Favorite Nancy!

I have aunt whose name is Nancy. Lydia remembers Aunt Nancy reading to her when she came to visit us last year. In fact, Aunt Nancy read just about every book Lydia could find! Then, on our family vacation in July, we saw her again. Later, Aunt Nancy also mailed Lydia some books for us to read.

I also recently met a lady named Nancy at our church. I called her, and left a voice mail. When she returned my call, Lydia got excited (and a bit confused!).

Besides these lovely ladies, we received the book Fancy Nancy from a cousin in the mail. Lydia and I often quote the book to each other, as we really enjoy it!

It’s fair to say the name “Nancy” has been a hot topic around our house!

While I was on the phone with Nancy from church, Lydia was jumping and singing. “Aunt Nancy, Aunt Nancy…. She’s my favorite!”

After I got off the phone, I tried to explain a few things to Lydia. First, we don’t sing loudly when someone is on the phone. Second, there are two different “Nancys.” I explained how Aunt Nancy is my aunt, so she is Lydia’s great-aunt.

I thought I did a pretty good job—until Lydia began twirling and singing again. Loudly. Off-key. “Great Nancy! She’s my favorite! My Nancy! Aunt Nancy, Nancy! I looooove her!”

Lydia will gain better understanding someday. For now, I am going to enjoy her singing…

Zephaniah 3.17

“Great Nancy! She’s my favorite! My Nancy! Nancy, Nancy! I looooove her!” Soon, I was able to envision God doing the same thing. (Though, I doubt He sings off-key!)

The Bible says God delights in each of us. He sings and dances at the thought of me and Y-O-U. Can you sense His excitement?! He protects us and watches over us while we sleep. Even when we are totally unaware, God still adores us.

As if that is not enough, our Creator God is more than able to love each of us in personal ways. It is not good for parents to play favorites—because we don’t do it well. But, Father God, in His grace and wisdom, takes great joy in each of us as individuals.

Do you understand what this means? Yes! YOU are His favorite! (And so am I!) God thinks of you every moment. He has you written on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16).

But when Life gets tough, it is easy to forget God’s love. We can’t always sense God’s loving presence. But He is there nonetheless. He calls you by name, and has fashioned you for a specific purpose. He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

So let’s make this personal. Insert YOUR name here, and imagine God singing about you!

“Great ________! He/She’s my favorite! My ________! ________, _______! I looooove him/her!”

Listen. Can you hear it?

Then share this with the next person you see-—more than likely, they need to hear it too.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

When my husband, Dave, received a work promotion in North Dakota, we viewed it as a great opportunity. We sensed God leading us on this journey, yet it was difficult leaving all our loved ones. It was a huge leap of faith into the unknown! Still, I told Dave, “I feel like we will be missing something if we decide not to move.”

This adventure has encompassed more than we ever could have imagined. It’s been a wild ride at times. Perhaps this journey of faith and grace has been the most exhilarating of all. Over the course of a few short years, we experienced several major life events in quick succession. Our relationship with God was the biggest factor in how we made decisions and handled everything. But, that doesn’t mean it was a cakewalk. Not at all!

We were stretched far beyond our normal capacity. It was only by God’s grace we were able to function. Dave took it all in stride. He adapted and determined to live his life no matter what. It was more of a struggle for me. The biggest hurdle I faced was my own fear.

From the time I was little, I was cautious by nature. Part of that may be my personality; but when left unchecked and unquestioned, it became a habit of fear.

Fear and Trust Road Sign

At first, I tried to make sense of Dave’s diagnosis; I was distraught about the possible outcomes. That’s how fear works. It takes small pieces of information and amplifies them. Once our emotions are running high, it can be difficult to calm them down. When Dave was sick, this was a constant battle for me.

In May 2012, a few days after Dave’s diagnosis and first surgery, I sensed God speak to my heart. Distressed, I was praying in my car, on my way home from the hospital.

“I’m going to use this to show you just how much I love you.”

It is important to trust God and seek Him, but I was incredulous. I thought, “What?!

