On the long ride home as my sister maneuvered through heavy Memphis traffic, I was happy to be in the back seat and simply think about everything that had transpired during our mission.
Our one day trip to pick up our Ghana sister, Constance, had resulted in a 2-day wait at the airport due to mechanical and weather delays. After HOURS of waiting in the airport on the first day, her flight was grounded in Chicago. We found a nice hotel and spent the night – not a bad thing – we did some shopppppping the next morning. We drove to the airport and AGAIN – the flight was postponed and arrival time was changed every few minutes due to severe weather. We waited, had lunch, waited, watched people and waited. During the long wait, I observed people. You can learn a lot about the human psyche as each postponement or delay in flights came up on the board.
I saw the young man as he approached the waiting area and immediately recognized him as an observant Hasidic Jewish man. I would guess him to be maybe 30 years old at the most. He kept to himself and used his phone often and checked the flight board like the rest of us. He pulled his luggage and walked near us and my sister excitedly said, “Look, a Jew! We’re supposed to bless Jews.” In my effort to calm her down, I said quietly, “I know, I saw him earlier.” My sister is much friendlier than I and more approachable. Long story short, she struck up a chat with him and we learned he was waiting for his flight to New York. My sister can get information out of a clam – not because she is nosey – she isn’t – she just cares about EVERYBODY and most people with problems spill their guts to her! We learned about his beautiful wife and three children and he was anxious to get home to them.
Eventually, all flights were canceled. There we were – day two in the same clothes – snowing like crazy, no hotel reservations, and an airport full of people trying to book rooms at the closest inn. There were no rooms at the inns. My sister turned to the young man and said we would take him to a hotel and not to take a taxi. He was quite taken aback and insisted he would not wish to inconvenience us. My sister insisted, he relented and climbed into the big black truck with two old Gentile Christian sisters. I imagine he was praying the entire trip to the hotel a few miles away in Germantown – my sister gave guided tour information as we passed by three ENORMOUS white, brightly-lit crosses at one of the local churches. I learned some new things as we discussed Netanyahu and current events. Very intelligent young man.
We rode back to the airport next morning said our goodbyes. My sister took a photo of our new friend and I & they exchanged names and addresses. Up to that point, we didn’t know each other’s names! But that’s irrelevant.
Sister Constance survived her ordeal, arrived in Memphis and we got back into the big, black truck and headed home. After it was all over, it was as if God was telling me, “I wanted to show you something! I am sovereign and I will use My obedient servants no matter where they are.” The young man from Brooklyn was on two sisters unknown agenda for that day and we made a new friend. We just didn’t know there was a mission added to our mission. Possibly, we were on his mission. I do not think this story is over & know this was not just a “chance meeting”. In Ghana, when you visit someone, upon arriving at the home, the tradition is for the host to ask, “What is your mission?” The primary mission, or what we thought was our primary mission, was to pick up our sister, plan a nice lunch and drive home.
I like God’s plan better.
I know I’m not the only one that feels like this.
Maybe you even feel like this…
Either way, I don’t think anyone fully enjoys this sense of not knowing where they are or how they got here. Sure, it feels exciting and adventurous, but also scary.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with where I am. It’s just that life is not what I thought it was going to be. It’s better, more beautiful, and a ton more work… but it’s just not what I ever thought life would be. Perhaps this is why people have a mid-life crisis and jump completely out of their own character and into a personality completely parallel to anything that resembles them. I can kind of see how it happens now, as without Christ I would probably stand back some days and shake with fright. Actually, I pretty much did that during a divorce at 22, so I get it. But now I’m 33. I do way too much thinking about “how will this all work out” and while I seem to have moments of tears and stress, I don’t completely snap.
Because, if I’m being honest, it is the excitement of “What will God do with this next?” that keeps me from freaking out.
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My first dream, before anything else came to thought, was to be a Mom. It was always at the top of my goals. There was a time as a little girl that I wanted to be a lawyer and later a doctor. Different hopes and dreams were born and faded, but the only dream that grew was to have a family.
What I didn’t dream of was heartbreaking miscarriages, divorce, becoming a non-custodial parent, and having special needs children. I didn’t plan for illnesses, failed moves, children in surgery 1800 miles away, extended business trips, unfinished blog series, a kitchen covered in dish soap, and a lot of waiting. I never anticipated so many tears. Ever.
I look around some days and wonder where I am and how I got here, because nothing seems familiar.
But without those broken dreams, I wouldn’t appreciate the blessings that God has given me. I wouldn’t understand how miraculous it is to give birth to a living child. Never would I have understood how rare it is to find a good man who loves his family, puts them above all else, and after years together still puts up with this neurotic wife of his. Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated all the little moments with each of my children if 2 of my kids were not with me all the time. While the most difficult job I’ve ever had, being a special needs Mom has brought more love into my life than I ever imagined. Everything has brought growth and wisdom that I would have never gained otherwise.
