Crazy Busy

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I have had one busy summer and I bet you have too. Seems like life just gets crazier and crazier each year. The years just seem to fly by. I love summers, but they are a challenge to my faith. I can’t seem to find the time to get away, sit down, do my devotions and spend time with God. I have good intentions, but something happens. Fall, winter, and spring I am good. I can make time for them. I find that time period is my growing time.
 
Each year at the end of summer I am blessed to be a part of a three-day retreat. I attend our local church camp with a group that I am involved with. We get away for three days. We laugh, cry, talk till wee hours of the morning, share, study, worship, pray and come away refreshed and renewed. God meets us there and it is good. I am just sorry more men and women don’t take advantage of this time.
 
It is by a lake and lakes refresh me. They calm me and often make me think of Jesus and his time on earth with us. I am really looking forward to it this year. Like I said I have been busy and have not been in my normal study habit. I have several speaking engagements this fall and I really need to be refreshed, renewed and ready to go do those things God has called me to.
 
I bet you are the same way, aren’t you? You might have taken a vacation, but how many of us need time to rejuvenate after our vacation? How many of us really needed to come home and rest after our vacation? I know I did.
 
God does not want us to live rushed lives. He wants us to enjoy our lives and enjoy the time we spend with one another. Rushing around and being busy is not in his plans; they are in our plans. When we don’t continue to take the time to get into his word, to pray with him daily, and to be alone with him we are missing out and we lose ground. It’s like taking one step forward and two steps back.
 
I know this and so do you. I am reminded each summer that I have not kept my focus on God and my faith has been challenged, but what do I do to change it each summer? Nothing. Nothing changes from summer to summer. That is why it’s so important for me to do a retreat to finish up my summer and to get back into the swing of things which includes Bible Study, prayer time, and alone time with God.
 
If I am so busy how will I ever hear the voice of God? If I am so busy, how will I know if he’s calling me to do something really important? If we are constantly busy doing and being and never spend time with our spouses, children or friends what kind of relationship would we have with them?
 
August is here and it’s almost Fall. Summer is winding down. How did your summer go? Are you like me and missing some of the normal things we do in the fall, winter, and spring? Have you been so busy you just might have missed a call or two from God?
 
We can’t beat ourselves up about what has been. We accept God’s grace and pick up where we left off. We get back into finding quiet time with God. We pick up those dusty Bibles, open them up and read. We read the blessings God has given us, we read the promises God has given us and we read the warnings that remind us we are to live a Godly life. We go into a quiet room, light a candle and reflect on God’s light in our lives. We think about not blowing the candle out, but how we can take that same light and light up the world of someone living in darkness.
 
I encourage you to seek a time where you can get away for two or three days and spend that time in prayer, bible study, fellowship, and worship. Ask your Pastor to help you find that special retreat for you. Or better yet, create a retreat for you and some of your friends or family (this is not a vacation; this is a time for worship, prayer and bible study).
 
Time set apart with God is a time of renewal and growth. I challenge you to a time of renewal and growth. I challenge you to go to a quiet room and light a candle. Think about the light in your life that God has provided. Next, think about what it would look like if you took that same light and lit someone’s darkness.
 
We know with the fall and winter comes holidays. It will get crazy busy again, but we all need a short time of renewal. Let’s do it now. Won’t you join me?
 
“Study this Book of Instruction continually. 
Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. 
Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
Joshua 1:8 


I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and 
put my hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the 
watches of the night, that I may meditate 
on your promise. Psalm 119:147-148 

Dear Lord, Thank you for this time of renewal. Thank you for the opportunity to go away and be with you and those you have chosen to be with me. Thank you that as I show up so will you. Guide my paths, direct my ways and allow your Presence to be felt so that I may come back renewed, refreshed and ready, My God to do your will. Amen
 
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My Cell Phone Is Ringing Again!

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I am reading for my devotion each morning a book called, “Grace for the Moment” by Max Lucado. It is a 365 day journaling devotional. On this particular day Max was talking about how God calls us. He was saying God’s favorite word was come. This is an excerpt from his book, “And the Angels Were Silent.” As usual God did not allow me to stop when I finished this morning’s devotion. He imparted some thoughts into me.
 
One of the lasts statements Max makes is this one, “God is a God who calls.” I have a cell phone. Here lately I have been getting some mysterious phone numbers calling me. If I don’t know the number I don’t answer. If they want me bad enough they will leave a voice mail and I will return their call.
 
I am also a busy lady and can’t always get to my phone to answer it. So, sometimes I miss a call from some folks. There have been times I have missed being invited or asked to come to something because I didn’t answer as quickly as I should nor maybe not at all.
 
I was quickly reminded this morning that it can be the same way with my faith. Just because God calls me doesn’t mean I always respond. Sometimes I am busy and can’t answer him as quickly as I should. Or maybe I can’t get to it and I soon forgot he even called.
 
In the following verses it tells us God does call us.
 
