Life Change on the Other Side of a Storm — Guest Post

No one enjoys hard lessons, and yet, they seem to be my most certain routes to growth. In fact, my greatest healing, steps toward freedom, and perspective shifts have occurred during my most challenging and uncertain periods. I suspect most of us could say the same. When the false securities we cling to turn shaky, we’re invited to plant my feet in the only One who’s steady and sure. As my guest today shares in the post below, sometimes destructive storms can have beautiful results.

The 2am Wake Up Call

By Meredith Kendall

It took a major storm for God to rightly shift my focus and priorities. It’d been raining all day and wasn’t supposed to let up anytime soon. The news reports indicated that the worst of the storm, including the threat of tornadoes, would hit around 2am. We knew a good night’s sleep wasn’t in our future primarily because we  had a little stream in our backyard. That night, that creekbed turned into a raging sea. 

The water remained inside its banks, but was rushing so rapidly that nothing in its way had a chance of survival. Once satisfied it would be okay, we set the alarm for 2am. But I felt unsettled, so I went upstairs, grabbed all three girls, put their sleeping bags on the floor in the family room, and kissed them goodnight.

I woke with a startle. The light on the alarm clock was flashing. The power had gone out. My cell phone read 2am. rain seen through the window on a dark, stormy nightWanting to check on things, I rolled over, put my feet on the floor. “Squish.” My toes hit soaked carpet. All I thought of was my girls laying in a pool of water. Yelling at my husband to wake up, I rushed to the family room to get to the girls. They were safe. The water reached just to the edge of their sleeping bags.

I’m not sure where my sense came from, but I didn’t attempt to open the door. Instead I went upstairs to the landing. Knowing water inside meant the creek had crested, I grabbed the keys to our vehicles and bolted outside.  As I backed the last automobile to safety, the water let loose and soon stood three feet against the back of the house.

Standing in the rain, I started to calculate all the damage we’d accrue. When the storm was done, I’d be left picking up the pieces.

Yes, you read this right. I made this mess all about me. My loss. My inconvenience. My inability to comprehend why God had allowed this to happen to me. Then I remembered a verse I’d memorized recently during a financial class.

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (ESV).

This forced me to ask, who and what was I serving? I may have told you God, but my lifestyle and actions indicated otherwise.

What if you were to honestly answer the same question?

If God took everything away from you, would you still serve Him? What can you do today to

center your heart more deeply in Him?

Get to Know Meredith! 

Meredith Kendall is a change agent, driven by her God-given passion to equip struggling families to achieve their unique God-given potential.

As a nationally recognized sales leader, Meredith Kendall learned how to build bridges and make connections with the heart of what people need. God called her to co-found Advancing the Gospel which serves those who are often forgotten. Today she uses her gifting’s to help people understand the root causes of their struggles and find freedom through Christ.

Her upcoming book My GiGi’s House: Finding Hope will be released October 2019. Visit her online at www.the180program.org and her personal website www.meredithsagekendall.com

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If Our Life is Our Worship, How Beautifully Tuned is the Music it Plays?

image of a girl with worship quote pulled from text

Most of us can sing “loud and proud” as my husband would call it, during worship service, but if, according to Romans 12:1, our life–how we live and love–reveals presents our true and most meaningful worship to Jesus, and, I’d add, a proclamation hymn to a watching world, than how beautifully tuned is the music we play? Are there areas that, perhaps, throw the entire melody off?

Today’s guest, a music and Jesus lover, shares a thought-provoking analogy that will have us all cranking up the volume.

How Beautifully “tuned” is the Music of Your Life

By Amber Schamel

Picture of a piano

Image by Markus Gjengaar on unsplash

Does God like sour notes any more than we do? Imagine your favorite song being played by a talented musician when all of a sudden, they just start banging on the instrument and making a ruckus. How annoyed would you be? Imagine if the music our lives played created the same type of sound.

I’m a music lover. I have a beautiful piano that sits in our living room, and very few things bring me as much joy as sitting down to play for an hour. Best of all, I love to play all by myself when it’s just me and God and my piano.

Lately, something irked me. The D in the middle. When I attempt to play a song, that key malfunctions, and it makes playing a full song difficult. I’ll be in the middle of a powerful stanza, and that one note misses, leaving a hole in the music. Oh, the irritation! And it has only been a couple months since the piano was tuned.

