No Citation…Released.

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My friend Jeanne is a gift to me and she possesses the gift of laughter. She giggles at all of my jokes. (It’s not the only reason I enjoy her, but it does top the list.)

She lives nearby but today I drove to her house. We planned to take a walk then  wanted to run an errand afterwards so I knew I would need my car. We finished our normal trek in less time than usual. We were glad because we still had full days ahead.

We stepped inside briefly and unbundled ourselves. “Whoa, that was a pretty good workout!” Jeanne said.

“Yeah and we finished quickly. We were booking it! It’s chilly and my nose is running. Let me blow my nose, use your bathroom and I’ll be ready to head out.” I said.

I emerged, “Oh, man! I really am kind of sweaty now.” I admitted.

Jeanne agreed, “Yeah, me too, but we already decided we’re just going like this.”

“Yes, for time’s sake. Although, you know I don’t like to go out dressed like this.” I explained.

We embarked upon “the hunt.” I wanted to try to find a particular item at Goodwill. As we exited the house, I was thinking. I am breaking my own cardinal rule – or clothing commandment!

Here’s the background. I don’t usually wear athletic clothes out and about. I think it is partly a shoes thing. It’s been a weird deal of mine probably since high school. I’m more of a costumer. When I select a piece of clothing I think about the setting I’d wear it in. Well, maybe not EVERY piece but most clothes and shoes, I do.

For me, certain garments and shoes have particular purposes and should fit the scene. So If I’m wearing walking or running shoes I feel like I NEED to be out for a walk or run.

Anyway, Jeanne knows I have a rule about that. But each day only has so many hours in it and I was in a time crunch. She talked me into it. “You can handle being seen in workout clothes today Rachel”

“Okay, Fine!” I said.

We both hopped into my car. The one with the newly installed driver’s window. (See  my last blog. “Oh no! Plan B)

“How’s the window working?” She immediately asked,

“Like a charm!” I replied.

“I’m glad.” She commented. “I read your blog about it. I think I should read it to my neighbor Bill since he was featured!”

While, I didn’t find what I was hunting for, we had a good time looking. On our way back home, we passed the school yard. There was so much activity. Cars and buses were parked in front of the elementary school and lined the streets. Children streamed out of the building as crossing guards lead them safely across the intersections.

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“It must be an early release day. It’s only 1:50.” Jeanne said.

I pointed out the window. “I’m glad that’s just a crossing guard and not a policeman.”

“What?” she asked. “Why?”

“Maybe I’m going to get a citation for wearing this outfit on this outing.”

First he blows his whistle and hollers, “Hey, lady! Pull over, I need to issue you a citation.  Excuse me ma’am. Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“No, not really,” I would admit. “Is it this outfit and shoes I’m wearing? Is that it?”  Ugh! I KNEW IT! This was a poor fashion choice.

” Really Jeanne can you picture it?”

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Jeanne laughed at me, sighed and said. “Oh, Rachel!”

Actually, I felt released and a bit liberated from my own silly fashion rule.(commandment)

  • It saved us time
  • was quite painless to endure
  • was done without any repercussions or citations
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The Greatest Commandments

Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” Mark 12:28b-31

Now that’s a true commandment to follow.

 

 

 

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Oh, No! Plan B

I’ve heard Kris Vallotton say, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.”

The plan was set! I grew more and more excited as the minutes ticked byThere was the threat of a winter storm making our plan a bit iffy. The morning proved we did have added snow coverage, but not enough to interfere with the plan. My car trunk was packed to the gills  and so was the back seat.

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I gave him a kiss and hopped into the car. “Thanks Babe for loading all this stuff. You really are my forerunner.”

“Have a great time! See you when you get back.” He waved as I drove away.

Man, I really love my guy!

As I pulled into Jeanne’s driveway, I noticed all the snow was cleared. Hmm? She told me she needed a bit of extra time to clear her drive. It really looks good. She’s been a busy beaver.

We loaded Jeanne’s things in my already full car. I had that “an adventure’s about to begin” feeling. I backed out of the beautifully cleared driveway. We hadn’t even gone two houses when she said, “That’s my neighbor Bill who came over with his snowblower this morning to finish clearing my driveway. He’s so good to me.”

Oh, it makes sense now. She had a neighbor’s help. I’m so glad. It was a lot to shovel. 

