Archives For Determination

“I can do it Grandpa, I promise!!”  My argument continued to fall on deaf ears as I tried to convince my grandpa I could indeed jump off the dock on the lake and not drown.  He continued to silently rock back and forth on the porch swing that hung from the big, shady oak tree by the lake.  This was one of his favorite spots on his property.  But I was destroying the peace he loved so much.

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Maybe he didn’t hear me.  “GRANDPA!!  I’M ABLE TO SWIM, I PROMISE!”  The desperation to take that coveted leap may have made me embellish my 1 lesson in the water that barely consisted of introductions and instructions to never talk your grandpa into allowing you to jump off a dock into a deep lake until all water education was completed.

However, I was a very busy 8-year old at the time!  I had rocks to skip, tadpoles to catch, trees to climb, grandparents to manipulate.  There was no time for this silly nonsense of actually learning before leaping.

Besides, my cousin, Shelley, 5 months my junior was always allowed to jump off the dock into the lake.  When my grandpa tried to explain Shelley had taken several months of swim lessons in the very lake by which we argued, he was met with a scoffing sound.  I looked around for the rude person who would have the nerve to be so disrespectful to my short-tempered grandfather.  Unfortunately, I realized I was that person.

My irritated and exasperated grandpa, tired of the fight, decided it was pointless to continue to argue with a stubborn child who insisted in learning things on her own.  “Go jump in the lake!” he yelled.

I bolted from the swing before he could change his mind, ran straight onto the dock, and splashed through the puddles left from the many flying leaps my cousin had already taken from the “stationary diving board.”

As soon as my toes touched the end of the platform, I jumped and sailed through the air, arms outstretched.  Feeling the wind in my hair, I closed my eyes and enjoyed my moment of victory and took pleasure that I was doing something my parents would surely incarcerate me in my room for later.  But right now, I was free and I was going to squeeze every bit of pleasure I could from this adventure.

Relishing the moment a bit too long, I forgot to take a breath before plunging into the dark, murky water.  Only taking into consideration how to get into the water, I had not given thought to how to get out.  It was then I realized the wisdom in the advice to learn to swim before leaping.

It seemed like minutes as I sank deeper and deeper underwater.  Wondering when I would stop, I suddenly felt my feet sink into the squishy, gooey mud at the bottom, leaving nothing hard in which to push off.  Already feeling as if my lungs were on fire, I began to flail my arms and legs in an attempt to reach the top that felt 100 feet above.

Disoriented, I could only wonder if I was traveling upwards toward that cool breath of fresh air or if I was just spinning in circles.  My lungs screamed for air.  I couldn’t hold out much longer before my body would instinctively gasp for air only to take in dirty lake water.

Realizing I couldn’t save myself, I knew I needed Jesus!  Nothing else mattered in that moment.  Schoolwork, the fight with my sister, my cousin being able to do things I only wished I could, all of it went away.

It was just me and Jesus.

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I prayed for Jesus to save me.  It was in that moment my hands escaped the pressure of the water and felt the freedom of fresh air.  Finally my mouth and nose broke through the surface and I was able to gasp for air.  I choked and sputtered while thrashing around, trying not to be swallowed by the water again.

Suddenly, I felt strong hands grab me under my arms and pull me to the safety of the dock.  My grandpa stood looking down at my face as I lay on the dock, sucking in as much air as humanly possible.  We stared at each other too shocked to say anything for a full minute.  When I finally stopped choking up water, he said, “I told you!” and walked away.  Gotta love a softhearted man.

Do you feel as if you’re drowning because of choices you’ve made?  Are you flailing trying to save yourself knowing it’s futile?  Call on Jesus!  He can bring you back to the surface and provide a breath of fresh air.  Give Him your mistakes.  He’s the Master at taking our ashes and turning them into something beautiful.  Ignore the “I told you’s.”

Nothing else matters at this moment.  It’s you and Jesus.  Call on Him.  He’ll save you.

“…..He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…. to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes….” ~ Isaiah 61:1,3

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The request came at a point in my day when I was exhausted.  “Mom, will you come outside and watch for meteors with us?”  The request materialized a couple of hours ago at 10 PM.  One of the nights of the Perseid Meteor Shower.  Not only was I physically drained but I still needed to make a grocery list and write a blog post.

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“Mom, over here!”  On a beautiful and cool night we had been invited to a friend’s house for a party.  I had just filled my plate with food and was heading to sit by the pool with some friends when I heard my son call to me.  I noticed he was sitting alone and my heart evoked the pain of having nobody to talk to when everyone else is having a great time visiting with each other.  So I quickly diverted my path from the table filled with friends laughing and having fun to sit with my little boy.

“Mom, will you play volleyball with me in the yard?”  Although, my body was tired from already doing a hard workout and looking at a daunting to-do list, my daughter’s request could not be ignored.  She was working hard to expand her skills in the sport she loved most.  I mustered the little bit of energy I had left and used it to bump the ball, run after serves, and dive for kills.

