purpose, calling, path, journey, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Call: Hearing, Obeying, and Following God’s Calling

We all have a calling from God. Your call may change, or it may remain constant. You may hear it when you are seven years old or when you are forty-three, but trust me God has a mission for your life.



Phillip is back from Africa! I was so excited and relieved to have him home. He brought back a ton of stories. Some silly, some inspiring, and many heartbreaking. He worked with children whose lives are so different from mine that I can’t even really imagine. Yet, through all their tribulations, they find joy and purpose. God moves with them and it is so evident because survival would be next to impossible without Him in their lives.

We all have a calling from God. Your call may change, or it may remain constant. No matter when we hear it, God has a mission for us all. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #calling #purpose #scripture #journey #devotional

Hearing God’s Call

As a teacher, I see students who have plenty and waste it. I see students with nothing, who horde everything. And all the experiences in between. Phillip saw kids who didn’t always know if there would be enough food. Would they be safe till tomorrow? When they grow, will there be clothes to wear? Will they have a future outside their dirt field and cinder block rooms?

He also encountered faith on a whole new level…

“Heather, we work at believing and being Christians, but we are fooling ourselves if we think we are there. I met people whose faith is so deep, it puts mine, ours to shame.”

At first, this statement put my back up. What do you mean I’m not enough? I believe. I serve. I love my neighbor. I study the Bible. I..I..I…

Oh. Maybe I have more work to do. Maybe we need to see the world through others’ lenses every now and then to give us perspective.

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

1 Corinthians 1:28-29, NIV

Obeying God’s Call

God calls us all to two things: love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your body; and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). Easy to say, easy to remember, harder to do.

I don’t know about you, but my life moves very quickly. I am always hopping from one thing to another. And I often find myself over committing and under delivering. I want so much to do, that sometimes I forget to be. To listen in the quiet for what God needs from me. I am not alone and neither are you. We don’t have to do this alone. What we need to do is lean into God the Father and listen for His calling in our lives.

Phillip has set several goals for himself since his return. Getting sponsorships for children (enough so food isn’t an issue), donations of sports equipment so they have more entertainment (smiles), supplies for the schools so they have more opportunities (a better future). At home, he wants us to start learning more Bible verses so we have a better working knowledge of God’s word.

What all of this boils down to is God’s calling in his life. God has lit a fire in him that has been born out of love. That, my friends, is mighty and powerful and so beautiful.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

John 15:16, NIV

Following God’s Call

God blessed me years ago, when I was in college, with a clear vision of my calling to teach. I fully admit that it wanes from time to time. I think things are too hard, too bogged down in politics, too focused on numbers, but then God redirects my gaze. Children who need me to love them, to teach them, to guide them are put in my way and He reminds me that I am wonderfully made for His purpose. And so are you!

Not everyone is called through children like Phillip and I have been. My daughter has received her calling through sports. At the age of seven, she told me she didn’t want to be a spy anymore. She was going to be a soccer star until she got out of college and then she was going to help people be fit and healthy. At almost 21 years old she has refined what that means, but she is on track to accomplish what she set out to do so long ago.

God calls us and if we are listening, if we are patient, that calling will be fulfilled. And in heeding God’s call, we are being obedient to Him.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14, NIV

God calls us and if we are listening, if we are patient, that calling will be fulfilled. And in heeding God's call, we are being obedient to Him. Click To Tweet

Praying to Receive God’s Call

I have recently been looking at changing some things in my life. Change is scary for me. I like routine, I like feeling comfortable. Especially when that comfort was hard fought. I am feeling a tug, but I’m not sure if the tug is from God needing me to adjust the calling, or if it is from the enemy trying to pull me away from God’s work. Right now, I am in prayer about it. Hoping God will show me His path. I want to be what He has made me to be – a light in the world that reflects His love and mercy on others.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

2 Timothy 1:9, NIV

This morning in church I heard our pastor clearly revealing God’s voice to me:

“When you stay focused on hearing God’s answer to your big prayer, you may be missing God talking to you.”