I looked to the left and saw Bill. He pushed his big orange snowblower proudly out in front of him. His heavy black coat stood out against the all white winter backdrop. Black earmuffs protected his ears either from the cold or the noise, I’m not sure which. He approached the end of the drive.

I lowered my window and hollered, “Thanks Bill for clearing the snow! Have a good day!” I raised my chin up and smiled. I wasn’t sure he heard me above the hum of the snowblower.

“Yikes! It’s so cold.” I squeeled.

Surprised by the cold’s forceful tumble in my warm car, I desperately wanted to put my window up to protect myself from the elements. I reached for the button to power the window up. Then, there was a clunk sound and an noise after it. It was an ineffective hum. I sat frozen for a moment, frozen in time. Crud! 

“Jeanne, I can’t get the window back up.” I admitted as she sat in the passengers seat unaware.

“What?” She replied.

“Seriously! I can’t get it to go back up. And it’s freezing!”

We just sat in the middle of the street. I tried to push the button but it still wouldn’t work. I tried various other things too. Nothing worked.

I called my husband. He had a few suggestions and a question. I tried them immediately.  He’d already been so helpful to load my car, but one question he asked during our brief conversation ticked me off.

“Did you really have to roll down the window? You couldn’t just wave and smile at the neighbor?” He asked.

How is that question helpful? Why are you shaming me? Yes, I MEANT to lower the window. It was intentional so I could say, “THANK YOU!”

I didn’t truly hang up on him. I just said. “Okay. Bye!” I knew he was in a hard position as he was half way to work.  BUT I was in a pickle of a situation too. His hands were tied.

BUT my front driver’s side window had sunk to the bottom of the driver’s door and was not coming up at all. I was not too happy about it. (First world problems, I know.) But adversity introduces a man to himself.  RachelDon’t loose your joy! You’ll figure something out. God knows all about your weekend and every need.

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Wow!  Oh, how the imagination runs wild.I  pictured traveling 90 minutes in the frigid temperatures with wind-blown hair and icicles hanging from our nose hairs. Next, I could see a good thing happening. I envisioned us getting the window up. YAY!  Only to have it fall back down again during the drive. BOO- HISS!  I could also see the forecasted snow we were supposed to get on Sunday all coming in my open window. As it sat abandoned in the parking lot for the weekend I pictured a foot of snow on my seat.

Neither Jeanne nor I are incredibly automotive savvy. “We can’t stay here in the middle of the road. Just back up.” She instructed. “Rachel, We can take my car if we need to.”

We both waved at Bill, like goofballs and drove back to Jeanne’s driveway. I did NOT want to unpack all of the stuff we had just packed. (Although Michael loaded most of it.) There was SO much!

I suggested we try to get the window up by reaching into the door and pulling it up. We tried with our fingers. Index and thumb weren’t small or strong enough to hang on. I couldn’t keep a good enough grasp. My hands were so cold and stiff.

“Do you have a set of  piliers or something?” I inquired.

“I’ll see what I’ve got inside.” Jeanne said as she walked away.

When she went in,  I called Michael back. I knew I needed to.”Babe, I know you are on your way to work and I’m sorry. I was short with you, but your question didn’t feel helpful.

“I know.” he said. He too apologized.

Jeanne emerged with some sort of tool that was too flimsy for the job. I suggested a piece of rubber to hold the grip.

“You know like what you use when trying to remove a lid from a glass jar?” She had a rubber piece and we tried it next, but it didn’t do the job..

Jeanne also handed me a small red bag clip. The kind you seal a package of  potato chips  with. It was way too flimsy and was plastic. Why did she give me this? What in the world good will this baby do? I’ll give it a try I decided. As Jeanne walked back inside to find something, I broke the bag clip in two seconds flat.

I just stood there. I had a busted window, a broken bag clip and no way to get the window up. We did some jockeying of  position with cars. She pulled her car out of the garage and I drove mine in. Next, we unloaded ALL of the items I had in my trunk and transfered them into her car:

  • cooler
  • guitar
  • suitcases
  • hanging bags
  • Baskets of T’shirts
  • Luggage of product and jewelry.

It was quite an ordeal. But we did it! Adversity introduces a man to himself. I kept thinking. Plan B wasn’t really that bad. It truly all worked out.  We had overcome adversity and we didn’t allow it to rob our joy.

