Down, not Out! But handle with Care!

It was truly personality altering to be out and about with my family last week and not speak!  My sister Sharon kept saying, “I must admit it’s really odd not having Rachel talk at all!” It’s true, I was on complete vocal rest until my speaking engagement at 5:30.

All day I wrote on small pieces of paper. “Be sure to use the backs of these papers too, Rach” My sister Barb instructed.

While out and about we went to a few stores and restaurants, I typed into my phone, then held my phone out so the clerk was forced to read it: “Hi, I’m trying not to use my voice today! SO…I’d like to order the beet salad, no cheese!” This method worked like a charm!

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I know how to protect my voice and I recognize when to plug my phone in because it reads “low battery.” Whereas people don’t come with a low battery warning nor can we always discern from the outside the condition of a person’s heart.  So we must handle with care.

I haven’t really felt up to my normal walking each day but I decorated my tree already. Don’t judge! It’s when I had the help of my husband and while I was house bound. As I unwrapped the ornaments and carefully placed them on the Christmas tree, I thought, Christmas is just around the corner. WOW! Another year coming to a close.

I do love Christmas time and I really love my tree because I like to sit up in the loft area with the tree lights on and sip on a cup of tea. I had a photo taken by my tree last year. A sweet friend and beautiful young photographer took it. I visited with her in my loft and we hung out. She had come straight from a photo shoot of a family in our neighborhood.

Anyway,  as we caught up on life, her face altered a moment, she stopped her comments and the conversation abruptly, “Hang on a second, I’ll be right back, you just hold still.” She then stood up. “Stay exactly the way you are! I want to grab my camera out of my bag on your kitchen counter.” She was back in a JIFFY! She lovingly instructed, “Just tell me a bit more about what your day was like, I’m listening. Keep talking!”

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She snapped a few photos and this is one of my favorites, not because it’s great of me. I mean, it’s okay, but because of the Christmas memory of tea time with a friend that is attached to it. I was listening to her and she was listening to me, until she bolted out of the room, of course. It was a treasured time together.

Do you have people in your lives that look at their phone when you are talking to them or look past you instead of giving you eye contact? It’s like they’re on the look out for someone else instead of being present? This Christmas tree and tea moment wasn’t at all like that, completely the opposite I assure you. She handled me with care. I hope I  handled her with care too.

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I love to sit beside the tree. Today as I sit here a great sadness wanted to sneak up and grab me. I don’t know whether it’s the sickness, being worn out, missing loved ones or what? Maybe its all of the above, the good ole’ SUPER-SIZED combo!

But I’ve been praying for those whom the Christmas season can be rough. I reached down and located some promise cards with verses on them. I like to steep myself in the word of God the way a tea bag steeps in hot water. Let me share a few promises with you from those which settled my ruffled heart today:

  • God will fight for you:

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4

  • God will give you strength:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:28-29

  • God is slow to anger:

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15 

  • God is faithful to all His promises:

What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. Isaiah 46:11b

  • God will not withhold any good thing:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84:11

I hope these few promises help you.

Just one more piece of my heart to share here. It is unsolicited advice. Be kind. In this holiday season it seems natural and even common advice, but I mean it.  Just be kind.

Understand that some may be hurting in ways that you can’t perceive from the outside. Remember you can’t see the low battery warning across anyone’s forehead nor are you able to carry the right stethoscope to hear the ache within their heart.

But the Spirit can help you with this so choose to be kind and be aware of others.  Who knows, perhaps you’ll be able to encourage someone with one of the promises of God listed above. My prayer for you and for those around you this season is that you will experience the God who increases the power of the weak.

Even if you/they seem down… you/they are NOT OUT! But remember, Handle with care!

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What do you do when your plans don’t work out?

Have you heard the phrase or idiom “throw a wrench in the works?”  its meaning is as if you were to throw a wrench into the spokes of a bicycle or into machinery which would stop the engine immediately.

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I had a wrench in the works of my plan today.  My plan clearly did NOT work out. So let me ask, what do you do when your plans don’t work out? Let me tell you some helpful things I’ve practiced when my plan goes awry. First let me share a bit of the story of this morning.

