A Bump in the Road

A Bump in the Road

Sometimes things don’t turn out as you plan. No real secret there, right?

As my son loaded up a bed frame to take to his first “home away from home” at college, he casually said the frame was secure in the back of the pickup.

However, at the first significant bump in the road, that frame sailed out of the truck and into the middle of the interstate.

Since I was a few miles ahead of him, he called with the news, to which I cried out to God, “Lord, not something else!”

Not knowing what else to do, he kept driving, seeing cars swerving in the lanes behind him.

The other drivers must have been stunned to see the cloth and metal frame flying toward them. Fortunately, someone stopped and moved the obstruction to the side of the road, and no one was injured in the ordeal.

 

Bumps can surprise us.

Have you had a bump in the road recently? Have things not gone as planned? It seems I’ve had quite a few lately — too many to count!

What is your bump in the road?

  • Was it your dream that went flying out the window?
  • Was it a dreaded call that came?
  • Was it a careless, hurtful word that left you a wreck?
  • Was it a sinful act sent your life spiraling out of control.

 

Bumps can change us.

Consider the woman in the Bible who was caught in adultery (John 7:53 – 8:11). She didn’t plan on being caught, but when the Pharisees showed up, she knew her life would change. In fact, she could have thought her life would end that day.

But that “bump” introduced her to Jesus, who stood beside her, offered no condemnation and told her to sin no more. That one act changed her life.

The bumps I’ve experienced have changed, shaped and even sharpened me – so much so that I am a different person. When I thought I was done, Jesus picked me up, and gave me a firm foundation, hope for a better tomorrow and the will to keep going.

Jesus stood by my side and in the gap for me and remained by my side until I was no longer the same.

 

Bumps can be used for good.

I encourage you to look at your bump in the road differently. Maybe it will project you into a new phase in life. Perhaps it will remind you of what God has already done in your life. Or it could possibly serve as a wake-up call to fulfill the purpose God has for you.

I wish I knew the rest of that woman’s story. Did she go back and pick up the pieces? Did she repent from her lifestyle and follow Jesus? Did she tell others of the mercy, grace, forgiveness and new life extended to her?

My nephew and son went back to get that bedframe. It was torn and scarred from the impact and being dragged across the concrete, but it was still strong enough to do what it was designed to do.

We may not be hauled to a makeshift trial on a dusty, brick-paved road, however, we’ll likely be scarred and bruised from the impact of our bump.

Even so, we can still be used for good. With Jesus by our side, we have the strength to do what God designed us to do.

Take that bump — that lesson — and let it be used for good.

Cayenne pepper chaos

Cayenne pepper chaos

Attempting to discourage our puppy from digging small crater-sized holes in the backyard, I bought more cayenne pepper. Unfortunately, as the wind blew, I got more on me than the holes in my flower bed. Sitting at my computer later, I began to rub my eye. Boy, did that ever backfire.

I can also recall a time shortly after Matthew passed away when I needed to discipline our oldest son. He was probably 13 or 14 and at the time, our mode of discipline was the spanking spoon. A long-handled wooden spoon from the kitchen was always handy. About 6’ tall at the time, much bigger than me, he was obviously too big for the spanking spoon.

However, I was determined to get the upper hand. He was determined to get away and ran. What did I do? I chased him around the room until, eventually laughter set in. That plan didn’t work. Even the younger brothers were laughing. Talk about a plan going awry!

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been going about your day, thinking you’re doing the right thing, then surprise! The result was not what you expected. As a matter of fact, it was the opposite of what you were expecting.

God’s not surprised

It’s a good thing that nothing takes God by surprise. Jesus was not surprised when . . . 

