"No woman is a good Christian who is not a good wife. That is right. The woman's first human duty is to her husband. She is joined to him as one body. She is to obey him. The Scripture say, 'Thy husband...shall rule over thee'."
So...how are all of you out there in Blogger Land? As many of you may have noticed, Kelsey hasn’t been blogging much lately, but that's all about to change....you see, -we-(yep, that’s right -the two of us) have a beautiful story to tell...
It is a story of how the Lord works in the lives of His children, how no details are too small for Him to have His hand in, and how He opens doors that no man could ever open.
Okay...lets back way up. We’re going to fill you all in from the beginning....
Kelsey: It all started when our family attended the No Greater Joy Smoky Mountain Shindig at Ridgecrest, back in September, the 10th-14th. One of our goals in attending the Shindig was simply to meet "new fish in new waters" so to speak. We had wanted to attend the last two Shindig events, but they were both too far for us to travel, so when we heard that this one was going to be in North Carolina, we signed up right away! It was a lovely week filled with lots of good sessions, friendly folks, fun games and good music. Each night, after the congregational sessions were over, everyone split off into separate divisions, with all of the 17 and older singles in a group of their own. Lots of games were played that tried to get the girls and guys talking to one another, and it was crazy, but a lot of fun. While we were there I met a lot of nice young men (and young women for that matter), but no one who really stuck out in my mind as being “Mr. Right”, if you know what I mean. It was a wonderful weekend, but I came home thinking, “well...maybe next time”.
At the Shindig
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Illusive Writer: I discovered the No Great Joy Shindig this past winter while reading the book, "In Search of a Help Meet". After I read about this "matchmaking/family conference" my first thought was "yep that's a strange way to find a wife; not going there"....I always had this idea you meet a girl at church or at some other mutual location and slowly become good friends over time till you fall in love; so you could say I wasn't into this wife shopping thing.
This past July I was out working my job getting that lonely feeling unmarried guys often get. I wanted a wife and family, but how? And where is this illusive young lady gonna come from?
I had already met many godly young women, each of whom would make some lucky man a great wife someday; but never felt like I had met a girl I knew for sure for sure, was the one for me.
I was feeling slightly down about the fact that I had explored all my options, but still had no urge to pursue any particular young lady.
I prayed "God, what do you want me to do?" Immediately going to the Shindig popped into my head. “What God! Really? ...that's where desperate hillbillies go to find a wife!”
Such a silly idea couldn't be from God. ....or so I thought.
Over the next few weeks the idea kept bugging me until I came to grips with the fact that I was never gonna get married unless I got out and met some possibilities.
So with the full peace of God in my heart and a changed mind I made reservations for the Smokey Mountain Shindig!
"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing,
and obtaineth favor of the Lord."
Kelsey: A lot of the talks at the Shindig were focused on missions. My heart has been towards missions since I was 13, so this conference was right up my alley. I have always had it in my mind that I wanted to marry a missionary, and despite my family and friends telling me to keep an open mind, I was pretty set with that idea. While I was at the Shindig, I made it my goal to speak to Kelsey Steele, missionary wife in Ukraine, and ask her some things that had been on my heart, as well as ask her opinion of my situation, because if anyone would understand, she would.
Towards the end of the conference I got my chance to speak to her. She advised me to stay open-minded, to not close out the idea of marrying a plumber simply because of what I felt. She told me to pray about each situation individually before I just said no to a young man. It wasn't what I wanted to hear at the time, but it was definitely what I needed to hear.
For the days following the conference, the Lord really began working on my heart, changing my thought process that I had had for the past 10 years. The Lord was asking me to give up my dreams and plans that I had made for my future and simply trust Him with it.
Up on the lookout
Illusive Writer: The Shindig came, and went. I heard many great sermons, met a lot of families and made new friends. All in all I had a great time.
As you might be asking, "Well, did you meet any particular young lady?".....um...no. I met many great, godly young women - they were everywhere! "Then why didn't you pursue any of them?!" …I know! I asked myself the same questions. I wanted to follow the Lord's leading and it just wasn't there.