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:15-16 | NIV | 

”He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.2 Timothy 1:9 | NIV |

“God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9 | NIV”
 
So, as you can see God calls us. What God reminded me this morning is this simple fact, he calls, but I have to answer him. Ouch! I have to take the responsibility of answering him when he calls. If I don’t answer him who knows what I have missed out on. I might have missed out an opportunity to serve him, I might have missed out on the opportunity to spend time with him or just maybe he has an important message for me. If I don’t answer I have missed out. I have to answer his call to see what he has for me or wants with me. It may be nothing more than him asking me to sit still and talk with him over a cup of tea. Every time he calls it’s not necessarily a job or something to fear.
 
When we were not yet Christians God called us. We had to decide whether to answer his call or ignore his call hoping someday he might call back. Or maybe we were just too busy to answer and we thought we’d get to him later. We have to be careful sometimes later never comes.
 
The one thing I do love about my cell phone is when someone leaves a voice mail I can go back and replay it to see what it was they wanted. I can even save it so I can replay it later or as often as I need to. God does not always leave a voice mail and if he does I don’t always recall exactly what he said. I have a mind that can only recall so much and if it’s full from the day’s activities I might not even remembered he called. I don’t have built in voice mail capabilities.
 
The solution (which seems so simple, but isn’t) is for me to stop and answer anytime God calls. There are some numbers that call and I know to answer them immediately for whatever reason. That should be the same response when God calls me. I should immediately put the brakes on, stop, and answer the one call that can make a big difference in my life.
 
It amazes me how one small devotion can lead me to a life time of decisions and challenges.
I am thinking the next time God calls I won’t put him on hold, I will answer his call and I won’t depend on my mind recalling exactly what he said.
 
How about you? When God calls you do you answer immediately? Do you put him on hold, or ignore him for the time being or do you hope he will leave a voice mail that you may or may not remember? God calls….we must answer.
 
Dear God, again I thank you for teaching me, guiding me, and directing my thoughts. The next time you call I will do better about answering your call. I know I don’t have the best of memory so I will try not to rely on my mind to remind me later that I need to call you back. I love you God. I really do. Amen

Manufactured Blessings

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Have you ever thought about your blessings and where they come from? Some blessings are manufactured and some come from God. Now I know you’re wondering how blessings can be manufactured. Let me share what God has been teaching me. 

So what are those manufactured blessings? Far too often they come in the form of material things and things that we think will bring us happiness. We are a nation of people that has abundance and we have an abundance of activities. We have so much we now build storage facilities to keep our stuff in that we don’t have room for in our homes. I am reminded of this story found in Luke 12:16-19, “Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’ We buy bigger homes and we still have leftovers. We have a lot of stuff. Our lives are full of activities too. We are so busy running here and there and doing this and doing that. In 2014 just two short years ago it was reported Americans were taking the fewest vacations in four decades. We are too busy to go on vacation. Now I am not opposed to material things. I have some myself and I am guilty of being too busy. These are what I call manufactured blessings. Blessings we created through our own doing. 
Now these are not bad things, but if you stop and really think about it we did not do these things on our own. God gives us new breath every day. God allows us to experience life once more when we get up. Now I don’t believe God causes death or brings on bad things, but I do believe He knows how many days we are to live on this earth. “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)  I think each day when we rise we should stop and pause and say thank you to our creator for another day of life. I think we should thank him for surviving in this crazy world another day. I am afraid for too many of us we have the mindset that it’s all about what I accomplish and we don’t give God a second thought. You may not agree with me, but who chose you to be born in the family you were born in or even the country that you were born in? God planted us where he wanted us. We could easily have been born in a country where there is no hot water, luxuries, or opportunities. Instead he placed us where we could have those things, yet often times we never go to church and give Him back a portion or say thank you. 
I am very aware of the blessings God has given me. Every time I get in the shower and the hot water is the perfect temperature and it runs down my body I feel blessed. I think about those who cannot take a hot bath. I have to make an effort to do this. It’s not something that comes natural. I have to make myself aware of the blessings God has given me. If I don’t make myself aware of who has given me those blessings then I won’t ever offer a word of thanks. I can get smug and think it is all about me when in reality it isn’t. 
God has blessed us in so many ways. He has blessed us in giving us his love and grace when so many times we don’t deserve it. He has blessed us with a mind that can work, hands that can function and feet that can carry us to work or wherever. I am afraid we are a nation of people with an overabundance of things and activities and an under of abundance when it comes to acknowledging who God is in our lives and lack of appreciation and gratefulness. 
We are moving into a time when we think about harvesting this month and next month thanksgiving. When it comes to harvesting are you reaping blessings that come from God or are you reaping manufactured blessings? Do you offer thanks for those blessings or do you just carry on each day not giving a thought about those blessings? It takes an effort to think about how blessed we are and where those blessings come from. I challenge you today to make the effort to give thanks and then to make an effort to have a relationship with the one who has blessed you. 
Dear God, I do thank you for each breath I take, each hot shower I am able to have and for the many little blessings that you give me each day that I often take for granted or miss. Thank you for reminding me I can fall into the same trap as the rich man who had to build bigger barns. May I never take blessings for granted and may I remember it is you who sends us showers of blessings. Amen

