Listen, Don’t Miss It

Day 30
Day One

Day One

I missed it.

One Monday in late October, I walked out the front door of my house and I noticed the trees were changing colors. I decided that morning I would take a photo of the trees every day for a month and document the change as it happened.

Before driving the boys to school, I’d walk out to the street, take my photo and go about my day. I did it every day for about fourteen days.

Day Fourteen

Day Fourteen

On the fifteenth day, I created a little video montage of all my photos. As I watched it back, I couldn’t see anything. I was underwhelmed. All my efforts to capture the leaf change seemed to be in vain. I sang that tune from the Price is Right when the contestant loses the showcase, “whomp, whomp, whompppp.”

The next morning, instead of taking my photo, I just hopped in the car and drove off. Subconsciously, my little experiment had ended I suppose. I didn’t take any more photos.

And that’s when I missed it.

Day 30

Day Thirty

Two weeks later, I walked out the front door once again to take the boys to school. The sun was bright and warm overhead and a gentle breeze was blowing. I looked up at the trees and they were BEAUTIFUL! I pointed them out to the boys. They half-heartedly agreed, “Yeah mom, they look good.” I walked out to the street and took a photo. Actually, I took ten. They were just amazing to me. But when did this happen? And how did I miss it?

Impatience, that’s how. I know this about myself. I like instant grits, pop tarts, prebaked cookies, minute rice. If there’s a way to get it fast, that’s the way I want it.

So when it came to the trees, I wanted the change to happen quickly. I wanted to see evidence of the change. I wanted to see tangible progress every day. And when I didn’t see it, I quit. When the change was subtle, I gave up. When the change was happening on the inside, not the outside, I stopped paying attention.

And that’s how I missed it.

The Lord was working slowly on my trees. Each day, a few of the interior leaves would get a little lighter. Each day, green would transition to red and red to orange and orange to yellow. Each day, the process was happening. Each day, I was supposed to watch and wait with expectancy. Each day, He worked, right before my eyes. Each day, for two weeks, I missed it.

But, by the Lord’s grace, I didn’t miss all of it. I’ve been taking photos every day this week and it has been so rewarding! The trees were so vibrant and colorful.

Day Thirty-Two

Day Thirty-Two

On Thursday, the branches began to release the leaves. The ground was covered with red, orange and yellow leaves. I had to wade through them each morning to get to my car.

One afternoon, the toddlers next door had a great time gathering and tossing and sorting the leaves. And, of course, I took more photos.

Then, today, I went out the door to check the tree’s progress. Just about every leaf has fallen off and the trees have sung their last song of the fall. I like to imagine they are silently preparing and rehearsing for their spring performance.

I laughed when I realized my Bible Study Fellowship lesson for this week was from Psalm 19.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

I often find myself smiling when I finally notice the ways the Lord draws me to Himself. In the mundane routine of taking the boys to school in the morning, He inserted Himself. He made those trees sing and dance and tell me He loves me day after day. Some days I listened. Some days I ignored Him. And yet, He continued to draw me.

More than that, He orchestrated the rainiest October in recent history. This gave the trees the nourishment they would need to hold on to the leaves longer than they have in all the years we have lived here. This would allow the leaves to change to colors I’ve never seen before.

He knew that’s what it would take for me to hear Him. He knew I would grow weary with my routine. He knew I would need a morning pep talk. He knew just what tune to sing to get my attention. He knew. He sang. I heard Him.

The trees have no speech, no word, no sound, yet the Lord spoke to me through them.

How is the Lord singing to you? Where is He moving in your ordinary day? Where is He smiling at you and saying, “Hey, girl hey! I see you. I love you. Keep going. I’m here.”

Don’t miss it. Open your eyes and listen.

 

 

 

Chanda Stegall, M.A.C.E.

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In January 2015, Fabian and I began discussing our future and asking God what He wanted us to do next. We felt the Lord leading me to go back to school. But to study what? We didn’t exactly know. Since my undergrad degree is in Journalism, we thought I should pursue Communications, so, I began researching Communications graduate programs. I wasn’t fascinated by any of them. Then, one night, I googled seminary.

I didn’t know seminary programs were graduate programs! But we’d already agreed I would pursue Communications, and I didn’t know how Fabian would feel about me changing fields (again) so I went back to googling Communications programs.

But I couldn’t shake the thought of seminary. I prayed, and a few days later, I floated the idea to Fabian – what do you think about a graduate program for Christian Education? He said, oh that sounds so much more like you. That was the beginning.

In a flash, I applied, received my acceptance, and I embarked on what I thought would be a two year journey. I quickly learned that would not be the case. I could not be a full-time student. So, I changed the pace and took a max of three classes each semester.

