Saturday, April 24, 2010


“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."

Isaiah 55:8-9

It is a fool hardy presumption to try to anticipate the Creator of the universe. And yet it is in our very nature to dry to do so. We sit back and look at a situation and we imagine what God could or might do in order to bring about some desired end, only to realize, not only were we wrong in anticipating the methods, but quite possibly the results as well.

Anticipation, it has such an endearing sound to it. Full of hope and expectancy, most anticipation speaks of promising things, something to look forward to. But there can be a fearful anticipation as well.

I spoke in my last post about "hope deferred," so I have already outed myself as knowing that God is the one in charge, and He alone has, and should have the power to determine not only the end, but the process and road that lead to it.

Sometimes it's as though you have been led into a dark room. It is hard not to become discouraged when walking around inside of it, you feel your hand run across the walls looking to find your way, when suddenly you "touch" what feels like a proverbial light switch, only to realize when you flip it that the bulb at its end is apparently burned out. It didn't light the room as you'd hoped at all.

I find myself in this dark room, fuddling about. I entered the room willingly because I thought God told me to enter into it. I suppose I entered in anticipating a hallway of sorts, straight, short, simple, but it is incredible this thing, darkness - the fact of the matter is, God does not hold the door open and allow the light in as He leads us there, we do not get a view of the room before entering. From the moment we step in it is totally dark, we don't know the layout of the room, or its size, or even its purpose. Have you ever been led into a room like this one?

I suppose there is enough wits about oneself that we might be able to make it back to the door where we entered, to retreat back out, but this is the one thing we know with certainty is not the plan intended. But maybe your entry into the room didn't start with a "step of faith" at all like mine did. Perhaps your journey into this room was unwilling, maybe a loss, a diagnosis, or even a wound served as your doorway into this dark room you feel more like you were forced there than led, and even if you find the door, it's only to realize it's been locked, and that you have no key to open it. .

What happens in this room? A moment of devestation? Perhaps disappointment, that it's not what we expected it would be. Frustration maybe? As we realize we don't have the power or control we think we should? I know anger can rise, because it's not where we would like to be. These are only a few of the negatives that could arise in the darkness. There's confusion, anxiety, irritation, hurt - all known to arise in this room.

Hopefully surrender is found there eventually. I suspect reaching that point is at least like finding a match in your pocket. You reach to find the nearest wall and drag the match across it. As it lights, there is just a glimmer, just a glint, not enough light to illuminate the room, but perhaps enough to light the next step, if you're lucky, maybe two. But then the match burns out.

What of this darkness? What does God say about this darkness? Is there hope here?

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the LORD,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.

Isaiah 45:3

Treasures? That's what He said. There are treasures in the darkness. Treasures He intends for us there, treasures He wants for us to find.

Perhaps it is a gift of being alone. Maybe it is only here, alone, and in the dark that we will finally come to the end of ourselves, our own strength, our own sufficiency. Perhaps there is power of a different kind, when we finally come to terms with our desperation. When we finally acknowledge that we don't have nearly the power or strength in ourselves that we pretend we do when we are out in the "light."

Perhaps it is in the darkness, when we stop fighting against it, and finally still ourselves, it is then is when our hearts and minds, our spiritual ears will finally tune themselves to truly listening for God's voice. The darkness will hush every other voice, when we choose to listen to the only one who sees inside the darkness.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Psalm 139:7-12

Perhaps the truest gift of all, is realizing we are not alone in the dark at all, no matter how frightened, or lonely, or discouraged we may feel, the reality is, that we are not alone, not on our own. That the darkness may be our circumstance but it is not at all our reality. In that darkness, Jesus is there.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels
nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Nor darkness... nor discouragement... nor feelings... nor fear.... nothing...

Does it make it easier to embrace the darkness? Perhaps not. But it should make us more determined to reach out in the darkness for the treasures that are there, and soon we will discover, the greatest Treasure of all to be found, is more of Jesus.

So if you find yourself here, seek Him, and all the treasures that are in Him to be found.

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the LORD your God goes with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you."

Deuteronomy 31:6

Hold on to Him, for He is holding on to you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Standby's & Detours

In the shower this morning I was thinking about one of my favorite scriptures. It's probably one of my most quoted scriptures. God has ministered to me with it time and time again, and I in turn have shared it lots of times with others.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but when dreams come true, there is life and joy."

