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Entries in Waiting (5)

Thursday
Apr122018

Three Keys that Unlock Breakthroughs

Kathy Carlton Willis has experienced more in a few years than many people experience in a lifetime, and in this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she tells us how she’s experienced some personal breakthroughs this year. And we can too!

Kathy admits, “For the last few years I’ve been circling a holding pattern waiting for a landing strip.”

Kathy has personally coached me (Dawn), and she certainly shines the light on issues that hold us back. Her insights on what to do when we feel stumped are sometimes uncomfortable, but always on point.

Kathy continues . . .  

What I felt like God wanted for my life wasn’t materializing, and it seemed like others were living the dream I thought God had for me. What was I doing wrong?

The more I tried to fix things, the bigger mess I made. But now as I look back, it wasn’t a mess. It was a process.

This year my dreams are starting to materialize. Now I’m in a position to look back and identify the keys that unlocked my breakthrough.

As I study Scripture, I see a similar process for others who had a wilderness before a Promised Land, so I think I’m on to something.

There’s just one problem. This process includes THREE KEYS we all try to avoid. Now I’m seeing they are necessary parts of our journey.

Key #1—WAITING

I would prefer instant answers, but sometimes it takes time for everything to come together. It takes time for God to mature me into the person He needs me to be to fulfill the purpose He has for me.

No fine design before its time.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 NLT).

The Message paraphrases it,

“Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around."

Life thrives like a tree when dreams come true. When we give up too soon, we miss out.

Key #2—SUFFERING

Did I have to include suffering as a key to unlocking breakthroughs? Why couldn’t I pick a more enjoyable process? Maybe involving chocolate!

But no—suffering is necessary. It is what prepares us for the desired end goal.

I remind myself when I go through trials (like illness, extreme weather, rejection) that it will be worth it all when I see Jesus bring about His best outcome for my situation.

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation" (1 Peter 5:10 NLT).

Key #3—OBEYING

Okay, now I’ve just gone to meddling. Obey? Me? But I am woman, hear me roar!

I resist the word obey. I wanted to put the word trust in its place.

Same idea, but a more positive spin on the concept. Yet God nudged me to keep the word obey. Why? Because part of the process toward breakthrough is realizing I can’t go it alone, and it’s not about what I want, it’s about what God wants.

I show God I can trust Him with the outcome, when I also trust Him with the process.

Even when it seems the next step doesn’t propel me toward the goal. In fact, sometimes His direction goes in a completely different trajectory.

For example, a few months ago, God led me to invite Mom to come live with us. This took a big step of obedience.

Each day are little steps of obedience as I choose to care for her needs rather than advance my own goals. But I know God is in it because every day we have new reasons to grin together.

Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Read Psalm 112 for additional inspiration.)

I mentioned at the beginning of the article that God is starting to bring about the desires of my heart.

  • After a dry period of feeling like we couldn’t find a place of service at our new church, we were invited to lead a new small group in our home.
  • A regional ministry invited me to speak for a women’s event.
  • All of a sudden I’m starting to meet new friends, after a year of aloneness.
  • The largest Christian writers conference invited me to be a primary faculty member.

Breakthrough!

Are you looking for a breakthrough? How do these three keys influence your attitudes and decisions?

Kathy Carlton Willis, God's Grin Gal, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceHer popular blog, Grin & Grow with Kathy is featured on CBN. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of LoggaWiggler at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Mar132018

Waiting Well

Wise and winsome Nali Hilderman calls Christian singles to seek and live for the Lord, but her words have often spoken to my own heart as a married woman. In this UPGRADE post for Single Christians, she once again calls all of us to consider life from a biblical perspective.

"Like most people," Nali says, "I really do not like to wait—I don’t like long lines, I don’t like sitting at the airport for a flight or in traffic. I get antsy and oftentimes anxious for things I cannot control."

I (Dawn) DO hate to wait. Waiting is "a waste of time," I say—except when God has us in a waiting pattern for His purposes. Nali reminds us of some lessons the Lord might teach us in this schoolroom of waiting.

Nali continues . . .

I’ll be honest and say I have an especially hard time waiting on God. 

When I wait for other things, I can at least cognitively understand the situation: there are 10 people ahead of me and as one leaves, then I move up. 

