Tag Archives: influence

From Disaster to Divine Appointment

Isn’t it so much fun when crazy things happen to us?  NOT!

 

I was definitely not feeling “happy” Tuesday night when I busted a tire and had to pull over.  And then sit and wait for help to come.  And then scramble to find a tool that was not in the car.  And then having to call for different help – and to be told I would have to sit for about 2 hours, waiting.  In the middle of an empty parking lot.  As the time crept past 10:00pm and kept going closer to midnight.  Trying to keep my very tired eyes open and my very active thoughts somewhat calm.

 

And I could have panicked.  I could have verbally berated myself for causing the problem.  I could have sat and cried from the combination of frustration and exhaustion.

 

But instead I sat and waited.  Praying for people who came to mind.  Praying for my peace of mind.  Planning out my day the next morning.

 

Of course I knew why I was sitting there, unable to go home.  But I wondered about the purpose – what divine lesson was playing out?  And would I ever get the blessing of finding out what it was?

 

Well, to my extreme delight and complete surprise, I did find out.  Only 9 hours later.  And it was the biggest blessing of all that happened in that 24 hour period.

 

See, I had been safe and never once worried about my safety.  Everyone I spoke with made sure I was well taken care of and in no immediate danger.  The roadside assistance people kept me in the loop about when help should arrive and what I could approximately expect to pay.  The dispatcher for the tow truck told me to go home and rest because of the lateness of the hour – after I spent an hour waiting and would have spent another 2 more before it arrived.  I made it home safely and got the bonus of having a nice conversation with the Uber driver on my way home.  I got to sleep in my own bed.  My car was delivered to Firestone without issue, and they texted me with pictures to confirm.  Firestone made me their first priority the next morning, and everything was fixed within two hours of opening – and at minimal cost (thank you tire protection).

 

All blessings, when I think about what could have happened.  But all of these combined don’t add up to anything compared to the biggest blessing of them all.  The real reason for all my woes.  Her name is Miss Bea.

 

From Disaster to Divine Appointment

 

Miss Bea is the part-time Uber driver who picked me up Wednesday morning to take me to my repaired car.  God purposely put me in her path.  Because she was driving before one of her part time jobs to make money to support herself, her daughter, and her granddaughter.  I asked her about her beautiful accent and found out she is originally from Nigeria and has been here for 23 years.  God recently moved her to Woodstock.  And Miss Bea is looking for a church home in this new area of town.  I happen to love talking about my church, so I told her about the church and the pastor – and how friendly everyone is and how God makes all people feel welcome there.  Then I find out she has been curious about this church for a while, because one of her jobs is across the street at the new Costco!  So she has seen the church each time she goes to this job, and she has been wondering if she should attend.

 

And we both realized very quickly how God was working.

 

Because Miss Bea wants to get connected in the area so she can get closer to God in corporate worship.  And she has been praying – for her future jobs (hoping to condense from 3-4 to 2), her family (she is taking care of her daughter and granddaughter), her finances, and her faith.

 

So God had me tear up my tire Tuesday night so I would need a ride Wednesday morning.  And He sent Miss Bea, who was an Uber driver in the area driving before work, to pick me up.  How would we have met otherwise?  How would I have told her about the church she has been wanting to visit?  How would I have given her my phone number to call me?  How would she know who I was when she excitedly said she would be there Sunday?

 

I am hoping to hear from her, confirming that she will in fact be there Sunday.  I hope she finds herself right where God wants her to be and can get planted – with her family.

 

No matter what, I pray that God meets her right at her greatest needs.  That He provides a more stable and better paying employment opportunity for her.  That He continues to bless her with great Uber riders who tip well.  That He helps her settle into her new life and eventually into a new home.  That He surrounds her with grace to lead her family well.  That He continues to show her the beauty and benefits of holding onto hope and faith.

 

So what I thought was a careless and inconvenient accident turned into an amazing divine appointment.  And I am still sitting in complete amazement that God orchestrated everything so I could part of His plans.

 

And I hope I am always available to His purposes in the future.

