The Royal Family and Control

Confession moment: I adore the British royal family. I like reading about them, watching films and documentaries on them. Maybe it’s the fascination with their structure and history that I just don’t see with our democratic structure here in the US. Or that I love the British in general.

I watched the news of Princess Kate’s third pregnancy announcement yesterday excitedly. Yay for other people having babies! I noticed on one news outlet’s coverage of the announcement they had the succession to the throne mapped out. With this announcement, Prince Harry (William’s brother, second son to Prince Charles) has now slid to sixth in line for the throne.

Something he has no control over-his birth order and the pregnancies of his sister in law- dictate what he will be able to do with his future. I can’t imagine that or what his desires might be, or how he is able to rectify that how dynamic.

I thought on that more as I read further into King David’s life in the Old Testament. He’d already incurred his own sons trying to overthrow his rule. Now as he lay on his deathbed word comes that his 4th son (one that in the natural succession line would take the throne) has decided to thwart his father’s-and God’s-plan for Solomon to assume the throne. He meets in secret with those who aren’t loyal to his father and then publicly sacrifices offerings to name himself the new king.

My thoughts went directly to questioning Abinojah and his crafty nature. He had no control over his father’s proclamation, or God’s larger plan. So instead of acquiescing to the plans he takes them into his own hands to manipulate and control. Then I saw a lot of myself in him…desiring to control his own life and what he felt was his. His life, his plan, his control.

Oof.

How hard is it to accept God’s plan when it’s not what you would’ve made for yourself? How difficult is it to rectify your desires and plans with God’s? What do we sacrifice in order to live within the authority of God Himself in every area of our life?

I know for me I’d much rather have the control and say so, being able to pursue the desires I deem worthy and good. But that’s not what God plans for us most of the time.  He wants good for us, but not on our terms and in our ways. It’s a life of bowing in submission to the throne, to the rule and authority of God Himself and how that looks in our life…and not in anyone else’s. It means realizing we cannot control which a Sovereign God controls.

It means that sometimes we are sixth in line to succeed and we must relinquish any idea that we can control that.

Making Plans and Building Houses

“Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.” 2 Samuel 7:11 (NKJV)

Ever made plans and they didn’t go as you had expected? Like they were really great plans, ones you were excited about and had put much thought into and it just kind of felt like a big NO was stamped across every bit of it?

I wonder if that’s how David felt when he felt led to build a house for the Lord. It was something worthy and honoring to God, a temple to give Him a home that wasn’t makeshift and temporary. He looked to making plans for it, securing the materials, and then God said “No.” But here’s the bigger rub of it all. God said no to the temple but yes to Him building David a house that would last beyond the materials, an eternal legacy befitting their relationship and honoring God all the more.

I mean y’all, that’s pretty amazing right?

As I looked at these verses again and saw the covenantal promise from God here in second Samuel, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I like to tell God what I want to do for Him, for His kingdom. Much like David, we know He is to be honored, given all the glory for Who He is, and all that He has done and will do. But we put our spin on it, our hands on the design thinking we know better how He should be given the glory. We mean the very best out of it, just as David did in building a temple. We just haven’t listened for God in it. We haven’t removed ourselves into His Presence alone to see where He would have us be.

When I look at these words deeper in second Samuel, I see God coming close. To tell Davie that He would be the One to set up the house for him, not the other way around. In these words, in David’s life, and in our very own, He is revealing an aspect of Himself to David and to us, His sovereignty, a glimpse at His plan in the promise. We don’t get that if we are busy going our own way, even in the very best of intentions.

It isn’t about what we can do for Him, but what He is doing in and through us to reveal Himself because He is God.

 

Lovin’ It, the Summer Edition

Every little bit I like to share what I am absolutely loving on. As random and weird as I am, you can bet it’s always a bit interesting around these parts. So below is a little rundown of some things I simply cannot stop loving on. So it’s summer, what’s good for summer loving? Check out below.

Music

Maren Morris
Y’all, seriously. I am a bit late on the bandwagon with this one around Nashville as I have seen my peeps here sharing her for a bit. My word it’s so good. She’s country, which I know is so not my style. But let me just say, I cannot stop listening to her. Especially this song.

For King and Country
I know I have talked about my love for them before, but I seriously cannot stop listening to Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong from start to finish. I have used it to write to quite a bit, and this is me in song form, a simple glimpse into my mind:

Mudcrutch
Most people don’t know that my favorite band is Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (after NEEDTOBREATHE, obviously). I have long been a Tom Petty fan and his Southern rock sound found in his side project Mudcrutch, which was his original band in the 70’s. They have a new album out called 2, and I have it in heavy rotation, all the way through. That’s the mark of a really good album, that it’s a story from start to finish. Go grab it, or stream it your favorite streaming service. I’m curating some Spotify lists these days so find me and follow along!

