Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Frances'

Put on your thinking cap and imagine this silly scenario: There are two 18 year-old girls named Frances with exactly the name height, hair color, personality, and mannerisms. In fact, they're clones. During this particular day, a stream of unlikeable happenings floods both of them, but one Frances ends up still joyful at the end of the day, and the other Frances becomes utterly miserable.

The first Frances begins her day by brushing her teeth. About halfway through, she realizes that her toothbrush was wet before she began brushing. Come to find out, her sister had accidentally used it before her. Although her gut reaction was to get annoyed, she shrugged and laughed it off. Next, Frances burnt her own toast by accident. The first thing that came to her mind was, "Well, it is Monday," but she decided she just wasn't going to let it bother her. On her way to work a reckless driver cut in front of her and gave Francis a dirty look. "How rude!" Frances thought to herself. A machine gun on the hood of her car would've been really nice right about then, but she stopped her anger and whispered to herself, "No... you have to choose your battles and this is definitely not one of them." She arrived at work safely and the rest of the day went fabulous.

The second Frances brushed her teeth and realized that her sister had been using her toothbrush... again. Annoyed, she went over to her sister's room and, as nicely as she could, asked her to be more careful next time. When Frances burned her toast, she took her sister's toothbrush and swept the blackened bread with the bristles and put it in the bathroom. "That'll teach her," she thought in revenge. A crazy driver cut in front of Francis on the way to work, and in quick reflex Francis layed on the horn and got on her new enemy's bumper. She followed her by two inches for about a mile, when suddenly the rude driver slammed on her breaks, sending Frances' car hard into her back end. Furious, Frances unbuckled, stormed out of the car and started yelling at the original troublemaker. The other woman got out of her car and started cussing Frances out for following so close. Frances pulled back and punched the woman in the nose, sending her bleeding onto the asphalt. The other woman got up and started beating Frances! In a few minutes, police came and broke up the fight. Now Frances must face trial and possibly jail and a fine for damage to another vehicle, harassment and physical assault.

Need I say more?

Our reactions, not our circumstances, define us. These two girls went through the exact same things, but what made the difference was the way they responded to each undesirable happening. Frances #1 made it through the day with a smile on her face, but it wasn't because her day went well, it's because she decided she wasn't going to let petty stuff bother her. Frances #2 is awaiting court now, not because her circumctances were any worse than her clone's, but because she acted on impuse.

I've learned the hard way: if I act impulsively, I have a plethera of "Peter moments." I say things without thinking and without even meaning what I'm saying, I do things I would never do if my whole day had gone well, and I think thoughts like, "I hate my life," "Why me?" and "I would rather die than go through this."

Make it a habit to stop and think when someone ticks you off or life just isn't going the merry way you planned. Is your gut reaction to lash out or get defensive? Stop. Is it instint to think the worst about the sitation? Think, "If I give into this, Satan will have gotten me with this trick again." Like Paul with the snake in the fire, learn to shake it off. Decide that whatever ill betide, you just won't let it bother you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't Wish Your Life Away

It might sound cliche by now, but it's a piece of wisdom that just won't die. A customer told me this one day at the drive-thru, and it stuck with me. Don't wish your life away!

We tend to spend our lives wishing for the next birthday, car, job, and education experience. When we're kids, we want to be adults so we can stay up all night and watch movies. When we hit 15, we're dying to be 16 so we can get our driver's license. When we graduate from high school, we can't wait to go to college and be "out on our own." When we're in college, we want to hurry up and graduate so we can go back home! When we graduate, we daydream about getting a job and bringing in the bacon. When we get a job, we wish we were retired... and when we finally retire, we sit back and wonder where all those years went so quickly!

Don't be like the many who wish they had just learned to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. There's nothing wrong with looking forward to the next season of life, but if you're not enjoying every moment God gives you, you're wasting your life! At some point in your childhood you wished you were the age you are right now. What are you doing now? Wishing you were married, having children, or putting your college degree to good use?

There is another old saying that reads, "Don't waste time; that is what life is made of." Dreaming is one thing, but wishing your life away is an entirely different matter. Instead of spending today thinking about what you'd rather be doing ten years from now, live today to its fullest capacity. Use it to glorify God and enjoy it just like you imagined it when you were a child.

Monday, May 24, 2010

3 Discouragement Busters

1. Listen to a song that talks about the victory won at Calvary (It Is Finished, Calvary Answers for Me, Victory In Jesus; leave a comment if you can think of another good one).

2. Do something for someone else. If you're broke, write an encouraging note to your manager (they NEVER get those!! LOL), loot through through the pantry and make cookies for your youth pastor's wife, or help mom do housework.

3. Read your Bible and pray. Of course, you should be doing this daily already, but it never hurts to have an extra appointment with the Lord. Read about Paul's tribulations, David's woes, and Jesus' miracles; nothing can heal a wounded spirit like the Word of God.

Psalm 40:8

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Just as clear as it was God's will for Tim to travel the East Coast, it was clear that it was God's will that I stay home and work. I didn't like it.
That's right, I did not like God's will for my summer. Just like Jonah, I learned that when you kick and scream against God's will, you will be miserable. Tim being on GloryBound, me selling chicken and lotion 50 hours a week, and poor sleep did not make me miserable; the way I reacted to God's plan for my summer made me miserable.

Just this semester I was riding back to campus with a friend that lived in my dorm. I was explaining to her how I felt about last summer, how miserable I used to be, and how I planned on making this summer better because of some plans to be more involved in church ministries.
My friend jerked the car into a parking lot and screeched it to a halt. She looked into my eyes intensely, and said, as if she had rehearsed it just for me, "Just because you're not doing something 'cool' like Tim doesn't mean you're serving God less than he is. If selling chicken is what God wants you to do, do it with all your heart! Selling chicken isn't just a job, it can be a ministry."