 

Loving Father,

Thank You for loving me no matter how crazy I speak, think, and act.  Thank You for keeping me safe during times of trouble.  Help me to calm and quiet any crazy thoughts and out of control words – so I can focus on You and the plans You are bringing to pass.  Help me remember the blessing of Miss Bea – and how there is a blessing at the end of each trial.  In Jesus’ all-mighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  9/20/18

 

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Noises Off

Noise. It is a word I find myself thinking and saying quite a bit this last week.

 

I feel like I have had an excess of noise in my life this week. The noise of the fight that ensued Wednesday night while trying to clean up the kitchen. Loud voices to express flaring tempers resulted in a flurry of unpleasant noise. The noise of the conversation Thursday night in discussing a recent incident. Disappointed voices trying to find healing (common) ground in actions and reactions, resulting in unresolved issues after hurt expressed emotions. The noise of curiosity at work yesterday regarding friendly conversations with the techs. A concerned voice asking questions about busyness that interrupted a peaceful moment of laughter at the end of a chaotic day.

 

And as I think about everything, the current context is noise. Those sights, sounds, thoughts, and experiences meant to draw us close to God. Yet sometimes they have the opposite effect.

  • To distract instead of focus
  • To influence negatively instead of positively
  • To persuade away from God’s will instead of into it
  • To deceive instead of truthfully inform
  • To conform instead of reform
  • To compare instead of appreciate
  • To make jealous instead of cherish
  • To bring dissension instead of peace and harmony
  • To make hopeless instead of infuse with hope
  • To push down instead of lift up
  • To reject instead of accept
  • To deject instead of inspire
  • To cause sorrow instead of bring happiness
  • To discourage instead of encourage
  • To accuse instead of listen

 

Noise in our heads. The voices of conflict that pull us in opposite directions in our search for truth. The voices of the law, full of rules and stipulations, battling the Voice of truth that pulls us toward Himself. The voices of selfishness, keeping us focused on ourselves, trying to drown out the Voice of love that encourages us to reach out to people.

Noises Off.jpg

1 Corinthians 13:1 says “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal”. Meaning I can be the noise. I can be the noise in my life. I can be the reason I’m not hearing from God, I don’t feel connected to God, or I don’t feel loved by God. Maybe I am drowning out His grace. Maybe I am filtering out His love. Maybe I am denying myself His compassion. Maybe I am refusing His forgiveness.

 

I can also be the noise in someone else’s life. I can be the voice telling Noah he is crazy to build an ark when there is no such thing as water from the sky. I can be the voice of an Israelite whining at Moses that God is trying to kill me in the wilderness and I’d rather be back in my Egyptian slavery. I can be the voice of a Pharisee demanding that Jesus judge the woman caught in adultery (John 8). I can be a voice in the crowd demanding that Pilate crucify Jesus (Mark 15). I can be the voice of Abraham, begging God to save the city for just a few righteous people (Genesis 18). I can be the voice of Jonah that encouraged an entire city to repent (Jonah 3), or I can be the voice of Jonah who soon after berates God over the city’s turning to Him (Jonah 4). I can be the noise of praise that celebrates His goodness and points people to a miraculous God (1 Chronicles 16:9, Psalm 105:2).

 

No matter what the noise is in my life, there is good news. Psalm 93:4 says “The Lord on high is mightier Than the noise of many waters, Than the mighty waves of the sea”. And Psalm 65:7 promises “You who still the noise of the seas, The noise of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples”. He can help us tune out all the noise that tries to drown out His voice. He can help us silence the voices that are talking us out of His love. He can help us turn down the volume on all the negative influences so we can more clearly hear Him.

 

Noise is everywhere. Noise is all around us. There will always be noise. There will always be an influence [of sin] trying to draw us away from our Creator. There will always be pushy influences (wind – 1 Kings 19:11). There will always be loud influences (earthquake – 1 Kings 19:11). There will always be flashy influences (fire – 1 Kings 19:12).

 

And bigger than any of these things is our loving Father. His “a still small voice [whisper]” (1 Kings 19:12) will always speak volumes of love. Will always beckon us to come to Him without hesitation or hindrances. Will always be able to overcome the noise in our life.