There are 25 minutes until my flight takes off, so I can manage that. 

But with God, it often seems like those cognitive “markers” are elusive, and waiting proves angstful and difficult.  This is especially true if, like me, we are waiting on God for a relationship, especially one that will lead to marriage. 

However, God has not left us in the dark regarding this; and I want to offer us some advice on how to WAIT WELL—to give some “cognitive markers” to hang on to in the midst of our waiting.

1. Remember You are in Good Company

Not only are lots of other people waiting on God right now, but the scriptures are filled with countless people who had to wait on God. 

Most of the heroes of the faith—the patriarchs, the kings, the Jewish nation—all had to wait years for God to fulfill the promises He had given them.

Read their stories and be reminded of how they waited (some well, and others, not so well). Visit Hebrews 11 for an overview of many of them, and note especially that some died before they received God’s Promise, yet they did not waiver in their faith that God would provide. What faith!

2. Remember It’s about the Journey, Not the Destination.

More than anything, God desires relationship with us.

Often God's provisions and withholdings are meant to draw us into deeper fellowship with Him. 

I once went through a whirlwind relationship and was convinced God had finally provided a husband for me. I was left in tatters after the relationship ended.

Only through a deep wrestling with God did I discover Him saying, "

This was never about the guy; this was about my relationship with you!”

That led me to an intimacy with God I never knew was possible. Romans 8 says God works in all things. Why? So we may know Him and be conformed into the image of His Son (vv.  28-29).

3. Get busy!

Follow the examples of those in the Bible who waited on God. Though there are some negative examples, most carried on while waiting, and God used that time for what was to come. 

David was a young man when he was anointed King of Israel, but it was a few decades before that promise was fulfilled. In that time, he fought lions and bears, killed Goliath, served another king—who taught him what he was not to do—and walked with God (I Samuel 16-242 Samuel 1-2). 

4. Trust God and His Timing.

The hardest part about waiting is feeling out of control in our circumstances, yet time and time again scripture provides examples of how God is in the most minute details to get His children right where He wants them in order to provide. 

My favorite story of this is the children of Israel in Exodus. They had left slavery in Egypt under miraculous means, only to begin wandering in the desert. The Bible says God did not lead them through the land of the Philistines, though it was shorter, but took them to the Red Sea and had them camp there! 

We know what happened next. The Egyptian army came to kill them, yet God miraculously provided AGAIN for their rescue. 

Notice the key point: 

God took them to the exact place where He would prove his power and protection, even though it seemed to make no sense to the Israelites (Exodus 13:17-18).

Dear friends, are you in a season of waiting on God for a relationship or for anything else?  Which of these four markers is most challenging for you? How can you actively pursue one of these this week as you learn to Wait Well? 

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history and political science at San Diego Christian College. She also is currently the Acting Chair for the Leadership and Justice Department. She writes on the connection between Christianity and the public square, both historically and in the present.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of AD Images, Pixabay.

Thursday
Aug212014

Living in Uncertainty: Waiting on God

Julie Watson is a gifted woman who not only has technical expertise, she also has deep compassion for people who hurt. In this UPGRADE, she encourages us with powerful words about patience.

“Having patience, standing in line, waiting my turn … these are things I learned in kindergarten,” Julie says, “but still didn’t do well ... until now.” 

Watching Julie in her long waiting season has inspired me (Dawn) and taught me to trust God’s timing. But what I value most are the lessons God has taught her.

Julie continues…

I quit praying for patience long ago because I realized every time I did, I’d somehow get stuck behind the slowest drivers known to man!

God is not surprised by my impatience, but for my journey, He gave me something very special to wait for.

Nearly 17 years ago I married the man of my dreams. As most young couples do, we made plans for our future. Children were a part of that plan. However, life throws you curveballs, and mine came in the form of a slow growing type of ovarian cancer. Long story short, having children—natural children, that is—were no longer in our plans.

We were saddened, but not devastated. God had other plans … perfect plans!

Fast forward to Easter week 2013. Adoption was always something we wanted to do once we found out we couldn’t have children. It just took us a LONG time to get there.

When my husband and I separately received confirmation from God that it was time to move forward (on Good Friday of all days) we were READY! And, when I say ready, we literally prayed someone would drop a child onto our doorstep the next day!

