When Resolutions Fail

It’s only ten days into the new year and we planners, those of us who resolve to do all sorts of good things may already be feeling a bit off. I’m a planner. I make goals and lists and I am pretty good at following through. But, that’s not what I want to talk about. Resolution makers (like me) often get a false sense of reality, as if we can control the circumstances just because we wrote something in our planner or tacked a sticky note on the wall. We can’t.

I’m a firm believer in making plans. We can’t be a vague, thoughtless or foolish with our time. But, sometimes our plans don’t work out because of things out of our control. How we respond to things we can’t control matter. Honestly, my track record with reactions isn’t that great. I tend to respond with anxiety and questions. I doubt my call to do whatever it is. Guess what, that’s not a God honoring reaction. God said we would have trials and troubles. Resistance and calamity don’t negate your call. They solidify it. It’s your proof of purchase. It’s your reminder that someone doesn’t want you to complete the mission. That someone is not Jesus or your friend or husband. Jesus said to take heart ❤️, He has overcome the world!Every worthy endeavor has obstacles

Whether your resolution was to be a more organized Mom, workout four times a week or finish a manuscript for a book, there are going to be circumstances that come against you. Some of the circumstances may be God-driven and ordained, such as caring for a sick child or helping a friend or relative. In those instances, we play the people are more important than things card. When we see interruptions as a sign that we shouldn’t pursue fulfilling our resolutions, we’re reading the signs wrong.

Resistance is a sign that we are doing things right. When lifting weights or working out, we count on resistance to make us stronger. Without resistance, we’re just beating the air and not getting any results. The same is true with our resolutions, our God-sized dreams, our desire to make positive changes in our lives. We encounter resistance and it makes us stronger, if we let it, if we don’t just drop the ball and give up.

Instead of letting circumstances deter us, let them ensure us.  Let us see them as a sign that we are on the right path. Every worthy endeavor has obstacles. If your resolve is to be organized in your homeschooling and home and you end up taking your sister’s kids while one of her’s is in the hospital (true story), then don’t beat yourself up because your house is a wreck. Don’t say,  “I quit”. Say, “That was a God-opportunity to do the right thing.” Rest. Recover and start again.

The problem is when we make the resolutions the god and not a desired goal. We can’t control the universe. What we can do is persevere and continue to sow good seeds even when circumstances send a storm our way.

What circumstances have blown your way?

While you’re here, make sure you check out The Whole House Podcast,  Episode 2 is live- Human Trafficking Awareness Day. If you haven’t listened yet, start with our Introductions. Are you ready?

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Good Stewardship, It’s Not What You Think

“Our house is paid off!” I overheard a Mom say, gleefully. I was happy for her, really, I was. At the same time, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. Our house wasn’t/isn’t paid off. I wasn’t measuring up, once again. Hubby and I had taken financial classes at church and gotten all our our ducks in a row. We had no credit card debt. Then our ducks got shot down, one by one. Massacred is more like it.

I am a mother of seven and a Christian, both of which make me a cultural anomaly. Our family living is costly, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Let’s focus on the physical for a moment.

Seventeen years ago, husband Jerry and I internationally adopted a sibling group of four to add to our three bios. A family of nine is not cheap, no matter how you slice it. I had seven children watching me and my reactions to financial stress.

I often teetered on the tightrope of guilt and shame. At night, all of my decisions lined up in a row to harass me. What had we done wrong? Why weren’t we on track? For years, these thoughts haunted me. Finally, Jesus reminded me through His word, financial security is not the measuring stick used to get you into heaven. It’s great if you have it. If you are financially secure and use your money to bless others and invest in the kingdom, go YOU! If you aren’t, you’re storing up treasures you can’t take with you. Stewardship may not be what you think it is.

We invested in our children by attaching (time), feeding, clothing and housing (money) and spiritually (time and prayer). We could have skipped adopting in order to be more financially stable or waited until we had all of our financial ducks in a row, which probably would have been the day after never.

Some would say the Guires haven’t been good stewards of our money. As I said, our home is not paid off. We have paid off cars, only to start all over again. We’ve lost businesses. Started over multiple times. Barely scraped by. Applied principles of major financial gurus and still hit rock bottom financially.

This isn’t an article about being destitute. It’s about stewardship. As, I said, some may say that we are terrible stewards, but it is just not true. We are good stewards, just not in the loads of money in the bank sort of way. When we see a need, we feel compelled to meet that need and be the hands of Christ. Being a good steward means adopting orphans, feeding the hungry, healing the broken hearted. When we walk in the mindset of Christ, the bank account reflects it.

