When God Speaks at Wal-Mart

Posted by on Nov 12, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-12-27-35-pm

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 

~Philippians 2:3-4

Did you catch how clear these verses are?  Do NOTHING out of selfish ambition.  Whew!  Now that convicts me!

I think most of us want to be patient and self-less people and in theory, we know these are attributes of followers of Christ.  This is not news to us, but I wonder if you, like me, ever struggle with actually living it out in your daily life?

Too many times I look out for my own personal interests instead of the interests of others.  It is as if MY time is more valuable than someone else’s time.

The other day, I stopped by Wal-Mart on my way home from work, just to pick up a few items.   I only needed THREE things.  Of course it was a Monday and of course it was getting close to 5:00 pm.  Looking back, I realize maybe this was not the best idea I had ever had, but regardless of my lack of judgment, there I was.

I was making great time zipping through the aisles UNTIL I went to checkout.  I made a quick pass through and examined the checkout lines.  The self-checkout line seemed to be a mile long.  I noticed a lady wearing strappy red shoes at the end of that line and I felt sorry for her.  I quickly went to find a faster, full-service line.

As I quickly pushed my buggy along the aisles, I found a checkout line with only one buggy in it!

SCORE!!!

I jumped in behind a young lady and her toddler and waited.  This lady’s buggy was full, but I felt sure it would go fast.

As I waited, I watched as the young lady in front of me was having trouble with her toddler misbehaving.  The toddler was picking up items and dropping them one by one.  I found myself getting irritated because it was slowing down the checkout process, but I remained positive and still felt sorry for the lady with the red strappy shoes in the one-mile self-checkout line.

As the young lady’s last items were scanned, I felt happiness in my heart until the young lady dug around in her purse and whipped out a stack of coupons.

I resisted from letting out a loud sigh of despair, but I could not hold back the look of disappointment that came to my face.

“Oh no,” I thought.  “Maybe the self-checkout line would have been quicker.”

The cashier started scanning each coupon and of course some of the coupons did not work.  Some were out of date.  Some were for products the young lady did not even purchase.  Some had restrictions on them.  One by one the coupons were scanned and I was relieved when the last one beeped with success.

Just as I thought it was almost my turn, the young lady scanned her credit card and wouldn’t you know it?  It would not work.  The cashier did not know what to do and said, “There must be a problem with the machine.”

INSERT MY FRUSTRATION!

After trying several times to get the card processed, the cashier had to call for the manager to come over and help.

As I looked up, the lady with the red strappy shoes (who was in the mile-long self check-out line) was exiting Wal-Mart with her paid items.  I mumbled under my breath and made a mental note to always choose the self-checkout line.

It was too late for me to change lines now.  I was stuck.  It had been a long day and I was busting at the seams to get home.  I was frustrated.  I was tired.  I just wanted to leave Wal-Mart.

It was then that I felt God’s Spirit speak to me.

Through my frustration and impatience, God reminded me of those verses in Philippians about valuing others more than myself.

My heart began to soften and my frustration faded.

As I watched the young lady struggle with her toddler, God reminded me about how hard life is.  He brought to my mind how difficult it was for me to complete a Wal-Mart shopping trip when my children were toddlers, and how being a Mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world.

As I watched the cashier desperately try to process the young lady’s credit card, God reminded me of my first cashier job in college.  I, too, felt insecure when something went wrong with the credit card machine.  I thought back to the time I meant to charge a customer $15.00 but instead, I charged them $150.00.  I was so nervous as I called my manager over to help me correct my mistake.

Right there in the checkout line at Wal-Mart, God convicted me about my attitude and He reminded me of the importance of showing compassion, patience and kindness.

When I finally did get to checkout with my three items, the sweet cashier told me it had been a hard day for her and that she was sorry it took so long.  She also told me she was new as a cashier and was still learning.  I smiled and said, “It’s no problem.  I’ve been there too.”