 

And as I look at my life and I think about the noise, I realize it is important. For it is going to qualify what kind of person I really am. It is going to strengthen my faith. It is going to prove what I really believe. So I am praying to filter out God’s voice, God’s influence, God’s love, and God’s direction from all the noise. For only in listening for and following His holy whisper can the noise not affect me, hurt me, redirect me, or influence me.

 

Help me Jesus to process the noise correctly so that Your purposes are accomplished and Your name is glorified. Help me to be a person who hears, sees, and knows You despite the noise of life (Matthew 13:15). AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin, 2/14/16

 

BONUS SCRIPTURE GRAPH OF MY THOUGHTS:

Noises Off 2.jpg

Rebekah and her devilish influence

The Bible is about an amazing collection of people and their stories. When you read it, you read about people just like you – people who have fears, doubts, insecurities, and failures. You read about people who lie, cheat, steal, and deceive.

 

Rebekah is one of these people. She loved her younger son Jacob so much she was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he received the blessing of his father Isaac. She encouraged and pushed Jacob through the process of deception. There are several things that Rebekah does in Genesis 27 that point us to tricks the enemy uses on us to persuade us away from God and His truth.

 

  1. He looks for and finds an area of weakness. In Genesis 27:1a, he uses Isaac’s increasing age and dimming eyesight to set the scene for Rebekah. Isaac is limited in the senses that still work, so it is the perfect open door to manipulate him.

 

What’s an area of weakness for you? Are you emotionally driven? Do you like to talk, gossip, or complain? Are you stingy with your money? Are you holding onto hurts from the past that cause you to be cold and distant around people? Examine yourself and search your heart to find areas where the devil can easily overtake you. Give each area to God.

 

  1. He waits for an opportunity or open door. Isaac had asked his older son Esau to fetch some game and make him some stew. In Genesis 27:5a, Rebekah overhears him send Esau away, and her mind begins to turn with a plan to trick her husband. She quickly approaches her son Jacob, her favored son. And so her plan begins to form.

 

There was already trouble brewing, since each parent had a favorite child. In verse 5 it says “…Isaac spoke to Esau his son” and verse 6 says “Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son”. There was already tension and possibly animosity among the family because of this idea of the favored child. With one parent visually challenged and one child away hunting, what a perfect opportunity for the other parent to step in and push her favorite child toward God’s blessing. It wasn’t his fault he was born second, so why should he be deprived?

 

So why not sneak around? Why not eavesdrop on your husband? It seems like a pretty dysfunctional marriage, where they have drawn a line and chosen favorites. Did they ever sit down and talk? Were they ever on the same team and wavelength? Perhaps not, since they are living by extremes at this point. Extremes which become evident by Rebekah’s sneaky behavior.

 

What behavior do you have in your life that is extreme? That is too far out there? That hurts people? That isn’t right? Are you emotionally driven and tend to overreact? Are you vocally silly and tend to tease too much? Are you always angry? Are you critical of everyone and everything? Any of these areas you can identify are just the invitation the devil needs to invade your life – to effect your thinking, your moods, your words, and your actions. He’s waiting for any open door and any foothold you give him.

 

  1. He makes himself appear like God and supersedes God’s word as your authority. As soon as Rebekah has overheard Isaac send Esau away, her mind begins to scheme. She immediately gets busy putting her plan into action. And it starts with getting her son Jacob on board. To do so, she needs to convince him to “obey my voice according to what I command you” (Genesis 27:8) instead of listening to his common sense or the leading of God.

 

How easy it is for us to try to ignore or override the voice of God. Don’t we all want to go our own way and do what makes us feel good? And don’t we do a great job justifying why it’s OK? Rebekah didn’t hesitate to make herself THE voice in Jacob’s life, drowning out the discerning voice of God he may have heard. She may have talked herself blue in the face to make sure Jacob heard only her.

 

But God tells us in John 10:27 that any follower of His knows His voice (“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”). They know what He has declared to be right and wrong and carefully consider their actions before moving. They don’t try to justify their behavior or qualify their actions. Because they know better than to make themselves their own god (Romans 1:18-23). It doesn’t work. It won’t make them happy. It will have unpleasant consequences.

 

So in what area are you listening to your emotions instead of God? In what area are you allowing yourself to make the final decisions instead of asking God the better way? Stop allowing yourself to supersede God’s authority in your life.

