God’s Timing is Perfect!

One of the great things about getting older is that your perspective on life changes. One major shift I am noticing in my own life is my perception of time. When you’re young you feel like everything needs to happen NOW and your patience is weak. Today’s Internet culture makes people feel that way as well. We seem to lack patience and many people won’t stick with something long enough to see the result they desire if it seems like it is taking too long to get there.

We want what we want, and we want it now.

I am learning, albeit slowly, that God’s timing is perfect. This is true for the major events in life as well as the details of the everyday. We will never fully understand His timing with some things while we are here on earth because He is infinite and we are here for a moment. However, if we pay attention, we will notice when His timing is right even when it differs from our expectations. He knew every second of our lives before He put time in motion.

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Have you ever been late getting somewhere and then on the way driving you see a terrible car accident? Maybe if you had left at the “right time” you would have been the one in that accident. Perhaps this was God’s way of protecting you.

Do you ever think about what you thought you’d be doing at this stage in life? Maybe you have been working toward a goal that you have not yet accomplished. Don’t worry. Perhaps God is still working to prepare you for what you will face once that goal is reached. Or maybe He is guiding you toward something better than you imagined for yourself.

Stay the course. Keep working. Keep hoping. Keep believing.

A couple weeks ago I was on a great trip to visit my family on the West Coast. My Aunt Tami and I took a road trip from L.A. to Portland, Oregon. It was great fun!

On the second day of our trip we got going later in the morning than we had planned, and then we spent a lot more time site-seeing than planned. We realized we would never make it into Oregon in time to get a hotel for the night and wondered how this may affect the rest of our trip and our arrival time at our cousin’s house the next evening.

The weather was foggy and rainy as we passed through the Redwoods on the way to the coast. Just as we broke out of the forest and saw the beach, there was the sun! We had two perfect hours of beautiful sun and no fog as we enjoyed that beach. Had we been “on time” we never would have been there at that moment! We expected a gorgeous sunset because of all the clouds, but just as the sun was setting a heavy fog came in and we could no longer see anything! We got in the car and found a little hotel. Turns out we were just in time to get to a restaurant to eat in the tiny town and had we stayed for the sunset we would have had to skip dinner. We had already traveled about nine hours without a meal!

The rest of the trip followed suit. Many things happened because our “planned timing” was off. Things that we would have missed if we had been on our own timing.

This example is only meant to remind us that God cares about the little things. Even when we are on vacation enjoying the beauty He created. Because Tami and I chose to see that timing as a gift, it was significant. What joy we shared as we gathered driftwood, dug our toes into the beautiful black sand and took photos of the beauty that surrounded us. We knew if we had passed through earlier or later in the thick fog we would not have even noticed that we were passing by that beautiful place.

There are trials in life that don’t make sense to us now, but remember that your life and all it’s troubles are in God’s hands. An unexpected death of a loved one. Cancer in a friend who lives a clean and healthy lifestyle. The loss of a great job. God cares for us always during those times. He has a plan and we can be confident that if we love Him with all our heart and soul and love our neighbors as ourselves, He will always carry us and see us through.

If God cares for us in the timing of simple pleasures in life, then we can be sure He cares for us in the timing of major life events as well.

Take heart in the midst of your trials. God’s got this.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  2 Peter 3:8-9

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You are Beautiful

I had the opportunity to lead a Bible study to 18 women who want to change their lives from being prostitutes to something more. I shared these words with them and I want to share them with you as well.

God knew you before you were born. God knit you in your mother’s womb.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:5

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13

God created you for a purpose. You are all a part of God’s plan. None of you are a mistake. God loved you before you were born, he loves you now, and he will always love you. It doesn’t matter where you have been or what you have done, God will ALWAYS love you!

God created each of you as beautiful humans. You were made in the image of God.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27

God is a god of many attributes- joy, peace, compassion, hope, love and beauty (to name a few). And he created each of you in his image to represent him and his beauty.

Women are beautiful, but like it says in 1 Peter 3:3-5 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Our beauty comes from within. If we have a heart like Jesus where we love each other, have compassion, and want to do what is right, we will have an inner beauty that will radiate out.  He wants to fill you up with him and him alone!

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”   1 Peter 3:8-12

When you represent Jesus well by the way you walk, talk, listen, and act, his beauty will be revealed and he will bless you. Encourage one another; lift each other up. He did not put us on this earth by ourselves. He is always with us and he also gave us each other to do life together.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well.”  Psalm 139:14

When God created humans in the beginning of creation he blessed humans and was well pleased. He saw that it was good- we are good! We are good, beautiful people. God wants all of us. He wants our hearts, minds, and souls. He wants us to turn to him during the hard times and the good times. He will never leave us. Call out to him. He is listening. You are his precious children. He will take care of you.