I might be guilty of this. Once again God is asking me to slow down and listen to Him. So I’ll end with the beginning:

Hey God, it’s me. What do You want?

love, me

We all have a calling from God. Your call may change, or it may remain constant. No matter when we hear it, God has a mission for us all. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #calling #purpose #scripture #journey #devotional

Emilce Giardino

path, plans, purpose, journey, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Journey: Knowing God is With You Every Step of the Way

Starting a God-inspired journey can seem so daunting. It will take you out of your comfort zone, but God is with you every step of the way. 



I keep hearing phrases like: get out of your comfort zone, make a change, become more involved. This can be exciting, scary, and exhausting. It can also be overwhelming.

So how can we cope with this? How do we keep the exciting feeling and not get so overwhelmed we can’t move forward or lose the feeling of purpose? These are questions that I have been asking myself a lot during this season of life, when everything seems to be going at 100MPH.

Starting a God-inspired journey can seem daunting. It will take you out of your comfort zone. But the good news is God is with you every step of the way. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #journey #path #plan #purpose #devotional #scripture

First Steps

Then they said to him, ‘Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.’ The priest answered them, ‘Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD’s approval.’

Judges 18:5-6, NIV

My husband, Phillip, has taught me a lot about carrying joy and excitement for God. He has really jumped out of his comfort zone recently and done it with such gusto and verve that I have been in awe. Until recently he hasn’t been much of a “joiner” in church-related activities. Phillip would go to church. He would help with something if someone asked. But he didn’t seek out opportunities to be involved. This made it easy for me to not be involved. I could sleep in on Sundays, not volunteer, or just be a passive Christian.

Then a little over a year ago he decided to sign up to be an usher at our church. He loved helping out and knowing that his help was needed. Now, Phillip works all three services every week. He sometimes grumbles about having to get up early on Sunday morning, but once there, he is definitely in his element. I have also tried to be more involved and turn my focus towards being a more active follower of Christ.

They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.

3 John 1:6, NIV

Preparing the Journey

But that’s not the end or even all of the beginning of Phillip’s story. He joined a men’s group that meets a few Friday mornings a month to discuss a book. Then he was asked to join a leadership training group reading another book. By the way, Phillip often has joked through the years that he has only read one book from cover to cover in his whole life….now he is reading two simultaneously.

Because of this, our home conversations are even more authentic and transparent. We talk about what he is reading, what I am reading, and how we see God’s plan playing out in our lives. It feels more like a complete life than it ever has before.

There is still more to this story. A few months ago, right before Christmas, Phillip was given the opportunity, through his work, to go on a mission trip to Liberia. Since he has taken hold of that opportunity, I have seen such joy and excitement, as well as some nervousness. But boy, have I seen God’s hand at work.

Christ-Centered

God has asked all of us to give with a generous heart. Putting this into practice has brought all of us joy, but it has also caused some stress. We have not taken anything away, just added to our plate. That means that because everything is on a time table, we have had to add extra time towards this project and take it away from other places in our lives.

As he prepares to go, he is fundraising, asking for donations and supplies to take to the orphanages he will be visiting and asking for others to pray for God’s blessing on the trip. He has had a mound of paperwork to contend with and a few rounds of shots to get. I have been his sounding board and helped him get the word out. At times it would have been easier to say…We are just too busy for this right now, maybe in a couple of years, this wil be easier. -OR-This is really expensive, maybe in a couple of years, we could financially be in a better place to support this trip.

All of this can seem tedious, overwhelming and some of it unpleasant. But every time Phillip has felt a little out of control, worried, or overwhelmed, he has centered himself in our Savior. We talk, we pray, we rest. All three have felt Christ-centered.

‘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.’

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

Seeing God’s Path and Following It

Through all of this journey, he has felt a pushing from God. That push has made him excited to see what’s next. Phillip prays daily to know God’s will in his life and has been so surprised to see how God has aligned his path to Him. This has pushed both of us more onto a Christ-centered path for our lives. And that has been exhilarating!