Jesus had no place to call home during the time of His three years of earthly ministry. He walked dusty roads and was more concerned about the needs of humans than He was His own physical comfort. He wasn’t rich and didn’t preach the American cultural idea of being financially secure, buying stocks and bonds or preparing for retirement. Jesus said to store up your treasure in heaven. Where your heart is, there is your treasure. What is your treasure?

With that said, God doesn’t believe in scarcity, He believes in abundance.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. John 10:10

Abundance doesn’t always mean money. Let’s not take the gospel and twist it into what it’s not. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. That’s abundance. An overflowing well of joy and peace in knowing you are in right standing with God. In His will. Serving His purpose. Sometimes doing His will drains your bank account.

If anyone fails to provide for his own, and especially for those of his own family, he has denied the faith [by disregarding its precepts] and is worse than an unbeliever [who fulfills his obligation in these matters]. I Timothy 5:8

If we do not meet the needs of our own family, we are worse than a heathen. If your brother asks for a shirt, give it to him and your coat. If he asks you to walk a mile, go two. Jesus doesn’t ask us to give until it hurts, He asks us to give until it heals. Meeting someone’s physical needs often opens the door to meet spiritual ones. I’m not saying the Gospel can be bought and paid for with money.  I’m pointing out that service requires sacrifice. Sometimes (not always) that service involves draining your bank account.

Adopting children costs money. Feeding, clothing and housing them is a worthy investment of capital. They are worth the investment. Money is a means to ministry. If making money and financial security is your primary focus, then you are serving mammon.

For example, hospitality costs money, but it’s an investment into the lives of people who come into your home. Our homes are ministry tools. A giant welcome mat that says, “You Matter! You ARE LOVED!” We are being good stewards of our home if we use to bless others. If we use our homes as tools to reach out and wrap the arms of Jesus around someone, we are being good stewards.

If we our homes as tools to reach out and wrap the arms of Jesus around someone, we are being good stewards. (2)

 

Most of the sold out for Jesus, living on the fringe culturally, are not the ones with full bank accounts. They have full faith accounts, instead. They have to. While I do believe we should live disciplined lives and have great work ethic, there is not always a financial reward for these in kingdom living. Sometimes, God calls us to do something valuable and worthwhile for free. God calls us to serve, open our homes, make a donation of our time and talents (which He gave us) to build His kingdom. When He asks this of us, we must trust that He will supply the means to do so.

If you are reading this and you don’t have your house paid off, money is in short supply and you’re living your heart out for Jesus, don’t despair. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has all their finances in order. God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. I’m not advocating running up debts. God doesn’t always supply our wants, He does supply needs. Being a good steward means using your money, time and talents to fulfill His purpose. Whatever purpose He gives you: homeschooling, adoption, running a food pantry, starting a Bible study, writing, teaching, making baby quilts, feeding college students, ______________(fill in the blank).

I have watched many Jesus followers go through a Job syndrome after they stepped out into ministry. Often these people are judged. Ministry is gritty, tough and expensive work. It requires all the stewardship you can muster. It is good, soul-satisfying work. The rewards are not of this world. Being a good steward may not mean what you think it does. Being a good steward means using everything you have for kingdom work and trusting that God will supply the means.

Apple Picking at the Guire Shire

 

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Yesterday was a perfect day for apple picking. I’ve been a bit under the weather since my vacation trip to SC, too much doing and not enough being. I struggle with this. I want to get ‘er all done, only half the time, I spread my efforts so thin that I don’t accomplish much of anything. Or worse, I fail to be obedient to the call of God on my life that I live in a desert of a dry soul. Then I wake up one morning with a fever and achy joints and ask God, “What am I doing wrong?” Do you hear me dear one? Do you struggle with this too?

Apple picking day was a day of harvest in more ways than one. Those grandkids are a harvest, a joyful bunch. A tangible amazing gift from the Lord. Time with family is a blessing, not something to be fit into the margins of my life. Something high on the priority list. You can’t have family relationships without an investment of time. See how Cecilia lets go of the ladder and reaches up for the apple? That is trust. Trust isn’t free. It costs. The pay out for trust that real is time. Not just time, but connected time. Reading together, talking together, eating together, all the things that God desires to do with us. He desires to spend time with us and in turn we spend time with family, building relationships.

