It snowed!  It was pretty falling, but it left a bit of a mess behind. At my house, way up a gravel road which has  a lot of gravel missing, there is a drive that is also of the non-gravel variety. Just before all the rain and snow my husband "worked" on it with a tractor, grated I believe is what he officially called it.  Anyway the grating didn't stick too good when all the rain came and then the snow.  The muddy mess is now muddier than ever.  If you follow the tracks, stay in the ruts, there is a  slight possibility you won't get stuck. 

On my way to work Sunday evening I got off track, out of the ruts, and it took awhile to get the car back on track out of the  red clay mud. I sat with the wheels spinning deeper and deeper down in the mud, not going anywhere fast.  After my miraculous maneuvering, I got the car back on track.  As I headed on down the highway I thought of how we often get settled into routines in our lives.  We travel the same paths everyday for so long and if something  should happen, maybe rain or snow falls in our lives I guess, we get thrown for a bit of a loop and have a hard time getting our lives back on track.  It takes quite awhile to quit spinning our wheels digging deeper and deeper in the same exact spot and not moving forward even an inch.  Things can become a mess quickly if we try to maneuver on our own to  get our lives back in order.  However, there is always a possibility of getting unstuck. There is hope no matter how deep we sink in the mud and mire We have a great "Unsticker" always available who we can call on no matter how bad things appear to be.

God is always available to lend a hand, be our guide, and get us back on track.

Psalm 40:2  ~ He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

After these thoughts of mud and staying in the ruts, following the tracks, Brenda Ware sent me the following poem today.  I told her I was going to share it with you all.

    Off Track

What's wrong what with my heart? Am I sick?

I know the plan and purpose of God is present in my life.

What's  causing it not to stick?

My heart is pulling me one way, my mind is pulling me another

My heart knows I must finish this race, but my mind is saying you can go no further.

SO I must  look inside myself and retrace my steps

Where did I get off track?

Jesus may come soon and I  don't want to be left.

There are so many distractions and obstacles that sometimes get in our way,

And if you're not careful, they will lead your heart astray.

So Lord I'm coming to you in humble and sincere prayer.

You are the most High God in Heaven and I long to see you there.

Cleanse my sick and wounded heart Lord, cause me to walk in your ways

For I know that in them you have promised us length of days.

For the only thing that will last in this life is what we do for Christ.

If we stay off track and miss God our soul will pay a great price.

written by  Brenda Ware

Hebrews 10:35-39 
Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 "For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 And a righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in anyone who turns away." 39 But we are not like those who turn their backs on God and seal their fate. We have faith that assures our salvation.
 
 
But I Want It
 
Spring seems to have arrived in Mississippi the first week of March.  Even though there was snow the first day it melted quickly  we all said bye-bye winter. In the retail world it seems we skipped spring completely and summer is now sizzling.   With the first warm day consumers made a mad dash to retailers for charcoal and grills, water toys and  shades, beach towels and flip flops.
Why beach towels when there is no beach?  Hmmm, perhaps for some it is just wishful thinking...
 
How is it I know what consumers are buying this time of year?  I recently (praise be to God) began a new job.  I left the convenience store/truck stop (sometime affectionately called the beer store by me, which is fitting because beer is what almost every one who came in made a mad dash for) and began working at Dollar General.  Now that might  not sound like much of a job upgrade, but it is a welcome change to check cases of diapers instead of cases of beer and to see shopping carts pull up to my counter containing happy babies instead of  seeing eighteen wheelers pulling  up to diesel pumps containing unhappy truckers.
 
I  began work about two weeks ago and felt right at home, quickly assimilating to my new dollar friendly  peaceful environment of cents off coupons and squeezable  Charmin toilet tissue.  However, all is not perfect  in the dollar world. There are very few items that are actually only a dollar anymore. Did you know rubber balls with Dora, Bob or Hannah Montana's face bouncing up and down cost way more than a dollar? 
 
 
It is interesting to see who buys what for how much and I often find myself asking why.  Adults bring their children in, some as I said keep up with them very well, strap them in the buggies for safety.  Others come in and shop while their children play on the toy aisles with the balls I spoke of as well as with water toys, hool a hoops and kites which they try to fly in the store. . Some even have battles with plastic swords that end on the cleaning aisle with Mr. Clean losing the battle and spilling all over the floor.... Clean up on aisle 8!
The parents eventually show back up and tell the children to come on right now because it is time to go.  The children then ask for a toy they have been playing with for the last hour or so.  The parents tell them no. Upon which time the children began to cry uncontrollably, beg and plead, or some even lay down on the floor and kick and scream.  It is always interesting to see what the parents do then.  99.9% of the time the parents give in and let them have the toy just to get them to be quite which in the long run is never a good thing.
 
