This moment caught my eye today. It represents eight months of waiting.
Bruce’s layoff was part of a company downsizing in May. Since then, he’s been working so hard building NEED POINT, Inc. while looking for work. He’s also been resting.
After 34 years of working tirelessly. Working three jobs as a teenager. Joining the Air Force at 18 so he could pay for his college education while serving his country. Working day shift, mid-shift and night shift until he couldn’t see straight.
For 25 years he’s never taken his role as leader and husband carelessly. It’s always been his first priority.
We’ve seen companies come and go. We’ve experienced promotions, layoffs and a relocation.
He’s traveled to work by car, bike, plane, bus, carpool, trolley, taxi and on foot. He’s gone to work healthy and sick. He’s worked when there were celebrations and when there was sadness.
He received calls when I went into labor and when his dad passed away while he was at work.
He’s always put family first, which meant passing up promotions, travel opportunities and jobs themselves if it would be a determent to our family.
He is brilliantly genius. The best in his field. Technology courses his veins and there is no one better.
So these eight months have been a blessing and a burden. He has felt discouraged, down-trodden and depressed. A man of his talent and energy, and humility, can start believing the lies about who he is after this long.
Recently, when we turned the page of a new year, I had a moment. It was a gut-wrenching moment of realizing we were dragging the dreaded unemployment into a new year. The weight was crushing.
But then, something happened. God flipped a switch in my heart. I watched Bruce as he slept and prayed, “Lord, if you are not going to change his circumstance, change his perspective on it. Change my perspective on it.”
From that day forward, everything changed. We have found peace in the waiting. We know that God is working around the clock to bring everything together in His way, His time, for His glory.
We know for certain there is purpose in the waiting.
As my husband hammers out countless resumes, holds numerous phone and video interviews, and reaches out to every contact we know – all while still working on our non-profit – there is a new perspective which gives us the strength, peace and joy to meet each day while we wait.
We are living Isaiah 40:28-31 –
“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.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
So when I saw Bruce resting on the couch as our city is shut down with winter weather, I smiled as I looked at living, breathing Scripture. God is giving him a much needed, long overdue, season of rest both as a respite from decades without a break and to rejuvenate him for the days to come.
I thank God for this gift, as the hope for our future blooms a new bud in my heart. It is well with my soul. ❤
New Year’s day seemed like the perfect time to take a hike. You know, fitness resolutions, take-more-time-to-experience life resolutions, all that jazz.
My husband and I went to a familiar park, but we decided to take a trail we’ve never blazed. This was an impromptu date, but we weren’t alone.
Just a short ways in, step-by-step, God began speaking encouragement over this new year. Receive it, friend.
Sometimes the path is uncomplicated and clearly marked.
Sometimes it’s not.
If I brought you to it, I’ll get you through it, under it or over it.
I never promised the path would be easy. Keep walking even if you get dirty, really dirty.
When the journey is effortless, remember me. It is my gift to you.
Ask me when you don’t know which way to go. I will tell you.
It’s possible I will bless either decision. I can do that. Include me.
When you don’t know what’s around the corner, trust me and keep walking. I am with you.
When life goes sideways, I’m still right here, walking with you. I haven’t left you.
If the path seems exhaustively uphill, ask for my strength. I will give it to you. Just keep climbing.
Sometimes I have a different plan than yours. Trust me. I know the best path for you.
I am with you. Sojourners are also on the path. You are not alone.
Leave your mark on the path…for my glory.
I put people in your path for a reason. Some go before you to help blaze the trail…
…others come behind you to follow it.
Don’t be too proud to accept help.
You don’t always have to forge your own way.
Follow my narrow path regardless of how narrow it gets.
Sometimes you have to take a running leap of faith to stay on the path.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, my path will lead you through it.
Look for my beauty along the path. It’s there to encourage you.
In every season, follow me.
Follow my path, but be smart about it. You don’t have to be the hero. I already am.
A friend to walk with is a blessing from me.
My children are rooted in me.
The wind cannot blow over they who are grounded in me.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Standing in line at the post office, I ran through my list of to-do’s while staring blankly at the rows of P.O. boxes. The woman in front of me was trying her best to understand how to work the self-serve kiosk.
She was doing okay, but was slow – well, slower than what I wanted.
I’ve worked the kiosk dozens of times at least and can do it with my eyes closed. I began to get restless and thought about offering her help, but she didn’t need help. She just needed a little extra time.
