I Had A Plan

Like many teens, I had life all figured out and had a plan for every step of the way.  I knew what undergraduate and graduate schools I would attend.  I knew that I wanted to work with others to “get experience” before opening my own office.  I knew what kind of early-career and late-career vehicles I wanted.  I knew that I wanted children.  I knew where I wanted to live.  Summarily, I knew it all and my plan was the best laid.  Nothing would derail even the smallest portion of my track.  This life-planning thing was a piece of cake!

I thought I was the author of my life.  I thought I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with no help at all.  I thought that my plans were so great, that there would never be room for improvement.

Speed bump.  Hurdle!  Screeching halt!  What happened?  My plan was the best ever conceived.  Surely, my goals were worthy of being reached and in the way that I planned to reach them.  Right?

Not exactly.

My plan was way off course and I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to steer it back into the direction in which I wanted to go.  Confident that I could move mountains, I buckled down and brought new energy into my life’s plan.  Life was all about what I wanted for myself and my family and I was going to make make it just the way that I wanted.

Nowhere in my road map was there a place for God.  In other words, God had no role in forging plans for my life.

But, scripture reminds me that God knew who I was before I existed, and that He had plans for my future.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”  Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV) 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Through the many storms when I called out to God, He answered.  I wasn’t always able to see or hear His responses, so I often thought that my cries for help went unheard or unanswered.  But I now recognize that He always hears and He always answers.  Nonbelievers believe in gut feelings, instinct, and intuition.  I believe in discernment – the ability to clearly understand what God is telling me.  I believe His promises.  I believe that He is faithful.  I believe that He pursues us.  I believe in God’s plan for me.

 

 

 

Heavenly Father,

I am thankful that You relentlessly pursued me even as I called out to You for help, but didn’t fully believe that You would hear me or provide answers.  Despite having leaned only on my own understanding and making plans that did not include You, You were always with me.  I am thankful that You helped me to understand that You are my life’s Author and that Your plans are perfect.  As each layer of Your plan for my life is revealed, I am in awe at how You have moved me from where I was to where I am now. My hindsight is Your foresight.  Please help me to lean less on myself and more on You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

CC

 

Lyrics

From where I’m standing
Lord it’s so hard for me to see
Where this is going
And where You’re leading me
I wish I knew how
All my fears and all my questions
Are gonna play out
In a world I can’t control

Oh, oh

When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You’re already there
You’re already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You’re already there
You’re already there

Oh, oh, oh, oh

From where You’re standing
Lord, You see a grand design
That You imagined
When You breathed me into life
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands
Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture perfect plan
When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You’re already there
You’re already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You’re already there
You’re already there

One day I’ll stand before You
And look back on the life I’ve lived
I can’t wait to enjoy the view
And see how all the pieces fit [x2]

One day I’ll stand before You
And look back on the life I’ve lived
Cause You’re already there
You’re already there
When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You’re already there
You’re already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You’re already there
You’re already there

You are already there

Health Insurance

After a day like today, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have health insurance.  It’s easy for me to forget how many uninsured and underinsured people live on the edge in fear of an event that could literally bankrupt them.  As I write each copay, it usually doesn’t occur to me that the rest of my bill is paid by my insurance company, because my employer and I pay premiums.

Flu symptoms don’t send me into a panic.  Muscle spasms aren’t as worrisome as they could be.  Prescription drugs and quality healthcare are within reach.  Generally, I have no daily worries about access to healthcare, and for that, I feel blessed beyond what I deserve.

Father,

I feel truly blessed to be able to obtain adequate medical care for myself and family.   I praise You for reminding me just how blessed my family is.  I pray that I am never so content with my own situation that I forget about the plights of others both near and far.  

Also, I lift up the family of a good friend as they anxiously await tomorrow’s surgery to repair blocked arteries of their young daughter and sister.  I pray that You will guide the doctors’ minds and hands as they work to reverse the heart disease from which she suffers.  I don’t know her healthcare coverage situation, but I pray that she recovers without the worry of major medical bills that typically follow lifesaving surgeries such as what she will receive tomorrow.  I ask that You comfort her family and provide for them in a way that only You can.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

CC

Four Walls

If you’re a fan of Dave Ramsey, or have taken his Financial Peace course, you may be familiar with what he describes at the “four walls”: food, utilities, shelter, and transportation.

Having plenty of food, working utilities, a roof over my head, and a vehicle for getting out and about are today’s reasons for thankfulness. To use the cliché, “in this tough economy”, I feel blessed to have all of these things.  I am grateful that my family doesn’t know what true hunger is, does not have to live by candlelight (unless there is a weather-related power outage), have a safe place to sleep at night, and are able to go places whenever we have schedules to keep or just want to travel.

It pains me to drive by the handful of empty homes within one block of my home.  Places that provided shelter to friends and classmates of my children.  Homes where owners tended to landscaping and waved as I drove by them.  Buildings that now sit dark and empty.  I can’t help but to wonder about the families and what their lives are like now.

Father,

Thank you for allowing me to be in this place that I comfortably call home.  My heart is heavy for neighbors who are no longer nearby.  I pray for their safety and that they are able to build up their four walls with You as their foundation and shelter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

CC

Super Sunday

It’s been a super day.  It began with a moving and emotional pastoral message, followed by an enriching Sunday school class during which my husband volunteered us to perform a skit unbeknownst to me.  The class verdict on our performances is that they were Oscar-worthy.  Who knew we were closet Thespians?  After services, we collected one of our teens who’d returned to church from a weekend retreat, gathered the rest of the crew, including my youngest daughter’s BFF, and went on a family outing to a local skating rink.  What a fun time and sweat-inducing workout!  Hopefully, I burned off enough calories from lunch to feel less guilty about taking the easy way out – pizza for the third time this week!

Today is day five of a month of publicly expressing thankfulness for random things.  Today’s random gift for which I am thankful?  My love for football.  As I sit here now watching Superbowl XLVI, I can’t help but recall memories of countless Sundays in the living room surrounded by the sound of whistles, play-calling, celebrations of victory, and sneers of defeat accompanied a larger than life figure who filled a room with his mere presence – my dad.

My mom is a football fan, but there is just something about watching the game with Dad that brings forth fond memories.  Perhaps it was the range of emotions that he showed.  Or maybe it was the couch coaching for which he was famously heckled by us kids.  Maybe it was the fact that he knew exactly what was going on in a game; I couldn’t have named a play if it hit me in the head.  I don’t quite know the exact moment or reason that I became a fan of football.  All that I remember is that football reminds me of my dad and I am a huge fan of his.  I can’t speak of the sport without thinking of him.  I can’t think of John Madden without picturing my dad yelling at the television as superfluous X’s and O’s covered the screen.

Dad has been in Heaven for nearly twenty years, but as I sit here watching the Superbowl, I can vividly imagine him sitting next to me coaching from his heavenly seat.  Today, I am thankful for my love of football, because it means so much more to me than a game.

Father,

Thank you for blessing me with a dad whose love for You was great, whose unconditional love for me still warms my heart, and whose love for football is the reason I enjoy the game so much.  I know that Dad is in Heaven looking down on me and smiling as I recall fond memories of him.  Football brings me as close to Dad as any other memory from my childhood.  I pray that something I do with my children will bring about the same kinds of fond memories when they think of me.   Please keep the players in today’s game physically safe and mentally alert.  I pray these things in Jesus’ name, Amen!

CC

Saturdays Mornings Are the Best!

Four days into a month of thankfulness and the list of things from which to choose is still quite lengthy.  My fourth reason for thankfulness is as much a blessing as the others, which means it’s quite a big deal to me.

As a parent of four children, it took quite a few years to get to the point where my husband and I could go out on dates for a couple of hours without the need for a sitter, but we have now arrived at that point!  We can’t do overnights yet, but we’ll take whatever we can get.  We are by no means a wild and crazy couple, so you’ll never find us painting the town red in a club or bar.  You’ll rarely even spot us in a movie theater for a matinee, let alone an evening showing.

Instead, you’ll find us dining at a local restaurant in the early morning hours each Saturday. It’s not about the food as much as it is about spending quality time with one another, in a relaxing setting with no interruptions, well, except the server, but that’s to be expected when you’re dining outside of home.

I am thankful for the opportunity to spend every Saturday morning out on a date with my husband.  I am grateful that our children can take care of themselves for an hour or two before calling one of us about some kind of non-crisis that they’re having.  As each successful date goes by, the length of time that we will spend away from home will expand.  One of these years, we just might be able to go out at night and paint the town until the roosters crow.  😉  Until then, Saturday morning is “date night”.

Father,

Thank you for allowing me to have Saturday morning dates with my husband.  I am thankful for the quiet time that we have during which we are able to pray together for our family and friends.  I feel blessed for being able to shut out the busyness of our schedules and just focus on one another in a way that’s difficult to do at home.  I pray that you will continue to bless our family and the friends for whom we pray and help us to sense your presence wherever we spend our Saturday mornings.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

CC

Third Day of Thanksgiving

There’s no big buildup to today’s message of thankfulness.  I’ll get right to the point.  I am thankful for the amazing man whom I call best friend, confidant, and husband.

He understands me.  He works hard to maintain a wonderful marriage and to be a great dad.  He works hard to provide for our family.  He is caring.  He is funny.  He is kind.  He is loving.  He is patient. He is my hero!

I love that he frequently shares the Gospel with his clients, plays Christian music in his stores, and invites customers, family, and friends to attend our church.  He takes seriously the command to make disciples of others.  The Great Commission isn’t just a string of words for him; it’s his mission.

Father,

Thank you for blessing me with an amazing husband, best friend, and father to our children.  I pray that you will keep him safe as he travels each day for work and as he spreads Your Gospel.

In love,

CC

 

Arms encircling me

 

Today I Am Thankful for…

Deadlines, schmeadlines.  Conference calls.  Emails.  Mondays.  Eeek!

I love weekends.  Especially long, holiday weekends.  One of my favorite times of the week is sometime around 5 PM on Friday, because I have the whole weekend ahead of me to do as I please.  Some weekends consist of spending quality time as a family.  Some are full of running errands.  When the mood strikes, some weekends are overtaken by home improvement projects.  Let us not forget about the weekends that are filled (mostly) with me sitting on the sofa being the biggest bum that I can be.   As a former Type A personality, this is an art that I’ve learned to perfect in recent years and I must admit, it feels great to relax a little.  Live a little!

While I love a long weekend or vacation, today, I am ever so grateful to be employed.  In recent years, I’ve fallen out of love with my career, but now have a renewed sense of pleasure in it.  I made it through January without any serious gripes.  That’s major!

Maybe it’s the economy that makes me more grateful than ever.  Or perhaps the broken ties to a negative associate have given me new energy.  Maybe it’s a little of both.  However, I like to think that the biggest reason for the change in my attitude is Him.  He has been
working on making me more content with where I am and what I have.  He’s also been telling me to do everything that I do to His glory.

Today, I am grateful to be employed for a company that allows me to be creative and provides the flexibility that working moms desire.

 

Heavenly Father,

Thank you SO MUCH for providing a job that I wasn’t even seeking fifteen years ago.  It has been an honor and pleasure to share with others the story of my life of which You have authored so amazingly.  Only You knew that the door, which was opened door so many years ago would lead me to where I am today.  I praise You for infusing me with a renewed spirit to do everything that I do in such a way that it brings glory to You.  While I often stumble, I am always thankful for and overwhelmed by Your presence in my life.  I pray for continued refilling.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

In love,

CC

 

 

A Month of Thankfulness

The month of November is the time of year when many of us remember to be thankful.   We try harder to truly focus on the things for which we should be grateful.  Some of us even post daily messages on our favorite social networking sites, so that others can see how appreciative we are.  I’ve never had the urge to publicly share daily messages of gratefulness…until now.

I’m always grateful – even during the times when I grumble about one silly circumstance or another.  But something washed over me this morning.  Literally!  So, here I am, sharing a message about something for which I am more grateful than words can describe.  It may seem silly to some, but it is a genuine gratefulness for being able to do something that most people on the planet, and to a smaller extent (but no less important), people in this country, can’t do…

…wash their faces in warm water that comes from a faucet with a seemingly endless supply. 

Washing my face in warm water is a privilege that I don’t think about often enough.  Stopping to remember that the world is filled with people who desperately need clean water for drinking and for hygienic purposes makes me recognize how truly blessed I am.

So each day this month, I’ll share a prayer of thanksgiving, much like the one that I said to God as I cleaned my face this morning.

Dear Father,

Thank you for supplying the warm water that I had access to this morning.  I understand that something as basic as this is not within easy reach of others, so I do not take it for granted.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Follow the links below to see just how blessed you are if you have full-time access to running water.

The Water Project 

In love,

CC

Facebook’s “Like” Button – Not Always an Easy Choice

What does Facebook’s “Like” button mean to you?  Does it have a different meaning depending on the status to which you’re responding?  Does clicking the button without commenting seem impersonal at times?

“I’m totally loving all the snow!” 

“TGIF!” 

“A friend is having surgery tomorrow.  Please pray.” 

“My neighbor is such a mean person.”

If a friend posted any of the above as status messages, would you click the “Like” button”?  Would you hesitate as I do sometimes before deciding whether or not a “Like” is an adequate form of support for a friend?

Usually, making the decision to click the thumbs up icon is an easy one for me.  If a friend is posting a celebratory message or an opinion with which I agree, a quick push of the “Like” button lets them know that I, well, like what they’ve posted. 

Take the first two statuses above.  Liking snow and Fridays is pretty straight forward, so I can “like” those without commenting and move along without feeling awkward.

However, what about the status that announces surgery and requests prayer?  Would you be so quick to “like” that one and move on without commenting?  Would it seem impersonal? 

At times, I’ve hesitated before pushing the button without at least leaving a comment, such as, “Praying for you…”  Something about just liking this kind of status seems impersonal to me.  I figure that if someone took the time to put themselves out there and request prayer, the least I could do is respond with words of comfort and affirmation.   (Oh, and as a side note, when I tell someone that I’m going to pray, I stop whatever I’m doing at that very moment and do just what I promised.  I pray.  After all, it’s not like I was really busy; I was perusing Facebook.)

How do you feel about liking a status that informs you of some kind trial that has been, or will be, faced?  Would it seem odd to like a status that announces bad or sad news?  “My car troubles are a bummer”, or, “I think I’m coming down with the flu”.  Pushing the “Like” button doesn’t seem like the right thing to do in these instances.

While I’m on the topic of potentially improper use of the little blue thumps up button, how would you respond to a status like the above one about the mean neighbor?  Would “liking” that status signify that you agree about your friend’s assessment of their neighbor?  Or would it mean that you agree with the neighbor’s alleged bad behavior – secretly thinking that your friend deserves what they’re getting?

Sometimes, we push the “Like” button and move on without commenting.  I’m guilty of that.  So, I’m trying to slow down a bit in order to really communicate my sentiments about a status update that a friend took the time to share.

I push the “Like” button at least a dozen times each day, but each “Like” has its own meaning.  Sometimes it means, “Cool”.  Other times it means, “Please let me know what I can do to help”.   Frequently it means, “I agree”.  Regardless of what it means each time I click it, I love the show of support that it allows me to demonstrate toward my friends.  I never want it to mean that I’m too busy and impersonal to be there for a friend, so when called for, clicking that button is followed by something else that Facebook encourages – comments.

CC

Warm up with This Chili Recipe

Time is of the essence in my house when making meals during the week, so there’s no time to try on my Martha Stewart hat in an attempt to whip up something that’s fit for royalty. Most weekday meals must be quick, and hopefully, tasty.

Among the handful of quick and tasty recipes that I alternate cooking on cold winter days is chili. The ingredients are simple and stove-to-table time is approximately 30 minutes. Not bad!

If you’re looking to warm up with this easy chili recipe, you’ll need these ingredients on hand (I have no brand allegiance, I just buy what tastes good and suits my wallet):

  • 2 large cans of kidney beans (drained)
  • 2 cans (or jars) of pasta sauce (I prefer Hunt’s “Zesty” or “Meat” flavors for chili)
  • 1 small to medium can of chili seasoned tomatoes
  • 1 small can of corn (drained)
  • 1 packet of chili seasoning
  • 1 pound of ground beef

 

Preparation

  • Brown ground beef thoroughly in large pot and drain excess fat
  • Add packet of chili seasoning and can of seasoned tomatoes, stir until ingredients are mixed well
  • Mix in 2 cans of pasta sauce and 1 can of corn and stir well
  • Add 2 cans of kidney beans and mix well with all other ingredients
  • Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally
  • Adding ingredients slowly allows the flavors and seasonings to mix well; it also makes it easier to stir.

To stretch the recipe, or simply to make it heartier, add 1 pound of boiled elbow macaroni to the prepared chili and mix well.

Note: This recipe yields enough servings to feed my family of six for two nights and also yields a few servings for lunch and/or snack.

Serve with cheddar corn muffins and/or salad.

Cheddar corn muffins

Prepare 2 boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix as directed and add 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar to the batter before pouring into baking cups. 

Tip!  Add 1 tbsp sugar if you desire sweet corn muffins or try adding jalapeno or pepper jack cheese for a spicy kick!

P.S. – I don’t fuss with homemade salad.  I use salad mix and toss in whatever suits me at the time be it cheese, croutons, grapes, nuts, strawberries.