WFMW: Yes to Being Still

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Julie for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

A couple of years ago, I had a big, ugly argument with a friend from our church. It took the wind out of my sails. I was so angry and sad, I spent several days in prayer. I remember praying to God while running the vacuum and asking Him to let me know if I was wrong. I wanted to do something. Make a phone call. Stomp my foot. Kick. Scream. Something? Anything! Instead, I discussed the situation with my husband. And then, I waited.

The next night, I was awakened from a sound sleep. I can’t describe it, but I can tell you that it had never happened before and it has never happened since. The split second I came out of sleep, it was as if I audibly heard the words: Exodus. And fourteen.

I got out of bed, grabbed my Bible and went into the bathroom, eager to check out this chapter.

As I opened my Bible, I sat down on the toilet lid and wondered if I had lost my mind. I couldn’t remember ever reading the entire book of Exodus, but I remembered that it was in Exodus that Moses led the Israelites out of slavery. What does slavery have to do with my current situation, Lord? I had never experienced “that still small voice” that I had heard about in the small Baptist church that I grew up in, but, I also had no other explanation for the words that I heard as clear as if they had been spoken to me.

And to this day, I still don’t.

Exodus 14.

As I read through the first several verses, nothing really stuck out to me.

But then I came to verse fourteen.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I sat in awe.

So many times over the past few days I had wanted to act.

To react.

To be heard.

To say something.

To spout off.

But now?

I knew better.

It was if the Lord himself had spoken to me and said, “Girl, shut your mouth and listen.”

Do you know how hard it is for me to be still?

I mean, really still?

When you’re as mouthy as me, saying YES to God when he says, “Will you be still?” is tough.

But this time, I knew that being still is exactly what I needed to do because I had asked God to show me His will for my life. He wanted me to be still, so that I could be fully aware of His presence.

I am confident that “the big, ugly argument” was not about me or my friend, rather, this particular situation was simply about me saying YES, I trust You, Lord.

Fast forward several years later.

I received a call from someone very special whom I had spent years praying for. I had prayed that the Lord would soften his heart and that he would be back in my life. On this day, it was his voice that I heard on the other end of the telephone line and he was asking if I would pick him (and his friend) up at the bus station in our town. (He lives three states away). As it turns out, this very special person was in need.

My first reaction was anger.

I mean, who does that?

Who just arrives at a bus station unannounced needing a job, a car and a place to stay?

My next reaction was sadness.

How does one end up in a position of having nothing except a couple of trash bags full of necessities?

And my next reaction was, What the heck do we do, now?

My husband and I had talked at length about purchasing them a return bus ticket home. It would cost us a few hundred dollars, but they’d be out of our home and out of our everyday lives. I had contacted shelters in their area and was stunned to find out that you can’t just show up at a homeless shelter and stay here. There is an application process and even if you get accepted, in many cases, there is also a waiting list. How was I going to fix this?

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I am a stay-at-home-mom. I enjoy the peace and quiet in my home while the boys are at school and my husband is at work. When we are all home, I enjoy our band of four being together. Our home is organized and I like everything to run smoothly. In a matter of minutes, the pretty wrapping paper had been ripped wide open on my simple, neat, organized life package. Its contents – now vulnerable and exposed – seemed out of my control.

Out of my control. 

That’s hard for a control freak to grasp.

“But here’s the deal” when God is in it, He doesn’t need us to control a thing.” Rhinestone Jesus.

After three days of having unexpected guests in our home, I pulled into McDonalds for breakfast. Sitting alone at that table, I prayed to the Lord, and I said, “Lord, please show me what we’re supposed to do. I don’t have peace about this situation. I want to feel your presence and know your peace.”

Within five minutes of my prayer, a McDonald’s employee was sweeping the floor just behind me. A customer, on the way to a table, shared this exchange with the employee.

Customer: Hey, how’s it going?

Employee: I’m ok. A lot better than I was doing. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. My mother-in-law has been staying with us and we finally kicked her out last night.

Customer: Where did she go?

Employee: I don’t know. She’s homeless. I don’t really care. I just knew she wasn’t staying with us one more day.

Customer: Well, you know the Bible says, “If your enemy is hungry, and you have food, you should feed them. And if he’s thirsty and you have drink, you should give them something to drink.” 

The conversation continued, but I had heard the words the Lord wanted me to hear loud. And clear.

