March 30, 2011

Getting Grace

Forgiveness. Grace. Salvation. Freedom. Security...

These words have been floating around in my head for a while now. God has recently brought me through circumstances where I have had to accept His forgiveness and grace and also extend this forgiveness and grace to other people. I have come to realize that what everyone says is true: if I do not believe I am forgiven and loved by God, I will not be able to forgive and love other people. If I only have head knowledge of the forgiveness and grace (I know the verses) and don't actually believe and experience them (live them), then I am just as skrewed (I sat and tried to think of another way to put that, but I couldn't. Sorry).

I can't get past this thought: When I accepted Jesus as my Savior at four years old, I really didn't grasp His forgiveness and grace. I mean, c'mon...I was four and the worse thing I had done is lie about my ruffle underwear (look to previous posts for that story). I knew I was going to Hell and instead wanted to spend eternity with Jesus (just a word here to all of my fundamental legalists: those who say that if someone's main concern at his/her time of Salvation is just to escape Hell may not truly be saved, get over yourselves and read the Bible. Jesus spoke four times more about Hell then Heaven and so obviously wanted people to realize the severity of it in hopes that they would not want to go there. It is people like you who made me terrified for years that I may not be saved when I most certainly am. Thanks). Anyways... :)

While I am thankful that I accepted Jesus as my Savior at a young age, I had a head knowledge of God's grace, but not the experimental knowledge. I grew up thinking that I was "okay" because I had not committed any of the "really bad sins". However, when I got into college and my young adult years, I began to realize that when I failed, and failed miserably, I had a hard time accepting the fact that I truly was forgiven and already had God's favor and so didn't need to live defeated and/or in fear. But isn't that the Gospel? I am so excited because I feel like for the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand and experience the Good News of Salvation...God's grace covers my sin! I am free to live the abundant life and don't need to walk around ashamed or trying to prove myself to God. He loves me and values me as much as He does Jesus Christ.

And this knowledge frees me to forgive and to shower undeserved, unconditional grace on others. The following excerpt comes from Chuck Swindoll (I am a big fan) and applies to our receiving God's forgiveness and grace and then overflowing them onto others.

Amazing, isn't it, how Joseph's acts of grace freed up everyone around the tables. At the outset, there were feelings of anxiety and dread as guilt held them in its grip. Their fear had known no bounds as they returned to Egypt, wondering what they would face.

Within a brief span of time, they found themselves treated kindly, sitting around a banquet table loaded with food, and, of all things, relaxing in the joyful presence of royalty. What relief! Better than that, what grace! They were the recipients of favor they hadn't earned and kindness they didn't deserve. And they were overloaded with an abundance of provisions they could never repay. Is anyone surprised they were astonished and no longer afraid? Their fear was now displaced by grace. Why? One reason---Joseph. This great man, though not as yet known to them to be their brother, determined to forgive their mistreatment and, instead, demonstrate great grace. Rather than remind them of their wrongs and force them to pay for their cruelty and injustices from years gone by, he showed them favor to the maximum extreme. This reunion was really a banquet of grace---on full display---thanks to Joseph, a man of integrity and forgiveness. 

Lord, make me a woman of integrity and forgiveness. Amen.

March 29, 2011

Deuteronomy 1: Go. Do.

In the second half of Deuteronomy 1, Moses gives the people a brief rundown of their past mistakes, so they would not be prone to them again. He reminds them of the fact that God "set the [Promised Land] before them..." and all the people had to do was "Go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of their fathers, has told them." This was a simple command: Here is the Land...go get it. Furthermore, God told them to "not fear or be dismayed" for "the LORD goes before them and will Himself fight for them, just as He did for them in Egypt, before their eyes." They had seen first hand in Egypt what God was capabable of (if you need to be reminded, read the book of Exodus).