I've been told by many married men "you just sorta, know". As if that is supposed to be helpful. *sigh*
Despite not coming back from the trip with "the one", I felt the weekend went well and I had a great time.
...life goes on.
Before leaving for the conference, I had become part of the No Greater Joy Shindig discussion group on Facebook to keep connected with other fellow shin-diggers.
A few days after the event, I was scrolling through some of the photos members had been posting from last weekend when suddenly -boom- there she is! This girl I had never seen or met pops right out of a photo and slaps me in the face! That special girl in the photo was Kelsey Hammond.
This was "THE" photo!
She wasn't even the subject of the picture I had found her in; she was in the background. I search and search all over Facebook, but I couldn't find her!(she's not on Facebook)…Luckily her father is; and he tagged her. Ka-ching! I now have a name! Oh, but wait a minute -what am I thinking? I don't know this girl from Eve!
It took me a moment to realize I was going crazy and running from all reasoning. Besides, there are a lot of pretty girls on Facebook.
For the sake of sanity I'll just forget about it.
Three days go by and this picture of Kelsey is permanently branded in my mind and I can't get her out! I had no idea how old she was, what her character was like, or even if she was already married! And to think, I was actually considering contacting Mr. Hammond!
I could no longer hold my peace. I got on Facebook chat and began my letter of intention. I wrote "Mr. Hammond" then hit "enter" and suddenly realized it was set to send the message when the "enter" button was hit! A few seconds go by and I get a reply "yes Matthew?".
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Kelsey: On Thursday night, September 18th, four days after the Shindig, Dad and Mom called me into their room and informed me that a young man by the name of Matthew Dickerson, who had also attended the Shindig, was interested in getting to know me better. I was shocked. I had never even met him. I recognized his name, because he was on the Shindig Facebook page, and I knew he was the guy playing the dulcimer at the Shindig, but that was all I knew of him. I had read some of his comments on the Facebook page and thought he sounded like a very wise, young man. But when Dad said he was interested in me, I was floored! My parents asked me what I thought and I told them that I would have to pray about it. I didn't know much about him, but what little I did know interested me greatly. *smile* They thought I would have said no to him right off the bat because he wasn't a missionary. I hadn't shared with them how the Lord had been working on my heart prior to this and so when I said that I would consider him, it was their turn to be shocked. So that night we all took it to the Lord in prayer to see what his will would be in this.
After praying about the situation, I felt absolute peace that the Lord would have me get to know Matthew Dickerson better. I still didn't know where all of this would go, but every time I took the matter before the Lord, He would give me His indescribable peace that this was His will and to simply follow His leading. Along with the Lord's peace about the whole situation, He also gave me an excitement for what He had in store,...an excitement that goes beyond description. So I gave Dad the go ahead to get to know Matthew better.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Matthew (the Illusive Writer):Turns out Kelsey wasn't married yet or even being pursued. She was a good bit shorter than me and wasn't under aged or over aged (I'm not sure what that means so I'll leave that for you to decide) She was just right! Four months younger than I am!!
Anyway, back to my story....
After initially chatting with Mr. Hammond over the phone and sending him a more "official" letter of intent, I waited patiently to get a response from the little miss…
Waiting with sweaty palms and an accelerated heart rate, I finally got the call from Mr. Hammond telling me Kelsey accepted the inquiry and wanted to pursue the relationship!
…I was in shock!
"Who can find a virtuous woman?
for her price is far above rubies"
Kelsey: Dad spent the next three weeks getting to know Matthew, asking him all the hard questions, and not only that, but also just figuring out what kind of guy Matthew was, what his likes and dislikes were, his character traits, his beliefs and such. I was third party to all of this, hearing from Dad how things were going. The waiting was_not_easy! I am always the first to know what is going on in our family, so to not be personally involved in the conversations that Matthew and Dad were having was hard on me, but I reminded myself that patience is a virtue. During this time, I just kept praying that the Lord's will would be done through it all.
