Change is Coming…You Can Count On It!

Last Tuesday was a bittersweet day for me and my girls. It was their last piano lesson with our piano teacher, who after 50 years of teaching, is retiring. I say “our” piano teacher because she was MINE also.  She has a mother and sister who she must look after, as well as several grandchildren who live in different states. It is time for her to hang up her teaching hat and enjoy spending time with her family. A new chapter for her and a new chapter for us, too.                                                          photo (7)

As she and Emma played their final duet piece together, “Sweet Dreams,” I was overcome with emotion. Tears burst uncontrollably out of my eyes as I tried desperately to swallow my emotion. The song they played was hauntingly beautiful and when they finished, Mrs. Orlando was also crying. That was it. We both cried on and off for the remaining hour as Emma finished her lessons and Lily played through hers. By the end of their lessons, as she was saying her final farewells, she was nearly sobbing, I was sobbing and Lily was crying  too. Mrs. Orlando loves my girls. My girls love her. As do I.IMG_2859

You see, Mrs. Orlando is more than just a piano teacher.  She taught me excellence, determination, grace, poise and confidence. There is a handful of people I can give credit to for the person I am today.  She’s on the list.  I am grateful that she had 5 years with my Lily and 4 with my Emma, but I am sad to see it come to an end.  Now I must carry on in her stead, be the teacher to my girls that she was to me.  It’s a huge task, but I’m up for it…I think…What an awesome opportunity to exercise my heart for teaching.

No one likes change, but it is inevitable.  Ecclesiastes chapter 3 talks about how there is a season for everything.   There’s a time to laugh and a time to cry…a time to be born and a time to die…a time to gain and a time to lose…There’s a time for everything!

“No one likes change except a baby with a dirty diaper!”   -Justin Argabright

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I am a person who thrives on routine.  Same thing day in and day out.  There is a certain amount of sanity that order brings to my helter-skelter mind.  But I have been learning over the past few years, that I need to embrace the change that is happening around me.  For instance, my children are growing!  That’s a major change.  They can’t stay babies and if I don’t learn to accept that change, I will continue treating them like so and their maturity and growth will be inhibited.  Another example is my husband’s work schedule.  He’s here for a week, gone for two.  An OCDer’s nightmare schedule!  But, I’ve learned to adapt and it is paying off for our family in many ways.  My husband is happy at his job and I am able to stay at home with the kids.

My point is…in order to move to the next step in our lives, the lives that we have placed in God’s hands, the lives that we pray for God’s will to be done in, the lives that we ask God to bless, the lives that we have said, “I Surrender All” about…we must embrace the change that He is orchestrating.  Each experience you’ve had, good or bad, is like the musicians or instruments in an orchestra.  God brings those experiences in to the picture at just the right time, on just the right beat, for just the right length of time.  He mixes the good with the bad, people from your past and present, hurts and happiness, to make beautiful, unique sounding melodies, harmonies and chords.  It is perfect and absolutely beautiful!  A song written by Him, orchestrated and directed by Him, specifically for YOU!                            SymphonyOrchestra_720x283

 God is the Author, the Orchestrator, and Conductor of the life that is surrendered to Him.

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So here’s the deal when unexpected change arises…

My piano teacher has retired.  I am sad.  My girls are sad.  I want her to teach forever.  But alas, that is impossible.  So I thank God for the time we had under her patient instruction.  I recognize what must happen next.  God has given me the opportunity to practice what I’ve been created to do.  I embrace it and look forward to what He has planned for my future.  Now, I will trust Him to give me the strength, patience and wisdom to follow through.

If you’ve surrendered your life to your Creator, you can be sure that uncomfortable change is a comin.’  That’s His way of getting you to the place where you can fulfill your destiny.  Learn to roll with the punches.  Rest in the fact that God’s in control, He has your back.  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! il_570xN.493477028_3slt

And remember, His plans for you are more awesome and greater than you could EVER imagine for yourself!

Isaiah 55:9

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

 

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Who Are You?

Have you ever got up in the morning, looked in the mirror and asked yourself, “Who in the world is that person looking back at me? Who am I?”