The rest of the morning and afternoon was smooth and went according to plan. Actually, it went better than planned because God had His hand on the plans. He planned good things for the weekend and for all the women in attendance including Jeanne and me!

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PLan B included:

  • Fantastic weather with sunny skies
  • Everything fit into Jeanne’s vehicle
  • No problem with directions- until the very end. No biggy!
  • Loaded everything in the conference center early
  • A beautiful restaurant available without leaving the resort
  • Salads and butternut squash soup
  • The waiters undivided attention because it was so early and not busy

 

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Where could they be?

“Honey, have you seen my sunglasses?” I asked reluctantly one December day.

“No. Which ones?” my husband inquired.

“My, Revo’s! I can’t find them anywhere. I’m just sick about it.  The weird thing is I have the case, but it’s empty.” I reported.

I closed my eyes and thought about when I had last seen them.  I pictured my Bible and a pair of red mittens with my REVOS sitting on top, the way a cherry sits on top of the whipped cream on a hot fudge sundae.

That was my last recollection of them. So I said, “Michael, I do remember having them at church. They were with my Bible and mittens in the pew.” I told him.

Days and weeks past and I searched, like a mad man, through everything to find them: coats, purses, both cars and their glove boxes. But none of my searching produced the lost sunglasses. I even stopped at church to check the lost and found for a few weeks.

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Like many of my stories, there is a back story here. TRUE CONFESSION- I’ve had, in the past, a habit of misplacing or losing my sunglasses. Many years ago, probably 25, my husband bought me this pair of Revo sunglasses when we were shopping in Chicago. They were expensive. At least in my view they were. I mean they weren’t from a dollar store, a gas station, a womans’ fashion store or boutique.

When Michael bought them for me he looked me in the eyes and in a very particular way, he said, “Rachel, don’t lose these!” It wasn’t that he didn’t love and trust me. (He probably didn’t trust me) Anyway, I know he didn’t say it to shame me. He never said, “Listen woman, you better not lose these!”

Nevertheless, the way he said it, coupled with the way he looked directly at me, made me accept the challenge seriously. I’m NOT going to lose these sunglasses. I am not!

I’ve kept track of those sunglasses for years! I really loved them and they can’t be replaced on-line. So, naturally I was pretty bummed and upset about losing them.

The longer they were missing, the more I grew sick about it. I journaled about the loss. During one of my prayer times I shouted, “I WANT MY REVOS BACK!” It was the oddest scream-type prayer. “God would you reveal them to me? If they were stolen, have the thief be as sick as I am and return them! You can do this God. I WANT MY REVOS BACK!”

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On Sunday night, January 14, 2018 I went to a prayer gathering. I pulled into the parking lot and parked my car. I decided to take my snow scraper in with me because snow had begun to fall. I reached behind my seat to grab the snow scraper, I don’t feel it. 

I raised myself up a bit in my seat to make sure the scraper wasn’t in the car. Then I  reached all the way behind the driver’s seat with my right arm extended and felt around for it a bit.

With my head swiveled is far as it could go, I peeked behind to the backseat floor mat. There, delicately placed in folded and in an upright position, sat my Revo sunglasses! What? Oh, my word!  I”ve found my sunglasses. Thank you Lord! Just in time for my Florida vacation. You are so good God!

The truly miraculous part was that just a week before we had taken a road trip to Iowa. My husband and I in the front seat, son and daughter-in-love in the back. All four of us were in our relatively small car. We traded seats half way through the trip and shifted our things too. So if they were there someone would have noticed.

Plus, we had all sorts of stuff down by our feet: backpacks, laptop bags, snacks and water bottles. If my sunglasses had been there they would have been completely crushed. At one pit stop, in frustration and as a release, I even bought a new pair of sunglasses.  Upon our return, I cleaned out the car. So this was amazing!

 

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Back to the night of the prayer meeting and the snow scraper. I immediately sent a text to my family members because I was so thankful and wanted them to know I had found my REVO sunglasses.

Group text message: I found my Revos sunglasses! I know God delivered them to me. They were in the back of the CC on the floor! That’s the car we recently took to Iowa and all of our bags and laptops were at our feet. I’m soooooooo excited and wanted you all to know I found them!