Matthew:Everything I learned about Kelsey and how God worked out our situation was nothing short of a miracle.
Mr. Hammond had spotted me at the Shindig and singled me out as someone he could imagine marrying one of his daughters. …Amazing right? I never even met him! But he didn’t feel like he should be the one to approach me about his daughter.
Little did he know I would contact him the following week.
Something else I find interesting is if I had met Kelsey at the Shindig and shown interest I would have more then likely been turned down. …You see, I wasn’t a foreign missionary.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Kelsey: Finally,… on October 11th, Matthew got permission from Dad to contact me personally. So that evening, while I was playing a game with our family, Dad informed me that I had my very first email waiting in my inbox from Matthew! To say I was excited would be an understatement. Matthew's letter was beautiful! (He is a really good writer!) It started out...
"To the very significant young lady to whom this letter concerns :)"
Talk about melting my heart! In his email he explained how he came about contacting my Dad, what he saw in me that made him inquire about me, and how the Lord had worked so far in this. He was open and honest and sweet. I ended up sending a lengthy email back to him that night! And that was the beginning of our correspondence.
Matthew: -Head in the clouds-
I finally wrote my first letter to this girl I had never met, talked to, or seen before in my life, yet I had “strangely enough” grown quite fond of her.
It was horrible! …I was so nervous! What do you say to a girl you’ve never met?
Corresponding via email became easier with each letter. Kelsey’s an amazing writer! As you can tell just by reading her blog.
"My heart is inditing a good matter...my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."
From Psalms 45:1
Kelsey: Pretty soon, texting was added as another form of communication as we got to know each other better. Neither of us had too much experience in texting, but we are now professionals at it! Since this is a long distance relationship (Matthew lives in Ohio), it has been a wonderful way to get to know each other on a day to day basis. But we still had not yet met face to face. Dad mentioned to Matthew that if he wanted to meet in person, he should consider coming down to the NCFIC conference at the end of October. Matthew prayed about it and agreed that it would be as good a time as any, so it was planned. We were to meet for the first time on Friday, October 31st, at the NCFIC conference, which was also held at Ridgecrest, the same location that the Shindig was held at, where our whole story started in the first place.
"Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."
Matthew: I told Kelsey I would like to talk on the phone at least once before seeing her in person, so as to not make our first encounter such an awkward experience.
“What did her voice sound like? high? low?, or nasally? …Would it be like the rough gals they hire behind the counter at the scrap yard?!” …Thoughts would flood my mind!
Kelsey:Before the NCFIC conference rolled around, Matthew and I had gotten pretty comfortable texting and emailing each other. We decided that it would probably be good to talk on the phone at least once before the conference, to kind of break the ice, so to speak. I didn't want to know WHEN he was going to call me, so I asked him to surprise me whenever he thought he was ready. So,...on October 22nd, my cell phone, which had become ever by my side, rang! Only I didn't have it with me at the time, so instead of Matthew reaching me on the phone, Dad answered! But Dad quickly passed the phone off to me and for the first time I was able to hear Matthew's voice! Talk about exciting....and nervous! Although I believe he was more nervous than I....-wink-. I do not normally talk on the phone much, but he was so easy to talk to. He does a really good job of asking questions to get me talking and is also a good listener so that I feel like he is really interested in what I have to say.
Matthew: Our first telephone call was for a good hour and twenty minutes; and was purely delightful!
If you’ve ever met and talked to Kelsey before you would know that she is the sweetest angel on earth; and she sounds like one too. ;-)
The initial idea was one phone conversation one week before the conference; …We ended up with three lengthy calls totaling 5 1/2 hours before we met.
