Lost in a Cornfield

cornfieldWhen I was a little girl, I went for a walk with my father on our farm. As I held my dad’s hand, I skipped joyfully along, keeping up with his long stride. It was a beautiful day, and as we walked, Dad showed me ladybugs crawling up a plant, pretty flowers, and a hawk wheeling in the sky. He pointed at some raccoon tracks and laughed about how the prints resembled little hands. Dad made everything fun. Nothing was better than a walk with my father.

corn-2Dad wanted to check our corn crop, so we turned away from the clear, open path and entered a field. The corn was incredibly tall—it was even higher than my father’s head. The air in the field felt humid—almost suffocating. The thick, green leaves made squeaking, rustling sounds as we brushed past the stalks. I didn’t like the leaves; they seemed to enjoy slapping me in the face. The ground between the rows was uneven, and walking was difficult. The corn was so high that it seemed to block the sun. I could hear the hawk, but I couldn’t see it anymore. I couldn’t see anything but endless green and a little patch of blue.

As I stumbled along beside my father, I decided that I didn’t like cornfields. I wanted to go back. Looking over my shoulder, I gasped. I couldn’t see the open path anymore. I couldn’t see anything but cornstalks. Corn was behind me. Corn was in front of me. Corn was to the right and left of me. I was surround by corn, and I didn’t know how to get out of the field! Instantly, I panicked.

“Daddy!” I wailed. “We’re lost!”

corn-3Smiling, my father squeezed my hand and said gently, “I know exactly where we are. And I know exactly how to get us through this field. You aren’t lost—you’re with me.”

That day, my father’s calming words took my fear away. And those words have resonated throughout my life on a spiritual level. Today, when I face uncertain times and problems seem higher than my head, I remember that I’m not alone. My Heavenly Father is walking beside me, holding my hand. And just like my earthly father long ago, He gently quiets my fears by saying, “You aren’t lost—you’re with me.”

 

corn-1“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 

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Jan Elder #2-Author Interview

janice-elder-with-pink-flowers

Dear Friends, it’s my delight to introduce you to Jan Elder. Jan is a Christian author, and she’s also a very kind person. Her love for the Lord shines through everything she says and does. I feel honored to have her on my blog!

Danele: Jan, I’m so glad that you’re able to talk with us today!

Jan: Danele, I am so happy to be here. Your blog is one of my favorites.

Danele: That’s so nice of you to say! Thank you! Jan, I know my readers are eager to learn more about you. You’ve told me that you’ve been through a difficult time recently. Would you like to talk about it?

Jan: This year has been rough. I lost a job I’ve had for fourteen years and there were some moments when the pain nearly overwhelmed me. Almost a sensation of grief, if that can be said about a job. I think the most difficult aspects of the situation, though, had nothing to do with the actual work I was doing, but rather I missed the friends I interacted with on a daily basis.

I’m the type of person who loves to “connect” and those people meant a lot to me and still do. But over the last few months, I’ve been learning that Jesus is truly my friend. I would have said that before, but our relationship has become a great deal deeper as I’ve taken the time to “check in” with Him many times a day. The Lord and I talk over all sorts of things, especially those little things I might have discussed with a human before.

I’ve been a born-again Christian since the tender age of five and you’d have thought I would have had this part down by now, but I tend to try to reason it all out by myself or with those good friends and “save” calling on the Lord for the tough stuff. Leaving the job turned out to be a true blessing in disguise. Of course, God knew all the time what was best for me. I still like to talk to people, but I’m come to understand the wisdom and necessity of running to Him first.

Danele: I’m so sorry that you went through such a difficult time, but I’m glad that God was with you in such a special way. Do you have a praise report to share?

Jan: How much space have you got? When I lost my job, after a week of wallowing, I figured out that I had been given a gift—a time to reinvent my life. Since I’m a writer, hey, now I had the time to write. I’d been wanting to do a series about a woman minister in Maine, and I invented a little town called Moose Creek. My sister was a pastor in Maine many years ago and so I had plenty of material. And my grandparents were “Maniacs” (um, I mean Mainers) and I’ve been able to visit the state many times, so there are lots of connections. Hey, and who doesn’t like moose?

