When God Changes Your Plans

I should be packing the last item in my carry-on bag and checking that I have enough changes of clean underwear 😉

But, I’m not. I emptied what I’d already packed and put away my bags last night.

I should be checking into my flight on the American Airlines app.

But, I’m not. I canceled my flight yesterday.

I should be flying out of Charlotte tomorrow morning at 9:40 and landing in Cincinnati around 11:30am.

But, I’m not. I’ll be home in Monroe instead.

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Three friends and I began planning this trip in January. We met when we started Flourish Writers Academy at the beginning of 2021 (part of Flourish Writers). After we got connected and started meeting regularly outside of academy events to talk about our writing and to share prayer requests and praises, we decided to travel from our home states (NC, FL, CA, and MI), spend the weekend of April 30-May 2 together in Cincinnati, and attend Flourish Writers LIVE on May 1.

But we aren’t.

One friend tested positive for Covid-19 this past Monday and began the necessary 10-day quarantine.

Another friend’s mom fell over the weekend and had surgery for her injuries on Tuesday. Our friend decided she needed to stay with her mom to help in her recovery.

That left two of us.

Officially, we could have still gone. But part of the reason we were so excited about going was to get to meet each other in person and spend time together. When it became obvious that everyone couldn’t go, she and I decided we’d cancel our plans as well.

Let’s be honest: We really didn’t cancel our plans though.

God did.

At this point, I don’t know His reason for doing it. I may never know why, or He may reveal it at some future time.

But, I can tell you this, I am at peace with it.

I eagerly anticipated this trip since I bought my plane ticket in March. I was looking forward to the content of the writers conference itself. I was also excited to meet Mindy and Jenny – the women who created Flourish Writers and who would lead the event. I was looking forward to being refreshed, encouraged, and inspired anew in my writing.

However, I trust God. If this trip didn’t happen, it was for my good – it was for the good of my three friends as well. There was something else we needed to do this weekend or something God was protecting us from. Or it just wasn’t in God’s timing for us to go right now. Or some other reason that only God knows.

Has God ever canceled your plans?

Maybe it was something relatively small like my current example – a weekend trip with friends.

Or maybe it was something big.

You expected to be married by a certain age, but you’re still single.

You assumed marriage would last forever, but you’re divorced.

You planned to have children, but you’re still childless.

You thought your child would stay on the right path but now he or she is wayward.

You wanted a certain job or a promotion, but those doors haven’t opened.

You thought a move to a new house or a new town or a new state would make things better, but the move didn’t happen or your situation didn’t change even when your address did.

God interrupts.

God cancels plans.

God changes plans.

God makes new plans.

The next time God cancels your plans, it’s ok to be disappointed. It’s ok to be upset or even angry. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to scream. But don’t stay in that dry, dreary place.

Take some time in quiet to talk with Him. You can express your feelings. God can handle your anger, frustration, or hurt feelings. He isn’t surprised by your response. In fact, He already knows how you feel; he’s just waiting for you to talk to Him about it so He can show you what He has planned instead.

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Ask Him to reveal to you why you missed the opportunity. Why things didn’t go according to your plan. Then wait and listen to what He has to say. Ask Him to help you accept what He has to say. Ask Him to help you trust Him more. Ask Him to help you with your unbelief. He is faithful to hear His children and to respond when we cry out to Him.

Live in Peace

“God allows the awareness of…distance [from Him] at times; it’s a wake-up call for the ones who care. It drives us back to Him.” Jessie North – Cultivating Holy Beauty Book 3: Walking in the New

Some friends and I recently finished Cultivating Holy Beauty Book 3: Walking in the New by Jessie North. It was part of a 3-book Bible study series that we started a year or so ago. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a group Bible study. North offers so many useful tools to help you gain intimacy with God; she teaches you a quiet time method as well as how to write Hurt Letters to God and how to hear Love Letters from Him.