How does this show me God’s love? This is the worst thing imaginable!

If God really loved me, how could He let this happen?”

If you have a fear problem, then you have a love problem.

Fear 1 John 4_18

God graciously used the Truth of His Word to challenge my innermost thoughts. That year, as He uprooted the deepest doubts, I learned vital lessons about God’s character.

1. God is not mad at me. Like a Father, He’s so proud of me, and loves me dearly. (Matthew 3:17)

2. I will never measure up on my own, because I am not perfect. That’s why I need Jesus! So, I can stop fearing mistakes, and just live. (Romans 3:23)

3. Even when we do make mistakes, God is not waiting to strike us with lightning, or punish us for our errors. (Romans 8:1)

4. God is on our side. He is our Helper, Friend, and Advocate. (Romans 8:31)

Through these verses and others, I grew to know God’s love in a fresh way. A deeper revelation of God’s love changed my thinking and my life for the better.

God set me free indeed (John 8:36)! Thank You, Jesus. What grace!

Questions to consider: What fears are holding you back from living a full life?

How can you apply God’s Truth to your situation?

A Road Trip, Relaxation and Pie

Last week, my daughter, Lydia, and I took a road trip to see a few friends and family. Most often, I aim to get to our destination as quickly as we can, with minimal stops. This means we usually combine fuel stops, restroom breaks, and mealtimes, no less! Even beforehand, while packing, I feel rushed and in a time crunch.

It may be efficient, but it is not much fun.

Generally, we start out before dawn and arrive late afternoon. However, this time, we started out later in the day and so I determined to stay at a hotel along the way. I am so glad I did. At each stop along the way, we were able to really soak in the experience. I even felt more peace while packing, knowing that I didn’t have to rush to get ready. We could meander instead.

That first day, Lydia and I visited with a dear family that we had known in Fargo. We enjoyed swimming and eating dinner with them. Then, back at the hotel, Lydia and I had fun watching television in bed. She was elated about having a television, sink, refrigerator and microwave in the same room as her bed. That alone was worth the cost of the hotel! The following day we arrived at our next stop by lunch time—and we were not feeling hurried or exhausted. Nice!

Lydia eating pie and ice cream

On our return trip, we did make the long drive in one day. Yet, I decided to skip the highway and took the scenic route instead. We drove around Lake Pepin on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It added a couple hours to our travel time, but was well worth it. We stopped at beautiful scenic overlooks and interesting historical markers. We even had a picnic by the Mississippi River. After stopping at a park to play for a few minutes, we wandered into the Stockholm Pie Company. Needless to say, I was glad we stopped for some delicious pie and ice cream.

I started to think about Life’s detours and how God uses them. He provides peaceful rest, teaches us and prepares us for His continued work in our lives. When I only aim to get to the next stopping point, I can miss many lovely details. Like any good vacation, I had few pressing matters weighing on my mind. Time could have stood still, and it would have been alright in my little world.

But, on our return trip, I also felt God’s love in unexpected ways. It was as if He had planned the scenic detour especially for me. The warm breeze and sunny day… the classic tree-lined waterline…the kiss of warm pie and ice cream…shared with my adorable little girl… circumstances seemingly designed just for me. That was the most refreshing part of all!

Powers Lake, WI

In the daily hubbub, I can forget to notice God’s voice, which is usually heard best when I am being still. How about you? His grace is always present, but we can miss it because of our own agenda or our fast pace at breakneck speed.

At times, I do have to hurry back home after a long trip. But, I am now content to stop and smell the roses, as they say. Or should that be…Life is short–stop and eat pie?!

God’s Desire For Me

We often wonder, “What does God want me to do? What is His will for my life?”

God is less concerned with what we do, and far more interested in who we are becoming. Clearly, God wants us to make good choices that honor Him. But most of all, His desire for us and from us revolves around Love, because God is Love.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

God's desire for me is for me to desire Him

But, this is not to imply we can have anything we want. Seek God’s Face, not His Hand. He will never give us anything that gives us more pleasure or satisfaction than Himself.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Praise God!