The other evening in church, I was musing about this stubborn key as the pastor unknowingly drew aImage of someone playing a keyboard with pull quote text parallel. He spoke about how every part of our lives need to be in tune with the Bible, God’s Word. If one part is out of line, it throws everything off. How true that is! Like my piano, if my personal life is in line, but my family relationships are “sticky, the music of my life is “off key”. My behavior may be exemplary, but if my prayer life is stagnant or sporadic, my song won’t be complete. A note is missing somewhere.

I must continually ask myself, is my life in tune with my Savior? Are there any “sticky” places that I need Him to help me to work out? The Master conductor has made His Handbook, the Bible, available so I can make sure my every note is perfectly on key.

***

Let’s talk about this! What resonated most with you in today’s post? Probably the area I most need to grow in is my prayer life, which I’m ashamed to admit considering that should be the place I excel! Jesus died to remove the barriers between myself and God so that I could have a close, personal relationship with Him, and yet I take that for granted. Sigh. What about you? What area of your life tends to be the first to get “out of tune”? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other!

And before you go, make sure you sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive great, inspirational, and entertaining content sent directly to your inbox. The next edition releases at the end of this month. You can subscribe HERE.

Author photo of Amber Get to know Amber!

Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”. A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and has been awarded the Christian Indie Award in Historical Fiction twice. Between ministry, family and working in their family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites. Amber is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Visit her online at www.AmberSchamel.com/ and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!

You can also connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, and make sure to check out her author page on Amazon!

Check out her latest release, 12 Sisters Who Changed History:

The remarkable lives of twelve sisters who changed the course of history.Cover image--12 Sisters Who Changed History

Historians paint pictures of amazing men and women who influenced the world, but seldom do we hear about sister duos that forever altered the course of history. Whether fighting together—or against each other—these twelve women set armies to flight, guarded homelands from invasion, transformed countries and religious systems, and begat nations. From mythical Athena and Artemis, to the English thrones of Mary & Elizabeth Tudor, the influence these women left behind is taken for granted. Join us on an inspirational journey through time as we explore the extraordinary lives of Sisters Who Changed History.

*Athena & Artemis (Ancient Greek Mythology)

*Rachel & Leah (Ancient Palestine)

*Tru’ng Trac & Tru’ng Nhi (Vietnam)

*Mary & Anne Boleyn (England)

*Mary & Elizabeth Tudor (England)

*Angelina & Sarah Grimke (United States)

Grab your copy HERE.

Obedience in the Mundane

Have you ever felt invisible? Wondered if anyone would notice, should you stop doing whatever it is you’re doing, day JohnStudy1in and day out?

When our daughter was younger, I often wondered what would happen if I didn’t make the bed–after all, it’d only get messed up again. Or what if I left the laundry and dishes untouched.

There were times, many, when the tedium of the day wore me down and left me feeling … insignificant.

They say integrity is doing what you know is right when no one is watching.

Except, Someone is always watching, right? Psalm 139 tells us God is attentive to our every move. He knows every detail of our lives and every thought that flits through our brain. More than that, He takes great delight in us.

Psalm 37:23 says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord upholds them by the hand” (NLT, emphasis mine).

Pause to consider that verse for a moment. The Lord delights in every detail of our lives–when we’re doing something grand and exciting and when we’re folding towels for the umpteenth time. Perhaps because He knows our character, that part of us He’s continually molding, is grown in the big and the small.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a woman of integrity.

I want to be known for my character and obedience. I want God to look down on me, when I’m elbow deep in dishwater, and smile, and I want to do it all–everything–for Him and His glory.

For obedience sake.

These emotions and thoughts were triggered as I read Luke 1:5-7. Elizabeth and Zechariah, an old and childless couple, were known for being righteous and carefully obeying God’s commands and regulations. When we read this passage, it’s easy to skip over that, probably because we know the end of the story. They were faithful, and God rewarded them with something they’d deeply longed for–a child. Not just a child, but the one birthed to proclaim the coming of Christ.

Wow. Pretty awesome, right?

But let’s step back. Back to when, still childless and likely unnoticed, John’s parents lived obediently. Scripture tells us Zechariah was a Jewish priest, and as such, his responsibilities were to maintain the workings in the temple, instruct the people, and on occasion, if the lot cast landed on him, to enter the Holy Place of the Tabernacle to burn incense on the altar of incense.