 

  1. He plants his lies in our heart and mind. Once he has a foothold, he will push and shove and wiggle his way until he takes up all the space that should belong to God. He starts with a seed of doubt or deceit and grows it quickly and effectively. Once Rebekah knew she had Jacob listening, she was quick to put her plan into action. She knows she has convinced Jacob almost completely to go along with her, so now she pushes him to move. In Genesis 27:9-10, she tells Jacob to bring her two goats that she will prepare for him to bring into his father. Now Jacob has to get physically involved in the deceit, and to his credit he does at least pause for a moment.

 

Half truths and untruths are constantly hurled at us. They come at us from every direction and at every opportunity. And every one of them is a lie the devil wants us to swallow and accept without question. He wants us to believe things about ourselves that don’t line up with God’s truth. He wants us to believe we deserve less than God’s best and will never be worthy of God’s grace. When God says just the opposite.

 

So these wrong messages are constantly attacking us and trying to penetrate our truths. All these need is one crack, one doubt, one second of disbelief to get in and take hold. And then become the weed that spreads quickly and with abandon in our soul, choking out the truth. So what do you do to combat these things?

 

  1. He rejects any objections and doubts you have. Jacob does pause for a moment when he hears his mother’s plan to send him in as his brother Esau. Why? Because Esau was a hairy man, and Jacob was not (Genesis 27:11). Apparently not because of any moral compass or godly intervention. But because he was scared of getting busted – “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” (Genesis 27:12). So Rebekah steps up again and silences Jacob’s objections. She tells him “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me” (Genesis 27:13).

 

The devil is quick to silence your doubts and smother your questions. He doesn’t want you to linger you very long on your hesitations, as that gives you time to consider the truth and use it to overwrite his lies.

 

Because he wants us to be like Jacob. He wants us to just consider how we can get away with it without getting caught. He wants us to think only of ourselves and our happiness. He doesn’t want us to consider right and wrong and other people. So he is our Rebekah, standing there telling us everything will be alright if we just follow his leading and trust him.

 

But that doubt is there for a reason. That doubt is the Spirit of God trying to guide you in the right direction. Trying to tell you the way God prefers you go. So how do you deal with doubt? What is your normal first reaction? Do you do what Paul commands in Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”?

 

  1. He covers the truth of God with his lies. If there is any kernel of the truth left in your consciousness, the devil will be quick to cover it and squash it. He doesn’t want it growing into anything that will contradict the plans he has to destroy your life. Rebekah does this in Genesis 27:15-16 by covering Jacob in Esau’s clothing and the hides of goats. The tent-dwelling cook has now physically been transformed into the hunter. Enough to bypass the limited sensibility his father has. Because if he touches or smells his clothing, hands, or neck, Jacob is Esau. Then she sends Jacob in to meet his father as his brother Esau. Will the deception be successful?

 

Jacob appears to have no hesitation at this point to be included in the deception. After all, he’ll come out pretty well if he succeeds. It doesn’t matter that it won’t be honest, right, or natural. Because Jacob will benefit. At least I assume this is how he justified it.

 

How do you normally respond to the pressure to conform? Do you allow yourself to be a fully willing participant? What “clothing” are you putting on to cover up the sin in your life? There should always be a piece of your soul that reminds you that those sinful choices aren’t the best option for you because they don’t fit who you are as a child of God.

 

  1. He replaces the truth of God with his lies. So Jacob is adorned as Esau, and he enters his father Isaac’s tent. He presents himself as Esau in Genesis 27:19. He even has a response for when Isaac questions how quickly he returned – “Because the Lord your God brought it to me” (Genesis 27:20). So now Jacob is all in. The lies have started, and he is fully involved in the deceit. Could he still back out at this point? Sure. It would be the right thing to do. But he has now become the lie, and it appears he intends to follow through.

 

How quick are you to say “Lord Your God” instead of “Lord My God”? Because if we own Him and admit relationship with Him then we have to follow Him, obey Him, and seek Him. Jacob didn’t have a relationship with God, and he made it clear to his father that his God wasn’t his God. Do you distance yourself from God because you know you would have to act differently? Think differently? Take responsibility?

