Thursday, May 26, 2011

God's Plan and Protection

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

I do not know where you are at as you are reading this right now.  I do not know what you are going through.  I do not know what you are struggling with.  But, I want to take a moment to share a story with you about God's plan and protection for our lives. I hope that wherever you are, whatever you are going through, and whatever you are struggling with that you can relate to this.

To be completely honest, I have hated my job for a long time.  I have been terribly unhappy because of the management and some of the coworkers.  The schools curriculum is developmentally inappropriate.  It has been very hard for me to abide by the curriculum guidelines and do what I have learned as appropriate through my many hours of school.  It has been a challenging position to be in over all for a majority of my time there. 

God has been asking me to stay for a long time.  I do not know why He wanted me to stay for so long.  But, part of being a Christian and following Jesus is doing things when asked and not know why or what will happen because of it.  I believed that Jesus felt my pain.  He came on this Earth to feel all of the pains we could encounter.  It was a daily struggle to stay there because He asked me to. There were many times that I wanted to leave, but God wasn't ready for me to leave yet.

Since I am being honest, it truly frustrated me at times to know that God wanted me there, but I was miserable.  I would cry on my lunch break, cry at work, and cry on the way home.  I would take my frustration out on my class which was terrible.  I would yell at God.  "WHY AM DO YOU WANT ME HERE?  I AM IN SO MUCH PAIN!  GET ME OUT!"  Instead of getting me out, He would give me strength to stay.  I learned how to pray in a different way.  I began to pray for strength and understanding instead of a way out. 

Last Thursday was the icing on the cake.  To make a very long story short, I was written up for taking too much time off after my grandpa passing.  The way that the management treated me was inappropriate.  The way that the management spoke to me was inappropriate.  I did not think that I was going to be able to handle it anymore. 

I spent much time in prayer.  I knew that I wanted to leave, but I wanted to make sure that God wanted me to leave.  For the first time, I had peace about leaving.  God was ready for me to leave.  Last weekend, I typed my two weeks notice.  I turned it in on Monday. 

I did not have a job lined up for after my two weeks was up.  I had faith that God would provide a job for me.  Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has plans for me, plans to prosper and not to harm.  I took faith in that.  He would provide for me when the time was right.  On Tuesday, I was offered a job doing something that I have wanted to do for a long time paying more than I could have asked for.

The moment that I stopped worrying about what would happen, He provided.  Part of the reason I had not left earlier was because I could not find a job. But the moment that I let God work it out and not try to find a job on my own, He provided me with one.  Not only did He provide me with a job, He provided me with one that I could not have asked to be any better. 

So, what can you take away from this?  God has a plan for your life.  God will never leave your side.  Have faith in Him.  Trust in Him.  You may not know what tomorrow, next week, next month or next year holds, but He does.  He has every moment of your every day planned out.  He knows the number of hairs on your body (Matthew 10:39).  Take heart that He has no plan to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11).  I know the road may seem dark and long, but in the end, it is amazing!  You will be able to see His glory in more ways than you could imagine. 

Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
Psalm 55:22

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Philip D. England

I was born on December 2, 1989 to an amazing family.  Everyone in my family dropped everything to be there at my birth.  Several people gave up things in preparation for my birth.  They wanted me to have the best possible life.  I am very blessed.

My grandpa was Philip.  He was my moms step father.  He always said that he was too young to be a grandfather, and told me to call him Philip.  I have always called him Philip.  It is weird to reference to him as grandpa.  Philip gave up smoking when he knew I was coming into this world. 

From as far back as I can remember until I was 15, I spent summers in Montmorenci, South Carolina at Philip's beautiful house.  I remember trips to Aiken State Park when I was about five or six.  I would sit in his lap in his white Bronco.  He let me control the wheel and I would run into trees.  It was so much fun! 

One summer, I planted the idea in his head about how I wanted a tree house.  He built the most beautiful tree house for me in the world.  The tree house has shingles on the roof, three windows, electricity, carpet, a deck, heating, air conditioning and an intercom system to the house.  It has a play set underneath with two swings, a trapeze and rings.  It has a basketball goal and a rope swing. No lie, he built this all on his own.  Just for me.