Kelsey: We arrived at the conference on Wednesday to catch up with family and friends. Matthew was due to arrive Friday morning and I was to meet him for the first time with just my family there. He told me he would call on Thursday night after the sessions to solidify what time he was getting there and where our meeting location would be, but he also said that we couldn't talk for too long because he had to be on the road by 3:00 to make it to the conference by 9:00 the next morning. The Thursday night session ended up going over about 45 minutes, so when it finished I slipped out during the final announcements and grabbed Ethan as an escort, running all the way back to our room to call Matthew.
Matthew: Kelsey had asked what time I would need to leave so I could arrive at the conference Friday morning; -I said “three o’clock”.What I didn’t tell her was I was planning on leaving at three in the afternoon on Thursday!
I showed up that night around nine fifteen and the meeting was still in session. So I made my way into the building where the main sessions were held and took a seat up on the balcony out of the Hammond’s view.
I received a text from Mr. Hammond letting me know where he was sitting.I quickly spotted him and started thinking about how I might pull off a surprise.
As the meeting was ending Kelsey dashed out the door and was gone!
…“What do I do now?!” I thought.
After the final announcements I quickly headed down the stairs and into the main auditorium looking for the Hammonds but they seemed to have already left the building.
After I sauntered up towards the stage I spotted Caleb (Kelsey’s brother-in-law) and let him know I was there.
He quickly stepped aside and he informed me that Kelsey had gone back to her dorm for the night to wait for my phone call and head to bed.We then both hurried our way towards the Hammond’s dorm. While on our way I gave Kelsey a call to follow up with what I said I would do; and make small talk making her really think I was still in Ohio.
Kelsey: When Ethan and I reached the dorm, it was nearly 10:00.I was afraid I was going to miss him and he would already be sleeping. He wasn't sleeping, but he said he couldn't talk for long, due to the hour. We talked for a few minutes, but we had a "phone connection" glitch and were disconnected. He called right back but told me he had to get some sleep so we should hang it up. I was disappointed, but understood. I had planned on talking for at least a half hour and then getting some shut eye myself, instead of rejoining my family in the meeting rooms. But that was okay; I still got to talk to him and I would just go to bed a little earlier than I had planned. I already had my pajamas on when Savannah came into the room to drop her Bible and jacket off and announced that if Matthew was done talking to me, that Dad wanted me back down at the meeting rooms. I tried explaining that I was tired and was just gonna call it an early night, but Dad would have none of that. He kept being persistent despite my pleading to simply head to bed, so I reluctantly agreed to join them in a few minutes. In the five minutes it took me to re-dress and brush my hair, I had no idea what was happening on the landing outside my room...
Matthew: We arrived at the dorm and found the rest of the family on the balcony outside Kelsey’s room.Mr. Hammond leaned over the railing and said in a loud whisper “She’s in her pajamas!Hang up the phone!”
I quickly hung up while Kelsey was yet speaking.
Mr. Hammond explained they somehow needed to convince Kelsey to get redressed!
After a couple minutes they told me it was okay to call her back. So I did, and I apologized for the “disconnect”.I said it was late and since I had a big day tomorrow… blah blah blah -just to make excuses to get off the phone and get this show on the road!
After making an ending to the awkward phone conversation I hung up and Mr. Hammond said that Kelsey was now dressed and that I should knock on her door.
“What! Knock on her door?”
“-Yes-, knock on her door!”
So with a lump in my throat -I knocked on her door!
Kelsey:When the door opened and there stood Matthew, my heart stopped. Here stood the man who I had spent the last 2 1/2 weeks getting to know through calls, texts and emails, this fella who was actively pursuing a relationship with me, the guy who I was preparing myself to meet TOMORROW! And here he was, surprising me by coming early! I was elated, and excited, and nervous all at once. I was seriously shaking! But it was wonderful to finally be face to face talking to him...purely amazing!
Our first time meeting
Matthew: Kelsey proved to be beyond my expectations.Her face was simply beaming with happiness!I didn’t know what to do or say for the rest of the evening; I was so shaken!I literally remember seeing stars and having a sick stomach.
I didn’t sleep but a couple of hours that night as I tossed and turned in my bed, replaying last night’s events over and over again in my mind.
