Find a Penny Pick it Up…

All day long you’ll have good luck.

Do you remember this little superstition from childhood? Maybe it has carried over into our adulthood? Maybe we need to take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves if we are still putting our stock in these old wives’ tales or an all-powerful God?

We can choose every day to put our trust in a loving God who can bring us joy through any circumstance. We can face any trial that comes our way through the day.

The definition of the word luck, according to the dictionary, is a success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than one’s own actions. But if you search for the word luck in the Bible, you won’t find it.

We don’t need luck- we need Jesus. We need to let our actions reflect our love for Him and trust Him with our day. We’ll have much better odds than by taking a chance on a penny.

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Fair Weather Friend

Is your relationship with Christ dependent on your current circumstances? Do you only go to Him when you’ve reached your breaking point and exhausted all your other options or are you a fair weather friend who praises Him when things are good but as soon as a shift occurs and the tide turns to rough seas you turn your back on Him?

Our relationship with God should be that of a Father and child. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. Our relationship should be too. When we learn how to praise Him through the dark times and thank Him for the lessons, we will start to feel the closeness of our Father. He wants to experience the bad and the good, the sad times and the joyful times; with Him by our side.

It is through the tests and trials that our character is formed. How we handle our reactions to the bad things in life is a good indicator for where our heart is. The more we put our trust in Him through all circumstances, the closer our relationship will be. He always wants the best for us and delights in His little children coming to Him in thanksgiving and praise but also for respite and rest under the shelter of His great wing.

In my daily devotional this morning from Jesus Calling, this line stood out to me: “It is impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising Me.

This is so true. How many times day do you thank Him? It should be more than you can count, especially through the hardest days in the middle of the storm. That is how we keep Him close and rely on Him for strength.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete., needing nothing. James 1:2-4

Road Map

On one of my morning runs, I saw a black and white cat run across in front of me, not just once but twice. Most of its body was black but it’s head and neck were white. It made me think about how we look at things as black and white or gray when we are somewhere in the middle.

I used to be all on the black side before I surrendered to Christ. When I began my journey, it didn’t happen overnight the day I was baptized. The bible says come as you are not wait until you are completely clean.

I then started thinking about pivotal moments in history when there were bad or good things that happened in the world. We all know exactly where we were when we heard the news about 9-11 for instance. I have also had pivotal moments throughout my journey to Christ that I can remember exactly where I was and about what date it happened. If I don’t remember the date I can look back in my journals and usually find it.

These are considered “Kairos” moments; (a propitious moment for decision or action.) Once you decide to be a Christ follower you eventually go ‘all in’- you can’t be both black and white or darkness and light. Most of us probably stay somewhere in the middle most of our lives. I started thinking about when I went all in and how long it took from the time, I had my accident and was baptized. I pinpointed several pivotal moments that I can look back on and know that God was shaping my character during those times to get me another step closer to a Christ centered life. I couldn’t see it at the time but can now look back and recognize how the important decisions I was making were better for my new life and direction.

I had just come out of an abusive relationship where I felt ashamed, unworthy of real love and blamed myself for the things that happened to me. It was during this timeframe of the breakup that I had my accident. The accident changed my life, but it wasn’t at that exact moment that I went all in with Christ. That was just the beginning.

I was still dating and made bad choices for myself. But God began to work on my heart and for the first time I realized that I didn’t have to allow a man to disrespect my body just because that is what he wants. I have a choice. I have a voice. I learned how to use it and stand up for myself. This Kairos moment was just after my accident. This was only one stop on my road map to Christ, but it was a very important one. I could have allowed this person to have his way that day, like I had done so many times before with other men. But this time was different. This time, a voice inside me told me I didn’t have to allow this.

Another important moment came the following year when I was dating again, this time to a very nice person, but I knew I had to end it because I still wasn’t entirely living for Christ. After a getaway weekend, I felt so convicted that I had to end the relationship as soon as we got back. I couldn’t hide it or hold off any longer. He could see it all over my face. I couldn’t hide it because God was in my decision. I broke it off and moved another step closer to Christ.

Recently, I was reminded of my accident and the events that happened that day. I saw each step of that day moment by moment. I saw the changes I began making in my life afterwards, but my lifestyle and focus on my relationship with God took time. 352 days came to mind. There were still a couple of bumps in the road, but He led me to where I am today.

I calculated the days to see what date that would be and then I searched all my journals until I found it. Here is what I wrote in my journal 352 days from my accident:

“A person should never put themselves in a position that they would do anything for another person when it conflicts with their morals and/or jeopardizes their character. This type of relationship should only be with God. A person should not put another person in that position or make it a condition of their relationship or love for that person on those conditions.”

It was very shortly after this that I stopped dating altogether and put all my focus on my new relationship with God. I knew that is where my focus needed to be, without distractions. This was my choice and five years later I am still very happy about it. It gave me time that I needed to grow in Christ and figure out who I was as a person and child of God.

I am now reliant only on God. He is the only one I need to please. The things in my life that I clung to the tightest are the very things I had to let go of. The things I hid from for so long are the things that are being revealed and bring me most joy because it will help others. He created me and saved me for this purpose. I am chosen by God to carry out the mission He has planned for me.

He has a blueprint for my life that is unique as I am. He connects the dots on my journey and directs my path on the road map to a Christ centered life that brings joy and peace even through the speedbumps that occur along the way. These just make me stronger and through endurance my faith grows.

