uncooked pizzas

How to Get Help By Asking

 

uncooked pizzas

My two-pizza deal.

 

The Tale of Two Pizzas, a Used Car Battery, and What We Can Learn From All of This

 

Yesterday I had a really nice thing happen to me at the supermarket.

I felt so happy and inspired, that I had to share this simple story… for two reasons.

One, it was truly one of those nice little blessings for which I am very thankful, and two, it shows how we often receive by simply asking.

*****

As I was perusing the vegetable and deli section of our supermarket, I came upon the shelf where the store-made, ready-to-bake calzones and pizzas are located. I was looking forward to taking advantage of a special the store was running, in which if I bought one fresh calzone, I would receive a free fresh pizza. A perfect treat for this Friday’s dinner.

But alas, there were no more calzones to be had.

Not to give up immediately, I looked around for a store worker, and saw a young man stocking shelves nearby. I approached him and asked him if there were any more calzones available to purchase for the special. He in turn asked someone behind the meat counter, and they both looked over at another gentleman who was apparently shopping. The young store guy approached this other man (who was dressed in regular clothes), and they both came over to help me.

I found out the man who was shopping was an employee (must have been a supervisor or manager of some sort), who said he had, “just taken his badge off”, and was shopping. I told him my dilemma apologetically (since he was off of work already), but his pleasant response was in the spirit of true customer service.

First he told me that there were probably not going to be any more calzones today. I said, “OK” with a slight hesitation and a little disappointment, but I would have been OK with this outcome. It was his next question that caught me off guard in a good sort of way. He then said, “What can I do to make this right?”.

I wasn’t sure what to suggest, and so he then offered me a buy-one-pizza, get-one-free deal, and asked if that would make me happy. I told him it certainly would, so he had me give his name to the cashier and said to tell them that he had OK’d the substitution. I thanked him, and with a renewed bounce in my step (and two new pizzas in my cart), off I went to complete my grocery shopping.

You see, I could have just walked (or stomped), off in disappointment without any calzones or pizza in my cart. I would have gotten over it, but it would have left a slightly negative taste in my mouth. But by taking a little effort to politely ask for help, I was blessed with an even better deal (the pizza was less expensive than the calzone I was originally going to buy). I felt happy and cared for as a customer, and very satisfied, and can now happily recommend this particular market to others!

*****

My husband had a similar experience a little while ago at the auto parts store. He had purchased a car battery which stopped working, and in bringing it in to pick up a replacement, he was told that it was just days out of warranty.

He had one of our sons with him, whom he looked over at and basically said, “Now watch and learn.”

He spoke to someone who worked there (probably asked for a supervisor), told him of his problem, and politely asked what they could do for him since it was so close to the warranty date.

This store employee was able to offer him a substantial discount on a new battery, even though technically it was past warranty. My husband was also very pleased and now feels even better about supporting this business.

You see, by the letter of the law, in either case we should have just been “satisfied” going without, but with a little effort and going out of our comfort zones to ask, we were each blessed with something slightly undeserved.

My husband often speaks of how his father taught him to “haggle” or bargain with people at yard sales and such. He was probably embarrassed sometimes when he was young (OK, he said he literally slouched down in the car seat on some occasions), but in the end, he was taught the value of saving money and simply asking for something better than what was offered.

I’m not suggesting we should not ever be willing to pay a fair price for an item without any bargaining; it’s just that although some of us are not naturally comfortable with this practice, many people or businesses would rather profit monetarily a little less in order to gain your trust, confidence and loyalty. There are those in business who truly wish to meet your needs as a customer, and at the very least, it’s a practical business practice to please one’s customers.

It won’t always work out in our favor. We need to be courteous and polite, even if the answer is, “no”.

But it doesn’t hurt to ask.

*****

Now let’s think about some spiritual applications.

The Bible clearly tells us to ask and we will receive.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

– Matthew 7:7 NLT

It also tells us that sometimes we act selfishly and foolishly, but still don’t have something because we simply haven’t asked God.

“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.”

-James 4:2 NLT

To provide balance, the scriptures also guide us in the principles of being content, living with thanksgiving, treating others with respect, and enduring hardship and persevering through the difficulties that will come in life.

I’m not going to get all theological here, but let’s just simplify things for a moment.

As a Christian, I truly believe that God not only knows and loves me, but he knows best what I need. Sometimes he will give me an obvious blessing or even a miracle, to teach me of his eternal care and his unlimited power.