I believe one of the biggest “proofs” of our faith is how we treat other people.  When we get frustrated, complain or mumble, we do not please God.  What pleases Him is when we use kindness and patience with others.  He is pleased when we put someone else’s needs above our own.

The truth is, I had a bad attitude and was in too big of a hurry that day in Wal-Mart.  I am grateful the God of the Universe spoke to me and reminded me of His Truth.

The next time you find yourself in a situation where your patience is running thin, I hope you think about these verses in Philippians.  I hope your heart softens and you show the love of Christ in that situation….even if you’re in the middle of Wal-Mart!

~Joy

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
~Colossians 3:12

Read More

Make a Memory!

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-3-47-51-pm

Fall is in the air and it thrills my soul! It is my favorite time of year as I love the cooler temperatures, the colorful trees, and the smell of pumpkin spice.

This is the time of year when I pull out my crockpot and make chili beans, vegetable soup, homemade chicken and noodles and all of those warm, “feel good” one-pot meals.  

I sip hot chocolate (with lots of marshmallows), wear wool socks, thick sweaters and boots! OH yes—fall is the most wonderful time of the year, for me.

Some of my most favorite memories are centered around the fall season. Memories of family get-togethers, camping trips, pumpkin patches and snuggling on the couch with those I love on a cool October morning.  

What about you?

What comes to your mind when you think about the fall season?

I worked at Union University (in Jackson, TN) for three years and my Dean, Dr. Sheila Mitchell, would make a statement from time to time. We would be talking about an upcoming conference or a family vacation and she would say “while you’re there, make a memory.”

Dean Mitchell is one of those people who lives her life to the fullest! She has wisdom to know that life is precious and the moments we have are gifts from God. She is quick to tell you that there is always something to be grateful for and that life is too short to be miserable.

Why focus on what’s wrong with your life when you can have a heart of thankfulness and focus on what is right with your life?

Dean Mitchell lives with purpose. Not only does she live her life to please God, but she also lives her life to serve others. She plans creative way to make special moments with her family, friends and those around her. It might be an evening boat ride on the lake with her husband, or a special tea party with her granddaughter.

She knows how to love other people well and she works hard at making special moments with them. When those special moments come, Dean Mitchell fully embraces the moment. She doesn’t just let it slip away unnoticed. She soaks in all in and takes a snapshot in her mind that she tucks away as a treasured memory.

You and I have a role to play in making our life count.

God created you and me for a reason. He has kingdom work for us to do and He has good things in store for us!

It is easy for us to feel weighed down with the many responsibilities we have.

We need to clean our house, do the laundry, pay the bills, go to work and the list goes on. But, we also need to invest in our marriages, plan special outings with our children, show love to a friend in need, serve someone in need and take time to soak in the beauty of God’s creation.

There is much more to life than just the work we need to do.

Be determined this fall season to make special memories.

It is serving others that brings about the most joy so do your part to create special moments with your family, friends and those around you.

This fall season, start a new family tradition. Take your kids on a fun adventure. Serve at a local ministry. Plan a weekend getaway with your husband.

Put energy and time into planning something special as you love those around you.

As your special moments unfold, I hope you will stop and thank God for His goodness. I hope you will stop and soak it all in. I hope you will stop, take a snapshot in your mind of all God has done and “make a memory” that will last a lifetime.

So glad you stopped by!

~Joy

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.   ~Psalm 7:17

 

Read More

That was a BIG mistake!

Posted by on Jul 20, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 2.43.10 PM

To say this past spring was stressful, would be an understatement! For our family, it was one of those taxing seasons of life where we had several major life stressors hit us all at once. It felt like my life was caught up in a demanding whirlwind and although I tried to hold things together, I was not sure how I would get through it all.

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever been at your breaking point with everything going on in your life? Have you ever thought you might not survive it?

During this stressful season of life, I worked late one Friday night and picked up a chicken sandwich on the way to Ellie’s soccer game.  This restaurant has THE BEST BBQ sauce, so I asked for a side of it to put on my sandwich.