God looks at each of you and smiles. God has called you to something greater than the life you have been living. God pulled you out of darkness and into the light. You all will be a light shining bright in the dark places; a beautiful light radiating Jesus. You all are beautiful. Never forget that.

1964956_10202263542123840_1295588116_n(These are the women in the Breaking Chains ministry plus 3 women on staff and my team I am working with this month in Nicaragua. Check out my World Race blog to read more stories nikkiromani.theworldrace.org)

 

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Prince of Peace

What do you think of when you hear the word peace?

I think of being content. When there is no stress or worry. Being still and quiet, sitting in the presence of God. Having a heart that is calm. Peace is defined as a state of tranquility or quiet.

Where does all this come from? How can you have this?

The answer is Jesus!

Jesus IS the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

“For to us a child born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

 Jesus IS peace.

Ephesians 2:14

“For he himself is our peace…”

Ephesians 2:17

“He came and preached peace to you

who were far away

and peace to those who were near.”

God sent his son to be born on this earth and live in the flesh and die so that we could have peace.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled

and do not be afraid.”

 

God GAVE us peace. We didn’t have to do anything to earn it! He wants us to have peace, but it can only be found in Him! God tells us to be still and know that he is God. Are we doing this? Are we separating ourselves from the chaos of this world and resting in his peace? You cannot find true peace in the things of this world. The world will leave you unsatisfied and constantly searching for more. GOD IS ENOUGH. He is all we need. He will fulfill every need we have. What an incredible promise that is!

 

My challenge for you this Christmas season is to take time to rest. Take time to be still and experience Jesus’ peace. Stop searching for peace in the world. God has it for you. It is available to you, you have to take the effort and look for it!

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This is peace to me… being still, not thinking of anything but looking at the ocean with a breathtaking sunset. God’s beautiful creation! This was the sunset this evening in San Diego, Ca! Winter in Southern California!

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PURE JOY!!!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

One evening last May, my little godson Matthew called me to ask if he could have his 6th birthday party at my house – a dance party! You see, I am an “auntie” to a lot of my friends’ kids since I don’t have any of my own. All of them like to visit Auntie Kristin’s house because I have a cool basement filled with disco lights, electronic drums, bongo drums, games and DJ equipment with big speakers – and my buddy Matt is no exception.

Well, of course I said yes, and told Matt that we could plan a disco dance party at my house and he could invite all his friends. He started designing invitations that day. The funny thing was, he had over 5 months to wait until his birthday in October! This fact did not dampen his excitement, so the countdown began.

FINALLY, the day of the party arrived! I had spent many, many hours planning and preparing my house for a flock of tiny people to come have fun and go crazy! I was so excited and proud of what Matt’s Mom and I had done to prepare. I couldn’t wait for Matt to arrive and see what I had created JUST FOR HIM! I did all of it just because I love him so much and wanted to see him enjoy his big day with his friends!

Matt’s family arrived early before the guests. I was outside in the back yard setting up tables and chairs. Once the car parked I assumed Matt would see that I was in the back and that he would come straight to me. However, he hopped out and ran to the front door, which I had left unlocked. I quickly went back into the basement hoping to meet him when he came down the stairs to the party room.

As soon as I got inside, Matt burst through the other door and there we were, just the two of us. I already had all the lights on and some music playing. The disco ball was spinning, and birthday decorations were everywhere!

He looked around and took it all in, then he began hopping and clapping and squealing with glee! He ran to me and jumped into my arms, bear-hugging me and whispering, “THANK YOU AUNT KRISTIN” in my ear.

It was a special, intimate moment I will never forget. The pure joy and gratitude of a 6-year-old boy who knew I loved him so much that I would go to any lengths to provide him with the birthday party of his dreams.

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Isn’t this how we should be every day when we see what our Father God has created for our pure enjoyment?

God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die and give us life. And beyond that, look at the beautiful earth He created for us to inhabit! We tend to get complacent about the everyday – a shining warm sun, green trees, flowers, lakes and streams, animals, food and clean water, family, a job – the air we breathe and a beating heart every morning we wake up.

Webster’s defines Joy as: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; delight; the expression or exhibition of such emotion; bliss; enjoyment.

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Take a look around today, soak it all in, and JUMP FOR JOY into your Heavenly Father’s arms, expressing your deep gratitude for His gifts to you. He not only provides enjoyment for you on this earth, but He has also prepared for you a boundless eternal home as well. His love for you is overwhelming, unconditional and limitless! Unbridled joy and gratitude is appropriate!

1 Corinthians 2:9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

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Every Leaf is a Blessing

I just spent a weekend with my friend Natalie, about 70 miles from my house. As I left that Sunday morning I told her I’d let her know when I made it home safely and that I had to do hours worth of yard work as I was severely behind on my fallen-leaf management. UGH.

