The warm, muggy air outside my window did little to ease the heat inside my car. Oh well, I could stand the heat for the twenty-five minute drive. I turned up the CD a little louder and headed out of the parking lot towards home.
Ten minutes later I mechanically got into the lane that would turn into a ramp to the next road. My eyes automatically fixed on the truck in front of me. Suddenly, the brake lights on the truck came on and the truck came to almost a dead stop just 50 feet in front of me! I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting the truck. It was as if I saw the vehicle approaching in slow motion. Fifty feet. Twenty feet. Finally my car came to a stop about 5 feet from the truck’s bumper. The cars behind me had managed to stop in time too.
As I made my way around the traffic jam and saw that the cause of the sudden stop was a vacant car sitting in the turn lane, the verse that I had been studying that morning came to mind, “The Lord lives, and blessed by my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation” (Psalm 18:46). I spoke the words aloud to express my thanks and praise to God who had just delivered me from a damaging car-crash.
This is the first post in a series about how to keep our thoughts trained on God. It’s a hard thing to do when so many other things are vying for attention in our lives! But this event taught me a valuable lesson on how to do it: memorize God’s word. The first thing that my mind jumped to in this situation was the reality of God’s deliverance because I had just been reading about that deliverance and purposefully memorizing Psalm 18:46. Just imagine what changes could take place in our lives if we took the time to implant key verses into our hearts!
So, Key #1: Memorizing scripture. What good ways have you found to do this?
It had been a long day. Finally home I parked the car, grabbed my purse and computer bag, and popped the trunk to retrieve the groceries. Leveraging my handbag on one shoulder and computer bag on the other, I intertwined seven grocery bags between my fingers. Hustling to the front door I managed to unlock it and used my right hip to swing it open. The strap on my laptop bag caught the door knob and jerked me enough to expel two of the bags’ contents. No worries. Nothing was breakable.
I hastened to the kitchen not realizing the tube of toothpaste had slid across the hardwood floor. At least, not until the heel of my right shoe crushed the box and settled in the fat part of the tube. The cap stayed firmly in place but the pressure split the seam and red, white, and blue toothpaste oozed everywhere. Just the exclamation point I needed to my already stressful day. Thoughts like this played through my mind as I gathered paper towels and a wet rag.
While on my knees wiping the floor and furniture, God pressed on my heart the word Grace. I envisioned God with some sort of rag in His hand cleaning up after me. Cleaning away all my bad decisions and mistakes. He didn’t say, ‘I’ll think about it, Sherry’ or ‘Didn’t you learn your lesson the first time?’ And He doesn’t forgive me because I deserve it. I deserve nothing. Humbleness overwhelmed me and there on the floor I forgave the person who I was allowing to steal my joy.
I share this simple story with you because if you’re a visual learner like me this might help you visualize your Heavenly Father constantly cleaning up your messes. Extending grace to you. Once you have this concept you can begin to imagine yourself wiping away other people’s messes. You must extend grace, too.
“ And if by grace then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6
Precious young ladies, parents make mistakes and if you’re hurt or angry about your parent’s actions please know you must forgive them. (Even if they do not ask for forgiveness.) Extend grace so you can begin to pray for them. There is no power in resentment. There is only power through prayer in Jesus Christ.
Encouragement: When I think about not deserving forgiveness from God I’m always reminded of Dave Ramsey, the Christian Financial counselor and author, who always responds to the question, “How are you?” with “Better than I deserve.” I love this response and I’ve tried it a couple of times. People don’t know exactly how to respond to it. It’s not an attempt to put people on the spot but rather a mindset we need to be in every day. Try it!
Know I’m Praying for You, Sherry
All eyes were fixed on the man at the front of the room. Nobel Laureate John Mather, a respected scientist and NASA employee, was giving a lecture to the large crowd that had gathered to hear him speak. The room barely had enough space for the eager assemblage; several sets of people chose to sit on the floor because there was not enough space in the chairs. No one dared to make additional noise for fear that it would cause them to lose one of the precious words that came from the scientists’ mouth. Everyone knew: hearing this lecture was the most important thing they could be doing at the moment.
Enter: the skink. It started as a flicker at the corner of my eye. I turned, but didn’t notice anything strange near the group of people sitting by the glass doors. Soon I was lost in the speakers’ words.
Flash. I saw something again, and this time the girl next to me had also turned to look. A second later a little lizard had crawled into the room by coming under the threshold of the glass doors. Several people on the outer row of the audience were watching, amused, as the intruder scuttled along the base of the wall in search of a cool, damp place to settle down. The girls sitting against the wall were not quite as amused.
Then a second skink popped its head out from the doorframe to join its friend in looking for a break from the sun. People in the crowd continued to point and chuckle quietly as they noticed, one by one, the drama unfolding on the side of the room. The lizards had stolen the show.