Philip worked for Aiken County, so he knew everyone who was anyone in Aiken.  He introduced me to hundreds of people.  I remember spending summers in his office.  All of his work passwords were some variation of my name.  He had pictures of me everywhere.  He had a recycled baby jar of food that I had put colored sand in on his desk.  I knew everyone in his office.  We would have lunch at Jaycee's or across the street at Acropolis.  These were my summers growing up.  Me and Philip.  (I wish I had some pictures on my computer of me and him when I was younger.)

Philip always went way over the top for Christmas.  Our Christmas tree was always at least 16 feet tall.  Yes, 16 feet.  One year it was 21 feet tall, we had to cut the top off!  Opening presents on Christmas was an all day affair.  He loved to spoil us, and this is exactly how he wanted it to be. 

For my high school graduation, Philip took my whole family plus four other people to this amazing restaurant in the South Park area of Charlotte.  My graduation presents from him were paying for dinner (holy cow, it was like $400!!!), a pearl necklace and pearl earrings.  This was a night I will never forget.

He has always had heart trouble, but the last few months he became very sick.  It was selfish of me, but I did not want to come and see him sick.  I couldn't remember my Philip being sick.  So, I haven't seen him in a couple of months.

Saturday afternoon, my grandma called and said we needed to come to Aiken and see him.  We loaded up the car on Sunday planing on going to see him in the hospital, saying hey, and going back home to work on Monday.  It didn't quite happen like that.  We got here and he was much worse than my grandma had led on.  It killed me to see him so sick.  He could barely talk and slept a lot.  Thankfully, he knew who we were and remembered memories that we had.  We each spent time with him alone.  I just held his hand for the longest time and cried and cried and cried.  He had a few things to say to me that I will never forget. 

I was in the room when he passed.  It was hard to watch that.  I am very thankful that God allowed me to be with him the day that he passed.  I am very thankful that he is out of pain.  I am very thankful for all of the memories that I will cherish forever.  He was an amazing man.  I can't wait to bring my children to the tree house and show them what their great-grandfather did for me.

Friday, May 6, 2011


This week I have been noticing how routine my life is.  I wake up every morning at 7:05, still half asleep grab my towel and walk to the bathroom.  I take a quick shower.  I am back in my room every day at 7:16. I get dressed and do my hair.  I am in the kitchen every day by 7:34.  I make breakfast and lunch for myself.  I am in my car by 7:45.  3 out of 5 mornings the same green Toyota Corolla lets me out of the neighborhood onto the stopped Pleasant Plains Road traffic.  Every morning I see the same cars on Pineville-Matthews Road.  Most afternoons, I am behind a beige Yukon with two stickers on the left side of the back window on Pineville-Matthews Road in Pineville. 

Where am I going with this?

Can you think of a place in your life where your life revolves around routine?  Beside my commute, the other area that stands out to me is my prayer life.  I am just being honest.  Can you be honest with yourself? Is your prayer life too routine?  Does it sound sound something like?

Dear Lord,
Thank you for today.  Thank you for blessing me with another day, another chance.  Thank you for a job.  Thank you for an amazing family.  Please be with me today. Give me strength to show grace through my actions and my words. 
In Jesus' name, Amen

With a bit added in there about a new job/strength to stay where I am at, praying for some team and group members that is almost exactly what my prayer life has turned into.  I did not realize this until I was realizing how much my life revolved around routine.

So, how do you get out of this routine?  Here are a few tips that I am using to change my prayer life. 

- Write my prayers.  This helps me stay focused, and remember where I am going. 
- Keep my prayers focused on God.  Instead of focusing on 'saying the right thing', I just focus everything around Him.  I thank Him for what He has brought me and where He is taking me.
- Get on my knees and pray.  This is something different, and takes prayer to a whole different level.  I was just spending part of my commute praying. 
- Pray continually.  1 Thess. 5:17 is very straight and to the point.  Pray continually, it says.  Instead of setting one time a day aside for prayer, I just pray all day long.  I thank Him when something goes right, I ask for strength when something is going wrong, etc. 
- Turn everything off.  I was getting distracted by my phone.  I turn my phone off, turn of my computer, turn off the radio, shut the door.  I do not let anything get away from my time of prayer.
- Pray His word.  Pray bible verses.  Currently, I am praying Jeremiah 29:11 during my personal prayer time.  I know He has a plan for me and He will not harm me. 

I hope that this helped.  My prayer life has gone to a whole new level. 

Resources: The Blessings and the Curses of Routine, Prayer Bible Verses