Was I going to be gracious and wait patiently, or would I begin to do the unspoken motions of impatience – shifting my weight, an obnoxious sigh, making some borderline rude comment to the person behind me or offering her “help” with a curt tone that is obvious more about helping myself get out of there more quickly than truly helping her mail her boxes.
We all know these actions. We’ve done them and they’ve been done to us.
I closed my eyes and took a deep, silent breath.
“Marie!” a voice called.
It startled me and I opened my eyes to see a woman coming through the doors. She called again to the older woman who was studying each kiosk screen very carefully.
“Marie! How are you! It’s so good to see you.”
The older woman, obviously Marie, looked up from the kiosk and smiled. She was a little rattled having been shaken out of her deep concentration, but was delighted to see her friend. Her voice was soft. Her smile, warm. It was easy to see she was a kind soul.
The two exchanged a brief hello before Marie returned her focus to the kiosk.
As I stood waiting my turn, I thought about what just happened. I was bent on my to-do list. Hustle, hustle, hustle. My day, my time, my list, my errands.
I saw Marie as an object, not a person.
She was holding up my day, my time, my list, my errands.
The very moment another person recognized her as a person, calling her by name and engaging her in brief conversation, I was immediately able to see her as a person, not an object.
She is a person who has seen decades of life and has had countless experiences tucked behind her thick glasses and droopy overcoat.
I asked myself if my initial feelings toward Marie as an object would have been different if she were my neighbor walking by my home; if she was introduced to me through a friend at a restaurant; was having a hard time carrying groceries to her car and needed help.
Of course I would have responded differently! She would have been a person in each of those circumstances. But because she was the obstacle in the way of my day, she was an object, and that justified my feelings of impatience.
Suddenly, my impatience melted and my heart warmed up to her. I realized she didn’t want to spend her time delayed at the post office any more than I did. She was doing the best she could.
She finished up and it was my turn. I’m grateful God showed me, once again, how easy it is to treat people as objects and how hurtful that can be to others.
Just before leaving, I heard the postal clerk ask a customer, “Would you like religious stamps or not so much?”
The woman replied, “Not so much.”
Hmm. I felt a wave of relief wash over me that I had not let my impatience get the better of me, lest I give a black eye to Christ as a believer.
People are watching and looking and hoping for the real deal. They want to see believers working out their salvation in a slow line at the post office, in heavy traffic when they’re late, dealing with a screaming toddler, returning an item without a receipt, and in every other annoying or inconvenient circumstance way more than they want to see us clustered in our Christian groups sequestered from society.
I am going to remember Marie and the woman who wanted the “not so much” stamps the rest of this holiday season.
My faith may be real, but so are my emotions and weaknesses. Christians aren’t perfect by any stretch, but we do have the choice to choose how we are going to – respond in faith or react out of emotion and weakness.
This Christmas season, let’s be sensitive to others around us. It benefits them and holds us accountable, which is a good thing.
Let’s look for opportunities to bless the Marie’s and be an example for the “not so much.”
On our own we can’t do this. We’re organic, sinful creatures. But with Christ we can do everything as He gives us strength to do it (Philippians 4:13).
Let’s invite Christ into our errands, daily grind and grunt work Monday – Saturday just as much as we invite Him into our worship and Bible studies on Sundays.
Make the most of the opportunities we are given. We never know when they are truly divine appointments.
There are a million OREO truffle recipes online. The maddening thing is, they are all the same! That recipe calls for mixing OREO cookies with cream cheese.
The problem is, because the truffles aren’t baked they need to be refrigerated due to the cream cheese.
Our family coordinates a huge bake sale every Christmas. I’ve always wanted to add OREO truffles to the truffle selection we already offer, but I can’t in good conscious offer an item to the general public that needs refrigeration. We don’t want anyone getting sick on our watch. Yikes!
So this year, I tackled making up my own OREO truffle recipe that needs no refrigeration. This is so good (and easy) I wish I had tried it years ago.
I’m posting this recipe for everyone who has also been looking for OREO truffle that doesn’t need refrigeration. I’ve read so many comments and threads stressing concern over the cream cheese, I hope this will be helpful.
I included a photo, but will preface it by saying I literally whipped these together simply as a test recipe. It’s not my best-looking performance, but wow do they taste heavenly!
OREO Truffles, non-refrigerated
1 – 14oz pkg OREO original cookies (I don’t recommend generic brands as they are softer than the OREO brand)
1 can vanilla or cream cheese frosting (Cream cheese-flavored frosting does not actually contain cream cheese so these truffles do not need to be refrigerated.)
2 pkgs marshmallow Candy Melts (If marshmallow melts aren’t available, use “white” melts which are vanilla flavored or almond bark.)