However, they refused to simply trust God for the Land and sent in spies to be sure they were gauranteed victory. What they saw terrified them, and so they rebelled. They completely forgot God's power and promises. They believed they would have to fight on their own, and given that scenario, yeah, they would all be dead. However, God said He would fight for them. Unfortuantely, they allowed what they saw and felt to determine what they beleived instead of what God said. So, they actually claimed that God hated them and lead them into the wilderness to brutually slaughter them (Deuteronomy 1:26-27). I find this slightly humorous because the Israelites had been a royal pain in the butt up until this point and God certainly could've and even threatened to wipe them out before this time. If they only knew Who they were really grumbling to...

I am convicted by this entire first chapter. I have stayed at my Mt. Horeb for far too long...making my excuses and wallowing in self pity. God wants me to move forward. I leave, still looking back, however, afraid to fully rest in God's grace. I come to a new adventure and God asks me to simply trust. I am scared and take matters into my own hands, and decide to spy (or analyze, think about, talk about) the situation before I move. When I decide that what God is asking me to do is just too hard, I complain that He hates me. Do you feel me? Yeah, we have all been there. Let's remember that God is the One fighting for us...we just have to go and do what He asks us to go and do. We cannot complicate our lives. He has made it easy...we just have to follow regardless of how we feel, what people say, or the circumstances.

As the car commercial says, "Go. Do."

Think Time

How hard is it to think? Honestly. Samuel Johnson answers this question with, “Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor, but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.” How true that is! Teaching 10th and 11th grade English gives me special insight into this “great aversion to intellectual labor.” Students have mastered not the skill of thinking but the technique of aversion. Is it any wonder that when a teacher asks a question the students stare back blankly?

The fact is, I am doing my students a major disservice if I allow my sophomores and juniors to think that blank stares and ‘I don’t knows’ are acceptable and a quick fix to a potentially draining exercise. I am preparing them for embarrassment and failure in the future if I choose to protect my own self-esteem instead of holding them accountable to the question.

See that is what it boils down to…training students to think on their own is really uncomfortable for me. I equate the wait time it takes for them to formulate answers to my success as a teacher. It is just as risky for me to wait as it is for them to answer. The fact is…they can answer. Students CAN think. It takes time and work – so why wouldn’t they try to avoid the exercise?

We as believers are even more susceptible to this…especially with our children and youth ministries. What’s ironic is that it seems like teenagers want to think and question Biblical principles…at church. However, in these cases, we would rather our students not think. In fact, we tend to panic anytime a teenager questions anything related to the Bible. Why? Again, we are living in fear. What if, as a result of questioning, the teenager decides to discard his/her belief system? That’s a tough one. Remember two things: truth is never threatened by a question and God is sovereign. Better the teenager question within the safe-guards of the church and amongst other believers than to blindly accept everything he/she hears and then question later when forced to think by unbelieving college professors and/or business executives. You catch my drift?

I play both roles – teacher and youth leader. As an English teacher, it is my responsibility to get them to think. I often times encourage my students to question certain truths such as the Resurrection and Creationism…why? Because if I don’t get them to question and search for the answers, then someone else will…and that someone else may steer them in directions opposite God’s Word. However, as a youth leader, I panic when my students start to question. It is almost as if I have dual personalities like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (nice English analogy, huh?).

So what should I do? Struggle to allow them to struggle. I hope to get my students (classroom and youth ministry) to think, but also to draw them back to Biblical principles by what I say and do.

I gag when my sophomores and juniors give me ‘Sunday school’ answers at school. But are we teaching them any differently at church? Am I favoring Sunday school answers in my small group because I am afraid let them battle?

Perhaps it is time I stop defending God’s Word out of fear and confidently begin to practically allow His Word to speak for itself through my actions and my words.

March 28, 2011

Deuteronomy 1: Grace. Forgiveness. Hope.

I have been reading through Deuteronomy and certain verses have jumped off the pages of Scripture. So, I want to start a new segment on my blog devoted to jotting down some thoughts related to these verses.