Kelsey:The next morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I received a text from Matthew asking if I would like to take a hike up to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise. Uh...yes, absolutely! But I had to check with Dad first, so after getting an okay from him and talking Ethan into being our chaperone, it was all set. I rushed around, finishing getting ready, as he would be there to pick us up any minute.
Matthew: Early that morning as I gazed upon the mountains, I got the sudden urge to see the sunrise.“Oh but wait! -maybe I can see it with Kelsey; how romantic would that be!But what would her parents think, I mean, they hardly know me!
Ah, why not?I didn’t have anything to lose by asking. So I went ahead and inquired.
“-What? what was that?y’ yes?You mean, I can go watch the sunrise with Kelsey?!Awesome!!!”
Kelsey: We drove halfway to the top of the mountain, parking about a mile from the top to finish hiking the rest of the way up. I am used to walking a lot, but not on an incline, so I'm afraid Ethan did most of my talking on the way up... :) We reached the top right after the sun had come over the mountain ridge. It was warm and bright and beautiful. But best of all, I was up there enjoying God's beautiful creation with him.....oh, and Ethan was there too! :) He prayed for our weekend together, that the Lord's will would be done in both of our lives, that He would grant us with His wisdom concerning our futures and then simply praised the Lord for His goodness to us. I came back down the mountain feeling refreshed, blessed and excited to see what the Lord had in store.
Matthew: Being up there, enjoying the breeze and feeling the warmth from the sunshine, looking out over some of the most beautiful mountains in the country -I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
And since it is my greatest desire to keep God as the center and unity of our friendship, I knew we were up there to pray and ask His blessing on the weekend, and to thank Him for bringing us together.
Praise God!What an experience.
The first hike up to the lookout.
Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
and to the house of the God of Jacob;
and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.
Kelsey: The weekend was wonderful, from meal times, to the sessions times, to playing games, praying, singing, walking, and simply sitting together talking.
Sunday came upon us all too quickly.During breakfast, Matthew asked if I would be willing to take a drive back up to the top of the mountain to the outlook.Of course I would!We hurried through our meal, grabbed Ethan again and walked the distance back to Matthew’s car.On our way, we met some friends and Matthew informed them that we were going up to the outlook again, but this time we were going to talk about our dreams for the future.
This was news to me!
We reached the top and spent a few minutes soaking in the sunshine.The air was brisk but the sun was warm, and the view couldn’t have been lovelier.Pretty soon Matthew started asking me what my dreams for my future were, was there anything that I had always wanted to do, and what my hopes and plans were.He then went on to share some of his ideas for his future and the type of man he would like to be known as.We again spent time praying for the Lord to reveal His will to us, thanking Him for our weekend together, and asking Him to give us wisdom and discernment in decisions for our futures.Pretty soon it was time to head back down the mountain for the church service.
Matthew: Going up the mountain the second time was thus far my most memorable time with Kelsey. It was also a great time of prayer. I felt like by being up there looking out over the smoky mountains that we were somehow closer to God. Kelsey was altogether adorable that morning!
Magical ...that would be my best way to put it.
As Kelsey had told me "truly a mountain top experience".
Our second trip to the lookout
Kelsey: Matthew was able to stay through the service and join us for a late lunch afterwards, so our family took him to a local pizza joint that we enjoy, along with some other friends.
We got to talk and share and be ourselves and just ask whatever came to mind. We ended the time by sharing a delicious strawberry cheesecake. His time to spend with me and my family had come to an end, so as we all walked out to say our goodbyes, we joined together in prayer for safe travels for Matthew as well as that the Lord's will would be done in both of our futures. It was hard to say goodbye that afternoon, but I was very thankful for the time that we were able to be together.
At the pizza parlor.
Matthew: Saying goodbye was not easy for either of us. The weekend came to an end all to quickly!
In my first letter to her I had mentioned I was intending to spend time with her as well as her family and friends.The purpose being to be able to get to know each other as mutual friends.
