Tranquility Hollow

We all have that place we go to when life seems too much to bear.  You know, that place where everywhere you go, the air breathes “It’s going to be okay.  Peace.  Rest.”  I found that place for me recently.  I mean, I know God’s peace in the storm from all my previous travels with the Lord, but God brought me to a new place—a new level.

It started about 1-1/2 years ago.  I was in a job that I really liked, but I was ready to move forward, and I didn’t see that happening where I was.  On top of that, my son, my baby, was getting ready to move on to the next chapter of his life and I knew in a few months I’d be on my own again—an empty-nester.  I had learned how to navigate through a plethora of life’s challenges and tearful disappointments, but this I wasn’t prepared for.  What was I going to do with myself now after caring for a family for almost 30 years?  I had no idea where to even begin.  So, I began to pray.

I felt as if the Lord was telling me I needed to go back to school.  I attempted to do this a year earlier but was unable to work out the financing for the degree plan I really wanted to obtain.  Then it finally occurred to me.  I had started a business degree 30+ years earlier.  I had 20+ years in business.  I finally figured out what I needed to do—go back to school and finish my accounting degree.

In the process of that, I began to look for work that would help me grow in an area that would offer longevity.  After being laid off four times before in my life, I was more than ready to find stable, long-term employment and prosperity.

It finally happened. After months of sending resumes, I finally found employment in accounting. On top of that, I was able to keep working in my previous job part-time.  Life was really looking up for us and I was more than grateful!!

The transition was not difficult.  Learning a new job, with 12 hours of junior-level business classes proved to be quite the challenge.  But, I was up for the challenge.  After a couple of months, I finally felt more at ease and was beginning to walk on my own, feeling as if I was achieving an appropriate learning curve on this new land I was traveling.  As an additional bonus, I was finally in a good position to buy a home.  My dreams were coming true—finally!

Without warning came the tussle and tug.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I mean the tussle and tug in my spirit.  That sense of knowing something wasn’t quite right.  I prayed and then I battled, sensing something was trying very hard to get me unsettled.  Then I heard the Lord speak, softly and gently.  “Which do you like more?  Accounting or ministry?”  “Ministry, of course,” I answered.

Three weeks later, the Lord woke me up insisting that I fast and pray, starting immediately.  So, I did.  That day after work,  I was given a two-week notice I would be released from my employment.  Just like that.  A week and a half before Christmas.  Perplexed and shocked, I just sat there.  I was stunned.  I really liked working there.  Moreover, I really liked and respected the people I was working with—I still do.

That very afternoon, my heart sank again.  I received a text from the mortgage company who was working with me to buy my long-awaited dream come true.  I had to tell her I was laid off and would have to put off my dream of owning my own home yet again for an undetermined length of time.  Yep.  This was too much at one time.

Needless to say, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next.  The loss of income was drastic.  I couldn’t even find the words to formulate the question “Why” to God.  After a few days, I did manage to say, “Okay.  Now, what am I supposed to do?”  God’s response?  “I called you to be my minister.  I set you apart.  Remember, this is why I moved you to Oklahoma.”  Dozens of memories flooded my mind.

I remembered when God first told me to go to Victory Christian Center.  I remember feeling so out of place, but knowing this was exactly where God wanted me to be.  I remembered hearing about Victory Bible College.  At the time, I dismissed any notion of entering this college because of all the Bible classes I took studying for to become an ordained minister with Assemblies of God. (I’ve since discovered they have many great classes of which I have not taken as of yet.  I’ve decided I will be a life-long learner.)  Then I began to hear about Oral Roberts University (ORU).  In retrospect, I guess a person would have to be blind not to notice the strong connection between Victory Christian Center and ORU, but nothing particularly personal was clicking for me.

Then God did what he does so very well.  He spelled it out for me.  I called you to be a prophet.  I sent you to Victory to walk under that mantel.  I sent you to ORU to prepare.  My response, “I thought you wanted me to finish my business degree after you told me you would open doors for ministry for me through business.”  To which God responded, “That’s not exactly what I had in mind.”

I threw up my hands.  I give up.  I realize I may not verbalize every single syllable of my questions to God.  Honestly, who does?  My thoughts were on him.  My heart was seeking after him.  I followed what he told me.  But……did I really press in to get that confirmation??  God’s word says, man makes his plans, but God ordains his steps.  Hmmmmm.  Ugh!  Here we go again.

I realized God does indeed have business in my future with a personal business he has given me, and through this there will be doors that open for ministry.  In fact, there is no way to quantify how, when or where God will open doors for me for ministry.  Expect the unexpected.  God’s ways are higher than ours, and I will do my best to not limit God.

Ultimately, I had to admit he never told me to go to school to get my business degree.   He was more immovable on the point of his desire for me to prepare for what he has called me to do than I ever remember him being before.  Oh Wow!  This put new meaning in the words, “He leadeth me, he leadeth me, by his own hand he leadeth me.  His faithful follower I would be for by his hand he leadeth me.”  Yes, Katrina.  God certainly did tell you.  He certainly did lead you to exactly where he wanted you to be.  You just missed the correct combination of steps leading to the ultimate prize just a bit.

It took about two seconds and I was talking with Oral Roberts University about a degree plan change.  To my relief, mission accomplished in about a week.  I had instant and complete peace.  I was able to continue working at my previous employment with a few changes, which is a blessing.  This time, I would be more available for ministry opportunities.

