You never know what you are gonna get in a box of chocolates or with God! (But you can trust Him)

You never know what you are gonna get in a box of chocolates or with God! (But you can trust Him)

Well, Christmas is over and by now, all that is left to do is clean up the mess. Did you ever notice that at times the boxes we unwrap are not always representative of exactly what is in that box?  At our house, there was a book in a snow cone machine box, some video games in a shoe box, and another in a tin box with some items the person already owned in it as well and another game in a protein bar box. I even heard of one dad who taped his kid’s video to a rake and then wrapped the bottom of the rake leaving the handle out. That same dad attached a pair of shoes under a stool and wrapped it up with the legs sticking out.  Some of these items might make the one getting them think they are getting one thing,  as they unwrap the gift, when in fact, after opening the gift they find they are getting something entirely different.

All this got me thinking……. Isn’t that a lot like life. Oh! we think our life is going to be going one way, and in fact, it turns out absolutely different. I would have never dreamed I would have ever homeschooled my kids, but God had a different plan. I never ever wanted to be a Pastor’s wife but God had a different plan. I never even dreamed of being a Director of an Assisted Living or working in any form of the Health Care field, after all, I hate needles! But, God had a different plan. All these adventures in my life were a detour of the way I thought my life was going to turn out. I never dreamed I’d live in Kansas but through divine circumstances, I have been here for almost 30yrs. (and I am only 29 yrs old) *wink-wink*

But these moments shouldn’t surprise us if we are truly following God because He has been doing this since time began. Time and time again we see God intervening in the lives of people in the Bible. Joseph told his brothers “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to . . . save many peoples lives” (Gen. 50:20). Here Joseph has been enslaved, several times and then ends up being the 2nd most powerful man in the country. Even after all he has been through, he isn’t angry or bitter, but he is able to stand back and look at situations and circumstances that brought him to where he was at that moment. He realizes, God used what his brothers meant for bad and turn it to good. I call that looking at things through God’s eyes. When we see people with the eyes of Christ and love them with Christ’s heart and serve them as Christ would that is a level of spiritual maturity that we all need to strive for.

See it is only when we take ourselves out of those certain situations of our life,  that we don’t understand, that aren’t going our way and just step back and say  “Okay! God, what are you doing here?” Because maybe, what you are perceiving as a problem may actually be the exact direction God is trying to take you.  because He is wanting to teach you that you can trust Him, and bring you to a closer relationship with Him.

Next week, I will be sharing about how I came to Kansas kicking and screaming! But for this week, let me challenge you to open up your heart and mind to understand exactly where God is taking you. Because, after all, if we are truly turning our lives over to God I am certain there is going to be a circumstance (or two) (okay, probably more) in your life, that you are gonna feel like is completely going the opposite directions you wanted them to go.  So remember,  But God…… Because He is in control. All we have to do is rest in Him. We need to trust the creator of the universe who knows our future because His ways are higher than our ways. We can trust the process God is taking us through and know, through it all. He is there!

Mary Christmas Week

Mary Christmas Week

As we sat in the doctor’s office, our oldest was about 3 yrs old, I will never forget it. We sat across from his desk as he told us the results of the battery of tests that I had just gone through.  When he just blurted out ” Well, You should have never had your first child and you certainly won’t have any more!” Our hearts dropped as it suddenly seemed that something Jeff and I had dreamed of since I was 13 and he was 16 was now gone forever.

Then imagine our surprise just about 6 years later as I looked at the positive mark on a pregnancy test. Our prayers had finally been answered.  Our dream was coming true. The 3 children we dream of having as teenagers dating, was about to come true. We believe it all began when we sat in a service and as the minister got up to take the offering he said ” I have a son that isn’t living for the Lord and tonite I am gonna give the best gift I can in the offering and write on the back of the envelope, “for my sons salvation” and if you are believing God for something I want to encourage you to do the same. Jeff and I looked at each other in that service and both knew what we had to do. We placed our best gift in the offering envelope wrote “Baby” on the back and dropped it in the offering plate. Over the next month suddenly out of the blue several different times just random people would show up and hand us money. Just saying “the Lord laid this on my heart that I am supposed to give this to you.” Jeff and I could not figure out what was going on. Then it hit me, I begin counting up the random acts of kindness that had been given to us and it was exactly 10 times the amount we had given in the offering, then it hit me and I thought ” Oh No!” God isn’t gonna give us the baby we asked for, He is just giving us back our money and then some” My heart was broken, but I remember thinking ” Okay, God If it isn’t your will for us to have a baby, then I am willing to accept that you have another plan”. I am sure God must have been looking down on me saying ” Oh! Ye of little faith.  “See what I didn’t realize was that this was just the beginning of God’s blessings. Because about a year later I was holding the little girl we had dreamed of having for so long,  But my mind couldn’t conceive what He had in mind.