 

How have you distorted God’s Word to suit your desires? How have you made your own way right around His truth? Was it successful?

 

  1. He distorts (confuses) your perspective so you see what he wants you to see. Jacob is now fully involved and standing the tent. He is saying “I am Esau” to his blind and aged father, hoping he is physically disabled enough to believe him. Despite his failing health, Isaac has one sense that still works and should give him clarity – his hearing. When talking to Jacob, Isaac realizes that “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau” (Genesis 27:22). But he allows his other lesser functioning senses to convince him.

 

At this point in the story, we want to ground Jacob, send Rebekah to therapy, and shake Isaac. He has indicators of the truth, but he doesn’t stop to consult God or ask for His guidance. He allows his overwhelmed senses to be his guide, and because they are confused by conflicting information, the evidence of truth is distorted. Isaac wants to be with Esau, so he slowly convinces himself that he is with Esau. Despite the voice he hears that belongs to Jacob. If I could intervene at this point, I would tell Isaac to STOP and pray. To listen to that voice of dissidence that is contradicting what he feels.

 

But don’t we sometimes want the truth to be the lie? Don’t we sometimes readily allow ourselves to believe the distorted and deceptive “truth” presented to us because it is want we want? But that’s not how God wants us to respond. We need to have a plan and a strategy to deal with conflicting information in our lives. We need to be able to silence all the voices except the whisper of God and discern His truth.

 

  1. He assures and reassures you so you believe his lies. Isaac still had one shred of lingering doubt, so he asks a second time “Are you really my son Esau?” to Jacob (Genesis 27:24). He probably ran through all his questions while he ate of the stew. He might have wrestled with God or prayed about whether he was being silly and overreacting. He might have argued with himself that his hearing was failing just as his other senses were. Who knows what went through Isaac’s mind as he was eating and drinking. But he was definitely considering his options, to assure himself that Jacob was really Esau.

 

Yet despite any assurance he had, there was still that one remaining seed of doubt. Surely Esau couldn’t project Jacob’s voice, so maybe, just maybe, it was Jacob pretending to be Esau. But how could he find out without being obvious? And then it hit Isaac – “Come near now and kiss me, my son” (Genesis 27:26) he asks. Because he knew in kissing him he would be close to his sensitive neck area. Jacob wouldn’t have been smart enough to mask that area, right?

 

Are you listening to that one last shred of doubt? Are you stopping to ask God the right way to go? Or are you giving in and allowing that doubt to overshadow everything else?

 

  1. You finally believe the lie without question because all lingering doubts have been laid to rest. One shred of doubt, and Isaac ignored it. He has Jacob come near again, and he sense of smell convinces him once and for all that he is dealing with Esau. Genesis 27:27 says “he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him”.

 

The thing Jacob wanted he got. And it only took deceiving his father and betraying his brother to do it. For in Genesis 27:28-29 he gets the provision and providence of God’s blessing, the same blessing given to his grandfather Abraham in Genesis 12:3. What’s truly significant – and perhaps points to one last lingering shred of doubt – is that Isaac never mentions Esau by name in the blessing. He does not call out a personal name at any time.

 

So the question for Jacob at this point would be “was it worth it?”. He deceives his father, who is heartbroken when he finds out. He deceives his brother, who is angry and swears his death when he comes back. And as a result, he has to flee to his mother’s family and leave everything he knows. And then we would turn to Rebekah and ask her “was it worth it?”. Because now her family is torn apart, her husband and elder son will be furious with her, and she has lost her favored son.

 

Because no one hesitated. Because no one heeded that warning voice of God in their spirit. Because no one stopped to pray. Because everyone was self involved and self focused.

 

Yes, God’s sovereignty was at work, since the blessing was technically Jacob’s anyway at this point (Hebrews 12:17). God had a plan for Jacob, a big plan with a providential future. God planned to take the cheater and turn him into a sold-out believer. But it didn’t have to play out like this, with deceit and lies. It didn’t have to destroy a family. It wasn’t supposed to be in Rebekah’s timing.

 

It all started with sin. God warned Cain (and us) that sin wants to control us (Genesis 4:6-7).

