Lord, I need a map!

Ever feel like you are just lost and you don't know where God wants you? You think you are going in the right direction and the next moment there's a huge stop sign; something difficult happens that prevents you from going the direction you were heading! At that moment, you start to doubt everything! It sure would be nice in those moments for you to be able to go into google maps/directions, type your name in, and have directions all mapped out for you!

Recently we have been deciding different directions for our children. The path they take now can determine alot about their future. We recently had talked to our son about joining the worship team and he became terrified; he refused due to fear! I knew this fear was the devil trying to keep him from moving in God's direction and it was a very hard month of prayer. After much prayer, he finally was willing to try. To ease his fears, the worship leader told him, they would just have him practice and not even consider putting him on stage for several months until he was ready. I dropped him off and picked him up an hour later to find him a changed kid! He ran over to me in excitement and exclaimed that he was going to get to play on stage tomorrow if it was ok with me! What had happened to my fearful child just an hour before? Because of prayer, and the willingness of him to at least try, God had removed all fear from his mind. He instantly became full of joy and it had completely changed his view! Even though I knew it was the right direction for him, he could not see it. He was blinded by fear and he couldn't see the steps that God had placed for his life. What if he had never walked into the church that day and began to follow a different path?

There are days when I would love a map, and for God to say, go here...step there...don't go that way! God does give us a map through people, but it's a daily, small map! He uses people around us to confirm or stop a direction. We had been taking my son to a music teacher for years and he had to take some time off. At that moment, God opened the doors for him to be a part of worship, where they are not only going to teach him more about music, but encourage him in worship and how to be in God's presence! What an amazing change of path that I never expected! So, even though I would love a map, the moments of surprise and amazement at God's plan and direction is what makes not having one so worthwhile. Knowing that God has a specific plan for each of our lives and trusting that each tiny lit stepping stone or twist and turn is always for our good.

Jeremiah 29:11 "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."


Be Interested in the Lives of Others!

Have you ever heard the expression, "leave someone better than the way you found them"? It means to help improve someones day. In this world, we are so caught up in our daily routines and sometimes just feel like we are barely making it through, that we forget about the person next to us!

When we think about helping others, we tend to think of things like charity work and helping the church. We many times think we have to have money to give and that is not always the case. Sure, we need to help our church and give to God what we owe Him and try to bless our missionaries and other charities. The one thing that I think we miss most of the time is the simple, inexpensive things we can do for others around us.

Ever since I was born, I have been known for my giant smile. I have had more comments made about my large toothy grin than I begin to tell! One time, when I was only about 8 years old, my pastor asked me why I smile so much. At the time, I didn't know how to answer that. I never thought that I smiled more than the average person, but I guess to him I did! At that moment, I looked back at his beaming face and realized, I had brought him joy. Now that I'm older, I realize how hard being a mom is and how life can get you down. I know the trials that one can face and how just a smile from my children, husband or a friend can brighten my day! Sometimes, I will go through crazy Walmart and just put on a perma-grin and see how peoples attitude change just by seeing a happy person go through and actually say "excuse me". Or, I may stop and chat with the cashier and ask them about "Their" day, rather than them always feeling obligated to make me, the customer, feel welcomed. Whenever I stop to say, "and how are you?" to them, they always look back with a smile and seem surprised that someone would ask them that for a change!

So, let's take those small, inexpensive talents that God gave each one of us to bless someone today. Bake a cookie for your neighbor, smile understandingly at the mom who seems overwhelmed with her 3 children in a cart, help a person who can't reach that top shelf or just wait patiently in a line and smile at the person next to you. Be on the lookout for someone to encourage and then I guarantee you will stop thinking about just yourself and it will not only help others, you will feel good about yourself too and improve your day!

Philippians 2:4 "Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others."