While I was busy doing this fun undertaking, my dream job landed in my lap, completely out of the blue (meaning, of course, that it was entirely God’s idea.) I’m now training to be a life coach and besides writing, I realize it’s my life’s passion. Now I get to help people discover the person God meant them to be. I get to talk about gifts, and blessings, and help each dear person move forward toward God’s best for their lives. Have you ever heard the truism that “good” can be the enemy of “great?” So often we “settle” for less than the best and our God is a God of abundance. I’ve discovered that when I’m done talking with someone, I’m the one who is truly blessed! Between writing and coaching, I am a happy, happy girl and I am so very grateful!

Danele: I’m so happy for you! Speaking of joyful things, is there a specific praise song that seems to usher you into the presence of the Lord?

Jan: There is a song that has been on Christian radio for a while that means a great deal to me. The day I found out I had lost my job, one of my best friends sent me the link to the Casting Crowns song “Just Be Held.”

In the chorus, the words state, “Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place. I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.” Those words changed the way I was thinking about my situation and I clung to them with all my might. After the tears stopped flowing, hope returned.

For anyone out there reading this, please know there is hope in whatever difficult situation you are in. Give it to God, let it go, allow Him hold you, and remember, you are LOVED!

Here’s the link with the lyrics if you want to listen to this inspirational piece. Believe me, it’s worth your time. Hear and believe! One of my most favorite songs—EVER!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

Danele: That’s a really beautiful song! Thank you for sharing it! Now, here’s a fun question for you. Has God ever revealed Himself to you in a humorous way?

Jan: My cat, Shu-Shu loves to get my attention however she can. She seems to be particularly enamored with my computer keyboard and enjoys walking on the keyboard. The other day, she traipsed across the keys and those furry little toes typed “ggggggggggoooooooooooop838p47ooooodddddddddddd.”  Okay, there were a few extra characters in there, but she was clearly letting me know that God was in the room. I couldn’t help but giggle.

Danele: Jan, that’s so funny! Now, before I let you go, can you tell us about your latest book release?

Jan: Sure! We’ve been talking about the untenable situations life sometimes throws at us. In Love, Lies, and Fireflies, at one point in the story, my hero, Jake, is really hurting. He talks to his pastor, Todd, about his pain. I’d like to share that passage here to be an encouragement to your readers:

“Is God really asking us to surrender all, as in everything? Somehow that doesn’t seem quite fair.” Jake leaned in closer.

“You’re familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac?… My talk is titled ‘Are You in a Desperate Situation?’ It sounds like you’re right there with Abraham. I would guess that desperate is exactly how the man felt when God asked him to sacrifice his own son—the son who had been a long-awaited gift from God. His circumstances would have seemed hopeless…Imagine Abraham’s angst. On the darkest day of his life, he and Isaac trudged up the side of the mountain. Despite his sorrow, Abraham put one foot in front of the other, his dread increasing with every step. Isaac’s death seemed certain.” Todd pursed his lips. “It doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it? But, understanding this part helps. Abraham trusted God with his whole heart. Even if he had to surrender everything….” Todd glanced over at Jake and caught his eye. “No matter what, he was going to listen and obey when it seemed crazy. Now, here’s the cool part. At the same time that Abraham and Isaac were walking up the mountain, a sacrificial ram was climbing up the other side. For every step Abraham took toward the summit, the ram also took a step. God placed that ram at the top at the mountain at precisely the right moment.”

Jake took a deep breath. “So, what you’re saying is God put His plan in place before Abraham was aware of it?”

“Yes, that’s it. All Abraham saw was his pain, but God was already prepared to save Isaac. God had to make sure Abraham really meant it when he said he trusted Him. God was testing him.” Folding his hands in his lap, Todd sat back. “To answer your question, does God want us to surrender all? Maybe in some cases, He does. But I’m thinking that most of the time, He just wants to know if we’re willing to sacrifice.” He looked Jake in the eye. “Why don’t you think on that and listen to what God is saying to you?”

Danele: What a lovely passage! Can you give us the back cover blurb for Love, Lies, and Fireflies and a purchasing link?