So Busy Doing​ ​Luke 10:38-42

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​Let us not be so busy doing for God we can’t be with God!
Before I move on this month I have one more area that I want to share with you about planning for the New Year. 
Years ago I was involved in a lot more than I am now. Those of you who know me probably find that hard to believe. I am involved in a lot of areas right now. The thing of it is most of those things were not things God wanted me to do, but what Becky thought she needed to be doing. The proper saying for me probably was, “don’t be so busy doing you can’t be with God.”
My core jobs were being a wife, mother and daughter. As a wife I knew my responsibility was to my husband. As a mother to three daughters I did as much as humanly possible to make sure they were well taken care of, got the attention they needed and attended as many activities as possible with them. As a daughter my responsibility was to help my dad be a caregiver for my mom and then later on a caregiver to him.
On top of that I had gone back to school to receive an Associate’s Degree while the kids were in school. Later I became a church secretary in a small church; which meant I did pretty much everything the Pastors did not do. I also became the city wide Ministerial Association secretary who dealt with all the other churches in our town and their Pastors. Along with that I belonged to a Philanthropic Sorority. We were an active bunch meeting twice a month. We were also involved in city functions. I, of course took on many different offices during the time I was active. I belonged and led Bible Studies. I went on Mission trips. I belonged to the United Methodist Women and held some of their offices. I taught Bible School. I also taught a Junior High Class for a while also. I know you are getting tired just reading all of the things I did. That is why my calendar was my life. I needed my calendar to keep my life straight I thought I was super woman and I could accomplish much. I probably did accomplish much. How well did I do those things? Some things I think I did well, while others (like being a wife) I didn’t do so well. I am so not bragging on these things. I am not telling you all I was involved in so you will look at me and think how great I was. Great I was not. 
The more I grew in Christ the restless I became. Something was not right. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Here I was working and doing all these things, yet, I was not happy. By the time night came I would put the girls in bed, check on dad and mom one more time fall into bed just so the next day I could get up and start all over. I was finding less time for my husband so I could make more time for things that I thought were far more important. I was finding less time to do Bible Studying and praying so I could do more things for God. 
Anytime anyone needed anything they’d come around and ask me if I would help out, do it, or take it on. I would often say yes without consulting God on the matter. It wasn’t that I believed I needed to be doing these things to be saved or that I needed to be doing these things to impress God. I just did these things because I couldn’t say no. I never learned the art of saying no, or saying let me pray about it first. I just did because people asked me. 
 As I mentioned in my last devotion I was so busy I didn’t have much time for God or my husband. When I got back home from a trip we had taken to Florida I began to look at my calendar. How many of those things I did were sanctioned by God? Was I so busy if God had something He wanted me to do could I do it? Who would I have to let down in order to do those things God was calling me to do?
I was tired physically and emotionally. Something had to change. God began to deal with me. God began to show me I was so busy doing I couldn’t be with Him. There is a difference between doing for God and being with God. Doing for God is doing all those things you think God has called you to. Being with God is finding the time to sit everyday and be in prayer with Him, reading His word and listening to Him. Being with God is what makes our faith grow stronger, being with God is being still and learning who God is and what He wants for you and how to live your life through Him. 
In Luke 10:38-42 we find Martha was so busy; so distracted she couldn’t find time to be with God. That was so me. I was so distracted doing those things that I thought God wanted me to do I couldn’t find time to be with Him. 
I finally got it. I finished projects; I did what was required of me and then I took a break. I learned to say no. I learned to say, “Let me pray about it first.” For several years now I can honestly say I pray about everything I take on. Oh, like most I am still human and I fall into the trap of taking on too much because I don’t listen carefully enough or I don’t listen clearly to all He says to me, but I am so much better than I was. 
There are still times I have the temptation to say yes before praying. There are still times I want to do things just because I want to, but then I remember that I was so busy doing those things Becky wanted to do that I couldn’t really enjoy my life. 
I am learning it’s more about being a Mary than a Martha. It’s more about being with God. I am finding out when I spend time with God I am refreshed, reenergized and my faith is stronger to handle those things that come along. 
Are you like I was so busy doing you can’t find time to be with God? If so, I suggest you take a look at your calendar, take a look at those things you’ve said yes to and ask yourself how do those things fit in with God’s plan for your life? Learn to say no, learn to pray before you say yes and learn to let God be your event planner. 
Prayer:
Dear God thank you for teaching me it’s all about being with you and following your ways. Thank you for teaching me all things that come my way are not necessary things you have sent my way. Help me to say no when it is appropriate and yes when it is from you. Thank you for those times I can sit and just be with you. How, I cherish those times. Direct my paths O Lord as I seek to do your will. Amen