What did I learn through this?  God is sovereign.  He leadeth me.  He is absolutely, without a doubt serious about fulfilling his purpose in his children’s life.  He is ever present.  He is steadfast.  “ He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” (Acts 17:25 NIV).   When daddy says now, he means now.  When daddy says he will cause you to triumph and prosper, he will.  When daddy says he gives you peace that passes all understanding, he does.  And yes, you can be in the center of God’s perfect will and still endure trials and difficult times.

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. I quickly realized two things:  I firmly believe a person could be fully trained and equipped for certain work, but if God does not want you there, it’s not going to work out as well as it otherwise could.  Without a doubt, I believe this with all my heart.  In addition—as hard as it was to accept that my dream of owning my own home was once again put on the back burner, I was grateful that God, in his mercy, did not allow me to purchase a home I would soon have difficulty maintaining.

I raised my hands and said, “I surrender.  I get it.  I’m yours.  I’m done trying to figure it out.  It.  Is.  Finished.”  It’s not like I ever got up on any morning and consciously said, “I’m going to do my own thing today.”  God forbid!!  Thank God, he does not give up on us.  He asks us not to give up on him and to trust him with his plan.

Even so, I refuse to stop believing.  I still make my declarations every day.  I know God has great things for me.  I know he has a great future for me.  I even still take time occasionally to look at the local housing market and I’m relentless in telling God which homes I would love for him to get for me.  As it happens, I found a beautiful dream come true.  I’ve given it to God and I know it is planted firmly in the palm of his hand.

What was so pivotal for me was within this, I saw a sign that said, “Tranquility Hollow.”  As I looked at the scenery, I imagined walking through the trails and feeling the quiet breezes calming the stresses of life.  I saw myself gazing at the still waters and green pastures, seeing myself resting in this place.  There is an old hymn called “‘Til The Storm Passes By.”  The last part of the chorus says, “Hold me fast, let me stand, in the hollow of Thy hand.  Keep me safe, ‘til the storm passes by.”  That was it.  It was settled for me.  I decided “Tranquility Hollow” would be my forever home.  No matter where I lay my head at night, Tranquility Hollow would be where I find my peace and rest in this life.  I will see myself resting in the hollow of his hand and walking in his peace no matter the storm—in Tranquility Hollow.

I choose to accept and receive every good and perfect gift God wants me to have.  Yes.  I believe that is as it should be, and I will forever sing His praises.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, God Almighty. To Him who was, and is and is forevermore.  God.  Is.  Good.

Stop And Think Before You Act And Speak

The Story of Hezekiah in Isaiah chapter 37-39 is interesting. He disrespected God and led the people of Judah away from him by allowing beliefs and worship of other gods and rituals to be practiced in the land of Judah.

Finally, after God sent many warnings, God said enough is enough and sent the Assyrian army to attack the nation of Judah.

After Hezekiah humbled himself before the holy greatness of God and asked God to deliver them from the Assyrians, God in his goodness and mercy did so.

However, because there are always consequences for our poor choices that come against God, Hezekiah and the people of Judah had to undergo some hard times because they turned away from God.

At one point, Hezekiah became ill and God sent word to Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah that he would not recover, he should “Put your house in order,” that Hezekiah would die.

Hezekiah cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness, and God granted him 15 years to live, during which time there was peace in the land of Judah.

Unfortunately, because Hezekiah led the nation of Judah away from God, that very act set things in motion that would result in Hezekiah’s children and some of his descendants to suffer greatly at the hand of their enemies.

It’s like our nation, and our families. Our leaders make choices that are self-serving that are against what is ok in God’s eyes. Those choices put our nation in the path of God’s judgment.

We make choices for ourselves that directly and indirectly affect our families—sometimes for generations to come.

We have all gone through the family dynamics of the ill-effects of bad choices, broken trust, disappointments, children gone astray, dragging the family name through the mud—you get my point—we can all relate.

There is forgiveness and restoration from the hand of our loving God. But do not be deceived, God is also a righteous judge and he will not overlook the sin of our mistakes and selfishness forever.

Another question—how long do we harbor the mistake, which serves to hold the emotions hostage? How long do we allow the hurt to fester, just waiting for the opportunity to mercilessly “unload” on someone so they are sure they’re aware of every point by which their poor choice affected them??

And…..what is this teaching our children who are little sponges and hear every whisper whether word or deed??

We cry out to God for grace and mercy. Do we give it??

Think ahead before making choices. What will the outcome be?

I was told once, “There is a limit to what a person can forgive.” I’m sure glad God doesn’t see it that way. We would all be destroyed before we became adults.

My point?? We tell our children to stop and think before they act and speak. But….do YOU practice what you preach. Does being an adult somehow negate your responsibility to do the same??

Teach your children well. Teach them to know about Jesus, because they are going to need him. And as you do, remember that for us to grow beyond our mistakes, someone had to forgive us.

I really do wonder how much better off our world would be if we would simply love well and forgive often. But wait—that’s why Jesus died for us—so we would be able to do just that.

To know God is to love him. To understand him is to walk in his ways. To submit to his holiness is to walk in wisdom.

Holding on for a better tomorrow—choose life today.