Manna from God

Guest blog by Laurie Stawicki

Video of me singing and playing the guitar to a song I wrote called “Manna.”

Today, I looked at Facebook. On it I saw the daughter of an old friend. It looked like she was having a great time! She had a beautiful house, a fun business that she enjoys and that she works hard at, and she had a husband and a couple of good-looking children. Not only that, she was beautiful too! Like a model.

While part of me is telling me that she had help from her parents and maybe she married a rich husband to have such a wonderful house, I must remind myself that my destiny, to some degree, is in my own hands. What are some steps I can take to make a life that I feel good about?

First of all, are there things (or people) in my life that need to go to free up space for the new and the beautiful? Objects, clothes, certain acquaintances, time wasters and poor habits could be cleared to make way for the best.

What are the things I could change in my life to create a more wonderful life for myself and my family? Am I living where I want to live? Am I working at what I love? Am I living this week, month, year vibrantly, as if it were my last?

Some people, me included, have wondered where the line is drawn with how much God wants us to take care of ourselves, versus how much time we are caring for others. And most of us who are mothers or caregivers have experienced fairly long periods of time where we barely had any time for ourselves. I think this is normal. However, the question is, at what point does God want us to take more time for ourselves and the gifts and talents he has given us?

Jesus told us to love others AS we love ourselves. Some would say that I need to love myself a little bit more. It may be hard to find the line between service, sacrifice and what we do for ourselves, but here are some questions that could help us gauge the time commitments that some might to expect of us.

We could ask ourselves for instance,

  1. What is my mission from God? Do I know what my life mission is?  Am I doing it?

The good Samaritan did not abort his mission. He stopped and helped the person by the roadside and took him to the Inn he was going to stay at. He went on his journey and paid the inn keeper to look after the person, continuing on his own mission.

  • In any situation that arises, one could ask themselves, “Am I the good Samaritan, or the Inn Keeper?” In other words, when I come across a person in need, is it my job to take this person to the next station? Or is it my job to stay with them and help them. Knowing one’s boundaries is good, but trusting that God will lead you and guide you in each situation is better. Some people or situations we are only called upon to help for a little while until the long-term helper is available. And with some situations, God surprises us with the duration of what we think is a detour.
  • Do I have a clear vision for the details of my life? Prayerfully write the vision for each

category of your journey (Habakkuk 2:2). For instance, when shopping for a house, make a list of the “must haves”, the “would like to haves”, and the “optional” characteristics. Then when a house pops up (or a job, spouse, vacation) exhibiting all of the things on your list, you can know that most likely it is the right one. It saves a lot of time if you know what you want. Psalm 37:4 says that God gives us the desires of our heart.

  • Am I taking care of myself with proper sleep, healthy food, fun, fellowship, reasonable work load, family time, church, and exercise? Am I growing in my skills, and enjoying my day with a relaxed attitude? Am I spending time with God?

These, and more, are questions we can ask ourselves when we are wondering if we are on the right track with taking care of ourselves and our own mission on earth. Loving ourself means loving who we were meant to be, and living our life feeling good about our decisions.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets.” Fredrick Buechner

Ephesians 2:10 says,” We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Each one of us has a purpose, and it’s up to us to find it and to discover what God has written into our DNA that will delight us and serve the world in a powerful way at the same time.

What’s in your heart? Write it down and make a plan. If you miss when shooting for the moon, you will at least land among the stars. Happy trails!

© 2021 Laurie Stawicki

Laurie Stawicki is a singer-songwriter, poet, and author of the upcoming memoir, “Sacrifice of Tears.” She is mother of five and lives in Iowa.

The Grace of the Missing Dog

2nd Corinthians 12:8-10

8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“I got this. No problem.” Do you ever feel this way? The neighborhood cat Daisy triggered our Rascal dog to totally forget the wishes of his owners.

We were walking Rascal in the neighborhood when suddenly, I saw a flash of fur ahead of us in the near distance. Before I could react, the leash flew out of my hands with a big sudden jerk, trailing behind a disappearing Rascal around the corner of a house chasing Daisy…scared for her life. He’s loose!

A deep wrench of “why didn’t you” flashed before me as I ran with heart thumping …Why hadn’t I had a stronger grip on his leash. I clearly did not “have this” and there was a problem! Rascal is gone! Why, Why, why…

A busy street lay just ahead of Rascal’s disappearing tail. Roger disappeared around the other side of the house in an attempt to head him off. No such luck.  As I ran, I prayed that Rascal would be found safe from danger away from the busy road in front of the house and Rascal would return to us.  I caught my breath at the front of the house and surveyed the landscape with an eerie pause in time.

When time picked up again and I returned to the present, I saw Roger across the busy street and heard him yelling to me. “I see him! Rascal, come here”. A splash of light brown tail disappeared as an oops-I-forgot look appeared on Rascal’s face. He finally heard our voices, stopped dead in his tracks and faced us as Daisy disappeared behind the house.

Rascal cautiously approached Roger, much like us one of us might feel after being caught with a hand stuck in the forbidden cookie jar. Rascal slowly dipped his head, tentatively wagged his tail, bowing deeply as if asking for some compassion and understanding.

As this contrition unfolded, my heart reawakened me to how our loving God welcomes us as we truly observe our weaknesses in what we are doing to ourselves and others. Our thoughtless actions, our judgement and blame of others for hardships exhibit our human frailty in the way we forget how to put others first with Christ’s Love. I saw something beautiful happen in seeing the world through my husband’s eyes.

In the manner of Christ, he saw our forgetful, cat-chasing Rascal and felt his pup’s shaking, panting body.  Rascal’s tail immediately wagged faster and he smiled. Rascal leaned into Roger and seemed to breathe easier as his leash was picked up. “Rascal! You heard my voice and came back to me when I called.” He was Home, loved in His master’s arms.

Later, as we rested, I felt such gratitude and love as Rascal jumped up and nestled close between us with a sigh.  I reached out to pet his soft curly fur, he looked up, ears flopping open with deep, soft brown eyes melting into mine… I felt God’s Love whispering, I Love you. You are Mine.

Yes. We can say “I got this! No problem.“ But do we?  Our Savior says, “Come to me. I Love you. No matter what, I will surround you with my Love and strengthen you throughout your life. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Not our power, but His holds us.

My challenge to you:

Go into Scriptures as Corinthians 1 chapter 13 and read it twice daily. Learn what our Lord Jesus did and what we must do. Pray ceaselessly giving God praise and worshiping him. Come back home to Christ.

© 2021 Bonnie Louise Smith-Davis