Other times, like a loving but firm parent, he will answer my request with a “no” or perhaps a “wait”, because he cares less about my comfort, and more about my growth as a person. Sometimes my suffering will result in more good (for myself and/or others), and he sees the bigger picture.

So why not just ask God, just as a child would ask a parent, and patiently and thankfully await his response.

There are some stipulations, such as making sure what I’m asking for is not going against his commandments or his nature, and making sure my heart is right in order to make a wise request. But just as a child with a parent, sometimes I will receive a blessing I don’t deserve or wouldn’t have otherwise received had I not asked.

How we enjoy those moments!

At other times, I will be treated like the loved daughter that I am to God, and will have to wait or even give up my desire. In those situations, I will have the opportunity to learn trust and patience. Sometimes I will have to endure hardship or discipline to make me a stronger, more mature person.

Often the child does not know what is best for them, but a wise and caring parent can see a bigger picture.

God our Father really does know what is best.

In times of suffering and difficulty, or even just minor discomfort, I will gain “tools” which I can use to bless and help others in similar circumstances. I can deepen my understanding for others in difficult situations, and offer them heart-felt compassion and a listening ear or timely advice.

So whether it’s for practical reasons like saving our hard-earned cash, or to receive a non-material or spiritual blessing, I encourage you to go ahead and ask.

You just never know what good may come of it.

*****

 

 

 

 

lighthouse & cove

I Trust God’s Heart and His Intentions

lighthouse & cove

I’ve always loved music.

I took many years of piano, including one year of piano improvisation in college, and sang in choirs throughout middle school and in college. My mother taught me how to sing harmony at a very young age, which I seemed to pick up right away and have been harmonizing ever since.

My paternal grandparents were all musical; in fact, my dad’s talented blind father wrote and performed a ballad for the bicentennial celebration of their home-town, Niagara-On-The-Lake (initially “Newark” – the original capital of Canada),  with the “Queen Mother” (mother of Queen Elizabeth II) in attendance.

In my married years, I’ve enjoyed singing in our church Easter choirs and especially on our worship team, with my husband playing guitar in the worship team behind me. My sister married a gifted and trained musician-pastor husband as well, and one of our favorite activities on any vacation times together is to write and record a usually less-than-serious, but really quality song.

Have you ever noticed that music can transport you back in time, either to a particular event or to a time in your life?

Recently I received some “older” Christian music CD’s by groups I listened to regularly as a teenager, and listening to them (cranked up rather loudly in my kitchen, I might add, much to the dismay of my modern, earbud-wearing sons), made me feel like a teenager for a few hours. I could remember most of the lyrics and even the order of the songs, even though I hadn’t heard most of them in over twenty years!

All that is to say that music really moves me.

I find some of my most intimate time with God in the midst of an inspiring worship service or listening to a song in the quiet of my home.

A few weeks ago, this particular song landed in my inbox as part of a devotional reading. I listened to it and was immediately drawn into the music and the meaning. It’s called “Hidden” (by United Pursuit), both a song and a band I had never been exposed to before. Listen to it yourself, here.

The lyrics to the song are straight-forward and challenging, and remind me of truth. (Here they are for those of you who, like me, may have some trouble hearing them.)

You know how sometimes, especially in worship music, but in other songs as well, a particular line or phrase really stands out to you? Well, the line that struck me right away is,

“I trust your heart and your intentions.”

Wow.

I’ve been a Christian for a long time, actually as far back as I can remember. So I’ve been “trusting” God for many, many years. I’ve already written some posts related to trust, as it seems to be a basic element of my life, especially during some recent times of transition and challenge . If you are so inclined, you may read those posts here, here, and here.

I mean, it’s easy to trust God when things are going well. Most of my life has been very good, but like all of us, there have been events and seasons (some longer than others), when trust feels fleeting. When there is pain, loss, transition, confusion, stress or disappointment, those are the times then we have to pull out our “trust with a big T”. That’s when the rubber really meets the road.

Trusting God is an ongoing process. Perhaps you are a long-time Christian like me, a brand new Christian, or someone who is just a little curious about this whole “trusting God” thing. I encourage you to keep investigating and learning, no matter where you fall on the spectrum. God has never been afraid of doubts and questions; I think he prefers it to pretense or simply not taking him seriously. Just read your Bible, and you’ll find that doubt and faltering faith are a normal part of being a human, and can actually help us to grow.