Can you look back and see any Kairos moments in your life that shaped your character and brought you another step closer to Christ? Write them down. Pay attention daily for any new opportunities. God can use everything for His good.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3

The Mountain He Didn’t Move

God has moved some amazing mountains in my life since my accident. Truth be told He probably moved a lot before that, but I wasn’t paying attention. There were so many trials to face during the aftermath of the accident. I was in pain. I was hanging out with strangers and had to rely on them for all my daily needs. I had to fly home in a back brace and large cast with a wheelchair at every stop, depending on others to get me to the gates on a red eye flight.

How was I going to maneuver my bags, seat, time limits? I wasn’t. But God provided all these things every step of the way. He moved mountains to get me taken care of and safely back home. I had an overwhelming sense of peace, especially in the airport, where normally I would be panicked and nervous. Yet, I had no worry or fear whatsoever. It was literally out of my hands.

Oddly enough I can look back at the accident and realize that was the one mountain He didn’t move. Why? I believe it was the one I had to hit to realize I wasn’t in control. It is the one that jolted me awake out of my self-induced stupor. The one that made me pay attention to what God is doing in my life. The one that saved my life by the grace of God who created it. He gives me my very breath and could have easily allowed it to be taken away- but He chose to save me.

It is by His divine glory and grace that I am even here to write this today. He saved me not only from this wreck, but from myself and the train wreck I had become. My life was in complete and utter shambles – I was holding on to things I needed to let go of. Like an abusive relationship- who does that?! Me…that is who. At least the person I was before God intervened. I was gripping it with both hands. I had two broken arms in one year because I had to let go.

I didn’t have the audacity or gumption to stand up for myself in any situation. All my life I gave myself over to others- especially men who used me and threw me away without regard to my safety or well-being, without respect for my body. Why should they respect it? I certainly wasn’t. In order words, I had no backbone, therefore my back was broken in the accident on the mountain that day so I could learn to stand firm and take up for myself and others.

This may seem like a harsh statement- but it is my reality. I have come to terms with the lengths God went to bring me home to Christ and be the person He created me to be. I am grateful and stand in amazement (from my knees) every single day that He chose me- of all people, in all my brokenness and unworthiness, to live the life of the new person with a new purpose for my life. He gives me faith and courage to take the next step every day.

Message from the Holy Spirit about my accident:

“You had to be there to accomplish my will for you in your life and show you another way; a new perspective. It seems drastic, but that’s the only way you were going to change your mind and your heart.”

Have you purchased your copy of, Beyond Yourself – A Spiritual Awakening yet? You can order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kindle or I can hook you up. Check out my website www.angelakcrow.com. Contact me about speaking to your women’s group. Please share. Thank you!

Closure

I knew I had to go back. I had to do this on my own- with God. I needed a few moments in that space to thank God for sparing my life and turn a daunting mountain memory into just another spot in the road.

My heart raced faster than the speed I was traveling as I drove a snails pace, praying the whole way. The drive seemed a lot longer than before. I am still a little perplexed how the turn off to the mountain is nothing like my memory.

I noticed the 20 mph curve sign in a new light as I crept around the curve and pull off in front of the rock embankment- tears followed.

I knew I needed this time just as I knew when it was time to go. I didn’t want to linger there longer than necessary, but snapped a few photos, said my prayer, had a moment of silence and moved on.

Yak’s was my next stop, which was the location we had brunch the day of the accident. It had also changed. It is now a coffee shop with a new name and no longer has the tables outside that I remember.

As I sit sipping my chai latte and write my thoughts in my journal for this post- I reflect on the changes that have taken place here in the last six years- and in me.

I found my way back to the t-shirt shop and then meandered back across the street and into the shop where Amorah’s store used to be. Without entirely realizing it, I had traced our steps from that day, only in reverse.

It is now complete- I have come full circle, and am so grateful God gave me the strength to make this journey.

As I sat at the accident site with my journal in my hand this verse came to me. “I love you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil. 4:13

Divine Intervention

Ocean view cabin at Smith River, CA

Since I had plenty of time on my hands with the lengthy layovers and flight delays I’ve spent a lot of time reading. I met a girl at a writing conference recently who had also just published a book about her life story- also full of tragedy, loss and broken bones. We exchanged books and hugs. Her story also included an abusive relationship, but a different kind of abuse than my own. She was duped into a marriage full of lies by a cocaine addict and didn’t have a clue until the ink had dried on the marriage certificate.

Her dreams of becoming a mom were dashed not only from a broken pelvis, not once but twice, but also from a lying, drug addicted man whom the foster care dept. saw to be an unfit home for an adopted child.

Her prayers for a child were not answered.

I can look back at my own story and see places where I was heartbroken over things not going my way. Things God knew were not good for me. Like an abusive relationship that I clung to with everything I had in me.

In hindsight, God’s unanswered prayers and divine intervention saved my life many times over and changed it for the better. I think in her story God knew it was best not to place a child in that situation.

God always knows best. He always wants better lives for us that we sometimes want for ourselves, simply because we can’t see the big picture when we are in the middle of the trenches just trying to survive.

If we can learn to trust Him with the outcome even when we think we want a different one than what He is offering, we could just enjoy the journey knowing God’s got this. Just because I can’t see the bigger picture – I know God can and I can have faith that He is preparing the way before me. I just need to listen and respond with courage, trust and obey.

I have learned in my own life I need not fear the path He leads me to and am still learning to push through the fear and nerves and the not known variables to just do the next thing- the one He is leading me to- not of my own understanding or courage; but through the strength, discernment and faith He gives me to be confident. Not in myself but in what He is doing in and through me. The past things I entrusted to men proved to be the things I should have feared most, not the things God is offering. God is a good, good Father we can trust with our lives and our dreams.

“See, God has come to save me. I will trust Him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song, He has given me victory.” Isaiah 12:2