Have you ever felt like that? Has God ever tried to tell you something that you just couldn’t imagine? See, I have a feeling that may have been the way Mary felt when and Angel told her she was going to conceive a baby and she had never even known a man. I think all too often we envision the people in the bible as some kind of superheroes with super powers and super strength. When they were really just human beings like you and me, with the same doubts, fears and questions and I believe we serve a God big enough that He can handle those doubts and questions.

The bible says, that as soon as Mary heard the news, she “made haste” or hurried quickly to her cousin’s Elizabeth’s house. (a 10 day trip on foot) Could it have been because the Angel had said that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting too?  Perhaps, Mary knew if she went to Elizabeth’s house and found out that Elizabeth really was pregnant as the Angel had said, that this all might actually be true? One commentary (Barnes Notes on the Bible) said “Troubled at his saying – Disturbed or perplexed at what he said. It was so unexpected, so sudden, so extraordinary, and was so high an honor, that she was filled with anxious thoughts, and did not know what to make of it.” I mean let’s face it if an Angel shows up at your house tomorrow and says you are gonna have the Christ Child, wouldn’t you have some questions, maybe even doubts?

Then there was the birth of Jesus, in Luke 2:17-20 Mary has given birth and the Shepards show up. I don’t know about you but with each child, I have had it has seemed like a dream to me. You are just in awe and amazed that this little thing came out of 2 peoples love. I can’t imagine, what Joesph was feeling then, and what questions were running through Mary’s mind. The awe, the amazement of it all and at the same time they had to be asking themselves ” Is this really the Christ child? If it is, why is He being born in a stable? Why, didn’t God take better care of us? Did we do something wrong? But perhaps it is just about this time that all this is running through their minds when these shepherds show up! Telling everyone this is the Christ Child and in verse 19 the bible says ” She (Mary) pondered all these things in her heart” Have you ever pondered something before?

Then there was the time at the temple Luke 2:20-33 Where Simeon and Anna both sensed by the power of the Holy Spirit that this was the Christ Child and the bible says, in verse 33 that Joesph and Mary were amazed at the things spoken to them. Have you ever been amazed at what God was doing and at the same time wonder why or what God was up to?

Then there was that time about 2 years later. I don’t know what mom of a 2-year-old doesn’t question what is going on with their child at one point or another. But, I just wonder if on the day the 3 kings showed up, what was going on in Mary’s heart? What battle was she struggling with? Were funds a little tight and they were wondering how they were going to make it? Was Jesus being an all-out human being 2-year-old that day and Mary was questioning “Can this really be the son of God?” I don’t know what was going on in her mind that day, but I do believe God had prepared 3 kings several months, even perhaps years before to show up on her doorstep that day at that very moment,  as a little reminder. God was in control. Because we know soon after that God tells Joesph to take his family and flee because Herod is about to have all the baby boys under 2 years old killed.

I don’t know about you, but I have questioned God, I have miss read His plan. I have even doubted what He was doing. But just like when we placed that envelope in that offering bucket, we had no idea what God was about to do and it certainly didn’t happen the way we planned, but God was faithful through it all. He provided more than we could ever hope or imagine and I wondered today if God doesn’t want to do the same for you? No, I know He does!!  He wants to do the same, Because His word says, “He is able to do exceedingly above all you can even ask or think”  (Eph 3:20) I am pretty sure Mary had no idea what she was about to get into when that angel showed up, just like Jeff and I had no idea what was about to happen when we place that envelope in the offering, but what we can rest assured on is that He is in control and we may question and we may even sometimes doubt but if we will continue to trust Him. He will see us through. Won’t you trust Him today?