First of all, some context… Deuteronomy was written by Moses, one of the most humble leaders in the Bible. He dealt with thousands of people who often grumbled, questioned, criticized, rebelled, challenged, and hated him. A study of his life and leadership would be so worthwhile…but that is another blog for another time. Back to Deuteronomy. The book is basically a review of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, adventures in the wilderness, and laws from God. It records a dialogue Moses has with the people right before his death. It is almost as if these are his last words to his beloved people, right before he dies and right before they enter the Promised Land.

Quick history lesson: The Israelites left Egypt and started traveling to the Promised Land (the Land God “promised” to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). After sending spies into the land to scope it out, the Israelites lost sight of their big God and feared the big obstacles occupying the land: fortified cities and giants. They forgot God’s promises and power. They doubted, questioned, and suffered the consequences: forty years of wandering in the wilderness.

After these forty years…
“The LORD our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey…See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that LORD swore to your fathers…’”

You have stayed long enough…

I love that statement. The Israelites disobeyed and faced the consequences. Now, it was time to move on.

I have been thinking about the places in my life where I have lingered for long enough. Old habits, conflicts, emotions, thoughts…all of those areas where I have set up camp and really kept myself from moving on and making progress.

I was saved at four. Let’s be honest…the worst sin I committed at that age was lying about the kind of underwear I had on (my mom liked me to wear “ruffle” underwear on Sundays…I, as a three year old, hated them…so I would lie). Anyways, I grew up really taking advantage of my Salvation. God saved me from hell…that was just about it in my opinion. I envied those people who were saved from “horrible pasts”...I felt like they really understood grace and I didn’t, because I couldn’t.

Then I grew up and I skrewed up…big time. Those “unpardonable sins” that I was taught as a kid plagued my conscience. Am I truly forgiven? Maybe…but even so, does God still love me? I suffered the obvious consequences…but would I ever be the same again? I got trapped in my own guilt.

The bottom line was…God forgave me, but I hadn’t forgiven myself. This is where the Gospel came alive for me. This is the Good News of Jesus: When God looks at me, He doesn’t see my past with my failures, but He sees Jesus’ perfect past. God doesn’t see my present discouragement; He sees Jesus’ blood and power. He doesn’t condemn me to a future of regret, but promises victory. Yeah, there are consequences for bad decisions because God disciplines those He loves. However, the time comes when I have to claim by the faith the fact that God has forgiven me, cleansed me, and chosen me. I “have stayed at this mountain long enough…” and it’s time to move on to what God has ahead.

Grace. Forgiveness. Hope.


March 23, 2011

Say What?

Just a quick thought this morning...

When Bryant and I got on our plane to head to Texas last week, we settled in and pulled out our books ready to read (we are both nerds...we aren't afraid to admit it). The man sitting next to us asked us where we were from. After we answered, we asked him. His name was Saul and he and is family were from LA...his next sentence is what got Bryant's and my attention: "We just got off of a Disney Cruise, which was my eight-year-old son's 'Make a Wish' because he is having a relapse of his cancer."

Say what?

I mean, how much louder does God have to scream, "Share the Gospel...and I mean now...before the plane has even taken off. Thanks."

So, Bryant got to work. I tried to read (honest confession here). Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his wife, who was taking care of their two boys, leaning over the aisle straining to listen. How could I ingore that? Unfortunately, I tried. But then I had to go to the bathroom...or I guess God used that to get me out of my seat and moving...because I felt Him leading me to switch seats with the husband so I could have a conversation with the wife. Alright. Bring it. For the next two hours or so, Bryant and I just shared the Gospel and loved on this sweet couple. And amazingly, we were ministered to by God!

On the way home, we were sitting next to a Jewish man. Round 2. We started right into a religious discussion. Again, the Gospel was shared.

