Deuteronomy 30:9 GOD, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you'll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, GOD will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors.
It is Well
All's well that ends well came to my mind today when I woke up, as well as  the old song "It Is Well With My Soul." I remember singing the song in church services long ago when everything really wasn't really well with my soul.  My life was a mess, my mind was a mess, my heart was a mess, my soul was a mess.   Nothing was really well.  Last night I had the opportunity to go in and observe a possible ministry our church will be participating in the future.  It is kind of like an AA or NA meeting, or "messed up lives in general meeting" with a "Christian twist".  Those who are in some type of legal trouble can choose this program to avoid actual criminal punishment is my understanding.   All the counseling and encouragement that they receive is based on God's Word.
I have often told people my life seems so much like a soap opera at times.  I am a Christian, how do I know what a soap opera is like? No, I don't watch them now, but I watched them for many years, as early as the age of five,  so I basically know the unbelievable events that take place on soap operas. Sometimes when I share some things in my life with people they say " I just can't believe that is happening'  Well, it is happening.   
Last night I found there are many who have a soap opera kind of life. I am definitely not alone.   Last night I listened to testimonies of many who God has turned their life completely around, much like He has mine. They found hope in Him. They found deliverance in Him from all things.  Even though their lives were turned around they still have real-life soap-opera-like problems that they have to deal with every day, which also is my real life.  I also saw many who were kind of just on the outside looking in, still skeptical, about this whole "God thing."  Is it really real, or just another straw to grasp at in this hurtful confusing world? Yes, they were finding hope maybe to stay out of jail, but it is my prayer that many will find hope in this program to stay out of hell. 
As I woke this morning and thought of many problems in my life that seem hopeless, I know there is hope. First of all, I know all is well with MY SOUL.  I know when my life ends how this will all turn out. All's well that ends well. What could be "weller" than being with Jesus forever when this all ends.  I also know He is a God of hope and can take things that are the enemies' intent to harm and turn them to the good. He does all things well.   
Today examine your heart, examine your soul. Is it well with your soul? After you are sure of that, remember all's well that ends well. This life is temporary and will end.  Spend more time being hopeful of the outcome and less time worrying about the painful process we sometime must go through to get to the end. God takes trials and tribulations that sometimes seem unbelievable to us and to others to make us and others believe in Him more and more.  He is God. He is in control of all things. He does all things well. 
God seems to have taken these weekly devotionals in a new direction lately. It seems there is always a story to be told from the store where I have been working since Thanksgiving, (very unthankfully at times, I do admit.)  I do hope to go back to more Biblically based writing that requires a little more study time, more poetry that requires my brain and heart to work a little harder, but today this is what God is giving me.   I always pray as to what God would have me share. Lately, He keeps on telling me to tell you all about the real world every day seemingly humdrum experiences of working at a convenience store. God has taken the job and turned it into a ministry which is never humdrum.  He has a plan and a purpose for everything. I just pray I am always a willing vessel; ready to go where He sends me, even if it is a convenience store, and do what He would have me to do; even if it is just doing a to-do list that I don't always want to do.  With that comes the title of this tale...
Doing the To-Do List
At the convenience stores, I have learned the convenience is intended solely for the customers, not for the employees.  Each day there are new rules posted on a board for the employees who are slightly underpaid for the work that is expected of them in an eight to nine-hour shift without breaks  Here are some of the rules I read day in and day out. Chain of Command: Team Leader, Assistant Team Leader, Got a problem with that? No one is to get free coffee. Do not take any ink pens home with you. Use only one squirt of dish detergent per sink when washing dishes.  Use no garbage bags in trash cans behind the counters, as they usually only contain paper.  Cook less more often to cut down on waste.   Use bleach when cleaning the urinals in the men's restroom. It is less expensive than pine cleaner.  Do not take any air freshener off the shelf to spray in the restrooms.  Suggest to every customer.  Say "Hello" every time the chime rings on the door whether they are going in or out.  Watch for mystery shoppers and make sure to always be an eagle, not a duck. (whatever that means)
Now on top of all these new rules every day there is an actual to-do list that we must get done during our shift. We must check restrooms, mop and clean once an hour... Make coffee every thirty minutes.   We must clean all cooler doors. sweep and mop the store, front and dust all shelves, break down deli station, wash all dishes, drain grease and add new... You get the picture a lot of stuff on the to-do list plus the actual waiting on the customers to make their lives more convenient.
Saturday night we were busy and busily trying to put our initials by completed jobs on the list. There are usually two of us working my shift. As Jessica and I worked together to get it done, I told her I would clean the booths out at the back where customers sit from time to time and clean the front doors while I was over that way.  She said, "Wait a minute, that isn't on the list... we don't have to do that."  I said,
"But the tables are dirty they need cleaning and the door......."  So me being me,  I went ahead and cleaned even though it wasn't on the list. 
God speaks to me a lot at the store that is part of a chain that is second only to Wal Mart in beer sales in the state of Mississippi.  Amazing ain't it? As I thought of the "rules" posted every day that I try very hard to follow and the " to-do list" that I try very hard to do, I thought of God's rules and God's to-do list. I thought of how most of us generally try to follow His rules-His commands on a day to day basis, the "Ten," that we all learn as children that stick with us.  No matter how far from God we may stray; those commands are always conveniently  posted somewhere on a big sign in our brain reminding us of the "thou shall nots."
No, we don't take ink pens or give away coffee that isn't ours to give. We try not to be wasteful with things God has given. We all want nasty things in our lives clean.  Got a problem? We know the chain of command. We go to God and He hears and listens. Every time we call out and say "Hello" whether we are coming or going. He answers.    I thought of as how we grow in Christ we learn things that are expected of us daily that most of us try to do. We are to pray daily.  We are to love one another. We are to follow after Him with our whole heart. In doing that we learn to be watchful of God's mysteries that  He will reveal to us if we seek Him daily. And finally,  I guess we really should strive to soar like eagles instead of going round and round in circles all day like ducks do when they are in the water. Maybe that is what the phrase meant conveniently posted on the board at the store famous for beer sales.
So should we only follow God's commands and do God's to-do list and leave the rest undone?  I think there is more. I think we should all seek to soar like eagles and not go around in circles like ducks.  I think God conveniently places each of us where we are first of all His convenience, and secondly for the convenience of others where we are placed. We are not our own. We were bought with a very high price. The price Jesus paid for each of us is second to none.   Be an eagle, not a duck.
Isn't It Ironic?
Ironic is defined as poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended. How many times does irony come to our daily lives?  How many times do things happen that are so totally opposite of what we expected?  In my life a lot I guess.  I think I would define irony as one of those moments you never see coming that suddenly hits you like a ton of bricks. You then sit and contemplate and worry and wonder why in the world you didn't see it coming.  Of course ironically if you had seen the moment coming there would have been no irony because the outcome would have been totally expected.  Ironically it seems ironic situations can turn to the good even when we have no idea how they ever could at the moment of impact.