You see, when we seek God and His will for our lives, we should be ready when He answers. It might be messy. It might be hard. But He will meet you there.

In the first situation, I had worked up several scenarios in my head. All of which included me flying off the handle and handling things in my way. And quite honestly, that’s the way I was used to doing things. I have a horrible temper (just being honest!) and it is a chore keeping my crazy reigned in. Had I reacted the way I wanted to, I would have felt good for about forty seconds. And then, I would’ve spent Lord knows how long regretting my words and pleading for forgiveness, both from Christ and from my friend.

In this most recent situation, the easy thing to do would have been to spend a couple hundred dollars on two bus tickets, pack them a lunch and send them packing. And in doing so, I would’ve regained the privacy and peace in my home. But you see, there wouldn’t have been peace in my heart.

Saying “yes” is never about us. It is acknowledging that God’s plan is not our plan. It is trusting that He will turn our big, ugly MESS into a MESSage of grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. He is present. He is in control. And He sees the big picture, as messy as it may be.

Saying yes isn’t really about doing it all. It’s about saying yes right where you are. It may seem small or insignificant, but any ime you love someone or care for another person’s needs, you’re changing their world, and yours, too. It’s about looking up from your everyday life and seeing opportunities around you to make a difference. It’s about loving others as we are loved.” – Rhinestone Jesus.

Sometimes, saying YES in our mess is as simple as saying Yes, Lord, I will listen. I will seek. I will follow. I will trust.

 

BIO: Julie McCollam lives in West Virginia with her husband and two young sons, Stevie and Alex.Before becoming a stay-at-home-mom (who rarely stays at home) she spent eight hours a day in jail, counseling inmates. She traded her handcuffs for Nerf guns and serves up a daily dose of crazy at From Inmates To Playdates where she writes about her family, her faith, domestic duties, the daily DVR docket and of course, her time in jail. 

WFMW: The Two Words That Changed My Life {Giveaway}

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Today, we are taking a break from our Yes Works For Me stories, so I can share with you two words that have changed my life and give away a beautiful word to one of you. Make sure you leave a comment as your entry!

[Updated with Winner: Congrats to Hannah, random commenter #311]

We had just finished speaking, Maureen and I, tag-teaming, sharing the Mercy House story over and over the past few weeks. We not only wanted to bring awareness to the countless impoverished women in the world, we also wanted to inspire people hearing our words to join the story.

The lady waited her turn and pulled me aside afterwards, “What really changed your life? What woke you up? What was it?”

It’s a hard question. But the answer came easily.

Two words, I whisper.

I love words.  I love reading them. I love writing them.

But mostly, I love living them.

They are powerful. They speak death or give life.

Words guide us.

For nearly 5 years, two words have led my feet on a hard, beautiful journey. I’ve gone deeper than I ever wanted, stretched further than I thought possible and been more fulfilled than I ever dreamed.

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Love. Mercy.

I love these two words… I understand love. I long for mercy. I can give both to others.

These two words have changed my life.

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And the lives of others.

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Don’t think for a moment that your words aren’t important.

Your words matters.

What you say with your lips, write on a screen, scribble in a book, jot in a thank you note, they are powerful.

When we start with The Word. Our words can change the world.

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Dayspring’s new (in)Courage Words Matter Letterpress Blocks are stunning. They chose the two words for me that are now hanging over my bed for me. I cried when I opened the mail.

Today, they are giving away $50 to one of you because your words matter. 

Click below to look at the awesome variety of letters:

Leave a comment with “your word” as your entry.

WFMW: The God Nod

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Crystal for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Waking up in the 3:30 darkness, I smiled. Race day was finally here! I would combine my two passions of running and social justice by putting on a 5k/10k charity race for Compassion International’s Child Survival Program (CSP).

I just knew in my gut that this race was a God-thing. And it was. We had hoped for maybe 150 runners. More than 300 showed up. I thought the race could raise $3,000 for impoverished mothers and babies around the globe. We raised more than $6,000 — enough to keep a CSP center running for several months.

From those numbers, the race was a stunning success, especially when you consider that it was founded by a rookie race director who really was just a stay-at-home mom.

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And yet, from the moment people started showing up, things went wrong. An unapproved race used the course the day before, leaving elaborate chalk drawings that pointed my runners in the wrong direction. While trying to cover those markings, I grabbed the wrong spray paint — non-washable — and accidentally graffitied the whole park. About 20 people got lost on-course. My husband crashed a borrowed truck into a car — after he blew out a borrowed golf cart’s windshield. And there wasn’t a single aspect of the race someone didn’t complain about afterward.