  • Satan showed up to tempt Him in the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11)
  • Judas showed up with a kiss, starting a chain of events that led Jesus to the cross. (Matthew 26:47-49) 
  • Demons begged Jesus to allow them to enter a herd of pigs. That certainly backfired when the pigs ran down a steep bank and drowned. (Luke 8: 26-37)
  • Mary showed up and anointed Jesus’ feet with oil. (John 12:1-8) 

Jesus knows all about our pain, too, my friend. I have talked with many people this past week – people sharing stories of heartbreak, people looking for hope and comfort, people searching for answers and desperate for peace.  

We are not alone

Jesus knows we will go through hard times, but he doesn’t want us to go through them alone. He’s here for us. He’s not surprised by our situation and wants to be the one we run to.

He brings order out of our chaos, too. God took the earth that was without form and void, a dark empty mess — chaos — and turned it into light and life.

Our lives may seem a picture of chaos at times. But God’s word brings life and peace, undoing the chaos and bringing beauty and order.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Used for good

Used for good

My books fell off the delivery truck. 

I could write a complete page of issues, problems and just strange things that have come up as I have prepared to launch Grief Unwrapped: Discovering Joy in a Season of Sorrow.

I ordered books for my Kickstarter backers and to have on hand for the upcoming launch party. 

But I had a call one day from a friend to tell me someone from a few streets over found my book in the road. One lone book.

I had already received a box that was partially open on one end with books missing, so I can only assume that box’s contents somehow fell from the truck.

As issues have surfaced, I have felt battered — like someone was trying to discourage and hinder me in my goal to complete this book process.

Satan himself is the father of lies and has a multitude of ways to influence our thought processes. Words of discouragement. Words to stop us from doing what God has called us to do. From the beginning of my book-writing adventure, I have stopped and started many times, questioning what I believe God was asking me to do.

And now, two weeks before the book release date, my books fell off the truck. Not one, but a second box arrived a couple of days later – repackaged. All the contents inside were battered, smudged and swollen from water damage.

I believe what was meant to discourage, God used for good.

Stand strong and press on

That neighbor who found my book researched and found me, too. Before she did, she read the book. And then she hand-delivered it to my door with words of encouragement that blessed me and gave me new strength to stand strong and press on.

So . . . should you find my book somewhere, remember this story. And let it encourage you to keep moving forward in whatever God has called you to do.

And while you’re at it, thank Jesus for the people he places in your life to encourage you and when needed, even to hold you up.

Let God use for good what Satan wants to use for evil.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20 

 

Life is an adventure

Life is an adventure

It was not quite the adventure I had in mind when we left a rainy Branson, Missouri morning.

On our way to visit the first town mom and dad lived in after they married, we stopped in Joplin, Missouri. There we visited Grand Falls, The Route 66 Mural Park and the Precious Moments Chapel with plans to stay over in Wichita, Kansas. We envisioned eating a nice steak dinner in Wichita, (well except for the one vegan member of our party), and resting before our two-hour trek north to Concordia, Kansas the next day.

About an hour from Wichita, we stopped for gas and a rest break. As soon as I turned off the car, I got a message that my car remote was missing. I didn’t worry immediately, as I thought it had just slipped off the console and I’d just need to find it and get it close enough to the ignition as I had done before.

That didn’t happen. We found only loose change and trash scattered from our four days on the road.

I remembered unlocking the car from a distance at our last stop. But that was as far as my memory went. Evidently, the car will start once without a remote, but you’d better find it because that’s the only chance you get without a remote nearby.

After an hour-long wait at the gas station, OnStar was still unable to locate an Uber or Lyft driver to come to our location and take us to Wichita. We did get a tow truck for the car. And Richard was nice enough to offer us a ride with him; however, dad definitely couldn’t make it up into the truck. And he certainly couldn’t carry all six of us, much less the scooter and a week’s worth of luggage. He suggested a better drop-off location and a closer hotel.

Desperate to get my parents settled into a hotel for the night, I called the local county Sherriff’s office at the suggestion of the nice ladies working at Pete’s convenience store. At first, they turned me down, but at the suggestion of Deputy Taylor Cordell, the Sergeant agreed to let her drive to pick us up in the inmate transport van and take us 40 miles to the next town. Four hours from our initial stop, we gratefully walked into the hotel lobby.