With three kids, the requests for Mom seem unending.  Unfortunately, my task list and schedule also seem endless.

When my kids asked if I would join them on the deck for the meteor shower, I was tempted to say, “Not tonight.”  But then I thought back to the days when they were smaller and the many bedtime stories I would read to them.  Scheming against going to sleep, there was always, “Just one more, Mom.”

Now I searched my memory for when the very last request for a bedtime story came.  I could not remember that night and I was left to question, did I end with a, “Not tonight,” or a “You bet we can read one more.”

Our kids only grow up once.  Someone wise once said in describing raising kids, “The days are long but the years are short.”  The long days often tempt us with a “no” answer.  There is always something else competing for our time on a daily basis.

But as our kids grow, it’s important to remember there will be a last time for certain requests.

  • “Mom, will you hold me?”
  • “Mom, will you play a game with me?”
  • “Mom, will you read me a book?”
  • “Mom, can I make cookies with you?”
  • “Mom, can we do something special together today?”

The thought of not knowing when the last request will come encourages me to say, “yes” more than I say, “no.”

After considering my children’s fleeting requests, I donned a sweatshirt and sweatpants and headed outside with my two excited children to watch for meteors.

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Without computers, phones, video games, iPods, and other distracting influences, we began a lovely and focused conversation.

  • We contemplated if bugs sleep.
  • We questioned God’s choice of sound for certain animals upon hearing an owl hooting.
  • I answered questions about the bible.
  • We discussed the upcoming school year and all the fear and excitement it’s generating.
  • We oohed and awed over each meteor we saw and took a tally of how many each saw.
  • We saw a bat.  A BAT???  Okay, I’ll admit the bat sighting made me ponder if my love for my children really needed to supersede my grocery list.  But I planted myself in my seat and proceeded to fling my arms in a frenzy when a moth would pass by fearing it was the bat.  I soon became the entertaining headliner eclipsing the meteor shower

Although my grocery list sits blank on the kitchen counter and I’m working on this blog post at midnight, I feel good about my decision.

Grocery lists will await me the rest of my life.  The opportunity to write will most likely continue long after my kids have grown and moved on with their own lives.  However, the time I have with my children at home is fading fast.  I want to make the most of it while I have the opportunity.

Are you in the midst of busy days while raising kids?  Are you inundated with your kid’s requests?  Which ones will you miss most someday?  Will you begin to say, “yes” more than, “no”?

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But I Don’t Wanna!

May 13, 2013 — 3 Comments

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I’m a Christian Women’s Speaker.  God called me to this profession 17 years ago but I argued with Him for 14 years before agreeing.  I tried to appease Him by teaching Sunday school, bible study, kid’s clubs, and emceeing events but it wasn’t exactly what God had in mind.  So I finally threw up my hands and said, “Fine!”

Desiring to be “real” I share much that makes me extremely vulnerable.  Opening up and sharing personal stories can be scary and sometimes gets the best of my emotions, making me nervous.

So was the case when I spoke recently.  After speaking the first night of a retreat, I became so nervous about speaking again the next day, I made myself sick.  So I did what I always do when I’m scared.  I called my husband, Craig.

I informed Craig that I had no idea why I was doing this speaking thing and I must have heard God wrong.  After all, He wouldn’t call me to do something I hated so much.  And I just wasn’t going to do it anymore after this weekend.  My emotions were obviously in overdrive.  Although I felt the need to share my feelings with Craig, I think he got the idea from the shaky inflections, short and breathless words, and just general panic in my voice.  Continuing on, I filled him in on my plan of calling and cancelling all speaking engagements on my calendar and removing my speaking information from my blog.

Craig’s response?  A very flat, “Uh huh.  Whatever you think God is telling you.”  He’s obviously heard this many times before and doesn’t realize just how serious I am.  This time!

After saying goodbye to Craig, I picked up my bible hoping God would calm my heart enough to be able to sleep.  I just opened my bible and it fell to Psalm 40:8-10;

“I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart.’  I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, you yourself know.  I have not hidden your righteousness within my heart; I have declared your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your loving-kindness and your truth from the great assembly.”

105643580Seriously???  This bible roulette thing wasn’t working out too well.  I was tempted to let it fall open again.  However, I knew God had already said what I was supposed to hear.  He really knows how to rain on my parade and my plans.

I texted Craig the verses I read.  He wrote back, “So I guess you won’t be cancelling any speaking engagements then?”   My response?  A very succinct, “Well, duh!”

By the end of the weekend retreat, I left extremely blessed meeting so many wonderful women, hearing their stories and what phrases touched them, and filling my car with the gifts of chocolate (there are definitely some benefits to this speaking thing).