 
Saturday, a little girl riding in a buggy asked her mother for a toy from the gum ball machine. Her mother who knew what was best told her very calmly no, she didn't need it.  She sighed, "But I want it."  It was amazing to me that as young as she was she understood the difference in a need and a want. The mother told her there were toys she could play with when she got home. At that point even though the little girl lost the battle, she realized all was not lost.
 It would be nice if adults recognized the difference in needs and wants so easily. It would be nice if adults  accepted losing a  battle  so easily and moved on.
 Adults often ask for things they don't really need, but  want.   There is a lot of wishful thinking that sometimes leads to begging and pleading. Adults sometime  scream and yell inside which  leads to feelings and emotions completely out of control. Some even scream and yell audibly.  I guess they think if it worked when they were children, it will still work when they are adults.  99.9% of the time those end up getting what they want from someone somewhere  just to keep them quite.
As Christians, as God's children, we sometime ask Him for things we want, things He knows  we don't need. Sometimes we even beg and plead with God.  He is our provider and we must realize He knows what is best. We have to be mature Christians and recognize the difference in needs and wants.  We all need to grow up in God and realize things we did as children we shouldn't do now. Just as we expect our children to grow and mature and learn from mistakes, God also wants us to grow and mature and learn from mistakes and not make them again. Clean up on Aisle 8!
 When we are wanting things we must realize,   life isn't always a beach.  If God doesn't give things 99.9% of the time it is because He knows we don't need them. We won't always win and get our way.  Our lives are designed to follow His plan, not ours. 
There are battles we have to fight and sometime lose in order to learn. It is important to remember  in a war there are many battles. Losing one battle  in a war doesn't mean the war is lost.  Losing one battle in this life doesn't mean all is lost.  We must continue on and be thankful to our provider who always meets our every need.
 

Romans 8:  34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord

 

Conqueror - one who gains mastery over or wins by overcoming obstacles or opposition :  one who overcomes by mental or moral power : one who is  victorious

  Have You Met Any Conquerors Lately?

This week has been a week of encouragement for me. Even though many times things in my life don't appear too encouraging at first glance, I know God is here working in the midst of it all. Below are three separate stories of conquerors.

Saturday night:  A lady came through my line who had a story to tell of C.L. Davis. Never heard of him? Me neither.  The lady in my check out line had been to his funeral, which she says was not a funeral, but a celebration of  life. He died at the age of 53 from cancer, but in those brief fifty three years he conquered many things. He was loved by many.  He impacted lives and made a difference for the Kingdom every single day he lived.  The "funeral service" was a time of testimony after testimony by people of things Mr. Davis had helped them conquer through Christ.  It may appear at first glance this man was not a conqueror at all if cancer took its toll on his earthly body at the young age of 53, but when you look a little deeper at the heart of Mr. Davis (a minister of the Gospel) you know he has now won the ultimate victory -celebrating today in Heaven where there is no more pain or disease.  As I said I never heard of C.L. Davis until Saturday night about nine o'clock, but hearing his story briefly and seeing the joy this one lady had gained from knowing him gave me joy also. C. L. Davis was a conqueror.
 
Monday: Another day at the dollar story- another story of another conqueror.
Zachary used to come through my line at the grocery store about ten years ago. He had down syndrome and cystic fibrosis.  He didn't seem to mind. He was always smiling.  He always thanked me when I checked out his candy and handed it back to him. Zachary would tell me bye and tell me he loved me as he and his mother went out the door. It has been about ten years as I said since I have heard from Zachary. Monday night his mom came through my line at the dollar store. "Zachary just turned twenty!" she told me when I asked about him.  He has many health problems now, a cyst on the kidney, fluid on the heart, plus the cystic fibrosis.  I told her I would pray for him.  She said, "Zachary is a fighter, God has a plan for him."   I thought of my own children and grandchildren and thanked God for good health and wholeness. I thought of Zachary all night long after his mother left.  I remembered the smiles from him when he was ten.   Now twenty: He is a survivor. He is a conqueror.
The final story (one that doesn't sound so pretty) of another conqueror
At nine thirty a lady (Pat) came in and asked when we closed. I said ten and Pat began to shop. Pat was probably in her thirties and wearing a pink baseball cap to cover her bald head. In a few minutes Pat walked by with an aluminum pan in her hand. She asked that I add it to her bill as she carried it out the door.  My manager went out to check on her. He said she was outside vomiting in the pan.  In a few minutes she came back in and told me she was so sorry, but chemo was really getting to her.  She asked for a plastic bag and continued to shop.  In a while she came back with the plastic bag full and went back outside.   This time I asked the manager if  I could go out and check on her. I did. Pat was sitting in her car with her door open, trying to cool off and catch her breath.  Pat's dog was sitting in the seat beside her, watching over her. This lady wearing the pink baseball cap told me of her illness and the long battle she had fought and was continuing to fight. Pat came back in to check out. I carried out her order and put it in her car. I asked Pat if I could pray for her and we prayed. 
 
It may appear at first glance that a bald lady shopping at a dollar store having to go outside not once but twice after vomiting isn't much of a conqueror and has victory over nothing.  Appearances are deceiving  if we only glance. We must take time to look at the heart and truly care about the battles others are facing.  How easy it is for most of us to go shopping. For Pat this was a major battle, an obstacle in her life . She overcame  by coming to buy water, juice, and dog food, even though it had to be a little humiliating to come bald and sick and receive help from strangers.
 
Conquerors are all around us. We often quote the verse. " We are more than conquerors."  When I saw Pat, heard from Zachary, and heard of the life of Minister Davis,  I asked myself, "If I had to face these battles would I  truly be a conqueror?"
Conquerors are not always strong and mighty if you just  take a glance on the outside. Their bodies may be weak and humble, but their hearts are strong and mighty through Christ.  May I gain greater understanding of the verse I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me by my encounters with C.L Davis' friend, Pat, Zachary and other true conquerors who God brings my way.