God desires to have a relationship with us. He wants us to invite Him to walk with us daily. When we do, this life has a way of opening up. It’s not always easy and rarely what we’ve planned. But it is always exciting!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV

Dear God,

Thank you for pushing us. Your hand is so firmly felt in our relationship. I feel the bonds of my marriage so firmly that I know it is You making us stronger. This opportunity feels beautiful and hard. Help us to move forward in a way that is pleasing to you. Be our guide and light the way to do what is pleasing to You and Your purpose.

love,

me

God desires to have a relationship with us and invite Him to walk with us. When we do, this life has a way of opening up. It's not always easy and rarely what we've planned. But it is always exciting! Click To Tweet

Starting a God-inspired journey can seem daunting. It will take you out of your comfort zone. But the good news is God is with you every step of the way. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #journey #path #plan #purpose #devotional #scripture

Johny Goerend

goals, journey, rest, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Restful: Settling In to the Long Journey of the Unknown

The unknown can be restful, once we accept that our goal is not in arriving somewhere or accomplishing anything. Our goal occurs within the journey. 



Five years ago we began the process to foster to adopt in South Carolina. Soon after we were licensed, we moved to North Carolina, having to begin the process all over. Here in North Carolina, they require prospective foster families to wait a year after a major life event. During our year of waiting, the Lord changed our hearts from fostering to adopt, to straight foster care. We began classes in February, went through the home study, revealed every part of our lives to the state, and were licensed in the fall. Then, a week before Christmas we opened our home to a four-year little boy.

While at a Christmas party, I was sharing that we had a little boy coming and a bit of what I knew about him. A friend there made the observation that when we began this process five years ago, he was not even born. His comment made me remember a piece of advice that was given to me back in South Carolina by a veteran foster mom.

This foster mom has served over 50 foster children throughout the years. She has definitely experienced all the ups and downs of fostering. Her encouragement to me was in the waiting. It was good encouragement, as I have been waiting for quite some time! The exact comment was, “The child God has for you may not even be born yet.” Perhaps that was a prophetic word?

The unknown can be restful, once we accept that our goal is not in arriving somewhere or accomplishing anything. Our goal occurs within the journey. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #encouragement #goals #journey #rest

Unknown…

Now, it is not in our plans for him to become ours through adoption, but for the time he is in our home, he is our child. God has entrusted him to our care for however long this season may be. This is where I am learning to love sacrificially. And it is scaring the crap out of me. It’s also pulling crap out of my heart. I am loving a child who may or may not love me in return; who may or may not remember me in six months; who may or may not ever say my name right.

He may be in our home for a month, or six months, or forever. Or it could be next week if they find a family member who is willing to take him into their home. I may need to register him for kindergarten. I may need to find new caretakers that are closer so I can provide transportation. Or I may need to pack up all his clothes and send them on in that big, black, plastic, garbage bag that is a notorious indicator of foster children.

My days are spent calming tantrums, breaking up arguments, teaching routine. It is intense and constant. But I am most fatigued by the mental drain of the unknown. How do I provide consistency and stability for this little boy, when those two things are not reality?

Lessons…

I knew the Lord would teach me so much through fostering, and I have been excited about that – in a masochistic sort of way. He is teaching me about His love for humanity, and how His sacrifice was given with no guarantee of love in return. I am learning how to show love and mercy to those who are hurting. The Lord is convicting me of the judgment I have held for other’s decisions. And He is revealing to me how I need to love the children I gave birth to with the same freedom and openness.

It is in seeing His love for His people that I find solace. That sacrificial love is constant. From the beginning of time, His love for His people has never wavered.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

In this love I can trust that provision is given in all things. The ultimate provision has already been given. We have salvation.

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

Romans 8:32

His love doesn’t mean things won’t be hard. But we do not need to fear the hard because He walks through the hard with us.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.

Psalm 23:4

And through the turmoil, He provides comfort.

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:5

Relax…

Someone asked me once how I could handle the mental challenge of running marathons – so many miles, for so many hours? My response was that I settle in. I relax in knowing that there are many miles to come, so I must focus on the step in front of me. Yet another life lesson from running marathons.

The unknown can be restful, once we accept that our goal is not in arriving somewhere or accomplishing anything. Our goal is to become like Christ, and that occurs within the journey.

There are many miles to go for me, and likely you feel the same. Shall we settle in?

The unknown can be restful, once we accept that our goal is not in arriving somewhere or accomplishing anything. Our goal is to become like Christ, and that occurs within the journey. Click To Tweet

The unknown can be restful, once we accept that our goal is not in arriving somewhere or accomplishing anything. Our goal occurs within the journey. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #goals #journey #rest

All scripture from the NLT Bible.

unsplash-logoKatarzyna Urbanek

The Long Road to Adoption

About this time last year I shared with you our desire to adopt from the foster care system. If you haven’t read about that and would like to learn what brought us to the decision, please do so. It can be found here.