The Miller Family Christmas Tradition

The Miller Family Christmas Tradition

At our house, Christmas morning is a very special day. We have some very specific traditions and have had for some 30 yrs now. You see when our oldest was about 2 years old my husband requested a Santa Suit for Christmas from my mother. She was an expert seamstress so this request was a no-brainer for my momma. She sat down and whipped up a full-fledged Santa Suit for Jeff with all the trimmings.  Every year since then it has been our tradition that none of the kids can get out of their bed until Santa wakes them up on Christmas morning. This rule came in especially handy the year we slept in and didn’t get the presents placed under the tree before the kids woke up. So Jeff and I woke called from to hear each child screaming from their bed ” Mom, Dad can we get up now? ” To which Jeff and I sprang out of the bed, I headed to put the gifts under the tree as Jeff was jumping in his Santa Suit. All while we are hollering back  to them” NO!” Stay in your room!  You have to wait for Santa to comes in and gets you”

Jeff dresses in his suit, beard and all then goes into each child’s room saying “Ho, Ho, Ho,  Merry Christmas”, “It’s time to get up and open presents” as I follow along ringing the Jiggle Bells and of course videotaping each one. We as a family follow Santa to the living room.  After we have all gathered around the tree. Santa brings out the bible and begins to read the Christmas story explaining to the children what the true meaning of Christmas really is all about. Following the reading of the Christmas Story, I bring out some sort of cake and we all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Then Santa begins to hand out the presents, afterward Santa tells the children he has to leave and they all hug him and say goodbye.  A few minutes later Jeff comes in acting like he just woke up and the children with all their excitement tell daddy what he just missed. Then we begin opening up presents taking turns one by one.

Now you may not care what our Christmas Tradition is, or even approve of it but frankly, I don’t really need your approval or care if I have it. Because for us it worked. See my kids didn’t grow up believing in Santa they grew up believing in daddy. You see,  it wasn’t long before they figured it out by the voice and his hands etc. that they realized the man behind the beard was their daddy.

I’ll never forget the year my daughter came to me and asked “Okay! I know who Santa is and I know who the Easter Bunny is, but who is the tooth fairy?” To which I responded to her with a look like “Hello? Do I really need to tell you this?” With shock and amazement in her eyes, she exclaimed ” DADDY?” and I replied ” Yep, and you should see him in his pink tutu!” We both burst out laughing because of course, Jeff doesn’t have a pink tutu. but the picture in our head of him in one was hysterical!

See the fact is we always want to make Christ the center of our Christmas, but we also know we live in a world full of sin and this world tends to twist what God intended to be good. We knew there was no way, we would be able to keep the notion of Santa out of our kids world. So instead of trying to fight it,  or stick our head in the sand and ignore it, we used it to our advantage. We let the idle of this world defuse the lie that is told. Oh! do I think Santa is a sin? No, but I do think it is important to keep the Christ in Christmas,  and our kiddo’s and now our grands are reminded of that every year!

See, when there was that awkward stage for Christmas in our family life when we only had teens and twenties in the house at Christmas time, Santa still came in and woke them up, (Okay, most of the time he had to insist they get up because you know how teenagers like to sleep)  and he may not have worn the whole suit. (Okay! the only part of the suit he wore for a few years was the hat!) But that reminder was there every year! Even in their teen and twenty years, they were reminded as we would drag the kids to the tree and they would snuggle up on the couch and close their eyes cause they really wanted to be back in their beds. They still heard the Christmas story or at least most of it! The fact is I don’t want to paint some Norman Rockwell Christmas for you, where you imagine from birth to today they have all eagerly gotten up and sat attentively on the edge of their sit each year,  just waiting for the Christmas Story to be read and presents opened. No! We are real people and some years were more exciting than others but the fact was we never gave up doing what we knew was right and that is keeping Christ first. But through it all and now that they are in their 20’s and 30’s those same kids can practically quote the whole Christmas story, yes even if it is with their eyes closed snuggled on the couch.

I guess the question today is, what are you doing to keep Christ first in your life. Not just on Christmas day, but every day of the year. Because the truth is, it is way harder and much more important to keep Christ first the other 364 days a year. See in this day and age, I see a lot of people claiming to believe in Christ, saying they’re a Christian and even professing their love for Him. But in those same lives, I don’t see any fruit coming from them. You know the fruits of the Spirit, like Love, Joy, Peace, Patience etc…. .  I don’t see them professing every week like we do each Christmas that Christ is first in their life by attending church somewhere. You know just like our kids there were times they didn’t want to get up and there were many times as young children they just wanted to forget the story and head straight to the presents. I think that is a lot like some of us are today. We just want to skip living the life that is pleasing to God and go straight to opening the present, of going to heaven. Without paying the price of living for Christ. But Christ paid the ultimate price, and that was He gave His life for us. See, I am here to tell you that just because you say you love God and just because you say you believe in Him doesn’t guarantee you a place in Heaven. See Matthew 7:21:23 tells us that “Not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter Heaven” there are going to be people that stand before God and He is going to tell them, “Depart from me I never knew you” When we know God we want to act in a way that is pleasing to Him and that usually means doing somethings sometimes that we don’t want to do. Like loving people that are unloveable or just stop talking so the argument doesn’t go any further and that means getting up out of the bed on Sunday mornings whether we feel like it or not and proclaiming Christ is first in my life and being a living example doing it. So I don’t know what your doing to keep Christ first this Christmas but my real hope and His is that you keep Him first all 365 days of the year!