Whether or not you believe God transported my sunglasses to the backseat or not, doesn’t really matter to me. I know full well my heart was opened to a very personal God who cares about every little detail of my life. He hears my prayers. He hears yours too.

I heard a pastor say once, “If it concerns you, it concerns God.” My heart was touched and ready to receive from Him that snowy January night. Later one member gave a word of knowledge. The word pierced my heart in a very personal and much-needed place. I believe the recovered sunglasses opened me up for a personal deposit from the LORD.

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The Parable of the Lost Coin
 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

 

Don’t freak out!

 

I prayed, “God, would you use me to carry your Spirit and the revelation that your perfect love casts out fear?He answered quickly and people came out of the woodwork like ants to a picnic after my prayer.

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I have met with many women lately. Not even aware of their stories, I learned they are riddled with fear, depression and anxiety. The voices in their heads and the lies swirling around seem to constantly bombard them. Have you been in their shoes? Are you now?

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I’d like to make it clear, I’m not a counselor. But I do know the wonderful counselor and He is always available and his calendar is never too booked to meet with us so we meet together with him. For months now I have asked God to make me an “anxiety free” zone.

I sensed God wanted me to carry a no anxiety zone and release His peace and joy instead. (See previous blog post, “Discouragement Gives Way to Prevailing Peace”) 

Let me liken it to this: you know how it is to be around someone who has recently eaten garlic, right? You don’t even need to get close to them to smell it on their breath because is seeps out of their pores. I want to “SMELL” too, not like garlic, but like joy, peace and rest. A NO ANXIETY ZONE!

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Most things that we find ourselves worried about or anxious over, never come true. You’ll see what I mean in the example below. We are NOT to be destroyed by speculations and lofty thoughts, rather we are to destroy them.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB

(Speculations – NOUN. The forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.)

Speculations can wind up affecting our thoughts negatively. Let me give you a few examples. This happened years ago to me – My husband Michael was late coming home from work. When I let speculations take over, it went like this:

  • He’s probably late because he had a motorcycle accident.
  • Any minute now I’ll hear the ambulance.
  • I just heard an ambulance siren. See!
  • If he dies, where are all the important documents?
  • I will need to find a black dress for the funeral! 
  • ON AND ON IT CAN GO!

When my husband was late, why didn’t I think these thoughts:

  • He probably stopped at the florist to get me a bouquet of roses.
  • His boss delayed him in conversation about the great job he’s doing
  • He needed gas for his motorcycle so he’ll be here in a bit I’m sure!
  • He stopped to pick up Chinese carry out for a surprise dinner.

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Oh, and here’s another one for you. Before Christmas two of my friends were to meet a group of us at a ballet performance. The four of us arrived early to secure seats. We sat in the auditorium caught up and visited and took our photo together. We had such a good time we didn’t even check our cell phones. We knew the others planned to join us closer to the start.

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I wonder if they’ll arrive on time?  I kept my eyes peeled on the look out. Meanwhile, they had arrived but were seated in a different section.  They waited and wondered where we all were.

We finally met up. My friend Mary said, “Oh,my I was so worried, I even called Jeanne’s husband because no one answered my calls. He said you had left over an hour ago. I freaked out! I just knew you were all dead in a ditch!”

What is this? You got it…NEGATIVE SPECULATIONS!

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB

Lofty thoughts are things that seem bigger than God. One thing I’ve noticed is if we carry a REALLY BIG GOD mind-set then our problems and circumstances come into proper perspective. So when speculations or lofty thoughts and are raised up against the knowledge of God, I’ve learned to review some promises and what I know about God:

  • God is for me he is not against me.
  • No weapon formed against me will prosper.
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • The joy of the LORD is my strength.
  • God protects me.
  • God will be with me wherever I go.
  • I can cast my cares on the LORD – He promises to sustain me.
  • God will strengthen me and help me; he will uphold me with his righteous right hand.
  • The LORD makes my steps firm.
  • God is the lifter of my head.

Any thought or reasoning of mine that sets itself up against this knowledge of God must be destroyed, pulled down and replaced with truth.

Let me encourge you. Don’t freak out! Mind your mind and think about what you think about. Don’t be anxious, pray!

I release peace over you now in Jesus name.

Do not be anxious/worried about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7