A Waste of Time?

Everything seems so fruitless! What’s the point?!

These thoughts repeatedly surfaced in my mind a couple months ago. I had been sowing good seeds in numerous areas of life, yet I kept coming up empty. It all seemed like a waste of time.

All my efforts in parenting and homeschooling appeared to be futile. The scales wouldn’t budge despite many positive changes regarding my eating habits. And the breakthrough I was aiming for through diligent mind renewal was elusive.

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Move the Vanilla.

Recently, The Connection held its biennial Celebration and Vision Fundraising Event and celebrated its fifth birthday too. It was a wonderful evening! Among other things going on, we had a coffee bar full of tasty mix-ins and toppings and a buffet with tons of beautifully prepared and delicious food.

My assignment was to make Apple Cider Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream Icing for the party. That day, I also had a long list of other responsibilities and was trying to make the most of every moment so that I could be ready on time.

I set my laptop on the kitchen counter, went to Pinterest (How did we ever manage before Pinterest?!) and brought up the recipe. Then I got out my mixer, measuring cups and spoons, cupcake tins and liners and all of the ingredients. I opened all of the containers, turned on the oven and was set to get started!

Then, Messenger started blowing up. Ping. Ping. Ping. I had three conversations going at once while working on the cupcake batter. All of the conversations were important and not ones that I was comfortable postponing until later but I needed to get the cake in the oven.

As I’m reaching over the ingredients to type a response to a Messenger question, I heard a still, small voice. “You’re going to knock something over. Move the vanilla.”

Well, I didn’t have time to be rearranging the 30 million things on the counter or going somewhere else to finish the conversation. I’m doing fine so far. I can multi-task with the best of them! (See past blog post where I say that we shouldn’t multi-task. Do as I say; not as I do!) So, I continued with this awkward arrangement until…

Yea. You guessed it!

I knocked over the vanilla bottle. A brand new, full to the top bottle of pure vanilla extract.

Splattered over the keyboard of the laptop! Splashed on the screen! A growing puddle on the counter! And besides the mess, you know that pure vanilla extract ain’t cheap!

Ugh! I REALLY don’t have time for this!

If I had only listened to that little voice whispering the warning, “Move the vanilla.”

How many times has God spoken to you and you brushed it off? “I don’t have time for that.” “That’s too much of a change in direction.” “I want to do it my way.”

Maybe it was something small… Tell that mom at the store that she’s doing a great job. OR Text that friend and ask her to coffee.

Maybe it was something a little bigger… Sign up for that prayer workshop. OR Don’t continue with that habit. It’s not good for you.

Maybe it was something really big… Leave your boyfriend. This isn’t the right relationship for you. OR Step out in faith and do this new thing.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13

I know that you already know this, but all of us need to be reminded from time to time…

When God speaks we need to listen – whether it something big or something little. I’ve made the mistake of following my wants over God’s leading many times. Sometimes, I seem to get away with it. But I’ll never know what would have happened if I had obeyed. What blessing did I or someone else miss out on because of MY disobedience?

God knows more than we do. He sees the entire picture. He has the Master plan. Listen and obey. Period.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “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

Father,

Please forgive me for the times I’ve not listened to your leading. Help me to hear your voice above the noise of life. May all that I do glorify you.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Mandy Hood

Mandy Hood is a board member and executive director of The Connection. She loves to facilitate women connecting with each other and helping them grow in their faith.

Mandy and her husband have been married for 41 years and have 2 adult children, 2 in-law children and 3 grandchildren. Every year, they look forward to GramCamp – three days of spoiling and fun.

Divine Connection

I felt so alone.

I poured my heart out to God on the pages of my journal.

Jesus, I desperately need to be connected. We desperately need community and strong relationships, Lord. I’m not sure how to keep going without greater relational connection, support, and stability. Father, You created us for the body. Please, bring divine appointments. Get the right people into our lives.

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From Caterpillar to Butterfly

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

November 2004. I got a call that my mother was taken to the hospital because she had no feeling in her left leg. She went to bed fine the night before. In the morning, she fell to the floor with no ability to use her leg. I believe that the doctors really had no idea what was going on. So, they just sent her to a nursing home for physical therapy.

It worsened. And quickly, she lost use of her left arm too. In January, we insisted on more testing to determine the cause.

Brain tumor.

Then, failing kidneys was discovered too.

I’ll spare you all of the sad, disappointing details. But long story short, the prognosis was that we only had a few more months together.

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The Power of Hospitality

I first learned the power of hospitality in a strip club.

Up until the COVID shutdown, I volunteered with a local organization that shares the hope and love of Jesus with women in the sex industry. Twice a month, we entered strip clubs with homemade meals or special gifts in hand, welcoming the ladies into fellowship. Where a wall of reservation initially separated them from us, our loving acts of hospitality removed that barrier.

As we sat down and ate together time and again, trust was built, and conversations deepened. Stories of pain and dreams for the future were entrusted to us. Our hospitable acts showed the love of Jesus in a tangible way, which naturally led to profound conversations about faith and spirituality. Sometimes we were privileged to pray with the ladies right there in the strip club. Jesus was magnified in the most unlikely of places, and lives were changed.

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True North

I love the book of Deuteronomy! So, when the pages of Deuteronomy  came up in my read-your-Bible-in-a-year, I was so pumped.

True North: Finding Joy in the Journey

Do you ever find yourself circling the same mountain over and over? Each of our mountains will be different from the other. But there are days you find yourself stuck or fixated on the same issue, the same mind game, the same struggle and you wonder how do I move from here to there?

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You Are Not Enough

You are enough.”

 This is a lie that we are fed daily in our lives, especially on social media.

If only we could get up earlier, buy this planner, take this course, or be more like our Facebook friends who seem to have it all together. Then things would be better. We would be more organized, be a better mother, our kids would behave better, get better grades etc.

It all sounds so simple.

But whatever we try, it doesn’t work. Maybe for a few days, but not long term.

The truth is, we are NOT enough.

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