Jan: Didi O’Brien is engaged—at least she was an hour ago. Now she’s not so sure. Her fiancé, the suave Kevin Cabot, has just revealed that he’s been unfaithful, and he’s not the least bit sorry. Reeling from the betrayal, with her plans for a happily-ever-after life in doubt, she prays for direction. The answer comes as a complete surprise. God has someone better in mind… Middle school teacher, Jake Montgomery, is struggling with some issues of his own. Sadly, a year previously his fiancée had been killed in a car crash. Battling anger and despair, in a mountain-top experience, Jake wrestles with the Almighty, and is ready to live again. In his youth, he’d felt an unmistakable call to the ministry but, like the prophet Jonah, since then, he’s been running hard in the wrong direction. Through a crisis of faith, and glimpses of mercy, Didi and Jake find each other. But can they find the strength to resolve the many obstacles that conspire to keep them apart?  https://www.amazon.com/Love-Lies-Fireflies-Jan-Elder/dp/1537410849

Danele: Before I let you go, can you give us a list of the books you’ve written?

Jan: Sure! Manila Marriage App, A Semi-Precious Christmas, Love, Lies, and Fireflies, and Moostletoe (coming October 2016).

Danele: Jan, it’s been so nice talking with you! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us!

Jan: Danele, you are a special lady, and I am privileged to know you.

 

Friends, Jan really is a wonderful person! If you would like to learn more about Jan or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!

http://janelderauthor.com

https://www.facebook.com/janice.elder.author

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13261561.Jan_Elder

 

Popcorn and a Truly Inspired Invention!

popcorn-2I LOVE popcorn. I love everything about it—except making it. You see, when I was a kid, I made popcorn in a skillet. Being a natural-born klutz, making popcorn wasn’t easy for me. I’d always end up getting burned by hot oil, or spilling the kernels, or shaking the skillet too vigorously and dislodging the lid with disastrous results. Many times, I’d end up with more popcorn on the floor than in the bowl.

Over time, the skillet gave way to a marvelous new invention—microwave popcorn bags. Unfortunately, the instructions on the package didn’t give an exact cooking time. The directions always said to cook the bag for two to three minutes. Believe me—LOTS of burning can take place during an interlude of sixty seconds! I’ve burned more microwave popcorn than any normal human should be allowed.

popcorn-4I suppose that my lack of corn-popping talent is why I absolutely LOVE my new air popper. In my view, an air popper is a marvelous invention that was especially designed for people like me—the kernelly challenged. The wonderful thing about an air popper is that it’s virtually impossible to burn ANYTHING. The popcorn magically blows out into your bowl the minute it is popped. It’s wonderful! Magical! Truly inspired!

The only problem with an air popper is that there are usually one or two kernels that ALWAYS pop thirty seconds after you think all of the popping is through—but this heart-attack inducing phenomena is something I can easily put up with! After all, a tiny, momentary fright is better than an hour spent airing black smoke from the kitchen after the popcorn burns!

popcorn-3Now what in the world does my air popper have to do with spiritual matters??? Believe it or not, there really is a spiritual lesson that can be learned! You see, I burn popcorn and render it inedible when it is locked inside a hot skillet or when it is trapped inside a microwave popcorn bag. But I can’t burn the popcorn when it blows quickly away from the source of heat in my air popper.

In life, I’ve found that I’m confronted by temptation just about every day. If I stay in close proximity to the temptation, it can be easy to fall into sin. And just like a kernel trapped in a skillet, I can find myself “burned.”

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul says, “There has no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man. But God is faithful. He will not suffer you to be tempted more than you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that you may be able to bear it.”

As I go about my daily life, I keep Paul’s words in the forefront of my mind. When I am confronted by temptation, I actively look for the “way of escape.” I don’t stick around and analyze the temptation or try to see how close I can get to it without getting burned—I RUN from it. In essence, I try very hard to be a kernel in an air popper rather than a kernel in a microwave bag.

popcorn-1I’ve burned enough popcorn to know that the stench is AWFUL! And I’ve fallen for enough temptations to know that the stench of sin is equally bad. I don’t want anything to do with either of them. I’ll stick with my air popper!!! I’ll stick with looking for ways of escape!