Some days I look at myself in the mirror and I’m like, “Yikes!” The Susie I know in my mind doesn’t have a double chin or wrinkles around her eyes or between her brows. And what about that gray hair sticking straight off my head like a rooster’s?

Now, I’m just being a little silly, but…The change in our physical appearance is simply an illustration of what happens inside of us sometimes. An identity crisis, if you will.

There are at least two distinct times in my life when I experienced a complete loss of my identity. The first, when I left the religious denomination in which I was raised. The second was during the divorce. Two life-changing, identity crisis-invoking situations.

I was raised in a legalistic, works-based religion. For those of you who may not understand what I mean by “works-based,” it means that I was taught that salvation through belief in Jesus Christ was not enough to gain entrance into heaven. Salvation was a 3 step process, not just a confession of faith in Jesus. A lengthy list of rules or “standards” in order to obtain holiness and favor with God was expected. The guilt and fear associated with this kind of teaching became a stronghold in my life. I never felt like I could measure up to what God expected of me, but I sure did try my hardest! I found myself lost and insecure when I was no longer told exactly what to do in life. I completely lost who I was, or who I thought I was.

One night, as I prayed for direction for my life, God revealed to me who I am in Christ. How He sees me. This is what He said…

You are holy and without blame before me in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

You are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

You are forgiven of all your sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

You are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

The encounter I had with God that night changed the entire course of my life, forever. I have never been the same since. To hear and understand what He thinks about me has changed the way I view myself and others, the way I treat myself and others. God is not sitting up in heaven waiting to beat me over the head or send me to hell any second of the day if I don’t “measure up” to every rule and regulation. This knowledge has given me the permission to lay down my own gavel. I am many things for my Lord, but judge, I am not.

The divorce. If you’ve been through it, you are going to be able to relate 100%. Activities within my marriage by my spouse had caused a great decline in my self-esteem, as well as my basic worth as a human being. I had to ask my self the question, “Who is Susie without ___?” It’s been Susie and __ for so many years, now what? I spiraled down a self-destructive thought process. I was angry with God and the world for what I was going through. I basically felt like a big ole’ piece of crap…yes, I said it. Discarded, worthless crap. I was afraid of what would come next. I was worried about being alone and all that goes with being a single mom. But God, in His infinite love and grace, has a way of reaching down into the pit that we are in and pulling us out. These are the sweet, healing words He spoke to me during the most difficult time in my life…

You have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

You have no lack for your God supplies all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).

You are a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

You are more than a conqueror through Him Who loves you (Romans 8:37).

You are an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony (Revelation 12:11).

You are part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

You are the head and not the tail; You are above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13).

You are greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

For God has not given you a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

You have given, and it is given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

My banner over you is love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)

You the apple of My eye; you are hidden under the shadow of My wings. (Psalm 17:8)

You are My elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and longsuffering (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12).

Where are in you in your life? Are you lost? Are you confused? Are you insecure? Are you listening to those people around you, speaking destruction into your life? Are you allowing the circumstances of your life to define you, to categorize you, to put you in a box?

God knows where you are. And, He knows WHO you are. Don’t listen to what the world and your insecurities say about you…you’re not worthless, stupid, ugly, no good…Listen to the One who created you. Know His truth about you. He knows your name. He really knows YOU. He’ll hear you when you call out to Him. Ask Him, “Who am I?” He’ll tell you. Just like He did me. The words He has spoken to me are true for you, too.

Here are the lyrics to a song by Matthew West that perfectly describe who we are…

“Hello, My Name Is”

Hello, my name is regret

I’m pretty sure we have met

Every single day of your life

I’m the whisper inside

That won’t let you forget
Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief
Oh, these are the voices. Oh, these are the lies
And I have believed them for the very last time
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life
What love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called His children
I am a child of the one true King!
And here’s one by Tenth Avenue North…
“You Are More”
There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide
She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”
But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight
She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try
But don’t you know who you are?
‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

To My Future Daughter

This letter was written by a high school senior.  Her AP English teacher had given the assignment of writing a letter to a future teenage daughter, giving her advice about life.  I’m amazed at the maturity and clarity with which this 17 year old wrote.