Movies & Television

Superhero Movie Goodness
I love a good superhero film. Frankly, I love a bad one too. I am a dork and I freely embrace that when it comes to these big action films with caped crusaders, and villains alike. Captain America: Civil War? LOVED IT. X-Men: Apocalypse? So cannot wait to see it. Did I clap at the Doctor Strange preview? Yes I did. I will geek out at Suicide Squad. Honestly we could probably scratch out Superhero up there and put Action instead. I love a good action movie, especially in the summer. Jason Bourne? Yep, because MATT DAMON y’all. Independence Day twenty years later? Why of course I will see you. This is where my girlfriends get off the bus and leave me be. Don’t get me wrong. I love a rom-com (sobbed at Me Before You screening), but I want fight scenes, big explosions and hopefully some chase scenes with sharp objects involved.

Crime Shows
I confessed some time ago that I have a penchant for crime shows. Some Saturday nights in college you could find me watching Cops. I think part of me wanted to be a cop or FBI agent growing up (I wrote to the FBI at age 8 asking for info on the academy, such a nerd). Nancy Drew was my sister in crime-fighting in my elementary school days. Harriet the Spy was my Halloween costume of choice one year. So it’s fitting that I now cannot stop watching crime-related shows. I part ways at Law & Order, I have never watched it and don’t really ever care to do so. But this summer’s biggest binge? Southern Justice. It’s Cops, in my hometown. I kid you not y’all. It’s on NatGeo channel, and my neighbor growing up has been on there (she was the officer), as well as some guys I went to high school with. It’s insane to see the places I know, roads and sites, and people that I am familiar with on national tv. It’ll give you a good laugh, and a little insight to my App-a-LATCH-an upbringing. If you missed Quantico this season, I encourage you to binge it. That’s my other good summer suggestion because y’all, so good. (It has nothing to do with the guy named Ryan in the least). Not a cop show, but Zoo is also my other summer suggestion. Being a big fan of James Patterson (hi crime novels), this show is fantastically wonderful and back for a second run this summer.

Misc. Stuff

I had an M thing going, and I couldn’t stop y’all.

Food from the Garden
So I started an urban garden this year. I have a couple of herbs going nutso (basil and oregano for daaaays) as well as some tomatoes and peppers starting to pop up. But more than anything I am loving all the stuff from the gardens whether my own or a farmers at the market. Avocados are beginning to be an obsession, along with foil-wrapped corn on the cob with just a splash of EVOO and garlic powder. Grilling peaches for ice cream? YES MA’AM! Fresh strawberries and blackberries with a simple syrup, absolutely. Even last night I whipped up a fun, and mildly decadent, banana pudding to take to a work picnic. No Nilla wafers here, this ain’t yo momma’s pudding we’re talking about. Food from a garden beckons creativity and not treating it like you do in the winter, but giving it life just as it sustains you. It’s nice to get the creative juices flowing again in the kitchen (pun intended).

Workout clothes
I am obsessed with my Danskin workout crops. And the fun shirts that make me want to work out, to run, to get up at 4:30 to get my butt to POUND class. (except this week cause migraine) They were a reward for weight loss and muscle tone, and now I want more…but I have said it’ll only happen when I hit another marker, so I go workout for a couple of hours at the end of the work day when I just don’t really wanna. It’s better than feeling like a lump sitting on your couch though y’all. Get some fun workout clothes, or shoes even, to inspire a healthy attitude.

Park-aholic
From theme parks to state parks and national parks, I cannot quit you if you have a park in your name. Dollywood-YES! I have had a season pass for years, years. I hit up Mammoth Cave National Park already, and have a couple of other parks on the list this summer. Also, Holiday World. It’s a thing, and I will be there for my birthday. I cannot wait y’all. Can-not wait.


So what are you loving on right now? What’s something fun you are doing, reading, listening to or watching? What’s a favorite summer activity?

The Ultimate Plan

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 (HCSB)

I am a planner by nature. I like to have a set time of meeting. I like to know where we will be going. I want it all laid out in a nice, neat package. Ordered and fixed. Planning for any and every issue that may arise.

I like a map. A trajectory. A path. An easily traced route. I like things neatly under my okay and control. Something I think many of us would agree with.