 

The Murky Ditch and FEAR!!!!

shoes-10When I was in college, I wanted to start jogging and get fit. It was a good plan, but unfortunately, there was a horrible problem with it. You see, I knew that when I ran, I looked like a galumphing three-legged camel with a gimpy leg. It was truly a horrendous sight, and I squirmed every time I thought about jogging in public. I couldn’t afford a treadmill, and I didn’t want the humiliation of being a public display. After much thought, I hit upon the perfect solution. I would set my alarm and jog at 2:00 a.m. when everyone was asleep! Brilliant!!! Problem solved!!! As I excavated my jogging shoes from the back of the closet, I mentally congratulated myself for being a genius.

yellow moonGetting up at 2:00 a.m. became part of my daily schedule, and I really enjoyed it. As I ran down the road, everything was velvety still and silent. The only sound was my tennis shoes hitting the pavement. Above me, the stars were spread in a brilliant display of God’s handiwork, and occasionally, I would see a falling star burning across the sky. My late-night wanderings were absolutely lovely. I prayed as I ran, and every day, I felt a deep sense of peace invading my soul. Unfortunately, jogging took an unexpected turn one fateful night…

frankensteinWhen I can’t sleep, I watch a movie on television. I don’t really care what movie—just something to burn a few hours until I get sleepy. Late at night, the movie selection can be somewhat limited, and usually, the selection involves a group of college kids getting eaten by mutant tarantulas or big, slimy blobs. I don’t usually mind movies involving mutant bugs, aliens, or sharks. Actually, at 1:00 a.m., I find them pretty hilarious. Although monster movies are supposed to be scary, I find myself giggling like a maniac at the giant bugs and rolling my eyes as people split off to check circuit breakers and investigate strange noises.

Although I get a kick out of monster movies, I tend to avoid blood-and-guts movies involving deranged killers, and I can trace the reason why back to my jogging days in college. You see, back then I couldn’t sleep one night, so I watched a movie. I can’t remember the name, but it was very creepy and very bloody. It involved a horrible, sadistic killer, and it really got beneath my skin. When the movie finished, it was time to go jogging.

moon-11When I went out the door, I didn’t see the beauty of the stars—all I saw were the shadows. Although I knew it was silly, I was sure there was a murderer wielding a knife behind every bush and tree. Each moving shadow became a threat and each breath of wind against my neck made me shudder. Speaking to myself sternly, I ran faster and tried to think of something else…

owl-1Thinking of something else worked for about 2.2 seconds—then an owl flew out of a tree and nearly gave me a heart attack. I kept running, flinching at shadows and gasping every time a branch moved. My heartbeat was thumping like a drum, and I could hardly catch my breath.

I spoke to myself sternly again. I KNEW I was behaving like an idiot. I forced myself to calm down and look at the stars…that’s when it happened. A car turned the corner and pulled onto the road. It drove slowly toward me. Then it stopped.

My heart leapt into my throat. I stopped jogging and froze. I couldn’t move a muscle. I tried convincing myself that it was just someone parking, but the car crept forward again, inching toward me. As my eyes widened in fear, the car stopped. It was like the driver was sizing me up.

headlights-10I looked around frantically—no one was around to come to my aid. I panicked. All reason flew out the window as horror flooded in.

The car crept forward again.

Giving a flying leap sideways off the road, I jumped into a ditch and hid behind some tall weeds. The ditch was full of muddy water, and it stank. I didn’t care. I watched as the car pulled slowly beside me and stopped again. My panic went into overdrive. I whimpered.

Then I saw something…

The driver leaned out of his window and put a newspaper into someone’s mailbox. I stared in disbelief as the car crept forward and stopped beside another mailbox.

Suddenly, it sank in—I was crouching in a muddy ditch because of the newspaper boy.

!!!!!

full-moon-10As I walked home in my muddy clothes and squelching shoes, I realized that I’d learned an extremely important lesson that night. When left unchecked, my imagination can lead me to panic over the stupidest things. Today, I keep that lesson in the back of my mind. When unexpected things happen–and my first reaction is to hit the ceiling or react in panic–I take a step back and try looking at things calmly and logically. I pray and ask God to put things into the proper perspective. After all, you never know when the mass-murderer you fear is actually the paperboy.

 

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

 

Destroyed by Friendly Fire

leaves 2When I first became ill, I had lots of wonderful, well-meaning people who tried to help by giving me spiritual advice. Unfortunately, most of their advice boiled down to one simple thought: God wasn’t healing my illness because I didn’t have enough faith or because I wasn’t doing something right.

