2014: The Year God Took Over My Plan Book

One of the cool parts of ministry is investing in someone and later seeing them continue to be used for God’s Kingdom.  Elise Benton was one of my summer interns while she was in college.  Elise is just fun and funny and she loves Jesus.  I love how God has worked in her life in similar ways to how He has also worked in mine.  I’m thrilled for Elise to share her story with you.new black notebook with white pencil, paper clip and glasses

I have always been a planner. Seriously, for as long as I can remember every aspect of my life has had to be planned out. If you don’t believe me, ask my mother. It would drive her crazy when I was out of school for the summer. I constantly had to know each day’s planned events, even if there were not any events planned. This need to feel in control of my daily life has followed me into adulthood, where now I bother my husband daily with my “planning obsession”. Thus leads us this past year, the year God said: “Elise, stop planning, stop worrying, and get ready for a year where you depend entirely on Me.”

As the clock struck midnight to bring in 2014, we were all making plans for what might lie ahead.  Were these plans ordained by God or own human desires? To be honest, I have no idea what I planned to do this past year. Maybe the usual commitments to diet more or to get more organized or something of the sort.  I know, I did not pray or seek God’s guidance before compiling my list.

The year got off to a great start: we celebrated my birthday, had half a week of major snow fall (something we do not see often in Alabama), and I was getting ready to apply to seminary. Everything was going according to my plans, when God showed up, took over, and changed who I was. Up until this point I was a wife, a daughter, a preschool teacher, and an active leader in my church. All of these are very important positions that I’m very honored to hold, but the position God gave me this past spring is beyond the highest position I have ever held. In April of this past year I found out that God was also granting me the position of Mommy. My husband and I found out at our first ultrasound that not only were we expecting, we were going to be the parents to twins! Talk about God taking over!!

As the months flew by, I grew bigger and our little one bedroom apartment grew smaller. We quickly realized that we needed a larger space. At the time my husband was completing grad school and searching for a full-time job in his field with benefits that could support a growing family of four. He had received a few offers, none of them close to our home. This combined with pregnancy hormones led to many tear filled nights and praying for God to provide a job locally.

September 2014 is a month that I’m pretty sure I’ll remember for the rest of my life, it’s the month that my husband and I stood in awe of God’s power and felt guilty for going almost a year without seeking His will. Our lease on our apartment had come to an end and we still had no place to live, I was six months pregnant with our twins, and needless to say I was beyond stressed. When suddenly, God provided us an amazing house to rent, and two weeks after we moved in, God provided my husband with a job that would allow me to stay home with our twins. My husband and I stopped to thank God, but then we were ashamed for all our months of stress and tears that could have been avoided had we just trusted God and sought His will from the beginning.

It is now December, our twins just turned a month old, and I sit here thinking about what God has in store for our family in 2015. One thing is for certain, when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, I will not be making a list, but instead I will hand the pen and pad over to God and let Him guide my upcoming year. My one resolution for 2015 is to make Colossians 2:7 my daily goal:

“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

The upcoming year has in store a lot of long nights, endless laundry, bottle washing, giggles, kisses, and memories I know I’ll treasure for a lifetime all because God took over my plan book.

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Why Discomfort Is The Key To Becoming The Best You

 

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“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”–E.E. Cumming

Do you ever take a look back?  I recently began thinking about who I was when I moved to Huntsville, Alabama.  I was twenty-six, pregnant with our first child and taking on the ministry to fifth and sixth graders at Willowbrook.  At the time, Willowbrook was expanding our education space.  We were building a 51,000 square foot building for our children and youth.  The undertaking was massive and if you’ve never had a chance to walk through this space it is jaw-dropping.

During the course of the project, the ministerial staff would have walk-throughs.  We would walk through with a video camera and explain to the church what was going on and how things were progressing.  Our pastor took on the bulk of this responsibility.  However, the day came when our pastor looked at me in staff meeting and told me it was time for me to get in front of the camera and give the church a tour through the fifth and sixth grade space.  It’s funny how vividly I remember my physical response.  I could feel my heart beating faster and my palms begin to sweat.  I was anxious, scared and sleep-deprived (I had just had a baby!)

As I walked through the building with the camera filming, I felt ridiculous.  I was no TV personality.  I was incredibly uncomfortable talking to a camera.  I was scared to death and I’m pretty sure I would be mortified if that recording ever turned back up.

I tell that story because it is the reminder of who I have become.  I have by no means arrived.  However, throughout the past several years I have constantly been pushed outside my comfort zone. I now regularly film lessons or announcements.  I stand in front of hundreds of women to speak and my rarely does my heart beat faster or my palms begin to sweat.  Growth has happened and it happened despite my fear.

I need the reminder of where God has brought me as He continues to push me further outside my comfort zone.  Do you ever feel like if you say “yes” to God in one area, He won’t ask for more?  He’ll be finished?  Admittedly, I sometimes do.  Thankfully, God is never done.

Philippians 1:6 says

“he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

He is continually working to shape and refine us.  God has been stirring in my heart for months regarding the next scary step He has for me.  To be honest I want to pretend He isn’t really speaking.  I’m not equipped, I’m not ready, I don’t have the right personality.  And then He reminds me of the same doubts and fears I had in the past.  I wasn’t equipped, I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have the right personality (or so I thought).  The God of Heaven reigns. Whether I choose to let Him reign in me is the question.

Is God shedding light on an area of your life He wants control?  Have you slowed down long enough to listen?  Is it scary?  Take some time to remember what God has done in you.  How have you grown and changed?  

 

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