Do you have lizards ruling in your life right now – things that seem so important that they distract you from hearing the Person whose words are the most vital part of your life? Ultimately God should be the star of the show in our lives. Psalm 104:34 says it this way, “May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.”
What do you spend your time thinking about? Maybe you are tempted to spend every waking moment analyzing and re-analyzing a problem if you have had a divorce or other tragedy happen recently. But no matter how many times you go over your problems, you won’t be able to solve them alone! Remember the One who should be on center stage.
Tell me, what do you do to keep your thoughts centered on God? I’d like to highlight some of your ideas in an upcoming blog series!
2012 may very well be the most important year of Paige McPherson’s life. The twenty one year old is on her way to London to compete in her first Olympics in Taekwondo. Her next destination to California will trump any medal ceremony. Paige, fondly nicknamed McFierce, will meet her biological family for the first time.
The McPhersons of Sturgis, South Dakota adopted Paige when she was four days old. She was fourth in the pecking order of five adopted siblings. Each child was from a different nationality so the McPhersons were fondly referred to as the ‘Rainbow Family.’ Paige is African American/Filipino and older brother Evan is Korean. He was very involved in Taekwando and little Paige was excelling in ballet classes, but she wanted to be like her big brother and take Taekwando so her parents enrolled her in classes as well.
McFierce’s secret weapon seems to be in her foot work. Ballet lessons have proven a valuable precursor to becoming a champion in Taekwando. However, Paige’s athletic ability also stems from her biological DNA. She began aggressively searching for her family when she turned eighteen (with her adoptive parents’ help). Through Facebook she began the process of learning about her birth parents and her siblings. She’s discovered so many similarities in their personalities and especially in sports successes.
Paige talks humbly about God allowing her to be adopted by the McPhersons. In her own words, “Yes, I too had those thoughts in my head about what life would be like with my biological family, but I know that God’s plan is perfect, and that being adopted was a blessing from the Lord.”
What a different spin Paige could have put on her life. She didn’t preoccupy her mind with doom over not knowing her birth family, she trusted God to know what was best for her. I can’t speak for Paige but my observation is God has given her more than she could’ve ever hoped or imagined.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Follow Paige on Twitter: @mcfierce2012 and learn more about why she inspires us: http://www.nbcolympics.com/news-blogs/taekwondo/ten-questions-with-paige-mcpherson.html
Encouragement: From Paige’s interview with ‘The Real Winning Edge’
“My advice to young people and old is that you need to trust in the Lord. With God, and only with God, can you do the impossible. With Him there is no longer that great burden of being alone in carrying the pressures of the world. Without the confidence of the Lord, you will never be satisfied with your defeat or victory, because there is no purpose or meaning behind them that is long lasting. However, if you trust in the Lord, whether you are defeated or victorious, you know that it was from the Lord’s hand and so your purpose in life has been fulfilled and will be for eternity.”
Know I’m Praying for You, Sherry
“Every race I’ve lost, it’s always because I got a little impatient and tried to win the race from the gun,” says Sanya Richards-Ross. She punched her ticket to London last month by winning the 400 meters at the Olympic trials and setting a world best time.
At first glance we see a gorgeous woman who brings style and glamour to the track accented with a mega-watt smile. She’s a Christ-follower who recognized her gift of running fast at the age of nine. It’s a story of following your dreams similar to other athletes we cheer. Or not.
Apostle Paul did miraculous works for the Lord hindered by a thorn in his side. Sanya Double R (as she’s fondly called) chases gold with a similar thorn. Her struggle is with an auto-immune disease called Behcet’s Disease. It produces blotches on her skin and painful mouth ulcers. Many days Sanya’s mouth is so swollen she strains to speak and even breathe. Workouts are tough. The medication zaps Sanya’s energy.
Even with the disease Sanya won a Bronze medal in the 400 meters at Beijing in 2008. She was the favorite to win the race but says she started out of the block too fast and lost her juice for the finish. Since Beijing she married her long-time sweetheart, Aaron Ross, and has won Gold at the Berlin World Champions and the Istanbul Indoor World Championships in the 400 meters. Most recently, Sanya learned her Behcet’s diagnosis was incorrect (Behcet’s can lead to blindness), but rather she has a skin disease which can be treated with over- the- counter drugs. Imagine the relief she must be feeling!
The stylish sleeves Sanya wears as part of her uniform were created to cover her skin lesions. Even though she no longer needs the sleeves they have become her trademark and she now wears them for fashion purposes.
Paul cried out to God to remove the thorn in his side. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8
Paul accomplished great things despite his thorn. Sanya is accomplishing great things despite her thorn. What’s your thorn? We all have one. Your journey will not be easy so don’t stop striving for perfection.
Follow Sanya’s story: http://www.sanyarichardsross.com/ or Twitter: @sanyarichiross
Encouragement: What’s your excuse for not following your dream? Money? Logisitics? Family issues? Don’t forget how deep and wide God’s power is. He has the resolution you need.
Know I’m praying for you, Sherry