In Psalm 18:18, David said that on the day when he was weakest the enemy attacked. That’s the way I felt when I came under a barrage of “friendly fire.” For the most part, the advice was given out of love, and I knew that. But knowing that people were trying to be kind didn’t make my situation easier to handle. There’s something hideous about facing a debilitating illness, and there’s something crushing when you’re continually told that your faith isn’t strong enough to qualify you for healing.

red leafWhen I was sick, people gave me TONS of reasons why God wasn’t healing me. People said I was ill because I didn’t have enough faith, because I wasn’t “claiming” my healing properly, because I was admitting that I was sick, because I wasn’t standing on God’s promises, because I was being cursed by the words of my mouth when I admitted I was in pain, because I had committed some sort of secret sin that I wasn’t aware of committing, because I wasn’t praying correctly, because I wasn’t rebuking the devil sufficiently, because I was allowing fear to steal what God wanted to do, because I said the words “my illness” rather than “the illness the devil is inflicting,” because I was unknowingly harboring bitterness, because I had unknowingly hurt someone else, because I was worshiping something more than God, because I’d allowed pain to steal my joy, because I must be rebellious, because I wasn’t submitting to God, because I wasn’t taking my healing by force, because I was too prideful, because I was too insecure, because I was being punished, because I was being promoted, because I was failing some spiritual test, because, because, because… I’ve lost count of the number of things people claimed I was doing wrong. The word games people played were enormous, but for the most part, things boiled down to one simple message—I wasn’t jumping through their idea of the proper hoop and that’s why God wasn’t healing me.

Some people didn’t stop at giving me spiritual advice. Some took action.

leaves 1One person chased me down, grabbed my hands, and demand that I repeat after them, “I am healed. I believe God is healing me now.” (This would have been fine, if I hadn’t been desperately trying to get to a bathroom so I could vomit.)

One person came to my house and told me that since Jesus healed everyone He encountered, I wasn’t being healed because my faith wasn’t sufficient. When I brought up John chapter 5 and the fact that Jesus only healed one person at the pool of Bethesda, I was told that I needed to study the Bible more—the implication being that I wasn’t being healed because I had a lack of Biblical knowledge. (At the time, I was reading the Bible cover-to-cover every month and memorizing vast quantities of Scripture.)

leaves 3One person told me that my faith needed to have action behind it. This person said I should open a detergent bottle, sniff the contents, and loudly declare that I was healed of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. (Thinking the advice might have merit, I sniffed the detergent and boldly proclaimed my healing. Even as the words left my lips, I became extremely ill and was in agonizing pain for several weeks.)

Antelope IslandEventually, being told over-and-over that my continued illness was caused by a flawed spiritual condition had an effect. After absorbing all of the advice, I figured that maybe something really WAS wrong with me.  Maybe I WASN’T doing something right. So I began jumping through all kinds of hoops trying to be healed. You know me, and you know that when I try to do something, I put my whole heart into it.

leaves 12The lengths I went to were enormous. Seeking God and seeking healing became the focus of my life. I memorized healing Scriptures, I played praise music 24-7, I posted Bible verses all over my house, I had people anoint me with oil and pray for my healing, I put myself on prayer chains, I Jericho marched around my house declaring it was God’s, I anointed my doorposts with oil and declared the enemy couldn’t enter, I wrote letters and made phone calls asking people to forgive me for any offenses I might have committed, I went through my house with a fine-tooth comb and threw away anything that might be considered objectionable to God, I took communion publicly and privately, I confessed any possible sin I may have committed publicly and privately, I fasted, I prayed, I declared, I proclaimed, I stood in faith, I groveled on the ground in supplication asking for mercy. I did everything anyone suggested. I did everything I could find in Scripture. I did everything I’d heard mentioned on religious television. I did everything I’d read in religious articles. And I didn’t just do those things for a week or a month—I did them for YEARS. I TRIED HARD TO DO EVERYTHING RIGHT.

But nothing happened. I was still ill.

sunset treeThen another nice, well-meaning person told me that I was trying too hard. They said that God wouldn’t honor my earthly efforts because I was relying on what I could do rather than on what God could do. They said that my efforts were proof that I wasn’t standing in faith and that’s why I wasn’t being healed.

After that, I gave up. After that, I grew bitter. After that, I decided that I’d never jump through another hoop. After that, I decided that I didn’t want anything to do with a fickle God who played games. After that, my life became a painful misery.

Time passed.