Proverbs 13:12

This morning as I thought of it, I started thinking about the different times I have found myself stuck waiting in an airport. Two times in particular really jumped out to me.

I was remembering the first time I ever traveled alone on an airplane. I believe in was in October 2003. I flew to Washington to participate in a ministry conference/ training. I got there safely enough and in a relatively uncomplicated manner and had a nice weekend. But by the end of the weekend I was tired and ready to go home and see my precious little family. Neal had been playing Mr. Mom all weekend to our three children and I just wanted to get home and give them all a big hug.

Things were pretty crazy here in California while I was away. It was fire season, something people outside of California may not even know about but El Nino had brought lots of rain the previous winter and spring and the hot summer had dried up all the grass that had grown and turned it to seriously dry brush. When I left for Washington the fires had begun, some fool purposely or carelessly causing a the start of a fire. By the time I was ready to head home, California was completely ablaze. Fires were burning from Sacramento to San Diego, and when I tried to come home, I couldn't. Every airport within 50 miles of home was shut down due to bad visibility or threat of fire.

I was over a thousand miles from home, and I was stuck. I felt very alone. There were a couple other ladies from the conference there for a little while, but contrary to popular belief, I am pretty shy, especially when I am stuck outside my comfort zone. I ended up settling in and having a wonderful conversation with a precious woman for a while, but eventually her plane left, she was flying east not south, and her route had not been rudely interrupted by the California flames like mine had.

It was a long and inconvenient day. I spent nearly nine hours in that airport just waiting. They would put me on standby flight after flight, and every flight seemed to be canceled, indefinitely detained. It was a long day. I was tired, I missed my family. Post-9/11 security measures made for complications traveling throughout the airport. I had been chosen twice "randomly" for the more extensive security checks, being half strip searched just to walk to the gate (OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I was overwhelmed.) I was hungry and hadn't prepared for the long hours of waiting. I didn't know what to do with myself honestly. I was in quite a predicament, and none of it my own doing, but it didn't change that fact I was stuck there, and I only knew one thing, where I wanted to be. I wanted to be home, back where I belonged.

Getting home never went the way I expected. I had planned to fly in locally to the airport just 20 minutes from our home. Instead, I ended up flying into Palm Springs some 90 miles away from where I live. I wanted to at least be on California soil, I wanted to make progress towards my intended destination, and that was the only open door. John Wayne, Ontario, LAX, even Long Beach and Burbank all remained closed for even days later. My dad met me in Palm Springs and we had to maneuver to home from there. The same fires that closed the skies closed lots of the roads as well. It wasn't the way I wanted to get home, it wasn't easy at all, but I was never so happy to hug my kids and kiss my husband as I was late that night.

I was stuck in a another "Standby" during that season as well. We were in the thick of being "stuck" in Ethan's adoption. Much like that day in the airport, visibility kept us grounded and far from meeting our destination. Ethan was 2 1/2 by then, and we still hadn't been able to finalize his adoption. We'd been deterred from the very beginning of that trip, complication after complication, and when we finally thought we were on our journey home, this same season is when everything seemed to go up in flames. A birth father who hadn't been heard of in 2 1/2 years showed up and wanted to take our son away. We found ourselves in a very difficult predicament, and not at all our doing, but it didn't change the fact that we were stuck, and there was nothing we could do but wait. We didn't know anything more than we wanted to arrive home at our "final destination."

Like my flight in to 90 miles from home, the way we arrived at the destination our finalized adoption wasn't what we had planned either. But when we got there, it didn't really matter the unplanned road we had taken. All that mattered was we got there. And unlike my time stuck in the Seattle airport, where I sat wondering how I was going to get home, when we waited in Ethan's adoption, we knew exactly on Whom we were waiting. And what we learned during that season, is God is just as interested in the journey as He is the destination, if not more.

Our "standby" ended up being not hours like my time in the airport, and not months like you might imagine, but years, 3 years and 4 months. The Israelites wandered in their wilderness for 40 years, and we wandered in ours for 40 months. And there were so many times where we just had to wait, or we had to go in a way, a direction that we didn't really understand. But when we got there we were just glad to be there, and I kissed my husband and hugged my family, and it felt so good to be home.