 

Once you are willing to do a little wrong, the door is open and the enemy is ready to charge through. He’s waiting for any opportunity to pierce your armor and take control of your thoughts, your emotions, your actions, and your love walk. He won’t miss a beat, and he’s watching and waiting for you to open the door.

 

It only takes one. One moment of disobedience. One moment of doubt. One moment of self involvement. One moment of self importance. One moment of anger. One moment of hesitation. One moment of not praying. One moment of over-questioning. One moment of not questioning. One moment of not seeing God’s goodness. One moment of focusing on the bad and the wrong.

 

So now we ask a few hard questions:

  • How far are you willing to go to get your way?
  • How easily can you convince others to go along with your plans?
  • How quickly are you obedient to follow God?
  • Does your obedience have conditions or limits?
  • How easily are you distracted from seeking God?
  • Do you have a dim or limited vision of God’s goodness?
  • How is your sin giving the devil an opportunity in your life? How does it effect your thinking, your attitude, and your emotions?
  • Are you always looking out for yourself, even if it means hurting someone else?
  • How often do you think you know better than God? How does that turn out?
  • How often do you try to trick or deceive God? How does that turn out?

 

Jesus warns us in Matthew 26:41 to “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

So we should be on constant guard for ourselves and because of ourselves. We don’t always have our best interest at heart, and we can unintentionally hurt people in our pursuit of the good life.

 

Because we don’t want to be a Rebekah. We don’t want to cheat, lie, and steal to get the better deal. We don’t want to lead people down the path of destruction to make ourselves happy.

 

Because we don’t want to be an Isaac. We don’t want to be easily manipulated and deceived. We don’t want to be an easy target for people’s whims. We don’t want to ignore that one element of truth screaming at us to listen.

 

Because we don’t want to be a Jacob. We don’t want to be the pawn in someone else’s games and schemes. Because we shouldn’t be easily persuaded to do something that pricks our conscience. Because we don’t want to live only in the moment without faith for the future.

 

We want to be people who passionately, personally, and regularly pursue God and His will for our lives. Without our manipulation, our help, and our input. Because doesn’t our Father know best?

 

Marie Fremin.   4/8/15, 12/27/15

 

Goodbye Letter to my CoWorker

S—–,

I wanted to take this opportunity to share sincerely and with heartfelt honesty the things that are on my heart.

 

I wish you well. Wherever you go, whatever you do, no matter what happens, I hope and pray you will be happy and successful. That you will have a positive and lasting impact on those around you. That you will have joy in all your family moments.

 

I know our relationship has been rocky and difficult. It has been hard to find peace and acceptance. For my part, I apologize for not being a better ambassador for Christ. I feel I failed much more often than I succeeded in showing you the love of Christ. And that is entirely my fault. I chose to let myself be guided by my emotions instead of God’s love. In doing so, I reacted and overreacted in ways that hindered God’s love and peace from shining through. I allowed myself to respond inappropriately to choices you made. I chose anger instead of acceptance and being right over reconciliation. It didn’t matter if I was right or got frustrated at a lack of communication. The right thing is always love, and I failed to show you God’s love – a lot. For this, I am truly sorry.

 

Life is full of junk. We all face it, and it always sucks. One thing I know is this: the junk will either make us better or destroy us. Either way, it defines us and determines our outcome. I know that 2015 has been very challenging for you, and I pray that you may be able to see God’s love and grace through the junk.

 

Because here’s the simple truth: God loves you. He created and designed you to be uniquely you. He has a great plan for your life. He has big plans and big blessings for you. Yes, for you. He loves you more than you can imagine or comprehend.

 

And His love is bigger and so much better than any of your junk. He wants to take your junk – and all the pain, heartache, anger, frustration, and shame associated with it – and give you peace, joy, and grace instead. He wants to love all your hurting and broken places into wholeness, health, and happiness.

 

And again I apologize for not being a better steward of this message to you. I should have chosen grace instead of grudges and surrender instead of stubbornness when thinking about and responding to things. I should have chosen humility instead of hard feelings. No matter if I agreed or not and no matter if I was right or not. Because God says His followers should always do the right thing – and when we do, our fickle feelings will fall into the right place (the place called grace).