Over the last few days, I realized that I need to put a reoccurring dream on hold once again. I’m not going to say that I’m not disappointed. I am. But again, I can’t wait to see what God will do next! The dream isn’t broken, just on hold. The peace that Jesus brings is so sweet and nothing else can compare.
After all, my biggest dream has come true. Waking up every day as his wife and their Mom is a wonderful feeling, and being God’s child is amazing!
If you’re looking around and not quite sure of where you are and how you got there, cling to our Heavenly Father. He knows exactly what He’s doing and has a better plan than any we could ever imagine.
Ever set out to do something, and know that you have set way too high expectations for yourself, but you try to do it anyway?
On July 31st, we left our home in Southern California for vacation. It was supposed to be a 2 week trip. We drove to visit family and friends in Kentucky and Tennessee first. That’s where I was reunited with Karen, Emily, and Judye for the first time in over 15 years along with everyone else that I love and miss dearly in my hometown. After 5 days there, we drove up to where our family will be moving in a few months, Pennsylvania. We were supposed to spend about a week there.
This is where I laugh. Because that was my plan, but not God’s plan.
We were in Pennsylvania for 4 weeks. When you add our week traveling before that, we were away from home for 5 weeks. Thank goodness I over packed! My husband’s employers took really good care of us and made it a very enjoyable time. I almost didn’t want to come home, except we kind of need to pack so we can move there permanently. I cannot wait to return.
During all of this, I did not have steady internet let alone time to tend to the blog. In the beginning I really tried. I thought I’d be able to keep up. After the 3rd week, I realized it just wasn’t going to happen and gave up.
I truly believe that God allowed for our trip to be so long and undistracted so that I would fall in love with the area we are moving to.
Isn’t it amazing how God does things? Circumstances happen, and we think they are too simple or mundane for God to have planned them, but really, He is in every little thing. Which causes me to wonder, why don’t we include Him in every little thing? I mean right down to trimming fingernails and pouring a cup of coffee. He’s protecting us from slipping and cutting our finger or burning ourselves, after all. Okay, now I’m rambling, and I’m sure you got the point…
While on this trip, there were a lot of little discussions that led to one big decision.
For some time, we have attempted to monetize this blog. Keyword: Attempted. I’ve read books, gone to conferences, taken online classes, etc. on how to monetize a blog to the point that it was weird that Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven wasn’t making more than a couple of dollars every few months. Now, in my heart I knew it was because God never intended for there to be a profit, but we didn’t want a profit. We just wanted to cover the costs of the blog itself, so I thought what we were doing was okay.
Now, I am not saying that ministry blogs should not be monetizing. I am saying that for whatever reason, that was not what God wanted here.
One day God’s voice came across loud and clear that monetization would have to stop. It was only a few minutes after that a very kind and generous person unexpectedly committed themselves to covering our yearly blog costs. Thank you, Jesus and person who I shall keep anonymous! THANK YOU!
This means no more ads. No more affiliate links. No more of me stressing over if I sound like a late night infomercial pitchman because it does not come to me naturally. YAY for you, YAY for me!
We will still continue to have giveaways and such, but it will be like it always has been: Either donated by the company or compiled by myself and/or other contributors of Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven. Which brings us to…
We have so much going on behind the scenes at the moment that I feel like my head is spinning just trying to think of a way to tell you all without giving too much away.
We definitely intend to continue the pregnancy series that we started at the beginning of the summer. Next week we will be participating in the #IAmYourVoice campaign, a way to bring awareness and help refugees in Iraq and Syria, where Christians are being persecuted. This week brings the day of encouragement, and you know Emily always has something fun for that. Since we missed our Blogiversary in August, we will soon be giving away a certain movie about Christian Moms that is rather popular… 😉 I will be posting every Friday as a co-host of A Look At The Book‘s “A Group Look” linky. (I was supposed to begin a month ago, but the sweet ladies that also host/co-host there have been so understanding of our trip continually being extended.) The list goes on and on…
So be sure to follow us in one way or another so that you don’t miss out on anything. Email, RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc etc etc… And remember, we are always available to pray with/for you, so never hesitate to ask.
Have you ever just felt the urge to do something, but weren’t quite sure what it was you wanted to do? Maybe you were in a crafty mood with no creation in mind, or felt like driving without a place to go. Hungry, but didn’t know what to eat? See, I knew everyone could relate to that one. Let me tell you a little story…
Picture it: Christmastime 1997. Northwestern Tennessee dry freezing cold. It’s early evening and the house is busy with friends and family about to arrive. (Though why they were coming, I don’t remember why…) Karen and her husband David were still newlyweds, I was a teenager hanging out at their house for the weekend, and Emily was still a little girl. Christmas decorations were already perfectly decked out in Karen’s home, as she often has her halls decked out in October. Dinner was nearly ready and we felt like baking something, probably to show off our domestic skills as we were coming of age. We looked through the few recipes Karen had and came to a wall pretty quickly. The ingredients required were not already in Karen’s pantry. “But who needs a recipe, anyway?” was our thought and we just decided we had baked enough in our time on this planet and we could come up with something.