Needless to say, adoption doesn’t work like that. We waited… and waited… and waited some more.

Living in uncertainty is never fun. Waiting for something I had wanted for so long stirred a whole range of new emotions, and I learned some things along the way:

1) Don’t ever stop talking to God—keep praying diligently for His will to be done and leave your own will out of it!

2) Don’t stop listening to God—keep reading His Word, be still and allow His truth to penetrate your heart! (Proverbs 4:11-13)

3) Don’t alienate yourself by shutting others outkeep your support team on standby; you’ll need their continuous encouragement and prayer!

4) Don’t hold in the anger, frustration or disappointmentkeep it real and be honest with yourself and God. You can even yell at God; it doesn’t surprise Him and He can take it—plus it might be very cathartic for you!

5) Don’t doubt the path God placed you onkeep your eyes on the prize and persevere! (Isaiah 40:31; Jeremiah 17:7-8)

6) Don’t stop planning—keep your priorities straight, your routines normal and don’t stop living just because you don’t know when “that something” is coming! (Philippians 4:12-13)

So yes, I hate waiting (even still). But, I now see God’s handiwork in the wait. I know the wait will equip me for the task ahead. And, I know that if I trust God and wait on Him, He will accomplish great things in and through me (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28).

Lastly, even while writing this article God revealed to me why I needed to wait for what was coming.

We were about to embark on the hardest journey of our lives and marriage.

We chose to open our home to a sibling set of abused and neglected foster children who needed a ton of love. But what do they need almost as much as love? A mountain-sized amount of PATIENCE (1 Corinthians 13:4a).

Had I not gone through this waiting game, I never would have been ready for the most important job of my life: motherhood.

Are you waiting on God for something? How can you use this time to prepare (physically, emotionally, spiritually) for what’s to come?

Julie Watson has worked with pregnancy care centers over the years and is currently a Grant Writer. She and her husband Shawn are new parents to three beautiful children who have forever changed their lives. The process of becoming foster/adoptive parents was neither painless nor short, but was well worth the wait. They know these children were hand-picked by God to be their own, and plan to adopt as soon as they are legally allowed.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday
Aug192014

Upgrade Your Life While You Wait

I've been following what's happening in Kathy Carlton Willis' life, so I know this UPGRADE was born as a life message in her heart.

"No one eludes those pesky life on-hold challenges," Kathy says, "but everyone wants to know how to live through them without hating the wait."

Waiting. It's not something I (Dawn) have ever enjoyed. It's so hard for me to "wait for the Lord" and His goodness in my circumstances (Psalm 27:13-14). So I appreciate Kathy's "waiting wisdom."

She continues ...

Probably the hardest thing for me, and most of you, is the trial of hurry-up-and-wait. Left unchecked, it tests my patience, challenges my contentment, and sours my joy.

I have several God-and-me times yearly to evaluate the priorities He wants me to have, the goals He sets for me—you name it. The frustrating part comes when I think I have my marching orders from God and then something comes into my life that puts everything on hold.

I get so antsy to want to hurry up and do what God has planted as a burning passion in my life, but instead I have no choice but to wait. It feels like I’m expected to sit on my hands! I’m quite certain you can relate.

I’ve come to realize that the reason I hate the wait is because I feel like I have to make progress to please God. And I’ve been programmed to think I have to be doing something or see a situation moving in the right direction to count as progress.

I’m learning from back-to-back-to-back on-hold situations that it’s in the wait where we grow, others grow, and situations come together for a better outcome later on. Just because we can’t see the signs of progress doesn’t mean nothing good is going on.

Psalm 62:5 says, "Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him" (NLT).

The wait is not a delay, it’s an on-purpose plateau to let what used to be catch up with what’s going to be in the future.

It’s just like losing weight. If we don’t allow for the plateaus when we diet, our skin doesn’t shrink up and we walk around like Shar Pei puppies. We don’t want saggy baggy skin, and we don’t want saggy baggy lives, either.

A life on hold isn’t a life delayed. It’s just not time yet.

What do you do about it when you hit a delay in your git-up-and-go? Does it derail you? Do you learn to be flexible? How do you cope? After you are no longer on hold, does hindsight help you find the blessing in the wait?

Perhaps you recognize a drama avoided by the delay or a travesty missed by the trial of waiting. Or maybe you see the results of a spiritual growth spurt that took place during the time you felt you were stalled out.