We learned a lot about "waiting on God" in those years. It was a lesson we were not unfamiliar with, we had waited on Him for 10 years to fulfill another promise to us in Victoria's birth. But the urgency in this standby made it more difficult. There was a real threat of loss to our family. Waiting on Him was often such a difficult challenge, one obstacle after another coming upon us, pushing us back. We would get weary, we were overwhelmed. But we did our best to keep our eyes fixed, we continually committed to trust the Lord, and we waited, we followed, and we walked that season through until the end. We came through it stronger, with a greater faith, and a truer understanding of Who our God was.

But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

I think of another travel experience we had. When Neal's mother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 2007, our family was devastated. The loss of my mother-in-law was so hard for us all, it still is. She had just come through a battle with cancer and everything seemed so promising, that when we got the call that her heart had stopped suddenly and she was gone, we could hardly take it in. All we could do was plan and prepare to go back to Virginia as quickly as possible to help lay her to rest.

We headed there within 36 hours, we wanted to get back to help and Neal needed to be with his brothers and sister. We booked a late night flight out and packed up our family of five and headed east. We had booked a straight shot with one short layover and expected to be Norfolk by early the next morning. When we got to LAX we discovered our flight had been canceled. We explained that we could not wait another day to travel and needed to find another way to get there as quickly a possible. So instead of a flight to DC and then down to Norfolk, we were now scheduled to fly from LAX to San Francisco where we would have just a 20 minute layover to catch a flight to Chicago, then after a four hour layover there we would fly to Richmond and then drive ourselves to Norfolk.We were a bundle of emotions, especially Neal, for obvious emotions and we were just doing all we could to function at a reasonable level. Ethan and Victoria were 6 & 5 respectively, and were not exactly seasoned travelers. Neal was heartbroken and overwhelmed, so Jake and I did our best to manage the little kids and I did my best to take care of Neal. The focus was not only the destination, but the deadline, to be able to get there to see Neal's mom's body before she was cremated. It was important to Neal to see her one last time to say goodbye. He needed to see her to make it real, and we only had a short window of time to get there.

When we arrived in San Francisco we were actually late, our 20 minute layover only had 15 minutes in it. The distance between our arrival and next departure gates was long. I asked the flight attendant to help us be able to get off quickly to make our next flight. The ticket agent at LAX had had the forethought to pre-check us in and we already had our boarding passes. It was just about getting from one gate to the next, and getting there quickly. The five of us were literally running from our gate, not even knowing exactly where were headed. We just followed the logical route of running down the numbers. As we ran with all our might a man suddenly stepped out in front of us and asked us where we were going. Irritated we told him the gate number we were headed to and he informed us we were in fact going the wrong way. We needed to make an unexpected left turn there where we stood. If we had kept running in the logical direction, we would have missed our flight, but this man stepped out of nowhere and corrected us to the right direction. We literally ran into the gate of the next leg of our flight and the doors shut behind us. The "obstacle" this gentleman presented himself as, was actually our direction on the right path. We knew God was helping us. He knew how much we needed to get to our destination in a timely manner, and He made sure He'd help us along the way.

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“ This is the way, walk in it,”
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21

The rest of that trip to Virginia went relatively well. We arrived tired and emotional, but we got through and spent a few days with Neal's family. It was later when we finally had to head home that things got difficult again. We had to leave directly from Neal's mom's funeral. It was a long way from Norfolk in the northern part of Virginia that she was laid to rest. We spent that day making the three hour drive up to attend the funeral, and then the hour and a half drive back to Richmond to head to the airport to head home.

I will forever wish I had made a simple phone call to confirm our flight that day, but I didn't and when we got to the Richmond airport we turned our car in and headed into the terminal to check our baggage. It was then that we discovered that our flight home had been canceled too. And unlike our trip there, this tiny airport offered no alternatives better than come back tomorrow.

Emotionally exhausted, torn, and discouraged. It was too long and too far to go back to the family. The thought of spending all night in the tiny airport that would be closed for the night with 3 kids, two of them relatively little was more than we could even imagine. We decided we would have to get a room for the night. A kind gentleman at the car rental agency helped us find a local hotel. We had to be back at 4 am so none of the shuttle services were an option, and there weren't any hotels close enough we could walk to with all our luggage, so we got another car and headed to a hotel that was willing to offer us a reasonable rate. It actually turned out to be a blessing to just have some down time. We walked from the hotel to get a pizza and some cold drinks and just spent quiet time together the five of us. Since Neal's mom's passing, we had been going at warp speed, barely an opportunity to grieve. Although we really wanted to be home, we found a point of rest in our journey.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul...