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Aren’t you glad that God’s arms are long? He can reach you wherever you are. I don’t know about you, but I often believe the lie that God doesn’t hear me or that I am out of His reach. Not true. He is here, waiting, longing for you and me to reach out for Him. He hears our prayers. He knows what we need before we even ask, but He wants us to ask. He longs for us to wait on Him. To converse with Him. Talk to Him today. He hears you.

I spent some time yesterday asking a close friend and family members about my life. My God-sized dream. I had to send out some texts saying, ” I can’t do __________.” My desire is to do everything and help everyone. I can’t. When I try, not only is it disobedience to the call on my life, it produces shriveled rotten fruit. Poor health. Cranky attitudes. Frustration that I can’t do what I know I need to do.I rush out of the stall like a leaping calf and then I hit the wall. How about you?

I spent the evening going through an old journal that I wrote at the beginning of the year full of goals and scriptures. The Lord renewed my mind in the way He designed me, the God-sized dream he gave me. How about you? Are you on the fringe of your true God-sized dream because you are afraid? Afraid of disappearing because you aren’t doing what everyone else is? Before you get on someone else’s bandwagon, consider the harvest you want to have. You can’t get apples from an orange tree. You can’t grow fruit if you don’t plant a seed and then cultivate it.

A few questions that I had to ask myself:

  • Is this activity in line with God’s will for my life? (Not, is it a good thing?)
  • Am I making my God-sized dream a priority or is it on the back burner?
  • What am I spending the bulk of my time and energy on? (Hint- it should be your God-sized dream).

When I homeschooled for twenty-one years, it was my God-sized dream for a season, I didn’t have to think about what I was going to spend the bulk of my time on. Now that I am moving into a new season, I’m stumble like a toddler. I get it. I’m there. Together, let’s wait on the Lord, believe He hears your prayer. Write down your God-sized dream, along with some Holy Spirit inspired measurable goals.

From my journal and for you:

I have chosen you, actually picked you out before the foundation of the world. I gave you a purpose. The forces against you are not flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, mights and dominions. They are just using people. Don’t be pushed around or dissuaded from pursuing your purpose. Remember the battle plan.

 

 

My Typewriter Journey

I sat at my desk waiting, while the  little circle on the computer turn around and around. The words seemed to be on a two minute delay. I shut the laptop and went on to something else, frustrated and at a loss. I had been working on two, no three writing projects. That moment, I was working on revisions on my second book, a series of articles on adoption issues. I am writing my first novel for teens.(More info on upcoming books in a later post!) Number three is my website. I write articles on adoption, childrearing, organization, family and also type up my workshops or notes for speaking engagements. That’s a plethora of words to say that I rely heavily on technology every day.

After that particularly frustrating moment, I had an idea. Why not get a typewriter?  Hubby Jerry was  outside working on some yard work and I went out on the deck and yelled, “hey, do you mind if I order a typewriter?”

“Sounds like a great idea!” I ran back up to my office with visions of Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) floating in my head. I couldn’t wait to start typing on a typewriter!  I ordered a manual. I didn’t want to be dependent on electricity or the internet in order to write. I just wanted to write. I had reverted to pen and paper going through yellow legal pads like my toddler grandchildren go through wipes.

My typewriter arrived (thank you Amazon Prime) and I did some practice sentences to warm up and realized my hands needed some more muscles. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it and I pulled out the latest chapter I had written and typed it up. No distractions. I couldn’t pop open another tab or do some last minute research. I couldn’t tweet, fiddle with Pandora or check Facebook. Just type. It’s been one of the best disciplines for me. I make note when I need to look something up. I don’t look it up then.

The truth is, several people have tried to help me get back on technology. My daughter lent me her Mac. I brought it home and plugged it in, the cord popped, smoked and fried. Are you trying to tell me something, Lord? Then my son’s girlfriend loaned me a hot pink computer that I am typing on right now. Interesting thing, I did not touch the computer for a week or so. My website has been pretty silent and all I keep hearing in my head is WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. So, I have been, plunking away, chapter after chapter. Only three left to write (and two of those are outlined).

This portion of Scripture kept coming to mind:

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.– Matthew 18:8-10

Sometimes things happen in my life and I view them as punishment, when they are actually discipline. I needed to step back from my technology habit and cut it off for awhile, it was causing me to stumble in my daily walk. I wasn’t viewing porn or watching R rated movies, I was just wasting time. And wasting time can be a sin. The Word says that we should not be vague, thoughtless or foolish, we should instead be diligent.

Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], 16 [b]making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is.- Ephesians 5:15-17

I was deceiving myself into believing that flitting around through social media and other people’s blogs was sensible and diligent, when in fact it was robbing me of the true will of the Lord which was and is WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.

Maybe you seen the handwriting on the wall clearly and aren’t as hard headed as me, if that is true, than God bless you, sister. This article isn’t about the evils of technology, it’s about letting anything get in the way of what God has placed in your heart to do. He has given each of us a God-sized dream and a measure of the talent we need to complete it. It our job to walk carefully, making the most of our time and increasing our talent through thought, study and discipline.

I pray that my mini lesson has helped you in some way. Although my webpage has been on pause for awhile, I know it is a season. I will come back to it when the time is right. Don’t be afraid of seasons. They are natural and normal. Don’t look at what everyone is doing to measure yourself by, use the ruler of the Word and you won’t be led astray. If you need to, cut some things out. Re-evaluate. Write down your mission statement and your goals and pray over them. Study. Pray. Don’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit directs you to do something that no one else is doing!

Joining Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday!  Join us!

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Why Adoption Matters

It’s in the dark, pre-dawn hours. The orphanage is quiet and I am awake. I can’t get back to sleep. I fluff my pillow and sit up in bed, leaning against the iron frame of the bed. Sleep hasn’t come easy this month that we have lived in the orphanage. I am running on adrenaline and my heart is in overdrive.

Hubby Jerry and I flew to Poland and then rode to Sulejow to adopt a sibling group. This was a small village, destroyed by the Germans in WWII, just 15 km from the first Concentration Camp in Poland. We moved into the orphanage after living a week in a castle turned hotel.

At least there was real heat in our quarters in the orphanage as opposed to the frigid castle. I still couldn’t sleep. You see I wasn’t prepared for the emotional overload. My mind skipped back and forth between joy and grief. Overwhelming joy that we were adopting. Overwhelming grief that I couldn’t take every child home. It ate at me. It gnawed at me. I played games with these kids. Hiked into the village with teens. Watched them smile while they played with my video camera. And I couldn’t take them home.

Interesting thing about orphans is they look appealing from a distance. We can form all sorts of platitudes, we can quote James 1:27 and intend to raise money for orphans. We can intend  to adopt some day. As a church, we can vow to fulfill the mandate ‘to care for widows and orphans’ while we sit in comfortable pews and take communion and remember the death and suffering of our Lord. but, up close, you can’t ignore suffering.

I couldn’t. I wasn’t prepared for the faces of neglect, swarming around me vying for attention. It’s nothing like in the movies. I couldn’t just smile and move on.Poverty envelops those children and strips them of the most basic of human needs, connection. They want to matter, just like every human being on the planet. They want someone to look them full in the face and say, “YOU MATTER. YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE LOVED.” Neglect says, “You don’t matter.” Abuse says, “I don’t care about you,”

While Hilary Clinton, looking weary and worn down, states on camera that an unborn child doesn’t have  Constitutional rights, she devalues life once again. Life is valuable. Everyone with a beating heart and breath in their lungs holds value. You cannot set a dollar amount on life.The Constitution or rulers don’t set the value. It is there. You cannot snuff it out.

The church should be adopting orphans quicker than they bag their groceries at the self check out. We should be proclaiming from the rooftop the value of life, that Christ died that each child might have life and have it more abundantly. We should not be participating in stealing, killing and destroying of life. That is the enemy’s work.

Why don’t we see the value of adoption? The importance of it? Because we first don’t value ourselves. We see ourselves as sinners instead of saints (thanks, Tracey for that insight). We see ourselves as beggars instead of sons of God. We don’t recognize our own adoption. We don’t realize that we have received the Spirit of Adoption by which we cry  “Abba, Father!” We don’t know that before the foundation of the world, God chose us, actually picked us out, destined us to be adopted as His own children (Ephesians 1:4,5). Read that again. Let it sink in. YOU ARE CHOSEN. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE A SON OR DAUGHTER OF GOD.  You are not an orphan, wondering lost, looking for  acceptance. You have it. You have been pre-approved.

With that truth settled deep in our spirits, we must go into all the world and preach the Gospel which has the power to save souls. We should be sharing this news with those who need it most, the spiritual and physical orphans. Those who have been rejected, neglected, abused and abandoned.

Ask God

If you don’t have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances. You can’t watch it on a screen and understand. You cannot have empathy for something you have not lived through yourself. Ask God to give you the gift of understanding the suffering of others and the hands to do something about it.