Why did Taylor do it? She said she had been stranded recently and knew how it felt. I believe God sent her our way. She made conversation the entire way, making us feel at ease as well as teasing my boys about the ankle cuffs in the back seat. We even have pictures to prove it.

A lesson in blessing

So why am I sharing this? I kept thinking God must have a lesson from our predicament. Taylor knew how it felt so she wanted to help us.

Can we also stop for a moment to think of situations we’ve been through and how, because we know how that experience feels, we can be a blessing to someone else?

That’s what I wanted to do by writing Grief Unwrapped: Discovering Joy in a Season of Sorrow (launching November 5). And I won’t think twice about being the hands (or wheels) to someone else in need.

I know you’ve been in desperate situations too. You know how it feels to depend completely on someone else to help you get through it.

Take some time today to think of how God has rescued you, and how He’s put people in your life to get you where you need to go.

Do you know someone going through a trial? Think about how you can stand in the gap for that person. It could be through a prayer lifted. It could mean making a visit. It could be providing a meal or even a much-needed ride with a smile on your face and kindness in your heart.

When Words are Few

When Words are Few

What do you do when a friend is suffering?

Job 2:2 tells us what Job’s three friends did.

When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him, they began to weep aloud, and they ‘tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was.

You may remember that later they had plenty to say, but at this time, they got it right.

Although my time of intense suffering is long past, anniversaries and special occasions still get to me. I voiced the upcoming anniversary of my husband’s death to the ladies in my Bible Study group last week. During the prayer, my friend beside me leaned over and put her arm around me. No words were needed.

Actions speak louder

Actions like these mean the most. Many times, words are just not needed. It’s the simple act of service, expression of love, and comforting touch that speaks volumes. Maybe a simple hug is your gift to others. My sister gives great hugs. When she hugs you, no doubt about it, you know she cares.

Do you know someone suffering this week? Chances are, we all do. Pain and suffering seem to be the constant in our world today. Has God moved you to do something? If so, do it.

So, when words are few and you don’t know how to respond, let your actions speak what words cannot say.

Live Kind

Live Kind

Worried about another major expense, I prayed this week that the repair of my car would be minimal.

That prayer was on my mind this morning when I saw my mechanic’s name pop up on caller ID. He called to tell me he thought he had resolved the problem. Grateful, I asked, “how much do I owe you.” He answered “nothing.”

I got goosebumps and immediately recognized God’s hand on my life at that moment. Even so, I began to argue about his decision, but then he just said, “I’m doing my good deed for the day.”

God answered very clearly today. Not only was the repair minimal, but He also blessed me with a “no charge” repair.

Unusual kindness 

The Apostle Paul experienced an unusual kindness. On his journey to Rome, the ship experienced hurricane-force winds, and Paul, his fellow prisoners and soldiers shipwrecked at Malta.

Already exhausted/drained from the storm, Paul and the prisoners barely escaped death by the soldiers who feared they would all escape their imprisonment. Because the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life, he kept them from carrying out their plan.

Once the ship hit a sandbar, it began to break into pieces by the pounding of the surf. Time was of the essence, so they jumped overboard to get to shore. Stress and anxiety were at a high. They didn’t know what to expect.

Cold and wet from jumping from a run-aground ship, they found kindness on the island of Malta.

The islanders showed us unusual kindness. Acts 28:2

Not only did they find a warm welcome and kindness upon arrival, the islanders also took care of their needs when they set sail again three months later.

Kindness inspires

God uses people like my mechanic and the islanders to bless and inspire us. They put others ahead of themselves, taking care of needs as they see fit.

Watching people put the needs of others above their own inspires us to do the same. I know it did for me. Not only does our kindness help others, but studies show it even improves our health too. We all could use a piece of that.

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Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better

than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

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