We were like peanut butter and jelly…
We hardly ever let each other out of our sight the whole weekend!
Kelsey: We arrived home on Monday and jumped back into chores like normal. Or… almost like normal,...I've really only been able to half focus on any of my jobs since September! That night, my dad called Matthew's dad and they talked for over an hour and then our moms also got on and talked with each other. I knew that before Matthew's and my relationship went any further, both dads wanted to talk and make sure that they were on the same page. When they got off the phone, my parents had said that it went well, but that was all that they really said. But I still didn't really know where we stood as far as courtship was concerned.....
On Tuesday night I receive a call out of the blue from Matthew. He was babysitting his niece and nephews and was wanting to talk to my dad. Dad wasn't home but was due to arrive soon, so I talked with him while he waited. We chatted about different stuff, but as soon as Dad got home I passed the phone off.Matthew said that after he talked with my dad he wanted to talk to me some more, so when he and Dad were finished, Matthew called me back. I said hello and he right off the bat said he had a question for me. I told him go ahead, I was listening. He paused for one second and then asked:
Would you commit to taking our relationship beyond friendship, to single one another out, and (for as long as God wills) reject all other possible suitors for the sole purpose of growing our relationship with the hopes of marriage someday?
Will you enter into courtship with me?"
I immediately said, “Yes! Gladly!”
So, on November 4th after only 3 phone calls totally 5 1/2 hours of talking, over 1200 texts, 16 emails back and forth, and 3 1/2 days of getting to know each other in person,....
Matthew Dickerson and Kelsey Hammond
are in an official courtship!
On the top of the mountain
Matthew: Kelsey was -so- sweet that night I asked her to be in courtship with me.We said some thoughtful comments to each other and reminisced about all the events leading up to that day.
We ended our conversation with a word of prayer.As Kelsey prayed, she almost lost it with her tears; she was making me cry on the other side of the phone!
Kelsey:-purely blissful-Two days after beginning our courtship, while I was out working in the yard with my family, I received another surprise from Matthew! A local flower shop in town delivered a lovely bouquet of a dozen roses! Orange roses, no less, which holds the meaning of "the beginning of a new relationship"!I actually received two bouquets that day...but I'll let Matthew tell you about that!
Matthew:Let me start off by saying I know nothing about ordering flowers! -ok, I take that back; I -knew- nothing about ordering flowers.
So I get on the phone with a flower ordering company and a guy answers the phone.Now I’m under the impression that this -guy- really knows what he’s talking about right?
I told him our relationship was new and Kelsey’s favorite color was blue and I wanted something that looked cute, adorable, and tailored to her.
Based off of his suggestions and “expertise”, I made my order of one dozen bi-color orange roses with accenting blue delphinium and greenery.
Sounds amazing right?…
I eagerly awaited for her flowers to show up the next day.Around noon Kelsey gave me a call thanking me profusely saying how beautiful the flowers were.
…Feeling -very- accomplished I asked for her to send me a few pictures;
And this is what she sent me…
The first bouquet
"That's -not what I had in mind!"
Cute? adorable? …Oh no, these looked like something you would give to a high school graduate who came last in his class!
And what made it even worse was the message I had sent with it-
It’s the least I could do. ~Matthew Dickerson”
Oh no it’s not!”
- I had to do -something-.
I gave her a call and apologized for the horrible mistake.
She exclaimed “oh but I like them”
I said “oh no, they’re ugly, -horribly ugly”
She said “Matthew, they’re fine.They’re from -you-!”
I said “-no no- If they’re come’n from me I’m gonna make this right!”
I called the service I had placed the order with and spent a worthless -hour and a half -on the phone!A ten dollar gift card was the only thing they could do for me.They refused to give me the number of the florist.So I called Kelsey and we got the number off of the vase.
I gave the florist a call and she was really sweet and nice.I kindly explained my dilemma and she said Kelsey could bring her flowers back and have them fixed for no additional charge.