 

So as you go into your next adventure, I pray you go with expectations of great things. I pray you do and accomplish big and impossible things. I pray you have success beyond your biggest fantasy.

 

And most importantly, I pray you find and have peace. Peace to accept people where they are yet lovingly encourage them to grow. Peace to let little things and differences go. Peace to praise as often as possible. In other words, peace to draw people to you and want to learn what you have to teach.

 

I also pray you will be able to see and appreciate all of God’s blessings in your life. For you are blessed, and God will continue to bless you. Learn to see each blessing – big and small – and know He loves you.

 

He loves you unconditionally, without limits. And His love wants to take all the junk and replace it with His goodness. Isaiah 61:1-3 – “… [God] has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness …”

 

And may you be blessed beyond your wildest imagination. I pray that the prayer of Aaron in Numbers 6:24-26 be woven into the fabric of your life:

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”’

Goodbye Letter to Shannon 11-15

Marie Fremin, 11/8/15 and 11/22/15

 

Inner Circle

Have you even been having a conversation and heard something profound come out of your mouth?  I love when these moments happen, because I feel like God is talking to me as He talks through me to someone else.

I just had one of these moments at work.  I was talking to a property manager, and we got into a conversation about how everyone thinks he/she is special and should be prioritized over someone else.  How their issue with needing an internet circuit should take precedence over someone without power or A/C.

And I found myself saying, “Yeah, because that’s how our mamas raise us.”  I was quick to clarify that our mothers are fabulous human beings who go above and beyond for us and do things other people wouldn’t.  They take their time and energy to make sure we are happy and healthy.  They have our best interest at heart, and they are willing to do a lot of (unusual or selfless) things for us. But society isn’t our mama, and most people we meet won’t do ¼ of the things our mama will.  Because we aren’t special to those people. They don’t know us and they aren’t invested in our well-being.  And we both laughed at such a profound yet simple truth.  She quickly agreed with me.

And then the profound thought jumped up and grabbed me.  I told her it was like Jesus – even He had a bigger group of followers that He sized down to the 12 disciples (Matthew 10:2-4) and then even further to His most intimate 3 guys (Matthew 17:1). And at the cross, He entrusted His mother Mary to His most precious follower (John 19:26).  Sure, everyone mattered to Jesus.  That’s why He entertained the crowds of people and healed regularly. That’s why He sent out the 72 disciples (Luke 10).  But to Jesus, He had 12 people that were extra special to Him. People He chose to eat with, sleep near, and teach.  The 12 were always with Him, and He chose them specifically to learn His new way of thinking and loving.

Did this mean Jesus didn’t care about the crowds or the 72 closer disciples?  No.  It just meant that Jesus chose a handful of people to be in His inner circle and know Him personally. To walk with Him and watch Him and know Him more intimately. To carry on His legacy and His teachings once He was gone.

And that’s what we have.  We have only a handful of people, our 12, who love us and care about what happens to us.  We go through life with these people, and our well-being matters to them.  We make a point to stay in touch and interact. We share our highs and lows, our triumphs and defeats, our moments of wisdom and stupidity, our calm and crazy (angry). They are our go-to people who hug us, love us, laugh or cry with us, and make us feel better. We need them, and we hope they need us.

Does this mean we don’t care about society around us?  No.  We help when and where we can.  We try to make a difference. We give where and when we can to help people and causes.

But at the end of the day, we come back to our 12 to share the details and the challenges.  We return always to our 12 with smiles or tears, with happiness or sadness, and with praise or prayer reports.  And we know they will always be there for us. To listen to us. To comfort us. To guide us. To know us. To accept us. To pray for us.

So who is in your inner circle? Who do you turn to regularly? Who is a great influence in your life?

Inner Circle

Have you taken time to love (hug) them today? To talk to them? To show your appreciation?

And then take it a step further. Be the inner circle for THEM. Listen to them. Help them. Love them. Reach out to them. Be engaged. Be present. Be purposeful and bold in loving people.

As a result, your attitude will be better and your outlook will be brighter. You will be walking in love as Jesus commands us to do (John 13:34). You will find your life more purposeful and fulfilled. You will have more joy and peace.