Psalm 23:2-3a

All of these journeys remind me so much of the journey of faith, My Walk of Faith. The travel is often seasonal and uncertain. At times, things come that we cannot anticipate, and they detour our travels. We have a plan and an intention, but life happens beyond our control, and we have to wait, we have to surrender to it. Other times the journey is overwhelming. There is pain and loss, there is grief. We can't even look all the way ahead to our destinations, we just want the strength to gt through the next step. There are times too that the route takes us places that we never foresaw. We can be disoriented, and are prone to getting lost going to fast in the wrong direction, but if we keep our eyes open and watching we will see the signs, the obstacles in our paths, and realize they have been placed there for our benefit.

All of these are times of hope deferred, and they are times where we are stretched, often painfully. We come to the place where we realize we don't have all the answers. We reach the point where we have to choose to surrender to our own shortcomings or we can rail and fight against things we cannot change, only to exhaust ourselves further.

When I look back to times of "standby" and "detours" in my life, it is only with the benefit of time and distance that I can see the good things God brought out of them. Never in the midst of them was it easy to wait, to rest, to trust.

We may never know in those times the answers to questions like "When?" "What?" or "Why?" But we do know the most important answer. We know Who. And when we know Who we can know peace in it's truest sense. When we walk in obedience and faith to the Lord, we can have faith that He ill redeem to the Standby's and the Detours. We know His purpose is right and His plan is good.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Waiting in hope is hard. But can you imagine what it is to be one of those who has no hope. I know in Whom I hope, in Whom I trust. And so I want to encourage you, if you find yourself on standby, or off on a detour you never anticipated, do not look at your circumstance and let it overwhelm you. Rather look to the One who holds your life and your journey in His hands. In a lot of ways I find myself on standby right now in this season of life. Not in the frighteneing way I was when we were fighting for Ethan, or even in the heavy hearted way when we waited on God to fulfill His promise that was our daughter Victoria, but sort of in a "limbo" sense of the word. Unlike other waiting periods in my life I don't even know what my own destination is. I am just believing that God has something up ahead, and I am waiting for Him to lead me into it. I don't know what His thoughts and plan for me, but I do know they are for a good future, and an eternal hope. I cannot look ahead to where I am going, but I can fully focus on the One I know will lead me there, and lead me through it.

"Be still, and know that I am God.."
Psalm 46:10a

I can wait through the standby's and follow Him on the detours in confidence because I know He is good. I know even in the hard times, He is with me, and for me. To lose that faith, to lost that hope is to forget the very nature of my God. Hope deferred may indeed make the heart sick, but whren dreams come true, there is life and joy. Real life, abundant life, and an eternal joy that cannot be taken from me - ever.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11

I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:12-14

Monday, April 19, 2010

FRUIT! - From a Firecracker

My name is Diana, and I am a firecracker.

No, not in that cute way you describe an ornery little old lady that makes you laugh with all her get up and go. No, when I describe myself as a firecracker, I am referring to the short fuse and the sudden, loud and violent explosions. I'm referring to the fact that if you're squeezing me when I go off, I can do some serious damage, and if you're holding me too close to a sensitive area, I could even wreak a little devastation.

It's not something I am proud of by an measure of the description, it's just an honest assessment of my natural inclination. When my flesh is leading the way, you better believe it's how I roll.

Today was one of those days. I woke up tired, never a good start, and I got out of bed a good 15 minutes later than normal. I got up and got into my workout clothes only to discover that our Wii was completely dead. It didn't even have an LED light shining on the power button.

Over the last 108 (some) days and the last 17 lbs, my Wii has become a valuable companion. I've really gotten dependant on it in my weight loss efforts and lifestyle goals, and to say I was upset to find my faithful friend seemingly deceased in the living room is a total understatement. I was heartbroken. I panicked a little, looking things up on my phone to no avail, then I madly started looking about for the warranty that I am now convinced is lost forever. I somehow maintained composure. The fuse wasn't lit.