Although this sudden outburst took me completely by surprise, I knew she was 100% right. No matter how much we might dislike our lot in life, it is precisely where God put us, and He wants us to serve Him with joy. How do we find that joy? By not letting our circumstances dictate our reactions. If the joy of the Lord is your strength, you might not always be "happy", but you can always have an underlying peace that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. If Psalm 40:8 doesn't describe you, take some time to talk to the Lord about it. Admit that you have been discontent. From now on, look at each day as another chance to serve God. It's not "the power of positive thinking", it's being content with God's will.

It Is Finished

There's a line that is drawn through the ages
On that line stands an old rugged cross
On that cross, a battle is raging
To gain a man's soul or it's loss
On one side, march the forces of evil
All the demons, all the devils of hell
On the other, the angels of glory
And they meet on Golgotha's hill
The earth shakes with the force of the conflict
And the sun refuses to shine
For there hangs God's son, in the balance
And then through the darkness he cries

It is finished, the battle is over
It is finished, there'll be no more war
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord

Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging
Not all prisoners of war had come home
These were battlefields of my own making
I didn't know that the war had been won
Oh, but then I heard the king of the ages
Had fought all the battles for me
And that victory was mine for the claiming
And now praise his name, I am free.

Lyrics by Bill and Gloria Gaither

Psalm 44:1-3

We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.

How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.

For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.

I want you to think of a time of spiritual victory in life. You finally gave up that last CD, you surrendered that one thing you held back for so long, you started having a better relationship with your parents, you claimed victory over that pet sin at last.
Now who really did that? You? By now we all have learned by experience that no good can come from us, because our hearts are desperately wicked. If we get victory over anything, it is solely because God in His great mercy stooped so low as to pick us up out of the horrible pit and set our feet upon the Rock.
Credit is given to God eight times in the first three verses of Psalm 44. If you feel defeated and discouraged about something life has thrown your way, ask yourself, "How much am I really depending on God for?" You don't have to live discouraged! You don't have to carry those heavy burdens of defeat and guilt! Jesus has fought all your battles for you; it is finished, the battle is over.

Feeling Worthless

Have you ever felt like you serve absolutely no purpose? Last summer while Tim traveled the East Coast he would tell me about how he preached, sang, learned how to plan a church service, helped with Vacation Bible School, performed in skits, and got to eat with dozens of pastors. Every night he would call me and begin the long list of cool things he did that day, and when he finally stopped he would ask, "So, how was your day?"
I would pause for a split second to recall my day: I got up at 4:45am, worked at the drive-thru from 5:30-3pm, came home to take a quick breather and change uniforms, worked at Bath and Body works from 5-9:30pm, came home and went to bed. "I worked," would always be my reply, with the slightest hint of jealousy and discontentment. Yep, that was my life. Work. And if I had the day off (which was very unlikely) I would spend it catching up on lost sleep.
I dealt with unhappy customers while he shook hands with seasoned, wise preachers. He got love offerings and a scholarship and I had to scrape for my school bill. His life was that of ministry and fulfillment. I felt completely worthless.

If you struggle with these feelings, allow me to share an answer that a woman of God showed me. First of all, don't hold it all in. God does not mind when you tell Him exactly how you feel. Many of the Psalms begin this way; David spills out his feelings of anger, hatred, bitterness, and discontentment to God and by the end of the Psalm he is singing the Lord's praises.
Second of all, realize that watching your man get more recognition than you is probably going to be a pattern for the rest of your life. It's nothing to get bitter about. My pastor gets publicly recognized far more than his wife does, but because she doesn't force herself in a "purposeful" position, he publicly praises her at almost every church service.
Lastly, find a friend that you can share everything with. The Lord made people to need other people, and it is perfectly healthy to have a best friend. It is a comfort to know that your friend is actually praying for you when she says she is. Nothing can explain the encouragement of a friend that really does know how you feel. Use the "buddy system" in life!

Psalm 27

A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Welcome to a Spring of Joy!

Hi, my name is Suzette, and I am going to try my hand at "spritual blogging." :) For those of you who are members of my private blog, well, here's my new one! For the rest of you, let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I'm writing this blog.

I go to Heartland Baptist Bible College and to say the least, it's been an adventure! My boyfriend, Tim, and I feel that the Lord's will is for us to wait to get married until we graduate. We courted a year before college, so when we get married we will have been dating for five years. As you already know, waiting for anything takes great patience and allows for many trials. My desire is to communicate the lessons about waiting on the Lord that I've already learned in the two years and nine months we've been together.

During our freshman year, the Lord allowed Tim to be on GloryBound, the men's traveling quartet at Heartland. This will be his second summer away from home, and I could write a 900 page book about all the lessons I have learned the past two years! I obviously don't have the space for that here, but I pray the blog posts I put here will be an encouragement to you as you strive to find joy in your journey.

Lastly, I work with the general public. I have met people from every walk of life, and every one of them have taught me a valuable lesson. I like to call this category "Life Lessons from the Chick-Fil-A Drive-Thru." Although very few people who keep up with my blog can say they have dated for five years before getting married, had someone they've known for years be gone two summers in a row, and work at Chick-Fil-A, every one of my readers can say they've dealt with emotions like fear, jealousy, impatience, sadness, and discouragement.

Please give ear to what God has to say about finding joy in the journey, and let my stories be an encouragement to you whenever you need a friend who knows how you feel!

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