Quite a bit has happened in the past year. I decided to start homeschooling my oldest, and I had a baby girl. But not a whole lot has happened with the adoption process. Last spring we had our Fire Marshal inspection and the Health Department inspection and then had to wait for the home study portion to be done. So we waited. And waited. The wait was long but I had peace within the waiting. I was getting ready to have a baby, so no real rush. And so we waited some more. I was warned early on that this was a long process. They weren’t lying.

Last week, we finally had the first half of our home study done. Hallelujah! This visit was just with the kids and I. Here are some highlights from the visit.

Leading up to the visit, I was quite nervous. Not so much that we wouldn’t get approved, but the fact that this person coming into our home is evaluating us (which feels like judgement) and they have so much power over the future of our family. I felt very vulnerable, indeed. Which is probably why the night before I had trouble sleeping and had bad dreams. In my dream it was my yoga instructor that came to do the home study. Odd. I like my yoga instructor, but it’s not like we are close. Anyway, she comes to the house where we apparently had a wild party the night before that got out of hand. There were people passed out drunk, and panties. Panties were strewn everywhere! Oh the horror! I’m trying to explain to her that this is not how we really live, and so on and so on. I was relieved to wake up to my clean non-party house.

Now back in reality, the lady was quite pleasant. She was very southern, and very sarcastic. I liked her very much. She was talking to the boys, asking them about their lives, and what kind of things they like to do. My boys have no trouble talking to people that come over. The trouble is getting them to stop. And my oldest is such a schmoozer. When she asked what he thought about his mom (me), he responded with, “Beautiful, heartwarming, silly, and crazy.” Sweet kid. And in regards to what he thinks about his dad, he answered, “SUPER strong!!” It’s nice to know what our kids think of us.

During the conversation, I left to get baby girl up from her nap. When I brought her out, the lady asked, “She isn’t yours, is she?” Ummm…. DSS had not informed her of the change in our family. See, when we submitted our initial application, I was not even pregnant. Now I have a six month old. Yes, it is a long, long road.

After the questions about my childhood, and my relationship with my family currently, she was asking what we were willing to take on. On our initial application we said we would take a sibling group of two. I told her we were now willing to take up to three if it was the right fit. She looks at me and asked, “Do I need to submit you for a psych eval?” Well, maybe.

The interview was coming to a close. We had survived. She was packing up and heading out the door. As soon as the door closed, and I mean it barely latched, my punk precious 4 year old says (quite loudly), “Look at her big butt!” Oh no, oh no, oh no no no!!!! So close. So close at getting through this without feeling horror. I don’t know if she heard or not, but I was completely embarrassed!

And now we are back to waiting. The second part of the home study will be done this week with my husband. The next step is to wait for a placement. Will it be this summer? Six months? A year? Only the Lord knows. In the meantime, I pray. I pray for protection for these future children of ours, they need it. Their lives are at stake. Literally.

Now, back to that dream I had. I told my yoga instructor about it, thinking she would get a kick out of it. She looked at me with a look that was part amused, part confused, part serious, and said, “I was a social worker for 30 years. Doing home studies was part of what I did.”

Creepy.

 

Faith, Trust, Surrender

Let me start by saying that I have by no means had a difficult life. I was born into a loving family that worked hard and always had food to eat. I have married a loving man that treats me well and provides for our family. Those things alone, I understand that I am have been blessed and live an advantaged life. But it hasn’t always been a walk in the park either. Like many of you, I suppose. Life has given us many blissful moments, and also broken our hearts. In my journey of life I have gained a glimpse of what it means to have faith. Over the next month, I would like to share this journey with you.

For now though, I want to share this video with you. It is my favorite song. It’s pretty long (9 minutes) but I’m always disappointed when it’s over. And it really expresses how my life journey has affected me. I have experienced first hand, “You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.” I continually call upon The Lord “When oceans rise.” My prayer for my life is to be led “where my trust is without borders.” And I do “rest in [His] embrace.” That’s the only way I have survived so far on this journey.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine