Thought to share: Anxiety will come – uninvited – and thrust itself upon you. Barging in, it will attempt to unsettle you and cause you stress. But you don’t have to let it bully you. You don’t have to listen to its fear inspiring whispers. You don’t have to allow it to stay. When you feel anxiety grip your heart, that’s your cue to look at ME. As you look at ME, focusing on MY steadfast faithfulness, you will see MY goodness and love. You will be reminded of MY constant care for you. And in this frame of mind, anxiety will dissipate. It cannot stay in MY Presence.
I’d like you to meet my forever friend, Jennifer. I don’t remember when I didn’t know this girl. We’ve been through just about everything together. And the stories we could tell…..like the time she got a round brush stuck in her bangs during Sunday School and I took her to the kitchen and filled the brush and her hair with peanut butter to help get it out. Or the time I cut her hair. Or the time she set her back yard on fire when we were camping. Or when it appeared her hair was on fire at my wedding. (lots of hair and fire stories here) Or the time we got stuck in a tree in a field with an angry bull. Or the time she saved my life in the girl’s bathroom in high school. Or when we sneaked off campus for lunch and she left me hiding in the floorboard of her car for Coach Cleveland find. (I learned what aiding and abetting was that day) Or going to college together (with our other forever friend, Melissa).
This picture pretty much sums up our relationship.
I’m sure you’re going to love her thoughts!
Is there anything more nerve-wracking than driving in Atlanta? Well, yes actually. Driving through Atlanta with a load of 17-year-olds in tow.
A couple of years ago, I was driving my daughter and several friends up to north Georgia to go whitewater rafting. As we were zooming down the 285 “speedway”, I had a blow-out. I managed to get my old grey Suburban full of teenagers to the shoulder (such as it was). The next couple of minutes were alarm bells and sweat for me. I was a nervous wreck inside. The kids all piled out as to not sit in a hot car on the side of the Interstate. The “shoulder” was a very narrow left-side concrete strip, which left me in a sheer panic of the thought of one of my passengers getting hit by any of the literally thousands of vehicles whizzing by in the six lanes next to us. When an 18-wheeeler would blow by, our bodies were literally swayed by the hot wind that rushed behind them. I was sure that distracted drivers were manning the wheel on most of these cars, and well, let’s be honest: we ourselves were a distraction– a bunch of kids on the side of the road with a crazy-looking, sweating, woman and a broken-down truck.
In my group were some young men, one of whom was an Eagle Scout, and they set out to look under the back of the Suburban to start getting the spare out. They weren’t having any luck though. My spare was not dropping down like it was supposed to. They worked and sweated and then started over again…but no luck. The rest of the kids in the group grew restless and so did I.
A couple of policemen pulled up. They were extremely nice and friendly but they could not figure out the tire either. We politely discussed what my next move might be (a tow-truck) while the two boys continued to fiddle around under the truck. We had been at this for about 30 minutes now, and I knew it was probably time to throw in the towel and move to Plan B.
At this point, my daughter emerged from the side of the Suburban and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen her since we had first pulled over.
She said simply, “Can I try it?”
I said, “Well, sure…but the guys have been working on it and they haven’t figured it out yet.” That was code for, “Don’t bother.”
Then she said, “Well, I’ve been reading the Owner’s Manual. Maybe that will help.”
That was one of those parent-moments. You know…when you just stand there like a dork and marvel at this kid of yours and their superior reasoning skills, and wonder when that transformation happened without you noticing.
You can guess what happened next. It wasn’t too long before we were, in the words of Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again.”
That was a scary situation, but like most crucial moments in life, we laughed about it later. As time passed, I found some symbolism in the chaos.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NIV) says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
How many times are we faced with a scary situation in life? Something that we haven’t faced before… Something that seems to be without a solution…something that is entrenched in treacherous circumstances. We stand there, and stare at it, and try to figure out how to fix it. But it won’t fix. We try again. Still, nothing. We fiddle with it, tinker with it, try looking at it upside-down…nothing.
At some point, hopefully, we turn to our “Instruction Manual”, God’s Word, and look for instructions on how to address our problem. But how much easier would our life be if we would read the instructions right from the start? How much stress and worry could be avoided? Maybe some negative situations wouldn’t even occur at all.
All we need to do is read the directions that our Maker gave us. God doesn’t want us to stand on the side of road worrying about what is going to come barreling toward us and knock the breath out of us. He wants us to read the directions. Then, we can get off the shoulder and continue our journey toward something better.
This is the crew who survived the flat tire fiasco. The daughter who saved the day (and the cost of a tow) is Kayla, the long-haired beauty sitting on the bench, second from the right.
Jennifer lives in Madison, Mississippi with Pat, her wonderfully patient husband of 24 years and her two amazingly brilliant daughters, Tavyn and Kayla. She is the 7th grade principal at Madison Middle School and a die-hard LSU fan. But most importantly – she loves Jesus.
Thought to share: don’t spend your time trying to project success, beauty or the perfect life. Those things never helped another. They never changed the world. Instead, focus on projecting ME. Let your words of joy and love paint a picture of ME. Let your attitude of kindness and patience display MY heart. Let your choices of faithfulness and self-control reflect MY character. And as you present ME in your everyday life, you will change the world.
Thought to share: the freedom society gives you is a blessing. Value and appreciate it. But, real freedom comes from ME. Freedom internally – inside you. Freedom in your mind – in your thoughts. Freedom to be real. No human can give you that kind of freedom. And the freedom I give you is free. It costs you nothing. No debt is owed. I set you free so that you’d know freedom.