I sobbed for two days. All I could think was FAILURE. I had planned and planned some more, but it wasn’t enough.

God, You’ve had your hand in this race, I prayed. You moved mountains. So what happened? Are You mad? I just couldn’t understand why so many things went wrong if Jesus wanted me to create and direct this race.

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Since then, I’ve learned that “giving God the nod” means no artist smock included. You’re going to get messy! Saying YES to this race meant success, but is also meant hard growth. Like learning that:

God uses both our strengths – and weaknesses — to glorify Him. In many ways, my personality perfectly lends itself to being a race director. However, it also breeds impatience and lack of context. Yet the Lord, with his infinite planning skills, utilizes both to accomplish His purposes.

My standing with God is not based on my performance. Pre-race, I would have said, “Of course God loves me no matter what!” But I never realized I didn’t truly believe that; it took the race to expose my faulty belief.

The ones who truly care are the ones who get out and do something. My best friend gently pointed out that my biggest critics weren’t the ones dealing with the race’s 10,000 details. They merely had to pay $20 and show up.

Failure isn’t always failure. Sometimes, it’s a launching point. Preach it, Teddy.

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Saying YES means you get lost on the course. You deal with some jeers from spectators, and even more from the inside. You trip and fall on the trail.

But you keep running, and keep praising the one who gave you breath to do it.

 

Godnod3Crystal Kupper is a military wife, freelance magazine writer and stay-at-home mom of three cuties living in England. She blogs over at Crystal’s Cliffnotes about parenting, marriage, military issues, volunteering for Compassion International and Reece’s Rainbow, missing all things Oregon and how really, really ridiculously good-looking her man is.

WFMW: Sometimes Yes Means A Lot of Waiting

 

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Sarah for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Five years ago I felt the strong call of the Lord to change the way I was living my life. I had pursued and achieved the American Dream, I had been following Jesus for three decades, but suddenly I was left with a nagging feeling that something was missing.

I started to see that Jesus called us to sacrifice on behalf of others in a way that was completely counter to the culture I was enmeshed in. My heart began to break for “the least” in a way I could not explain, and I felt God specifically drawing me toward orphan care.

With two sweet biological boys, we thought our family was complete, but God had other plans for us. I started to see adoption as a possible path for us, but when I mentioned this to my husband it went over like a lead balloon. So I resolved not to bug him about it again thinking perhaps I misheard God’s call on my life. But I did begin to pray.

The feeling that our family was meant to do more than just support others in adoption would not leave me. We had plenty of space in our house, our car, our lives and our hearts. Our abundance needed to be shared through more than just giving money to others doing the hard work.

For two long years I prayed and waited and did not ask my husband again. I recruited some friends to pray as well, that my husband’s heart would respond to the Lord’s call without pressure from me. We got very involved with orphan care at our church and supported lots of friends in their adoptions. Finally after two years, my husband said “yes” to God too, and scared to death we stepped out in faith and started the process to adopt a little girl from Haiti.

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We were very nervous about upsetting the good thing we had going in our family by adding a child that desperately needed one. And let me tell you, the Enemy does not take kindly to the rescue and restoration of the fatherless and we came under attack. But the Lord used what became a very long period of waiting to grow us and draw us nearer to Him in a way I never could have imagined. He used that time to heal all kinds of brokenness in our lives, some we hadn’t even been aware of.

Two and a half years of red tape and government stops and starts followed our “yes”, but Jesus went before us all the way and in August we brought home our sweet daughter, Rose. We have already seen the Lord’s restoring work in her life as her personality has blossomed since leaving her orphanage and joining our family. Saying “yes” to God was the best thing I’ve ever done.

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Sarah Hubbell is a Jesus-loving wife and mom of three awesome kiddos who is on a brief hiatus from being the Director of Engineering for a water treatment company. She loves to advocate for orphan care and adoption and is the author of Water Water Everywhere, a blog about faith, family and fitness.

WFMW: Saying Yes to the Detours

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Jessica for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

There is a false belief that I often find myself embracing. It is the belief that is I make the right choices things will get easier and the questions will decrease. In my limited experience that is never true.