May I back up a tad bit more? Yesterday I spoke at a mom’s meeting at a church and I felt the Holy Spirit allowed me to be used and we crushed it! As soon as I stepped off the stage it felt like someone grabbed me by the throat like a choke hold. I was to have a meeting after the main session and I noticed my voice was acting up during it.

It was touch and go all day too. I knew I needed to speak this morning again so I was disappointed when I awoke and my voice wasn’t any better. I could whisper but not speak. My husband comforted, “You’ll be fine.” Then asked, “You’ll be miked, right?”

I headed out, tea with lemon and honey in hand and drove to the speaking engagement. I made it just in time to meet a friend, Jodi and her daughter who were my assistants for the morning.

I greeted her in the parking lot, when she heard my whisper she said, “Oh, no!” and prayed for me right then and there. I warned her a bit jokingly through a gravel-like whisper, “Well, I wrote a blog a few weeks ago on the same topic, so if all else fails, maybe you’ll just read it to them.” I suggested.

I greeted the mentor moms with a smile. No words. I drew closer to them and tried to talk. I thought, Oh, golly Rachel this is like:

  • trying to give a power point presentation without a computer.
  • being hired to sing and play the guitar but forgetting your instrument.
  • signing up to provide the treats and forgetting the food.
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The morning progressed with a few more wrenches in the works:

  • wireless microphone wouldn’t work
  • handheld microphone was gone.
  • all of the staff members were out of the building on a retreat
  • precious volunteer didn’t want to move us to another location as the sound board is very complex in that auditorium

As we waited to see if we could get all the different microphones figured out the women watched a video of mine on my youtube channel. (LINK INCLUDED BELOW.) They all really liked it and it warmed them up as they laughed and cried tears of joy.

See I didn’t plan it, but it ended up to be a really positive thing. It wasn’t just because we were stalling but I had a purpose in the morning. We learned all the microphones had been used the evening before and none of them were connected to the power source.

So without the ability to be amplified, we drew them all in real close and I spoke in the middle of them with only a whisper.  I gave them my best. I shared my heart with them.

I said, “Now, I’d like Jodi to read one of my blog posts from a few weeks ago.” She read it beautifully and it tied into what I’d already said.  Good news is they heard an example of one of my blog posts which ended up being serendipitous because perhaps some might subscribe. Yay God! I’m all about spreading encouragement!

The coordinator told me, “Rachel, you were so calm and collected through all the confusion, hurdles and roadblocks this morning. Man, none of our plans seemed to work out, but you really rolled with it!”

Long ago, I used to lead worship on Tuesday mornings, I received “The Flexible” award from the women’s ministry team. So let me just ask again, what do you do when your plans don’t work out?

Here’s a few of my suggestions:

  • Breathe
  • Pray
  • Course correct quickly
  • Adapt to the new plan
  • Recognize God is in charge and has a good plan
  • Go with it & get the best out of it as it unfolds
  • Embrace the results

This morning I whispered one final comment to the audience of women. “God has been teaching me to lean in to Him as I “wait” on Him. The word picture for wait is one of a listener leaning in like when someone is whispering.

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Isn’t that fitting? It became clear to me as I watched those precious women lean in to every word I was saying. I praise God he has a way of getting said what he wants said. One of the young moms came up to me and said, “I can’t stay because I have to run to pick up my son, but I wanted to be sure to let you know that was completely amazing! Really… just amazing!

My reply was simply whispered, “Thank you!”

Then, in my spirit I hurried to Him with the love note. Thanks for this God, glory to your great name.

Here’s the YOUTUBE LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liPNH6L-xDE&t=642s

 

What’s Your Purpose or Mission in Life?

I scooted out to my car, ohgood it’s only sprinkling. You lead tonight’s study so you need to be on time. As I drove to church at dusk I thought, it’s going to be good to see each other, a nice night of Bible Study. Little did I know, it would be a night my passions would be both fueled and satiated.