The idea of trusting God’s “heart” and “intentions” is really about believing in his character. We’ve all heard it said (so much so, that it has become somewhat of a cliche), that God is love. One of the most familiar and well-loved verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28, which states,

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

It means that even though God may allow us to go through times of difficulty, pain and uncertainty, all these experiences can be used to help us to grow and be strengthened in our lives. Most of all, because of his character, no matter what, GOD IS FAITHFUL!

As I was listening to and looking through the song lyrics, I noticed that there are several statements that the writer makes about his desire and commitment to God, and several “benefits” or promises of God to us as we put our trust in Him.

My desires and commitments to God:

  • I trust him completely
  • I’m “listening intently”
  • I want to love him more deeply
  • I will lean on his grace
  • He is my vision
  • He is my reason for living
  • I will walk in repentance
  • I will give God the honor, glory and reverence he deserves
  • I will seek him first
  • I want to love God more
  • I humble myself (bow) before him

Well, that’s quite a list, and I find it both challenging and motivating. The above list includes many of the desires of my heart as I purpose to know God more.

Benefits and promises of trusting God:

  • He knew (knows) us and the deep places of our hearts
  • He understands our sorrows and holds our hand
  • God leads us to trust him
  • We are hidden in the safety of his love
  • He will guide us through difficult times
  • His goodness to us is unending
  • He is my vision and reason for living
  • He gives us “sweet assurance”
  • God is a friend to us like no other
  • We are overcome by “the beauty of this perfect love”

These words express just some of God’s promises to us and speak of his unchanging character.

If we want to trust God more, we need to know him. We get to know God better by spending time with him.

My YouVersion verse of the day recently was Psalm 27:4:

“The one thing I ask of the Lord
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.”

I think this captures the essence of getting to know him more. As we spend time with God in prayer, reflection and reading his Word (the Bible), we will come to trust him. We will be able to sing with the song writer, “Now I am hidden – in the safety of your love. I trust your heart and your intentions.”

*****

Good music helps my soul to flourish. I’m looking forward to listening to more of Hidden Pursuit’s inspiring music. If you have been touched by this song, perhaps you will be interested in purchasing it here, or getting this Hidden Pursuit CD for yourself.

There are also options to purchase in MP3 format or individual songs. I hope you have enjoy this song as much as I have, and find encouragement in the music and the words of simple truth.

What is your experience with music? Do you find that inspiring songs can help to lift your spirits and motivate you to grow in a positive way?

*************************

I’ll be sharing “I Trust God’s Heart and His Intentions” with some wonderful bloggers at the following locations. Feel free to visit their sites:

 

3-D Lessons for Life –
Missional Woman –
Missional Women
grey door

What Does It Mean When God Closes Another Door?

grey door

Another door slammed shut.

Sometimes it feels like a slap in the face.

At the very least, it leaves us confused, disappointed, perhaps even disillusioned.

But what does it really mean when God closes another door?

 

Recently, this was my truth. In fact, it still is.

I seem to be in a time of transition, at least as far as “work” (the paid kind), goes.

So I’ve been thinking and praying a lot about this lately, and frankly, just trying to figure it out.

Some friends on Facebook posted this, and it’s seems to be speaking truth to many.

If it does not open, it's not your door.

 

Here are some thoughts I’m having about the closed doors in my life:

 

A closed door is a type of boundary.

Boundaries don’t always feel good. They are not always fun. They feel like they are robbing us of freedom.

But they are always for our protection. It may feel uncomfortable, but when God closes a door, it really wasn’t our door. He’s not failing us. He’s keeping us from what isn’t meant to be.

Just as an earthly parent must provide loving boundaries for a child, so God shows us where it is safe and healthy to go.

We need to trust that when God puts a boundary in our path, it is not to hurt us, but for our good.

A closed door is not necessarily forever.

You’ve heard it said that God always answers prayer; he sometimes responds with “yes”, sometimes a clear “no”, and sometimes with “wait”.

A closed door could be the end of a particular dream or season. Or it could just not be the right time. God knows things that we don’t (surprise, surprise!).

We need to trust God’s perfect timing.

A closed door is clearly leading us in a different direction.

When God closes a door in our lives, he isn’t just stopping us. He is making it obvious that we need to go in another direction.

This is most comforting to me. God doesn’t just stop us from doing a particular thing; he leads us in a better way that He has planned for us.

Sometimes I believe He wants us to leave the past in the past.

We need to follow His leading.

A closed door tests our trust.