One of the exercises I learned to do during my latest life-on-hold period was to evaluate: What do I do that drains me? What energizes me?

God loves for us to accentuate those things that propel us rather than those things that drag us down. Think motors, not anchors. Of course, all work has aspects we don’t like—that’s why it’s called work! But it’s important to do something daily that gets us jazzed. Can you put your finger on that thing that makes your motor purr?

Delays are the beginning of grand adventures.

Join me today by asking yourself, “What attitude adjustment can I make today to help me get closer to the future God’s dreamed up just for me?”

Kathy Carlton Willis writes and speaks with a balance of funny and faith—whimsy and wisdom. She shines the light on issues that hold women back and inspires their own lightbulb moments. Almost a thousand of Kathy’s articles have been published and she has several books releasing over the next three years, including Grin with Grace with AMG Publishers. She and her husband/pastor, Russ, live in Texas. Learn more at: www.kathycarltonwillis.com/

Tuesday
Dec102013

Waiting with Purpose

Jamie Wood is a young woman with great spiritual insight. She has learned many of life's lessons through her experiences in ministry, but also through the "School of Waiting."

Can you feel the struggle in these words?

"Lord, I’m tired of waiting! What are you up to? Will it happen for me? Dare I hope for it?

Do you see me? I feel like the only one. I don’t want to start all over again. Lord?"

Have you ever prayed a prayer like that? I did as a young single woman when it seemed like God would never give me a husband or a ministry. I was frustrated with God's timetable, but God brought me wise counsel ... words of wisdom much like Jamie shares.

She continues ...

If you are a woman, if you are human, then any one or more of these thoughts must resonate with you. In my experience, waiting on the Lord has proven to be one of the most difficult aspects of my Christian journey. 

I know what Scripture says about the truth of who God is and the plan He has for my life, but living out the tension between faith and doubt has brought me to my knees on more than one occasion. I know God doesn’t work on my timetable, that His timing is perfect, but my challenge has been to learn to wait…not aimlessly or without hope, but with PURPOSE!

God most poignantly taught me to wait with purpose when I was 30 years old. I had hit a new decade and ... Still. No. Husband. Everything in me wanted to scream, “God don’t you see my lonely heart?”  “Do you care?”

I was also battling lies from the enemy to just settle, that my standards were too high. (Maybe someone reading this can relate to that?)

So, one day, as I was yet again talking to God about this area of my life, He brought to mind an acronym that helped me put waiting into perspective.  W - A - I - T.

W – Worship. And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord" (Psalm 40:3). Worship means to declare worth, to attribute worth. When I worship God, I am saying that God has worth, that He is worthy.  

God reminded me through worship that He is the only One who can satisfy all my heart’s desires. To put it plainly, God is enough. 

Despite the brokenness in the world and the desires in my life that may or may not be met, I can go to God in worship and be reminded that He will be enough.

A – Attitude. "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me" (Psalm 138:8). God showed me that He promised to accomplish His purposes in my life. Since that was a promise, my attitude needed to reflect His faithfulness.

I – Intimacy. I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1). God reminded me that as His daughter, He hears me. Often that’s all I need – to be reminded that I’m not alone.  He sees my desperate heart and hears my plea!

T – Trust. "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13). Trust. A hard five-letter-word. 

I had to come face to face with a hard question: Do I trust God? When that is settled in your heart, you can wait with purpose. He will come through!

I hope this helps to encourage you to wait with purpose in whatever your heart is longing for.

And just in case anyone is curious, God brought along my husband shortly after this lesson and He used Craig’s List to do it! I posted a suitcase for sale and you got it, Jeff is the man I sold it to. Little did I know I’d be inheriting that suitcase back one day!

What are you waiting for today? Are you waiting with purpose - trusting God?

Jamie Wood was born into a Pastor’s family and desires to disciple women for Christ. She has served as a conference planner for Anne Graham Lotz at AnGeL Ministries, as the Women’s Spiritual Life Director at San Diego Christian College, and on staff in the Women’s Ministry Department of Shadow Mountain Community Church. She has traveled to 33 countries and loves teaching others how to study and apply God's Word. Jamie, her husband Jeff and their baby son, David, live in San Diego.