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Passions? What am I passionate about? Break-through in any form.  I love to help break down barriers that impede the path to God. I get a fire in my belly and a rise in my spirit when there’s an oportunity to tear down what prevents us from seeing God or ourselves clearly.

When a person steps into who God has made them to be, they become transformed and unleashed. Once they embrace their significance it helps unlock the door to their mission and their life’s purpose becomes clearer. It’s so exciting.

I believe, WE WERE MADE ON PURPOSE FOR A PURPOSE!

Back to the Bible Study on “MISSION.” We caught up a bit, then recited our memory verse.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

One translation reads: WORKMANSHIP = POEM.

Stop and let that truth sink in. You are God’s poem. His beautiful handwritten poem. He is the master creator. You are His masterpiece and he doesn’t make junk. He wants you to be you! He has prepared in advance the things you are to do.

Here’s a way I think about God’s preparation in life. Long ago when our kids were small, if I asked my husband to give our child or the new baby a bath he’d willingly do it. He was very helpful.

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Here’s the thing, prior to requesting his help I had:

  • Run the bath water
  • Set out the baby shampoo
  • gathered the towel
  • laid out the new diaper and PJ’s
  • grabbed the small child’s hairbrush and body lotion

THE BATH EXPERIENCE WAS ALL SET UP AND READY TO GO!

Basically ALL my husband had to do was hold the baby so he wouldn’t drown and simply wash him off! I had prepared everything in advance for the task of bathing the baby.  Honestly, there were times when I’d think… I may as well have given the kid the bath myself.

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It’s a very simplistic story, I know, but it illustrates how God prepares in advance what we are to do. He made us so he knows what we are hard-wired to do. You are his handiwork/poem and he has things prepared and He is good. So I implore you, don’t get your undies in a bunch.

Back to the night of my study…

It seemed to become holy ground for me. As women chimed in, we helped each other see the way God has formed us, it was beautiful to witness. We read from 1 Corinthians 12 about the body and how we are not the same. We are different parts of the body with different gifts, all with the same Spirit.

One of the reasons I am on the planet is to help people celebrate their significance and the genius of God in them, so as you might imagine, I was so pumped about the way the evening about MISSION took SHAPE.

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So let me ask you. What is your purpose or mission? What are you SHAPED to do? How have you been shaped by God? This “SHAPE” concept is not mine, but it’s one of the chapters of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life.  Perhaps you’ve read it. Do you know your shape?

SHAPE:

  • S- Spiritual Gifts
  • H- Heart-
  • A- Abilities
  • P-Personality
  • E-Experiences

Think about your SHAPE. Whether you do extensive work to write down, reflect and pray or only have time for a cursory glance here, it won’t change the fact that you have been shaped, by God, on purpose for a purpose.

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, whether you play an instrument or make spreadsheets, whether you have the gift of wisdom, teaching, or hospitality, all of your days and painful experiences help define your purpose. You are shaped on purpose for a purpose.

There never has been anyone on this planet like you and there never will be again. You are uniquely created by God. You are His poem, His masterpiece! The way you are shaped helps define more clearly your purpose and mission.

Since I love to help people celebrate their significance and the genius of God in them, I was LIT UP and thrilled the other night.  I was among world changers! Check out who was seated with me:

  • A comedian and compassionate helper of the weak.
  • A sold out university student resolved to follow Christ and call her generation to holiness and to be the best version of herself.
  • A nurse who wears, like Jesus,”the towel” of a servant with style.
  • A wise teacher who ignites people’s hunger for God’s word as they learn to feed on the word of God themselves.
  • A woman sent by the Holy Spirit to the masses.
  • a children’s author called to implore others to “cease striving” and rest in God’s faithfulness.

The key is our memory verse. Ephesians 2:10  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

We’re NOT all alike! That’s the beauty of the way God designed the body. Know this!  I celebrate your significance and the genius of God in you!

So go out BOLDLY in your shape, living your life on purpose!

I Corinthians 12:4-27 for your consideration:

4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.

There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.

God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.
The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.
10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.
11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
One Body with Many Parts
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.
15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.
16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!
20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.
21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.
23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen,
24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.
25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.
26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.