To my daughter,

     My greatest wish is for you to have the most fulfilling life that is possible.  There are many things a young lady your age needs to know. And I, as your mother and your friend, want to be the one to share these with you.  

     Always put God first in your life, no matter what.  Trust in Him and let Him lead your way.  No matter what the situation, God is with you.  Be submissive to His will and strive to be like Him in everything you do.  Place your life into His hands and He will lead and guide you.  He has so many things in store for you.  When everyone else fails you, when your world seems to crumble, and all hope is gone, He will be there.  Jesus will ALWAYS be there, He will never leave you or forsake you.  You are the reason He died and He loves you.

     Your identity is the most important asset that you have.  Don’t be ashamed of who you are and what you stand for.  Be PROUD of who you are and what you stand for.  Never conform to the world, even when your friends are pressuring you from every direction. Be an individual and stand boldly and strongly in your convictions.  Always be yourself, never pretend to be someone that you are not.  People will like you for who you really are, not someone fake or superficial.

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     Respect yourself at all times. Don’t let people walk all over you.  When dating, respect yourself enough not to give away your innocence and purity to every young man you fall in “love” with.  We, in ourselves, as mortal human beings with wild hormones and extremely strong emotions, do not always have the strength to resist temptation.  If you fall, you can be forgiven, never lose hope. But, remaining chaste until marriage is a wonderful thing.  Giving yourself to ONE man and he to you,uniting as one flesh, is the most sacred and holy experience.  Intimacy is best within the sanctity of a strong and happy marriage.  If it happens before, emotional scars may be left and the pain unbearable if you lose him. 

     When you DO get married, you should be marrying not only your lover, but your best friend.  Share you innermost thoughts with your mate and you will draw closer to each other. Finding that special someone is very important, so make sure he is THE one or you could lead an unhappy life.  Once again, seek God for direction.

     Concerning friendships, hold on to those true, best friends.  Don’t gossip or tear your friends down, don’t “stab them in the back.” Be faithful to them, treat them as you would want to be treated.  A good friend will stick by you through thick and thin.

     Be kind and patient with others and tolerate the seemingly intolerable.  Sensitivity could be helpful to you as well.  Being sensitive to others will let them see that there is something different about you.  Let your uniqueness be a tool for letting your light shine for Him.  Remember, you have a mission to tell others about Jesus Christ-never forget it.  There are so many hurting and broken people who God can touch through you.  Let them see His love in you.

     With God as the center of your life, leading you all the way, you will not be a failure.  Listen to wise counsel on things you are unsure of and always stand strong.  Stay on the straight and narrow path and you will make it all right.

I love you,

Mother

The student received an “A” for this paper, as well as “Nicely written and directive!”  She attended a public school and was not afraid to state her beliefs.

The year was 1996.

The student was Susie Matlick………..that’d be me.

I have 2 reasons for sharing this.

1.  Young ladies-Don’t be ashamed of what you believe in or afraid to share it.  Trust me…the world needs to hear it.  And God DOES speak to you and give you insight and wisdom about some stuff.  Don’t doubt yourself or let people look down on you because you are young!  I knew a lot of things about myself and life in general even when I was 17, but I allowed boyfriends, parents, teachers, friends and insecurities to change my mind about those things that I was passionate about.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Listen to your Creator when He whispers those special things to your heart.  Follow and listen to THAT voice.                                                                                                                                                                                     Image

2.  Older people-What were you good at when you were a teenager or child?  Or what did you love to do when you were young and carefree, without any worries or bills or kids or jobs?  Go back to that.  That’s what God wants you to be doing.  That is what He has gifted you with.  As a 35 year old woman, I am returning to my “first loves.”  Writing, instructing, teaching, etc.  How I ended up in a technology-based career for 15 years, I’ll never know.  Better late than never!  It’s never too late to use your God-given gifts and talents!  If He has called you and gifted you, even if it was 20 years ago, it is still good.  His gifts and callings never expire!

Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

What a special blessing it was for me to find this letter as I cleaned out my closet today!  A sweet reminder of God’s gifts to me.  What have you been hiding that you can bring out and dust off?

This lost and dying world needs you to be YOU and use the gifts that only YOU have been given!

 

Yes and Amen!

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”  2 Corinthians 1:20

Has God made you promises?  Has He placed dreams in your heart you desire SO much to come to pass?  Are you becoming discouraged, thinking it will never happen?  Have you been tempted to take things into your own hands to make those dreams come true?  Or have you already tried that and realized it’s not working?

Let’s pause for a moment and have a little Bible lesson.

God made a promise to Abraham.  A promise of children and descendants too numerous to count.  While waiting for this promise to happen, Abraham and Sarah, his wife, became impatient.  Month by month, year by year, Sarah failed to become pregnant.  Nervousness set in.  Maybe they should “help” God out.  Sarah comes up with a grand idea.  “Here, Abraham.  Take my maid, Hagar, and go sleep with her.  She’ll be able to give you a child.” Have you ever heard of a worse plan?  Can you imagine telling your husband to go to bed with another woman so His dreams will be fulfilled?  No way, Jose!

Ishmael was born out of this arrangement.  There, God’s promise had come true.  Now Abraham would have descendants, just like God said.  One little problem.  God had a different plan, a miraculous plan.  A plan that could only happen by divine intervention.  And how many of us know divine plans are so much better than our plans?

Sarah grew old, like really, really old.  Like ninety something.  An angel told her she was going to have a baby. She actually laughed out loud in disbelief.  There’s no way that could happen at this point in her life.  That’s just not humanly possible.  Exactly.  We know the story.  God renewed her youth and she gave birth to Isaac, the promised child.

Of course, Sarah soon became irritated and jealous of Hagar and Ishmael.  Everything was a mess.  That’s what happens when humans put their two cents in.  God commanded Abraham that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away. That’s how He feels about human effort!  Get rid of it!

As we know, the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac have been at each other’s throats now for thousands of years now.  The promise of God has been overshadowed because of Abraham and Sarah’s impatience with God.  It didn’t have to be this way!

Ishmael’s birth is like the law.  The law requires human effort and perfection to bring forth God’s favor and the realization of His promises.  Isaac’s birth is like God’s grace.  Human effort had nothing to do with it.  His birth was the result of God keeping His promise, doing just what He said He would do.  God desires us to be completely trusting and dependent on Him.  When we place our lives in His hands, His will is accomplished in our lives.  “The law demands perfect performance, but God’s grace embraces imperfect dependence.”

Stop trying to make God’s promises happen NOW in your life.  His promises are “yes and Amen.”  His promises are true.  God is not a man that He should lie.  If He said it, believe that it will come to pass…in His time.

Our human effort strives for the favor of God in order for His will to be done in our lives.  The Bible says our efforts are like filthy rags to God.  Sometimes, we too, like Abraham and Sarah, feel the need to “help” God out. When we do “this” and we do “that,” we make a mess and complicate things.  He is lining up the perfect people, the perfect places, the perfect situation just for you.  Don’t worry about it!  Trust Him!

My Emma was quite a handful as a toddler.  Many times when she would want me to obey HER, instead of the other way around.  She would get infuriated with me.  “RIGHT NOW!” she’d scream at me like a maniac.  Sounds familiar, huh?  Did I give in and do what Emma wanted?  No, of course not.  And why not?  Because Mother knows best.  Likewise, when we try to make things happen in our lives, RIGHT NOW, God sometimes says, “No, not yet.”  Why?  Because, God knows best!

If you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, YOU are a child of promise.  He has great plans for those who believe and put their trust in Him.   Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.”  Galatians 4:28 

Have you had promises come true in your life?  I have.  For over 10 years, God promised me I would be a stay-at-home mom.  It didn’t happen when I thought it should happen (RIGHT NOW!), but in God’s time, it has come to pass.  Share your story below and encourage someone else today.  🙂