Sometimes I think God allows a door to close in order to see if we will still trust Him.

I’m not saying He just closes doors to play around with us or tease us, but He may partly be testing our love, devotion and faith in Him. (Remember Job?)

I don’t believe God just does things to make our lives difficult, but sometimes he allows difficult things to cause us to uncomfortably stretch and grow.

Often times God needs to see if we are willing to give something up. Then He is free to either give it back to us (in our open hand), or give us something better.

We need to remain unconditionally devoted to our Lord, and truly trust Him with our lives, no matter what the outcome.

 

I’d like to suggest some reflections from Psalm 139. (Why not take a moment to read it?)

God knows us, He created us, and He planned every day of our lives before we were even born. Because He knows and loves us so deeply, the only reasonable response is to follow Him. As we surrender to Him, he will protect our hearts and lead us in the way He has planned for us.

 

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

*****

So what about you? Are there any closed doors in your life right now? Are you willing to trust that your Creator knows what is best for your life?

 

 

 

Proverbs 16:3

Flourishing Plans

Proverbs 16:3

 

…or as the NLT (New Living Translation) states,

 

“Commit your actions to the lord, and your plans will succeed.”

 

Well, that sounds simple enough.

So if I just pray about my plans every day, God will make me succeed?

 

On first glance at this verse, it would seem that if we are Christians (or perhaps even if we aren’t), and if we pray and ask for God’s blessing every day, then everything will go smoothly.

But there are two major flaws with this line of thought.

 

First, my plans DO NOT ALWAYS SUCCEED! 

At least, that’s how it appears. Life does not always go smoothly; in fact, sometimes it’s painfully difficult.

But do I ever consider that God has an even better plan, one that allows for my growth and His glory, and not just my comfort? Ouch!

 

The second problem is that I think we interpret this verse ALL BACKWARDS.

As much as I want it to mean that I just go ahead and plan my day and my life and God will bless it, I have to remind myself that I also need to consider that my ways may not necessarily be God’s ways.

Mother doesn’t always know best! (That’s me, by the way.)

I need to remember that my life is fully surrendered to Christ, not just when I go to church on Sunday, but for real, in the nitty-gritty of my everyday life.

 

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

Oswald Chambers expresses it this way in a devotional reading entitled, “The Surrendered Life”:

“To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else.”

Yes, I want my plans to succeed.

But first and foremost, even though it may mean walking through difficulty and pain, I want my life to be fully surrendered to the Lord, with the end result being His glory.

I want to grow and mature into the real person God designed me to be.

If going through difficulties may make my life a blessing or an encouragement to others, then so be it.

My true desire is to commit my way to the Lord, and allow His good plan to flourish and succeed in my life.

Besides, His plan is so much better than mine ever could be.

“If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.” – Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost For His Highest

*****

 

stone well with bucket

The Well Is Deep

 

stone well with bucket

 

This morning in my Bible plan reading of the day, Oswald Chambers, author of the well-known and loved devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, talked about the story of the woman at the well.

Jesus stops along his travels at a village in Samaria, and surprises a Samaritan woman by not only speaking to her, but asking her to draw a drink of water for him from the well. (In those days, the Jewish people would not associate with the Samaritans. See verse 9.)

After questioning why he would even talk to her, the woman then says this:

   “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?” – John 4:11 (NLT)

This well is very deep.

Hmm. Sound familiar?

Have you ever questioned God’s ability or desire to provide for your needs or guide you through a problem? I know I have. Sure, I know with my head that God can do anything, but do I truly believe it in my heart?

After seeing what seemed to be an encouraging sign that God was moving in a certain area of my life this past week, I awoke this morning to thoughts of why this possible answer wouldn’t work, because of something I didn’t have.

My husband and I still laugh about the time years ago when a student from our College & Careers group said something like, “I know God created the universe, but I don’t think he can help me with my finances.” This person was expressing in so many words what we often live out in our lives…..that we don’t actually expect God to meet our needs.

But do we realize who we are talking about?

Oswald Chambers challenges us with this:

“The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.                                                                                                                  The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ.”

Wow.

So if I truly believe that he is the Almighty God, I will understand his unlimited power. And in order to truly believe, I need to not only “act like” a Christian, but I must fully surrender my life to Jesus Christ.

 

Lord, help me to surrender my whole life to you. Let me know you so well, that I can do nothing but trust you. And help me to believe that you are not only my heavenly Father and a close friend, but my Almighty God. Amen.

*****