Sunday, while I was at my community's pool, the girl laying out beside me started talking to me. An hour later, I had her whole story. Single mom, boyfriend and best friend both in the Army, lonely, hurting...and I quote, "no friends right now". God isn't too covert. We exchanged phone numbers.

Why do I share this? Please know it is not to pat myself on the back...I know you have and could have just as many stories...God CONSTANTLY drops people into our laps and says, "Go for it". We are the ones who decide whether or not we will. And let me tell you's energizing to take these opportunities and watch God work.

So, get out there...get going...and tell me your stories!

March 22, 2011

Two Years Ago at a Starbucks...

The Starbucks where we met :)

In 2008, I was completing my student teaching in Pennsylvania for Baptist Bible College (BBC). I had mailed about 20-30 resumes to various schools in the Northeastern PA area in order to find a job. I was dating a guy who I thought I was going to marry, and he had a year of school left at BBC, so I thought this was the only logical conclusion. I would work, he would finish school, we would get married. However, God had different plans. In April, three weeks before I was to graduate, three weeks before I was to fly down to Florida with him for a two week vacation, three weeks before the rest of my life, I called it off. It was one of the hardest, most emotional decisions I have ever made. I ended the relationship on a Monday, I was standing in front of my freshmen and sophomores explaining that I may need them to go easy on me for a couple of days. By Thursday, I was on the phone with my dad trying to figure out my next move. Do I stay in PA and take a job offer right outside of Philly? He suggested I apply to Lakeland Christian School, a College Preparatory private school in Florida where I grew up. I had a few reasons why I figured this would never work:

1. My ex-boyfriend was from Florida.
2. LCS was very picky...they would never hire a first year teacher.
3. Usually schools were never looking for English teachers.

So what did I do? Well, at that point I had nothing to lose, so I looked up LCS's employment needs. I stared at the computer in disbelief as I read "High School English Teacher". I emailed the principal and explained who I was, that I was formerly a student (my family had lived in Lakeland for 12 years) and that I would love to apply for the English position even though I knew that they were probably looking for a more experienced teacher.

A day later I received a phone call. I was to apply. OH MY GOSH!!!

Let me run through the timeline of events for you again...middle of April: no more relationship; a few days later: apply for dream job; middle of May: offered job; August: move to Florida.

As you can imagine, I was emotionally fragile but incredibly excited to be starting this new adventure. I started teaching and loved my job. A few months later, I met up with one of my friends who told me he had met "this guy" who I would be perfect with. Obviously, I was skeptical. I told him, "That's great, but what do you want me to do about it?"

That was December. On March 18th, I found out that "this guy", Bryant Golden, had my number and was going to give me a call. What did I do? I freaked out. What do I do when I freak out? I went shopping.

Thursday, March 19th
A few of my girlfriends and I went to a small group study in Tampa. After the study I realized I had a voicemail. I listened to it...and it was Bryant. WHAT??? I started screaming...and asked what I should do. The reply was unanimous: "Don't call him back. Let him do it."

Friday, March 20th
I start a three hour trip to Jacksonville to attend an all night girls event my mom is speaking at. At 9pm, I receive a phone call...from Bryant. The problem is, I am in a session. I stare at the phone in disbelief. Really? I can't answer again?

A few hours later, I leave him a voicemail. Now it is beginning to get funny.

Saturday, March 21st
My mom and I and a few friends are staying in a condo on the beach. We walk outside to see the sunset. I leave my phone on my bed. I come in...voicemail. Bryant. Awesome.

That night, I texted him, apologizing for constantly missing his phone calls. He apologizes for coming across as a stalker. I am secretly flattered and intriqued. We decied to meet up at a Starbucks the next day at 7pm.

Sunday, March 22nd
I drive the three hour treck home. I find my roommate, freak out (again, notice the trend), try to take a quick nap, and then pick out the cutest outfit. I jump in my car, blast my pump-up music, and head over to Starbucks. The entire time I am thinking, "What are you doing? You have never met him have only seen a small picture of him...are you really about to drink coffee with a complete stranger?" Heck yes I am!!!