I wish there was time to tell you all the ways the Lord carried me on this journey.

Like when my tuition plan fell through and I needed $4,100 to stay in school. The week the payment was due, the Lord provided $4,200 – because He’s the God of Lagniappe! (NOLA for a little something extra.)

Or the time when I signed Fabian up to attend a mandatory class with me without realizing it would be a two year long course that met every Sunday afternoon during football season.

Or the time when I had three courses, a full-time job, a part-time internship, a Bible Study group to lead and a Sunday School class to teach all while wife-ing, mom-ing and attending four football games each week.

There were many times when I said that’s enough, I quit. There were many nights when I really wanted to just give it all up. I cried, I cried a lot. I doubted myself and I doubted this is what I was supposed to be doing. And through it all, God continued to show me His faithfulness and He gave me signs all along the way that assured me that He sees me and He is for me.

So today, by the grace of God and with His bountiful favor, I graduated. I put on the regalia, walked the stage, shook the hands and received my degree – a Master of Arts in Christian Education.

The Commencement Service began with the Doxology, a song I’ve been singing since I was 6-years-old. It seems like such a fitting way to end this journey:

Praise God from whom all blessing flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him all of ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Amen.

Phil. 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Phil. 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
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To The Phenomenal Women

Have you ever had people you needed to thank? People who needed to hear you say I appreciate you? People who’ve invested their time and energy and effort into your life with nothing to gain in return – except treasures in Heaven?

This weekend, I was asked to share words of encouragement with the women at my church at our annual women’s luncheon. With a whole lot of doubt, even more fear, a why me – why now mentality and a when do I have time to prepare for this attitude…I said yes.

See, this request came in the midst of probably the busiest week I’ve had this year. I had not slept well, I was behind on my school work (wayyyy behind – with a paper due at midnight on Friday), I had 4 football games to attend for my sons and husband, I had work (full time, all day, everyday), I had orders to fill, I had internship projects that needed attention, I had a house that was an absolute wreck, I had laundry to do (and no detergent!) and I’d actually forgotten that I signed up to attend this event!

But when the Lord says this is the time, there are words you need to say, I have a plan and you said you trust my plan…you say yes – in the midst of your crazy, you say yes. You stay up until 3:35 in the morning praying, writing, rewriting, internalizing, praying, surrendering and ultimately say Lord, bless this and you go to sleep yielded to be His vessel.

There are women at my church who have invested in me to make me better. A better Christian, wife, mother, woman, teacher, friend, neighbor – and this was my opportunity to say thank you. I didn’t want to take this opportunity for granted. I wanted to honor them and say your efforts were noticed and appreciated. You didn’t have to do it, but you did. And if I’ve never said thank you before, I’m saying it today.

So, what you can hear in this 15 minute audio is what the Lord spoke to me, in the wee hours of the morning and said this, share this with the women. (The theme was Phenomenal Women’s Weekend.)

Hymn: Ancient Words

Growing up, I went to a small (very small) traditional church where we only sang the hymns in the red hymnal. Verse 1, 2 and 4. Every song. Without fail.

I did not like hymns. They lasted too long. They were all slow. And why did we always have to sing verse 1, 2 and 4. ERRRG!

Seven years ago, I started attending Bible Study Fellowship. Guess what? We sing hymns. Not verse 1, 2 and 4, but alllllll the verses. In the early years, I would conveniently arrive after the hymns were over. Then I started working in the audio booth and could no longer skip the hymns.

Something strange happened. I started listening to the lyrics of the hymns and O. M. Goodness. HYMNS ARE AWESOME!!! They speak to my heart. They encourage my soul. They remind me of God goodness, greatness, kindness and every other Godness that He generously gives me. And the best part, the Lord often brings those hymns I learned as a child to my remembrance just when I need them – verse 1, 2 and 4.

On Wednesdays, in honor of my BSF initiated love of hymns, I will share a hymn with you. I pray they speak to your heart too.

Today’s hymn is Ancient Words. I heard this hymn for the first time at our BSF launch for the study of Revelation. It was so fitting. When you read the lyrics, you will see why.

Be Blessed!

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam
Ancient words will guide us home

Chorus
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart

Chorus
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Tacos & Taking Time to Tune Out

Everyday I’m consumed with trying to figure out what we are going to have for dinner. Why is this such a daily struggle? Maybe because I’m not a great cook. My meals are passable by most standards, but not spectacular by any standard. So it remains a daily dilemma to find something to make that’s within my skill range.

I heard the best idea on a podcast recently, unfortunately I can’t remember all the details. But it went something like having a weekly plan that’s simple – like Monday Pasta, Tuesday Taco, Wednesday Chicken, etc.

