Normally a nice dinner or a getaway would be the perfect way to celebrate. But a few years ago when Frank asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, I was at a loss.

It had been a hard couple of months filled with health challenges and I wanted to do something out of the ordinary. After tossing a few ideas around, I decided we should climb Stone Mountain. Initially Frank wasn't on board but, he came around.


I was excited leading up to our adventure but, on the way I started thinking, "Lord have mercy! What in the world were you thinking....Do you really want to do this!!!??" Since it took some convincing to get there, I was not about to change my mind.


 

The distance from the bottom to the summit is only about a mile. But, if you’re not an avid hiker... I'm not ... you need to eat your Wheaties and borrow some in order to get to the top.

Maneuvering the rocks was rather challenging and to make matters worse, it was cold. I paused more than a few times to catch my breath. And trust me ... those railings were a whole gift from God to keep us from slipping. Did I mention it was cold?




 




I'm not sure how long it took us. We didn’t measure time, we just enjoyed the moments. When we arrived at the top, the struggles of the climb took a back seat. Feelings of relief settled in like a gentle breeze. I guess it's sort of how you feel when you accomplish any goal.


 

We’re already in the second month of the new year and I'm still writing my goals. Have you already finished? If your answer is yes, just know ... I’m officially your fan.


I'll admit there's more than a little residue from last year. Even though I had some wins, there were goals I didn‘t complete. This year I'm making efforts to be more intentional about what I want and mapping out the steps I need to take to get there.

Some desires I’ve placed before the Lord seem massive ... like Stone Mountain. And to be honest, I have no idea how I’ll reach them. But, when I to try to figure out the particulars or start thinking things won't work out, I'm reminded of the lessons from the climb.


 

Mindset is important. Proverbs 23:17 tells us, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” girls included No matter what the goal or task is, make a conscious decision to finish before you start. You don't have to know the what, the when or the how. Just refuse to give up. Don't accept anything less than accomplishing what you set out to do.


Small things prepare you for big things.

That year I challenged myself to make 7000 steps at least four days a week. Going around and around a track or park didn’t seem like much but, it gave me the strength to climb. If you're not where you want to be, keep moving. There's power in consistency.


It's not a sprint.

Some people ran up the mountain ... we walked. But, we all arrived at the same destination. Focusing on who’s ahead of you can be distracting and discouraging. Move at your own God pace and trust His timing.


 

Every day is a new opportunity to begin again. So keep dreaming, keep setting goals and keep climbing. When you get to the top, thank God for the journey and enjoy the view.



Your Sister Friend,




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It was as if I’d skipped days of laundry. There were piles...some big and others not so much. They were filled with requests, problems that needed answers and thoughts that were confined to my mind waiting to be spoken. A heart to heart with Jesus was long overdue.


Finally I was able to settle down in God’s presence. Right away I felt the nudge to pray for a lady I met years ago. We had a brief conversation about a business project but, hadn't spoken in quite a while. I whispered a prayer and turned my attention to my list of cares. A few moments later there it is was again. This time it was stronger and I sensed that I should call.


Now, I don’t know about you but, I usually don’t call people other than family or friends before 8am. And honestly, I didn’t even know what I was supposed to pray. But, the urge didn’t leave. I knew it was God.


 

I stumbled through a little small talk and then asked if she had time for prayer. Let me just say ...God showed up! Afterwards she shared that normally she wouldn’t have been home. In an effort to gain clarity concerning major decisions, she took the day off. One of her requests was that God would place her on someone’s heart that wasn’t in her circle. And, then I called.

I didn’t know her circumstances but, the Lord directed me to specifically pray about them.

By the time we finished, my day was calling. There was no time to unload the things I was carrying. Swinging by the Post Office was on my to do list. I managed to make a quick dash before closing. On the way out, a man greeted me and took a moment to talk. But, it wasn’t just a casual conversation.


Encouragement and wisdom flowed from him effortlessly. He spoke about things that only God and I knew. As he turned to walk away, I asked his name. His response was “Bro. Paris, like the city.” Now going to Paris has been at the top of my Adventure List for a while. I knew God was giving me a wink.


 

I thought I ran out of time earlier and barely made it to the post office. But I didn’t.

My schedule was in sync with God’s plan. He graced me to obey that morning and met me that afternoon.

Naturally we’re concerned about things and people that are close to our hearts. But, it’s not supposed to be our priority. Jesus helps us with our perspective in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."



In essence, our primary goal is to pursue what pleases the Father and put him in front of everything and everybody. While we're taking care of God's business, he'll take care of ours. Do you believe that? Just in case you’re struggling with this truth ... at times we all do ... here are a few reminders you can meditate on today.



 


If you're overwhelmed by a load of cares and wondering if God sees .... He does.

And, if it seems like your issues are being ignored...they're not.


Take a moment to whisper a prayer of surrender. Offer your heart, your hands and your gifts to the one that loves you most.


I pray that God will use you for his glory. And as you submit to his agenda, I trust that he'll take care of everything that concerns you. wink


Your Sister Friend,







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Up. Down. Then up again. Excitement and nervousness took turns flinging me around.

I guess it was understandable since I was about to make my first big purchase. I was saving for a new car and my heart was set on a silver two door Toyota Tercel.


A few nights before picking up the car, I had an unusual dream. I was at a car lot as the sun was setting and even though I’d researched a lot of cars, I wasn’t familiar with the one in front of me. And to top things off, it was the only car on the lot.


 

When we arrived at the dealership, what was supposed have been a simple transaction completely unraveled. The salesman assured me earlier that the car payments were within my budget. When I got there, well....let's just say it was a lot different.

The day was almost over when we found the only car I could afford...a dark grey Chevrolet Nova Hatchback. It was actually under my budget but, it wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t like it. Reluctantly....I bought it.

If gratefulness was on one end of the spectrum, I was running hard in the opposite direction.

 

The next day the guys at work started making jokes. It made things worst.

One of them asked me to lift the hood so he could look inside. I was surprised when he said, “This is a Toyota!” What??!!! Even though the outside was a Chevrolet, it was a Toyota on the inside.

In that moment, the dream replayed in my mind and it's meaning became oh so clear. God lovingly showed me ahead of time what he was reserving just for me. But I rejected the gift because, I didn't like the outside. If only I had taken the time to look inside, I wouldn't have cried and complained on the drive home. I would have been thankful...a lot more thankful.


 

Seeing but not seeing. It isn't uncommon. We have the tendency to be captivated by the outside but, oblivious to what’s inside. The prophet Samuel had the same struggle. Since Eliab was tall and handsome, Samuel thought surely he was the next king. “But the LORD said to Samuel, The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." - I Samuel 16:7


Being willing to see takes us beyond the outside glitter and shine. And, relinquishing what we want gives us the opportunity to embrace what God desires.


 

My Nova was more spacious than the Tercel, which was perfect for road trips. I drove her to my college graduation, she carried my friends and I to my first speaking engagement and we made several trips to my happy place. the beach


Who knew that purchasing a car would be the catalyst for transforming my prayers? I shifted from “Lord I want..." to "Lord, I want this but, I want what you want more. So, if I’m asking for something that's not right for me, change my heart. And, redirect my desires so they become one with yours."


Maybe this can be your prayer as well.



Your Sister Friend,








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