As I pulled into a parking space, my heart starting pounding in my chest. Oh man. Last chance to get out of there. I took a deep breath...put my shoulders back, faked the confidence...and walked through the door.

"Are you Bryant Golden?"

"I am...Nicole?"

"You got it. Nice to meet you."

And the rest is history :)

March 9, 2011

Is God Fair?

The following in bold is taken from Chuck Swindoll:
Remember those words from Isaiah's pen as he repeats God's message?

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Look carefully at the contrasts. There is a vast difference between "My thoughts" and "your thoughts" says the Lord. "My ways" are not like "your ways." They are higher; they are far more profound, deep, mysterious---and I would add, surprising.

Our human ways are based on what seems fair. We firmly believe that when someone does what is right, rewards and blessings result. When someone does what is wrong, there are serious consequences, even punishment. But that's our way, not necessarily God's way. At least not immediately. He's been known to allow unfair treatment to occur in the lives of absolutely innocent folks---for reasons far more profound and deep than they or we could have imagined.

Bryant said on Sunday that fairness is not a Biblical principle...and why not? :) Well, if it were, Jesus would not have been mistreated and crucified for my sin (Isaiah 53:3,7), I would not have Salvation as a result (Isaiah 53:5), nor would I be able to learn to be like Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-25). I guess I need to learn that I don't want "life" or God to be fair...I just want grace and mercy. His thoughts and ways are higher, deeper, better, safer than mine. The pity parties end here.

March 8, 2011


"Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His prsence continually."
1 Chronicles 16:11

"When you are determined to get your own way, you blot Me out of your consciouness."
- Sarah Young

Whenever I try to control my circumstances and/or friends and loved ones, I end up in a conflict. When my attempts at control come to nothing, then I become spiritual. Yeah, I go there (so do you). I start “praying” about it, praying that God would enable me to better control the situation and/or person. When this doesn’t work, which (here’s the bad news) it is guaranteed to fail according to James 4, then I vainly attempt to control the situation myself yet again. Except, just as in round one, this fails miserably…so, you guessed it, I pray about it some more…thinking that surely God will give in, because, I, after all, am praying (and with quite a bit of faith, mind you, faith that I am right and justified for what I ask). What a deadly, vicious cycle. I get trapped. Until you have lived in this snare for a while, you don’t realize how hopeless and depressing this truly feels. I I do.

Psalm 25:15 gives the good news: “My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only He will release my feet from the snare.” I can be can you! We have to choose to take our eyes off of those things that we think we are owed, want, or even believe we need. We need to center our attention on our loving God. You see, this verse comes after “No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame…” and “Good and upright is the LORD, therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful.” If we don’t really believe that those verses are true, we will never, and I mean never, refocus our wandering eyes onto our God.

According to Andy Stanley, “Every good thing that comes your way comes from your Heavenly Father – which is all the more reason to take your unmet needs, your heartfelt needs, and even your embarrassing wants and wishes to him. Will you go to God with these or just keep trying to wring them out of those closest to you?”

Going to God and not harboring or wringing takes strength and discipline. The strength part is taken care of according to Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (italics mine). I don’t need to be strong in and of myself. Think of the worse case scenario for the situation you are trying to control. Pretty bad, isn’t it? Okay, now realize that right now that seems impossible for you to face – because (and I hate to be Captain Obvious) you don’t have to face it right now. Perhaps this is why One oh so much wiser than the rest of us said to not worry about tomorrow…today is enough. We have more than enough strength and grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) to deal with today. However, we are never going to make it if we don’t decide to discipline our minds. Train your mind to trust that God is Sovereign. Even though you may think you are in control, you are not. Those things you dread could happen regardless of whether or not you submit to God’s sovereignty…so why not just rest in His omniscience and omnipotence? Trust is simple…when you begin to worry or to grow angry or jealous or greedy, remind yourself that God, Who knows everything and Who will ultimately work His will for your good and His glory, loves you and will do what He (as God of the universe) deems necessary. Let me remind you again, this will happen regardless of whether you “allow” Him to or not. Rest in His love for you.