- Crush OREO cookies till pulverized (I use a food processor). Save back about 1/4c.
- In mixing bowl, combine crushed OREO cookies, frosting and vanilla. Mix until blended (I use my hands).
- Shape into balls and place on parchment paper. (No chilling for firmness required!)
- Melt Candy Melts according to directions on the bag, one bag at a time.
- Dip the OREO balls into the melted marshmallow melts.
- Extract them from the melted melts by using a small spoon. The filling gets soft with the hot melts so it slides through a fork.
- Immediately sprinkle a little of the reserved crushed OREO cookies on top of each one as you go before the coating hardens OR using melted chocolate, drizzle on top.
Twenty-five years ago, God told my husband, Bruce, and me His vision for our marriage in the most unexpected, nearly unbelievable, way. To skip to the spoiler, His message was that our marriage is to be an extension of His open hand.
Huh? Not sure what that meant.
In the last two and a half decades, we both graduated from college, celebrated weddings, retirements, births & baby dedications, buried loved ones, moved, changed jobs, honored anniversaries, graduated our firstborn from high school and sent him off to college (with two more teens right behind him), endured surgeries and illness, learned a lot of lessons and made a million memories along the way.
We did not understand what God meant all those years ago about being an extension of His open hand as we just did our best at living life.
We were cruising along to the rhythm of the American dream of the house with a picket fence, kids running barefoot on the lawn with the family dog, and saving for retirement while planning the next annual vacation.
Then, five summers ago God rocked our world through several very significant moments placing us at life-changing crossroads.
He was totally setting us up for a one-way ticket from a life and future we worked hard for to a life He had planned for us since before the beginning of time.
Cut to the chase again, and we found ourselves on our first mission trip (and first trip out of the country sans the Bahamas for our honeymoon) with our 10, 12, and 14 year old children in tow.
Are you kidding me? Bring our children? This mama bear was hyper-vigilant, anxiety-ridden, and fear-filled about doing this at all, much less as a family, much less to Africa. I felt utterly unequipped to handle being a chaperon with school to the local museum (stressful!) to taking my kids so far out of our comfort zone I can’t even describe the angst that churned inside me. Our trip leader stills says that he really didn’t think I’d actually get on the plane.
But I did! We did! And, our family has never been the same.
God blew our hearts away with a bursting love for this world in a way we could never conceive. He took us to four more countries around the world over the past four summers on mission, and we have never been so in love with a world He so loves.
This love continues to multiple in our hearts every single day as we laugh with, cry over and pray for those from every walk of life around the world who we now consider family.
Fast forward to this past December 29th. Bruce went in for simple shoulder surgery, which proved to be anything but.
After a full tear was reattached and repaired, he had some serious, and extremely painful, recovery waiting for him.
Four months into recovery, after not having been able to return to work due to the pain, he was unexpectedly laid off. We felt like we were kicked when we were down.
However, God reminded us of a conversation Bruce and I had a year ago. Bruce said to me, “I’ll be honest. I’m never going to have the courage to leave this job. It’s too stable.” To which I replied, “Since we’re being candid, I’ll never have the courage to tell you to jump. It’s too stable of a job. The most stable company you’ve ever worked for.”
Bruce then said, “If God ever wants us to make a change, He’s going to have to take this job from me.”
So when he came to me on a regular ol’ Tuesday morning, after almost nine years with the company, and sat down at our son’s desk and looked at me, I should not have been surprised when he said, “Well, God took it.”
We both knew exactly what he meant.
Ever since then, Bruce has looked for work.
He told me in the beginning of his job search there is nothing for him in this city.
Then came an interest in him, but it involved relocating. I’ll save that story for a blog post, but here we are. No relocating. No more job prospects.
All the while, he was meeting weekly with a dear friend in albeit a different kind of work situation, the end result was the same – unemployed.
They began meeting as encouragement to each other over coffee.
Like a good pot of coffee, their hearts began to percolate an idea that brought both of their long-term visions into one plan.
NEED POINT, Inc. was born.
Nothing quite like this exists in America, much less the world. As God has brought people across their path over the past few months, something beautiful began to take shape. Something neither of them could have ever imagined.
NEED POINT combines our team’s passions for both global and local missions in new and innovative ways that meets individual needs on a community level.
NEED POINT is a non-profit that connects people in need with people in local churches and faith-based businesses to help meet their needs. From needing lawns mowed, to helping with medical bills, to befriending the lonely and beyond, NEED POINT is the liaison to match the person in need with someone who can help meet it.
The vision is to expand this blueprint to local communities all over the world!