I’m not a statistician, but it seems likely he could go his entire life and never, not once, receive this honor. He was one of 20,000 priests! Though Scripture doesn’t tell us, I think it’s safe to assume there were times he felt unseen and wondered if what he did mattered. After all, should he simply cease performing his duties, there were 19,999 other men ready and able to take his place, many of which likely had children.twins-1628843_1920

Let me explain the significance of that for a moment. In Bible times, children were seen as a blessing from God; barrenness was seen as a curse. Meaning, Elizabeth and Zechariah were likely judged for their infertility. The common assumption of their day–They’d likely done something wrong or had displeased God in some way, and that was the reason they were barren.

In other words, Elizabeth and Zechariah served God faithfully in the midst of their sorrow. Despite the fact that He hadn’t granted them the one thing they likely longed for above all else.

That’s integrity.

They obeyed in the mundane, in the hard and painful, simply because it was the right thing to do.

They obeyed because they knew God is worthy, amen? colossians-verse

This leads me to this week’s memory verse: “Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col. 3:17 NLT).

romans12-1-verseThere’s a verse I love, and one I pray often: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him” (Romans 12:1 NLT).

In view of all God has done for us, in view of Christ’s sacrificial death so we might live, may we offer our whole bodies–all we are. Our time, our gifts, our words, our thoughts–to Christ, as a living sacrifice.

Sometimes life is a sacrifice, right? Obedience isn’t always easy or glamorous. But that is “truly the way to worship [God].” Or to put it another way, every time we scrub toilets, mop floors, wipe snotty noses, or answer phones, if we’re doing it in obedience to Christ, we’re worshiping Him.

Isn’t that cool?

For further discussion, I invite you to join Cynthia Simmons and I for a video discussion on today’s passage.


livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this!

What were your thoughts as you read today’s focal passage? Is there an area in your life or something you do that feels insignificant? How does it feel knowing God is watching you every time you engage in that activity? How does it feel knowing that thing, whatever it is, can be an act of worship?

Did you have any other insights to share?

For those wanting to learn how to dig deeper into Scripture, join me in our Facebook group where we’ll be talking about reading biblical passages in light of their historical context. We’ll also touch a little on what I encouraged you to do last week–jot down observations and any questions you might have.

Before I go, I wanted to share information on a complimentary study that was recently launched by a dear friend:

How do we win the battle against selfishness? Outrageously Fruitful is an 11-week online Bible study that explores the characteristics the Spirit longs to develop within us. Traits like: love, joy, peace, and goodness. Let go and let God make your life outrageously fruitful! For more information and to register: http://www.mariaimorgan.com/its-time-bible-study

Other articles and videos you might find helpful:

Meaning in the Mundane

In Absence of Integrity

The Invisible Woman

Cultivating Intimacy

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It’s easy to fall into rote behaviors. To pray without thinking; to worship half-heartedly with our mouth singing one thing while our mind jumps to every task awaiting us. To read Scripture without personalizing and digesting the precious, intimate, life-changing Words of God.

It happens every year, it seems. Actually, more like every month, but admitting such would be far too self-disclosing. Somehow, my to-do list begins to grow, tugging at my heart, my mind, my worship. And when that happens, I’m left with two choices: keep going as if busyness is somehow normal and desirable, as if it’s perfectly okay to allow the temporal to crowd out the eternal–to keep me from the One person, the only One, who can strengthen, nourish, refresh, and fulfill me. Or I can stop! And make a conscious choice to slow down.

King David’s words to his son, right before assigning him a monumental task that would take decades to complete, really resonated with me this morning.

“…learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek Him, you will find Him” (1 Chron. 28:9 NLT).

Learn to know God intimately.

Worship and serve Him with [my] whole heart. An undivided heart. A focused and surrendered heart. And a willing mind, AbideVersejpg-photopublicdomainwhich means, I need to surrender my mind, and all those lists and agendas that run through it in a given day, to the lover of my soul. If I do that, if I intentionally seek Him, I will find Him.

Today, I need to unplug. Slow down. Rest and connect. And I plan to intentionally fill that need. This morning my sweet hubby and I are going to a lavender farm not too far from us, so we can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, a creation that naturally draws the heart to the Creator. We’ll listen to praise music. Pray. And simply rest.

What about you? When was the last time you set your to-do list aside and simply slowed down? What are some ways, when your heart and mind feel pulled in a thousand directions, that you still it and center it in worship?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and have a happy, restful, worshipful weekend!