We tossed together some flour, sugar, butter (softened!), eggs, vanilla, salt, milk, more flour, more sugar, cinnamon, and there might have been oil in there too. We were CERTAIN that this delectable was going to be the new sought after recipe among our friends, family, and church. The one that HAD to be at every potluck and would be on the cover of the next church cookbook. We threw around some names while the “substance” baked (At 350 degrees, which was determined because that’s what all the good stuff bakes at.) and I made an icing with water, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It dawned on us that because this was going to be famous, we should use our last names. “WildIrby” pronounced “Wild Derby” was what we settled on. Upon Emily’s request Akers was added on to the end and we could not wait to share it with everyone. (At the time, both unmarried, my last name was Irby and Emily’s was Akers. Moving on…)
Dinner was done, family and friends were in attendance, and we broke out our concoction. One problem: It was SO dense that it was hard to get out of the pan. Similar to pound cake, but even more… I’m not even going to pretend I have the word to use to describe this to you. It was just, odd. Once we got it on the plate, we drizzled it with the icing and it was served.
Emily, being young and innocent, went along with Karen and I when we said how delicious this new dessert was upon tasting it. Everyone else in the room loved us so much that they couldn’t lie to us. It was terrible. There was not one single good thing about “WildIrby Akers”. Nothing. You could pick it up with a fork, turn it upside down, and a thick inch flake would fall off but the rest of it would not change at all. There was not enough liquid to drink to help you overcome the thirst it gave you. Emily even insisted we remove “Akers” from the name and never refer to it as that again. The thing I remember the most is Karen and Emily’s mom laughing, and our admitting that maybe it wasn’t so great, but we’d try again later that evening. We never did, however, because one of Karen and Emily’s cousins began vomiting and WildIrby’s taste took the blame.
Sometimes in life we just jump into something because it feels right or the thing to do in that moment. We don’t look for a guideline or a plan. We don’t even ask someone else who might know better, or even God, what they think about the matter. We just dive in head first and expect a great outcome. Once in a while that works out, but most of the time it really doesn’t and the outcome is disappointment and failure.
As Christians, we need to be aware of our decisions and the direction we are heading. We need to ask the Lord what His plan is, where He wants us to be or go, and if what we are about to do is actually His Will. We need to go back to our Bibles and do some deep searching. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there has been a time or two (or 163) in my life that I said or did something just because it felt right or someone else I looked up to was doing that same thing as well. It’s not to say what I was doing was wrong, but it isn’t what God Will was for my life. He had something else for me, that fit better and was a lot more comfortable… But I just did what I felt should be done because, hey, I was in the mood. There were times that because of this, people were hurt. There were other times that no one knew any different, but in the long run I will never know what God had for me had I not just been going willy nilly about my life thinking “Oh, I’m doing the work of the Lord. This is so good. I’m so happy to be doing something for Him.” when it wasn’t what He wanted me to do. That’s pretty tough stuff to deal with, honestly.
When Karen and I were writing down our recipe as we made it up so we could share it with the world, we thought we were doing a good thing. We didn’t know that it was (LITERALLY) going to make everyone who ate WildIrby sick. It didn’t mean that we weren’t great in the kitchen or couldn’t bake, because believe me, we can tear up a kitchen and make you not even care that you had to clean the mess up. It just wasn’t following the course that is intended for food to be edible. Had we followed a correct plan, we would have all had a great dessert and no one would probably even remember anything about that Saturday at her house.
If you’re dealing with disappointment from a failure, or are considering an endeavor, and realize that you may have just baked up a batch of WildIrby, I want to give you hope. Jesus does have a plan for your life. His way is so much better than anything we can come up with. While you may feel like a loser or ashamed because what you thought was right really wasn’t the way to go at all, He has His hand out to pick you back up, dust you off, and send you down the way you are meant to go. I know, I really do, how hard it can be to feel like this must be it. Time to just give up and be one of those “every day Christians.” Do nothing but go to church when I can and that’s it. Guess what? There’s no such thing. Every single child of God has a calling and a purpose.
Don’t just make a concoction of some sort and then top the mistake with an even worse icing of giving up. Scrap that cake-like substance into the trash can, get out your Bible, give God a call, and follow the recipe He has for you. He’s going to give you the directions that are just right and as long as everything is followed to a T, your life will turn out blessed and just as He intended it to be.
I’m curious, when you aren’t sure if an idea is God’s or your’s, what do you personally do and how do you personally know for sure? Your answer might help someone, so I would really appreciate it if you would share. Thank you.