Proverbs 16:9 – A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. This weekend was packed full of activities and events that all came down to one thing, “I am now a senior citizen”. Friday night was my retirement party at my house. As friends, relatives and former co-workers gathered I took a moment to talk about things. Of course I thanked them for coming and let them know how much they each meant to me. But, I went on to remind them of my new found career in “writing”. Almost 2 years ago God reminded me of this love of mine and the talent that he had given me and now I have published 5 children’s books, released a song and just this past week published the book about the story behind the song: title, “He Gave Me a Song”. Now, I am sensing the need to speak at one of our Senior Citizens luncheons at church but have been making excuses. “What can I possibly say to those much wiser than I? I am not a smart person. I don’t have a college degree. I am not an experienced writer.” Well, you get the point. I have been pushing back from God; making excuses. I wandered in the wilderness for almost 20 years and almost 2 years ago decided to listen to God. What a difference that has made in my life. Dah!!! In preparation for my party, I was out shopping this past week and while in the checkout line it occurred to me that I am now a senior citizen and they may offer a discount. So I asked the question before they rang me up. And, sure enough, they offered a 10% discount to seniors on Wednesday. And, as luck would have it, it was Wednesday. My first senior citizen discount. Now I had two very big things to be thankful for. I am now retired; and I get discounts at some places. How cool are both of those things? The retirement party was a success and Saturday I participated in the Books Down South inaugural book festival. It was a huge success and I sold lots of books. But the most rewarding part of the festival was being able to tell my story to so many people. Ronda Rich spoke to many emerging authors such as myself and the one thing she said really hit home to me. “We all have a story to tell.” Simple truth. And, that is exactly what God has been teaching me these past 2 years. “Tell your story Annette, and be bold enough to tell others about me. You know what your mission is and you have a plan, but rely on me to direct your path and I will not fail you.” God has been good to me my entire life even though I have not always been obedient to him. But, I have finally learned this is a daily walk and I have a much deeper love for him. It’s not about me. It’s about him. So, I’ll tell my story but it’s really his story. Each of us have our own story to tell. What’s yours?
I love the book of Psalms. And so it is today that I turn to Psalms to focus on praising God. It’s all about him. Singing inspires me and this morning I need a little inspiration to get me motivated to go for my mile walk. I’ve heard it said that it takes 21 days to form or break a habit so I am determined to make it 21 days of walking so that it becomes my normal. I bought a “Fit Bit” the day before my walking began. The Fit Bit is a pedometer that does more than just measure how many steps you take or how many miles you walk. But, that is primarily what I am using it for at the moment. My goal originally was 3,500 steps a day. But I have noticed that I reach well over 4,000 steps a day and know that I need to stretch my goal. So I am now striving for 6,000 steps a day. My first mile, at around 3,500 steps, begins at the mile-long trail that I’ve been walking. And although the first week still brought me some burning sensations in my calves, yesterday was a little less burn. And so I shout for joy to God that he is blessing me with retirement and that I now have more time to walk every day so that I get back into shape. Psalms 66:1-4 “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! 2Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! 3Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. 4All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.” Selah
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 2-14 (NIV) “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” As my pastor spoke from 2 Corinthians this past Sunday these words resonated with me. Not only does God lead us always, he leads us in a triumphal procession. I envision a fully orchestrated marching band who has just won the most high of competitions. A band that draws large crowds because of their spectacular talent. A band with lots of horns, cymbals, harps and drums. Jesus arrives on the scene and the band falls in behind him and the celebration begins. Everyone is in awe of this man of God as they see the procession. There is music and dancing and a sweet aroma fills the air.
This morning on my walk I focus on this verse and ask God to lead me this week. Prepare the hearts of those who will be put in my path. Help me to recognize the moment and not let the opportunity pass me by. For I am to be the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. Let me be an encourager to new Christians to keep the faith and to keep their eyes on Jesus. But let me be bold in my witness to spread the Gospel so that others may not perish. I’m reminded of a song “Sweet Aroma of Praise”. This will be on my heart today. “Let the words of my mouth, and the song on my heart reach you oh Lord, a sweet aroma of praise . . .”
Retirement — only a week into it — is agreeing with me. However, today is the first day I am wanting just to rest. For a moment I start to feel bad that today I want to rest. But then I come to the realization that it’s okay to rest at times as long as you don’t stay there. For resting brings rejuvenation. I am filled with so much joy this day. Not because I am retired but because of my strong desire to be truly one with Christ. Because of this, my tendency to see the negative in things is slowly changing. In choir this week our music minister shared an update on his mother who has cancer and thanked everyone for praying for her. He talked about how even through the pain she is suffering she finds the silver lining and that she has been that way her entire life. And, just as we do every week, we all read together a bible verse. This night was Hebrews 12:2-3 (NIV). “2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” I am drawn to verse 3 and strongly desire to consider Him; consider Him in all that I do. For it is not about me, it is about Him. I pray today that I continue to keep my eyes on Jesus so that I do not grow weary and lose heart. I love the song, “The Heart of Worship”. “I’ll bring you more than a song . . . you search much deeper within . . . you’re looking into my heart . . . I’m coming back to the heart of worship . . . and it’s all about you Jesus.” I believe that says it all. Praise the Lord!
Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, For I know the plans I have for you “says the Lord”, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. As I am just beginning retirement I can reflect back on my life and see where God has been planning my entire life for this moment. I had no idea until about April of this year that I would “even” retire this early in life, much less know what I would be doing in retirement. Well, I serve an awesome God; an all knowing God and the ultimate planner. I have a plan to market my books, write more books, maybe write another song. I also have plans to get my house organized; although I’m not real excited about that. Ha! Ha! And as I’ve been writing about in my other blogs, I have a plan to build a WINNERS walking group to help not only myself but all women get physically and spiritually fit. Some of these plans will be more easy than others depending on my excitement level. Nevertheless, these are my plans. It is my belief that God has orchestrated my life to be where I am at this very moment and He will guide me in carrying out my plans. For my plans are His plans. And in everything I give thanks to Him. He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. So I step out in faith as I walk another mile, as I write another book, and as I speak to women and tell my story; for God gives me hope and my future is in His hands. The future has never been more exciting. I’m looking forward to watching God’s plan unfold!!!