Last month, I issued the challenge to “Give God A Year.” No sooner had I finished the article than I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear, “Will you give me a year and see what I can do in your life?” I had to pray about that for a day before I accepted the challenge to actually do what I had asked others to do. What a novel concept! Well, God and I started out with a bang. Within a couple of days, the Lord began putting a book together in my mind and within the next two weeks, I had written the first six chapters. As I stayed close to the Lord’s side, He was empowering me to obey His will for my life. I even lost five pounds in the process.
The early morning hours of Saturday, September 13, changed the course of our lives forever. Hurricane Ike roared in and destroyed our home and just about every possession in it. I wonder if you have had a storm in your life that destroyed most of the things you hold dear. If so, let me share a few things I have learned in the two weeks following my own storm.
The Value of Community
Family and friends have rallied around us and been our constant help during this time. Your own First Place 4 Health family can become this kind of support for you when you go through the storms of life. Cultivate these people whom God has placed in your life. Get to know them and you will find friends who truly “stick closer than a brother.”
The outpourings of prayers and love from people we love have sustained us. Our friends, Nick and Euphanel Goad, asked us to come to their retreat center when we evacuated before the storm and we are still here two weeks later. Nick came by yesterday and told Johnny they want us to stay until we are ready to leave.
Money can never buy friends like these. Possessions can never provide this kind of support. In the long run, people are the only thing we really have in this life. What we invest in people and what they invest in us in the name of Christ is eternal.
Focus on what is left, not what is lost.
What really matters in this life is still here. I am still healthy with a reasonably sound mind. My husband, Johnny, is still beside me and our kids are rallying around us to do whatever they can to help. We live in America where “stuff” abounds. With hard work and a good attitude, anyone in our great land can rise from the ashes of destruction to wholeness again.
Where are you today? Are you still stuck in an event that happened years ago, unable to move forward? I pray that today, you will see what you have left and grab hold of it before you waste another day. We are blessed beyond words.
As Christians, we all have the Lord Jesus, Who loves us and gave Himself for us. We have the Holy Spirit, Who lives inside of us to help us in our time of need. These two are there and will never be taken from us, even during the big storms of life. Our God reigns and knows where we are right now. This storm did not take Him by surprise. He knew before the foundation of the world where you and I would be today
Do you believe He is able to turn your storm into a blessing that will bless others for years to come? That’s what the storms of life are intended to do; they come for our ultimate good and for God’s glory. Romans 8:28 is true, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Focus on the pearls that wash up.
We have been down to the house three times and each time I am amazed at what we have found. Before we left, I put all my concordances, reference books, Bibles and devotional books on a high shelf in a closet for safekeeping. During the storm, the shelf broke and only one book survived. It was My Utmost For His Highest that I have read most every day since 1990. What a pearl! This book is like a record of my life, as I have birthdays and important events recorded on almost every page. God was so gracious to give me this pearl among all the mud and muck.
On the second trip, I found a few favorite clothes that had not been destroyed. The third trip, I found a Waterford vase that I bought on a trip to Ireland with my Mom in 1979. The vase was partially buried in the mud, but I dug it out and brought it back to the Retreat. After I washed it, I noticed that it had a few nicks in the glass and was no longer perfect. As I looked at that glistening, flawed piece of crystal, I decided to call those places “Ike Nicks” and I will give that vase a prominent place in our new home. The vase will be a constant reminder of what my life looks like to God—full of nicks, but shining bright for Him. You see, we are not victims of the storms of life unless we choose to be. We are survivors, just like that vase.
Do the next right thing.
In the aftermath of this storm, I am amazed that I have not eaten out of control one single time. Those of us who are compulsive eaters usually resort to food when we are going through a storm. Because I had given God the next year, overeating was not an option for me. The most amazing part is that I have not even wanted to overeat or resort to those comfort foods of the past.
God knew where I was going to be today and He wooed me two weeks in advance of the storm so we could walk through this one together. God knows where you are too, and He wants to walk with you to the other side. Won’t you take His hand and begin walking? I love you and God loves you and together we can all walk in victory.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24
Much love to you,
First Place 4 Health National Director
Carole was a member of the original First Place group that began in 1981, and became the national director of the program in 1987.
When Carole attended the First Place orientation in March of 1981, she eagerly anticipated what God might want to do in her life. She had recently seen an old friend that looked great and who reminded her that they were soon approaching 40 years old. Carole determined she did not want to be “fat and 40.” She joined First Place and soon lost 20 pounds. Learning how to bring balance to her life, she became a First Place leader to motivate others to achieve this goal.
Carole is a popular speaker and author of the books, Choosing to Change, First Place 4 Health, Today Is the First Day, Living Well, Back on Track, A Thankful Heart, Stop it, The Divine Diet, and Mother/Daughter Legacy. Carole regularly leads Conferences, Wellness Weeks, Change Your Life Events and seminars across the country in the areas of personal balance, fitness, encouragement and temperament analysis. Her audiences know her as warm, honest and humorous.