March 4, 2011

Get 'er done!

Okay, so if you have a pit in your stomach because of the previous post on forgiveness (a.k.a. the conviction of the Holy Spirit), then read the following steps on how to forgive. This is tough stuff...but sooooo crucial to a free and peaceful life. Please know, I am wrestling through this stuff (let's be honest, this crap) with you. It sucks. But, we have to get our hands dirty and "Get 'er done!"

1. "Focus fully on God's forgiveness of you (Psalm 103; Psalm 116)."

"The extent to which you can envision God's forgiveness of you, to that same measure you will be given the capacity to forgive others." If am spending all of my energy praising God and basking in the freedom of His forgiveness and grace, I am not going to have any time and emotion left over to be bitter.

2. "Deal directly and honestly with any resentment you currently hold against anyone." Oh no.

"Maybe you are willing to go just so far. You will bargain with God and agree to forgive but not forget." Can I hear an "Amen"?! This is where I live my life. Why can't this be good enough? Because...

"That is one of the most regrettable mistakes a Christian can make. Limited forgiveness is like conditional love - a poor substitute for the genuine item. It's no forgiveness at all." Chuck went there. And, I have to meditate on Psalm 103, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our trangressions from us." God takes my sin from me...I am not defined by it. Hebrews 10:22 says He even cleans my conscience and my memories of my sin. I don't have to even think about it. How can I not do this for someone else???

"If forgiveness is the process God takes us through to heal inner wounds...then forgetting would be the removal of the ugly scar. And God can even do that."

All of the above quotations were taken from either Chuck Swindoll or the Bible.

Chuck on Forgiveness

I receive email devotionals everyday from Chuck Swindoll entitled "Insight for Today". Recently, his "insights" have had to do with forgiveness. I have been so convicted and challenged with these Biblical truths that I want to share some with you. The following statements are explanations and applications from Psalm 103 and Matthew 18.

"Truth be told, it's God's forgiveness of us that makes possible our forgiving others."

"It's important to understand that we can never forgive others, horizontally, if not for what Christ has already done for us, vertically. Not until we fully accept and appropriate God's infinite and complete forgiveness on our behalf can we carry out the tough assignment of forgiving others."

"It isn't long before anyone who gets serious about serving others must come to terms with forgiving others as well. Yes, must."

"To refuse to forgive is hypocritical. Because we have been the recipients of maximum mercy, who are we to suddenly demand justice from others? The compassion that God demonstrates on our behalf calls for us to do the same toward others. Anything less is downright hypocritical."

"To refuse to forgive inflicts inner torment upon us."

"Jesus says God personally will allow those who refuse to forgive others to be tortured...pain, agony, and torment are all a part of this torturous experience."

"He is saying the one who refuses to forgive, the Christian who harbors grudges, bitter feelings toward another, will be turned over to torturous thoughts, feelings of misery, and agonizing unrest within. It is one of the horrible consequences of not forgiving those who offend us."

"Believe me; it is not worth the misery. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven! Release the poison of all that bitterness...let it gush out before God, and declare the sincere desire to be free."

Wow. Nothing more to say.

March 1, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Bryant and I in NYC during Thanksgiving
Last Thanksgiving, Bryant and I were flying to New York to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I transform into an organized, anal woman when it comes to flying (those of you who think I am always anal, keep your thoughts to yourself). I wanted to print off the tickets and check the boarding times twelve times before we actually got to the airport, but since I was at a conference, I could do nothing and had to trust that Bryant had things under control. The problem is, Bryant, who is usually INCREDIBLY OCD, decided to take a little break and just fly by the seat of his pants, quite literally. So, when he came to pick me up from the conference, we didn’t have tickets and we hadn’t checked the boarding times in the last couple of hours. I was a nervous wreck.