I Know There Has Got to be Another Present Here Somewhere

I Know There Has Got to be Another Present Here Somewhere

Well, it is officially Christmas time! As we all begin the hustle and bustle of the upcoming events of the season.  I can’t help but reflect on one of our more memorable Christmases. Amy had to of been about 8 years old at the time. It was a year when things were pretty tight in our Christmas budget. I had done everything I could to stretch what little we had, trying to give the best I could to my family. When it came about Dec 23rd I had all my shopping done and the bank account was empty just waiting till the next paycheck to come along. Then Amy informs me she wanted a Baby Alive for Christmas. My heart broke, I looked at the cost of Baby Alive and they were way out of our budget. I tried to tell Amy it was too late to put in any last minute requests to Santa. I told her that we could add it to her list for next year or maybe even her birthday. But she would not hear of it, she was determined she wanted it for that Christmas!

Christmas morning came, and we had our traditional Christmas morning routine, then it came time to open up presents. We each went around one by one opening up gifts as we do, each taking turns waiting on the other till they opened up theirs till it came to our turn. Finally, the last gift was open. Amy’s face dropped, she sat on the couch arms crossed, as she begins to pout. Then all of the sudden she jumps up off the couch stomping around the house looking around exclaiming ” I know there is another present around here somewhere!”, ” I want my Baby Alive!”

I took a deep breath trying not to kill my ungrateful child on Christmas Morning. As I tried to explain to her once again it was too late for her last-minute addition to her wish list. She finally calmed down, but as much as she wanted that toy, I wanted to give it to her. It broke my heart to not be able to give it to her. To be so broke that I couldn’t even afford a $50 toy. Oh! in the grand scheme of life it really wasn’t important but I loved her enough to want to give it to her. I love her and all my children so much there isn’t anything I would not give them if I knew it wouldn’t harm them.

All that got me thinking, isn’t that a lot like our Heavenly Father? Oh! some believe that He sits on His throne in Heaven just waiting for us to mess up so He can knock us on the head with His big stick just like the Wack a Mole games at the arcades. But that idea couldn’t be further from the truth. God loves us and He sent His son who gave His life for us. He gave His all for us and there is no good thing He would hold back from His children. James tells us that,  Every good and perfect gift comes from above.  The problem is, what we think is perfect and what God thinks is perfect for us might be two different things. Did Amy really need that Baby Alive? Of course not! But how often do we act like Amy when we don’t get what we ask God for? How often do we stomp around or pout because things don’t happen the way we wanted?

I heard the saying recently that ” Not every disappointment is a disaster” See, the after story of all this is, the next year Amy got her Baby Alive and a few years later she heard of a little girl whose family couldn’t afford to give her a Baby Alive and Amy came to her father and I and asked if she could give her doll away. See because Amy had known what it was like to really want something and not get it, she was more than happy to give that doll away.

We don’t always understand why things don’t happen the way we want. But if we really trust in our Heavenly Father and we really know how much He loves us then we have to trust that whatever comes our way will be okay. We can trust that His plan is bigger than ours because He is the only one that has seen our future and He knows what we need. See if we know God’s word then we know that it says ” Our Lord and our God, you are like the sun and also like a shield. You treat us with kindness and with honor, never denying any good thing to those who live right.” Psalms 84:11.  So the question is are you living right? Are you willing to accept what He gives you, knowing that just because it might be disappointing at the time it isn’t a disaster because He has a plan and His plan is always better than ours?

I hope you will trust Him today! Next time things don’t go the way you hoped, instead of complaining, how about you thank Him and let Him know you trust His plan? Because who knows what might or might not be under your Christmas tree this year. Are you willing to trust God in every part of your life?