I'll be honest, I was praying over it, unplugging it in, plugging it back in. As I stood rifling through a drawer in search of the warranty info I found myself not railing at God in frustration (yes, we firecrackers tend to rail at God,)and I was a little surprised. Instead of stomping my proverbial feet and being highly irreverent and ineffective, I just spoke honestly from my heart. Tearily I said, "Lord, this is hurting my feelings, I am really trying to give you my working out and making you Lord over that, and it makes me sad to have it taken away." But nary a spark touched the fuse!

Shortly after I found myself on my laptop on with an effort to troubleshoot the problem. I followed their directions and said another prayer and a few minutes later was thanking God for the resurrection of my Wii, but by then it was too late to work out and I was behind getting the kids out of bed. But I didn't get lit.

I was determined not to let it deter me in my renewed commitment to morning devotional time, and so I sat down in my very un-sweaty workout clothes and started my devotional time, but I was behind. By the time I moved toward getting lunches ready at the usual time I realized I wasn't exactly prepared for the day. I could forgo the shower but I wasn't exactly ready to face the day in my workout clothes.

So I enlisted help from Ethan with lunches and scurried about getting ready for the day and trying to make sure the children were ready to go too when I looked up at the clock and realized we were a good 15 minutes behind "leaving time," but I didn't panic (translation, I didn't scream and rail at my children - we firecrackers do that too,) but I hurried toward the door only to realize I was about to leave my phone behind, so I sent one to the bedroom to get it, the other to the car to get in and all the while, I was relatively calm. No sparks... the fuse wasn't touched.

When we got in the car and headed down toward the kids' school, I found myself behind four other cars who all were apparently having a much better morning than I was and had the luxury of driving a good ten miles an hour slower than the posted speed limit, and I'm not sure if they were actually traveling together but they were definitely resembling a convoy. I know this much, barring driving into oncoming traffic, there was no way around this crowd. But no spark came.

The kids and I pray in the car on the way to school, and as I found myself completely stuck behind this wall of cars, late for school and overwhelmed (firecrackers cant stand to be late? Maybe that's just me.) I uttered only a slightly frustrated, "God, PLEASE help us get to school on time..." with an exasperated sigh, not a single "IDIOT!" nary a "Son of a... gun" nor a single growl was uttered. And when finally got to school and had to rush to the sanctuary, despite the rushing I was completely pleasant with my children. You have got to understand, this is NOT how we firecrackers work.

As I took a moment to regroup during morning ceremonies I suddenly remembered I forgot to grab a deposit slip for the bank account for the kids school funds. I HAD to go to the bank today and make a deposit in order to guarantee their tuition will be paid tomorrow. The account is down to $49 and believe me, that doesn't even come close to covering the monthly tuition for the two little ones to attend private school. So after the PTA president did her extended announcements (she wasn't excessively wordy, she just doesn't usually have announcements to make) I walked Victoria to her class (yes, it's still her thing, she still wants the walk and the kiss good bye and every mom knows you have to take advantage while you can.) So I made my way quickly back to the car and headed home.

When I got home I headed back to the office and decided I better do a fast check of accounts on Quicken. Well, I intended to do a fast check because we are down to our pennies this week and before I wrote the huge check for tuition, I needed to make sure it wasn't going to be made out of rubber. Of course the office computer decided to lock up no less than four times, and all the while I was watching the clock, realizing I was surely going to be late for work, but still, no sparks. Finally figuring out how exactly to rob Peter to pay Paul to fold off the mafia and keep us just afloat I headed for the door thinking I just might make it if the bank wasn't crowded. And that's when I saw it, Ethan's lunch sitting atop the djimbe in the middle of the living room. Unbelievable! Not not that you're wondering what a djimbe is, that Ethan forgot his lunch... again. And my day just had another monkey wrench thrown right at it, but still, it didn't light that fuse.

So back to school, back to the office and off to the bank (thankfully, no convoy in sight this time.) The line at the bank was short, it didn't take any time at all for me to get to the front to have one of the checkers (bankers?) shut her window so I could wait the extra 5 minutes for my turn. I was completely late by now, so what was another 5 minutes? Did I even still have a fuse?

