Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Call to Change

I had a blog post in mind today but I decided to write something different after reading what my dear friend Pam wrote in her blog, "In The Shadow of His Wings".  You'll find the link under 'Blogs I follow’ on the side of this page.  Now when you read her post today, "Change of Direction", you'll see that she refers to me and my blog.  We are not having a mutual admiration society meeting today, I promise…although I am truly blessed by the way she expresses what God lays on her heart.  I’m bringing it up because I too had a “change of direction” experience today.

I spent the early part of this week on vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey and during my short stay, I developed a routine. 
 Up by 6:15, I made a warm cup of tea, grabbed my Bible and my Jesus Calling devotional (Pam also refers to this book – I highly recommend it!) and went out on the back porch to read, journal and pray while I watched the sunrise over the ocean.  Then I’d head out for an hour long walk along the beach before plunking a chair in the sand and relaxing. 

I came home Thursday and, I’m sorry to say, while I started with a devotional and prayer time, there was no walk, just time spent catching up on church business, checking my work and personal email, Facebook and the like.  Friday was worse.  NO time with God, just hit the ground running after spending a fairly sleepless night fighting a stomach bug.   It bothered me all day as I kept thinking “there’s still time to read and pray…I’ll get to it right after…fill in the blank.”  Needless to say, that time never came.

So this morning I knew there were no excuses.  I fired up the tea kettle, grabbed my books and headed for my front porch.  I live in the city - Trenton, in fact.  Know anything about the capital of New Jersey?  Let’s just say clean air and beaches, it doesn’t have.  Still, it was a cool, clear morning and no one was up and about in the neighborhood yet.  I spent some time with the devotional, my Bible and journaling, but got a chill.  I moved inside, sat on the couch and started to pray.  Now, when I pray at home, I tend to do so with my eyes open.  I hope that doesn’t shock anyone.  I do that, because it becomes much more of a real conversation for me when I pray out loud, eyes open, just like I would converse with any of you.  Problem was, my email was up on the computer, and my eyes kept being drawn to it.  Finally, I said, “You know what God?  Why don’t we go for a walk?  It’s been too long since I’ve been to the lake – why don’t we walk and talk for an hour?”  And just like that, things changed direction.

As I eased my car into the marina parking lot, I saw a sign “3rd Annual Walk to End Homelessness.”  I’m not sure if I’ve ever really gone into what I do at my church, but I oversee an outreach ministry called “CommunityConnections” and we do a lot of work with the homeless.  I laughed out loud and said, “Well, God, I thought this walk was my idea, but it would seem you wanted me here.”  I got out of the car, walked up to the registration table and introduced myself.  The woman behind the table was the founder of the organization holding the walk. “Homeless to Independence, Inc.”  She and I chatted for a little, exchanged business cards and I was off on my walk.

The path around the lake and through the park is about a mile and a half one way.  I prayed and praised and softly sang as I made my way through the park.  At one point, two doe came silently out of the woods, turned and gave me just the slightest of glances, then crossed into the stand of trees on the other side of the path.  In the seconds it took to reach where they’d been, they had disappeared into the vegetation.  When I hit the halfway point, I turned around.  About a quarter of the way back, I noticed a sign on one of the trees.  Someone had written in fancy script, Eph. 3:18 “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”  That verse was especially meaningful to me because as I was de-stressing down by the ocean just a few days before, the lyrics to a Dave Pettigrew song haunted me as I looked at the vast expanse of water…"Every day I think so small.  Not seeing who you are or how you surround me.   There are so many times I fall.  But from my knees, I learn to see, how high you carry me.   What could separate us from your mighty hands?  Not death, not life, nor hell on earth could ever stand a chance. How deep, how wide, how strong, is the love of Jesus.”  I was surprised by the sign, because I was sure it hadn’t been there on my first pass, and yet I didn’t see anyone carrying signs to hang.  I smiled and thanked God for the personal message. 

A few hundred feet down, I spied another…Isaiah 40:9 & 10: I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have— incomparable, irreplaceable— From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul, I'll do exactly what I set out to do.'  A few hundred feet more and there was another sign, then another, and yet another…all the way back, messages of God’s love and faithfulness. 

When I got back to the registration table, the folks from Homeless to Independence and I chatted a little further and discussed possible ways our ministry and their organization could work together.  I don’t know what God has in store, but I know there are no coincidences…only Godincidences.  And I know the change of direction this morning - both in thought (my purposeful decision to spend quality time with God) and in action (getting off the couch to head to the lake) - were changes that honored and pleased God.  Pam obeyed the invitation to change her plans and was rewarded with beautiful sights and a peaceful time with Jesus.  I obeyed the call to change my behavior and was rewarded with a sweet time of communion with God, words of encouragement, and a possible new ministry connection.  What reward will you miss if you don't listen for the call to change? 


  1. Toni, between you and Pam I think God is showing each of us how much He loves to have intimacy with us to bring us the joy and depth we desire so much! There is an Oswald Chambes quote I love that sums it up so well: It states that when we drink full well of the love of the Lord, we will not expect the impossible from others and all will be holier and more wonderful than ever...I had a similar experience which I wrote about @ Beneath the SUrface: Breath of Faith called "When The Beach Calls! I think you will be blessed and amused to read it! In His Grace, Dawn

  2. Dawn, I agree. He does desire to sit and meet with us - what parent doesn't love the attention of his child? Great quote btw. And yes, I was blessed to read your post - it was wonderful! Thanks for stopping by the Lake :)

  3. Tears and a smile are what are on my face as I'm reading this, Toni. This is too much!!!! The actual, tangible signs along the path...unbelievable. Supernatural. Awesome. No, my dear, these are most certainly NOT coincidences. They are God-incidences. Our Lord is REAL and completely, intimately involved in our lives. These are the types of things, small as they may seem in comparison to 'bigger' miracles we may have experienced or heard about from others, that we need to cling to and keep in the forefront of our minds on those days when the lying voice of the accuser becomes louder than the still, small voice, telling us that we are unloved and that God is not real. This was wonderful, Toni. Thanks!

  4. I have two words for you Pam...Air Jordan's :) Thanks for your insight and friendship!