So I continue to speak.  Unfortunately, I’m sure I will quit many more times in the future but these verses are ingrained in my brain now.  God is in the business of stretching us.  And although I may threaten my husband with quitting, he will not listen, God will continue to speak, and I will continue to obey.

Am I alone?  Are you scared to do something because it will stretch you out of your comfort zone?  I would love to hear about it if you’re willing to share in the comments below.

Blessings always follow obedience.  Be sure to visit on Thursday when I share the unmistakable blessing that followed this particular time of obedience.

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While traveling on the interstate to visit family in the midst of a blizzard, through complete whiteout, we suddenly saw brake lights.  My husband slammed on the brakes and we began fishtailing on the icy road.  Although we barely missed hitting the cars in front of us, we found ourselves sandwiched between two other cars at an angle.  We then watched in terror as cars slid toward us as they came out of the whiteout and slammed on their own brakes.  They slid helplessly on the ice.  Many ended up at angles nearby, some slid into the ditches on both sides of the road.  Miraculously, all of them missed us.  Cars were all over the road and in the ditches.  Traffic was backed up for miles.  Or so we assumed as we sat in the midst of this traffic jam at a complete halt in our journey.  To preserve fuel, we turned the car off, only turning it on every half hour to add a little heat to the car.   An hour went by without explanation as to why we were stopped.  Then hour 2 slipped by.  Not knowing the reason for sitting there was beginning to really test my patience.  After hour 3 of sitting in the exact same spot, I could stand it no longer.  I had to know why were stopped.  I got out and was immediately slapped with the cold wind and wet snow.  Undeterred, I began walking past car after car.

after snowfallAfter passing only 2 cars, I could no longer see our own vehicle through the thick, falling snow.  My hair was plastered to my face from the wet snow.  I was freezing and the wind was so strong I had to walk at an angle to move further up the road.  After walking past about 10 cars, my hands were completely numb, my eyes burned, the cold was sucking away each breath, and I was shivering uncontrollably.  I turned back.  Each car possessed other impatient people who rolled down their windows asking what I had seen.  “Snow!” was my pithy answer.  When I finally made it back to the refuge of our own car, I ripped open the door and fell inside.  My husband took 1 look at me and dissolved in laughter.  My face was splotchy red, my hair was saturated and stuck to my face, and snot was running out of my nose.  I did not share in his amusement.  Now I was wet, cold, miserable, angry, ugly and I still didn’t know why we were sitting there!  Yes, it is safe to say patience is not a virtue of mine.

Yet when I read Sarai’s story in Genesis 16, I want to scream at her for being so impatient.  God had promised Sarai’s husband, Abraham, a son.  But after years and years of waiting to become pregnant, Sarai becomes so impatient she actually tells her husband to sleep with her servant girl, Hagar.

What???  I would never tell my husband to sleep with the maid!

Maybe not, but there are obviously many mistakes I make when I feel God is moving too slow.  I may pray about a decision but don’t wait for an answer.  I begin my “to-do” list and start working.  I think, “Surely He will appreciate my help and all the hard work I’m putting into this.”  I pat myself on the back just before the crash and burn.

153516435Sarai knows all too well the disaster of running ahead of God.  Hagar becomes pregnant and despises Sarai.  Sarai blames Abraham and then mistreats Hagar so severely that Hagar finally runs away.

Sarai’s story forces me to ask hard questions of myself.  How many times have I taken matters into my own hands thinking God needed my help?  How many times have I, too, cast blame when the guilt is too much for me to bear alone?  How often have I taken my guilt and shame out on others?

There are 2 key ways we can avoid the trap of running ahead of God right off the cliff of despair?

  1. Pray about every decision and wait on His answer.
  • Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
  • Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
  1. After hearing His answer, trust.  No matter how long it takes.  Many people in the bible had to wait years before God’s promises were fulfilled.  I believe the word for this is patience (Yikes!  I would like to vote to move that word to the cuss word list, please).
  • Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

The good news is God can redeem our mistakes.  Sarai finally becomes pregnant with the son promised to Abraham.  She was way past the point of being able to have children but God, being God, can overcome any challenge.

Speaking of challenges, returning to the traffic jam, after waiting 4 hours in the same spot, cars began to move slowly up the road.  Although we were in whiteout conditions, I was never so happy to be moving along in a car.  At the next exit, we turned around and drove home rather than going on to visit our relatives.  We later learned a semi carrying 6 brand new cars had overturned in the road.  Not only did the semi block the road but all the cars scattered, also blocking traffic.  Each car had to be towed along with the semi.  No wonder we had to wait 4 hours.

God can overcome any challenge including giving us what we are lacking.  Even giving us the patience to wait.  Since that virtue is slow in coming for me, I continue to receive lessons in order to learn.  Meanwhile, I may just lose my patience and go look for it up the road.  Just kidding.

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Do the Impossible!

March 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

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