Yeah, that was a BIG mistake!

When I got to the field, the game had just started.   I was super hungry and could hardly wait to enjoy my delicious chicken sandwich!  I sat down, unwrapped my sandwich and opened the container of BBQ sauce. At that exact moment, out of nowhere, a soccer ball came flying off the field.  It must have been traveling at lightning speed as it headed straight for me.

The soccer ball hit the BBQ sauce container and then it hit me upside the head, sending sticky gooey BBQ sauce all over me! To make things even more entertaining for all those standing nearby, I was wearing a white shirt!

It was not a pretty sight!

I was covered in BBQ sauce.  It was in my hair, on my neck, dripping down my arms and all over my white shirt!  To make things even more fabulous, there are no bathrooms at this soccer field, only a couple of porta potties each with their own hand sanitizer dispenser inside.

Are you kidding me??  Hand sanitizer is useless when it comes to cleaning up BBQ sauce!

So, as the BBQ sauce is dripping down my body, There are no paper towels anywhere in sight and NO RUNNING WATER!

It…was….totally ….awesome (insert sarcasm)!

Normally if this kind of thing happens to me, I can laugh it off and roll with the punches.  Not this time.

Remember, this happened at a time when I was already mentally and emotionally drained. I did not have a positive, “can-do” attitude. Instead, I was feeling very low and overwhelmed with life.

Being hit in the head with a soccer ball and bathed with BBQ sauce did not improve my emotional stability!

I really don’t know how, but I managed to hold it together through the BBQ sauce immersion. People around me tried to hide their laughter because they felt so sorry for me. I remained calm but if you could have peered into my soul, you would have seen that I desperately wanted to cry.

Sticky and gooey, I watched the game, but near the end of the game, it started pouring rain like something I would imagine happened during the days of Noah and the flood. We quickly packed up our chairs and ran as fast as we could to the car, but by the time we got there, we were drenched!

I looked like something out of a horror movie. The rain caused my black mascara to run down my face, there was mud all over my legs from running in the rain and don’t forget that my white shirt was stained with dark red BBQ sauce.

It was not one of my finer moments.

We made it home safely in the torrential rainstorm and when I walked in the door, I could not hold it together any longer.

I fell completely apart.

I found a place to be alone and I cried like a baby. At that moment, for me, life felt too hard. It was too much. I felt like I was going to break!

It has been a couple of months since the BBQ sauce incident and do you know what happened?

I did not break. Instead, I survived.

Eventually, the stressors of that season of life settled down and life slipped back on track.

As I write to you tonight, I want to share with you a few things God reminded me of as I think back to this spring:

First:  Life is stressful and there will be seasons of life that make you feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed does not make you a bad Christian.  It does not mean your faith is weak.  It means you’re human.

When those tough seasons come, you and I need to run towards God, not away from Him. We need to remind ourselves of who HE is, soak up His Word and stand firm on His promises. He is always with us. He will strengthen us!  He will never leave us!

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

~Isaiah 41:10

Second:  When life feels too hard, it’s ok to cry. Throughout God’s Word, Godly people cried out, expressing their emotions of sadness and despair. Faithful men like King David who poured out his heart to God when life was hard. Blameless men like Job who grieved and mourned over his life’s tragedy. Even our Lord Jesus who, in the Garden of Gethsemane, cried out to the Father as He felt overwhelming sadness and anguish.

My friend, you and I both know that life is not always rainbows and sunshine. Life is hard and sometimes it feels overwhelmingly hard, but our God is good all the time! God wants us to lean on Him and trust Him at all times (and that includes the hard times).

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

~Psalm 62:8

Third: Never EVER bring a side of BBQ sauce to a soccer game, especially if you plan to sit near the field. Take it from me; just eat before the game.

Grateful for you!

-Joy

 

 

Read More