In 1996 Alanis  Morisette released a song titled, "Ironic."  The song's usage of the word "ironic" attracted attention for what many feel is an improper application of the term.  Many situations that Morissette describes in the song are arguably examples of cosmic irony: events that, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, appear "as if in mockery of the fitness or rightness of things", such as "a death row pardon/two minutes too late".

Morissette alleges that the song was lighthearted and not taken too seriously at the time it was written:  "For me, the great debate on whether what I was saying in ‘Ironic’ was ironic wasn't a traumatic debate. When writing it  I definitely was not doggedly making sure that everything was technically ironic. It’s a testament to the fact that I didn't think it was going to be put under the microscope by 30 million people. To me, it’s a real snapshot of a nineteen-year-old’s definition and version of how life worked at the time. All that ‘Ironic’ touches on spawned all my future inquiries into and current understandings of the mysteries of life."

Ironically the song was written by a nineteen-year-old, that so many "experts" felt improperly used the word ironic, reached number four on Billboard's Hot 100 chart in the United States and went to number one in Germany and The United Kingdom.  I guess the experts found this to be quite ironic and Ms. Morissette found this irony to be quite welcome. 

Yes, irony comes to our lives daily, and ironically many times brings good things even if we don't see it at the moment of impact.  It is most ironic when a prayer is prayed and God answers the prayer in His timing in His way which is totally opposite from what we expected.  However, His plans for us are well planned. His plans are to give us hope for a future and an expected end. 

 Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

That expected end is described the way I hope it will be in another song with no irony whatsoever.  "What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, when He takes me by the hand and leads me through the promised land All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore what a day glorious day that will be. "

In Romans, Paul finds it ironic that when Jews walked out the door the Gentiles walked in. Because of the door, they left open Paul and all of us were able to have access to the salvation of Jesus Christ and the promise of everlasting life that will come.  Paul was most thankful for all the Gentiles that had the opportunity because the Jews walked out, but was quick to point out the Jews weren't down for the count nor out for good. There will one day be a great revival when they come back home. 

Roman 11:11 The next question is, "Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?" And the answer is a clear-cut no. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. 12 Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God's kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!
Many times in our lives we feel doors slam in our face. We sometimes feel we have caused this, really shut the doors ourselves, kind of walked out on opportunities as the Jews did.   We think back to what we could have done differently to change the outcome. We sometimes feel we are down for the count and give up  However doors slammed in our faces usually open for someone else and give them opportunities that we have already been offered and perhaps didn't take full advantage of; didn't do with them what we should have.    If we remain faithful and keep our eyes on God; if we don't give up and count ourselves out, we can find new doors He will open for us to go through.
I have often been told, "Be careful what you pray, pray specifically." The irony of it all is God answers prayers that we pray exactly like we pray them.  The outcome isn't what we expected or hoped for, but the outcome is always for His plans and His purposes to be fulfilled. As for the quote by Ms. Morisette, I believe each day we are here we are given opportunities to see the mysteries of life.  We sometimes feel our every move is being examined by 30 million people under a microscope and are so afraid we will mess up and not live up to the "experts" standards.  However as long as we strive to live up to God's standards, ironically the expert's opinions don't matter that much. 
As we always keep our eyes on the prize to come one glorious day,  may we always look for new open doors while we are here.
Today I wrote a simple little poem, proceeded by a simple little story, to encourage you all.  Think about the words and think about the choices you must make in your life every day when you first wake and open your eyes.
Deuteronomy30:19 Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live!

Family Feud
A story is told of a family feud that went of for years and years.  Two brothers argued over whose coon dog was best. Mean words were spoken that neither one really meant, but neither brother said they were sorry. The dogs grew old and died. The feud went on for so long that everyone involved couldn't even remember what started the whole feud in the first place.  At the funeral of one of the "feudees", the other feuder wiped tears from his eyes and said, " You know I don't remember what I was so mad about now, but I know whatever it was wasn't worth all the pain I allowed it to cause. I wish I could say I'm sorry, but now it is too late."
We waste a lot of time and energy holding grudges, being mad, and allowing a lot of hurt and pain in our lives that we ourselves have the power to remove.  Yes, some things are more serious than an argument over a coon dog. Some hurts are very real and well-founded,  but nothing is worth allowing bitterness to control our lives. 
Life is short. Get over it
Rainy Day
Each day when we wake and open our eyes,
We often ask God a lot of whens, wheres and whys.
Is it true all wounds will heal in time?
In the midst of adversity, how can we continue to let God's light shine?
As we realize what we have experienced really wasn't a dream.
We wonder is this the day from the hurt deep down inside we will be redeemed.
Will everything come together by and by?
How many tears can one person cry?
As each day begins we have a choice to see sunshine, or rain.
As each day begins we must choose whether to begin again or just do things the same.
A time comes when we must dry our tears, lift our heads, and move on.
Sometimes it isn't worth worrying over whether anyone was right and who brought the wrong.
As each day begins and  we remember  days that came before,
We can continue to  question why the things happened the way they did for sure,
Or we can focus on this day the Lord has given  to get up and try once more,
To find a drier road, a higher goal,  and a bigger, shinier door.
God is our protector, our defender, and our friend.
He will be with us as days begin and as they end.
We must spend less time questioning when and why
And simply say, "To give you this day God is my heart's cry."
He will lead us and guide us in all truth and kindness
He will give us peace and open-minded-ness
He will make a way when there seems to be no way.
 Smile...God is with us always,
on sunny as well as rainy days.