He has led me to jobs and projects and assignments and classes and through experiences that enable me to serve Him wherever I go. He trained me. He graciously gives me whatever skills I need. Reflecting on this, I’m filled with joy, contentment, thanksgiving, and praise.

As you consider Psalm 18:34 this week, I invite you to reflect on how and for what God has trained you. What is your calling? How has God trained you for it? Are you faithfully using the skills He’s granted to you? What work of God in your life are you most thankful for today?

Father, thank You for training us to face what is ahead. You prepare us to do whatever we must. You also grant us skills we need to serve in whatever capacity you’ve called us to. Help us to recognize Your work in our lives and to go, as soon as we’re able, to fulfill each day’s calling. Thank You, as always, for going with us. Without You, we’ve no hope. You are the God of Providence. We love You, Lord. Amen.

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Untouched by Trouble

Finding Home“The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”Proverbs 19:23

In a sense, no one lives untouched by trouble. Jesus himself promised, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Each of us has problems to deal with and challenges to face. We will be misjudged, disappointed, and treated unfairly. Hardship hits those who live in palaces as well as those who live in hovels. Life is often tough to bear.

But having trouble as Jesus mentions and being touched by trouble as King Solomon describes are two different things. You’ve probably met people who’ve been touched by trouble. These people are bitter, resentful, angry, suspicious, tired, pitiful, and full of complaints. You can see the frustration on their faces before they even open their mouths. “Woe is me. Life has mistreated me and worn me down” is their motto–a banner written across the growing creases in their foreheads.

Those who fear the Lord, however, have true life. Please understand that Solomon didn’t mean fear as in dread or anticipation of punishment. He meant to respect or hold in awe. God is our Father! He gives us all we need, including discipline. He uses life’s hardships to accomplish His purposes on Earth and to prepare His children for Heaven. As He reigns over our lives, allowing in both good and bad, we’re wise to follow Jesus’ lead by praying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus was touched by trouble; we see this in the scars in His hands, feet, and side. But He didn’t become bitter. He persevered; He forgave. (See Luke 23:34.) He was content to serve the Father. Someday He will welcome us Home!

Father, Teach me to fear You as I should that I may rest content in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Free Today through Saturday: Home Is Where God Sends You

Dear friends:

I’m giving the Kindle version of my book away on Amazon for the next few days! Won’t you help me spread the word? (After you claim your FREE copy, of course!)

About the Book

The Kindle version of Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway costs $0.00 at Amazon, right now through March 8th. A daily devotional for women who are changing locations, Home Is Where God Sends You contains six months’ worth of messages to encourage readers and cheer them on all the way through their move.

I hope you’ll enjoy the book! And please tell others: it’s FREE!

This post is linked to: A Little R & R