Before we completed the last lesson in Book 3, my friends and I had already started to talk about what we would do after this book. Officially, our church’s women’s ministry, which heads our group Bible study, won’t start another study until the fall, but my friends and I wanted to keep something going. Many expressed worry over maintaining the closeness to God they felt while doing the group study once we were finished and headed into summer with nothing formal planned.

And God is so good! The last lesson in the book was titled “Sustaining Through Seasons”, and North addressed maintaining closeness with God during dry seasons, “off” seasons, dark seasons, etc. It was an answer to prayer.

We started with a 4-day bible study plan through Bible App/YouVersion called God’s Peace. Several of the ladies in our group had done individual studies through this app and suggested with try it as a group. There is a feature where you can post comments about what you’re learning during the study. We discovered once we started that our plan was from Focus on the Family and was meant to be completed with your children. However, we continued it together this past week focusing on the assigned Bible readings for each day. Some of us even used techniques we learned from the quiet time method Jessie North taught in Cultivating Holy Beauty Book 1: Intimacy with Jesus as we did the Bible readings each day.

My main takeaways from the 4-day plan were as follows:

  • Peace comes when you realize you are safe with God.
  • Peace comes “through following God’s rules.”
  • Peace comes when there is well being at home (when family members reflect the character of God).
  • Peace comes through a strong faith.

Here are some of the verses that stood out to me from the readings this week as well as some songs that came to mind when I meditated on the verses.

Isaiah 32:17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Romans 12:18 – Do all you can to live in peace with everyone.

Col 3:15 – and let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Psalm 4:3 But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.

https://youtu.be/6kj8pzDLcc8

https://youtu.be/rn9-UNer6MQ

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=G2XtRuPfaAU


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VBzg4B3_yS8

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fhtI-xhVXWI


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KHMVSdIjBcg


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YihKbG8-X3U


https://youtu.be/R0gu0nOaFsI

How to Be a Godly Woman – Esther’s Example

I want to be a godly woman, a woman whose life has been visibly impacted by the gospel message. This type of life brings glory to God, and that is a Christian’s purpose.

I want that for your life as well.

Let’s be women whose lives please God. Let’s be women who respond with humble obedience to the Good News that Jesus gave His life for our salvation…

Ok, whoa. Time out. Let’s stop here. This sounds great and all, but what does it mean? HOW do we live godly lives? It’s great to want to, but how do we live it out?

We’ll look to God’s word for examples.  Queen Esther, a Jew who became a queen of Persia, showed herself to be a godly woman many times throughout her story in the book of Esther in the Old Testament.

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God gifted Esther with a personality and beauty that won her favor with many people she met in her life including the King of Persia, who “loved her more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight…so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen…” (excerpts from Esther 2:17, ESV)

Even more impressive than being able to make the king fall in love with her, was Esther’s faith in God. Her faith propelled her to act on behalf of her people when her uncle Mordecai discovered a plot against them. When Mordecai uncovered the plot, he shared that knowledge with Esther, asking her to go to the king and beg him to help the Jews.

Truthfully, Esther was fearful at first.  She knew that taking matters into her own hands and speaking to the king before he called for her company would mean certain death.  (There was a law that said no one, not even the king’s wives, could go to the king unless he summonsed them).  She initially told her uncle she couldn’t help.  However, he reminded her to trust in God’s providential timing and to fulfill her personal calling.  In Esther 4:14b, Mordecai points out to Esther, although indirectly, that God made wife to the king of Persia during a very specific time and for a definite reason – so He could save His children, the Jews, through her.

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Esther showed herself to be a godly woman in her response to the request from her uncle.  She chose to trust God’s will for her life and to take courage and do what was right for God’s people.  She said, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat and drink for three days, nights or day.  I and my young women will also fast as you do.  Then, I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

Basically, she said, “Bring it on. I trust God’s will for my life and His timing.  I choose to bloom where I’m planted.”