The verse above I have taped to my laptop, right at the very base of the screen. It serves as a reminder that no matter what I am planning, ultimately it is God who is ordering my steps. My plans may come to fruition, or they may look wildly divergent from what I mapped out. Each is it’s own blessing, even when I cannot see it or understand it.

My plan for my life at this age? Wildly different on paper than lived out.

The tension of planning is what we find ourselves in. That desire–and often something we deem a “need”–to control. The tension is hard because we want understanding. We want the why of a situation. We strive for knowing how He works in every single instance. We want the definition of living through a season, or going without for far more seasons than we had planned.

For the planners, for the people who have that  need for control, the need-to-knowers, He gives no explanation for where the steps lead, how the steps are to be taken, or why the steps are where they are. He doesn’t need to explain Himself. Living in the unknown is what those of us who plan our ways have the trouble in allowing Him to determine our steps.

We ultimately have to relinquish control. Control that we have never had, and never will. You see He’s a sovereign God. He’s all-knowing and all-powerful. I believe the plans of the heart have to be given over to Him. Not for approval but for release of control. To say I am no longer the contractor of this plan, but the implementer of a grander design, one that I am given only an 1/8 of a millimeter piece to view that spans trillions upon trillions of miles. I don’t control the sun coming up tomorrow, yet I know it will. He deems it good to do so.

So why sit in the tension of not understanding every move He makes and instead live in the abundant knowledge that the God who raises that sun up is the same God who determines my very steps? After all, He has much bigger plans than I could even begin to fathom.

It’s All Good.

I have been having a similar conversation over and over again the last week or so with various people, from students to staff to friends to family. I like to see how God weaves a unifying thread throughout life and He is most certainly doing that at present.

An interesting piece of that is when we stop and consider it. We step back from what this theme of life is right now to see what the real message is for us. For me. Because, after all, I am also the common thread in the situations. Here’s what He keeps saying over and over again in my life (and through various situations):

 

Just because it’s not how you envisioned it would be does not mean it is not still good.

Talk about a two by four several times over to the face.

But it’s the truth, right?

We, and by we I mean me too, like to lay out visions and plan for months and years down the road. While that is not inherently bad, I think we put too much stock in those plans and play the comparison game. We like to take our vision and compare it to reality. That reality may be our own, someone we know’s reality, or someone we don’t know’s.

But what we have a hard time doing is casting a vision with God.

We have a hard time letting Him in the planning or seeing Him in the work. Instead we question Him when it’s hard. We shake our fists and shout we cannot do it. All the while He says, “I know, that’s why I am here.” We are weak yet we find we know better than the all powerful, all-knowing God about our lives. When He knew long before He created us that we would be in this moment, knowing we needed only to turn to Him and lay down our vision before Him.

He knew we were capable of withstanding the trial, if we but turn to Him right by our side. He knows we are able to bring about good, if we but lay our agenda down and embrace His plans. He knows. He has for a very, very long time. Just because it’s not exactly how I planned it out, doesn’t mean He won’t get the glory for it. It doesn’t mean it’s not still good.

I keep going back to the story of Joseph on this. His life wasn’t how he planned it I am sure. Over and over again we see that happening in his life. From his dream to his brothers, from the pit, to royalty and into prison. He continuously was faced with challenges that I can say were not in his vision casting. Yet he carried this thought with him, knowing Who was at his side.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

It’s in the Plans.

I have a love of planners. It’s probably borderline obsessive. I tote it everywhere I go, even if I won’t be in need of it. I like jotting notes, verses, thoughts. I also like planning out my life, in day-segments. There’s a part of me that revels in having my days mapped out for me.

Recently I was doodling in my planner, as I have developed this habit of late, and the words Unsettle Me came out. I kind of played it off, but as the days stacked upon one another I began to see that it had turned into a prayer, and a theme for my life now.

For being such a planning, in the details person, being unsettled would be the last thing I should be praying. Yet, here I am, praying it daily in moments, in silence, in shouts and sometimes in tears. There is a part of me wanting, desiring to know where this is leading, this unsettledness. That’s when He guides me to this verse, over and over again. A verse that guided me to where I am now, standing in hope and assurance.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”                  Jeremiah 29:11 (New Living Translation)

It is fascinating to me that even in this prayerful time of my unsettling, God is in it. He knows the plan, THIS was His plan. While there have been (and I am sure there will be more) moments of frustrations and questions, doubts and tears, I have this one thing that remains a constant for me…God. His plan and His faithfulness. Hope that is found in Him alone, and that is the best laid plan.