I arrived back home and sent her a text that I had made it and thanked her for her hospitality and a fun weekend.

Her reply text said, “Awesome, glad you made it safe. Have a great day, enjoy every leaf, it’s a blessing!” 

I sort of laughed sarcastically as I read it and got geared up to work outside for dreadful hours on end.

I live in North Carolina, a deciduous forest. (Deciduous: the dropping of a part that is no longer needed, or falling away after its purpose is finished. In plants it is the result of natural processes.) As you can imagine, this means autumn is a gorgeous time of red, yellow and orange leaves that eventually translates to untold numbers of leaves on the ground and bare branches through the winter. I used to get all bent out of shape if I didn’t get all my leaves cleaned up out of the yard and put in bags by the street for the City to pick up. After years of this, I finally settled down and stopped worrying so much about it. After all, the leaves disintegrate and go back into the earth from whence they came, giving more nutrients to the soil. Why not leave some of them? Why not mulch most of them and let nature take its course? Why do people get so obsessed with “cleaning them up” and resenting every minute of it?

As I worked hard at mulching, raking and bagging leaves, I could not stop pondering what Natalie had said. “Enjoy every leaf, it’s a blessing!” I began to really think of them that way. On my own property there are millions of leaves. Translate that into blessings from God. WOW! His love for us is overwhelming!

There are leaves of different sizes and shapes and colors. Every single one is different from every other. Some are perfect in shape, some are cute, some have already begun to break down and are ugly. But when they all return to the soil, fertilizing it, they all create nutrition and give life to the grass, trees and plants they feed.

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Isn’t this the same with each blessing we receive every single day? Every breath is a blessing. Every moment shared with a loved one. Food, clean water, shelter, family, friends, pets, jobs, opportunities to serve others. Some blessings don’t look like blessings at first glance. They may be ugly and painful as we deal with them, but they still end up feeding our soil (soul) and we grow because of them.

Suddenly I experienced such joy raking and mulching the thousands and thousands of leaves in my yard as I thought of each of them representing a blessing in my own life. Some are ground up and return back into my own soul to help it grow, and some are bagged up and put up at the street as if I am giving them away. If you look, you will see an over-abundance of blessings in your own life, even amidst your most painful struggles. Some are to be absorbed and enjoyed, and others are to be passed on to bless another life.

I will never look at leaves the same again – they will always remind me to be thankful to God for the unlimited supply of blessing that He has given me, and remind me to give as He unfailingly gives to me.

As we approach Thanksgiving, be sure to notice just how blessed you are and how you can speak life and blessing into the lives of the ones you love. Every moment is a gift. Every leaf is a blessing.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

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UGLY JUNK

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For eight months I was blessed to live in an apartment on one of the northernmost beaches of Massachusetts. I watched the Atlantic Ocean change every day. The heartbeat of the sea was sometimes calm with small waves lapping against the sand like a lake. Sometimes those waves were angry and frantic, especially during the epic storm named “Sandy.” Even the color of the sea changed from day to day depending on the sky of blue, grey, or spotted with white puffy clouds.

Although I was safe in my shelter watching those violent storms, I certainly recognized the power of the waves as they pounded the shore, and I was constantly thankful for God’s laws in commanding the waves to keep a boundary, lest they overtake the earth! (Job 38:8-11)

While walking along the beach after the most violent of storms, I was disgusted at the “garbage” that was regurgitated from the turbulent sea. It is one thing to know that we, as humans, have violated our oceans with waste, but also to realize some of the items “thrown up” were from shipwrecks where lives were lost.

On that day of seeing and smelling “garbage” I also found beautiful pieces of sea glass, tossed to smooth perfection.

What a contrast, I thought, and so like our lives.

In our life experiences we suppress years of “ugly junk” deep in our innermost being. When the ”junk” is stirred up it comes out in anger, sadness and depression. Like those one time broken pieces of glass, jagged and ugly, we are confronted with the sharp edges of our lives. We can either push the sharp edges back down until the pain becomes unbearable, or we can allow Almighty God to gently toss and tumble the hurts until those experiences are formed into something beautiful. It may take many years, but the process is a release of control…yes, an absolute giving up of those hurts to the Master to knock off the sharp, rough edges and form a one-of-a-kind, beautiful person, who is an example of trust and faith in God.

The sea glass was once a bottle, dish, or maybe a sugar bowl that was useful, but now it is a broken shard that has been refined into a beautiful, colorful, smooth piece that can be made into elegant jewelry or some other art form that pleases the eye!

Dear Lord, help us to allow your clean up of the “ugly junk” in our lives and give it over to you to make something lastingly beautiful and useful out of our brokenness. We want to be beautiful on the inside as well as outside so that others will see Your beauty shining through us. Thank you, Lord, that you care enough to take us through the storms of life. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

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