But seriously, this is what we learn from Esther about how to be godly women: godly women submit to God’s will for their lives, like Jesus’ mother Mary didThey also trust God’s providence and His timing, and they are willing to work for God’s kingdom in their places of influence.

Godly women yield to what God has planned for us. We say yes to where He leads us. We allow Him to carry out His will through our lives. We are productive for the Kingdom in the places God puts us. Submitting to God involves trust in who God is. It involves confidence that He is sovereign and good and just. Again, this sounds good, but how exactly do we get to this point? Pray. Ask God to help us do this. Ask God to have his way in our lives. (Then be ready to yield when He directs you). Listen. How does God respond to your request? Where does He say to go? What does He say to do? Read. Go to scripture and read about other godly women for more examples of holy living. Talk. Seek out women who are leading godly lives. Consider why you think they’re godly? What about their lives leads you to believe they are living a life pleasing to God? What behaviors do they model? Ask them to describe times in their lives when God has required them to submit. Find out what obedience to God looks like and feels like in their experiences. Respond.  Do what God directs you to do.  Live the way He has told you to live.  Turn away from the things He tells you to turn away from.  Be productive for the Kingdom of God in your places of influence. This isn’t something that will happen in a day or two. This will take repeated time alone with God in prayer and in reading His word. This will mean praying daily for God to help you submit to His will…even after you think you’ve submitted, pray each day that God will help you submit to Him that particular day. I passionately encourage you to pursue a deeper relationship with God in this way.  Submit to His will for your life.  Adorn the gospel with your behavior.  Let the world see how your faith has impacted your life.  Be joyful and act on what is right in the places He has put you. Guided Prayer: Father, Thank you for sending your Son to die for me. Thank you for making a way for me to have eternal life with you. Thank you for pursuing me and for bringing me to yourself. I want people to see that your sacrifice has impacted my life. I want people to see that you have changed me. I am your servant girl, Lord. I believe that you have me in this place at this time for a purpose.  You created me for this.  You have shown me that I can trust you. I want to submit my life to you, Lord. I don’t know what that looks like, but you do. I don’t know how to do it, but you do. Help me to do it, Lord. Help me to yield my plans and my agenda and my schedule and my to-do list to you. Make me humbly obedient. Make me your servant girl every day of my life. Amen

 

 

Thoughts – Does it say that in the Bible?  See – https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/biblical-say-bloom-youre-planted/

What If You Had Been There?

Imagine you’re Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, Mary the mother of James, or any of the woman who closely followed Jesus and were there in Jerusalem during Holy Week.

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Focus on Jesus, the one you followed, talked to, learned from, believed in, loved…

Now see him snatched from the garden by torchlight.

See him dragged around the city and subjected to illegal trials.

Now he’s beaten and spat on. See his bloody and broken body.

See him on the cross.

Now he’s dead. See his body wrapped in cloth and laid in a cave in the side of a hill.

All is lost. How can this be? You don’t understand. Were you wrong to follow him? You were convinced he was going to save you, but he couldn’t even save himself.

Now, the angels say he’s alive!

Now he appears before you – whole, healthy, breathing, eating, speaking!

Now he tells you to go, teach, baptize, and make more disciples.

See him lifted from the mountain and watch him be carried into heaven.

You have been saved. Everything he said is true. He is alive. He is the Christ!

Now you are sure.

Now you will tell everyone you meet about what he did to free people from sin.

Now you will live the rest of your life for him.

Then, you will spend eternity with him…

On this Maundy Thursday, spend time in quiet with Jesus thanking him for the sacrifice he made for you. If you haven’t been following along with us as we focused on Holy Week during the month of March, here are the reading lists:

What Happened the Week Before Jesus Died

What Happened The Week Before Jesus Died – Triumphal Entry

What Happened the Day Before Jesus Died

What Happened the Day Jesus Died

What Happened Three Days After Jesus Died