Three years ago I rolled my suitcase off of a plane in Raleigh, North Carolina, my hometown. I had the most imperceptible baby bump and my husband was 8,000 miles away in West Africa. Our plans to stay there together were cut short by a rocky first trimester and a severe lack of quality prenatal care- ironically enough an issue I was working on as a maternal health advisor.

My husband would follow me home in six weeks and then we would start the process of piecing our life in the States back together. No job. No savings. A baby on the way. Our hearts still on another continent.

Fast forward eighteen months. We ended up in the big city of Charlotte because that is where my husband was able to land a job. It wasn’t ideal, but God met us there. Let me re-state that last sentence. Charlotte was the last place in the state we wanted to be. In fact we would rather have moved out of state, but God put us in Charlotte and gave us the community we needed at that exact time. So after a year and a half of a lack-luster job in Charlotte we decided that we were going to chase another God-sized dream.

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My husband quit his job and we moved back to our beloved North Carolina mountains (where we had met, married and lived prior to our overseas adventures) to join the Stateside work of the agency that we were sent by to West Africa. Financially it was a big leap. God provided for us to house-sit for folks who were overseas for a year. It was a small place for a family of three, but we were grateful and it gave us the ability to stretch our tiny budget and make things work while we raised our financial support.

After a year of living and our ends barely meeting my husband was offered a job clear out of the blue sky. It would be a full-time gig, but it wouldn’t require us to move. We felt blind-sided by the unexpected offer and quite frankly a little weary of what it would mean for our calling and dreams. Could we jump out of the boat of full-time ministry and support raising and still be faithful to what God had called us too? Was our identity being found in what we were doing for God? Could God use us and bring our dreams full circle but in an entirely different way then we imagined? Those questions were large in our hearts. In the end my husband took the job.

It’s now been a few months since my husband took the new job. It has been good and hard and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t love a regular paycheck with a bit extra to put in the bank. But the questions remain.

Just the other day I was chatting on the phone with a friend and I was reminded of the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. Do you remember the story? Jesus hears that his friend Lazarus is deathly ill, but he drags his feet a day or two in making a visit to L’s bedside. By the time he arrives Lazarus is wrapped in grave clothes and stinking. Everyone looks incredulously at Jesus and says (to paraphrase) “Dude, if you’d hurried it along Lazarus wouldn’t be dead.” The Son of God stands in front of that grave and calls his buddies name and out pops Lazarus fresh as a daisy.

The Psalmist says, “God is in heaven He does all He pleases.” and when God was here on earth in Jesus He did all He pleased which rarely ever looked like what pleased the populace. I read the Lazarus story and I find myself getting a bit angry at Jesus. Why didn’t he come? Did he really need to show-off like that? Couldn’t he spare them the questions and the heartache of it all?

I read the story and I don’t know if the people lacked faith. I am inclined to think they really, truly believed in Jesus and all He said and was, but I think they still wanted to hold on to their own vision of how life and the story should go. I’m there. Lazarus’ friends are my people. I want all that Jesus has as long as it makes sense to me.

The last few years of the journey have been winding and uncertain. We’ve had moments where we’ve thought we were about to make it to our intended destination only to have a curve thrown in that created a detour far out of the way. I’m learning to say “Yes” to the detours.

I’m learning that nothing really is a mess. A puzzle dumped on the floor still amounts to a beautiful picture even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment. There are a million metaphors for the way all the broken bits and pieces of life amount to something more than fragments with God.

I’m living right from the middle of all the questions. I don’t know that I’ll ever not be. What I do know is that His answers are greater and more abundant than the questions and His heart for me is a well of love deeper than I know.

How are you learning to say “Yes!” when life takes detours?

blackandwhitejessicaJessica Leigh Hoover is a wife, mama, writer and crazy Jesus followin’ grace lover. She lives in the hills of North Carolina but deals with some serious wanderlust which has taken her all over the globe. Her greatest loves are Jesus, family, chocolate, {hot or iced and always sweet} tea, vintage dresses, thrift stores, jam making {both fruit and songs apply here},sarcasm, British TV, wordy-nerdy books and heaps of good conversation. She blogs about her belief that grace is the biggest kind of brave and how life is messy and beautiful in the living, losing and loving. She is an (in)couragers group leader and a contributing author to Velvet Ashes an online community for women serving overseas. You can also find her loitering on both facebook and twitter.

Photo Credit: Michael W. May via Compfight cc