Well Tuesday Tacos was easy enough to remember and easy enough to do today. I even remembered to take out the ground turkey this morning! (We use ground turkey for most things that require ground beef).

The tacos were a hit!

But this momma had a long day, so after the tacos, it was time for a momma time out. I spotted a quiet room in the house and used it to escape into the world of the Bravermans. Parenthood season 6 was just released on Netflix and I’ve been itching to binge it!

I was able to get 2 episodes in before my quiet location was discovered and it was back to the reality.

I think Tuesday Tacos might be a new tradition around here. Hopefully I’ll be able to see my Bravermans again before next Tuesday though.

He Walks On The Outside

Its January. That means I’m trying to get in shape just like the rest of the world.

This year’s routine consists of walking the path near our house that gives my husband and I a good 2.25 mile walk.

To get to the walking trail, we have to walk about a quarter mile on a fairly busy street. The sidewalk butts right up to the street, no grass partition between us and the cars.

For this short stretch of our walk, my husband insists on walking on the outside. It used to annoy me. I didn’t understand why he would bark “inside” as we turned the corner onto the bust street. Finally, I asked him what’s your deal???

He explained that walking on the outside was he way of protecting me. The outside is the most dangerous position because of its closeness to the cars. He places himself there to buffer me from harm.

Can you see my heart melting?

He’s not a mushy romantic guy, but, he walks on the outside and I get to call him mine.

Now when he barks “inside” I just take my position and try to keep up the pace. Keeping pace, that’s another story!

 

 

Waiting is Hard

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Circumstances Are Unreliable

I often look at my circumstances and attempt to make a prediction about what the outcome of a situation may be. Do you do that? I have discovered that circumstances are an unreliable predictor or outcomes.

My TCU horned frogs were scheduled for the battle of the year against the Oregon Ducks. Days before that game we lost our QB all frog fans began to look at the circumstances and begin to predict the outcome of the game would not be in our favor.

Even my own husband, a former TCU player, declared he didn’t really want to watch the game anymore. He tuned in, but he was tuned out and playing solitaire the whole first half as the ducks went up 31-0. At half time he turned to the basketball game and said it would be more interesting. Thankfully, our son begged him to turn the TCU game back on and we got to witness a nail-biting, heart-pounding, epic comeback!

The circumstances were lined up against the team. The outcome should have been easily predicted. But circumstances are unreliable.

I can’t help but relate this to my life with Christ. When I look at my life, and I consider my circumstances, I feel like I can easily predict my outcome. But God has a way of inserting himself and changing the predictable to the unpredictable!

When I think I’m destined for failure, He turns it around. When I think surely there is NO WAY, He makes a way! When I’m feeling heavy in my heart and defeated, I turn to this verse now and it reminds me circumstances are unreliable!

May it bless you too.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” -Psalm 27:13-14

You see, I would easily despair.

Actually, let’s be honest.

I worry. I wake up in the middle of the night. I despair!

And then I remember the goodness of the Lord that I have already seen. I realize that He has more goodness that He wants to show me. So, in my life, when I despair, I remember the goodness of the Lord that I have seen in the land of the living.

I don’t know why the Lord doesn’t work on my timeline. It would be so much easier for me. But that would make me lazy – I wouldn’t have to exercise my faith. I wouldn’t have to wait. I wouldn’t have to pray. I wouldn’t have to believe that God’s plan for me is better than my desires.

Rather, I chose to believe that I will continue to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Chanda

A New Thing

With the start of a new year comes the hope of a fresh start, a reset, a chance to begin again. I’m no different. I have a list (very short list) of things I want to do differently in 2016. I’m not making resolutions or setting goals even, I would just like to try something new.

We read the YouVersion verse of the day today from Isaiah 43:19 where the prophet says God is going to do a new thing.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

I’m so thankful for God’s “new thing” and his promise to make a way in the wilderness.

The start of the new year brings with it the hope of an ability to make a changes to our lives. There’s no power in the new year or the change from one year to the next. The power of to change comes only by the Holy Spirit who gives strength to believers.

Let’s use the new year as a reminder of the new life we have in Christ. Because of Christ our old is already gone. Let’s commit to looking forward to the new that is here!

Happy New Year!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! -II Corinthians 5:17

Blast From the Past: Beginning at 30 Show

30Soooo, a few years ago – 4ish, I think. My friend and I decided to start a podcast about how life really begins at 30. That podcast has long since podfaded (<– when a podcast just fades into the background and ceases to exist).

Well today, I found one of the podcast episodes on my laptop – yes, my laptop is that ole! And I decided to give it a listen.

Then I texted my friend and told her she should listen too.

Now, I’m publishing it so you can listen.

What do you think? Should we bring back the show?

Give me your honest opinion!