We boarded our flight in Orlando and landed in Washington D.C. to switch flights. If you have never flown into or out of D.C., don’t. The airport is a mad house. As we were walking off our plan, I was thinking about the fact that since we arrived later than scheduled, we should probably get to our gate as fast as possible to be sure our next flight was not boarding already. I knew I would not be able to relax until I was absolutely certain I had the time to relax. What was Bryant thinking about? Pizza and coffee (again, I need to put a word in for him: he is usually on the ball…I guess this was a simple aberration). He convinced me that we had time to at least make a quick stop by Starbucks, and hey, it was on the way to the gate. No problem. I obliged, unwillingly…anxious the entire time. In fact, when I look back, I see myself standing outside of Starbucks, phone in hand, tapping my foot…while Bryant is calmly waiting in line to pay for our two cups of coffee.

We finally started to head to our gate. Once we got there, I was relieved to see that we were incredibly early since I did not hear any calls for Albany and did not see the flight times posted on the boards. I figured we actually had some time to spare. We set down our luggage and sipped our coffees leisurely. However, as I was standing there, I realized something peculiar. The two flight attendants that were manning our gate were not just announcing one flight at a time. In fact, they were boarding five flights at once…naming a location one after the other. I began to focus, making sure I didn’t miss anything. Philadelphia. Nope. New York City. Natta. Newark. We’re good. Plattsburgh. Still fine. And last call to Albany. PANIC!!! When I heard that announcement, I immediately switched into survival mode. I grabbed my purse, and only my purse, and ran towards the gate. I conveniently forgot that Bryant and all of our luggage were left in my dust (please also remember he has a cup of coffee in his hand). I threw the tickets at the gate agents and went flying down the hallways yelling, “Where’s the flight to Albany? Where’s the flight?” Dazed flight attendants pointed me in the right direction, wondering if I had forgotten to take my medication. I ran out onto the tarmac, still unsure as to where Bryant and our luggage was, and be-lined it toward the airplane. As I stumbled inside the aircraft, I turned behind me to see Bryant struggling with suitcases in either hand, trying to maneuver up the plane’s staircase that was really designed for just a person, not a person trying to juggle a cup of coffee and two pieces of luggage. Did I help him? No! Why? Well, hindsight is 20/20 and I guess at the time I thought making sure I was on the plane was the priority. One of us had to get on the plane to make sure it did not leave without us. My reasoning made sense at the time.

I walked down the aisle to find our seats…in the very back. At this point, Bryant is exhausted. He has managed to carry all of our luggage onto the plane and has somehow figured out where to put them in the overhead compartments. He finally sits down next to me, buckles his seatbelt, takes a sip of coffee and as he sighs, turns and asks me, “What did you shout on this plane?”
“What do you mean?” I asked embarrassed. He was too far behind me to hear anything I said when we were boarding…how did he know I said anything at all?
“Nicole, I know you shouted something…I can just tell by the apologetic looks on people’s faces as they see me walk down the aisle. What did you do?”
“Well, I simply walked onto the plane and screamed, ‘Is this the flight to Albany?’”

His simple reply was, “Thought so.” And a few minutes later, we were in the air to Albany.

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart (keep my mind focused on His character and work: Isaiah 26:3-4) and do not lean on your own understanding (do not follow my feelings and/or my thoughts based off of my feelings). In all your ways acknowledge Him (in those moments when I feel most insecure or angry, cry out to God and work through the irrationalities) and He will make straight your paths (God will give me clarity and the opportunity to walk through the anger: Psalm 112:7-8). Be not wise in your own eyes (do not think my thoughts or feelings are right…); fear the Lord and turn away from evil (replace those thoughts with Scripture). It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones (Romans 8:5-8).