For in engaging with people we find ourselves. We discover who we are and who we desire to be. We find a reason for our being – to love. We find and appreciate the truth of Genesis 2:18 (“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone’”).

We were created for community. We were created to interact. We were created to love and be loved (first by God, then by our fellow man).

And it starts with our inner circle. We need these people to become the person God created us to be. They shape us and influence our lives, our decisions, and our thinking.

So appreciate those inner circle people God gave you specifically to help you get through life. Allow them to invest in your life as you invest in theirs. And the rewards will be “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Marie Fremin, 7/30/15 and 8/9/15

Getting Unstuck

I have been stuck. In the mud. In a rut. Like I’m glued to the floor. And maybe today I finally got a glimpse into why.

I have not been able to break through at work to a better working relationship and a better attitude toward the people who work there. I know I need to own my part and stop thinking I am always the victim. I know I can do better, be better, act better, and think differently. But it’s not always easy, especially when you get to the end of the day and have heard no positive feedback and have been made to feel like a Disney villain. When you realize that asking a questions leads to accusations of being insubordinate. When you know that being silent or speaking up leads to the same conclusion – you’re wrong. So where does that leave you? You feel hopeless. You feel defeated. You wonder if it’s worth showing up tomorrow. Because things don’t change. Because things aren’t getting better. Because there doesn’t seem to be an answer to the problem.

And then I watch a 2014 sermon from Andy Jones at Watermarke Church (http://watermarkechurch.com/messages/purpose/). And as I listen, Andy gives me an important clue to my struggles. He said, “People are to be loved, not problems to be solved.” Light bulb on!

It’s not about solving a problem. It’s not about trying to effect change. It’s not about verbally defending myself or staying silent. I’ve had the wrong mindset all this time. Because it’s an issue of love.

The answer is to love people in a godly way. To reach out to the lost, hopeless, broken, and downtrodden people all around me with the same loving touch and hope-full words and accepting attitude as Jesus. It’s about not turning people away when they reach out or come near. It’s about drawing people in with a grace-full attitude. It’s about allowing God to be on display through all you do (another Andy Jones gem).

So I have to stop and ask myself – “What am I doing?” and “How am I acting?” and “What impact am I having?” I have to evaluate if I am loving people or judging them, if I am accepting people or pushing them away, if I am compromising with people or condemning them. I have to take a hard and meaningful look to see what influence I am having. And it starts with my heart.

Getting Unstuck

It starts with me being honest about being hard-hearted and holding grudges about past wrongs – and using that anger as a weapon to keep people away. It starts with me understanding that I need to be more Jesus-like – to let things go, to forgive, to forget, and to move on.

So tomorrow is a new opportunity for me to try a new approach, to have a new attitude, and perhaps to reach a new altitude. To realize that there is so much more I can do differently – which means my impact will be different too. To know I can be better and react better – which means the reaction I get will be better. To humbly acknowledge that holding onto past wrongs keeps me from being accepting – which effects my reactions and therefore my impact.

If I’m unwilling to change, why do I expect God to effect change around me?

I guess at this point God is reminding me, again, that it doesn’t matter what is done to me. What matters is how I respond to it. Am I justifying my bad reaction? Am I stewing in my silent protests? Am I overwhelmed by angst and anger? Am I constantly reciting my list of shame and blame about that person?

Or am I choosing to forgive? To pause before speaking – and then speaking in a positive and humble way? To tear up my shame list and let go of all the wrongs?

And I realize that it’s all about me – because it’s my choice. I choose what emotions I rest in, I choose what words I reflect on, and I choose what “house” I reside in. I can be joyful or judgmental, positive or punishing, accepting or angry. I can be like Jesus, who throws no stones but gives compassion instead, or I can be like the religious leaders who were ready to throw stones and were comfortable (confident) in their self-righteousness (John 8:1-12).

So what’s my choice? I acknowledge the problem and turn to Jesus for a new attitude.

I am hopeful that Jesus will continue to give me new chances. And He’ll be with me as I’m stuck and as I’m getting unstuck. Because He never forsakes us, even in our darkest times or stubborn moments.

And I am hopeful that tomorrow I’ll make the better choice. That I’ll react differently. That I’ll [start to] get unstuck.

Marie Fremin, 7/26/15