By the time I got to work I was 15 minutes behind, which actually if you think about it isn't all that bad since I was 15 minutes behind two or three wrenches ago. When I got upstairs I found an extra pile of "do right away" work waiting on my chair, so I did. As I was in the thick of it my dad (and one of my bosses) came upstairs and needed to know if I had finished the regular part of my job, and I hadn't since it had been bumped by the "do right away" pile. So I spent a good 10 minutes helping him find his answers the old fashioned way before returning to complete the "do right away" and "what I would have usually done" work. Sigh. Was it lunch time yet? Why as a matter of fact, it practically was, and it was time to spend time with my hubby, who I usually pick up lunch for on my way to work. But not today, so either I had to make a run for lunch before his 30 minute break or we'd have to rush off together during it to grab some lunch for both of us, and we opted for the latter. I went to lunch feeling fuse-less.

By this point in my day I just felt late, felt behind, felt the pressure of what needed to be done. But what struck me was what I didn't feel, I didn't feel overwhelmed, I didn't feel out of control, and I didn't feel firecracker-like... at all. What was THAT all about?

All day long, I had been experiencing... self-control?? As I took stock, I was kind of shocked. That's not like me at all. And not only that I was feeling peaceful... and I had patience....

Oh my goodness, I knew what those were... I realized suddenly what was going on, I had FRUIT! How could that be?

The verse came to me, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.

I have to tell you, I have a theory about this whole fruit of the Spirit, and the order it's listed in, I honestly think it's listed in order of the difficulty of the fruit to grow, and I think they sort of build on each other. Love comes more easily, and leads to joy, as we grow in joy, we find peace, the peace in our hearts leads to more patience, and so forth, and it is no accident that self-control is last on the list. Now I am no theologian, so like I said this is all theory, and it's possible it's just a firecracker thing, but self-control is no easy fruit to bear.

But today, I suddenly looked up and found this pitiful little fruit I had never experienced quite like I did today. Really, standing there looking at my proverbial tree, it was no gorgeous or enticing piece of fruit to speak of, but it was surely there, and it was good and it was sweet.

Honestly I have to confess I wasn't just pleasantly surprised, I was blown away, but in the non-firecracker sense. Who knew?

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:7-8)

Oh snap! (As the teens would say,) Jesus knew, and He told me so! And here it was, His words coming true in my life.

And you know what? It kept on coming, the potential for a lit fuse, when I left work late, when I made the wrong turn picking up my honorary son, and when he wasn't waiting outside when I got to his house, and when Neal wasn't able to to pick up Victoria from gymnastics like we'd (hoped) planned. And when I had to drive her to her dad and when I had to make dinner for the boys and when in the midst of that my dad called me 5 minutes to find someone to use the Angel tickets for tonight. The pressures came, the wrenches were tossed and the peace, patience and (wait for it) even the self-control remained. It's a miracle. Not a firecracker moment to speak of.

I even got extra-blessed when a friend sent me a quick message on Facebook in the middle of my challenging day and told me I was oozing peace lately. OK, she used a far more sophisticated word than ooze, but I can't remember exactly what word she chose, and doubt my spelling skills anyway. Eminate? Iminate? (Are those even words?)I don't know, but the point was, she too was seeing the fruit.

It wasn't Ef-FRUIT, it wasn't out my own efforts. Not at a single point today did I determine, purpose, plan or will myself to remain calm, to not react or overreact, to ACT patiently, or ACT self-controlled. It just... sort of... happened. Much like the fruit on a tree. It's not as though you walk through an orchard and can hear the strains and see the efforts of the trees.... GrrrRRRrrrr..... FRUIT! Nope, it doesn't happen like that, the trees aren't making the effort, they are just abiding deeply into the root sstem beneath, and with a little time, the fruit comes.

I cannot take any credit for how today went. I know it wasn't about me at all. I cannot tell you how many times today I was myself amazed by... well, the fruit. And I never for a moment doubted that it was fruit of the Spirit.

The things the Lord has been speaking to me, calling me to, have been drawing me to Him, and I have willingly made the choice to put him back on the throne of every area of my life (and don't give me too much credit for that, because He really should have been there all along). But at the same time, it is worth celebrating, not because of anything I did, because I really didn't do anything, but just simply because the Lord has kept His word. As I have drawn near to Him, He has drawn near to me. (James 4:8) And as He promised, if I would abide, He would bring forth the fruit.

So I want to encourage you, are you lacking fruit in your life? Don't strain and try to force what you cannot grow, but very simply (and once we do it, it really is simple) rest in Him, abide in the Vine, and let the Lord keep His word to you. Because if He can grow fruit out of a firecracker like me, He can grow fruit in any branch that abides in Him.