Curious as to how this all works? CLICK HERE to visit the website.
This grassroots movement is swelling as folks get excited about how they can be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Our team is stoked about this opportunity and trusting God for every step of the way.
Between global missions and NEED POINT, Bruce and I are beginning to understand what God meant by our marriage being an extension of His open hand. We only wish I didn’t take twenty years to get there. But, better late than never, right?! 🙂
When I said I do to my husband at the ripe age of 19, I was insecure of myself as an emerging woman and distrusting of men.
Never thinking I was pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough or simply – enough – I used to watch my husband when he didn’t think I was looking when other pretty women were around. Whether passing a Victoria’s Secret store in the mall, standing in the checkout line at the grocery store or stopping at a red light, I was always on high alert, not because of him…because of me.
In my heart, I was constantly testing him. I didn’t say a word, but I was always looking and waiting for my fears to be confirmed.
Twenty-five years later, I did something that surprised me.
We were in a large bookstore, waiting on our teenagers to finish browsing. My man and I meandered to the magazines. I was interested in cooking, travel, etc. He was interested in cars.
What comes with cars? Women. Women scant-fully dressed, selling sex as much as selling cars.
Over the years, this is when my palms started sweating. This is when I watched him out of the corner of my eye, waiting for my fears to be confirmed.
Oh but this day was different. I casually walked ahead of him, beating him to the magazine racks. Quickly scanning the selection, the car magazines with provocative women were there just I as I suspected.
I quietly walked over to them and turned them over.
Then I proceeded to the cooking and travel magazines as if nothing happened.
What was different this time? Was I being proactive in fear that he may catch a glance and lose all interest in me? Was I being paranoid that this would be the day he would look for visual pleasure elsewhere? Would this be the day all of my twenty-five plus years of insecurity, inferiority, and self-deprecating secret thoughts would be proven right publicly?
Why did I do this without a second thought?
For one, my husband has never done anything that would make me fear all of the worst. He won’t even watch a bra commercial. Trust me, I know. I’ve watched him countless times–because I was watching, testing. He fast-forwards romantic scenes in PG-13 movies. He has literally told me that he will spend his entire life proving to me that he is faithful to me.
But you know what? There is another reason. One that is even bigger than his noble character.
I’ve changed as a wife.
Wives are helpmates, and I realized after all these years I wasn’t helping him navigate the minefield of everything sexual this broken world offers. Instead, I’ve been testing him out of paralyzing, unsubstantiated fear.
How doubly difficult for him it must have been all these years to not only have an insecure wife, but a wife who won’t trust him, not because of who he is, but because of who she believes she is.
He’s been fighting this battle alone. Where was his helpmate? Retreating in the shadows, biting her nails, watching and waiting for him to fail, simply because that is the reputation of other men.
I’ve decided to help him and stop testing him. I’ve grown up enough to understand the God-given teamwork of marriage and to get over my own insecurities.
It’s amazing how many other ways this this has changed me as a wife. I am now intentionally looking for ways to share more of the load mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, etc. in areas of our marriage whereas before I was content letting him carry his load while I carried mine.
I surprised myself at the ease and confidence in which I turned over those magazines. A fighter raised up in me that said, You’re not doing this to my man, with strength I didn’t know I had.
Since that day, I continue to change. I am growing stronger as a woman as I understand who I am in Christ, who I am to my husband and who I am in my own skin.
Although my man has never given me one reason to worry, a sense of protection has raised up in me. Not a territorial, jealous woman. Rather, a woman who believes in fighting for who she loves.
I am protective for him, not of him.
He is a grown man and I am a grown woman. We will make our own decisions about our respective lives. But together, we are a force to be reckoned with as I have finally opened my eyes to see that instead of watching over his shoulder at his every move, I am standing with him, back-to-back, watching over him. There is a difference.
It is no coincidence that both the website Ashley Madison and the movie War Room are making headlines at the same time. There is a battle for every soul, marriage, family, church, community, city, and state in this country.
One of my favorite Scriptures is the account of Nehemiah spear-heading the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. Read it, slowly, in the context of fighting for rebuilding and strengthening marriages (from chapter 4)…
7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”
11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”
12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.
16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” 23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.
The battle is raging for our marriages and families. Turning over those magazines was a huge push-back against the enemy because I finally realized that my husband and I are on the same team, and have been all along. I was just too insecure to see it.
Fight for your marriage with faith, love and absolute resolve. Being on God’s team, we’re not in this alone. He goes before, and fights for, His children.
Ephesians 6:10-18 – The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.