So that’s what she did; and the results were amazing!
The revised bouquet.
Yep, cute, and adorable; just what I was looking for!
So if you ever want to get flowers for someone, -call the florist!
Kelsey: I am one very happy girl! He is so good and kind and has been a wonderful leader in our relationship. To see the Lord's hand in and through not only our friendship and courtship, but also in how He worked in both of our lives to bring us to where we are today, is truly a blessing! I have never met anyone who matched my way of thinking as closely as Matthew does, from our views on family, to our love of Border Collies, from our doctrinal beliefs to our dislike of raw tomatoes, it_is_amazing!
Matthew & Kelsey: We have written our story together, not only so that you all can share in our excitement, but so that we could share with you how the Lord has been working. We feel like every aspect of our relationship is going really well! We realize that since courtship is a time for two people to get to know one another with the hopes of marriage someday, that even if, through courtship, two people find out that they are not the ones that the Lord has for each other, that no courtship is a failure, because it has done what it was designed to do. Please know that no two courtships will look alike, and that is the beauty behind it.
We are looking forward to where the Lord will take us and what He has planned for our futures. Please keep us in your prayers in the next several months as we discern His will!
"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."
Have you ever found yourself wishing your "problems" away, wanting things to be different than they really are? Have you fallen into the trap of saying that if your circumstances changed, then you could be truly happy? How often do we go through life, discontent with our situations, not realizing that the Lord has put us in the spot where we are at for a specific reason?
I don't know if you noticed, but all of the above comments had one common thread. They all focused on the self-centered problems of life. Too often we start feeling sorry for ourselves, and when the invitation arrives to attend our very own "pity party", we gladly send in our RSVP, because who wouldn't want to attend one of those?!?
In the above verse, Paul doesn't just say that he is content in whatever state he is in. He says that he has "learned" to be content in whatever state he is in! Our contentment doesn't just happen. It is something to strive for and work towards. It is a daily battle against our self-centered will. But do you know what the good news is? It does get easier the more you practice! You know the old saying, "Practice makes perfect!" Yup. It rings true with learning to be content as well!
Linda Dillows, in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, shares five steps that she has taken to remain content in every circumstance.
1) Never allow yourself to complain about anything (not even the weather!)
2) Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else
3) Never compare your life with another's
4) Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise
5) Never dwell on tomorrow! Remember that it is God's and not ours!
So next time you start feeling discontent with your lot in life, remember to take it to the Lord, who is the only one who can truly help you conquer your self-pitying feelings and make you truly and completely content!
Dad and I were driving by a friend's house and decided to stop in and see them. He told me before we got there that we would only stay for a few minutes but that we could stop in and say hello. Once inside and after greeting everyone, the children tugged on my arm to come look at their treasures. I followed behind them, oohing and aahing over their things, much to their delight. After a few minutes of listening to the children's excited chatter, Dad called from downstairs, signaling it was time to leave. I let the children know.
"How did you hear him, " one of the children asked me....Obviously, they had not.
Hmmmm...how had I heard him? The children had all been talking at once, Dad hadn't yelled, he only said it once, and no one else heard him besides me. Then the thought came to me that the reason I had heard him so clearly over all the other noise was because I had been listening for him.
How many times does our Heavenly Father call us, but we can't hear Him because we aren't listening for His voice. How often do we feel like He isn't speaking to us anymore, when really it's because we aren't "tuned" to Him? We concentrate so much on the "chatter" of life that we can't hear His still, small voice beckoning to us, drawing us unto Himself. I heard my Dad's voice because I was ready and waiting for him to call. What if I were always ready and waiting for God's voice like that?
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
-John 10:27 "Then He said, 'Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.' And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire astill small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'." 1 Kings 19:11-13 God doesn't always speak in a booming voice from heaven, nor does He always leave writing on the wall. Sometimes He comes to us in a whisper, expecting us to hear Him. Are you able to hear past the wind and the earthquake and the fire to hear Him when He speaks softly?