Eventually, I reexamined my faith and recommitted my life to God. When I did, I asked the Lord why He wasn’t healing me. I heard His voice deep inside my soul. It was extremely gentle and full of love. He simply said, “I could heal you and set you aside, but I am doing a different thing in you. I am healing you minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, and day-by-day—you will be well.”

sparrow 8Even after all this time, I still don’t understand why God didn’t heal me immediately. I don’t know why I had to be ill for so many years. I don’t understand why I had to endure seven years of quarantine. But there’s one thing I do know—it wasn’t because I had “sinned,” or because I didn’t have faith, or because I wasn’t trying hard enough, or because I was trying too hard. I believe it was because God had a different plan in mind for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours! For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts [higher] than yours.” I believe that God used those years of quarantine to establish my faith on a deeper level. I don’t believe that God caused my illness, but I do believe that He used my illness for His glory. I do believe that He didn’t heal me immediately because He knew that what I was learning during quarantine would eventually help others.

orange sunsetGod knows the end from the beginning. He sees all things. He understands all things. We aren’t God. We don’t always comprehend why things are happening, and pretending that we do isn’t always wise—and giving well-meaning advice to hurting people based on our suppositions isn’t always wise either. When someone is hurting, I think the best thing a person can do is pray for them, love them, and be extremely careful when handing out advice. After my experience with well-meaning people, I try very hard to love LOTS and speak LITTLE. And before I open my mouth, I pray fervently, asking God to set a guard before my lips so that my words will bring life and healing rather than condemnation and discouragement. There’s a definite place for Godly advice—but there’s also a place for loving silence. My illness was hard to bear, but the mental anguish I endured because of “helpful” people was even worse.

Marys lakeI believe that in the church, we’re often guilty of inflicting friendly fire. When someone is hurting, we automatically want to help—and that’s good. We automatically want to share advice that might alleviate their pain—and that’s good up to a point. I think the most important thing we should realize is that we don’t know everything. And no matter what we think, we don’t really know why a person is ill or why God isn’t healing them. And pretending that we do, and giving advice based on our suppositions, can be incredibly damaging and dangerous to someone who is hurting. Going forward with my life, I hope that I will never forget this lesson. Going forward with my life, I pray that my words will always bring hope, give encouragement, and draw people closer to God.

rose in handsThe tongue has the power of life and death.” Proverbs 18:21a

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.” James 1:19a

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other.” 1 Peter 4:8a

 

Hailstorms And Humiliation

storm 1A while back, a horrible hailstorm ripped through the farming community near my house. My mother and I decided to drive around the county and evaluate the damage. I hadn’t slept well the night before, and I was VERY tired that morning. Feeling lazy, I simply ran a brush through my hair and pulled it into a messy ponytail. As far as my clothing, I went for comfort rather than style. I put on a horrid pair of old, brown sweatpants that had definitely seen better days. My top was too large, and its gaudy green stripes clashed with the pants. I looked like a circus clown.

storm 2My mother studied my “fashionable” ensemble, cocked an eyebrow, and asked if I wanted to change clothes and fix my hair. Yawning widely, I said, “What for? We won’t be getting out of the car.”

You know me by now, and you know that I’m not always the brightest crayon in the box. My reply is proof positive of that fact. Through bitter experience, I have learned that my mother is the wisest woman alive and her advice should never be spurned—I just tend to forget it from time to time. And when I do, I ALWAYS regret it.

hail 3You can probably guess what happened. We were in a small town getting ready to get on the highway when our car died. No matter what we tried, the engine wouldn’t start. After my initial shock faded, chagrin came. Looking down at what I was wearing, I knew humiliation was just around the corner…and I was right. For several hours, I was on full display by a busy highway in my hideous sweatpants and my horrid, green shirt. I hate looking silly, and what I was wearing went beyond silly and into the realm of ridiculous. I looked like a bag lady.

When I was finally home again, I thought about the day and realized I’d gone wrong in two ways: I hadn’t been prepared, and I hadn’t listened to wise advice.

hail 1There have been times in my spiritual life when the same has been true. I know that praying and reading the Bible prepares me for problems I may encounter, but there have been times when I’ve felt too lazy to have daily devotions. Those times have inevitably led to trouble. It’s much easier to resist temptation, let go of offence, or fend off fear, if I have weeks of contact with God underneath my belt. I’ve also learned that it’s important to listen to trusted, spiritual advice. When I left my house in my ugly pants and hideous top, I had no idea that I was about to be on display by the highway. Life is unpredictable, and we never know what’s around the corner. That’s why it’s important to be prepared and listen to advice—especially when the advice comes from a wise woman like my mother.

 

direction“A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” Proverbs 22:3

“A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man listens to others.” Proverbs 12:15